COLLEGE PLANNING MAGAZINE
Issue #06 Fall 2020
NAVIGATING COLLEGE ADMISSIONS FOR JUNIORS AND SENIORS DURING THE PANDEMIC 10 HOW STUDENTS CAN MITIGATE THE EFFECT OF A BAD ECONOMY
STRATEGIES FOR EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL WELL-BEING 24
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DO THE ACT AND SAT STILL MATTER?
THE SILVER LINING IN HIGHER ED POST COVID-19
7 DIFFERENT JOBS YOU CAN DO WORKING FROM HOME
STUDENT LIFE HACKS - REMOTE LEARNING
7 IDEAS TO STOP YOU FROM DROWNING IN STUDENT LOANS
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CONTENTS / FALL 2020
Featured Articles >>> NAVIGATING COLLEGE ADMISSIONS FOR JUNIORS AND SENIORS DURING THE PANDEMIC - By Jim Paterson
The pandemic has created new patterns in higher education and college admissions.
HOW STUDENTS CAN MITIGATE THE EFFECT OF A BAD ECONOMY
- By Jim Paterson
Experts discuss the impact of a bad economy and ways young people can protect themselves.
on the cover
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08 Publisher’s Note 23 Life Hacks
31 College Calendar 32 Ad Index ON THE COVER image privided by pexel.com
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
Inside the Mag >>>
10 Navigating College 10
Admissions For Juniors and Seniors During The Pandemic: - By Jim Paterson
12 Do the ACT and SAT still matter? 14 The short answer: Yes - By Philip Bates
The silver lining in higher 16
education post COVID-19: - By Amelia Mezrahi
IN THE MIDST OF EVERY CRISIS, LIES GREAT OPPORTUNITY.
CAREER 18 How students can 18
mitigate the effect of a bad economy on career exploration and job search - By Jim Paterson
20 7 different jobs you can do working from home
“...Many challenges confront younger students approaching the college exploration and application process.”
LIFE 23 LIFE HACKS For School: 10 tips for for getting the most
out of remote learning - By Amelia Mezrahi
24 Strategies for emotional 24 and social well-being for high school students
MONEY – PAY FOR COLLEGE 27 College Finance Terms
28 7 ideas to stop you 28 from drowning in student loans - By Jeremy Biberdorf
- By Jori Hamilton
- By NextStepU editorial team
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Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
elcome to our fall 2020 issue of NextStepU magazine! What a year it has been! COVID-19 has sent shockwaves through higher education just as it has the rest of society. Schools, students and their parents are all facing a new normal of uncertainty not knowing what this or future years will bring. The pandemic has stressed education at all levels and its impact may reverberate far into the future. Out of darkness, sometimes comes light however. While the nation rallied around health care and other front-line workers, many students across the country also stepped up. From founding charities to address those displaced by disease to volunteering to deliver food to tutoring friends and family members, this generation of students has inspired us with their spirit in the face of adversity. It is no surprise then that we have focused this fall issue on understanding these changes to help students and their parents. Our featured article is on navigating college admissions for our prospective juniors and seniors and it has interviews with experts from NACAC and representatives from the University of Tennessee, University of Dayton, California Community College as well as high school counselors. In the life section, we offer articles #23418f on how to maintain the mental health of students, which is one of the most important issues we are currently facing. On the financial side, we have an article on how to manage your finances and student loans as well as jobs you can do from home given that many businesses remain shuttered. We also offer 10 tips in our Student LifeHacks Series for staying alert online and getting the most out of remote learning for all those students taking classes via zoom or similar platforms. We also look at some potentially positive changes that COVID may bring to higher education longer term. From innovations in teaching and pedagogy to moving away from standardized tests to finding new ways control costs, universities are adjusting in many ways for the better. While this school year will continue to be challenging, breathe deeply, exhale and know we will all get through this together. While the pandemic has thrown a curve ball to the plans of students and schools alike, as Albert Einstein once said, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” Each and every one of you can be a part of this journey and contribute to transforming the college experience while at the same time increasing the accessibility of higher education for all post pandemic. With warmest regards, Amelia Mezrahi CEO/Publisher Next Step Universe
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
Publisher/CEO: Amelia Mezrahi | Amelia@NextStepU.com Chief Revenue Officer: Rob Aronson | email@example.com Founder/Adviser: David Mammano | David@NextStepU.com Editor: Kate Alexander l Editor@NextStepU.com Art Director: Silvio Del Monaco | firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Sales: Rob Aronson | email@example.com Lisa Mietelski | Lisa@NextStepU.com Editorial and Contributions: Victor H. Arreola, Philip Bates, Jeremy Biberdorf, Breanne Boyle, Mehran Ebadolahi, Paul Feist, Jori Hamilton, David Hawkins, Amelia Mezrahi, Carolyn P. Mulligan, James Paterson, Taylor White, Donnell Wiggins Cover photography: Photos provided by David Hawkins #168fce and Silvio Del Monaco For questions, comments or advertising information, Please contact us at Info@NextStepU.com or through NextStepU.com. Next Step Universe is a proud member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. For advertising information email us at Sales@NextStepU. com. Some inside photos from Pexels ©Copyright 2020 by Next Step Universe. All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without permission. Copying, reproduction or transmittal of this publication by any means is strictly prohibited without the permission of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to edit or omit all materials submitted for publication, including advertisements, article contributions and event listings. Although this publication is thoroughly edited, the publisher is not liable for any damages due to editing, changes, cancellations, errors, and omissions. All corrections should be directed to our editor. All work submitted for publication is assumed to be the provider’s original work, and the publisher accepts no liability as a result of publishing such works. NextStepU® is a nationally registered trademark. Unauthorized use of the Next Step names, logos, or indicia is prohibited. We strive to make sure the information and advice is accurate, but it is up to you to do your own research. Good luck!
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FOR JUNIORS AND SENIORS DURING THE PANDEMIC By Jim Paterson
he upheaval from the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched throughout our culture, affecting everything from little league games and church socials to presidential nominating conventions to professional sports leagues.
But perhaps more than anywhere besides health care, the education sector has been most dramatically affected by the pandemic and Covid’s impact will continue to hamper it into the future. The pandemic creates new rules and patterns in all the arenas it touches, but in higher education it has also simply created a great deal of uncertainty for the coming school year and beyond. David Hawkins, executive director for educational content and policy for the National Association for College Admission
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James Paterson is a writer for many education publications and websites and lives in Lewes, DE. He has written broadly on career exploration and education related topics for several national and trade publications.
Counseling (NACAC), says that certain specific, major concerns are still plaguing those students attending this fall, while at the same time many challenges confront younger students approaching the college exploration and application process. He says counselors report that students are struggling often with simply not knowing how things will unfold which, along with the added health concerns, is creating an uptick in anxiety and depression.
