Recommendations for Finding Scholarships
I am often asked to share some of the resources I've found and lessons learned while helping my daughters find scholarships for college. Here are my notes from the process I have used. I hope it is helpful to you.
It is important to begin this process with the understanding that finding enough scholarships to get your child through college is hard work. There is not one website to go to that will meet all of your needs. For me, it has become the equivalent of a part time job.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. My daughters, who were blessed to be able to graduate debt free, went to a small private college. The tuition was far greater than that of a state college or university. It was the only school we considered, and the only school to which they applied. It is the only college with which we have any experience.
Most of us do not think about looking for scholarships until our child's junior or senior year of high school. The process of successfully finding college scholarships is one that really needs to begin much earlier. In fact, the groundwork needs to be laid as young as possible. Here is what I have learned:
Good grades = money for college
High SAT Scores = money for college
Extra-curricular Activities = money for college
Good Writing Skills = money for college
Students are rewarded for a job well done. Colleges have substantial academic scholarships. The better the student's grades, the higher the reward. Many private scholarships are based upon academic achievement, as well. Keeping the GPA (grade point average) up and being part of the National Honor Society will move the student closer to financial assistance.
High SAT Scores
This goes hand-in-hand with good grades. Academic scholarships are often higher based on the GPA and SAT scores. There are some private scholarships that ask for these scores. There is a new SAT test out that is supposed to be more relevant to what the students are actually learning. If you have old study materials from an older child, you will want to replace those with the current study guides. It might be worth having your child attend an SAT prep class, meet with a tutor, or use the many on-line study guides.
Schools and companies that give private scholarships want to see that a student is well-rounded and contributing to society through volunteer work. They want to see participation in team or group activities, as well as leadership positions within those groups.
Good Writing Skills
Colleges and private scholarships require writing essays with the application. The more compelling the essay, the more likely the student will find success. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and the ability to use descriptive words are all a must. In fact, many scholarship applications warn the applicant to be careful about the quality of the essay. How are these skills developed? The first step is reading. Read to your child. Let them see you reading books. Read books as a family. Listen to audio books. Help them to love books – so much so, that when they enter a library or bookstore, they gasp at the possibilities that lie before them.
How to Begin
For each of my children, I set up a "college box". In the boxes I put everything I could think of to have on hand to get them into college and to work on scholarships to pay for it. Here is how I categorized each box:
I. Supporting Documents
In this section, I have folders for:
Correspondence with the college
Documents needed for the college (vaccinations for health office)
Copies of any awards the student has received
Transcripts (official and copies)
Official transcripts are in envelopes marked with school's seal
(These must remain sealed – do not open!)
Return address stickers for mailing scholarships (with student's name)
Documents showing community service
Resume – create a document that shows
Education to date
Skills (music, photography, foreign language, etc.)
Wallet-size photo (some scholarships ask for one)
II. Scholarships to Complete
This is where the student's support team (Mom?) reports for duty. I spend many hours a week searching for scholarships. When I find one that my child qualifies for, I create a folder, print out the requirements, and only give her the information about the essay she needs to write. When she returns the essay to me, I submit the application for her. I see this as a team effort. While I'm entering her contact data and uploading her essay, she can be working on those good grades and writing essays for the next scholarship. It helps us accomplish more in less time if we work together. I don't write the essays for my children, I simply do the secretarial work. Make sure you note the due date on the scholarship, and have it in well before that date.
III. Scholarships Completed and Waiting for a Response
This helps me keep track of which scholarships she has submitted.
IV. Scholarships Received
A folder of celebration! Some scholarships are renewable each year. Use this section to keep track of those. Often report cards, letters, or proof of continued enrollment are required to keep the scholarship coming each semester. Don't miss those deadlines!
V. Scholarships Declined
This helps me know where we should no longer focus our attention and move on.
VI. Letters of Recommendation
Find several adults who would be willing to write letters for your child. I used five people. Teachers, employers, pastors, volunteer coordinators, and coaches would all be perfect for this. Some scholarship applications require an original letter of recommendation, rather than a copy. I ask the letter writers to give me 15 copies of their letter. They seal it in an envelope and sign their name across the seal. If any applications require an original letter, I use one of these. If not, I send a copy.
