Girl in blue dress in front of sparkling metal carriage and glittery castle

How to Transform Your College Search, Cinderella Style

When you're facing personal and financial obstacles, your perfect-fit school can seem really far, far away. Make your college dreams a reality with this advice!

Remember how Cinderella had absolutely nothing except her dream of going to that royal ball? Her wicked stepmother and bratty stepsisters were certainly holding her back, and so was her serious lack of cash. It’s easy to feel Cinderella-like in your college journey too: when you’re facing tons of personal and financial obstacles, that far-off campus can seem as out of reach as a castle.

A student recently got in touch with us, concerned about her ability to pay for college. She talked about the town she lived in—a place where no one ever “got out”—but how she was determined to leave and go to college so she could have a better life. She said her family was cash strapped, and she knew she needed a little academic help too, but all she wanted was a little advice. It was a Cinderella story if there ever was one.

Hers is a tough situation, but being driven and asking for help are important first steps. The next step is learning all you can about college affordability and financial aid. And although we can’t pull a true Fairy Godmother and personally guide each student through their college and scholarship search (as much as we might want to), we can do the next best thing, which is give you all the tools you need to do it yourself—so you can be your own Fairy Godmother. Here’s a collection of articles and advice for when you know you want to go to college but you have a long way to go—and not enough money to get there.

Already been accepted?

If you plan to go to a two- or four-year school next year and have already been accepted, you can contact them and ask for financial aid help, including the possibility of more doable repayment plans, insights regarding school-sponsored scholarships, and perhaps even deferred admission. You should also search for institutional and outside scholarships on your own and apply to any for which you’re eligible. 

Further reading

Still looking for a college?

If you haven’t picked out a college yet, you should try to find ones that truly fit your needs and strengths. Finding the right school is a huge part of college affordability; when you’re a good fit for the school, the financial aid tends to follow. 

Further reading

You can also start looking for schools right here on CollegeXpress using our College Search tool

Interested in transferring from community college?

You might also find that transferring is the right path for you, like a huge number of students do each year (around one-third of them!). Starting at a two-year school can be a great way to earn cheaper college credits while boosting your grades to improve your scholarship opportunities.

Further reading

Just looking for scholarships?

Regardless of where you go to college, you should look for general scholarships in any areas that apply to you. Search and apply tenaciously! Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end. 

Further reading

You can start looking for scholarships on CollegeXpress too. Check out our Scholarship Search tool now!

Need a little extra help?

You don’t have to be the stepdaughter to a mean lady to look for outside help and guidance. No matter where you’re coming from or what you want to do in life, it often helps to look for mentoring opportunities through your school, community groups, and/or professional mentoring organizations. They can be a wonderful source of professional and personal advice, and they can help you in your scholarship and college search too.

Further reading

Finally, talk to family, friends (especially any with college experience), teachers, and high school counselors about your scholarship and college search and ask for their help too! 

We know this is a lot of information to absorb, but we hope you find it helpful. Please feel free to email us or get in touch via Twitter @CollegeXpress if you have any questions. Meanwhile, enjoy this throwback to one of the best versions of Cinderella with Brandy and Whitney Houston—’90s kids will understand.

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