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  • Diana

His best advice could be yours too

I always thought there would be a tomorrow, another Christmas celebration and another day that I would hear my grandpa's corny jokes.

But one day I realized that my 96 year old grandpa might not be here for every birthday celebration. I grew up without my dad's influence so my grandfather was the main father figure in my life. He lived during the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. He took pictures of Hitler's house and even saw technology sore. He was intelligent beyond belief and picking his brain was one of my favorite things..especially as a journalist.

When I realized my time with my grandpa was limited, I knew I had to absorb 96 years of knowledge into my 21 year old mind. I tried my best to ask him everything from how he proposed to my grandma to how he still had a full head of incredible hair at his age. Although I convinced myself that I would remember everything he said, I wanted a take away message from him.

I asked, "What is the best piece of advice you would give someone my age?"

He said, "No matter what you do, get an education."

I figured that I should listen to the man who attended Seton Hall University on a full athletic scholarship.

I am about to graduate college and as I reflect on the past four years of my life, I am glad I took his advice. Education provides opportunity, knowledge, professional relationships and a list of invaluable skills. Besides the skills you gain, you become a well rounded individual. I was once told that college gives you four more years to grow up and experience the world. And I think that statement holds so much truth.

As I mentioned, my dad didn't have a big influence on my life, so it could have been easy for me to not pursue an education because of limited funds. However, I knew that education was key and my grandpa was right. I didn't let my circumstances define my success.

There are so many options for young adults who want to pursue an education but may feel like they can't.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Enroll in a Miss America local pageant! Every year the Miss America Organization provides millions in cash awards and in-kind scholarships. Not only will you have the resources to pursue an education, you will have the skills, confidence and integrity to do so.

2. Consider pursuing a 2+2 Program. Community colleges tend to be a great starting point for people who might not know what they want to pursue after high school and even for those who do know! It is common for students to change majors, even if they were set on that career goal for years. This option will provide great education and it will save you money.

3. Ironically, private schools might be cheaper than state schools. For me, that was the case. Most of the time, private universities are able to award more scholarships, bringing tuition lower than or comparable to a state school. I would recommend doing your research first and rubbing noses with the schools you are interested in. Sometimes the university may even waive your application fee if you take a tour of the campus prior to applying. It never hurts to network!

4. Research, research, research and be realistic. You can save a lot of time and maybe a headache by learning about the schools you're interested in and doing so in your junior year of high school. I wish I knew more about myself and what I wanted to do after college because I think I would have chosen a different career path! However, I say be realistic because you don't need to attend an expensive school to get a really good job. I have always thought, it's not where you go to school, it's what you do with that knowledge that can get you far.

5. I didn't use this tool in high school, but Scholly seems to be a great resource for those who are looking for scholarships. Scholly is a website and an app. Users answer a few questions about themselves and Scholly acts as your personal assistant. It locates all the scholarships that you are eligible for. Since there are a lot of options available, this saves time and can help you stay organized.

6. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I know that senior year in high school makes you feel like the king or queen of the world, but there is four years of unknown territory waiting for you ahead. Contact your school of choice and ask to shadow an enrolled student or connect with a professor. Pick their brain and ask away. Believe me, people love talking about their experiences, and I am sure they will be happy to help.

As a senior, I may think I am the queen of college, but I know many unknown years await ahead. However, I am a resource too and would be happy to help anyone apply my grandpa's valuable advice.

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