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ToBeAbleToBeAble Posts: 3 Harvard Champion
edited May 2013 in Parents Forum
Hello I am new to the CC Community. I stumbled onto this website with a question that I think only this community can help. Thank you in advance for the thoughts.

This year, when I applied to colleges, I applied as an international student. My family has lived here in the US for quite a while, but we never got the immigration papers through. However, now, it is going through, and I will soon qualify for need-blind admissions at a lot of places.

I applied ED to a top 5 liberal arts college and was accepted. The financial aid was great, but really not enough. But I did end up withdrawing all of my other applications, which I now kind of regret. The biggest regret was withdrawing the HYPS schools. I never found out if I were accepted, but I did find out that I had a "priority status" (1/15 in my area) from one of the schools, which is my dream school. I had always thought it was too much of a reach, and I had always envisioned a big step forward for my family in our American Dream. But I had a very good chance when I thought I didn't.

My family has been going through many struggles now, especially financially, and I will end up taking loans if I decide to take my current offer. I was contemplating to decline my offer of admission and reapply this year under a gap year. Because of our family's circumstances, my parents need help in paying for the bills, and I am thinking about working multiple jobs, such as the local Chick-fil-A, to help them out. Maybe if I raise enough money, I could visit my home country and become fluent in my native language. We are low-income and I have multiple younger siblings.

With my immigration status, I felt I was somewhat forced to apply ED to schools as much as possible. I was never able to see my regular decision offers, especially from my dream school. I know this sounds incredibly selfish, as I have an amazing opportunity in front of me. But if I did end up declining, I think I would be able to raise some money for the upcoming school year, help my family with the bills, and begin applying for scholarships I didn't qualify this year, especially the Gates Millennium. For the school admission process, I think I would apply SCEA to my dream school. I know nothing is guaranteed. I know that HYPS is also available for grad school.

I just wanted to know what the CC community thought. My family does really need help, but they think for me to go to college (the first of my family in the US) is fine as well. But if I stayed home and reapply to my dream school, it would be a dream come true for my family's American Dream journey. It sounds cliche, but we did move here with nothing but hope, and to send their kid to the dream school would be so rewarding for my parents. Just wanted thoughts. Thanks
Post edited by ToBeAble on

Replies to: Gap Year

  • AmaranthineDAmaranthineD Posts: 5 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Why didn't you apply ED to your dream school?

    I say run with what you got. There's no guarantee that you'll be accepted to your dream school(or any school) next year.
  • 2collegewego2collegewego Posts: 24
    edited May 2013
    There's an American saying: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. That means that it is better to have something solidly in your possession than it is to have the possibility of other things. I would not risk an admission to a top 5 liberal arts school to apply to a high reach. If you want, you can always apply to transfer in a year.

    As far as the Gates Millenium scholarship, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident for that. Also, I suspect it won't help you much. Is your school meeting what they believe is your need? The Gates Millenium scholarship does not decrease your parents' contribution, as assessed by the school. If your school is meeting what they say is your need and they are doing it without loans, that's exactly what the Gates is designed to do. If there are loans packaged by the school to meet need (not additional loans), the most you would get would get from the Gates would be any work-study and student loans in your package.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 296
    edited May 2013
    First question is, do you mean to say that you will become a US citizen or permanent resident soon, thus becoming eligible for need-based financial aid? If so, then reapplying next year could allow you to apply to a much wider range of schools (including actual safeties) than you applied to this year. (But the chances of getting into a HYPS type of dream school are still very low.)

    Second question is, how much debt would the one school you have admission to require you to take (and if you will shortly become a US citizen or permanent resident, will the school change its financial aid based on that)? If the debt will be excessive, then it is effectively like a rejection.
  • ToBeAbleToBeAble Posts: 3 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Yes, I agree with you, there is no guarantee. I only think what the priority status would mean though if I did decide to reapply, especially if I do so early.

    I have been told of the American saying before, and I think it really means a lot. Thank you for clarifying the Gates Millennium parameters. Already having an admission to a top 5 LAC is an incredible opportunity itself. The reason why I hesitate about transfer is because it is much lower. I still contemplate about the priority status I was given. But I have also heard the many benefits of a gap year, and especially in my case where I can really help out at home before heading off could be an option.

    Yes, I will soon become a permanent resident - thus I can begin working if I chose to do so. And I think another benefit of a gap year is the possibility of going overseas.
    I won't carry too much debt. Assuming I will continue receiving the same financial aid, I would probably graduate with about $10,000 in debt after working. It really isn't much comparing what other students graduate with, but coming from a low-income background, it is enormous to think that I will have that much debt. I do plan on going to graduate school, and I know I will have to take out loans later. But, I do not think the school will change its FA based on my status. The change would be that I can work-study and take out subsidized federal loans.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 296
    edited May 2013
    If you mean $10,000 total debt after four years (as opposed to $10,000 per year, or $40,000 after four years), then that is a relatively low amount of debt. In this case, if the school in question is suitable for your academic and professional goals (in terms of courses, majors, research opportunities, etc. offered), then it makes sense to just attend. In most cases, need-based financial aid expects a student contribution of up to $9,000 or so, which (if it were that high) would require a Stafford loan plus some work-study anyway.

