How Scholarships Make College Dreams a Reality

Bug began looking into colleges during the spring semester of her junior year of high school.  By that summer, there she was, college guide in her lap, creating a spreadsheet of everything she was looking for in the perfect college.  I was amazed.  Her criteria was so different than what mine had been almost 30 years ago.  While hers was based on academics and small class sizes, mine had been focused on boys and parties.  (How this child came from my gene pool I’ll never know!)

When she was a high school freshman, I had shared with her whatever words of wisdom about high school, college, and life that I could.  (Beanie received the same talk last year.)

  • Whatever she wants to “be when she grows up” is possible, but a plan has to be made.
  • High school is a stepping stone to college.  She’ll need those top grades from high school in order to attend the college of her choice.
  • College is a stepping stone to a career.  Her college grades will determine her next step, be it her first job or graduate school.
  • Those grades will only come from hard work and making sacrifices.  Her social life would have to be put on hold if she wanted high grades.
  • All of this education is to prepare her for the real world, where if she has worked hard, she will truly be able to enjoy adulthood, doing what she loves, whatever it may be.

I know, a harsh reality, but I had to be honest.

Then, I had to inform her that with 4 children, there was not a college fund for each of them.  We were going to have to share.  (Again, just being honest.)

Anyway, the kid took me seriously.  (Who listens to their parents, especially regarding something as depressing as choosing not to have fun?!)

She aced both the ACT and the SAT, so colleges began recruiting her.  (Again, not sure she’s my kid!)

Her homeschool workload was tough throughout high school.  (We are using Seton Home Study School from K-12)  I’ll admit, most of the time I was unable to help her.  Math and science are not my forte, so I was useless in physics and calculus.

I love reading and writing, but Bug will tell you that I am “Grammar Monster” and many of the papers she wanted my opinion on were returned to her covered in so much red ink they looked as though they had been used as gauze to patch bullet wounds.  But she was determined and graduated with a  3.9 GPA.

Although Seton is an accredited school and she received a valid diploma, she had to call some of the colleges to learn how homeschoolers apply for admissions – fyi, there is a difference.

Like anything else in her life, she knew what she wanted and was completely focused.  When she came to the hubs and I with her first (and only) college choice, all we could say was, “you’ll have to apply for scholarships.”   We knew we couldn’t afford the tuition and we wanted to avoid student loans if at all possible.  Now yes, we would have done everything in our power to make this dream come true for our girl, but she beat us to it.

She applied to the college of her dreams that summer before her senior year, and had her acceptance letter in hand two weeks into the first quarter.  It was amazing.  Plus there was no added stress to her last year of high school with the weight of college applications hanging over her.  The only issue was the cost, but again, she had it handled.

Her GPA and test scores gained her a top academic scholarship.  All that work had paid off.  Then, by following the advice of the Things’ violin teacher, she looked into music scholarships for non-music majors, and was granted one in return for playing her violin in the string ensemble.  (Which she loves to play… another talent she didn’t get from me!)

Bug didn’t stop there though, she learned what other scholarships she was eligible for and applied for those.  In the end, she is at a top academic college, and more importantly, this was the school of her dreams, and over 80% of her tuition is covered.

She was right (please don’t tell her I said that)!  By doing all the research at the beginning, she was able to find a school that was a perfect fit.  Having been homeschooled, there were certain items she was looking for

  • A small school with small class sizes
  • discussion based classes
  • specific majors and minors

Although I am sure Bug would have done well in a large school, a small school seemed more fitting for her.  Like most children who are schooled at home, my Things are used to studying on their own and being able to question and discuss their subjects.   She knew she wouldn’t have been happy in a lecture hall with numerous other students.  By finding a school with a smaller population, she is known by her professors and classmates.

Almost all of her classes are teacher-lead discussions.  Class time is spent discussing the assigned readings and research.  Bug finds this stimulating and loves that most of class time is not dedicated to lectures and assignments.

One of the reasons I love homeschool is that the students are able to really discover topics they love.  All of my Things have an idea of what they are interested in pursuing in college.  Bug is double majoring in Theology and English and had planned to double minor in Renaissance Studies and Catholic Studies, but this semester has found an interest in Philosophy and may change her minor.  (I’m beginning to consider a maternity test on her.  There’s no way she’s mine!)  She wants to become a college professor.

Now, into her second year of college, she continues to  amaze us and has set quite a bar for her younger siblings.   She is now a teacher’s assistant for the Professor of Latin (she took 3 years in high school, teaching herself, and took 2 semesters as part of her minor last year) and is applying for an honors English class that will travel to England next summer.  My little over-achiever!

I can’t take any credit for this Thing’s future being so bright.  She dreams it, plans for it, and makes it happen.

Interested in how I handled my oldest Thing leaving the nest on this adventure?  Read my article on how I coped.. OK, I’m still coping!

What dreams do you see building in your children’s hearts?  Is college in their plans?  Please share in the comments below!

This article is part of the 21 Day Blog Challenge.  Use the link to pop over and read posts from the other amazing bloggers involved.

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  1. Scholarships and grants really helped me going to college. Part of the reason why I was able to pay off both my undergraduate and my graduate school within a few years of getting my degrees.

    1. Congratulations! It takes hard work and dedication to complete so much. That is one of the the things I am hoping to teach my children!

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