A high school student can get a college scholarship without having perfect grades or playing a sport, but it’s tough to get private money when a teen lacks volunteer experience.
That’s the advice Celia Ganey gives to ninth- and 10th-graders who are thinking of going to college after they graduate — be involved in school activities and also get out into the community and volunteer.
Maintaining good grades is also important, said Ganey, college and career counselor at Schenectady High School.
“The schools are many times looking for well-rounded students.”
Students who wait until their senior year to beef up their résumés for scholarships may miss out on the best opportunities.
“Seniors will generally be applying for scholarships in the spring, so it’s important for them to have community service prior to that,” Ganey said.
Many types of local organizations and companies offer college scholarships to high school seniors, including service and fraternal organizations, churches, hospitals and libraries.
In the next couple of months, separate local scholarship committees will be accepting applications from students whose parents are in a local CSEA labor union, students who are strong choral singers, those who write an opinion essay on whether women should serve in combat, and young people who bank with a local credit union.
Most local organizations restrict their scholarships to students in specific counties or school districts. Some are open to girls or boys only. Most are given to seniors, but some are specifically for juniors.
Some target students in certain fields, such as teaching, construction or nursing.
“There are a variety of scholarships that students can apply for,” Ganey said.
At Ballston Spa High School, students can apply for scholarships from the district’s teachers union and the teacher aide union, and there are also scholarships for anyone who got remedial services as a student, said guidance counselor Nicole Stehle.
Scholarship deadlines fall throughout the school year, and many come due now, in the spring.
Hours of prep work
It takes hours to prepare the applications, so Stehle tells students to prioritize with the local awards for which they’re most qualified.
“It’s really the amount of work as … an extra class,” she said. “You have some [students] that are very motivated and will apply for everything.”
There are several ways that high school students and their parents can get information on local scholarships. Most high school guidance offices keep a binder of current scholarship notices, some post scholarships with upcoming deadlines on their websites and many use an online resource called Naviance that allows students and parents to log in and see opportunities posted by the guidance counselors. Naviance also stores information about college applications and high school and middle school classes.
“We rely pretty heavily on the electronic communication,” Stehle said.
At Ballston Spa, guidance counselors introduce students to Naviance in middle school, and Stehle can see electronically who’s logging in.
“I can see even in the middle school they’re using it,” she said. By high school, 100 percent of students are logging in, she said.
Ballston Spa guidance counselors meet with every student as a junior to talk about the college process, including scholarships, and meet with seniors in groups early in the year.
High schools also hold financial aid information sessions for parents in the evenings. Schenectady High School has one coming up — it’s scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 16 in the high school library.
Here’s a sampling of local scholarships that students can apply for now:
* Organization: Schenectady Business and Professional Women’s Club
Who can apply: female Schenectady County high school seniors attending a college or vocational school or pursuing a career field, who demonstrate academic achievement and need
Award amount: $500-$1,500 a year
Deadline: May 6
* Organization: Four Winds Saratoga
Name of scholarship: Xavior “Sam” Mastrianni Scholarship
Who can apply: Capital Region students who are advancing their education or professional development in the mental health field; preference is given to people working in mental health.
Deadline: April 23
* Organization: Mohawk Valley Chorus
Who can apply: high school juniors and seniors in Fulton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Albany and Hamilton counties
Requirements: Must submit CD of two songs, one classical and the other lighter and modern, three letters of reference, one from a vocal teacher, and an application form that has been sent to high school music teachers; winner must perform one of two numbers at the chorus’ annual classics concert at 3 p.m. May 19 at Amsterdam High School.
Award amount: $500
Deadline: April 2
Contact: Gay O’Brien, 885-3781 or [email protected]
* Organization: Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown branch of the American Association of University Women
Name of scholarship: AAUW Dorothy Anderson Wemple Literary Award
Who can apply: female high school seniors in Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton Counties who will be pursuing a two- or four-year college degree upon graduation
Requirements: students must submit a 300-500 word research or autobiographical essay on the topic “Women in Combat–Pro or Con”; entries may be submitted to high school guidance departments, which have information about scholarship
Deadline: April 19
Award amount: $300
* Organization: Upper Montgomery Retired Teachers Association
Who can apply: any senior in the Canajoharie, Fonda-Fultonville, Fort Plain or St. Johnsville school districts who is entering his or her freshman year at an accredited educational institution and plans to pursue a teaching career
Deadline: April 30
Award amount: $500
Contact: Myrna Herb, 993-4362
* Organization: Saratoga County Fair
Who can apply: high school seniors and college students who have been active in the Saratoga County Fair or with the New York State Showpeople’s Association
Deadline: April 12
Award amount: $1,000
Information: available at the Saratoga County Fair office, 162 Prospect St., Ballston Spa, through Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County and from local high school offices
* Organization: The Saratoga Hospital and Nursing Home Volunteer Guild
Who can apply: graduating Saratoga County seniors planning to enter college in September to study in a medical field, including pre-med, nursing, biomedical research, pharmacy, medical technology, X-ray technology, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, physician’s assistant, mental health, occupational therapy or health care management.
Other requirements: must have at least an 80 percent cumulative grade point average in high school and have a documented record of community service
Deadline: April 8
Award amount: $1,000
* Organization: Saratoga Springs Rotary
Who can apply: high school seniors attending a private or public school within the Saratoga Springs City School District boundaries and planning to attend a two- or four-year institution
Deadline: April 15
* Organization: Schenectady Kiwanis Foundation
Who can apply: Schenectady High School seniors based on need, academic performance and potential to succeed
Deadline: April 30
* Organization: Saratoga Builders Association
Who can apply: Saratoga County high school seniors planning to pursue construction education or would like to purchase tools for work and have a 3.0 GPA or higher
Award amount: $1,000
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