Hawkins says members of NACAC find that many students also are worried about finances. “The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has moved us toward a recession, the effects of which are already arriving on campus,” he says. “The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has reported that its members are
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
already seeing an increase in the number of financial aid appeals, and they expect that number to further climb into next year.” He says that will affect a wider swath of students than previously encountered. “A lack of financial support is already the single biggest factor in college dropouts, so our members are especially concerned in light of shrinking state and institutional budgets for financial support for students in the coming year.” Breanne Boyle, a top counselor at the college consulting firm Collegewise, says students also must consider the value of student loans or paying full tuition “and not receiving the same instruction or access to professors, libraries and resources” in an age of online classes. “They need to ask if the college they
are expecting to attend will operate in person in the future. That may be a challenge if their students decide to attend a less expensive college or take a gap year.” Paul Feist, a vice chancellor for the California Community Colleges (CCC), which serves more than 2 million students through 115 campuses, says students should look for special fee waivers or other additional assistance if their economic status has changed. He says CCC institutions are offering extra support and notes that some colleges have received special funding to help students affected by the pandemic. Even if their aid seems finalized, students should get in touch with the college financial aid office and find out about options. “Our students are the most underserved in the state, but they are incredibly resilient. This will be a huge challenge for many of them, but we believe they can still thrive, and we are finding ways to help and other colleges are too,” he says. “Students need to be proactive in looking for assistance.”
THE NEW CAMPUS
Students obviously will have to navigate a campus that is different than what they expected this school year. The Chronicle of Higher Education in July reported (https://bit.ly/2YB1tC6) that about 56 percent of colleges were expecting to hold in-person classes, about 30 percent were expecting to have a hybrid model while nine percent were going fully online or waiting to decide. But these numbers have been changing daily and as of mid-August, the in-person rate had dropped to 23% while hybrid was at 15% and primarily online was up to 32% with the rest still determining or finalizing plans. Schools holding in-person classes are warning these could change suddenly based on potential outbreaks of Covid, while several have already shifted to online due to community or college outbreak such as University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill announcement on August 17th to go fully online. How classes will be held concerns faculty and students, says Hawkins, who is particularly worried about college offerings being adequate and all students having enough access so they can fully benefit from instruction, especially those with fewer resources. Boyle says there is another aspect of how a campus operates that concerns students: campus life. “Sure, they’d rather meet in person for classes but that’s not what they are talking about,” she says. “They are worried about meeting people and developing those social bonds that come with being on campus or in a library studying all night or ordering pizza and hanging out on the quad.” She says students are unsure about the status of key aspects of student life like fraternities and sororities, club and varsity sports and other extracurricular activities. “Those are very real parts of college as well as sitting in a lecture hall, and that’s often the college experience people yearn for so much,” she says. Victor H. Arreola, a spokesman for the University of Tennessee (UT), says its campuses will focus on four strategies: students working and studying remotely, the best health practices, supporting those who cannot work remotely and a “proactive COVID-19 testing program.” Parents and students should prepare for a different experience, Arreola says. And they should be proactive in finding options for making connections and having a fulfilling campus experience, perhaps even initiating them. (In one case a student formed a drone flight club entirely online last year, which will persist and meet virtually this fall.) Donnell Wiggins, assistant vice president for strategic enrollment management and dean of admissions at the University of Dayton, says that his college is increasing the number of
counselors to assist students with both their academic planning and the emotional needs. “We know going into this year that students will need extra support and colleges are making that available,” he says.
TESTS, GRADES AND APPLICATIONS
Hawkins and others note that new approaches have been required to handle the process of acquiring credits, assigning grades and taking standardized tests. Most colleges have been flexible, including increasing use of a test-optional application, which may get a boost for future use. He says it will be important for high schools and colleges to communicate about grading policies, transcripts and other information about student standing. “Our hope is that all parties understand that this year’s students will require a different approach to college application reviews. Colleges have not been able to rely on standardized test scores or even grades that they are accustomed to, so our members have some anxiety about how that process will play out.” He is also concerned about how rising seniors and younger students will be affected in the aftermath of the pandemic and may need extra support in the exploration and application processes. He says that it will be more challenging now to ensure that students don’t “drop out of the college pipeline” simply because they are discouraged by the process. Since many admission officers won’t be able to travel to schools, for instance, counselors and parents need to ensure that students have the face-to-face interaction, albeit virtually, to college admission staff. Others (https://fxn. ws/2Eq9PWg) suggest that they still should visit campuses too. The policies about students visiting campus or meeting admissions staff personally on campus, at their schools or at college fairs, is also uncertain, depending on the length of time the cases of COVID-19 are still high.
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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COLLEGE PLANNING We are using virtual events to connect with students,” says Arreola. “They include application workshops, FAFSA nights, and Orange and Blue Day, our annual open house event. Our Admissions and Recruitment teams will be available to meet with students and families remotely to help them through the enrollment process”. He says UT and other colleges understand that many high school juniors were unable to take the SAT or ACT during the spring term and that UT offers admission pathways that do not require the test scores. The College Board resumed SAT testing in August with a full schedule (https://bit. ly/3hGqDXe) throughout the year, but it warns (https://pages.collegeboard.org/ sat-covid-19-updates) that because of social distancing requirements and the large number of students who could not take the test in the spring and summer,
positions are limited and registrations may be delayed or denied. “We are doing all we can to expand availability of the SAT at test centers. We’ll provide weekend SAT or SAT Subject Test administrations every month through the end of the calendar year,” the College Board reports. ACT also added test dates (https:// bit.ly/2EzMaCA) this fall “to provide more opportunities for students to earn a full ACT test score for admissions decisions, scholarship opportunities, placement, and college and career insights,” the ACT website reports. Eight test dates will be available through the fall and into December. Like colleges, most school districts have systems in place to have classes in person, online or offered with a hybrid model so that students will be able to obtain the expected credit. The College Board, which administers the Advanced
Placement tests, put its testing online (https://apcoronavirusupdates. collegeboard.org/educators/takingthe-exams) for the spring, and says the reporting for spring testing is complete. It plans to have a regular in-person schedule (https://bit.ly/2D2A44s) after Spring.
