Scholarships for White Kids, Black Kids & Parents of All Colors (Monday Mailbag!)

Happy Monday, minions. Still feeling those Cadbury eggs and pastel M&M’s down in your gut, aren’t ya? Take a lap. Take two laps. Let’s get the blood flowing this morning. If I don’t, I’m gonna fall asleep right here at my desk.

Monday Mailman's mustache is crispy.

Before we get started with the Mailbag, let me thank all of you who accepted Friday’s offer to submit an essay to be critiqued and cleaned up right here on the site. Lots of you said OK and sent them along (some privately, some right in the comment section), so I’ve got a couple dozen in the hopper already and will begin posting them soon. That said, if you’re reading this and you’d still like to throw yours on the pile, feel free to do so and send it in. Believe me, now that I’m in for 1,500 words or so every day of the week, I need all the source material I can get!

OK — mailbag it is. KG writes:

Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

22 ACT 3.5 high school GPA gets a full ride (housing/food too, 16 credit hours, and books included) for incoming freshman at Langston University.

The money is there, it just may not be at a school that you’ve looked at.

Man, KG has a point. If you’re in the market for a historically black college, you’d be nuts not to at least give some serious consideration to scholarships like these. Seems there are lots of scholarships like these around now — scholarships where, if you meet certain objective eligibility criteria, you automatically get X amount of money (and according to KG, in the case of Langston University, a full ride). Another one I happen to know off the top of my head from my home state of South Dakota is the Northern State Wolf Pact Scholarship, which awards students up to $10,000 over four years for an ACT score of 28. Not a bad reward for a three-hour test.

One day soon I’ll write about how the prestige of the college  you attend matters a whole lot less than a lot of people think, but until then, here’s a summary of my thoughts on the matter: Generally speaking, you’re a lot better off in the long run going to a cheaper school than an expensive school. What you learn in college largely depends on yourself and how much effort you put into doing so; if you can do that for $10,000 instead of $100,000, you’re leagues ahead of your colleagues once it’s time to live out the rest of your life in the rat-race grind with all the rest of us. 🙂

Marie McNutt writes:

Where are the scholarships for us older people who have spent their lives giving of ourselves to raise a family and now find ourselves out and with nothing. Just trying to get some sort of an education with no funds in order to be productive citizens that are not dependent on the “system”.

That’s a good question, and unfortunately I don’t have a great answer (although I will keep it on my list for things to check out and write about). Specifically, I agree with Marie in wishing that what seems like a great majority of big-money and high-profile scholarships (and I’m talking about outside, independent scholarships) are restricted to high school seniors.

Look, I’m obviously all for supporting high school seniors, because the children are our future and all that jazz — however, I wouldn’t say that high school seniors are exactly a neglected segment of the college audience in terms of scholarships offered. Plenty of resources there for those kids. Returning adults, not so much. These folks have a lot to offer via their life and professional experiences; also, a lot of them have families to support while they’re trying to go to college. They need more help. Maybe we’ll create our own scholarship program for those folks. Consider it “under consideration” for the time being.

Addie writes:

This blog has been very helpful to me but I also have a problem. I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Where people have cottages and only are there for about 2-4 months out of the year. I lived a 45 minute drive from my high school (a hour and a half bus ride).

Living so far from school made it impossible for me to join any clubs because I couldnt afford a car, and wasnt able to stay after school. There were slim to none volunteering opportunites where I lived. There was one. One weekend out of the entire year that I helped out at. I’m fairly certain this is one of the reasons why I’m not receiving any scholarships.

Yep, that’s definitely not a strong hand to be dealt in terms of opportunities, that’s for sure. Wish I knew exactly what area we were talking about here so I could try and maybe tailor some of my answer to your specific situation, but in cases like these, if I were you, I would do my best to use the Internet to my advantage. If there are little or no opportunities to help people face to face, the Internet is always there to connect you with an unlimited amount of people.

What exactly should you do with the Internet? I don’t know your specific community-service interests so I can’t say for sure, but in the absence of any other opportunity, it’s fairly easy with sites like Ning or to create free websites that are resources for the people you’d like to serve. And even if you find yourself unable to directly serve anyone through your site or social network, at the very least you can blog about a subject you’re passionate about and raise awareness of your issue.

In this case, it’s not only your commitment to the cause that would impress a scholarship committee, but also your creative solution to the problem of not being able to get involved in community service. After all, many people in the world see no convenient opportunity to do community service and therefore simply don’t; very few actually workto find a way to contribute.

