The recent #collegecheatingscandal created an outcry from the non-cheating, less “well-off” students; and justifiably so. It sucks to think that rich kids and their families can pay to cheat their way into a good college while the less-fortunate get gobsmacked for not cheating. Furthermore, the lack of financial resources means less, or no access to good tutors or high-priced admissions counselors. As a result of this scandal, these inequities have now been brought to the forefront. Less-fortunate students, many of whom are minorities, are angry. The rich white kids get the tutors, get the access to counselors, and get the opportunities. The rest of the population can only watch.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are rich or poor, access to free resources abounds. You just have to know where and how to find them.
Improve your SAT/ACT scores
True, the rich can afford a high-priced tutor. Mom and dad can pay for the high-priced math guy to come to the house five days a week and review calculus and prep-up for the college boards. Does that mean that if you cannot afford a tutor you don’t have access to helpful resources? Of course not. Free help is everywhere, you just need to know where to look:
- The Library- Be it your school or public library, it more than likely has a pretty good SAT/ACT prep books you can check out for free. Once you have them, it’s a matter of self-disciple to dedicate time. Review the material regularly, like as if the tutor came to your house.
- Twitter- Instead of searching for #Kardashian of #LeBron, use your free Twitter account to search for free College Board prep resources. The Twittersphere is loaded with free help other resources; Facebook and Instagram too.
Your College Essay
The cheating scandal produced a trail of howls from those who either didn’t have the means, or the knowledge, to spruce up the all-important college application essay. Here again, free, or low-cost help abounds
- Your School Librarian or Favorite Teacher can easily take a few minutes to look your essay over and give you some helpful feedback and edits. You don’t even have to pay them (although some chocolates or homemade pie would be a nice touch).
- The Princeton Review publishes a great book: College Essays That Make a Difference. If you can’t find it in the library or have the $12.00 to buy it, find a used copy somewhere. It is well worth your effort. It has a compilation of some of the best “real” essays written by students for college admission. You will also see that money doesn’t buy you a good story or essay. It is just the opposite. Sometimes the hardship stories are the most impactful.
Money for College
This is an understandable obstacle. The super-rich can write a check to pay for tuition. The not-so rich must take out big loans and struggle to pay them back. But if you are perseverant and resourceful, you can avoid big student loans.
- Find the right school. Apply to many schools. See who offers you the most money. If you make a good case that you are the right student for them and have something important to offer them (a skill, athletic ability, or commitment to service), they may just discount your tuition.
- Apply for private scholarships. Take the time to do this. $3 billion a year goes unclaimed in grants and scholarships. Many high school students are just too lazy to fill out the application and write the essay. Don’t be one of them. Poverty is not an excuse for laziness.
College students with less means might not have all the advantages as their wealthier counterparts, but with dedication and resourcefulness the playing field can be even. Use the library and the Internet to find the resources you need. No tutor, no problem!