A big congratulations to College Raptor’s recent $2,500 scholarship winner: Patrick Hillman! We had a chat with him recently to learn more about his experience with his college search, what he looked for, and what challenges he ran into in recent months.
See what he had to say.
CR: Tell us a little about yourself!
PH: I’m a father of three, currently living in the NW Suburbs of Chicago. When I’m not working or studying, I enjoy working with my hands around the house, making music, and playing video games with my kids.
A little over 10 years ago, I flunked out of SDSU, so this is my second attempt at college. I had no idea what I was doing and was too headstrong to ask for help. I also think that I was a little burnt out after 4 years of honors/AP classes.
With the pandemic opening up a lot of free time, I figured that now would be a great time to give it another go.
CR: What colleges did you apply to? Why did you apply to these?
PH: Right now I’m enrolled at my local community college, but I plan on transferring to UI Springfield after completing my GE credits.
CR: What challenges did you run into with your college search during the pandemic?
PH: The main challenge for me was finding an affordable, yet well-regarded, school that offered a good online program. Understandably, a lot of universities are offering a bevy of online programs, but it’s important to realize that there will be a lot of hiccups with that transition if the school didn’t already have a lot of experience with online learning to begin with. UI Springfield’s online computer science program predates the pandemic, so I feel confident that they’ll have already worked out the kinks by the time I start there.
CR: Is there anything you would change about your search process now that you know about College Raptor?
PH: I would have started on College Raptor first, as it would have considerably reduced the amount of time I spent looking for a suitable program. Once I found College Raptor though, it really helped me confirm that I was making the best choice for me while also making me privy to a few alternatives that I could consider should my current plan not pan out.
CR: What is the most important factor in a school to you?
PH: I think that, given the current situation, flexibility is key.
CR: What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with students looking for colleges?
PH: As someone who flunked out previously, I highly recommend living on campus. Before, I narrowed my search down to universities that were nearby home and commuted 1 hour each way, every day. Given that college schedules can have massive blocks of “free time” between classes, I would often find myself spending 8-12 hours on campus, which got old quick.
So, if you can, find a college that you can afford to either live on or live very close to. Also, don’t be afraid of going far away to college! It’s likely one of the few times in your life that you’ll be able to make a big jump like this, so embrace it!
Congratulations again, Patrick! We wish you all the best in the new year and in your future college experience at both the community college and UI Springfield.
Find out more about the $2,500 scholarship here.