Growing up, college was inevitable. My mother went to college while I was growing up and she got lots of scholarships and grants and knew that I would be able to do the same. Especially since she was only getting an associates degree so I would be able to claim “First time in college” like she did. When I was in middle school I was given a form to fill out for a scholarship, and I got it. $10,000 to the school of my choice. But it came with requirements. I had to do well in school, and I had to meet with a mentor once a week.
I went through three different mentors throughout high school. My first mentor was an older woman, and our meetings were cancelled more often that not. I was worried it would affect my scholarship so I told the program and they asked if there was a teacher at my school that I would like as my mentor. I asked one of my favorite teachers and she became my mentor for the remainder of that year and also for the next year. After that she became a dean at the school and could no longer be my mentor and I was assigned a new one. She stayed with me throughout the rest of my high school days and it worked out well for me. I fulfilled my requirements. The program recommended doing a 2+2 plan. Meaning I spent my first two years in a community college and then the last two years in a state college. I had been fine with this idea but I never really wanted to attend the community college. I had fallen in love with my local state university and wanted to go there. I applied for a quick decision, and the school looked over my application and I was accepted. I only applied to that school and I got in.
There were several reasons I fell in love with my university.
- Close to home
- I’m very close to my family and I liked the idea that I would be about an hour away verses 4-7 hours if I stayed in state (the cheaper option) or even more than that if I went out of state (very expensive).
- No football
- In my school days I hated sports (still do) and the fact that my university did not have a football team was a big plus for me.
- I had several friends from high school who were skipping the local community college and going straight to the university.
On top of my $10,000 scholorship, I was also awarded an achievement scholarship from my school of $1,000 a semester, plus a Pell Grant of ~$5,500 a year. I also got the highest level of Bright Futures, which paid $101 per credit hour on my tuition. I was extremely lucky. My bright futures would hit first taking care of most of my tuition, my $10k scholarship hit next taking care of the rest of my tuition. I was then leftover around $4,000 every semester. My first year this took care of my dorm and food expenses, leaving me with very little. My second year I rented an apartment with my best friend and my money went towards that. Which left me with a little left over for groceries. Then my last two years I rented a house with my best friend and a couple roommates. It was around then I started using my leftover money on things like trips to Disney (oops).
My freshman year I took a “Freshman Success” class. It was an easy introductory class and we did a range of things from a community project to a campus wide scavenger hunt. We talked about a range of topics, from choosing a major, to calculating a GPA, to making a 5-year plan for our major. The professor was constantly saying “What do you call a med student who graduated last? A doctor.” He explained that most students couldn’t complete their degree in four years anymore, and that it was normal to spread your degree over 5 years to keep yourself sane.
Because of this I had it stuck in my head that I wouldn’t graduate in four years. It was embedded in me that I would be in school for five years before I earned my bachelors. My best friend was prepared to leave me behind if this happened because he was going to be ready to graduate in the regular four years. He studied hard and took classes every summer and he made it. He’s graduating this year just as he planned. Towards the middle of my Junior year I went into my advisers office and we talked about what I had to complete to graduate and I was astounded to find that I could graduate on time. That I had done everything I needed to to complete my degree in the four years. And while I wouldn’t necessarily say I made it through sane, I am graduating on time.
These last few semesters have been anything but easy (even though my last semester included Yoga, Painting, and Spanish classes). I’ve dealt with depression, and major burn out when it comes to school. I’ve also really grown a distaste for the town I live in. I can’t wait to cross that stage and move my tassel over.