Let's face it: college isn't cheap these days.
Some families start saving a college fund from the day a child is born. Others hope for an athletic stand-out to get a full ride and play a specific sport. Some kids start working at an early age so they can save for college.
But usually, it all comes back to one thing. College isn't cheap these days.
And that's why Farmington High School students can consult the school's new career center. It's not just a place where students can explore their post secondary education options. This time of the year, it's Scholarship Central.
Actually, scholarship applications are available all year long, according to FHS counselor Chelsey Newman. This time of year, though, most of the local organizations -- like the Farmington Rotary or the Farmington Lions, to name a couple -- have the applications on hand at the center.
Local scholarships are probably the most visible to the community. They're the ones awarded by people from Farmington to Farmington students at the spring awards ceremony. Those are the scholarships that are most often listed at that same ceremony, the ones that most students seem to apply for.
But that's not all that's out there, Newman said. Students would do well to apply for scholarships from the colleges they intend to attend. Many of the schools give scholarships based on academics, activities, and yes, even those free rides for sports.
But there are also national scholarships available that come from vendors or larger corporations. Some of these national scholarships might be a little harder to find, but the money is there for the asking.
"What we have here (at the career center) is really just a small drop in a much bigger bucket for what's out there," Newman said.
Maybe one of the best resources for finding available scholarships is right on the School District 192 web site. There are lots of books and information on how to apply for scholarships available at the career center, but the scholarships and the information needed to qualify for them are online.
On the FHS web site, families should look under the Counseling Office link. Then, on the left of the Counseling Office page, there's a link to Financial Aid and Scholarships. It's there, Newman said, that students can find literally hundreds of scholarship applications.
And not all of those are based on high academic achievement or superior athletic performance. The link to a database called FastWeb provides students a chance to list their strengths, then searches out available national scholarships they may be eligible to receive.
"It's a lot of work," Newman said. "Scholarship applications are sometimes a full-time job for our students. But it can be worth the effort."
Newman also suggests that this year's seniors aren't the only students who should be thinking about scholarships if they're planning on post secondary education.
Newman says FHS juniors should be paying attention to their grades, tracking their involvement in organizations and volunteer work, and understanding that next year will be a busy year. Preparation should begin now -- and even freshmen and sophomores who are considering college should start to think about these types of things.