Your free ride ... isn't

The hidden toll of scholarships



Catchphrases like “exceptional,” “high level of success,” and “traditions of excellence” accompany some IU scholarship program descriptions. So what’s the common denominator tying the exchange of money and expectations of success together? You, the student. No matter where you stand, whether your parents have you covered or you work 40 hours a week at Subway, the concept of “nothing is free” has never rang more true.  Here is the story of three students who understand that a good education sometimes comes with a price tag.


A Load of H’s

When freshman Hillary Anderson opened her nomination letter for the Herbert Presidential Scholar program at IU, she didn’t even know what it was, or more importantly, how she got it.

“I just know it sounded really fancy,” Anderson says with a laugh. “My mom and dad rudely didn’t answer my phone call, so I told my grandmother. It was a great day.”

Anderson, a graduate of Carmel High School in Indianapolis, says she receives about $10,000 a year in scholarship money.

In addition to being a Herbert Scholar, Anderson is backed by the Hudson and Holland Scholars program and the Hutton Honors College.  Anderson was excited about the additional support, but intimidated by the “load of H’s.”

However, she was assured that there were no required meetings or other explicit requirements for a Herbert Scholar. For Hudson and Holland, however, Anderson says she has to do a volunteer activity each semester lasting from four to six hours. Last semester, she volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington to produce Teter Treat, a Halloween gathering for all ages in the Teter Residence Center.  In the fall of their admission to IU, Hudson and Holland scholars are also required to take a course on education.

This all seems overwhelming, but it was integral to Anderson’s decision on where to study after high school. The load of H’s validated Anderson’s hard work.

“It is so nice to know that IU wants me to be here,” Anderson says. “That’s a very important decision in deciding where you want to go to school.”

Though Anderson’s parents can afford to send her to school, scholarships certainly help offset costs. She can live anywhere in town, and at the moment, doesn’t have to worry about finding a part-time job.

Though she faces the drudgery of GPA requirements, the most pressure she faces might come from herself. If Anderson did have a rough semester and was in jeopardy of losing her scholarship, she says her worries would be fewer thanks to a supportive family.

 “My mom, she’d love me no matter how I did in school,” Anderson says.  “Ultimately with everything I do in school or otherwise, she just wants me to be happy and healthy.”


Money Can’t Buy Happiness


Freshman Jordan Vanlandingham is Anderson’s future roommate.  And though Vanlandingham’s parents pay for most of her schooling, she had to take out a $5,000 student loan to help pay the difference.

Over the summer, Vanlandingham works full-time as a waitress and hostess at Le Peep Restaurant in her hometown, Indianapolis, to save a bit of money.  It’s the least she can do to help her parents, she says, but also the least she can do to help herself.  
“I feel like where I can help, I’m obligated to,” Vanlandingham says. The expenses she is currently paying for include groceries, books, and ink for her printer.

With Vanlandingham being able to chip in a bit financially, she says her parents don’t harp on her about school.  Vanlandingham is an adult, after all.

“If I fail a test, that’s on me,” she says. “But, who wants to be here in school longer than they have to be? I don’t.”


Gratitude Is Free


Luke Pacold is on a full ride. Opportunities fall into his lap due to his merit, yet he is constantly appreciative of what he’s been given.

The senior from the Chicago area has a dad from the Czech Republic and a mom from Indonesia, who have encouraged him to expand his horizons in college.

His experience as a Herman B Wells Scholar have allowed him to do just that.
The program, which covers full tuition and fees, nominates those in the highest percentile of their graduating high school classes. As a result, Pacold is expected to perform well in college, academically and socially.

Pacold says there isn’t a cookie cutter scholar. “But Wells is a serious name to carry around. You don’t want to dishonor that name.”

Wells Scholars must maintain a 3.4 cumulative GPA and take two seminar classes. In addition to his classes, he is a coordinator of WAVE (Wells Activism and Volunteer Effort).  For about five hours a week, he helps plan and execute charity functions for organizations ranging from Middle Way House to Pages to Prisoners.

To him, the payoff for doing well in school — he’s studying in the multidisciplinary Liberal Arts and Management Program, also known as LAMP — is the wealth of opportunities being a Wells Scholar, and simply being a Hoosier, affords him.

Pacold has volunteered in Calcutta, worked in New York City and sat in on economics discussions with Nobel Prize laureates.  Plus, Pacold says he loves being around other Wellsies —fellow scholars with eccentricities and interests that excite him.

Once he graduates in May, Pacold is going to be involved with the Bank of Montreal investment bank in Chicago this summer, and then after that, who knows.

For now, Pacold plans to enjoy what’s left of his free ride, though he says there is no such thing.

“Most economics majors would tell you that nothing is free,” Pacold says.  “To me, though, the word ‘free’ implies gratitude. If you are given a gift, you have to be thankful for that gift. The greater the magnitude of the gift, the better the display of your gratitude.”

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