Hard work key to state scholarship | NevadaAppeal.com

Hard work key to state scholarship

Joanna Welch, Appeal Staff Writer

The questions varied, covering dozens of topics, but the discussion at Monday night’s Millennium Scholarship meeting turned repeatedly to student eligibility, as it has for nine similar meetings statewide.

The questions were answered except for the trickiest, which will be decided by University and Community College Board of Regents in coming months.

But for all the variety, the message from university and community college officials was simple: Students need to be working hard in high school if they hope to receive the scholarship.

“You have to have taken seriously your high school work,” said Jane Nichols, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “Because if you don’t make the grades and don’t take school seriously, then you will not be eligible for the scholarship.”

Regent Howard Rosenberg said the message should be drummed into students at an early age.

“From as early as seventh grade, you need to recognize that you can go to college and that money, under this program, is not a barrier. But you need to work hard and maintain that B average.”

The scholarship is being established with 40 percent of proceeds from the state’s tobacco industry settlement.

The college officials are on draft 22 of the regulations that will finalize student eligibility, Nichols said. A final recommendation will be presented to the Regents at Thursday’s board meeting.

“We’re this close to being ready to have the final rules set in place,” Nichols said.

The high school graduating class of 2000 will be the first class eligible to receive the scholarship. Eligibility will be determined the year high school students graduates.

Carson High School Principal Glen Adair wanted to know if a student’s opportunity to receive the Millennium Scholarship would be jeopardized if they received additional scholarships.

Last year’s graduating class at Carson High School received over $2 million in scholarships.

Provided they are not full-ride scholarships, no they would not, Nichols said.

Over 100 parents, students and a sprinkling of government and Western Nevada Community College officials attended the meeting.

State Treasurer Brian Krolicki assured one parent the scholarship will be available for his seventh and eighth grade children and probably for at least 20 years.

Nichols explained that students will be required to have obtained a 3.0 grade point average upon graduation, to have passed the high school proficiency exam and to have attended a Nevada High School for at least two years.

For the class of 2000, scholarship eligibility will be calculated on every class the student has taken in high school, whether it’s pottery or physics.

Over time the focus will be limited to academics, Nichols

Rosenberg said the focus on academics is simple. It will ensure that once students receive the scholarship they are both eligible and prepared for higher education.

A parent explained that she had lived in Nevada for 17 years, but that her son attended school just over the state line.

“That raises a whole bundle of issues. We are so overwhelmed by those sorts of questions that we cannot look at them now. The answer is, we don’t know,” she said.

Nichols expects the Regents to discuss some of the complex issues of eligibility at their December meeting.

The Regents are scheduled to decide this week if the grade point average will be calculated on unweighted or weighted grades, which was a sticking point at September’s meeting.

Weighted grades give greater weight to advanced or honors classes.

That was a moot point for Carson High School students.

Adair said that advanced classes are offered, but the grades are not weighted.

The classes that are categorized as advanced in many of Nevada’s high schools are standard academic fair at Carson High, Adair said.

“We don’t have weighted classes, but we do have outstanding students who will go on in life and do well,” Adair said. “And if it was to the detriment of our students, we would change it immediately.”

The scholarship will provide $40 per credit at one of the state’s community colleges, where students must take a minimum of six credits, and $80 per credit at one of the two universities, where students must take a minimum of 12 credits.

Students have eight years to complete their higher education and must maintain a 2.0 grade point average.