Scholarship Question for Study Abroad

<p>Hopefully, this story won't get too long, but I need some advise on a difficult situation that has occurred related to my son. In the fall of 2009, he applied for a study abroad program in a foreign county for the 2010-2011 school year. He was accepted and told that since nobody from his college generally picks this country to study abroad in, he is almost guaranteed to receive a healthy stipend scholarship from the govt. of this country. Fast forward to the end of the school year and suddenly, there are two other students who now plan to attend this college in the foreign country. The scholarship is awarded based on nomination by the home college(no criteria identified) and we were just notified that one of the other students was nominated for the scholarship instead. I asked the program coordinator how they made their decision and I was told that it was based on 1. GPA 2. GPA plus 30 credits and 3. essay. Well, my son had 30 credits last year with a GPA of 3.96. How much better than that does it get? She did not come out and say that this other student had a higher GPA or they liked his essay better. When I met this woman in the spring, I truly felt that she did not like my son much based on some comments she made and I became very annoyed with her attitude towards us. I feel like my son lost a popularity contest, but I also can't believe that anyone would be so unprofessional either. When the coordinator responded to my email inquiry about their decision, she also said that the study abroad center would award him a small scholarship and the details were in the mail. Sounds like a consolation prize or a bribe to go away. This is a state/public college and I feel that they need to prove or validate their decision somehow, but I am unsure of what type of recourse we may have. I'm certain there are some privacy issues related to the data of the other student as well, but I feel like an injustice was done here and I can't get it out of my mind. Any suggestions on how to handle this?</p>

<p>First, don't tick off the coordinator, she may be able to do something helpful in the future. You might ask her for other sources for $$$; I sure would.</p>

<p>Have you done any on-line searches for scholarships? A couple years ago, I was looking for private, merit money for DD. There were a lot of scholarships for study abroad--depending on where the student is going. I have no idea about deadlines, or what is available for the country your son will be traveling to, but it is worth a Google.</p>

<p>I'm sorry your son didn't receive the scholarship. Unfortunately, the awarding of these kinds of stipends is up to the folks who make the awards, and they can use whatever criteria they choose to use. There were three students who applied and only one who could get the full generous award. Clearly two were going to be disappointed regardless.</p>

<p>I'm not sure you have any recourse...certainly you can ask for reconsideration of money should it become available. And I would do so if I were you. In the meantime, does your son's participation in this program hinge on this scholarship? If so, what alternate plans can be made to fund it?</p>

<p>I think this question is similar to those that get asked when people on these boards say "My son didn't get accepted to X college even though I KNOW he had better stats, ECs, etc than this other boy who did get accepted." And the advice is the same: It's hurtful that it didn't play out the way you were expecting or led to expect, but you have to move on and so does your son. It's entirely possible that the scholarship recipient did indeed have better grades and/or a better essay. The woman may not have said it outright because she felt a little defensive, she didn't want to put down your son, and/or she was worried about violating privacy rules -- even in vague terms she's not allowed to disclose the GPA of a student to another person. And let's be honest, if she admitted his GPA was higher wouldn't your next question be, "My son's GPA is a 3.96, how much higher could it be? What is his GPA?" and she didn't want to go down that road. </p>

<p>Or maybe she does dislike your son. But there's nothing you can do about it, unless she happened to say to someone, "I would give the scholarship to John X, but I just hate his attitude". So the best thing to do is just to move forward, try to make the best of things for your son and see if there are any other funding sources or scholarships he could apply for.</p>

<p>It was a mistake (by the school?) to tell you or your son that scholarship money was almost assured when it is only the case if he is the only student applying. Since three people applied, the situation has changed, and it is no longer almost assured. It's now a competition.
It is certainly disappointing when he was counting on the money. My grandma used to say, "Don't count your chickens before they've hatched." That would be the lesson here, I'm afraid.
Chances are good that all three students had good grades and essays, and it may have been a somewhat arbitrary decision. It didn't happen to go your way this time.
But there's no way to know why someone else was chosen, and there's no reason to assume that there was any negative feeling toward your son. It seems more likely that the person who was chosen somehow stood out as the best choice by whomever did the choosing. As a mom, I would certainly want to see it this way, as there's nothing to be done now but to move on to other options. Resentment and anger will only poison the experience for your son.</p>

