Two children, one college, and how many scholarship essays

two kids in collegeOur family? Here are a few random facts. My husband is a clinical psychologist. (He’s big on growth over comfort. The kids say Dr. Phil is great, unless he’s your father.) I’m the only person in my family married to a non-Southerner. We don’t subscribe to the newspaper, even though I have a degree in Journalism.

And, we apparently own the hangout house. Our daughter says we have an open house policy, and she’s right. Our children’s friends just walk in. Nobody ever knocks. They go through the refrigerator, the pantry. I cook a huge dinner every night because I never know how many will be at the table. A few weeks ago, the twins called from the homecoming dance and said it was boring and so a few of them were coming back to our house to eat and dance. A few? It was closer to 75.

And next year, it will all change. No loud music or shrieks as they chase each other around. No strangers moseying into the kitchen for breakfast on Saturday mornings. No late night study sessions. Our twins are seniors in high school, and next fall, they’ll be freshmen six hours away from us. College is right around the corner, and I’m delighted to share with you our family’s experiences as we hurdle toward that eventful milestone.

Our twins were a double blessing when they were born, and they still are. They’re also a double tuition bill from an out-of-state university. Scott, our son, and Carson, our daughter, have been accepted to their dream university. They applied to only one college, because it has been their dream school since toddler-hood. I’m thrilled, because the same school is my alma mater. Dad, on the other hand, keeps saying rather wistfully, “In-state is a lot cheaper, you know.”

bank loansSo here we are, perched on the edge of the empty nest. And while my husband and I are proud as peacocks of our high-achieving offspring and their even higher GPAs, we’re secretly wondering how in the world we’re going to pay for it all. Auburn is a good value school, but those numbers add up for non-residents. And, of course, for us, everything is doubled. Like many families, we don’t come close to qualifying for aid based on financial need, yet we certainly can’t write those checks painlessly.

Applying to college has been easy at our house, compared to some of our children’s friends who haven’t narrowed down their search and are sending out applications left and right. Ours wanted early admission, and they got it. Now, every day just like a parrot, I ask the two of them about scholarships. There really are millions of dollars out there in scholarships, and we’re on the hunt. It can be quite overwhelming. While all of them aren’t applicable to our kids, there are still plenty to go for, most requiring an essay. We’ve found to be an excellent resource. Ben Kaplan’s, along with his book, How To Go To College Almost For Free, is also good. Kaplan received enough scholarship dollars to attend Harvard at a cost of exactly zero. We’ve also discovered that their intended major, business, has freshman scholarships they can apply for, which give in-state tuition.

Now comes the hard part. How to get the kids to actually write those essays? Bribery, threats, guilt? The Jack Bauer torture technique? I’ve got a few ideas, and I’ll keep you informed!

By Jane


Academic Scholarships