from the Experts
By Shayla P., an undergraduate Ventures Scholar
It has always been a dream of mine to attend college.
When I was younger, I watched television shows about
college students having loads of fun. It sounded like
a great experience filled with parties, hanging out
with friends and letting the good times roll.
However, when I entered high school, I started learning
the real value of college: to get a good education.
With a degree, I could have a high-paying job. So with
a passion to succeed in life, I expressed my thoughts
and concerns about attending a university to my parents.
They were very glad that I had chosen the path toward
higher education, but my parents were disappointed because
they couldn't afford the expenses. Upset and stressed,
I took the initiative and started looking for ways to
pay for my postsecondary education.
My search for money began on the Internet. I went to
every free scholarship search engine available. I spent
four to five hours a day looking for scholarships that
applied to me. Even though it took much of my time,
I dedicated myself to scanning through hundreds of Web
sites. It became a part-time job for me. After school,
I would do my homework, then search for money on the
Internet until I was sleepy. The next day, I would do
it all over again. I knew my work was going to pay off
in the future.
When I had found almost all the scholarships I could
apply for, I sorted them out by deadlines. This gave
me an idea of how to prioritize my schedule. Some applications
were easy. Others were long, tedious forms. No matter
the amount, which ranged from $100 to $40,000, I took
each scholarship seriously. All of them were going to
fund my goal to attend a college.
With this in my mind, the hardest part began: writing
essays. Almost every scholarship required me to compose
an essay about my extracurricular activities, commitment
to education and career aspirations. Every time I wrote
an essay, I saved it on my computer and kept it for
later. To perfect my writing, I asked several friends,
relatives and teachers to read my work. They gave me
advice about what to include and what to leave out.
I continued searching for money and writing essays
for about two years. As of now, I have won about 20
percent of all the scholarships I applied for. After
many hours of staying up late to finish applications,
I managed to receive more than $100,000 in scholarships.
With this money, I will be able to attend college for
free-no expenses whatsoever.
I feel that a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders!
I don't have to worry about bugging my parents for money
they don't have and stressing over the fact that I cannot
receive a higher education. Now, I can afford it!
The scholarship search has truly made me a better individual.
I have learned the importance of setting a goal and
accomplishing it. Even when I received rejection letters,
it made me a stronger person. I'm thrilled that I had
the opportunity to learn more about my drive to succeed-no
matter what obstacles come my way!