<p>The other possibilities might include the kid who got the scholarship truly had greater financial need and the pressure came from the FA office. Second, maybe the kid who got the scholarship is fluent in the foreign language or had some special talent/major that the other international school was seeking. I am really sorry this happened to you. Is it possible for your son to attend a different study abroad program? One thing I noticed with the study abroad programs at my son's school is the cost of attendance varies widely (i.e. New Zealand is a lot less expensive tuition than England, for example). Perhaps there is another study abroad program which has much lower tuition or living expenses that might also be just as good as the first program. Another possibility is not to attend this program and do a different study abroad program next summer if this will save you some money. As I have gotten older, I notice that we all get some unfortunate disappointments along the road in life and what is important is to appreciate the blessings as they come as well.</p>

<p>I don't understand why the OP is involved talking to / meeting / emailing the program coordinator about the decision. </p>

<p>
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This is a state/public college and I feel that they need to prove or validate their decision somehow, but I am unsure of what type of recourse we may have.

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Why would they have to validate anything? Why would you think you have "recourse" in a competitive situation? </p>

<p>I'd point out that while the OP might think that the other 2 students have "suddenly" appeared... given the process of applying for study abroad programs, they must have been planning to study abroad as well for awhile.</p>

<p>Thank you to everybody who commented on this situation. I know it sounds like I have a case of sour grapes, but it's really not this way at all. I've always taught my son that there are many disappointments in life and that you should never count on a sure thing....better to always have a plan B and even a plan C and D! I just can't get it out of my mind that something is very wrong here and I have no idea whether there is anything that can be done about it. I don't normally get involved in his issues and such with school, but this one has been difficult to swallow and I hate to see him cheated out of a great opportunity because of someone's spiteful and unprofessional behavior. I'm really trying hard to see it differently, but I guess it will take some time.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I hate to see him cheated out of a great opportunity because of someone's spiteful and unprofessional behavior. I'm really trying hard to see it differently, but I guess it will take some time.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>But you don't know that. All you know is that three students were considered for the nomination, and another student got it. </p>

<p>My son was in a similar situation at college, except he was the one who got the nomination over the kid who had assumed s/he was going to get it. My son was a transfer student who was working half-time off campus as well as attending school, and so was not very well known to others in his department -- in fact, the head of the department had treated my son rather disdainfully until after reading my son's submission, which was enough to change his attitude. The application involved an essay, LOR, and submission of a resume -- I assume the school already had direct access to transcripts -- my son had been out of school for a few years before transferring, and I knew as soon as I saw his essay and LOR that he was virtually certain to get the nomination. It simply was extremely impressive in terms of the position my son was aiming for. In fact, if my son hadn't got the nomination, I would have assumed that it was because of his transfer status -- that is, that the faculty might have gone with a student with a longer track record at that school. </p>

<p>But I'm sure it must have been a huge surprise to the other students in contention, when the nomination went to a student they barely knew. If someone were to look at GPAs, there's a good chance that my son's was lower than the others -- because he had not done that well at the school he transferred from, even though he was getting straight A's at the college that gave him the nomination. </p>

<p>I know it hurts to want an honor, scholarship, or admission that goes to someone else. My daughter worked very hard to try to get into a combined bachelor's/masters degree program at her university, and the advisor who was helping all the students process their applications told her that he thought she had the strongest -- but only one student got selected, and it was someone else. Of course my d. never had a clue why -- but sometimes the people making the choice are looking beyond mere stats. For example -- my d. may have had a higher GPA, but maybe the other student filled a particular niche better.</p>

<p>I hope that you will be able to afford to send your son abroad next year, even without the anticipated stipend. He will probably have an opportunity to meet the other students traveling to the same country -- perhaps then he will have more insight into what went into the decision. It's also possible that perceived financial need played a large part -- whether it is an explicit part of a scholarship decision or not, there's a strong emotional pull to direct financial awards toward the individual who seems to need the money the most.</p>