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Educational Consultant on Scholarship Strategies

Expert admissions counselor Mark Montgomery goes to the University of Miami to talk about one student’s unusual path to a full-ride scholarship and even an admission offer from an Ivy League school. An inspiring story for anyone trying to find the perfect college.

I’m on the campus today of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, just south of Miami. Beautiful campus, you can see behind me this nice lake, most of the buildings are centered around this lake, and there’s another big quad not too far from here. Delightful campus, about 10,000 students.

I had a great tour with a tour guide from Florida, from not too far away, and sort of thinking about admissions. This is a top ranked university in the United States and some kids can do well by taking strategies for admission that are a little bit, shall we say, unorthodox. So I don’t think he did this on purpose, but it got me thinking, he is a dual major in music and economics. But when he decided to come to the University of Miami to apply, he applied as a music major because they have a music school and he’s a violist, and very interested in music.

So he decided that he would apply for music so he did an audition, did very well, and ended up getting a full-ride, full-tuition scholarship to the University of Miami. They have financial aid but a full-tuition scholarship? That’s pretty amazing. And obviously, he was quite smart too, he graduated valedictorian of his class, but he used that academic as well as the extracurricular activity talent that he had, putting them together to make for a really sweet package. He presented himself in a way that certainly the University of Miami saw was fantastic. They really wanted him so they gave him the incentive to come to this university over the University of Chicago and Cornell University, Ivy League. So he got a sweet deal and he knows that if he wants to go to graduate school, all that money he would have spent at Cornell, he can use that for his graduate education. And yes, if he got into the Ivy League once he probably can get in the Ivy League again.

So very good strategy for not only his undergraduate education at a cheap price, but thinking of his education as a long-term objective, that he can use that money and save it for a very expensive graduate school in business, or I think he’s interested in law, for which there really is no scholarship. So he saved that money, he can pay for his undergraduate free, and he can pay for law school with the money that he saved. So sometimes it pays to think strategically about how you want your entire education to fall out and to make decisions accordingly. This kid made a great choice, he’s very happy here, he was smiling the entire time during his tour, he’s just really happy with his decisions. So think about that as you’re trying to decide what is the right strategy for you as you think of your long-term educational future.

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