Ep. 39 Winning $1Million in College Scholarships, Without Being the Cream of the Crop

Scholarships Ep. 39Today’s episode of the college money maze is a discussion about college scholarships, specifically about a young man (Blake Dawson) in high school who won over $1million to date. There was a recent video and article posted on our facebook community page for The College Money Maze. The video and article first appeared in the Courier Journal.

A student who focuses their efforts on finding college scholarships, wanting to be student loan debt-free can achieve that goal. He and others are living proof of that. There are a couple of key points that he makes and the writer of the article underscores:

  1. Getting and staying organized from the beginning of the process.
  2. Being diligent and researching each school on his list to see what college scholarships are available that he may qualify for. Many of them are not advertised on the general scholarship search websites.
  3. Great quote from him – “If you don’t ask, you’ll never know”.
  4. His parents set the expectation early on that it was his responsibility to find money to pay for his college education. Have a mindset of “excellence”.
  5. He treated this just like a part-time job, setting aside a few hours on a Saturday to complete essays or during his study hall time at school.
  6. He asked for help from his counselor and parents.  They reviewed his essay and helped with his applications.
  7. He did not let hearing the answer “NO”, deter him from applying for others.
  8. He has not only earned a “Full Ride” for college, he has tens of thousands of dollars for all of the additional expenses that he will incur.
  9. Completing the FAFSA puts you in a position to be eligible for institutional aid.
  10. Being part of a debate club helped him market himself, especially in interviews with colleges.


College Money Maze MASTERCLASS (in NJ) for Parents of incoming HS Juniors. For more information/register for class, CLICK HERE.


Scholarship Spotlight

All about Education Scholarship – This is located on the Unigo.com website. Deadline April 30, 2016. They are awarding a $3000 scholarship to a student 13+ at time of application who can answer the question – How will a $3000 scholarship for education make a difference in your life?

Create Real Impact Contest – Sponsored by Impact Teen Drivers. They are awarding up to $1500 for a student between the ages of 14 and 22 years of age. Student must submit an original work (video, music, creative writing or artwork) showcasing their idea for a solution to the very real problem of reckless and distracted driving. Deadline April 29, 2016

Denny’s Hungry for Education Scholarship – Sponsored by the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities.  They are awarding $1000 to any student k-12, undergraduate or graduate with a minimum GPA 2.5.  Applicant must submit an essay on how Denny’s can impact childhood hunger in their communities. Deadline is April 29, 2016

Dunkin’ Donuts South/Southwest Florida Scholarship Program – they are awarding $1000 to a high school senior at designated (see website) high schools in the Florida Palm Beach Treasure Coast area, the greater Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, and the Greater Ft. Myers-Naples area.



Ep. 29 Scholarship Success Story: Meet Briana!

Scholarship Success: How to stand outIn this episode, we present another parents/student scholarship success story. We want to introduce Brianna J., daughter of Aretha and Kevin.  She is currently a freshman at Hampton University in Virginia. She and her mother talk in depth about the college search process, extracurricular activities, applying for local scholarship, sports (volleyball), HBCU and her entire journey.

The colleges & links mentioned in this episode:

Rutgers University

Morgan State University

Fairleigh Dickinson University

University of Maryland

Loyola University

Kean University

Howard University

Spelman College

Temple University

Ramapo College


The Common Application

Jack and Jill of America, Inc.


[spp-tweet tweet=”Scholarship Tweet: Don’t leave money on the table!”]

Tips for parents & students:

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan – start as early as possible, for example account for expenses related to additional tutoring and what the financial impact for applying to many schools can be on your pocketbook.
  2. Be committed to the process. Use social media as a vehicle to find your scholarship.
  3. Find a way to handle stress in senior year with deadlines (exercise, go for a walk, etc…)
  4. Don’t procrastinate! Learn good time management techniques. Start college and scholarship essays as early as possible.



Bonus: Super Scholarship Secrets from The College Savvy Coach

The College Savvy Coach

The College Savvy Coach

We have a special guest for this BONUS episode – Sia Knight, The College Savvy Coach. She is a former teacher, counselor, administrator turned entrepreneur (founder of The College Savvy Coach) and educational consultant. She brings us some “pearls of wisdom” about scholarship and college admission in general. She has a FREE webinarSUPER SCHOLARSHIP WEBINAR on February 4th, 2016 8pm EST (check FACEBOOK page for additional dates).  You can register HERE for the webinar.

We are very fortunate to have her as a guest.  She gives us a sneak peak into the webinar and share some of those secrets with us such as how to maximize your HS counselor to your advantage, how to compose an application strategy for college and some of the biggest mistakes that lead to less money for college.

[spp-tweet tweet=”It’s not Who You Know, it’s really WHO KNOWS YOU!”]

Register for the webinar TODAY!.

