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Building a Resume While in School

March 27, 2013

Building a Resume While in School

by Chelsea Slaughter

We all know that school is hard sometimes but life after graduation can be much harder if you do not do what’s necessary to stand apart from the crowd. When graduating high school and entering college, you will find many opportunities to enter academic and social organizations, most of which will require application processes that ask about your involvement and leadership skills. Realizing you don’t have much on your resume? No worries: You still have time.

First, find a club that interests you and join it. And don’t just be a member – run for a position, ANY position. This shows leadership and adds an extra line on your resume while showing you have ambition and drive different from students who are just members. Another good way to build a resume is through volunteer work. Spending extra time doing community service is a great way to gain experience AND give back.

When it comes to building a resume in college, the small minimum wage jobs really do not count. After graduation, companies want to see what you have done to gain hands-on skills. Most degrees require students to do at least one internship; this usually takes place during junior year but don't be afraid to get a head start in your freshman or sophomore years...or both! Also, try joining academic and community service-based organizations – this will help to encounter great opportunities that you might not find on your own.

Remember that employers look beyond just good grades: They want to be able to see that you have put yourself out in other activities and can handle multiple responsibilities. If you spend your free time wisely and productively, you will definitely thank yourself later.

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

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The Biggest Career Mistakes of 20-Somethings

May 20, 2013

The Biggest Career Mistakes of 20-Somethings

by Chelsea Slaughter

I read recently this article on the Huffington Post that I would like to share with you all: the eight biggest mistakes that we “20-somethings” make in careers. I chose four out of the eight that college students should really be mindful of because these tips could possibly prevent you from making the same mistakes!

  • You Think You Can't Make Money While Pursuing Your Passion. You do not have to choose between being financially stable and doing what you love – it’s possible to have both!
  • You Stay On a Path You Know is Not Right for Too Long. As SOON as you realize that the academic road you are taking is not for you, reverse and get out. I had to do this when I changed my major: When I realized that it wasn’t making me happy, I got right out.
  • You Compare Yourself to Your Peers. As easy as this is to do while attending college, it will not be as simple after college so get out the habit now. Seeing someone else achieve more than you should just be used as motivation. Do not beat yourself up, as this habit can lead to depression later in life.
  • You Aren't Mindful of Social Media Use. I recently did an article about proper social media etiquette. Think before you post, people! It is very important considering employees are losing their jobs over simple social media mistakes these days.

To see all eight of the mistakes, check out the full article here. Can you think of anything to add to this list? If so, let us know in the comments!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

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The How and Why of Interning and Volunteering Abroad

March 14, 2012

The How and Why of Interning and Volunteering Abroad

by Darci Miller

In this day and age, the world is an increasingly small place, as one only has to foray into the world of blogs and forums to make contact with people thousands of miles away. We may not exactly live in the “global village” that Marshall McLuhan predicted back in the day but we’re certainly closer than society has ever been to that point. What does that mean for us college students? Well, I think it goes without saying that the job market is a changing place. It is far from uncommon for a company to be multinational and deal with clients from around the world so this makes a basic knowledge of international relations – as well as knowledge of another language...or two – a definite plus.

Experience abroad can be turned into a marketable quality when you’re on the job or internship search. Most interviewers are more concerned with experience than they are with grades so if you’re abroad, don’t be afraid to skip the occasional class if it means getting out there and immersing yourself in the culture of your new home. Some events only come around once in a lifetime and can often be much more valuable than a perfect attendance record.

Even better? Get work experience abroad! In an international job market, this experience is invaluable and will be looked upon extremely favorably by employers but be sure to do your research ahead of time. For example, college students get “work placement” in England rather than internships, so opportunities are few and far between. Before you leave your home university, email companies in your study abroad destination and tell them you’re interested in working for them...even if they aren’t advertising any positions – that’s what a friend of mine did and she nabbed herself an internship in London for the summer!

Another crucial tip is ensuring that you have the proper work clearance. If your visa is incorrect, you could end up being deported or banned from ever returning to the country. Each country’s border agency or immigration office should have details on its website; the process is a pain (trust me, I’ve been there) but it’s definitely worth it: My Tier 4 student visa has allowed me to volunteer with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and I couldn’t be happier!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit. This semester, Darci is studying abroad in London and will share her international experiences here.

