Rising above to succeed...
4 Myths about Scholarships
Start Early Aiming High and Soaring.
As a scholarship coach and consultant, I am often surprised about
the misconceptions parents and students have regarding scholarships
and who receives them. With 24 billion dollars available each year,
there are scholarship opportunities for students with almost all abilities,
achievements, backgrounds and aspirations. The key is to separate
fact from fiction early on so you can make strategic decisions right from
Myth 1- My child’s college placement counselor will decide which scholarships to pursue. College placement
counselors are typically spreaded so thin that it is unwise to expect them to unearth all of the opportunities
your child should pursue. It is true that some scholarships require that applicants have their school’s
nomination but there are thousands of opportunities a student can pursue independently. It’s important
that the counselor knows the student’s qualifications but the counselor should not be a scholarship hopeful’s
primary resource. The best starting point in a scholarship search is the internet. There are many websites
that allow a student as young as 14 to fill out a free profile which is then compared against a database of
scholarships for the ones that are qualified matches. The search results will list the amount of awards,
deadlines and links to the primary website. Schoolsoup.com and Scholarships.com are two of the
most popular and dependable sites for free scholarship searching. But be careful. Some sites run
scams that guarantee scholarship awards if you pay them a fee. Stick with the tried and true sites.
Do not give out a social security number in any of the search profiles.
Myth 2- The best time to look for scholarships is in your senior year. At this point it is important to differentiate
between the two types of scholarships. Full, four-year merit scholarships, such as the Morehead-Cain to
UNC and Park Scholarship to NC State, are awarded during student's senior year and must be used to
attend their respective university. However, there are thousands of non-renewable scholarships available
as early as seventh grade which can be set aside for use at any college or university. These individual
scholarships are usually awarded through essay competition or creative video or audio submissions.
Civic clubs and veterans clubs are typical sources for the one-time awards.
Myth 3- Scholarships are only for students with financial need. Today’s scholarships have become about
more than finances. Many full scholarships often include educational travel, laptop computers, unique
internships and job opportunities. For example, the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program.
Honoring the legacy and character of our nations 40th President, the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship
Program rewards college-bound students who demonstrate exemplary leadership, drive, integrity,
and citizenship with financial assistance to pursue higher education. Each year, the program selects
numerous recipients to receive a $10,000 scholarship renewable for up to an additional three years-up
to $40,000 total per recipient. Awards are for undergraduate study only, and may be used for education
related expenses, including, tuition ,fees, books, supplies, room, and board. In addition, scholars are
invited to participate in a special awards program.
Myth 4- Only the very top students get scholarships. Most scholarships do expect the applicants to
have strong academic records. However, other factors play a role too, such as leadership, civic responsibility,
athletic achievement and personal aspirations. A well-rounded, ambitious and articulate student with a
1500 SAT will fare just as well, if not better, as the 1800 SAT student who has few outside interests.
Aside from academic-based scholarships, there is an emerging world of scholarships available to
students based on their community service activities. Major awards are available to students who
have shown particular commitment to a cause or outreach, especially if the student saw a need and
created a service project to meet it. Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com will provide information on
the service-based scholarships as well as the academic ones. Other scholarships are available based
on heritage, financial need, career aspirations, parents employment or union membership.
Interviews are important: Most major scholarships will require an interview in addition to the written application.
It is very important that a student prepare and practice for the interview before the big day. A scholarship
coach or counselor should conduct mock interviews with the student to build confidence and presentation skills.
Parents frequently make the mistake of trying to be their child’s coach but it usually works much better to
have a different adult in that role. Students should study the background of the funding foundation and
university, become knowledgeable on current events, and think through common interview questions
ahead of time. Scholarships can open a world of funding and opportunity for ambitious students willing
to put in the effort to pursue them. Planning ahead and keeping a strong academic record will help the
student make the most of this exciting time in their life.