In March, the 2020 US Census Bureau released educational attainment data showing that 36.3% of American adults 25 years and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher.  This fall nationwide in America, freshmen enrollment plummeted 16% for four-year colleges and 23% for community colleges.  (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center)

In October 2020, the Canadian government amended travel restrictions allowing international students to return to their Canadian universities. (Caitlan Quinn, THE PIE NEWS, 2020/05/10) International students contribute significantly to the university operating budgets in both Canada and the US.  At the same time, our hearts reach out to our Around-the-World scholarship recipients as COVID made acquiring education more complicated and more needed.

For the past nine months, many US colleges are holding classes remotely, and these students feel they are losing essential opportunities for friendship and career development.  Research shows that online learning works best for high achievers but works less well for struggling students with low GPA’s.  Less than 5% of registrants complete the Harvard and MIT massive online open courses.  (S. Dynarski, U Michigan economist, NY Times, October 16, 2020).  There is always the concern that when post-secondary education is interrupted, the student will not return. Also, online students are losing campus work-study jobs and tuition funding.

Faced with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, some universities put students under a shelter in place for 14 days when they arrived on campus.  When there was an outbreak on campus, some colleges sent students home, and some initiated campus-wide quarantines in the dorms.  At Bradley University, students who broke quarantine received a $250 fine.

Imagine as a new freshman, being isolated in your dorm room for two weeks.  Those fourteen days probably seem like an eternity. Imagine, while studying for a test, wondering how you’ll get food if there is a lockdown.  Imagine if there is a lockdown, and you do not have a home where you can return.

Statistics show community college students are disproportionately disadvantaged, often lacking Wi-Fi, computers, and a quiet place to study at home.  Students from high-income households are six times more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree than students from low-income families.

(S. Dynarski, U Michigan economist, NY Times, October 16, 2020).

On October 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a document required for students hoping to pay for college with federal financial aid, became available for the 2021-2022 academic year.  With the pandemic raging, this document becomes more critical for parents and students who have lost jobs.  However, income statements will not reflect COVID unemployment and will not be recognized as a circumstance of need on this year’s form because the form asks for income and financial information from the previous year, including parents’ and students’ 2019 federal income tax returns.

IOKDS Call to Action from Your Home

During the continuing and aftermath of the pandemic, with college student enrollment falling off the cliff, so to speak, our nonprofit mission of supporting the development of young adults in body, mind and spirit has never been more critical.  With an hour and $5, you can help while staying at home.  Visit iokds.org/ what we do/ scholarships and share this website in your community.

So, what is the best way to disseminate information about these scholarship opportunities?   Email persons in your community who interact with high school and college students.  For instance, you might email parents and grandparents you know of potential scholarship recipients.  Or network with church pastors, youth fellowship leaders, high school guidance counselors, admission directors of your alma mater, or colleges near you.

What can you say to grab their attention in an email?  Begin with concise words in the subject line that specify the exact content of your email message.  For instance, you might write: “$1000 college scholarships available for the 2021-2022 academic year.”

If possible, your email greeting should be personal, beginning with, “Dear (specific title/ name).”  Briefly identify yourself and your topic in the first paragraph.  You might say something like:

  • “I am a member of IOKDS, the International Order of The King’s Daughters and Sons.”
  • “We are an interdenominational, Christian service organization.”
  • “Our mission includes helping shape young adult lives with our college scholarship gifts.”

Give essential information next.  Don’t make your email too brief leaving the addressee guessing.  And don’t make your email too long that it doesn’t get read.

  • “We offer $1000 college scholarships to deserving students who are pursuing degrees in a health career or Christian ministry.”
  • “Students of Native American bloodline can pursue any field of study with an IOKDS scholarship.”
  • “At the successful completion of their summer work, our Learn & Discern college interns qualify for a scholarship in their chosen field of study.”

Now is the time for your one priority question asking for their help.

  • “Do you know of any students who might be interested in a scholarship gift for the 2021-2022 academic year?”

Next, explain the action steps you want them to take.

  • “If you know of someone who might be interested, please direct them to our website for application details: org/what we do/ scholarships.”
  • “Or feel free to forward this email to the candidate so that they can reply to our scholarship directors or me for further application information.”
  • “Applications are accepted between November and March for the next academic year that begins in the fall. Our website provides application instructions.”

Close with a sincere and brief thank you.  Your excellent emails sow seeds of possibility to ease college education’s financial burden, especially during these unusual pandemic times.

As an IOKDS member, you recognize that education can be transformative.  While considering individual, Circle, and Branch year-end donations, visit iokds.org/get involved/ make a difference now.  No COVID health risky fundraiser is needed.  If 25% of our members each donated $5 on our website, together, we would raise over $3,000 for scholarships helping shape the lives of three students and their families.  It’s easy and safe to make-a-donation on our website using a credit card or PayPal account. You will receive an email confirmation of your transaction for your financial records.  The scholarship director sends you a big thank you in advance, and the scholarship recipients will make you proud and be forever grateful.

Dianne Foglesong
communications-director@iokds.org

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