Advice for College Freshman?

Hello! I am currently a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill. After going through a rigorous college decision and scholarship process, I was a finalist for some scholarships at other schools, but unfortunately did not recieve them. I am happy with my choice, but dealing with my loss of opportunity of scholarships and having to take out large amounts of student loans has really made me feel bad about myself and my worth as a student, as I worked extremely hard in high school but fell short of awards or scholarships. I have become really concerned about finances, and has made me wonder why I am still trying to stand out as a student because there just aren’t as many opporutnities for scholarships and cohorts anymore as a regular freshman compared to other students. Can anyone point me to any opportunities or give me some advice? Thanks so much!

First of all, UNC CH is an AWESOME school. Many many many kids would trade places with you in a heartbeat. That is a great achievement! I understand your disposition as you’ve probably been living your life to this point on trying to excel and win awards of whatever nature. Nothing wrong with that.

You’re in college now. I strongly suggest you just focus your time on taking advantage of the many academic and extracurricular activities (and they are numerous) at UNC. Your school is considered to be in the top 1% or 2% of all the colleges in the best country for higher education in the world. That’s pretty amazing! Excellent academics and a lot of exciting things to do in CH, one of the premier college towns in the country. Just focus on what’s ahead of you.

Is UNC unaffordable? If not, then enjoy, work hard, explore, find some things you truly enjoy and go after it.

In another thread, you reported your SAT scores as 1460 from your first sitting and as 1410 on your second attempt. Assuming that your grades were very good, you could have received a full out-of-state tuition scholarship to the University of Mississippi as well as to other schools.

If depending upon merit awards or need based financial aid, then you should have researched more schools on the basis of affordability.

Some schools award automatic scholarship merit money based on one’s ACT / SAT score and GPA. Many schools offer competitive scholarships. It appears that you limited yourself to the state of North Carolina & to competitive scholarship situations.

Also, you posted in another thread that you received an attractive financial aid package from Wake Forest University. WFU is an excellent school (as is UNC-Chapel Hill).

You had choices.

At the end of the day, I didn’t really have the capacity or money to apply to so many schools and move out of state, although I would have liked to and apply to some schools farther away. Carolina is still the cheapest option and my top choice. This was more of a post asking for advice as to how to stand out as an undergrad and how to look for any scholarship opportunities at this point in the process. My financial need has also changed greatly since applying to colleges versus now, so my situation has changed. Thanks for your imput though! If I had the opportunity to go back and start the college application process over again, that is something I would do 100%.

Time to move-on. Put it in the rearview mirror. My S20 thought he would get a lot more merit scholarships than he did. He still did well but he was disappointed. Expectations were too high. We tried to tell him but it in the end reality wins. He picked his school and moved-on. Self-worth isn’t tied to the number of scholarships you’re awarded.

If your parents financial situation has changed you can reach-out to the FA department. It never hurts to ask. Are there any departmental scholarships available? Maybe a PT job or work-study?

If you can’t afford it do something else. It’s not too late to pivot. UNC is great but not for a ton of debt. How much debt are we talking? Are you an NC resident? Go to community college for two years then transfer. Some degrees like teaching or nursing are not really dependent on college ranking. Just GPA and passing boards.

Some colleges offer department scholarships, and at my D’s school those departments awarded monies to rising Sophomores and up.

This allows time for a freshman to get involved and show interest. There is usually an application to be filled out to get department awards.

@flowermoon can you commute? I assume you’re doing online from home, since CH moved most everyone out of the dorms. Are your parents taking out PLUS or private loans 9n top of the 5.5k student loan? Do you have any college savings? I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. I went through financial difficulties in college many years ago; I ended up moving home and working 2-3 jobs while going to school after my dad was laid-off, twice. CH or NCSU are some of the lower tuition state schools, except for maybe Western, Pembroke, etc. If you’re not within commuting distance of CH, is there another campus you could commute to (UNCG, UNCC, UNCW)? I wish there was some magical scholarship out there; if there was, I would have D20 all over it. There are usually some small departmentals you can apply to as a sophomore. Check out local organizations offering scholarships and apply to those. They may only be 500 or 1,000, but every bit helps. If your family income has changed, speak with the financial aid office and see if there’s anything that can adjusted for next year. You can earn 3-4,000 working over the summer, plus another few thousand if you work throughout the school year. If you commute and work, it could cut your potential loans to 6-8k/ year; not ideal, but its’ a lot better than 100k of undergrad debt.