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Traveling While Abroad

April 5, 2012

Traveling While Abroad

by Darci Miller

My backpack is packed, my tickets are printed, my passport is at the ready and my camera is fully charged. My train to Paris leaves in exactly three hours and one minute and from there, a few friends and I begin a three-week backpacking tour across Europe. Our stops include a city I’ve wanted to visit since the fourth grade (Copenhagen), the world center of the Olympic movement (Lausanne), one of my favorite cities in the world (Venice) and two cities in which I was considering studying abroad (Munich and Berlin). Am I excited? You could say so.

Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to achieve any travel dreams you may have. Money is, of course, an obstacle but there are ways to travel on the cheap, especially in the European Union. For an extended trip like mine, the Eurail pass is a great option, letting you choose your number of travel days and countries. There are also Megabus deals between countries starting at next to nothing, plus discount airlines.

Airlines can charge an arm and a leg for checked baggage so it’s smart to fit everything you need into a carry-on or backpack. Invest in a sturdy one and remember to pack light! Bring clothes that can easily be mixed and matched (and ladies, a great space-saving option that gives you tons of outfit choices while traveling is bringing shorts and tights instead of pants if it’s warm enough!).

It’s also important to remember to book travel as early as you can to save on transportation and hostel costs. When it comes to hostels, try to stay in places that your friends have stayed in before you; personal recommendations are always a plus. Don’t be too worried about sharing rooms with strangers, either: Most places have lockers where you can keep your stuff safe and most people staying in hostels are in the exact same boat as you.

As for an itinerary, my friends and I don’t have one. We know when we have to be at the train station and we have a list of things to do in each city but that’s it. We’ve discovered that part of the fun is wandering around and seeing what we stumble across – don’t be afraid to leave some things to chance!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit. This semester, Darci is studying abroad in London and will share her international experiences here.

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How to Maximize Your Experience When You Have Minimal Time

August 21, 2012

How to Maximize Your Experience When You Have Minimal Time

by Darci Miller

It’s that time again, folks: Summer is ending and we’re all lugging all our stuff back to our dorm rooms for another year of school. After reuniting with your friends, everyone asks how your summer was and how that internship went. Wait...what internship? While others swap stories about impossible assignments, "constructive criticism" and weird bosses, you sit there awkwardly and silently swear to yourself that you’re going to put your nose to the grindstone this semester. No opportunity will be passed up and your resume will look absolutely glorious.

Hang on. Between classes, clubs, a job, potential internships and – oh yeah! – a social life and maybe some sleep, you’re left with less than five hours in the day. Oops...but don’t fret: It's possible if you know how to work the system. And, luckily for you, some of us already do.

Internships are a must to add to your resume before you leave college but if you’re attending school/living in a small city with few opportunities, don’t have a car and have to rely on unreliable public transit, etc., this can be a super difficult task. Solution? Go virtual! Virtual (or remote) internships are THE best way to get experience in a time-efficient way. You can work from anywhere there’s a computer with Internet access and you often get to make your own schedule. Take it from someone who’s had four remote positions already – you’re going to want to look into virtual internships as an option.

While internships are great, you’re obviously going to want a job to pad your bank account a bit, right? Nothing fancy is necessary so your first stops should absolutely be on campus. Places like the library, gym and all academic departments all need students to work for them and they’re in walking distance from your dorm and/or classes. Less travel time means more time spent doing something productive, so take advantage. Another HUGE plus? On-campus jobs are often really good about letting you do homework while on shift. Multitasking at its finest and yet another way to free up more of your day!

The key here is to be as efficient as possible with your time. Use it as productively as you can, overlap tasks and travel, and you’re good to go. Now stop procrastinating and get to work!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit.

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Keeping Your Sanity During the Application Process

January 12, 2010

by Derrius Quarles

Now that you have developed a scholarship list to keep track of all your scholarships and have created the foundation of your application by getting your recommendations and personal statement(s) completed, all you have to do is put the finishing touches on all of your applications right? Not quite; juggling school, extra-curricular activities, a part-time job, and scholarship applications can make the most organized person stressed, and what tends to happen is that high school students spend less time on their scholarship applications in order to relieve the stress of being a senior. However, you do not have to sacrifice spending time on your scholarship applications if you take certain steps. These steps can help you keep your grades up, participate in all of your activities, and still put in the time that is required to create great scholarship applications.

