THE BLOG

Done... But Not Done

01/29/2012 02:22 am ET | Updated Mar 29, 2012
  • Jennifer Islam 16-year-old senior at the Academy of American Studies in NYC

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of three students as they apply for college in their senior year.

Have you ever listened to the cover of Busta Rhyme's "Look at Me Now" by Karmin (aka the best YouTube band ever)? There is one line that directly relates to this post: "I'm done... No, really though, I'm not done." Common app and CUNY and Rutgers apps? Done and sent. SAT scores? Sent. Teacher recommendations? Written and sent. Fee waiver applications? Filled out and sent. College application process? Done. But no, really though, I'm not done.

I can't consider myself officially done because I have not been accepted anywhere yet. I won't be truly done until I make my final decision about what school to attend. Besides, now I have to enter Financial Aid-topia. There is so much paperwork to complete and family tax info to track down. Then there are scholarships! There are so many to scour through so I can find the perfect ones for me. I will be applying for anything and everything that I am eligible for. My favorite site for scholarships is Fastweb, which emails you opportunities that match up with the profile you create when you sign up (and yes, you can edit this profile). This saves searching time, but you still have to endure the hours of applications. I also like the weekly three-sentence scholarship offered by Zinch. You have 52 chances per year to earn $1,000 by answering a simple question in 280 characters. How awesometastic is that??? Many students enter each week, but Zinch only chooses about four of the best responses. One recent question I liked was, "If you could create your own national holiday, what would it be and how would you celebrate it?" There are definitely more scholarship sites to check out, and you should do what I do: take advantage of every opportunity you get.

Another thing that was keeping me from feeling truly done was having to deal with the scariest people in my reality -- my family -- about where I will be living for the next four years. I want to go to school somewhere dorm-able, but my parents have always wanted me to stay in New York City and live at home. I'd tried to talk to them about this many times, but they tended to avoid the question. They're worried about my security and how I'll pay for housing, food, books, and other things. They don't feel that I am ready to survive on my own. This may sound typical, but there's more to my situation: both of my parents are ill. My mom has kidney disease and is expected to get a new kidney within the next year. Her social worker has said that she'll need as much care as possible after the transplant. My dad has diabetes and heart problems. On top of this, my sister drops off her son four days a week so we can babysit him while she's at work.

They all want me to go to school in NYC and commute from home so I can continue helping around the house. I completely understand this, and it's one of the reasons I don't want to go too far away. My limit is a state bordering New York, but I'm also willing to stay in NYC. It's a great city and I'd have a lot of advantages, like already knowing how to get around and where to eat. More importantly, I'd be closer to my family. I would still like the chance to live on campus, though. Right now, I never have time to myself. Living in the dorms would give me freedom and teach me how to live on my own. I'd be able to have closer bonds with friends, clubs, and the mascot. Basically, I'd have the full college experience -- and I'd be able to tell nifty stories to my future kids. Though I worry about my family, I know that my two other siblings would be there to help take care of my parents, and that makes me feel better. And, of course, I'd come home to see them as often as I could.

Fortunately, my Minds Matter mentors and team leader succeeded in talking to my dad about my college living situation, They convinced him to let me dorm by using these arguments:

  • Dorming can cost less than commuting if a school's financial aid package covers it. Of course, I won't know what kind of packages my schools provide until I apply for aid.
  • Living on campus saves time. After my last class of the day, I'll be able to scurry back to my dorm within 15 minutes, as opposed to taking an hour-long subway ride home.
  • I am old enough to take care of myself. I need to learn the significance of responsibility and explore the world outside my neighborhood; the best way for me to do that is to start off on my own. My family will always be there for me, but I will never get far in life if I don't take some steps on my own now.

I've overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where I am. But whether it was stressing out over what sentence would make me sound better in one of my essays or talking to my parents about my future, I overcame it. I'm still not done with senior year, though. I haven't even gotten any college acceptances yet! But when I do make that decision about my future, the first thing I will say is, "Look at me now."