Students Should Begin Thinking About College Scholarships Junior Year, Guidance Counselors Say

Marina Ford, Author

During your junior year of high school at Minnechaug, guidance counselors get students to start thinking about college. 

And even though juniors are two years away from going to college, the application process for financial aid and scholarships takes a lot of time. 

“I keep stressing that applying for scholarships is hard work and can be time-consuming,” said Keith Poulin, Director of School Counseling at Minnechaug Regional High School. 

Scholarships are a little bit like gifts: they are money that you are given, which unlike loans you don’t have to pay back. They are significant in reducing the cost of college expenses.

Many students worry that they won’t receive a scholarship if they don’t have all A’s. But, there are scholarships for everyone that don’t just depend on your grades. 

“Scholarships don’t look for the best student ever, they look for the student that that is the best fit and meets all of their eligibilities,” said guidance counselor Deborah Donovan.

Local scholarships are a type of financial aid that is only given to students who live in a particular geographic area. They have a wide range of eligibilities and unlike merit scholarships, don’t depend only on your grades. 

About 1 out of 8  students receive scholarships. The average amount of money given is $4,200 and around 0.2% of students receive more than $25,000 a year. 

As a junior at Minnechaug, students are given a packet during the College Readiness Seminar about financial aid and it includes a list of local scholarships that you can possibly apply for. 

The guidance counselors then advise the students to start looking for scholarships. 

“A good idea is to do a little footwork on the local scholarships you might want to apply for so you have an idea of how much time you want to set aside so you can apply,” said Donovan.

The list of scholarships in the packet given to Juniors also states the deadline for the applications and how much money each scholarship awards a student. The scholarships that are bolded are the ones that all students should try to apply for. If you prefer to look online, there is also a list of local scholarships on Naviance. 

Naviance is the main site that Minnechaug students use to apply for scholarships and keep track of the ones they are interested in. 

Another way to look for local scholarships is in the guidance office. There is a board with the list of local scholarships on it. Next to each scholarship name, there will be a bin number. The bins are right next to the board and contain the scholarships’ application information. 

A lot of scholarships are online, but with many less expensive ones, they are on paper. On the paper copy, there will be a mailing address and that is where the applications should be sent in. 

Some scholarships are very quick and easy to apply for. Others take a little more time. Students should meet all deadlines because missing them could disqualify you.

The guidance counselors at Minnechaug heavily imply to start looking for scholarships early on. That way, students will know what to expect when applying and have plenty of time to meet all of the deadlines. 

Every scholarship is different in its application processes. Some require an essay, some require a letter of recommendation, or they might ask for both. 

If you get awarded a scholarship, there are nights or recognition where representatives of the organization that gave you your scholarship will present you with it. Minnechaug awards most of the students’ scholarships on their Senior Night of Recognition. Some organizations will invite you out for their own night of recognition and they present you with your scholarship there. 

“It is a very involved process, but if a student is diligent, it will pay off nicely,” said Mr. Poulin.