Now that most of us are through spending money during the holiday shopping season, it’s time for high school students to start locking down money during scholarship season.
Many scholarships have already opened for the year, and deadlines are fast approaching. Be sure to mark it on your calendars — January through April is the most important stretch for high school seniors to fund their aspirations for higher education. Regardless of what type of scholarship (need-based, merit, athletic, etc.) for which a student would like to apply, preparations should be made as early as possible.
Preparation for applying to and receiving scholarships should begin before a student enters high school. This includes maintaining good grades, taking challenging classes, participating in volunteer/service experiences, partaking in extracurricular activities, obtaining 2-3 letters of recommendation, and practicing to write essays.
Taking part in these practices will help create a well-rounded student, and that is precisely the type of student most scholarship award committees are looking for.
The next step students must take in their scholarship venture will come early in their senior year. Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov). The application opens Oct. 1 of each year and its completion is required for most need-based scholarship applications.
Once the groundwork has been laid, students must research scholarships that best fit their needs and attributes. Students who live in Chino Valley can begin their research here: cvhs.chinovalleyschools.com/counseling/scholarships. When referring students to Chino Valley High’s scholarship page, we always remind them that this is the step that often gets overwhelming.
Students should single out 3-to-5 scholarships to begin with — once they submit a couple of applications, it gets much easier.
Last year, the Chino Valley High School senior class amassed an unprecedented $1,937,074 in reported scholarships awarded. This dollar amount was attained by a total of 42 out of 151 graduating seniors (28 percent). The counseling department at CVHS would like to see this number raised.
If just 10-15 more students apply for scholarships this year, the $2 million is possible. At times, students might feel intimidated to apply for a scholarship if they do not meet every requirement. This line of reasoning must change, because each year, millions of dollars of scholarship money goes unrewarded simply for lack of applicants.
As someone who has been a member of a scholarship committee, I know that the award doesn’t always go to the student who meets all the criteria, sometimes the best-rounded student has the edge. With tuition, cost of living, and student loan debt on the rise, scholarships can help alleviate the financial burden of higher learning — but the value of scholarships is not solely financial. The recognition a student receives for his or her accomplishments will go further in the development of a young person than the monetary award.
Applying for, and receiving an award based on one’s merits and hard work can give that individual the confidence to pursue whatever goals they set before them. Inspire a young adult to follow their dreams, and convince a student to apply for a scholarship today.
Information provided by Chino Valley Unified School District.