By Edrik Vachier, DSST: Cole Class of 2020
For as long as I can remember, I have always tried to do my best and have had a strong competitive nature, both with others and myself. So, when I began the process of applying to colleges, I figured that it would not hurt to make the most out of this situation and start a competition to see who can apply to the most colleges. It did not take long to convince two of the most ambitious friends I have, Juan Saucedo and Valentine Mendoza, to join in on the competition - even though we were just competing for bragging rights. As the word spread of our competition, more students got intrigued and joined in the race.
The competition made applying to colleges seem less like a burden and more like a game for us to enjoy and gather pride from as Seniors. Each time we waved around a blue form on our way to our college counselors, Ms. Diaz and Mr. Godoy, it felt like we were carrying a trophy. And, it gave the warning for everyone to catch up. Consequently, the system worked and applications were flowing in faster than I could drink the water in my water bottle. At first, it was not apparent to see the benefits of applying to colleges as anything but winning a game, but I soon found out what the real prize was: options and scholarships.
From the months of October to December, I experienced the joy of being accepted both into the college of my dreams and other schools that would be good options for me as I moved forward in the selection process. Because of the competition, I applied to colleges I would have never even considered just because I thought they would be a good addition to the list that I was building up. Strangely, the colleges I did not expect much from, mostly out of state, gave me scholarships big enough to compete with and even beat the pricing I had for attending in-state colleges. Colleges like Arizona State University, Texas A&M, University of Nebraska, and University of South Carolina gave me sufficient scholarship opportunities for me to pay in-state tuition or not pay for tuition all together. All of them gave me opportunities to apply for additional scholarships within their institution to help lower the cost of housing and supplies. I was not able to attain scholarship money from external organizations, despite my high GPA and activities I participated in, so I relied heavily on those unexpected scholarships. The opportunity to have these options available for me relieved some pressure off my shoulders for the college selection process.
When evaluating college options, many people might have to settle for a college that met only some of their needs. Applying to a wide variety of colleges and getting good offers from a lot of them made it possible for me to eliminate colleges that were not giving me all of the resources I needed to succeed. This way, I was able to narrow down my choices to multiple colleges that would meet my academic needs as well as my wants in the entertainment and social aspects of college. In other words, I was able to spend more time pondering the benefits of each of the colleges I applied to, instead of looking closely at where I was going to get the funds.
To the class of 2021 and beyond: I encourage you to keep an open mind and apply to colleges that are not only in-state options. Other out of state options, not only Ivy League Institutions, are searching for valuable students, like you. I also encourage everyone to take some time to visit the colleges that you are considering the most, as this one important aspect in choosing the institution best for you.
I am excited to officially be attending Arizona State University this fall. ASU was one of the colleges that I was not expecting to be able to attend, but I am so glad that as a result of our competition, my options widened and I was able to truly choose the best place for me. At Arizona State, I will experience a different culture and meet many new people, as well as indulge in a high-quality education and new experiences.
The class of 2020 has made huge reaches toward opening many options for themselves and have individually found themselves in the colleges that fit them. Their drive for bettering themselves will take them places beyond college and beyond the expectations that the world has given them, whether good or bad. I will miss the community that we created at Cole, but I am excited to see each member of the Class of 2020’s personality and hard work enrich new communities.