CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Identifying and Applying to Merit Scholarships for College

Learn the best strategies for identifying and applying to merit scholarships for college, from former Financial Aid Admissions Officer Frank and Senior Advisor Jesper.

Date 02/08/2022

Webinar Transcription

2022-02-08 CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Identifying and Applying to Merit Scholarships

[00:00:00] Hi. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Masterclass on Merit Scholarships.

On the sidebar, you can download our slides, and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab.

Great. All right. Nice to meet you, everyone. Um, Frank, do you wanna introduce yourself first and your background? Uh, certainly my name is Frank Ranieri. I’ve been working in higher education in some capacity for over the last 10 years. Um, most recently, uh, at Columbia University.. Great. [00:01:00] Excited to meet you all today!

Thanks for coming. I’m Jesper. I graduated from Harvard in 2019, uh, studied sociology, and now I’m a second year medical student at the university of Michigan. And kind of my background is in, um, advising students on merit scholarships. And I also received a couple of myself when I applied back, uh, in high school.

Great. So we’re going to start off with a poll and now we’ll do a quick poll. See?

I think we’re having a little hard time hearing you McKenzie about basically what she’s saying is we’re going to start with a quick poll. We’d love for all of you to respond. Basically. Where are you in the college application process? And there should be a poll that kind of pops up on your screen soon that you should be able to answer.[00:02:00]

We’ll give everyone a few seconds stands for the poll. And then we’ll be able to see the results.

Alright, great. Starting to see if you responses come in.

And it looks like most people are saying that, um, they’re kind of just doing some preliminary school research right now, which is great and totally fine. Um, you know, that’s kind of where I started off in the process too. Um, some people are narrowing down the school is some people are working on essays, so they’re pretty far along and some people don’t know where to start it, which is [00:03:00] also, you know, exactly the reason you should be here today.

So we’re happy to have one. Cool. So maybe we can close the poll and we’ll move on to the next slide where Frank will kind of give us a one-on-one basically on financial aid and scholarships. Right? Exactly. Um, so financially. So a scholarship is part of financial aid. Rather it’s awarded from this school or rather it’s from an outside scholarship and we’re going to dive into some scholarship.

Um, do’s, don’ts frequently asked questions, things of that nature, but in, along with the application for scholarships, if you want to apply for need-based funding from either the government or the school, you would need to complete the FASFA and most schools are requiring now the CSS profile through college board.

Um, Again, FASFA is going to be determining government eligibility, rather it’s for loans or grants, um, CSS profiles for institutional funding. Um, there are loans that can be awarded from [00:04:00] both the federal government and privately, um, and then scholarships, which is why we’re here, um, which is money. You don’t have to pay back.

Um, and then how to appeal for financial aid, which again, that’s part of the whole financial aid process, but not necessarily part of. Um, you can go ahead with the next slide, please. Desperate. Um, and there’s two essentially forms of scholarships. Um, one is, was going to be a merit scholarship. That’s awarded through the school.

That’s going to be at time of admissions. The admissions office is going to review, um, pretty much you as a whole, uh, as a student applying, um, standardized test scores. Regular grades extracurricular, your essay itself that you wrote to get into school to just to determine if you’re eligible for any merit from the school, which would be a scholarship that you don’t need to pay back.

And you just need to typically keep a certain GPA year over year. And then outside scholarships is I believe where a lot of the [00:05:00] questions you all will have today is what are they and how can you apply for them? They can be merit based where you have to have a certain high school GPA. Uh, they can be need based.

Whereas, um, parents make too much money. You may not be eligible to apply for this scholarship. Um, it could be based on, um, you know, your Scholastic overall, uh, and or any of them, all of the above part of them. Um, and we’ll get into that. Uh, as we, as we go through here, um, Yep. And I kind of want important distinction that Frank was highlighting here is that there are scholarships you can get from the college itself.

And then there are scholarships that are just offered by, you know, kind of private foundations, um, by nonprofits. And we’ll kind of go over that in a little bit as well. But it kind of to set the context for this talk. We want to just kind of define what a merit scholarship means first. And you know, this great definition you found on us news says that merit aid is a form of college financial aid that does not consider a student’s financial need, but rather is awarded [00:06:00] based on academic, athletic, artistic, or special interest merit as Frank was kind of talking about.

Great. Um, so. You know, a question that we get a lot is what is a good time for me to start thinking about scholarships? Because I know everyone to some degrees thinking about how to pay for college, um, and kind of what Frank and I think is that, you know, if you’re here and you’re a freshman or sophomore, just take some time, focus on school, figure out what you enjoy, extracurricularly, whether it’s.

Boards, whether it’s like music, other things don’t stress out too much about scholarships right now. It’s a little too early. Like it’s great for you to come here and learn about the process, but don’t feel like you have to be searching for things at the moment. Um, Frank, do you wanna kind of talk about juniors and seniors advice?

Yeah, certainly. So, uh, anytime you want to research, that’s fine. Most likely a lot of the scholarships we want to be able to apply to. After your junior year concludes. So it could be the summer going into senior year. There could be some junior [00:07:00] based ones. Um, but scholarships are very much the onus. A lot of times falls on the student where the student has to apply for scholarships, look for them.

Uh, and it can be a kind of a daunting task. So starting when you’re a junior is a great time to at least kind of figure out what exactly you want to apply for. You know, what’s your field of study. Not only what’s interests you, but what are you. Best attributes or what do you plan on going to college for?

And, you know, what’s your best subject in school and then applying for scholarships based on one of those factors versus just the broad spectrum of scholarships. Um, and again, I believe we’ll begin into some websites and things to remember here in a little bit, but, um, you know, the, the sooner you can just kind of review and see what scholarships asked for it, then you can kind of start gearing your.

You know, you’re high school kind of plan for what, what scholarships you want to apply for and what you need to be doing. And.

