5 Things Your Kids Need to Hear You Say about Going to College

The shocking truth as to why your kids feel they can not get scholarships without your support!

Believe it or not, your kids care about what you think and feel about their ability to succeed in college and in life.  After all, you are their parent.  Before their teenage years, you where the one they ran to FIRST when they needed help or advice.

That is why your kids need to hear you say the following 5 things:

1)      “While I think you should pick a more realistic career that will get you a job when you graduate, I am open to discussing why you want to pick (blank) college major.”

At some point and time, we have all advised someone to follow their dream.  It is easy to say when you are not the one bank rolling their dream career.  When kids are young we have a tendency to tell them they can be or do whatever they want if they work hard.  As they grow up and approach college age, we tend to regress and discourage them from pursuing their dream career.  It is hard not to be concerned about how to afford a college degree and we don’t want to address the probability of our children “not making it”.

2)      “After college I want you to get a good job.  I don’t want you to struggle with paying bills.”

Your children will feel loved when they know you are thinking about their future.  If you talk to them you may be surprised to realize how much your child wants a job straight out of college too!  After all living on a college stipend, in the dorms, with roommates, and living cheaply gets tiresome quickly and college students want to move on to making money just as much as you do!

3)      “Before I spend this kind of money helping to pay for your college tuition I want to be sure you are majoring in something you really enjoy.  ”

Some kids may not want to volunteer in a few hours a week in a career related activities. Regardless, I would make it a requirement before I spend upwards of $100,000 for a four year college degree.  I would hate to be $27,000 into a college education only to have a child say they don’t like their major and want to change.

Explain the importance of volunteering in a subject they are interested in as a career.

4)      “Volunteering can help you get to know people in your industry.  If you volunteer regularly, people in the organization may be willing to write you letters of recommendation for both college admissions and scholarships.”

Get your kids thinking about letters of recommendation now!  It is far more impressive for a college adviser or a scholarship judge to read a letter of recommendation coming from an organization related to their career field than to read one from their High School English Teacher.

5)      “I want you to watch short videos about kids like yourself getting scholarships.  I might not have all the answers, but I can point you in the right direction.  By watching videos I hope you become inspired and learn a few things along the way.”

Kids feel they can not get scholarships without your support  I think this is very reasonable considering you have been supporting them for 18+ years. You children are secretly yearning for your approval.  In part, you have conditioned them to look up to you.  They may not vocalize that and they may say the opposite, but deep down inside your children want to know if you truly believe in them.

Be honest, share how you feel.  Then encourage them to watch short videos like this one:

Marisa Wins $2,000 Scholarship + $500 Cash Prize



The Truth About Scholarships

Have you ever wondered where scholarship money comes from? OR How scholarship opportunities are advertised? OR How winners are selected?

If you have wondered about any of these then you can find answers here!

Today’s Hangout guest is Mark Thorn the host of the BlogTalkRadio program “Let’s Coach with Mark & Carolyn” that airs live every Wednesday at noon EST.  Mark is remarkable in that he and his family figured out a way to turn a family tragedy into an uplifting ongoing community event that helps young people attend college.

Mark Thorn with the assistance of others has been able to raise over $100,000 for scholarships over the past 15 years!  Every year on the 3rd Friday of June there is golf tournament at Twin Shields Golf Club as a memorial and scholarship fundraiser for Mark’s two oldest children.


Eric and Cara Thorn Memorial & Scholarship Fundraiser, 3rd Friday of June in Dunkirk, Maryland.

The memorial is to honor and remember Eric and Cara Thorn who both passed away as a result of a car accident.  Members of the community sent Mark and his family money after the accident.  The Thorn family decided to give this money back to the community in the form of college scholarships.

As easy as it sounds, giving away scholarship money is not always easy.  In this video Mark shares his perspective of what it is like to be on the side of providing scholarship money to deserving young people.

Mark share how he promotes these scholarships.  With the recent assistance from the Southern Maryland College Access Network (SoMD CAN) more students are finding out how to apply for this and other local scholarships.

 Mark shares how winners are selected.  Although personally I feel Mark may have shared more insight after the broadcast was over.  Perhaps the use of social media as a filtering tool can be discussed on air at another time.  Until then, be mindful of what you post online for the world to see!

I invite you click on the image below to watch the 25 minute interview.



