By Kelly MacLean
Scholarship is the word that evokes the greatest range of emotions in parents of high school juniors and seniors. Hope, wonder, worry, disappointment or relief can all be part of the scholarship process. While many scholarships are subjective or at the discretion of the provider, others can simply be attained with proper planning.
By the Numbers
There are numerous types of scholarships available to students.
Scholarships based on merit — a student’s academic, athletic or artistic accomplishments — are typically awarded by each college.
Parents sometimes feel they are at the mercy of the college when it comes to scholarships, but the reality is that most schools have a standard guide to scholarships. For instance, Bowling Green’s scholarship calculator indicates that a student with a 24 ACT score and a 3.2 GPA will receive $1,000-$2,500, but raising the GPA just .2 to 3.4, the cumulative GPA nets the student an award of $3,000-$4,000 per year.
Miami University does not award any merit scholarship until your ACT score is at least a 26 and a GPA of 3.5. A student applying to Miami with a 3.5 GPA and a 25 ACT won’t receive a merit award. However, a student with a 3.5 and a 26 ACT will be awarded $2,000 per year. Raise the ACT to 28 and you can receive $3,000-$7,000 per year.
Most schools follow similar sliding scales.
There are hundreds of websites students can use to search for scholarships, along with find through the local community such as parents’ work church, etc. One tip for parents, never pay for a potential scholarship.
The scholarship essays should be original. It should say something about the student that is particular to him or her.
One piece of advice to remember is the committee will read thousands of essays. Have the student write something interesting. What would make them want to continue to read theirs versus feeling like they have read the same thing a hundred times already?
For instance, athletes love to write about the time they won/lost the big game or they could not play in the big game, but cheered their team on from the sidelines. There are 7.5 million high school athletes and at least half could write that same essay.
Also, make sure the writing is concise and grammatically correct.
So how can you be sure your son or daughter will receive scholarship money? Positioning your child for success begins with planning as early as freshman year in high school. Colleges look at the cumulative GPA; meaning every class, every grade counts.
While looking at colleges seems so far away when a child is a freshman, the reality is that having discussions early allows students more control of their future.
The first step in this process is determining what your child’s interests are. Then consider which schools may be the best fit. Next find out what GPA and standardized test scores are required by potential colleges.
Statistically, a student’s GPA will fall during their sophomore year in high school. It is extremely difficult to raise a GPA once it has dropped. Once the college application process has started it is too late to improve a low GPA in order to qualify for scholarships or even meet admission requirements to be accepted into their choice college.
Families can help their child get set up for success and prevent this drop by actively selecting the proper classes and having defined expectations early on.
Planning, setting expectations and understanding college scholarship criteria can make all the difference in your scholarship experience and lessen your financial burden.
Kelly MacLean is the President of College Recruiting Specialists. She works with high school students and their families to help achieve their goals. Tutoring, study skills, time management, Test Prep, career exploration, college selection, application assistance as well as scholarship and financial aid guidance are available. Contact College Recruiting Specialists at 440-552-9892 or [email protected]