How to apply for scholarships before Feb. 21

Madoline Plattenberg, Copy Editor

Paying for college can be a constant concern for students and parents alike, and receiving funds through scholarships can go a long way in making schooling costs more manageable.

There are over 300 donor-funded scholarships currently available for the coming academic year including the Andrew and Theresa Brunswick Marketing Scholarship, for those admitted to the College of Business, the Paul Beaumier Scholarship, for special education majors and the Global Explorers Study Abroad Scholarship, for those studying abroad in a developing country.

Students can apply to these and many others through MyNMU. The NMU Financial Aid Office offers a few easy steps you should take to write an effective scholarship essay, with the help of the NMU Writing Center, that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.

With scholarship applications opening for the 2021-2022 academic school year, students can apply through Feb. 21. The NMU Writing Center is offering free tutoring services for students seeking additional writing help on their essays and other classwork to aid in the writing process.

If students want to be considered for need-based awards, they need to file for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by visiting NMU’s Financial Aid for more information. Students looking for help with the application process can click on the Donor-Funded Scholarships page for a brief overview and read “How to Apply for Donor-Funded Scholarships” on the North Wind’s Website.

Lara Clifton-Rice, senior financial aid officer at NMU’s Financial Aid Office, said one of the first steps to writing a strong scholarship essay is to plan ahead.

“I do think it’s useful to write something ahead of time before you really get into the actual application part of it,” said Clifton-Rice.

Clifton-Rice said students should work on outlining a brief overview about themselves a couple of days ahead of time, keeping in mind the 3,000 character word count.

“Tell your story and highlight some attributes about your character. It’s good to talk about your educational and long-term goals,” said Clifton-Rice.

Students also should emphasize their post-graduation plans, said Clifton-Rice.

“Include things about how the scholarship will help you in completing your education and goals,” said Clifton-Rice. “If your family is experiencing financial difficulties, sometimes it’s good to mention something about that.”

An important part of the writing process is to look into the specific requirements of the scholarships. The scholarship system helps applicants determine whether they are eligible for a particular award based on information already on file. Most scholarships require GPA, major, class, hometown, full time or part time status and financial need, said Clifton-Rice.

“The system is trying really hard to streamline it a little bit more so you’re not wasting your time looking at stuff,” said Clifton-Rice. “It wants you just to focus on the things where you match up.”

Scholarships that are a good match are flagged with a green icon, Students can briefly read the descriptions or look at specific scholarships by performing a “search by keyword”, said Clifton-Rice.

“If the scholarship actually requires a particular major, you can only apply if you’re actually declared as that major,” said Clifton-Rice.

There are over 50 scholarships that don’t require a specific major. A few scholarships have geographic requirements which can be limiting if you aren’t from those areas, said Clifton-Rice.

Students are encouraged to apply for several scholarships. Last year about 1,046 students submitted applications and 9,735 total applications were submitted, which is the typical average, said Clifton-Rice.

For students seeking additional help with scholarship essays or any writing material, the NMU Writing Center offers tutoring online via Zoom and in-person. The center is open Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed from 4 p.m.-6p.m., opening again from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m.-6 p.m.

Tutors are available and students can drop in at any time; no appointment is necessary, said Rachel Hauch, assistant director at NMU’s Writing Center. Students can access Zoom tutoring sessions after signing up for a specific appointment time.

Students generally want their writing to sound professional and original, said Hauch.

“Of course with a scholarship essay, you do want your writing to stand out,” said Hauch.

Hauch said students should focus most of their time and energy on the planning and drafting stage of the writing process. Students will commonly bring in their essays for a final proofread or a final revision within a day or two of a deadline.

“If you bring your ideas to the writing center early on, that’s where we’ll be able to give the most helpful input,” said Hauch.

Hauch recommends students take advantage of the writing center’s resources, bringing in their essays as early as possible to make any large-scale revisions and getting their work proofread.

Students can contact NMU’s Writing Center at [email protected] and can visit online for more information.