Tips from The College Savvy Coach:

  1. Get to know your H.S. Counselor. When they need to recommend someone for a scholarship, let it be you.
  2. Teach your child to be their own best advocate.
  3. Start your child with an internship or leadership building activity in middle school or early high school.
  4. Teach your student to foster relationships early with other volunteer organizations if you are not that academic super star (to leverage later for scholarships). An example would be Boys & Girls clubs, Urban League or youth groups of fraternal organizations.
  5. How to be a GREAT student – Good isn’t good enough! Colleges are looking for GREAT students: Grades, References, Extracurricular, Avatar (online presence) & Test Score.
  6. Take courses in high school that are rigorous enough to let colleges know you can handle challenging courses.
  7. Get recommendations from school counselor and supplementary ones as needed.
  8. Don’t rush senior year and load up on extracurricular activities. Plan for that earlier in high school.
  9. Believe that college reps do look at your online (google, Facebook, instagram etc…) image!
  10. Be aware of the upcoming changes to the SAT and ACT.

How to contact Sia Knight:

website – Sia Knight, The College Savvy Coach

Twitter – @SiaKnight


Ep. 17 How To Find the Right College

How To Rind The RIGHT COLLEGE eBook

In today’s episode, we welcome admissions expert Regina Paul.  She and Marie Segares host the podcast – NY COLLEGE CHAT.  She talks in depth about a special kind of high school program that she works at that combines high school curriculum with university level coursework.

They have taken their professional knowledge as educators, the information they have shared on their podcast, their experience working with families and created a book – HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT COLLEGE: A Workbook for Parents of High School Students.

Marie Segares and Regina Paul










Links in today’s episode:

The eBOOK: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT COLLEGE: A Workbook for Parents of High School Students

Contact Info:

NY College Chat Podcast

Policy Studies Inc.


Facebook: NY College Chat





Ep. 16 How to Start College Planning and the Black Kids College Project

VICTORYTamara Marie Jones is a tenacious parent who thought about college planning early and “treated it like a business”. Listen to this episode as she shares her story of getting both of her children into college, how she helped her son transfer to another college and gives tips for parents going through the journey of college planning.  She also shares her motivation for turning all of her experience into the Black Kids College Project.

Tamara’s tips:

  • Do not take a “hands-off model” approach to the college planning process. Too risky to leave it to chance. Risk is far too great to leave it to your child.
  • Start out by developing a strong action plan and make sure you and your child have a “shared vision” about their educational future.
  • Focus on the students’ uniqueness.
  • Consider schools out of your geographic region – small private colleges give large sums of grant/aid monies in their packages. Broaden your scope.
  • Start with your what your kid reads in middle school. Take a career inventory to find out what they are interested in.
  • Suggestion to apply to schools where your child is at the top of the test score & GPA range that the school accepts. This makes them more of a “coveted applicant”.
  • Start the college planning process by having a dialogue with college admissions counselors in the 11th grade (Parent & Child). Create touch points.
  • Find out about the “common data set” for the colleges of your choice. A PDF document that contains information about the college, college graduation rates and contains specifics of what admissions counselors care about. Keep track of this data for each school by using an excel spreadsheet. The parent would use the info to rank the school as a “reach, match or just right” for their child.

[spp-tweet tweet=”Demonstrated interest increases your childs’ chance of merit aid and admission”]

Links in this episode:


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Black Kids College Project

George C. Brooks Scholarship – (University of Missouri)

Raise Me Scholarships (as early as 9th grade!)

Sponsors for Educational Opportunities – SEO Career (Internship Portal)

College Confidential

Fast Web

How to contact Tamara:


Black Kids College Project FACEBOOK Page

Twitter – @blackkidscollegeproj



Ep. 13 Which Colleges Require You Take the 50-Minute SAT Essay?

50 minute SAT essay test

50 minute SAT essay test

In this episode, we discuss current events in the college admission industry. There were two articles of interest, the first one from a Washington, D.C. news site (examiner .com) that talked about which colleges would be requiring that students take the “optional” 50 minute SAT essay.   As if the testing changes were not confusing enough. Many schools have a “wait and see” attitude towards the new SAT, its’ sub-scores and how they will be interpreting that information. Other schools have made a definite policy decision whether or not they are requiring the optional writing section. The ACT and COLLEGE BOARD have charts on their websites with the colleges that have reported to them about this issue.

The other article from Forbes.com unveiled a little known fact that FAFSA and the ACT report to the individual colleges where they are “ranked” on your application or test. This information is critical to the schools who are always looking for an indication of how a student perceives them. Unknowingly to you, they may make critical decisions on your admission with this information. You may not have intended it the way it is being interpreted. The suggestion for a resolution is to list your schools on the FAFSA or the ACT in alphabetical order.

SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT: The CHOBANI Scholarship $5,000 awarded annually (non-renewable) given by New York Women in Communications, Inc.

Other Links discussed:

PSAT – National Merit Scholarships Qualifying Test

Scholly App (in ITunes)

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., National Education Foundation

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Foundation



Ep. 11 The Role of the High School Counselor: Are There Other Options For YOU?

