The College Search

The idea of going to college was instilled in my nephews minds when they were in elementary school.   When they first came to live with us, we discussed the importance of doing well in school because we “heard”  there was scholarship money “out there” for students with good grades.  We set the expectation that they were going to college and it was important for them to do well in each grade.  We loved watching college football and basketball games which gave us another opportunity to talk about the benefits of college.  Whenever we took road trips that took us through college towns we would stop and walk around the campus, so they could get the feel of what it was like on a college campus.

 By the end of David’s junior year, he knew he wanted to use his writing skills.  He initially thought he wanted  a career as a movie critic or journalist.  He was definitely talented in writing.  Since he loved movies and writing, he decided being a screenwriter would be a good match for him.  He wanted to bring to the screen stories of overcoming obstacles like the movie My Left Foot.  He had done his research and knew that the best school in the world for screenwriters was the University of Southern California.  The tuition at that time was over $40,000.  That was his dream and reach school.  In his search for colleges, we looked at schools that had good support services for students with learning disabilities.  He ended up applying to three schools:  The University of Illinois Urbana, Arizona State, and USC.  He applied to a state school,  an out-of-state school and a private institution.  Illinois and Arizona were chosen for their excellent programs for students with learning and physical disabilities plus they had a wheelchair basketball program.  Illinois was one of the first schools in the country to have programming and support services for learning disabled students.  USC was his “dream” school.  Students should include a “dream school” in their college search, a school they could attend no matter the cost.

By the time Mark entered high school he solidified his interest in performance.  He had exposure to acting, dance, musical theater, piano and saxophone.  Since he had so much exposure to acting when he was young, I thought he would pursue acting.  What he loved most was playing the saxophone; he wanted to be the next Sonny Rollins.  He researched schools that had jazz performance majors and ended up getting full tuition offers for academic merit and talent.

David was accepted to his dream school USC.   I will never forget the day he received his acceptance letter. I was so excited, I had my first car accident on the way to pick up Mark from school.  After the excitement wore off, my next thought was “How are we going to pay for this?”

  •   Set the expectation that your child will get post secondary training in a vocational program, community college, military or 4 year college.
  •   Important to know the academic environment your child will thrive in, which may not be a 4 year college.
  •   It is important to look for the best academic and financial fit.
  •   Include a dream school in your college choice.  If money were not an option, where would you go?

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