So we all know that for most of us, money becomes the biggest factor when we decide which school to attend, so doesn’t it make sense that it should be the biggest factor when choosing where to apply? Wrong. I made this exact mistake. I knew my parents had a tight budget, so I figured I’d save myself the trouble of getting emotionally attached to “expensive schools” by simply not applying to them. Thankfully, I panicked a few weeks before the big deadlines and I added a few schools to my list that I originally thought were out of our budget. I realize that this is a problem that many kids (from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds) face. I have seen it in my friends, in the local Syracuse schools where I attend college, and I hear about it on admissions blogs. I hope this article gives you the faith required to take a leap of faith and apply to your “dream school.”
There isn’t a big secret here. What I’m talking about is need-based and merit-based scholarships. Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Perhaps like you, I did not think I was eligible for either of these. People told me all sorts of crazy things. Specifically, there were lots of rumors that made merit-based scholarships seem few and far between. “Oh, that school doesn’t give merit-based scholarships. They only offer need-based.” “Only small, lesser-known schools give scholarships because they’re the only ones that need to.” No one understands why these rumors begin (do we ever understand the origin of rumors? No.) These comments, combined with my own insecurity, made me hesitant to apply to schools that weren’t already in my price range and I’m sure this happens to other students all the time. Take it from me. I understand your hesitation, but it is worth the extra few supplements, I promise. Take a chance. You never know!
Additionally, acceptances provide a sense of accomplishment whether or not you can actually attend the school and after four years of hard work, you deserve to feel proud and successful. Apply to your reach even if you think there is absolutely no way that you’ll get it in… let alone afford it. Just do it for yourself. Even now, I still have regrets that I didn’t apply to certain schools out of fear (or even out of laziness). I go to Syracuse University now and I love it. I genuinely believe that this is where I’m supposed to be. Some of my best friends are there, I needed to realize how big New York is, and I look mighty fine in orange (that’s the important stuff, right?). Nonetheless, curiosity kills the cat… and apparently, I’m the cat. My regrets do not mean I’m stuck in high school, but it means that I want to know my potential. My limits. The possibility of rejection is understandably scary, but a rejection provides you with something an acceptance can’t: humility. More importantly, it sets a precedent for you to live the rest of your life with a sense of fearlessness of rejection. **Insert cheesy but very true baseball metaphor here.** You’ve conquered that fear once and you can do it again. Next thing you know you’ll be a shower singer turned star when you’re auditioning for your college’s a cappella group.
Rising seniors, you’re embarking on a crazy journey of finding a perfect match with a college (that’s probably similar to the e-harmony tagline). My recommendation is to leave the scary financial business until later when you can see the schools’ offers. This may make your parents uneasy and there’s a chance that they’ll be very strict with money during the four-month wait. That’s completely normal. Before you finalize your list of schools, sit them down and assure them that at the end of the day, their budget will play a large role in the decision-making, but for now you have to at least give yourself the chance to fully know your options. Plus, you will still apply to those financially-safe schools. You’re simply widening the range of options and, in the end, you’ll end up where you belong. Have a little faith, prospies.