I know that a lot of people are in the same boat as I was when it came to College. I had no clue where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, or how I was going to pay for it. So I decided to take life by the reins, and make a plan.
I knew I wanted to get out of Kentucky, so I wrote that down. I also looked at what I did for fun in my spare time. This list included Robotics, Business, and Technology. So based off of this, I decided to look at Colleges that interested me. Columbia ranked first on my list, as they had a Business program, a Robotics program, and was of course an Ivy League school. My list also included various colleges around the World.
Once I got these basics down, I started talking to my friends and family about what I should do. Part of my family was well off, although I was NOT by any means, so I got to attend Galas and Parties to represent my family. At one of these Galas I met my current boyfriend’s aunt and uncle. They invited me to meet their nephew, and show him around Kentucky, as he was close to my age. Once I did that, we hit it off. We had so much fun, and started dating long distance. He lived in Maryland, and after a year of dating, I decided to move down to Maryland to share an apartment with him. (Which was the first step of my plan, to get out of Kentucky!!)
By that time, I had been out of College for a year, and had a decent amount of money saved up, which I made by working in a diner, making almost minimum wage. The day after the move, I walked over to the Community College and talked to the Admissions Office. The front desk person told me that I could have in state tuition after 3 months of living in Maryland, which was perfect, as that was when the Semester started. The person I talked to told me to immediately go talk to his career counselor friend, who just got in her office, as he had just had lunch with her. He called her to let her know I was coming.
Now, let me tell you, I know God was looking out for me, as she talked to me about all my concerns and how I could get grants and scholarships. She also helped me apply for them. I wasn’t even a student, and she did this on her own free time. She was wonderful, and I would not be here today without her. She told me about FASFA, and even helped me fill it out then and there. I was accepted, which was a miracle, and I got the full amount which payed for my tuition and books.
During my two years of Community College, I had to start looking at my list of four year colleges, and started applying to them. I also looked up scholarships and grants that applied everywhere, to the specific schools, etc. I came up with a huge list, which I will list on a post later, and applied to all of them. I received 4 scholarships, and 2 grants. One of the scholarships applied towards half of my Columbia tuition, but could not be applied to any other college. I could have applied towards a full ride that they offered, but decided against it as I could not afford to stay in New York. The rest of the scholarships and grants were geared towards Maryland schools. In the end, I decided my local four year College, who offered to give me an additional scholarship if I went to their school, and a job that could teach me skills in my field.
This is a very general explanation, but I have broken down the list of how I got through college debt free. In future posts, I will share how I saved money, how I got free stuff on a regular basis, and much, much more!
Basic Overview of what I did to get a FULL RIDE:
- Determined where I wanted to be, which was pretty much anywhere other than Kentucky.
- Determined what my interests were that could be used to help me make a decent amount of money after getting my Bachelors degree.
- Looked up Colleges that offered degrees in my interests, and wrote down the ones that interested me. I also looked at their websites, and some of them had scholarship sections that were helpful.
- Talked to Family and Friends. Networking was vital to my success, and will be for most people. (I know, this can be unfortunate, but chin up! I promise you it is a necessary evil, and will yield positive results!)
- Determined what path I wanted to take.
- Found ways to pay for College.
Now, everyone’s journey is different. My best advice is to do what you love, and try to not go into debt. I will also be posting more about how to avoid debt. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions!