Graduating senior in cap and gown

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When I was applying to college during my senior year of high school in Pelham, N.H., I had a guidance counselor who tried to crush my dreams. He told me that he didn’t think I would get into the four schools I had on my list because no one else from my high school had ever gotten into those schools.

In fact, the counselor told me to find a backup school, and he wouldn’t help me file the financial aid applications. I was a stubborn 16-year-old, however, and my school had another guidance counselor. I marched myself into the vice principal’s office the next day and demanded the services of Mr. Fanning.

Thank goodness I did, because he became my advocate. Not only did he encourage me to apply to those four schools, he said that with my transcript and extracurricular activities, any school would be lucky to have me. He helped me apply for financial aid and figured out how to get all of my application fees waived because I grew up in a single-parent home facing economic hardship. My mom raised my brothers and me while working full-time as a teen parent specialist, yet we still qualified for free lunch at school.

Read the full article on The Baltimore Sun’s website.

Larissa Johnson is a New Economy Maryland Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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