With college expenses around the corner for many seniors, scholarship applications can be a long process to complete, but nonetheless there are resources and people available to assist college-bound students with this.
“Here’s the thing, a lot of them are going to require you to write essays, do an interview and take a lot of time,” Academic Associate Principal Ashley Alloway said. “It requires some research and a little bit of energy and effort. If you can find a scholarship that you can put a little bit of energy and effort into, a lot of other students won’t.”
While the school website’s counselor page continuously updates with links to scholarships within the school and district, there are other ways for students to discover scholarships too.
“We tell students to go to sites such as fastweb.com or scholarship.com that will allow the student to create a profile,” counselor Chrystal Barnett said. “The search engine will do all the research on the web and email students about scholarships that fit their profile.”
For additional college-related guidance, counselors recommend to visit them or schedule an appointment with college mentors at the Go Center, which is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Some people don’t know about scholarships. So let’s say only one person applies and the deadline is passed. Then that one kid will get all the money for the scholarship because no one else really knew about it,” Go Center college student Monet Patterson said. “Apply to each scholarship you can before the deadline.”
While many applications ask for essays, recommendations or interviews, merit scholarships are also available, but are based on GPA, rank or SAT/ACT scores.
“These are scholarships students can get from a college based on what a student accomplished in high school,” Barnett said. “Those aren’t scholarships students have to go and write an essay for, but they can vary from college-to-college.”
Meanwhile, College Board started a new $5 million fund available for non-seniors, with half of the scholarships awarded to students whose parents’ income is less than $60,000 and the other half will go to students whose parents’ income is greater than this.
“You can go to collegeboard.opportunity and learn that it takes easy steps, which a lot of what you would do anyways (when preparing for college),” Alloway said. “This is a new, exciting opportunity for students and I’m hoping will benefit some of our Mansfield High students.”
While college may cost tens of thousands of dollars, many smaller scholarships ranging from $500 to $1000 are available, which can be beneficial.
“The fact of the matter is $500 and $1,000 scholarships start adding up quickly,” Alloway said. “Every time you get one of those little scholarships, that’s less student loans you have to take and that’s less financial hardship on your family. So I encourage you all to not ignore the little scholarships.”
Barnett said she recommends students organize and prioritize scholarships by date so they can meet important scholarship deadlines.
“There is so much money out there available to students for college, but that money will not fall in students’ lap,” she said. “We definitely encourage them to set aside time, look for those scholarships and enlist the help of a parent or sibling.
By continuously checking online resources, students may discover new scholarship opportunities not seen before.
“If you really want to get a lot of money for school, you have to almost treat it as a part-time job,” Barnett said. “Every week set a time to do the research again and see if there is anything on the websites or email.”
College websites often offer students scholarships on their financial aid webpage, but involvement in sports and activities may help an application rise above others.
“Something colleges love (is long-term involvement in extracurriculars) because maybe those students will come onto their campus and take leadership roles,” Barnett said. “Colleges want to hear what are you doing with your extra time.”
Even if a student was well-involved in high school, some may struggle with the writing application. But, they do not have to do it all alone.
“English teachers and counselors can be a resource or another peer or parent that maybe is a strong writer,” Barnett said. “Do your best and let it be your own work, but have someone edit or fine tune it.”
Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to seek opportunity. Senior David Li said he received help from the Go-Center and hired an admission specialist. Both guided him through the process, including the written portion.
“Write something that is unique to you like anything (from career to personal character),” Li said. “The small struggles you write about can be a very unique aspect of yourself.”