April, 2010


khadijah-85No matter how much financial aid you’re getting from your college – APPLY FOR OUTSIDE SCHOLARSHIPS! Even if schools give you a full ride, they most likely expect you to do some work or Work Study or borrow. Outside scholarships can often be used to substitute for your work or loan obligation.

Your first semester you may want to focus on academics and not work. Plus, who doesn’t want extra money? Seriously, you can never have too much, because you want to be prepared for emergencies.

1.  APPLY TO THE CSO OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP! It’s $4,000 guaranteed over four years, and you get to help out other students like us through blog writing. Here’s the link about the scholarship: http://csopportunity.org/ss/oppscholarship.aspx. If you are reading this blog, you should definitely apply, as it’s an amazing program and you meet awesome people.

2. Look EVERYWHERE for scholarships. McDonald’s, Coca Cola, churches, and even sororities and fraternities have scholarships. Your school may have scholarships as well. It never hurts to ask. When in doubt, ask. Of course, apply to the huge scholarships (Gates, Elks, etc) but the ones that add up the most are the tiny ones. They are often less competitive because people are thinking what you may think -$500, $250, $50 is nothing. APPLY! 20-30 $250 or $500 scholarships add up, and they are usually pretty easy to apply for. Apply for everything you have time for. And definitely make time if you don’t have any.

3. Before applying to a scholarship, read the scholarships’ Mission Statement. That will contain valuable information about what they are looking for in scholars, and you can tailor your essays to highlight what they value.

4. Apply and submit EARLY! And CHECK IN! I applied to the Gate Millenium Scholarship. I applied a month early, but they had problems with my transcripts and contacted me while my school was on Spring Break, on the deadline! If I had checked in throughout the month, I may have reduced the chance that would happen, without that rushed feeling. You never want to be or feel rushed when you are applying for scholarships. I took it for granted that they’d catch any concerns just because I submitted it early. Never do that. Check in because it’s better to be “annoying” and informed than clueless and lose out on money!

5. Don’t go to a website that asks for money to find you scholarships. There are tons of free search engines, and your teachers, mentors, and other people you know will give you that info for free!

6. Reuse essays and edit to fit the particular scholarship. Unless you are particularly inspired by a scholarship or believe in rewriting essays (I do it too) reuse your essays! For some scholarships, I did rewrite essays. For many of them, I was able to tweak my old essays.

7. Think of applying to scholarships as a job. A typical 9-5 job pays you about $8-$10/hr, or about $60-$80. A scholarship, on the other hand, can pay you anywhere from $250- $10,000+ for just a few hours of work! If you spend just 3 hours a week applying to $500 scholarships, for example, that’s $1,500, 3000% more than you’d get for less time! It, of course, increases the more scholarships you apply to/ more time you put in. When you have free time, you’re bored, you’re in between classes, you’re eating, or you have any sort of weird free time (like 10-45 minutes) APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS. It seriously pays (pun intended) the more work you put into it. And come on, money just for assembling words on a page, submitting a video, etc? EASY Money!

8. Be sure to follow up with confirmations, transcripts, verifications, and any other documents the scholarship requires even after you win it.

Good luck with senior year and your scholarship search. Remember, the more time you put in, the more money you get, and after all that work, you deserve it!

Negligence & Cool College Things

duylam-85Dear CSO readers & my blog,

I have fallen short of my aims to update this blog regularly. Perhaps you think I am a ghost and my experience is lackluster. Far from it. Okay, I’m just being a bit dramatic. But seriously, I do feel this tug of pain and guilt getting on this blog after it’s been so long. Well now that, that’s over, I’ve been doing a lot of things since college, as I’m sure my fellow scholars have.

College really opens a lot of doors for you, but this mainly depends on how you spin college. Some people just go to class, go back to their dorm/house, and just chill out, work, or whatever. But some people, go outrageous and join the School Spirit Club, Chi Omega, become a cheerleader, join SGA and become the president, and like just so much stuff. Honestly, I think the only limit on what college offers [academically and extracurriculars] is the extent of your wanting to do things and the imagination you have.

For me, Boston is just a mind blowing place. Amazing architecture, beautiful parks [Boston Commons is amazing], 2 dollar lo mein [check out Chinatown]. It has so much to offer for whatever you need. But there is also MIT, the Cambridge Coworking Center, and 9,120,3801,283 other things. Almost every single day of the week is filled with some sort of technology conference, energy conference, entrepreneurial panel, lecture, seminar, whatever. When I got here, believe that I was deeply moved by it all.

There will be many resources and opportunities that are offered, and trust me when I say you won’t be able to capitalize on all of them. Do as much as you can when you can, and I know for many of us, money can be an issue, but if you have the means to cover expenses I think you should definitely take whatever it is that comes your way. Hey I mean I’m going to New York this weekend to meet 700+ entrepreneurial people [no I really won't meet that many], and I’ll have the chance to present my business concept at the New York Stock Exchange. Not that bad right?

