3 ways to maximize your scholarship potential
by Bobbie Jo Beach, Admissions Counselor at Middle Tennessee State University The mounting costs of obtaining a college education are enough to make anyone question the investment. But the fact still remains that college graduates can earn two times more over the course of a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. So, students and parents are eager to find opportunities that will allow them to make the investment while graduating debt free. Academic scholarships are one way to tackle the costs of college.
University scholarships are awarded to students based on academic merit, exceptional talent, or financial need. Additional private scholarships are also available to students with unique circumstances and abilities. Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are up for grabs to students embarking on their college journey. Competition for these dollars is fierce. Below are three steps to help students maximize their chances at earning a scholarship.
1. Academic Success
Academic achievement is evaluated by a student’s GPA (grade point average) and ACT or SAT score. Students who want to receive scholarships must have a good GPA from all four years of high school, not just their senior year. Students begin preparing and planning for college during senior year and are disappointed to discover they do not qualify to receive scholarships from schools. Every class a student takes is not only being calculated in the GPA, but also preparing them to take the ACT or SAT. It is important and necessary for students to do their best in each class and begin thinking about their academic future at the beginning of high school.
Students should research the different types of scholarships offered and also the deadlines for applications. Explore the scholarship website of the universities of interest. They will have all scholarships the school grants listed. Also, investigate different scholarship opportunities offered by companies and non-profit organizations. Gaining this knowledge will ensure students do not miss out on a scholarship they qualify for.
Two types of awards a school might offer are guaranteed and competitive scholarships. Guaranteed scholarships are given to all students who meet a certain criteria set by the university. Competitive scholarships are granted only to a select group of students out of a larger applicant pool. These scholarships might require a student to write an essay or participate in an interview. Below are examples of guaranteed and competitive scholarships offered at Middle Tennessee State University.
- MTSU offers guaranteed scholarships for students who have at least a 3.5 GPA and a 26 on the ACT. Students are not required to fill out a scholarship application for these awards just an admissions application. Students who meet the criteria receive $2,000 a year, and as the ACT score increases the student receives more funding. However, they have to apply and have their transcript and ACT scores sent by December 1. If they apply after the deadline MTSU can’t guarantee full scholarships even if they qualify.
- MTSU offers the Buchanan Fellowship, which is a competitive scholarship given by the Honors College. The Buchanan Fellowship is the highest award given to an incoming freshman at MTSU and is limited to 20 students per year. Students who receive this award receive a full tuition waiver guaranteed for four years, special seminars, priority registration, a book allowance, priority consideration for study abroad, and much more. However, the Buchanan Fellowship requires a separate application and the deadline for applying is December 1.
Students should act quickly at the beginning of their senior year and begin applying to colleges and filling out separate scholarship applications if needed. If a student applies early before the deadlines they are ensuring they are in consideration for scholarships. It can also allow students to compare and contrast the different amount of scholarship money they could receive from each university.
If a student follows those three steps of Academic Success, Research, and Action they could receive numerous scholarships to assist them as they pursue higher education.