If you would like to contact Mark Thorn you can reach out on Google Plus or by phone at 301-717-1185.  Mark is also happy to assist you with getting in touch with local community foundations if you are interested in starting a scholarship fund for yourself or in honor of someone else.


Do You Make These Mistakes When You Encourage Your Child To Apply For Scholarships?

Every proud parent, teacher and mentor wants to share their advice.  Sometimes you share your advice so often your child complains about you sounding like a broken record.  They might not say so with their words, but that look in their eyes says it loud enough.

Mistake #1 Are You A Broken Record?

If your child can repeat back what you said they were listening.  If they chose not to take your advice there may be a good reason for it.

Mistake #2 Believing Your Child Is Lazy!

Do not assume your child is lazy just because they do not follow your advice.  From my experience kids do not follow advice for one of two reasons: 1) They do not know how to implement your advice or 2) They do not think you really know what you are talking about.  You may be talking to them unknowingly in the “I’m the parent and I said so” attitude.

Mistake #3 Assuming They Know!

If your child does not know how to find scholarships, they may feel the task of finding them is near impossible.  Even if they use Google’s search engine to search for “scholarships” they may be overwhelmed by the 26.5 million search results!

Assuming your child knows how to sift through information they know nothing about is not smart.  Students have been groomed to find information in a very select location.  Your child is used to teachers telling him or her where to finding answers, such as a particular book in a particular chapter.  A long chapter may be 20 pages front and back, not 26.5 million websites with multiple pages!

Mistake #4 “Do What You Are Told”

If your child is not wildly enthusiastic about attending college, you probably find yourself constantly preaching about the importance of attending college.  If this is the case, your child may be thinking “if my parents want me to go to college so badly they will figure out a way to pay for it”.  Your child may think you are giving them “lip service” and you are preaching about how they SHOULD apply for scholarships.

Mistake #5 You Do Not Give Your Child Guidance


If you are teaching your child how to drive you would probably start by talking to them about the importance of driving safely.

Finding and applying for scholarships is similar to driving in that it takes time to develop your skills.  The best way to start is by talking about the subject.  Set reasonable expectations.  Say things such as “I may not know all the answers but I am willing to guide and support you the best I can.”

If you would like more guidance about how to find and apply for scholarships then please follow and engage with Crystal Olivarria, Scholarship Coach on Google Plus at www.Google.com/+CrystalOlivarria.


Robyn is Awarded $13,000 in Scholarships from a College Admissions Essay!

College admissions essay leads to two scholarships being awarded to Robyn Douglass from the Smith College: School for Social Work.

0:45 Accepted to Smith College: School for Social Work for 2014

1:20 Robyn has been awarded scholarship money. “I got in and then there is a lot of money to support me to go. How much money? $13,000!!!”

2:00 Robyn and Crystal have been working together for 6 months, there is video footage for the past 5 months (screen share of YouTube videos & raw footage will be edited and shared in the Scholarship Membership Site)

3:30 Robyn reads Letter of Acceptance w/Scholarships: Dean’s Merit Scholarship $9,000 & Need Based Grant for $4,000. “This award is renewable for the next year provided you remain in good academic standing at the school and at the field placement.”


5:55 What is a Dean’s Merit Scholarship? Why do and universities have money to award for different scholarships?

7:05 Acknowledge Robyn for sharing her story in a college admissions essay.

8:55 Robyn shares what it is like to write this college admissions essay.

11:00 Importance of letters of recommendation.

14:25 Positive re-enforcement.

16:13 Robyn has rested and feels inspired to start weekly check ins again.

To take a virtual tour of the Scholarship Membership Site please visit: www.ScholarshipMembershipSite.com









Radio Interview: Part Two – “How Do I Pay For College?”

Today’s radio show is brought to you by Mark Thorn and Carolyn Ownes.  Both are professional coaches and look for good news stories about people who are paying it forward.


Mark Thorn


On the theme of nobody is promised tomorrow – Mark Thorn is starting to gearing up for his annual golf tournament that happens in June. Mark raises money for scholarships in the local community of Calvert County Maryland in honor of his two children that were killed in an automobile accident in November of 1998.

“This has been an ongoing thing for me, so I am going to be very interested in listening to Crystal talk about how to access scholarships like mine.” – Mark Thorn





Carolyn Ownes


Carolyn Ownes is the co-host of the show ” Let’s Coach with Mark and Carolyn”.  Carolyn invited Crystal Olivarria to be a guest on the show.

