Olympus offers Olympus Only scholarships to seniors in MarchFeb 16, 2021 02:37PM ● By Heather Lawrence
Lauren Bleggi is a counselor at Olympus High and manages the Olympus Only scholarships that come from the community. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
Olympus High’s counselors help students navigate the college application process. They have many resources, and meet with students regularly beginning in ninth grade. On March 1, as a last minute help for seniors, they’ll take applications for more than 30 Olympus Only scholarships.
“This year has been frustrating because there are so many unknowns. We have many resources, and we meet with every student every year. We want them to feel comfortable preparing to apply to college,” said counselor Lauren Bleggi.
Counselors are divided by last name, and Bleggi is assigned Han-Lo. Her load this year includes ninth graders who were just moved to the high school. She thinks it will help them understand that the process starts in ninth grade.
“This is the first year we have ninth graders physically in the school. As a counselor I appreciate it—I think it’s a good move. I get students all the time who need to work on their GPA because they didn’t know that ninth grade ‘counted’,” Bleggi said.
The timeline of college applications doesn’t leave much wiggle room. “Most applications, including scholarships, are due around Nov. 1 of your senior year. Everything you want to include like the ACT and any clubs or service needs to be done by then,” Bleggi said.
For the first time in decades, the class of 2021 was not required to report an ACT score on their applications because the pandemic shut down testing sites.
Senior Meg Soffe took the ACT early her junior year, so she does have a score. “I took it once just to see what it was like. Then, I wanted to improve my score, so I took a prep course and took it two more times. My score went up, so it was worth it,” Soffe said.
Soffe cheers and is on the dance company, and she hopes to continue dancing in college. Though she’s not sure about a major, she always wanted to go to college. She’s looking forward to meeting new people and learning more about herself.
“I don’t have a specific plan for my major, so I decided to stay in Utah where I could pay in-state tuition to get my generals done. I applied to three Utah colleges,” Soffe said.
Soffe was assigned to counselor Craig Sudbury. She said he was always able to answer her questions, and whenever the counselors gave a presentation, it was helpful.
“The Olympus counseling center website (a tab on the school’s website) has links to scholarships and what you’re eligible for. They also have all the things you need to plug in to applications, like the school’s address and size of graduating class. It’s very accessible,” Soffe said.
Accessibility was the plan. “We put everything on our website and also have an Instagram account students can follow at #Olycounselors. And we’re available to talk in person,” Bleggi said.
Applying can be stressful. Soffe noted the intense essay requirements for BYU as one of her stresses. Bleggi likes to remind students that if they don’t get into the school of their choice—or their parents’ choice—it isn’t the end of the world.
“Life is like a series of doors. Students ask me, ‘What if I go to the wrong school or take the wrong class?’ I just tell them, ‘Then you’ve learned that it wasn’t for you. You opened a door. But don’t worry—there are a lot of other doors beyond that one.’
“I also tell them about transferring to another school. This is helpful if they weren’t serious about their grades in high school. After 30 credit hours at a college, you can apply to transfer and the new college doesn’t look at high school grades,” Bleggi said.
Some students’ dreams of excelling during their senior year and earning activity-based scholarships were a casualty of the COVID year.
“Sadly, I didn’t get to apply for track scholarships due to the pandemic and track being canceled. I applied to the University of Utah, which is a school I wanted to go to since I came to the United States in fifth grade,” said Olympus senior Nat Kidane.
Kidane utilized the counselors’ advice often. “[The application process] was very stressful because I had to do it all on my own. I didn’t know anything about the process, and my parents couldn’t really help because they never went to college.
“I had to learn and do the applications as I went. I made a couple mistakes and it was frustrating, but thanks to my counselor she made it a little bit easier. I went to see her twice a month or so. She looked over my U of U application and helped me with a FAFSA application,” Kidane said.
Bleggi is Kidane’s counselor. She is also over the Olympus Only scholarships which are donated by members of the community. Students who apply are only competing within the school, so there’s a greater chance they’ll earn one.
“The Olympus Only scholarships started about 25 years ago when people approached a counselor about donating to the school. We don’t open the applications link until March 1, and it only stays open for three weeks,” Bleggi said.
The Olympus Only scholarships are a bit of an enigma on purpose. “We don’t list how much they’re worth, just who they’re intended to help. That way, you apply to scholarships that really match up with your interests.
“They are merit-based, so they could be for sports, the arts, volunteering or in memory of someone. Some are designated by donors to be used for supplies like a computer,” Bleggi said.
Bleggi said this year they are especially in need of donors. “So many situations have changed in our students’ families. People have lost jobs, there are medical bills and students are helping support their families. We need help this year more than ever,” Bleggi said.
People who want to donate can contact Bleggi in the counseling center at 385-646-5401.
Both Soffe and Kidane will apply for the Olympus Only scholarships. “They told us about them in September, and for sure I’m going to apply. I think it’s a really good incentive to continue to be good during third and fourth quarters,” Soffe said.
Kidane is looking for any scholarship he can find. “It’s stressful. I’m going to apply for as many of the Olympus Only scholarships as I can because I really need the help,” he said.