When in-state tuition is $9,410 per year, and private college tuition costs $23,893 per year on average, we high school students are scavenging every penny to pay for our higher education. So why wouldn’t we take any opportunity we can get to earn some of that cash?
Raise.me is a website that high school students across the country can register for. I created a portfolio listing my achievements and can earn money from several colleges that fund those accomplishments. These grants are called “micro-scholarships”, and they add up fast.
The website is divided into categories: courses, activities, community service, scores, honors, and college events. I started by filing my achievements into the appropriate categories, and adding details about them. When I added a class, it asked me to enter my teacher’s name and final grade. Just doing that earned me $25,000 to Cornell! When I added an activity, it asked me to enter the time commitment and any leadership positions I held. (Being a cheer captain was worth $100 at Iowa, and running four years of track got me $100 more.) Year by year, it asked me if I had perfect attendance: a full school year without unexcused absences or tardies. Drake offered me $150 just for showing up to school! As I submitted these, an icon showed up on the screen telling me what schools I earned money from. When I followed a college I was interested in, I got to see the exact amount of scholarship money I’d already earned to their school overall, and wow, the numbers grew quickly.
There are 90 colleges currently offering money on the site, and six of them are in Iowa: Buena Vista, Clarke, Cornell, Drake, Dordt, and the University of Iowa. This number could grow as the site gains popularity, too. Just by entering my grades and activities through the first semester of my junior year, I’ve earned $10,734 per year to Cornell College, $4,318 per year to Drake University, and $131 per year to the University of Iowa. These numbers will grow as I continue to enter classes and accomplishments.
I’ve learned two things from this experience. First of all, get involved. I’m going to fill my schedule, challenge myself, commit to participating in sports and activities, and do my best. Schools offer money for all kinds of activities, ranging from Brain Bee to Yearbook to Dragon Dance Team. Being involved in school activities isn’t always a hassle. I choose to participate in things I enjoy, like cheerleading, journalism and track and field. Some of the fun parts of high school have already earned me money for college. Secondly, I have to take advantage of the opportunities I’m given to earn money for college.
No matter how small the scholarship is, I should try for it. It could grant me money that I won’t have to pay off as an adult.