apartment in university-owned graduate housing. For Gilliam, her professors played a big part in helping her enjoy an uninterrupted education. “The entire department at St. Joseph’s was very helpful to me,” she says. “They made phone calls for me and they knew I was accepted before I knew.”
CONTINUING THE SEARCH
As her undergraduate experience comes to an end, Johnson is on another search: pursuing her master’s degree in religion. She already has enough money to pay for her first year of graduate school. And she has no intention of giving up her business.
“My business is my baby,” she says with conviction. “There’s so much that black parents and children don’t know [about scholarships], that I’m going to keep telling my story because I believe it can be done. I don’t do this for myself.”
11 Tips for Scholarship Hunters
You’ve heard that there are millions of dollars in scholarship aid out there, so here are 11 moves you can make to cash in on the scholarship gold mine.
Jessica Johnson, who secured over $100,000 in scholarships, says awards are available for students as early as the eighth grade. Dedicate at least three to five hours each week to searching online and in the library. Keep a list of scholarships you find and update it regularly, including the deadlines and required materials. Use your senior year to apply for scholarships, not search for them. Parents should encourage their children to look for scholarships themselves as it gives them a greater appreciation for financing college.
Despite Johnson’s high grade point average and standardized test score, she only received one academic scholarship, while her community involvement helped win most of the other scholarships. In high school, she hosted a teen radio show, wrote columns for the local newspaper, produced television segments for Oxygen Media, and founded an African dance troupe. Johnson says private scholarships are more interested in leadership and community service than academics. “They’re giving to the community, so they want to know what you’ve given to the community.”
Typing “scholarships” into an online search engine can turn up thousands of results, making your scholarship quest long and tiresome. Make your search as specific as possible. Jordan E. Goodman, author of Everyone’s Money Book on College (www.money answers.com), suggests, “Put in all the obscure information you can: left-handed, Ping-Pong player who wants to attend Georgia Southern University.” Being specific will narrow the number of scholarships you appear eligible for.
Start on the Local Level
Begin looking for scholarships from your place of worship and your parents’ places of work. Also, find out what scholarships are available from local chapters of fraternities and sororities and other organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club and the Elks Club. Johnson says most students are unaware of these organizations and the number of applicants can be low, therefore maximizing your chance to win.
See Your Counselor
Visit your high school guidance counselor frequently to stay informed. Many counselors are also responsible for providing official transcripts for scholarship application packages. Give him or her