special guest post by Maria Hernandez.
I started thinking about college when I entered middle school because I saw education as the means by which I could help my family. As a freshman, I tried to prepare myself for college by enrolling in the honors classes offered by my high school. Even though I knew I was preparing myself for college academically, I was still overwhelmed with the idea of applying to college. I did not know where to start or who could answer my questions. After some time, I was pleasantly surprised to see that many people wanted to help me, like my counselors and teachers, and that information was available to me, like that provided by the College Board.
For students like me who are the first in their family to go to college, it is easy to feel like you are on your own, but you are not– many free resources do exist! For example, during my sophomore year of high school, I was accepted into the Schuler Scholar Program, which helps bright students prepare for and apply to college. Having the Schuler staff on my side made those resources easier to access and use, allowing me to feel better about applying to college. While I searched for the right college, my biggest fear was not knowing how to pay for college and creating debt for my family. I thought that with my financial background, it was impossible for me to pay for college. Now, I know this is a misconception about college: while it can be expensive, there are many types of financial aid available and going to college is financially possible for families of all income levels. I worked diligently in high school and was able to attend Brown University. Brown gave me great financial aid, making it possible for me to graduate with little debt. Now, my college education allows me to pursue my academic interest, while helping to support my family.
I invite you to join me and staff from the Schuler Scholar Program and Maine East High School on December 10, 2015 at 6:00PM in the Niles Public Library, to learn about the resources that are available to you and your family as you start thinking about college.