Amy writes:

Thanks for all the advice! But what should I do when a hardship essay is REQUIRED and I’m blessed with a two-loving-parents upbringing in an upper-middle-class area? AND I’m white? I understand that there are people out there who desperately need scholarships more than I do, and the last thing I want to do is disgust judges with a whiny essay, but any little scholarship I could get would help.

Good question. You won’t be finding any scholarships earmarked for stable, comfortable white kids from a two-parent home, that’s for sure. However, if you’re required to write on a hardship (and by that, I’m guessing you mean that the essay specifically asks you to write about overcoming a hardship), then I think you’ve got a lot more leeway in terms of what you write about. After all, they asked for it, so you gotta give ’em what they want. It’s not like you were given carte blanche to write about whatever you like and you chose to play some big victim.

When a hardship/challenges essay is required, are these examples okay?

1) When I was in middle school, my right eye was deeply scratched right on top of my pupil, and it got ulcerated and infected. The scar covered up my field of vision, and I was temporarily blind in that eye. There was a 50% chance that it would remain blind forever. It was one of the worst experiences of my life, as I had to see not only an eye doctor, but also a cornea specialist every day for 2 weeks, take steroid eye drops, and take another eye drop once every hour (including during the nights, which was terrible.) It was extremely painful. If I wrote an essay about this, I could write about how something that we take for granted and seems so basic to our everyday life, such as seeing, could vanish so quickly and change our lives forever.

2) This isn’t so much of a “hardship” as it is a “setback”. I seem to always try my best to win, and then I just barely lose. Making the last cut of the team… but then not making the team. Running for the highest position a student could have in the 142,000-student county, the Student Member of the Board of Education, putting in hours of work, becoming preoccupied with school system politics, letting myself be known to thousands of students… and then barely losing. Every loss in the lacrosse season being a loss by 1… and taking the blame as the goalie. Running for President of the Countywide Student Government… and then barely losing. Somewhere in that essay, I would come up with an uplifting positive outcome, like how Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team yet became an NBA all-star.

Great examples for the rest of the crowd to learn from here, Amy. I say no to the first one, and an enthusiastic yes to the second one. That injury was painful (oddly enough, a guy in our office just had the exact same thing happen a month ago — except his got infected because he slept with his contacts in). It’s painful — but it’s too brief. Frankly, the doctors fixed it too quickly to make it seem significant. Plus, it was random (you getting the infection) and there’s not a whole lot to be learned from it.

The second theme is huge, though, and a great essay topic. The greatest lesson most of us ever learn in life is to never give up, no matter how kicked around you get and how often you lose. Your experience is a twist on that theme, though — it doesn’t sound as if you’ve been repeatedly trampled by fate every time you’ve done something; you just come up a tiny bit short. Trust me when I say that millions of people know exactly how you feel. Go with that one!

OK, that’s it for today. Got some housekeeping to do around here before settling in for the national championship basketball game tonight. Go Butler! As always, leave your comments and questions below.

All the best,
Judge Josh

14 thoughts on “Scholarships for White Kids, Black Kids & Parents of All Colors (Monday Mailbag!)”

  1. Pretty please with sugar on top… will you do the research for us non-traditional-re-entry-type-old-students? It would make a great focus for an article.
    I’m doing pretty good as a 40 year old student at a major university.The 2 great scholarships I am currently using here are external. The offering here internally is slight. The target is kids, kids, kids!
    Your help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Hello –

    I am reading, with interest, anything you have to say about non-traditional, older students. I am the parent of 5 children, and attend college (the same college – sometimes the same class – that my 20 year old son attends). I was frightened and anxious at the prospect of returning to college. I work full time in retail and attend college full time as well, so I barely have time to be “there” for my children, much less volunteer my time to community efforts. I am very worried about the quality of my education and utilizing my remaining “career years” to the best advantage. Kids just out of high school have very little to worry about unless they come from very poor circumstances. I go to college knowing that not only my future is at stake, but also the well being of children who rely on me.

    Thank you for all of your tips and information!

  3. Debora Locklear

    I went back to school in between raising my 5 kids. I had to take out loans to live on during my undergrad program because there were no jobs available to work with my schedule. I volunteered for almost 4 years for the Domestic Violence Center and Guardian Ad Litem. It was a great experience. I decided to try for my Master’s and with loans of course, I finally got it. Now I am still in debt up to my eyeballs and no job yet. If more scholarships and grants were available for us older folks going back to school to get a better job or an entry level job in our field, we wouldn’t be in debt near as bad as if we were from the middle or upper class, and wouldn’t have to take minimum wage jobs living paycheck to paycheck. Yes, the President may have said there is money to help anyone go back to school, but if you want to advance in education, be prepared to pay your own way. There is nothing for us, which is sad because it’s not like we have a lifetime to look for work and save for retirement. What retirement??? I am currently living here and there with relatives putting out at least 5-10 applications out there every week. Yes, it’s probably my age that is getting me “not hired” but why won’t the workforce give us a chance to show you what we can accomplish??? and it’s not from lack of experience, it’s just that it’s not the kind of “experience” employers are preferring. They want you to have these degrees but while you’re in school if they don’t hire you then, there is a slim chance they will hire you afterwards either.

