Scholarship Season: Artists Paying It Forward

Obstacles, by their very nature, create frustration. They restrict us and often cause us to just give up. Thank goodness, every once in a while, someone comes along to change the status quo and create a new path forward. Alison Hess is such a person. She’s a trailblazer who’s paying it forward.

As a high school student, her heart was set on studying art in college. Yet she didn’t have the financial means to make it happen. Her obstacles were many, including finding scholarship after scholarship for prospective pre-law and pre-med majors but not for burgeoning artists. Having to rely mostly on her good grades and general scholarship opportunities, she made it happen. But that struggle stuck with her.

Fast-forward to 2014 and a new path emerged for students wanting to study art and design in college: Zinggia Ohio Art Scholarship.

Alison, with help from her husband Jason Salisbury, did the difficult legwork to establish the fund. Now beginning their third year, both are happy to report that they’re making a difference in the lives of others. Their goal, to “help art students in Ohio further their education in the visual arts field“ is clearly making a difference. Award winners in the first two years of the fund’s existence have applied their newfound financial resources to art programs at Ohio University and SCAD. The $2,000 scholarship is for Ohio-based high school seniors, and can be used towards art and design study at any college in the U.S. The deadline for this year’s application is March 5th.

passion quote - chasing it downWhen not paying it forward, Alison, an illustrator, can be found selling her artwork through her Esty shop, Canning Crafts.

Jason can be found applying his graphic design skills at Ohio Thrift Stores where he is in charge of marketing, graphic design, and advertising. Together they’re also creating coloring books and other kid-centered creative items.

At the risk of being repetitive, take the time to read Scholarship Season: Tips and Tools for some valuable scholarship insights. And make sure your Ohio-based teen looks into Zinggia. Both parent and teen will be glad you did.

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Decision Time For the SAT: In with the New or Stay with the Old?

Parents of high school students are most likely aware that changes are coming soon to the SAT. High school juniors and seniors especially need to be in the know. The last test date for the current SAT is January 23, 2016. In March, the new one takes over. Now is the time for strategic family conversations to either go with what you know or wait for the new version.

So what’s all the fuss about the switch? Plenty. For those who can take either, this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. If your teen has already been studying with prep-tests and seems to have a feel for the type of questions asked, I’d opt for the current version. On the other hand if your family isn’t at that stage yet and can wait it out a few extra months, I’d most likely suggest going with the new version. Arguments can be made for both sides.

The College Board has two SAT sites now, one for the old, another for the new. And a recent New York Times article explains the abundance of changes.

Here’s the bottom line of what you need to know:

  • March 5, 2016, is debut day for the new SATstopwatch
  • The test consists of two sections now instead of three: Math, and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
  • Students won’t be penalized for guessing answers anymore
  • The new test requires a lot more reading – even in the math section
  • Archaic and obsolete language are out of the reading sections, current language is in
  • Math sections dive deeper into each subject area, and more advanced math from a greater number of courses is included. This may tip the scale towards taking the test later in high school
  • The essay will become optional, and relies more on reading and comprehension than in the past

The new SAT is heavily based on the Common Core curriculum. Translation: it’s centered on what students are actually learning in school now. Again, if you’ve got the time I’d research both before making a decision.

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Scholarship Season: Tips & Tools

scholarship piggy banks from FastwebThis time of year usually creates a stress shift. Hearts and minds have moved beyond the holiday season and those time-consuming college applications have long been completed and submitted. Senior families are now consumed by “the waiting game;” that time when everyone becomes visibly sensitive to each ping, tweet, and swoosh emitted from cell phones and computers. Did she get in? Is he wait-listed? If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good time to research scholarship opportunities. The cost of higher education isn’t getting cheaper anytime soon, and once admission letters are in hand it might be too late to investigate many opportunities. So, if you haven’t already jumped into this pool, why not dive in now?

The suggestion to research scholarships often results in a deer-in-the-headlights stare from parents and teens alike. Translation: where do I begin? The biggest bang you’ll get will always be from institutions that accept your teen. That being said, there are countless other opportunities to explore. Keep in mind that many deadlines for submission have already passed. And some scholarships might seem small when you consider the overall cost of college. Try not to let this discourage you. Each one can help alleviate the expense of books, art supplies, dorm living, etc. Add multiple wins together and you could be talking some substantial money.

Before you begin a random search, consider a few tips to keep in mind:

Scholastic Art Scholarship  submittal 2014

Scholastic Art Scholarship submittal 2014

Know your resources. The best place to start is with your high school counselors. They can guide you to reputable online sites. Plus, they may be aware of some hidden gems that specifically speak to your search. I’d also reach out to local non-profits and your employer. Both may offer scholarships that you’re unaware of.

Know what you’re searching for. Will he be staying in state? Is she specifically interested in one major? Pay attention to categories that fit your teen. You can search by state, major, religious affiliation, community service, etc.

Read the fine print. Each application has its own unique requirements for submission and awards. Deadlines vary.

Don’t forget college admissions offices. If you’re pretty sure your teen will be accepted at a school – or already has been accepted – you should already be in communication with the admissions office about scholarship opportunities. That’s where you have the chance for the largest financial impact.