Great. So, um, a couple of different [00:08:00] types of scholarships, as we mentioned earlier, there are merit scholarships that are application-based, which basically means you have to apply for it specifically. And sometimes that’s in addition to applying to the school itself. So Vanderbilt, for example, has a scholarship that’s full tuition called the chancellor scholarship.

You have to apply for this in addition to applying to the university. Um, screening based scholarships are where you’re automatically screened. If you apply by a certain deadline, usually it’s like their early auction or regular decision deadline. Um, so I’d say the large majority of schools will screen for some type of scholarship for you when you apply.

It could be like Georgia tech, BC, UC Berkeley. And you wanna talk a bit about outside scholarships? Yeah, certainly. And, um, the best way to know, uh, based on the first two slides or the first two points there. You know, check the school’s websites that you want to apply for. It. There’s a school you really want to go to, um, get on their financial aid page, be on their admission page and see how they review for [00:09:00] scholarships.

Um, the most I’m familiar with there’s going to be the. Um, the screening based where, um, the school’s going to automatically review for their scholarships. Now outside scholarships will apply directly to your account and go directly towards the bill. But again, those are the ones that need to be applied for.

Um, again, major ones, like Coca-Cola a local foundation. Um, you know, if you volunteered, there’s a nonprofit in your hometown that you’ve worked with. Um, a lot of times those types of places will have scholarships for students. Great. And so kind of one question we get that we’ll talk about in a second is kind of how do I find scholarships?

And so we’ll talk about that in a side, but, um, McKenzie did share link that college has in terms of a compilation of a couple of university based scholarships. Hopefully that can be a good resource for you. Um, so a question we also get a lot is what are the requirements of qualifying? You know, what, what are they looking for?

Um, and I [00:10:00] can, I’m happy to kind of tackle the first two, which are, there are some scholarships that universities offer that are primarily. Academic based. So if you reached a certain threshold, sat act GPA and you apply to their school, they will offer you this scholarship. So Wittenberg university has one along those lines where they have a tiered system.

We’re based on your sat score and your GPA you’ll get a certain level of scholarship automatically. Um, the second one is skill-based criteria. So we won’t talk as much about this today because it’s its own process. But for example, if you’re a recruited athlete to a school that offers athletic scholarships, you have exceptional talent in a particular skill.

The school might have particular money set aside for just those students. Great. Frank, do want to talk about a diversity in. Yeah. So the, the, the, the diversity one is basically, there’s going to be certain scholarships based on who you are as a student who you are as a person, rather it’s, [00:11:00] uh, your background, um, your gender.

Um, are you, uh, um, what is your nationality? Um, all of those things you’d want to think about when you’re applying, um, because it helps narrow down the search. Um, Anything that you’ve done in the past. Um, and as in regards to schoolwork, you want to kind of jot down anything great. You’ve gotten, like, for example, there’s like women in science, there’s like a very popular one to apply for scholarship because in the past, typically there haven’t been that many, um, women in the sciences.

Right. So that’s essentially what allows you to kind of, um, Narrowed down your search. If you’re the first generation, you’re the first in your family to go to college or even the, um, Colorado Mesa. One words, if your parents didn’t complete the four-year degree, um, again, uh, you want to take a holistic approach as to your entire situation, your family, your background, and just apply for scholarship based on those type of criteria.

Um, [00:12:00] and then again, there’ll be specific scholarships to certain schools that are different from school to school. So it’s definitely, um, reviewing that financial aid website for sure. Great. Um, yeah. And just the other one is kind of one that you will see a lot for schools, which is basically like overall quote, unquote excellence, and that’s kind of a vague term and it’s hard to define, even for us.

A lot of colleges will offer this type of scholarship. Basically they’re looking for students who they feel can bring something special to their school, um, whether it’s kind of your personality, your background, or your, the whole package, you know, the grades, everything together. Um, and again, that’s really hard to define, like what makes a good fit for that?

You know, it really depends on what the school is looking for and, you know, kind of who’s in their pool, but this is a criteria you’ll see a lot for different types of schools. So on that note, um, you know, like we said, the question of how do you find scholarships? So there’s a lot of different [00:13:00] ways you can do it.

Probably one of the best ways is just looking up on Google. So I was able to find earlier a list on of like university-based scholarships. Um, and if you’re looking for outside scholarships, you can also Google those as well. So things like Frank was talking about the Coca Cola foundation, your local school foundation might have one.

You could ask around, ask your guidance counselor. Um, there’s no like formula to find scholarships. It’s a matter of just putting in the work yourself to compile it. Great. Frank, do you wanna talk a bit about how to figure out if you’re a good fit or not? Okay. Uh, certainly so again, in addition to the Google and he had mentioned, uh,, um, which is basically going to be a search engine, but just for scholarships, um, it’s going to be a very broad searches.

So you want to narrow it down. And I kind of spoke about this on the last, on the last slide, but, um, You know, what are the grades? What are the dates to apply for them is their meeting average. Um, do your parents make too much money [00:14:00] to apply for scholarship? Are they, are your parents in a lower income field?

Because some of the scholarships will be geared towards, um, because if your family makes a certain amount of money, you may not be eligible for need based funding. So there are scholarships out there for families that come from a higher income. Um, you want to look at, you want to review the website from the school that you want to apply, because there was going to have some tips and tricks to either scholarships within their realm or ones that they’ve they’ve optimized themselves with.

But the biggest thing is just. Continue to look and review. Um, you know, we keep a list of scholarships that we have found. Um, it’s an ever-growing list and we like to share that with our clients. Um, so obviously we think we are a great resource for whatever avenue you go. It does fall back on you, the students, or on the students who apply to find scholarships, apply for them.

And, you know, um, it can be a daunting task because you’ll. And you won’t hear back for awhile, but again, every little bit helps. [00:15:00] Um, and you know, if you can get books cover for a semester, that’s a, that’s a big savings.