  4. I am also a non-traditional (43 year-old) mother of two and step-parent of three. I’m applying like crazy for scholarships and grants but having very little luck. My husband and I make too much money to qualify for most hardship-based scholarships but we don’t have enough money to pay for me to take classes! It’s discouraging and I’m not sure what to do next but giving up on going back to school is not an option. Thank you for such great information, by the way. I love reading your posts!

  5. William Yohanes Numberi

    Now I still study in one university in my country Indonesia. But I have not enough money to pay my tuition for the whole semesters. So I do not know whether I can continue my study next semester or not. I just believe God will help me. I hope I can get the scholarship from you. thank you and God bless! (Indonesian language: Terimakasih dan Tuhan memberkati!)

    Yours sincerely,
    William Y. Numberi

  6. Rana Athar Latif

    Now I still study in one university in my countryPakistan. But I have not enough money to pay my tuition for the whole semesters. So I do not know whether I can continue my study next semester or not. I just believe God will help me. I hope I can get the scholarship from you. thank you and God bless!

  7. you guys are really doing a great work to bring on table all kinds of scholarships…i appreciate, but as for me i think its bad luck i gat coz i have tried to apply almost all scholarshups which i suite for but all in vein but i think i will be able to get one as time goes on…thanx ..God bless you

  8. Hi there. Soooo…I am a 25 year old looking to go to grad school. Presently, I have a decent job and more than a decent salary. However I REALLY want to go back to school to get my masters in teaching (I want to teach high school mathematics). This decision has a giant opportunity cost (I lose my salary to pay for school, and then will make about 1/3 of what I do now as a teacher) but I think a career as a teacher will make me happy. I wish I had enough mulah saved up to go back to school without taking out HUGE loans, but at 25 I haven’t been working long enough to save up. I’ve also live in the city, which comes with a price. Know of any scholarships out there for grad students wanting to take on a public service career? Any advice would be appreciated!

  9. ZALLE Boureima

    I’m ZALLE Boureima,i’m from BURKINA FASO ?WEST AFRICA,i’m a third year student,i’m reading American literature and civilization.I wish i could be granted a scholarship to persue m studies in the same field or in BUSINESS ADMINISTRAION.
    i will be happy to hear from you soon

  10. BURKINA FASO! Ouagadougou!!!
    Sorry, my Coach loves your country, and this is the required response whenever I hear (or read) its name.

  11. I have been following most of your articles and i have to say that they do help. I am a second year college student, as if it is for right now I attend a Community College because I can not afford anything else. I am an international studen, I came here about 5 years ago and i have finished High School in here. The Community College i attend is only a 2 year school which means that i have to transfer to a 4 year college to finish my degree. I wish to get a degreen in Interior Design and there is not many schools which offer this program. Most of the school which does are expensive, and i know that for some $5,000 a semester might not sound much but for me it is a big amount of money. There are only few scholarhips for which i am eligible as a international, white student with both parents. Most likely if i was the only kid in the family they would be able to help me paying school, but unfortunetly there is 3 of us and we all are in college at the same time. now i am standing at the cross-road because i have to transfer to a different college soon but there is no monay to do it. Plus if i do transfer there will be more costs such as transportation.There is 2 choices which i have, one try to get somehow money to pay for the new school and get my degree, and the second choice is finish my associate degree in art at my current school, then find a job that could let me save some money and then after a year or two go back to school to finish my bachelors. what should i do ? I have applied for many differnet scholarships in the past but never actually won. If there are some scholarships for interneational students you might know of please let me know 🙂

  12. I have to disagree with you about going to a prestige university. I think people should GO FOR IT! Thats what i did, and after being accepted I worried about how I would pay for it, but because of the type of school it is they have alot of endownments where funding is provided for people who cant pay. Currently, I am receiving more from the presitge university than I am from all state colleges except community colleges.

  13. Just met a single mom in her late 20’s with a four yr degree, and had plans of going on to become a surgeon, but she broke both of her thumbs. Now she can’t use surgical instruments, so she needs to go back to school to go into another specialty. Currently she is managing a concession stand at a major league baseball stadium so she can have more time with her one yr old son. Any suggestions on how to find scholarships for older, second time around, single moms as she is currently paying on existing school loans that are eating up most of her income.

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