I am running this op-ed on the Monday education page in the AJC. It is by a UGA “super” senior.
While I don’t think we are going to see any expansion of the HOPE Scholarship this year or in the near future, I think she makes good points. Enjoy the piece and let’s discuss. I think this is a big issue at Georgia Tech where kids often go longer than four years.
(Monday morning 8:22: By the way, Amanda has come onto the blog to respond to some of the critical comments to her piece. Thanks, Amanda, for taking on the critics.
And to the critics, let’s keep this discussion civil. I know that most of us are used to the wild west nature of the online world, but this may well be Amanda’s first foray. She may never come back again. Maureen.)
Please read her entry.
By Amanda Hammons
I am a “super-senior” at the University of Georgia.
The HOPE Scholarship has provided the resources necessary to maximize my college experience and allowed me to soak in the five-star education here in Athens until now.
Before entering college, I listened to the sage advice offered to me to get involved. I am a prime example of putting into college what I wanted to get out of it.
I will graduate this month with honors and a dual-degree in marketing and sport management. At the same time, I served as president of the Sports Business Club and raised more than a thousand dollars for campus philanthropies.
Having made the most of these last 4 ½ years at UGA, you can imagine the disappointment and dismay I felt when I learned that my HOPE Scholarship had expired for my last semester because I took too many courses.
Utilizing HOPE to further my education, I am now stricken of the resources needed to accomplish as much as I could in a short amount of time because I was too ambitious.
I place no judgment on students in Georgia receiving HOPE Scholarship who do just enough to sneak by each credit checkpoint. HOPE seeks to provide underprivileged students access to higher education.
What I don’t comprehend is why students with the highest level of pride in their studies, students who dedicate time and energy to rising above the norm, are not given the chance to continue or even finish their goals. I think these students merit another look by the HOPE Scholarship committee.
My proposition allows students with a 3.5 grade point average or better to be granted the chance to appeal scholarship revocation due to exceeding the 127-credit hour limit.
Of course, this extension would be conditional on maintaining the strong grade point average.
This extension opportunity not only encourages the HOPE student to maximize their college experience, but also explore the chance to grow by pursuing multiple majors/minors.
In my opinion, the HOPE Scholarship is the only business that not only takes away the benefits of success in school, but, in some capacity, inhibits them.
I felt compelled to bring this injustice to the public’s attention. Yes, I could have earned one degree and graduated last May, but my resume would have been void of a much-needed internship, and I would have had to sacrifice the presidential role of a club I have invested my heart into at UGA.
This involvement led to a scholarship that contributed to two tuitions over the summer, one for calculus, one for internship credit.
Many would argue that one degree is “just fine,” but I chose to persist because my family sacrificed to support my dreams when HOPE would not.
There are many families and students who cannot shoulder the burden of educational costs, even for a single semester. Even though ambition may spur a student to continue in college, it can’t pay bills.
Limiting college education for bright young adults is a slippery slope that begins with discouragement to continue learning.
I believe that granting a HOPE appeal to successful, driven students to further their pursuit of a higher education is not only a positive educational reinforcement, but also a powerful reflection on the importance of reaching your highest potential.
Super-seniors should be given the chance to continue hoping, dreaming, and earning without fear of financial burdens.