It’s one thing to gain admittance to a college, but you and I both know that being admitted simply isn’t enough.  You also have to score a nice, fat scholarship that: a) covers the cost of college, and b) reaffirms your own self worth.  Now, you might find that statement a bit derisive, but for a number of people—perhaps even yourself—it represents very real sentiments. Fortunately, neither is completely accurate. Let’s break them down separately.

1.) If I didn’t get a nice, fat scholarship, then I can’t afford that college.

If you’re deciding where to attend college based on an initial scholarship offer, you’re working with incomplete information. When concerned about cost, it’s imperative that you follow through with the financial aid process by filling out a FAFSA and a Centre Aid form…even if an “expert” has told you that you probably won’t qualify. Then refer to the financial aid award letter you receive in early April to make a more informed financial decision.

Just this week, I spoke with the father of an admitted student who had not received a scholarship from Centre. Clearly feeling a bit dejected, he said, “Well, this just makes the college decision easier for him,” implying that Centre would be well out of reach for his son due to cost.

The father made the assumption that without a scholarship, he would likely incur the full cost of Centre’s comprehensive fee, which he ascertained to be beyond his family’s means. What he didn’t account for, as I explained to him, was the need-based financial aid process that hadn’t been completed yet. Just last year, 67% of our admitted students received need-based assistance. The average net cost for those students: $14,050. Basing your college decision on a single piece of a larger puzzle isn’t only impetuous, it could be a poor financial decision in the long run. Be cautious, but also be patient. Colleges have a lot of financial aid to package.

2.) If I didn’t get a nice, fat scholarship, then the college doesn’t appreciate my accomplishments.

A study published earlier this year claimed that given the choice, bright, young college students place a higher value on self-esteem boosts than getting a paycheck, spending time with close friends, and other pleasurable activities. The conclusion was that today’s youth desire third-party affirmation above all else. In many respects, today’s society looks at scholarships as the defining critique on a student’s high school career. To receive a large scholarship is to receive a compliment: the bigger the award, the greater the commendation for the student’s achievements. And more than anything else, this generation needs to be recognized for its accomplishments.

Whether that’s true or just a sweeping generalization, receiving a scholarship (big or small) is a compliment to your success in and of itself. The ACT score midrange for students simply admitted to Centre under early action was 27-32; that range narrows and rises when you look at scholarship tiers. When applying to selective schools, students must temper their self-perception and expectations with the reality that while they may be among the best at their high school…there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of applicants—also among the best at their high school—vying for scholarships as well.

Just because you didn’t receive the scholarship you thought you would (or a scholarship at all) doesn’t mean that you aren’t wanted, that you aren’t qualified, and that you won’t receive the same amount of attention as your peers when you finally arrive on campus. If any of these things were true, you wouldn’t have been admitted in the first place. That’s the truth.

Now, to be fair, it’s easy to look at getting a big scholarship to a top college as the single reward for all your hard work in high school. Not getting one could leave you feeling as though it was all for naught. But here’s the thing, you go to college to fulfill your potential, not because your potential has already been fulfilled. Perhaps you didn’t get the scholarship for which you were longing, but there’s something to be said for surrounding yourself with peers who will continue to challenge you. Don’t let scholarship anxiety over not being the best prevent you from attending the place that will offer you the best opportunity for personal growth.

  • Richross

    But if you didn’t get the scholarship you expected, it shows you aren’t wanted as much as you thought that you were.

  • Adam Brown

    That’s not necessarily true in all cases. Scholarship is a recognition of accomplishment, our admission decision is what you should use as a measure of whether or not you’re wanted at Centre.nnFor instance, there are a number of scholarship recipients every year that we like well enough and would like to see enroll, but that we aren’t as excited about as some of our no award students.n

  • MJ

    So at this point (mid Feb) are all Merit Based Scholarship opportunities decided? What if students offered Merit do not end up at Centre?

  • Adam Brown

    Early action scholarships are decided, but regular decision awards will undergo a decision process that can last through the end of February.nnYour question regarding students who receive merit aid but don’t wind up at Centre is a good one, and one we’re asked often. The simplest way to answer it is this: when we award scholarships, we account for the fact that some of those students will decline the offer.nnThere’s a common misconception that colleges allocate a pot of money for scholarships to admissions and when students don’t accept their scholarships, they go back in the pot. This simply isn’t the case. Perhaps a better way to picture a merit award is as a discount rather than a finite sum of money.

  • MJ

    So if no E.D. Merit was awarded then that process is over? Only Need based at this point. Is there ever a point in year 2 or beyond where Merit could be re-evaluated or is it a one time shot?n

  • Adam Brown

    That’s true. All award letters have been printed and mailed for early action applicants. You’re now looking at need-based aid options, which will be made available late-March/early-April if you’ve completed a FAFSA and the Centre Aid form.nnRegarding if there’s another shot to apply for merit aid, there isn’t. Merit aid is awarded only at the point of application.nnAnother option here would be to look to outside scholarships, which — if awarded — could be added to your financial aid package at Centre. nnThe important thing to keep in mind at this point is that you don’t have to make a decision right now. Wait out the aid process and see where you land. As mentioned above, a majority of our students attend Centre on need-based aid.

  • MJ

    Thanks for your replys. Filling out FAFSA but we will not qualify. Unfortunately this brings other college options into evaluation for us. Again, thank you for the honest and prompot reply

  • Adam Brown

    My pleasure. And I agree with your decision to fill out the FAFSA, even though I know you’re reluctant. We’ll see where you are in few weeks. Between now and then, let us know if we can be of assistance.

  • Daniel23

    You go to college to fulfill your potential, not because your potential has already been fulfilled.
    Perhaps you didn’t get the scholarship for which you were longing, but
    there’s something to be said for surrounding yourself with peers who
    will continue to challenge you.
    Thanks, this really helps, especially seeing that some people not as good as me have a descent scholarship from the school.
    Read more:

  • keepingitreal

    Thank you for your kind words about scholarships !! i feel better about not getting one to the school i’ve had my eyes on ! also I was feeling as though my entire high school career has been a lie, like why I worked so hard for nothing.

  • Essays Advisor

    Often students who get big scholarship in the beginning, let themselves relax later. And those who worked hard to be admitted, continue work even harder to increase their self-esteem

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