A Bit o’ News

Mar
18

It’s almost embarrassing to tell this story because when you are given so much, it’s embarrassing in a way. But. I know that many of you have expressed interest in how Weston’s college fund is coming along, and I also think there is something here that can be helpful to other people.


We have been about the business of leaving no stone unturned, applying for grants and scholarships, but for us, the most important thing that happened was that Weston took the PSAT in his junior year of high school, which is the start of becoming involved in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Taking the PSAT is voluntary and not all students choose to do it. The test is administered at high schools, for students who choose to take it, during the normal school day.

In West Virginia, any student with a 3.0 or above is eligible for the Promise scholarship, which will pay all tuition and fees at any state university (and up to a certain amount at private in-state universities). That’s the foundation, and Weston will have that, but of course there are many other costs involved in college, including housing, food, books, supplies, and other assorted expenses that add up to more than the tuition and fees. In the course of his participation in the National Merit Scholarship Program, he has now become a National Merit Finalist. This program has not completely run its course yet, so I don’t have any news to share about that scholarship right now, but in the meantime we have been busy about knocking down every other door, applying for grants and local scholarships, making him write essays for this and that scholarship. The high school recently nominated him for the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship, and told him he was going to be the “Senior Spotlight” in the yearbook this year. (We love the high school!)

He has applied and been accepted to WVU (West Virginia University). They have offered him a $10,000 scholarship, based on his SAT scores, his high school record, and at the time his semi-finalist status in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Between that and grants and the maybe maybe of other scholarships we are waiting to hear on, I patched together a scenario in which he could certainly have his first year paid for and maybe maybe close enough on the rest. Room left to worry.

This week, I got a letter in the mail from WVU. I didn’t even open it right away. I have been expecting to get information on student orientation, so I thought that was what it was. When I opened it, I could not believe my eyes. I laughed and cried and couldn’t even put a sentence together for a few minutes. They were notified that he was a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program and they had changed their minds about the $10,000 scholarship.

Now they are giving him $30,000.

I had so much trouble getting past the first paragraph that it took a while for me to understand the rest of the letter, which I had to read about ten times to get that there was MORE. They are also giving him a $3500 stipend to be used during his junior or senior year to study abroad for a semester.

I can’t even begin to express how overwhelming it was to read this letter. As soon as I could speak, I found Weston, who was playing on his computer. I spent so much time telling him how fabulous and awesome he is that he had to put a pillow over his head to stop me.

As I said, we don’t even know the end result of the National Merit Scholarship Program itself, but just being part of the program has opened so many scholarship doors for Weston that it almost doesn’t matter. Between the West Virginia Promise scholarship and the WVU scholarship, Weston is now already on a full scholarship ride. If you have a student in high school, be sure they take the PSAT in their junior year. It is the start of more opportunities than you might realize. (We didn’t know.) Find out more about the National Merit Scholarship Program here.

P.S. In case anyone is wondering what we would do if Weston should receive an excess of grants and scholarships, it is going to be put away in an account for him to go to graduate school, when scholarships are not so readily available.

P.P.S. I am possibly most excited that he will have the opportunity to study abroad a semester, anywhere he chooses. I can’t even BELIEVE THAT!!!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on March 18, 2011  

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  1. 3-18
    1:08
    am

    awesome!!! truley awesome.

  2. 3-18
    1:11
    am

    That’s so exciting! Congratulations!!

  3. 3-18
    1:13
    am

    CONGRATULATIONS Weston and Proud Momma Suzanne! OMG! you brought tears of JOY to my eyes and I don’t even know you :) None the less this is AWESOME!
    Congrats to WVU for for giving this young man a full ride to a great future!
    ~~HUGS~~

  4. 3-18
    1:22
    am

    That is lovely, Suzanne. Congratulations, Weston!

  5. 3-18
    1:28
    am

    Congratulations to Weston! It will take some time to fully realize how many doors will be opened as a result of this happy series of events that began with his being one smart cookie. What a wonderful gift of opportunity!

  6. 3-18
    1:33
    am

    Suzanne, that is such amazing news! I am so excited for him and relieved for you!!! Less to worry about and more to be excited about. Shower that boy with congratulations and love! He deserves it!!!

