Our Full-Tuition Scholarship Journey

Full tuition scholarship

Our Full-Tuition Scholarship Journey

Full tuition scholarship

This post was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) group. It has been edited for clarity and flow.

Background

Here is the story of my daughter’s college journey. It began with a road trip to visit schools in our region last summer. 

She did well in her New Jersey high school and took ten AP classes, including English, psychology, chemistry, biology, Calculus AB and Calculus BC. Her SAT score was 1470.

My daughter was very involved with sports, including varsity softball and field hockey. She was voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) for both and was also the team captain. She did volunteer work, including serving as a mentor. Her GPA was 5.1, and she ranked 7th in her class.

Her dream? To go to medical school. She applied to 15 schools. Of those, she was rejected or waitlisted to 12 and accepted to her three safety colleges.

I tried to get her to apply to a wider range of schools (the schools she applied to were quite competitive), but she is a pretty stubborn girl.

I should also add that, like many parents, we focused on schools that would give need-based or merit aid. We had hoped for a cost of attendance (COA) of around $20k, give or take. So, I ran the net price calculators (NPC) a lot!

College List/Outcomes

The fact that we are a high need family could possibly have hurt her chances with the need-aware schools.

Rejected:

Waitlisted:

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Wake Forest University
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • Lafayette College
  • University of Richmond
  • Case Western Reserve University

Accepted:

All accepted schools offered automatic merit scholarships.

  • Rowan University: $9,000 merit per year (COA of $20k per year)
  • University of Alabama: $28,000 merit per year (COA of $17k per year)
  • University of Mississippi: full-tuition scholarship (COA of $12k per year)

Decision Time

We went to tour the University of Alabama (Bama) and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). She thought Ole Miss was similar to schools we had toured previously and liked it a lot. Bama was a different animal, so busy, with buses to take you places (sort of like when we had toured Rutgers.)

We were lucky enough to meet with faculty at both schools. The professors at Ole Miss were so approachable, and everyone there seemed genuinely interested in the well-being of the students. The biology department was excellent, and we were very impressed. After about three hours of being on Bama’s campus, my daughter said aloud what I already knew: Ole Miss was a great fit for her!

When we came back from orientation I knew in my heart that’s where she was meant to be. 

In true fashion, my daughter went to the “Hotty Toddy hangout” the other night and saw a lot of kids in groups that already knew one another. So, what did she do? She rounded up the ones that didn’t have anybody and formed her own group! Kids from Alabama, Illinois, Texas, and Mississippi are now in a group chat getting to know one another!

Lessons Learned

What would I have done differently if I could go back a year? I maybe wouldn’t have stressed so much about the process and understood that it all works out, in the end, the way it is meant to. With my son (as is always the way with second-born children), I think I will trust the process more and be more relaxed.

She also learned from the process. The night she got her final rejections, my daughter did not come out of her room. I felt bad about it, but there wasn’t anything I could do. Sometimes, your kids just have to go through things. 

She bounced back, thankfully. We talked about it, and she commented that she will have to go through this again for medical school and her residency, so what an eye-opener and a testament to her ability to be resilient.

Good luck to all of you on the journey, and please take heart that it will all work out!

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College Choices are Easier When Your Student Knows the Budget

Secrets to Winning a Full-Ride Scholarship

How My Average Student Got a Full Ride to College

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