Education is an investment widely considered to be safer than any purchase of a car or home, yet this reliable investment is still difficult for the average student to make on their own. According to the Education Data Initiative at educationdata.org, 42 million people in the U.S. have over $30,000 in student loan debt, which makes scholarships an important tool for decreasing potential debt and freeing up time and mental space to focus on school work.
“Nobody wants to be stuck paying student debt forever,” says first-year student and UCC Scholarship recipient, Landen Chung. “Scholarships helped me to focus more on my school than my financial situation. This has allowed me to achieve excellent grades, a 4.0, due to having some reassurance of financial backing.”
Chung’s viewpoint is shared by others. “The scholarship is everything to me as a full-time student and single parent,” says second-year UCC student and scholarship recipient Larisa Czernowski. “The scholarship also gives me the confidence, pride, and gratitude that someone was willing to invest in me.”
Many UCC students are aware of the importance of a good scholarship application, but have little idea of how to do it well; so what makes a successful scholarship application?
“The best scholarship applications include information that shows how well rounded you are as a person,” UCC President Rachel Prokrandt said in an email. “Scholarship application reviewers want to see what you are passionate about, identified education and career goals, and how the scholarship will support you in attaining those goals.”
UCC’s scholarship and donation coordinator Honey McNamara also advises, “Students should remember the scholarship essays are essays.” McNamara believes the writing in a scholarship application should be given the same care as a class writing assignment. “Your application is a job interview that you don’t get to be present for, so good proofreading is essential,” McNamara says.
Destiny Hunt, UCC Transfer Opportunity Coordinator, says, “Make your story unique. If they are reading 500 essays, think about how yours can stand out. Narratives stick with us, so paint a picture of who you are and why you are a good investment.”
President Prokrandt also advises that students think about the scholarship donors when they create their essays. “UCC is fortunate to have many generous donors in the community who are excited to support our students in their studies and want their donations to make a real difference, so make sure you express how their contribution will help make your dreams come true,” she says.
Scholarship applications can be difficult, but UCC offers many resources to help students navigate them successfully. McNamara conducts scholarship workshops throughout the year and is available for one-on-one scholarship application assistance. Hunt and other members of the Transfer Opportunity Program are available for similar one-on-one help to TOP students.
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