Learning how to manage your time will be your most effective tool to help you complete your scholarship applications on time and decrease stress. If you learn how to manage your time effectively, you will notice that you can fit more into your schedule because you will waste less time wondering what you supposed to be doing. Have you ever come home from school, tossed your book bag down and gone to sleep or watched television for a couple hours and later asked yourself where all your time went when you go to do your homework? You probably go to sleep late, wake up tired and end up being sleepy in your first class. Well this is a cycle that many students are familiar with, but it can be fixed if you simply learn how to manage your time more efficiently. These strategies can help you use your time more effectively:

  1. Start using a calendar that tracks your day by the hour. By doing this you allow yourself to actually see what you should be doing every hour; which helps you keep track of your time better than a list of things you have to do for each day. REMEMBER- A calendar only works if you actually use it and fill it with the activities in your schedule. Use your mobile phone and computer calendars as ways to constantly remind yourself of what you have to do daily. 
  2. Plan ahead as much as possible. Fill your calendar with the activities you are sure you will have complete as early as you can, and make sure you add items to your calendar as soon as you become aware of them, such as homework assignments, college fairs, application deadlines, etc.
  3. Prioritize by completing your most important tasks first. This will ensure that you do not forget to complete a very important task and that you have enough time to finish all of your important tasks. For example, school is always going to be your most important task, so everything on your schedule should fit around it.
  4. Spread out your time when completing important tasks. You do not always want to find yourself completing an entire scholarship application in one day because it can require hours and hours worth of time. Spread your time out because this will allow you to take breaks that keep your mind fresh and allow you to create great school projects, essays and, most of all, scholarship applications.
  5. Find time to do things that you enjoy. Sometimes you have to put your homework, textbook, and applications down and to do something that makes you laugh and enjoy yourself. This will help you stay energized and ready to complete tasks that are more demanding.

Masterpieces such as the Taj Mahal and Sistine Chapel were not created in a day. Though smaller in scale, great scholarship applications are not either. You have to learn how to manage your time so that you do not have to throw together something that is not of high quality. When you have school and other time-consuming activities to do every day, finding time to complete scholarship applications can cause a lot of stress. However, if you learn to use a calendar, plan ahead, and prioritize tasks you will be sure to keep your sanity during the application process.

Derrius L Quarles is a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse College. He hopes to go to medical school after he graduates with a degree in psychology and biology and a minor in public health, and to one day work on the public health policies of his hometown, Chicago, and beyond. To help him achieve those academic and career ambitions, Derrius has won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse, since graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius was awarded a Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships at Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the fourth in a series of posts Derrius is writing for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.

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A Strong Foundation Means a Strong Application

December 8, 2009

by Derrius Quarles

Once you start the process of identifying scholarships that you qualify for, start a scholarship table that will help you track the progress of them. The scholarship table should list the name, amount, deadline, if you have completed the scholarship application, and if you have submitted the application for each scholarship you have identified.  This will be a very effective tool in helping you remain aware of the status of your scholarships. When you begin to complete your applications you will notice that there are many components to each scholarship, which could seem very cumbersome. However, you can break each scholarship down to smaller sections, which will essentially allow you to spread the time you spend on each application out and make the process less strenuous.

Most scholarships can be divided up into these sections:

  • Contact Info
  • Academic info
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Personal Statement/Essays
  • Recommendations

Each component is very important and will require attention in order to build a strong application, but there are certain components that tell the scholarship review boards the most about who you truly are as a person. These components are the essay(s) and the recommendation(s) and I believe that these components are the foundation of your application.

