Not bad for a fat girl

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Applications and Tuition and Financial Aid, Oh My!


We recently attended a presentation by an admissions officer from Notre Dame University. Wow. Now I kind of want to go there, but I realize that ship has sailed for me. The thing is, my son kind of wants to go there too, which is great, because it’s a terrific university with so much to offer. But, holy cow, it’s expensive!

Yes, there’s financial aid available, and loans and whatnot, but I don’t want him to begin his adult life saddled with large debts. It’s difficult enough to be out on your own for the first time, responsible for your own bills, without worrying about how you’re going to dig yourself out of a hole created by debt. He’s well aware of this concern, which is why he’s applying for scholarships.

The main one he’s going for is the Naval R.O.T.C. scholarship, which both makes me incredibly proud and a little worried. I think he’ll be accepted, but we won’t know until after he actually applies. The application process for scholarships and universities in general, can be quite involved. There are forms to fill out and questions to answer, and essays to write.

It’s a good thing he’s a good writer. He comes up with interesting responses to the questions he’s faced with, and writes them in a way that’s genuine and direct. I think the reader can get a sense of who he is through his answers, at least I hope so.

I’m trying to stay calm throughout this whole process, since I know that any hysteria on my part would only slow things down. I know he’ll get all of his applications filled in and sent out on time. I know that he will be accepted into a program that will be a good fit for him. I know that it will all work out.

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More About Money

xdqntr_dz9cAs you may already know, I’m a Powerball success story. I’m also the mother of a high school student with not only the aspirations, but the ability, to attend a “good” college. Unfortunately my lottery winnings are hardly substantial enough to foot the bill for his upcoming college education, so I’m researching alternate sources of funding.

I’ve begun by focusing on one particular book. I came upon it quite accidentally, there in the row of SAT prep books, smaller than the giant workbooks, but still a commanding presence on the shelf. It’s a guide to college scholarships. It has a fancy title, and a whole lot of tips and advice. I’ve been working my way through this book, and taking the author’s information to heart. After all, he went to Harvard practically for free, he must know something.

I’ve also recently finished reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. The good news is, I’m well on my way with his baby steps. He explains them in a nutshell here. After reading this book, I’m more determined than ever to seek out sources of college funding other than loans. The two books together, along with the power of the internet, have led me down a path where I can guide my son to apply for certain scholarship opportunities. I do the “heavy lifting” of tracking down scholarships for which he qualifies, then I create a word document with everything he needs to know about the scholarship. For example, many of them require essays. stack-of-sat-booksI copy in the prompt, along with the specific directions and deadlines, then highlight the due date and word counts. My son takes it from there. At least in theory. So far he hasn’t written any, but in fairness this system just started, and he has school and tennis team and the SAT to think about too.

I’m hopeful that with a structured approach, and a year and a half in which to do it, he can attain a fair number of scholarships, as well as secure a spot at a fine college or university with a program of study that he finds engaging. At the moment he wants to study chemical engineering. He chose this field when he was ten, and he’s researched what it takes to become one. I think he’d be good at it. I’m not sure where this particular interest developed, but I’m glad it did. “My son the engineer,” has a nice ring to it, and it’s a field where he can be intellectually challenged and make a positive impact, not to mention make a decent living.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though. My son the high school student still has a way to go, and it’s up to me to help him get there. Although facing this next chapter of his life is bittersweet for me, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.