Advisor Rebecca Burns is in the Education is Freedom room on the first floor at North Dallas. “I can give you resources and encouragement all day long,” she said, but it’s still up to the student to fill out the application and apply for scholarships.
Last month, 25 North Dallas High School students won the State Fair of Texas Scholarship. The value? $6,000 each. The total? $150,000.
This is a new record for North Dallas, which had the most scholarship recipients compared to the other schools. Also, the students weren’t the only ones that walked away with an award. EIF Advisor, Rebecca Burns, received the 2018 Educator of the Year award.
Burns works with Education is Freedom and serves as the Higher Education Advisor at North Dallas. She recalled one student who almost didn’t apply.
“One of the winners told me, ‘Miss, I wasn’t even going to do the scholarship until you told me,’ Burns said last week.
“‘Look at you now, you won $6,000,'” Burns replied to the student. “‘Don’t you feel good about yourself?'”
“And she goes, ‘Yes, ma’am, I do. I’m glad I got it done.'”
It sounds so easy. Just apply for every scholarship that you can. Burns works in the Education is Freedom College and Career Connection Center on the first floor, and helps North Dallas students with understanding the entire college process, resources, and scholarship offers. EIF also facilitates the Mayor’s Interns Fellow Program, which allows Dallas ISD and Richardson ISD sophomores and juniors the opportunity to work in some of the best companies that we have to offer. And did we mention it is a paid internship?
Besides that, Burns assists students with college applications, essays, resumes, community services opportunities, SAT/ACT registration, FAFSA, and so much more.
Asked how often does she have to remind students to apply?
“All the time. It never ends,” she said, laughing. “Literally, I almost feel like I want it more than they want it. I tell them, I can’t fill this out for you. I can give you resources and encouragement all day long but it takes you to want it for yourself and to get it done. I just hope this encourages some of them. Sometimes after I have my “Coming to Jesus” meetings with students, they realize ‘OK Miss, you’re right.'”
Burns said the scholarship opportunities are out there. Students can get the applications through EIF, the school counselors, and sometimes even the teachers are notified of scholarships.
“I think now with different organizations and companies getting on board, scholarships are becoming more available every day for anybody to apply to,” she said. “Seniors, especially at North Dallas, have so much alumni that love to give back to them with resources, mentorship, and scholarships. They almost have no excuse not to apply to any scholarship. Some of the scholarships are only for the seniors here, and I hope that continues in the future so underclassmen and future students have something else to look forward to.”
EID Advisor Rebecca Burns says “scholarships are becoming more available every day for anybody to apply to.” She says there’s almost no excuse for students not to apply.
One of the most well-known scholarships on campus comes from SMU. Seniors at North Dallas High School are the only students who have a chance to receive the Dedman Scholarship, which is full ride to SMU.
“I still want them to apply for scholarships, even in the spring semester,” Burns said. “There are scholarships everywhere. I think that’s something that will be around for years to come. It’s definitely around now and I don’t see it going away. There are so many opportunities for scholarships, and so many resources that they can take advantage of it all if they apply.”
North Dallas recently celebrated College Decision Day and Burns turned it into a weeklong event, which encouraged students to start thinking about their future education and to get seniors excited about college, which is right around the corner. Representatives from local colleges and universities were on hand to talk to the seniors, but underclassman also had a chance to learn about the colleges as well.
Burns, along with the help of librarian Terri Moore created a “College Bingo” and it was a great success. All grade levels were able to play and it created college conversations so students learned more about their teachers and hopefully these conversations will continue even after the game has ended.
Burns said it’s important to start thinking about college at an early age.
“It’s very important. Even before their freshman year,” Burns said on when to start the college process. “… I’m hoping that students, even starting back in middle school, maybe sixth grade or fifth grade, have heard something about college from their schools or even at home. Hopefully, someone is already speaking to them about it but they still might have questions. What is college? What does college offer? Why is it important? Why should I go?”
But one thing that scares students is the finances, she said. But that’s where scholarships help the most.
And then there’s conversations with the seniors about what they want to study in college, or what career path they want to take.
“They say “Ms. Burns, I don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up, or I don’t know what I want to become. Or what should I major in?’ I definitely understand where they are coming from,” Burns said. “Even when I was their age I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wasn’t too sure, because I was deciding between two different career pathways. However, one of the programs we assist the seniors with is Naviance.”
Naviance, a college and career readiness online tool provided by Dallas ISD, helps students search and compare different colleges and universities, create a resume, apply for scholarships and more. Burns said. The students also take career assessments and a career interest profiler. Based on the results, it determines student’s strengths, and what they could study in college, and possible careers.
“It breaks down the careers, what their major would be, and the colleges that have the major,” Burns said.
Some students are expected to go into the family business, but Burns said they should still explore “all the options that are available.”
She also cited the Dallas County Promise Pledge, which pays the student’s tuition if they get accepted into one of the DCCCD schools. Burns says this “is a wonderful opportunity for all students, no matter if they’re a U.S. Citizen or not.”
But the main thing is getting a college degree, and realizing how far you can go with a degree.
“When I talk to them about degrees, I make sure they realize, when you go to school, you can get a certificate or an Associate’s degree,” Burns said. “But realize that the longer you’re in school, you can get a higher degree that possibly could be worth more money and benefit you a lot more down the road, compared to just graduating and start working. When you start working, the income you receive may not always support you, your needs, and if you get a family of your own later. You may struggle along the lines without having a certificate or degrees or anything that you might need. So I hope this makes them realize the bigger picture and they make better preparations for their future.”
5 Things students must do before the school year is over
- TSI, or Texas Success Initiative
a. Before seniors enroll into college, they’ll have to take the TSI unless they are exempt. They’ll know if they are exempt according to their transcript on the second page, where their test scores are listed. TSI is a placement test and depending on how well you do on it will place you in remedial classes or college colleges.
b. The first time seniors take the test is free. After that, it costs $10 per section. There are only three sections in the TSI: Math, Reading, and Writing.
c. The following link provides more information about the TSI: https://www.dcccd.edu/apply-reg/testing/pages/default.aspx
- Meningitis shot
a. Before seniors enroll into college, they’ll also have to take the meningitis shot. They can go to their doctor or a clinic to receive the shot. Sometimes (usually in the spring semester) there are events for students and they offer the shot for free because it’s needed for college. Check in the nurse office or with the counselors for more information about getting the meningitis shot for free.
- Turn in final high school transcript.
a. Final high school transcripts will be available starting in June. Check with the attendance office for the dates and times graduated seniors can pick them up.
- SAT/ACT Prep Sessions
a. DISD offers FREE SAT & ACT prep sessions for students to attend. They’re housed at different high schools but any DISD student can attend. Check with your EIF adviser or your counselors for the dates and more information.
- College List
a. Create a list of 10 to 15 colleges you are interested in and start your research. You’ll want to dig deep and find out which school(s) are a good fit for you. Learn everything you can about the schools and ask questions about to the application process, scholarships, tours, etc..
b. Research classes, majors, minors, clubs, and other factors that are important to you on the college or university’s website. If you know what you what to study, learn what schools offer the best programs, find out how much it cost to attend the school, and what scholarships are available or the ones you qualify for.
— Rebecca Burns, EIF Adviser at North Dallas High School