JOE LIGGIO, SOPHIA SAKELLARIOU, CHRISTINE NAPPI & PETE JANNY,
Asst. News Editor, Production Editor, Staff Writer & Asst. Sports Editor
Manhattan College’s two talent scholarships, the Performing Arts scholarship and The Quadrangle Student Newspaper scholarship, will be operating under a different timeline for the recipient selection process this year.
In the past, the scholarship application and awarding process took place in April, after a college had been accepted to but not necessarily enrolled in Manhattan College. Rather than taking place in April as in years past, the school has pushed the start of the process until after the May regular decision deadline, also known as National College Decision Day.
As a result of the change, prospective scholarship recipients are now required to be committed to Manhattan College and enrolled for the Fall 2019 semester in order to be eligible to receive a Quad or Performing Arts scholarship. In previous years, students applied for and received notification of a verdict prior to May 1. The deposit for students is either $400 or $900, depending on their status as a commuter or resident student.
With scholarships no longer guaranteed prior to committing to Manhattan, this procedural change now lessens the weight the scholarships would have held in a student’s college decision. For some, this revision may affect whether or not an applicant chooses to enroll at Manhattan.
According to Denise Scalzo, Director of Financial Aid Administration, the change has been made to accomodate the “current Jaspers.” Scalzo describes that the scholarship should be awarded to committed students, because they have shown a dedication to the Manhattan community. Due to market research that has been conducted, Scalzo notes that enrolled Jaspers have a “better” opportunity to receive the scholarship.
“We want to make sure this class coming in feels part of the Jasper community,” Scalzo said. “That’s why the process is a little different.”
The only factor in the application process that has been changed is that the scholarship will now only be awarded to committed students.
Although the Quad scholarship has been around for more than 10 years, Scalzo claims that students were unaware of this opportunity, which is one reason why it’s being changed. The idea to switch the scholarship requirements to only being open to committed students has been discussed amongst the college’s cabinet for a while, yet has only been in the works since this past fall.
A letter and e-mail will be sent home to prospective students who may be interested in applying for the scholarship, but only if interest has already been indicated on a student’s application to Manhattan in general. Students who do not indicate a high school activity that relates to The Quadrangle or entails writing are still eligible to apply, but may not be notified.
“Anyone who indicates writing experience on the common app will get a letter home,” Scalzo said. “All have the opportunity to apply.”
Students who indicate a musical involvement in high school on their common application will be sent home a notification for the Performing Arts scholarship but all students are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
The Quadrangle scholarship is awarded to five students in every class year adding up to a total of 20 students on scholarship at any given moment. The scholarship is an award of $5,000 per year, divided evenly each semester.
In addition to the incoming committed students, the scholarship is also open to current students, dependent on if there is an open spot to award it to someone. Current scholars need to meet a certain criteria to maintain their scholarship; if they don’t, the director of the program, Thom Gencarelli, Ph.D., can make the decision to award it to a different student who is shown to be committed to the newspaper.
“We have a certain amount of spots for freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Scalzo said. “There will be students who don’t get it, but can have an opportunity later on.”
Scalzo emphasizes that the scholarship be open to only committed students because it will help encourage participation in the club. In general, she finds the scholarship to be important to the community because it enables students to maintain the publication of a newspaper, a service that’s important to the college community.
According to Scalzo, the amount of money the school can award to students has been accounted for when considering the scholarship.
“The Performing Arts and Quadrangle scholarship are calculated in part of our discount percent,” Scalzo said. “We just want to make sure the current jaspers have an opportunity to receive this award.”
While these two talent-based scholarships are seeing changes, other scholarships the college offers are not. Athletic scholarships, which are performance based and require an extensive recruitment process beginning in high school, are not seeing a change in the awarding process. The Lasallian Ambassador Award will also not see a change in its awarding process.
Unlike the Performing Arts and Quad scholarships, the Lasallian Ambassador Award, a scholarship awarded to a select number of high school applicants who come from a Lasallian high school, will still be awarded before the May 1 deadline. This means that prospective recipients of this award will have the advantage of making a college decision with a clearer understanding of what their financial obligations to Manhattan would look like.
Andy Bauer, Director of Performing Arts at the college, highlighted issues concerning getting the word out to prospective students.
“We’ve always struggled in disseminating the information about the scholarship and raising awareness about it with the incoming freshman class. Maybe we need to do a better job as an institution of making these things better known … I could imagine more profile efforts on social media can help this and maybe send out more mailings about this,” said Bauer.
