College is great. Paying for it is not.
So how do we find the money every semester to keep coming back until that degree is done?
First and foremost, take advantage of your own strengths. Are you particularly good at line dancing? Write about that on your college application. Ohio State loves all of you little oddball line dancers. There might be other people that are good at line dancing, but you’re the only line dancer like you. On scholarships and admittance essays, write about why Ohio State needs YOUR line dancing; don’t write about how you need Ohio State so you can keep line dancing. By marketing your skills, you are creating yourself into a product instead of a supplement. (Ironically you’ll be the one paying money, but, if you market yourself well enough, that fee won’t be as soul-crushing).
*Side note: find your favorite English teacher and have them proofread EVERYTHING before you submit it.
Secondly, take advantage of your misfortune. Seriously. As morbid as it sounds, look for scholarship opportunities that are tailored to your circumstances. There are a lot of people willing to give away money in memory of their loved ones–and there is no shame in writing an essay about your own tragedies. Nobody will pity you for trying to go to college. The truth is, we all have tragedies we could write about. And that’s life. And sometimes life will help you out in some strange ways.
Thirdly, while it is not desirable to take out student loans, it is not the end of the world. One of my favorite teachers in high school told us that he never once regretted taking out loans so he could pay for school. To this day he is still paying them back–slowly but surely–and not once has the bank paid him a visit to claim the education he received at college. Having a college education opens up so many more opportunities than not having one; taking out the loan is worth it.
Fourthly, get a summer job. Save up that money. Get a part-time job at school (Ohio State is great at employing students!). Don’t eat out more than once on the weekends. Save the coupons. Babysit the neighbors’ kids. Save up your graduation and birthday money. College ain’t cheap, but you sure can make a dent in the payments with some cheap labor.
There’s broke, and then there’s college broke. Let me tell you, it’s totally worth it.
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