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Applying to college as a DREAMer

When I was seven, I watched A Cinderella Story, a film about a girl who ends up at her dream school, Princeton University, after facing many challenges,
2 Mar 2015 – 03:45 PM EST

by María Perales, Princeton student

When I was seven years old, I watched A Cinderella Story, a film about a girl, who after facing many challenges, ends up at her dream school, Princeton University. I was seven then, but I dreamt of one day setting foot on that campus.

As I got older, however, I began to realize that getting into my dream school- or any school- would be more complicated. For starters, I learned how expensive college applications were, and with all the bills I had to cover, I just did not see the money adding up. I also found that as a DREAMer, I would not be receiving as much funds as my permanent resident of citizen peers. Furthermore, I understood that I could not depend on my father financially either because he already had an extensive pressure to provide the essentials for my family of six. An overwhelming fear began to prey on me, and that’s when I decided to take action: I asked questions.

I researched with extensive dedication and eventually found the answer to many of my problems. I started with programs to help me pay for the college applications. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that the SAT provides four fee waivers to those who took the test using a fee waiver.

Furthermore, there are programs such as Questbridge that give fee waivers to more than thirty outstanding collages. Neither of these programs requires a citizenship status.  When I began to apply to schools, I also applied to many that would meet full financial need regardless of citizenship.

Although finding these colleges was a strenuous process, it brought me a sense of relief to know that not worrying about money during college could be a possibility! Furthermore, through my search I found that many colleges (private or public) provide merit-based scholarships regardless of citizenship. The last piece of the puzzle was completed when I began to concern myself with outside scholarships. Univision, of course, offers its own scholarship, but there are plenty of local and nationwide organizations that also provide scholarships based on academics, service, or personality!

If one thing I learned throughout the process was definitely to not give up on the first try. I did not easily find out about many of the opportunities I came across. I often felt exhausted and frustrated.  However, I soon realized its merits. It did take a bit of time and effort from my part, but the opportunities and resources to attend a college do exist and much more rewarding. Once I recognize this, I acknowledged that my income level and citizenship status could not prevent me from obtaining an education. I am happy to say that I am in my dream school, and I owe it tremendously to asking questions.

About María Perales

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Conoce a María Perales ganadora de la Beca Univision

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