Up Your Chances

Homeschooled students usually have a disadvantage when it comes to listing school activities and student leadership positions.  Some scholarship forms have several pages that have to be checked off for specific positions and accomplishments—primarily consisting of things a homeschooled student would not ordinarily be able to do.  Several organizations can help compensate for this, if students plan ahead. Whether applying for homeschool scholarships, or general scholarships, the following organizations can help you document your accomplishments.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award. Even if you don’t go for the awards, this organization provides a great Web site to keep track of your volunteer hours. Almost every scholarship form asks where, and how often you volunteered your time. Some request the information by calendar year, and some by the school year. There is no cost for this program. www.presidentialserviceawards.gov.

Boy Scouts and other scouting organizations. Many scholarship organizations look for leadership experience or potential. If you want to learn those skills, or need a way to document that you have them, scouting organizations may be the answer. Additionally, most merit badges can be incorporated into a homeschool curriculum, rewarding you twice for the same work. It’s a myth, though, that attaining the rank of Eagle Scout automatically means you will receive scholarships. There are a few scholarships specifically for Eagle Scouts (click here for the ones we’ve found), but just imagine the competition! You’re competing with the best of the best. The rank does, however, look great on any scholarship application. www.scouting.org.

Congressional Award for Youth. This is a great opportunity for all homeschooled students and all scouts. If you’re both, it’s a no-brainer. You’ll receive great honors for things you are already doing, receiving certificates and medals. Categories include Volunteer Service, Physical Fitness, Personal Development, and Expedition/Exploration. You can sign up at age 13 1/2 and start receiving awards at age 14. The only cost for this program is a $10 registration fee. Students who attain the Gold Medal are invited to a special week in Washington D.C. where they receive their award and attend events with Senators and Congressmen.  www.congressionalaward.org.

Boys State. Many scholarship forms list Boys State as a school activity that, if checked, can bring additional points. While this American Legion Program is primarily offered through the public school system, it is open to homeschoolers who apply. The week-long program allows delegates to form their own government and run for various offices. The American Legion Auxiliary offers Girls State, a similar program for girls.  Both programs are available only during the summer between the junior and senior year of high school. The cost is minimal, as local American Legion Posts sponsor the students. www.legion.org/boysnation.

AWANA. If you started AWANA when you were young, consider staying with it through high school. This demonstrates to scholarship committees that you know how to persevere. In addition, about 40 colleges offer scholarships of up to $12,000 for earning the Citation Award. Some also offer scholarships for the Timothy and Meritorious awards. Click here for the list of colleges that offer AWANA scholarships. Even if your church doesn’t offer the club for high school, there are ways to continue with the program. www.awana.org.

Mission Trips. Many homeschooled students are given the opportunity to go on mission trips with their church or youth group. Take the opportunity, and remember to record it on your scholarship forms. Committee members like to see intercultural experience.