Big news around here yesterday for J: we found out he was accepted at his first choice college! Much like our experience when college-hunting for D, we knew within minutes of setting foot on campus that the school was “the one”. The school is a private college, which means anyone who is uninitiated in the ways of college shopping would have a heart attack upon seeing the total cost involved of an education there. For us, although the sticker shock never really goes away, we know how to best prepare. He will be receiving a nice merit scholarship that will take the cost down by about a third and will be auditioning for a music scholarship this winter (they offer music scholarships for non-majors!), for starters.
In addition to J working to help further decrease the cost and what Jim and I can contribute, J is going to need to get some extra help so we can all attain our goal of his only having to take out a government loan rather than private loans. The hunt for college scholarships has begun.
My deal with J (as it was with D) is that, after he assists in setting up his profile on the websites that search for scholarships based on the information you provide (and then they are listed all in one place), I will go through said list of scholarships and weed out the ones for which he isn’t eligible and mark the ones that are a fit. That saves him a nice chunk of time. Then, it’s up to him to do the work for each individual scholarship.
First, the good news: I’m working on our favorite scholarship website right now, and after weeding out the ones that aren’t a fit for him eligibility-wise, he’s still got 122 scholarships in the list that have a combined value of $813,450. While most individual scholarships are in the $500-2500 range, there are a few that are between $10,000 and $25,000.
The bad news: What I discovered this morning in reading through the list of scholarships is how some of them are choosing a winner. More than once, more than twice, more than three times I read “Post your entry at *insert website url here* and then ask your family and friends to go there vote for you! The winning entry will be the one with the most votes at the end of the voting period!”
After reading that, I heard tires screeching to a stop in my brain.
This is not right.
For one thing, I’m not big on anything that requires people to beg for votes. I have many friends who have either voluntarily entered contests that require daily vote-begging just to stay in contention, and I have friends who have been “nominated” for an “honor”, an honor which requires the prodding of friends and family to vote. I know more than one person who has been involved in something like this and then is accused of cheating/bending rules/finding loopholes in order to win no matter what the cost (even though they didn’t) by fans of the people who came up short.
In addition, I would bet a lot of money (if I had it) that, in nine out of ten scenarios in which voting is a part of “winning”, the sole purpose of the contest/scholarship/whatever is to drive traffic to that particular website, period. Everyone who is begging for votes is being used, plain and simple.
Most importantly in this case, I believe strongly in the value of time. For my son to be required to spend time trying to get people to go and vote for a scholarship entry when he could spend the same amount of time working, studying, enjoying downtime, or even working on lots of other scholarship entries–entries which are judged according to certain criteria and not votes–well, that’s just ridiculous.
I don’t need to call anyone out on this: just like anything else, I can choose to avoid it. That’s why, when I find college scholarships whose winners are determined by vote, I just hit “delete”.
What do you think about this? Whether you have a kid at or near college age or not, I’d love to know.
By the way, if you’re curious about other ins and outs of searching for college scholarships, check out this comprehensive post I wrote early this summer.