Sitting down in her first college class, Anastasia probably has a bunch of thoughts running through her head: what will the instructor be like, what will the classwork be like or will I find a friendly face in the class. But no matter what seat she chooses, one thing is for sure: Anastasia won’t forget how hard she worked to get there.
“Once I’m in the classroom, I won’t be able to forget that someone else could be sitting in that seat instead of me,” she said.
Anastasia didn’t always plan on going to college. But a conversation with her cousins, both of whom were attending college, helped change her mind.
“I asked them why they were going to college,” she said. “They told me that attending college is hard work but is better for your future.” Anastasia talked with her school counselors, her Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and her foster mom — all of whom encouraged her to do her best in school and plan for a bright future. As Anastasia’s experience shows, asking caring adults for advice is an important part of making big decisions.
“And who wouldn’t want to go to college?” she added, “Just because you’ve got a high school diploma doesn’t mean you’re done with your education.”
With the support of adults such as her foster mom and CASA, Anastasia worked hard to get through high school. She even took on two jobs to earn money and learn about responsibility. Then, in her junior year, she began talking to her counselors and developing a “college application plan” – something she advises every college-bound student to do. “You should plan to have your college and financial aid applications done before the summer after your senior year,” she says.
Anastasia cautions that college and financial aid applications can be hard to fill out. For instance, she did not understand what to fill out when the financial aid application asked for her family’s income. She went to her school counselor for help, and advises that other students do so, too. She also warns other applicants to make sure their forms are turned in on time.
Anastasia will be attending the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and hopes to receive her degree in cosmetology (the art of hair styling). She would eventually like to return to school and receive a degree in nursing or technology: fields where she could help people with problems and have a variety of job options.
What is Anastasia’s “recipe for success?”
“My attitude is going to get me through college,” she says. “Every day, I’m going to get up and go to school, make sure my assignments are completed, and stay focused on my education.”
Anastasia also has some advice for other foster teens. “You have to let go of the past and not think of yourself as a victim,” she explained. “You can be strong and pick yourself up, but you have to be able to let others help you along the way.”
Anastasia will be going to school thanks to the work of some dedicated individuals. From the CASA volunteers who helped get her the bedding she needed to the school councilors who helped her fill out the right applications for school. In addition, Anastasia’s foster mom, teachers and family members all contributed to the success that she has achieved. Through their work, and the work of many people like them, foster care success can start becoming the rule, and not the exception.