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Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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By Philip Bates
Do the ACT and SAT Still Matter? The Short Answer: Yes HERE ARE THREE WAYS STUDENTS CAN HIT THEIR TARGET SCORE AND DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES FROM THE REST OF THE CROWD. [ 14 ]
n the presence of COVID-19, many highschoolers are beginning to ask the same question: Do college entrance exams like the ACT or SAT still matter to the college admissions process? Select (https://bit. ly/3gw0h9k) universities around the U.S. have marked scores as an optional addition to their application. But for most of those applications, they instead require AP exam scores or that applicants be in the top 25% of their graduating class. Not only that, but grade-point averages have also gone up (https://bit. ly/3hAcrPF) dramatically over the last several years, making it more difficult for universities to decipher which applicants truly stand out above the crowd. You wouldn’t want your application to be put aside just because another comparative applicant does have an ACT or SAT score and you do not. So,
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
the short answer is yes, college admissions exams still carry a lot of weight on your college applications even if it is not a requirement. As they differentiate among applicants, college admissions exam scores give universities another piece of information about who you are as a student. Here are three ways you can effectively prepare for your college admissions exam so you can distinguish yourself from everyone else. 1) GET COZY WITH THE ATMOSPHERE. Start by taking a full-length SAT or ACT
practice test. Taking the whole test will open your eyes to what you’re good at as far as time-management and subject area. I wouldn’t recommend starting with any type of preparation until you have a clear idea of what you need to work on. Take a full-length, timed test in a quiet space. Simulate the real test as much as possible so the atmosphere of a highstakes exam isn’t completely unfamiliar to you. Inflated results won’t help you accurately prepare. Become familiar with the testing experience so you have an honest assessment of where your skills are and, more importantly, areas where you need to improve.
2) CHOOSE WHAT TO MASTER. After taking a full-length practice exam, the next thing you should do is create a reasonable plan. Set a target score for yourself and hold yourself accountable. Create a plan that revolves around how much time you have before exam day, your target score, and where your natural abilities lie. Get specific, and realistic, about how much time and effort you will devote to SAT or ACT test prep, then— whether you plan to study for 20 minutes every day or for an hour twice a week —tell friends and family about your plan. From my experience, telling people about
your plan will hold you accountable for carrying out your plan because you won’t want to let them or yourself down. Creating an effective plan also involves assessing your strengths and weaknesses. It’s common to think that if your weakness is math, you should spend more effort gaining confidence in that area, but that’s not always the case. You might get more bang for your buck by blowing one area out of the water rather than cramming for your weak subject. It all depends on what you’re trying to score. If you’re trying to get a perfect score, you’ll need to attempt to master everything. In that case, you won’t want to come across a question you can’t get right. If your goal isn’t a near-perfect score, you won’t want to sacrifice time on your weaknesses and have your strong subject score suffer. 3) AVOID GIMMICKS AND USE ONE, HIGH-QUALITY RESOURCE. After you have a plan and have experienced a practice test, invest in a quality learning tool to help you effectively prepare for the real thing. If you get a reputable resource, you won’t need to buy multiple products. One source should do the trick. An SAT or ACT test-prep product likely isn’t quality if your gut is telling you it’s trying to sell you an impossible ideal. There’s no easy way to get a 1600 or 36. Avoid gimmicks, because there’s no way to cheat the exam. Whatever resource you’re using, it’s helpful to keep a journal of your mistakes, your improvements, and what you’re struggling with. Going back and assessing what works and what doesn’t for your particular learning preferences will help you overcome obstacles in your preparation process. Make sure your learning tool includes practice questions that are continuously updated according to what’s currently on the test you’re preparing for. The ACT and SAT are constantly changing, and
your tool needs to keep up in order to be effective. Online resources are able to be updated to reflect changes in a timely way, making sure you always have the most up to date content. Questions that mimic the real exam will limit the number of surprises you’ll encounter once you’re in the exam room. Another feature to look for is explanations to every answer that teach you the concept behind each question—whether you got it right or wrong. If you got it wrong, the explanation can address any misconceptions that you have and encourage you to actively practice this concept and master it for future preparation. If you got it right, the explanation should reinforce your success and encourage you to dive deeper into what you already understand. If you’re shopping around for different online learning tools, be sure to look at the answer explanations they offer. Explanations should be easy to read, take you through each problem step-by-step, and include a visual aspect to help you understand. Taking the time to formulate a plan, assess yourself with an ACT or SAT practice test, and choose a test-prep tool that builds comprehension and retention will give you the best possible chance of hitting your target score on exam day. If it is safe to take the test, even if your dream school doesn’t require a score, you’ll hit submit knowing your application might be held in higher regard by decision-makers.
Philip Bates is a former school principal turned content director for UWorld, (https://www.Uworld.com) an online learning tool that helps students achieve their target score on high-stakes exams. Philip holds a Master of Education from the University of North Texas and both a Texas Education K–12 lifetime certificate and Principal Certificate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with UWorld at @UWorldUnivPrep. Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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The Silver Lining In
HIGHER EDUCATION POST COVID-19
By Amelia Mezrahi
ith millions of students moving to remote education, billions of dollars in lost revenue and plans for this school year changing by the day at many schools, it’s easy to focus on the negative impact of Covid-19 for America’s colleges and universities. The impact of the virus is likely to be lasting as well. However, it is important to note there have been a few upsides as well. Schools are learning to embrace technology not just to get by during the crisis but improve learning after the pandemic. Colleges are teaching students how to work remotely in teams and helping them develop skills for the workplace of the future. Students are learning the real value of being on a campus when faced with remote learning. Schools are learning how the classroom, the broader intellectual environment on campus and the social life of students come together to develop and broaden young minds. There is a strategic discussion now on which aspects of learning can be shifted to online without sacrificing any quality academics as well as key social or soft benefits. Let’s focus on a few of the most important improvements for higher education.
SCHOOLS ARE TEACHING NEW SKILLS IN REMOTE COLLABORATION AND WORK
The lasting impact of the pandemic for business is hard to forecast. Will businesses return to the traditional office where employees work together in one location during set hours? Will remote work continue? What about business
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travel? From working in teams online on group projects to doing presentations via zoom, colleges are now training their students to work in world collaboratively. Google docs, slides and sheets allow students to work on materials not only at a distance, but simultaneously. There are also applications and tools that are being offered by 3rd party companies that allow collaboration that is more specific to the subject matter and can facilitate this type of collaborative work. Schools have also embraced blended classes where students can connect in remotely or watch high quality videos if they missed a lecture or want to go over tricky material again. Gone is the day when a student missing class was told to “get the notes from a classmate.” Traditionally, study abroad was the key means for giving students a global worldview, but one that most students never take advantage of during their college years. This is tragic as “arguably the main reason for pursuing higher education is the preparation it affords for life in the working world” notes QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a firm that analyzes global higher education (https:// bit.ly/3aCiBvW). Working with someone halfway around the world can be now as second nature to them as being down the hallway. Schools themselves are finding ways to link students into one classroom from around the world. They can also as easily incorporate industry and subject matter experts to join a class remotely. All of these trends also increase the opportunities for collaboration among students across schools and even continents, connecting American students to colleagues in different parts of the
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
globe. These are critical sills.
