Montclair Magazine Holiday 2020 - Page 10

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LEADING ATREASURE HUNT Connections101 co-founder Jean O ’ Toole walks students at Astor Collegiate Academy in New York City through the scholarship search process .
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR RESEARCH , SHE SUGGESTS
O ’ Toole advises using a virtual calendar to copy and paste information on when to apply for specific scholarships , and how they are awarded . “ A tenth grader may come across a scholarship for college undergraduate students , and want to apply later ,” she says . The search process should be year ’ round . “ There are deadlines every month ,” she says . “ There ’ s no particular season for them .”
SHE PRAISES MAKING PERSONAL CONNECTIONS
When possible , reaching out to scholarship-givers helps . A local real estate company might be giving a community service scholarship for a graduating student ; in that case , a student could call to express gratitude for the opportunity , then ask “ What are you looking for in an ideal candidate ?” and find that the award is intended for ayoung person who ’ s done outreach to seniors . “ Then you can do aproject that does just that ,” says O ’ Toole .
MOTIVATION SHOULD COME FROM THE STUDENT , SHE SAYS
“ Parents say to me all the time ,‘ How do Iget my kid to do this ?’” says O ’ Toole . She advises them to tap into their children ’ s interests .“ There are scholarships that ( involve ) playing video games , and ones that are for people who care about animals ,” she says .

“ THERE ARE A LOTOFPRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS WHERE THE ONLY CRITERION IS YOU ’ RE ASTUDENT WHO ’ S ON TRACK TO GRADUATE .”

JEAN O ’ TOOLE
MANY SCHOLARSHIPS GO TO WASTE , SHE SAYS
Years ago , says O ’ Toole , she came across information about the number of applicants across the U . S . and the amount of money awarded to them . “ There are 16 million high school students , and for one that was available across the nation , 100 people applied , and 20 received scholarships ,” she says . “ Oddsare in your favor if you just try .”
SHE SAYS THAT NEED-BLIND SCHOLARSHIPS ARE ON THE RISE
Private awards that aren ’ t based on financial need are a growing category , says
O ’ Toole . One large one with a September deadline is the Cameron Impact Scholarship given by the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation . Students must have a grade point average of 3.7 or higher , and plan “ to have a significant impact on the world ,” she says . The sum available : $ 20- $ 50,000 per year .
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS LED O ’ TOOLE ’ S COMPANY TO REACHAVIRTUAL COMMUNITY
Before the coronavirus arrived , Connections101 was addressing assemblies at acost to schools of $ 250- $ 500 per presentation , depending on the audience size . Now that they are offering online support , scholarship clubs can meet for $ 25 per month , and one-on-one instruction is available for $ 150 each session .
SHE HAS AUTHORED A BOOK ABOUT WINNING SCHOLARSHIPS
O ’ Toole says she wrote the book Scholarship Strategies : Finding and Winning the Money You Need , which was publishedby Morgan James Publishing last fall , to reach a still greater audience . “ We can only serve so many students , and there are only so many school days in ayear ,” she says . ■
For more information , go to Connections101 . com or visit Facebook . com / Scholarship Strategies
COURTESY OF CONNECTIONS 101
8 HOLIDAY 2020 MONTCLAIR MAGAZINE