As an upperclassmen in college, it amazes me to think about the things I worried about going to college and the things I didn’t consider. Just last night one of my classmates from high school hit me up because his sister who’s a senior is interested in Boston College. After I answered her questions about how students of color interact with the predominantly white student body, what kind of support that professors offer, and what I like and dislike about Boston College, I started to think back to my own college application process and what I feared about college. Growing up, I knew I was expected to go to college and entertained some crazy ideas about what I would do in college as an underclassmen in high school. I started talking to college recruiters in my freshman year at college fairs hosted in my high school though I didn’t really contemplate schools I could see myself at until I visited schools my junior year. Coming from a small Jesuit college prep school where pretty much every student went to college and had their financial need met with some students receiving full rides, I didn’t start my senior year worrying about how to afford college or not getting into my top choices. To be honestly, I didn’t have a lot of fears going into senior year about applying to colleges I just focused on doing my best academically.
I didn’t sweat not getting into schools when I started off my senior year because I figured that I had a good blend of safety and reach schools some of which had a good relationship of accepting several people from my high school each year. I viewed the college application as a competition to prove to myself that a kid from Harlem raised by a single father could have big dreams. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how some schools ended up on my list but my sight was set on getting into a school that was prestigious and would be the best academic environment for me. Once I laid it all out on the table with my personal statement and writing supplements, I continued to go hard on my academics as I waited to hear back about decisions. I tried pretty unsuccessfully to look for outside scholarships to help pay for college. I never considered my economic status before senior year being that many of my peers in the community and high school were for the most part low income. I knew I wasn’t wealthy, though I never thought about my family status until I was applying to scholarships and realized that my father’s income was above the cut off limit to be considered low income in a two person household in New York. Based on my dad’s income for our small household, we are technically middle class which took me out of the running for most scholarships that are geared towards low income families that are near destitute. Once I got rejected from some of the scholarships I applied to and got little financial aid from some of the schools I got into, I began to worry about how my dad and I would be able to afford college. I purposely applied to out of state schools to learn how to function on my own and because I knew of countless people from my school who were financially able to because they received generous financial aid. I did everything I could to improve my chances at some of the schools that I knew had large endowments including having optional interviews and supplements, but the irony is that the school that was the most generous and the most prestigious of the schools I got in is the one school I didn’t interview for. While sometimes the optional interview and other additional supplements tip the scale in an applicant’s favor, it doesn’t always boost your chance of acceptance being that almost every other student trying to get in is doing exactly what you’re doing.
There are a few things that no one has control over in life. One of which is the decision processing of admissions officers once they start to look through applications. If you lay out your most authentic self in your personal statement, writing supplements, and worked hard in your classes, then all you got to focus on after you submit everything is staying positive and open-minded to what will come. You might not have control over where you are accepted to, but you control the next step after including making the most of the situation by making major moves to achieve your end goal, appealing for more financial aid or looking for outside scholarship, or taking a gap year to reconsider your options. When I got my financial aid from Boston College, I was happy in that it was the best offer financially and intellectually for me freshman year,however; I made moves to improve on my situation through applying to the I’m First scholarship which I ended up receiving almost a month before my freshman year began and being a resident assistant which improved my financial aid even more. No matter what types of fears you may have about college whether that’s financial, social, or academic starting the college application process, those fears will begin to dissipate by the end if you stay focused in your academics and are determined to go to college even if that means going back to the drawing board or making the best out of a hand you were dealt.