Keoni Young

“Having a plan A and B is not enough. Even A, B, C is not enough. You need to fully understand as many possibilities as you can. I had a plan A B C D and even my backup plans fell through, once I started looking more closely. Understand what your choices really mean so you can try to land on a plan you can be happy with. Even from just talking about leveraging offers to different colleges. Learning how to be an advocate for myself.

Keoni Young was determined to attend college far from La Crosse. As an aspiring engineer, he was excited to be admitted to Steven’s Institute of Technology, University of Denver, and University of Colorado-Boulder. As the year progressed, Keoni started narrowing down his selection. He faced the difficulty of paying for these colleges, the cost of living, and travel expenses. His other reasonably affordable and closer options had fallen through for various reasons. He started feeling overwhelmed.

“There was a full conversation about what it means to be $100K in debt. I should have a job really soon after college to be able to pay that off. So I thought I could work my butt off after college and get that off my plate. Then we talked through the scenarios of going to the East Coast for school. The cost of living. I didn’t really understand what it meant to be $100K in debt after college. The ability to come home during the summer and see my family for holidays.”

This is when Kenoi sought help from the Future Center to explore other options. He learned about the opportunities afforded by Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He applied and was pleased to be admitted with a strong financial aid package. MSOE started to make the most sense for Keoni: lower travel expenses, great engineering programs, lower tuition, and still far enough from home to be independent but close enough to stay connected to family and friends.

While his journey to college was stressful and full of pivoting and troubleshooting, Keoni insists he learned and grew from the experience. He wants others to learn from his experiences and heed his advice.

“Having a plan A and B is not enough. Even A, B, C is not enough. You need to fully understand as many possibilities as you can. I had a plan A B C D and even my backup plans fell through, once I started looking more closely. Understand what your choices really mean so you can try to land on a plan you can be happy with. Even from just talking about leveraging offers to different colleges. Learning how to be an advocate for myself. To say: ‘Yes, I’m paying for this. And I need to be happy with the price I’m paying.’ That has changed the way I’m going to advocate for myself as a college student.” 

Keoni is grateful for the support and advising he received from Mr. Gordy and the Future Center. He used the Future Center to learn about various colleges, work on applications, explore finances, and to engage in thoughtful conversations that moved beyond academics. His ability to use resources to his advantage has given him confidence and excitement about what his future will bring.