This past week I have felt like things could possibly be halted as far as going to grad school is concerned. Last week I found out that the financial aid that I was relying on was not going to be coming through in the way we had hoped.
I went from feeling beyond excited to getting in to an amazing school–the only one that offered the program that I wanted to be part of–to feeling like none of it was even within my reach. It was like all of the hours that I had put in to studying for the GRE and the application process were all going to be for nothing… how can that really happen?! It was a cold, harsh reality.
When I began college originally, it was all so foreign to me since I was the first person in my family to have the opportunity. We didn’t know anything about applying for scholarships or how to get aid. The only thing that we knew was that I had to take the SAT/ACT, we had to fill out an application for the schools that I was interested in and pay the application fees. We knew nothing. Needless to say, I took out student loans that now need to be paid back.
So, when the advice people give me is to take out additional loans to afford a Master’s Degree I get angry. I feel that there are so many other avenues that a student should try to travel down before making the decision to take out a loan. Let’s face it, jobs don’t exactly provide you with a sufficient enough income to make a dent in your student loans and save for your future. What we are doing is creating massive holes for ourselves. At one point during my early college career, my brother, my mother and me were all enrolled as students. My father was the only person in the household working and somehow we didn’t receive any financial aid. My student loans account says that I will not be finished paying them off until I am in my forties. I shudder at that thought.
Where does all of this, “aid,” go? Well, I did know somebody during my early college years that had a friend in the financial aid department. Their family didn’t need any assistance but knowing someone in the right place helped them to get money each semester. I cannot speak for every school, every person, every employee that puts in an effort to identify those who will receive money… but I CAN speak and say that this was a true story for one person that I happened to know at one school. Like many things in life, it is about who you know.
As far as finding scholarships for students seeking their Master’s… I have been searching the internet like my life depended on it. I have applied for different types of aid and signed up for different informative resources. Scholarships through local organizations don’t exist in my area for students who are seeking even higher education; they are only offered to high school seniors.
So now, I sit here between a rock and a hard place. What do I do? What is the best decision for me? Do I pass up an opportunity to further my education at a great school because my aid fell through? Is taking out additional student loans really going to make a difference? Will I really be able to use my degree for a higher position with better pay?
Plato. He had my answer: “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”
I am putting my trust in my abilities and my future. I need to believe in myself more than ever. I was smart enough to make the decision to take the steps toward doing something that could potentially be very positive… it’s a risk… and I need to jump. This may mean that I may not be able to ever afford my own home and that I don’t pay off my loans until I am sixty, but it may also mean that I achieve everything that I’ve ever dreamed of.
That’s my answer.