No Visible Differences

A Perspective on Work Scholarship


Angie Leung

Some of the tasks that students on work scholarship complete include assisting teachers in erasing classroom boards.

Angie Leung, Copy Editor

While the second semester sets in motion, many students have already begun seeking jobs to boost their resumés, but for others, their reality may be limited to working solely at school. 

For students receiving work scholarship, valuable after-school time may be largely reserved for assisting teachers, or the summer might be the long-awaited opportunity to log those remaining hours required to complete work study. 


A student holds a backpack.
Scott Webb

According to Presentation’s Business Department that calculates tuition and financial aid, students who apply for the FACTS Grant & Aid Assessment and qualify will receive aid for the school year for which the application was filed. Students on individualized work-study plans meet with Work Scholarship Coordinator Lisa Bunnell each year to determine their job and the number of hours they are required to work for, depending on the amount of aid received. This may mean that students with larger scholarships must work during the summer as well. 

While the tuition for the 2019-2020 school year is approximately $21,580, statistics provided by the Admissions Office state that 20 percent of the student body qualifies for and receives aid, and in the past, the school has been able to meet 80 to 100 percent of FACTS-assessed need.

The Value of Education at Presentation — Qualitative, Not Quantitative

A girl holds textbooks up to her face.
Siora Photography

Despite working arguably extensive hours, some students on work scholarship consider that their experiences while paying off a $20-thousand-and-rising tuition each year have been rather positive. 

Reflecting on her work study experience, senior Rebecca Villaflor described Presentation’s financial aid program as a “chance to get that education that they want,” referring to students who are eager to obtain the education that the school offers. 

Villaflor clarified that although financial aid was not a determining factor in her high school decision, the financial aid program relieved her parents of stress due to the financial strains of a private school tuition. 

One of Presentation’s marketing strategies for the school built on financial aid prides itself in providing students, both those who do and do not receive financial aid, with equal opportunities. This year the “Giving Tuesday” video intended for alumnae to donate to the school to support work scholarship even stated that there are no visible differences between students receiving and not receiving financial aid. 

A silhouette of a Pres girl in a plaid cape.
Presentation High School
The Giving Tuesday poster for the 2019-2020 school year.

Villaflor attributed this idea of “no visible differences” to how the student body perceives students receiving financial aid as their fellow peers without labeling them by their financial constraints. Instead, she emphasized that the qualitative value of Presentation education, specifically empowerment in society, calls students to be more appreciative of the schooling they receive. 

“I haven’t seen the video. I totally think it would help them be aware, but I just feel like it’s not a great impact because we — students at Pres — don’t necessarily see people of their financial background as much to attend this school. We think, ‘oh, like, okay…we’re in this school, a private school, this is like a blessing, so…’ But we normally don’t talk about individual financial stuff,” she said. 

She believes that students who do not receive financial aid often mistake students on work study as teacher assistants because they are education-driven — which is not a bad quality, she added, until they overlook how students on work scholarship are in some way constrained by financial issues. 

We — students at Pres — don’t necessarily see people of their financial background as much to attend this school. We think, ‘oh, like, okay…we’re in this school, a private school, this is like a blessing, so…’ But we normally don’t talk about individual financial stuff.”

— Rebecca Villaflor '20

Explaining how work scholarship prepares students with necessary life skills, Villaflor added, “But also it helps those students in those work scholarship programs to know how the real world works. Like, if you’re in a financial situation it kinda helps us mature in a way.” 

Villaflor believes that the work study plans help students become exposed to the “adult world” in which they must prioritize their time and responsibilities. 

Similar to other students on work scholarship, one of her main struggles while completing work study, she noted, was learning to balance after-school commitments, academic coursework and work hours. For each of the past three school years, Villaflor worked 200 hours, but this year, like many others on work scholarship, she observed a reduction in her work duration — hers was cut down to 120 hours. 

She said, “I think 200 is a lot of hours; it just really pushed me to really focus on how much time I have to balance with all my school work but also with my scholarship hours ‘cause that is super important — not only to me, but also to my family members.”

Although she admitted schedule conflicts at times arose with her teaching assistant duties, including inserting grades into Schoology, cleaning classrooms, retrieving supplies from the Main Office, working at Presentation’s annual Crab and Noodle Feed celebration or washing dishes, she considered her workload manageable. While working at concession stands during sports games, for example, she worked on her homework when she was not serving snacks to spectators. 

Villaflor also elaborated on a few rewarding joys that her work study experience brings, from being able to relax and enjoy a school play while helping out at the theater gala to building close relationships with her teachers. 

“But I do enjoy the fact that when you have a TA, you actually build a relationship with your teacher. I would honestly think I would still communicate with the teachers that I TAed for after I graduate, like Ms. Burson-Ryan,” Villaflor noted. “Although she’s at a different school, I still communicate with her on a weekly basis. It brings joy that you could work with your school community and build more relationships.”

For Villaflor, the work scholarship program allowed her to gain more valuable experiences, including time management skills and developing relationships with whom she worked. But, as she noted, the tendency for these combined insights and struggles shared by others receiving financial aid to be overlooked suggests that there is greater financial diversity at Presentation than we were previously aware of.