LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS —
Students face many challenges when deciding what college to attend. Scholarships are one way to take some of the financial burden off of those challenges.
"Finding and applying for scholarships should be an ongoing process since the time students enter the ninth grade," said Stacey High School Counselor Mary Rue.
Students seeking to obtain scholarships should also take the Preliminary SAT their junior year, which qualifies students for National Merit Scholarships.
At the beginning of their senior year of high school, students should contact teachers that they will want to write recommendations for them, and give those teachers a copy of their resume for reference.
While the scholarship process is time consuming, parents should also be cautious of companies that seek payment to help students find and obtain scholarships.
"These are scams," Mrs. Rue said. "Scholarships are completely free and you should never pay money for them."
The Bexar County Scholarship Clearing House online is a useful Web site for scholarship information.
Students should apply to colleges as early as possible because many universities have scholarship deadlines that end before the application deadline ends.
Lackland's student population does face significant challenges because of the frequent movement of the student body, which in some cases leads to a lack of involvement.
"If a student knows he or she is going to be somewhere for only a few years, then sometimes they don't want to get involved," Mrs. Rue said.
This is the opposite of what scholarship committees are looking for. According to Mrs. Rue, scholarship awards are typically given to students who are well-rounded, with a specific emphasis on community activities and volunteerism.
There are, however, some advantages to attending a small school like Stacey High School. Due to the smaller population, more children receive recognition for their achievements, making it more difficult for students to fall through the cracks.
"Because I know most of the students around here, I will seek out certain students whose achievements qualify them for more specific scholarships," Mrs. Rue said.
There are also scholarships that are awarded specifically to children with parents in the military. The Air Force has the General Arnold Grant. Other services have similar awards. There is also a commissary scholarship as well as the Youth Employments Skills program, which awards scholarships while building career-based skills in children.
Another cost effective route to higher education is the dual credit program. The Aerospace Academy, available at Stacey High School through St. Philips' College, offers a two-year program completed while in high school that focuses on engineering and aeronautics classes.
There has also been a trend to start undergraduate work at the community college level.
"The Alamo Community College District here in town provides a great education that is cost effective," Mrs. Rue said.