Caitlin & the State-School Blues

by Judge Josh on June 9, 2011

Caitlin’s feeling a little down in the dumps about the college aspirations she once had for herself and the reality that’s seeming to be a little different these days. I’m guessing there’s a few dozen of you out there feeling the same way.

Hello!

I’m a recently graduated senior and salutatorian from a high school where most kids come from very poor socioeconomic backgrounds.

Hey, you sound a lot like me. Me in 1992.

I’m a sperm bank baby, my mother has never been married (and thankfully doesn’t bring around boyfriends either!),

Thankfully. Now that you’ve got me thinking on it, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a specific *advantage* of a mom who brought a bunch of boyfriends around. :)

and I have no siblings. However, I’m still lucky enough to have an EFC around the $20,000 mark, meaning no aid, and my mother is already stretched thin because of our mini-farm, and cannot help with a PLUS loan or other expenses (but she wishes she could…).

state school blues

This octopus will NOT eat Caitlin.

Bummer. I’m an only child myself, and financial-aid time was about the only time I wished I had about six or seven brothers and sisters.

Anyways, my sophomore year I got a scholarship to take classes at a local community college in tandem with regular high school classes, and spent my junior year on a scholarship-funded foreign exchange (only person at my high school to ever go on a year-long exchange, to the best of my knowledge) to Germany. Although I knew no German beforehand, I became fluent and even wrote a little book in German about the differences between the American and German cultures. I translated it into English and submitted it as part of a portfolio and even won a regional journalism award from the National Alliance of Young Artists and Writers.

Wow, that’s an excellent entry on your resume, Caitlin. The foreign language fluency is great on its own, but having authored something in the second language is even better.

Sadly my senior year I was COMPLETELY overwhelmed with reverse culture shock, a heavy course load (remember, extra classes at the local CC), and marching band. Not to mention, I returned to America with just 16 years under my belt, and was intimidated by the extreme pressure I was under. And I cracked.

How exactly did you crack? Just curious — you’re salutatorian, so I’m guessing you didn’t crack so badly that you derailed your academic career.

I threw away my dreams of going to a top of the line school for Northern Arizona University, because it just seemed safest for a kid afraid of starting off an independent life. And the bills were less intimidating (I received a tuition waiver).

Well, a couple points to note here:

a) You’ve just now graduated from high school, so whatever dreams you think you’ve “thrown away” can be snatched up out of the trash as soon as you’d like to do so. You’re waaaaaay short of the whole “point of no return” thing, so you’ve still got the option of going whichever way you decide is best for you.

b) Having said that, starting out at a smaller, cheaper school is nothing to feel bad about. In fact, in a lot of cases, it’s an extremely smart move. The first two years of college are awfully similar for students in community colleges, small schools, big schools, prestigious ones and not-very-prestigious ones. In most cases, you’re gonna hack away at some relatively generic required coursework: science, math, English, history, humanities, etc.

Now, sure — you may have to work harder for an A in Philosophy 101 at University of Chicago than you will at NAU. But wherever you’re taking the class won’t change the amount and content of what Plato and Aristotle wrote during their lifetimes. It’s the same for everyone, and my point is, you’ll get out of the class exactly what you put into it.

And not for nothing here — the school where you take those first two years of intro classes will very likely have NO overall effect on the rest of your life. Sorry — for most people, it just won’t. So don’t beat yourself up over that, because it’s all in your head. In my life, I’ve found very little correlation between people who live happy lives and people who went to academically rigorous colleges. It’s much more about you and your attitude than the school you attend.

However, I have started to feel inadequate. I applied to over 24 scholarships (I eventually received three local ones and one from NAU, but up until March 23rd I had received only rejection letters),

Hey, that’s one out of every six applied for that you’ve won. Nothing to sneeze at, homegirl.

but it sucks to be told your whole life that smart people go to college for free – and then having a reality check.

It’s true, reality checks of elevated hopes always suck. However, it’s good to get them, because they get you in better touch with reality, and from there you can move forward with a more educated and realistic approach.

Truth be told, high-achieving smart students often *can* go to college for free — just not ANY college. We’ve got millions of those students here in the U.S. alone, and the elite colleges may only be able to accept a couple thousand of them apiece. But as I’ve said, you don’t need an elite-school education to achieve any goal.