COVID IS INCREASING THE SPEED OF INNOVATION, ESPECIALLY HYBRID LEARNING To date, higher education has mostly been focused on the extremes of traditional in-class learning or wholly online alternatives. Each had their drawbacks. The former is not only expensive, but traditional lecture-based classes can focus overly on passive learning. The latter is often isolating as online is typically asynchronous learning by watching videos and doing exercises. Education reformers have been pushing for several years for an alternative approach – the flipped classroom. In this model, students learn key concepts online via videos with quick quizzes and exercises to test their learning. Classroom time is spent unpacking key ideas, exploring more difficult concepts and building off of what they learned online. Studies show flipping the classroom is far more effective pedagogically for many students. For example, a recent article in the International Journal of Education Technology in Higher Education found that “Several studies have demonstrated that flipped classroom as a teaching method may promote student engagement and a more active approach to learning in higher education.” Perhaps most importantly, low achieving students that struggled with traditional learning “experienced an empowerment using the flipped classroom model in terms of gaining more opportunities to reflect and learn in their own pace.” (https://bit.ly/2EjZHxJ). Despite such evidence, universities are very traditional organizations and slow
IN THE MIDST OF EVERY CRISIS, LIES GREAT OPPORTUNITY. to change. But as almost every professor was forced online and exposed daily to a variety of teaching methods, they are finding hybrid approaches that work best for their students and schools are ready to embrace them.
DOWN WITH THE SAT?
During Covid learning, testing has proved a major challenge for in-person testing For entrance exams, the movement to make the SAT and ACT optional was already growing, but faced resistance at many schools. By August of 2020 with the pandemic, more than 60% of 4-year programs are now test optional or 1,460 colleges and universities (https://bit. ly/3gKSNzr). This reflects the current realities. Top research universities had been the most reluctant to give up standardized tests. But this year Brown, Cornell, Princeton and Yale have all gone test optional among the Ivy Leagues (https://cnb.cx/2GfPYtn). As Bob Schaeffer of FairTest, an organization that advocates for making testing optional notes, “Many sites, where exams were scheduled for this fall, will not open. That makes it impossible for many applicants to submit scores. Admissions officers also know that test-optional policies worked well at the one thousand schools which implemented them before the pandemic.” “It is attractive for many applicants to know that they will be evaluated as ‘more than a score’,” Schaeffer argues. Given the unequal access to test preparation in the country, the fairness of these standardized exams has increasingly come into question. There is also the reality that some students just do not
shine on standardized tests.
THE END OF FINALS WEEK AS WE KNOW IT AND THE RISE OF REMOTE TESTING
Within schools, a substantial amount of course time is often devoted to in-class exams. Most schools have entire final exam weeks that are the bane of students. In class exams are increasingly seen as an inefficient use of time, increase student stress and anxiety and lead to incompletes or makeups when students are sick or unable to take them. Covid has forced schools to think about how to design tests that can be taken remotely and asynchronously (e.g. at a time of the students choosing). Remote testing means that more exams are open note and open book, reducing student stress. Some professors are creating banks of questions using systems that create a random, unique set of questions for each individual student to prevent cheating even when exams are taken at different times. Not a morning person or working part time? Students can now have an entire window over say a weekend where they can pick an exam time that works best for them. Insuring testing integrity is fueling the growth of online proctoring companies that can monitor students taking exams over the Internet, observing them the entire time with cameras while software also checks what they are doing on their computers. While such software raises privacy concerns, proponents argue that computers are more efficient than often a lone professor trying to monitor 100 students in a room. But the bigger value added may
be convenience. The longer-term goal is to give students choice. Concerned about privacy and want to take it live, there is an on-campus option. Want to take it at 1AM from your bedroom, use the online software. The global footprint and scale of many testing companies offers security and convenience. In the face of Covid, President Sanders Pitman of software provider ProctorU stated, “having multiple redundant sites and complete virtualization allows us to provide a secure testing environment without missing a beat… (https://bit.ly/2Eyj2vC).”
College tuition has been rising faster than inflation for decades. And for years many students have paid those rising bills, often ending up with record student loan debt. Some just ruled out college all together. Covid has been a financial tsunami for higher education. In the immediate crisis, many schools are looking at pay and hiring freezes, layoffs and restructuring. In the longer term, schools are trying to think about how to reinvent their business models and deliver more for less. As noted earlier, rather than moving to ever larger lectures in person or online, the hope is to mix live classroom discussion with online coursework that enhances student learning while allowing faculty to reach a greater number of students. With schools forced to go remote, they can take a hard look at what parts of their budget deliver the most value. Large campuses with many facilities is expensive, especially for schools where most of their courses are Monday-Friday and they take a break over summer. Moving parts of their courses online, allows them to teach more students in a smaller footprint. How much value does the library versus the student activities center provide? Could they be combined into one?
Albert Einstein once said, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” In more prosaic terms, when you are given lemons, make lemonade. Covid is a global challenge and tragedy. But there are some important changes coming to higher education that offer some silver lining.
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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How students can mitigate the effect of a bad economy ON CAREER EXPLORATION AND JOB SEARCH
By Jim Paterson
he COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the economy and alarmed students who are in the first stages of developing their careers. However, experts say there are a number of ways young people can protect themselves from not just the virus – but also its effect on their future. Taylor White, a senior policy advisor for education and the workforce at New America, a non-partisan think tank, believes that the pandemic will jumble the career paths of young people in college or who have recently entered the workforce. But, she says, it is hard to say how much of an impact Covid will have. “For some, these decisions may be motivated by concerns about safety or a sense that a year-long degree costing $45,000 in hospitality management might not be a sound investment after all,” she says. “And that could be said for any number of majors given how uncertain the economy is.” White has written (https://bit. ly/2YBHIu9) about the topic of youth employment and specifically about supports young people will need following
the pandemic. She believes that a lot will depend on how successfully the virus is contained and how campuses adjust over the coming year. She says, however, there are signs that young people will struggle finding jobs and may be more confused about careers and even the value of a college degree. She notes that young people early in their careers or entering the job market are often disproportionately affected by a downturn in the economy. Meanwhile, those in college may find their course work, opportunities to interact with classmates or professors and their ability to participate in internships, or work in career-related part-time or summer positions, all limited. Carolyn P. Mulligan, president of the educational consulting firm Insiders Network to College in Summit, NJ, says she doesn’t think students are deciding to avoid college – yet. But she said some are concerned about their safety and may be choosing less expensive options or colleges closer to home to reduce risk. A survey by the test preparation firm TestMax Prep of some 2,200 college students showed that 77 percent felt that the weakened job market made a
Here are some ways students can perhaps mitigate the effects of the pandemic on career exploration and training:
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Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
college education less valuable for the money and nearly 60 percent believe that their job prospects are diminished. “What we have seen is that many students have yet to decide what their futures hold,” says Mehran Ebadolahi, founder of the firm. “People are waiting for certainty, but it appears that won’t return anytime soon. Beyond logistical factors –like law students perhaps being ineligible to sit for the bar exam if they obtained their law degree online –the more practical considerations here are whether or not the degree will lead to higher earnings.” And White believes students just may not be exposed to the normal work and school situations and environments that are important as they choose and train for a career path. “Adolescence is a period when young people are shaped by their interactions with others, both peers and adults alike,” she says. “I worry that extended periods of primarily virtual interactions – whether social, academic, or some combination of the two – might make it harder to form the kinds of relationships they seek and need, from a developmental perspective, both with people and with their passions.”
