Monica Mathews was a former teacher and regular, stay-at-home mom raising three boys. When her oldest soon started looking at colleges, including MIT, she became well aware of just how much college costs!
“All of a sudden, my husband’s and I – are eyes were opened,” said Mathews. One day he was in preschool and the next he was going to college, and they hadn’t saved any money for his education. “Just got too caught up in just trying to stay afloat as a middle-income family.”
Since they could not afford their son’s college education, they had him apply for scholarships. He applied for some, but did not get them. “And I thought, ‘What’s wrong here?’ He’s really smart. He should be winning these scholarships,” said Mathews.
So Mathews conducted research to determine what she could do to help her son win scholarships. “He actually won enough scholarships to completely graduate college debt free,” she said.
Helping Other Parents and Students
She documented what she learned via the How to Win College Scholarships: A Guide for Parents in 10 Easy Steps and How to Win College Scholarships: A Guide for Students in 10 Easy Steps.
A few things Mathews shares with parents:
- Let your student know you are there to help/support them
- Help fill out applications
- Keep track of submission and other deadlines
“The kids will be more motivated if they know they have that help and support,” said Mathews. The parents who go through the process with their students are much more successful at winning scholarships.
Where do you look for scholarships?
When trying to find scholarships to apply for, don’t look in only one place. “There are so many options out there for scholarships,” said Mathews. “You can’t just put all your eggs in one basket.” Places to find scholarships:
- Smartphone Apps
- Scholarship listing books (check your local library)
- Local newspapers
How many and how much time?
If you find a scholarship that you or your student qualify for, then apply for it. “Don’t turn down anything,” said Mathews.
Spend at least 15 minutes a day on finding scholarships. “You can be working on scholarships all year long,” she said. It is best to get started right now. You can even start at birth! Always be looking and keeping your eyes open.
Continue to win scholarships:
Even if your student wins a scholarship before they get to college, have them continue to apply for scholarships throughout college. That will help students not have to worry about debt!
How much money do you receive?
The money associated with scholarships can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
Typical “B” Students
For students who do not have outstanding grades or achievements, Mathews has some advice on how they can win scholarships:
- Focus on leadership
- Work on projects
- Clean social media presence
- The C Students Guide to Scholarships
“Some scholarship organizations are not looking for the straight A, perfect student,” said Mathews. “They look for kids who are doing for others, who are reflecting the values of their company.”
Spread the Word
Let family and friends know you are looking for scholarships. Then if they come across something, they can let you know. Also, get to know school guidance counselors. Have your students stop by their office at least once a week.
School and Scholarship Requirements:
When applying for scholarships, various items are required such as:
- Letter of recommendation
- Scholarship/activity resume
Keeping students motivated in the scholarship process!
Sit down and talk openly with your student about how much college costs and how much money you have for their education. “Keep that goal in front of them at all times to show them that you need to put in the work. The scholarship money is out there,” said Mathews. “Money really speaks to kids.”
However, they generally don’t have a good understanding of such high costs like college. Instead, they have the attitude: “You can afford to get me an iPhone when I asked for it. Why can’t I get a college education when I ask for it?”
What do you do when you win a scholarship?
- Check your email to follow up and provide any required information
- Claim the scholarship and call Financial Aid office to make sure money was received
- Complete paperwork/tax returns if necessary
Monica Mathews Resources:
- How 2 Win Scholarships
- #campuschat (Twitter account required)
- Amazon (search for Monica Mathews)
- Google (search for Monica Mathews)
- Make sure your student’s social media profiles/sites are clean and positive
- Don’t assume your family makes too much money to win scholarships
- Work with your student on the scholarship process – win students win, parents win, too!
Great Tips to Motivate Your Kids to Apply for Scholarships
Brad’s report documents ideas on how to help you and your student get started on the scholarship process. Check it out at https://tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/43 or contact us to have it sent to you via email.
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Brad is not affiliated with Monica Mathews.