Carolyn is a Professional Speaker, she has served as a feature speaker at the 2013 Women’s Expo at the Community College of Baltimore County and the 2013 On Purpose Woman conference as well as many others.  Carolyn is also a Trainer, Career Transition and Life Coach.   Carolyn helps people take COMMAND of their lives and gain freedom!






Radio Interview: Part Two – “How Do I Pay For College?”


During this interview Crystal Olivarria explains why she is uniquely qualified to offer advice about how to find and apply for college scholarships.

Crystal also provides a fresh perspective about how finding scholarships can build stronger family bonds.  Use this opportunity to teach your children how to ask for a hand up rather than a handout.




Southern Maryland College Access Network (SoMD CAN)

Mark Thorn raises money for a scholarship that is distributed by the Southern Maryland College Access Network (SoMD CAN).

It is this organizations fifth year of coordinating the Calvert Local Scholarship Application that proves high school students with the opportunity to apply to 40 scholarships offered by local providers who believe in our youth and want to provide financial assistance to help them achieve success in higher education. 




Download FREE eBook Now!



Click here to download your FREE eBook The How, What & Where of Preparing for College.  This is you step by step guide to preparing for college.








Why Should Non Art Majors Apply for Artsy Scholarships?

What is the difference between artsy type scholarships and art scholarships?

What does artsy mean?

According the Urban Dictionary (online of course!), artsy is “used to describe someone who likes and actively indulges in art.”  These scholarships use photography, collages, poems, drawings, paintings, and other means that communicate a message visually as the main criteria to select scholarship winners. 

Are artsy type scholarships harder to apply to than traditional essay scholarships?

This answer will vary for every person, because everyone may have a different understand or level of appreciation for art.  No one has the same art preferences or ability to create art that emotionally moves people to want to take an action, such as give you scholarship money.

Why would non art majors want to take the time to apply for artsy scholarships?

For the following four reasons:

  1. Students get tired of writing essays.
  2. Students don’t have to be art majors to appreciate or enjoy art.
  3. Students have multiple talents, writing essays may not be their best talent.
  4. There is no rule that states college scholarships have to only be in essay formats unless they are for art majors.

Do artsy scholarships usually require GPA, Grade Point Average, and test scores as part of their requirements?

Generally, NO!  Artsy scholarships use a different type of criteria to judge than traditional scholarships.  Artsy scholarships are about visual communication.  How well does the art piece communicate a message?  Below are two great examples:

Frame My Future Scholarship Contest 2012 Winner Abigail Scott

Frame My Future Scholarship Contest 2012 Winner Emma Chacon

Frame My Future Scholarship Contest 2012 Winner Abigail Scott

Frame My Future Scholarship Contest 2012 Winner Abigail Scott













Why am I told there are more artsy scholarships available now than before?

The internet has made it easier for organizations to offer artsy scholarships.  Prior to the internet and wide use of digital cameras it was a hassle to apply to artsy or art scholarships.  Artists wanted to keep their originals, and it cost a lot for organizations to mail back originals, not to mention the fear of the art pieces getting damaged in the mail.  Digital cameras and the internet have changed the dynamics.  Now pictures are easy to take and share.

Anything else I should know about artsy scholarships before I apply?

Yes! Expect an image of your work to be displayed on website, newsletters and other forms of advertisement.  Generally organizations want to share these art pieces with others and share information about the artist who created them. Also expect businesses to offer scholarships and use the winners for advertising purposes.

For example the website: http://www.diplomaframe.com/ offers a variety of frames.  This company provides frames for items such as college and university diplomas, academic and sports awards, association certificates, professional certificates and licenses, corporate awards, photos and memorabilia display cases.

By offering a scholarship, this company hopes to attract the attention of college bound students.  Since this company offers products and services that college bound people may be interested in, it makes since for this company to offer scholarships every year.  This is a form of a win-win situation.  College bound students win because they have an opportunity to apply for free college money and the company wins because it is drawling attention from potential life long customers.  In other words, this is a smart form of marketing that serves future potential customers.

BONUS TIP: If you don’t win, but get honorable mention, you can include the honorable mention on a job resume!

Below is the hangout video where Xavier, his father and I discuss applying for the “Frame My Future Scholarship Contest 2014″ offered by Church Hill Classics DiplomaFrame.com



Why Didn’t I Win The Scholarship Money? I Said The Right Things!

