Scholarships. To students, the word scholarship often conjures up a vision of work for which over-scheduled students have little time in search of money that may not materialize. Worse, the work is writing essays, a skill left in the dust of emails and texts.
As grant aid hangs in the balance of the federal budget axe and college tuition rises to cover costs increasingly not covered by state governments, parents and students are left to manage the difference between what colleges offer students as part of admissions and financial aid offers and what college actually costs.
Scholarships can be a significant help to families managing the difference between college aid and college costs. But scholarships do involve work. And students do not have a great deal of time to take on extra tasks. Too many are not prepared to do so.
The answer is for the student and the family to take on scholarship searching and applications as a family hobby. Families who start early, preferably before the senior year of high school, and who work at scholarships weekly have the best chance of getting money for college from scholarships. Elementary school is not too early.
The scholarship search requires information that the family has that the student alone may not, such as family history and family connections. Too often students do not know their unique family history that could qualify them for scholarships as the ancestors of veterans of the revolutionary or civil wars, for example. Students also often do not know where their parents bank or about civic and professional groups to which their parents belong. Financial institutions and civic and professional group memberships are another source of scholarships.
Families who have scholarship hunting as an early hobby will gain a sense of the grade point average and activity track records their children should have in order to qualify for the most scholarships. Students who develop an early awareness of those facts have time to gain such credentials.
Extended family, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as well as neighbors who know you are searching for scholarships will also start to look for them and share information they find.
Families who are searching for scholarships will be aware that writing is a skill that successful candidates must develop. Children who learn to write a cohesive essay that effectively tells their story will do much better than students who have little practice writing.
The idea that it takes a village to raise a child could also apply to scholarships. The more people who help, the better.