Who doesn’t love free money? However, if anybody needs it, I am pretty sure that college students would top the list.
When I first started high school I didn’t think that college was really a choice of mine. Going into my freshman year of high school, my brother was beginning his freshman year at St. Cloud State. Before the first semester ended, however, he moved back home due to his inability to keep up with the costs. The thing that really worried me was that my parents said they wouldn’t co-sign a loan for him. And if they wouldn’t do it for him, then they sure wouldn’t do it for me. But I was naïve back then. There are sooo many ways to pay for school above and beyond just taking the entire cost out in loans.
Going into my sophomore year of high school, and looking back on his poor decisions I realized where he messed up. He got good grades, but he wasn’t really involved, he wasn’t networking and he wasn’t enrolled in any college prep programs such as AVID or College Possible.
Despite my fear of not being able to afford college, I really wanted to go. So I kind of “over did it” with my involvement. But boyyyyy, did it pay off!
Long story short, I was awarded three scholarships. One from St Thomas that covers pretty much everything except room and board, and two others to cover my room and board. If I hadn’t gotten the scholarships that I did, I wouldn’t have been able to go to St Thomas.
Some factors that I believe to have helped me to succeed in securing scholarships:
1. College Possible (I won’t go into details in what they do, blah, blah, blah, check out the link – but just know that you should join!);
2. I was also an AVID student;
3. Educational Talent Search student;
4. I took challenging courses; and
5. I networked.
I also went to college visits that my high school’s College and Career Center (CCC) hosts. Sometimes students go out as field trips and sometimes they have Admissions Counselors from a particular college come and give small presentations about their school.
Now remember that I never could have even dreamed about going to an expensive private school. But I decided to go any way. I personally talked my Admissions counselor and went on my way. A couple of months later he was back at my school, wanting to speak to me. I didn’t know what to expect, but he ended up selecting me as a Dease Scholar.
The moral of this little story is networking. Learn what it is, and do it often. You never know who you are going to meet, and when an opportunity will present itself. It’s very important to always leave a great first impression. It’s also great to be involved. Programs like College Possible, AVID and TRIO can help you out so much in the long run.
Yes it is a lot of work, and exhausting. But in the end, it’s so worth it!