The Evolution of Scholarships

November 17, 2018 Ken Downs, Product Evangelist

The ABCs of student finance are at the heart of everything we do here at CampusLogic. In part one of this two-part series celebrating National Scholarship Month, Ken Downs uses his 10 years of experience in the scholarship space to look back at where scholarships started, where they’ve been, and where they’re headed. 

October was pretty great. In the same month, you can fill out the FAFSA, experience multiple Halloween-candy sugar highs, and it’s the only month where it’s socially acceptable to dress up like a wizard or a clown at work. By the way, wizards…cool. Clowns…scary. Wizard clowns…a little weird, but we support you.  

October is also a month when a lot of higher education institutions start thinking about how to celebrate National Scholarship Month in November.  Coincidently, the volume of available scholarship opportunities begins to increase significantly from November through March. Have you ever wondered why? Or wondered about the history of scholarships? Read on! 

Scholarships: Way, Way Back When

In the early days, scholarships were few and really far between. I’m talking centuries between. The very first scholarship was established in 1643 at Harvard College by Lady Anne Radcliffe Mowlson. The next scholarship program was developed in 1902 by the will of Cecil John Rhodes, known as the Rhodes Scholarships—Lady Anne was ahead of her time by 259 years! After the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was founded in 1944, scholarships began developing more frequently, and new ones were established every few years.  

Recent Past to Present Day

If you were a student even just a few decades ago, finding any scholarships was a real challenge. But for a student in the last decade or two, with the rise of the internet, searching for scholarship opportunities is far easier—kind of. There are literally thousands of them and new ones are created almost every day. Don’t have a 4.00 GPA?  No problem. Not all scholarships are merit-based. Many aren’t even need-based. Countless opportunities exist with unique requirements. And I mean unique. Are you a grad student researching crystallography? Don’t know what that is? I don’t either, but it’s real and there’s a scholarship for it. The Asparagus Club even has scholarships. Loving asparagus—surprisingly—is not a requirement but pursuing a degree in business or food management is. You get the idea. Opportunities abound that students just a few decades ago wouldn’t have imagined. However, even with all the opportunities today, students face a new bigger challenge—one that is twofold. First, connecting with all these opportunities and second, trusting that they are legitimate. I mean, Asparagus Club? Is that for real? 

The Future Is Now for Scholarships

One of the reasons I’m so happy to be part of the CampusLogic family is because I believe we are working on the most useful, student-centric scholarship technology available. ScholarshipUniverse goes to the heart of the challenges today’s students are facing. Matching to both vetted external and internal scholarship opportunities that are uniquely relevant to individual students—within a unified, mobile-friendly experience—is not only what today’s students expect, it’s what they deserve. Our goal is to leave scholarship searching and doubting where they belong, in the past.  

Learn more about ScholarshipUniverse > 



About the Author

Ken Downs, Product Evangelist

Evangelizing how technology and best practices can remove friction for students, schools, and organizations in the scholarship and financial aid space, Downs is CampusLogic’s Product Evangelist. He was instrumental in leading the development of the University of Arizona’s national award-winning ScholarshipUniverse product, now part of CampusLogic’s platform. A longstanding member of the National Scholarship Provider’s Association, Downs has given workshops titled: Big Data and the Coming Scholarship Sea Change, Scholarship Hacking, and the Scholarship Universe Story.

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