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Scholarship Application Workshop – Supporting Students, Nurturing Local Talent

John McDermon, scholarship program manager, helps students stengthen their applcations

On March 28, 2018 the Northern Foundation and LANL Foundation hosted an informative scholarship application workshop for Northern New Mexico College students in conjunction with scholarships currently available from both nonprofits.

The LANL Foundation, through the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF), is accepting applications from April 2 through May 31 for Northern New Mexico Tribal Business Scholarships for Native American students pursuing business-related degrees, and Regional College/Returning Student Scholarships for nontraditional students. Both are $1500 one-time awards. Applications may be submitted online at www.lanlfoundation.org/scholarships.

LANL Foundation scholarship applicants do not need to meet Federal financial aid requirements. Citizenship is not a requirement.

The deadline for Fall 2018 Northern Foundation Scholarships is Friday, April 6 with application submitted through the college’s financial aid office. More than 70 merit, need-based, and program-specific scholarships available. More information is available at https://nnmc.edu/scholarships.

Welcoming the group of about 50 attendees were Northern New Mexico College (NNMC) President Dr. Richard J. Bailey and Northern Foundation President Terry Mulert (below).

(Below, left to right) LANL Foundation Scholarship Program Manager John McDermon, LAESF Advisory Committee member Andrea Pistone, NNMC Financial Aid Director Jacob Pacheco, and LAESF Advisory Committee member and NMCC Math & Physics Department adjunct faculty member Norman Delamater each shared ways that students can improve the quality of their scholarship applications. The presenters drew upon their own experiences reviewing applications.

A discussion on process and best practices for writing a personal statement essay was led by Lori Franklin, NNMC Chair of the Department of Language and Letters (below). She provided a helpful writing worksheet and encouraged students to take advantage of the campus Writing Center for support or tutoring.

Tips for Completing a Strong Scholarship Application

Develop a process and schedule

  • Create a timeline with milestones for completing different sections of the application.
  • Take your time completing the application, do not procrastinate or rush.
  • Read and follow the specific directions for each application. Look for what’s required like word count, formatting, etc.
  • Note what information is optional but may also be an opportunity to show your individuality or creativity.
  • Talk through details of your narrative or essay, others may be able to help you recognize your strengths and leadership.
  • Brainstorm to generate ideas for longer questions, put your initial thoughts on paper, then organize the answers.
  • Write out and save your answers in a separate text document on your computer (sample PDF or hardcopy applications may be provided). There's nothing worse than losing your hard work due to computer or internet glitch.
  • Incomplete or incorrect answers to even simple questions like county or phone number reflect badly upon the applicant.
  • Do not leave a question blank, even if it really does not apply to you, such as military service. Enter Not Applicable or NA.
  • Complete all open-ended questions. NA is not a good answer for the Leadership Roles question.
  • Writing takes time. Begin with a rough draft. Come back your application and essay and refine the details.
  • Your writing style should be somewhat formal. Choose your words and sentence structure accordingly.
  • Have someone review your essay and answers. Is everything clear to the reader? Did you leave anything out?
  • Spelling, capitalization, punctuation and other errors are the worst. Run a spell check and grammar check (http://grammerly.com/)
  • Request transcripts and letters of recommendation when you start the application. These things take time and may cause your application to be invalid or incomplete if not submitted by the deadline.
  • Turn in your application a few days early!

Tell your story

  • Do not be shy. This is the place to tell us all about yourself. It’s not bragging if it’s the truth.
  • Be specific.
  • Show, don’t tell. Find details to illustrate your personal narrative.

Explain how you meet the criteria for the scholarship

  • If the scholarship is for students pursuing a 2-year degree or certificate, when describing your educational goals be sure to mention how your course of study will lead to your ultimate goal.
  • Do not just give reasons why you deserve a scholarship.

Include concrete examples of accomplishments and how they connect to your goals

  • Instead of saying, “I follow through on things,” give specific examples of how you followed through.
  • Describe the results of your action.

Connect the dots, don’t make the reviewer guess

  • Tell us how your experiences led to the path you are on today.
  • Every chance you get, describe how something helps you develop or move you towards your goals— the classes you take, the jobs you do, the volunteer work you perform, the life experiences you have.
  • Even if you don’t think that last job was important, did it help you decide you could do better? Did it teach you that you were good at organization or following direction?

Write to your audience but do not embellish

  • You don’t need a PhD in Engineering to become a licensed, practicing engineer. Know the degree and work experience requirements for the career you are pursuing. Be sure to explain how your academic goals support your ultimate career goals.
  • Do your best to make a connection with the person reading your application.

Highlight your leadership, extracurricular activities, community service, family commitments, and top accomplishments

  • You probably all have these, you may just have to dig deeper to identify them.
  • You don’t have to be a store manager or captain of the basketball team to be a leader. Think about of all the times you lead your family and friends or in your workplace.
  • Charity does not have to be formal and organized to be effective. How have you helped others?
  • Raising children is an accomplishment, so talk about your investment in your family through activities, sports, teacher conferences, homework, etc.

Share your special circumstances

  • When asked, this is a chance to let reviewer know of the hardships and challenges that you’ve overcome or may still be dealing with.
  • What prompted you to pursue higher education?
  • Why is it so important to graduate? What will be the impact of getting a diploma?
  • How will a scholarship help you achieve your goals?

 

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