Have you ever heard the saying “it is not what you say, it was how you say it”?  It means the words that come out of your mouth may say something specific, but the tone of your voice, how you fast or slow you talk, the pitch may imply something else.  Often times growing up we are coached into saying the “right things”.

Two of the best examples are the phases “thank you” and “I am sorry”.

How many times have you said “thank you” because you are expected to say it?

How often have you taken the time to express your appreciation AND say “thank you”?

Or what about the phase “I am sorry”?

How many times have you said “I am sorry” because you are expected to say it? (Especially as a kid) How often do you mean it?

While many of us were raised to say “thank you” and “I am sorry”,  not all of us where encouraged to say these things only if we truly meant them.  Therefore we tend to have scripts of words and phrases we say out of habit.  The down side of being told what to say and do a majority of the time is that we do not take the time to really think about what message we are conveying to others.

Here is a scholarship writing exercise to demonstrate my point.  Take the time to answer the the below scholarship question in 550 words or less:

 How have your past achievements/experiences and your future planning increased the probability of reaching your goal? Why you think you will succeed?


Did you write your essay?

Do NOT read further until you have written your essay!

The majority of student answers will have these things in common:

  • Tone
    • Bragging, this is what I have accomplished.
    • Words that describe me: successful, victorious, triumphant, flourishing.
    • Use past achievements as a track record, “see I have accomplished these things.”
    • Describe past in vague terms.
    • Describe future in vague terms.
  • Format tends to be factual; I did this activity…, when… and for the purpose of….
  • Conclusion:
    • Tends NOT to ask judges for scholarship money or usually asks in a “Will you give it to me?” tone.
    • Attitude comes across as “will I be the lucky winner?!”

Reread your essay and see where you can identify these things within your own writing.

After you have reread your essay, read the below comments:

A select few will revise their essay to approach the same question differently:

  • Tone
    • How do I present my value?
    • Words that describe me: hard working, persistent, credible, reliable.
    • Use past achievements as a track record to prove I have developed successful skills.
    • Describe past as “this is what happened…, this is why it is relevant….”
    • Describe future as an adventure and explain why you want to go, see, do and accomplish.
  • Mentions fewer experiences, but describes their relevance with more detail.
  • Format tends to be a story, there were good time and there were challenging times….
  • Conclusion:
    • Always asks judges for scholarship money.
  • Attitude is “I have demonstrated my ability to handle challenges and I have described how I will use the money to further my education and my career goals, “will you invest in me?” or “will you partner with me?”

Now re-read your essay and revise!


To watch this weeks scholarship blogging video where Xavier, his father and I discuss these ideas please click here.



What’s the Difference Between a College Admissions Essay and a Scholarship Essay?

Colleges want to fill every class room seat.

Colleges want to fill every class room seat available.

The biggest difference is that colleges want to accept students and search for the best qualified applicants, while scholarship organizations my decide there are not enough (or any) qualified applicants and may chose NOT to give out of their allocated funds for scholarships!

To provide further clarity, you could say that getting into college is like “I need to be better qualified than the other applicants”.  While this mentality can also be applied to scholarships, I think it is not the best mindset to have.  You can be “better” than other applicants and still not get the scholarship.

Scholarships give you the opportunity to communicate the value you will provide to the community. 

It is about getting scholarship judges to invest in you and your future.  While scholarships questions may focus on your past, the vast majority of the essay should focus on how your past has given you the opportunity to develop habits that will help you be successful in the future.  Your past is your track record and provides proof that you know how to be successful.

Therefore it is important to think about the story you tell about yourself.  I think the college admissions essay is a great way for you to think about what you have accomplished.  However I think the tone of college admission essays is a bit more egotistical.  Applicants look good for having high Grade Point Average, high test scores, community service and lots of outstanding awards.  There is a lot of focus on past achievements.

While college admission essays focus on your past, scholarships are the next chapter in the text book. 

In the next chapter you prepare the reader to get ready to hear about your future and why they should invest their money with you!

In this hangout video, Robyn shares her experiences of writing her personal statement for college admissions.  She discusses what she liked and disliked about the writing process and what writing exercises she thought were helpful.  This video is a great chapter summary for chapter one: Applying For College, the Drama of Writing the Personal Statement.



What Makes A Great Scholarship Video?

