January 28, 2010
Working parents: Win free tuition for a higher education degree
Good news for parents itching to go back to school but lacking the time or money. Project Working Mom 2010 will award up to 285 full-tuition scholarships totaling about $5 million to parents (dads included!) interested in attending an accredited online educational institution.
Sponsored by eLearners.com, a Web portal for online students, Project Working Mom awards scholarships to eight different schools offering online degrees: Ashford University, Everest University, Virginia College, Walden University, Capella University, Saint Leo University, Allied Schools, and Ashworth College. According to eLearners spokesperson Helen MacDermott, scholarships will be awarded for everything from associate and bachelor's degrees to master's degrees and PhDs, in a variety of disciplines (medical billing, business administration, early childhood education, criminal justice, psychology, you name it).
All parents are eligible for these scholarships, whether they currently work outside the home or stay home with the kids, MacDermott said. Likewise, parents are eligible regardless of whether they've already received an associate degree, bachelor's degree, graduate degree, or none of the above.
So how do you throw your hat into the free tuition ring? Visit Project Working Mom and fill out the simple online application. While you'll be asked how many kids you have, where you work, what level of education you have, and what discipline you'd like to study, you will not be asked to provide college transcripts or SAT scores, MacDermott said. Instead, the selection process hinges on the personal essay applicants must submit explaining why they want to return to school.
What should you include in your essay? "Tell us about your hopes and your dreams," MacDermott said. "Don't feel like you need to have some sort of sob story. What's really key is to talk about your goal. What the schools are looking for is how that degree will relate to your future plans."
In other words, if you want to open a pet care, accounting, or Web design business, say so. If your dream is to get your MBA and then land a high-paying position at a high-tech startup, write about that. Or, if after nagging your kids to fill out their college applications you've decided it's high time you finished your own degree, discuss that in your essay.
"It's so hard to deliver that message to your kids if you don't have that degree yourself," MacDermott said. "That's one common theme we've seen in winning essays in the past -- the desire of parents to be a good role model for their children."
Since its inception in 2008, Project Working Mom has sent 150 parents back to school, awarding a total of $6 million in scholarships. This year, the program has three application periods: January 12 through March 1, March 2 through April 27, and April 28 through September 30. To apply or learn more, see ProjectWorkingMom.com.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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