Tips To Find College Scholarship

I wish I’d known when preparing for college that getting scholarship money could be almost as easy as finding a movie on Friday night. Instead, I slogged through five years of full-time school and part-time work, giving short shrift to my social life and being perpetually exhausted. With a little help in the form of college scholarship money, I might have had a slightly more enjoyable experience.

How To Qualify

Considering that you are a unique individual with your own set of strengths and weaknesses, with 17 or more years of life behind you, finding scholarships you qualify for is not really that hard. Since college scholarships are offered on the basis of everything from race to religion, athletics to anthropology, and family relationships to farming, there’s literally a college scholarship with your name on it. But no one will come knocking on your door to find you. The key to getting scholarship money is researching the scholarships and then completing applications for any you remotely qualify for. If you don’t apply, there’s a chance the funds will stay in an account, untapped. So you might as well try!

Start Close To Home

Your search for college scholarship money begins at home, literally. Your mom or dad’s employer, or the service or professional organization they attend may offer scholarships to the children of employees. Those are easy! Check out any businesses or charity organization where you’ve worked, to see if they offer college scholarships to members of their work “family.” And check with your state to find what scholarships they offer to students with specific talents, interests or experience, or financial need. Start by calling your governor’s office, and they may be able to point you to money sitting right under your nose!

The Corporate Route

Next is contacting businesses in your community, many of which have established scholarship programs as a way to give back to their employees and communities. Your city or state has an investment in making sure it has strong, capable, educated residents to form a pool of potential employees and happy customers.

WalMart, ExxonMobil, AT&T and Coke are some of the bigger titans that give away scholarship money. But companies up and down the business landscape are designating more and more dollars to helping students pay for college, with successful results. They offer a range of options for college students, focusing on everything from internship experience to financial need, diversity to family ties.

For starters, look up these companies: Adobe, Apple, Best Buy, Coke, Ford, General Motors, Intel, JP Morgan Chase, KFC, Kodak, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Mercedes Benz, Northrop Grumman, Pepsi, Pfizer, Time Warner, Target, Toyota and Xerox. Another great option is banks, as they give college scholarship money to thousands of students each year, based on diverse qualifications. Start your search on their websites, or go to the College Scholarship website for more ideas.

Some corporate college scholarships will come with strings attached. You might offer to do a limited summer internship, or give a talk to the company’s employees or your college peers at a later date. Remember that any amount at all-no matter how small-is a welcome addition to your college savings account!

Minority Scholarships

Are you African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, female, bi-racial, multi-racial, multicultural, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered? If you answered yes to any of these, you are a minority. These days, almost everyone’s a minority, which means you can qualify for designated college scholarships. Minority scholarships are available through every awarding entity: states, the federal government, corporations, universities and charitable organizations. Even if you have just one-quarter minority blood, you may be considered.

Here are some college scholarship categories you may fit into.

Athletic

If you’re an accomplished athlete, someone somewhere wants to award you with a scholarship for college. Especially if you’re attending a smaller college or university. If you’re a great student-and a great athlete, you’ll be rewarded doubly. To find out which athletic college scholarships are available, check with national athletic organizations that cover specific collegiate levels of play like NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA. Do you play hockey? Are you an archery bulls eye? What about rodeo? There are even scholarships for these and other less popular shorts. For a look at the scholarships offered to athletes at all levels, check out the master list of sports scholarships for college provided by CollegeScholarships.org.

Subject-based

Depending on your field of study, you should be able to snag a national and/or local college scholarships designed for students just like you. Don’t assume they’re for someone smarter, with better grades, or further along in the discipline. You might as well apply, and claim your due. Whether you’re in the arts and humanities, engineering or studying to be in the clergy, there are college scholarships designed for your type.

Miscellaneous

If you have an unusual talent or skill, you may want to do a search like “how to get scholarships for college if you’re a marbles champion,” or “find scholarships for skateboarders.” Really!

Stage of Study

Whether you’re an undergraduate college student or you’re in graduate-level studies, there are scholarships to fit your need. You’ll find college scholarships for students studying abroad, graduate research fellows, college scholarships for the study of law, business, engineering and history, among many fields. Ph.D. candidates can get help paying for college costs with a host of scholarships aimed directly at their field of study.

To The Point

I hope you’re getting the point here: once you learn how to find scholarships, the sky’s the limit. Here are a few more tags that might make you the perfect candidate for a college scholarship: disabled, Girl Scout, sorority sister, political animal, left-handed, firefighter, homeschooler, vegan and twin! This list could go on and on.

If you’re a high school student, it’s never too early to start building your “college nest egg.” You still have time to join service clubs, work part-time, and gain experience that may be relevant to certain scholarship funds, and help you to become better qualified. Wherever you are in your high school or college career, take time now to sit down and plot out a plan to solicit some help from willing entities who can help to finance your college education.

For more scholarship ideas, check out the College Scholarship org website. They have links to literally thousands of available scholarships and millions of dollars in college scholarship money. It’s a well-marked path to getting help with your college costs. You can also check out my favorite college prep website, with questions and answers galore on everything from preparing for the SAT/ACT to choosing a college to getting grants and scholarships. The web is College Prep Ask It! and the website is below.

All About Passing Grade

Parents and students are experiencing college costs that are straining nearly every family budget. In order to cover those costs, families are being forced to make the very tough choices and huge sacrifices that will affect them for the next twenty or thirty years. And yet, year after year, most colleges continue to raise tuition by five, six or even seven percent. With parents receiving low or no pay increases in this bad economy, those tuition increases don’t seem right.

If the truth be known, the goals of college parents can be quite different from the goals of colleges and their leaders. Because that difference can be large, it is starting to become a problem for some parents and their college-age children. So, let’s get it out in the open. What exactly do parents want and expect from colleges today? Parents want colleges to:

Minimize Tuition, Room and Meal Costs – Parents want colleges to do everything possible to keep their costs down. Since many families have two and three children, it is becoming the norm for them to spend huge sums of money to put their children through college. Now that the cost of a college education has grown to between $100,000 and $200,000 for each child, can anybody blame parents for being concerned about costs?

Maximize Scholarship and Grant Money – When students receive scholarship and grant money, the need for college loans and family sacrifices is reduced. Parents want colleges to provide more grant and scholarship money to students. They believe that it’s time for colleges to work harder and get more creative, in order to help students with their college expenses.

Parents do not consider college loans to be financial aid. They see loans as huge, nearly life-long, financial burdens disguised as financial aid. That’s why parents ask, “Why is it that colleges often have three, four or even six people working in the financial aid office helping with parent and student loans, but not even one person is dedicated to uncovering and obtaining money that doesn’t have to be paid back?”

In the current economy, even student loan money has become harder to find. That’s why there is no better time for colleges to greatly expand their efforts to identify more sources of student aid money in the form of grants and scholarships. There is no reason why colleges can’t assemble a list of the sources that current and former students have previously uncovered and then expand that list through their own efforts. It’s time!

Help Students Discover Their Direction – Parents want their children’s hopes and dreams to come true. However, while some students are already clear about their direction in life, many are still trying to find a path to follow. Since few students can afford to stay in college for five or six years while they explore the possibilities, colleges must help them.

Although undecided students may not know exactly what they want, an effective counselor can help to narrow the field of choice. That’s because students do know the things they’ve liked and disliked in the past. They also know where they’ve been the most successful and least successful. Students know if they like science and math or prefer english and history. They know if they are shy and reserved or fun loving and outgoing. They know if they are good at sports or prefer intellectual pursuits. They know if they prefer to lead or a follow. They know if they have exceptional communication skills or not. The best counselors can help sift through the clutter a bring clarity to confusion. For many students, great counselors seem to perform miracles.

Importantly, counselors also know that few answers reveal themselves to students who are standing still. Only when undecided students are moving, experiencing, learning and growing can they discover their unique path to future success. Therefore, early on, counselors must help the undecided students to get out there and begin to participate in campus, work and community activities. When students become involved, they give themselves the opportunity to discover the things that motivate them, the things that uncover previously unknown interests, possibilities and capabilities.

Parents want colleges to take more interest in their undecided children. Students like this need help in figuring things out. Only competent, caring and dedicated counselors can do that well. However, when undecided students turn into decided students, they can perform at the highest levels. Colleges need to help with that transition.

Provide An Outstanding Education – Parents want their children to receive the highest quality education possible. That requires exceptional instructors. When college instructors make their classes interesting, students rarely hesitate to participate, challenge a statement or ask a question. Learning becomes fun. Instructors like this not only heighten the interest of their students, they inspire them. Parents know that the quality of an instructor’s classroom performance can directly affect the performance of students.

Importantly, because of the instructor’s reputation for developing exceptional talent, the most respected employers stay in close contact with the college and visit the campus for recruitment purposes. Additionally, these instructors are able to attract leaders from the outside community to serve as mentors, networking contacts, guest speakers and sources of part-time and full-time employment opportunities.

Help Students Develop And Follow A Plan – We all know that most students will be more successful when they follow a well thought out and detailed plan that leads to their goal. However, few students are both knowledgeable and disciplined enough to develop a plan on their own. That’s why parents would like someone at the college to guide their children through the process of creating and following a comprehensive plan that is likely to lead to a great job.

Each plan should maximize the student’s career success skills, boost their self-confidence, develop their communication and leadership skills and present opportunities to meet respected and influential people through participation in campus, work and community activities. With the proper guidance, students will end up with a step-by-step, semester-by-semester plan that will almost guarantee success.

Teach Students How To Land A Good Job – More than anything else, parents want their children to graduate from college with a good paying job, so they can afford to live independently, pay their student loans and handle their own expenses. With that in mind, parents want colleges to do everything possible to prepare students for a comprehensive, senior year job search.

A great plan, along with thorough and focused preparation, is the best way to ensure job hunting success. Preparation includes academic success, research of potential employers, job hunting web sites, employment agencies and newspapers, developing a list of accomplishments that will be presented in the resume and during interviews, creating an informational network, identifying questions to ask and answer, taking practice interviews, crafting an exceptional resume and sales letter, building a relationship with references and much more.

Few students will land a great job by waiting until their senior year to get started. It takes more time than that. Colleges that don’t make a concerted effort to help students develop a job hunting plan and then guide them through the steps required for job hunting preparation are putting their students at a disadvantage, instead of giving them a competitive edge.

Provide A College-Wide Network – Parents want college leaders to call upon every possible resource, in order to provide students with the networking opportunities that will lead to information, contacts and job opportunities.

The best college networks actively include every corner of the campus community. They consist of all parents, current students, alumni, professors, administrators, local employers and community leaders. Unfortunately, few colleges aggressively strive to maximize these critical networking contacts.

Parents want their college investment to pay off for their children. That means a great job and an independent life. They don’t want to see their bright, enthusiastic, well educated graduates end up in low paying jobs that hold little promise for the future. Unfortunately, far too many college students are unprepared for their senior year job search and are forced to accept jobs that are not related to their fields of interest and don’t pay very well. They end up frustrated and disappointed. That’s not the dream that parents have for their children.

Knowledgeable parents expect colleges to do much more than simply provide students with an education and then wish them well, as they try to enter the job market. And why shouldn’t parents and students expect more than a couple of handouts at the beginning of the senior year, a list of resources posted on the career services web site, an unremarkable one page resume, an obligatory half hour meeting with a career services counselor and visiting employers who are only looking for candidates in other fields? Everyone knows that it takes much more than that to land a good job.

Now that college parents and students are beginning to expect more for their money, they are using factors such as those described above to evaluate colleges, before they make their final selections. Since some colleges perform these important functions better than others, parents and students have started to ask this question of college leaders, “Does your college deserve a passing grade?”

The Signs Of Great College Leader

Great college leaders make things better for their employees, fully prepare their students and make their colleges stronger. To accomplish goals like that, they need the full support of their entire college community. By bringing the college together, inspiring cohesive, effective and enthusiastic work groups and moving everyone toward a powerful Vision, great college leaders guide their organizations into a better future.

The best leaders:

1. Have A Clear Vision Of Where They Are Trying To Go

a. Create The Vision – The best college leaders create a Beneficial Vision of the future and work to make that future come true. A clear and concise Vision Statement is communicated to everyone. With that Vision Statement as a guide, each department, group and individual can identify and pursue missions that will move the college closer to the ideal. Together, all of the missions will enable the college to achieve their Vision of how things should be.