  7. 3-18
    1:35
    am

    Congratulations! to you and Ross! so happy for you both! :snoopy:

  8. 3-18
    1:38
    am

    Who said being a good egg wouldn’t get you anywhere! Excellent news!

  9. 3-18
    1:42
    am

    CONGRATULATIONS Weston!!! I got goose bumps just reading your post….can’t even imagine how you, Suzanne, must have felt (are feeling).

  10. 3-18
    1:55
    am

    Congrats, how terrific!!

  11. 3-18
    2:07
    am

    OMG, I’m sitting here with a big goofy grin for a fantastic young man I’ve never even met!!! Weston, you are fabulous. Suzanne, you have 3 awesome children!!! :snoopy: :woof:

  12. 3-18
    2:41
    am

    :snoopy: Smiles and hugs for both you and Weston. And thanks for letting us share in the good news.

  13. 3-18
    2:44
    am

    :happyflower: Wonderful news – congrats to all!!

  14. 3-18
    2:59
    am

    CONGRATULATIONS! We are just starting the process here. My oldest daughter has taken the PSATs and will take the SATs this spring and then again in the fall of her senior year. I’m about as conflicted as a person can get. I’m very proud of her and excited that she’s about to enter a new chapter in her life and at the same time I’m freaking out inside because she’s supposed to still be three and not seventeen and wanting to go to college far away from me! UGH! *sigh* Ready or not, here we

  15. 3-18
    5:17
    am

    WONDERFUL!! I DO BELIEVE GOD BLESSES THOSE WHO ARE A BLESSING TO OTHERS!! CONGRATS!!

  16. 3-18
    5:24
    am

    Congratulations!! so happy to hear about good things happening to good people :)

  17. 3-18
    5:34
    am

    AATA BOY’s all round. Clearly WVU knows a good student when they see one. Here’s a great positive example of the strength of unintended consequences. Never know who’s sniffing around looking at scores and transcripts.That info got passed around in the old paper days, just imagine how easy it is to highlight a great students in this Webernet age!
    Good idea to put any excess (oh that’ll be rare, indeed) aside for grad school, but by then someone will have noticed your fine student and offered him a TA (teaching assistant) or similar. Heck, his star is so bright that a mentor might find him and open even more doors.
    Great news, you have every right to be proud of your son and his mom. That’s quite an achievement.

  18. 3-18
    6:25
    am

    Congratulations!!!

  19. 3-18
    6:28
    am

    How wonderful! Congratulations to Weston. :D

  20. 3-18
    6:35
    am

    Congratulations. I know you must be of, not only Weston, but all of your children. And hurray to West Virginia for wanting to keep their talented students in state!

    And, if you are lucky, Weston will not come home and say,

    “Mom….. I want to go to Harvard……. I know, it’s tens of thousands a year…….. but its HARVARD!

  21. 3-18
    6:45
    am

    Weston’s not going to want to go to Harvard. He wants to go to college with his high school friends and his girlfriend. He’s already set up to room in the dorm with his best friend from high school. They’re all going to WVU.

  22. 3-18
    6:47
    am

    Oh my gosh!! That is wonderful beyond words. Praise God!! I am so happy for you and Weston. WOW! I have tears in my eyes, I’m so happy for you.

    Our granddaughter, Sarah, who lives with us took her PSATs this year which is her junior year. I will have her read this when she gets home so she knows what all is involved with taking it in your junior year.

    Oh, Suzanne, I’m so happy for you and especially for the Main Man, Weston. Good job, Weston. You make us ALL proud!!!!

  23. 3-18
    6:56
    am

    SOOOO happy for you and Weston. He sounds like a fine young man.

  24. 3-18
    6:58
    am

    WVU is a wonderful school. My daughter received one of the $10,000 scholarships plus was later awarded a full tuition scholarship on top of that, so she went for free for a couple of years (until she changed majors, at which point the full tuition ride went away). She ended up being there for 5 years and still talks about those days with great fondness. You hear so much about WVU being a big party school, but that is only the case if the student is looking for that kind of life. They have much to offer to fully round out an educational opportunity. And Morgantown is a great town! Congratulations to Weston!

  25. 3-18
    7:26
    am

    Congrats! That is wonderful, wonderful news. What an opportunity for Weston. It is so good to see hard work rewarded.

