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Know your value. Think ahead. Chase your dreams.

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

By: Steele Parkerson

Early mornings. Late nights. Just one more ACT reading section before you're done. Just a few more volunteer hours before you go home. As middle and high school students, you spend the vast majority of your time walking the square tiles that line your school hallways. Some students may see these tile rows as connections, mere stepping stones that link today’s classroom to their respective futures.

When you sit down after four years of high school and start filling out countless college applications, it’s almost impossible not to judge your value on how many AP classes you took, sports you played, awards you won, or scores you made; after all, that’s what you feel college admissions offices are doing. However, our value isn't defined by what we have accomplished, and our worth is non-negotiable. We are all worthy and special in our own right, no matter what standards we are placed under. And this is exactly what colleges want to see: the realness, the person behind the application. Who is brave enough to chase their dreams? So, when you pull out that kitchen chair to stare at the Common Application for the very first time, remember the experience — the laugh-till-you-cry moments, the jaw-droppers, the joy of being in the moment — not the grades, scores, minuscule additions to your resume.

One of the most profound human experiences is dreaming. These fickle, little friends we call dreams are constant companions to so many, yet few people ever catch these falling stars. Your dreams are worth chasing, because they come from you and are a part of you. However, running after those dreams is a lot easier when you have water, a protein shake, and friends and family to cheer you on. So, while a protein shake isn’t necessarily the first thing you need in order to chase your dreams, other resources like the ACLP Future Scholars Program are. High school is the chance to explore what you’re passionate about and weed out what you definitely don’t want to spend the rest of your life doing; the smartest way to chase your dreams is to utilize the resources around you. We know we are not the only resource out there, and we encourage you to still use Google (she’s the goat), talk to your Algebra teacher, your college counselor, or email a member of our leadership team for guidance in following your dreams: we are here so that your long nights and early mornings bring you one step closer to the future you see when you close your eyes.

STEELE PARKERSON is the External Communications Liaison for the African Community Learning Program and a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. To support the African Community Learning Program’s work, please email or

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