    Note that "grad school" means several different things. PhD programs worth attending are usually funded (i.e. tuition waiver and a living expense stipend in exchange for working as a teaching assistant or research assistant). But professional school for MD, JD, MBA, etc. is typically very expensive.
  • NCalRentNCalRent Posts: 8 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    It is unfortunate you didn't give your dream school a chance to give you an official answer but, I think you'd be a fool to turn down a heavily subsidized seat at a top 5 LAC for a maybe.

    So much can change in a year - especially a gap year. Many, maybe most, don't return to school. Unless you are off curing malaria, you will be less a attractive candidate for a top college than someone with similar stats who is just graduating high school.

    You can get a job (or 2) now and earn a good chunk of change before you go, helping your parents and saving some for school. Working part time during school will also help you minimiize debt and not be a burden to your family.

    You are obviously bright and have worked hard to maintain good grades. Don't spend a year on what-ifs. You have the opportunity of a lifetime at one of the nations top colleges. I urge you to take advantage of it.
  • ToBeAbleToBeAble Posts: 3 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Thank you for your insight. I agree with you of the opportunity. Much can change during a gap year, for the better or worse.
    The hesitation I have is the fact that I was highly considered to my dream school, and I fear that I will go into college with this unsettling mindset. I want to go into college knowing that I had all of my options before me and this was what I chose - then I can thrive from day 1.
    If I do take a gap year, I am sure that I want to reapply to colleges, specifically SCEA to my dream school. And this time, I will have my permanent residency, which will allow me to apply to a broad range of schools. During this time, I can work at home to help my family, create a structured study (I can't stay away from books), apply for scholarships like the Gates Millennium, and perhaps travel back to my homeland to become fluent before I come back. If I don't get into my dream school, at least I knew I gave it another shot before settling down for four years on a college.
  • NCalRentNCalRent Posts: 8 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    I don't know what 'highly considered' means.

    I can tell you though, the freshman admission process and criteria at most schools heavily favor graduating seniors. I think a Gap Yr applicant really needs to do something special to stand out.

    It is a shame you pulled the plug on your application before they gave you a formal answer. You are an adult (or are about to be) and made an an adult decision. You need to live with the consequences. You will never know if you made it in.

    IMHO, you probably won't get into your dream school next year. You might not even get into the top 5 LAC. They might have stronger candidates or, they might remember your indecisiveness. You might not get the aid/scholarships either.

    The only guarantee you have is a heavily subsidized education at one of the nations top schools. There are tens of thousands who would love to trade places with you. That's quite a gift to overlook in favor of some pipe dream.

    Do yourself a huge favor; stop worrying about a mistake you made and thinking about what might have been. Show up at your top 5 school with a huge smile on your face and make the most of the tremendous opportunity you've been given.

    If you must, apply to your dream school as a Jr transfer.
  • busdriver11busdriver11 Posts: 39
    edited May 2013
    I want to make sure I understand this. You want to turn down a very heavily subsidized top LAC to work at Chick-fil-A for a year, and a chance at HYPS, schools that have maybe a 3-8% acceptance rate? With perhaps even a lower acceptance rate after a gap year? Plus the fact you don't know what kind of financial aid they would offer? And you think that graduating with 10K worth of debt is a large amount of money?

    First, if you deem that you can't pass up this opportunity at Chick-fil-A, I'm not sure if anyone suggested this....but will your LAC consider giving you a one year deferment? Then at least you haven't thrown away this opportunity for what may be a pipe dream. You can always go visit your home country at any time in your life, this is a non-factor. As far as helping your family, you will be able to do much more for them with a degree and a high paying job, than working at a fast food restaurant and delaying that job.

    I see the problem is that somehow you found out that you might have gotten into the dream school, and the woulda-coulda-shoulda thoughts are on your mind. You got into a top LAC too easily, and didn't have to fight and wait for it. You think you could have done better than a mostly paid for top LAC. Perhaps that is possible, but with the low percentage of acceptances at those schools, maybe not.

    I think you should let go of what could have happened. There is not just one dream school. You could be making a huge mistake to give up a fantastic opportunity, and potentially not get in any of these schools after working fast food for a year. Think of how unhappy you'd be then. Why not take this deal, still apply as a transfer (if you even want it after a year), or at worst, defer for a year?
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 100
    edited May 2013
    I don't understand the financial aspect.

    If you were admitted as an international applicant, how on earth were you offered any loans at all? Did those loans come from the college/university itself?

    Where is your family in the green card application business? Does your lawyer have a best-estimate of the date you will get them?

    What is your current immigration status? Will you convert your current visa to an F-1, or will you remain in your current status pending receipt of the green card?

    I'm all for gap years, and whatever reason you can come up with for taking one is fine with me. However, I would encourage you to ask for deferred enrollment at your current college/university rather than just dropping it flat-out. That way you can take your time about deciding whether to apply anywhere else, and if so where exactly.
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