Chatting with College Raptor Scholarship Awardee Ella Denham!

A big congratulations to Ella Denham, the $1,000 College Raptor scholarship awardee! Recently I got the chance to chat with Ella about her winning essay, her college search, and her plans for the future.

Here’s what she had to say!

Scholarship Winner Ella Denham

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am a senior in high school, and I have been homeschooled for most of my life.  I am passionate about social justice, and I am planning to become an attorney.  In my spare time, I read, play piano, play ukulele, listen to music, argue with people, and write short stories.

What interests you in Spanish or Pre-Law as majors?

Pre-Law interests me because I plan to proceed to law school after I earn my bachelor’s degree.  I have always been passionate for justice, and a career in the legal field will enable me to put that passion into practice.  As for Spanish, I have always been a huge language geek.  Not only is Spanish so much fun to learn and speak, but it is also a very versatile skill, and will open up many more opportunities to me.

Majors were a big part of your search process. What other factors did you consider?

For me, the cost of my education is a huge factor when choosing my college.  I want to go into as little debt as possible, and so it is important to me to have search engine like College Raptor to sift out the colleges that are way out of my price range.  I have decided to attend Grace College, which has a 3 year program that will greatly reduce the cost of room and board, textbooks, etc.  College Raptor is a great tool for connecting students to the school that fits their needs!

Can you tell us what your college search was like as a homeschooled student? What unique challenges did you face?

As a homeschooled student, I really have not experienced any challenges in my college search that any public schooled student wouldn’t face.  If anything, homeschooling has given me the freedom to visit more colleges.  Living as we are in an advanced society, our access to tools such as the internet gives all students the means to find the school that fits them best.  I would encourage all students, homeschooled or otherwise, to take full advantage of internet sites such as College Raptor.

A personalized search engine seems really important to you. Can you tell us more about your frustrations with impersonal college search sites?

I have had difficulties with many other college sites that do not allow me to control the kinds of schools that they recommend me. It’s almost like looking for clothes in a store where none of the clothes are sorted by style, size, or any other relevant parameter.  I find pants I like, but they’re way too big.  I find a shirt of the color I want, but it shows my belly when I don’t want to show my belly.  That’s what it feels like to look for a school with a bad search site; it’s like finding crop tops when you’re looking for a warm sweater. College Raptor helps me to sort out the colleges which fit me from those that don’t.

What are you most excited about for college?

I really look forward to traveling abroad.  Grace College requires that all students gain some kind of intercultural field experience, and all Spanish majors get to study in either Buenos Aires or Madrid.  I am so excited to experience these cultures and languages, and I am so grateful to have found a college that values cultural diversity and hands-on experience as much as I do.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give students going through the college search process?

I would advise you to do your own research.  Don’t be afraid to dig deep. Contact anyone you know who goes to that school, and ask them what they like about it.  Do they mention academics? Do they talk about the community? The faculty and professors?  This can tell you so much more about a school than a handful of flyers can.

I also recommend college search sites like College Raptor.  They can really open up your eyes to just how many options there are.  You’re not limited to the three schools that all your friends are going to.  Make full use of these tools to find the college that’s best for you.


Congratulations again, Ella!

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—just like Ella did!

Want a chance to become a College Raptor scholarship awardee like Ella? Click here.

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