After months of writing, interviews, and fighting for myself, I uneasily opened the letter that held my fate. My future was riding on the contents of this one letter. After shakingly opening the letter, my heart raced and dropped…
I had applied to Texas A&M University- Commerce, got accepted, and eagerly waited to see if I was accepted into the honors program, my only means to afford college. At the time I was living at home, no hope of ever affording to take out loans or having financial support from my parents. I had to fight my mother about going straight to a university rather than community college. I almost had enough credits to have my Associate’s degree and going to community college for a semester and then transferring meant giving up all the freshmen exclusive scholarship opportunities. Although I am not against going to community college first and then to a university, it would have been a waste of all the time I put into taking dual credit classes and AP credits I accumulated.
The Honors college at TAMUC had a 50% Regents scholarship and a 100% all expenses paid Honors scholarship for students right out of high school. Tuition, books, meal plans, and housing would be provided and paid for if I got the 100% scholarship. This golden opportunity seemed like the only way I could focus on my degree and get the education I wanted. Somehow, despite all opposition, I made an agreement with my mother that if I got the Honors scholarship I would be allowed to go straight into university with no further hassle. So, five essay drafts and one stressful interview later I eagerly waited for months for a response.
I did everything I could to get into this program and the waiting game tested my patience at every turn. To say that A LOT was riding on my acceptance would be an understatement. Time slowed down and every passing day felt like an eternity. I did everything I could not to call them for an update.
Alas the day came, after I had already grown a beard and turned to bones, my letter from the honors program came in the mail and I was seconds away from finding out if I was going to college or not. You would think that after centuries of waiting I would have opened the letter as quickly as possible. I slowly opened the letter with shaking hands and read “Congratulations! You have been accepted” just as joy filled my heart I read on- “into the Regents Program.” My stomach dropped when I read that I had been accepted into one program and rejected from another. I felt joy and dread all at once. I knew that even with half of college covered, I could not afford the other half. I began planning and digging out all the scholarship possibilities from the odd corners of East Texas and ,after fighting with my mother on the technicality that I wasn’t accepted to the honors scholarship, I was off to college without any debt.
Some advice I would give is that no matter what the outcome, acceptance, rejection, disappointment or joy- Don’t stop there. I have met so many college students who were accepted into colleges on huge scholarships and gave up once they got in. Keep striving for more and to grow as a person. For those who feel like they cannot afford to go to college- there are so many scholarships to be found and debt free options to get in. Don’t fall into despair! There is always hope and opportunities to be found. You can acknowledge the disappointment and pain you feel, but don’t stay there.
There is only one person who’s always going to be there to fight for you- and that’s you. Fight to get back up on your feet. To go into a rabbit hole to find scholarships takes time and effort. Call the financial aid office, chances are that the university has a specific portal for donor scholarships exclusively for students at the university.
Be proud of the work you did– you put in the effort, took the chance and you should be proud of that.
It’s not the end of the world, there are many colleges and opportunities that are waiting to be found by you. It’s not to say that the feelings you experience after getting rejected is invalid. For me it’s comforting to be reminded that it’s not the end of the world. To know that you can still keep going forward despite deep turmoil helps to keep yourself thinking about the positives.
Don’t stop looking and applying for scholarships while you are in college. I constantly look for and apply for scholarships because there is no telling what costs are going to pop up in the semester. Book pricing, medical incidences, bills and groceries are sometimes unpredictable expenses and having the money available is a great comfort.