I paid for my entire education with scholarship money. Because I work with families across the nation about college admissions and financial aid, I’m often asked whether it was my standardized test scores or GPA that led me to win so much money. The answer is neither. In fact, what shocks many people is that the ingredients for scholarship success has little (if anything) to do with what happens in the classroom. Here are a three common myths that often dominate conversations about scholarships: Myth #1: Scholarships are so competitive.
There’s a lot of emphasis on applying for college scholarships before you head off to college, and that’s certainly important. But did you know there are plenty of scholarships available to students who are already a few semesters in to their college experience? In fact, you may not even be eligible for certain institutional scholarships until you can demonstrate that you’ve maintained a certain GPA for two consecutive semesters at your university. The first scholarship I ever received was the Associated Student Government (ASG) Scholarship from Texas State University, San Marcos. It was a total fluke that I found out about it, too. Up until my junior year, I never lived in the dorms. Instead, I commuted an hour to and from school and worked every other day in a different city, so I didn’t have much time to get involved with anything on campus. But around my junior year, [...]
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. [...]
Dr. Seuss once wrote, “Be who you are and say what you feel.” The same applies to scholarship essays. To write powerfully, students must know and describe themselves honestly. With my experience in writing, it is the most important advice I can give. I was a high school junior when I began applying for scholarships. Living in a middle-class family with three siblings, I knew such aid would benefit me; however, I feared I wouldn’t receive it. I didn’t show much financial need, and I wasn’t very active at my school or in my community (which was my mistake). As a result, I wasn’t a likely candidate for many national scholarships. Instead, I mainly set my sights on local merit-based scholarships (specifically, those offered at my future college and within my county). Surprisingly, my financial stability and lack of extracurricular activities weren’t my biggest challenges when writing scholarship essays. What [...]
College applications are so predictable across the board that long ago, The Common Application was created. The Common App (as it’s commonly known) offers students a one-size-fits-all application that asks for academic achievements, SAT/ACT test scores, an essay, recommendation letters, basic demographic information, completed courses, declaration of major… the basic things most schools want to know. It’s accepted by more than 400 schools and was used by more than 2 million applicants as of 2010 in an effort to prevent the repetition of submitting the same info over and over again to an array of schools. Each school may require some extra stuff (e.g. an essay about why you want to come to their campus, specifically), because they need some sort of litmus test for how strongly students feel about their institution. As “how do I get in?” quickly turns into “how will I pay for it?” come spring semester, another question arises: Why doesn’t [...]
College students have a lot on their minds these days. From balancing classwork, a job, extra curricular activities, and budding social lives, it can all become one huge blur. And sometimes, all this pressure can force students to withdraw from their university studies. And should students choose to pull out, there’s a group people beyond the students themselves who pay the price: taxpayers. That’s right, taxpayers. A new report shows that states appropriated almost $6.2 billion for four-year colleges and universities between 2003 and 2008 to help pay for the education of students who did not return for year two.
Last week, Gawker ran an article citing the top ten traditional universities that have the highest student debt. The data was pulled by a recent study by the Department of Education, which actually revealed that the top three institutions with highest student debt are actually for-profit schools, which are often criticized for not leading to lucrative-enough careers. Controversial legislation has even been passed regarding this issue. What’s a for-profit college? Think DeVry and University of Pheonix. These schools offer a range of degrees (think X-ray technician certifications to master’s degrees) and are run by private, profit-seeking companies or groups, which makes them an easy target for public criticism. However, this list focused on the traditional institutions that rack up the most student debt, as a large part of the U.S.’s college-going culture seeks admission to these revered schools. It’s important to note that these prestigious universities, also, do not leave students’ wallets unscathed. [...]
In light of graduating season, there’s a buzz in the air among many recent grads about repaying student loans. Those heading straight to graduate school may have a few more years of deferment, but those leaving academia begin repaying loans right away. Among my circle of friends who attended both public and private schools, payments seem to be around $70-$200 per month. With a common student debt loan upwards of $10,000 (and that’s being conservative), repayment periods tend to span at least a decades. A decade after college, I’d like to own a home and have a family. Surely, I don’t want to still be making monthly payments for classes I took while still a teenager. Fortunately, it may not have to be that way. Several new developments have been sprouting up across the country geared toward forgiving student debt, exchanging volunteer hours for loan repayment and other like-minded initiatives. [...]
Think again. Check out other BG articles on financial aid here. © image by Nick Schwartz
Jeff Brenzel recently posted on The Huffington Post his advice for students when they have been accepted to college. I thought that this was a great idea since even though it’s extremely important to discuss dealing with disappointment and roadblocks, it’s just as important to discuss what to do with those acceptance letters.