Another great way to help your students avoid student debt is by encouraging them to apply for scholarships. Unlike loans and other student aid, scholarships do not have to be paid back, which make them the best alternative to student debt. There are thousands of scholarships available for students every year. It is only a matter of students making time to find them and to apply.
Good news! There are multiple reasons your students can be awarded scholarships and not all of them merit-based. Everyone has an opportunity at receiving scholarships. Some types of scholarships available are:
- Academic scholarships or merit scholarships are awarded to students with a high GPA or SAT/ACT test scores.
- Average academic performance scholarships are awarded to students with average GPAs but also focus on well-rounded students and scholarship essays.
- Athletic scholarships are awarded to students who excel in sports. These are usually awarded by universities in order to persuade the athlete to play on their teams.
- Minority scholarships are awarded to students belonging to “minority” ethnic groups. There are scholarships for individual ethnic groups as well as scholarships for students of any minority.
- Women scholarships are awarded to women to encourage a more diverse campus. Another tip is to look for major-specific scholarships for women, especially STEM subjects.
- Creative scholarships are awarded to those who want to pursue a creative career in music, art, dance, etc. These scholarships are usually more common in art schools and sometimes require a sort of audition.
- Unusual scholarships are awarded for many fun reasons. There are scholarships for unique talents or random competitions. For example, creating a prom dress entirely out of duck tape. There are plenty of unusual scholarships awarded by private companies; they might just be a little harder to find.
- Community service scholarships are awarded to those who have completed community service activities. If your students are interested in scholarship, it is very helpful for them to put together a community service hour log to track their involvement.
There are several free websites that match your students’ profile to scholarships that might be available for them. Here are a few of these resources:
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College persistence is when a student continues attending any university or college after their freshman year. It is not to be confused with college retention, which applies to students returning to the same university to continue higher education. These two ideas are measured differently since persistence depends on the student’s motivation whereas retention depends more on the institution’s efforts to keep the student.
So, how can we motivate students to stay persistent during their college career?
- Encouraging students to take high level courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP), dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment courses during high school helps them know what to expect in a more rigorous environment. If a student feels prepared to take on their college courses, they will be more likely to continue their higher education.
- Arranging visits to local campuses is a simple task that high schools can do to motivate students. Regardless on interest in the local campus, visiting a university can help the students figure out what they would like to see in their future university, whether it is class size, location of the campus, amount of diversity, student organization, activities for students outside the classroom, or campus housing.
- Academic advising is a tool that most students do not take advantage of; however, more and more universities are now starting to implement mandatory advising in their curriculum to increase student persistence rates. Attending advising sessions, in high school and college, motivates students to set goals while the advisor provides resources to help them attain these goals. This provides a student with a meaningful goal to work towards even during tough times.
- If a university focuses on increasing awareness of resources for students before or right at the beginning of their freshman year, students will know where to receive assistance and not feel like they are alone. Common resources that most universities offer include computer labs designed for financial aid processes, support clubs and organizations to bring students together, tutoring and remedial courses for core subjects, and student success courses or workshops to improve time management and study skills.
- Many times, students feel like their college courses did not fully prepare them for their desired career fields. Focusing on connecting the skills learned in each course to post-secondary life can give students a sense of direction and inspire them to continue their education. Providing opportunities for students to obtain internships, conduct their own research, and volunteer in their future professions can be very beneficial and comforting.
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