By Mia Platz

Many high school students have high hopes of earning a scholarship to attend college. Receiving a full-tuition scholarship would be a dream come true. Perhaps that’s what makes Scholarship Days at Columbia College so special.

Each January, qualified high school students* converge at the main campus in Columbia, Missouri for the highly competitive interview and essay competition. At stake are 10 full-tuition Presidential Scholarships, worth more than $90,000 each.

Presidential Scholarship winners represent some of the best and brightest at Columbia College. Here’s the story of one such recipient – senior Clara Hagedorn – and her advice for future Scholarship Day participants.


I first got to know Columbia College through my cousin, who had an amazing experience here. I loved coming to visit, especially during Family Days. It truly felt like my home away from home.

I looked at many different schools around Missouri. I first heard about Scholarship Day through my admissions counselor at Columbia College (Ben Overberg). I was SO nervous for the interview, and I thought for sure that I blew it!


Getting this scholarship took a lot of stress off me and my parents, which made me feel great! It also helped me relax and get more out of my time at CC. I could focus more on my studies, earn a good GPA, participate in clubs and go to athletic games.

Clara Hagedorn

Year: Senior
Major: Biology (minors in education and environmental science)
Hometown: Washington, Missouri
High School: St. Francis Borgia Regional High School

At Columbia College

Some of my best memories at CC are playing Quidditch on Bass Commons, running the Color Run during Homecoming Spirit Week, and dancing every year at the Fall Formal!

I’ve also served as a student ambassador for the Admissions Office. One of my favorite events to work in that role has been Scholarship Days. I love talking with the students (especially the nervous ones because that was me!) and assuring them that it’s going to be okay.


Right now, I’m applying for graduate school with a focus on plant sciences programs. I love gardening! My dream job would be teaching about agriculture and plants at a state park or museum.


Just be yourself during the interview. Go beyond your resume and show them who you are as a person. Plus, it’s just a few hours of your life, so it’s definitely worth your time!

Even if you don’t get this scholarship, there are a ton of others out there. Apply to everything, because everything helps!

If you think Columbia College is your home, come here! If you love CC, come here!

To learn more and register for an upcoming Scholarship Day event, visit If you’re interested in making a donation to Columbia College to support student scholarships, please visit

*Incoming freshman students are eligible to participate in the Scholarship Day competition if they have been admitted to the Columbia College day campus, have a minimum 26 ACT (1230 SAT) and have a minimum 3.6 GPA.