A College Leader’s Vision Statement:

A 100% student graduation rate with a 100% employment success rate.

b. Solve The Problems Of Today – What problems are holding the college back? Great leaders are courageous. They are not afraid to address the tuff issues: people, politics, finances, bureaucracy, resistance to the changing world, competition and student needs.

c. Anticipate The Future – The best leaders focus on the issues that enable a college to serve its students better than the competition. Leaders who see the future clearly and move their organizations in the right direction will be rewarded by more students who achieve success and notoriety. Whatever a college becomes tomorrow is determined by what the college leaders are doing today.

d. Move Forward – All successful colleges change their direction, people and services to meet the needs of their customers (students). They also change in order to improve performance, stay competitive and ensure financially stability. Any college leader who does not recognize the need to continually improve and adjust to a changing world is leading the college nowhere.

2. Are Highly Effective Communicators

a. Communicate The Vision – Effective leaders generate emotion as they clearly and enthusiastically communicate the Vision and its importance to everyone in the college community. They know that the Vision must be embraced and highly valued by everyone who will carry it out. That is why they carefully explain how much better things can be when the Vision is achieved. To that end, they make a personal and powerful appeal to each and every employee asking them to help the college achieve something great.

b. Clarify Individual Roles – To achieve the Vision, all members of the college community must know the roles they play and how those roles contribute to the Vision. It is the leader’s job to ensure that all employees have the right capabilities and do their best to support the Vision, the College and the Students.

c. Make Time For Employees and Students – The best college leaders regularly make time to talk with and listen to employees and students. They attend meetings and events where employees and students will be present to see and hear what is going on. Employee and student ideas and suggestions are appreciated and valued. Good ideas are implemented, no matter where they come from.

d. Reinforce Good Performance – Great college leaders find a variety of ways to visibly reinforce performance that supports the Vision. They may praise, recognize or promote employees who are doing a good job. They may also make presentations, write about or even brag to others about employee performance, the results that have been achieved and the milestones that have been passed.

3. Put The Vision, Their Employees And Students First

a. The Vision – Great leaders know that the Vision cannot be theirs alone. It must be shared with the people who will take the college to the right place. These leaders make certain that every member of the college community knows exactly where they are trying to go and how employees can help. When employees are not clear about where the college is going, why the leader is taking them there and how they can contribute, they feel left out, fail to buy in and lose interest. That’s why exceptional leaders keep the Vision fresh, alive and always in front of their employees.

b. Employees – Effective leaders know that employees want to contribute to the success of the organization. These leaders see their jobs as that of making it as easy as possible for employees to complete their assignments successfully. They always make certain that employees have the training, information, tools, resources and support needed to get their jobs done well. They realize that employees are usually the happiest when they can take pride in doing something that is important.

Great leaders expect employees to use the Vision Statement as a guide to carry out their missions. With the Vision Statement as a guide, employees are encouraged to use their judgment, initiative, creativity and decision-making skills to get their jobs done, help their students and support the Vision without always having to check with someone else.

c. Students – Exceptional college leaders recognize that colleges exist to serve the academic, experiential learning and job search preparation needs of students. These leaders value their students and understand that without students there is no college. Therefore, they make certain that the college meets or exceeds the needs of their students.
To serve students effectively, college leaders must listen to their students and utilize their best ideas and suggestions.

d. Leaders – Great leaders put the most important things first. College leaders must lead their organizations into the future by addressing the needs of their campus communities. The best leaders carefully and deliberately plant the seeds of success by making employees feel valued and appreciated before they ask them to fulfill their missions and pursue the Vision.

4. Have Exceptional People Skills

a. Motivate Everyone – Great leaders turn people on and motivate them to perform at the highest levels, even in the face of difficulties and challenges. They make the Vision real, personal and important for employees at all levels of the organization. They demonstrate the ability to inspire everyone to do their best work. Great leaders are cheerful and animated, tell stories, provide inspiration, answer questions, listen and explain the needs. They never use anger to intimidate subordinates or students.

b. Build Morale – Effective leaders create a work environment and culture that allows employees to demonstrate their capabilities and do meaningful work. They make people feel needed, important and valued. They treat everyone fairly, but not necessarily the same. These leaders give employees what they need to get their jobs done. Importantly, they cheer their employees on and support them, when the going gets tough.

