extracurriculars

Increasing Your Scholarship Chances

When I was a kid, I loved watching game shows. I don’t remember the particular show, but once in a while, a contestant would enter a phone booth-sized box with transparent plastic walls. The host would turn on a fan attached to the booth and money would start flying around. The contestant would have 30 seconds to catch as much as she could before the fan stopped and the remaining bills fell back to the floor. 

College scholarships work pretty much the same way. As a high school upperclassman, you have a set amount of time to research and apply to college scholarships. The money may not be flying in front of your eyes, but trust me, millions of dollars are out there for the taking. You just need to reach out and grab it.  

How do you get this money before the timer buzzes? It’s simple. You have to have a plan going in. 

1. Start Early

In other words, the moment you start your junior year (or sooner depending on how ambitious you are), you should start researching scholarship opportunities that match your interests, background, etc. There are plenty of scholarships that are a perfect fit for you, but there are also plenty of others where you have no chance or are ineligible.  

The sooner you start creating ‘yes,’ ‘maybe,’ and ‘nope’ scholarship piles, the sooner you can start preparing your application portfolios. 

2. Keep Up Those Grades and Test Scores

As scholarships are a merit-based form of financial aid (Grants are need based.), the first thing scholarship committees look at are your grades and test scores. In fact, many scholarships will not consider your application if you do not meet their GPA or test score cutoffs. In other words, good grades and scores are your ‘foot in the door’; receiving the scholarship is far from guaranteed, but the scholarship committee will take your application seriously. The same statement is true for every college to which you apply. 

Last, but certainly not least, good grades and scores may lead to automatic scholarships (e.g., lottery scholarships) if you attend school in-state.  

3. Choose an Extracurricular Activity and Stick With It

If you have the grades and scores, you can further improve your scholarships chances by showing your commitment to extracurricular activities. In other words, competitive scholarship applicants participate in 1-2 extracurriculars for a least three years of high school. Long-term extracurriculars show your dedication. Also, if you spend enough time in one activity, you can take on a leadership role. 

Scholarship committees love awarding money to leaders. 

4. Volunteer

There are plenty of scholarships exclusive to high school students who volunteer in their communities. No matter what kind of volunteering you perform, keep in mind my tips for extracurricular activities. The longer you do it, the better odds you have of receiving a scholarship. The same is true for leadership positions or times when you took charge (e.g., You create a new volunteering club.). 

5. Get Feedback on Essays and Other Application Materials

Just about every scholarship asks for an essay. What this means is that no matter how excellent your academic or extracurricular accomplishments, submitting a poorly written essay will dramatically reduce your scholarship odds. 

It’s time to reach out to trusted adults, people who can provide honest feedback on your first draft(s). Take their input and run with it. Even if you’re lightyears ahead of your peers in terms of your writing ability, everyone needs feedback. The same advice goes if you’re submitting supplementary materials (e.g., an art portfolio). And when scholarship dollars are on the line, you should do everything possible to stand above the crowd of applicants. 

6. Partner with Financial Advisers

It’s your job to research and apply to scholarships, but there is much you can’t do alone. For example, you have to have an honest discussion with your family about how much they can or are willing to contribute to your college education. 

After that, you, with your family’s help, should research professionals that can advise you about the best way to cover college expenses after scholarships. Financial advisers can be a boon, but they’re usually pricy…but not for myKlovr subscribers.

myKlovr is proud to announce its partnership with Financial Fitness Group (FFG). myKlovr subscribers and their families receive “a dedicated library of content on topics such as education and employment, saving and paying for college, tuition plans, managing student loans and more.” The moment you sign up for myKlovr, review FFG’s advice right away to learn more about the best ways to ensure that you leave college debt free.

Final Thoughts

Like the truth, the money is out there. It’ll be a lot of work on your end, but I hope that with your parents, teachers, and FFG’s help, you can apply to the scholarships where you have the best shot. 

Good luck!

Most Unusual Clubs in High School

Colleges look at more than just grades and test scores. Getting involved in extracurriculars and clubs is a good way to boost a college resume.

Clubs and extracurriculars add depth to a college application and can showcase students’ individual interests and experiences. Colleges appreciate when students are passionate about something and take action to pursue their interests in a developmental and valuable way.

Sometimes, joining a club that is out of your comfort zone, might spark interests that you did not know you had.

