For any high school senior, this concluding year is stressful on many interchangeable extremes. One path grasps enough passing credits to graduate, while another path is striving for higher education beyond high school. As a senior I know this firsthand. My already busy schedule was becoming constantly busier by the hour, filled with college admission forms and endless searches for family financial records to complete the even longer process that is applying for financial aid. On top of the applications that require much attention, school assignments and numerous extra curricular activities began to pile up.

The first few months of senior year I thought to myself, “Hey, this isn’t that bad. I’m not tired of school just yet.” At that time I didn’t think applying for college would be the least bit stressful. The idea didn’t even cross my mind. I’d maintained a 3.88 cumulative GPA while being involved in various character-building organizations up to this point. I thought I would be a shoo-in to receive financial assistance for college.
Beginning the whole process was simple; there wasn’t much that needed to be done, except filling in general information. Then I came across a page that asked for family income, and not knowing where to find that information, I asked for help. When I got the answer I needed, I put in the estimated amount of the family income that was generally made each year. When the application was finished, there was an option for a fee waiver for low income families that I applied for and was later denied. Since that time, I have done my best to contact the Office of Admissions to appeal the denied application fee waiver and for weeks there wasn’t any helpful feedback. After speaking to the Ambassador of my potential colleges, I was able to apply for a petition against my denied fee waiver.

[pullquote_right]I’d maintained a 3.88 cumulative GPA while being involved in various character-building organizations up to this point. I thought I would be a shoo-in to receive financial assistance for college.[/pullquote_right]

With this unresolved situation and patience was all that was left. none of my phone calls or emails were returned. Typically, the solution to my problem would be to pay the fee that is required and mail the petition to the school’s Admissions office. Unfortunately without the fee waiver, paying the fee wasn’t an option for me. After long nights of stress and annoying headaches, I sent another email to my school counselor, explaining my situation to see what else could be done to submit my application in time.

As I waited for a satisfying response, old conversations filled my mind with anxiety. Before talking to the Ambassador, I asked my brother if he could help me fix my problem, considering he attended the school that I applied to. His response to my plea for assistance was, “If you were denied a fee waiver, you won’t get financial aid, either.” Those words constantly played in my head during class, and I thought to myself, “What else can be done if my fee waiver wasn’t approved?” So day after day I continued to search for new ways to speak to someone who could possibly help me. Day after day I was left at square one. The extra effort didn’t get me anywhere, and pessimistic thoughts set in. All this negativity left me bitter about attending college.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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