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Ashleigh Ewald was admitted to BU’s Class of 2025 but chose to attend Oglethorpe University, a more affordable university in her state. She plans to major in Politics.
March 27, 2021, I sprung out of bed and waited intensely to check my Boston University portal for their decision. I sat down in front of my desk and opened my laptop to click on the login button.
A letter from BU’s Office of Admissions congratulating me on joining the Class of 2025 popped up on my screen. They placed me into BU’s College of General Studies, and I became relieved that my high school academic success and involvement amounted to this moment. I felt as if my high school years of hard work paid off.
My facial expression began to change from optimistic to disheartened when analyzing the financial aid offer, grants and scholarship section of my BU admissions portal. I did not receive as much financial aid and grant as I anticipated.
I took a step back from my laptop and took a deep breath about how my chances of actually attending my dream college were fading. For the rest of the day, I celebrated my acceptance. But for the upcoming months, I worked on overcoming the reality that I could not go without the possibility of taking on $145K student loans.
That debt was for all four years with the grants subtracted and my parents’ yearly contribution. Being the future-oriented person I am, I knew that amount would accumulate over time because of interest, and I had to be more realistic about what type of future I wanted to live.
Contacting and setting up a one-to-one Zoom meeting with the financial aid officer, high school counselor, my trusted teachers and parents’ input had helped stir my head in the right direction.
After negotiating with the financial aid officer about appealing for more aid and any opportunities to decrease the tuition, it became evident that I needed to reshape my educational goals. I had done deep research about student loans, interest rates, grace periods and others’ student loan payment experiences. I then learned about other options, such as transferring or saving to go for graduate school.
I wept as I scrolled through BU’s website and the CGS-captured experiences through pictures on the internet. I kept in mind that the college one goes to does not define them and that an individual is more than the college they attend.
Often, many people want to enroll in these prestigious schools to say they went, but in reality, college does not define one’s potential and success.
A 2013 Pew Research study found that private college graduates and public college graduates were relatively equally satisfied with life. The study found that 83% of private school graduates viewed college as a positive payoff compared to 86% of public school graduates.
As a high school senior and aspiring politician, I believed being a student at an institution with a robust alumni network, rigorous academics, achieving student body, endless opportunities, internships and an incomparable International Affairs program would draw me closer to my dreams.
Unfortunately, I did not want to admit that I could obtain the exact material needed for my major at other places because of the feeling that I needed to go to this school in order to achieve my goals.
After considering the financial risk of this decision, I realized that it was best to attend this school once I was more socially, emotionally and financially reasonable. Choosing a college that would be debt-free vs. being in thousands of student loan debt for my dream college was the decision that would confidently affect the rest of my life.
Many, such as myself, were admitted to their dream schools and declined admission due to financial reasons. A 2020 study from OneClass found that more than half of college students could no longer afford to attend college due to the pandemic. A 2016 review from the U.S. Department of Education found that college students’ debt more than doubled from 1996.
I am fortunate to say that my 18-year-old self could handle a significant adult decision that will affect the next four years of my life and sacrificed committing to my dream school to be debt-free that will not leave a lifetime impact.
Transferring is another option; being a past-admitted freshman applicant and applying as a future transfer can help increase chances in the second round. Maybe you might enjoy your in-state school and choose to continue there.
Now I will be entering the Fall of 2021 at my in-state private school with an optimistic, positive, ambitious, and more motivated attitude toward my educational/career goals. This is the time to keep pushing, not lose hope, and maintain my passion for changing the world regardless of where I go to school.