How One Dillon County Counselor is Helping Students Qualify for Every Scholarship Possible
Dr. Harriet Jackson spent her career in education, beginning as a guidance counselor and then as a principal for 25 years, oftentimes working on the front lines with students. Shortly after she retired, she dreamed of returning to education as a guidance counselor and accepted a role with Dillon High School, a title one school in Dillon, South Carolina.
Each day, she drives ½ hour from her home in North Carolina just over the border to Dillon, where she works hand-in-hand with her team and students to help them along their educational path—whether that leads them to college, military, or the workforce. “Once I came back to work, I thought: ‘I’m back home now,’” she said. “It’s gratifying and fulfilling to help students make their decision and to see them thriving years later.”
Dillon High School offers many college scholarship recruitment strategies to help its 860 students identify and reach their goals. One such strategy is , a scholarship cohort which encourages students to become qualified for and apply to all scholarships they are eligible for. Since The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund expanded to the Pee Dee region in 2021, Dr. Jackson and her team worked to qualify 27 students—the highest number of students from any school in the region.
“When you are in a rural, Title 1 school, kids don’t hear a lot about big scholarships that some of the larger counties get,” she said. “ As counselors, we e become salespeople to make sure our kids understand the same opportunities are offered to each of them and to go after them.”
When a new scholarship is introduced, Dr. Jackson and her team identify eligible students based on the criteria and create a group that meets weekly to work through the application process together. She establishes a buddy system which provides an added level of support and drives accountability. The team continues to meet until everyone completes their application.
“When it comes to meeting deadlines and qualifying students for scholarships, we don’t negotiate, we don’t compromise and we don’t take ‘no’ easily,” she said. “We don’t leave money on the table.”
Dr. Jackson shared the following advice for other counselors in eligible counties looking to expand scholarship acceptance:
- Start early – Educate 9th graders about the importance of class rank and a strong GPA. Work with “bubble” students in 10th and 11th grade, who are close to, but not yet meeting college and scholarship requirements.
- Know your students – Based on Individual Growth Plans (IGP), understand what students’ interests are and form cohorts to meet with them regularly.
- Take care of loose pieces – ensure students have applied to colleges and completed the FAFSA.
- Track your students – set preemptive deadlines, keep them focused, work with students throughout the process to eliminate barriers, and get confirmations once applications are submitted.
- Make it a competition! Motivate students, challenge them to surpass the previous year’s class in total scholarships, and celebrate their achievements publicly to inspire future students.
For Dr. Jackson, who went to college on Pell grants and scholarships, it’s personal. “When I look at these students, I see images of myself,” she said. “For some students, the only way they can get through college is with scholarships.”
“The Meeting Street Scholarship fund is a real asset—students will graduate from college and come back to the community to make a difference at home. This helps the community and break generational poverty for years to come.”
For more resources and information about the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund, visit MeetingStreetScholarshipFund.org. For updates, news, and more, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter.