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20 year old orphan finally ready to pursue a degree. But lots of questions. Don't know who to ask.

tru988tru988 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
hi! I'm 20 and I am just now ready to pursue a degree. The problem is I have no idea what the process is. After my sophomore year of high school I moved and did my junior year online (Connections Academy) and during that year I lost my parents. I moved in with my sister and I've been living with her since. I was 16 going on 17 but I was never adopted by her. I graduated in 2016 online with a local school. I didn't really talk with counselors about going to college because I was going through that trauma and I didn't think about my future. Anyways, now i'm motivated to become a medical interpreter. I speak English and Spanish and I'd like to get a BA online in something like Health Sciences (and also get certified through another organization after). I was really hoping someone could briefly answer some of my questions or know how I can get guidance after already graduating high school a few years ago.

1. Having been to 3 different high schools and 2 online, I didn't really get to know any teachers well. But I'll need letters of recommendation. Do I email some who I feel like I got to know the most, or who's class I exceeded in from each school, and ask them about writing one for me? What if I can't get them?

2. I will need to talk to a financial aid office about my special circumstances for FAFSA. I don't understand what the process is, do I fill it out first, or do I talk to them first? And do I fill it out after or before applying to schools? Do I apply for scholarships at the same time?

3. When do I know how much financial aid I can get? do I have to use it right away? I'm working to save up now and I would like to wait until next year to apply to any schools. I'm confused about the dates to sign up for FAFSA.

Thank you so much to anyone who reads this mess :x

Replies to: 20 year old orphan finally ready to pursue a degree. But lots of questions. Don't know who to ask.

  • CaMom13CaMom13 Registered User Posts: 836 Member
    Hey @tru988 - I don't know much but here goes with my best advice/thoughts for you.

    1. Since you have been home-schooled and taken online classes for two years, were there any online teachers you were more well-acquainted with that others? Those might be good people to ask for recommendations. Or see thought 2 below.

    2. Since you want to study to be a medical interpreter I would encourage you to start taking some community college classes "in person". It's easy to hole up with the internet but interpreting will require you to spend time working in person so it would help you to take a community college course and see how that goes. Your cc faculty would then also be people you could ask for recomendations.

    3. When you fill out FAFSA you will do so as a non-dependant. So your income is all that will be counted. That means your EFC will likely be zero (unless you have substantial assets) but not all schools will meet full need. In particular, I think a lot of online programs have large percentage of adult students so their ability to meet full need is limited.

    4. You will need to take standardized tests. My advice would be to get a self-study booklet, take a test and see how you do. Then make a plan over the next year to get yourself test-ready and college-ready. The higher you score on those tests the better your chances for admissions and financial aid. Especially as a student with a history that is outside of traditional schooling you will need decent scores to prove to schools that you are ready for school.

    5. I would encourage you to look at college prep as a challenging project - make a plan, get out a little for classes, get yourself executing self-study steps to be college ready, check your financial aid forecast once you have some idea of your scores. It's a lot to do on your own but every trip starts with the first step. You can do this if you make those steps and keep going but it will take work and effort and "putting yourself out there".

  • CreeklandCreekland Registered User Posts: 4,869 Senior Member
    In your situation I would make an appointment with the nearest decent community college and talk with them. I suspect you will only need to take their placement test(s) and they should be very well versed at helping you out with any financial options available.

    If community college isn't something you feel would be suitable, then do the same with your nearest state school.

    You can even google "Colleges that Meet Need" and if one of those is close by, make an appt with them and see if they have suggestions. At the very least, they could tell you what they would want as proof of foundational education.

    The neat thing about community college is they're prepared to start you where you're ready to start. Once you've finished what they can offer you, then you'll have what you need to transfer - including guidance in how to do it.

    Super kudos to you for finding a path for you to head on post trauma. It's definitely not easy with losing parents. I wish you the absolute best wishes along the way. Your parents are proud of you, I'm sure.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 39,201 Senior Member
    I am so sorry for your parents passing.

    Do you have something like a GPA?

    Go to FAFSA forecaster to see what your EFC (minimum amount a college will expect YOU to pay).
    Then each college decided how much they give you.

    You will check the box "Independent" on FAFSA (category: orphan) - only your income will matter to decide what that etc is. Colleges that "meet need" promise to give you grants (not loans, except for 5.5k in federal loans).

    I agree it might be easiest for you to attend a local community college. For the degree and job you want, being in class and dealing with people will matter.

    Beware of so called 'for profits'. As the name indicates they're not in it to educate you but to make money off of you. They live to pray on young adults who don't have parental guidance warning them off.

    You may want to go to your local hospital and ask where they hire their medical interpreters and what sort of background they have.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,972 Senior Member
    CaMom13 wrote:
    2. Since you want to study to be a medical interpreter I would encourage you to start taking some community college classes "in person". It's easy to hole up with the internet but interpreting will require you to spend time working in person so it would help you to take a community college course and see how that goes. Your cc faculty would then also be people you could ask for recomendations.

    Note that taking college courses after high school graduation may require you to commit to the transfer pathway. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if your high school academic record is excellent, you may find better scholarship opportunities and admission possibility at good-financial-aid colleges as a frosh than as a transfer. On the other hand, if your high school academic record is not that good, starting at a community college may be a cost effective way to make your high school record less relevant or irrelevant when applying to transfer to a four year school later.

    If you do start at a community college and take the transfer pathway, recommendations (if needed) should come from the college instructors, not high school teachers. Also, not all colleges use recommendations.

    Each college should have a net price calculator on its web site that can give an estimate of what financial aid you may get from that college.

    Your state of residency may be important in determining how good the opportunities and financial aid are at your local community colleges and state universities.
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 5,116 Senior Member
    @tru988, is there a reason you want to get an online degree?

    What colleges or universities are nearby? Do you have transportation to go to college? Who's supporting you?

    There are many questions we need to ask of you in order to best help you. You're in a very unique situation and it's important that you get the right answers to help guide you. It would be nice if you could get some pro bono help from a counselor or advisor, but for now, more information would be helpful.
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