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Chicago High School Senior Wins $3 Million in Scholarships

Winning strategies from big scholarship winner, Arianna Alexander.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 25, 2015

Chicago High School Senior Wins $3 Million in Scholarships
For Arianna Alexander, the biggest question her senior year of high school wasn’t how she was going to pay for college but where she was actually going to attend. With $3 million in scholarship money, Alexander definitely had her pick of colleges. She just had to narrow it down from her list of 26 colleges that accepted her, six of which were Ivy League. Alexander was in good company too. As a graduate of Kenwood Academy, a magnet high school in Chicago, she and her peers raked in a total of $39.6 million in scholarships, according to Yahoo. Alexander’s father told ABC 7 in Chicago that a few years ago, a Kenwood student won $1 million in scholarships and that he encouraged his daughter at that point to beat that record. Once she hit the million dollar mark, he told her to just keep aiming higher.

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However, that figure wasn’t achieved without a lot of hard work. Diply reports that Alexander began working toward her goal of attending college in seventh grade, which is years before most students even begin to start thinking seriously about attending college and what it takes to get there. Additionally, she surpassed the academic record at Kenwood by achieving a 5.1 GPA on a 4.0 scale; all while being involved in band, softball, tennis, math team and National Honors Society, according to ABC 7. Alexander’s hard work has paid off – literally. With her staggering scholarship amounts, she’s able to afford her dream school, University of Pennsylvania, where she plans to major in business and eventually open her own restaurants upon graduation. No doubt her ambition will transform her into an amazing entrepreneur.

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So what can you learn from Arianna Alexander? First, start thinking about college early. If you have hopes to attend college, work toward and plan for it now, even if you’re only in middle school. Study hard for exams, participate in class and join extracurricular sports and organizations. Though you may not be able to achieve valedictorian status, you can create a track record that shows you’re willing to work hard academically and contribute to your school community. Second, set goals for yourself. Maybe your goal is to win $5,000 in scholarships or to have a GPA that’s high enough to garner some merit aid from colleges to which you apply. But don’t be afraid to take it a step further like Alexander and her father did. Shoot for the moon when it comes to graduating high school, getting into college and searching for ways to pay for it. Finally, start the scholarship search early. More likely than not, a majority of Alexander’s scholarship dollars came from schools to which she was applying. Though you may not have the same opportunities from schools, money can be found elsewhere. By starting your scholarship search as early as middle school or your freshmen year of high school, you can apply to more scholarships than the average student, thereby increasing your chances of actually winning. And if you've waited late in the game to apply to scholarships, start applying to multiple scholarships a week now.

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Essentially, winning $3 million in scholarships doesn’t come easily. It takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication. But if you take a page from Arianna Alexander’s book, you’ll find that paying for college is a lot less stressful and way more rewarding.

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