Secret Scholarships

The underrated way to easily earn money for college
General scholarships, applicable to any college you want to attend, are a great way to pay off what your schools financial aid does not include.
General scholarships, applicable to any college you want to attend, are a great way to pay off what your school’s financial aid does not include.

Why would one of the lucky seniors who already knows where they are going to college be frantically typing out an essay, trying to meet a looming deadline?

The answer: scholarship applications.

With the sky high prices of higher education in the United States, the financial aid offered by individual schools or via FAFSA may not be enough for some students. The solution? In typical capitalism fashion, an entire industry of scholarship prizes and programs has sprung up. Unlike alternative types of financial aid such as loans, the free money students gain for college from scholarships does not have to be repaid.

This sounds wonderful, especially when you realize that students as young as high school freshmen can begin applying for these scholarships. However, many students here at Darien High School know next to nothing about these financial opportunities.

Sophomore Esther Bittker says, “I don’t know anything. I’m not thinking about college right now. I had no clue you could do that as a sophomore” when asked about scholarship opportunities for high school students.

Fellow sophomore Cameron Morey hypothesizes why DHS does not better educate its students on these financial resources, saying it’s “because the majority of people at DHS are quite wealthy. This is a bad assumption because there are some kids in this town who probably need it.”

The Guidance Department at DHS, pictured above, seems to fail to properly educate students about scholarship opportunities. They do provide resources via their webpage.

So, sophomores feel that they are in the dark, but what about upperclassmen?

Junior Halia McAvoy says she knows “little to nothing” about scholarship opportunities. She explains that DHS’s “guidance counselors should do a better job teaching about it because I don’t know about it.”

Senior Kiara Luciano knew slightly more than her underclassmen, sighting the Community Fund of Darien when asked about scholarship opportunities. However, when asked where she had learned about these opportunities, Luciano says, “Online websites. I didn’t learn about this from the Counseling Department. Later in the year they [the counseling department] post about scholarships on their bulletin, but they should do this earlier and promote it more.”

The DHS Counseling Department does include links to scholarship information on its webpage.  This information includes links to Community Scholarships – which will be made available on February 12, according to its webpage – and other scholarship opportunities.

Due to this call for DHS to better educate its students on financial aid opportunities like scholarships, I have compiled a starting list of scholarships for students. Additionally, organizations such as Access Scholarships are solid resources that seek to help high school students find scholarship opportunities that are right for them.

Easy Scholarships: No Essay Required 

Niche $25,000 No Essay Scholarship

This year’s deadline for Niche’s large scholarship is February 29, 2024. This scholarship is a great option for students who do not want to grind out another essay after college applications. Niche says it “is giving one student $25,000 to help pay for tuition, housing, books and other college expenses.” Scholarships like this one, which select winners by random drawing, are very fascinating as they work more like a lottery than a merit-based reward.

The randomly drawn winner will be announced by March 15, 2024.

Scholarship Points

ScholarshipPoints shares Niche’s lottery-like format, awarding one $2,500 scholarship every month of the year. There is no essay required and students as young as 13 can enter.

DHS students work hard in the library in between this year’s midterms. Are any of them finishing up a quick essay for a scholarship program?

Harder Scholarships: Essays, Videos, etc. Required

Awarding between $5,000 – $25,000, this scholarship is sponsored by Taco Bell. Instead of being needs or achievement-based, this scholarship is all about passion, so students are required to submit a video that tells the story of their true passion.

The January 11th deadline has already passed for this year, but underclassmen can take note of this golden opportunity.

This scholarship, intended only for minority students who demonstrate financial need, grants up to $30,000. To apply, students must be accepted to accredited four-year colleges or universities, be citizens of the United States, and involved in community service and leadership.

Scholarships Open to High School Students of All Years

Due January 31st and granting $1,000, this topically relevant scholarship asks students to explain the negative effects of technology and excess screen time on our lives.

Visionary Scholarship

Offered by the American College Foundation (ACF), this annual program offers financial support to students of all grade levels. Award amounts vary from $1,000 – $5,000 and the deadline is May 1st.

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