With Decision Day for the Class of 2020 now past, members of IMSA’s Class of 2021 are beginning to prepare for the college and scholarship application season in the fall semester. As I’ve written in previous articles, taking the PSAT/NMSQT to earn a National Merit Finalist designation alone can win you a free ride at many state schools.
But the PSAT was all the way back in October. If you didn’t plan ahead for the National Merit route, what can you do now to get money for college?
The Bruce Fishkin Scholarship Fund seeks standout students who will go on to make a difference. They award scholarships in amounts up to a full ride — in other words, the entire cost of attendance — at any accredited U.S. school of your choice. Students residing or attending school in specific counties in Illinois, Nevada, and Connecticut can apply in October of their senior year. (The full list of eligible locations can be found here). Up to six students can receive the Bruce Fishkin Scholarship each year.
Since the Fund looks for students who place a premium on academics, IMSA students tend to be a natural fit for the scholarship.
The application process runs from October through April. Essays are due in October and ask only one question: “In 20 years, if you were on the board of this scholarship committee, would you award the 17-year-old you a scholarship? Why or why not?”
Applicants from the essay stage are then filtered to advance to the semifinalist interview, which is a brief interview with one or two members of the Fund’s Board of Directors.
After another cut from semifinals to finals, finalist interviews are conducted with most or all of the Board of Directors. They are longer and more difficult than the semifinalist round. Finally, up to six winners are chosen from the finalist stage.
The benefits of the scholarship are not just financial. Winners join an established network of Bruce Fishkin Scholars and have the unique opportunity to mentor future scholars.
Regarding the application process, newly-named Bruce Fishkin Scholar Krishna Thakkar (‘20) advised, “Read your application essay before you go to interviews because they will ask you about it…and make sure your interview answers fit with your essay.”
Thakkar commented that the lengthy application process taught her that “it’s okay to express vulnerability and flaws even in a scholarship setting, and sometimes that can be more helpful than trying to curate a false perfect image.”