by Rocio, Day-Riverside Teen Squad
College can be expensive.
Many times students are told to apply for scholarships as a way to pay, but that is easier said than done. Applying for scholarships, especially those that cover four year tuition, required countless steps. It is not just getting good grades, but having volunteer hours, writing personal statements, getting recommendation letters among other things.
This guide provides different resources to help guide you through the process of applying for financial aid. How to prepare before applying, getting the right requirements, websites, programs, and writing centers to help.
Download a copy of the guide here:
While in high school it is important to involve yourself with different programs that can help you throughout the years. They are meant to help everyone enroll into college and be able to pursue a successful college life.
Each school may or may not have them all, you can check your school website or ask faculty where they can direct you.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)
AVID begins typically during middle school, but you can also join during your freshman year. If you do want to enroll, you must contact the AVID advisor.
GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)
You can become part of GEAR UP anytime just need to fill out an application if you want to. They provide workshops and other events to help students during school and if they wish to go to college.
Trio is a program that is offered both in high school and college to help low income and first generation students prepare and go into college. During high school they offer different workshops and services during the school year and summer.
Every college also has it. It is alright if you don’t apply during high school. You can just contact TRIO advisor and they will help you get set up.
Only college freshman can apply
Program provide by SLCC
College Credit/Experience During High School
During high school you can gain college credit for a much cheaper cost or even free. You can also gain experiences for different career paths.
One way of getting college credit and experience is by taking AP, CTE, TRIO and CE classes.
AP (Advance Placement) requires you to take or teach yourself the required material to take an exam. Depending on your score you can get full college credit. The test is scored between 1 to 5, five being the highest, this earns you full college credit. You must get a three or higher to pass the yrdy and get some college credit. You will have to pay for the exam. There is usually a financial aid offer that will lower or cover the cost completely. Once you pass it is important to inform the college advisor in order to transfer the credit over.
CE (concurrent enrollment) are college classes for free to get college credit as well. It is a partnership between local high schools with colleges and universities. You must pass the class with at least C- in order to get credit, anything lower will not qualify.
CTE (Career and Technical Education) are classes which teach different skills to prepare students. For students who already know which career pathway you want to follow or for students who just want to try out new opportunities. Check your high school CTE classes and see if they offer anything that could be beneficial for you to prepare. Talk to counselors and ask to be placed into these classes.
Internships are short term periods where students get work experience. These are offered up by companies and organizations. Depending on the company/organization some may pay you, other times you will work for free. You can ask counselors or teachers if they know of any opportunities. If you know of a company you like to work for, you can email them asking if they have an internship.
Preparing for Scholarships
Scholarships are not as easy as they may seem. For those to cover full tuition, housing, and other expenses you must do extra work. These scholarships typically require you to have good grades, personal statements, letters of recommendation, volunteer hours, or any experience with leadership.
It is, of course, important to have good grades especially if you want to go into any Ivy schools. Sometimes life may get in the way, and it is understandable if you fail a class or your grades drop as long as you show that you improve and work to fix it.
Volunteering is one activity that you must complete ahead of time. It can vary but some scholarships/schools may ask for 40 to 200 hours of volunteer work. It cannot be completed in one week, and you should start as soon as you can. Here are places to look for volunteer:
Teachers and counselors are constantly being informed about different opportunities. They will be able to provide you with information or tell you who you can contact.
Community websites will usually have information about any local volunteer services.
Homeless centers are always looking for people to come and serve food. You will need parental permission if you are under 18.
If you are part of any religion, most times they will have a variety of jobs from cleaning, to projects, or being a mentor.
Many public libraries have a volunteer program for teenagers where they create their own projects which are posted on their website. The project can be about anything it is up to you. The Salt Lake City Public Library has one!
They provide different jobs all year around. Anyone can apply.
It is an organization that provides thousands of opportunities anywhere in the United States.
For students that are too busy, work or just can’t volunteer there are still other scholarships available.
Going to college fairs, visiting campus, attending events where college advisors come to seek is a big step. You must learn and see the possible options that are being offered in state and out of state. Another thing to consider is looking and doing more personal research about the college you wish to attend.
Blog posts are written by our Teen Librarians and, in some cases, teens like you. Visit your About page to learn more about our Teen Librarians.