Seniors, Scholarships, and College Preparedness


As seniors are starting to get their responses from colleges, it should be noted that many are also starting to— or continuing to— apply for scholarships. However, scholarships are just one part of college preparedness. For seniors and underclassmen, understanding how to prepare for college is a crucial part of high school life.
“I actually don’t know that much about scholarships or what I need to prepare for college, but I do know scholarships help out. I’m starting to look for some now that I’m in the middle of sophomore year, but I’m not sure what to look for,” sophomore Bhavana Konka said.
Like Konka, many high school students are unaware of how they should start preparing for college. The first thing that usually comes to mind for these students is the word “scholarships,” but they aren’t sure what they need to look for.
A scholarship is simply a payment made to support a student’s education, and it is awarded to students based on their achievements in the field that the scholarship is geared toward. To apply for a scholarship, students usually need to submit some sort of proof of their achievements: if it’s an academic scholarship, one can submit an essay or a standardized test score. If it’s a sports scholarship, one will need to do well academically, but also excel in the sport they play. For musical scholarships, students usually submit recordings of themselves playing their respective instruments.
“I have applied for 5 scholarships so far. They all had to do with performing arts, where I either auditioned or sent recordings,” senior Heejee Lee said, an aspiring pianist.
Scholarships are incredibly important, especially in the financial aspect. College tuitions are as expensive as ever, and most students are going to need the most financial assistance they can get. By obtaining a scholarship, students are also able to make connections with the college or company providing the scholarship, and their education is supported by the institution.
“It’s really important for students to learn about scholarships. Over 43 million students in the US have student loan debt from attending college, and scholarships can drastically reduce the amount of debt students get in from college. Scholarships also offer opportunities for students who could not afford college otherwise,” junior Mia Johnsonbaugh mentioned.
Scholarships are helpful in many ways— they provide financial assistance and help students make connections. However, there are many other ways that high school students can prepare for college.
“Networking is extremely important! Reach out to your admissions counselor for your region and introduce yourself, [tell them] why you want to major in what you want to major in, and why you’re passionate about it. Ask what you can do for more scholarships or financial aid. Connections are what make sure teachers remember your name and give you a one up in your application,” senior Emmerson Mako explained.
“Take AP classes to prepare for the rigors of college and potentially skip some courses to reduce time in college. Participate in internships and extracurriculars relating to your interests, which look good on college applications and can help you choose what you want to do career and major-wise,” Johnsonbaugh said.
Connections, like Emmerson said, are extremely important in preparing for college. No matter the grade, students can contact their preferred colleges, and the connection itself may help students in their chances of attending that college. For underclassmen looking to start college prep early, AP classes are a great first step— they are specifically designed to be like college courses and are helpful in orienting students with the college workload.
Scholarships, AP classes, internships, and extracurriculars are all extremely important in preparing oneself for college. They aren’t mandatory, but for students looking to make their applications look top-tier, these options are definitely worth the exploration. Preparing for college can be tough, but by knowing the right steps to take and having the right mindset, the worries of college preparedness will go right out the door.