Named Scholarships (the manner in which Bucknell does it):
So I get this email Monday that says, “It is imperative that you come to Cooley Hall and write a thank you note to your scholarship benefactors by Wednesday of this week.”
So you might be thinking, “Odeke, how can you be angry about something that helps provide the education that you are getting?” It’s because I was tricked, jipped, mislead into this, in my mind, immoral trap.
Let’s go back to the beginning when I first got my scholarship to Bucknell. It was need based and had no part paid by or designated to a certain scholarship. Need based means that the university, through unrestricted funds, was able to offer me money to make my college expenses more manageable. For the first year and a half, I tried to look for ways to get more scholarship towards my tuition as factors such as the Kenyan election violence and the election violence put more economic strains on my family. After fruitless trips to the financial aid offices, I finally found something on the Message Center; or so I thought. There was an opportunity to apply for a named scholarship that I could receive. After applying for it and being told that I had received $2,500 from the Rhodes scholarship…I told my parents and we were all elated. Not long after I received a letter from the university outlining my entire scholarship and I was shocked to find out that the University had REMOVED a part of my merit scholarship and substituted it with the Rhodes scholarship. So I was not receiving any additional scholarship money, but was essentially giving the University a way to allocate restricted donations from donors.
No I appreciate all that our alumni do for kids like me so that we can afford a great education at Bucknell, but is what they did moral? I mean, this “substitution of scholarship funds” was advertised as an opportunity to receive a scholarship. It was only when I went to the office of Alumni relations that this was clarified in a manner of haste as to make sure that what might be a controversal issue sounded legit. I knew that there was no way to challenge this and left. My main qualm is not the named scholarship per-se, but the way in which I was tricked. If I had received the named scholarship before I came to the school then I would have no qualm in sending letters and telling my donor how much the scholarship meant. But the fact that suddenly after being allocated a donor I had to send letters even though I was not required to do anything of the sort for the first two years of my college career seems off to me.
To further explain my frustration, I have another fact to add to the mix. I mentioned that the first named scholarship was named the Rhodes Scholarship for being a Junior Management Major, but a year later, I have been allocated the Weis Scholarship (perhaps for being a Senior Management Major). This simple mix and match method really gets to me especially after I am receiving no additional benefit from it. If the family of the named scholarship was to request a dinner with their benefactor, imagine dow difficult it would be to put on an act, because that is what it would be. One scholarship one year, another the next to make sure that there are students to match named scholarships.
I have no problem thanking all the alumni who have made it possible through their donations to get me here, but to one year thank them and the next being told that I need to single out a certain scholarship because of a profile (management senior) I fulfill with no additional benefit seems wrong to me. If I had never submitted that application for named scholarship then I would never had needed to single out one person for making my college experience possible.
I’m still here which means we were able to get through the tough times as a family but it would have been that much easier if the advertised Named Scholalship was exactly what it said it was. It was more than dissapointing to find out that I had been mislead especially seeing that getting additional aid (in my experience as an international student) is near impossible.
What’s even worse, but I will only touch on for a little bit, are those who have full scholarships at the University and apply to be Resident Assistants (TAs). If they are to get the position, instead of being given a check for the money that would have gone to their board, the university removes their original scholarship that went to their board and replaces it with the RA payment. While we see schools who treat RAs as employees who get paid, Bucknell only subsidizes the cost of the room only if you are paying for it originally (ie. If you do not already have a scholarship covering the cost of board)
I am basically saying, with that long rant, that the University needs to be more transparent with their financial aid policy and how they treat the allocation of their donor’s restricted money. If I was a donor knew that students were receiving my scholarship but didn’t have an attachment to it due to the method it was handed to them through the University I would not be particularly happy.
The name scholarship program is terrible at the moment and needs to create a lot more transparency before I can get off rant mountain and calm down a little.
That is all….