Applying for Scholarships is Certainly Worth Every Headache

Applying for Scholarships

I was strongly encouraged to earn an education. My parents had saved some money over the years to help with school, but being the youngest of eight children and the daughter of teachers, I couldn’t expect to have money to cover the entire cost of college. Since college was my goal, I prepared and applied for scholarships. Because of those scholarships, I was able to receive my bachelor’s degree without any student loans or debt.

Scholarships are an essential tool most people don’t think about when they are considering college. They can’t be earned last minute and take immense preparation, but to graduate without debt is worth all the hassle.

Obscene Amounts of Scholarship Money Is Wasted Each Year

Students have all sorts of reasons for not applying for scholarships. They aren’t the top of their class, they don’t want the hassle of applying, they didn’t score high enough on ACT or SATs, and the list goes on. According to the Washington Post, the database has over 1.5 million scholarships, equaling more than $3.4 billion. There is a scholarship out there that fits who you are as a person, and possibly only you.

According to Scholarship America’s CEO Clifford Stanley, millions of dollars in scholarships go unused. Only one student out of every 10 at four year colleges has some kind of scholarship.

Don’t count yourself out before you give scholarships a try. You will not regret the time spent and energy put into applying for scholarships.

Tips to Remember When Applying for Scholarships

Before you decide to apply for a scholarship, here are some thoughts to consider and items to remember.

  • Search out all the different scholarship opportunities. Don’t just settle for school scholarships. US News suggests looking into scholarships through your community, potential school, church, and civic organizations. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone and apply for all and any. But, be advised, if you have to pay money to get scholarship advice, it is most likely a scam.
  • Once you are in a certain program or department, don’t forget about individual scholarships offered through the department, not the college. Jason Slack, a department head at Utah Valley University, said many scholarships go unclaimed in his department because people don’t know they are there and don’t ask.
  • Know the deadlines of all the different scholarships. Along with knowing deadlines, know the different requirements to allow yourself time to correctly fill out each application.
  • Take the time to fill out the application completely. Spell everything correctly and have others proof read it to make sure everything looks good.
  • Be careful about who you ask to write recommendation letters. These letters can make or break your scholarship. Make sure you ask someone who can write well and will actually give you a good recommendation.
  • Make your application stand out. Find unique things about you that set you apart from the other applicants.
  • Get involved. It doesn’t matter what you are involved in, but take opportunities to explore extracurricular activities, leadership, academics, community service. All these different avenues will look great to those deciding on who is awarded the scholarship.

Always Apply – Even if You Think You Aren’t the Most Qualified

Don’t just assume there is a better applicant out there. You never know if you will be awarded the scholarship. My junior year of college I decided I wouldn’t apply for a scholarship in my department. I knew some other people who were also applying and they had done more than I had in the department. I just knew I didn’t have a chance. My husband convinced me to just try. I got everything put together and applied to please him, really. I was shocked when I actually received the scholarship. Don’t count yourself out. Let the committee decide!

Applying for Scholarships are Absolutely worth the Hassle

The scholarships I received, varied over the years. I was awarded scholarships due to my grades, being in leadership positions while at college, from my specific department, and scholarships from individuals where I met the certain requirements. I am so grateful for the different scholarship opportunities that allowed me to graduate debt free.

I understand having student loans is necessary for some people, but I also know plenty of students who simply don’t apply for scholarships. They are worth all the work and hassle. Search out different scholarships, apply and see what happens. Any money earned through scholarships is money you don’t have to pay back once you graduate.

Is Spring Being Replaced with Screens? Here are Inexpensive Spring Activities for the Family

Spring activities

The first day of spring has officially come and gone. The leaves are starting to bud and flowers are starting to bloom. The earth is starting to green up and the brown of winter is fading. And, most kids won’t even see the beauty that is Spring because they can’t get their eyes off the screens in front of them.

Are Your Kids Attached to Screens?

“I’m bored . . . there is nothing to do!” This technological age has kids finding it harder to use their imagination. If there isn’t a screen in front of them, they have a hard time paying attention.

According to the New York Times, kids ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours each day outside of school with screens, which includes television, cell phone, computers, iPods, etc. Those numbers don’t include the time kids spend texting and multitasking while on devices. You add all the numbers up and kids these days spend over 11 hours in front of a screen, a day.

Here are a few inexpensive spring activities you can do as a family to get your kids–and let’s be honest, you too–away from the screens and spending more time together.

Spring Activities to Do At Your Home

If you are sticking around your house each day and need to break the screen cycle, here are a few ideas to get your kids outside and enjoying the beautiful weather.

  • Have a sidewalk chalk competition. Set a timer, draw for a set time, and then judge the drawings. Have Popsicles for the prizes.
  • Play games you used to play in your youth: sardines, hide and seek, kick the can, tag, kickball, home run derbies, etc. Teach your kids what you used to do before the screens took over.
  • Go on a bike ride or a run. Teaching your children to have a healthy lifestyle will last a lifetime and it is never too early to start, according to professor and author Stephen Virgilio.
  • Do yard work. Make it a competition to get the kids excited. Plant a garden together or do service for others in the area that need yard work done.