  26. 3-18
    7:31
    am

    Thanks for all the good news. Please make the most of it…

  27. 3-18
    7:32
    am

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is awesome! What a wonderful oppertunity!!

  28. 3-18
    7:33
    am

    Congratulations!!! That is wonderful news!

  29. 3-18
    7:35
    am

    That is fantastic!
    My hope is that he gets all tht he can out of his college years.
    You are truly blessed with a great bunch of kids!

  30. 3-18
    7:38
    am

    Awesome :snoopy:

  31. 3-18
    7:39
    am

    Congratulations to Weston. Seriously, he is wonderful. Give him a big hug and kiss. (I know how much teenage boys love that.)

  32. 3-18
    7:39
    am

    GREAT!!!! Congratulations. I know you are so proud of him and all of your kids. You’ve done a good job with them. :)

  33. 3-18
    7:39
    am

    When I saw that you already had 29 comments on this post, I almost decided not to leave one.
    But I did want to say congratulations to you both. As a mother, I can imagine how thrilled you were to read that letter!

  34. 3-18
    7:42
    am

    That is awesome, Suzanne!!!
    Congratulations to you ALL!!

  35. 3-18
    7:47
    am

    Just an FYI from my days working in Financial Aid… any grants/scholarships above and beyond tuition, room, board, travel, books (basically all expenses associated with school) are taxable as income, so just be careful there.

  36. 3-18
    7:51
    am

    Most wonderful news for your wallet as well as Weston. Not sure if you knew this but folks can at times receive schlorships from such places as the Coca Cola co., Pepsico, as well as companies that will be in the field of his work, also the big name beer companies and food companies. I know that each dollar adds up, some folks may only give a hundred or so, but it all certainly helps. Electric / utility companies are also known for giving schlorships. I would advise folks to send out requests to as many as they can.

  37. 3-18
    8:00
    am

    Congratulations, Weston! This news is awesome! Keep up the good work and I predict YOU WILL GO FFF-AAA-RRRR!

    Suzanne, I know you are proud! Are your buttons popping yet? Mine would be! You have bragging rights, Suzanne!

  38. 3-18
    8:06
    am

    Wow! That is so incredibly AWESOME!!! See, Weston, hard work really does pay off!!

  39. 3-18
    8:12
    am

    Congratulations, Weston! :snoopy:

  40. 3-18
    8:39
    am

    my biggest regret is not taking advantage of that program. I hope he enjoys this and realizes what a great opportunity he has, I am in my 30s, have over $30,000 in student loan debt that isn’t going anywhere. To get an education without the debt is the best!

  41. 3-18
    8:41
    am

    Such wonderful news. Good job Weston!

  42. 3-18
    8:44
    am

    EEEHAH! Terrific job, Weston! And you have done a fabulous job raising him, too!

  43. 3-18
    8:46
    am

    Congratulations and well done! :happyfeet: :snoopy:

  44. 3-18
    8:48
    am

    Praise the Lord for both of your hard work. Congratulations to both of you.
    You have done a wonderful job of raising your children.

  45. 3-18
    8:49
    am

    Congratulations to Weston for a job well done!!!!!!!! and what a burden lifted from you. What does Weston want to study in college?

  46. 3-18
    8:49
    am

    How cool! the study abroad will be the best thing for his education. Learning and living in other cultures does wonders for common sense and maturity.

    The scholarships are a testament to good parenting!

  47. 3-18
    8:54
    am

    WOW! Weeeee! That is wonderful news. Congratulations. Wish I had relocated to WV instead of MI….

  48. 3-18
    8:55
    am

    Suzanne, I agree with lilac wolf (love your screen name). My oldest son is 25 and so many of his friends are burdened with overwhelming college debt of a type our generation could never have even begun to imagine. I worry about all of them, and I’m very relieved that you and Weston won’t have to deal with that. (Good luck to you, lilac wolf)!

    And mega-congratulations to Weston! This is a very big deal. Time to have a celebration? With pie? Or cake?

  49. 3-18
    9:14
    am

    Weston is going to major in math and engineering.

    I spent years paying off college debt, too. I’m so happy for Weston that he won’t have to do that. I also am strongly encouraging him to get his master’s right away because it’s so hard to go back to graduate school later in life and juggle it with work and family.

  50. 3-18
    9:17
    am

    Holy Smoke! Congratulations! Blessings upon you!

