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Unique scholarship opportunities arise

Sophie Parks, Copy Editor

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While a scholarship may seem unattainable and only available to a select few students, the wide variety available at OHS fit many different categories of students.

In the counseling office, students can use a folder labeled “scholarships.” It contains printouts of scholarship information organized by the month the applications are due. On the cover of this folder is a list of websites that house organized categories and search functions in order to find the right scholarship fit for everyone.

Hannah Henry (Counseling) explains some of the most-often applied for scholarships.

“When you apply to a university you are automatically put into the running [for merit-based aid],” Henry said. “Those are usually the popular ones.”

Henry goes on to say that many private scholarships are available that students don’t usually take advantage of.

Amesha Wijesinghe (11) has looked into scholarships with very diverse criteria.

“I know there are some scholarships for people who do taekwondo, or speak a different language,” Wijesinghe said. “I think I’ve heard of one that gives scholarships for left-handed people, but I’m not really sure if that’s true.”

Sadly, lefty-specific scholarships are only available at a select few schools. However, this just goes to show what you can find if you look hard enough. For example, the Klingon Language Council gives $500 to “students who excel at implementing creative uses for the language of Klingon,” according to lendedu.com. For non-Trekkies, Klingon is the language spoken by the Klingon species, and learning to speak it is a highly-sought after honor.

Jyoti Prasad (12) said that she hasn’t had too hard of a time finding available scholarships.

“If you look up scholarships in Google, there will be a lot of websites linking you to scholarships,” Prasad said. “You can also go to local businesses and most of them will have a scholarship you can apply for.”

For those looking for more traditional scholarships, the options are still wide open. Tyler Oakley’s “Make a Difference” scholarship requires a one-minute video describing how “you will leave the world better than you found it.” Creativity is encouraged, and applications are due by April 15, 2018.

The Thiel Fellowship awards 20-30 fellowships in the span of two years, reaching $100,000. To apply for this scholarship, students should have a passion for technology and be “interested in building new things.” The deadline for this scholarship is one of the earlier ones, due Dec. 31 of 2017.

If you or your parents or guardians are a member of a union, you could be eligible for the Union Plus scholarship, awarding $4,000 to 100 students with one continuous year of union membership. This application is due by Jan. 31, 2018.

Though many students only think about scholarships once they reach their junior or senior years, there are some opportunities open for underclassmen as well. The VIP Voice scholarship is open to those over 13, and enters applicants in a “scholarship sweepstakes” after they participate in two or more surveys.

Any additional information on the application process can be found on the mentioned websites, or by talking to your counselor.

For sophomores, the National Merit Scholarship is available after taking the PSAT early in your junior year. If your scores qualify, you become one of 50,000 Commended Students, and may then be chosen as a Semifinalist. Of the 16,000 Semifinalists, those who scored the highest in their state are moved on to the Finalist round, where information is collected from the school as well as an essay from the Finalists. In the end, 7,500 students are National Merit Scholars, receiving the highest prize of $2,500. This year, 12 seniors from OHS qualified as Semifinalists.

Finally, Prasad shares her advice on finding aid early.

“When you get into senior year you’re so busy with college apps and keeping your grades up that it’s hard to search for scholarships,” Prasad said. “It’s better to apply for them now and have them found before senior year. Focus on what you’re strong at and what you’re passionate about. It’s easier to write papers.”

However, Henry says that the most aid will come from those specific to the colleges that you are applying for.

“Fastweb can be done at any time and you can find private scholarships,” Henry said. “However, those don’t make up a very large percentage of financial aid, so the ones from universities are going to be the ones where you’re getting the most aid.”

A word of warning: not all scholarships are as golden as they seem. Students seeking online or less-publicized scholarships should be careful of scams. Be wary of providing personal information or paying money to “guarantee” your spot for a scholarship.

Websites such as http://mapping-your-future.org, http://Michigan.gov/mistudentaid, http://fastweb.com, and many others are available to find the scholarship that fits your needs and abilities, so start looking now.

Resources are open, and the world is your oyster.

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Unique scholarship opportunities arise