The essay(s) is a critical portion of your application because it shows how well you can articulate your personal experiences, past accomplishments, and future aspirations. While reading your essays the reviewers should receive a glimpse of your personality and delve into who you are as a person. They should reflect your potential to write at the collegiate level and ability to be both creative and eloquent. You must find a way to begin your essay creatively because that will keep the reader interested throughout your entire essay. The introduction should be the beginning of telling the reader a story, instead of writing like you would for a research paper. Once you draw the reader in with an interesting introduction, expand on the story with your body paragraphs. After the body paragraphs, wrap the essay up with a strong conclusion that shows what you learned from the story and how that story made you a better person. When you complete any essay for a scholarship application, save it to your computer and a flash drive so that you can revise it and possibly use it in subsequent applications.

The scholarship letter of recommendation will give the reviewers an opportunity to see a respected individual's opinion of you and should accentuate the activities and information listed in the rest of the application.  The reason they are so important is because it is the only part of the application that is not completed by you, and sometimes the quality of your recommendation (length, content, position of person who completes it) says more about who you are as a person than anything you could say about yourself. This is why it is imperative that your recommendations are completed by people that have had a close relationship with you (other than a family member), have observed your participation in different extracurricular activities, and are familiar with the scholarship you are applying to. Always give your recommenders at least three weeks to complete your recommendation whether they are hard copies or online and always have a résumé ready to give them in case they want to know more about all of your past activities. If the recommendation is a hard copy, ask your recommender if you can make copies for future scholarships so that you do not have to ask them every time. Keep in mind that each portion of your scholarship is important, but the essay and recommendation are the foundation of your application, and a strong foundation means a strong application.

About the Author:

Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships at Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the second in a series of posts Derrius will write for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.

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The Scholarship Interview; "Making" It or "Breaking" It

February 15, 2010

by Derrius Quarles

Now that you have made your scholarship list, gotten your recommendations, written your personal statement, created your scholarship application packet and applied for scholarships, you may be receiving e-mails and calls notifying you that you have been selected for interviews. This is it! This is what you worked so hard for! The only problem is, for some students, the interviews will be it, literally. Each scholarship will have a certain number of winners; more students will be invited to interviews than can be selected as recipients. This is why the interview is so crucial; it will be the determining factor of who is in the final group of winners. If you want to be in that final group, you have to set yourself apart, just as you did in your personal statement.  Speaking of personal statements, which essentially are essays, I like to think of the interview as an essay. There is an introduction, body, and a conclusion. Like your scholarship essay, the interview says something about who you are, how informed you are of a topic, what your opinions and thoughts are, and how eloquently you can state those opinions and thoughts. So here is the interview breakdown:  Introduction - Your appearance, handshake, ability to make eye contact, ability to state your name, posture, and overall attitude all add up to a great introduction.

     
  • In every interview, your dress should be business casual, at the very least. Even if the interviewers did not specify a dress code, it is better to be overdressed than to be underdressed
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  • The handshake should be firm, but not overpowering or held for too long
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  • Eye contact is a sign of respect in American society, so always show respect by looking your interviewer in the eye
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  • You should be able to say your first and last name confidently to each interviewer, maintain a good listening posture, and make the interviewers feel like you desire to be there and deserve the scholarship
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 Body - This consists of the questions that will be asked of you. These can either be very open ended such as: “Tell us about yourself.”Or very direct such as: “What is your potential major?” Not only are your answers important but so, too, are the manner in which you listen and interact with the interviewers. 
     
  • The questions can get difficult, it is much better to pause and gather your thoughts before you answer than to answer prematurely
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  • When the interviewers are talking give them your full attention and listen actively and be aware of your body language
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  • Try to answer each question completely and give a complete answer, but do not talk unnecessarily or ramble
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  • Do not be afraid to be yourself or throw some humor into your answers
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 Conclusion - The time to wrap up everything you showed during the introduction and body of the interview. This includes keeping the same professionalism and great attitude you came in with, and reinforcing the answers you gave. 
     
  • When the interviewers are done asking you their questions, they may see if you have any questions for them. Even if they do not ask if you have any questions, politely tell them you would like to ask them some questions. This shows you are interested in them, just as much as they are in you.
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  • When you get up to leave the interview room, make sure that you shake every person’s hand in the room and thank them for the opportunity.
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 In addition to having a good intro, body, and conclusion there are simple mistakes that everyone should avoid, the way you would try to steer clear of spelling and grammar mistakes in an essay. 
     
