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The Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

How Parents Can (and Should!) Begin the Scholarship Search Long Before Their Kids Reach High School

March 7, 2013

The Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

by Carly Gerber

Though most of my posts have been geared toward college students, this one is for the parental readers out there. Scholarships aren’t only available to high school and college students but to younger students, too: Not many parents know that they can find scholarships for their children who are as young as 10 years old! What’s more, the scholarship programs available to young children aren’t as competitive, since not many parents know to search so early for financial aid.

As a parent, you may think financial aid isn’t a topic to discuss until your child is in high school but you’re not doing your child or yourself any favors by waiting – financial services are available right now! There are just a few easy steps parents can take to receive scholarships for their child. First, see what interests your child and have them join clubs and organizations that will expand on those interests. (For example, if your child loves to recycle and has a natural interest in learning about the environment, have him or her join an environmental group.) Next, add this information to your scholarship search and see where it takes you. Take Avalon Theisen: She began an environmental group at 10 years of age and with her mother Deborah’s help, she’s already won numerous scholarships. Avalon gets to do something she’s passionate about and earn money toward her college education – talk about a win-win!

Like Deborah, search for scholarships using your child’s interests and experiences – you may be surprised at what you find! If your child has already entered high school, however, it’s not too late to find money for college: There are still PLENTY of scholarship opportunities out there that they can compete for. Work with your son or daughter to complete a Scholarships.com profile, build a resume and start funding their college education today!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Cornell Student Organization Gives Financial Solace to Undocumented Students

by Carly Gerber

Undocumented students are ineligible for federal aid or loans and as a result, many of these students have a difficult time paying their way through college. Accruing enough funds to turn a collegiate dream into reality isn’t easy but one appropriately-named student group at Cornell University is certainly doing its part to ease the financial burden.

The DREAM Team is attempting to make the American Dream a reality for Cornell’s undocumented students, thanks to a $5,000 reward from the Perkins Prize. Though the initial plan was to give out $2,500 in scholarships and put the remaining $2,500 to DREAM Team events and trips, the group decided it was more important to allot the entire amount to undocumented students in need. The scholarships will be on the smaller side – the DREAM Team receives a minimum of 10 applicants, meaning that awards will be $500 each – but the funds could help awardees purchase the basic necessities to succeed in college. Every little bit helps!

Cornell President David Skorton is proud of his students for being proactive and has said, “Many of us have lost sight of the important contributions immigrants have made – and are making – to our culture and our economy. Their continued contributions are critical to our country’s success.” Yet, along with encouragement comes negative feedback. Conservatives routinely discourage reform that will give undocumented residents a pathway to citizenship, arguing that allowing illegal immigrants to stay in America will burden taxpayers and increase illegal immigration.

Ultimately, the DREAM Team wants Cornell to expand the financial aid it can offer undocumented students and realize the American Dream for deserving students. Other private organizations are offering similar programs and interested students can find these awards via Scholarships.com. What do you think of the work these groups are doing?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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SOTW: The 2013 Expat Youth Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

There is no experience like living in a foreign country to introduce you to new cultures and open your eyes to the greater world around you. By immersing yourself fully in a new culture, you can gain invaluable insight into the challenges facing people from all walks of life. You may even come to develop your own ideas on how to contribute to the global community.

This year Clements Worldwide is asking participants to reflect on their time abroad and show through the use of video how you will use your enriching, cross-cultural experiences to make the world a better place.

To participate and have a chance at winning a scholarship, eligible contestants should:

  • Go to Facebook.com/expatyouth and “Like” the page.
  • Create a 1:30-2:00 minute video showing how you will use your experience living abroad to make the world a better place.
  • Submit the video at Facebook.com/expatyouth at the Contest application by the April 30th deadline.

For more information on this and other scholarship opportunities, complete a free scholarship search today!


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Worry About Finances Less, Enjoy Life More

Several Websites Make Saving Now (and for the Future) Easy!

April 17, 2013

Worry About Finances Less, Enjoy Life More

by Carly Gerber

Summertime is chock full of activities from music festivals to road trips. Don’t let your current spending limit your options of things you want to do (think: traveling abroad) or things you need to get done (see: paying next month’s rent). Instead, check out these websites (thanks, USA Today!) that can help you manage your money now and even help you save for a future purchase.

