College scholarships not worth the time

April 18, 2008 — by Andy Tsao

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Saratoga Falcon.

Second semester senior year. For many students this short, five-month period represents freedom from academic responsibilities and a break before college. Some students, however, continue their pre-college work through the spring by applying for various scholarships to aid their college endeavors. Unfortunately for these students, however, applying to a scholarship may be more of a hassle than a benefit.

Saratoga’s per capita income, according to the most recent census, is $65,400, and its average household income is slightly under $140,000, making it undeniably richer than many other school districts. Scholarships worth only a few hundred, or even a few thousand, dollars therefore provide little financial benefit for many families here. Many such scholarships available in the spring are financially negligible and thus not worth the time and effort of a second-semester senior.

There are prestigious scholarships financially of interest, but most have fall application deadline, which adds on to the already massive stress seniors face with college applications. Moreover, these scholarships are so difficult that, for a second semester senior, it really isn’t worth the effort when only a handful of the applicants from a large, self-selecting pool end up receiving the scholarship.

One such scholarship is won by participating in the Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious, research-based science competition. The first place project is awarded a $100,000 scholarship, but winning contestants spend nearly their entire junior-year summers and much of their junior years working on their projects. Students would have to spend an enormous amount of time and effort and, even then, the odds of getting the scholarship are ridiculously low.

Most scholarships available after finishing college applications are small and unnecessary for the average Saratoga student, while others are much too difficult to obtain. Here in Saratoga, many seniors can function financially without the aid of any scholarship. Second semester seniors deserve the opportunity to relax after 3.5 grueling years of high school and should not have to spend extra time and effort on useless financial benefits. The well-being of most Saratoga families and the work necessary to apply to programs of prestige make scholarships an unnecessary ornament with costs of applying that often outweigh their benefits.

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