by Angelique Ricard
Derrius Quarles is an award-winning entrepreneur, social justice activist, web designer, speaker and author of the book Million Dollar Scholar, which teaches young adults how to find a scholarship to help them attend their desired college.
In a presentation at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Cortelyou Library in February, he explained what students should do to find scholarships. It is the student’s responsibility to find out about all needs-based and merit-based scholarships. He believes two hours of research is the minimum recommended for finding the financial aid that fits for you.
Quarles, though, offers tips to make the process easier. He displayed an inverted triangle showing different types of scholarships, so you can pick one that is suitable for you.
He started off broadly at the top of the triangle explaining FAFSA federal grants. These are based on income and are accessible to all citizens. Next, he went into state grants where you compete only with other people in your state. Then Quarles dived into institutional aid, which is awarded by the college.
Quarles also talked about national scholarships/grants from private entities such as Coca-Cola and Gates Millenium, that allow students from everywhere to apply. These are the most competitive and are worth the most money.
The last scholarship opportunity on his triangle is local. This means your acceptance is based on your neighborhood or city. This one offers small awards.
According to Quarles, scholarships require four things in the application:
- Information on the person applying;
- A piece of writing by the person;
- A resume
In the information category, the people awarding the scholarship expect your full name, phone number, email address, school and GPA. For the writing piece, it all depends on the prompt — on what is being asked. But Quarles recommends being creative, being yourself, telling stories, and most importantly, answering the question you have been asked to write about. Make sure to always stay on topic.
In your resume, you should prioritize activities, putting the most important things first,. It’s more about quality than quantity. Quarles recommended that your resume be no longer than a page.
Finally, for the recommendation segment, you should think hard before you pick someone. No family is allowed. You should give the person writing the recommendation three weeks advance notice and follow up a couple times so they know that this recommendation is important to you and it should be important to them as well.
Million Dollar Scholar is a gem for all students hoping to get a scholarship to their dream school. By using this book, students can learn how to research a scholarship that suits them, what to put in an application and how to manage their time when facing a deadline. Derrius Quarles himself has been awarded scholarships and attended MOrehouse College and the University of Pennsylvania so he is a person we can trust for helpful information.
Good luck students! And make sure to pick up a copy of Million Dollar Scholar when searching for scholarships