Scholars Speak: Guest Blog by Forman Scholar Arianna Lapp

Arianna Lapp shares her thoughts to our Scholars Speak student blog series. Arianna is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick where she studies business. 

Read on to hear about Arianna’s experiences in college, the challenges she’s faced with online learning and the advice she has for high school seniors beginning the college application process. 

What does pursuing a college degree mean to you?  

Pursuing a college degree to me means a higher quality of life. I know that a degree can help towards earning a higher salary, but, more importantly, a degree is a goal I’ve set for myself. No one can take my degree and my accomplishments away from me, and they will always be something to be proud of. A higher education pushes me to be a better person because the experience opens my mind to the enormous world we find ourselves in. 

What’s something you didn’t know during your first year in college that you wish you knew?  

During my first year in college, I didn’t know how to claim federal aid. I almost lost my aid as a result. I quickly learned how to navigate the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application process, as well as how to use the njfams.com and HESAA (Higher Education Student Assistance Authority) resources.

What is your most memorable academic moment from your time in college? 

Academically speaking, I was a bit cocky for an exam once because the first exam had been so easy. I didn’t study as hard as I should have, and my grade reflected that. Instead of letting that setback affect my mentality, I stepped up and studied much harder for the final exam. I ended up passing the class with an A. I learned that you should never expect things to be easy, and you should always prepare yourself. Also, never let failure hold you back from your fullest potential. Allow failures to motivate you to be better. 

Tell us a time when you overcame a challenge. 

This past year was tough because I am an in-class learning, so for me to be learning from home was a challenge. I knew that I would need to pay more attention to the work that I did, so I isolated myself in my room just to do work at times. I’d set time aside for myself to map out my week and decide what to complete each day. 

For people who may not know about the Foundation, what role has the Foundation played in your educational journey?  

The Foundation has allowed me to study at the university of my dreams. I’ve been exposed to endless possibilities because of the Foundation. I’ve studied abroad, learned from a personal financial advisor and been guided by numerous mentors over the years. 

As someone who grew up in either Salem or the Salem area, how has your community shaped your upbringing, and what do you think is needed to ensure the best future for Salem? 

Salem has definitely taught me that diversity is a wonderful thing, but I hope future generations in Salem recognize there is a world outside our small community. I know it’s hard to realize that when there aren’t exactly many opportunities for students, so I think it’s important for all of the school districts in Salem County to provide students with the means to recognize the myriad possibilities that do exist. Whether that involves college tours, career fairs or youth groups, it’s essential to for students to absorb this information early in their academic careers. 

If you had to give one piece of advice to a student who is applying for college, what would it be and why?  

Wherever you end up, make sure you are happy with your decision. Look at the opportunities each college offers, the distance it is from home and even the diversity of its student body.