Official UMUB Calendar:

Email Management:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


It is the end of the semester and Christmas is right around the corner. With this holiday, you are also another week closer to the Dell, Smith, and Gates scholarship deadlines. 

While some seniors will spend the majority of the holidays sleeping in, visiting friends, and sharing time with family, a few of you will be PRIORITIZING your time to work at least an hour each day on crucial essays.

Once you have put the essay in your Senior Folder, send BOTH Jamaica (205) 767-7193 or me (205) 516-5007 a text to let us know you have done something that needs editing. Remember, you need to make sure that you answer the "hidden questions," which include:

  • Why is this person worthy of $5,000, $10,000, or even $60,000?
  • What obstacles has this person overcome to emerge as an individual deserving of this scholarship?
  • What lessons has this person learned that will enable him/her to be victorious in college (just as you are in high school)?

Your goal should be to have your essays DONE no later than January 1st so they can be thoroughly edited.  If you get stuck on one of the questions, text and I will try to help you. Also, you could use a strategy Jamaica developed.  You can find a quote that helps to focus your essay (this works especially well on the Community Service essay). Put it at the top and begin your essay generally, where you put some of that quote before you get to the "what you did" part.

Your future is just ahead.  All you must do now is finish this part of the journey with the strength and positive attitude you had when you began your quest.  Above all, know that these scholarships involve HARD WORK and EFFORT; without these two qualities, your essays and applications will fall short of EXCELLENCE, which is what you will need on every part to earn a scholarship.  With EFFORT, YOU CAN DO IT!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


We have back to back Senior Success Sessions because there is a GREAT DEAL to do with scholarships between now and January 15, when most of the major deadlines are set.  

You also need to check posts from November and December, where I have posted additional scholarships.

Here are a couple of CRITICAL dates:

Friday, January 8   ACT February Registration Deadline 
   (final time for Seniors to qualify for Bridge with ACT scores)
Friday, January 8               Linly Heflin* deadline
         SATURDAY, JANUARY 9  SUPER SATURDAY                                    ESPECIALLY FOR SENIORS
Wednesday, January 13    Gates Millennium* Due
Thursday, January 14        Dell Scholars Program Due
Friday, January 15             Smith Foundation** Part II Due

*Linly Heflin and Gates Millennium--nominees already selected
**Smith Foundation Scholarship--Part I was due by December 5

Due in late January and February
COLLEGE COUNTS Scholarship  
          College Counts Scholarship
          Regions Riding Forward Scholarship  
AAEOPP Scholarship 
          Emailed to you in January
March Scholarships
          Ora Lee Jones Scholarship
          Other local scholarships

Senior Success Agendas

Need more scholarships? Review the blog posts below or go to this link:  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Cambridge Scholarship

From the publishers of our ACT Prep curriculum and books, Cambridge Educational Services, there is a $500 scholarship.  

It involves a short application of information and a VERY SHORT answer to this prompt:

Schools of higher education rely upon standardized test scores, grade point average, work experience and extra-curricular activities for admission to their programs. Explain how your experiences make you an excellent candidate for admission to the school of your choice. (maximum of 250 words)

Thursday, December 3, 2015


You are applying for scholarships and get near the end of a lengthy application.  What do you see?  A place to list your recommenders.  Email your recommenders NOW so they have time to write their letters.  These are not just short form letters; it needs to be an indepth letter about your character, academic potential, community service involvement, etc.  ATTACH YOUR RESUME so your recommender has an idea of your involvement/accomplishments. You can also print out this Handy Dandy Letter of Recommendation form Request for Recommendation to give to a recommender.  

The RECOMMENDATION section is JUST as important as the essays you have toiled over.  A good rule is to have at least three recommenders lined up.  I am usually the first one for seniors because I have known you the longest and coordinate your Senior portfolios and digital files.

Mary Jo Buff   
   University of Montevallo Upward Bound 
   Academic Coordinator
   Station 6268 Montevallo, AL 
   (205) 665-6289                 Use the official office phone number    Use my official email rather than gmail
If you choose to use Mrs. Edwards, you should follow the guidelines she has given you (attached here) but know she wants ONE MONTH to work on your AWESOME letter, so email her immediately if you plan to use her.
Whomever you choose, make sure to send an email giving the DATE DUE, as well as what you want them to do.  You will also need your recommender's email addresses for the application, so be sure to write them down.