Exactly. And, and really like, what we like to say is, you know, if you’re asking, should I apply for the scholarship? It’s really up to you. Like, do you have the time and interest and ability to make sure your other college applications are good enough if you do, then we definitely should apply. There’s no reason to say no, it’s really hard to predict.

Like, can you get the scholarship or not? That’s. I almost like a lottery roll, like a dice roll in some cases. But if you have the time and energy, then, you know, definitely it’s worthwhile to go for it. So we’re going to open another poll, um, which is what grade you will be entering in this fall. And I think they’ll help us give us a better idea of kind of where people are relatively.

Yes. So you can answer eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other, and other, uh, can be if you’re a parent or a transfer student or current college student. [00:16:00] Um, so yeah, and while we wait for those answers to roll in, um, can you, uh, just spirit, can you tell us any, um, like a little tidbit of any interesting scholarships you applied?

Sure. So when I was applying, um, let’s see. So I applied specifically to one at Vanderbilt. It was a full tuition scholarship that I was offered, um, in the application cycle. Um, and I think it’s one that we’ll be talking about today as an example, um, I was offered a full tuition scholarship from the university of Michigan.

And that was a screening based one. So I didn’t actually apply for it. They kind of offered it to me after I applied early auction. And, uh, for me, I ultimately decided on Harvard because the need-based financial aid was actually comparable to the merit based aid from others. And so that’s something for you to keep in mind as well as if you think you’re a competitive applicant for a good scholarship from a good school.

Um, if you have financial need, um, some of the more selective schools might actually offer you a lot of grant based aid. [00:17:00] It really depends on your own situation though. So we can talk more about that later. Definitely. That sounds great. And it’s looking like we have 1% eighth graders, 0%, ninth graders, 4% 10th graders, 21% 11th graders, 49% 12th graders and 25% others.

So a pretty good mix, definitely more towards the later years. And so I know we have a lot of like seniors here, so we’ll spend some time in the Q and a, which is the second half of this talk, talking a bit about maybe more like outside scholarships, as well, as ways you could communicate with colleges to show your interest and see if they might have any funding available.

Wait. All right. Um, so kind of, when can you expect to hear back about applying for merit scholarship? You know, what do you think, Frank? So if you’re applying to an outside scholarship, They can give you they’ll have deadlines in which you need to apply. They might give you a response two months before college, they might give you a response, you [00:18:00] know, you’re three weeks into this semester.

So even if they have certain deadlines, some of them will say when they tend to let people know when you can expect to hear some of them won’t um, and even if you’re finishing up your freshman year in college, that doesn’t mean you stop applying for outside scholarships, because there are scholarships out there that will.

12 18 24 credits college credits before you can apply for their scholarships. So, um, a lot of students that I’ve worked with, um, thought the outside scholarship search stops after your freshman year, but it does now. So every year continue to look for scholarships and apply for them. Um, and you know, again, every little bit helps in regards to.

Great. And a lot of the tips we give today are going to be applicable both for college-based scholarships, but outside scholarships say, apply for maybe in your own community, online through national foundations. So just keep that in mind as you’re listening, because you know, we’ll talk, we’re kind of talking about in the [00:19:00] context of college-based scholarships, we’re really super clickable to any type of scholarship you’re interested in.

And as Frank said, you can, you can be applying for these even during college. So I think definitely relevant. All right. So some tips that we kind of offer to students who are interested in scholarships, uh, the ones that I offer to students are one, um, create a tracking spreadsheet. I’ll kind of give an example on the next slide.

Um, you just want to stay organized, stay on top of your deadlines. The. Knowing what’s going on. Otherwise you might miss somethings, um, map out the scholarship application prompt. We’ll do an example of this later, and this is just kind of an exercise for you to think about how you can best answer the scholarship essay prompt, um, to kind of, you know, uh, better understand what they’re looking for.

And then finally, you know, I always say this right early, get feedback on. Great. Frank, how about you? Uh, the biggest thing, um, is you want to get everything in on time. Again, if the school’s reviewing for your merit scholarship, um, you need to get all of your [00:20:00] admissions documents in on time. However, getting your financial aid documents in and taken care of helps the award letter be fully, um, before, when they send out their award notices.

So hope. You get that great news that you’ve been accepted it, get it, you get a merit scholarship and you get of some grants from the school. And then you know exactly how much the school is going to cost and exactly how much you would need in a scholarship. You know, if you can’t pay out of pocket or with a payment plan or what.

Great. And also like, if you have questions you want to ask, there’s a Q and a section where you can take questions and send them to us and we will get to them in the second half of this presentation. So I received some questions, but I promise you we’ll answer them in a second. All right. So I’m going to give a couple of quick run-throughs of what I meant earlier.

What does the tracking spreadsheet look like? Um, this is kind of what I did for a colleges. I think I also had one for outside scholarships too. Um, but basically I kind of wrote down what was the scholarship that I was applying for. I wrote down the [00:21:00] deadline, I wrote down whether or not it was ready or completed and submitted.

And then really importantly, I wrote down the prompts and put them in different columns of the spreadsheet. And the reason I did that, As you like start to apply for more scholarships, you’re going to start to over notice some overlap between different problems. Um, it’s important to like answer the prompt specifically to what they’re looking for, but you know, maybe the prompt is about like diversity or what you bring to the diversity of, you know, the scholarship of the community.

And if you have already answered that in a previous essay, then you can kind of retool that essay to fit this prompt. Um, and so I think like organizing it in a spreadsheet for. And even color coding the prompts, um, so that they have similar colors. If it’s similar topics is a good way to like keep track of things.

Alright. So I’m going to talk a bit about what I mean by scholarship mapping and what I mean by this is like, how do you read the prompt and take out what is the most important content from that prompt? And then answer it with a story from your own background. [00:22:00] So we’ll talk a bit about this one from Vanderbilt, but like I said, this is relevant to any scholarship you apply to, whether it’s a college, one or a non-profit one or from, you know, your fraternity or sorority in college.