VII. Envelopes/Post-It Notes/Pens/stamps
I like to have all of my supplies in one place. I have the average size business envelopes, as well as 9"x12" envelopes. Most scholarship applications are now on line, but one of the big ones that we actually won required about 15 pages to be mailed in. The large envelopes were perfect, and it really helped to have them on hand.
What Kind of Money is Available for College?
Student Loans – I recommend avoiding these, as it only saddles the student with debt after graduation
Scholarships – Awarded through applications and essays by schools and private organizations. These do not need to be paid back.
Grants – Awarded through the government, schools and private organizations. These do not need to be paid back.
Work Study – these are jobs offered through the school to students who qualify based on a certain financial level. They money earned working at these jobs goes directly to the school to cover tuition. Some jobs are on campus, some are at local companies.
Money your child can save through jobs, gifts, etc.
I strongly encourage your child working to help with school. An education that one works hard to attain is one that is most appreciated.
Where to Find the Scholarships
There is no simple answer to this question. Look everywhere. Here are some suggestions:
File FAFSA in January/February of your student's senior year. This is the federal database that all colleges use to determine a student's financial needs and government awards. In California, the state Cal Grant and the federal Pell Grant are awarded from the information you provide on this site.
See your high school counselor. They often have a list of scholarships available.
Meet with the financial aid department at the colleges you wish to attend. Beyond the academic scholarship, your child may qualify for a music or athletic scholarship, or a department scholarship (science, communications, etc.)
Do the parents' employers offer scholarships?
Is your child a:
disabled (or child of a disabled person)
child of someone serving in the military
child of a police officer or fire fighter
(These all have special scholarships)
Check with your Chamber of Commerce to see if they know what local organizations offer scholarships. Local VFW and American Legion chapters often have annual awards.
Check the websites of major corporations to see if they offer any.
I highly recommend the following books. They are inspiring, have good insight, give great suggestions on writing essays and submitting applications, and have lists of places to look for scholarships. When you purchase these books, you get access to the author's updated online information, as well:
How to Go to College Almost for Free by Ben Kaplan
The Scholarship Scouting Report by Ben Kaplan
These websites have a great many scholarships to research: http://www.cappex.com/ http://www.fastweb.com/ http://www.collegeboard.org/ http://scholarshipamerica.org/
Follow rabbit trails. I have found they often lead to new sites and new ideas.
Companies and schools who offer scholarships may look at your child's online presence. What are they putting on social media? Are they presenting themselves as someone schools or companies want to invest in?
Do not pay to enter a scholarship. Legitimate scholarships do not ask for money.
Another way to reduce the cost of a college education is to reduce the number of classes one needs to take prior to entering the four year college or university. Locally, The Master's College and College of the Canyons offer courses for high school students that will also count as college units. Online courses will accomplish the same goal. You can contact those schools for more information.
Ultimately, I believe if a family works as a team, and the student is willing to work hard, a good college education is attainable.
Permission to share this information is granted as long as it is shared without charge with the following attribution:
Copyright 2016, Kathy Mack, All rights reserved
Friday, December 28th, 2012
Every year, we love to create clever themed Christmas cards
to send to our friends and family. Each year has been a bit of a challenge to create, but this year's card posed some unique problems. Namely, the theme was of the four Mack girls posing in a gingerbread house in a winter wonderland. The problem? We now live in Santa Clarita where it doesn't snow...ever.
Since giant gingerbread houses are in short supply at this time of year, we built our own out of wood and thick cardboard. We designed special candies for the front of the house out of tissue paper and colored cling wrap and spray painted the house to look more authentic. On a bright, windy day, the four of us carried the house into the backyard and posed in front of our palm tree (not very Christmassy, right?) Continue Reading "The Making of a Masterpiece" »
Sunday, December 19th, 2010
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
The picture on the box is adorable - a wide-eyed guinea pig, and an uncle telling his adorable nephew and niece a story, while holding an umbrella over his head. Why the umbrella? Why, it's raining gumballs, of course!
