Columbia College consistently seeks out the best and brightest regardless of ability to pay. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, the college distributed almost $5 million in scholarships, a very large amount for a private college.
Many of these best and brightest flock to Columbia College every February for Scholarship Day to meet faculty, submit to an on-the-spot interview, tour the college and write an essay, also on the spot. The prize is well worth it: the Columbia College Scholarship, awarded to five students annually, is worth full tuition, room and board. The Presidential Scholarship, also awarded to five students, provides full tuition. Better yet, both scholarships may be renewed annually based on academic performance.
Potential Columbia College students must be new freshman applicants with a minimum 3.4 GPA and 24 ACT score or 1110 SAT score, have a record of outstanding school and community leadership, and have a resume and two letters of recommendation in hand.
Here are the thorny essay questions:
- When you look back on your life in thirty years, what would it take for you to consider your life successful? What people, things, and accomplishments do you need? How does this particular scholarship fit into your plans for the future?
- Pick a controversial problem faced by your generation and suggest a solution.
The essays tackling problems showed an impressive grasp of today’s social, environmental and financial ills and were by no means limited to the essayists’ city or state. The first question elicited the most interesting responses, however. Most of the winners’ essays veered away from the universal goals of a stable family, financial and career success. One essay defined a successful society as one that elects an African American as president barely 140 years after the end of slavery; another defined it as her grandmother; another, 1960s labor activist Cesar Chavez; another a baseball coach who refused to look the other way at a player's DUI and was fired for his efforts.
Success for Chavez-admiring student will entail first a Columbia College degree, then a law school degree, then fighting for civil rights by “screaming foul from the top of his lungs.”
“It is not about people knowing your name or getting paid a high salary, but rather knowing that you did the very best to improve the quality of existence for others,” writes an Edina, Mo., scholarship recipient.
Another essayist was inspired by and aspires to be an English teacher: “I can envision myself introducing reading, writing and communicating to my students just as my English teacher has introduced - and made me fall in love with - those main aspects of English.”
Clearly, these Columbia College scholarship students of tomorrow are redefining their personal success as altruism.
Oh, and parents were welcome, too.
And the winners are…
The Columbia College Scholarship (full tuition, room and board) has been accepted by the following Missouri high school students:
Brett Bryant, Edina
Shelby Werges, Montgomery City
Robert Powers, Excelsior Springs
Lindsay Schaefer, Jefferson City
Kaitlyn Cavanah, Marceline
Students who have accepted the Presidential Scholarship (full tuition) are:
Alicia Troesser, Bonnots Mill
Macy Prather, Iberia
Tabitha Williams, Loose Creek
Ben Seidel, Columbia
Michelle Artist, Clinton
Welcome to Columbia College, and may your idealism always burn so brightly!