There is no doubt about the fact that colleges in the US are expensive, thus, it is essential to have an open and clear discussion with your parents, to get a fair idea about how much funds they can allocate to your education. Even if you feel that you belong to the upper-class, we still advise you to have this pertinent discussion to know where you stand, what are your chances and how you should approach your college application process.
Having said that, I strongly urge you to not pursue scholarships, if your parents are in a position to afford the entire cost of the education. The reason for this is quite simple – like all businesses, colleges, too, need revenue to operate and keep them running. Beyond their role of disseminating knowledge, colleges have to be well-equipped with research labs, on-campus hostels and hospitals, conference rooms, auditoriums, grounds for sports, equipment and technology for different kinds of activities, etc., and all that infrastructure costs money. If they don’t get the funds from students, how will they run and provide students up-to-date training? Please understand that a college is similar to any business house looking to profit and generate revenue.
For a broader perspective, let me explain how admission officers segregate applications. All received applications will be categorized into two piles – one as ‘Paid’ (where the student is willing to pay) and the other as ‘Free’ (where the student will be seeking scholarship). Now, we also have to take into account that the university is not only getting applications from Indian students but from students across the globe. And if a student with a similar profile as yours is willing to pay, as a businessman, you would also give preference to his/her application than the one seeking financial aid. Therefore, in order to avoid this situation, a student must refrain from seeking financial assistance if he/she can afford the education and living cost.
The thing about scholarships is that, this provision is instituted for those who deserve and truly need help. Moreover, due to the recent pandemic—Covid-19, colleges have been hit hard as many students with offers in hand chose to stay back in their country or requested for deferrals. This has put the colleges in a precarious scenario wherein, they cannot hand out many scholarships and have pulled the strings on financial aid to curb losses.
However, if you are intellectually gifted but not from an upper-class background, accessing higher education from reputed colleges may seem improbable. In this scenario, I’d suggest not to let your financial limitations cripple you from achieving your far-fetched dream. I would rather assure you that, ‘Scholarships’ are meant especially for students such as yourself, and your household income should neither determine your ambition nor limit your educational pursuits. One of the most important benefits of scholarship for society is that it gives us scientists, doctors, engineers, lawyers and many more professionals from backgrounds of limited means. Apart from filling positions that would have otherwise remained empty, having more people in these professions helps in building a better society.
A little extra work for attaining scholarships will go a long way as winning a scholarship will put you in close proximity to mentors who will help you get the maximum benefit of the program. Moreover, you’ll be able to network with people who have been awarded a similar scholarship in the same academic field.
And, of course, if you are one of those who need a scholarship, you must pick one carefully. For this, first, ensure that you meet the benchmark required. Never should you assume that because you are at a disadvantage, you won’t get the scholarship and simply don’t apply for it. It does you little harm to apply for a scholarship that you don’t receive than not applying for it altogether. Take your chance and apply, but only if need be.