  51. 3-18
    9:31
    am

    Congratulations! That is wonderful news! And what a great opportunity to study abroad. Something most people will never get to do.

  52. 3-18
    9:40
    am

    Actually, if I can offer a bit of advice…take the PSAT the first time SOPHOMORE year. You can take it then as a practice test, get the feel of the test, and get some scores/feedback to prepare before you take it for National Merit purposes junior year. I am a test prep tutor and so happy to finally have something to contribute to the board–usually I just watch and learn. :)

    And congratulations, Weston! We’re all so happy for you and your family! :shimmy: :snoopy:

  53. 3-18
    9:40
    am

    Absolutely fabulous! Between your efforts at applying for everything and, most important of all, Wes’ hard work in school and extracurricular activities, he’s going to have a marvelous opportunity. College AND the opportunity to study abroad. I have relatives who’ve been involved in study abroad programs for decades and have so many inspiring stories. Its a great opportunity to be forced to become familiar not only with a language and culture of another country but to meet other young people from all over the world also studying abroad. Did Wes take a foreign language in high school? If so, he has an chance to really develop his language skills. Sigh! :snoopy:

  54. 3-18
    9:41
    am

    What a huge, huge blessing for you and Weston and your family!!! Wow. Congrats!!! :snoopy:

  55. 3-18
    9:43
    am

    Absolutely FABULOUS news for you and Weston. I LOVE it when local kids make us proud. Please offer our congratulations to Weston.

  56. 3-18
    9:48
    am

    Wonderful, wonderful! How incredibly exciting. Please give Weston my congrtulations, and you are entitled to crow all you want about this! Yay!

  57. 3-18
    9:52
    am

    Wow! This post brings tears to my eyes! How wonderful! You must be so proud of Weston.

  58. 3-18
    10:07
    am

    How absolutely wonderful. Congratulations to both. A student who goes to college to party will party at any school and a serious student will make the best of his experience wherever he is. The campus atmosphere today is certainly different than it was generations ago.

  59. 3-18
    10:08
    am

    That is sooooooo awesome!!!! Congratulations!!!! You’re lucky he’s such a hard-worker and smart.

  60. 3-18
    10:10
    am

    This is the most wonderful news!!! Congratulations!

  61. 3-18
    10:25
    am

    :shimmy: Fantastic news! No wonder you’re over the moon – just shows how Weston’s hard work will be recognised…WELL DONE WESTON!

  62. 3-18
    10:25
    am

    That’s such great news! My husband was a National Merit Scholar and #2 in his class back in his day and between all of the money that was given to him because he was one of the NMS’s and a few other smaller scholarships, he didn’t have to pay a dime for his undergraduate degree or other living expenses. They also took him on a mini-summer abroad, all expenses paid. Taking the PSAT really can pay off! I’m so glad that things are falling together for Weston! :)

  63. 3-18
    10:26
    am

    This is fantastic!!! My jaw dropped when I saw the #’s. Wow!!!! Congrats to Weston!!!!He earned this.

  64. 3-18
    10:59
    am

    It’s because you are an awsome mother and work so hard and love your children so much, you are reaping the rewards! I am very happy for all of you!

  65. 3-18
    11:01
    am

    Good news indeed! Congrats Weston!!!

  66. 3-18
    11:19
    am

    I clicked on your link above because my daughter will be a junior next year and was SO CONFUSED…until I realized that you linked to the page for the National Achievement Scholarship which is for black Americans rather than the page for the National Merit Scholarship which is for everyone. Ha ha!

    Anyway, congrats to Weston!

  67. 3-18
    11:26
    am

    This is so awesome. It just goes to show ya, the money is out there if you just take the time to recognize it and go for it. My grandson was lucky like this too. If they work hard in school and do their best, anything is possible.
    MN Mona

  68. 3-18
    11:27
    am

    Ohmigosh — I’ve got tears in my eyes for both of you! WTG, Weston!!!! :dancingmonster:

    What wonderful, wonderful news. And couldn’t have happened to a more deserving kid (and his mom!).

    Soooo happy for you guys.

  69. 3-18
    11:29
    am

    Karo, oops, I’ll fix the link!

