Ds Scholarship

Be honest when filling scholarship, admission forms | Education

TAHLEQUAH – Every year, high school seniors and others planning to enter college do a lot of sweating.

Hopeful students often nervously ponder what they must put on their applications for admissions or scholarships and what reviewers want or expect to see from prospects.

Many academic advisers will say there is no secret formula to beating out other applicants.

However, Aaron Emberton, acting executive executive director of education for the Cherokee Nation, believes one skill comes in handy when hairs are being split: Good writing makes a good impression.

ìColleges and scholarship foundations look for well-rounded students, students who not only have the grades, but students who show leadership through community service and extracurricular courses at school,î Emberton said. ìAs scholarships become more competitive, I believe a studentís ability to write will be of paramount importance in securing the best scholarships.î

The CN Foundation offers several scholarships for Cherokee and Native students. The list is at http://cherokeenationfoundation.org/scholarships.

There is widespread gossip that checking the American Indian box or claiming Native heritage automatically helps with admissions and scholarships. It probably doesnít hurt, but the effect is often exaggerated, especially among non-Natives.

Many universities and foundations couldnít care less about race or ethnicity, while others ñ even some that are highly selective ñ want as much information on ethnic background as possible.

Institutions that ask for ethnic or racial background donít apply the same weight to it. It may make all the difference at schools determined to diversify their campuses to the max, while others may want the information but refuse to use it to decide between equal applicants.

Furthermore, many millions of Americans are not just one race, and that includes a lot of Native Americans. A woman applying for college could be white and American Indian, and Asian Indian and Asian, and Spanish is her first language because she grew up in Puerto Rico. Such an applicant might have an advantage over someone who just checked ìNative Americanî ñ if applying someplace where such things count.

Many Natives in northeastern Oklahoma will likely consider Northeastern State University as a candidate for continuing their educations.

Applying to NSU is not like applying to a flagship research university out of state. Many students are non-traditional, attending as adults. As a member of the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO), NSU has its admission standards set by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE). Many RUSO graduates stay in the state, furnishing the Oklahoma workforce with professionals.

There are standards that prospective NSU students are expected to meet, and most traditional students provide an ACT or SAT score, but there are other paths to acceptance.

ìWe offer a holistic review process for applicants who may not meet these requirements, allowing the possibility of being admitted to the university,î said Dr. Brandon Miller, director for admissions, recruitment and scholarships. ìNSU is pleased to be participating in a Test-Optional Pilot Program, created by OSRHE, to allow a pathway to admission for individuals who have not completed, or do not wish to submit ACT or SAT scores. However, individuals that want to be considered for scholarships must submit ACT or SAT scores.î

Applying for scholarships can be a dizzying process. There are plenty available, but many are targeted. Some may be specifically for Native American students or Natives wanting to enter the health care field or women studying astronomy.

Students do need to spend time, and get started early, finding out which scholarships are applicable. If there is any question or ambiguity about eligibility, apply anyway.

NSU has its own list of scholarships, some of which are targeted at specific academic studies or demographic groups.

ìThe Presidentís Leadership Class and Honors scholarships look for outstanding leadership and academic capabilities,î Miller said. ìThere are scholarship opportunities for out-of-state students such as our Tribal Heritage scholarship that is available to students who are members of a federally recognized tribe. There are scholarship opportunities for transfer students that are members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and the Tulsa Achieves Program.î

Miller said the NSU Foundation also has a list of private scholarships available for students with demonstrated financial need, who are pursuing specific degrees or even graduates of particular high schools.

ìOur best recommendation is to thoroughly explore all scholarship options, pay close attention to deadlines, and fill out as many applications as you can,î Miller said. ìYou might be surprised at what scholarships you qualify for.î

Visit scholarships.nsuok.edu to find out about scholarships available to NSU students.

AISES, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, released a short list of pointers for students when filling out their scholarship and admission applications.

1. Utilize every part of the application: The personal essay is important, but many applications require or allow short essays, lists of activities, resumes and options for including creative work. While there is only so much that can fit in the personal essay, the other sections provide areas to expand, or introduce, aspects of what Native heritage means. Highlight experiences, skills and memories that are unique to the applicant.

2. Donít be afraid to write about yourself: Highlight the applicantís Native story ñ it is something uniquely personal. Reviewers arenít necessarily looking for flash; theyíre looking for honesty and substance. Sharing with reviewers what the Native experience looks like will help them better understand the applicant.

3. Focus on the personal essay: But it is difficult to share everything about the Native story in so few words. An applicant should think about their story and what they want reviewers to come away knowing. Applicants can focus on one or two moments or experiences that tell their story and offer insight into who they are.

4. Be honest: Honesty gives reviewers the best look at the applicant, and helps them better understand their Native story. Reviewers gravitate toward authenticity and honesty, and theyíve read enough applications to know when those aspects are absent.

5. Be OK with sharing only part of your story: Only so much will fit in the application. Even taking advantage of every section, it may feel as though the Native story isnít complete. The applicant has done well to include what they find most important. The reviewers only need a strong sense of the applicant as a person and a student. Donít obsess.

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