LETTERS FROM A SENIOR: Do your research
March 13, 2017
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“It’ll go by faster than you think,” they say.
I’ve long believed this wisdom to be overstated and slightly dismissive of the plight of the high school student. As of August 2016, I can personally attest, it does go by faster than you think.
Before the Class of 2017 knows it the day will arrive when one by one we’re ushered up onto that stage, names suspended over the speakers for a few, diploma-handing seconds each. Caps will be cast off and tossed to the air. And it will all be over. Familiarity as we know it, the daily grind, will quietly move away to canvas a new normal.
For the bulk of your high school career, and even through most of senior year, the rest beyond that fact is up in the air. Until you’re formally committed to something, be it university, the workforce, army or technical school, the best we can do is simply prepare, and to keep your doors open for when opportunities may come to knock.
I am still keeping that door open. Not because I’m not sure where I’d want to go or what I want to do, but because I long underestimated just how expensive post-secondary education could be.
I fully intend on entering a career in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. The schools I have applied to cater to this field of interest. Though, I have received scholarships for academics and extracurriculars with admission, even they aren’t enough to stave off what seems like an ineluctable student loan debt ahead. As a result, most state universities have become less and less practical for me and my family. This gradual realization has led me to some reflecting.
If there was one piece of advice I would offer to continuing students, it would be to do your research. And to do it early. Factor in your finances and stay hopeful, but not naive. Try your luck with privates, wherever they might be, because more often than not, they might potentially offer generous support. And if your passions cost a pretty penny, work for it and apply for as many scholarships as possible.
Even then, if it seems that the cards fall on community college, remember that’s just as well. Undergraduate prereqs, and associates, or transferring are all options there, and without a great expense.
In short, this is all to say, there are many roads to take to your destination.