And if getting an elite-school education actually *is* your goal — then you should come up with a different goal. Education is wonderful unto itself, sure, but for most students, it’s a means to an end, or at the very least a door-opener to the great exploits they want to achieve later in life. And again, very few exploits require an elite-school education.

Another big reason for me choosing NAU is because I come from a small town, with the typical mentality that you’re not supposed to ever leave it.

Whose mentality is that? Trust me, even your biggest hometown boosters expect most small-town kids to leave the nest for a while. They’ll tell you they want you to stick around (and sometimes they’re even telling the truth!), but even in the tiniest of towns, they expect you to go off and do your own thing for a while.

Doesn’t matter, though, what anyone else’s mentality is — it’s yours alone that matters. If you wanna stay, stay; if not, go. It’s your life, and you don’t owe anyone else input into that decision.

I feel like it’s an octopus trying to devour me.

Eh, I’m guessing a lot of that’s in your own head. Do what you want to do — the world doesn’t have much choice but to adapt. Try it and see.

But that’s not what I want, I don’t want to go to a university like NAU that no one’s ever heard of.

If you don’t like NAU, don’t go there — BUT, don’t go there just because “no one’s ever heard of it.” I’m being a little tough on you here because you and a million other college students get way too caught up in what other people think of where you’re going to school. I was that way myself back in school, so I know how you feel.

Here’s the reality, though: for the most part, once you’re out of college for a couple years — no one cares where you went to school. Sure, Harvard and Yale will always have a great ring to them no matter how old you get, but short of that — people stop asking after a few years, and that’s because it no longer matters (in the job world anyway).

I want to get a stupendous education, because I respect myself and think I deserve it. But this struggle has just left me feeling… like I can’t make it. After my freshman year my plan is to transfer to a more competitive university with an amazing economics program (although I’m still working on my search, some examples are University of Chicago, NYU, MIT), and hopefully to one with major endowments so that I can receive more aid.

So, would you mind assessing my situation and telling me if my plan is feasible?

It’s more than feasible — but you need a change of mindset, quicklike, if you want it to happen. We both know that Chicago, NYU, MIT — these are very competitive schools, right? If you get in, you’re going to have to bust ass to succeed. But, if you can’t slog your way through a year at a less competitive school like NAU, you have to honestly assess your chances of succeeding at the top schools. If you can’t hack a year at NAU, you won’t make it at MIT.

So…do you have what it takes? Judging by your list of accomplishments, I’d say sure, certainly you do. You’ve got the tools — you just need to buckle down and apply them, and the first part of that is believing you can do it. Which, you can — if you want to badly enough.

As a bit more background, I recently organized a book drive for a local group home, have more various community service, was a member of a handful of clubs, scored 2100 on the SAT, and did a study on perceptions of socialism vs. capitalism (3rd place at a science state fair). Especially with these credentials, I’m shocked that other kids who I personally know are getting scholarships that we both applied to, even though they don’t have nearly the same credentials.

I couldn’t say since I haven’t seen the other students’ resumes, but again — yours looks pretty good, and if you can keep up the level of work and squeeze out your absolute best efforts, you should be fine wherever you end up.

I think I have issues marketing myself. I don’t see anything else that could explain it, other than kids getting chosen for local scholarships over me because they’re more popular and known by the judges.

Help?

Yeah, you definitely have to market/sell yourself well, and for what it’s worth, that NEVER changes at any point in your life. In fact, the need to do so only intensifies as you get older and further along in your career. That’s a whole other post, though.

In sum — you seem like you’ve got the tools, but you just need to accept that your current spot is just fine, even if it’s not what you imagined it would be a couple years back. Don’t screw it up now because of pessimism — you’re going to look back on this time and see that you were sitting in a fine position. You don’t want to regret tossing away whatever dreams you have because of a false perception that you’re somehow screwed by being at a state school at age 18.

Hope that helps!

What about you all — what should Caitlin do? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Leeja June 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm

A great sense of self-esteem and self-worth, coupled with a “can do” attitude can get you anywhere you want to go. If you want to go somewhere more challenging, then start working on it now. Keep applying! I don’t know if you’ve considered it, but maybe having a professional resume done will help you to repackage yourself and your accomplishments. It will be very useful as you go through life and as you apply for scholarships and admission to schools. Never be afraid to send your resume directly to the departmental recruiter at the school of your choice. My boyfriend does recruiting for a major university and gets them all the time, and those are the kids who get the money.

Let’s face it, the top economics programs are in California and on the east coast, so if you want to major in that, and go to a top-rated school, you’ll have to leave home sometime. You just have to decide for yourself when the time is right. But while you’re deciding on the timing, keep knocking down those core classes. Unless you’re majoring in a highly technical science or math field, you’ll get all you need for the first 2 years or so at NAU. When you leave home, do it for you. If you don’t leave home for college, it should also be because it’s what YOU want. It sounds like you have a very supportive mother who will stand behind you either way, so make the most of it. I’m sure if you left and then changed your mind, she’d be happy to have you back home to finish school, but at least you tried it.

Good luck!

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kiwinc June 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Hey, Caitlin,

That whole ‘smart people get college free’ idea is nice, but it’s really outdated. I haven’t seen money like that since the Carter years. Seriously. Now things are different, and not in a richer way. You’re still plenty smart by any measure.

Tons of people go to state school through sophomore year and transfer to the more expensive place to finish (so much so that at my last school, our graduation rates were abysmal, and it was in large part due to the number of transfers out -more than half, and many to places like Stanford and Princeton). It’s smart because you save a lot of money and you get the same education, pretty much. It also gives the ‘prestige’ places something else to look at when considering your application and your potential for aid – you go for free at a state school and get a 4.0, you’ll get some offers from these other places.

As for employment, no one cared WHERE I went to school. We get tested a lot in my field – we don’t get an interview, in fact, without passing at least one skill test.

I’m not sure what the real issue is here. It seems like you spent a lot of time and energy comparing yourself to other people, what they do, what they think, and so on. It might be helpful to try to put this down and find out what YOU want, what YOU think. Ultimately, you have to live with you and the decisions you make. No one else can live your life for you, and no one else has to live with those decisions but you.

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Rachel June 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm

u can choose to go to school where u r accepted and do ur best and keep applying to the schools u want and understand that sometimes life will put obstacles in ur pathway to challenge ur destiny and if u focus on the negative this may have a greater impact on ur future choose instead to be grateful for the opportunity that u have been given especially when many dont even get close…im jus sayin…u should be studying and not worrying about all this stuff…lol real talk and if u need any tutoring then holla anytime seriously

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AMP June 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I go to my local state school in California, and, guess what, I’ve heard of NYU! NYU has a good program for music and I know several people who go there. That being said, just because it’s a state school doesn’t mean it sucks. My school has several great programs, including mine (Anthropology). Since it’s a state school, it’s a small department. I get the classes I want without being impacted and all but two of the professors I have had have been wonderful. Don’t knock it until you try it, and you can always transfer later if need be.

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amabel June 10, 2011 at 5:13 am

i wish her all the best, it might be the will of God for her so Caitlin go for it God is with you and you will be the best.

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Laura June 10, 2011 at 6:40 am

We get lied to a lot–that our worth is based on what school we go to. And then we go into the real world, and realize it’s a load of bollocks. I graduated salutatorian in my class in 2006. I graduated summa cum laude three years later in 2009 from a state school no one’s ever heard of. Both schools were in California. Then I moved to Scotland, and I was so glad I hadn’t gotten $20,000+ in debt to go to UC Berkeley, where I was accepted. Not many over here had even heard of UC Berkeley, so it meant nothing. It took awhile, but eventually I found a good job in a company that’s funding me through graduate school here in the UK. If you’re smart and work hard and stick with it, people will see that in you and reward you.

And you’re more than just your education and your job.

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Chris June 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

I did my freshman and sophmore years at University of Maryland University College, but at an extension campus in Japan (Air Force Brat). It was cheap, and the closest thing we had to a “safe” school – no admission requirements, just show up with a check. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything. I received a two year degree while living in a foreign country, and finished my last two years stateside at the school I had always wanted to attend in the first place. I graduated with more life experience and education than I think I would have gained if I had done all four years stateside. Good things will come if you want them bad enough. Good luck.

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Anonymous June 10, 2011 at 10:08 am

My best advice to anyone fresh out of high school these days is stay local and get an AA in a trade. THEN, apply to a four year school with a way to support yourself, and your foot already in the field. You want be a lawyer? Great! Get an AA in Paralegal Studies, work as a legal secretary to put yourself through the BA. Apply to law school with virtually no outstanding debt. Want to be a dentist? Great. Do two years studying to be a dental hygienist. Pay your way through the BA then apply to dental school. I have attended major prestigious universities for my BA and MA. It only makes me sound more ridiculous each month at my welfare appointments.

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Gail Amalfitano June 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm

You know you are sooooo, right!! I laughed about the welfare joke, but it is true.
That is great advice about getting an AA in the field first, plus a person gets a taste of that area as well.
Great advice!

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Al @CalPolySLO June 10, 2011 at 11:46 am

I hate the idea of Caitlin saying that ‘nobody has heard of NAU’. I have been thru Flagstaff and frankly it is was not for the 5 feet of snow it receives in January, I would have liked to live there. One of the greenest places in the area, just miles awat from Sedona and the Grand Canyon… Who gets it better? If you are from a small town, you will not hear about Flagstaff nor NAU. Girl, you have to look at where you are and judge why you would hear about if from a small town. They might not be outstanding in your field of study but they NAU is an OK school, especially for geological sciences. A great example here, we have Pepperdine in CA but as great as it is, unless you are into sport, you do not hear much about it. It is one of the greatest in the state !
If you do not want to go to NAU, just don’t go. But learn to appreciate what you have… Life will be easier.

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KURT June 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Based on the information you provided above, Caitlin, I don’t think you are finding it difficult to market yourself. Nor should you, really, since your credentials are top-notch.

You received a tuition waiver from Northern Arizona University; that’s more than what some students receive. I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t aim for those prestigious scholarships and universities you mentioned. Dream big and work hard. However, what I do want to say–rather, emphasize–is Judge Josh’s comment “you’ll get out of class exactly what you put into it”. This not only applies to individual classes, but to your entire college career.

Did you achieve all of those things during your high school years because you went to a “prestigious” high school? Doesn’t seem like it. You did so because you had the motivation, worked hard, and made the right connections.

As a student who transferred (by choice) from a relatively prestigious university to a state university, I find it hard to be sympathetic towards your views of the inferiority of state universities. Lose any and all ideas you have about your knowledge as a student being defined by the name of your university. This means nothing. When it comes to your education, it’s all about you–all about what YOU are driven to achieve.

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Maria June 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Oh man Caitlin! Sounds like a LOT of excuses to me! You have your excuses for the fact that you had a rough time handling high school. You have your excuses of why you are having a hard time in your State School and why you can’t get scholarships. And you already have a boatload of excuses on hand why you may not be able to make it in a top-of-the-line college. Good grief. I will tell you honestly – nobody will care that you went to NAU. State schools are not bad schools – I’m certain you will get a fine education. The first two years of any college are your core (General Ed) – which you could get just about anywhere and it wouldnt matter anyway. Just get your bachelors degree in economics, and be thankful for not having any debt. If you feel a need to do something more, apply to grad school somewhere else. By then you should know whether or not you could handle it. In the meantime you might get some counseling to deal with these feelings of inadequacy you are facing.

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Cass June 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm

What are you studying? Depending on your program, a smaller ‘no-name’ school isn’t a bad thing.

Yes, smart kids get more help in going to school, but because college is becoming more and more of a norm, that means more people needing aid. Everything in life is a crap shoot. Security is an illusion we build around ourselves because reality is scary. A bachelor’s doesn’t mean job security.

Basically, what others have been saying. Just because it’s not a private institution doesn’t mean you can’t get a good education. And finances are always going to be a factor in your life, so that’s just a reality check you’re going to keep learning. You’re going to school so that you can get a better paying job. What’s the point of a higher paying job if all you’re doing with your income is paying off loans? It doesn’t make sense.

I also attend a small no-name school and sometimes I feel worried that I’m missing out on something. Maybe I am. But there are things I can learn at my college that I won’t learn at another one. And there’s a lot to be said for the smaller classes. You have your whole life to educate yourself. You don’t have to do it at the most expensive school right now.

Basically, just because something costs more doesn’t mean it’s better or will help you out in the long run. Emerson is a big name art school, but only has two majors worth going for, based off research. Maybe three. So if I go for one of it’s worse majors just because of it’s name, I’m pretty much shooting myself in the foot.

I’m assuming you’ve done research about your program at both schools?
And dang, girl, you got four scholarships! Some people get none! My cousin had to fight for hers. You want help? Fight for it. People respond to those who show they refuse to give up. If you don’t know how to market yourself and prove that you’re deserving, how are the scholarship committees supposed to know that you are?