Finally, remind your recommenders to SAVE their letters of recommendation.  YOU WILL NEED THEM FOR OTHER SCHOLARSHIPS.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Updates on Scholarships

Good News! 

I found out today that for Smith, you DON'T have to submit your essays by December 5th!  You have until January to submit those! 


That means you have time...valuable get that done.

Bad News!

You have to apply for three applications (documentation is due in January).  I have ideas to help you (check your email) and text.  The BIG scholarships--really the bulk of scholarships--are due between now and February, so you're going to get MOTIVATED to get these applications done. CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION AND WHAT PARTS HAVE TO BE COMPLETED.

You're not going to get a scholarship if you don't try, so get busy! 

Friday, November 6, 2015


I just finished reviewing the Smith Scholars Foundation website and found this GREAT list of scholarships: 
Smith Scholarship Link for additional scholarships
This next month will be crucial as you prepare for SAEOPP and SMITH Scholarships, both due for me to review by December 1st.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The SAEOPP Application is open.  

The Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (SAEOPP) is pleased to announce their sponsorship of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video contest. Students are challenged to produce one (1) PSA, 30 seconds in length, which explains for future TRIO students how their involvement with TRIO will affect their lives. 

TRIO participants are invited to compete for two (2) Scholarship awards of $500.00 these awards may be used to help defray postsecondary educational costs during the 2016-2017 academic year. SAEOPP wishes to assist the student that has overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve.

You must have a 3.0 GPA and a 20 ACT to apply.  

Here's the essay:  

In the space below, you must submit an essay entitled, “How my Involvement in Has Assisted Me in Preparation for College Success and Success in Life”.  (GEE!  YOU SHOULD HAVE THIS DONE FROM THE SUMMER).   Your essay must be typed, and it must be between 350-450 words. 

Write the essay and save it in your shared folder on your Google Drive.  Then, let me know and I will edit it.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Scholarships for JSU

If you are interested in Jacksonville State University, here's information on scholarships. ACT scores start at 20, so many of you would qualify (if you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher) for some of the scholarships.  JSU has a strong band program, and it is about the size of UM's campus.  It does have a football team.  I have linked the scholarship flyer here:  
JSU Scholarship Flyer

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Senior year College Visits and/or attendance at Preview Days will be crucial as you begin to narrow your choices for college.  Here is the list of visits Upward Bound is planning for you:  
Upward Bound will provide transportation to the following colleges:

· University of Alabama Huntsville    September 26
· Jacksonville State University          October 3
· Samford University                         October 31
· Alabama A&M University                November 7
· University of North Alabama           November 14

Follow the link below to the complete schedule of Fall College Visits and ALL Fall Preview Days: 

For UAH and JSU, students will sign up at the September 22 session.

Students will sign up for Samford at the October 20th session.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Seniors, get started!  The BIG scholarships are starting to become available! One of the BIG scholarships, the Smith Foundation Scholarship, is now open.   There are some revisions this year (TWO DEADLINE DATES). The application is now available for you to start working on it.  Part I is due December 1st, but I suggest you get started on it NOW so I can go through and edit it with you in September--early November.  

This is a scholarship that wants a 3.0 GPA, an 18 or above ACT, LOTS of Community Service, and YOUR STORY. Students who are FIRST GENERATION and have FINANCIAL NEED are encouraged to apply. You will also need to document your applications to 3 OTHER scholarships...I've given you LOTS (see posts from June), so get busy!  Go to to start your application today.  You will need tax documentation (we scan it and put it in your digital file), ACT scores, and a transcript (I have transcripts and most of your ACT scores).  Contact me if you're planning to apply and I'll help you get it done.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

College Search and "The Right Fit"

By this point in your senior year, you should be searching for colleges and examining which school will be "the right fit." As you read the article in the link below, consider some or all of these points to help you make your final selection.

College Search and "The Right Fit" 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Upward Bound Session Dates

Here are the Upward Bound Meeting dates for the 2015-2016 year (and I've also listed Senior Success Seminars so you know to bring your binder):  
University of Montevallo 
TRIO Upward Bound
Meeting Dates

*Tuesday, September 22  Back to Upward Bound Bash
**Monday, October 5
Tuesday, October 20        Senior Success Seminar
Monday, November 2
Tuesday, November 17    
Monday, November 30     Senior Success Seminar
Tuesday, December 8      Senior Success Seminar
Monday, January 11         Senior Success Seminar
Tuesday, January 19
Monday, February 8         Senior Success Seminar
Tuesday, February 23
Monday, March 7              Senior Success Seminar
Tuesday, March 22           
Monday, April 4                 Senior Success Seminar
Tuesday, April 19
Monday, May 2

