Finding and applying for scholarships while simultaneously completing high school coursework can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for the average 18 year old. Parental guidance and college counseling can not only help alleviate some of that stress but can also increase the likelihood of students being accepted to and enrolling in college.
Parents and counselors can be most effective throughout the process by serving as a rich resource rather than by forcing their opinion on students. That means ensuring students stick to the basics: applying early, completing student profiles, meeting deadlines and having proper documents available.
Here are some helpful ways in which parents and counselors can be the best resources for college-bound student:
1. Start early: Better late than never may work in some instances but not when it comes to applying for scholarships. In fact, the complete opposite is encouraged.
Students can begin competing for scholarships early by identifying their key interests and skills. Parents and counselors can assist by sitting down with students and creating profiles that highlight the students’ strong points. They can then assist the students in locating scholarship opportunities that are most aligned with the students’ individual profiles.
Parents and counselors can then help benchmark students’ progress to make sure they are on track to meet scholarship requirements. Think of this as creating a resume for a scholarship. By researching scholarships early, even high school freshmen and sophomores can take the necessary courses, earn the requisite GPA and participate in the appropriate sports and extracurricular activities to help strengthen their scholarship resume and increase their chances of securing scholarships.
Some scholarships are open to students who demonstrate an early commitment to a specific cause or activity. For example, patriotic students in ninth through 12th grade can earn up to $30,000 through the VFW Voice of Democracy Competition by recording an audio essay on the theme “My Responsibility to America.” The My Preparedness Story: Staying Healthy and Resilient Video Challenge, which is open to students ages 14-23, requires students to be active in their community and social circles, particularly regarding preparation for disasters and emergencies.
For more nature-inclined students, grants such as those from The Explorers Club provide up to $5,000 to fund scientific exploration and field research projects.
Parents and counselors can help students learn about and get involved in school and community projects and initiatives, especially for scholarships that call for social action and community involvement.
In addition to staying involved outside of the classroom, parents and counselors should be aware of each scholarship’s GPA requirements as well as other academic criteria. Although not all scholarships are based on good grades, many of the prestigious and high-dollar scholarships require a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA.
2. Help prioritize: When it comes to scholarships, students should not only apply early but also often. Sometimes parents, counselors or even older siblings who have been through the scholarship process can best answer the question of which scholarships should be on the students’ short list.
Students should never apply for a scholarship that requires a fee, much less use a scholarship service that charges. Some applications do not require much effort, such as the Scholarships.com Register & Win Contest.
However, some of the highest dollar scholarships – such as The Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship, through which qualifying high school seniors and community college students are eligible to win up to $20,000 – require students to demonstrate a strong academic record, community involvement and leadership skills.
Parents and counselors can help students prioritize. If students finds high-dollar scholarships that require lengthy essays, encourage them to invest more time and effort in those scholarship opportunities first and then apply for several smaller, easier ones. Often, parents or counselors can be very helpful in providing direction and establishing priorities as well as determining the work versus likely reward ratio of a scholarship.
If a scholarship requires little effort and the students qualify, encourage them to apply. However, if the application will take several hours to complete, parents and counselors can provide students with additional insight and information on the process and help determine whether the students should apply.
3. Understand the parent’s responsibility: Many parents hope that their children will go to college, but they may also worry about affording it. College has become several times more costly than when parents attended.
Many, but not all, scholarships require families to demonstrate financial need such as the 100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives Scholarship Program. Scholarships based on financial need are typically designed to recruit and fund specific ethnic, racial and gender groups in certain fields.
Financial stress can come from a multitude of different sources, one of which can be the death of a parent or guardian. The Life Lessons Scholarship Program was established to provide $15,000 in scholarship funds for those who persevered in the face of this adversity.
As they research the financial fit of colleges, parents should check into the merit-based aid – scholarships and grants – that their student’s preferred schools award in addition to need-based aid. That will help position students to help themselves.
This article was originally published by U.S. News & World Report. The author, Susan Dutca is the head content writer at Scholarships.com, one of the most widely used free college scholarship search and financial aid information resources online. The organization also formed RightStudent about five years ago, a company that has built relationships with colleges and universities across the U.S. to provide students with the opportunity to not only interact with prospective colleges, but to also be recruited by them. Follow Scholarships.com on Twitter and Facebook.
Here is the link to the article: http://www.usnews.com/education/scholarship-search-insider/articles/2016-06-02/ways-parents-and-counselors-can-help-students-earn-scholarships