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Scholarships: Don't forget
to "think local"


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     Studentís searching for scholarships all seem to home in pretty quickly on the search tools available online (Petersonís, CollegeBoard, and Princeton Review to name a few). Using these tools, they easily identify the national awards for which they may qualify. The fact that so many students have ready access to so many scholarship programs is something we can all be thankful for.

     If youíre "in the business" though, you have to wonder if this reliance on online search tools is leading some of our students astray. Many donít seem to pay much attention to awards that are more regional or even local in nature. Thatís a real shameóhereís why!

     The big-name national scholarships (Gateís Millennium, Coca-Cola, Michele Kwan, etc.) get lots of press. As a natural result, they get LOTS of applicants. Some of the most outstanding students Iíve ever known have spent hours on these applications and havenít even reached Phase Two (Coca-Cola) of the application process. The Gateís Millennium application is extremely comprehensive, and again, the best studentís Iíve ever worked with have gotten nowhere.

     Am I knocking these programs, or the students who win? Absolutely not! My hat is off the individuals and organizations that make these awards possible and to the truly outstanding students who win them.

     What I am suggesting is that local scholarships may be a more productive use of time for most students. For example, each year a gentleman in our community offerís a $500 scholarship to a student-athlete from a small part of our community. Some years, after promoting this scholarship online and in morning an afternoon announcements, weíve had to literally call a student out of class in the last days of the application period and insist that he/she complete the application!

     Other more local and even regional scholarships sometimes get only a handful of applicants. So tell me, where do you want to focus most of your effort: On the big-name scholarships where youíll compete with tens of thousands of students, or on the more local scholarships where you may encounter little or no competition?

     Itís question that each student must answer for him/herself. Why not give it some thought?

     One final thing to note is that some scholarships may seem national, but retain a local touch. One that comes to mind is the Papa Johnís Scholars Program. This is organized nationally, but funded locally. What this means is that if a local Papa Johnís sponsors the award, the funds will be awarded locally.

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