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Gaining Experience and Scholarships for College
Q: I am a senior homeschooler and don't have any scholarship programs that can help me with going to college. It seems to me that I made a bad choice not going to a public school because I will not have any hands-on experience in photography -- my professional interest -- and I do not have a photography teacher to write a letter of recommendation for me. I want to get my AA in commercial photography at a college that costs $37,000 for two years, and I need help paying for my tuition and getting accepted. If you have any information about scholarships for homeschool students please let me know.
A: I don't think you made a bad choice homeschooling -- perhaps the problem is that you didn't do enough planning. I have a young friend who is homeschooled and loves photography. He started entering (and winning) photography contests as a preteen. He also volunteered at a local photography studio several hours a week where he received hands-on experience, as well as the admiration of the studio's owner. More recently, he saved the money he received from a part-time job and built a darkroom to develop his photos. After a few classes at a local community college, he has his sights set on a respected school of visual arts in New York City. Homeschooling didn't hinder his chances for success, but rather allowed him the time to pursue his passion on a full-time basis.
I suggest you read Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook by Cafi Cohen. You'll find an entire chapter devoted to finding money for college. Cohen discusses how colleges award scholarships based on academic, athletic, or artistic merit. In some cases, financial need enters in the scholarship qualifications. You can also apply for a loan or student employment. When you request application forms from colleges, Cohen advises students to ask for scholarship and other financial aid forms at the same time. About 95 percent of student aid is granted by the federal government, state government, and colleges and universities themselves. Try these websites for more info:
- FastWeb Online Scholarship Search
- FinAid: The Smart Guide to Financial Aid
- U.S. Dept. of Education Guide
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.