This winter, college-bound students applied for scholarships administered by Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, including the Nordic Educational Scholarship of the Vermont Business Roundtable. This year, one hundred and thirty nine applications were received with forty five finalists making it to our selection committee. These scholarships support students seeking a certificate or two-year technical degree.
In light of the scandal surrounding corrupt admissions practices to some of the nation’s top colleges and universities, the contrast of those families with our student applicants couldn’t be more pronounced.
As a member of the Selection Committee, I see these applicants are first generation college-bound students whose families have little, if any, college savings. They’ve done well in career and technical education and seek a relevant degree to accelerate their career prospects. Their academic interests have been shaped by early exposure to work in the field, on the farm, in the shop, and in the woods. They’re earnest and hardworking; some are entering higher education for the first time after being in the workforce for several years; and still others want to start a business in Vermont and raise their families here.
Our selection process includes a telephone interview to clarify our understanding of the applicants as aspiring diesel mechanics, veterinarians, mechanical engineers, automotive technicians, dental hygienists, computer scientists, nurses and more. Most of their backgrounds are challenging, but their desire is strong, and scholarship support could be a life-altering opportunity. And they’re precisely the kinds of students and future workers that Vermont’s economy needs in order to thrive – so these are hard decisions to make.
Separately, the Vermont Talent Pipeline Management project also supports youth and adult students by first articulating employment requirements, then aligning industry needs with education/training providers, and mapping career pathways.
All told, these students haven’t bought their way toward a credential or college program; none of them have faked a personal history, and they definitely haven’t bribed the scholarship selection committee. They’re highly motivated and they understand that a certificate or college-degree program is essential to their future success in life and to a better standard of living for their family.
And they’re fully prepared to earn it the honest way.