Scholarship tips for local teens
By Sarah Bermingham, RCHS intern writer; courtesy photo
As a high school senior, the idea of paying for college is a concern I know I share with many. Scholarships are a great way to help lessen the cost of college, but it can be difficult to know how best to find and apply for them. Everyone’s path to college looks different.
Personally, the only scholarships I knew to look for were merit-based scholarships offered by colleges. These became available after I applied, and it was a good opportunity to use my high school achievements to pay for school. While college-sponsored scholarships are a great way to start, there are many other opportunities.
The Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) counseling department explained that high schoolers can start early, using websites like www.fastweb.com, www.raise.me, www.naviance.com, www.collegeboard.org, www.cappex.com, www.salliemae.com, and www.unigo.com to explore and apply for scholarships. Castle Pines resident Mikayla Jennings started applying her freshman year using the website www.scholarshippoints.com, which has drawings for scholarships as well as informational articles.
In addition, students can search for scholarships through local organizations. RCHS counseling suggests looking to local businesses, utilities (see page 45), homeowner associations and churches, which often offer scholarships. They also suggest looking at coffeehouse, public library and other community bulletin boards.
While large, competitive scholarships may seem like the best ones to apply for, it is important not to limit oneself to these and to find applications that fit best and have better odds. RCHS counseling recommends that students research scholarships with unique requirements where the application pool is small. These may be scholarships for a specific ethnic background, disability, or life situation. Athletic scholarships are also an option, and applicable students can reach out to coaches for assistance.
Scholarship applications require time and effort to be effective. It is essential to follow the guidelines and submit them on time, as well as being genuine and true. Setting aside an hour a week for scholarships is recommended. It is also helpful to have someone proofread applications and ask for necessary letters of recommendation from an adult who knows the applicant well.
Most importantly, applicants must ensure they are honestly and accurately portraying themselves. RCHS counseling states that “if the scholarship requires an essay, make sure that it is engaging and unique. Try to avoid clichés and generalities.”
Applying for scholarships can be intimidating, but the hard work pays off. There are opportunities available for everyone when it comes to making higher education more affordable.