For example, Mint.com allows you to easily and securely connect your bank account to the program, which categorizes your spending to see where and how much you’re spending. You may need to cool it with the soy lattes from your favorite café for a few weeks but it’s worth enjoying those summer activities.

Another website is Smartypig.com. Here, you determine your goal and then start saving for it. You can also sync your bank account to Smartypig.com and it will withdraw funds until your goal is met or you can manually withdraw money from your bank account and sync the money to Smartypig.com. Need airfare and a ticket to Bonnaroo? You can set it as a goal on Smartypig.com and start saving!

Maybe you and a few friends are running a marathon and want to raise funds to donate to a worthy cause. If so, Gofundme.com is the place to go. Set up an account, share it on social media sites or through email and collect donations. It’s easy and you can raise money for anything! Need a laptop for college? Create an account on Gofundme.com and you could collect donations from friends and family.

Are there any activities you have planned for the summer or any helpful tips on ways to save? Let us know in the comments section!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Working Your Way Through College...and Enjoying It!

by Mike Sheffey

In terms of employment in college, on-campus jobs are the way to go. They get you that spending money you need while keeping you up to date with campus activities. In a way, they make you feel like a great contributor to the campus and its events.

Take me, for example: I work for Terrier Vision, the crew that films the sporting events at Wofford College and streams them online. It’s weird since I’m not too much of a sporty guy but filming these events gives me a sense of involvement and with that, a legitimate interest in the sports (or at least the games I’m filming). The same goes for other on-campus jobs: They connect you with slices of your campus and community you wouldn’t otherwise get to be a part of. And the money isn’t half bad, considering many jobs on campus will pay more than those off simply because the colleges/universities have more funds at their disposal. I meet new people and honestly have fun with my job. Plus, it’s much more convenient to get to work. (Yes, WoCo is small but the principle still applies to larger schools.)

You don’t have to work for sports, either (it’s not my thing but the job is rad): You could just as easily work for your school’s theater department in set construction or with your school’s alumni foundation phoning for donations to specific programs. Many of my friends are TAs and that sounds like a rewarding experience to be able to help others on your campus in an academic setting. Jobs are available almost everywhere – you’ve just got to seek them out!

On-campus jobs push you to explore all aspects of your school, meet new people, engage in networking with a new set of professionals and get that extra bit of money. This kind of goes back to my previous article on keeping with your passions because a) you can help pay for your passion and b) you could get paid FOR your passion! (My incredibly talented photographer friend gets paid to photograph almost every WoCo event.) Do you work on campus? If so, where and how did you land your position?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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The Scoop on Campus Publications

by Katlyn Clark

As a person who writes for her college’s newspaper, I know that there are people who support its mission and those who couldn’t care less. According to a recent Inside Higher Ed article, the latter is becoming more prevalent, as college newspapers are requesting new student media fees to provide printed papers or going digital just to survive.

It's sad that some colleges struggle with getting a paper printed while having to use the students’ money to keep it running. At Campbell, there was one time that we were not able to print our paper because we did not have the necessary funds. The result? The campus did not take much notice when we missed our usual print day and I regularly encounter full paper bins when I go to put new issues in them. Like many colleges, Campbell supplements its print edition with an online presence; though I personally like to thumb through a printed copy, it's neat to be able to read it online anywhere using a tablet or smartphone.

College students may think their school newspapers have no influence but they can. They keep students informed of campus issues ranging from serious topics like tuition increases and crime to more lighthearted subjects. (For example, I cover on-campus events and write reviews for the entertainment section.) You may not believe it but your campus would be much different if student publications ceased to exist! My recommendation would be to pick up your school paper and take a look with fresh eyes – you may be surprised at what you find.

How important is campus media to you? Inside Higher Ed reports that in most cases, students have agreed to small fee increases to help their publications survive. Would you do the same? What else can campus publications do to fund their operations?