Before the movie began we had the beautiful Disney castle logo and Tinkerbell. The tagline tells us to "Believe in Happy Endings." All of that would lead you to believe this was a wonderful family movie - right? Wrong.
One of my daughters asked if we could check this out from the library, and if I would preview it. We are EXTREMELY careful what movies we allow our daughters to watch. I usually check new releases out on www.pluggedinonline.com
Previewing movies is a common occurrence for us. I'm sure glad I did my due diligence on this one. It is NOT a family movie, and for Disney to promote it as such is tragic. I'm sure many parents plugged this one in for their little ones. Continue Reading "Movie Review - Walt Disney's "Bedtime Stories"" »
Sunday, September 5th, 2010
Eighteen years ago this very day, two precious jewels were added to my life. The twins were born! After 14 hours of labor, and finally deciding you were just too tangled up to come out on your own (trying to get out first, Wendy?), a C-section was performed, and two beautiful little ladies came into the world.
Amy and Wendy, I'll never forget the moment you made me a mom - a role I have and always will cherish. I don't deserve to have such wonderful daughters like you two, but I'm thrilled that I do! I've loved every moment of it - pushing you around downtown Burbank in your twin stroller, sitting on the couch at the condo reading to you, and all of the "bonding" moments in Pine Mountain. You have become incredible godly women, and I am proud of both of you! Happy Birthday my precious ones!
Thursday, August 19th, 2010
A story in today's news
told of a woman complaining that The Walt Disney Company discriminated against her because they would not let her work while wearing a Muslim head scarf.
When you choose to work at the Disneyland Resort, you are joining a "Cast"; you play a part, you are never referred to as an employee. As a cast member, you agree to the costume you will wear, just like an actor on a stage. If this woman got a job at a theater as an actress, she cannot tell the director that she is going to wear her religious clothing as she plays a part. I'm a Christian, and I don't think the cast members should wear anything other than what the part calls for - no cross necklaces or earrings, no Stars of David, no yarmulkes, etc. I want my Disney cast member to blend in with the surroundings - I don't want her to have pierced body parts, bright pink hair, or religious emblems.
So, Walt Disney Company, I applaud you for doing the right thing. You've set a beautiful stage, and all of the people who come to be part of the show must follow the script.
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
Dear Mr. Iger,
The Orange Country register just reported
that Disney attendance has dropped 4% for the spring/summer season this year. That's normally Disneyland's busiest time, isn't it?
Why do you think attendance has dropped?
Perhaps it is because the average family's expendable income cannot keep up with your constant raising
of the price of the park admission.
When Southern California annual passes were $99, our family of six bought them, and drove the 125 miles each way to go to Disneyland almost weekly. Since we felt we were getting a "deal" we spent money on meals, snacks and souvenirs. Now, they are $239 each - over twice as much! There is no way our family can afford that much in passes, gasoline, parking, AND food to go to Disneyland.
Perhaps you should consult the folks over at Knotts Berry Farm. When they lowered their annual pass prices last year, people flocked to them in droves.
We have now been home schooling 13 years. While the routine of it gets a bit easier throughout the years, the desire to do and teach your children more continues to grow. I'd love to go back and do it all over again - there was so much more information to learn! This morning I read this piece
by Janice Southerland. It is a beautiful reminder to allow God to guide us through our endeavors to teach and raise our children.
Dear Mr. Iger,
Why is there no Christmas store at Disneyland anymore? It was charming when it was in the castle, but bigger and better stocked when moved to
New Orleans Square, it kind of got put back in Fantasyland, although it never seemed to be open when I was at the Park. Other than a few odds and ends at World of Disney - there is nothing!!! It can't be for lack of sales - I had to fight crowds and stand in line every time I shopped there. Let's bring back the Christmas shop - what could be better than a combination of Christmas and Disney?
Who would you like to be for a day?
