You know how you used to fill in the blanks on a bunch of papers, agonize over an essay or two, send it off to the college of your choice and then anxiously await an acceptance letter in the mail?
Yeah, it doesn't work that way anymore. Except for the essay part. There's still a lot of agonizing there.
But there are no stamps; it's all digital. You submit your application online, and you learn your fate online. And that, as it turns out, is pretty exciting.
Last month, my niece, Kaity was anxiously anticipating December 13. She's had her heart set on agriculture at the University of Illinois for some time. She came with me to ExplorACES, we met deans, we talked to people in her areas of interest. She filled out her application, carefully crafted her essays, submitted it all and waited. The University of Illinois informed her she would learn of her fate at 4 p.m. on Friday, December 13. Yes, Friday the 13th. C'mon, that's just a weird date.
The week drug on for her but Friday finally arrived. School let out a bit early that day for snow, and since her parents weren't home yet, Kaity came over to hang out with us. It really might have been the longest hour and a half ever. My mother-in-law, Kaity's grandma, is an Illinois alum herself. She came over. We waited. And ate. Except for Kaity; she was too nervous to eat.
At 3:55 p.m., we were huddled around my laptop, set up on the kitchen table. Kaity, me, grandma, and all three of my kids. Kaity logged into her Illinois profile and hit refresh every 20 seconds or so. Repeatedly, it refreshed to the same page. The clock struck finally struck 4:00. She refreshed. It cranked for a long time. We could tell it was loading a different page. You knew the screen would be different this time. The page went blank and we all gasped. And then it appeared in glorious orange and blue: CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'VE BEEN ACCEPTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS!
Quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if some of you heard the screaming. We screamed, we laughed, we cried happy tears. It was ridiculously exciting to watch someone you love get the very thing they've wanted most. And to think about her future and the adventure she's about to have? Forget it. Tears.
(The whole episode was a little confusing to my small children. Except for Jenna; she says she's going to the University of Illinois, too, and I am ridiculously happy that she got to see Kaity get accepted. Nathan says he's just going to Nabor House, never mind the University. John says he has friends who did that.)
Fun Part B was the series of texts and social media updates that came rolling in from friends with their own acceptance glory. Max is in! Spencer is in! Excitement, in a lot of houses that night.
Of course, after the glory of acceptance wears off, there's the reality of finance. Namely: start filling out scholarships, stat. The good news is that agriculture, more than any other industry, takes care of its young people. With that, I've put together a short list of scholarships available to high school and college students. Because we all need a little tuition money. Check these out soon; many are due February 1, and most are for students majoring in agriculture.
- Farm Credit Illinois: 22 $1,500 scholarships, including two for urban agriculture students within their 60-county territory
- 1st Farm Credit Services: 24 $1,500 scholarships to students within their 42-county territory
- Illinois Agricultural Association: 74 scholarships, ranging from $1,000-$7,500. One application lets you apply for the following, depending on eligibility:
- IAA Foundation General Scholarship: three $7,500 scholarships, two $1,000 scholarships, an $1,100 scholarship and another $1,000 scholarship for WIU students
- Legacy of Leadership Scholarship: for students entering their junior year of college; one $7,500 scholarship
- Dorothy and Wilhelmine Ratermann Memorial Scholarship: 25 $1,200 scholarships, priority to students in southern Illinois counties
- Robert F. Rouse Scholarship: two $1,100 scholarships, priority to Lake County students
- William J. Kuhfuss Memorial Scholarship: one $1,000 scholarship
- Greg Carney Scholarship: one $1,500 scholarship for a University of Illinois student actively involved in production agriculture
- Dale E. Butz Scholarship: one $1,000 scholarship
- Heartland NAMA Steven A. Hammerschmidt Memorial Scholarship: two $1,000 scholarships to college juniors or seniors interested in ag communications careers
- St. Louis District Dairy Council Scholarship: two $1,000 scholarship to students from dairy families
- Illinois Soybean Association Crop Sciences Scholarship: up to 10 $4,000 scholarships, for college juniors in crop sciences and related fields
- Prairie Farms Dairy: six $2,000 scholarships to children of Prairie Farms Dairy patrons, and six $2,000 scholarships to children of Prairie Farms Dairy employees
- County Farm Bureau Scholarships: Many Illinois county Farm Bureaus offer scholarships; check with your county for more information – not all county scholarship programs are listed at this link
- Illinois Beef Association: four scholarships, ranging from $500 to $1,000
- Illinois Pork Producers: nine scholarships, $1,000 to $2,000
- Illinois Purebred Swine Council: four $500 scholarships
- Illinois 4-H: several scholarships, some for livestock kids, some for horse kids. Superior Young Producer Scholarship program info is here, too – it's a contest driven scholarship program.
- Illinois FFA: several, listed here, from various sources but all with FFA membership requirements
- Beck's Hybrids: this one's fun…a video submission! But only open to southern Illinois counties, plus southern Indiana counties, Kentucky and Tennessee. Check the link for the county list.
- Independent Professional Seed Association: varying numbers and sizes
- Illinois Grain and Feed Association: two scholarships, varying amounts
- Water Street Solutions/Agriculture Future of America: several scholarships in varying amounts
Does your organization offer an agricultural scholarship that I've missed? Email the link to me and I'll include it.