Perhaps you know about the Presidential Achievement Scholarship (PAS for short!)? If not, check it out for the basic run down here before reading more.
Although we started announcing the PAS way back in early January, most students begin the process a few weeks before the deadline (the 2014 deadline is February 28). Along with the past blogs on the PAS scholarship, here is some advice about the process for you to pass along to your student.
First, a lot of freshmen apply for the scholarship. If your student is a freshmen, the key is to encourage him or her to start the application early enough to complete all the components thoroughly before the deadline.
Upperclassmen are different. One would think that they hear “scholarship opportunity” and come running, but, no. Upperclassmen get into a routine and sometimes, to their detriment, think “that’s not for me; that’s for freshmen.” The same thing sometimes happens with taking advantage of the ARC’s free tutoring or joining a new club— upperclassmen forget that they should keep doing that stuff. So, the PAS definitely isn’t just for freshmen, and since upperclassmen don’t apply in as high of numbers as freshmen, the chances of an upperclassmen getting the scholarship goes up.
My final piece of advice about the PAS application is that the essay matters—and someone will actually read each one! My stance on scholarship essays and personal statement type writing is this: the quality of any given applicant pool can probably be mapped on a bell curve—a few are terrible (not proofread, not organized, generally sloppy), many are mediocre (which could be for various reasons), and a few are spectacular. Do many students get in or get by with mediocre essays? Yep. Does it pay to spend some extra time and effort to make your essay spectacular? You bet it does. Revision is key with any piece of writing in which one has an investment.
The best piece of advice I can give for writing the PAS essay is for students to be honest. Don’t write what you think the essay readers want to hear. Be specific. Be yourself. Give examples. Write an essay that no one else but you could have written. Many of the scholarship winners in the past have also visited the Writing Center to receive feedback at various points in the writing process from brainstorming to editing.
Parents and families— remind your student about the PAS—they can access the application through their My.Bellarmine.edu account. Since the incentive is financial, you might even have some leverage with them to “strongly encourage” them to apply!