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photo by JoePenna

photo by JoePenna

Scholarships. The Hoy Grail of college students. Especially those that want to go on to graduate school. We all want ’em. Who couldn’t use a few extra bucks towards extremely expensive college tuition, and the pay-off is great when you think about it from the perspective of an hourly wage. You fill out an application, beg your professors to write a letter of recommendation, submit some writing samples (preferably the ones you got decent grades on), and voila! If you’re lucky, a few hours of work can pay off big.

One of my professors had “gently” hinted for awhile that I should join the international English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta. This of course segued into, “Wow! You’d make a great president, and you’d be in line for scholarships then!” {Sigh!} One of the  pitfalls of being a mature non-trad with great grades is that your professors latch on to you like you’re their last desperate life line because, 1. they can’t get anyone else to commit, and 2. they know you’re actually going to take it seriously and do a responsible job with it. I took the bait.

And I haven’t looked back. I cannot begin to list for you all the benefits of volunteering for a leadership position while in college, and not just for the access to scholarships. When one is applying to grad school, good grades are not enough. Universities are looking for so much more. Have you volunteered in your school and community? Have you published anything? Have you presented a paper at a literature conference? Have you won any scholarships? Check, check, check, and check! Sigma Tau Delta has opened a lot of doors for me. By volunteering as president, I have met and made friends with a lot of cool people, added to my CV, done something good for my college and department, learned even more about what it means to be a leader, and, oh yeah…won the Midwest Regent’s award, beating out 800 other schools and gaining exposure in my field. Check it out here. I’m the fifth from the bottom. Pretty cool, huh? And the $1000 bucks doesn’t hurt either. Did you see some of those prize amounts? Get cracking! Volunteer! Apply! You won’t regret it. I sure haven’t. Then you can toot your own horn.