Congratulations are in order for College Raptor’s most recent $1,000 scholarship winner Chloe Putz! Her essay made me curious about Chloe’s college journey. Luckily, she was kind enough to answer a few more questions. Here’s what she had to say!
Tell us about yourself.
I am an outgoing senior at a small high school in Wisconsin. My school has been considered “borderline failing,” but that’s mostly because of high truancy rates and staffing issues. I’m the oldest of 3 other siblings, all boys, which makes me the first child to experience many things– including the college journey. I’ve been an honor roll student since I switched to public school in fifth grade and can’t imagine how different my life would be if I had stayed in the private school system.
I’ve found that high school was an opportunity to broaden my way of thinking while also refining my core morals. It would have been easy to let my hopes and dreams slip away, especially with a worldwide pandemic in the mix, but I managed to dedicate myself to a brighter future, even though I wasn’t sure what it was yet.
Tell us about your college search journey.
When I started my college search journey, I had no idea what I was looking for. Like almost every senior, I received heaps of college letters and brochures in the mail daily. The only thing more jam-packed than my mailbox was my email. At one point, I was getting warnings that it was running out of space! Until then, I hadn’t even known that was possible. Yet, with all those colleges sending me info and begging me to apply, I couldn’t find a starting point. They were all promising me top-quality education, accelerated career paths, majestic views of the city, and more. It sounded great. However, in my situation, it all came down to affordability.
What College Raptor tool(s) did you use?
That’s when I stumbled onto College Raptor. The most important tool (in my opinion) that College Raptor offers is the College Match Tool. College Raptor didn’t take long to sign up for and wasn’t one of those sites where they record your information and then say ‘Oh, we’ll send you an email in a few business days with your estimates/matches.’ I was skeptical, but College Raptor knocked it out of the park. Even with minimal knowledge, the College Match tool gave me comprehensive results in seconds. It took all of my preferences into consideration and left me feeling much more secure in my journey to find the perfect school. I was finally able to narrow my sights on universities that would make a positive impact on my future as well as toss out a few that wouldn’t. Usually, such data seems impersonal, but it didn’t feel that way at all.
What have been any challenges you have faced in the process?
For me, the biggest challenge in my college search was navigating financial aid offers. At one point, I had a college offering me $60,000 a year to attend. Compared to the numbers I was getting from my in-state universities, that college seemed like the way to go. Yet, when I started looking into it, I found that the tuition alone was MUCH higher. As in, I would need to pay another $15,000 minimum a year. I have since chosen and been accepted to a university at which my total costs are less, there are better programs to suit my intended major, and as a bonus, I’ll be closer to home. It took me a while, but I definitely learned to look at the fine print and not be astounded by the high numbers.
What are you most looking forward to in college?
I’m looking forward to the freedom that going to college will give me. I’m sure that I will be VERY busy during the school year, but I’m excited for life after receiving my degree. My current career path offers more flexibility than any job I’ve worked thus far– and pays plenty more. If and when I achieve my goals, I’ll have the ability to truly chase those dreams I’ve had since I was a child. As cheesy as it sounds, we really do only live once. I intend to make the most out of my time here.
What’s a piece of advice you would give to an upcoming High School graduate?
The biggest piece of advice I could give to upcoming graduates is to never take the first offer if you know it’s not what you want. I was accepted to two other colleges before I received word from the one that actually mattered to me. Yes, getting into backup schools is fantastic. However, don’t let your backup become your first choice just because they responded faster. College is going to be a big part of your life. While it’s possible to transfer, don’t make that your goal.
If you know you want something and have the means to work for it, push yourself. Work as hard as you can for your goals because in the end, you’re always going to be the one that’s the proudest of reaching them. It can be hard to be patient, but don’t give up on yourself before you’ve even started.
Congratulations again, Choe and thank you for your advice and insight!
If you’re interested in applying for College Raptor’s scholarship like Chloe, check out the information page!