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Anonymous June 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Caitlin, dear, I feel for you – sort of. See, I was accepted into NYU’s Gallatin school, said to be the hardest one to get into. Instead, I chose to go to the University of Minnesota. But I think that’s the best decision I ever made. Not only will I be completely free of student loan debt when I leave college, thanks to some scholarships and my parents’ college fund, but I’m getting the same education I would have in New York. I’m part of the honors program at my university, and I think you’ll find that taking honors classes gives you the same education with a lower price tag and less expectation on your head. It’s much easier to dream and think about what you could be doing for the world when your school doesn’t force you – through money and threat of losing their “name” – to conform to their educational standards.

Good luck.

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Gail Amalfitano June 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Caitlin, He is right. You had better do extremely good in this school you think is of lower caliber, if you want to get noticed. Second, make yourself an “about me” page. Like a resume, keep track of every campus activity you take part in, and awards section, community service section, officer position/clubs section, track every food drive you contribueted to and so on. Staying active and trying to get leadership positions on campus and in campus activities makes it possible for you to get to know people on campus, getting to know your professors make it possible for nominations from them.
School scholarships is all about politics, you have to work hard to get to know people so your name comes up for these awards. I know it sucks. You have to balance good grades, leadership position or two, community service, and campus activities and volunteering for things so more people know you and respect your work ethic and your academic performance.
Also, getting your two year degree at a community college is just fine, your BS degree doesn’t say anything about your previous colleges. Besides you can always do your masters at a college of your dreams and that counts for something.
But you must set your goals on excelling at the school you are at, because if you do not, then top rated schools won’t want you.
I would work on getting to know the faculty and staff at the college I am attending and getting active so they know my name and know me well enough to nominate me or write letters of rec for me.
Look at it as a lesson in navgation of people in order to progress towards your dreams and desired outcomes.
Life is like a game of chess, every move does count and has later affects both good and bad.
Good luck, and remember, be good at what you do no matter where you are, it does matter.

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Anonymous June 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

I don’t think that you should be discourage from going to an unknown school. I think that undergraduate degree in a school where you can concentrate can help you in the future. Yes it’s good to go to a school that is well know, but quite often we see that those schools have much distractions.

So if you can concentrate where you are, i think that it’s great. And maybe you can transfer on your junior year to a school that is well known and because you worked hard for your first year, you might do well.

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Grey_GirlPTK June 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Caitlin,
First congrats on all yor hard work so far. You have done outstanding. As for going to a ‘no name school’ don’t worry about it, and I have heard of NAU. (I’m in Seattle, Wa.)

The name of what school you went to does not matter. Sorry Harvad and Yale, etc… Truth is people are more interested in whether you can do the work or not. Yes, a school can help open doors–even NAU–its called networking. If you have been accepted tuition free then don’t snub that, be proud. Go on to campus and look around and ask yourself how many of these other students are paying through the nose to be at NAU? What’s it costing them in debt, stress, and worry of loosing scholarships to be there?

You have a gold opportunity to do well, great even, at a good school. NAU is not a total loss and has a decent, while not Harvard reputation. So take full advantage of that. Get good grades and do your core courses, and then hit those professors up for letters of rec, and job contacts, and other college contacts. That’s right your professors all went to college/university somewhere and will be able to help you find a solid transfer school. They will also go to bat for you with their almaters. Well they will if you are a good student and stay on good terms with them.

So if a ‘name school’ to transfer to check out where you current professors went to school. If they went to ones that you want then hit them up for advice on getting in, scholarships, and info on what that program at that ‘name school’ is actually like.

I attend a regional name school, Seattle University, and got a decent aid package. A lot of my friends from the community college I went to went to huge name schools. I did get accepted to some of them but no aid so I couldn’t head back East as desired. But SU is a great school and I’m doing very well, and making a network out of my current professors. Several of them went to graduate schools I’m interested in. They also like me, see my drive, and are helping decide on where to go next, and offering to write letters of recommendation on my behalf.

So don’t be down on a state school. You can at least do two years there, finish your core, and get help from your professors in the transfer process. It will also let you live a bit beyond high school to see of you want to leave small town all together or not.

