Posts Tagged ‘College’

College Resources For Teens Exiting The Foster Care System

photo by Tax Credits via flickr

It is almost that time of the year when teens anxiously wait to turn 18 years old so they can have the freedom to do what they want when they want without needing their parents’ consent (for the most part). While the typical soon to be 18-year-old is worrying about squeezing in all of their trips and adventures during the summer before the college begins, another group of near-adults are exiting the foster care system with a different set of worries. These young adults might be thinking of where their next meal will come from, where they will sleep tomorrow, or when will they take their next shower.

Unfortunately, the state doesn’t always provide foster care youth with enough knowledge or preparation for adulthood. It sometimes boils down to the simple fact of knowing what resources exist. For example, many former wards of the state are not aware that in most cases they are eligible for full financial aid that could cover their cost of tuition, books, and on-campus housing. Are you aware that you only have to fill out one form to determine whether you’re eligible and the amount of financial aid you will receive? This form is known as the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA form can be filled out online and it is important that it is filled out at the beginning of the year you’re planning to enter the college. For example, if you have plans on attending college in fall or spring 2013, you should submit the form in January 2013. You can find out more information on FAFSA’s site.

– Dyanne

From Homeless to College-Bound

photo courtesy the Cleveland Plain Dealer

If you’re homeless, going between houses of friends and families, or just don’t have a stable home or school life, the prospect of college is probably far from your mind. Attending a local university or college may seem impossible, let alone moving across the country to go to school at one of the most prestigious schools in the nation. Unlikely as it seems, David Boone, a recent high school grad who never gave up on school despite his family struggles and periods of homelessness that sometimes involved sleeping in the local parks, was recently accepted into Harvard University.

I know: that’s one-in-a-million. At least, you wouldn’t bet on it happening again, right? Turns out it’s actually happened a few times in the last ten years. Khadijah Williams from Los Angeles and Liz Murray of New York City both experienced homelessness as teenagers and willed themselves into college with academic determination. Obviously, it’s not that easy, and I don’t mean to make it sound that way. These individuals had major support from family, friends, school personnel, and compassionate community members. It took a whole community of people to make these stories successes.

On his choice to not give up, David said, “I wanted to be in a position to have options to do what I want to do.” He sought help from his teachers, his friends, and school administrators. Here at the National Runaway Switchboard, we are a starting point for you or someone you know who is looking for help, searching for resources, or simply needs someone to listen.

– Colin

Alternatives to College

Liz McCartney speaking to a group of AmeriCorps.

photo by St. Bernard Project via flickr

It’s May and there are soon-to-be high school graduates around the country finalizing their college plans and packing up their family cars to head off to four more years of formal education. Bank accounts are suffering and loans are being applied for, in many cases, to make the next four years a reality. The big question circulating through the media for the past several years asks: Is college worth it? And, more importantly, is college right for everyone?

While entering college immediately after high school has been a cultural expectation for the last several decades in the United States, that shouldn’t be reason not to question it. If you’re in no better a position to get a job with a college degree, it may not seem very practical to put yourself under mountains financial debt along the way. There are options outside of college, ones that offer practical experience and opportunities that equip you with skills and knowledge applicable to real-life, working environments. The Job Corps offers specific, skill-based training for various trades and industries. Apprenticeship programs and service opportunities like Public Allies, NCCC, VISTA, and others associated with AmeriCorps place individuals in established positions to work as part of a team, collaborate with others, think critically about current issues, and grow through experiential learning to take on new jobs in the future.

Ultimately, education comes in many forms and college is only one among many options to explore after high school.

– Colin

Affording College

The cost of higher education has been rising. Most college students are in debt, and are not guaranteed to be employed. Some of us feel terrible about ourselves; some others feel like their education has cheated on them. It is important that if you plan to go to college, a clear financial plan that includes scholarships is necessary. It is easy to be carefree and to think that you can pay it later, but such attitude is not realistic in this economic climate.
– Phy

Shared Bathrooms

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Since I’ve been living in a dorm, it’s been hard to feel depressed about the direction of humanity. When you walk into a bathroom to find soap smeared on the walls, toilet paper clogging the sink, and unexplained undergarments in the shower, you start to question the hygiene, if not the sanity, of your peers. But joking aside, I actually think the state of the bathroom has a lot to say about morals. For one thing, it’s an example of what people mean when they talk about the tragedy of the commons: when everybody uses the bathroom, nobody feels like taking care of it. You wouldn’t squirt toothpaste on the floor of your own bathroom. But apparently, somebody in my dorm would squirt it on the floor of a shared bathroom (he spelled the word “blue,” if you’re curious). There are plenty of situations like this in everyday life – think about people who litter on shared sidewalks, or on train cars. If you want to quickly and easily become a nicer, more moral person, you can start to treat every environment you’re in as if it’s your own. Not in the “put your feet up on the table” sense, but in the “don’t leave chicken bones from your lunch scattered on the floor” sense.
– Will

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