That's an easy answer for me - Dave Smith - the official archivist for The Walt Disney Company. This man either knows everything there is to know about Disney, or has the access to find out. What a cool job!
Mr. Smith wrote one of my favorite books - "Disney A to Z". If you love to learn about Disney history, I strongly recommend this book.
In the meantime, here is how you can access some Disney knowledge online: http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/today.html
Mr. Smith, if you'd ever like to really wow this homeschooling mom - just invite me to be your shadow for a day! (hint, hint)
Dear Mr. Iger,
Our family stopped watching the Disney Channel many years ago. Somewhere along the line the channel changed from fun and interesting family programming to several broadcasts each day of tween shows. I mean, really, how many times a day does "Hannah Montana" have to air?
We miss "Vault Disney" and the classic movies. You used to produce wonderful series like "Avonlea". Where is the creativity? Continue Reading "Dear Mr. Iger: A Disney Channel Makeover" »
Saturday, July 17th, 2010
Disneyland is the only theme park to have been directly supervised and built by Walt Disney. In my book, that makes it pretty special.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my earliest memories (at age 3) was in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. That would have been in 1964. Just 9 years after Disneyland opened.
Dozens and dozens of my happiest memories are based around Disneyland - the pure magic of being there as a child, my family indulging my belief in Peter Pan by making sure we always rode on his ride, had tuna sandwiches at Captain Hook's ship, stopped to see Skull Rock, and of course, watch Tink fly over the castle before the fireworks began. Continue Reading "Happy 55th Birthday, Disneyland!" »
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
I was at a dinner party a few nights ago when a woman made the comment that in this day and age, both husbands AND wives have to work in order to get by, and children need day care.
Well, nothing puts a bee in my bonnet faster than such a ridiculous comment.
Before I go further, I do understand there are single moms who have to work - they have been dealt a tough role - but that is where families and churches need to step up to the plate to help these moms as much as possible, so that she can spend as much time as possible raising her children. Please note, I am not advocating welfare - but time and compassion. Kudos to dads who are raising the children. We need to reach out to you, as well.
BUT...we live in a society where most people feel they DESERVE to have the things they WANT (note, I did not say the things they NEED). In Santa Clarita alone - there are more nail salons than Starbucks (and there are quite a few Starbucks!). I cannot begin to tell you how ridiculous it is to spend $4 on a cup of coffee and a great deal more to have your fingernails and TOENAILS painted. But we deserve it don't we? Continue Reading "Mom Vs. Day Care" »
Add together almost 16,000 cookies, 1500 children, 500 workers, and five parables - and what do you have? Vacation Bible School at Grace Baptist Church!
The girls and I were extraordinarily blessed this past week to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. I certainly had a life-changing week.
Wendy and I shared a sixth grade classroom of 19 girls - in which Kelly was a student. Emily led a table of first graders, and Amy sang and played the keyboard for Outdoor Music.
When the children arrived each morning, we attended a 35 minute assembly of music, drama, and information on the missionary that we were supporting. The contest between the boys and girls was held each day to see who could donate the most money to our missionary, Ashley Ruffner, who works at a school in Ecuador. The over $19,000 the students brought in will go to supply sports equipment, VBS materials, Bibles, and some new sound equipment to the school. The donation also paid for a plane ticket home, so Ashley could see her father who had become ill and needed surgery. Ashley was able to join us at the assemblies on Thursday and Friday.
After the assembly, our group went to our classroom (which our family had a blast decorating with rain forest themed decorations!) for craft time, then outside for some wet recreation time. After a quick snack (some of those 16,000 cookies), we headed in for a message from one of our pastors or a drama group. After that, we headed back to our room for our table time. Continue Reading "Soil, Sheep, and a Rainforest?" »
A dear woman passed into eternity to be with her Lord and Savior this past week.
Linda Reece, wife of Roger Reece, the pastor of Pine Mountain Christian Community Church fought illness for some time - although you would rarely have known it when spending time with her.
