As many of you may know, I have a daughter who is a senior in high school this year. For the last few years, I have gently reminded her that applying for scholarships would be a good use of her free time. I was typically met with a causal roll of the eyes or a promise to ‘look into it’ in the next few days, but I never saw her take any action. It wasn’t until this past spring, when she started to seriously look at colleges, that she realized how much money her education was going to cost. Now, she’s finally taking an interest in scholarships, and so are her friends. But, here’s the part that really surprised me. They didn’t put off applying for scholarships because of the work — it was because they were too afraid to start the process.
How could that be? These are smart students, who are part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. They have been taught to think independently and know how to research problems. There’s also a ton of content on the Internet to help guide them through the process, not to mention the emails they receive from their guidance counselors. So, why would applying for scholarships throw them for a loop? It turns out that many of them just felt overwhelmed and unsure of their ability to win any awards. Several of her friends worried that their grade point averages were not good enough, or they didn’t have enough extracurricular activities. My daughter, on the other hand, worried that her life was too boring. She was actually under the assumption that something traumatic had to happen for you to win a scholarship. Wow, I was floored.
Once I assured them that there are scholarships for just about everyone, even those who have lead happy lives, we faced yet another obstacle — registering for a scholarship search service. They all knew about the various free websites available, but only a few of her friends had actually completed profiles. Of those who did, none had actually applied for any of the scholarships. Why? They received their lists of available awards and didn’t know what to do with them. So, I clicked on a scholarship link and it was like a light bulb turned on in their heads. I quickly showed them a few different programs, such as the easy-to-enter scholarships that take less than five minutes to complete and a few others that required a bit more work. Their fear soon turned to excitement when they realized just how easy it was to actually apply for most of the scholarship programs available.
So, what did I learn from this? Scholarships can be a scary thing for anyone new to the process. If you want your child to be proactive when it comes to scholarships, it’s not enough to tell her to apply — you have to show her. Take a few moments of your time to actually walk her through the process and complete an application or two together. Once she sees how easy it is, she’ll be motivated and ready to take on even more.
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