If you're like most families, you are hoping that the teenagers in your family will win scholarships to reduce the amount your family will have to pay for college. An important thing hopeful adults need to know is that teenagers don't share the same hope. The reason is that they usually don't see the task of paying for college as something that is their job. Most teens tell me that their parents have tuition "handled". When I talk to the parents of those same teens, they don't see it that way. They are worried about how they are going to pay for college.
Understanding the differences between how you and your teen see college costs will be very helpful to you as you talk to your teenager. A helpful exercise is to share with your teen what you can afford in terms of where they can go to college if no scholarships are awarded to them versus where they can go if they earn a specific dollar amount in scholarships. Explaining the importance of scholarships in this way is motivating to students by helping them understand that applying for scholarships will actually have an impact on them.
Without an understanding of the importance of scholarships, teens often fail to apply for scholarships because, they say:
- parents have costs handled so they don't need to apply
- it takes too much work to apply
- they don't have time to apply
- they don't see a reason to do it
- they do not know how to do it
When scholarships become the difference between going where they want as opposed to where they would prefer NOT to go, teens are willing to do the work required to apply. Applying for scholarships does not mean a scholarship will be awarded but not applying guarantees no scholarship will be in their future.