I had the opportunity to participate in a Bible study with Roger and Linda when they first came to the mountain community in 2007. It was a Bible study based on marriage, and strengthening our marriages. Roger and Linda were candid and wise. There were a couple of nights when Linda led the meetings, as Roger had an elders' meeting to attend. She did so with love and grace - and her witty sense of humor! Linda was great for sly comments out of the side of her mouth - always polite and kind - but hysterical, nonetheless. Continue Reading "Memories of Mrs. Linda Reece" »
Dear Mr. Iger,
I was quite excited when I learned The Disneyland Hotel was renovating their pool area and adding Monorail-themed water slides. I was dismayed, though, to find out you were taking out the koi ponds and waterfalls in this same renovation.
My family and I LOVED the waterfalls. What fun it was to cool off in a wet and noisy place. Sometimes, when you are unable to go swimming, it is a refreshing break on a hot summer day.
I am probably too late to get you to change your mind - especially since you have already given the fish to the Huntington Library in Pasadena - but I'm going to share an idea with you, anyway. Continue Reading "A Letter to Disney: Waterfalls and Bears?" »
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
Monday, May 24, marked the completion of 12 years of hard work and service for Amy and Wendy. That day they were each presented with the Awana Citation Award. For young people involved in Awana, earning the Citation Award is the ultimate achievement. The Citation is their reward for thousands of hours attending group meetings, working with children, getting involved in their communities, completing 10 years of biblically grounded curriculum and learning more than 700 Bible verses.
The awards ceremony was held at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. Wendy was the first of three students to speak. She shared what the various stages of Awana meant to her spiritual growth and development. Amy delighted all by playing the piano before and during the ceremony, including two of her own compositions. Continue Reading "Amy and Wendy Earn the Awana Citation Award!" »
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Not to be outdone by her little sister, Kelly, on May 17, our Emily completed her Awana year. Emily finished her book, and a plaque for her accomplishments. She, too, went above and beyond and did the extra credit and earned a certificate and pin for her efforts.
Emily had a blast this year making a DVD of the year's accomplishments (including her participation on the Bible quizzing team, and the game team). The video was presented at the awards ceremony, and the audience enjoyed it tremendously. She's already thinking ahead to making a video for next year.
Way to go Em!
On May 10, 2010, Kelly completed her 5th grade Awana year. She not only earned her third book award, but she went above and beyond the call of duty and did all of the extra credit projects - including reciting 4 questions, 32 answers, and 32 verses in one sitting - by memory!!
Job well done, Kelly! We are proud of you!
Saturday, June 19th, 2010
Which Brady Are You?
Are you, like me, a child of the 70's? Did you make sure every Friday night, the TV was turned to ABC for "The Brady Bunch" and "The Partridge Family"? If so, then this site is for you.
In a society where so many are unreliable, lazy, or proud, my mom is the opposite. She possesses the rare gift of a servant’s heart.
Mom’s days are spent serving others, with little time reserved for herself. It is very rare that one can wake up before her as she is up preparing food for the day or working on accounting. I have often woken up to the aromas of fresh muffins, bacon, and eggs with the realization that she woke up early just to make a “family breakfast”. This morning, she woke up at 6:30 to do the laundry so that we had clean clothes to wear - all after going to bed at 1:00! Continue Reading "A tribute to my mom" »
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Dear Mr. Iger,
As most Americans my age, I grew up watching "The Wonderful World of Disney" every Sunday night, going to the theater to see Mr. Disney's newest release, and being fortunate enough to grow up in California - visiting Disneyland every year. As thousands do, we consider ourselves a "Disney" family. We love watching the old Disney movies and going to Disneyland. My first born is even named "Wendy"!