*Returning Student Only Orientation (September 22)
**New Student Orientation/Parent Meeting (October 5)
**Returning Students in Academic Classes (October 5)

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Secret Behind the "A"

The Secret Behind the "A"
Have you ever noticed how some students work hard and make those "A's" in their classes?  While part of the secret may be an ability to comprehend quickly, most successful students will tell you that there's a method to making great grades.  Often, the higher grade comes with more efficient organization, focus, and a PLAN to get higher grades--that's right--very little to do with ability and everything to do with attitude. Read more about how to unlock the Secret Behind the "A" here.

The Secret Behind the "A"

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Handy Dandy Hints for a FOCUSED year!

With the start of school less than three weeks away, it's time to consider your FOCUS for the year.  First of all, look at your transcript.  It is critically important that your GPA is a 3.0 or higher. How do you do that?  FOCUS! 

When looking at your GPA, colleges look at the WEIGHTED GPA. While an 18 or 20 might be the beginning score for admission, if your GPA is lower than a 3.0, you will be required to have a higher ACT and might possibly be wait-listed until January.

Many scholarships look at the ACT and your GPA (and unless you have a 3.5 or higher, even a high ACT is not enough). Sometimes, a 79 could be an 80 with just a bit of effort.  As you prepare for a new school year, make sure you put 100% into your classes, have a strong focus in your classwork, and think about your GPA throughout the semester.  As you enter your senior year, know that you have ONE SEMESTER to finish strong and qualify for scholarships!

Here are some Handy Dandy Hints to help you begin your school year with the right focus:
  • Get a school year planner.  Right now, they are on sale and you have a good selection.
  • Write down some short-term goals (what you want to accomplish within the next week or month) and then consider some long-term goals.
  • Set up a Senior Strategy Session.  We can get a lot done if we get started early.  These sessions usually can be completed in less than two hours and we can organize your files, scan some documents, get more information for an AWESOME recommendation letter, and make sure you are ready for your senior year.
  • Update your résumé and, once school begins, identify recommenders at your school (counselor, teacher, principal).  While I will be your primary recommender, many scholarships require two or three recommenders.
  • Actively participate in student organizations at your school!  Getting involved shows your resolve to be a WINNER who is intent on earning scholarships AND a COLLEGE DEGREE!  

Don't Waste Away the Summer

Hopefully, you're starting to catch up on your rest from a busy Upward Bound Summer.  Since some of you don't have FB accounts, you may not have gotten the information of a very good blog I'm following (Hopefully, you're following THIS one) for UB Seniors.  As is mentioned in the "College Prep" post, you've got to start now.  I need to meet with all of you (plan 2 hours of time) sometime this summer.  During this Senior Strategy Session (just the two of us), we'll make sure your digital file has what will be needed for many scholarships.  I will also start your LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION--which you will most likely need for all scholarships.  

For now, take time and read these two blogposts listed below:

College Prep for Rising Seniors

JLV Blog Scholarships with August 2015 deadlines

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Scholarship Essay Prompts

Scholarship "season" has not begun, but you are getting a head start by doing any/all of these essay prompts BEFORE this summer and before school starts!  If you plan to do Smith, Dell, or Gates Millennium, read the qualifications carefully. Then, plan a 2-3 hour conference with me between July 15 and August 15.  

Scholarship Essay Prompts

As always, copy/paste into a NEW document and put it where I can edit it in Google Drive.  Once we complete the summer program, send me a text and I can edit/suggest ideas via the internet and your Google Drive.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dell Scholarship Worksheet

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to helping children and youth achieve their potential. The Dell Scholars program offers an opportunity for under-served and lower income students to realize their dreams of attaining a college education.

I have taken the application and divided it into parts--twelve short, but powerful essays/statements that may enable you to earn a substantial amount ($20,000) for college.

Dell Scholarship Program Worksheet

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Senior Success Seminar June 10, 2015

We have two very special guests today--Jordan Clark and Horacio Martinez. 
They are both scholarship recipients.  
Listen and learn how you, too, can earn these big scholarships!  

Senior Success Notes

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Senior Success Seminar June 3, 2015

Use the link with this post to review information covered in the June 3rd Senior Success Seminar.  You can download the powerpoint and review the slides covered in class.

