By Kristi Bezhani
Students with promising and exceptional talent deserve the spotlight and a college scholarship. Many of this year’s graduation students need a future financial plan to cover the college bills.
There are many merit scholarships out there that students can apply for. However, students often don’t realize how much effort goes into the application process. Winning the money takes work.
One of the great and well known programs is the Gates Millennium scholars program. The application process involves using writing and public speaking skills to be selected. Each year, 1,000 students are selected. They must have a GPA of 3.3 or higher, be eligible for free and reduced lunch, and be a person of color.
A member of SLA’s first class, Shareesa Bollers, was the first student from the school to be awarded the scholarship. When applying for this scholarship, Bollers was also doing college applications at the same time, which made it hard to cope with when also applying for a scholarship.
“It was a very long application, 26 pages. I started early and tried to work on it a bit, for at least an hour after school every day,” said Bollers. The work paid off — Bollers now has a full scholarship to Bard College, where she is currently a sophomore.
Another SLA student that is currently pursuing scholarship money is senior Gina Dukes. She is currently a finalist for money from QuestBridge.
When asked about the process of applying, she said that, “because I had known for months that I would be applying for this scholarship, I was well prepared and informed of everything that I had to do.”
Dukes wasted no time in starting her application. It opened online in August, and Duke was already requesting letters of recommendation and taking care of her test scores.
Dukes found out about the QuestBridge program through an announcement on BuildOn’s blog . She decided to pursue the College Prep Scholarship, and was invited to an admissions conference at Yale. Now a senior, she is eligible for QuestBridge’s National College Match Scholarship, which is similar to the Gates Milinnieum in the way that it provides students with a full ride scholarship, only QuestBridge matchers students with a particular school.
Dukes does not think that SLA students are taking enough advantage of these kinds of programs.
“Not many people know about this great scholarship, and there should be way more people taking advantage of it. I tried to spread the word, (through Facebook and also verbally) but in many cases, people either had heard about it too late and couldn’t apply, or they didn’t want to put forth the effor
t required in the application. Questbridge for example asks for a lot, but it is worth it in the end.”
The best way for students to find out about such scholars programs, are through councilors, and teachers with recommendations. Once students find out about programs such as Gates and QuestBridge, they don’t take as much advantage of them as they should. This is mainly because often when students seek or are nominated for a scholarship, they tend to be a senior, which makes life harder considering that students have plenty to scramble through on top of applying for scholarships.