I consider myself privileged despite the fact that I still face things such as racism and sexism. Why? Because I’m already in a privileged position due to the fact that I attend a post-secondary institution. I also don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay to attend said institution. In fact, I’m fortunate enough to get money back each semester.
I know this to be true when I see my friends work long hours while going to school full time just to pay for their books. I also know that it is my undocumented friends who suffer the most.
I don’t think most people realize the privilege that being documented gives you. You have access to things that you take as a given but are only a dream to others. You can access basic healthcare, get a driver’s license, apply for decent paying jobs, apply for student aid, and many other things.
That is why I get frustrated when I see documented people not taking advantage of the opportunities given to them. I understand that many students have serious responsibilities outside of school such as babysitting and working.
However, I am speaking to those who have the access to resources that many others lack but are not willing to put in the effort.
There is no reason that writing an essay should hold you back from free money. “I don’t feel like it” is not a good reason. As someone who speaks Spanish would say – ponte las pilas.
I attended a “low-performing” school that was also low-income and had a lot of behavioral problems. I let myself wallow in angst that I couldn’t transfer for two years. Here are a few things I learned as I got my head out of my ass and realized I needed to make the most of my high school experience:
- Join clubs and organizations. I know this seems like a generic response but it could be the factor that gets you that full-tuition scholarship. Be an active member. Don’t think that just your attendance will suffice.
- Take on a leadership position in said clubs and organizations. These really build your resume and lets colleges/employers know you’re committed.
- Try your best to get good grades. This seems like a given but it can make a world of difference if your state has programs that reward you money for a good GPA.
- Volunteer. Not only will this boost your applications, but it will also help you empathize with others and continuously check your privilege.
- Try to have a good relationship with your guidance counselor. Make sure they know your name and what you do. A lot of times they will recommend students for programs and scholarships, but they have to know who you are first.
- Take the time to review your applications and essays with your English teacher. But don’t change something if you truly feel like you don’t need to. It is your essay.
- APPLY for programs and scholarships. Really do your research and apply for as many as you can. In Kentucky, the Governor’s Scholars Program is a fantastic way to get a taste of the college experience. It also helps that many state schools offer scholarships for scholars depending on your ACT. Basically, if you qualify, apply for it.
Worst case scenario, you get rejected. Best case scenario, you can tell your parents they don’t have to pay a cent for your education. If an essay, interview, or having to commit to a program seem like too much work, imagine how much harder it will be to pay out of pocket.
I know not everyone’s situation is the same as mine so you will likely find your own path. These are tips for everyone who needs them and are things I learned while preparing for college.
A lot of us have lived as citizens and enjoy the benefits of our parent’s hard work. Now it’s time to show them that their sacrifices have all been worth it. It’s also time to reach out to those who don’t have access to these resources and show our support and solidarity. Si se puede!