All high school seniors face the same issues: which college will they attend? Will they get financial aid? How will they know what school is right for them?
Now that I’m a senior in college, I am able to reflect on my high school senior year. I can remember being overwhelmed with all the preparations. One of the main issues I faced was the cost of higher education.
At the end of my junior year, I knew I had to start researching scholarships and financial aid if I wanted to obtain a degree from a highly accredited college. I knew I did not want to stay home to attend school, so I had to find a way to make college affordable for my family. I already had two older siblings in college and a younger sister in private school.
The summer of my junior year, I must have filled out about a hundred scholarship applications. Thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship Foundation (gmsp.org), I was able to attend and dorm at a four-year college without having to take out student loans.
Once my financial situation was set, I started to look more closely into what colleges were right for me. One of the things we minority students look at when considering colleges is the student population: “How many people look like me?”
I wanted a school that was going to prepare me for corporate America, a school that was going to have a diverse student population, where I could learn new things about other cultures.
The college of my choice was not only going to be culturally enriching, but also prepare me to work in my field of study. I had a passion for children, education and criminal justice. I had to find a college that suited all of my needs.
I chose a college with majors that reflected both of my interests, which was a good idea. I now want to be a teacher, principal—and eventually superintendent of the New York City Board of Education.
Choosing a college, applying for financial aid and finding a major is not easy. But with a little bit of hard work and dedication, it is possible. Every student has the opportunity to attend college. It is our job to turn the opportunities into reality.
Nicole Amber Colon is a senior at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., majoring in childhood education and special education with a minor in sociology. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in literacy.