Consider limitations, opportunities and changes. White and others note that opportunities in some fields will contract considerably into the future after the pandemic – potentially airlines, the cruise ship industry or hospitality businesses. Any personal service businesses may be hampered. Meanwhile, some industries will change, especially where services can be done virtually. Jobs will require new skills or procedures due to the shift to remote work. Also, new careers will arise (https://bit.ly/34Hj4MF) such as new types of sanitation businesses and new opportunities in health care. Even students in high school should take that all into consideration as they think about their futures.
Be patient. Just because the college experience may be different this year and opportunities in certain jobs may be limited in the short term, that doesn’t mean things won’t get back to normal eventually. There are a lot of dire predictions about jobs and the economy, but just as many experts believe the country will bounce back successfully. The economy overcame the 2008 crisis, the dot.com crash and countless other crises before Covid. Don’t act too impulsively based on how things look right now.
Get good information. With your future in mind and knowing what it takes to move into a career, ask questions about how a college expects to handle classes, but also internships, sports, extra-curricular activities or job fairs – and other activities that help students develop their understanding of careers and prepare for one.
Be nimble. There are experts who believe that the economy and employment opportunities change quickly at any time and that one of the most important qualities a young person can have is flexibility. A key part of their training should involve skills that transfer easily between jobs or industries or are important in any field. It might be a good time for young people to focus on what are often called 21st Century Skills (https://bit.ly/3aYBAkA) such as communications, leadership, critical and creative thinking and social skills to be prepared to show how they can fit in and adapt.
Consider professionals. College and career consultants may become more valuable if they have been diligent about keeping up with the best and latest information about how the job market is shifting or a college is performing when it comes to preparing its students. High school counselors will have more up-todate information based on their discussions with colleges and former students – and college career offices should be better prepared and become part of a student’s regular set of resources. Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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Different Jobs You
CAN DO WORKING FROM HOME
By NextStepU Editorial Staff
here is a massive change in the way people are working. While the sudden shift happened as a result of the Covid pandemic, these trends reflect a longer-term desire of many workers to have more independence in the workplace and is driving people to work from home more often now. In addition to those who have full-time careers that are moving into the world of working remotely, many people are joining this new type of workforce in a range of roles and commitments.
There is a big desire to work from home because it allows you to be your own boss in many cases and gives you a lot more flexibility. The difficult part is figuring out what kind of jobs you can work from home so here are 7 that can get you started on your search.
The art of grammar and spelling is quickly becoming a hot commodity. As more people rely on technology to do the dirty work of typing and spelling, proofreading is a valuable job line to get into that can be done from anywhere. Proofreading of essays for schools, publications for work or even transcripts of court documents are just some of the roles. All are easy to learn with the extremely useful courses (https://bit. ly/2FTTp8U) available online. This job is good for working from home because it allows you to use your skills in a practical setting, can be done flexibly during the hours that work for you and provides an independent work life.
Working from home is becoming more popular and is leading many people to ditch the office environment in favor of working from the comfort of their house or apartment. Using this list of 7 different jobs you can work from home (or remotely in general) can help you learn a new skills - or put your existing ones - to the test to help earn good money while having independence.
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Magazine â€˘ Fall 2020 â€˘ www.nextstepu.com
Being a consultant means you have a robust knowledge of a certain field of study (law, accounting, etc.) and are able to offer your knowledge and guidance for fees. Being a consultant can net you a healthy fee depending on how much knowledge you have and how in demand your skills are. Consulting can be in many forms which is why it is such an interesting job you can often do from home.
Online tutoring has grown a lot as many people look for ways to teach their children or themselves. Schools and programs are becoming more competitive and tutoring remotely is often far easier for both the student and the tutor. Being a tutor/teacher can let you use your knowledge and help teach others in things like math, musical instruments, science, computer technology, etc. Pre-recorded lessons and other online tools help maximize your efforts too.
(4) VIDEOGRAPHER AND PHOTOGRAPHER
For digital content providers, working from home has been popular in their line of work for a while. Many people look to outsource their videography/ photography work to professionals and you might be able to fill that need as editing is time intensive for those less experienced and requires specialized software. Anything from making content like videos or photos to publish on the web to editing images for putting together a brochure can be done from home easily. This field requires some previous knowledge (https://bit.ly/34C4FRy) of the editing software, but it is easy to learn from online tutorials.
(7) AFFILIATE MARKETING (5) SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
The growing need for a strong social media presence, whether as a business or individual, means that people need someone specialized in the art of managing a brand and image. Social media managers are those dedicated and talented individuals that consult and manage the online aspect of branding. They help develop strategies to define a person or brand and maximize their online presence. Social media managers have a strong knowledge of the most popular platforms and are good at adapting to challenges to help their clients.
Writing copy is the art of writing the words for advertising and marketing. This is just another example of the many writing jobs that can be done entirely online from home which can help you either supplement or earn an income. Copywriters can work independently as freelance contractors (https://bit.ly/32vSLGb), work for a firm or content management team, and work for individuals. This job can be done from home or anywhere you have access to the internet and has the potential to pay fairly well.
Selling items online is not what it used to be. Affiliate marketing is not the act of actually selling the products, but directing people (or traffic in the language of the business) toward sites or services that offer the products. Affiliate marketers generate revenue based on clicks on links and purchases from websites. Ecommerce is growing and affiliate marketing is part of the reason why so many people are taking advantage of online selling programs. Many online commerce services offer some form of affiliate marketing program. These can help you monetize a blog or website. Have a popular site thousands of people visit a month? You can start earning passive income to allow for an amazingly flexible lifestyle and work life.
Magazine â€˘ Fall 2020 â€˘ www.nextstepu.com
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Student LifeHacks Series:
By Amelia Mezrahi
Life Hacks for School
TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF REMOTE LEARNING
With so many classes going online this year and possibly in the future, students are left to wonder how best to manage their remote learning experience. Students have been forced to use zoom or similar platforms in order to connect with other students and educators. At this point, many of us have become pros at managing such software. But there are still a lot of tips to improve the experience.
