Greeting to all you aspiring soon to be graduates of SHS. Filling out applications can be boring, frustrating and time consuming, but it can be very rewarding financially. Also we hope you will learn a few tricks to help you fill out the forms you will face later in life more efficiently and get better results. Think of this as a job. If you spend 30 hours filling out forms and you get one $1000 grant you earned 33 tax free dollars per hour. You should know that any application is a twofold process. First, it is a test to see how well you fill out the application itself…is it well organized, neat, and well written. Second, it may be the only way you introduce yourself to the reader….convince them that you can do what they are looking for and share the special skills and talents that you have; don’t be afraid to brag. So let‘s get started.
The first part of most applications is pretty simple. Some people use this to do online personal searches. We only need contact information and help in determining your need.
Interests & Achievements
The second part is to help us identify your interests, achievements, strengths, and talents. Most students don’t realize how much they have accomplished. Think of any club, team, organization or activity that you have been involved in at school…for example, helped build a homecoming float, yearbook staff, honor roll, 2nd place in an art completion, band, made sets for the school play, treasurer of the cooking club, etc.
Interests & Jobs
The community part is basically the same, but you should focus on out of school interests, jobs, and accomplishments. Think big and small…for example you umpired YMCA sports, helped setup and take down the church bazaar, sang in youth choir, sold girl-scout cookies, are an eagle scout, and watched the neighbor’s house while they were in the hospital. The longer you think and ask others to help jar your memory the longer your list will be. You can attach another page if you run out of space.
The college portion will tell us what your present plans are, but we know you may change as you become aware of other opportunities. Each school has different costs so the school you choose will determine you financial need. Also you may not have heard from some of your schools yet or you may have been accepted at more than one so you’ll have a choice to make.
The essay is all about who you are and how you express yourself. Be honest and thoughtful, not overly long…250 to 500 words at most. It’s a good idea to think about it for a while, write some thoughts down then organize them logically. When you’re finished have a couple of people edit it especially for spelling and punctuation.
The attachments…are not hard to get, it may take a little time, especially for letters of recommendation. Transcripts are easy. You get them from the guidance dept. Sometimes they send them electronically, others times by snail mail or they give them to you in a sealed or unsealed envelope. Get all you will need at once to save time, plus get one for yourself to check over to see if any grades that were to be changed have been and all your activities and accomplishments are up to date.
Letter of Recommendation
Who should you ask to write you a letter of recommendation? Pick people who know you and how you work….for example, advisers, coaches, and employers. Ask them early and remind them several times, do NOT ask for it tomorrow, give them at least a week. Most people have had to ask for letters of recommendation themselves. Some people don’t feel they could do a good job for you. That’s okay; just ask someone else. Get 3 or 4 more copies than you will need so you will have a couple handy if a job application asks for one.
Financial Aid Form… All college financial aid departments and scholarship forms require this form so once it’s done you can make as many copies as you need.