Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Sister's Past Influences Reader's Future

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in high school, and I don't want to become like my big sister. She is my only sibling, and she turned into a party girl in high school. She now goes to a nearby college and commutes. It was her only option after getting dismissed from her first university. I want to continue my athletic career and hope that, in a few years' time, I will be good enough to receive a scholarship for a private university that my family can afford. My sister loves to chime in with advice, but I honestly use her as the poster child of what I DON'T want to be. What do I say when she asks me how my applications to community college are going? -- Not Like You, Denver

DEAR NOT LIKE YOU: Start by talking to your guidance counselor at your high school to get a sense of what your options are for college. Tell him or her your intentions, and learn which schools typically offer scholarships for athletics and academics at your grade point level. Ask for specific guidance on how to search for scholarships that match your profile.

Talk to your parents about what they can afford. Ask them to be forthcoming so that you are clear about what you will have at your disposal. Also find out if they would be willing to co-sign student loans for you if you need additional support.

With all of that information, you can speak confidently to your sister. Without being dismissive of your sister's behavior and subsequent academic limitations, outline your plan when you answer her. Explain the research you have done and the subsequent path you are following. If she continues to ask about community college, tell her that you will apply there if you find you need to do so.

FYI: Many students -- including academically solid ones -- choose community college as a first step because it provides an affordable leg up on the path to higher education.

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