Student vs. Scholarship: A battle of stress

For seniors, the excitement (and fear) of leaving for college is almost tangible. Scholarship deadlines are quickly approaching, leaving many seniors scrambling to put applications, essays, and letters of recommendation together. When approached about the subject of scholarship pressures, many seniors responded with a haunted look and exasperated laughter. “Scholarships make me wanna cry,” said Marna Wal, speaking bluntly.

“Oh my god” said Kaeli Domino, “[The stress] is like, off the walls.”

Megan Damitz responded truthfully, saying, “It’s unfathomable how I’m going to come up with all of this money. I’m kind of in denial actually. I’m not really thinking about it; which is, you know, not good.”

“There is a lot of pressure to do a lot of [scholarships]. Sometimes it feels like it’s just not worth the pressure.” said Bria Wunderlich.

There are so many aspects of paying for college, and so many decisions that need to be made. The amount of stress being put on 18 year olds can get to be a lot for one person to handle. It can make it seem like you’re in an epic battle of stress, with a good education hanging in the balance.

Scholarships are a competitive and time consuming process. There are usually large pools of applicants, with similar skill sets. Often times, there is only one winner, making it hard to motivate oneself to apply for them again and again. “When you look at [scholarships], you don’t think you have a chance of getting them, so that also causes me not to want to do them. The competition just makes it more stressful”, said Domino.

Katie Eckard understands the stress, but counters with some good advice. “I mean there’s no hurt in trying. Like it’s better than just saying “oh I’m too lazy, I’m not going to get it anyways.” Well, you’re absolutely not going to get any money if you don’t try.”   Scholarships can eat a lot of one’s time, which is a commodity many high schoolers have little of. Haaken Bungum reminds students of a lesson taught by many teachers; “If you work two hours on an application and receive a $500 scholarship, you just made $250 an hour.”

The dreaded scholarship essay is an important opportunity to sell yourself to your college. Each essay requires thoughtful answers, a clever title, funny yet meaningful anecdotes, and insight to who you are as a person. There is a lot of pressure on applicants to write an outstanding essay. Add that to the end of the year stress and many seniors are breaking down in sweats. Domino, a senior who will be attending Loyola University in Chicago this next year, commented on this very pressure, “The essays are really annoying because I’m already writing five essays in classes. Then I have to right another paper for scholarships, and it’s just like, can I not? It is really tough, actually.” Guidance Counselor Ms. Margo McKay recommends reusing as many essays as possible. That way you can cut down on time spent, and still apply to as many scholarships as possible. In your essays, she also advises kids to be thoughtful, and to list any plans you have. “Knowing what you would do with the [scholarship] money helps,” said Damitz, and McKay agrees.

This does make it difficult for the large percentage of young adults who identify with the infamous undecided title. “I know what I want to do and study, and I’m super passionate about that” said Wal. “But other people are undecided and that sucks for them because there are like entire sections where they’re like “now if you were to get this money, how would you further your education, and what would you study?”” Wal will be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to major in Global Studies with an emphasis on Human Rights.  It’s no question that the essay is important, so take some time on it. Take it to a teacher and have them review it. They can help you make your ideas clear and concise.

With the coming of spring, scholarship deadlines come as well. Many of these deadlines can be found in the career office or on the school website. Many seniors are about to see the culmination of all of their hard work, and the current junior class is on deck.             “Juniors should start applying in the summer” advised Josi Segner. She continues saying, “Apply for every single one because you never know if you’ll get it or not.” Another piece of advice from Segner was to “Apply for the obscure [scholarships] because a lot of people don’t apply for them.”

Bungum advises checking the school website often (which lists many local scholarships), and other students agree, reminding applicants to stay on top of deadlines. Making a spreadsheet or list of all of the scholarships you want to apply for can be a real savior come April. Wunderlich recommends keeping a list of all activities, leadership roles, and community service events you have ever participated in. That way you can save a step, since virtually all applications require it. Juniors should also have a letter of recommendation or two handy. Make sure to give the writer of the letter enough time to write a quality essay.

Eckard shared her scholarship mistake in starting the hunt too early. “I started in December and [the website] still had applications up from last year, and some of them had changed and the due dates were different. I had spent all of my time filling out like four or five scholarships, and then the due dates were wrong and some of the questions had changed and some were completely different altogether.”

The OHS scholarship banquet will be on Monday, May 28, in the Auditorium at 6:30. The Athletic Scholarship pep fest will be Monday, May 21. All are welcome to attend and show support for the hard work seniors have put in!

And remember, a little stress is healthy. Too much, however, can be extremely hazardous to your health. A good website to help you with school stress is career offices and OHS faculty are here to help guide you with your after high school decisions, along with your current mental health. Do not be afraid to ask for help!