And that’s what college has given me so far, in a nutshell. Amazing people, even better connections, and the best cheapest lo mein I’ve ever eaten.

The most intense 3 hours of my life.

khadijah-85Hurry bus! Please hurry!!

March 31st was the craziest time for me. I elected to get my admissions decisions from Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Williams, and Harvard by email, because truthfully, I didn’t want to wait for mail. Although I got into a lot of schools previously, including Dartmouth and several other amazing liberal arts colleges, these were the schools that would guarantee me full aid all four years, so I was excited and anxious, because they were the most competitive and selective in the country. Because I was in west coast time, I had to wait until 2pm (5pm Eastern time) for admissions decisions for all except Stanford. And for some dumb reason, that day was an early day at school. I didn’t want to wait at school for three hours, so I took the long bus home. I couldn’t stay still. “I find out where I get into today!”  I say to some people I see on the bus often. I try to read, but I can’t. Finally, an hour later, I get near a computer. 12:32 pm. Seriously?! I pace. I pace some more. I worry. I check for Stanford. No. I deflate. I cry. So impersonal! I get a yes from Williams! I feel a bit better. I have to call for Princeton and Yale, because I forgot my online password, and it was very upsetting talking to the Princeton staff. “You know, I can give you your password, but how about I tell you now, so you don’t have to wait.” Ok. “I’m sorry….” Thanks! Bye! And I quickly hang up. By now I’m so nervous. I’m anxious. I’m shaking. This is so important to me. Not just going to college, but saving my life, and soon my family’s. Securing my future. No from Stanford, Princeton, Yale. Yes from Columbia and Williams, but how can I get into three top schools in a row- let alone the most prestigious? Harvard’s up there. I got two interviews. I know they don’t know about whether I’m worth the risk. I’m homeless. I missed a lot of school. Can I handle the change? The work load? The people? I hope I convinced them. I hope my not traditionally-stellar scores will be considered under the lens of where I came from. I hope my optimism is enough to convince them I’ll be ok, I can and will handle the challenges. I hope all the help and recommendations from South Central Scholars, my school, and mentors, are enough.  By now, I’m feeling VERY insecure. I can’t take this.

At exactly 2:01 (5:01pm eastern time), I refresh Gmail. In very generic type- Harvard College: Your Admissions Decision.

“I can’t open this!” I yell to Trisha London, co-founder of South Central Scholars, and Randy Winston, the director of SCS. I was in Trisha’s office, where she and her husband, founder James London, work, and Randy Winston was comforting me. “Open it.” They say. I click. It loads. Sloooooooowly.

“…We are delighted-”

I stop there!! I can’t read anymore! I scream! I shout! I GOT INTO HARVARD! I GOT INTO HARVARD! I GOT INTO HARVARD! WHO CARES ABOUT STANFORD, PRINCETON, OR YALE? I GOT INTO HARVARD! I play the melodic classical music video given to admits. It seems so Harvard-y.

Then, I call my mom. I tell her the news. She was staying at a shelter in downtown at the time.

The relief, the happiness in her voice. Yes mom, you didn’t mess up. Our trials, our tribulations, the pain, it’s ok now. Because mom, your daughter, your daughter, got into Harvard.

College Acceptances, Visits, and Impact!

jesse-85You finally found out if you got in or not!! This is such an exciting time for you, your family, and your friends- Here’s a video with some tips on what to do now that you know where you got in!

TAG!! You’re it!

seanna-85I was never good at hide-and-seek.  I could handle it a little better if I was the one counting, but hiding was horrible for me.  On the one hand, I’m lanky, slightly clumsy, and never good at fitting into the covert nooks and crannies of the house.  But more than that, I’m extremely impatient.  Even waiting for my friend or cousin to count to twenty was too much.  So you can imagine my anxiety as I anticipated college admission decisions.  I was convinced that time had stopped.  Not only had time stopped, but the mailman was in cahoots with the colleges to keep me from the outcomes as long as possible.

Just as I’d reached my end and was about to call the Pentagon to report the conspiracy, I received my first letter in the mail.  Actually, it was less of a letter and more of a package.  Okay, so if you’ve heard the theory that acceptance letters come in big envelopes, while rejections arrive in small envelopes…I have to admit that I think it might be true.  (I apologize if you were waiting for me to discredit the rumor).  I was ecstatic!  I called my mom, texted my best friend, and hugged my boyfriend.  The hard work WAS paying off.  Someone DID want me!  I’d applied to over ten schools, and each of the letters were soon rolling in.  However, the one I was most nervously awaiting had yet to find its way to my mailbox.  Pomona had not replied.

