Knowing what scholarships are available can be key for high school students
April 15, 2019
by Ana Vuvunikyan
Normandy High School
Being accepted into your dream college is one thing, paying for it is another.
In the world of ever growing student debt, scholarships offer students a chance to get their preferred degree and not worry so much about finances.
“It is always unpleasant to be the one to tell kids that they may not be able to go to their dream school because of insufficient income,” Courtney Walsh, GEAR Up Adviser at Normandy High School, said.
Scholarship research can be difficult to start, with so many options available online. However, there are a couple of popular websites and apps college students use to help them along the way.
One example of this is College Board (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/) where students can search for scholarship options. After filling out a short survey, students are provided with information about each scholarship, such as application requirements and what it can be used for. College Board is a great source to check out, with neatly organized information.
Many scholarships require student-written essays to go along with them.
“Don’t write a ‘woe is me’ story, “ Walsh explained. “Instead, write down how you will use the money for a great education. They (scholarship givers) want to know why they should invest in you.”
Another option for finding scholarships is Naviance (https://student.naviance.com/colleges/scholarships). Naviance accesses a list of scholarships, what they are based on along with the basic requirements. Clicking on the scholarship name provides more in depth qualifications and information.
It is important to look at every bit of scholarship opportunities a student can get. Many people forget or do not apply for smaller and more local scholarships, because they don’t usually bring in as much money.
“Any little bit helps,” Walsh added. “Think local, look at work, community, hobbies, and what makes you unique.”
Other popular suggestions for help with scholarships is Scholly (https://myscholly.com/) along with Unigo (https://www.unigo.com/colleges).
Unigo has an “Easy Scholarships” tab, which shows more entertaining scholarship essay topics. Examples include, "Which superhero or villain would you want to change places with for a day and why?" and “If you were an ice cream flavor, which would you be and why?"
It can be overwhelming for families to keep track of all the relevant information. Suggestions for organization of information include using spreadsheets and sticky notes.
“Start early your senior year with your search for money,” a Normandy High School senior said. “It will save you a lot of trouble with scholarships which have due dates early in the year,” she clarified.
Important to note is that some of the scholarships students can earn are automatically applied for once they get accepted to a school.
“Always look on school and department websites for endowment funds and non-automatic scholarships,” Walsh urged.
In this complex search, there are always people and resources to help students find money. Scholarships exist for almost anything, including being a part of a specific group or community, being tall, being married to a veteran, or simply being lucky enough to be pulled from a random drawing. It is only the matter of applying on time which anyone can do. Anyone can find hope in attending their dream college.
PHOTO CAPTION: High school students in the PCSD have many resources to find scholarships to help pay for college. Some of the resources are available through the district, while some are available online.