Most Inspiring College Application Stories

These stories will inspire you to stay motivated through the college application process.

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Feeling overwhelmed with the college application process? Despairing over statistics about admission rates? Totally understandable! But there is an end in sight. Take a break from the stress of college applications and read about these inspiring students. Their journeys to higher education may pump you up for your own.

Need help paying for college? Find out if the schools you’re interested in offer any scholarships.

Surprise of a Lifetime

Denzel Kane was a hardworking kid from Minneapolis. He spent many afternoons working at a local news station. Though Denzel was lucky enough to be accepted to dream school, Loyola University Chicago, he was anxious about how he’d afford the tuition. His mother urged him to apply for a scholarship to the school in hopes of finding a way to make her son’s dream a reality.

A week after Denzel interviewed for the scholarship, the enthusiastic Minnesotan was asked to appear on-air by the TV station where he worked. There, Father Justin Daffron, an administrator from Loyola University Chicago told Denzel on-air that he'd been awarded a $42,000 scholarship. Only 15 incoming freshman out of 2100 were awarded this scholarship.

Though this story is undoubtedly motivating, it also demonstrates an important lesson about planning ahead. Seek out scholarship opportunities -- you’ll be surprised at the opportunities you discover.

The Promise of Free College

Kalamazoo, Michigan has long been a city of contradictions. Though the city has been home to a number of major companies, its schools continued to struggle. One in three students in Kalamazoo’s public school district falls below the national poverty level. One in 12 is homeless. Teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates are high.

In 2005, the Kalamazoo community was shocked to learn about a new program called The Promise. The Promise guaranteed college tuition for every graduate of Kalamazoo’s public school system. The program covered tuition at public colleges, universities and community colleges in the state of Michigan. Some examples of schools covered under The Promise include Western Michigan University, Michigan State and University of Michigan. Perhaps the most shocking thing of all was that the program was created and funded by an anonymous donor.

The Promise also makes applying easier by providing Michigan colleges and universities with scholarship information for eligible students. The program is proving to be successful at encouraging students to stay in school while also motivating them to work harder. It has put the possibility of going to college in the minds of thousands of students who had never even considered it before.

In recent years, other communities have followed suit by creating programs for their students that help with financial aid and the college application process.

A Long Journey

As a child, Abraham Garang was forced to flee his home in Sudan. Caught in the midst of a civil war, he and hundreds of other children (many of whom died on the journey) lived in constant fear of capture, sickness and attacks. For 15 years he lived in both the wilderness and refugee camps. He was finally allowed to come to the U.S. through a special refugee program.

Although he doesn’t even know his real age (the area in which he was born had no doctors, schools or birth records), Abraham has persisted at getting an education. He took high school classes at a local community college in North Carolina until he earned his GED. He was then accepted at University of Lynchburg through a program for Sudanese refugees. The program included full tuition, room and board. After graduating with a degree in accounting, Abraham hopes to visit Sudan and help build a school.

Abraham’s journey shows that overcoming obstacles is possible, even in the direst situations.

Inspiring College Application Stories: Quick Facts/Tips

  • Need help paying for college? Find out if the schools you’re interested in offer any scholarships. You may be able to apply for those funds when you send in your college applications.
  • Don’t assume that you can’t get into a particular college based solely on your GPA. Make sure you highlight all of your achievements and strengths, including sports honors, leadership experience and obstacles you’ve overcome.

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