How to Prepare Elementary School Students for Scholarships
Parents often scramble to the scholarship process at junior or senior year but by then, it may be too late. Once parents and kids see the amount of service work and career-related accolades required for these applications, they soon wish they had started preparing their college-bound child for scholarships in elementary school. You can start preparing your elementary-school age child for the scholarship process as early as 1st or 2nd grade! Here’s how to get going.
1) Set Expectations
As soon as you can, talk to your children about college and how valuable a good education is. Once you frame the conversation in a context they can understand, make it plain that it will cost money and that you will have to work together as a family to make sure your child can go to school, preferably without borrowing money.
2) Find Out Career Interests Early On
While it might sound difficult to gage the interests of a 1st grader, you as the parent can take note regarding what your child is interested in and what they enjoy in their free time. I noticed that my oldest really enjoys filming herself and producing videos on YouTube. That seems like it would translate well into a career of either broadcast journalism or film production. My youngest, however, likes math and science. She is fascinated by animals and catches onto math and logic very quickly. Any grooming they can receive early on in the direction of their natural talents and interests will be valuable in the scholarship search & application process.
Once you are familiar with your child’s interests and potential career paths, it’s not a bad idea to get them started volunteering with related organizations. Also, many scholarships will ask for specific records of service hours completed, so it’s good to start as early as possible. This is also a good way to form relationships with organizations and people that might either give a good letter of recommendation or eventually support their schooling with monetary gifts. My younger sister completed a summer internship at a company I was working for and the owner was so impressed with her skills that he donated over $1,000 to her for a school trip to France!
4) Start a Resume
Jeannie Burlowski, debt free college expert, suggests that kids start a LinkedIn resume as early as 13 years of age to track of all their awards, accolades and service hours. Come junior or senior year, your child will have more than enough service hours to leave a good impression on almost any scholarship award committee.
Related Post: How to Get Full-Tuition Scholarships
5) Choose Strategic Activities
Not to suck all the fun out of childhood, but at some point, you might have to make a decision about the type and amount of extra-curricular activities your child can do. Activities will have to be well chosen and fit strategically into the narrative you are trying to create for potential scholarships and colleges.
6) Compete in Essay & Art Contests
There are hundreds, if not thousands of essay contests offered up to kids each year at the elementary school level. Many of these contests offer prizes like money, electronics and trips to lavish awards ceremonies. It’s also a good idea to get your child used to writing good essays, as that is the basis for many scholarship applications. It will be excruciatingly painful for them to complete scholarship applications in their latter high school years if they don’t have much practice writing. If you get into the habit of honing your child’s creative expression, it could pay-off big time in terms of additional honors to keep track of and additional monies for college. Just ask Akilah Johnson, who recently won $30,000 in the Doodle 4 Google art contest.
7) More Competition
If your child has more of a competitive streak, encourage them to enter into contests like math bowls, or spelling and geographic bees or national science fairs. The academic discipline is great, but again so are the honors and accompanying prize money. The earlier you start, the more practice your child will have, bettering their chance to walk away as a winner in these endeavors.
8) Start a College Savings Account
This is more for morale purposes. If you can show that you are serious about getting your child’s education funded, they are more likely to join you in this team effort. If they can see that there is money accruing in their account towards college, they will also be more motivated to hunker down and perhaps enter into that 100th essay contest without complaining.
9) Good Grades & Report
This is a good time to talk about what is expected of your child in terms of grades, test scores and even behavior. They will need to have a good reputation at school not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because elementary school teachers are the one who recommend students and pass essay submissions onto state or national level for the competitions we mentioned above. If your child is not a good test-taker, now would be a good time to get help for them. If they get good grooming early on, by high school they should be able to master the ACT and get the scores college and scholarship committees like to see.
Are you preparing your grade schooler for college? If so, how?