RIT gives out two awards — the “Computing Medal” and the “Innovation and Creativity Award” — to roughly 1,350 high school students each year. Each award is worth $28,000 over four years. However, the design of these scholarships ensures that the vast majority of awardees attending RIT will never receive the money and serves as a deceptive tool to grab the attention of prospective students.
Edward Lincoln, the assistant vice president of RIT’s Division of Enrollment Management and Career Services, helped provide information on the awards and their requirements. When compared with the Presidential Scholarship, the awards appear just as difficult, if not more, to receive. They require students to be in the top 10 percent of their class, to have had a “rigorous college-preparatory curriculum” and to possess leadership qualities; in addition to that, the students must excel in computer-related areas or show innovation in a specific area. RIT’s Presidential Scholarship requirements are based on class rank and SAT/ACT score. It requires students to be in the top 20 percent of their class with a SAT score of 1950/ACT score of 28, or top 10 percent of their class with a SAT score of 1860/ACT score of 27. It can be expected that students receiving one of the high school awards are also likely to be awarded a Presidential Scholarship, due to their high class rank — and this is where the problem begins. As RIT offers a student the money from their highest scholarship only, the majority of students will not receive the money from their high school awards.
Not only does the design of the program result in scholarship money that students will almost never see, RIT does not tell the awardees that their scholarship is not added to other scholarships they may receive. The award is announced as a scholarship that the student is eligible for if they attend; however, there is no mention on the award certificate that other scholarships may negate it. Six of six polled students who had received one of these awards had also received the Presidential Scholarship, and as a result none received the money from their high school awards.
If none of the students actually receive the money, what is the point of having a high school awards program? First and foremost, the scholarships serve as great publicity for RIT. RIT can list another scholarship they offer and award to 1,350 students each year, all with little to no actual cost. Meanwhile, the allure of an extra $28,000 causes students to take a closer look at RIT and possibly send in an application they would have otherwise never bothered with.
When a college tells a student that they have been given a scholarship worth $28,000, it is fully understood the college is attempting to lure the student into attending. However, it is also understood that the student will receive this money should they decide to attend. RIT’s high school awards program is a suspect system that manages to lure students without paying up, and it needs to change in order to resemble a more genuine scholarship effort from RIT and a more clear-cut and less deceptive financial aid impression for RIT’s prospective students.