Tallahassee, FL — Lauren Paula Bennett, a senior at East Ascension High School, was accepted into more than 50 colleges with a total of nearly $2 million in scholarships.
Over the last year, countless students worldwide had to face the unknown and adapt to a new reality — COVID-19. And unfortunately, the process of applying and selecting a college to attend wasn't any easier for the class of 2021.
Bennett shared how she got accepted into 51 schools and earned $1.9 million in scholarship offers during the pandemic.
"I believe what stood out the most was my hard work and effort despite all the struggles that I faced. I spoke of many of my obstacles and challenges that I overcame in my application essays," she said. "If students show leadership and dedication, it definitely stands out and shows good character and strength."
The 18-year-old applied to around 30 universities, not including the Common Black College Application that sent her application to more than 61 HBCUs for a one-time fee of $20. One of the most valuable tips she received was "saving and reusing essays and writing prompts from previous applications so that you're not rewriting essays from scratch."
"I would recommend applying to lots of colleges for students who are unsure of where they want to attend a school or for students that are looking for the best option financially," said Bennett. "For me personally, I knew that I needed to attend a school that would be best financially."
Attending Xavier University of Louisiana in the fall, she will be on a full-ride scholarship as a biology pre-medicine student. Her future plans are to become a dermatologist and "cater to minorities and those in need."
Her family was her biggest motivation throughout her process of deciding on her next home during the pandemic, she said.
"All of the sacrifices my family made for me and all that they did showed me that they saw potential in me and wanted me to reach my goals, and that made me want to work harder to make not only them but also myself proud," she stressed.
Her biggest tip to those stepping into her shoes next year is to stay focused and not alter or hinder their goals for anybody or thing.
"There are people who are supportive of you, but there are also individuals who serve only as distractions and don't have your best interest at heart, so surround yourself with people who support you and who encourage you," said Bennett. "I also encourage them to become involved in school and in their communities because this leads to gaining valuable skills, building meaningful relationships and connections, and lifelong memories."