TAKE NOTES TO KEEP ALERT Bueller…. Bueller... Sound familiar? Do you find your mind wandering during classes online? The reality is that it is often hard to keep up even during an in-person lecture. One way to stay engaged is to keep jotting down key points throughout a lecture. While note taking has long been used to help prep for tests, don’t forget another major reason students take notes is as a quick hack to increase concentration.
SILENCE SOCIAL MEDIA It’s easy to become distracted by checking social media online. Heck, lots of us find ourselves reaching for our phones in class or meetings every day. But the level of distraction this temptation can lead to during online courses is much greater. The best advice is to silence the announcements of new messages or posts and wait until break. Or set a timer to check every 45 minutes or so.
USE THE CHAT FEATURE ON YOUR PLATFORM If you use the chat feature to engage other students privately, it may be easier to stay alert. Just keep the conversation focused on class. Or post your comments publicly where encouraged by the instructor – you help keep the rest of the class focused while also getting class participation credit!
FULL SCREEN AWAY Just as tempting as social media is so are all the other open screens on your computer during class. Eliminate the temptation by going to full screen mode in zoom or whatever platform you are using. This gives you the added bonus of making the class more immersive, slides easier to read and the faces of classmates easier to see.
IT’S TIME FOR THE BIG(GER) SCREEN Let’s take that advice one step further by making the class even more immersive. With the right monitor and processor, you can see dozens of your classmates at once. Remote learning on a small screen is tough and the extra real estate makes it much easier to follow what is happening on slides, with the instructor and your classmates. Even on an existing computer, an inexpensive external monitor can make a huge difference.
TIDY UP Make sure the space around you is clean, organized and uncluttered. It’s Mari Kondo time if you watch her show on Netflix! Why? When your attention starts to stray from class, all the visual distractions around you will likely draw you instead. So allow all of your focus to be on the class directly in front of you.
IT’S TIME TO STAND UP Have you noticed the trend in recent years where people stand up presenting the news on some TV shows. This is because standing makes you more alert and energetic. It certainly communicates that to your audience. When you find yourself starting to drag, grab your laptop if you can move and take a position standing up. It may be easier to help you focus while moving your arms and legs a bit.
EXERCISE DURING BREAKS If you are in a long class, take advantage of breaks to exercise with what time you have. Remember how you always had recess in elementary school? Humans are not designed to sit still for long periods. So even if your break is only 15 minutes avoid the temptation to check mail and get yourself moving as much as you can.
GET IN THE ZONE How about starting your day with meditation? Okay this is something you might want to consider whether online or not. But if you are facing a long day of meetings and classes by computer, getting into the zone early is critical for a lot of people. Meditation podcasts and videos abound online and many are free.
BLINDING LIGHTS Do you find looking at classmates who look like they are taking the course in the dark? Well you may look the same. Do all you can to illuminate yourself to make class more engaging for other participants. If the lighting in your room just doesn’t work, consider buying some inexpensive LED lights to shine directly on yourself during class.
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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By Jori Hamilton
Strategies for Emotional and Social Well-Being for High School Students
eing a teenager in high school is rough. If you’re struggling with your emotional and social well-being, know that you’re not alone. Statistics show that depression usually sets in around age 15, and roughly 25% of adolescents show signs of having depression ( https:// bit.ly/3lgexqf ). Additionally, almost 1 out of 10 teenagers have attempted suicide in the past year. These numbers show that poor mental health is a serious, ongoing problem for many high school students. Not all is lost, however. Knowing the factors that can lead to poor emotional and social well-being is the first step to combating them. There are also strategies that you can use to improve your mental health. There are things that
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parents and schools can do to help as well. Let’s explore the possibilities.
FACTORS THAT LEAD TO POOR EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL WELL-BEING
High school students are trying to figure out who they are and what their place is in society. That journey of discovery, combined with wanting to be accepted by peers, competing for grades, highstakes testing, and preparing for college makes them feel hemmed in on all sides ( https://edut.to/2QnQN5d ). In addition to those problems, many are also dealing with broken homes, physical or emotional abuse, and legal issues. And then there’s the pressure brought on by constantly being connected to smartphones and ever-present social media ( https://bit.ly/34xS4Pm ). Too much social media usage has been
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
linked to numerous problems: • A decrease in actual social activity and loneliness • Envy or jealousy • Anxiety due to the constant pressure of keeping up with online activity. • Sleep deprivation • Communication issues with actual people they are connected with • Cyberbullying and sexting These factors, in addition to risks of being genetically predisposed to depression, can lead to mental health issues ( https://bit.ly/3hGFIbH ). These problems may not be readily apparent when we outwardly look at someone but can still be debilitating to their lives nonetheless. Mental health issues can run the gamut, from depression
LIFE and anxiety to eating and personality disorders to serious diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Knowing the signs of possible mental illness will help you spot likely problems, not only in yourself but in others, which is the first step to getting help.
START WITH A GOOD ROUTINE
Now that you know factors that can lead to emotional and social unrest, let’s discuss ways to combat them. One thing that can help is by creating a solid morning routine ( https:// bit.ly/32vESYW ). People who adopt healthy morning routines are more likely to be productive and organized. There are even studies that show they may make more money. This will help reduce your stress levels for the rest of the day. There are several steps to building a morning routine that is right for you: • Look at what others do to start their mornings but come up with some thing that will work for you whether that is for you to exercise, meditate, or study. What will benefit you the most? • Take a look at things that have to be in your routine: personal hygiene, getting dressed, and eating breakfast, and make sure they are part of your routine. • Consider logistics. You need 7-9 hours of sleep each night and must be at work or school on time in the morning. How can your routine help you accomplish this? • Start small. Put the things you need to do in the best possible order and then begin adding things you want to do, one by one. • Be consistent. It takes time to create a habit.
OTHER WELLNESS STRATEGIES
In addition to establishing a good morning routine, limiting smartphone use and exposure to social media ( https://bit. ly/3hFrSpC ) is imperative, but it’s also a balancing act. You need to learn how to take advantage of the good aspects of technology while staving off the negatives. Delete social media apps from
your phone. If that is too much to ask, stuff them in a folder on the last page of your apps so they’re not easy to access. You should also consider taking a week off from social media every once in a while. It will do you a world of good. You may want to also consider volunteering ( https://bit.ly/3jeNb1I ). Volunteering does a lot more than add positive things to your transcript. Ninety percent of volunteers admit that when they help others, they feel good about themselves, and they have a more positive attitude of themselves in many areas. Volunteers feel more confident, optimistic, and independent. It is a great self-esteem booster.
