What POE is looking for when reading an application

February 04, 2019

The big POE season is fast approaching, and we want to give you an idea about how we consider applications from students wanting to become a POE scholar.  We have about 50 volunteers who invest a great deal of time systematically reviewing and interviewing our many applicants.  The application is online and requests a variety of specific factual and lots of qualitative information.  The most important information we consider are:  

  1.  Financial Need - Our students come from families with annual incomes less than $70,000.  If the family income is more than 70K we sometimes consider students with special hardship circumstances.  For example, since last year’s taxes, did a parent lose their job or does a family member have medical issues.      For the tax information, students provide a photo of the front and back of the 1040 form and upload those to the application.  We accept undocumented and DACA students.  If parents don’t file taxes there is a place on the application to indicate that. 
  2. Satisfactory Academic Standing  - Most students have on average a 3.0 GPA.  We like to support students with a good academic record, however, we do look at students with a GPA below this and take into consideration:
    • the competitiveness of the high school the student is graduating from
    • did the student take difficult classes and some AP classes
    • did the student start with lower grades and have they been on an upward trend 
    • did the student have to work many hours a week to help support the family 
    • extracurricular activities (sports, volunteer work, music, drama, clubs etc) 
    • if there are questions about grades was there a challenge that came up during that time (health issue, family trauma, etc...).
  3. Student Work Experience  - We strongly prefer that students have some work experience because it demonstrates that a student has financial need and is willing to work hard to get ahead.   Some students have worked full time while going to high school, others part time, others only during the summer.   If a student hasn’t worked it is important to know why.   Did the student do a fair amount of volunteer work or were they involved in extracurricular activities or sports. Is there another reason the student could not work (i.e. taking care of siblings, working with parent without being paid; health issues; immigration status; etc.).   
  4. Essay and short answer paragraph - Students can use the essay and short answer to tell us about themselves so we understand their personal story  better.   This is where a student has the opportunity to give the application a personal touch and make it stand out. What makes your school experience or life experience special? Has an experience in life changed you? Why are you motivated to continue your education beyond high school?   We want to get to know the real you.  Our goal is to understand how POE can make a student as successful as possible.
  5. Recommendations - The application also includes two teacher recommendations. One of these definitely needs to be from an academic class.  We ask for one employer recommendation. Other options if a student hasn’t worked: coach, volunteer coordinator, etc.  We find that these recommendations give us more insight into each application to understand how we can be most helpful to the student.
  6. Sound financial Decisions about College Plans - The majority of POE Scholars attend UCs and CSUs. We do take students who attend private schools or out of state public schools as long as it is a sound financial decision given the financial aid package.  We do not take students who will be taking on a large amount of student debt.  We also take students who will start at a community college, if they plan to transfer to a 4-year school. 

 We are so proud of all our scholars and look forward to meeting the 2019 Applicants!


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