I was in my senior year of high school and everyone was talking about what university they would be attending the following year. All I could think about was being stuck at home while all my friends were living up their freshmen year. My parents invested in a Florida pre-paid plan for a four-year university and one-year dorm plan for both my sister and I when we were just infants. By investing in this fund the majority of our tuition would be paid for at the cost of what the rates were for tuition back in 1998. Even if we decided to go to a community college first the tuition still would be covered and since it is cheaper at a community school Florida prepaid would apply the additional money towards our tuition once we got to a Florida university. It was a win, win investment. With the Florida prepaid investment you must attend a Florida public state college or university. Even if we decided not to go to college our parents would receive the money back without interest or be able to apply it to another family member. I toured Florida Gulf Coast University my sophomore year of high school with my cousins who were the same age as me. I fell in love with the campus and everything about it. I loved the dorms, the environment, the campus, the city, and the campus beach. Everything about it was perfect. I knew after touring bigger schools like FSU and UF that FGCU was the perfect fit for me.

 I didn’t get into FGCU because of my test scores so my only option was to attend Broward College for my first two years, stay home, work, and save all my money. It was disappointing at first but after a while, I realized it was my best option. I went to school in the mornings and then worked at an aftercare school program in the afternoons. It was hard seeing all my friend’s social media accounts who attended FSU, UCF, and UF having a blast on game days, tailgating, and experiencing their first college parties but I knew my time would come soon enough.

 A year and a semester later I decided to try to apply to FGCU for the spring semester. I realized if I didn’t get in it wouldn’t be a big deal to stay home one more semester, but I was just so anxious to go and have my time FINALLY! I sat down one night and filled out the application and prayed it would be my time to go experience college at a bigger level. A few weeks after I filled out the application I received the e-mail saying I got accepted to FGCU for the spring semester. I was ecstatic and humbled by the whole experience. It may not have been my initial plans since I was a sophomore in high school but in the end, it all worked out. I worked, saved my money, and realized it was okay to stay home for the first year. Everyone has their own path and mine was different than others, but all in all, I feel that it was the best thing for me and helped me save the most money while not attending a university all four years due to receiving a $1,000 scholarship from Broward College because of my good grades.

By Lindsay Smith

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