Scholarships can help!


Shalom Lara, writer

It’s that time of year when students start looking for scholarship opportunities. With the help of IHS school’s faculty, the scholarship application process is made easier for college bound students.

 The process can be a lengthy one, and people like Karina Sanchez, the college and career center specialist at Independence High School, are here to help. Sanchez said her job here is to ¨help students apply to universities, apply for scholarships, and to help them with any questions that they have about employment. Anything that has to do with after graduation, I can help them with.¨ She also helps students during their last years of high school to be prepared to graduate. ¨I bring in specialists to help with application workshops, we have nights where we do FAFSA, and we have people come in that are specialists on filling that stuff out. If a student does have questions, I can put them in contact with them.¨ She recommends that all grades go to the Career center for help because, ¨it´s never too early to start looking for scholarship opportunities, but I definitely think juniors and seniors should be in here more often.¨

Any student that is doing their research on scholarships should know that they can find links to different scholarships on the school website. Sanchez helps students ¨build their profiles and I give tips for writing essays. Anything that the scholarships is requiring them to do in order to be eligible, I help them with that.¨ When applying for scholarships, Sanchez advises that students ¨apply for all scholarships that you quality for. I always say the worst thing they can say is no. You didn’t have the money to begin with, so just just keep trying to apply to as many scholarships as you can¨

School counselor Susan Knapp is also a great help to students researching and applying for scholarships. In the beginning of every school year, all counselors come together for ECAP (Education Career Action Plan) meetings to introduce scholarships to students of all grades and to show students what they need to do to graduate on time. Knapp said there are merit-based scholarships that students can earn based on their own academic progress. She also shared that there is lots of scholarship information and links in each class´ google classroom.

There is also work that students can do independently while applying and looking for scholarships. Knapp said, ¨As seniors start to apply for colleges, typically colleges will have an advisor. They talk to their advisor about their interests and ask if there are scholarships attached to those.¨ At sites like College Depot, there are resources where sophomores and higher grades can apply for non-merit based scholarships. These scholarships are better for students who may have stumbled with their grades during high school but are still interested in applying for colleges.”  Knapp added, ¨Sometimes there are scholarships given once you apply to the college based on financial need. When you apply to the college, the colleges looks to see what you qualify for automatically and apply that to the student account.¨

PSAT scores are also a great way to get attention from colleges because after your score is finalized, colleges may start sending you information on why to apply there. This is more for juniors and seniors. 

Another way that students can help themselves to qualify for scholarships is to be active in different activities.  Of course grades are very important, but colleges also look for how each applicant has been active in their past schools and in their community whether its in clubs, sports, or other ways. Knapp said, ¨Scholarships require resumes. What students can do individually is keep an updated record or folder of things that they have done outside of school: community service, any awards they have done, any community service that they´ve done.¨ This will be most helpful to have during the summer before students´ senior year because that is the best time for students to apply for scholarships. Knapp advises that students go over these things with their parents so students can have as much help as possible. She also advises that to prevent feeling overwhelmed, students should go through and check this process every week.