scholarship marathonConcentrate on small segments of your race at a time.
For example, rather than obsessing about the distance that remains,
simply complete the next mile in good form…try another, then another,
until the race is done. 
– Jerry Lynch

Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present
obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up,
things will turn out for the best.
-Meb Keflezighi, U.S. Oympic marathoner

There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder,
Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water,
and around the next bend, you get your wind back,
remember the finish line, and keep going.
-Steve Jobs

Earning a scholarship is a lot like running a marathon:  you start with a dream, create a plan, prepare like crazy, and run the race.  It takes time, patience, determination, and a will to accomplish something great.  Neither are easy, but both are possible.  And anyone can do it!

I know a little bit about running and training.  I’m definitely not a pro, but over the past 11 years, I have logged hundreds and hundreds of running miles.  I’ve completed 3 marathons, 4 Ragnar Relays, 3 half-marathons, a 10-miler, and lots and lots of 5Ks.  I have run in extreme heat, cold, rain, and perfect weather.  I have run up and down canyons, on paved and gravel roads, and across many trails.  I have run alone, with running friends, and always with my dog.  I’ve run through a stress fracture, plantar faciitis, and hip and back and knee pain.  I’ve run through so many emotional states:  joy, total contentment, anxiety, depression, heart-wrenching sorrow, and total discouragement.  And I’ve kept going so many times when I just wanted to stop.  Forever.

You might feel like that when you think about college and scholarships…like you never want to start, or you just want to stop.  Forever.

Don’t.  Just start…Just keep going…Just finish!

Because running a marathon, and earning a scholarship isn’t just about what you get when you cross the finish line.  It’s about what you learn along the way, and the person that you become.  It’s about fulfilling dreams and accomplishing something big.  But most of all, it’s about opening up a whole world of endless possibilities.

Juniors:  This is going to be a very big and busy year for you academically.  Junior-year grades, test scores, and activities constitute a big chunk of the data colleges use for your admission. But this can also be a time of leadership in the world outside academics.  Explore activities that interest you so you can flourish–not just because they look good on an application.

This is what you need to do right now:

  1. Review the Earn $ Section for Freshmen and the Earn $ Section for Sophomores, and make sure you have completed and/or are  working on everything on the list.
  2. Attend your Junior CCR and review your 4 year plan with your counselor and parent(s).
  3. Choose challenging classes like Honors, AP, and Concurrent Enrollment, but choose wisely.  If you struggled for a good grade in an honors class, don’t sign up for the AP class.  Challenge yourself, but know your limits.
  4. Get good grades! These will be the most recent grades a college will have when you apply next year.  So study hard, and do not hesitate to ask a teacher for extra help.
  5. Pay attention to sleep!  Well-rested brains work better.
  6. Make sure you follow this website and the links for FacebookTwitter, and Remind 101.  There are scholarships for Juniors, but if you never search for them, than you will never know what they are.
  7. This is the year for standardized tests like the ACT (and SAT for some out-of-state colleges).  Plan on taking the ACT a few times, but try and have your final test completed by the end of the summer before your senior year.  Your admissions and scholarship application process will be much smoother if you aren’t juggling the ACT and hoping that test scores are ready for important deadlines.
  8. Discuss ACT prep–timing, budgeting, and options–with your parents and counselor.  THS will pay for you to take an ACT test in the spring, but you will probably need to take the test more than once.  There are also great ACT preparation materials and classes available, but you will need to pay.
  9. Whatever approach you take to ACT prep, make sure you study and prepare for the ACT.  This score will help determine what colleges you are accepted at and what scholarships you receive.  Take the ACT very seriously!
  10. Attend any college conferences that are geared towards Juniors.  Boys and Girls State, Engineering State, and Governor’s Honors Academy are a few.
  11. Being a leader shows that you’ve worked hard, are dedicated to an activity, and play well with others.  Start a new after-school club, run for team captain, or head a community service project.
  12. Make a resume of activities, academic experiences outside the classroom, hobbies, awards, leadership positions, etc.  It helps you inventory and organize everything you’ve done.
  13. Make plans for college visits over spring or summer break.  Enjoy these visits and take notes.

*Some information from Ned Johnson’s article:  A To-Do List for Your College Search, published in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges of 2013.





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