The Purple Clarion

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The Purple Clarion

The Purple Clarion

Seniors prepare for post-high school plans

Photo illustration by Leah Haugen
The Southeastern Illinois College scholarship packet is provided for students to prepare for college.

College is just around the corner for most seniors with graduation being in five months. Though, It is never too early to start preparing for the future.

According to college counselor Emma Lane, students should have their college applications finalized and submitted. 

“College applications vary in complexity. Some of them are simple, such as Southeastern Illinois College and John A. Logan College,” Lane said. “Four year universities, private schools, and Ivy league schools have a lot more steps to their college applications. Some of them require essays written in the application, short answers or essay attachments, and letters of recommendation from teachers.”

Lane says it is important that students submit their applications before the deadlines. Along with college applications, students should be looking at options for financial aid.

“Financial aid can be broken down into 3 different aspects: grants, loans, and scholarships. Grants and loans are processed through FAFSA. Students can begin completing the FAFSA as of December 31,” Lane said. 

In years prior to the 2024-25 academic year, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) was available by October 1. Due to the delay, FAFSA is not open to applications until December 31. When it opens, students can apply online.

“Grants are given to students based on need and are never repaid,” Lane said. “Loans are sometimes given to students on the basis of need, but any student can qualify for a loan, which is repaid. Scholarships are earned through application. This source of money is not repaid.” Available local scholarships can be found in counselor Glenn McKinstry’s office in guidance. SIC provides program scholarships as well as performance scholarships that can be found online.

Although students may shy away from national scholarships due to the competition, it is still an opportunity to earn financial help. National scholarships can be found online as well.

“If you are a college bound student, hopefully you have a scholarship essay written that has been critiqued and ready to go. At this point, students should focus on scholarship applications. I don’t think we have a whole lot right now, but they will start rolling in very quickly,” Lane said. 

Due to lack of applications, some scholarships are not awarded every year. College counselors stress that students apply, as any financial help can be beneficial. 

“Students who are planning to go to SIC, that scholarship packet is available as of last Friday. I would highly suggest students come in and get that from either me or Mr. McKinstry,” Lane said.

The SIC scholarship application packet has many foundation scholarships available to applicants. The scholarships focus on academic performance, majors, and student interest. The deadline for SIC scholarship applications is Feb. 28.

Not all students are ready to jump right into college though. Some students are planning to take a gap year after graduating. 

“Outside of the United States, it is normal for students to take a gap year,”  Lane said.  “It is a year to work and do community service. It is a year to grow. I think a gap year can be a very good thing for students that are undecided on what they want to do.”

Gap years can be taken to save up money for future expenses. It can also be a time for students to think about what they want to truly do with their lives too. 

“With the right mindset a gap year can be a great thing, but I think if a student is decided on what they want to go into with no financial issues, it is best to go onto college. It is an individual decision for students,” Lane said.

Not all students wish to attend college and not all careers require years of college. 

“Students who do not plan to attend college have to look at their futures similar to a college bound student in a lot of ways,” Lane said. “I think that career bound students need to take some time researching the specific jobs they would like to go into. Not every job or career requires college and that’s completely ok. Students who don’t plan to attend should have a really good resume, cover letter and practice interviewing skills.”

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About the Contributor
Leah Haugen, Staff Writer
Leah Haugen is a senior at Harrisburg High School. This is her first year as a staff member of the Purple Clarion. She participates in Art Club, History Club, and Key Club.  Leah has an interest in psychology and the medical field. In her free time, she watches medical documentaries and regularly researches psychological concepts. After graduation, she plans to attend SIU to obtain a degree in psychiatry. “Student journalism allows others to be up to date on news in their local community and the world around them through the help of their school’s newspaper team.”

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