Tuition Anxiety

Written by
Published on October 22, 2014

I lost track of time sitting at my desk looking intensely at the computer screen. I was flipping through online college catalogs and scrolling through my iPhone reading emails from Rutgers,

The King’s, Tulane, and UPenn, among many others. I was smiling because I had choices.

Sitting on my soft purple chair next to the windows I looked up at the canvas above my desk of a woman shopping in Paris. Then, I imagined going all out to explore and living on campus-but who was I kidding- I hated sharing a room. What if my roommate was not as clean as me, or as quiet as me, and the thought of her having a “guy friend” sleeping over or having relations while I am still inside the room fueled my anger and disgust.

Now I was panicking, “too much thinking causes my anxiety attacks,” my therapist said.

So, to put my mind at ease I took a deep breath and stuck with the idea of applying to at least three colleges- two state schools and one private school.

For these schools to have even considered me was flattering and made me feel proud, but unless I was getting a sweet offer for a full ride to any of these private schools there was no way I could afford to attend.

I didn’t have savings set aside for college. At the moment I needed a car and a better job to make ends meet, so saving for college was not an option, it was a luxury that I did not have.

The University of New Haven offered me a $2000 transfer scholarship, but Kings College offered me $12,000, the largest amount of all those who contacted me. Still, I was hesitant. These schools still cost twice as much, if not more than the scholarships they offered.

How would I afford the books and excessive fees? This of course is relative to if I choose to become a part time or full time student.

Once again I was thinking too much and my anxiety led to doubtful thinking- that financial aid would give me little to nothing to cover each semester-and I would become a college dropout. I started to click the red “X” in the browser-exiting the website of those overpriced schools.

I thought about what my therapist said, “think about the here and now.”

And right now, I was thankful that Phi Theta Kappa was the reason that these highly rated colleges even contacted me. I did the hard work and the organization noticed that I maintained an A-average. “Finally!”- I thought.

School officials would nag me about getting more involved on campus in order to get recognized by a good school. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against volunteering, unpaid-internships, or school clubs. Afterall, I’ve experienced them all during high school and even a short while after.

I was a part of the peer mediator club as well as the golf and tennis teams in high school. I also volunteered at the Mount Vernon Soup Kitchen and Wartburg Nursing Home Gift Shop in New York.

It was my 3.4 GPA, though, that led the Who’s Who Among American High School Students organization to contact me about scholarship opportunities.

At community college, I volunteered at the Jewish Vocational Services in Boston, MA as a receptionist and I helped organize and participated in the Boys and Girls Club clothing drive. I also interned for World Artist Network in Bridgeport, CT.

As rewarding as these activities were, none of them was the reason for why Phi Theta Kappa wanted me to join their academic organization.

I was content with my decision to not join multiple clubs simply for the benefit of knowing that “it looks good on your resume and school applications.” I needed to focus on my grades and my job.

I already had a full load and I wanted to have some free time to enjoy life before I die or before my anxiety causes me to lose my mind-which ever came first.

I got up from my purple chair and made my way over to the closet. I reached for my wallet and selected a credit card instead of  debit- allowing myself more time to pay off any expenses.

I submitted two applications. One to Central Connecticut State University and the other to Southern Connecticut State University. A 100 bucks gone or should I say- a week’s paycheck as a student worker.

I thought about what my therapist said, “don’t worry about 10 years from now, things will work themselves out.”

I became slightly less worried because I still had the opportunity to go after internships related to my major in hopes of landing my dream job. Plus, my grades are my best bet to a scholarship that would cover the low cost of a state college; avoiding the $50-100,000 in student loans.

A few weeks later, I received an envelope from Central Connecticut State University. I opened it and noticed that it was my acceptance letter. I was happy, but I did not notice any information about giving me a scholarship, only a notification about a $200 deposit.

I threw the letter under my desk and jumped face down on my bed, upset that my next paycheck would go toward the deposit and that my hope relied on getting a state grant or a scholarship through the  Phi Theta Kappa website.

I tried to think about what my therapist would say. Except all I could think about was that a few weeks ago, I was smiling because I had choices, but what I did not have and still struggle to have is money.