Good luck:)

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NAU Girl June 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Believe it or not, I currently attend NAU as well. And, I’m in the process of transferring as we speak. I feel the same way you do. No one knows what NAU is, which may be ok career-wise, but personally, it’s a blow to the self-esteem after high achievement in high school. I say, do what you want to do. If you transfer to school “A”, you’re going to figure out how to pay for that better school. You want to be at school A, and are going to work hard for it. If you stay at NAU, you have to learn to live with your decision: how to have a good time, and how to challenge yourself. I felt like I not only deserved a better school, but that I wanted one. Making it happen was my decision, and I’m going to have to deal with the consequences: mainly pay. But it beats feeling undervalued at a school I didn’t even like in the first place! I hope this helps! Just remember, that it’s your life and you need to do what you want to do!
Best wishes!

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Paintasia June 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

Do not worry! A lot of people go to state schools. Here’s how it works: Universities like Stanford or Harvard are suppose to be long career schools and the State schools are short career schools. All I can say is you will be saving money and keep your head up!

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roland July 10, 2011 at 3:10 am

If you’re self-worthy and confident, you will reach the goal you need to.College aspirations you once had must remain,because high degrees determine great careers. So caitlin ,don’t give up!

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Tasha July 26, 2011 at 12:46 am

First of all your situation is not as bad as you make it out to be. I applied several scholarships (somwhere around 50) and didn’t recieve any! I got discouraged and stopped applying. Not smart but still. You’re lucky in that aspect.

Second of all, NAU is a great school. I myself will be attending there next year as a freshman. Trust me, lots of people have heard of it, and I come from a huge city! Flagstaff is a great town and I love that it cares about the university and about education in general. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad to be leaving Nevada.

I just wanted to say that it’s your attidude about your situation that needs to change. Try being more optimistic, it makes life much better. :) You’re not in a bad situation, it’s just not your first choice is all, and how often do we get that? Best of luck

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Cindy Anthony August 21, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I think Caitlin is a huge whiner who makes problems/excuses when there are none. “Ohhh I was in culture shock! BOOHOO!” No one made her fill out the enrollment forms. If you’re unhappy with your current school. transfer next semester. WOW! That was hard!

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tesfahun berhanu August 26, 2011 at 9:58 am

i am from a little income family i have bsc in applied chemistry but i need to continue msc in health related courses so i need a great help from my godand you can support ,please tell me once abut chance to scholarships…..

thank you my god will think me.

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Jim Feeser September 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Caitlin, You need to research colleges and universities where financial aid will cover all of the costs of an education. I am disabled. My son, Sterling is attending Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, GA. Oxford College offers an Associate of Arts Degree which Sterling will receive in May 2012. Sterling will continue the last 2 years of study at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. For the past 2 years, Sterling received scholarships and grants that paid for all tuition, room, board, books, and personal spending except for $2,200.00/year which he had to borrow. When he graduates from Emory with a BS degree, he will have loans amounting to less than $5,000.00. The costs of attending Emory University is approx. $54,000.00 with personal expenses. There are other colleges and universities in the US that offer more aid or the same as Emory University. Most of the colleges and universities with excellent financial aid packages are top-notch institutions of higher education! Look at the Ivy League or small Liberal Arts Colleges in PA such as Gettysburg, Swarthmore, Bryn Mayr. etc.

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A Student December 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Looks like this blog(?) is as dead as my dreams to going to Princeton.

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Anonimous December 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

It’s funny because the same thing is happening to me.
I want to go to a great school, but I also want happiness, and if I had to choose, happiness is definitely more gratifying.

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Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Caitlyn,

My advice is to look at what you want, be it a great education in Economics, with a double major in German for fun, whatever it is, you will do it, so just look at it from where you want to be backwards. If your goal is MIT, applying is just one part of understanding whether or not its for you. Ask each college about their transfer requirements, and ask their advice about where to get them, then follow that advice. You’ll feel good because you are working towards your goal of attending a great school, and besides all of these great things on your resume, you will be giving yourself the best set of options for transferring.

Other advice….don’t try to do it all at once. You are super young, and while it seems like the major fight is it get into a great school ASAP, its not reality all of the time. I see lots of people enter into a amazing school for the graduate level degree, coming from state school backgrounds. The operative thing here is to continuously be true to yourself and what you want to learn. If you can focus on that, you will have never wasted any energy or time. The great thing is, as your academic career continues, you will link all of these experiences together and create something in life out of it. No matter where your story starts, you are the person who will take it where you need it to go. No matter what school you go to : )

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