A Dream Deferred? Aspirations and the Realities of Financing College

Is your first choice a dream deferred? Aspirations and the realities of financing college from a student's perspective.

By Lisa Hardman

March 06, 2007

A Dream Deferred?  Aspirations and the Realities of Financing College A Dream Deferred?  Aspirations and the Realities of Financing College

Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet — the kind that just keeps flying around and refuses to land. When it comes to my intellectual interests, I can be compulsive and downright obsessive at times.

Such was the case several weeks ago when I attended a four-year transfer fair at my community college. After talking with several representatives from the major universities in Colorado about my transfer options, they confirmed that my two years of music credits weren’t going to help much with an English degree.

Discouraged and resigned to basically starting over with my college education, I happened to overhear a conversation between a recruiter from the University of Denver and a woman my age. The recruiter was explaining their brand new Bachelor of Arts Completion Program for students whose education had been interrupted. Intrigued, I edged closer. Noticing my interest, the recruiter invited me into the conversation and explained that DU will transfer up to 60 college credits regardless of the major. She further explained that the intent of the program was to attract older, more experienced students with their challenging, relevant, and innovative curriculum. The option of online or evening classes coupled with half tuition and the opportunity to finish my bachelor’s degree in the same amount of time it would take me to earn my associate’s was the final hook.

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For the next week, I could think of nothing else. I poured over DU’s Web site and launched into a flurry of activity updating my FAFSA, faxing tax forms, checking into scholarship and financial aid possibilities, and begging professors for recommendation letters. I began organizing my efforts to tackle the extensive application process all the while envisioning myself attending such a prestigious university as soon as next quarter.

I was all ready to jump on the bandwagon until my husband gently pointed out that DU’s hefty price tag is just out of our league financially. Without much hope of obtaining federal aid, I had to concede that it is a little hard to justify such excessiveness on my part when we have five future college students to support. Used to deferring my goals for the greater good, dream mode gave way under the weight of mother guilt.

Deflated but not completely thwarted, my dream of attending DU is not totally shelved. I hadn’t counted on the fact that when you share your dream with others, they root for you; they don’t want you to fail. Both of my professors who were so willing to write recommendation letters for me have also gone to bat for me by keeping me abreast of scholarship funds I might qualify for. And so, after all their encouragement and support, I can’t give up. I’m going to continue with the application process and see what happens. It’s a far stretch, but as Marla Runyan, a blind Olympian said, “I would rather struggle with lofty goals . . . than settle for more comfortable ones.”

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