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What Do Scholarships Mean to You?

From time immemorial, scholarships have served a very significant role in assisting the less privileged pursue their education like everyone else. Indeed, the world is made of many accomplished people, both in the business, political and religious realms who owe their various achievements to scholarship programs. Long gone are the days when the mere fact of financial inadequacy would spell doom for a student’s academic career. The advancements made by scholarship programs to the career world are indeed not something to be scoffed at which is why some have gone to try to get weird scholarships or at least “weird” in the terms of what the norm is.

The advancements made by scholarship programs to the career world are indeed not something to be scoffed at.

Be that as it may, many have been asking questions lately regarding the justice and fairness of this great concept. Suspicion has been building especially with regards to the parameters used to define what a needy case is. Critics analyze that the parameters needs adjusted and certain factors that were previously ignored be put into play to ensure total fairness of the process. Now, since everyone has their own definition of what is fair, let us try to examine a case that may serve as a model in defining the parameters of awarding scholarships. Let us discuss two hypothetically needy students here and see how the concept of awarding scholarships can be elusive at times. Tom represents the first case of a needy student and Joe represents the second case.

Both these students post pretty good grades, though Tom has a slight edge over Joe. When it comes to athletic abilities, Joe has more skills than Tom. Well, here is our dilemma – Tom is keen to pursue a career in the sporting world despite the fact that he does better in the classroom. This is another reason why the weirdness of scholarships is also sought out by people who truly like to have scholarship money coming in from different sources.

When it comes to athletic abilities, Joe has more skills than Tom. Well, here is our dilemma – Tom is keen to pursue a career in the sporting world despite the fact that he does better in the classroom. Joe on the other hand is keen to pursue a career in Medicine which as we all know requires a lot of study. The scholarship opportunity can only be granted to either of them, and already there are two schools of thought regarding who between the boys is more qualified. If, for some reasons Tom wins the scholarship, it means he will have to enroll in a sports college of some sort to pursue his athletic dreams. On the other hand, if the scholarship goes to Joe, he will gladly enroll for his preferred course in Medicine. Either way, either of the boys wins and the other one is unfortunately locked out.

This hypothesis exposes two major flaws. The first is that either candidate will win a scholarship not based on his abilities but passion. This will happen because of the popular notion that if someone excels in one area, they can easily fit in a different area if given the chance. Whether this works for everyone is an open guess. The other flaw exposed here is with regards to the time the candidates will take to complete their various courses, given the fact they taste new waters. This is especially a concern due to the fact that one of the major aims of scholarships is to have students complete their studies and have an opportunity at employment where they can give back to the society.

As it were, different parameters may have been applied in awarding the scholarship, but what is clear is that the end result never appears to be favoring everyone, which goes against the real spirit of scholarships. This calls for wisdom and a careful interrogation of the very factors that have always been considered when awarding scholarships.

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What Exactly is a Scholarship?

A scholarship, essentially, is credit given by a college or charity to a student so that they can further their education with the backing of the university. Traditionally, this means that the students financial burdens are lifted completely or partially by the college itself. Students usually must seek these scholarships out by applying specifically for certain slots; the university then reviews all the applications and awards the scholarship to the student that they feel is most deserving of it. Some scholarships may seem weird to you while others are more academic.

The idea behind scholarships is a ‘diamond in the rough’ sort of concept. In the most dramatic of cases, to break a cycle of poverty for a person who is capable of reaching higher than the position they are born into. The idea is to find the hidden scholar, the genius hiding in plain sight. Educational institutions wouldn’t want to discourage anybody with potential or excessive talent from attending their college simply due to lack of financial resources.Charities, when their assertion includes a group of people, wish to help those people as much as possible. That includes providing and curating as many opportunities as possible.

Universities are highly selective with whom they grant scholarships to, and many factors are at play in the final decision. The applicant’s own financial situation, academic record, and cultural background are often key contributors. For instance, say that there are two contenders for a specific scholarship at a private university, Barney and Jim. Assuming both have more or less the same academic attributes and solid records, colleges will have to weigh different things about each one to figure out who the scholarship would benefit more.

Barney’s application states that he comes from a family of five, with only one working parent- meanwhile Jim has two working parents, and is an only child. Easily, it would be obvious that Barney would need more financial support than Jim would, so the university would award Barney the scholarship. But not all scholarships are as basic. Some are specific, and seek out specific types of people to support. Common types are: performing arts, academic merit, athletic, and transfer. For example, many colleges in the United States offer athletic scholarships; they are aimed at helping underprivileged aspiring athletes, and are very competitive. Money for University scholarships comes from a mix of taxes, and government loans.

Charities, however, have very specific standards for who they decide to grant their financial aid. Usually those depend on the general function of the charity itself- much like the “Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation” scholarship for King University. The charity asks for devout young Christian women, and the organization’s overall mission statement supplicates that it focuses on supporting Christian women in need. Money for these types of scholarships usually is taken from pools of donations.

Aside from university and charity scholarships, there is also one that can be earned in high school. The prestigious National Merit Scholarship derives from an American high school student’s PSAT scores.

Scholarships are golden opportunities and are the key to unlocking a plethora of doors, financially and educationally. They are attainable for the best of the best, but also adjusted for those who are most in need of them.
When considering a college, seeing the scholarship options available is always a good first step.

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