By April 15th, I was sure that I’d been rejected.  Honestly, I was crushed at first.  I wondered what I’d done wrong, if my essays weren’t strong enough…if I wasn’t academically sound enough for their admissions process.  Here’s a small piece of advice—a rejection letter does not reflect a shortcoming in your personality.  Although you may not have been the best fit for that particular college according to a few admission officers, you should not take it as a personal attack on your character or on your worthiness as a human being.  In fact, sometimes when we’re required to open our eyes to new options and alternatives that we weren’t willing to consider at first, windows of opportunity fly open that benefit us amazingly.  Therefore, keep your mind, heart, and eyes open.  While knowing what you want is important, be receptive to changes and prospects from colleges that may not have been your number one.  And if you do get into your number one, congratulations!

Oh…I finally received that acceptance package from Pomona.  I’d given them the wrong zip code.  Second piece of advice—double check your address before submitting information.  The government wasn’t conspiring against me after all.

Is it here yet??

ashley-85As I have previously mentioned, I applied late and that only made the waiting game worse. I had to hear all about my friends getting their letters in while I still hadn’t heard anything. I tried to hide my anxiety by working more, but it didn’t help. Everyday before work, I would come home and the first thing I would do is check the mail. If the mail wasn’t there yet, I would search for it when I would get home from work. More and more I kept hearing about friends and classmates getting their letters and mine hadn’t come yet. When my first letter came, like usual I was looking for this big envelope… and it wasn’t there. As I was flipping through the rest of the mail, I came across a small envelope from one of the schools which I had applied to. My heart dropped, I thought if I didn’t get in there how was I going to get into the school I really wanted?! I didn’t even notice the Congratulations that was printed on the front of the envelope. I slowly teared open the envelope and read the words, You have been accepted! My heart soared. Even though that wasn’t the school I really wanted to go to, the feeling was unbelievable! After that the other two, big envelopes came in within a few weeks of each other, but I will never forget that first letter.

Try not to stress out about when the letters are coming, because no matter how long it takes it will be worth it in the end.

Apply early. The earlier you apply, the earlier they may respond.

And remember, if you don’t get in where you wanted. Everything happens for a reason. :]

$5,000 GoodSearch Giveaway

GoodsearchGoodSearch will donate a $1 to Center for Student Opportunity for every toolbar that is downloaded between April 6th at 9am Eastern and April 9th at 9am Eastern up to $5,000!! Please download the toolbar right now.

Our new CSO toolbar is free to download and allows you to raise money for our cause every time you search or shop online! Once added to IE or Firefox, each time you shop at more than 1,300 stores (from Amazon to Zazzle!) a percentage of your purchase will automatically be donated to CSO- at no cost to you (and you may even save money as the toolbar provides coupons and deals as well!). The toolbar also has a search box and each time you search the Internet, about a penny is donated to CSO.

Please hurry and do this now so that we can earn the $1 bonus per toolbar!

And, please pass this along to all of your friends. The two minutes it takes to add this toolbar to your browser can make a lifetime of difference for our cause!

Get the toolbar NOW!

The Waiting Game

lysa-85You’ve completed all of your applications; sent them all in months ago, read and re-read all of your essays and completed your SAT and/or ACT testing. You’ve gotten teachers to write numerous letters of recommendation for you, and you’ve tried your hardest to avoid the “senior slump” of spring semester and keep your grades afloat. You’ve already survived FAFSA, and are pretty sure where you want to go to college after visiting all of your choices. The only thing left now is THE WAITING GAME, of anxiety, anticipation, fear, and excitement. You’ve completed all of the above items to receive one single letter, of  hopefully above all… an ACCEPTANCE!

I know how you feel. I could hardly wait to receive my application responses back. I checked the mail almost every day after school in hope maybe one letter would arrive earlier; before the decision date. I checked my email 10 times a day and for months made sure everything had been received by each school due to paranoia. But, you know what, you’ve already worked so hard, and you’re already ahead of so many others by just having applied to college! You are going to be the first or one of the first people in your family to go to college! Now, if you only knew which one, right?

Now is a good time  to relax and consider how you are going to celebrate your first acceptance letter. I remember when I received mine. I’ll probably never forget that day. The first school I was accepted into was Wesleyan, followed by Emory a day later. The letters came early and I couldn’t believe it, when I got home and they were waiting for me on my bed. I opened them and was overjoyed that I had been accepted. I knew at that moment, I was definitely going to college – one of the best feelings in the world! I went out to dinner that night at my favorite restaurant and celebrated being accepted into college. However, you will have to decide for yourself how you’re going to celebrate. But, when you get that first letter, you’ll know that YOU’VE MADE IT , that ALL OF THAT HARD WORK HAS PAID OFF, and YOU ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO YOUR FUTURE!  Best of luck to all of you. My best advice is to celebrate your acceptances and not dwell in that unfortunate letter of rejection that may also reach your mailbox, because I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Don’t be discouraged, and realize that your letter of ACCEPTANCE is on its way!