The Scholarship Process: Simple or Scary?

The Scholarship Process: Simple or Scary?
October 28, 2020 / 5 mins read

The scholarship process may involve hard work, but it does not have to be scary as long as you follow some simple steps.

Heather Stafford
Director of Programs

The Harrison County Community Foundation (HCCF) has been awarding scholarships to graduating students for more than 20 years. I have personally had the privilege of being a part of this process for the last eight.

During this time, I have received numerous phone calls and email messages from parents and students regarding our scholarship program. Those phone calls ranged from quick two-second questions regarding the application to hour-long, crisis-filled and life-changing discussions.

And so, after years of monitoring applications, answering students' questions and walking parents through the process, one would think that when my first child prepared to graduate from high school last May that we would calmly move through the process.

I mean seriously, this should be simple, right? I consider myself well informed and comfortable with the college and scholarship application process because I have been working in it for almost a decade. The truth of the matter was, it wasn't as simple as I expected.

One of the biggest surprises I found was that my super-organized, intelligent child became so overwhelmed in the process that they began to shut down. Completing all of the necessary paperwork in the short time frame during my student's senior year was stressful. This was compounded with the fact that they were also juggling AP exams, SAT/ACT tests, sporting events, senior pictures and numerous high school activities.

Expecting my senior to multitask all of these activities while also writing scholarship essays, requesting letters of recommendations and submitting numerous applications began a major battle in our household.

On top of this, we discovered that every college's expectation was different. The online process for one organization was effortless while the next would make us jump through so many hoops that we began to question our choices. But we were determined and trudged through.

As our family navigated through the college and scholarship applications process, we quickly discovered a few things, which I thought might be helpful to other parents and students.

1. Plan ahead. Get a calendar, create a To-Do List and write down what you need, what must be completed and when.
2. Every scholarship application process is a little different. Take them one at a time.
3. There is always someone there to help if you just ask.
4. If you are struggling, so is someone else. When possible, work as a team. Invite a friend over and work on things together. Go on campus tours together and with a group. What one person misses, the other may see.
5. Deadlines are EVERYTHING.
6. The more applications you complete, the better the chances of success.
7. There are no dumb questions!! Ask a parent, ask a teacher, ask a school counselor, ask a friend, ask someone.

At the end of the day, no matter how prepared you may think you are, you will still have questions. So, on Nov. 5 when HCCF's Universal Scholarship Application opens online, grab a friend, make a To-Do list and start filling out that application. Don't wait until the last minute to get started.

The application is due Jan. 20, 2021 so start planning now. If you have questions, ask them. If you have no idea where to start, give us a call and we will help walk you through the process.

I have learned that no matter how "simple" we think our process is, it is not easy to someone who has never gone through it before. So, email us or call us. We are here to help in any way we can.

Call us at 812-738-6668 or email me at