College Scholarship Workshop: The Road to Success

"It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always." - Oprah Winfrey

Last week, we reviewed those pesky thoughts regarding “college.” Hopefully, you have put those thoughts on paper and feel like a tiny load has been lifted off your shoulders. This workshop is all about moving forward so lets get going! 

Today’s topic: The Road to Success. 

Before you can actually achieve success, you need to define what success is for you. It differs from person to person. 

I have gathered some definitions to get your mind moving. 

“the achievement of one’s aim or goal” - en.wiktionary.org/wiki/success

“catch per unit of effort” - www.streamnet.org/pub-ed/ff/Glossary/glossaryfish.html

“an act or occasion of winning, being victorious, or overcoming something” - encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/triumph.html

“the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted” - www.mcs.k12.ny.us/pages/srobert/new_page_1.htm

a favorable result” - quizlet.com/print/22896/

There are hundreds/thousands of definitions and articles on success. And I would tell you to read them, but don’t. You want to stay very focused on your road to success -- whatever that final destination may be. 

Step One: Begin to map out some possible destinations

Begin right where you are. Don’t think a week from now, two weeks from now, or what would have been last week. Think about NOW! 

At this current moment, answer these questions (with regard to your college scholarship process):

  • What is the worst case outcome? What will happen if that outcome occurs? Why do you feel that outcome could occur? What are your fears associated with that outcome? 
  • What is the best case outcome? What will happen if that outcome occurs? Why do you feel that outcome could occur? What are your thoughts associated with that outcome? 

After you have let yourself ponder the worst case and best case scenarios, you have created a broad outline for your map. You should know two things now: where you don’t want to end up and where you would love to end up. 

I don’t like to think in extremes, but rather find a middle ground. 

What are some possible outcomes between the worst case and best case scenarios? Think about two or three. 

What is all this critical thinking for? To start thinking about less than “perfect/best-case” scenarios that are actually pretty good! In sum, begin to think beyond the perfect end-result to decrease stress and anxiety. 

Step Two: What are my needs?

The answer to this question will take some thought. I am definitely not an expert in defining your personal needs; however, I know that people often stop too short when thinking of their needs. How so? They neglect to think outside the box. How can you decrease your needs? Now we’ve moved on to creative thinking! 

Make a list of your financial needs and then assess from there. Some things to keep in mind: what type of institution are you planning for financially? Have you thought about the options available to you? For example, private vs. public, 2 vs. 4 year, geography (cost of traveling or living expenses), institutional financial aid. 

Some resources to get you thinking creatively!

Jean Chatzky on Oprah & Friends -- Affording College

Tuition without Tears

Tuition without Tears: Money-Saving Strategies

Step Three: Paving the Road to Success

By this point in the workshop, you have a pretty good handle of your thoughts regarding “going to college” and the costs associated with college. You have thought and thought and thought about possible scenarios. And finally, you have a pretty good idea of what your core financial needs are. 

Now we need to get from here (point a) to obtaining your core needs (point b). However, this road is definitely not straight-- there are twists and turns along the way. To get to point b, we are going to break the process down into chunks. The purpose of chunking is two fold: you don’t get knocked down during the process and you don’t get overwhelmed. 

In parts three through five of this workshop, we will actually be navigating the process together. Each part is broken down and spread apart so everything is practical. I will provide concrete steps to take and activities to help you along the way. 

To prepare for part three of the workshop, I want you to review part one and part two. Make sure to keep notes. After you have reviewed parts one and two, decide how you are going to get organized for the scholarship process. You want to determine where you are going to keep all of your materials (notes, links, dates to remember, etc.). For some people a simple notepad may work. However, I suggest creating a binder divided into categories (by tabs) so the papers don’t turn into piles and overwhelm you. You can start by putting a calendar at the front of the binder and noting any important dates. Add your workshop notes to the binder and you are ready to go. 

I look forward to working together to create a successful college scholarship journey! 

Best wishes,



Review the Workshop:

Introduction to Workshop

Part One [Day 1]: Decision Making (You are in Power)

Part One [Day 2]: What is my role? -- For Parents

Part Two [Day 1]: The Good and The Bad

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