Katlyn Clark is a freshman at Campbell University majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing. She hopes to become a broadcast journalist for entertainment or write for a magazine such as People or Seventeen. In her spare time, Katlyn loves to hang out with friends and family and watch sports; she is a Christian who is so thankful for God’s many blessings in her life. Katlyn is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and loves Tim Tebow, Pinterest, the WWE and cats.


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Is the Four-Year Plan Making Us Feel Guilty?

by Carly Gerber

According to the Buffalo News, there has been a decrease in the amount of students who receive their undergraduate degree in four years. Fewer than half of the University at Buffalo graduates graduated in four years and many other universities have seen the same decrease in their students graduating in that once-traditional timeframe. For example, Niagara University had only 60 percent of its students graduate in four years, while Alfred University only had 43 percent of its graduates graduate in four years. These statistics aren’t just exclusive to New York State, either: I personally know students from all over who have taken an extra semester or two to graduate.

My circumstances of being a transfer student and a student who has changed her major more times than she can count have caused me to extend my stay at college by a few semesters. Initially, I felt guilt, regret, sadness and self-loathing for needing to spend extra time at college; however, I wanted to feel excited for the future and those negative emotions were only going to hold me back from my full potential. Now, I’m feeling excitement, urgency and passion to take my college career seriously and to become a proud and successful graduate. I feel more mature and wiser because of my setbacks and changes during my time at college.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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How to Win a Scholarship: From a Girl Who's Applied for 300+ Awards

by Diane Melville

Yes, I’ve applied for a LOT of scholarships. It was basically my full-time job throughout college and Scholarships.com was my preferred source for finding the scholarships that I qualified for. You may think that this post will outline how you should do the same thing. False: Me telling you how to apply for 300 scholarships would be like a guy who found a mountain of gold after searching for 30 years telling you to take the same long, exhausting journey. You don’t want to repeat his arduous trek – you just want to buy a one-way ticket to gold mountain! In the same way, I want to teach you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way that will help you to win scholarships...without having to apply for hundreds of them.

Start Small. I started this whole thing by applying to one scholarship. That’s it. I won that scholarship ($1,500 a year for the rest of my education) and that’s what motivated me to apply for more. Some students create massive goals for themselves and set out to win a ton of scholarships, yet they soon find the process to be daunting and give up. The best piece of advice I can give you is to start small. Don’t try to find hundreds or even dozens of scholarships in one shot. Instead, find five scholarships that have deadlines within the next six months and make it a priority to apply for them. First off, it’s a lot easier to find five scholarships that you not only qualify for, but feel you have a solid shot of winning. Second, this will be enough of a taste of the application process to help you determine whether or not you’d like to keep this whole scholarship thing up. If you do end up winning a scholarship, or if you simply enjoyed the process, then you can go to town and apply for many more. Until then, keep it simple.

Select the Right Scholarships. National corporate scholarships draw a lot of applicants so even if you are eligible, the odds of you winning are low in comparison to the smaller ones. The same goes for awards with very limited requirements. What should you do then? I suggest that your five scholarships look something like this:

  • Two national scholarships (examples: Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, etc.)
  • Three small or local/state scholarships (examples: Central Massachusetts Community Foundation, City of Boston Scholarship Fund, The Girl Friends Fund Scholarship, etc.)

This mix still gives you the opportunity to win a national award but increases your chances of success by including smaller, local scholarships that receive fewer applicants.

Take Your Time. Now that you’ve got your scholarships selected, you should put maximum effort into completing the applications to the best of your abilities. Don’t procrastinate until the night before the essay is due and just slap a few things together with the hope that it’s good enough – really research and consider what each scholarship organization values and try to highlight the areas of your life that reflect these values.

Push Through It! You are going to feel unsure. Maybe you hate your essay. Maybe your resume feels lacking. You get stuck, then procrastinate, then neglect and before you know it, the deadline has passed and you didn’t apply for the scholarship. Don’t let this happen! If you don’t apply, you will never have a chance of winning. Push through those feelings of frustration, ask for help if you need it and just submit your scholarship application. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.

Diane Melville is the author of The Community College Advantage and president of the community college planning website, Transfer Bootcamp. Diane has applied for more than 300 scholarships (using Scholarships.com, of course!) and paid for her entire college education using private scholarships. She hopes to use this blog to share everything she has learned about paying for college.


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