Congratulations, Glen Smith! Glen is our featured scholar of the month and a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University studying Computer Science. He is the first 2014 College Cash scholarship winner. Glen attended our College Cash seminar back in January and wrote an essay about his experience. We asked attendees to write about what they learned in the seminar and what could be improved upon in future College Cash sessions. Here is Glen’s winning essay:
The “hunt” for college aid becomes harder and ever more frustrating as one rises in grade level, particularly a student already attending a college or university as an undergraduate. However, with a bit of help and guidance, the road to “college cash” can become much clearer. That said, I can rightfully say that the College CASH 101 event has successfully been a pioneering force for me regarding my search for college funds.
How, might one ask, did this event steer me in the right direction? I can only thank the organizers and presenters that provided a plethora of information regarding the college aid-finding process(and hardships). One particular bit of advice that I received was actually a preventive strategy, a way of securing my future even before I begin studying any major. The topic was of student loans. Both presenters began by sharing their stories of beginning college, but one had a rather interesting one. She explained that she followed her heart rather than her head (as she did not have anyone to give her advice on the subject) and took out many student loans to accommodate her educational needs. This caused her to end school in debt which is why she shared the story. What I was able to get out of this aside was the ability to make informed choices. Although I am already in a university, I can still apply this message when choosing things such as room and board plans. This idea greatly increases my chances of leaving school less in-debt than I would be otherwise. Related to this topic was the idea of finding the right loans, if I were to need any. I learned and understood the importance and difference of the sub/unsubsidized loans as well as the Perkins and Parent Plus loans. This will also allow me to make an informed choice when borrowing money, and remind me to watch out for scams and fraud.
But one more important idea that was addressed was how to find college aid and where to look for it. An example was given of a student who applied for multiple scholarships to increase his chances of receiving one, however, he applied for the WRONG ones. I did this my senior year as well. I applied for many scholarships, but only received a couple because I created many mediocre applications for scholarships that did not apply very much to me, instead of creating strong applications for more realistic ones. I now know that the correct strategy would be to find scholarships that pertain more to me, especially ones that really narrow down the applicant field (the more general the scholarship eligibility requirements, the less of a chance I will be selected). I will also look for smaller scholarships as well, because those are the ones that many overlook as being “worthless” but they really do add up in the end.
The only topic I would like to be included (or more expounded upon) is college aid for students already attending college/university. It really does get harder to find funds as you rise up, so just more information or advice for those students would be greatly appreciated.