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP
While teenagers can do a lot to benefit their own emotional and social well-being, it is also important that they know they are not alone. There are many things that parents can do ( https://bit. ly/3lhFCcq ) to help: • Be aware of warning signs that something could be wrong. These can include extreme mood swings, constantly being exhausted, changed eating habits, or wearing long sleeves or bandages to hide evidence of self-harm. • Discuss mental illness openly with your teen and let them know that it is okay to speak up and talk about their problems. Ignoring or hiding from possible problems will not make them go away. • Listen when your teen comes to you with a problem. Let them know you love them no matter what. Do not dismiss their issues or make excuses for their problems. It is important to be supportive. Think before you talk so you don’t say the wrong thing. • Talk to your teen about drug abuse. Don’t just assume that they would “never do that.” Learn how to
approach them. You want to talk with them, not confront them. Find a counselor if one appears to be needed, and let your teen know that it’s okay to seek outside help.
Doing these things can go a long way to letting your teen know that you will support them, no matter what.
WHAT ABOUT SCHOOLS?
High school students and their parents also need to feel that they are not alone. Schools play a vital role ( https://bit. ly/3leA16O ) as well. They can do this in the following ways: • Being a supportive, confidential outlet when students need to discuss their frustrations and problems. • Developing ways to bring awareness to the problem of bullying and devising strategies to prevent bullying from happening on campus. • Putting in place approaches that allow students to feel supported and safe when they are experiencing a school-based trauma. • Providing a safe place where students can learn to identify and cope with their emotions. • Offering support groups for students who have experienced some type of loss. • Collaborating with outside support agencies to provide services and assistance to students and families who need additional help. Today’s teenagers are faced with many pressures and difficulties, and sometimes coping is not easy, which can lead to poor emotional and social well-being and contribute to mental health issues. However, there are things teens can do with the help of their parents and in cooperation with their schools to make sure that they make it through these difficult times with their sanity and wellbeing intact.
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, and politics. You can follow her work on twitter @HamiltonJori or through her portfolio https://writerjorihamilton.contently.com
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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PAY FOR COLLEGE - COLLEGE FINANCE TERMS
Affordability—The amount that a family can afford to spend on college each year. Affordability threshold—The maximum amount of money that a family has available to spend on college each year. AGI (adjusted gross income)—The amount of a family’s income subject to federal taxation after deductibles have been subtracted. Appeal—Family’s request to the college’s financial aid office to consider additional circumstances, such as a change in the family’s financial situation or added expenses, since the FAFSA was filed. Application fee—Fee charged by colleges as part of the admission process and sent in with the application; usually $30 to $90 for each college. Assets—Defined for FAFSA purposes as savings and investments. For parents, that includes cash, savings and checking accounts, money market accounts, mutual funds, and individual stocks and bonds, but not the equity of the parents’ home or the value of retirement plans such as annuities and IRAs. Asset protection allowance—Every family receives an asset protection allowance on the FAFSA. Based on the oldest parent’s age and the number of people in the family, the allowance protects some reportable assets. Award letter—The official document that a college sends to a family after all financial aid forms have been submitted, usually in March or April of the child’s senior year. The award letter identifies a family’s net price and lists all financial aid programs—including grants, scholarships, loans, and campus employment options— for which the student is eligible. College grant—Money awarded to a student to help pay tuition or other college costs. The grant may come from the federal government, a state agency, or the college itself. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid. College loan—Direct loan from the college to the student to help pay his or her education costs. These loans are rare and vary in interest rates and repayment terms. College work-study (or Campus employment)—Campus job offered to the student to lower the cost of attendance. Cost of attendance—Term used by colleges to identify their comprehensive college cost, which includes tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, books and supplies, and personal expenses. Also referred to as sticker price. Cost of attendance is a somewhat meaningless measure without knowing how much the student will receive in grants, scholarships, and student loans. CSS Profile—A supplemental financial aid form that some colleges require families to complete in addition to the FAFSA. Provides more detailed financial information than the FAFSA and is required by some Ivy League and other highly selective private schools. College financial aid officers use results of the profile to frame the financial aid letters they send to students. Direct costs of attendance—Tuition and fees, and room-and-board costs of attending a college. Direct costs are not the same as the cost of attendance, which also includes books, transportation, and personal expenses. Direct Loan—Loan available through a federal program to any student whose family completes the FAFSA. (For more on the two types of these loans, see Subsidized Direct Loan and Unsubsidized Direct Loan.) EFC (Expected Family Contribution)—A number calculated after FAFSA submission that determines a student’s eligibility for certain need-based financial aid programs. Extended repayment—Option of longer payment time allowed for Direct Loans. If the student has accumulated more than $30,000 in student-loan debt, he or she can opt to repay it over ten to thirty years. Estimated net price—The estimated amount that attendance at a college will cost per year, determined by using the school’s net price calculator on its website. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)—The financial aid application that the U.S. government uses to officially determine a family’s EFC number. FAFSA provides access to need-based financial programs and to federal Direct Loans. The FAFSA is filed on or after January 1 of the child’s senior year of high school and must be resubmitted every year the student is in college. Federal Student Aid—Office of the U.S. Department of Education that receives completed FAFSA forms and uses them to assign EDC numbers for each family. Financial Fit—Achieved if the college’s net price is one that the family can afford. There are two phases, the Planning phase, and the Execution phase. Financial Fit college categories—Eight categories into which U.S. colleges can be grouped based on their price and affordability: flagship state schools, non-flagship state schools, out-of-state flagship state schools, out-of-state non-flagship state schools, highly selective private schools, midsize private schools, private schools, and commuting and/or community college options.
