The Hunt for Scholarships Begins

Searching for scholarships can be a daunting task. Luckily there are many opportunities to get scholarships when looking for them

EagleAir TV

Maddie McCrea, Junior Copy Editor

Senior Isaiah Holgerson received the Founders scholarship through Evangel University. (Photo Provided by Isaiah Holgerson)

Whether one is committed to a college, undecided or not attending college, planning for after high school graduation may be a daunting task. With possible student debt or scholarship worries, Nixa High School Counselor Joy Horgan offers some advice.
“There’s a lot [of scholarships] out there if you are willing to look for them,” Horgan said. “Typically I tell kids to go to the college that they are looking at first. That’s where they are going to find a lot of the scholarships whether it be merit — GPA or ACT scores — or competition, which is based on some type of essay, interview or audition or sports scholarship.”
Horgan said every student is eligible for a merit scholarship if they meet the criteria. Some require a certain GPA, ACT scores or specific skill.
While there are a variety of ways to go about getting a competitive scholarship, athletic scholarships are a sought after option.
Senior Jena Medearis received an athletic scholarship to Purdue University Fort Wayne through volley

ball. She was contacted for this scholarship after submitting a video, but there are other ways to gain exposure in order to receive an athletic scholarship, such as playing in tournaments.
“There are a lot of people playing, so it’s a great way for colleges to come and watch you play,” Medaris said. “They go from court to court looking at girls, and if they think you could potentially be good for their college, they could reach out to you.”
Aside from having less potential student debt, Medearis said there are other benefits.
“For starters, my athletic scholarship is a big plus because I basically have my own built-in sorority — which is my team,” Medearis said. “It’s super easy to make friends because you already have a team that you’re already friends with.”
There are alternatives to athletic scholarships in the competitive field, one of which is an academic scholarship.
Senior Isaiah Holgerson received the Founders scholarship from Evangel University.
“[This scholarship] is an automatic qualification based on your ACT score and attendance of an interview visit situation,” Holgerson said. “I received the highest scholarship preliminary that they give, which is a $19,000 scholarship, and I am in the running for a full-ride.”
Although he is currently undecided on which college to attend, Holgerson went through the process in order to receive the Founders scholarship.
“For founders you have to apply and be accepted to Evangel,” Holgerson said. “They have a minimum ACT score of somewhere between 24 and 27 that qualifies you for the Founders scholarship…That’s $15,000 [you receive] if you attend the scholarship weekend.”
Holgerson describes his experience at the scholarship weekend as a classic college tour until it transitioned into an interview process.
“I had to do four rounds of group interviews, so that was with me and four other random people and we rotated from room to room,” Holgerson said. “In each of those rooms were two collegiate professors who had a set of questions. It was all about getting to know you and trying to figure out what you’re about, but also they were looking for certain types of candidates as well. After that, you do an individual interview where you go back to one of those four rooms … and you get interviewed on more … specific information.”
While there are many opportunities for academic based scholarships, Horgan said she typically sees students pursuing the A+ scholarship through Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC).
“What a lot of students don’t realize is that OTC offers other scholarships,” Horgan said. “If you’re going to OTC or any community college for that matter, check to see if they offer other scholarships. If you’re using A+, OTC will also offer a $500 book scholarship to cover the cost of books.”
Even with academic and athletic based scholarships, localized scholarships are often available.
“A lot of times, we have local scholarships that come out in February,” Horgan said. “Those local scholarships are good to apply for because you can recycle your essays. A lot of the essay prompts are the same across the scholarships so when you write a quality essay for one of them you can use it for the other ones as well.”
Holgerson has been applying for scholarships he found through others. He is involved in the American Legion Oratorical Contest and has the Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship Competition Award in progress as well.
“I found out about [Elks] through the counselors,” Holgerson said. “I filled out the application, wrote the essay and turned it in. Then it was just a process of different people from that foundation reviewing and considering my application, then selecting students to move on to the next level.”
The American Legion Oratorical Contest is an additional way for Holgerson to earn scholarship money through speech and debate.
“It can be up to $25,000 if you do well at the national level,” Holgerson said. “Those are the two big [scholarships] I have in progress and then a few smaller local ones as well.”
If one is not planning on attending college ensuing high school graduation, there are alternatives.
Senior Grayson Mann is currently enlisted in the Marine Corps and will receive the benefits for joining the military.
“You get four free years of college, so you get your college paid for,” Mann said. “You get free health care — and since I’m going to be enlisted I get free housing. They pay for your food and you get paid. The only thing I’ll pay for next year is my phone and my car.”
Although the military will cover college expenses, one must have a clear college plan.
“You have to first apply [for each class] because you can’t just take a bunch of random classes,” Mann said. “If they’re paying for it they want you to actually get a degree. So you have to apply with the classes you’re going to take.”
Regardless of future plans, scholarships can be financially beneficial.
“We got those students who really go out and hit it hard and some of them don’t have to pay for their first year of college,” Horgan said. “Some of them may not have to pay for several years depending on where they go to school.”
Holgerson advises students to devote time into searching for scholarships.The NHS counselor’s page offers many resources for scholarships.
“I love looking into ones I hear from teach

ers because those are normally smaller and less of a pool of people you’re competing against,” Holgerson said. “I would just recommend looking at the counselors page — they’ve got tons of stuff for each grade.”