Don’t Skip College for Financial Reasons; Companies and Organizations Are There To...

Don’t Skip College for Financial Reasons; Companies and Organizations Are There To Help



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NOTE: The following opinion editorial was submitted by Richard Castro, founder of McDonald’s RMHC/HACER Scholarship Program.

Oak Brook, Illinois—-(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–March 25, 2004–In my job as a McDonald’s owner/operator, I meet a lot of bright, energetic students who work at my restaurants while attending high school. It’s risky to make generalizations, but I find that today’s students are more enterprising and resourceful than ever before. I’m continually impressed that they are working so hard to secure their future, as well as the future of their families, and I applaud them for their determination.

As industrious as these students are, too many are making the unfortunate decision to bypass college because they don’t believe they can afford it and don’t want to burden their family with the expense. I can’t help but be concerned about all the tremendous potential that is lost when those students do not go to college. It’s a loss not only to them and their families, but also to society as a whole.

The fact is that in today’s society, lack of money should not deter any student from attending college. It’s that simple. Although college costs are skyrocketing, a wide range of financial resources is available to students who show the initiative to look for them.

Preparing yourself for college is a big deal, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. There are tests to take, classes to complete, essays to write, and applications to submit. It can appear to be overwhelming, and make no mistake; it is a lot of work.

But with a little planning and preparation, you can literally make the grade. The first place to start is with your high school college advisor to make sure you are on a college track. They can help you as to where to find financial help to make your college dream a reality, whether through governmental grant, student loans, or private scholarships. Whether your interest is in farming, business, education, science, the arts or virtually any other field of interest, there are dozens if not hundreds of scholarship programs looking for students just like you. Your high school college advisor can help guide you to them.

The second step, and one that wasn’t available to me when I was a student, is of course the Internet. Type in the word “scholarships” on any search engine and you’ll find more sites than you can visit in a year. Refine your search to your field of interest and apply for those that most match your interests. And don’t be intimidated by the application process; after you get through one, you can basically follow the same format with some adjustments to complete the rest.

Here are some useful websites that you should check out:

— RMHC/HACER Hispanic Scholarship program — http://www.rmhc.org

— Free Application for Federal Student Aid — http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

— Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation — http://www.hispanicheritageawards.org

— Scholarships for Hispanics — http://www.scholarshipsforhispanics.org

— Scholarship and financial aid information — http://www.collegescholarships.com

— General college preparatory information — http://www.collegeispossible.com

The point is that people want to help you graduate from college, and are willing to help you do it. I know because I speak from experience. In 1985, I was concerned about the growing number of my Hispanic employees who were bypassing college and I decided to do something about it. Working with some of my friends at McDonald’s, we created the HACER (Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources) Scholarship Program specifically to assist graduating Hispanic high school seniors who needed financial assistance to enter college. Almost 20 years later, the program has awarded more than $12 million to more than 11,000 students just like yourself and we’ve grown to become the largest program of its kind assisting Hispanic high school seniors. I mention HACER because it’s just one of many scholarship programs offered by local companies, civic organizations (like your local Rotary clubs), Hispanic organizations (like LULAC), and others that are there for the asking.

So before you make that life-altering decision to skip college because you don’t think you can afford it, take the time to talk to your counselor, surf the Internet, and discover the possibilities and opportunities that are yours for the asking. It’s a decision that could change the course of life.

Richard Castro is founder of McDonald’s RMHC/HACER Scholarship Program and a franchisee in El Paso, Texas. Presently, Castro serves as president of the RMHC/HACER National Board of Directors and is a member of the McDonald’s Hispanic Operators Association.

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CONTACT:

McDonald’s

Mirna Aceituno

630.623.6432

Don’t Skip College for Financial Reasons; Companies and Organizations Are There To Help