A full-ride scholarship is a good way to afford going to college without being saddled with debt after graduation. No matter how large or small the school, a it’s difficult to win a scholarship that will pay for all of your expenses. There are several things that make a student more attractive to schools, however, and colleges like to know that their money will not be wasted, and that you stand an excellent chance of graduating on time.
Colleges look at grades, standardized test scores, the types of classes that were taken in high school, and outside interests. Each college has their own criteria and considers each of these factors differently. To increase the odds of winning a scholarship, it is important to devote time and energy to each of these components.
While earning straight A’s is considered the gold standard for grades, a less than perfect record will not prevent a college from awarding you a full-ride scholarship. Many students make the mistake of taking easier courses in order to inflate their grade point average. Colleges are aware of this and will look carefully at the types of classes taken as well as the grades for each class. B’s in advanced placement courses will be considered highly, while A’s in general education classes may be nearly meaningless.
The reason for this is simple. College is a rough transition for most students. It makes the situation even worse if the student is used to floating by in easy courses in high school. Once the student has to work in college, there is no way to predict whether a he will sink or swim. Colleges prefer to hedge their bets by awarding valuable scholarships to students who have a history of working hard academically.
Standardized test scores are important as well. Scores from tests such as from the SAT or ACT allow colleges to compare students from across the country. Each school system is different, and a college preparatory English class in one school system may cover much more ground than the same class in another area. Standardized tests allow the college admissions officers to learn what a student’s general level of knowledge is compared to their peers across the country.
If a high school student’s academic history is a little weak, the final area of comparison is a chance to shine. Outside activities, whether through a job or volunteer work, tell the college admission a great deal about you as a prospective student. Not only does shouldering this responsibility show maturity, but it also gives the college an idea that the student has time management skills and it accustomed to juggling several things at one time. These are traits that are valued on the college level.