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Today’s guest is Brenda High, MS of The Scholarshop Mom. Ms. Brenda High, President of Career Fitness, LLC and affectionately known Scholarshopmom has assisted over 500 students in finding full tuition scholarships.

She has conducted numerous scholarship strategy workshops for parents and students throughout the Chicago Southland area on financial aid and how to reduce the cost of a college education. She is passionate about helping students explore their career goals and keeping them out of debt by helping them research scholarships.

Becoming the guardian of her sister’s children prompted her to think, very early on, about how to send her nephews to college.

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Having secured full-tuition scholarship for both boys, she knew that it was time to share information on how much money was available to help children go to college debt-free. She became so successful, that she decided to start a blog/website and offera workshops to students and parents to navigate the world of of obtaining full tuition scholarships.

What You’ll Learn about How to Go to College with No Debt:

  • When to start preparing children mentally and academically for college and scholarships
  • Options for students who are academic “late bloomers”
  • Options for students who are not good testers
  • Figuring out if your high schooler should work or apply for scholarships instead

Keys to Getting College Scholarships:

  • Discuss college and money early and often with your kids. (Brenda started with her 3-year-old nephew!)
  • 90% of the students Brenda works with get full-tuition scholarships!
  • Tuition scholarships are often “merit-based” and not “need-based.”
  • If the debt-free college is the goal, students should only apply to colleges where they will get full tuition scholarships (you can find that out up front) to get the best use of their scholarship searching efforts.
  • Starting in 8th grade, you should be able to pinpoint career goals and interests. See what your children are naturally drawn to and invest time, money and resources into cultivating that gift or interest
  • Grades are important for scholarships, but it is also important to volunteer and be involved in extra-curricular activities. These activities should be purpose driven and translate into career paths.
  • Some scholarships include: overcoming obstacles, having an illness or disability
  • Try to set career goals early on (as early as Freshman year) to be strategic about extra-curricular activities and volunteerism.
  • Colleges don’t want kids who are “just smart.” They want students who have a commitment to community service, leadership and are well-rounded aside from academics.
  • Many scholarship dollars go unclaimed because high school students don’t prepare themselves for the scholarship requirements!
  • Many scholarships require a 3.0 GPA or more.
  • There is power in a well-crafted personal statement when other factors (grades, etc.) are less than ideal. These should very well written and can be re-used for multiple applications
  • The numbers game: apply for as many as possible to increase the odds of obtaining a scholarship.
  • Scholarship applications should start as soon as possible. Senior year is too late! There are scholarships that can be awarded as early as kindergarten!
  • It’s best to find scholarship congruent to skills, abilities and interest.