Scholarship applications and becoming the pestering parent

Scholarship applications “Can you help me find some scholarships? My parents are really bugging me about getting information on scholarships.”

I can’t count how many times high school seniors have repeated this statement (or some variation of it) to me. Some of them were very serious about receiving help, but many were simply fulfilling the obligation to quiet their nagging parents.

Now that I find myself on the other side of the fence with my high school senior, I, too, have comfortably slid into the role of the nagging parent. (Just ask my son.) All of a sudden, every conversation we have held in preparation for this all-important senior year has faded from memory. As often happens in life, I am reminded of how much easier it is to talk about doing something than actually doing it.

I’m lucky, though. My son has worked hard in school and currently has a grade point average (GPA) hovering around a 3.9. He has taken challenging course work, including many Advanced Placement (AP) courses. And he is no slacker this year, taking a full schedule of tough classes for his senior year. I am very proud of his hard work, but now those accomplishments must be translated into a series of purposeful and timely actions for applying to colleges and researching scholarship opportunities. The level of commitment needed is similar to job hunting – writing your resume, gathering information on potential opportunities, and then submitting your resume or portfolio. Likewise, it requires an investment of time, energy, and steadfastness to reap the benefits.

During Jake’s junior year, we discussed his career plans (in the biosciences) and which colleges would be best for his major, personality, and other factors. We narrowed it down to three choices – one out-of-state university (my husband’s alma mater), one in-state university, and a local community college. After a fun and informative trip to the out-of-state university, the reality of $32,000 a year versus $16,000 a year (in-state university, living on campus) has ruled out the out-of-state option (at least for his bachelor’s degree).

cost-of-collegeJake was recently accepted at the in-state university. He is now researching scholarships and writing essays to submit. It’s not easy on anyone. Between studying, working part-time, and squeezing in a little social time with friends, he must also carve out additional time in his week to work on scholarships. The biggest challenge is finding an organizational system that works for him. I originally gave him a calendar system to write down due dates and names of scholarships. While that system works for me, he didn’t care for it. I suggested that he develop his own system – something that was going to work for him. (Where are those kids who would have graciously accepted this suggestion? I miss them!)

As we head into prime financial aid months, I will be soliciting recent college graduates to give my son the non-parent perspective as well. It’s important for him to hear others’ experiences. Stay tuned for our progress!

By Mary Martha


Academic Scholarships