Sunday, April 17, 2011

“Napoleon Dynamite Knows College…”

“Napoleon Dynamite Knows College…”
Darrel L. Hammon

Like many of you, my two daughters loved the movie Napoleon Dynamite, starring Napoleon, Pedro, and a cast of other intriguing characters. After they saw the movie, there was seldom a day that passed that we didn’t hear some snippet from the movie. After listening to some of Napoleon’s and Pedro’s phrases, I realized they have some significance in describing the reasoning behind going to college.

Napoleon’s “Heck yes” to scholarships—To quote Napoleon, “Heck, yes” to answer whether you should apply for scholarships. Ironically, I have discovered that many communities offer local scholarships. For example, one community in Montana has an educational foundation that promotes “Dollars for Scholars” each year. Each year, the Foundation gives out numerous $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors from the local high school. These scholarships are transferable to any institution. Amazingly, many students do not apply for them because “it takes too much time.” Now, in my thinking, working on a scholarship application of this nature for two to four hours is worth it. To earn $1,000 at $8.00 an hour, you would have to work almost 125 hours.

Also, many community colleges offer scholarships to students who live within the college district or area. With some of these scholarships, coupled with federal financial aid, state scholarships, and other scholarships, students can go free to college. Now, if you are a parent, “free education” is worthwhile.

So, should you apply for scholarships? “Heck yes!” Go visit your high school counselor or your local college. For you high school seniors, Sign up for, which matches students to scholarships. Apply often and apply early.

“Flippin’ sweet”—Napoleon says this about a zillion times; but when you think about how “flippin’ sweet” it is to invest in your future, then you will begin investing now. Yes, I understand that high school can be a drain on the brain cells, and many of you want to spend some time to wind down. If you think you want to do this, then set a specific time, and try not to go into debt. The challenge becomes when you decide to work and then fail to save anything for college. The only thing you have after a year or two working is debt, and that is a difficult thing to crawl out of.

Attending college is truly a “sweet investment.” Statistics show that over a lifetime, high school graduates make more than high school dropouts; college graduates make more than high school graduates; and people with graduate degrees ultimately make more money than baccalaureate-prepared people. Thus, an investment in your education definitely is an investment in the future, and sometimes a large one. So, don’t procrastinate; just enroll now.

Another “sweet” thing you should be aware of is the dual-enrollment/dual-credit options you might have with your high school and the local college. What this means is that you enroll in an articulated course, either at the high school or at the college and receive both college and high school credit. The “sweetness” of it all hinges on the fact that dual-credit course are normally less expensive and transfer to any college or university. I know of one student recently who had already earned 35 credits by the time she graduated from high school. She needed just one year at her local community college to earn her Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) before she transferred to a large, private university. And her credits transferred. Sweet!

“If you vote for me, your wildest dreams will come true.”—Wasn’t Pedro wonderful when he said this as he campaigned to be student body president? Mottos or slogans at colleges and universities usually are motivational and attempt to encourage people to attend. Often students begin college without a clue what they want to do. College and universities try to help you either find your dream or help you fulfill your dream.

Also, for those of you who think you might be too old to attend college, the average age at many community colleges around the countryside hovers around 27-30 years old. Age shouldn’t matter. What is most important is this: Those of us in higher education want you to succeed so you can make a difference in today’s workplace, which continues to constantly change, and we’ll do what it takes to maneuver you from Point A to Point B and then on to Points C through whatever. Thus, if you attend college, your wildest dreams will come true (Thanks, Pedro).

Napoleon and Pedro learned some valuable lessons in high school, and you will, too. The important thing is to start now in addressing your future as it relates to attending college. No matter what the college, attend as soon as possible. And if you have been out of school for a while, set a goal to goal. Colleges and universities will help you make the transition. Obtaining an education is truly an investment in your future.


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