Pressed for Success
By Lauren, age 16, California
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
I live in one of the few bottom-of-the-middle-class families. My brother learned early on that age equals vocal power, which translates to attention and, ultimately, free stuff. He's three years my senior and a spoiled egotist. My mother uses 85% of her weekly budget on his college costs, and I feel the effects of that every day when I can't pack lunch. "There just wasn't enough money in the food budget," my mom tells me. Yet, whenever he's home, it's as if money grew on trees. Cookies, cakes, and video games. For him, it's still "ask and receive".
I resolved not to be that way.
Freshman year I applied for over 25 scholarships. I received none. Sophomore year I applied for 18 scholarships. I only heard back from one - fourth place. I was invited to the awards ceremony, but - surprise! - my brother had a concert the same day, so I couldn't go. I never received my award, or the $50 that went with it. Junior year (this year) I applied for 12 scholarships. My biggest headway? Becoming a Discuss award winner (1 in 1,000).
Don't get me wrong - I'm honored to receive those awards. I learned a ton from sending in 55 applications, writing 22 essays, and researching over 140 different organizations. I just don't have a full ride yet, which is my goal. And that's where the dream kicks in.
"Shoot for the stars to land on the moon" is the logic behind my reach school - Princeton University. I'd love to attend any school with a decent communications program, but I knew if I didn't strive to be admitted into a place like Princeton, I'd never get a full ride into a 4-year college. I'm a person who tends to get second best, so I overshoot in my goals. I'm taking almost every AP course my school offers at the moment (which means 4) and getting crushed by homework from Chemistry and U.S. history - but that's pressure coming from me.
One final note: Be careful when it comes to college. Stay healthy. Don't take the risk of burnout if you're truly in over your head - drop a class, extracurricular, whatever need be. Burnout will show in your applications if you try too hard. Do what you love doing (yes, it needs repeating many times) and you won't need to strain for admission.