Senior hopes cheerleading may be ticket to college

Out-of-state schools appeal to her desire to live independently

BY KAREN F. RILEY Correspondent


As she looks forward to a career in education, Dana Smith participates in a School-to-Work program through New Egypt High School. Dana is working at the primary school, where she works with pupils on a one-to-one basis. As she looks forward to a career in education, Dana Smith participates in a School-to-Work program through New Egypt High School. Dana is working at the primary school, where she works with pupils on a one-to-one basis. Dana Smith, 17, is a senior at New Egypt High School in Plumsted. Along with preparing to graduate and participating in competitive cheerleading, she is squeezing in the time to complete college applications.

Dana is undecided at this time which college she plans to attend. The University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Tech, the University of Connecticut, Elmira (N.Y.) College, Villanova University and the University of North Carolina are the schools she is considering at this time. Her decision is based upon schools that offer competitive cheerleading and also offer her major — education. Dana plans to become an elementary school teacher.

The University of Maryland — the school she is favoring at this time — offers scholarships for competitive cheerleading. Some of the other schools offer free books or partial aid. She didn’t really think too much about college until her junior year and is shocked to find out how quickly application time crept up.

Although Dana is a cheerleader for New Egypt High School, she is quick to point out that competitive cheerleading is very different. It involves gymnastics (tumbling) and other stunt work as well, and she practices three to four times a week at a gym in Freehold. She belongs to an all-star team called the World Cup Shooting Stars, which ended last year with a perfect 8-0 record.

“When you keep winning national titles, it really keeps you going,” she said enthusiastically.

Since her team competes with teams across the country, she has had the opportunity to visit campuses in other states and talk to team members who attend those schools. Her all-star coach has also been instrumental in the process, researching schools that offer competitive cheerleading and Dana’s major, and passing along the names of coaches.

In addition to competitive cheerleading and cheerleading for the high school football team, Dana has been a member of student council since middle school and a member of the Yearbook Club for two years.

Dana was just named Student of the Month for November and participates in a School-to-Work program through her high school. Dana is working at the primary school, where she helps the teachers with individual students on a one-to-one basis.

“This program lets me know if this is something that I want to do later on, and it’s a really good experience,” Dana explained.

Currently, she is working with students in a first-grade classroom.

She has taken the SAT twice and received an average score of 1000, which is lower than what some of the colleges she is interested in require. “I’m studying and hoping to score higher on the next test,” she said. “I also hope that they look at my GPA, which is about 3.7 and the fact that I’m a member of the National Honor Society.”

GPA: 3.7

SAT scores: 1000



World Cup Shooting Stars,

competitive cheerleading,

student council, yearbook,

National Honor Society


School-to-work program

at the primary school

Considering applying to:

University of Maryland

Pennsylvania State University

Virginia Tech

University of Connecticut

Elmira College, N.Y.

Villanova University, Pa.

University of North Carolina

Dana also wants an out-of-state school because she wants to board and experience living on her own. She has a friend currently attending Villanova and three older siblings to draw experience from.

“We are very proud of Dana,” her father, Dave Smith, added. “Having gone through the process with my three older children does make it easier.”

There are five children in the Smith family — older sisters Lisa graduated from Franklin & Marshall, Kelly from Susquehanna, and brother Ryan is currently a sophomore at Lebanon Valley, all in Pennsylvania.

It has also meant that Dave Smith has looked at many campuses and spoken with coaches at the schools since both older daughters received athletic scholarships — Lisa for field hockey and Kelly for lacrosse. He has done some research on schools for Dana and made suggestions, but “I’m letting her choose which school she wants. Right now, she is leaning toward the University of Maryland.”

He has visited that campus during Dana’s competitions and is unsure if the family will visit the other campuses prior to hearing whether Dana has been accepted.

“Finances are certainly a consideration,” he added, “but it does help to have two in school at the same time.”

Since each application requires a fee, he is trying to talk to the coaches at each school first. The family is also making a tape of her routines to send in along with the application.

Dave has also attended financial aid seminars offered by the high school and some of the colleges. Talking to other parents who have been through the process also helps, he added.