What they aren’t telling you about college

A QUESTION I’ve gotten from many curious underclassmen who know me or are friends with me on Facebook is, “How did you get so much money in scholarships?!” When I tell people that I have qualified for a combined $40,000 per year in scholarships from four major universities, it blows their minds. It blew my mind at first, too, but the answer ended up being quite simple: I had no idea that any of those scholarships even existed until I received them.

Junior year is infamous for being the most challenging year of high school. It’s all about college: ACT, AP, CE, and every other abbreviation that will give any 16-year-old severe anxiety attacks. Juniors will hear about a million and one times this school year how important it all is. You have to do this, that, and some other seemingly irrelevant thing “for college” and “for scholarships”.

There are many things that the counselors and teachers don’t seem to tell the juniors, seniors, or even the underclassmen. They try to beat into our heads how important it is to get good grades and push us towards a select few scholarships, but they don’t really help us realize why.

Part of me is scared that some of the counselors at Granger High School are cheating their students by not knowing certain information that could actually be quite beneficial. Throughout high school, the very few visits I had with my counselor felt like a waste of my time.

I already had a good idea of what my college and career goals were, and my counselor hardly listened when I told her that I didn’t want to go for the Regent’s scholarship because it didn’t fit with my plan. I tried asking what other scholarships were out there for me, but I was simply given a website that proved to be confusing and the opposite of helpful.

For a while, my plan was to go out of the state for college, but I felt as though my counselor had no idea how to help or support me in that plan. Out-of-state tuition can get very expensive, and for a while, it seemed pointless for me to even try.

When I got a letter from Boise State University saying that they were offering me $14,500 per year off of my tuition, I was amazed. I had heard small mentions of academic scholarships before, but I wasn’t expecting such a large amount of money.

After doing more research, I found that most of the schools I was planning on applying to had these academic scholarships that simply had a set of minimum requirements to meet and the money would be mine. I was finally realizing why the ACT and my GPA were so important. Of course, I had known those scores were important before, but it wasn’t until that moment when I realized my good grades and test scores were, quite literally, paying off.

Bragging about high test scores and grades only goes so far, but being able to brag about college admissions and thousands of dollars in scholarships is so much better. The best part about these academic scholarships is that there isn’t a separate application for them—they’re a part of the regular application for admissions.

My biggest advice to juniors would be to do some research into the schools they’re interested in and see what those schools might be able to offer them. For the seniors, I highly recommend getting started on college applications as early as possible and figuring out where to apply as early as possible.

Deadlines sneaked up on me pretty quickly, and I ended up not being able to apply to a school I was really excited about because I missed the deadline. Take control of your future before it’s too late. My senior year flew by, and after spending so much time talking about, thinking about, and planning for college, I am finally here.

Teachers, counselors, and administration will constantly bug you about doing well in school and on the ACT, but take it from someone who’s been there quite recently: it’s worth it. I now attend the University of Utah and only have to pay about one-fourth of the regular in state tuition. College can be intimidating, but the hard work you put in now will make things much easier for you in the future.