MyKlovr asked users to fill out a one question survey about the most unusual clubs and extracurriculars at their high schools.

Below is a list (in no particular order) of the most unusual user submissions myKlovr received from high school students. Descriptions are provided for some.

Lettuce Eating Club

Once a year, club members race to see who can eat a head of lettuce the fastest. The winner becomes the new club president and plans the competition for the next year.

The Gentlemen’s Club

Young men in this club, dress up in suits and sip tea during club meetings.

Ghost Club

This club was formed because students believed that the school was haunted.  Haunted houses are organized every year for club members and the rest of the student body to attend.

Toast Club

Members of this club have a discussion while eating different types of toast.

Other Clubs Submitted

Waffle Eating Club
Buttons Club
Go Kart Club
Glassblowing Club
Chapstick of The Month Club
Rock, Paper, Scissors Club
Free Hugs Club
Cloud Watching Club
Ant Lovers United Club

Some additional unique club submissions myKlovr received were Lego Club, Biking Club, Culinary Club, and Line Dancing Club.

No matter the focus of the club, it is important to get involved in clubs or extracurriculars that you are interested in. It shows colleges that you have passions and you are willing to go out into the world and pursue what you love.

How Important Are Extracurricular Activities to College Admissions?

I’ve been around this great big world, and it seems that of all the cultures I’ve come across, the good ole’ U.S. of A. puts the most emphasis on high school students participating in extracurricular activities. Oh sure, high school students in other countries play sports and participate in clubs, but doing so doesn’t have much of an effect on college admissions.

For you see, in the rest of the world a high school student’s chances of getting into a good college rest entirely on grades and test scores, especially the latter. Seriously, being a high school student in some countries is just like that ham-fisted YouTube movie The Thinning, except without the threat of euthanasia because you scored lower than the mean.

So before we dive into the world of extracurricular activities, let us take a moment to appreciate the fact that your academic future isn’t 100% riding on standardized test scores.

*Moment of Appreciation*

That was nice. Now let’s talk extracurriculars, and how you can use any one of them to work for YOU during college admission season.

So which one should I do?

Simple Answer: Something that interests you.

Complex Answer: No matter which extracurricular or two that you pick, doing two things will help set you apart from the bulk of the competition. First, stick with an extracurricular for at least two years. Second, take on a leadership role where you get to show off your responsible/organized side. Consistency and leadership experience under your belt, you’re already a step ahead of the majority of college applicants.

Just the majority? How do I stand out from high achievers like me?

Simple Answer: Apply a personal touch, even if it means creating your own activity.

Complex Answer: If you’re aiming for a top tier school, you’re right to assume that most applicants will have both consistent track records with extracurriculars and hold leadership positions within them. Here’s how you can go a step above:

  • Create a new club, preferably one that does some good for the community. (College admission counselors love applicants who create volunteer organizations.)
  • Take a creative hobby to the next level.
    • Submit a short story for publication. (And get it published somewhere)
    • Submit your photography or artwork to contests.
    • Start your own company. (Think Shark Tank)
    • Take your band on tour over the summer. (But don’t skip school if you should become famous 😉 )

In other words, apply yourself to your passion, whatever it is. Even if you don’t succeed before college application time rolls around, your journey can make for an excellent personal essay.

Okay, my extracurriculars are great. What difference will they make?

Short Answer: They’re a tiebreaker.

Long Answer: Everyone loves a good story, and for college admissions counselors, an engaging story about an extracurricular activity can act as the tiebreaker between two highly qualified applicants. So, at the end of the day, you need extracurriculars just in case. Doesn’t matter if it’s the French club or your second studio album.

What you’re telling me is that extracurriculars are like an insurance policy?

Short Answer: Yep.

Long Answer: With college admissions getting more competitive seemingly by the minute, there’s a good chance that your extracurriculars will come in handy when the admissions counselor at Your Dream School reviews your application. You’ll never know if they were the deciding factor, but you wouldn’t want to be without them.

Final Thoughts

In summary, it matters less what extracurricular activity you choose than how you approach it. Like most things in life, the more you put into it, the more it’ll give back. You’ll make some friends, have fun, and hopefully do a little good in the process.

Let me leave you with some sage advice in the vein of homemaking guru Martha Stewart. “An extracurricular activity: it’s a good thing.”

 

 

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