Anyway. So the description here. Says that, um, this scholarship honors the vision of Vanderbilt university’s founder who endowed the university to contribute, to strengthening the ties, what should exist between all sections of a common country scholars continue that mission bringing intellectual and community leadership to Vanderbilt, where they forge interdisciplinary and interpersonal connections that unite people and ideas across the world.

So the first thing you want to do is you want to read the description of the scholarship itself. Typically they kind of talk about some of what they’re looking for, and then you want to read the prompt, which is the college of arts and science is a liberal arts school committed to introducing every student to a broad range of subjects in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

How will you embrace the breadth of courses offered by college of arts and sciences. And how does this fit into your academic journeys in [00:23:00] life passions? So. Um, here, you can see I’ve kind of, color-coded why C to be the most important parts of this prompt. First of all, the description contribute to strengthening the ties, which should exist between all sections of our common country.

Okay. So it sounds like they’re kind of looking for someone who might be, you know, a bridge builder. Uh, Bill’s like relationships across different communities, um, intellectual and community leadership. You’re going to see some type of terminology like that in a lot of scholarships as kind of a vague term.

They used to just mean people who have demonstrated leadership, both, you know, maybe academically, but also outside the class. And then finally forge interdisciplinary and interpersonal connections that unite people and ideas across the world. So it seems like there’s kind of a common theme here of looking for students who are interested in bridging those gaps and creating new connections across different groups.

Now, if we look at the prompt itself, What I highlighted here is embrace the breadth of courses offered by the college of arts and [00:24:00] sciences. And how does this fit into your life journey and passions? That’s pretty a general, uh, prompt. It sounds like they want, they want to know about how you’re going to take advantage of the education and the opportunities that are going to be provided at Vanderbilt.

And how does this fit into your future? You know, maybe you don’t know specifically what you want to do, but generally, like what kind of impact do you hope. So I’ll just give an example of that. I thought of, I kind of like made this up, but, you know, for example, let’s say you could say, you know, as a vice-president of my key club, uh, I started a series of, uh, free music performances at nursing homes.

And initially, you know, I started this, uh, this series of performances just because you know, me and my classmates really wanted to share a love of music with the rest of our community, but I quickly realized how these series of performances. Uh, an opportunity for different generations to connect with each other, uh, you know, young people with like the senior citizens of our community.

[00:25:00] And, you know, although I don’t know yet what I want to study at Vanderbilt. I’m really excited to take advantage of the breadth of opportunities and kind of my love for bridging gaps between different generations of people. Um, whether it’s through my extracurricular activities or through my studies. So I’ll just stop there.

That’s kind of like a general example, right? Where you’re kind of bringing in some type of story or thing that you did and kind of connecting the dots between that and like what the prompt is asking about. So if you kind of like take this framework and apply it to any prompt, whether it’s like a outside scholarship, a college scholarship, um, and you really think.

You know, what is it the prompt is asking about? Um, you know, I think people can tell us, they’d read these essays. Like, did you do your homework? You know, did you really think about this prompt and really respond to it? Thoughtfully? All right. Great. Frank, do you have some thoughts on who people should ask for letters of rec for school?

Um, anyone who’s kind of has the knowledge of what you [00:26:00] did or performed or, you know, what your background is, right. If it was strictly academic performance, who, who would be aware of that, um, extracurricular performance leadership, a lot of times it will be someone within the school typically. Um, but again, It’s about trying to remember all that you’ve done, you know, for your high school seniors, like what have you done throughout your entire high school career?

You know, where did you volunteer? Uh, what extra curricular, you know, what, you know, did you play sports? Um, you know, um, what have you done? Have you tutored others? You know, did you have a mentor? So it’s about, again, the holistic approach of what you’ve done, not just strictly in the classroom, but as, as a whole, that makes you, you, and you want to.

Go to those people that have helped you and hopefully they can, um, write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. Yep. And you know, one other tip that we like to share with students is if it’s an application based scholarship that you feel really, really strongly [00:27:00] about, um, and you requires a recommendation you might consider, um, letting that recommender know, maybe the IRA wrote a recommendation for you for college, letting them know that you are applying to this specific scholarship.

And if they might be able to tweak their rec letter a little bit, um, to kind of address some of the things the scholarship is looking for. Um, so for example, maybe you’re applying to a local community foundation scholarship, and it’s like for business students, future visits students, you know, maybe you can ask your recommender if they have the time, obviously, to tweak the recommendation a little bit, to kind of talk a bit about your interest in business, if that’s what you’re applying into.

Um, so it’ll really depend on the scholarship, but there are ways to kind of think about who to ask for recommendations from. All right. And so any final tips before we go into the Q and a. So from my end, um, you know, like I said, start looking early, map out your prompts and, uh, you know, keep track of everything, use a good spreadsheet.

And if you get an interview for a scholarship, which sometimes happens, then, you know, the best thing you can [00:28:00] do is just kind of practice, you know, maybe with your teacher, your friend, maybe your parents. Um, and if you can figure out who are other people who have gotten this scholarship and who have done that interview before, definitely reach out to them and get it.

Um, and just my two little tidbits here is, you know, don’t get discouraged. Um, again, uh, the, the worst part in my opinion of students applying for scholarships is you apply and you don’t hear anything. Um, and it’s just that waiting period can be frustrating. So don’t get discouraged. And again, the more application you’ve put out, the better chance you have or receive.

And again, the scholarships that you apply for the, the sources you go through, you can follow up with them. You know, their websites might have, like, you know, we typically get a thousand applicants, we get 10,000, um, you know, there will be some scholarships out there that don’t have many applicants. So, you know, that’s another way you can kind of search for them as well.

