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Perhaps, for the time being, American colleges (see Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.) are among the most desirable in the world, but there is some concern that this might not always be so and that perhaps this shouldn't be taken for granted.

Before Toyota started shipping automobiles to the United states in ever-increasing quantities, General Motors ruled. The American car was king in the U.S. and led all other auto companies world-wide for three quarters of a century. That began to change in the 80's and now it is not uncommon, even right here in the heartland of America, to see more Japanese cars on your morning commute than those manufactured in the United St. Could we have learned a lesson from Japan? Taken a page from their playbook maybe and avoided the enormous failure and subsequent government bailout of what was once the auto sales leader for 77 consecutive years? There are those who believe education is set on a similar trajectory. Here are five things we might want to consider:

  1. Building Human Capital While college costs continue to rise in the U.S. and it becomes more and more difficult for high school grads to attend college, China is making sure its young people have an opportunity to get a post-secondary education. Apparently they, along with other East Asian countries, see a strong connection between the education of its citizens and its burgeoning economy and are working to build human capital to ensure continued growth and success.
  2. Policy May Set Pace China is set to outpace the U.S. not just in college grads, but also in world-class universities. This is primarily due to the amount of importance they place on education and the funding they commit to seeing that it succeeds. If we are to have any hope of keeping up with China, India and Japan in the coming decades, we may want to consider a similar approach and learn from the success of these programs and their dedication to higher education.
  3. Beware Hubris It's probably not a good idea to assume that, because there presently are no Asian institutions listed among the top 20 worldwide, there won't soon be. According to Yale's president, Richard C. Levin, there is likely to be some change in the coming years, with National University of Singapore one of the schools likely to break into the top twenty.
  4. Eyes on Asia It might be a good idea to take a serious look at some of the programs the most successful schools in Asia have implemented and consider building some of our own in select institutions, for a start. Getting students involved in more global, real-life situations and positions earlier, for example, might be something we should be doing more of.
  5. If You Can't Beat 'Em OK, it may be a bit early to admit defeat and, if we step it up a bit, maybe concession won't be necessary, but working with Asian universities could be among the key steps we could take to improve the quality of the education we offer in the U.S.


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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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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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by Derrius Quarles

After you have created your list of scholarships and or colleges and identified the people you want to write your recommendations it is time to tackle the most important part of the application. The reason writing skills are apart of the foundation of the application is because they build up to the personal statement. The personal statement is just that; writing that makes a statement about who you are as a person. It does something that a grade point average, test score, or award cannot: it gives you the opportunity to creatively tell the scholarship or admissions review board (the people who will read and judge your application) how high school has affected you. It also provides the opportunity for the review board to gain an understanding of who you are when you leave school. The review board will be looking for students who are well rounded and that understand that school is more than just acquiring accolades and gaining a high GPA or test score. School is about growth and progression and the people who read your application will enjoy applicants who show that they understand this concept. The personal statement is your chance to show the review board that you understand, and in many instances it will be used to evaluate everything else included in your application.

Now that you see why the personal statement is so important, it’s time to start writing. However, before you start writing, please check out my Top Five Don’ts When Writing a Personal Statement:

  1. Do not send in a personal statement with multiple grammar and punctuation mistakes. Be sure to have it proof-read and edited, revising until it is grammatically correct; this shows the review boards you are ready for college level writing and does not waste their time.
  2. The personal statement is not the time to tell a sob story that you believe will make the review board feel sorry for you. Everyone experiences adversity and the review boards hear hundreds if not thousands of sad stories. Instead show them how you got over your adversities.
  3. More does not necessarily mean better. If the application gives you a word limit or maximum for your personal statement, follow directions. One easy way to get your application tossed is not being able to follow simple directions.
  4. Do not start on the personal statement a week before the application is due. You will not have time to do the necessary revisions that make a great personal statement.
  5. Do not use the entire personal statement talking about your activities, honors, awards, and GPA because they are already listed in the rest of your application. It is a waste of an opportunity to create a story that says something about who you are.

Now that you have read the "Top Five Don’ts When Writing a Personal Statement", you should be more than ready to write a great personal statement for any college or scholarship. Just remember that the personal statement is about illustrating who you are as a person in and, more importantly, outside of school. You want to find something that other parts of your application do not say, start early, be concise, be creative, and revise, revise, revise. If you keep these points in mind you will definitely set yourself apart.