Be creative and find ways to include all your children. It is never too early to instill good work habits, as well as good healthy activities.

Adventures to Enjoy Spring around Town

If you are looking for things to do away from the home, here are a few suggestions.

  • Go to a local park. Play on the toys, take a Frisbee, walk around the park, whatever fits your family’s interests.
  • Learn a new sport together. Take lessons in golf, tennis, or another sport you want to learn as a family. Enjoy learning and playing together.
  • Find the local hikes around your area and explore.
  • Enjoy the spring nights and look at the stars, play night games, go get ice cream and enjoy the beautiful sounds of night.
  • Feed the ducks or other animals in the area. Visit the zoo, aquarium, wild life conservation, dairies, or farm. Enjoy seeing the baby animals or animals in general.
  • Rent four wheelers or other modes of transportation that are different and fun.

There are more things to do around your city than you think. Look into different options and find fun things your family will enjoy. Remember to make it fun so your kids don’t want to pull out their phones.

Inexpensive Spring Vacation Activities

Most of the schools take off time for spring break. Take advantage of the time away from school to get your kids away from the screen and plugged into the real world.

  • If you have money saved, take advantage of fun and inexpensive destinations for spring break.
  • Look for fun adventures close to your home. A national park, amusement parks, places to tour and learn more about. Look for ways to create a staycation for your family to enjoy inexpensive spring activities.
  • Before gas prices spike in the summer months, go on a road trip and see what adventures you come across.
  • Go visit grandma and grandpa. Take the time to learn about the past and spend time with those family members.
  • Let each family member decide on one destination or activity around your home and enjoy exploring.

Vacations with your family don’t always have to be elaborate and expensive. Be creative and find ways to make the most of your time with your family and plan exciting spring activities.

You Won’t Regret Time Away From Screens

“We don’t want to demonize media, because it is going to be a part of everybody’s lives,” says pediatrician Marjorie Hogan.  “[we have to] make sure it’s not going to take the place of all the other good stuff out there.”

One thing I can promise you is when you lay down at night, after spending time outside, away from screens and with your family; you won’t regret the time spent. Plan some activities now that are inexpensive but require everyone to put down the screens and enjoy time as a family.  What fun activity are you going to do with your family this weekend?

Student Loans – The Easy Answer to Pay for School, Right?

student loans

As a parent, you are concerned for your child’s well being and eventual success in life. For most people, this vision usually includes some type of college. The word college can be overwhelming to some parents, since in order to start saving for college you have to start early in your child’s life.  You might not think it is important to save for your child’s education. If that’s the case, are student loans what you will rely on?

The Price of College Then and Now

The cost of college is increasing.  In 1950, the University of Pennsylvania tuition cost $600.  Fees were $25 and books were $50.  In 2014 the costs are a little different.  For a state school and in-state, one year of tuition is around $5,000.  Out of state tuition is around $12,000.  These amounts only reflect tuition, not fees, books, living expenses, etc.

To receive a four year degree from a non private, non Ivy League, in-state college, it will cost the average student at least $20,000 in tuition.

The Reason Student Loans Seem to Be the Answer

There are reasons so many students depend on student loans to get them through school.

  • They don’t have enough money to cover the cost of education.
  • By obtaining a loan they don’t have to worry about working while going to school. They can focus entirely on their schooling.
  • The interest rates for student loans are lower than other types of loans.
  • Student loans are not required to be paid back until you have finished all your schooling.
  • Taking out student loans can help you build your credit score. It can be hard for young people to obtain a credit card so managing your student loans properly can help build that necessary form of credit.
  • Some student loans allow you to postpone paying them back if you come into financial hardship or unemployment.

These reasons make student loans appealing.  You think you can finish school, get the high paying job and then pay back those loans easy, right?

The Forgotten Facts about Student Loans

The problem with obtaining student loans is you are essentially living on credit. You might assume you will be in a better situation to pay back the loans a few years down the road, but you might not. According to USA Today, the average amount of student loans is $25,000. Add that amount to a mortgage payment, car payments and other living expenses and you have to be making great money to meet all those needs.

People might think they can take out loans and then if times get tough, they can file for bankruptcy and get out of their loans. The Washington Post says that is a major misconception among college students. In order to have your student loans washed away, you have to meet “harsh and high standards” set by a case in New York over 20 years ago.  In 2008 there were 72,000 federal student loans filed for bankruptcy and only 29 succeeded in obtaining full or partial discharge of their loans.

Once you take out a student loan, be prepared to pay every penny of the loan back, plus interest. Make sure your decision to obtain that loan is worth it.

Research the Costs

An education is always a good investment; just make sure you do your research before you decide to take out student loans. If money is an issue, choose a college that doesn’t cost as much, or look into scholarships. Be aware of the changes possibly coming for student loans through congress. Do the math; calculate the numbers and understand how much you will be required to pay back in interest on those loans. Student loans are not all bad, but taking one out without fully understanding the costs and the risks can be!