But again, uh, you know, the more you apply towards as far as scholarships, the better chance you have to get.[00:29:00]

Great. So, um, kind of, I guess another thing to think about as I kind of, how can college advisor help you, um, you know, in this process, whether you are looking for scholarships, whether you’re looking to apply to colleges, um, you know, something, I think about a lot. I kind of wish I had something like this when I was applying, you know, kind of something where I could get advice, not just from, you know, former financial aid officers, former financial, uh, former like admissions officers, but people who just went through the process and know all the ins and outs of like things that have been changing.

And that kind of like, mean that genuinely, not just like, because you know, I’m here presenting to you, but, um, you know, college applications, scholarships, all of these things are really confused. You know, processes they’re changing every year and kind of staying ahead of the curve by having people who are experts in the topic.

Um, both those who have many years of experience advising students and those who have just gone through the process themselves really can give you an edge, whether you’re trying to [00:30:00] figure out your college list, you’re trying to figure out how to fill out financial aid forms, how to apply to schools.

What do you think, Frank? Yeah, I agree. I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s when I went to school, it was all on my own. And I had no idea what I was doing. Um, you know, uh, what we can do is obviously. Um, in addition to the advisement and the S a lot of times the essays that you write for your applications in the school are going to be used on these scholarship applications, too.

Right? So as we have, uh, experience helping you write those athletes for admissions, those essays can be used tweaked, you know, again, you don’t want to just copy and paste because typically scholarships can tell when that. You, you want to hear your responses towards the scholarship as Jasper had mentioned before.

Um, but we can certainly help you do that. And as well as find scholarships that help fit your situation and more specifically how to apply for them, where to find them and, you know, the process in which, uh, [00:31:00] Amazing. So we’re going to move on to the Q and a section. So like we said, there’s a Q and a box you see on the side that you can click on, send a questionnaire.

If you have one, you want us to answer. Um, and so we’ll just get started with, uh, the first question that I see from early in the presentation, which is what is the biggest tip when writing essays for scholarships. Uh, I’m also looking to go into the medical field. So hopefully kind of, uh, what we talked about later in the presentation kind of helped you with that, you know, really you want to map out the prompt and something else I recommend students do.

If they’re struggling to think of ideas is kind of, um, I kind of call it like a bucket, like a branch activity. So you kind of start with a blank piece of printer paper. You write your name. And you start writing, you start drawing branches out from your name and branches out to like things that you really associate with yourself, or you spend a lot of time on.

So for example, maybe you spent a lot of time [00:32:00] on, um, football or something, you know, that should be a branch, maybe really care about your identity as like a particular race, ethnicity, religion. That should be a branch. And from each branch, you keep drawing smaller branches, uh, in terms of specific stories and anecdotes that you think of when you think of.

Split these types of buckets. And that’s a good way to start coming up with ideas for an essay. Um, yeah. Frank, do you have like thoughts on like kind of essays or what you’ve seen in your experience? I thought I thought your answer was great. Actually. I think that’s, that’s a great thing. And, uh, again, um, it’s reviewing what the scholarship themselves are actually asking for, um, and making sure you hit what they’re, what they’re asking for, right?

If you have, you have your general, like. Here’s 500 words about me that you have saved on your desktop. And if there’s a section in there that doesn’t relate to this, what’s the scholarship asking you to simply take that out and put in something that relates to the scholarship itself. Um, and, and again, trying [00:33:00] to, uh, that example Jesper had with the essay prompt itself and the highlighting, what they’re actually asking, I think is a great, great tip.

Awesome. Um, let’s see, Frank, do you want answer the next one? Which is what extracurricular activity? Yeah, my, I think my video is going in and out, but can you hear me? Yep. Perfect. So there is not going to be a set kind of planned for which extra curricular activities you should do. Um, however, if you’re looking at scholarships and there’s one specific that says.

We require someone who’s volunteered for this many hours, then you definitely want to make sure you get some volunteer hours in, so you can then apply to that scholarship. Um, you know, if you play a lot of sports, there’s going to be definitely sports related ones that aren’t necessarily like, you know, uh, division one athletic full scholarship, but Hey, being part of a team through high school, There’ll be something that you can write on in that.

Um, and again, did you work, [00:34:00] you know, even if you worked at your local supermarket, that’s an extra curricular, you can talk about how, you know, your time management skills increased by working at your local supermarket or just, you know, again, what have you done or what have you accomplished in the last four years, five years that you can relate to what the essay or what the scholarship itself.

Yes, and I thank y’all. Um, but going on to the next question, does any, do any of the Ivy league schools offer merit scholarships? They do not snap from the school themselves. Um, they’ll process, any outside scholarship awarded, um, but there will not be merit scholarships to the undergrad IVs. Yes. Most of them offer needs-based financial aid and usually it is helpful.

Um, if you do have need, um, so if you’re a low-income student, um, going to an Ivy league, maybe a cheaper option, especially if schools like Harvard, which tend to offer, which offers some of the best financial aid in the country, uh, you just have to [00:35:00] get it. Yeah. Most of the IVs will, will do what’s called meet financial need, but they’re going to meet each student’s specific financial needs.

What you think you need versus what the school says you need. There’s sometimes can be a different, but the Ivy league is pretty generous with their, with their grant packages, but it’s strictly need-based and no sports scholarships, either that as well. Correct. I just want to add to the Ansari Mackenzie, um, Something else to do, whether, you know, if you’re applying now or, you know, you’re applying later is go to the college websites.

You’re interested in typically they have a financial aid calculator. You can kind of ask your parents to put in some of their info and it will give you a rough estimate of like what type of aid they will provide you. Because actually, you know, a lot of schools say they meet a hundred percent of your needs.

Schools have different levels of resources. So they might offer a mix of loans and grants, or maybe like a Frank said Ivy leagues offer only grant money. Uh, no loans whatsoever. Um, so really like schools [00:36:00] you’re interested in going there, website, go on the calculator, put some information in and do some research there.

