College scholarships, a 9-5 job for seniors

I calculate that if a student makes $10 an hour to save for college, and they work for eight hours, then that’s $80 saved for college. The same eight hours spent on scholarships may have a low pay-out with no guarantee.

Senior+Karlee+Duda+is+trying+navigate+scholarship+applications+in+her+spare+time.+

Sammie Hoefs

Senior Karlee Duda is trying navigate scholarship applications in her spare time.

by Sammie Hoefs, Editor-in-Chief

The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/hg06j

As if the pandemic, graduation, and the looming summer without a job aren’t enough, every parent/senior conversation comes with a “How are we going to pay for college?” discussion.  It’s miserable.

With graduation in sight, college decisions are being made and how to pay for your education is the big deal-breaker of the conversation.  

If you ask most seniors, they can all agree just about every time they see their parents they get asked, in an accusatory tone, “Have you submitted, or ever looked, at any scholarships?” 

Have you applied for any scholarships ?

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In addition to the part-time jobs that many seniors have, the real 9-5 job is hunting for scholarships–hunting and not finding.

Not only are scholarship applications hard to manage, but figuring out which ones are worth your time and effort are the biggest questions.

“I would focus less on the dollar amount awarded and more on the number of applicants. For example, the Community Foundation of Frederick is an awesome resource where students are only competing with other local students. Based on that, your odds are bit higher than if you were applying to a national or state-wide scholarship,” said, guidance counselor, Christopher O’Brien. 

Senior Lindsey Green is attending FCC in the fall and will transfer to a 4-year university. When keeping her eyes out for scholarships, she made ones specific for FCC students her top priority. She started to feel the pressure of scholarship deadlines when she had to turn in her scholarship application during spring break.

There was a real disconnect between the deadline of the scholarship and the absence of help over spring break.  

“It was very stressful. I felt very confident about this scholarship . . . I was very worried I was gonna miss my chance,” said Green. 

Green’s scholarships are worth her time.  Another big opportunity is the Community Foundation.  That deadline was March 31. It requires one big application for Frederick County students to fill out, and this one application would be submitted for hundreds of local scholarships and grants.

“Being an athlete I feel my time is limited, so only having to fill out one big application helped me out, however, I don’t feel as confident since it is one large pool of students,” said senior Karlee Duda. 

Many reasonable scholarships that counselors recommended are ones found on Naviance. They are more local scholarships that allow students a better chance at receiving the scholarship. 

Students however struggle to find the scholarships and believe Naviance is hard to navigate. The many scholarships found in Naviance seemed to only be a for a couple hundred dollars, for a long application and essay. 

“Naviance and websites like Raise.Me pull from your demographic and academic profile. These sites are essentially doing some of the legwork for you,” said O’Brien.

Luckily every week Student Services sends out an email with a snapshot of the scholarships show on Naviance. Naviance has many smaller scholarships that are more specific for students. 

How many seniors are paying close attention to the bulletins from Student Services? Many seniors don’t even know certain scholarships are available.

“Honestly I didn’t even know about the Community Foundation Scholarship or others out there. Had it been more advertised, I would have jumped on the opportunity to earn some more money towards UMD,” said senior, Matt Cunningham.

In Naviance there is a section for local and regional scholarships, where there are over 70 scholarships, that our counselors upload. Many are smiple to follow along; however, some take you to large scholarship sites or have little to no explanation. It is a great resource, but feels like you got thrown in to a pool before learning how to swim. 

Scholarships like that seem to take lots of time for little money. However, the money could cover a book or two, but a good amount of students seem to be working more, so time is limited. 

My hope is that students see value in a scholarship for a few hundred dollars, just like they would if it was thousands of dollars,” said O’Brien. 

Mark Kantrowitz  is a leading expert on scholarships and college finances. He is also the publisher of FastWeb.com, one of the many large scholarship matching websites.

“The raw odds of winning a scholarship are about 1 in 8 for a student,” said Kantrowitz on Forbes.com

I calculate that if a student makes $10 an hour, guaranteed money to save for college, and a day’s wages is about $80, then that’s $80 saved for college.  The same eight hours spent on scholarships is may have a low pay-out with no guarantee.

I think I should give up on this paperwork and go get a job.