You’ll Have to Forgive Me

Photos Courtesy of Cloud 9 Studios

You’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit on edge. The approach of February marks the beginning of the most terrifying time in the life of a RenProject senior (and the old man raising him). This is my second year in a row going through this, and I’m not sure I can handle it any longer.

At this point, all of the college applications are in and scholarships applied for. Now we wait. While Daniil has been doing his best to reach out to folks in the handful of schools where he has applied, there are no guarantees. No matter how much a school may admire Daniil and his story, the college admissions/financial aid aspects of it are incredibly challenging both for the school and for Daniil.

It’s, as one admission counselor said, “…hard to remain calm when your future seems in the hands of others! Best wishes for a few Zen moments now and then!”

It is incredibly hard and the moments of zen are few and far between.

Despite nine years of hard work, we simply do not know if it will all pay off. I know this is a reality in “product” development all of the time, years in development and then it fails to sell. Of course, it’s much more personal with the boys because they are people we’ve come to love over the years, not merely products. Riding on their shoulders at this scary time is their future and the future of their families for generations to come.

All of this journey is made more difficult due to circumstances beyond the boys’ control. They do not qualify for in-state tuition, and most state colleges have incredibly small amounts of money for international students. The boys also cannot apply for traditional student loans or work a normal job with a student Visa. Finally, RenProject has a budget that consists mostly of my teacher’s salary, so their options are very limited. We have gotten wiser in our years, investing time into colleges that have the means and interest in helping the boys.

Now with the ability to apply to dozens of schools with the click of a mouse, we have scaled back. Way back. We visited every school Daniil applied to and wanted to attend. He wore a tie, answered questions honestly. He was Daniil. His best chance of getting in anywhere is to simply continue to be Daniil, one of the kindest souls I have been lucky enough to know.

Some schools were upfront and let Daniil know they couldn’t help him, and despite the negative sound, that’s a good thing. Last year, Maxim was led on by a school who made it seem like they wanted him and that they would make it happen. We visited there so many times that I could drive the 2.5 hours with my eyes closed (and in the blinding rain on many trips, it wasn’t far off from that!) Then…they stopped answering emails and phone calls. Weeks (or months) of time barking up a wrong tree was a costly mistake. Their offer was over $25,000 short (per year) and Max had to move on, but the time had already been spent.

Even in the best case scenarios, “Full Ride” scholarships are like unicorns, dragons, or yeti. They exist in popular culture, but the reality is they don’t exist in life. Gleb got VERY close with a $5,000 gap and we felt blessed that a sponsor had stepped up to cover the gap. But sponsors are fickle folks, and after two years, we lost his support a week prior to the due date on Gleb’s bill (but supporters like you saved the day!)

Now here we are, January 24, 2016. Nine years of love and sacrifice comes down to the next six weeks (or so…). At this point, everything is out of our hands, so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a bit on edge.

If you’d like to make a donation to Daniil’s College Fund, or learn more about him you may do so at: http://renproject.org/Meet/Daniil/

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