Primary, Secondary and college school students can increase their odds of winning college scholarships for a variety of reasons. So it might be tempting to fill a resume with many experiences in the hopes of catching the attention of a college scholarship committee and/or donor in increasing your chances of winning college scholarships.
Instead, consider strategically making the most of your primary and secondary school years. There are plenty of ways you can strengthen your winning college scholarship applications while pursuing your passions inside and outside of the classroom. Here are five (5) of the most common ways you can become a competitive scholarship applicant and drastically increase your odds of winning college scholarships in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
- Excel in the Classroom:
Your GPA, GSAT, CXC and other standardized Literacy and Numeracy Test scores can attract the attention of a top college, the Ministry of Education and other local scholarship donors such as Digicel, NCB or JN Foundations – and other organizations that can help you pay for your education cost. Like admissions offices, scholarship committees are interested in your complete academic record.
While it’s important to chase A’s, think about other ways to separate yourself from peers. You might consider taking Advanced Placement courses or serving as an apprentice to your favorite teacher in your favorite subject(s) as a strategy in winning college scholarships.
Both could help you win a VMBS scholarship, for example. VMBS awards five categories of scholarships worth over J$1.5 million each year to students at various level of study who are members of the building society. Additionally, Sanmerna Paper Products Limited and Sanmerna Foundation offers over J$1 million annually to outstanding GSAT students and students in financial need.
- Be Active on Campus:
You might think playing a sport or participate in your school’s athletic meets helps you work toward an athletic scholarship for college. But only about 2 percent of high school athletes earn partial or full rides to compete at the next level in the USA, according to the NCAA. In Jamaica, however, an estimated 12.71 percent Jamaican high school track and field student athletes wins full or partial scholarships in local and international colleges each year.
Still, doing track and field, playing a sport, volunteering at school, church and in your communities or participating in other extracurricular activities are great ways to strengthen your scholarship applications by showing you’re a well-rounded teenager. This will contribute to winning college scholarships.
If sports aren’t your thing, you might consider participating in the school’s band or theater group; joining a club; or running for student government. Remember to choose activities that align with your passions and goals. Strengthening your winning college scholarships credentials should be considered a benefit, not your main motivation.
If you’re not sure about the best fit, ask for your guidance counselor’s advice. A counselor can likely also point you in the direction of scholarships that are designed for students interested in particular activities.
- Be a Participating Member of a Church:
By reading the post [Why is the Church a great source of scholarships?] you will realize the great scholarship, volunteer and learning environment your local church presents. As a Christian myself, I realize the spirituality of the church; however, the church offers other benefits and experiences. Some of these include:
- Feeding and clothing the poor and destitute
- Teaching and leading the community in spirituality and fulfilling the commandments
- Supporting its members and community through volunteerism and financial support
From the above list, it’s easy to identify how the church is able to sponsor your school trip on a small scale to offering you a full-ride scholarship in college. The church is a major source to winning college scholarships. Effectively participating in your church and community will give you well needed volunteerism points; increase your bank of experiences and community involvement.
As an example, a student teacher could practice and gain clinical experiences teaching students and adults in the church through Sunday/Saturday school and/or through an after school program administered by the church.
- Get Involved in your Community:
College admissions officers want to enroll students who care about their surroundings, and many scholarship committees think the same way. By volunteering in your community, you’ll show that you think beyond yourself. You can find volunteer opportunities by searching websites like Jamaica Volunteer Foundation, or checking out other local organizations like the Red Cross Jamaica, Food for the Poor or Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation.
Your volunteering experience could help you win scholarships as most if not all scholarship foundations, donors and organization are now requiring volunteer services as requirements to qualify for major scholarships. At ScholarshipJamaica.com, all administered scholarships require that applicants show proof of volunteer services before and within the application year. this is just another winning college scholarships strategy.
If you’re struggling to find volunteer projects in your community, consider volunteering at the public library, fire or police station or the home for elderly in your community. This allows you to make an impact from where you reside. Plus, you can apply for grants and scholarships from these institution and their stakeholders. Some of these awards and grants don’t require an application, while for others, you need to request for assistance.
- Pursue Work Opportunities Relevant to Your Future Major:
Getting a part-time job won’t just help you rack up money for college. It also could lead to a scholarship, either from your employer or from an organization that’s impressed by your work ethic. I can attest to this! I won my first scholarship (a whopping J$10,000 in 1997) from the staff of the Morant Bay Branch of the National Water Commission Office in ST Thomas. This award was used to cover the cost of eight (8) CXC subjects then at Seaforth High School. Read more about my story in My First Scholarship Award.
If you work at a manufacturing company that’s a member of the Jamaica Manufactures Association (JMA), for example, you could win one of the many annual wining college scholarships on offer from the JMA.
By taking on a part-time job that’s closely connected to your eventual major, you can show scholarship organizations and potential employers that you mean business when it comes to your future. If you hope to become an entrepreneur, for example, you might start a business in your neighborhood doing yard work or using a unique skill. After all, you don’t have to be in college to start a side hustle.
When you’re looking for ways to pay for college, you can fill the gaps with grants from the parish council as well as the Government of Jamaica, Student Loan Bureau and from private student loans. But the more scholarships you win now, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to minimize your reliance on student loans. By strategically pursuing high school experiences relevant to your strengths, passions and interests, you can increase your chances of winning college scholarships.
Modified from USA News Education