The end of high school brings a lot of excitement and the development of extensive plans for new graduates. As graduation nears and plans for the future commence, students who have been homeschooled will be looking for scholarships and financial aid to continue their education into college. Though their method of schooling may have been non-traditional, homeschooled students are still eligible for many of the same scholarships that students who have been through traditional education paths.
Merit, financial-based, and athletic scholarships, as well as specialized grants, are all available to homeschooled students and do not have to be repaid upon graduation, unlike student loans. All students are required to meet the same requirements, regardless of whether they are homeschooled or have gone through the public or private school systems. The processes for applying to these scholarships all share a few of the same elements. Scholarship essays and academic requirements are common even when applying to athletic scholarships, and academic requirements have to continue to be met while attending college in order for the scholarship to be renewed.
In addition to scholarships, there are a wide variety of financial aid options that are available, both through the universities themselves and through private foundations. Division III schools, for example, are not able to give out athletic scholarships to student-athletes, but they are able to provide them with merit-based aid. As high school students who have been dedicated to their athletic careers advance towards graduation, they should be aware of the different types of athletic scholarships available, based on the schools that they are interested in, in addition to the academic requirements they will have to fulfill.
The Scholarship Essay
A cornerstone of applying to colleges is essay writing, and it doesn’t end with admissions. The essay that a student submits when applying for a scholarship is critical to obtaining various types of financial aid. Making sure to carefully follow the correct steps, students can ensure that their essay will be one that they are proud to have represent them.
Essays are often the first and only direct way to show the group or foundation that you are applying to the type of person you are, why you are deserving of the aid, and how you plan to use the support you are asking for. Because of this, the introductory paragraph of your essay is incredibly important. Take the opportunity to clearly state your point of view and use the rest of the essay to back up that initial thesis statement. It can be useful to construct the rest of the outline, or even build your arguments and supporting information, then construct the introductory paragraph last. This can help ensure that you have a solid structure to work within as you begin revisions.
After you have found the perfect subject for your essay, outlined your ideas, and written the initial draft, take a break so that when you come back to it, you can read it with fresh eyes before beginning to edit it. Once you have worked through several drafts of the paper, find a friend or family member you trust and ask for them to review it. Make sure that your ideas come across clearly, and that any vagueness or ambiguity has been clarified. While essay writing may be particularly important if you are looking for a STEM scholarship, it is a part of applications that even athletes will have to endure.
Athletic Scholarships Requirements
In addition to the scholarship essay and academic requirements, students who are seeking an athletic scholarship will need to look into each individual school’s athletic requirements. Both the NCAA and NAIA recognize the validity of homeschooled transcripts and diplomas, therefore making homeschooled students eligible for their athletic scholarships. The type and amount of financial aid that universities are willing and able to provide varies depending on the division that the school is a part of.
As noted above, Division I and II schools are currently the only ones that provide athletic scholarships, and the competition for them is fierce. A part of this competition has to do with the requirement that academic standards continue to be met in addition to athletic goals, making it possible that a scholarship that is acquired at the beginning of an academic year may not be renewed at the start of the following year. To prepare for the stressors encountered as collegiate athletes, high school students should ask questions early, and utilize any administrative resources they have available to them.
All students are encouraged to begin planning for their future in their junior and senior years of high school, but this is especially important for homeschooled students seeking athletic scholarships, while it is not common for juniors to contact universities regarding their requirements, making sure that your transcript fulfills all of their requirements early on and with enough time to add any necessary materials can be crucial. This will also give you the opportunity to find out if the school is a part of the NCAA or the NAIA, as well as make what could be important contacts with administration and coaches.
Preparing for college is intimidating, and comes at a time of many changes, but even taking a few steps early on can help ensure success in finding the right fit and the right aid for students. While it may seem like there are a lot of moving parts, all of them share the common goal of making sure that even your at-home training drills are helping to support your future as a collegiate athlete. By taking your time to craft an excellent application essay, making sure that you know the ins and outs of the scholarships and universities you are applying to, and learning the standards that you will have to uphold throughout your college career, homeschooled students can take full advantage of the scholarships and aid available to them.