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 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 third 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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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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by Derrius Quarles

Humans give off carbon dioxide for plants to use and plants give off oxygen for humans to survive.  Water is constantly converted into a gas through heat where it then rises and cools to fall as rain, snow, etc. These processes have occurred for thousands of years and they are also some of the most efficient processes known to man. Why are these natural processes so efficient? It is because they use a process known as recycling. Recycling is a process observed in many natural systems, and it may be the most important concept for you to understand when completing the scholarship process. You have written your personal statements (essays), gotten your recommendations, created your resume, and made a scholarship list. However, if you do not learn how to recycle these items, you will soon find that it is difficult and vey time-consuming to apply for the 15 or more scholarships on your list. If you learn how to take a paragraph from your college application essay and insert it there, take a paragraph from your past scholarship essay on adversity and insert it here, you will soon have an entirely new essay that you can use for a different scholarship.

Recycling application sections sounds like a fairly simple idea, right? Not necessarily. Recycling when doing scholarship applications is a great idea, but it’s not exactly simple. It can be an effective tool if used properly. If used incorrectly, however, it can have disastrous effects and can be a quick way to lose potential financial aid. “So, how do I recycle effectively?” you may ask. The answer is that you have to ensure that while recycling application sections such as a personal statement (essay) or recommendation that you tailor the personal statement or recommendation to each specific application. If you are applying to a scholarship that awards money based on academic achievement, it is not the best idea to recycle and use a recommendation previously written by a community service organizer because they cannot speak first hand about your abilities in the classroom the way a teacher can. You also may want to go through your essays and ask your recommenders to make the small or large changes in order to tailor your applications. If your essay states that “I feel I deserve the Dell Scholarship because…” yet you are applying to the Wal-Mart scholarship, you probably just lost that scholarship. An application package is somewhat like a suit, it needs to tailored in order to look its best; although it may look okay without tailoring, it will look great with it.

Here are some quick rules for recycling sections of your scholarship application:

  1. Be sure that each section of your scholarship applications is tailored for the specific type of scholarship you are applying for- If it’s a community service type of scholarship. Your recommendations and essay should talk about your experiences with community service etc.
  2. You can recycle an entire essay and use it over if it applies to the question being asked- If you wrote an essay in the past about your love for science and are applying to a scholarship related to science, you can probably use that entire essay over and save valuable time.
  3. Use different parts of past personal statements or essays to create entirely new essays- A few paragraphs from old essays with a few new sentences added to them is an entirely new essay.
  4. Get copies of your recommendations from your recommenders- Make sure each copy has their signature on them and you can use them in the future
  5. Always have copies of your resume, standardized test scores (ACT, SAT), and FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR)- You will definitely need these items the majority of the time when applying to scholarships and having copies ready saves time.

Using and sticking to these rules will be an easy way to save time, reduce stress, and finish scholarship applications well before the deadline.  Remember, if used properly, recycling is not only good for the environment; it’s good for the scholarship application process as well.<,/p>

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 fifth 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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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Samuel Favela

by Samual Favela

Hey guys! My name is Samuel Favela (you can call me Samwell) and I’m currently a journalism major at Long Beach City College. Nice to meet you all!

What’s my story? I used to attend Cal Poly Pomona but left because, like most college students, I had no idea what direction I was going in. After a year off, I decided to move back home and try out a community college; I had my doubts at first but by mid-term, I LOVED my new school! The environment was fresh, there was so much diversity and the people there were actually willing to carry a conversation with me. I quickly realized I had a better connection there than I did at Cal Poly with both local students and ones from all over the nation.

My interest in journalism transpired from me always writing on my own time, taking pictures of cool random things and my people skills. To be honest, it was a lucky guess: I only took the classes because they were open and I needed four more units to get financial aid but two classes into my first journalism class (public relations), I was hooked. I even received an award for being at the top of my class. Good guess, huh? As of right now, I am interested in transferring to Cal State Long Beach after I take all the classes I need at LBCC, but who knows? I didn't expect to be going to LBCC and given how much I like change, I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up in New York!

What do I hope to get out of this virtual internship? I love the thought of being the voice for a community or generation. I have a voice I know how to use and if I can speak for someone who can't say the words themself, it would be my honor. I hope this is the start of a beautiful virtual relationship! :)


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