High school students have always dreamed of being college students. No curfews, no over protective parents, no rules &

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166; the list of benefits goes on and on, making college adult life seem to be the most amazing lifestyle imaginable. What could possibly go wrong?

Until recently, I was one of those ignorant high school students. I plotted my freedom-filled future at Cornish College of the Arts next year down to a tee. I planned to paint my apartment bright colors (to counteract the weather in Seattle), buy organic food to fill my refrigerator and throw tea parties on the weekends. Life would be absolutely perfect.

But yesterday while browsing the Cornish online student forums my dream of a perfect and sunny future grew cloudy.

One forum topic was headed "Survival." I clicked on it without thinking and was led to a new page with topic titles such as "Food stamps?" and "Tuition + survival." Prospective students asked current students how they pay for rent and tuition. "What is the best way to get scholarships?" they asked. "Can I work full time and go to school?" Although the forum was doing its job by sparking conversation between students and answering their questions I couldn't help but to be scared out of my mind. Suddenly my perfect life in Seattle seemed foolish and impossible. Organic food? Puh-lease &

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166; I would be lucky to afford Top Ramen.

On a less depressing note, I do realize that this dilemma that I find myself in is not a new phenomenon and that I am not the only one facing it. With staggering tuition rates at colleges and universities in the United States, very few students are able to afford their educations without back-breaking loans and generous scholarships these days. Even at $22,000 a year (without room and board) Cornish is on the lower end of pricing as far as prestigious art universities go. With so many universities costs rising into the $40,000's, Cornish seems almost- dare I say it &

cheap? After all, if I were to set my sights towards an in-state public school like the University of Oregon, expenses would still be well into the $18,000 range. Perhaps the extra $4,000 and food stamps to go to Cornish are worth reaching my dreams?

I am not sure yet. I still hope that when I receive my awards letter from the school it will be filled with exhilarating information and digits larger than my telephone number. Or perhaps in the next few months a relative I have never met will deposit a hefty inheritance into my bank account. As much as I love to dream though, the truth is I will probably end up with loans and maybe a few generous scholarships. I am sure that my future career as a movie star (or a regular at the Shakespeare Festival) will pay them off in good time.

There is always a price to reaching for ones dreams (literally it seems); but that doesn't mean I will stop reaching.

Top Ramen here I come.





Alexandra Amarotico is a senior at Ashland High School