Archive | December, 2017

Use your Christmas break wisely

15 Dec

While it may be tempting to just couch surf over your Christmas break, the couple or more weeks off provide a great opportunity to work on and submit the last of your college applications, as well as scholarship applications.

While you won’t win every scholarship for which you apply, you definitely WILL NOT win any for which you do not apply. Increase the odds, senior: get as many done as you possibly can. If my small-town students can win big, national scholarships, so can YOU!

Here are some tips for winning scholarships. I feel confident in sharing these, because my own four children won more than FIFTY scholarships.

  • Your best odds are local scholarships. Do those first, because a few number of students are applying for them.
  • Answer each question thoroughly.
  • Use formal language but be real and personal.
  • Use specific examples to explain your claims. Don’t just speak in generalities.
  • Don’t exaggerate who you are, but definitely think through your own personal history and try to connect with the organization.
  • If there are optional questions, answer them.
  • Spellcheck your essay. Ask someone else to read it over and offer suggestions. It needs to sparkle to rise above the pile of ho-hum submissions.
  • If the organization asks for an essay of say, 100-300 words, use the whole 300 words, which gives you that chance to show you are the right person.
  • Double-check the requirements before you mail or submit the application. Make sure you have met all the basic requirements.
  • Do not pay to enter a scholarship–that’s a ripoff.

Remember: Doing a little each day to work toward your college and career goals makes what might seem like an overwhelming task quite reachable.

How to earn $100/hour

5 Dec

Q: How can you earn one hundred dollars an hour or more as a high school senior?

A: Submit an application for every single scholarship for which you are qualified.

Q: How can you increase your chances of winning scholarships?

A: Study the organization that sponsors the scholarship and the kind of student that organization would choose to reward with a scholarship.

Before you start filling out the scholarship application, do some research:

  • Read all of the materials that accompany the scholarship application. Often the organization will give some history about the group and/or the scholarship.
  • Go to the organization’s website and read all about the organization.
  • Ask your school counselor or other adults about the organization.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are these people?
  • Why do they give scholarships?
  • For what kind of student are they looking?
  • What kinds of qualities do they want to see in the scholarship winner?

For example, your local Rotary Club is part of an international organization made up of business leaders in communities. Rotary members focus on fund-raising so as to sponsor various community-service projects, which often include scholarships for local high school students.

You can imagine, then, that Rotary Club members may be looking for students who represent the best of their own qualities, especially leadership and a mindset that community service is important.

Because my daughter had done a lot of community service for her school — organizing a school-wide effort to paint student murals on exterior walls and to spruce up the girls’ bathroom — she was a natural for a  great scholarship from Lowe’s, the home improvement store.

As you work on your scholarship application for an organization, think about those qualities that you have and those activities you have completed that would appeal most to your audience — that organization’s scholarship review committee.

CAUTION: NEVER misrepresent who you are to a scholarship organization. However, you do want to relate on that application the best of who you are that will dovetail with that organization.

And remember . . . always complete every application for which you are qualified. You won’t win every single scholarship for which you apply, but you also will not win any scholarship for which you don’t apply.

The best teacher gifts

1 Dec

Seniors, it’s a good time of year to think about writing thank-you notes for those teachers who have written letters of recommendation for you. Emails are not sufficient. Write a written note and hand it to your teacher. This should be several sentences long and demonstrate your sincere appreciation for that hour-plus effort your teacher made in your behalf.

If you’d like to do something more, here are other ideas . . .

Edibles:

  • Homemade cinnamon rolls, bread or dinner rolls
  • Small box of chocolates
  • Homemade fudge or other candy
  • A small plate of cookies
  • A small fruit tray

Other ideas:

  • Cute sticky notes
  • A small package of thank-you notes
  • An ornament
  • A pair of socks
  • An inexpensive pair of gloves (think: dollar store!)
  • A candle
  • NOT the kitschy, teacher-y gifts

In other words, keep it simple.

However, here’s what I think would be the BEST presents for a teacher:

  • A visit: Just stop by the teacher’s room the last week of school and say “Merry Christmas!” Teachers are super-stressed that time of year, and a smile and hello would mean a lot. However, keep it short–just a “hi, thinking of you” and a smile would be great.
  • A Christmas card or a note: The words Thank you for all you do! could keep that teacher going for another day, month, or season of teaching. Truly.
  • A phone call: Call the school administrator and tell him or her what a great job that teacher is doing. Those words will filter down and bless that teacher immensely.
  • An email . . . here are a couple suggestions:
    • “Is there anything I can do to help you in this busy season?”
    • “Could my child stay after school one day this week to grade papers for you?”
  • The benefit of the doubt and your trust: Teachers work hard, do their best to grade fairly, and truly do care about their students.
  • Your prayers: Teachers get discouraged and exhausted. Pray for moral and physical strength, wisdom about discipline matters, insight about teaching strategies

Honestly, I do not remember gifts I was given over the years, but I DO remember the students and parents who treated me with respect and kindness. Those gifts are the best.

Merry Christmas!