Answers from the Experts

Scholarship Success
By Shayla P., an undergraduate Ventures Scholar

It has always been a dream of mine to attend college. When I was younger, I watched television shows about college students having loads of fun. It sounded like a great experience filled with parties, hanging out with friends and letting the good times roll.

However, when I entered high school, I started learning the real value of college: to get a good education. With a degree, I could have a high-paying job. So with a passion to succeed in life, I expressed my thoughts and concerns about attending a university to my parents. They were very glad that I had chosen the path toward higher education, but my parents were disappointed because they couldn't afford the expenses. Upset and stressed, I took the initiative and started looking for ways to pay for my postsecondary education.

My search for money began on the Internet. I went to every free scholarship search engine available. I spent four to five hours a day looking for scholarships that applied to me. Even though it took much of my time, I dedicated myself to scanning through hundreds of Web sites. It became a part-time job for me. After school, I would do my homework, then search for money on the Internet until I was sleepy. The next day, I would do it all over again. I knew my work was going to pay off in the future.

When I had found almost all the scholarships I could apply for, I sorted them out by deadlines. This gave me an idea of how to prioritize my schedule. Some applications were easy. Others were long, tedious forms. No matter the amount, which ranged from $100 to $40,000, I took each scholarship seriously. All of them were going to fund my goal to attend a college.

With this in my mind, the hardest part began: writing essays. Almost every scholarship required me to compose an essay about my extracurricular activities, commitment to education and career aspirations. Every time I wrote an essay, I saved it on my computer and kept it for later. To perfect my writing, I asked several friends, relatives and teachers to read my work. They gave me advice about what to include and what to leave out.

I continued searching for money and writing essays for about two years. As of now, I have won about 20 percent of all the scholarships I applied for. After many hours of staying up late to finish applications, I managed to receive more than $100,000 in scholarships. With this money, I will be able to attend college for free-no expenses whatsoever.

I feel that a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders! I don't have to worry about bugging my parents for money they don't have and stressing over the fact that I cannot receive a higher education. Now, I can afford it!

The scholarship search has truly made me a better individual. I have learned the importance of setting a goal and accomplishing it. Even when I received rejection letters, it made me a stronger person. I'm thrilled that I had the opportunity to learn more about my drive to succeed-no matter what obstacles come my way!


courtesy of Saint Michael's College
© 2006 Ventures In Education, Inc.