Monday, January 26, 2015

Postponement Of Dreams Not The Same As A Loss (But It Can Feel Like One!)

Dear Tazi:

I will be graduating high school in a few months, but am no longer looking forward to it. Even though I was accepted by my first-choice school, I did not receive any offers of scholarship money to help me pay for it. My parents are middle class, but are not about to start taking out loans to pay for my tuition and do not want me to do that either.

I would rather skip college and work full-time to save money until I can afford to go to my first-choice school, but then I would feel like a complete tool watching all of my friends go off to school while I am stuck here working full-time. My parents would prefer that I get my degree at the state college (my safety school) and apply again to my dream school for my graduate degree. I want to leave this state, not set down roots here, which is what I am afraid would happen if I went to the state university.

Tazi, these last few months of high school should be some of the happiest, most care-free of my life (if I am to believe my teachers), so I would like to figure out my direction now so I can enjoy all of the cool stuff planned for my senior class - especially my senior prom. Should I just give up on my dream of leaving this state and go to the state university? Work for a year or two to save money to go to my dream school? Throw caution to the wind and take out a mortgage sized loan to pay for it all?

Disappointed Senior

Dear Disappointed Senior:

How about none of the above? While you have my sympathies for the devastation you must be feeling, this is not the end of the world. As my Mommie's mentor likes to say, when you receive bad news you should "cry about it for 10 minutes and move on with your life". He says this with a smile, so you can see that he is trying to tell you not to wallow in hurt while other opportunities pass you by.

Did I mention that my Mommie's mentor is a Chemist? 
Signing up for a few hundred thousand dollars in loans at the age of 18 is never a good idea. I realize that will be the only way you would be able to go to your dream college right now, but is it really worth the cost? If your dream school really, really wanted you they would find a way to make sure it happened. Don't be the desperate young woman trying to get a man's attention by doing anything it takes; like her, you are only selling yourself short. Let them chase after you by improving what you have to offer academically.

The way to improve your chances of making your dream school financially feasible will not be to go to work full-time for a few years. Once you have started working full-time it is very difficult to give up that paycheck - and the wonderful things it can buy - to return to school and pay for something that you will not be able to use for three or four years, while all the while you must concentrate on studying and sacrifice to attain it. My Mommie wanted to return to school for 10 years before a twist of fate pushed her into doing it. Can you see yourself waiting 10 years to return to school, by which time you may be married with children? The more complicated your life gets, the tougher getting an education becomes.

Now that my lecture is over, I will advise a compromise between you and your parents and your dream school:

First, ask your dream school if they will postpone your acceptance for two years while you attend your state college to complete your general education credits, and then accept you as a transfer student. Colleges - especially those big, brand name ones - love accepting transfer students because they help boost the school's retention rate. By junior year, the year most students transfer, the original freshman class has lost a large percentage of its members; transfer students help to fill this gap and make it appear that the school is retaining more students. Furthermore, transfer students have proven that they are capable of doing college level work, something colleges discover only after students start at their school; sometimes, they are disappointed to discover that the brilliant high school student is an abysmal college student.

Second, talk to your parents about paying tuition at your state university. Will they be willing to assist with the bill so you can work less and concentrate on your studies more? Studies have shown that students who work more than 20 hours a week show less engagement in campus activities, which can adversely effect their grades. (Students who worked 10 - 19 hours a week excelled, presumably due to a stronger sense of responsibility). Between a part-time job and some financial help from Mom and Dad you should be able to make the Dean's List every semester which will lead to scholarship monies, along with invitations to join academic honor societies (which can lead to even more scholarships).

Third, lose the impression that "all" of your friends will be leaving the state to go to college. While some of them may be attending out of state schools, a lot of them will be at the state university with you, as will other students from high schools around your state who will become new - and probably lifelong - friends. Remember that the nest the bird flies away from sits in a tree that is well-rooted. Wherever you fly to in life, your roots will remain, so try not to pour weed-killer on them.

I will leave the last word on the matter to the great poet, Langston Hughes:


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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