Given the soft spot in our hearts for The Park and all things Disney, I've decided to write this blog to encourage you to keep the Disney name pure; to keep Disneyland just right, and to encourage you as the head of the most phenomenal company on our planet. In this column, I'll write suggestions, perhaps share a memory or two, and tell you about fabulous Disney experiences. So, here goes. Continue Reading "A letter to Disney" »
Since our family does not have cable TV we enjoy listening to audio stories whenever we clean, do crafts, or drive somewhere. Here are some of our family's favorites. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Here are Some Resources for Terrific Audio Books/Stories
Nothing can top "Adventures in Odyssey" www.whitsend.org
This company has an incredible inventory www.blackstoneaudio.com
Christian Book Distributors offers these: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find/1000959138?event=HPT&category=Audiobooks&N=1014726&Ne=1000000&Nso=1&Nu=product%2Eendeca%5Frollup&Ns=product%2Enumber%5Fsold
In addition to "Adventures in Odyssey", here are some of our very favorites:
Peter and the Starcatchers http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find/1000959138?event=HPT&category=Audiobooks&N=1014726&Ne=1000000&Nso=1&Nu=product%2Eendeca%5Frollup&Ns=product%2Enumber%5Fsold Continue Reading "Incredible Audio Books!" »
Many years ago, my husband and I pulled the plug on our television. I must admit, I was initially devastated with this decision. Looking back, I really only watched a few things - I enjoyed the Home and Gardening network, Vault Disney (Disney classics), and TV Land. I was becoming quite dismayed with TV Land, and had to stop allowing my children to watch classic TV shows because they would often broadcast inappropriate commercials, or worse yet, promos for their Showtime movies. These movie promos blatantly offered more information than my little girls needed to know. Continue Reading "Pull the plug on TV, improve your family, and save $600 (or more) per year" »
Thursday, December 31st, 2009
Providence seems to bring surprises at the most unexpected times. On Wednesday, December 30, my daughters and I arrived in Modesto to visit my family for the New Year's weekend. Upon my arrival, my sister handed me the local newspaper, folded open to the obituary page. It seems my high school choir director had lived her last years not too terribly far from Modesto, and had just passed into Glory. Her funeral was to be held the following day at the local cemetery.
My dad passed away in 1996, and it meant the world to me that people I had never met came forward to share their good experiences and memories of my father. They either did so by showing up at my mom's door, or by attending his service. After that experience, I realized that I wanted the families of those I know who died, always to know how special their loved one was to me. If I could not attend the service, I would try to send a card with a special story. So, it didn't take but a minute to decide to attend Mrs. Cothren's funeral. Continue Reading "Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren" »
Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Monday, September 7th, 2009
"Do you think she's following us?" my daughters wondered as they entered the main gate of Disneyland on September 5, 2009. You see, this year, Disneyland is offering everyone free admission on their birthday, and we decided to take advantage of that for Amy and Wendy's 17th birthday.
Amy & Wendy have had many opportunities to go around Disneyland together, or with their younger sisters, but in the past, Mom and Dad were still on Disney property. Not this time - Mom took off to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, where she could roam and read about the displays in peace!
(A fabulous place, by the way - we are blessed to have two Presidential Libraries in Southern California - The Ronald Reagan Library is located about 90 minutes northwest of the Nixon Library).
So, the girls kept looking over their shoulders expecting me to pop up at any time. We knew they would have a wonderful day and create many magical Disney memories of their 17th birthday. Thanks, Disneyland!
Monday, December 1st, 2008
Saturday, December 1st, 2007
I often tell my clients, "I don't believe we will ever see the truly paperless office but I do believe that we can create a less-paper office." I'd like to share with you one way that I recently helped do this for a very special client - my wife, Kathy.
I recently decided to move all of our personal and business accounting operations to my accounting firm. Having the accounting firm handle all of the QuickBooks accounting including bank reconciliations, billing and writing checks for us is great but it exposes another problem - how to quickly move lots paper securely between us and the accounting firm. Over on my Notes on Productivity blog
, I've posted a short video clip and screen shots of my paperless filing system in Lotus Notes
Friday, December 1st, 2006
Thursday, December 1st, 2005
Wednesday, December 1st, 2004
Monday, December 1st, 2003
Sunday, December 1st, 2002
Saturday, December 1st, 2001
Friday, December 1st, 2000
Wednesday, December 1st, 1999
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Monday, December 1st, 1997
Sunday, December 1st, 1996
Friday, December 1st, 1995
Wednesday, December 1st, 1993