Julia Johnson | Staff Intern
Heading towards the end of the semester, while most students were looking forward to Christmas break, many high school seniors are trying to figuring out their futures.
Scholarships often play a large role in this process, but the pandemic has affected this for many students.
The pandemic has reduced the number of campus visits. This fall the ACT was also postponed, leaving many seniors without any frame of reference for their ACT scores, which is an important factor in many scholarship applications.
All of this being said, the pandemic has also allowed a wider variety of students equal opportunities in applying for scholarships because many schools have taken out their ACT requirement, opting instead for more gpa, coursework, and involvement opportunities.
The hardest part of the application process for many students is taking the time commitment to find the scholarships that fit their specific eligibility requirements. Many scholarships have specific requirements —such as a certain income level, race or area of expertise— that limit students from applying for them.
Great scholarships for South Dakota seniors are the Build Dakota scholarship, a full-ride scholarship for students interested in tech schools, and the Dakota Corps scholarship, a full-ride scholarship for students interested in high demand fields like accounting and nursing.
Some good scholarship opportunities many students overlook come from the community itself. “There are a number of scholarship search sites that the students can access-with these the student builds a profile of themselves and then the different search engines email the scholarships to the student,” said guidance counselor Darmi Vogel.
Students should also look at the colleges they are applying to to see what sort of scholarships they offer to freshman applicants.
Vogel noted that the most challenging part for students comes after they have found the scholarships they want and they begin writing their essays. She suggested that students start finding scholarships early in the semester and that when it comes time to write the essays, it’s important for them “to brag themselves up—why should you be the one receiving the award.”
According to the United States Department of Education, there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States to choose from. Narrowing down the number of colleges to choose from, from 4,000 to just one, can be stressful. So sometimes, seniors decide to avoid college overall.
However, Vogel cautioned a warning for students who are considering taking a gap year.
“What I have experienced with students that have chosen to do this—it is hard for them to go back to school. They are working, buy a vehicle, rent a place to live and then realize it will be hard to make these payments and go to school.”
Although it’s hard for Vogel to watch students struggle, she is happy watching kids —from kindergarten through 12th grade— succeed.
The transition from a high school senior to a college freshman often poses many challenges for students to overcome. But the exciting learning opportunities that arise from this new independence allows for a lot of growth.