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TCHS seniors explore wealth of options at scholarship fair

To emphasize a point, Charliese Lewis of Tates Creek High School organized a scholarship fair during National College Application Week, which was chock full of opportunities for seniors to gather useful information and chart their course. “Our mantra was ‘Show Me the Money!’” said Lewis, who brought in more than a dozen colleges, universities, and other options like military service and the Blue Grass Community Foundation. “We’re trying to step up students’ awareness,” she said. “They need to start having conversations beyond admissions, like ‘Now that I got in, how am I going to pay for this?’”

Charliese LewisWhen Lewis chaired the school’s scholarship committee and senior awards, she realized students often simply do not know about available funds and they leave a lot money on the table. To help, she asked the scholarship fair reps to show the seniors how to navigate their websites. Lewis and the other high schools’ college & career readiness coaches also remind students that now – in the fall of their senior year – is the time to secure financial aid for their future. “Students will wait until March to ask about scholarships, when the deadline for competitive scholarships is December. March is too late. By then, they’ve missed the window and missed the money. We have to teach them the importance of that senior year timeline,” Lewis said.

At the fair, seniors rotated through the Tates Creek library to pick up promotional brochures, leave their contact information, and talk with the college representatives about aid. Since many of the admissions steps are handled online, the event provided some valuable face time. “This personalizes the application process and gives students a chance to ask questions,” said long-time guidance counselor Larry Waldrop. “They can get a lot of information in a quick amount of time, and it’s much more personal.” He also noted how the seniors could gather first impressions of a campus community from staff who can put overwhelmed teenagers at ease.

Some, like Alisce Lyvers, were in no hurry to solidify their plans. “I play basketball, so I’m waiting to see if the right offer comes,” she said. “I want to stay in-state because of KEES money, and out-of-state (college) costs thousands of dollars.” Alisce was not worried, though. “Sometimes you don’t realize there’s money out there to grab. You can always find something or get help,” she said. “Anybody can go to college.”

That’s another point Lewis and her colleagues stress. “We want to debunk the myth for some students and families that they can’t afford college, when they really just need to know how to find the money,” she said. “We don’t want students not to attend college because they don’t have money, but we also don’t want our students leaving college with debt when money is readily available.”

Did you know? Seniors who qualify for free/reduced lunch are eligible for application fee waivers in the college admissions process.

Quotable: “College and career ‘eligible’ is not college and career ‘ready.’ That’s not the same. We want to make sure they’re literally prepared for that next step.”  -- Charliese Lewis


College & Career Readiness Coaches

FAFSA Frenzy!

(Posted Oct. 20, 2021)

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