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Creating a Scholarship Course at Your School!

Schools should designate a course to be focused on helping students apply for scholarships and write scholarship essays.

Photo of Irene Kien
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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

My target audience is the college board, because they should create a course with this kind of purpose. Another target audience is students, because students should desire to enroll in a scholarship class. This reimagines the way students pay for college, because instead of them having a part-time job or loans, they can enroll in a class that is designed to help them earn scholarships and improve their writing skills. Consequently, this idea does not take any focus away from their school work.

    Since I did not find a clear solution where a college can reduce the cost of higher education while maintaining the same university experience for their students, I came up with the idea of having college institutions implement a course that can be based on students earning scholarships. The course would consist of giving students grades on completing and applying for scholarships. Especially, since many scholarships have essay requirements, this class can be considered a writing class. Professors can grade and critique students on the essays they submit. This is basically killing two birds with one stone, because many institutions have been wanting to find alternative ways to improve students' writing skills. 

    In my opinion, I never appreciated doing the writing assignments I was given in my English class. I did not feel like what I wrote ever really meant anything besides earning a grade for it. Therefore, I believe that if students were given grades on submitting and completing scholarship essays, then they would have a real incentive and purpose in their own writing. Many students do not take advantage of all the opportunities and scholarships, because they do not know about them, they do not know how to apply for them, or they give up when they see that it has an essay component. So, I feel like having a course like this will combat those thoughts, benefit students in financing their own college tuition, and enhance their own writing ability.

    Another thought is to take a step deeper into this idea by possibly having a course like this in high schools. If students have help on their scholarship applications earlier, then they will have a head start in earning money to finance their desired college. This would motivate students to aim and attend their dream school, because they will no longer think about being limited by any financial constraints. 

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

A small experiment that I can perform is to create a session with students and peers in my community. We could all edit and review each others scholarship essays. We can also discover different scholarships applications to apply to all together. These goals seem achievable that we can use to show how effective and beneficial an actual course could be.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I would like to receive some feedback from professors or other educational instructors who can see if this is a course that could be accepted in a college curriculum. Also, I want to know if there are students who would be willing to sign up and enroll in a course that would be focused on earning scholarships. Lastly, I want to know if it is better if this course was just an extracurricular and ungraded class.

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Hi Irene Kien - This would be a great course to have as part of a HIGH SCHOOL curriculum too.  During my junior year of high school, we had a mandatory "College Prep" course, which in reality was much more about SAT prep than anything else.  Our teacher was an MIT Admissions Director, so most of her expertise was on getting into the university, rather than how to actually secure funding if and when you were accepted.  I wonder how much money I might've saved on college if I'd taken a Scholarship Course instead!

Perhaps you should buddy up with Zhen Mei , who contributed a complementary idea for a Financing through Awareness course (and even detailed a thoughtful 6-module curriculum to explain it).  You could co-develop a prototype and then pitch it to high schools in your respective locations.

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