By: Abidemi Benson
Like many naive and excited high school students, I wanted to go straight into a four-year college. My parents put a lot of pressure on me because education is revered in an African household. The high expectations are clear. My parents wanted me to either pursue medicine, law, finance, or engineering. After immigrating from Nigeria to the US in 2018, they dwell upon the fact that they've brought me to America to excel in life and be financially stable because they didn’t have the same opportunity to be blessed with such resources.
I started college at a local 4-year college as a Health Science major. I struggled to adapt to the quarter system. Everything was moving so fast and my grades were dropping with each test, midterm, and final. On top of feeling like a failure because of the academic struggles I faced during my first year of college, some of the scholarships I was awarded never came through. This left me stranded and unsure of how to pay thousands of dollars before the next quarter started.
As a result, I transferred to City Colleges of Chicago where I was awarded the Star Scholarship, a scholarship available to CPS students in which my tuition, fees, and books are fully paid. “City Colleges will provide free college opportunity for CPS high school graduates with a 3.0 or higher GPA if they enroll in one of the City colleges within one year of their high school graduation and this includes undocumented students” (CPS Schools, 2022).
The Star Scholarship is an outstanding financial choice for students who want to receive an education while also reducing or eliminating their student debt after they graduate. The Star Scholarship provides financial assistance to students so they can complete their coursework at City Colleges and, if they so choose, transfer debt-free to a four-year university. A star scholarship recipient, Albino Salinas said, “the Star Scholarship relieved me of financial burdens, I didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket and this allowed me to focus on my academics which led me to get a full-ride scholarship to my four-year institution, Illinois Tech ”.
Furthermore, Rhonda Hampton, Star Scholarship Director, says “Research shows that when students graduate with little or no student debt, they are more productive members of society and positively influence the community by home ownership, investments, and giving back to the community financially and physically by volunteering.”
As reported by the CCC website, “Star Scholar completion rates are nearly double the national average, and about 56 percent of our Star Scholars, who complete their associate degree, will transfer to a four-year institution to work toward their bachelor’s program” ( CCC, 2022)
This scholarship opportunity puts students in a safe space financially. Moreover, it gives students time to prepare, plan, and save for further educational studies.