Scholarship Selection – It’s Tough!

The local Military Spouses Club that I am a member of offers a number of scholarships each year and yesterday I had the honor of being a part of the selection committee.

We received applications from some very deserving, stellar students and it was a pleasure to read about the conscientious young men and ladies who requested the scholarships. When I volunteered to help read through the applications and choose some winners I hadn’t really thought about how much of an impact that would have on the students. Mind you, the spouses club isn’t offering full-ride scholarships or anything. They are each for a modest $1,000 – but to a student with a financial need, that covers at least books and fees for a year. As we started going through the essays and transcripts and discussing the varying merits of each student I found myself to be so thrilled to be in close company with a handful of very dedicated women, many either current or former teachers, who each had a deep well of concern for the students displayed before us. The care shown by these women really touched my heart.

One of the scholarships came down to two students:

  • Student A was a B+ student in largely honors and college-prep classes, received an above-average ACT score, cited numerous and commendable community service and volunteer work, sparkling letters of recommendation, and a well-written essay.
  • Student B was a solid B student also in honors and college-prep classes, had a slightly lower but still above-average ACT score, very good recommendations, and a more succinct essay. Student B did not list his volunteer work other than to say he is involved with his church and is an Eagle Scout.

The women on the committee all know a young man who either has or is currently working on his Eagle Scout achievement, so we all knew what commitment it requires and how much volunteer community service is encompassed within that work. We were especially impressed that a young man was able to complete that while holding good grades in difficult courses. If we had received an identical application from a student who had not accomplished such a feat, we would have passed it to the bottom of the stack in favor of Student A. The Eagle Scout achievement made this applicant as attractive to the committee as Student A.

I would like to mention that thought in some areas and at some ages scouting is not the “in” thing to do, sticking with it and attaining the highest honor really is worth a young man’s time and effort. Some students are not able to pull a 4.0 grade point average as well as others but some dedicated selfless community service and hard work in other areas of a young person’s life can really save your college scholarship application.

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I am linking this post to Heavenly Homemaker’s Gratituesday because after going through this exercise with the selection committee I am deeply thankful for all of the teachers, coaches, counselors, and troop leaders out there who get to know each student in their care and urge them to persevere in every way to succeed in what they undertake. I am additionally grateful for the opportunity to sit on this scholarship selection committee. It was a fantastic experience and I cannot wait to meet and congratulate the winners next week at the reception that our spouses club is holding for them.

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