Break on Through to the Other Side
By Autumn Carberry
You’d be surprised how many people refer to high school as “the best years of their life.” You, however, have so much more in your future. High school is the beginning. Keep that in your mind when you become bogged down in the minutiae of high school society. Although it may not seem like it now, there is a bright, brilliant light shinning at the end of the tunnel of high school.
But how to reach said blinding light? The answer is simple, my dear students, maintain focus. If a four-year university experience is truly your goal, let nothing deter you. There may be those who would not see you reach that beaming light. It may even be yourself. In high school, no, even before that, I knew I was going to college. I watched my friends get distracted with relationships, partying, and working; yet I never waivered, even when self-doubt tried to douse my burning light. Head down, nose pressed to my books I maintained my course. You must do the same. Let nothing stop you from brandishing your light.
That is not to say that I did not experience all that high school had to offer. Quite the contrary, I was in ASB, cheerleading, drama, National Honor Society president, but I kept balance, learned time management, and multitasking. I did the same in college, managing my time to work, study, but also participate in college life to the fullest extent. Part of being successful academically, socially, and professionally is being organized and balanced. The influence of others can extinguish your brash light. Remember, what others do is of no consequence; only your actions have a direct effect on your future.
At this moment, one of the most monumental obstacles to breaking through to that blazing light of college is finance. You may get in, but how to pay for it? To say that higher education is expensive is an understatement and costs rise annually. Nevertheless, it is the most worthwhile investment you will ever make. My senior year of high school I applied to as many schools as I could and was filled with trepidation. I was convinced I wasn’t going to get in anywhere. As the admissions rush came to a close my mother encouraged me to apply to USC. I, of course, thought she had lost her facilities. But my grandfather had always loved the school and had taken her and my aunts for walks on the campus. I had heard these stories, and his love for the school spurred me on to apply. Then I played the waiting game.
My first acceptance letter was from the University of La Verne. I was so relieved to have gotten in somewhere, anywhere, that I was ready to accept. Not to mention, they offered me a full scholarship, I wasn’t going to have to pay anything. But as fate would have it, not more than a week later I got an acceptance letter and certificate from USC. I could not believe I was accepted. Up to that point it was the proudest I had been in my life. My parents were ecstatic! Unfortunately the sticker shock set in. At that time it was $45,000 per year in tuition (by the time I graduated it was up to $60,000), that didn’t included living expenses or textbooks. The financial aid package was for $25,000. Technically that covered half but when all the other expenses were calculated I would be short about $35,000. Deflated, I told my parents I would go to La Verne. There was no way we could come up with that money. But my parents being the supportive people they are told me that we would figure it out, and for the next four years we did. They took out parent loans and I took out student loans. I applied for scholarships and did work-study.
I don’t regret one cent paid and neither do my parents. And yes, it took me forever to pay them off; I just finished as a matter of fact. But to see my grandpa’s face when he learned of my acceptance was priceless and one of my most precious memories since his passing in August. To have all my family at my graduation, as a first generation college graduate, from one of the most prestigious institutions in California is so much more valuable than saving money would have been. Had I let money stop me those things would have never happened. I would have lost out on the best experiences of my life, living in Madrid while studying abroad, meeting my best friend, getting an amazing education, and being part of the incredible tradition of the Trojan Family. All of that would have been laid by the wayside due to expense. Because I invested in myself, I was able to walk, every Saturday, through the tunnel of the Coliseum, the trumpets of the Trojan Marching Band echoing off the walls, the shouts of the crowd roaring, football players racing across the field, to my beautiful, brazen light. Your beaconing lights are beyond price.
Autumn Carberry is the eldest in a long, prolific line of cheerleaders, crafters, and avid readers. She has been an English teacher at CV for an amazing 15 years, which is astonishing considering she's only 23. Autumn hopes to continue her professional career with the same exuberance with which she started.