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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.