Get the Best Scholarship Tips by Watching Wining Scholarship Videos

Let’s analize two scholarship videos to find out what similarities both winning Dr. Pepper Scholarship Videos have in common.  Both videos can be found on Dr. Pepper’s scholarship website. For ease of reading this blog post, I have copied/pasted the applicant’s “about me” personal statement and provided a link to their winning scholarship video.

After watching their video, read the bullet points below.  After reading the highlights of what the applicants did right, go back and re-watch their videos.  By understanding what these winners did right in their videos will help you understand what you need to do in your scholarship video.


I’m Simply Josiah



“I’m aware that there are many people with unique life stories who can articulate and write better than I’ll ever be able to so I just want to say that I’m simply Josiah. I’m a college student in Texas and although I have a 4.0 I’m no genius. I’m just a hard worker with a dream of opening a children health clinic in a low income community.”


  • Image of video is of him and his dream, working at a children’s health clinic.
  • Good introduction of who he is and what his dream is, good background, student at college campus.
  • Josiah talks about what a nurse practitioner is (what he wants to be) and the value this position provides to society.
  • Positions himself in an environment that helps viewers (scholarship judges) see him after graduating college (working with dummies and drawings of human anatomy).
  • Shows himself studying hard in a time laps sequence
    • 6 changes of clothes.
    • With each change of clothing another book is added to the table.
    • With each change of clothing another can of Dr. Pepper soda can is added to the table.
    • The stuffed animal changes position with each change of clothing.
  • Shows himself helping real people.
  • Viewers see a total of 8 Dr. Pepper soda cans (6 + partial views of 2 cans = 8).
  • Very well written script.



Building A Dream for my Community



“When I was young my kid brother PJ was left blind and disabled by a battle with cancer. Seeing him use his experience to create joy in others inspired me to use my life experience to bring light to the world, one family at a time. Finishing my degree in architecture will allow me to build that passion into the homes of my home community.”


  • Image of video is of him and his family.
  • Nice short music intro (3-5 seconds).
  • Very well written script.
  • He introduces himself in his college sweatshirt and looks like the college he attends is in the background.
  • Says he loves Dr. Pepper in another language and has the translation at the bottom of the video like you expect to see the translation in a foreign film.
  • He explains why he wants to be an architect (shows 3 pictures of architect design).
  • Talk about family challenges (shows 10 pictures).
  • Shows him working with others at his job.
  • “So what do you say Doc? Will you help me?” HE ASKS FOR THE MONEY!!!
  • Shows Dr. Pepper Logo.
  • 4 close up shots of Dr. Pepper soda and a group with everyone holding a Dr. Pepper.


There are many more amazing scholarship videos to watch.  I recommend watching all of them.  Surround yourself with winning videos and be inspired that if they can do it, so can you!




Revealing for the First Time, The Best Kept Scholarship Secret!

Persuade scholarship judges to award you money with the same finesse as an extremely successful attorney would use to persuade a jury.

Persuading is a skill we develop with time and practice. However we do not have to learn only from our own experiences. Let us learn how to leverage the experience of others who are extremely successful in their chosen field. Fortunately for us Gerry Spence, a highly successful attorney is willing to share his insight on how to persuade in his New York Times Best Selling book How To Argue and Win Every Time.


This book has influenced the way I write and how I present myself to others. It is a great book that shares the universal truths as to how we communicate with other people. While the book focuses on how to winning arguments I like to substitute the phrase with how to be persuasive. I think persuasive is more accurate, but I think this phrase was not used for the title because it does not draw as much attention and controversy as How to Argue and Win Every Time.

If you want to hear award winning arguments, and more importantly how they are written, then you will want to read this book.

Gerry talks about important concepts like “show me, don’t tell me”. This is important because scholarship judges want to read scholarship essays and watch scholarship videos that inspire them. Scholarship judges award free money for college to students they emotionally connect too. If your message is delivered in a way that is boring or does not convey touching emotions then scholarship judges will not be moved to take action in your favor.

Therefore choose your words wisely. Understand words. Understand how to properly use them. Appreciate them. Your choice of your words and how you use them is what separates you from the other scholarship applicants.


Special Offer: "Grab the FREE 3 Day Mini Email Course and Discover the 3 Mistakes NOT to Make While Applying for Scholarships " ($40.00 value). Enter your email in the box to the right...

Thank You!