Scholarship Advice from a Great Hearts Valedictorian

Great Hearts Academies June 12, 2017
Written by Ruth Oliver
Arete Prep 2017 Valedictorian, 3-sport athlete, received a perfect ACT score, and will be attending Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College in the fall of 2017.

While Great Heart seniors enter their final year of high school worried about balancing school, Senior Thesis, and college applications, their families have another concern: the cost of college.

What you may not know is one of the easiest solutions is provided by the college itself in the form of merit scholarships. There’s no paperwork needed, no essays to write, no additional stress. Each student is automatically in contention for these scholarships as soon as they apply to the college. These scholarships are partly based on grades and academic performance, but it’s also affected by extracurricular activities and community involvement. Dee Dee Sanders, the Director of College Counseling for at Great Hearts, suggests taking advantage of the things your student is enthusiastic about. “[If students] find something that they love and find a way to make it better…” they will be able to give depth and passion to the things they pursue.

Colleges look for students who do things they genuinely love, because they know these students will transfer their passion into the college campus.

So what kind of activities should students participate in? My advice: they shouldn’t limit themselves to activities within the school. Besides extracurriculars and school sports, colleges also look at the student’s larger community involvement.

Volunteering to benefit the local community is another way for your student to explore their passion. Take advantage of time off during the summer. Your student can participate in a multitude of activities, whether volunteering or educational, to keep them involved and active within all circles of their community. Use the summer to expand on your student’s interests in ways they cannot during the school year. Being involved in summer activities demonstrates to colleges a well-rounded individual who is always seeking to learn.

As senior year gets closer, stay aware of deadlines. The earlier students submit applications to colleges, the more likely those students are to receive merit based aid. Along with this, stay conscious of each school’s essay prompts. Writing is the main way schools will get to know about the student’s personality, and for that reason, the essays are very important. Students should provide themselves with enough time to write and revise their essays, as well as share them with others to have them edited.

Within this last year or two, let the college know you want to attend their school. The admissions representatives who tour around your area and make presentations about their schools are also the ones reading the applications. For this reason, do what you can to stand out from the other prospective students—ask a question that shows you have done research about the school, or stay after the presentation to talk with the representative.

In the end, the schools look at the whole student, not just their grades. Sanders added, “The students who do the best in 12th grade and who have a lot of options are the ones who have just done great work, focused on their classwork, got involved in things they genuinely loved, not to pad a resume, but things that they’re passionate about.”

For more tips, check out this article: 13 Best Tips for Winning College Scholarships

1: Apply for local scholarships

2: Apply for scholarships with smaller awards

3: More work = fewer applicants = better chances

4: Get personal

5: Don’t introduce yourself in your essay

6: Don’t repeat the easy prompt

7: Don’t use quotes

8: Satisfy all the requirements

9: Stick to the word limit

10: Proofread

11: Submit early

12: Apply for as many scholarships as you can

13: Don’t give up


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