Senior Success Notes

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Yours is a Story

Often, the interview question/response that stumps people is TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.  Yours is a fantastic journey. Open a Word document, then save it to your Google Drive. From there, start working on YOUR Hero's story.   I have added a link of the Hero's Journey patterns and critical obstacles below.  Click on the link to review the handout online.             Your Heroic Journey

Thursday, May 21, 2015

College Myths

bigstock-College-Just-Ahead.jpgBusting College Myths
There's a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to college, so we're here to help separate myth from reality and give your family an inside look at what to expect. Read more at this link:
Busting College Myths

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Setting and Achieving Goals

Feeling overwhelmed? Lots of college-bound high school students do. Here's one solution: Set some goals. Having a plan in place—a road map—takes the anxiety out of any journey or transition, including the one you will make from high school into college.

If you're having trouble focusing on your studies, if your life is too busy and complicated, goals can help you set priorities and focus on the activities that are most important to you. Keep remembering: Your success has short-term AND long-term value to you, your family and your community. Turning hopes and dreams, such as college and the possibility of becoming a Dell Scholar, a Smith Scholar, or a Gates Millennium Scholar, into reality takes setting and achieving goals. But where do you start?

Start S.M.A.R.T.
Get S.M.A.R.T. About Goals

A great way to take control is to set SMART goals—ones that are:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely

Setting And Achieving Goals

Monday, May 18, 2015

Important Senior Contact Information

Your SENIOR YEAR will be busy, and to get information needed quickly, use this Handy Dandy Contact Information sheet to know WHO to contact for WHAT. Follow this link: Important Senior Contact Information or see the information below:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Interview Skills

You receive a call from a member of a scholarship committe.  You are a semi-finalist. Would you be ready?  Use this handy dandy link to make sure you are ready.  At the end of it, you will find the Summer 2015 Mr. & Miss Upward Bound questions.
Interview Skills

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Creating a Résumé

Your résumé--both an academic and workplace-oriented--need to be completed as soon as possible.  Some scholarships require a résumé with submission.  

You can add to your documents throughout the year as you earn more honors and awards.

Request for Letter of Recommendation

It's scholarship time and one of the most important parts will need to be completed by a teacher, counselor, or principal.  Here's a Handy Dandy form to download and fill out to request this letter of recommendation. If you have to give information, go to the Important Senior Contact Information for the correct email and/or address for Upward Bound staff giving letters of recommendation.  Click this link and get started!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Transcript Request Draft

Hey Seniors, did you know that colleges need to be sent a copy of your academic transcript as part of your application? Its also a requirement if you are part of the Senior Success Seminar! If you're wondering how to go about getting it to them, then this post is for you!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

College Vocabulary Need to Know

There's a lot to know before your child heads off to college, including understanding all the terms you'll hear between now and then. Is a college the same as a university? Can your student study liberal arts even if he/she doesn't go to a liberal arts college? And what is a liberal arts college anyway? Learn some college lingo now.

Gates Millennuim Scholarship Timeline

When the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the $1 billion Gates Millennium Scholars Program, it had students like yours in mind—young people who perform well not only academically, but also exhibit leadership skills and do their part to serve the community. Academic achievement, community service and leadership remain the three key selection criteria.

If your child is eligible for consideration as a Gates Millennium Scholar, here are ways you can help him or her be the strongest possible candidate throughout high school and year by year.
Every Year of High School, Your Student Should...

Why College Is Worth It

Many high school students think of college as the ticket to a bigger salary, and statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show a strong relationship between a college degree and earnings. But higher potential earnings are only the beginning of the benefits.

Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay

It’s a pretty safe assumption that everyone planning to apply for scholarships is able to write. It is difficult to get very far in high school or college without at least some rudimentary written communication skills. It’s certainly impossible to make it through the ACT, SAT, or college applications -- especially beyond “You’re Accepted” without them. 

So when you come across essay scholarships, it can be easy to get discouraged and think that there’s going to be way too much competition and you have no chance of winning. After all, everyone can write. However, not everyone is willing or able to put in the effort required to write well.  Writing scholarships become excellent opportunities for those students dedicated and diligent enough to write a scholarship-worthy essay.

AAEOPP Scholarship


TRIO Works- Because We Care!
C:\Users\jhudson\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\EAM1KSR6\MC900359597[1].wmf

The link will take you to the application for AAEOPP (Alabama Upward Bound and Talent Search).   You will need 1) a transcript; 2) 2 letters of recommendation; 3) a strong essay (300-500 words).