Scholarships are a wealth of help for students pursuing additional education after high school, but first, they need to apply.
Two years ago Ken Glozer set up a donor advisory fund and provided $25,000 for the purpose of making a $5,000 annual scholarship to a financially needy Uniontown High School student wanting to attend a junior college or technical institute instead of a four-year college.
Glozer is a member of the 1959 class of Uniontown High School and went on to a career as a federal bank examiner, a career servant in the Office of Management & Budget in the White House under six presidents, and created a successful consulting firm in Washington, D.C. for Fortune 500 companies.
Today, he’s an investor.
“Much to my surprise, we have had very little student interest and application for the past two years even though something like 30-plus percent of graduating high-school seniors do not go on to college,” Glozer said. “So we are increasing our promotional efforts to try and interest needy but qualified students who understand they need quality education beyond high school in order to compete in job markets and be successful in getting good paying jobs with a future.”
Courtney Baker, who handles local scholarships for students Uniontown Area High School, said she has seen a low interest with student applicants for all scholarships this year.
“Since many seniors are taking advantage of the remote learning option, that personal interaction is lost, and it’s been difficult to connect with them this year,” said Baker, who is also the librarian and gifted support teacher at the high school.
Baker said it could also be that students may not have the confidence that they could win a scholarship, uncertainties during an uncertain school year or they may not want to do the work, which, she added, is minimal — and totally worth it for the potential outcome.
“Students should definitely pursue scholarships” she said. “It costs nothing but their time to apply.”
She said while the scholarships vary in amount, every bit helps to ease the financial burden of tuition and student debt.
“I’ve known students who planned to work during college but didn’t have to because of the scholarships they earned,” Baker said. “Instead of working nights and weekends, they were able to focus on their studies or take advantage of student organizations and intramural sports.”
The criteria for the Ken G. Glozer Advanced Vocational Training Scholarship includes attending high school at Uniontown Area High School, using the scholarship money at an institution that provides advanced vocational training, displaying special talent or interest in a particular field of study or activity, completing an application that includes a brief essay and having and maintaining a GPA of at least a 2.0.
Baker said one reason for the low interest is Glozer’s scholarship as well as other scholarships is the fact that they target a specific group of students, so the number of students that are eligible are fewer than ones going to a four-year university.
“In general, it seems that trade/tech schools are under-represented and not promoted as much as traditional colleges, so I hope his scholarship draws more attention to those opportunities,” Baker said. “College is not for everyone, so these schools are often a good fit for the students who need additional education but don’t want to commit to another four years.”
“There is a slightly lower interest for Ken’s scholarship, but there are also not as many students eligible,” she said. “Perhaps those students that are eligible, (going to a trade/tech school or community college) just don’t think they are scholarship worthy, which is certainly not the case.”
Renee Couser, the executive director with the Community Foundation of Fayette County (CFFC), said they have not seen a decrease in the overall number of applications for the many scholarships they administer.
She said over 1,000 scholarship applications were submitted for the 2021-2022 school year. The CFFC recently started using software to help streamline the process by positing an eligibility quiz that matched students to the scholarship for which they’re qualified.
“By answering a few simple questions, students saw a list of scholarships that they qualified for, instead of having to read over 50 scholarship descriptions,” Couser said. “This was a significant time saver for the students.”
She added that CFFC relies on the guidance counselors, teachers and administrators to be their liaisons for getting students interested in applying for scholarships.
“They are our ‘boots on the ground’ and serve as a great resource to both CFFC and to the students,” Couser said. “But ultimately, it’s up to the student to do their research and to pursue the scholarship opportunities that CFFC offers.”
Couser said there have been instances where the scholarship criteria is very specific, and therefore, limits the number of applicants.
Glozer said if his scholarship program is successful during the five-year test period, he plans to set up a trust with $100,000 of funding to enable a $5,000 annual grant award for the foreseeable future.