Scholarships: preparing for the future

A rundown on all things scholarships.



A poster outside the College and Career Center in the front office. This is where college advisor Brandon Cooper works.


Graduation for the class of 2023, summer and scholarship dues are all just around the corner. The summer before graduating should be the minimum time for students to begin applying for various scholarships, while applying even earlier could help you and make you eligible for several necessary grants.

Most people are aware that scholarships can help pay for students’ education expenses. Scholarships are forms of financial aid, which means you get everything for free, much unlike student loans which must be paid back.  High school students can directly receive these funds as a check made out in their name.

Lakewood High School’s college and career coordinator Brandon Cooper has a great variety of information on scholarships and how to apply for them for students. He claims that specific requirements must be met for a student to be awarded a scholarship, whether it be an athletic or merit-based one, depending on the type of scholarship they are aiming for.

“There are thousands and thousands of scholarships available to students,” Cooper said.

Scholars may be given a variety of “prizes” or “awards,” ranging from as little as $100 to as much as $100,000. For the entire four years that you will be studying on that specific university, scholars are eligible to get “full rides,” which means that everything is covered by certain programs or certain sponsors.

Cooper welcomes students from Lakewood High School to visit him for further information on how to apply for a variety of scholarships in his office in student services.

“They are welcome to see me, and I can provide them access to resources for various scholarship databases, but I’ll advise the kids to visit Big Future instead,” Cooper said.

“Big Future” is a website that the College Board manages, and it is accessible to many different schools and holds helpful scholarship information.

Cooper had suggested another website called Pinellas Education Foundation. This website offers the public a wealth of tools, knowledge and instructions on how to take part or get going. The downside of this source is all scholarships are due near the end of the first semester of the student’s senior year.

Many people are unaware that being awarded a scholarship is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Scholarships can be quite competitive, and 97% of winners receive less than $2,500.

It is not enough to get strong grades and admissions test scores to get a full ride. To be chosen for various scholarships, a student must pass through a number of levels. Certain standards could change from college to college. Academic requirements, tests for scholarships, interviews, etc. According to research, fewer than 1% of students receive complete scholarships.

Although your chances of receiving a full scholarship can improve with the right background, careful planning, and understanding where to look. It is important for students to always be on the lookout.

“You know, my thing is, I just urge people to be prepared to just apply to as many as they can, because there’s no limit to the number of scholarships you can earn,” Cooper said.