Searching for scholarships
I asked my high school senior son the other day to make sure he picked up a packet of scholarship application from the high school office. Since this was my second request for his attention to this matter I truly expected a battle on my hands when I said,” GET THIS DONE!” When he finally delivered, we sat down at the kitchen table and started filling out the application as deliberately as a college entrance form.
When the essential questions (i.e. name, address, class rank, ACT, GPA) had been appropriately filled in, the core of the application needed to be dealt with: completing the essay portion of scholarship applications.
The three scholarships he and I eventually worked on were local offerings that could be applied to his Environmental Engineering major; thus, even though it wasn’t exactly fun, he could at least find these extra writing assignments justified. The hard part was realizing that the search for a scholarship befitting my soon-to-be college freshman could be so involved. I had no idea there were scholarships specifically for left-handers, redheads, clowns, or those who want to major in aquaculture. Now, my son is not left-handed, nor red-haired. He thinks he’s a clown, but the only aquaculture in his life is when his mom asks him to water the plants.
We now have worked our way through an additional three scholarships, six total. However, I now know why counselors, graduates, and teachers stress to get applications early, fill them out and send them in ASAP–there are literally thousands of scholarships available for college bound kids. The trick was to take the time to sort through the maze of money potential and select those applicable for my son.
My son is a good student: he had an above average score on his ACT and his GPA was high. As a result, we expected at least some encouragement from the universities themselves. At most colleges, scholarship selection criteria vary, and I found out that no additional application is required because the Office of Admissions automatically considers all admitted students for scholarships. However, their awards are usually presented weeks after the letter of admission. Thus this gray period was an excellent time to search for other scholarship funds.
In addition to the guidance office, there are several free online scholarship search agencies such as FastWeb.com and CollegeAnswer.com, which were very helpful in our attempt to identify gift funds supplementing those offered by the college and/or local civic organizations.