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Big Scholarships Offered to Middle College Students

Tuition, textbooks, housing, and food are just some of the many expenses that make college such an expensive venture. Because of the current economy, many students are finding it challenging to get scholarships for college. Yet many high school seniors from Mission College’s Middle College program have successfully secured scholarships this year. Middle College is a program that allows selected high school students to take classes at the community college for high school and college credit.

Sara Smith, Mission Middle College site coordinator and teacher, is pleased with her students’ success at attaining scholarships.

“For the 2010-2011 school year, the total scholarships that Middle College students have been offered so far is $1.6 million. This has only been from September to January. By the end of the school year, we’re hoping to pass over $2 million in total offered scholarships to our senior class of 21 students.”

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Smith and her teaching partner, Jennifer Jolliff, instructed their students to employ specific strategies in their financial planning for college. For example, Smith encouraged her students to apply for scholarships from private universities.

“Knowing that private schools have more money to give away [than public schools], I told my students to apply to every school that gave them a free application. If a school is willing to waive the application fee, it means they’re interested in you, and if they’re interested in you, they might give you money.”

Smith also made it a class requirement for students to apply for 30 scholarships with private organizations.

“It could be a scholarship offered by a company, a religious group, or a scholarship [intended for someone of an ethnicity.] The national rate of getting those scholarships is that for every eight scholarships you apply for, you’ll get one. The average awards for these scholarships are around $1,000 or $2,500. That’s why we have the kids apply for so many so it all adds up over time.”

Christina Ayson, 18, a senior with the Middle College program, received scholarship offers of $76,000 from Mills College in Oakland, CA, $60,000 from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA and $64,000 from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN. With an interest in art and academia, Ayson hopes to major in art history and archaeology.

“It’s good to know there’s a way for you to pay for college. Without these scholarships, it’d be hard to go to college without pulling out a lot of loans,” says Ayson, grateful for the opportunities extended to her.

Shayna Jones, 18, a senior with Middle College, will receive a $1,000 scholarship for each year of college from the American Legion. She also received a scholarship offer of $52,000 from Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Madison, NJ. Hoping to teach high school biology someday, Jones wants to major in biology and American studies.

Jones has some words of encouragement for those who are struggling with the scholarship application process.

“You’d never know [what scholarships you will get] unless you try. In my Middle College class, I know people with high GPAs and test scores and sometimes you feel you can’t compete against them. But I’ve always felt that it’s important not to measure your success by those of other people, but by what your success means to you.”

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