I always knew that I wanted to go to college, even at a really young age, but I didn't start thinking about it seriously until around sophomore year. Of course I was concerned about things like being rejected, SAT scores, but the biggest thing was affordability.
I knew that if I was going to college it would be a big responsibility for me. My mom is a single parent, we don't have a lot of money, so I knew that I’d have to pay everything out of my pocket and if I took out a loan the responsibility for that loan would be on me.
It was definitely scary. I was a little reluctant at first applying to colleges. I was saying to myself, “Ok I’ve applied, but if I’m accepted how am I going to pay for it?”
The financial aid process was a lot more challenging than I expected it to be. I thought it was like, fill out a form and you’re done! But when they write me back saying we need verification or a non-custodial waiver from your parent that you don’t have access to, that was challenging.
The support from my school and counselors and Jasmine, my uAspire advisor, helped. Jasmine really explained the process and made it seem not as scary. She helped me find scholarships, get the forms I needed and get references from the people I needed, like my school college counselor.
Even if I didn’t see Jasmine one week while she was at my school, she would still text me to make sure I got the forms I was waiting for, make sure I submitted them, and that everything was going ok. She was always checking up on me, even if I wasn’t directly in face-to-face contact, which was really helpful.
I applied to 14 schools. I got accepted into 11, and the total amount of financial aid and scholarships came to a total of $700,000. I was definitely a little shocked because I didn’t realize how much I was getting until I sat there and calculated all of it. It’s pretty amazing considering that a couple of months ago that was one of my fears, that I wouldn’t even be able to pay for college.
In the end I chose Tufts University. I have pretty much a full ride but there was a small fee that I had to take out in loans, but I’m a part of a scholarship program that will repay my loans at the end of four years. That means I won’t have to graduate with any debt. It’s a huge weight off of my shoulders.
Besides the financial aspect, Tufts was a top choice because they have an early childhood development program and I plan to be a teacher or maybe something in the education field. I want [kids] to know that anything is possible and they can achieve anything that they put their mind to. Just instilling that type of mindset in them will take them a long way.