Good news! I just finished tallying our students' merit awards and 80% won merit awards averaging $13,078 per year. In particular, one student with a 3.4 GPA generated merit award offers of $255,200 among five colleges over a four year period!
What is the secret to winning a merit-based award?
Colleges are looking for individual experts not looking for well-rounded generalists. Find something you care about and excel at the state or national competition level to garner merit awards.
First, remember that colleges are self-centered—first they must meet institutional needs. What really matters to colleges isn’t what you think and it changes. It may be that a college needs to build its endowment, gain diversity, fill a sports team roster, or even just prove that it is really great in an particular academic area. Remember, each school is different. Look at a college's strategic plan to identify what is most important to them.
YOU MUST BRING VALUE to the college to be admitted. Value is a two way street. Applicants must demonstrate not only value transmitted but value received.
Showing how you get value back from the college is easy. Here are the steps to take:
1) Be sure to let the college know how first heard about the college. Cite specifically the one reason above all others that I am attracted to the school. This should be a well-researched and specific reason. Remember: do not mention the most obvious reasons--the admission officer will not be impressed. You need to find something that is a little bit deeper.
2) What is your promise of value to this particular college? Ask yourself if this value matches the college's strategic plans or weaknesses? Your promise of value must be supported by credible proof, for example: "I did this before in high school and I will do it again for your college".
3) Next, say what you offer and give a tangible example of how you did this already and then say what you will get in return from this college, and only this college. Just as important as giving your value is letting them know what you will get in return and why this college offers something others don’t.
For more insight into the college application process, visit our blog: http://collegematchus.blogspot.com