Scholarship talk eases student money worries

By Jeanette Fritz

How am I going to afford this?

The Scholarship Office hoped to answer that question with a presentation Wednesday at the Holmes Student Center. The event was held to help incoming students find and apply for scholarships.

Scholarship Office Director Anne Hardy and office support specialist Sarah Ransom led the discussion. Thanks to them, that disheartening question burning in the back of every student’s mind will not haunt their dreams.

The event included tips for not only finding scholarships, but also applying for them correctly. A thorough scholarship search could be the key to wiping the tears off your quickly deflating wallet.

Scholarships aren’t all about grades. You need to know how to write well enough to get your application read, too.

“Essays can make or break an application,” Ransom said. “I’ve seen applications be thrown away because of a grammar mistake in the first one or two sentences.”

Freshman mechanical engineering major Daniel Timmer was at the event and thought the speakers were informative and “gave helpful information about how to find various scholarships.”

Both women recommended searching for scholarships online through the Scholarship Office website. They advised students find ones they are eligible for and apply for them over winter break since the common deadline for scholarships through NIU is on or around Feb. 1.

The website makes searching for scholarships simple by allowing lookers to narrow down searches by academic year, major and interests.

Hardy and Ransom suggested making a list of awards, community service, employment and any other honors students have earned to make the search easier.

The website also offers a list of unorthodox private scholarships for incoming freshmen.

Eligibility for them ranges from being a woman with a height of 5-foot-10 to simply graduating high school as an art student. Some of these private scholarships can earn you up to $1,000.

So, all I need to do is go back in time and tinker with a chain of events that results in me being an art student. Once I reach adolescence, I’ll inject growth hormones into my legs so I miraculously sprout 10 inches of quality femur and tibia. After that I could receive up to $2,000 for school.

While outlandish scholarships are more fun, the vast majority are for the typical student: Have at least 12 credit hours, a 3.5 minimum GPA and be active within the community. Although they are less exciting, these scholarships are needed because we all can’t be tall.

The same scholarship event will be held again at 3 p.m. today in the Holmes Student Center’s Heritage Room. If you can’t attend the presentation but still need advice, you can go to the Scholarship Office 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays to meet with a scholarship adviser.

“I’m more than willing to proofread anyone’s essay for a scholarship application,” Ransom said.

Even if you weren’t a quality student in high school or don’t have a high enough GPA, there’s no need to be discouraged with the daunting thoughts of not being able to afford the outrageous price of tuition.

There are still plenty of opportunities for you to collect massive amounts of free money if you do a little searching.