c. Can Be Trusted – To be trusted, leaders must be consistent in their words, behaviors, standards and expectations. Employees need to know what is expected of them and how they will be judged. Additionally, employees must believe that the leader will have their backs, as long as they are pursuing the Vision and acting in the best interests of the college and the students.

d. Trust Employees – Confident leaders trust their employees. They know that their employees are trying to do the right thing. When the leader/employee relationship is not one of mutual trust, employees will never perform at their best.

e. Show Concern – Caring leaders are truly concerned about the college, their employees and their students. They strive to make things better. Great leaders work tirelessly to solve problems, provide opportunities, supply resources and support for the employees who will do the heavy lifting. Their words and actions are genuine and come from the heart.

f. Are Present and Available – Trusted leaders do not hide from employees and students, They put themselves in the flow of employee and student communication. The best leaders know that they will never be successful, if they lead from an ivory tower.

g. Make The Vision Real – Exceptional leaders help employees understand and believe in the Vision. They show them that the Vision is attainable. They work to unleash employee performance beyond normal expectations. Employees will only buy into a Vision when it touches them, inspires them and has personal meaning for them.

h. Give Credit – Great leaders know who deserves the credit for the successes that are achieved. Employees put themselves on the line, fight the daily battles and make the sacrifices that success requires. They are the front line heroes. It is up to the leader to give them the praise, recognition, appreciation, rewards and respect they deserve.

i. Value Integrity – Great leaders are highly ethical. They do not take care of themselves first or treat themselves better than they treat others. Only leaders who are truthful and have a reputation for being men and women with integrity and character are qualified to lead in a college environment. Great college leaders do the things they are supposed to do and behave the way they are supposed to behave, even when there is nobody there to see. They know that they must set a good example by holding themselves to the highest standards.

5. Have A Record Of Success

a. Align The College Community – Among their lists of accomplishments and successes, great leaders can describe the occasions when they were able to bring the college community together to solve major problems and pursue the Vision. To find success, college leaders must effectively and persuasively influence the behavior of everyone involved. Only when large numbers of employees are aligned with the critical issues and goals can the organization move closer to the Vision.

b. Accomplish The Important Missions – Effective college leaders keep the organization focused on the Vision. To achieve the Vision, employees must take on a variety of important missions that go beyond their job descriptions. Great leaders can point to hundreds of individual and group missions that have been completed.

c. Act As A Facilitator – Once the Vision has been established, the primary role of the leader is to serve the employees who will be working toward that Vision. The leader’s job is to provide encouragement, training, resources and also break down the barriers, so that employees can successfully complete their missions.

d. Identify Exceptional People – Leaders are responsible for finding and hiring the best people and developing those employees into talented performers and future leaders. The best leaders carefully create an environment where all employees want to do their best and want the Vision to be achieved. Because these leaders listen to their employees, respect their opinions, give them opportunities to thrive and treat them fairly, employees trust, respect, follow and perform at a high level for them.

e. Move Their Colleges Toward The Vision – For a college to thrive in the future, it must change. The best leaders are able to look into the future, see how the rules of the game are changing and teach everyone how to make the adjustments needed to succeed and flourish
in the coming years.

The success of any college greatly depends on the quality of its leaders. Therefore, college leaders must prove that they are able to align and focus their college communities, move the organization closer to the ultimate Vision, serve employees so they can perform their missions effectively, treat people in a way the maximizes their satisfaction, capabilities, opportunities and potential and move everyone into the future fully prepared compete and win. Because great leaders make everyone around them better, they have no difficulty providing examples and stories of organizational, employee and student success.

To keep them focused on the goal, there is one question that great leaders ask before they make any important decision. “Will my decision help us move closer to our Vision of how things should be?”

Decision To Make During College

Colleges and universities are big companies and big business. Their partners are huge businesses with a big appetite for survival. There is no problem with that – unless what they say to survive is not the whole story on how they impact you.

Years of research, teaching and dealing with incomplete information coming from colleges and universities, banks, college recruiters and others has compelled me to assemble this list as part warning, part checklist and part sobering review for students, parents and others considering the college option.

My experience has taught me to dig deeper and get more information that what I receive from those with a vested financial interest in my business. You take it for what it’s worth to you.

