Wauwatosa students awarded nearly $14.8 Million in college scholarships in 2018
Wauwatosa School District graduating students were awarded $14,870,147 Million in scholarships for post-secondary education in 2018.
Of that total, more than $203,000 was offered by local businesses and organizations.
“Financing their future is one of the biggest hurdles students face as they search for colleges and universities that cater to their desired field of study,” said Superintendent Phil Ertl. “These scholarships open doors to opportunity for our students and our school counselors and teachers play a critical role in connecting our kids to those dollars.”
As part of the District’s Academic and Career Planning, school counselors and teachers help connect students to scholarships in fields that fit their academic interests.
At East High School, all juniors participate in a Junior Academic and Career Planning (ACP) conference where counselors lead discussions on post-secondary plans and walk students through where they can access information about scholarships. They also offer advice on navigating college applications.
Seniors at West High School receive a specialized advisory lesson on local scholarship opportunities and detailed instructions on how to apply.
The counseling department at both schools actively seek out scholarship opportunities and maintain an exhaustive and active list for students to access throughout the year on their school website.
They’re also smart about meeting students with information where they naturally are: on social media.
Building Relationships is Key
“It’s so important to have your student connect with their school counselor,” said Director of Secondary Education Mark Carter. “Encourage them to build a relationship with teachers that are in the field they want to major in so that teacher can help connect them to career based internships, apprenticeships, and scholarships that directly correlate.”
Cyndi Carter, a school counselor and department chair at East High School agrees. When counselors and staff know a student’s plans and interests, staff can better help them.
“Sometimes we will email students directly with information about a scholarship opportunity,” said Mrs. Carter. “For example, if we receive information from a particular college/university, we will look through our college applications to send out the information to any and all students that have applied to that college/university.”
Together, the comprehensive efforts pay off.
Examples of scholarship offers this year include:
- $204,808 over the course of four years at a college with a yearly tuition fee (including room and board) of nearly $66,000.
- More than $167,000 at another school with a yearly tuition fee of more than $46,000 a year.
- A total of $140,000 in scholarships awarded to one student at a college with yearly tuition of $39,000.
Tips to Help Score Scholarships
Brian Hoffman, a school counselor and department chair at West High School, believes smart “shopping” by students and parents plays into the big scholarship totals.
“Most of the really big scholarship money comes directly from the campus. Students and parents need to carefully compare financial aid packages and decide the value of the educational opportunity,” said Hoffman. “It isn't always worth spending an extra $10,000 a year to go to your dream school versus saving the money and going to your second pick.”
Hoffman also advises parents have a conversation upfront about their expectations for the amount of debt that is acceptable and how much parents are willing or able to help pay towards the cost.
Mrs. Carter suggests the following tips for parents and students shopping for scholarships and schools:
- Take the time to apply. Scholarship applications can sometimes be very lengthy and therefore students do not apply, but as you can see, it is worth the time.
- Be prepared with letters of recommendation ahead of time.
- Take pride in your academic and extra-curricular activities.
- Be careful of places that are asking for money to connect you with scholarships. There are unfortunately scams out there.
- Look locally first national ones tend to have more applicants.
- Take the time to look for all Every little bit helps.
Focused Efforts to Support ALL Students
Looking ahead to the 2018-2019 school year, the District is working on plans to implement even more clinics and events designed to help all students write essays, build the best scholarship application possible, and apply for scholarships. The measures are aligned to the District’s Equity Plan and will also include efforts to recruit first-generation college students to apply.
To learn more about the resources provided by each high school counseling department, click the links below.