I haven’t shared this story before with many people.
But I recently shared it with one of my clients, and it had such a big impact on her that I realized it’s time for me to share it with you, too.
It’s the story of how I got my full tuition scholarship.
Ironically, it starts with a traumatic experience!
The summer before my senior year, I went to a summer program (Virginia Governor’s School), which I attended as a cellist. And while I was there, I decided I wanted to go to college for music.
So when I got back home and went to see my cello teacher for the first time that fall, I told her that I wanted to go to a conservatory, and that I wanted her to help me prepare for my auditions.
Her reaction was something like, “You can’t go to conservatory. You have too many interests.”
I felt completely, totally, absolutely crushed. This was a teacher I had been studying with for years. I trusted her so much. Why didn’t she believe in me?
I went out to my mom’s minivan, sat behind the wheel, and cried.
Then I drove myself home and told my parents that I needed to get a new cello teacher.
So, thinking about college, I knew I needed to go to a school that didn’t just have one cello teacher, because if things blew up with them, then I would be really stuck.
I also intuitively knew that I really, really wanted to go to college in a city.
And my parents had diligently saved enough for me to go to state school in Virginia. And Virginia has awesome state schools. But they were all in places that were definitely not cities. Places like Charlottesville or Williamsburg. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted.
And I also had an inkling that I was going to need to do some sort of self-designed major, and that I wanted to have a lot of freedom and access to a lot of different kinds of resources.
So I was clear that I wanted a college that:
-was in a city
-had lots of cello teachers
-had some kind of self-designed major with lots of freedom and resources
-AND I knew that I needed SERIOUS merit-based aid if I was going to make it work.
I have a vivid memory of sitting with my high school principal going through a printout of statistics for different colleges, looking for schools that had large numbers of cello teachers.
And also, him pulling out an application for a full-tuition scholarship to Boston University, and recommending that I apply for it. I think it was like the day before the application was due. And it was a Saturday. Yes, my high school principal was so committed that he actually came in and helped me on a Saturday.
So I wrote my application essay, I sent it in, and months later I found out that I was chosen. I had gotten a full-tuition scholarship to Boston University. OMG!!!!!
So the money my parents had saved turned out to be plenty enough to cover what was left – the room and board. And I actually got other scholarships too, so they only had to pay PART of the room and board.
Somehow it all worked out.
That year was really quite scary in a lot of ways, because before I found out that I had gotten that scholarship, I didn’t know if I would find a way to have what I knew, deep down, I needed.
But underneath it all, I know it wasn’t just random luck that led me to receive that awesome scholarship.
What was the method behind the insanity???
First. OK. I believed it was possible to have what I wanted. This might sound irrelevant or silly, but nothing would have happened if I hadn’t believed it was possible. I wasn’t always SURE, and sometimes I felt pretty hopeless, and there were definitely times where I felt overwhelmed. But deep inside, I did believe it was possible.
Second. I believed in myself. I believed I was deserving. I believed I had something really unique to offer and that I was a good candidate. Again, nothing else would have happened without this piece in the energetic under-layer.
Third. I knew what I wanted. I was super clear with myself. Freedom and resources. Massive merit-based aid. In a city. Lots of cello teachers. Probably some kind of self-designed major.
Fourth. I communicated what I wanted to everyone around me. My parents. My teachers. My high school principal. The secretaries who worked in the front office who gave me applications for the two additional scholarships I actually received. I totally alerted my environment so my allies could come to my aid.
Fifth. I knew who I was and I didn’t back down about it. I had spent my entire life up to that point working hard at the things I loved. Doing things I really believed in. The things that fueled me, that lifted me up, that nourished me.
I knew who I was and I didn’t try to present a false front to anyone. In all my essays and applications I was clear about what I believed, and who I was, even if I thought it wasn’t what the committees were necessarily “looking for.” And I knew that the core of myself would find the right home somehow. I didn’t need to court anyone’s approval. I was just me.
Six. I kept trying. I did not give up. I did not give up when my parents told me they only could afford to send me to college in-state. I did not give up when my cello teacher told me I couldn’t go to music school. I was determined and I kept looking for ways to make it work, even when it seemed like the odds were totally against me.
Seven. I surrounded myself with adults who believed in me and encouraged me.
My advisor didn’t get overwhelmed when I kept coming to him with MORE ideas of colleges to apply for. My parents budgeted so I could apply to 11 different schools to maximize the chance of getting merit aid at one of them. Not to mention all the college visits my dad took me on! This made everything so much easier, so much more possible.
These steps might seem basic, obvious. Even silly. But I know they helped me get what I needed and keep moving forward. They helped me keep unfolding my deepest, truest dreams until they started to become true.
And these same skills helped me when I got to college and I had to customize it even more than I had thought was possible. These same skills helped me start my own business. And these same skills helped me blaze my own trail as an entrepreneur and a performing artist.
Do you want your creative, passionate kid to be supported in knowing who they are and what they want? And to have a powerful, trailblazing mentor in their life to help them develop these secret super-power meta-skills to bring their vision into reality?
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