1. The overall college drop-out rate is far worse than the high school drop-out rate, and high school drop-out rates are at epidemic levels. Look up four year and six year graduation rates on the FAFSA website. There are numbers reported by the colleges themselves. It is sobering. My face to face conversation with students and parents are even more sobering.

2. College student loan debt default rates have risen steadily every year since 2005 and are now approaching 10%. Loans at least 90 days late now account for over 11% of all loans. Student loans debts has surpassed $1 trillion dollars and is greater than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States. The average college student graduates with between $25,000 to $30,000 of debt, and many have debt exceeding $100,000 or more. Close to 90% of college students require financial aid to attend and complete formal, higher education.

3. College students show virtually no net increasing in learning between starting college and the beginning of their junior year. This is according to research by Dr. Richard Arum, University of New York and Dr. Josipa Roksa, University of Virginia detailed in their book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Their follow-up book, according to Dr. Arum, is not going to do much to alleviate many fears on this topic.

4. The average length of time required to complete a “four year” college degree is now six years. The most favorable data on the college completion rate is that 59% of those who start college finish within six years. The number graduating within the standard four years is far less. Again, see the numbers on the FAFSA website.

5. Without asterisks and disclaimers, colleges and universities can no longer claim that earning a degree will insure a better standard of living for the graduate versus non-graduates. More students than ever are returning home to live with their parents. Teen and student employment is at record highs. The number of college graduates taking minimum wage jobs is rising fast.

6. At nearly all liberal arts, public and private colleges and universities, the number of college administrators is exploding disproportionately larger than the ranks of professors and instructors. This imbalance and the dramatic increase in class sizes is widely regarded as detrimental to the quality of education in the United States. Additionally, administrative units at colleges are demanding and achieving greater power and administrative muscle over their academic counterparts. As colleges expand, they are spending their money on administrative resources, not instructional resources as evidenced by dramatic shifts in student-to-faculty and student-to-administrator ratios since 1975.

7. At nearly all liberal arts schools, the number of part-time adjunct instructors is growing disproportionately larger than number of PhD level college professors assigned to the classroom.

8. Forbes Magazine published an article indicating that the average college student would now do better financially to work a full-time job during the time they would have spent 4-6 six years at a college or university and not incur the normal debt required to complete a degree.

9. A recent article published in papers across the country indicated that as many as 47% of the jobs available to students now will disappear in the future due to technological changes.

10. A large percentage of college students don’t get jobs in their chosen field of study.

11. Drug and alcohol misuse on college campuses is a leading factor in sub-standard academic performance resulting in young people leaving college before they graduate. In many cases, 25% of college freshmen leave college before the end of their first year due to academic deficiencies complicated by drug and alcohol misuse.

12. The number of people with college degrees who have filed bankruptcy in the past several years has jumped close to 60%, narrowing the gap between traditional filers with lower incomes.

13. A Stanford University recruiter openly admits in the film, The Race To Nowhere, that colleges and universities are putting unnecessary and extraordinary pressure on high school students that results in significant mental and physical health challenges for students and their families, including suicide.

14. The banking, financial, academic and political systems that encourage you to go to college have perfected the result of making you feel guilty or sorry if you don’t go, without citing evidence of the problems brought about by failure and lack of preparation for college and university life.

15. Because of the relationship between these four segments of the economy, college tuitions rose 248% between 1990-2008 – more than any other measurable industry, major product or segment of the economy.

16. Fueled by technology and innovation, auto-didactic learning or self-teaching is growing in popularity as a way to create focused learning without the time, financial and health constraints of a failing traditional education model.

17. Over the past generation, as colleges and universities have spent billions of dollars on assessment systems and administration, academic performance of college students has dropped substantially and the dissatisfaction of the private sector with the quality of graduates has increased. Formal learning and assessment systems implemented by colleges and universities are not working; and they are failing the students, families, communities and businesses they serve.

18. Alternatives to the traditional education model are expanding rapidly. Online education tools are forcing colleges to respond to competition as opposed to colleges taking the lead on new and innovative forms of education.

19. Employers, in a variety of surveys and studies, indicate that they are increasingly dissatisfied with overall product of colleges and universities. Google has begun to approach high school students in a effort to gain better control and influence over the education of students and to insure that they get the kinds of students that will fit their business model best.