We know how important your involvement is in your child's education - we also know how difficult it can be to stay on top of all of the important steps in planning and preparing for college.
Below you'll find this month's content - LEARN (info to know), DO (action to take), and TIPS (insights for success)
The Role of Scholarships
Scholarships are quickly becoming a holy grail of sorts when it comes to college admissions. But as the cost of college soars, competition for these limited dollars has turned into a financial arms race. Savvy students need to be on their game to get the most funding for their efforts, and yours will need your help to be successful.
Your student’s best effort in high school can help them earn valuable dollars. About 70% of earned scholarship money typically comes from the school they choose to attend – and the vast majority of that money comes from academic or merit scholarships (not athletics!). There are some schools, like the Ivy Leagues and other elite colleges like Northwestern, that do not offer merit money and instead, only offer need-based dollars toward your student’s education.
But don’t worry, there is still money to be had elsewhere. Here are some tips to help your student think outside the box and your family avoid missing out on those valuable dollars.
Think of your son’s/daughter’s unique characteristics to help find some scholarships. For instance, if he/she is extremely tall, or left handed, or has two different colored eyes, there is money for that (seriously). Are you a veteran or does your place of employment offer money to college bound students? Look for opportunities that are heritage or religious based. There is often so much available money that has been set aside by various people or organizations for a great cause like a college education – you don’t want to miss out.
One of the best ways to help your student is in the scholarship application process - help them avoid mistakes that can be costly. Encourage them to pay attention to every little detail; make certain they get it right, or have them ask a teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult for another set of eyes to look things over.
The most common mistake students make is missing the deadline. Make a calendar or a spreadsheet to help them keep track of the deadlines and submit work before it’s due.
Not following directions can also be costly. Simple errors like misspellings, not writing enough or writing too little, poor grammar, or missing a word, can keep them from being seen as a quality candidate. Don't lose out on a scholarship for a mistake that's easily preventable.
And please do not let them reuse an essay unless two scholarships ask the exact same question. Each essay should stay on topic, but be unique, personal, and authentic; they don’t have to write a high-brow essay to get money. Definitely avoid hiring someone to write the essay for them or even doing it yourself. Application readers for college and scholarships can tell when mom/dad has done the work for the student.
Another great source of scholarships is in local monies, like from the PTA, VFW, and other community groups, foundations, or organizations. These scholarships can be easier to earn than those that are nationally based, with huge applicant pools.
Scholarships are not handed out without serious consideration – unfortunately no one has found that scholarship pot of gold. When your student applies for the scholarships for which they accurately meet the criteria, they may be the recipient of that very deserving award.
Scholarships can be hiding in plain sight! Oftentimes places of employment, professional organizations, unions, community groups, and even local businesses have devoted money to college scholarships.
Check under every rock, behind every corner, and under every couch cushion for opportunities that fit your student. While it may seem like a lot of work now (and it can be) you’ll be glad you did – especially when those first college bills or loans come in!
Help create opportunities for your student to talk to neighbors, family, and friends about their current or past college experience. While they might not have the exact same experience, your student will find important nuggets of information that will positively influence their decision as graduation approaches.
Final exams - not the best part of HS but really important for their grades. This time of year can be crazy busy and hectic, help them set aside time for studying – sometimes alone and other times with a (productive) study group. Be sure to ask them if they need any other support as this can be a stressful experience for some students.
Know a school that could use some college readiness support?
We also offer Student Curriculum to schools and provide Parent Education on College Planning. Additionally, we work with schools and districts to increase the college readiness of their students. Learn more by clicking here.