You may have read about the high school senior from Memphis, Tennessee who was accepted to 149 colleges and offered $7.6 million in scholarships.
As a future parent of a teenager, I am thrilled for her and her parents. Her college bills are paid!
As an educational consultant, I want to help you filter through a few outcomes reported in her story.
Her school counselor shared a list of colleges that did not have application fees. This was a smart, money saving decision! She would have spent over $6,500 on application fees alone (the average is $45 per college). And 20 percent don’t charge to apply. What is not shared is if the student created a list of colleges that were good academic, social, emotional, or financial fits.
Students should apply to at least four, but no more than twelve colleges and universities. Many counselors would argue that four is enough. While there is no cap on applying to colleges, anything over 20 can be overwhelming. While the reporter shared that she was maximizing her college options, this can be a stressful way to select a college.
As of May 26, when the article was published, the student was still trying to decide where to attend college. Decision Day (when your decision and deposit are due) was May 1. So, some of these colleges made the decision for her.
It is recommended that you visit each campus you’re interested in attending before applying. You wouldn’t buy a car (especially your first!) without checking it out, driving it, and finding out that is a good fit. So, if you haven’t visited a campus, you shouldn’t attend the college. I have visited 28 colleges in four years. This student would have visited one college a week for almost three years. That’s a lot of walking!
Colleges and universities are in the business of higher education. So, everyone must pay for their service. I’m assuming that most of this senior’s financial aid came from merit aid (which is totally, totally deserved because it’s earned by her grades and test scores). Merit aid is the best way to pay for college!
She was also crowned the charter school’s top Million Dollar Scholar (out of 145 seniors). Altogether, the senior class received $30 million in scholarship offers. A neighboring high school had 51 students receive more than $1 million in scholarships; some received $4 million.
Earning her bachelor’s degree at her top choice university has a total cost of attendance of $81,000. She won’t need $7,539,548 she received. What will happen to the private scholarships she was awarded but cannot use? Did she earn more than enough? What about the students who fell short of winning that scholarship?
While this is an extreme case, every student needs to finding the right college, needs to visit the colleges they want to attend (unless cost is prohibitive), and needs to find a way to pay for college.
I truly believe this student will excel wherever she attends.
Through student ministry and educational consulting (career and college planning), I have enjoyed guiding teenagers to discover their higher calling.