CollegeNET has thrown away the old-fashioned method of awarding scholarships. Now, you’re the applicant and the judge.
What did Henderson write about that was so popular?
“I primarily chose issues relating to same-sex relationships, topics that provoked emotion and thought,” Henderson said. “I tended to stay away from participating in the political and religious issues since they, in my opinion, get heated and irrational.”
Jim Wolfston, president of CollegeNET, said the company’s new scholarship process was born when executives found the traditional method tedious.
“We also began to wonder whether students would be more passionate and engaged if the topics they wrote about were ones they'd chosen,” Wolfston said. “We further wondered whether students could collectively evaluate themselves and fairly choose winners. The site was born out of these ideas.”
The great value in the new format, Wolfston says, is that, like a journalist, students must imagine whether their topic will be of interest to others and then frame the topic in a way that attracts that interest.
“These are important communication skills that the traditional essay approach fails to test or develop,” Wolfston said.
Henderson, 38, is a non-traditional student enrolled in the online Academy of Art University, where she’s studying fine arts with intentions to pursue a master's degree. She plans to be an art mentor and educator.
“The scholarship is a tremendous help in reducing my stress in the upcoming semester,” Henderson said.
Students post topics on the CollegeNET site and vote on each other’s essays. CollegeNET scholarships worth from $3,000 to $5,000 are awarded every Wednesday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time to the student with the most votes. Winners are posted on the home page. The site is free, and includes a scholarship database, another financial aid resource for students.
CollegeNET, Inc., a Portland, Oregon-based company, also is a provider of software and e-solutions for more than 1,300 institutions. The social networking site is an extension of this service.
“I find CollegeNET to be a wonderful way to interact with other students of all ages, races, religions, and studies, and support each other in the same purpose,” Henderson said. “I’m impressed by how one must learn how to be a part of this community to not only survive but to thrive and win -- a metaphor for life.”