Helping students get into colleges that are the best fit for them is Job 1 at College Connection. And right alongside is an endeavor of near-equal import: helping students find the money to actually pay for the colleges they've worked so hard to get into!

Most kids are excited, though somewhat nervous, about the college application and admissions process. Once they start getting into it -- Common App, personal essays, supplements, and all -- most find that what they thought would be an ordeal is, in reality, a rather enjoyable experience. Some (myself included) would actually call it fun. [As it should be. After all, if going to college is the best time of your life, shouldn't getting in be at least half as much fun? You bet!]

When it comes to finding the money to pay for college, however (and I speak here of FREE money -- as in scholarships and grants), most kids -- and even some parents -- not only have no idea where to start looking, but, assuming that they do look, are all too soon frustrated, confused, dazed and befuddled, giving up on scholarships, and giving in to loans, debt, and financial insecurity.

Which brings me to the story of a student of mine. I'll call him Daniel (probably because that's his name :-). 

Daniel faced the college application process with the typical trepidation and, not unlike most high school students, more than a bit of anxiety.  Once we started brainstorming the essays, developing admission strategies, tackling the complexities and nuances (real and perceived) of the applications, Daniel actually began to enjoy the journey, looking forward to our sessions, our online chats, our back and forth texts. He even told me, "Seth, you make applying to college fun!" [I blush, even now...]

Daniel was on his way to being accepted to every college he had applied to, without the fuss, bother and angst that accompany most kids down that long and often winding road to college admission.

When it came to the scholarship search, on the other hand.... Well, let's just say that, despite my constant admonishments to search and apply early and often, and explicit hands-on directions on where to look for the money and how to get your paws on it, getting Daniel to search for those scholarships, let alone to actually apply, was, well, like mining gold with a toothpick.

Sure, I used the old tagline, "It's not as if Ed McMahon is going to knock on your door, bearing a check for one million dollars." To which Daniel, like so many 17 year olds before him, would invariably reply -- "Who's Ed McMahon?"  I'd dig the hole even deeper, further dating myself, by retorting, "He was Johnny Carson's sidekick?" To which, to a teen, they'd say, "Who's Johnny Carson?" Why don't I ever quit while I'm ahead?

As Daniel put it to me, ever so bluntly, "Seth, looking and applying for scholarships is like watching paint dry. I'd rather do almost anything else!"

Granted, as sure as I'm writing this, there is someone out there saying, "I quite enjoy watching paint dry!" Why, I myself, on occasion, like to watch the wet hues change from what I thought was a soft grey to what dries into something akin to the color of pistachio ice cream. But I digress...

Point is, as with much of what we do in life, if we're not excited by it, if we don't enjoy it, if it doesn't bring us gratification, well, we just won't do it.

So the challenge, with Daniel as with so many students, is to find something that excites, that motivates, that they enjoy -- real or perceived -- to not only give moment to the hunt for scholarship money, but moreover, to make it fun!

And what could that be? Well, in Daniel's case, it was an interest in theater and the dramatic arts. To say that "the play's the thing..." would be understatement here. Suffice it to say that, once I captured Daniel's attention, and fed his imagination, we were off and running on the scholarship search -- and actually winning scholarship money.

To make an already too long story somewhat shorter (too late for that), Daniel accepted an offer of admission from a prestigious -- and pricey -- private college. And when that hefty tuition bill rolled around in July, he had already amassed enough in scholarship money to pay for his Freshman year in full. No loans. No debt. No worries!

And unlike most students, who, even when they initially search and apply for scholarships before starting college, too soon forget that there will be at least three more years of tuition bills (not to mention room and board), Daniel, with some appropriately placed nudging from yours truly, kept on looking and applying for and getting scholarship money.

Daniel has just completed his Junior year in college (majoring in Theater), and he has garnered enough in scholarship money to pay for all four years of college (and then some) without so much as having to reach into his pocket (or his parents') for one red cent. BRAVO!

We've become friends, Daniel and I. Fellow travelers down the road not only toward college admission success, but moreover, toward that fantastic feeling that comes from knowing that when you graduate, ready to truly start your life on your own [Daniel admits that, on occasion, Mom still does his laundry], you will have achieved financial freedom. No student loans. No parent loans. No student debt to drag you down and bum you out for years to come. A fantastic feeling, indeed!

Okay. So you're about to apply to college. Sure, we can help with that. And you're going to need money to pay for that sheepskin, right? [Some of you may already be in college, bearing the burden of loans that will likely take years to repay. Uugh!] We can help with that, too!

The first step, whether it is getting in to college, or getting through it, debt free, is to figure out what really excites you. The second step is to contact us at College Connection, so together, we can harnass that which excites you, making getting into college -- and paying for it -- fun!

Remember, College Happens. College Connection can help!
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Whether applying to college, paying for college, planning for college, or just thinking about college, contact us at COLLEGE CONNECTION, home of The College Whisperer™ and Official Sponsor of College Admission Success™. No one knows college admissions like COLLEGE CONNECTION. No one! 516-345-8766 

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