Jul 31 2015_43Today’s interview is with a woman who has over 25+ years of experience in the role of the high school counselor, college administration and now as a college and career coach with her own business. www.collegeandcareermatters.com

Dr. Tawna Schmidt talks at length about the role of the highs school counselor, how their “additional” responsibilities keep them from helping students and how to maximize this relationship.

The typical counselor to student ratio (1:250) is an indication that these professionals are overwhelmed with their current duties but they are the first contact most students have with the college admission process.

Helpful resources:

Occupational Outlook Handbook

FREE Guide for Parents/Student: Top 19 Financial Aid Questions to Ask



Ep.10 Utilizing an Academic Life Coach for Your College Bound Student

We welcome to The College Money Maze Podcast a guest expert and fellow podcaster – Gretchen Wegner. She is a co-host of the College Prep Podcast and is also an Academic Life Coach.

Gretchen WegnerGretchen is an Academic Life Coach and Creativity Consultant that specializes in the “Anti-Boring” approach to studying and creating better life skills. She is fascinated with the

interplay between our brains and our bodies and uses her theatrical experience in her coaching with students. She talks at great length about the difference between a “tutor” vs. “academic life coach”.

[spp-tweet tweet=”

TWEET THIS: Perfectionism and Procrastination are two sides of the same coin.

-Gretchen Wegner


Her tips for not-stressing out on the admissions tests:

  • Create a routine & reward system for yourself
  • Study groups are always helpful
  • Take as many practice tests as possible
  • Check out the YouTube channel for Megan Dorsey (her co-host on the College Prep Podcast) for other tips on the SAT & ACT – MEGAN DORSEY

Links to contact her and her resources:


Anti-Boring Technique Course



Ep. 6 Scholarship Success Story: Michael & Michele Christian

Scholarship Success: The Christian Family

Scholarship success: The Christian Family

One of the newest features at The College Money Maze Podcast is our Scholarship Success Stories. We will be profiling parents and students who have successfully navigated this college journey and were able to obtain a scholarship (or many) to fund their own or their child’s education. When Todd and I came up with the concept for the podcast, this topic was the main thing I wanted to do. I thought to myself, why not highlight successful people who have paved the way so others can benefit from their wisdom. There is no need in reinventing the wheel!

Our first set of parents is Michael and Michele Christian. In order to be totally transparent, Michele is a friend of ours from our home town in New Jersey. She is married to Michael and they have two children together, Brandon and Brianna. Michael has an older daughter, Alexis from a prior relationship. Brianna is their oldest daughter who graduated from high school this year and will be attending Rutgers University – New Brunswick Campus (GO SCARLET KNIGHTS!) in the fall. Michele graduated from Seton Hall University and Michael is from the west coast and is an alumna of California State Polytechnic University.

Their top tips for other Parents/Students:

  1. Start looking ASAP! ideally, as soon as they start high school
  2. Good idea to start studying for the PSAT/SAT as soon as possible, preferably in junior year.  Sometimes you get better scores when there is no pressure.
  3. Work hard on the college essay, it is very important.
  4. Listen to your child.  Don’t try to control them or the process.

Links mentioned in this episode:

George School

A Better Chance Program

Johns Hopkins University

Rutgers University, New Brunswick


Leave us a comment below to tell us what you think about this episode. Join our FACEBOOK COMMUNITY – The College Money Maze Community – to get first access to the scholarships and resources that are posted.



Ep. 4 Scholarship Search Expert: Ashley Hill

In this episode of The College Money Maze Podcast, we have our first guest expert, Ashley Hill (author, blogger, speaker)from collegeprepready.com. She details her background and experience with researching and securing over $10k in scholarship/internships while attending Kent State University in Ohio and received her Master’s Degree from A.T. Still University.

Scholarship Strategist Ashley Hill

Scholarship Strategist Ashley Hill

After college, she started her own business as a Scholarship Search Strategist and assists families who don’t qualify for financial aid and feel overwhelmed with paying for college. She is the author of the book – Celebrating the Journey: Rediscovering Me. Use our affiliate link for Amazon and pick it up HERE.Ashley hosts a weekly Twitter chat @9pm EST #collegechat

Ashley’s top tips for creating the best profile to win those scholarships in 2015 (other than merit based):

  • Include volunteer experience
  • Highlight your leadership skills
  • Diversify your activities
  • Chronicle your academic achievements

Ashley even talks about the scholarships for college students in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th and graduate students.

Best resource that she suggests for searching for scholarships:


Sallie Mae Scholarships Toolkit

Scholarships Books – Shop at Amazon.com

How to Contact Ashley:


Contact her on Twitter – @Prepfourcollege

Ashley’s Facebook Page – Prep4College

Ashley’s You Tube Channel

Leave us a comment below to tell us what you think about this episode. Join our FACEBOOK COMMUNITY – The College Money Maze Community – to get first access to the scholarships and resources that are posted.

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