Demystifying Pathways to College Scholarships

Early scholarship planningA longtime Killeen educator with an impressive record of helping students earn scholarship money shared his experiences with parents and students Thursday.


Now an assistant principal at Liberty Hill Middle School, Central Hicks urged his audience to start thinking about college scholarships before high school.


As a soccer coach at Shoemaker High School and the father of athletes, he said that students involved in sports naturally start thinking early about college, dreaming of a commitment to a big-time Division 1 sports program.


That mindset should be happening at home and at school for all students regardless of specific academic or extracurricular interest.


As a high school AVID teacher, Hicks said he asked his seniors who plans to go to college and practically all of them raised their hands.


Then he asked another question – “Do they know you’re coming?”


For 13 years, students’ parents register them for school, and they show up and experience learning. College is different, you have to apply to go, you have to let them know you’re coming.


A lot of students, Hicks said, talk informally about where they are going, but then realize they have no idea how to get there and after a visit to a college, realize there are far more questions to answer than they had imagined.


Colleges vary widely in cost, in distance from home, in academic and athletic programs offered.

CTC, A&M local partners


Central Hicks describes college scholarshipsThere are also numerous ways to finance a college education, including scholarships, grants, and loans.


The vast majority of families need some combination or all of those resources to finance post-secondary education.


Near the end of his presentation, Hicks shared a helpful web tool, that provides a wealth of information about numerous colleges throughout the United States and beyond.


He also pointed out a KISD resource for families planning for college,


Hicks’ wife, Bernadette Hicks, is a counselor at Shoemaker High School and their four children all graduated from KISD schools and received scholarships to continue to the university level.


Over the years, as AVID teacher and coach, Hicks has helped students earn more than $10 million in scholarships.


At the middle school level, students can begin to get ahead academically by taking high school credit courses.


That sets up a pathway that can carry on throughout schooling, taking dual credit and other college-level courses in high school to enter college with as much as two years already completed.


Representatives of Central Texas College and Texas A&M University-Central Texas provided information at Hicks’ presentation and assured parents that the local institutions provide numerous scholarships that are often never claimed.


The middle school assistant principal also urged students to know the term GPA (grade point average) and to always know where they stand with their grades.


He urged parents to check KISD’s Home Access Center daily and to set up alerts, which inform parents when their student receives a failing grade.


Volunteering at your child’s school, he said, is a great way to stay informed and to keep in touch with teachers, counselors and other educators.