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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Me???? Go To College?? But I Can't Afford That!?!

In my family, we were all expected to go to college. My parents went to college, my mother graduated as a teacher from Portland State University, and my father was an engineer. I had so many advantages that I was blind to what academia calls "white privilege;" Individuals who are not white, single family homes, uneducated, or undocumented;  In some families college is not a priority because it is more necessary to financially assist family. At first it may seem there are more "cons" than "pros," but the biggest "pro" is your dream. I'm sure you all have dreams and perhaps your parents had dreams. Sure, there are excuses that can be  made; financial assistance, family obligations, single parent household,
transportation, and the list can go on and on. This part of my blog will disrupt those discouragements and obstacles. I will explore money, scholarships, grades, and most importantly - family community.

Money and debt are always a large concern. There are other ways for you to find dollars to go to school, but first there are some principles to put in your backpack.  You Must have a good grade point average (GPA). Remember, when you start a class, you always start with an "A" letter grade. It is only common sense that if you don't turn in the homework, read the materials and study for tests that the odds are that you won't do well. Yes, those 3 little jobs are all that are between you and keeping your "A." Unfortunately, once your grades go down, it is a long and tedious crawl to get them back up! 

Another advantage you have is to realize that teachers do not want you to fail! Utilize them to every advantage you can. Communication is essential to understanding at all times what your grade is and NOT waiting until the last minute to find out that you have a "D." All schools have online services to keep you in the loop with your grades. If your teacher doesn't use the system or lacks the ability to keep grades current in the system, go talk with your teacher on a Wednesday and tell them that you need to know your current grade when you see them Friday (or the next school day). You may need to be a little assertive (not aggressive) because most teachers are not familiar with students being committed to their grades. You need to have ownership of your grades beginning your Freshman year; don't wait until your Junior year to realize that you'd better get with the program! Instead, always be invested in your future because it is in your control!

Thirdly, being involved in activities in your school or volunteering for non-profits will look great on college applications. Activities can range from art, music, school government, National Honor Society, sports, dance, FFA, or volunteering at Sunday school, Boys & Girls club, or even the local senior center. In addition, this involvement also will provide positive character references.

If you combine good grades with school involvement you will qualify for scholarships! Applying for scholarships is much like applying for a job. The more you apply for, the better your chances. There will be some scholarship letters of denail, but don't let this get you down; head up, shoulders back, and move onward. Your goal is to have the college pay you to go to school! Let me start off with a link of "Strange scholarships." These sscholarships vary from caddies, tall girls, potatoes, best prom outfit made out of duct tape, and even inventors to enology (what is that?). Strange Scholarships
Did you know that even Mike Rowe from the
show "Dirty Jobs" has a trade scholarship? Mike Rowe Trade Scholarship.
The most helpful link I found was the Oregon Student Access Commission or OSAC! OSAC  This scholarship data base has at least 600 different scholarships. You goal is to find the top 13 scholarships that apply to you! **Hint** Your counseling office has a book with details that will sort them out for you. If you don't live in Oregon, there is a familiar website for your state too; go see your counseling office. Here is the link for New York State New York State Scholarships.

Some scholarships are renewable if you continue to meet their guidelines, and the OSAC website has scholarships for those already in college so you can keep applying!!
All of this scholarship paper work may seem daunting at first, but trust me when I say that once you write an essay for one scholarship, the questions for the rest of the scholarships will be very  much the same. Thus, copy - paste and edit. Oh, and make sure you have at least 2 letters of recommendation (teachers, minister at church, a neighbor, etc..) and an unofficial grade transcript of your current grades (you don't have to wait until the end of your senior year)!! The applications will want to know what community service you have done, groups and awards that you have, and of course your GPA!

Incase you are still doubting yourself, watch this small clip of  Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on The View - She overcame several hurdles and says her reason for success is her "stubbornness" or "scrapiness" that says "I just won't give up. Failure or the fear of it, is what keeps people from trying new things, so I just jump into things head on. . ." Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on The View . When life seems overwhelming, or scary, and you think that there is no possible way of going forward, remember to breathe and take that step. 

It is not only for you that you continue your walk, but also for your community and family. The ultimate goal is that you will join me in the world of higher academia and make change in our society. It is every individual's responsibility to apply knowledge and advocate for social change. We can't all sit and watch the world pass us by!

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