  1. Always show up early for an interview
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  3. Turn your cellular device on silent mode or off
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  5. Do not fidget your fingers or give attention to other items such as a pen while others are speaking
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  7. Never leave the interview without showing appreciation and stating that you look forward to communication in the future
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 You worked hard to be chosen for an interview, and you deserve anything that you are awarded. Unfortunately, someone will have to “break it”, so take this advice and come into the interview ready to “make it”.

Derrius L Quarles is a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse College. He hopes to go to medical school after he graduates with a degree in psychology and biology and a minor in public health, and to one day work on the public health policies of his hometown, Chicago, and beyond. To help him achieve those academic and career ambitions, Derrius has won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse, since graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius was awarded a Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships at Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the sixth in a series of posts Derrius is writing for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.

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Oh, How The Small Things Add Up

Tips For Saving Money In College

July 6, 2010

by Derrius Quarles

Your checking account is low. "I'll just call home," you say, but you soon learn that your parents refuse to send you any more money. "What about my savings?" Depleted, and you won’t be receiving your work study check for another two weeks. "Okay," you tell yourself, "I can make it through this." Then you open your mini-fridge to find it has become a vacant box except for the ice cubes in the freezer. "I can make it though this" quickly becomes "How am I going to make it through this?"

Unfortunately, this is a position many college students find themselves in at some point due to the many expenses that come with paying for college and surviving while there. There is no plan that can absolutely guarantee this will never happen to you, however, there is one concept that, if put into practice, can help you make sure this hypothetical story does not become your reality. That concept is money management. For many college students this is a concept that is not understood until after a freshman year crisis like the one above, or even worse, an after graduation crisis. This does not have to happen to you, though. You do not have to face an empty bank account or refrigerator to learn how to manage your money. Rather, by learning how to mange your money early, you can avoid the behaviors and habits that lead to such crises while in college. The three things that all college students should understand when it comes to managing their money in college are:

  1. Frequent Purchases
  2. Infrequent Purchases
  3. Budgeting

Frequent purchases are ironic little things. Ironic because most people constantly buy them and do not believe they make a big difference in their budget. Truth is, these small, frequent purchases are what most college students spend most of their money (not including financial aid) on. Small things like gas, take-out, groceries, flying home, clothing, and entertainment. The reason these small things trick many students is because they do not seem like much at the time of purchase. $40 dollars spent on clothes once every day of the week, is easily perceived as less than $280 spent on clothes one day out of the week. When you take into account all of the purchases where this effect can occur, the small things quickly add up to a large amount of money. For example, if a student buys take-out two times a week at $20, that adds up to $200 a month. Then add entertainment (movies, clubs, restaurants, bowling, etc) at $30 a week and you have $150 for the month. If this were your budget, you would have just spent $350 on take-out and entertainment for the month! In order to alleviate spending large amounts of money on small things over time, you have to keep track of all your purchases, no matter how small they are. Another way of spending less on small purchases is to find discounts and by shopping smart. If you have a roommate, then you could buy food for the dorm with them and you could split the costs of dorm items such as TV’s, mini-fridges, irons, ironing boards, etc. Another way of saving money is to utilize your meal plan as much as possible. Your school is going to get paid whether you choose to eat their food or not, so it is best to eat the food available in the dining hall rather than ordering take out. When buying clothing find places that offer college students discounts, or that have good sales. There are also stores that will buy your used clothes and give you cash for them. If you are buying things online, no matter what it is, always search for online coupon codes before purchasing because it could save you 15-50% on your purchase. The last frequent purchase where you could save a ton of money is airline tickets. Even if you only fly home two times out of the year, it could be ridiculously expensive. Buy your tickets as early as possible because it will be cheaper, pack light because baggage fees are steep, and check out AirTran U, which offers students between the ages of 18-22 huge discounts on flights all across America.

Infrequent purchases usually costs a lot more up front, which is the main reason they are infrequent. For college students these purchases usually include books, computers, printers, and summer storage for items too big to bring home. The best way to save on these items is pretty simple. Do your research on which stores or companies have the best price for what you need. When it comes to books, remember this one thing: Your campus bookstore will almost always inflate the prices of textbooks 40% or more, and they give small amounts of money if you want to sell your books back. Even the used textbooks at your campus bookstore will be expensive when compared to online resources. When shopping for a computer, price may not always be the thing you want to look at. If the computer is cheap, but it will break in a year, then it may not be the best buy. You should look for a computer that is in your budget but will also last all of your college years. Another way to save on computers is to look for online discounts, discounts specifically for students, and to buy your computer and printer as a bundle package. Summer storage can also be very expensive so it is best to do your research and find the best price.

