When I first started applying to schools as a senior in high school, I applied to all of the state schools within Arizona, as well as a couple different schools that I had kind of ambitions for, so like Stanford and these bigwig schools across the US. And as you start getting your acceptance letters, you also start getting the opportunities to see if you got offered a scholarship as well. I got into a couple schools that were my dream schools but I didn't necessarily get a scholarship or a full scholarship that I was hoping for, and I had to make the decision, when I started getting the in-state acceptance as well, they were giving me a full ride. So I had to make that choice of do I go to a dream school and have to starting dipping in to my college savings account that my parents helped me to establish, or do I save what I have now and go on a full-ride scholarship to a state school? And ultimately that's what I chose 'cause I knew that I wanted to go on to something else. I didn't necessarily know what I wanted to go on to, but I knew that there was gonna be more school after my four years at my university. So I took the opportunity to save what I could, and I think that's my biggest advice going forward is if you know that there's gonna be more debt afterwards, go with the school that you can save with now and invest into your future. So thankfully, I was able to go to school for free with a scholarship and some grants to help pay for books. I lived in a house that my parents owned so I had very little living expenses and I was able to have a part-time job, which helped to pay for some of the fun money that I wanted to have. Going into the application process for applying to physical therapy schools, the same situation occurs. I applied to my dream school, which was USC, which has been ranked number one in the nation for physical therapy schools for many years now. And as I got the acceptance letter to USC, I thought, "Oh, this is a mistake. This can't be happening to me," and I decided, you know, this is my dream school. I said if I was gonna get in, I was gonna find a way. So thankfully I had saved a lot of money by going to a state school on a full-ride scholarship and was able to use what money I had left in savings as well as taking out some loans to help pay for my experience at USC. Coming out of a doctorate program, I had about $80,000 in debt, which, compared to some of my classmates, was a lot less. So looking at the situation of if I would have gone to maybe a bigger school to begin with and then going on to USC, I could be stuck in 200, $300,000 worth of debt, which is a huge burden to take on as, you know, at that time, I was 24 and didn't have a job lined up exactly yet and getting ready to get married. So having that opportunity to save as much as I could and to come out with as little as possible was amazing for me and also a really big blessing for my husband and I.
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