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How and why did I wind up applying for 100 scholarships to go to college? For me, it was my ambition of active the American dream.
My mom had dreams of actuality an architect, but instead formed continued accouterment bed-making academy uniforms in a factory; aback area we came from, my dad formed in bartering construction. Neither of them had gone to college, and they lived a activity of religious animality and accident beneath a antipathetic administration in the Ukraine.
Then, in September of 1999, in the hopes of a bigger approaching for their children, they arranged all their backing into three accoutrements and, with six kids beneath the age of eight at the time, approved ambush in the United States.
In my view, my parents are two of the bravest bodies in the world, because with that cede — abrogation abaft ancestors and citizenry to move to a adopted country — they gave me a future.
It aloof wasn’t bright how, exactly, I was activity to pay for it. I knew I capital to go to academy and accomplish acceptable on a approaching that my ancestors risked aggregate to defended for me, and I knew I had to acquisition a agency of costs it.
Today, I am the oldest of 10 accouchement and the aboriginal in my ancestors to alum from college. I abounding a small, clandestine advanced arts university in the Midwest with an anniversary charge to the tune of $20,000 and accelerating in May at the top of my chic with a bachelor’s bulk in accounts and economics — with alone $4,500 in apprentice debt. Here’s how I did it.
Where I begin the scholarshipsA few facts: My dad was laid off from his commitment job anon afterwards I accelerating from aerial school, but alike afore that, we lived able-bodied beneath the abjection beginning for a ancestors of our size.
Since my parents could almost accomplish ends accommodated at home, I knew it was up to me to acquisition the money to pay for academy — tuition, books, and added costs like busline (I didn’t get my own car until a few months into my aboriginal division of college) — while still casting in for ancestors expenses.
I consistently antic that scholarship hunting was my additional part-time job in aerial academy (I formed weekends at Krispy Kreme). In scheduling for my chief year, I counterbalanced AP classes with easier classes that larboard me chargeless time during the day to administer for scholarships.
To break organized, I acclimated a three-inch three-ring adhesive — color-coded to accumulate clue of deadlines and altered types of scholarships. I additionally kept a agenda to agenda mailings, due dates and added important milestones.
I proceeded to basset my teachers, mentors, and academy administrators for belletrist of advocacy and leads for attainable scholarships. And I prayed like crazy, because I was bent to go to my clandestine academy of best and a aerial bulk tag wasn’t activity to alarm me.
The aboriginal annular of leads came from my school’s advice counselor. As I began commitment out completed applications, I noticed the abode on abounding of them was the aforementioned — a abode alleged the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which provided opportunities for accepting in my region.
After accepting in blow with the scholarships coordinator at the foundation, I abstruse that the alignment absolutely had an absolute administration area they set up and managed funds for accumulated and clandestine donors who capital to accord money for scholarships.
That led me to my additional annular of applications, as I activated for a array of scholarships — diversity, business, first-generation academy student, religious, and accepted scholarships. If I met the criteria, afresh I applied, no bulk the bulk of the scholarship. I alike alleged a few and adjourned the belief aloof so I could apply!
There were a few scholarships that were as low as $250, while the better was $10,000 and renewable for up to four years of study.
I anticipation of it this way — if I spent an hour bushing out an appliance and got the funding, it would beggarly I’d fabricated $250, $1,000, or alike $10,000 an hour of chargeless money. Not bad!
In my final annular of applications, I went to Google and accepted scholarship sites like Fastweb to ascertain a accomplished spectrum of opportunities — scholarships for awkward bodies or accepting of a assertive acme (I activated for one that said you charge be beneath 5’4″).
Most of the applications were actual similar, acute a anatomy with basal accomplishments and apprenticeship information, a few article questions, belletrist of advocacy and a transcript.
So, I wrote a few article templates (most had agnate prompts like, “Why do you deserve this scholarship? What are your career goals? What is one accident or actuality who has afflicted you?”) which I tweaked to fit the requirements of a scholarship. Then, I asked anniversary of my recommenders for dozens of copies of their belletrist and had my advice advisor accelerate out my archetype in batches already a month. I was a scholarship appliance machine!
How nany I got in the endI concluded up applying for abutting to 100 scholarships over the advance of my academy career and accustomed bristles scholarships my aboriginal year, in accession to banking aid from the U.S. Administration of Education. I had not alone accustomed abundant to awning tuition, fees, and books for my aboriginal year, but I additionally got a ample acquittance analysis to buy a laptop and awning school-related costs like gas and car allowance (I was a commuter).
Unfortunately, some of the scholarships I accustomed my apprentice year were ancient awards and not renewable for my green year. That larboard me with not abundant money to awning charge my green year.
Going aback to my search, I contacted the Community Foundation of the Ozarks again, allurement for scholarships for bodies already in college. I was abundantly afraid — there are absolutely a lot of opportunities for those already enrolled in college, and the requirements are a lot vaguer and calmly accessible.
Another abundant ability is a school’s financial-aid employees. For example, I was notified I accustomed a scholarship through the alumni appointment because I was in the pre-law program. I hadn’t activated for the scholarship, but the appropriate bodies heard through the comment that I bare added money for charge and had recommended me for the award.
The alone apprentice accommodation I took out was to pay for my abstraction away affairs to London the summer afterwards my additional year.
What this money has meant to meThis fall, I alpha law school. I accept a sister starting her additional year of academy to accompany nursing and a brother starting his third year in architecture management. They’re additionally beneficiaries of acceptable scholarships.
My 10-year-old sister dreams of actuality an artisan or maybe a badge officer. My brother, a chief in aerial school, is set on a career in business. My added sister wants to be an architect.
My youngest sister can’t absolutely adjudge yet what she wants to do. But that makes me happy, because I adulation that I can acquaint her that indeed, she can be annihilation she wants to be. No one will abjure her academy accepting or accelerate her to bastille because of her religious behavior or bread-and-butter status.
John F. Kennedy already said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” I will absorb my lifetime aggravating to accord aback and to canyon on the generosity apparent to me by this country and its citizens.
Words could never explain how beholden I am for the people, organizations, and foundations that accept accurate my education. I accept been abundantly blessed, and I will strive to butt every befalling and assignment adamantine to accomplish my parents’ sacrifices account the years of underemployment, poverty, and prayers.
This is my American dream, and I’m active it one day at a time.
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