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In a previous post, I mentioned that we would soon be discussing how to secure scholarship money for college. Well, that day is here! Scholarships are invaluable in helping families pay the skyrocketing costs of attending college. It’s been maaaaannny years since I was in college, and I continue to be stunned at how much costs have increased. It’s staggering, really. However, it is what it is, and if your child aspires to attend college, you will have to find a way to pay for it. You can never begin too early to save, and hopefully you have been doing that for many years and have at least a starting point to cover the costs of college. Regardless of how much you have saved, you and your child should attack the process of securing scholarships with all your might. Every little bit helps!
My daughter is now a freshman in college, and we did fairly well in the scholarship department. I’m sure we could have done better. She was offered a little over $65,000 in scholarship money, with a portion of that resulting from her academics and standardized test scores. Academic excellence still matters, so keep those grades up! 🙂 We were basically finding our own way in the scholarship process, and actively sought out scholarships that she qualified for, and applied to as many as possible. One strategy we employed was to not overlook any scholarship that offered money. There are always those big enticing $100,000 prizes out there, and students can definitely apply for those if appropriate. But the competition is fierce for those, therefore the odds of winning are not in your favor. We decided that trying to secure ten scholarships that offered $1000 each was still $10,000, so even the small ones were worth pursuing. Granted, applying for ten scholarships involves more work and essay writing than applying for one big award, but ten grand is still ten grand, and we would take it any way it came. And we figured even if she didn’t win some of these scholarships, practicing her writing skills was never a bad thing.
How much better could we have done if we had received guidance from someone who had knowledge of this industry? I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Jocelyn Paonita Pearson, who knows her way around a scholarship. She managed to graduate from college without any student loans. As a result, she is now dedicated to sharing her knowledge with families facing the prospect of paying for college. This is someone I want to hear from. 🙂 She has created a course called The Scholarship System. I asked her if I could interview her about it, and she graciously agreed.
First of all, where were you last year when we needed you? 🙂 What prompted you to create a scholarship course, and how long have you been helping students find scholarships?
Ah, if I had a dollar for every time I hear “where were you when we needed you?”… The good news is that it’s never too late to go through this process. Starting as early as junior year in high school and continuing all the way through all four years of college, students can do this every single year until they graduate COLLEGE!
As for what prompted me to create this scholarship course, it really was an accident! I was able to secure 6-figures in scholarships, graduating completely debt free. I went into the corporate world as a financial analyst but kept receiving calls from friends who needed help finding money for college. After helping them and realizing it was a consistent process, I decided to turn it into what is known today as The Scholarship System. So really, it was just me helping people and realizing that this was a need!
We launched this course October 2015 but have really been focusing on it for about a year now. Still, I’ve been helping students find scholarships since I was in college myself!
What do you find to be the main reason students and parents come to you? What is their main frustration?
The main reason families come to The Scholarship System is because either they want to find and secure scholarships but don’t know where to begin or they tried to begin on their own and quickly became overwhelmed and frustrated with the process. It is a tricky process – there are scams out there (some that I originally got sucked into as a student until I learned better!) and they can take a lot of work if you don’t know how to reuse materials and create efficiencies in the process. We solve all these issues by providing families with specific steps to take so that they don’t get sucked into scams, can easily find scholarships, and have a greater chance of winning the money. As I like to say, we eliminate the guessing game in the world of scholarships!
How soon after taking your course do students begin to see results? (of course, assuming they implement the information!)
We have had some students secure scholarships as quickly as four weeks after implementing it.
I am assuming that your course is relevant not only for incoming college freshmen, but also students who are currently in college. How does your course benefit them?
Many students in college don’t realize that they can apply for scholarships and cash awards all the way into their senior year in college. This system helps college students in the same way as high school students – by giving them a step-by-step process to implement to secure scholarships. It saves them time by eliminating the trial and error and focusing their efforts in the right places. This includes a strategy to quickly write competitive essays. We recently had a college sophomore use our information to secure $4,500 in just a matter of weeks.
What is the average scholarship award your students have been able to secure?
The average total scholarships per student is over $5,000 so far.
Does your course focus on helping students win scholarships to help pay for college, or does it also assist them in finding other ways, such as work study programs and grants?
We cover topics beyond securing scholarships so that students have a total picture of how to graduate debt free. This includes topics involving FAFSA, grants, work study, money management and much more.
Once students and parents enter your course, is there ongoing support for them as they navigate the scholarship process?
We have a private members-only Facebook group with coaches, parents, professors, scholarship winners and more to build a support system for students and parents as they navigate this process. This is a great place to post questions as well as brainstorm solutions together, such as what to talk about for certain essay prompts, deciding between colleges, and much more. We also share scholarships that we find in the group in case some of our students are eligible to apply!
Is there a limit to the number of students you take on at one time?
Since this is a self-paced course, there is not a limit.
Is there one thing your course offers that you wish you had known about the scholarship process prior to creating the course?
Great question! Creating the course, I have been able to include tons of tips that I had to learn the hard way while going through the process. One of our key topics is finding scholarships where I cover my own search method that uncovers hidden scholarships that aren’t in search engines. I figured this method out about two years into the scholarship process for myself. I wish I had known this method from the beginning because it would have saved me dozens of hours, if not hundreds.
(Not necessarily something I learned after creating the course but it was after I started the process!)
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about taking your course to help them find scholarships for college?
Having a step-by-step process will save students time, energy and frustration. While there is some time put towards watching the videos and going through the materials, the course is set up so that students make progress as they go through each step, and finish the course with completed applications under their belt. In the end, the amount of time that a family saves by going through this is ten-fold to what they would have to spend if they were to try to figure it out on their own. And if it’s a matter of wanting some one-on-one attention, we are always accessible via the members-only Facebook group, email, and we even schedule quick intro calls for those who want some extra support at the beginning!
Anything else you’d like to share about your program?
So far, our students have secured over $624,350 and growing. Including interest, this means our families have saved over $720,000 on college expenses. This isn’t something where families are paying for scholarships, but instead a resource to teach them the tools they need to quickly find and secure them on their own, while having some additional support through the process.
Thanks, Jocelyn! 🙂
If you feel like The Scholarship System is a program that could help you, Jocelyn offers free 45-minute webinars that will give you more information about college funding and finding scholarships. Just visit The Scholarship System to find out when the next webinar is and book your spot!
The search for scholarships is a crucial component to the college admissions process, and we can use all the help we can get in figuring it out. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you’d like to share your own questions or experiences.
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