Bauer described how the change to the process will similarly affect his own department, and the prospective students seeking to apply for a Performing Arts scholarship.
“The official position of the school is that the Performing Arts scholarship auditions will be held on orientation days during the summer. We will actually make the determination of the individual awards after September 1. So it’s not until [incoming students] arrive on campus before we could offer the scholarships,” said Bauer.
Unlike the Quadrangle, the Performing Arts club is given 12 scholarship spots per grade that are worth $2,000 for a single academic school year. Yet in both cases, the awards are merit-based, meaning an individual must have the requisite skills for their area of interest to be considered for a spot.
Freshman Alek Dembo currently occupies one of the 12 spots alloted for the class of 2022 and is among those who are skeptical of this change.
“This change is huge for anyone coming in thinking they are borderline candidates for a spot,” said Dembo. “Two thousand dollars is huge for anyone making a college decision.”
Several Quadrangle alumni have highlighted the significance the scholarship opportunity had on both their decision to attend Manhattan and their ultimate careers post-graduation.
Claire Leaden ‘15, former managing and features editor for the paper, applied for the scholarship as an incoming freshman at Manhattan. She is currently a freelance writer for various publications, including amNY, Gothamist and Medium.
“The Quadrangle Scholarship definitely impacted my decision to attend Manhattan College – I’d actually say it was the deciding factor. I was debating between two or three schools and financially, along with my academic scholarship, it tipped MC over the edge of who I was receiving the most money from,” said Leaden via e-mail.
Leaden viewed the scholarship opportunity as more than just financial support, and looked forward to the practical training and insight it would entail upon her arrival at the college.
“I didn’t have a ton of journalistic experience in high school … so it was really appealing to me to have a director resource and ‘mentorship’ of sorts to guide me in the field and my experiences on the school newspaper. Also, when I decided to switch my Communications track to Public Relations, I still loved writing and journalism so it was great to have a concrete reason to stay devoted to The Quad and have those classes that kept teaching me about reporting and the industry even though it wasn’t my full major,” said Leaden.
Kyleigh Panetta ‘17, former assistant news editor and copy editor at the paper, shared similar sentiment and was surprised by the decision to change the application process.
“Applying for a scholarship should not cost you money,” said Panetta via e-mail. “Since college is so expensive now, a lot of people base their college choice off of how much they are getting in scholarships. I personally wouldn’t have applied to colleges if I didn’t know how they could help me financially. It seems like a risk as a student to put a deposit down to even apply for a scholarship and not a fair burden to put on prospective students.”
Panetta is currently a producer at WMDT 47 News, an ABC affiliated television station based out of Salisbury, Md. She applied for the scholarship as an incoming freshman but didn’t receive it until her second semester, after another student recipient ended up not attending Manhattan.
She also maintains that working for the paper helped her along her career path.
“The Quad was the closest experience I had, in college, to a newsroom where I felt responsible for the content and coverage. In the journalism industry, real world experience is sometimes prioritized over anything else. So working on the Quad during college helped prepare me for the real world and show my prospective employers that I had a range of experiences,” said Panetta.
To Jeanette Settembre, a 2013 graduate and reporter for Market Watch, the scholarship helped her finish her collegiate career as Jasper.
“I wouldn’t say [the scholarship] was the defining factor in my decision [to go to Manhattan] because I was in a unique situation where I didn’t get the scholarship until after I started, so second semester of my freshman year, but it really did help me,” said Settembre.
She explained how she loved being a Jasper, but after just one semester the financial burden was becoming too much and said, “If it weren’t for that and my RA status I would’ve had to commute or go to a state school.”
The scholarship set Settembre on the path to success. By mandating that recipients write with relative frequency throughout the semester, Settembre explained that it enforced her to excel, climbing the masthead from A&E Editor to Managing Editor to Editor-in-Chief.
“There are students who have risen in the media industry and [the scholarship] was that small step that helped them go to Manhattan and get to those major organization. I mean look at where some of our alumni have gotten,” said Settembre.
Settembre has reached some of those major organizations herself. Her career began writing features for the New York Daily News and she contributes to the Wall Street Journal along with her current job as a reporter for Market Watch. She explained how working on the Quadrangle helped her foster the essential reporting skills that have helped her get to where she is today.
While the college decided to make the changes to these two scholarships to take into account students who have shown a commitment to Manhattan College, the voices of alumni and current students show that, for some, the previous scholarship application process allowed them to commit to Manhattan College.