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Reflections on our Hunt for College Scholarships
Sheryl Robel, 1/31/2013

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to get an email recently from Sheryl Robel, a wonderful homeschooling mother I've known for years and years. Some of our kids were on homeschool volleyball teams together, and the Robel kids all took part in the Homeschoolers Writing Club that I offered for years. Sheryl was writing to share the very happy news that her youngest son, Ben, had just been named a winner in the state level of the Horatio Alger Scholarship program, earning $5000 towards the college of his choice. I looked into this particular scholarship-- the organization offers 50 of these $5000 scholarships to students in Pennsylvania.They are looking for students who "have exhibited integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity and who aspire to pursue higher education." A family must also demonstrate financial needs in pursuing a college education for their student. The website further shares the values they seek to establish through their scholarship program: 

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. Today, through its Members, the Association continues to educate our nation's young people about the economic and personal opportunities afforded them by the promise of the American free enterprise system. Through its scholarship programs, the Association encourages students to pursue their own version of the American Dream. While providing scholarship opportunities, Association Members mentor the Scholars and underscore the importance of service to others. The Members work directly to provide promising young people with the support, education and confidence needed to realize their aspirations.

After hearing this good news about Ben's honor, I emailed Sheryl to see if she would like to share her thoughts on encouraging kids to try for various college scholarships-- and I was delighted to hear right back from her! Many words of wisdom here! And above everything, be sure to look for scholarship opportunities that resonate with *your student*, that just seem to have his or her 'name written all over them.' 

One further thought-- although applying for scholarships can be a *lot* of work, and of course not every application will net a 'win', still putting in this dedicated time can also help our kids learn about follow-through, communicate effectively (and with a grateful heart!) with the adults asked to write recommendation letters, meet duedates right on time, develop their writing skills, and demonstrate resourcefulness and discernment.... all very valuable character qualities and skills to gain, even if the dollars don't come through each time. There might be more that is gained here than just the 'official' award! Also, know that many scholarship programs involve helping kids learn more about the whole financial aspect of attending college and more-- there are great newsletters, say, for the students interested in this Horatio Alger program, to guide them through the process and connect them with other great getting-ready-for-college resources. 

 So... now for Sheryl's thoughts on this process....

Reflections on our Hunt for College Scholarships

Just about ten years ago our eldest of seven children started looking at colleges and took her first PSAT.  And that is when I realized that we could have started our hunt for “outside scholarships” (ones that are granted from foundations and programs not associated with any particular school or university) much sooner.  To start with, I had no idea that the PSAT (which we had signed up to take just to warm up for the SAT) was also a scholarship competition.

Highly motivated because I had already missed one opportunity, I went to our local library and spent an afternoon scanning through a REALLY big book, which listed an overwhelming number of scholarships organized alphabetically, and I returned home quite overwhelmed.  I didn’t really have time for this kind of research project, but I also didn’t want to incur any debt for higher education.

Thankfully for us, Geneva College’s financial aid office made us aware of a very helpful tool called.... 

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Still time to register for our next SAT Essay preparation course!
Susan Richman, 1/16/2013

Our online SAT essay writing class prepares students for the on-the-spot essay now included in every College Board SAT exam. These 4-week classes, which precede the October and March test administrations, use the same interactive format that has been so successful in ourAdvanced Placement test preparation classes. Students write, get feedback, and then revise up to five different typical SAT exam essays as they sharpen their writing skills in preparation for the exam. If you register now, you will be signing up for a class which begins on February 4 (2013), which finishes in time to prepare students for the March 9, 2013, exam or later exams.

Karen Boyd, our long-time teacher for our SAT Essay Preparation Class, will be leading the course again this session. Students will use the SAT Study Guide published by the College Board for the course-- all essay topics will be taken from this excellent and comprehensive book. A bonus is that this guide can also be used by your student for self-study for all Critical Reading and Mathematics sections of the SAT also.

Karen Boyd writes in the course description found here:  This is the ninth year, this class has been offered.   Over the years I have observed that many homeschoolers have never written a timed essay. Many more had never written an essay in which they were asked to defend a clear position in writing.  In fact, the idea seemed foreign to them.  This class is designed to introduce students to that.... 

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PBS 'Kids Go!' Writing Contest for grades K-3 starting up-- homeschoolers have won in the past!
Susan Richman, 1/10/2013

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Have your young kids come up with some delightful creative stories? Then consider entering this fun writing contest sponsored by Public Broadcasting Station WQED in Pittsburgh. The wonderful homeschooling Troll family from Somerset PA has had two daughters enter and go to the top levels of this contest-- their original illustrated books were delightful, and I loved seeing the little video last year at evaluations of their daughter Caroline Troll at the WQED studio recording her book (the 3rd place winner!), reading it aloud with lively expression-- and you can hear little 6-year old Caroline Troll reading her delightful butterfly story right up at the contest website! I know you'll be charmed. Older sister Christine Troll (now in 6th grade) was the 1st place third grade winner in 2010-- click here to read and see her full book, including all of her amazingly detailed and creative illustrations (just 'click' on the picture of her book, and a new pop-up window with the full book, with 'page turning' shows up-- amazing!).

And to get your kids' creative ideas going, definitely check out all the 'back winners' stories-- they are all up online, and I know you're kids will be VERY inspired to see what other children have created. In fact, one of the very wonderful things about looking into many types of contests is that the websites for the contests often share past winners' work, and looking over these quality efforts can really help our kids gain a sense of just what might be possible. It's like getting free curriculum materials-- and very motivating ones at that! 

This year's contest is open to students in Grades K-3 in the Western and Central PA regions as well as in West Virginia. The 'kick-off' is starting January 15th, and stories must be submitted by April 5, 2013. There are different length requirements for each grade level, and young children who can't yet write down their own stories can dictate to an adult. At least five colorful illustrations must accompany the story. The links below will give you all the needed info-- let us know if your kids enter, or let us know how they enjoyed seeing the past winning stories! This would also be a terrific activity for homeschool Writing Clubs or weekly Co-op programs.

         (The cover of kindergartner Caroline Troll's original story-- 3rd place regional winner in 2012!)

WQED PITTSBURGH ANNOUNCES ANNUAL PBS KIDS GO! WRITERS CONTEST 

 

PITTSBURGH – Today, WQED announced its annual PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. Also partnering with WQED this year arePenn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU) which serves central Pennsylvania and West Virginia Public Broadcasting(WVPB). The Contest, made possible by financial support from EQT Corporation, encourages children in grades K-3 to celebrate creativity by submitting their own original stories and illustrations.

“WQED is committed to providing fun opportunities for Pittsburgh-area kids to express their creativity,” said Deborah L. Acklin, President and CEO, WQED. “The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest helps children across southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond to build valuable literacy skills for success in school and life.”

 

How the Contest Works
Beginning January 14, 2013, children in southwestern and central Pennsylvania, as well as throughout West Virginia, can submit their entries to the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest. WQED will select local winners and award prizes, including the opportunity to record their winning story to be broadcast on Saturday Light Brigade (SLB) Radio in the spring of 2013.

 

WQED will send its list of winners to the national contest where a panel of esteemed judges will rank the top 12 entries. National winners will be announced during the summer of 2013 and the winning stories will be featured on pbskids.org/writerscontest....

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