The Road Less Traveled

by Arianna Bethea
(Syracuse, NY)

Columbia University

Columbia University

Thousands of people worldwide have the opportunity to attend prestige colleges, but what if nobody in your family has ever attended college and most didn't even graduate high school? In what category do you put yourself in comparison to the thousands who are able to ease their way through something so simple as receiving an adequate education? No a loner and/or outsider is not the correct answer. Because remarkably, there are a plethora of people just like you and if you don't believe it, just know the author of this essay is one.


The biggest mistake I have made in my school career was perceiving I would never be as smart as my peers because I didn't come from the same educational gene makeup that they did. Once this thought became eliminated from my mind because I started achieving things I never deemed possible, my educational path was much smoother.

I guarantee you that if there is one word to always keep in your mind that will help you so much in not just the college admission process, but life as well, using my own personal experience as an example, it is determination. I'm not writing this to say with that one word everything will come easier, because granted on the path of getting accepted into college and in life you are going to go through hardships. Granted you will encounter the judgmental people that will doubt you and bring no sense of positivity in your life, but instead continuously remind you that you will fail, and why you will fail. It is up to you to prove them wrong, and with that sense of determination fulfilling your mind, you will accomplish the unimaginable.

Everyday I wake up, bracing myself for the negative energy the world will attempt to throw at me but I remind myself that if I want to be successful, I will use that negativity to better myself in every way possible. College is not an easy part of life, but it is life and the hardships just make you stronger as a person.

When I was a senior in high school I only applied for one school in the state I lived in, all the others were in states I had never been to other than for a short vacation. When I received my first acceptance letter I was in awe, but the feeling went away after someone said to me "colleges are not going to want you with the grades you're getting in your senior year." You know what I did after I heard that statement? I didn't hang my head and vow to end up like members of my family but instead, I worked harder than I ever had in my 13 years of school, and thus leading to acceptance letters pouring in!

I was alone during my entire college admission process but looking back, it was better that way. Sometimes the people you are closest to will wish failure upon you faster than a stranger, for the simple fact that you are achieving dreams that they neglected. Never give up. Whatever your dream school is, you have to be determined, in every sense of the word, that you will get accepted. And do it for you, not anyone else because at the end of the day if the entire world walks out on you, one person will remain, and that is yourself. Nobody said it's going to be easy, because I can promise you, it won't but as long as you live, eat, and breathe success and determination, it will be more than worth it in the end.


Read more College Admissions Help from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Arianna for sharing your story about the road less traveled. It is hard to apply for college without support from your family, so congratulations to you for going to college.



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The Basics Get You There!


College education is critical in today's environment and not having the necessary means to finish can cause a rocky experience in college education. Both of my parents did not attend college and their decision affects me to this day. Even though their decision of not going to college did teach me that, I have to work hard to get what I need.

I still image how much stress would be taken away from me if they went to college to in turn have great jobs to pay for my college education. This experience has given me an understanding of how negatively parents not going to college can affect a child. To add to that, I am living in an unstable economy that directly affects my college education.

Scholarships and financial aid have dropped because businesses do not have the extra money to give to students. On the bright side, my experiences of college admission and setbacks can positively be transmitted to someone else looking for advice.

My first suggestion is a basic one get good grades in high school. Good grades catch the eyes of a college. Another basic suggestion is to get a high score on the ACT and the SAT. Colleges also primarily look at these scores to see if you match the level of education at the college. Next, get in to extracurricular activities. Sometimes having good grades is not enough a college wants to see a well-rounded person. Furthermore, a college student needs to do something that sets them apart from everyone. For example instead of being in a club be a President of a club. Colleges love to see leadership and responsibility in an individual.

My last suggestion is something that I learned from other individuals and that is have an admirable Facebook. Many students have the perfect grades and are in the right clubs but what they put on Facebook destroys their opportunity of getting a scholarship. College is important and getting in may be hard but listening to someone that has experience puts anyone on that right track to get into the college of their dreams.


Read more College Admissions Help from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thanks for sharing your The Basics Get You There! It is always a good idea to focus on the basics. I also liked you advice about Facebook - seriously students, what are you thinking?

Best of luck to you.


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Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to College Admission Help.


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