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April 4, 2016

Beginner’s Guide to Securing College Scholarships

Graphic of graduation cap sitting on top of roll of dollar bills.

Scholarships can offset the cost of higher education, and they often help students determine what college or field of study they should choose. Here are steps LHES seniors can follow to apply for college scholarships.

1. Organize goals, deadlines and results

College advisor Marcie Herring, known as Aunty Marcie to students, insists that a productive scholarship application process begins with organization.

“Always start with organizing your goals, deadlines and results,” says Herring. “Make a page with several columns, write down of all the scholarships you want to apply for, followed by a column for the due date, and another column for the outcome.”

By keeping a close tally on their efforts, students become more intentional about their work.

2. Pursue local scholarships early

When looking for scholarships, Herring recommends that students apply for local scholarships before pursuing nationwide funds. This is because there is a smaller pool of competition compared to national scholarships. College counselor Beth Conroy-Humphrey encourages students to stop by her office for updates on local scholarships or to check the LHES website for scholarship information and applications.

“Be sure to start your research early and read eligibility requirements carefully,” says Herring. If a student is still uncertain about whether they meet the requirements for a scholarship, both Herring and Conroy-Humphrey can help them determine whether or not they meet the requirements, which can range from ethnic background to field of study.

The following online databases offer a wealth of information for students seeking local scholarships:

3. Organize and collect documents

Once students determine which scholarships they want to apply to, and carefully note the deadlines, they should begin organizing the documents required by most scholarships. These often include:

  • LHES high school transcript
  • Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or CSS/Financial Aid Profile
  • Letters of recommendation

4. Prepare personal statement

Next, students should begin preparing their personal essay for each scholarship. Not all scholarships require them, but the vast majority do. Most scholarship essays ask general questions about community and education. Herring explains that most essay prompts include one of four questions:

  1. How do you help your family, school or community?
  2. Why do you want to attend college?
  3. What are your educational and career goals?
  4. After you graduate from college how will you give back to your community?

“In a nut shell, most scholarships ask the same questions,” says Herring, so its up to students to tell their stories and make their applications stand out. “Personal essays are a different kind of writing, and it can be challenging because we are raised to be so humble and not brag about ourselves on Lanai,” Herring explains.

Herring invites students to send their drafts to her or her mother, Linda Uehara or Auntie Linda, for review and editing. After completing the essay, it is important for students to proofread the entire application, especially if they are reusing material from another scholarship application.

“Remember to sign and date your application, and keep copies of everything you submit!” advises Herring.

Advice for rising seniors

To prepare for next year, juniors at LHES should consider attending the summer college preparedness camp led by Herring and Uehara. They offer step-by-step coaching for students to help them identify their goals and backup plans for college. They discuss community colleges, potential majors, and help students locate the best campuses for them.

“We also help students prepare their personal statements early on, so they can have a basic outline in mind when applying to schools in the fall,” says Herring.

For more information, call Auntie Marcie at 256-8472 or Beth Conroy-Humphrey at 565-7900 ext. 299.

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