– Grace Chambers –
Paying for school was a big question for me. I had big aspirations but I wondered, “How am I going to get there? How am I going to afford it?” I thought I was going to be in a ton of debt because my family can’t help out. But lots of scholarships got me here. I also have a job as a student worker in the Office of Financial Aid. I’m paying for school with a little bit from here, a little bit from there. I made it work here. I couldn’t at other schools. I chose Nebraska not only because the price was good, but because I knew that if I changed my mind and wanted to study something different, that I was able to do that and not go into debt.
I’m a first-generation student. My family was kind of clueless about the college process. That was really frustrating not only to me but to them—that they felt like they couldn't help. I tried to inform them, but the people who really helped me were definitely my college admissions counselors and counselors at my high school.
Going through the process by yourself is very hard. It feels like you have a lot on your shoulders, especially if you have extra responsibilities. But you have to remember that you're not alone. It can get complicated, like with financial aid offer letters you get from schools. I looked at them myself but I didn't really understand what everything meant.
Sometimes parents or students will call me at my job and they're in tears. I just tell them I've been in the same situation. I say, “I'm a student here. I understand what it's like to be overwhelmed and to not know. I'm just like you. Take a deep breath and realize you can do it. I can get you set up with one of our advisors and they will give you all the steps that you need. All you need to do is take it little step by little step.”
Eye on the Prize
The most important thing is to have that end goal in mind. See yourself in a classroom here. You have to imagine that and make it real to yourself. Make it a big goal. If school doesn’t excite you, think about that career that you want, or the people you’ll help, or all the money you’ll make after you’re out there. Whatever it is that got you about thinking about the idea in the first place, you just have to have your eye on that prize.