The most important step in the process of saving money while in college is creating a budget and sticking to it. Create a spreadsheet that lists all of your income and expenses by category. Then set a cap for each expense so that you do not deplete your funds. Create on online sign in for your bank accounts so you can always stay abreast on what you have spent. Also, try to avoid overdraft fees by making sure your account never becomes negative and by only going to ATM machines that do not charge you fees for withdrawals. Remember that the small things add up to a lot of money when you are in college, so monitor and limit your frequent purchases, find ways to save on your infrequent purchases, and create a budget so that you always know where your money is and where it is going.

Derrius L Quarles is a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse College. He hopes to go to medical school after he graduates with a degree in psychology and biology and a minor in public health, and to one day work on the public health policies of his hometown, Chicago, and beyond. To help him achieve those academic and career ambitions, Derrius has won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse, since graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius was awarded a Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships at Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the sixth in a series of posts Derrius is writing for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.

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The First Step Doesn’t Have To Be the Hardest

November 17, 2009

by Derrius Quarles

Greetings, my name is Derrius Lamar Quarles and I am currently a freshman majoring in psychology with a biology and public health minor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois and went to high school not too far from Barack Obama’s home. Recently I have been featured on CNN, BET, and in the Chicago Tribune discussing various topics ranging from my journey as a foster child in Chicago to my matriculation at Morehouse College. However, the most exciting and acclaimed topic has been my success in applying for and winning scholarship money—$1,145,000 in total.

This accomplishment has won me the titles “Million Dollar Man” and “Million Dollar Scholar,” titles that I accept gratefully and with a sense of responsibility to help others achieve their goals of attending and paying for college. I can vividly remember writing the goal “Win a million dollars in scholarship money” on a sheet of notebook paper and having many people help me manifest that goal. I hope not only to help high school students learn how to apply for scholarships and win them, but to inspire middle school students to attend college, motivate elementary school students to become scholars, and encourage preschool students to become whatever they want to be. We are all born with the ability to capture our dreams, but few ever learn how to synthesize their dreams into goals, which, unlike dreams, are achievable. It’s like the concept of potential and kinetic energy. We all have potential energy (dreams), but potential energy on its own cannot do any work. We have to learn how to apply force (turn dreams into reality) so that our own potential energy can be turned into kinetic energy that can help us accomplish our goals.

A few years ago I dreamed of going to college, knowing nothing of what I needed to do in order to gain acceptance and how much college would cost. I avidly believe that if I did not make the decision to turn that dream into a goal by learning about the requirements, tailoring my class schedule to make it more rigorous, doing well in my classes and, most of all, asking for help from others, I would not be attending Morehouse College. For many, the decision to turn a dream into a goal is the hardest step, but it does not have to be, and neither does making the decision to turn your dream of paying for college into a goal. Start out by researching which colleges you would like to attend and how much they will cost. Once you have done this, research whether the institutions offer scholarships for such things as academics, community service, sports, leadership, coming from a disadvantaged background, or residing in a certain state. All institutions will offer some form of aid for their applicants, so make sure you are aware of any scholarships or grants you are eligible for from the college you plan on attending. The next step is completing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which becomes available Jan. 1 of every year. After that, you should start locating other resources for searching and applying for financial aid, including your high school and free online scholarship databases such as Scholarships.com. Once you start doing these things, you will actually be turning your dream into a goal and you will soon realize that the first step does not have to be the hardest.

About the Author:

Derrius L. Quarles is a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse College. He hopes to go to medical school after he graduates with a degree in psychology and biology and a minor in public health, and to one day work on the public health policies of his hometown, Chicago, and beyond. To help him achieve those academic and career ambitions, Derrius has won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse, since graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius was awarded a Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships a Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the first in a series of posts Derrius will write for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.

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