Many students feel mentally fatigued from the application process itself. I get that. Spending time searching for scholarships would seem even more draining. And, submitting another unique drawing or essay might feel like a waste of time and energy. I get that too. But your son or daughter won’t have any chance of winning those sought after funds if they don’t even try. That extra effort now may enable a semester for studying abroad or reduce the amount they’ll need to earn over the summer.

Here are a few opportunities to get you started. If you need additional help searching, send me an email and we can work together. I’m at artcollegelife@gmail.com.

Zinngia Art Scholarship (Ohio residents, applicable anywhere)

Two-Ten Footwear Foundation

Ladies Auxiliary VFW

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scholarship signage

 

5 Tips For Choosing The Right College

courtesy of College For Creative Studies

courtesy of College For Creative Studies

At the risk of being redundant, I’m going to revisit a post I wrote last year. The reason? Its decision time for seniors and their parents, and the words I wrote a year ago are true and applicable again today.

April is a critical time of year. Birds know it, flowers know it, and so do high school seniors. For the latter group it’s time to make your final choice of which college to attend in the fall. If you’re lucky enough to have been accepted to more than one college, read on. There are many factors that can – and should – influence you as you aim to find the best fit. I’ve listed a few tips that were helpful when my kids were going through the process.

1 – Get down to the details. Try to identify what entices you about each school. Is it the location? Cost? Studio space? The feel of campus, or something else? I place all of these factors into two basic categories: fit and finances. Make sure the programs available fit your wants and needs. Re-visit each school’s website and contact the school with any unanswered questions you still have. And DO let the financial package impact your decision. If the weight of paying back future loans feels oppressive now, it could feel even heavier later on. Are you eligible for merit aid? Is the financial aid package what you expected it to be? It’s not too late to ask about either.

MICA dorm

MICA dorm

2 – Go back to “walking the walk.” I know that deadlines are approaching quickly, but if you can, visit campus, especially if you haven’t done so already. I’ve said it before; there is nothing like a stroll around campus to see if it’s the right place for you. Take the tour, check out the studios and dorms, eat in the cafeteria, and talk to students and professors. My oldest son thought Tufts was a funny name for a university. Then he visited campus and exclaimed “wow, I love it here.” End of story.

3 – Trust your gut. This is easier than it sounds. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you but there are too many distractions for you to see clearly. If you can, narrow your choices down to two colleges, then flip a coin and mentally accept the results. You’ll probably feel joy, relief, or perhaps a bit of anguish. Those feelings will tell you the real right choice.

4 – If you get wait-listed don’t get too discouraged. You still have a chance to get in, even though it may be a small one. My first recommendation is to accept an offer from one of the institutions that admitted you. Pick a place you’d honestly like to attend. Then congratulate yourself; you’re going to college!

Believe it or not, that does remove a lot of the pressure. If you’re still focused on a wait-listed school let the school know as soon as possible; they like to know that they’re your top choice. Reach out to the school’s admissions counselor for your region, and express your interest. Tell him or her why you prefer their school. I’d also suggest sending additional information that can tip the scale in your favor. Examples might include recent additions to your portfolio, and an achievement or acknowledgement you’ve received since you applied.

5 – Breathe. Don’t forget to take time to sit back and congratulate yourself. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and you’re about to begin your life’s next great adventure. Enjoy the day dreams of what college will be like and look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.
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4 Tour Tips Help You Choose The Right College

Campus tours are valuable during any part of your college search. For rising juniors or seniors they can help narrow down the type of institution you’re searching for, as well as where you want to be geographically. For graduating seniors they can become a window into your future.

Within the next few weeks high school seniors will know all of their college options. That means final decisions need to be made in a little over a month. The pressure is on. To break a tie between two favorites, or just for personal assurance, I’d suggest making one more quick campus visit. Whether you’ve toured before or not, aim to get the most out of the experience by personalizing your trip.

Campus visits typically include an information session and a campus tour. I’d suggest you spice it up a bit. Add some exploration time into your schedule and make sure you see the places you want to see. The benefit will be a more accurate feel for life on campus. Here are the best options:

1. Wander around campus. Get lost. Walk into buildings just to see what’s inside. Find areas that entice you. If Ceramics is your passion, then make sure you locate the clay studio. Don’t be shy to stop and engage a student or professor along the way. Asking for directions can lead to a tour of spaces you didn’t know existed and new insights.

MassArt cafeteria

MassArt cafeteria

2. Engage with students. Go to the cafeteria or student union and strike up a conversation. This is your chance to obtain impromptu and honest opinions of what people really like or dislike about the college.

3. Sit in on a class. Your admissions representative will be happy to set this up for you. It will give you a view into your life for the next four years.

4. Spend the night. Your admissions representative can set this up for you as well. Better yet, if you know someone on campus ask if they can put you up for a night. The idea here is to give you the opportunity to see what campus life is like beyond classes. You’ll experience dorm life, gain a better feel for time spent in the studio after hours, and get a first-hand take on the morning rush at the Cheerios counter.

SAIC dorm studio

SAIC dorm studio

If you come to campus with unanswered questions, now is the time to get them resolved. Need to meet with a financial aid rep? Do it now; face to face is always better. Want to get a clear picture of the surrounding community? Here’s your chance. Find out where the closest art supply store is located and check out the neighborhood.

By the time you’ve finished your visit, whether it was for three or twenty-four hours, you’ll have a much better grasp of this college experience, and the road that lies ahead for you.

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