Getting a Full-Scholarship to College Changed My Life In These Ways

Photo by Olu Famule on Unsplash

Years ago, my high school self had dreams and aspirations of getting a full scholarship to college. I didn’t quite know what that meant in the larger context of life, but I knew it would be good.

After years of obsessing over my GPA, extracurriculars, and writing abilities, I managed to have a solid application. Nonetheless, I didn’t know how “solid” it was until the scholarship offers came rolling in.

Having a full scholarship in college changed my life in so many ways that I will never be able to fully describe them all. It was a privilege that I wish I could give to everyone; yet, in my inability to do so, I will describe why a full scholarship is worth aiming for if your dream is to get a college degree (and why you and every other student deserve it). As someone who has taken many sociology courses, I understand the inequality built into the U.S. education system. For me, this means that I am writing from a place of knowing my own privilege, and I want to share what this privilege actually means.

1. I Was Not Required to Work in College

I could honestly stop here if I wanted to show the power of a full scholarship. When you do not have to work in college to get a head start on your student loans or to have money for groceries, you can get more involved. I was able to take on multiple research opportunities in college and start a podcast sponsored by the university and maintain a relatively healthy social life. This meant that I had a stronger application when considering going to graduate school.

2. I Was Independently Living Life

Because of the financial implications of getting a full scholarship this meant that I was more-or-less financially independent. Obviously I didn’t have my own health insurance and my parents still graciously helped me a lot, but I was able to use my savings to plan for the future. I was able to plan short trips with friends to different cities in the U.S. for winter and summer breaks, and I was able to save for the potential cost of graduate school. It even allowed me to consider if I could afford to buy a small place after graduating.

3. Privilege

I will always be at the intersection of black race/ethnicity and womanhood, presenting its own challenges; nonetheless, my free college degree put me in a group of a privileged few. I recognize what starting the next chapter debt-free means in this society. But I ponder this question; why is educational opportunity limited to a select few? Especially when so many young adults desire the chance to learn and grow at a university. Why does it require an abhorrent financial cost to attain this opportunity?

I hope that my vulnerability in sharing this affects you in some way. Whether you are a student aiming for a full scholarship or someone who wants to change our society to be more free and more fair.

As a nation, we may never get to one simple answer, but I hope we at least sit in the question.