Four Scholarship Myths You Can Overcome

Each year hundreds of Phi Theta Kappa members apply for more than $250,000 in scholarships available through the Spring Scholarship Application. It’s a competitive process, but one that is well worth the effort if you plan to continue your education at a two-year college in the fall.

“Even though the cost of a community college remains well below that of a four-year university, we recognize that there are many students who still need help defraying those costs,” said Christin Grissom, Phi Theta Kappa’s Director of Scholarship Operations. “We are proud to offer our members financial help to complete at the associate level.”

With the Spring Scholarship Application deadline quickly approaching on May 2, you’re running out of time — and excuses! Forget what you’ve heard about scholarship applications; we’re here to debunk four common scholarship myths.

Myth #1: Only geniuses can get scholarships.

Wrong! Most scholarships on the Spring Scholarship Application require applicants to have completed between 12-36 semester credit hours and have a 3.5 GPA or higher to be eligible to apply. We do not ask for your SAT or ACT score, even though it may be perfect.

Although 2014 Leaders of Promise scholarship recipient Peyton Johnson had established herself as a leader at Northeast Alabama Community College and in her community, she knew competition for scholarships would be strong. Still, she chose to “be bold” and apply anyway.

“Too many people have missed out on scholarship opportunities because they didn’t believe that they had what it took to win,” she said. “You cannot base your chances of winning on someone else’s resume, and you never know exactly how your story will resonate with the selection committee.”

Myth #2: I’m too old (or young) to get a scholarship.

Untrue! Age is only a number, and this number does not determine your eligibility for Phi Theta Kappa’s scholarships. Your age neither increases nor decreases your odds of being selected as a scholarship recipient.

At 32, Elizabeth “Ellie” Scicchitano received a 2015 Leaders of Promise scholarship. She’s the co-president of scholarships for the Rho Epsilon Chapter at the Community College of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and applied for the scholarship based on the strength of her story, not her age.

Upon learning about and researching her mother’s Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis, Scicchitano returned to school and is working to become an oncologist. She also has a 7-year-old daughter and a 3.93 grade point average.

“It’s hard to raise my daughter and go to school, but if my mother isn’t giving up, there’s no excuse for me to give up,” she said.

Myth #3: You have to be financially needy to receive Phi Theta Kappa’s scholarships.

False! While there are many scholarships out there that consider financial need, scholarships included on Phi Theta Kappa’s Spring Scholarship Application do not. These scholarships are merit-based, meaning judges are focused on your record of accomplishment and ability to excel, not your financial information.

Everyone can use a little extra money to help pay for college. After just one year of school, Johnson had seen just how quickly college expenses could add up.

“I knew that by filling out the spring application there (would be) so many different scholarships that (could) benefit me as I continue my education,” she said.

Myth #4: Applying for scholarships is too time-consuming.

Incorrect! If you could maximize your time and provide a way to pay for college, would you do it? One single scholarship application allows you to compete for your chance at more than $250,000 in scholarships. That’s a serious return on your time investment!

Make it easy by compiling a detailed list of your academic and personal accomplishments into a Scholarship Resume. Contact a strong recommender to complete the Student Assessment in the application and support the details you’re including. And, break the application into sections to make it more manageable.

“The entire application at once can seem overwhelming,” said Rebecca Ellzey, a 2015 GEICO Pathway to Completion Associate Degree Scholar and a student at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. “Breaking it down gives you time to genuinely think about each question. I cannot tell you how many answers I thought about for each question.”

One last thing: proofread your application!

Proofread your application closely, and then have someone else proofread it and provide feedback on ways to strengthen it.

“Your application in reality is your non-physical interview for potential scholarship opportunities,” said Brandon Hayes, a 2014 GEICO Pathway to Completion Associate Degree Scholarship recipient from Walters State Community College in Tennessee.

Follow up with your recommender to ensure the Student Assessment has been completed. Check to make sure that each tab has been finished before the May 2 deadline. And finally, be confident that you’ve put forth your best effort.

“Many students think the pool of applicants is too large and their possibilities of winning are too low,” said Cindy Villalta-Fuentes, a student at North Lake College in Texas who received a 2014 Leaders of Promise scholarship. “Put effort in the application, make sure to answer the questions and don’t be afraid to expose your goals and aspirations.

“Put your story on paper — you never know how impactful it can be.”

Phi Theta Kappa’s Spring Scholarship Application deadline is Monday, May 2, at 5 p.m. CST.

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