Sorry, McKinsey. I just wanted to answer a one question that’s a bit later because it’s relevant to seniors. Um, and I’m not sure if we’ll get to it later, but basically this question was, and then if that’s okay, we can go back to like going into order. Sorry about that. Um, the question was for like someone who’s a senior right now, you know, what are good resources that you can use to identify scholarships and, um, Just like, how do you think about, you know, applying for outside scholarships, if you’ve already applied to colleges at this point?

I guess I, Frank, do you have some thoughts first? And then I’m happy to talk about it too. Um, I’m I’m sorry. I was reading the questions here. No worries. Uh, yeah, basically the question was like, let’s say you’re a college senior right now. You’ve already applied to colleges. You already had your applications in, you’re waiting to hear back about financial aid.

You know, what are good ways to find outside scholarships, [00:37:00] uh, maybe from like your local area and also at the national level. So is the best starting spot I find, um, because. That are going to it. It’s a free source and they’re going to have information out there that are viable options.

Um, I think it’s a good starting spot because you can search by your location by your field of study when you’re going to school by deadline. Um, and again, the, you want to make sure you apply to ones that fit your situation, right? If you’re a. Uh, you know, if you’re, if you want to be a math teacher and there’s one that’s that’s for like, you know, high, high efficiency and math, that’s the one you want to apply for as far as local ones are concerned.

Uh, again, you know, where did you work? Where have you volunteered? Um, local nonprofit businesses. A lot of times have scholarships that they can award. And they’re not just going to warm to local. They’re going to just award them to you in whatever college you choose. If you end up. Yep. [00:38:00] I agree. I mean, I think is very place you can use.

Um, there’s like so many websites, like, let’s say you’re an international student. Like I think there’s like a, I found a scholarships, website. Let’s say you’re a Canadian student. You’re looking to apply for scholarships in the U S that might be a good resource to use. Um, Really like Google can find you a lot of different databases and resources that are out there.

So use that. And if you’re looking for, and again, local scholarships probably are like your best opportunity to get money because not as many people apply for them. So ask your guidance counselor about local scholarships, ask. Other older students above you. Um, what, what they applied to kind of look around and see what kinds of foundations exist?

Um, that’s a really great opportunity. I definitely applied for like outside scholarships in my community, uh, after like during the. Yes. And applying to those scholarships that are county-based can be really helpful, especially if, since a lot of students probably won’t be applying to it. [00:39:00] So like I’m from Gwinnett county, Georgia, and they offered a bunch of scholarships for Gwinnett county students, even for specific high schools.

And, um, a lot of people didn’t know about them. So if you just apply to them, you automatically get it. Because if you’re the only applicant, they only have one person to give it to. So definitely look into those local. County and school specific your high school specific, um, scholarships as well. Your counselors should have them, uh, going on to the next question then, uh, kind of relating to this, but different students are asking, um, can you apply for merit scholarships before you get into university and also, um, where did it,

Hey Mackenzie, can you.

Um, up to any school that, okay. I think we lost you Mackenzie. I’m sorry, I can’t, I can’t hear you clearly, but, [00:40:00] um, maybe we can answer the first one and then you can repeat the other questions in a sec. So I think the first question, which was, uh, can you apply to merit scholarships before you apply to university?

Hmm, I think, well, I guess it depends on, are you talking about college-based scholarships that colleges offer or outside scholarships? My answer would be, yes, because if we’re talking an outside scholarship that is merit based and it’s Scala and it’s high school Scholastic based by all means apply for it.

Um, again, a vast majority of the merit scholarships school offers not an outside scholarship. You have to apply to the school to get reviewed. So, you know, there are two forms of merit scholarship, one that the college is going to automatically renew for and then the outside scholarship. And then I guess typically the third one, cause there are a handful, there are merit based scholarships within universities that you have to apply for additionally, but that would be after the faculty Vanderbilt, correct.

Jasper that was after [00:41:00] you. It was, um, it was in December of the application cycle. It was a little weird, like I had to apply to Vanderbilt after I applied to the scholarship, which is kind of great. So that’s a perfect example of checking on your school’s website that you’re interested in. Um, because again, the merit from the school will be reviewed at admissions and then outside scholarships that are based on merit, as long as you meet the criteria and you’re meeting and deadlines.

Yes. Apply it. Yep. I totally agree. I think, you know, if you’re, let’s say you’re in your junior summer, or even your senior right now start looking at the scholarship deadlines outside college-based scholarships. That’ll tell you a lot about when to apply. Um, it really just depends on the deadline, I think, but like the Coca-Cola scholarships and it’s a national scholarship thing.

That deadline is like September, October of your senior year. And I think there’s like a Nordstrom scholarship and that might be for juniors actually. So just like do your research on the deadlines and, um, that’ll tell you a lot about what you should know. I [00:42:00] saw a couple of questions. Oh, go ahead. Uh, yes.

Um, and some schools may have like their own school, specific scholarships that have earlier deadlines, usually around the early admissions time. They may call them priority deadlines. So definitely look into those, um, when you’re applying, cause you may have to apply earlier than you expected. And then the second part of the question was, can you take those scholarships to any school you want to go to?

So yeah, go for it. Frank, what do you think? Yeah, certainly. Typically that answer is is yes. Um, again, these are, these are strictly outside scholarships. So if you apply to a Vanderbilt specific scholarship and you want to go somewhere other than Vanderbilt, and obviously you can’t take that scholarship with, um, that’s rather it was active admissions, merit, or college based merit.

Now, if you apply to a scout. Most likely, yes. It’s going to award because what happened when you apply for a scholarship is let’s say you go [00:43:00] through the, uh, you write an essay, you get approved and they’re like, congratulations, you’re approved. They’re not going to send you directly the money. They’re going to send the school.

