The state of our economy has raised many questions about education. In the past few years state and national funding for high school seniors looking to attend accredited institutions has dropped. This has forced them to take out loans which in the long run will cause astronomical debt. Jobs, even for the college graduate are becoming harder to find. Many students upon graduating are facing the harsh realizations of making pennies for their hard work. These facts sound discouraging. When I read them I cringed; however, this is not necessarily bad news. It just means one has to look deeper and think outside the box!
There are many scholarships and grants available; though, many people do not know where to find them. I was scared of looking for scholarships because I have been out of school for some time. I am what you would call the nontraditional student. Being a nontraditional student I have many worries hanging over my head. How am I going to pay my bills and tuition? These are the questions that drove me to begin my scholarship hunt.
Searching for scholarships and grants is a difficult and grueling process. My first recommendation would be to fill out the FAFSA form. This will tell you if you are eligible for the Pell Grant, state grants or student loans. After you have submitted your FAFSA they will forward it to your institution(s). From there your college will direct the process. If you get no where with the FAFSA try scholarships. I just filled out my FAFSA, yet am waiting for the college to direct the final phases. To be safe I am exploring scholarships.
While looking for scholarships I realize I am competing against high school students. These students have the chance to develop better applications. They have more time on their hands. More time to play sports and perform community service. There is also the grades and they are a huge defining factor with colleges and universities. I perceive these as weaknesses I have to overcome.
Though I do not possess the average high school transcript I have unique circumstances. In the process of finding myself and my inner being I am discovering I can use these to my advantage. We all have unique circumstances which can be used to benefit us. We are all flowers, waiting to bloom. This can be a short or long process depending on the path God has chosen for us. Flowers start as seeds. They have to be nurtured in order to grow. They need lots of water and sun. God is our gardener. He nurtures and waters us; though, we grow at different rates he still loves us. He loves us because we are his chosen children.
I did not grow at the rate I would have liked. The lessons I learned are priceless though. They have molded me into a better person. I have learned without confidence and God one can achieve nothing. They are a lost soul wandering the world feeling without purpose. My college and career search has drawn me closer to my purpose.
There are no shortcuts! Life is hard! College is hard! Finding a job is hard! Do not take shortcuts to get out of a short term problem. School is not impossible. The job of your dreams is not impossible. The only one who will make it impossible is you.
There are always two roads as Robert Frost stated in, “The Road Not Taken.”
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Dont let college or vocational training be unattainable for you. You can do it. Not matter what odds may be against you remember to seek God’s guidance. Look for scholarships and fight. Do not give up. Never give up!