  70. 3-18
    12:03
    pm

    Awesome, just simply AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :shimmy: :snoopy: :woof: :happyflower:

  71. 3-18
    12:34
    pm

    I know just how you’re feeling. When our son signed up in the Navy, based on his aptitude and test scores he was recruited as a nuclear engineer… and then they offered him a full ride to Harvard for 3 years! You could have knocked me over with a feather.

  72. 3-18
    12:42
    pm

    Momma! Bake that boy a cake! – his favorite kind. Hey Morgan, sorry about the pressure, honey.

  73. 3-18
    12:54
    pm

    Congratulations, Weston!!

  74. 3-18
    1:05
    pm

    This is just incredible. I am so happy for you all!!

  75. 3-18
    1:13
    pm

    Congratulations to Weston and to you! He has done a wonderful job, and you have advised him well.

  76. 3-18
    1:31
    pm

    That’s just so, so awesome. Happy for you!

  77. 3-18
    1:45
    pm

    What a time in life you will all remember! Congratulations. Your son must have worked hard and is reaping his reward! What happy news.:)

  78. 3-18
    2:04
    pm

    WOW!! Congratulations!!

    West Virginia certainly knows how to do the education thing! So awesome.

    My youngest is a junior and took the PSAT, did very well, and maybe can benefit from it next year! Thanks for the encouragement!

    And congratulations to you Suzanne; mamas are quite important in getting those kids on track!!

  79. 3-18
    2:18
    pm

    This is totally awesome news. Congratulations Weston! You’ve accomplished a great thing being a National Merit finalist. Some schools give a full tuition scholarship for NM scholars including some expensive private ones (just in case you’ve got another school in the back of your mind).

  80. 3-18
    2:37
    pm

    :woof:
    Wonderful news–the fruit doesnt fall far from the tree.

  81. 3-18
    2:42
    pm

    That is such good news!
    Thank you for sharing!

  82. 3-18
    3:11
    pm

    I am not surprised; afterall he is your KID. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. Congrats to your whole family you can be proud.

  83. 3-18
    4:41
    pm

    Congratulations on all of your hard work! Such blessings!

  84. 3-18
    4:59
    pm

    Wonderful! College is SO expensive anymore (very wrong thinking on society’s part I think)and student loans are a horrible way to start working life having debt to pay already. So, Congrats, Weston and best wishes!

  85. 3-18
    5:09
    pm

    Your kids are so accomplished. Must be good parenting and all that wonderful, country air.

  86. 3-18
    5:16
    pm

    Suzanne! I’m so excited for you and Weston, I’m crying! I remember those days like it was yesterday, watching the mail and waiting for news about my school choices, and scholarship opportunities. How wonderful!

  87. 3-18
    6:55
    pm

    This is so wonderful!! Just a blessing for you all. All his hard work is paying off. Let’s celebrate with cookies!! :woof:

  88. 3-18
    7:02
    pm

    Congrats Weston!!!

  89. 3-18
    8:48
    pm

    Suzanne, I am so happy for you and your son.
    This is good news and I needed good news today!

  90. 3-19
    9:08
    am

    That is so exciting! It sounds like Weston is a wonderful young man and all the people he has come in contact with realize it. I’m sure you are about the proudest momma on the planet right now.

  91. 3-19
    10:46
    am

    How wonderful! This could not happen to better or more deserving people than you. You raised them right, Suzanne!

  92. 3-19
    1:43
    pm

    That is awesome, what a blessing! :woof: Student loans take FOREVER to pay back.

  93. 3-19
    7:19
    pm

    Congratulations to Weston!
    Just FYI,if Weston does go with engineering and is hired by any large engineering company, they will pay for all of his expenses associated with his Master’s degree program (tuition, books, fees). That is how I earned my masters….OK, tough work, work all day, go to graduate school late afternoons or evenings, but the only investment you make is your time. It pays off in the end!

  94. 3-20
    12:05
    pm

    I am so happy for you both! Your excitement is so contagious, I was tearing up reading this;)

    Congratulations Weston!

  95. 3-21
    12:34
    am

    Super! Congratulations, Weston!

  96. 3-21
    12:59
    pm

    Utterly fabulous news…but of course, it is his hard work and good grades that have brought it about. Congratulations, Weston!!!

  97. 5-27
    1:50
    pm

    Special Congratulations to Weston and his :shimmy: mom and dad, too.

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