College Bound: From the Frying Pan into the Fire

   By Paisley Timm

   High school is often heralded as “the best time of your life” or in some cases, the worst. People either tell you it’s the least stress free or they actually remember it for what it is. High school is what they say should prepare you for the real-world: Jobs, college, finances, and beyond. Some take their diploma and enter the workforce but recently there’s been a huge pressure to go to college. The workforce is becoming more and more specialized and the jobs that are the real money-getters required college degrees to even qualify you for consideration.

   For children whose parents have already earned their degrees the transition from high school to college may be easier. Parents have already fought through the paperwork, research, applications, and scholarships required to make your way into a higher education and can pass the knowledge onto their children.

   Some children, however, are the first among their kin to test the treacherous waters of college. Many of those kids are in the dark- teachers tell you one thing, colleges another, counselors don’t always have the time to help you through the confusing debacle of even applying. Yet getting accepted is only the tip of the iceberg.

   Going to college generally means you‘re about to make a long series of life-decisions in rapid succession; the first decision is whether you’ll go straight to college, or take a semester or even a year off before hand. For some, this decision seems like it wouldn’t mean much but some who decide to take this time off never stop taking this time and end up working a desk job somewhere just to pay the bills with no time for college. Whether to go in-state or out-of-state is also a tough decision, both financially and educationally.

   You have to decide if you’ll live in dorms or try to make it work with roommates in a tentative dance of paying the bills. And the big question, the one you’ve heard since you can likely remember, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s time to pick a major, or a double major, or a major minor. Sometimes, even picking what you want to do isn’t enough- you have to be good enough to get into that department at the college you got accepted to.

   Entering the real world is not a gradual slide for most, but a nearly vertical tower of terror. Planning ahead, getting your facts straight, and writing scholarship essays until your fingers bleed ink are a few of the ways you can conquer the huge, complex beast of college. By now most students have sent in their applications and/or been accepted to various colleges. Currently, the top priorities are scholarships, most of which have upcoming deadlines, and filling out your FAFSA- the one hour of online paperwork that gets you money from the government.

   You can get a wealth of scholarship information from You can buy The Scholarship Handbook from Collegeboard for $28.95 which has a TON of scholarships arranged by major, ethnicity, sex, and other scholarship qualifiers. Your FAFSA can be filled out at but make sure to have all of your paperwork together before hand (they’ve got a rather helpful checklist online for that purpose) so that the process takes the minimum amount of time.

  The college transition isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard to find information and help left and right. However, a word of caution: any companies asking for money to aid you are more than likely scams. Talk to your counselor to see if they’ve heard of it and if it’s ‘legit’ before you hand over any money that can be spent elsewhere.