Friday, December 19, 2014

One-stop scholarship form aims for more student applications

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 3/14/2014

Ottawa High School officials hope to take the hand cramp out of completing student scholarship applications.

The goal: One application for numerous scholarships.

Ottawa High School officials hope to take the hand cramp out of completing student scholarship applications.

The goal: One application for numerous scholarships.

About 35 scholarships are open to qualified Ottawa High School students, with more listed on the Franklin County Community Foundation’s website. OHS students previously had to print out, hand write and submit a separate application for each scholarship. The problem? Organizations awarding scholarships noticed the number of submitted applications had dropped dramatically, Gail McKenzie, OHS counselor said.

“We’re seeing a low number of applications coming in, so we talked to some of the kids from last year and we were trying to figure out how to streamline the process because the deadlines [for many scholarship applications] are in March and April, which is a senior’s busiest time,” McKenzie said. “We’re trying to make it less time consuming to have to fill out 40 different applications if you happen to qualify for all those.”

Students at OHS and other schools in Franklin County already have had the luxury of filling out only one application when applying for scholarships through the Franklin County Community Foundation.

On the foundation’s website, students may select scholarships specific to their high school, or general awards open to all Franklin County students. One application is printed, filled out and marked with which scholarships the student is applying — all in one application — and submitted.

Not all organizations are willing to go to a generic, one-application-fits-all scholarships process, McKenzie said.

“We feel like it will increase the number of [applicants], so we can get more people on board to say ‘Yes we’re willing to use a common application to apply for those’ and be similar to what Franklin County [Community Foundation] does and you check off the ones you’re interested in,” she said. “I would like to see us do a community application where there’s one application for everything for Ottawa High School and kids run those copies and we deliver them to community groups and the boards make their selection because I think they would get a lot more [applicants] if [students] didn’t have to fill out each one.”

Wellsville High School started using one application for local scholarships because it was facing the same problem, Emily McCullough, counselor, said.

‘“All of our local scholarships go off one form,” she said. “It’s great for the kids because they have the one application because all the applications ask the same questions.”

The questions on the Wellsville application come from McCullough asking organizations what types of questions they’d like to see on the form, she said. Though Wellsville has been using the process for awhile, McCullough said, she still has trouble getting students to apply for available scholarships.

“I hunt down kids and make them fill out forms because some of the scholarships wouldn’t be distributed otherwise,” she said. “I think it’s our generation of kids. They’re lazy, they want to do the least amount of work possible. That’s why going to one form helps me with my local ones.”  

Below is a list of scholarships available to all students in Franklin County listed by due date. Check out page 12 of The Herald for a list of scholarships available to students based on high school and due date.

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