Scholarship Stories: Ask, And You May Receive
Senior year means many things to many high school students (prom night, senior ditch day, college plans, etc.). Many students mistakenly see it as the easiest year of their high school career. For many parents, it means thinking about the future financially. Seniors often don’t think about applying for scholarships because they feel it’s a waste of time, and there’s only a small percentage of who will win.
I was no exception. To me, senior year was all about preparing for college. It meant (still) getting good grades, studying for hours for the SATs and ACTs, and getting into the college of my dreams: Rochester Institute of Technology. No way did I think that I was going to have to make time to write several dozen applications for scholarships alone.
My parents had other plans for me, however. They had me apply for every scholarship that I was eligible for. They made it explicitly clear that they weren’t going to help me pay for college unless I got some scholarships. Be it because of my Italian descent, my various disabilities, or my major… if there was a scholarship, I had to go for it.
Every month, my mom would force me to go hunt for scholarships. It wasn’t that it was hard to find them (my school had several applications available in the guidance office) or even that they were hard (many scholarships used a similar topic), but I just felt that it was a waste of time. My parents believed in me, but with all the other people applying, I did not think that I was going to win any.
I will admit that at first, I was rather lazy while searching for scholarships. I didn’t want to give up weekends to write multiple essays. All I wanted to do was my homework and chill out in front of the TV. However, with my mom and dad breathing down my neck (and countless arguments), I soon sought some more scholarships. I was mindlessly writing essays, still thinking it was pointless. By the end of April, I had applied to well over 35 scholarships!
One day in May, I received an invitation to my high school’s annual awards ceremony, during which students are given their scholarships that they applied, or were nominated, for. That night as I was getting ready, I remember thinking to myself, “Why am I going to this? I’m not going to get any scholarships.” Still apprehensive, I went with my family to my high school. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened that night.
Being hard-of-hearing, I asked some of my friends to tap me on the shoulder if they heard my name. The first time my name was called was for an elementary school alumnus scholarship. Applause filled the auditorium from my family and teachers. I approached the principal, shook his hand and quietly returned to my seat.
My name was called an additional three times before I started to see that maybe there was a possibility that I would win some more scholarships than I originally thought. After countless wins, I realized that my parents were right. As long as I tried, I could do it.
I missed my name a few times (I knew I had won some more scholarships when I saw my aide waving her arms and pointing towards the podium), but each and every time there was a thunderous applause that followed. By the end of the night, I had gone up to receive my award so much that I was exhausted.
Afterwards, my family, friends and teachers showered me with hugs. I felt proud of myself for having won so many scholarships. Everyone knew that I could do it, but I had to have faith in myself. Now, nearing the end of my first year of college, I am so glad that my parents pushed me.
Rochester, New York
The author is a freshman journalism major and history enthusiast at Rochester Institute of Technology. Currently, he writes for Rochester’s weekly magazine, Reporter Online. He hopes to one day work for a magazine that combines his love of history with his love of writing.
This article is part of the BetterGrads special series “Scholarship Stories.” Contributors are asked to tell their personal experience with scholarship searches, applications and opportunities. If you’d like to submit an article for this series, please read our editorial guidelines and let us know here.