“Scholarship weekend.” These words were ridiculously important to me during February of 2012. Sewanee University had invited me to their campus to vie for one of their prestigious (note: lots of money) scholarships, and Sewanee was one of my top schools, so I was obviously very excited but didn’t know what to do on one of these weekends. If you have been invited to a scholarship weekend, here are some do’s and don’ts I recommend for the whole process.
Things To Do
1. Make sure you have nice interview clothes. I was lucky. I had received some clothing gift cards and my best friend is a fashionista, so a week or so before the big weekend, we went to the store and she made me look all excellent. I still use those outfits to this day. I assure you, if they say they expect “nice clothing”, take it to heart. Borrow, purchase, whatever—just make sure you have good options.
2. If necessary, request financial assistance for travel. If you don’t live near the school that’s requesting your presence, they will possibly foot the bill. Some schools like Sewanee will be upfront about their willingness, but others may need some prodding. Don’t be afraid to ask. They want you to come, so they should be able to make that possible.
3. Ensure you have everything necessary for travel. You need some form of ID. This will probably be a state-issued ID, although if you’re under 18 they might allow you a school ID. But don’t take any chances. You don’t want to be held back due to a technicality. Other necessities include toiletries, clothing (as previously mentioned), other (light) luggage, and perhaps even a passport, if said university is across seas or borders.
4. Upon arrival, be awesomely courteous. The admissions officers deciding who receives the scholarships will definitely be watching. Everything you do should be in your best behavior. Speaking of your best behavior…
Things Not To Do
1. Go to parties. This is beyond not the time to go to your first college party with the cool new folks you met. It just isn’t a good idea, and, with some schools, it’s probably prohibited. If you’re caught intoxicated or doing odd things that tend to happen at college parties, you could get kicked out of the program and maybe even permanently rejected/rescinded from your dream school.
2. Talk whacky on social media. This is especially a no-no if you’ve already joined the Facebook group for your class. Be a good child. There are often older students and admissions officers who are members of those Facebook groups. They’ll be paying attention.
3. Ignore your student hosts. These are students who attend the school you want to be at! They will not only probably be evaluating you after the fact, but also are excellent resources to take advantage of. They’re at the place you want to be at next year! Don’t ignore them–ask them questions!
4. Ignore or rudely treat your fellow scholarship seekers. Sure, this is definitely a competitive time, but these could be students you will one day attend school with—plus it looks great if you’re seen as amicable and sociable. However, the “don’t ignore or rudely treat” rule goes for basically anyone you meet while at the program. This is not a time to make enemies.
5. Say what you think they want you to say. Obviously, one doesn’t want you pulling a Paris Geller in one of your interviewers, but the reason you’re being brought to this school for this big opportunity is so they can get to know you better. Let them. Be yourself, just the… well-behaved version of yourself.
Well prospies, the scholarship weekend can be a big one, especially if you really need the financial aid. Scholarship weekends have higher stakes than your typical financial aid processes. With merit-based, the kind of money you’re being offered is only offered to a small pool of students and this makes the situation highly stressful. Despite this, try not to think of the high-stakes situation you’re in as just that and try to enjoy yourself. You’re at your favorite school, with hopes to attend for less money. Turn the experience into what it is: being provided a chance to talk more and stand out from the crowd to your admissions officers. Seize that! Enjoy it! Good luck, kiddos.