This 16-year-old received $10 million worth of scholarship offers.

For many students, getting a scholarship is a big deal. For some students, having that financial security is the only way they can pursue education after high school.

And for 16-year-old Dennis Maliq Barnes, securing financing for college has been a steadfast dream — one he’s been working towards for years.

One Smart Cookie

graduate holding a scroll in his hand

The New Orleans senior always knew he wanted plenty of options for his post-secondary school education, so when it came time to apply to colleges, he cast his net far and wide. So far, in fact, he applied to a whopping 200 schools.

“I just kept going forward, kept applying, kept applying to different schools that I thought would even remotely interest me,” Barnes explained to the Associated Press.

As it turns out, plenty of schools were interested in the student. It’s no wonder, given his 4.98-grade point average and the 27 college credits he’s already accumulated. In the end, 186 colleges and universities extended offers, and 149 of them also offered scholarships totaling $10 million.

Those are numbers that Barnes’ International High School of New Orleans believes to be a record for any student.

And the Winning School Is…

teen wearing a red hoodie

When Barnes graduates on May 24, he knows exactly where he’s headed: Cornell. There, the student plans to study computer science and will potentially go on to law school, too. The Ithaca, New York, school is far from home, but Barnes is excited to see something new.

“I have committed to attend Cornell University and intend to pursue computer science and to later move on to practice software development,” said Barnes in a Cornell sweatshirt during an interview with CNN.

“Today is an exciting day for me and my family, and I look forward to working with Cornell’s College of Engineering over the course of my undergraduate education.”

Barnes added that he always knew he wanted to study computer science and that he chose Cornell because it is the “best Ivy League for engineering.” He believes the school will set him up for success and give him a quality education.

“I would like to get away from New Orleans. I love my city, but I do want to venture out and experience new things and see the new things that I haven’t seen before,” he added. “[I hope to] get an understanding and different perspective of the world, have my eyes opened and my perceptions changed by the people around me for the better.”

Taking a Chance

College and university aren’t for everyone: after graduation, some students prefer to pursue a trade, travel the globe, or find some other vocation that’s more in line with their personality and interests. This story still resonates, though, because it shows that with dedication and perseverance, dreams are possible. It also shows the importance of taking a chance.

Yes, Barnes was lucky enough to have the proper guidance and financial security while in high school to dedicate himself to his studies, which in turn led him to his early successes. But one of the reasons he was able to procure so many offers is that he applied to 200 schools. It just goes to show you there’s strength in numbers and something powerful about taking your shot.

That could mean applying for a job you don’t necessarily think you’re qualified for but really want. Or it could be trying out a sport or hobby you’ve always wanted to learn but didn’t feel confident enough to try before. Maybe it’s working up the courage to ask that special person out. The point is, if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Sure, maybe it won’t work out the way you’d hoped. Or maybe, just maybe, it could lead to a whole new world of opportunities and that fresh start you’ve been dreaming about.