WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Scholarship deadlines are approaching for high school students across the country, and taking the extra step can be all it takes for a student to attend college with little debt or none at all. 

Macey Neal, College Career Coordinator (CCC) at Northeast Magnet High School, said that junior year is typically when CCC’s want students to become aware of what scholarships are out there, and senior year is the year of applying.  

Many awarding scholarships are not all looking for the smartest students or those who have the highest standardized test score. It can be as simple as being involved in their school or community or even wearing glasses. 

“My CCC teacher sends a lot of scholarships, and it is really important to apply for them because there is actually a lot that you don’t really think you qualify for. There is so many. There is one if you wear glasses, and I do think I applied for that one. I wear contacts, but also, I just need help paying for college,” said Olivia Flores, a senior at Northeast Magnet High School.

Flores said that witnessing her siblings struggle financially while in college gave her the spark to learn about the services offered at her high school. She encourages other students to become familiar with the scholarship process by making a stop at their CCC or school counselor. 

While many national scholarships tend to award a larger amount of money, they can be more difficult to obtain as the number of applicants is significantly high. Neal says that she encourages students to start locally as students have a better chance at winning.

“I think it’s good to start small and know what your options are because we have a lot of really good organizations in town that offer scholarships that students may not know about,” Neal said.

The United Way of the Plains suggests students avoid simple mistakes, like grammatical errors or submitting past the deadline. 

“Let somebody else read your essay, let someone else look through your service hours, just give somebody else eye to look over it,” said Mark Stump, community director of United Way of the Plains.

With November marking the start of deadlines, students can get ahead over the winter break holidays, as many scholarships will not have an application deadline until late February or early March. 

Here are a few tips when finding and applying for scholarships: 

  • Visit your school’s CCC or counselor.  
  • File the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FASFA) senior year: This alone can reduce the cost of college and opens the chances of need-based scholarships. 
  • Contact colleges and universities to learn about the ways to maximize your chances of obtaining academic and other scholarships offered.
  • Contact local organizations that offer scholarships and learn about what increases an applicant’s chances of winning.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Many scholarship deadlines are before high school students’ winter break begins. Look and apply early. 

For more information about United Way of the Plain’s scholarships, click here.