Samuel Siebu

The ongoing pandemic certainly has had an impact on many of us- with some of the most vulnerable standing out as young people and students.

An issue that has been a topic of conversation over the past few months is that students have shown signs of falling months behind their expected academic trajectory, and this is exacerbated by other issues such as financial insecurity among parents.

Samuel Siebu- CEO and founder of the SOKS Foundation- recognizes the importance of uplifting students to reach their academic potential. His foundation has recently awarded full academic scholarships to students of the Kollah Foundation institute in Monrovia, Liberia, and he has shown interest in expanding the scope of his organization to include more students as well.

Mr. Siebu acknowledges that a foundational step in uplifting students via scholarships is to explore some of the specific benefits these programs have for students. Not only does this emphasize the need for these funds and programs, but it also helps to contextualize the scope of the issues lack of funding can cause.

Here, Samuel Siebu explores a few of the reasons scholarships are crucial during the ongoing health crisis and in a post-pandemic world.

Many Students Will Need Scholarship Support

Researchers have found that low-income and underserved students were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and have historically seen many obstacles outside of the health crisis as well. NPR found that there was a 32.6% decline in college attendance for graduates of high-poverty high schools. The pandemic has emphasized that these students will need support to fully enter the fold of academia or the job market.

Samuel Siebu recognizes that lower-income students are not the only groups that will need scholarship through the pandemic and beyond. For example, there has been much conversation on students of middle-income families who have experienced financially difficulties as well.

Some experts believe that we have not yet seen the full scope of how many students will need scholarship support. When you combine the groups that we have research on with variables such as students who may have lost one or both parents to the COVID-19 health crisis, it becomes apparent that scholarships and other forms of academic assistance will remain crucial for years to come.

Scholarships Will Remain an Important Motivator for Students

Samuel Siebu speaks to the many motivational benefits that scholarships provide students. We want to believe that all students are on equal footing in terms of attending colleges or pursuing employment opportunities, but administrators have exhibited a strong preference for accepting scholarship recipients. To them, scholarships are reflective of motivation and a desire to become a hard-worker and high-achiever.

Mr. Siebu acknowledges that it is important to remember that scholarships are not only a marker of academic motivation, but they play an instrumental role in retaining motivated as well. Scholarships provide proof that students can achieve what they set their minds to, and this is important to nurture in the minds of young people who will eventually become leaders in their fields.

There are many reasons why Samuel and other scholarship leaders believe that scholarships act as a great way to keep students motivated.

For some, it can help them attend a more prestigious university or one that more aligns with their future studies and career goals. Others find that being able to worry less about financial logistics of attending school gives them more time and energy to keep up with their tasks.

Scholarships Address the Rising Cost of Tuition

The costs of college tuition- particularly in the US- have notably risen significantly over time. College tuition and fees are up a whopping 1,200% since 1980, meanwhile the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for items has only risen by about 236% at the same time.

Naturally, high tuition costs can be a barrier for students that are looking to attend college and pursue fruitful careers in their preferred field. Income of students’ parents has not risen nearly as significantly as tuition and- when compounded with rising costs of housing- there are many financial reasons why students may not be able to attend the institution of their choosing.

One of the reasons that Samuel Siebu is a proponent of academic scholarships is because they can help address some of the difficulties associated with rising tuition costs. These scholarships give students more of a fighting chance to pay for school and set up the foundation for their careers.

Samuel Siebu recognizes that not every country has had tuition costs rise as significantly as the US. Students in these countries are not exempt from potential financial obstacles, however, and fees associated with attending and travelling to school and inflation on school related items can still be a barrier for students.

What Can We Do to Help Support Students? 

The pandemic has opened many peoples’ minds to actionable ways that they can help uplift one another. For scholarships, Mr. Siebu has found that more people are exploring the option of assisting hands on to benefit students.

One of the most common ways that people are looking into helping students is by donating to scholarship funds and financial aid programs that are doing a lot of legwork to keep young people afloat. Many hold the misconception that funds only accept large sums of money from donators, but these funds believe that any bit can help expand the scope of their work and reach more students.

Some individuals who are financially able are exploring the option of establishing their own scholarship funds as well. Samuel Siebu established a scholarship fund to help Liberian students access educational opportunities, and he speaks to how there are various missions that can be achieved through a personal fund.

A huge barrier to donation is that potential benefactors believe that there are too many steps to establish a method for charitable giving. In today’s day and age, there are various organizations that specialize in forming scholarship funds and helping match those interested in donating with funds that could truly use the assistance. If you are interested in expanding the scope of your donations to students, get connected with these orgs to learn more about how you can help!