You’re going to the money. So that’s when you would have to let the scholarship, um, the, the people that award the scholarship, where you’re going to school and they send the money to the school and then I hit your account. Um, so again, unless the scholarship says this has to be a state school, or this has to be a New York resident going to a New York school, or you have to be a California resident going to a California school, as long as there’s no particular places, you have to be living in order to get it or go to college, then yes, apply for scholarships where you fit and then whatever school you go to, they will award the.

He has an ad. There are HBCs specific schools, um, and, um, the UCS and other like systems sort of schools, um, where if you apply to them, you can use those scholarships at any school within that [00:44:00] system or that demographic. So like if you apply to HBCU, um, scholarship, you can take that to any, uh, HBCU that you go to.

So always look at the final.

And going onto the next question. Um, Frankie did see a question earlier. So if you wanted to answer that, please feel free. I think I kind of dove into that one that you just, um, it was, it was essentially the same question you just asked.

I believe Jack, uh, Jesper has a question, um, on, for international students. Yeah, I saw that a lot. And I think maybe Frank and I can kind of give some advice. Um, I think that’s really tough. Like I’ll just be giving it to just like outside scholarships. And then maybe Frank can talk about what it’s like as an international student applying for financial aid and stuff, but, um, you might have the best luck kind of looking within your country.

Like maybe there are specific scholarships for really strong [00:45:00] students who want to go abroad. Um, and that’s kind of one place to start otherwise. Again, you’re going to have to probably do a Google search to find outside scholarships and college scholarships. You could reach out to their financial aid office if you’re not sure if it’s open to international students, but I think Frank might know a little bit nor more about just financial aid in general for international students.

Yeah, exactly. So the, as far as the international students, financial aid as a whole, it’s going to be based on a school by school basis. Um, for example, um, Like the Ivy leagues will review need-based funding for international students go collect the CSS profile and they’ll award need-based funding. If you’re eligible for it.

Um, some schools will have we’ll have it be, you know, they won’t award any financial aid for international students. So it’s really gonna be based on school by school now, rather a school reviews, financial need, or now for international students and all financial aid offices will process any scholarships that a student.

So you should just [00:46:00] because of school, doesn’t offer grants to international student doesn’t mean a school won’t process, the scholarship that you get, but it’s kind of the same, same story we give to our domestic students. You know, you got to search for the scholarships that fit your situation and apply for as many as you can rather they’re local to your country or, or United States based ones, too.

Um, because again, you can go to and say scholarships for international students, and there’ll be a bunch of it.

Yes. And, um, there, uh, at Cornell and at other institutions, there are programs called yellow ribbon programs, which is for millet people in the military. And, uh, one of my friends who’s British, uh, he. Actually is in the Marine Corps, in the U S and he’s able to get up. He was able to get a full ride to Cornell university.

So maybe looking into some of the yellow ribbon programs that schools offered, though, there is the caveat of you having to be in [00:47:00] the military. So always make sure to like, read the fine print and figure out what you have to do before signing up for something. Or if parents were in the military, sometimes you can get some benefits as well.

Um, and a lot of times. I believe I know the FAFSA and the profile we’ll ask about parents, um, military background, and that should prompt the school to reach out for more information in regards to that. Should you want to use any VA benefits or pass them along to your, to your children? Yes. And most schools do have a veterans affair office and they can usually help you through those processes.

Um, going on to the next question, um, another student was asking, um,

uh, can students already in college receive merit scholarships? From outside sources. Yes. Typically the merit from the school is going to be reviewed at time of admissions. [00:48:00] So meaning when admission says you get a scholarship or not, that’s typically all the scholarship you’ll be getting from, uh, from internally from a school.

Um, but outside scholarships that are merit based. Yes. Um, again, once you’ve completed a year or two or a college, you may need to apply for scholarships that. Um, specifically for students that are currently in college. So again, it just changes how you search for those scholarships, but yes, you can. Yes. As, uh, another student’s asking, how has a grant different from a scholarship?

So there, I can tell you how they’re the same, write a grant, both grants and scholarships. You don’t need to pay back, right. That’s why the two best forms of aid that you can get. Um, a grant typically. Oh, excuse me. A grant is going based on financial need, rather it’s from the university, from the state and the federal government.

Um, a Grant’s going to be based on financial need. A scholarship is going to be based on you getting awarded [00:49:00] that funds again, it can be based on your financial need, but it can also be, may be based on, you know, all of the stuff we’ve talked about today, your, um, your extracurricular, your grades, your standardized tests, your essay, writing skills, um, You know, uh, your diversity, your nationality, your program of study, uh, things of that nature.

Yes. Uh, going on to the next question, does applying early decision or early action impact the application for a merit scholarships at like the school based ones?

Yeah, I guess I’ll, I’ll just kind of share my advice first. And then I know Frank has thoughts to kind of what I advise student. I don’t honestly think it’s validated, but, um, if you’re applying to any public schools, definitely try to apply to them if they have an early action deadline by their early deadline.

Um, because, um, you know, some of these screening based scholarships, they might mostly, you know, they might have a limited pool of funding. They might be [00:50:00] mainly looking for earlier students. So. Obviously not necessarily validated, I can’t prove to you. That’s true. But just in my experience, you know, when I applied to Michigan, I think if I didn’t apply early action, I don’t think I would have been offered that scholarship.

What do you think, Frank? Yeah, I would agree. Um, you know, typically it’s meeting the deadlines as long as you meet the deadlines, the school won’t quote unquote, run out of funds. Um, but if you’re miss deadline, Then you can be at risk of a school, could not have the endowment or a public school might just not have the outside funds to fill the scholarships they want to.

Um, yes. Typically early action gives you a better percentage chance of getting a merit scholarship, but it’s not an end. All. And, um, one example with HBC’s. Um, most of them recommend for you to apply as early as possible because they have a, um, early worm, uh, early bird gets the worm sorta deal. Um, first come first serve.

Um, and when they [00:51:00] run out of the initial, like scholarships, they do tend to go more towards loans. And that does tend to happen with schools with, um, a lesser in depth. So just make sure if you’re applying to those types of schools that you apply as early as possible and submit your FAFSA as early as possible.

