Alexi Hastings knew she could save money by living at home and attending White Mountains Community College (WMCC) for her undergraduate requirements. But as she considered her next steps after high school, she learned that as Valedictorian of her high school class, she was eligible for a full year scholarship through the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH).
“It was a really nice surprise,” said the Little High School senior. “The biggest benefit is that it will allow me to complete my freshman year having incurred no debt.”
Alexi will leave WMCC in two years with an associate degree, and as she embarks on her future pathway, she’ll do it with a year’s less debt.
Asked about her high school career, the class valedictorian says modestly that she “did well” at LHS. Alexi enjoyed art and math classes and played in the school band while clearly excelling academically.
Though her six older siblings attended a mix of community colleges and traditional four-year colleges, Alexi wasn’t sure which path she wanted to pursue. She hasn’t settled on a major and didn’t want to spend too much money on her undergraduate basics.
“I always figured I’d go to a four-year college. It was ‘what you did.’” She had her eye on Rivier University in Nashua, but in the end, close to home looked better. “I can always transfer the credits,” she said, “and living at home and going to college locally saves me a bundle.”
Alexi had already been considering WMCC when LHS’s guidance department contacted her with the news of the valedictorian scholarship. She’s pleased with the money she’s saving. Through this scholarship, the college allows a tuition waiver of up to 32 credits to high school valedictorians who choose to enroll at one of the seven New Hampshire community colleges. At $215 per credit, she will save $6,880. Living at home will help her to save even more.
She has also taken advantage of the college meal plans, a benefit for a student on the run like Alexi. The Meals IncludED program provides breakfast and lunch daily and one dinner per week to all enrolled students – just another way she is saving money while attending school.
She works part-time at White Mountain Canning Company in Littleton and attends school at the Littleton campus, where her current major is Liberal Arts.
Alexi never thought she’d be learning alongside people from all walks of life, some older than her by decades. But that’s another benefit of attending WMCC, according to her, as it broadens her horizons and enables her to understand people at all points of the learning cycle.
While Alexi admits to being shy, she muses, “One thing I’m excited about is that, in a few instances, I was able to start conversations with people I didn’t even know.”
She is pleased with the amount of support the college offers. “I have received consistent help from the library,” Alexi notes. “And my professors are very understanding with family situations.” Some of her classmates work full-time, have families at home or other complicated situations, and she finds that “everyone here is very nice, and is always willing to help.”
While the money-saving aspect is important to her, so is the small school and the feeling of community.
“It’s never not a good idea to take a small step instead of throwing yourself into a huge college in another state,” according to Alexi.
And she will continue to enjoy the give-and-take the smaller school offers. “One day, a few weeks ago, we had a writing assignment. I’m not bad at writing, but I prefer math. I was having trouble getting the words on paper.” Another student, whom Alexi had previously helped with a paper, pitched in and so did the professor.
“It’s an atmosphere,” Alexi says, “where you feel comfortable asking for help.”