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College Talk Blog


Which comes first: Admission or Scholarship?

Most students and their families view college admission and scholarships logically. They first worry about gaining admission and then try to find scholarships after they discover the sticker price where they have been accepted. The problem with that logical sequence is that by the time they know which college accepted them, the scholarship deadlines have passed.

An illogical approach works better. First find out which colleges are generous to the type of student in question. Then apply to those colleges.

Students and Scholarship Applications

Parents looking at college sticker prices hope for scholarships from colleges and organizations to help reduce costs. They need to do more than hope. Getting college scholarships requires applications, essays, letters of reference and sometimes videos and portfolios. 

Getting teens to complete a college scholarship application requires coaching and supervision because this is a foreign activity for students. Not only do they not know how to apply, they are often reluctant to do so because of the amount of effort required when they have no idea if they will win any money.

Where are the Scholarships???

Scholarship leads are found in the high school counseling office, newspaper, popular scholarship websites and on college websites. I call them "leads" because that is what they are. They are opportunities or leads to apply for college money. Students don't always know how scholarships work. Recently a student asked me after completing a scholarship application when he'd get the money. I had to explain to him that his application was an entry into a competition or drawing for scholarship money and that applying did not mean a guarantee of getting the money.

Top 5 Reasons Teens Don't Win Scholarships

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.

Teenagers and Scholarships

Scholarship applications vary tremendously in the amount offered, the work required and (in some cases) the probability of being selected. I find a direct correlation between student willingness to apply and efficiency of the application process.

Some scholarships offer large financial amounts and have efficient online application processes that don't require additional work unless the student is selected as a finalist. 

Other scholarships are more cumbersome to pursue because they require a paper application that has to be sent to an individual by mail.