Yeah. Kind of piggybacking on that. Sorry, McKenzie, just checking out the school where you want to go getting familiarized with their website, their admissions and their financial aid websites, because both are going to have very good information about deadlines of what happens if you miss. So as long as you’re meeting.

Um, it’s key. Um, but again, you want to get everything in, um, financial aid included. Uh, real quick for those in the room who aren’t working with us, we know that the college admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike. Our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions In last year’s admission cycle,

our students were accepted into [00:52:00] Harvard at three times, the national rate and accepted into Stanford at 4.4 times the national rate sign up for a free consultation with us by registering for our free. For our free web platform at, there students and their families can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines, research schools, and more all right on our website.

And you do get access to our wonderful financial aid team and, um, our scholarship, um, databases and a plethora of other, um, supports within CollegeAdvisor. So we’ll make sure to sign up and going off of that. This is a very important question that a lot of students had. Is it possible to come across scams when searching for scholarships?

If so, how do you avoid this? Uh, my, the biggest thing is if it’s an individual scholarship and they’re asking for payment, I would tend to avoid those. Um, you know, if a, if a, uh, if a national society [00:53:00] wants to give students money, they shouldn’t be collecting money. Um, so that’s, that’s the biggest kind of a red flag, I would say.

Um, again, it’s different if it’s like a, if it, if it’s the website itself is, is, uh, uh, you know, for-profit website, but if it’s an individual scholarship asking for money for the individual application, I would avoid. Definitely. And I just wanted to add something to an earlier point about like where scholarships get sent, because there is a question about this also asking, uh, if you’re in high school and you receive a grant or scholarship, where does the money go?

Um, there are some scholarships. Sent directly to use. So like I’m a member of thrive scholars, which is a scholarship program and, uh, it’s a summer program and a scholarship program and they sent them, they send the money directly to me. Um, that money is great because you can use it for things that, um, those additional college costs that you may not think about.

So like food snacks, clothes, [00:54:00] school supplies, all those extra things that don’t. Um, that aren’t related to like your tuition and the money that goes directly to the school. So any of the money that goes directly to you, I recommend just using that for your personal things that you need to pay for. So like books and everything, once you get to college and just having it saved somewhere, or if you don’t have a bank account finding a safe place to keep the money.

Um, so yeah. Uh, Frank, did you have any points on that or just, that was a very, that was a very good point, actually, because I had mentioned. Majority of the scholarships are going to send, won’t send them money unless it’s to a school, but there are certain scholarships that will send them money to the students directly.

Um, again, so if that happens, just know that it is for academic needs and just know there are costs of being. Outside of, you know, the bill tuition, the build room to be able to build meal plan. Um, you know, you have to buy books, you have to buy personal things. You have to get stuff for your dorm. You know, you may want to get pizza on [00:55:00] the weekend, so, you know, whatever, whatever you need there.

Definitely. And as we come to a close on the webinar with the last five minutes, Jesper and Frank, do you have any last minute advice or any general tips for students? Um, no, I’ll just say I’ve been trying to answer some of the questions in the chat. So you can go to the answer tab and look at those. I, cause I know we’re not able to get into everything, um, during the talk, but yeah.

What do you think rank? What are your, what’s your tips? Yeah. Um, the biggest thing is, uh, you know, the holistic approach to everything you’ve accomplished. You know, if you’re a junior or senior. Everything you’ve done. And for those of you who are in eighth and ninth grade, you know, every time you do something, whether it’s volunteer or you get a job, you work a soccer camp, write everything down, you know, and, you know, write a connect from where you met a person, a mentor from what you’ve done, and just kind of keep track of everything as you go along.

Um, and then just apply, apply to apply to as many scholarships [00:56:00] as you can, and don’t get discouraged. Um, again, a lot of the. A lot of the questions or some of the questions we saw here were more geared towards, you know, how do I know what scholarship is right for me, or which program or what extracurricular should I be doing?

And it’s more about what you’ve done relating it to those scholarships. So, you know, you want to definitely stay as busy as you can and make sure, you know, again, when you were applying to scholar to school, you have to have a wider range of who you are as a person. And just think about all the things you’ve accomplished when you’re applying for those schools.

Yes. And just as a quick note, this webinar is being recorded and you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. In case you want to review this information later, uh, I don’t believe that the chat will be saved. So if you want to, any of those links, just copy and paste them now. Other than that.

Um, it, the scholarship process is pretty much the same as their regular admissions process. Um, you want to just make sure, [00:57:00] um, in order to prepare for it, that you’re really participating in activities that you really like showing that commitment, uh, doing well in your classes. Maybe getting some community and leaders.

If that’s something important to you, though, a lot of scholarships do tend to ask for that. So that is recommended, uh, and just having a good idea of like what you want to study can really help with finding those more niche scholarships for like teachers or for, um, medicine or nursing or any of those types of scholarships.

Um, so really just the same thing that you’re doing to get ready for the admissions process. Do that, um, use that, um, when you’re applying to scholarships because, um, your activities list resume. Essays that you use to apply for colleges. Uh, and then just the programs are interested in general can really help you with finding these scholarships, applying to them and seeing if your quality.

Yes. And so that is the end of our webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And again, remember, you can [00:58:00] download the slide from the link in the handouts tab and this webinar is being recorded. So you can watch it on our web site, um, later at And thank you to our panelists, Frank and Jesper for this wonderful information.

And, um, We hope that you found it helpful again and had a great time. And here’s the rest of our February series where we’ll be going over different aspects of the admissions process. We’ll have a lot of admissions officers coming on and talking for that insider, look into the admissions process. And then we’ll also have some student perspectives, um, throughout the month.

And the next month do look out for more webinars on how to best prepare for scholarships and, um, the admissions process. So thank you everyone. And good night, everyone.