But Mom, Do I Have To?

by Jessica
(Millerton, New York, United States)

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar

As I am sitting at the dinner table my mom begins to remind me on the necessity of applying for scholarships. I mean, obviously I am aware I should apply, but the fact is I know I dread writing all those college essays on "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up", "How Do I Think I Can Save Our Planet", or "What Makes Me Different From All Other Applicants for This Scholarship". I think it is safe to say that most teenagers getting ready for college have this thought in the back of their head, well, at least I did.

Everyone wants the glory without putting in the effort. The truth is, you cannot expect to receive good things in life if you do not put in the commitment that is required. By this I mean scholarships.

Two years ago when I was a high school senior I was rather self-motivated and determined to do everything in my power to pay for school. Some teenagers are not like this. I decided it would not be fair to be angry with my family for not being able to support me financially at all through my struggle. As much as I was not looking forward to researching, applying and writing all of those scholarships, I am so grateful that I did.

I knew what was necessary. I applied for nearly ten scholarships and won almost all of them. I took my financial situation by the horns, if you will. At the award ceremony in my high school auditorium, I barely had time to go up on stage and come back to sit down before being called up again to accept another award. I could not have been more proud of myself. When my friends complained in my company soon after that that they wish they had applied for more scholarships I just smirk. I have learned that if I want anything in this world I need to do it myself, especially while getting ready for college. I did not wait for my mom to heckle me about how important scholarships were or how, "I better get going before it is too late." I already knew that. I just wish the rest of my friends did, too.

I was so happy that I chose to put in the effort of applying to scholarships because they saved me so much money. I know they can be a pain, yet in your future you will look back on your senior-self from high school and be smiling, waving and mouthing, "THANK YOU!"

You know how they say, "You have got to spend money to make money"? Well it is completely true. However, spend a reasonable amount of money. Do not go broke trying to pretend that you are rich. If you are in a situation like mine where you are paying for your own education, be honest with yourself. I knew I could not afford to attend a private university. It would have been foolish for me to do so, even with much financial aid. Be smart. Try to keep your loans no more than $25,000 for all four years. If there is a little voice in the back of your head that keeps popping up to say, "You know you can not afford this, right?" LISTEN TO IT. You will not want to be drowning with the debt later in life.

I was accepted into many private colleges and what seemed to be a lot of aid. If I had not looked into the aid, I would have thought that I would have been receiving all of that money for all four years. However, it was only for the first two. It is almost like they try to trick you. If I did not look into it, I would have had my head just above water with debt that I would not have been able to pay for.

Everyone seems to think that state universities are garbage schools and the education they offer is not as commendable as it could be. This is not true. State universities are affordable, for the most part, and offer the same education any private school can. I guess this can be explained by comparing generic "Fruit Whirls" to the well known and popular "Froot Loops". They are both cereal, with the same ingredients, but one is more expensive than the other.

It is especially smart to attend a state school for your undergraduate education if you are looking into a profession that requires graduate school as well. I chose to go to a state school for my undergrad and I plan to go to a private school for my graduate education. This way, I will save the money I would have spent on a private undergraduate institution and put it towards a private graduate institution. In the end, when you are applying for a job, where you attend undergraduate school is not as crucial as where you went to graduate school.

I am going to be so grateful I went to a state school in about six or seven years from now when my debt is minimal and I can look into buying a house and starting a family, rather than living in a studio apartment in the city being angry with myself and regretting the decision I made when I was a senior in high school.

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Jessica for sharing some very good advice. Yes, you should apply for scholarships! Yes, keep your debt minimal. It is important to compare those financial aid offers carefully, and consider the advantages and cost of attending public vs. private schools. Best of luck to you.

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Reaping the Rewards of a State University

by Colby Dylan Carr
(Morganton, North Carolina, United States)

The ability to discern what type of post-secondary educational institutions is most cost-efficient is of great value in these current economic conditions. Prospective students and their parents conduct research on the minutiae of college tuition in order to assure that their children are receiving quality education that is affordable; however, being aware of broader career options and greater earning potential as a result of attending a state university is an essential part of the college comparison process.

The mounting stress from seemingly endless assignments and gargantuan student debt is enough to frighten potential students away from a four-year university. Fortunately, there is clear and sufficient information to prove that the benefits of attending a four-year state university outweigh the decision to not attend. According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in April 2013, the unemployment rate among the group recognized as “college graduates” was a considerably low 3.9% compared to 7.5% for the workforce as a whole. Additionally, a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2010 showed that unemployment, in the middle of the “great recession”, stood at 5.1% among college graduates: a rate that is considered healthy among the workforce as a whole. Similarly, since the beginning of the recession, employment among college graduates rose by 9% while those possessing a high school diploma and less education fell by 9%. In addition to the obvious economic opportunities available, the potential for greater earnings is an additional reason to choose to attend a state university.

Financial stability is important to both prospective and current college students. An uncertain and unpredictable economy places many young people in a quandary when making higher education-related decisions. Therefore, being aware of the financial rewards of attending a state university is extremely relevant. A study conducted by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that those possessing a bachelor’s degree in any field were compensated seventy-four percent more than those only possessing a high school education. Likewise, a 2010 Education Pays report revealed that the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients who were working full-time year-round in 2008 were $55,700 while the median earnings of those, under similar employment circumstances, were a mere $33,800. Employer-provided benefits are also more accessible to college graduates. According to a 2008 report conducted by the College Board, approximately 70% of college graduates were insured under employer-provided healthcare while only 50% of high school graduates received the same benefit.

Choosing to further your education is an important decision that requires hours of critical analysis, excluding the time you will spend on researching the endless institutions of which you can obtain said education. As a result of attending a state university, broader career options and greater earning potential is conceivable. The choice to attend a state university will not only equip you with skills necessary for today’s technology-based economy but will also better prepare you for potential economic transformations in the future.

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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Colby for sharing your story Reaping the Rewards of a State University. College graduates have much greater earning potential so a 4 year degree is worth it, and many state universities offer great value for the money. Be sure to submit a FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid to apply for financial aid for college, including scholarships, grants, work-study and federal loans. Best of luck to you.

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