Gift aid—Financial award from a college to a student that reduces the overall cost of attendance. This is not money that needs to be repaid. Local scholarships—Private scholarships awarded by community businesses, organizations, and clubs and often available only to students in your high school. These scholarships offer the greatest chance for success because the pool of applicants is very small. Merit scholarship—Money awarded to a student by a college for academics, athletics, or other special talents to lower the cost of attendance. Merit scholarships are not need based and do not need to be repaid. Military scholarship opportunities—Three types are offered: admission to one of the U.S. service academies such as West Point; a merit-based military scholarship by joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and serving as an officer in the armed services after college; or enlisting and receiving tuition assistance. Need-based grants—Money awarded for a student to attend college based on that student’s financial need. Unlike a loan, grant money does not need to be repaid. Net price—The actual out-of-pocket cost of a college after grants, scholarships, student loans, and campus employment options have been deducted from the sticker price. Net price calculator—A federally mandated software tool provided on every college’s website that allows a family to calculate its estimated net price at that school. Note that all colleges do not use the same, universal net price calculator, which can complicate making comparisons. Pell Grant—The largest federal grant program in the country. Eligibility for Pell Grants is determined by the family’s EFC number. Eligibility is determined separately for each year of college. Perkins Loan—Subsidized loan of up to $5,500 a year made to a student with financial need by a college, using funds received from the federal government. No interest accrues on the account until after the student graduates, and repayment begins nine months after graduation. Completing the FAFSA is an eligibility requirement. Colleges usually award these loans on a first-come, first-served basis. PLUS Loan (Parent Loan to Undergraduate Students)—A federal loan option available to parents to help pay for college. The parent, not the student, is responsible for repaying this type of loan, which is not based on financial need. Repayment starts immediately, as does the accrual of interest on the loan. Prepaid tuition plan (Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code)—Tax-free college saving plan that allows parents to lock in future tuition rates at in-state private colleges at current prices. Private education or student loan—Loan offered by a bank or other financial institution, not the federal government. These loans are not based on need, not subsidized, and more expensive than federal loans. Regional or National scholarships—Both are private scholarships awarded to students. National scholarships are offered to all students in the country, while Regional are offered by county, city, or state. These can be competitive to get due to the large pool of applicants. SAR (Student Aid Report)—Summary sent to families that show the information they provided on the FAFSA. The SAR should be checked for accuracy and changes made as needed. Colleges selected on the FAFSA and the state agencies that award need-based aid receive ISAR, an electronic version of the SAR, to use in determining the student’s financial aid. Standard repayment—The most common repayment option for Direct Loans, which is paying them off over ten years. State grant—Grant that a student receives from an individual state to help pay college costs. Eligibility may be determined by the family’s EFC number, which generally has to be quite low to qualify. The student may have to attend a public or private college in the state. Sticker price—See cost of attendance definition in this article. Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loan—Federal student loan offered to students who file the FAFSA. In subsidized loans, there is a need to demonstrate financial need and no interest is accrued until six months after the student graduates from college, and interest rates are lower than those for unsubsidized Direct Loans. In unsubsidized loans, all students are eligible regardless of need, and interest begins to accrue immediately. Formerly called the Stafford Loan. Workplace scholarships—Private scholarships awarded by companies to the children of employees. Sourced from: Frank Palmisani, author of Right College, Right Price
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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By Jeremy Biberdorf; Published NextStepU.com
Ideas to Stop You from Drowning
IN STUDENT LOANS
t’s no secret that attending college is expensive. From class tuition and books to the additional expenses of living on your own, be prepared to spend thousands of dollars a semester during your college years. Many college students opt for taking out a student loan. So many go this route that you’ve likely heard talk about the student loan debt crisis in the United States. That’s because the student loan debt hit a record $1.56 trillion in 2020 (https://bit.ly/34Cw5H8). That’s a lot of money lent out to students across the country. Want to avoid drowning in student loans and increasing that statistic? The following seven ideas may provide you with the help needed to pay back your student loans and get you closer to being debt-free.
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DON’T DELAY – START PAYING YOUR LOAN RIGHT AWAY
It’s common for a college graduate to have a grace period with their loan (a set timeframe before monthly payments kick in). As appealing as it seems to use up those paymentfree months, you have to start paying that loan eventually so you may as well get it over with. If you have the income to do so, make those payments as soon as you can to get it paid off quicker.
USE A PAYMENT PLAN THAT IS BEST FOR YOU
SHOULD YOU REFINANCE
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
You have your choice of two main methods for paying back your loan: the federal student loan repayments or the income-driven repayment plans for federal student loans. Spend some time researching and learning about the available payment plans (beststudentloans.com). Going with an option that suits your life the most can help make the payment process a bit more bearable.
Once you are out of college and working, you may want to consider refinancing. This varies by each graduate’s circumstances. If you have a good credit history and a stable income, refinancing may be attractive. If you have multiple private loans at high interest rates, consolidating at a lower rate is likely a good idea. However, refinancing takes you out of the federal loan system. This is not attractive if you want a payment plan based on your income, which is available in Federal programs. You also do not want to look at refinancing if you think you will qualify for loan forgiveness (for example, you work in certain public sector jobs where there are loan forgiveness jobs). If you have a bad credit history, the interest rates is likely to be much less attractive and sticking with existing programs is better for you.
UP YOUR MONTHLY PAYMENTS
MAKE A BUDGET (AND STICK TO IT)
LIVE LIKE YOU’RE IN DEBT
NEVER MISS A PAYMENT
Rather than planning to pay the monthly minimum, you may want to consider increasing your payments if you are able to do so. Paying the minimum is a sure way to extend your loan and may cost you more than prepaying. Although the minimum payment will keep your finances in good standing, it’s only tackling a fraction of the loan. A good chunk of that minimum payment goes to the accrued interest, and the remainder goes to the principal of the loan (the actual loaned amount). Upping your monthly payments even a bit can help pay your loan off quicker without adding more interest to the total.
If you don’t have a budget going yet, you should start one right now. Budgeting provides you with a snapshot of your financial situation. It will tell you where all your money is going and if you’re heading down the path to more debt. Set up a budget (https://bit.ly/31tvcie) that focuses on your student loan. Make a section for your monthly expenses and a smaller bit for luxury spending (you need breaks from school). Track your spending and see where you can make small cuts. Whatever you cut back on can go towards your student loan.
If your lifestyle doesn’t reflect how much debt you have, it’s going to take you quite some time to be debt-free. Although it’s fun to party in college, is it coming at the expense of your future financial freedom? Adjusting your lifestyle to one that has a higher focus on paying back your debt doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. You can still have an enjoyable life (https://bit.ly/3aYoT9r); you’re just living within your means. In a few years this will pay off and allow you to move toward securing your financial future and goals like home ownership (if that is what you want),
If you miss or are late on even one payment, it will start to hurt your credit score. This will make it more difficult to refinance and consolidate student loans if you want to do so in future. It will increase the interest rate you pay on everything from a car to an appliance purchase. Many landlords run credit checks on tenants. Some employers will check your credit history as well.
These seven tips above may not magically repay your student loan. They may, though, get you on the right path to paying it off quicker than expected.
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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“SENIOR” COLLEGE PLANNING TIMELINE
2020 / 2021 TIMELINE SEPTEMBER 2020
ACTIONS/STEPS Set your education goals including majors and make a list of college types and colleges you are interested in Create a college planner that tracks steps, due dates, and actions Attend college fairs and info sessions (these might be virtual) Determine testing needs such as ACT and determine dates - these might change this year due to Covid so check the site often
Determine testing needs such as SAT and SAT Subject Tests and determine dates - these might change this year due to Covid so check the site often Make a decision regarding Early Action or Early Decision Focus on grades and check your transcripts for accuracy Make a list of recommendations you need and request those from your contacts Gather all recommendations and write thank you letters Take ACT tests if needed, 4 test dates are available Work o your college application essays if the college requires them
Fill out FAFSA and if you need CSS/Financial Aid Profile Complete all your application requirements for Early Action or Early Decision Take or re-take any ACT, SAT or SAT Subject Tests Complete your FAFSA if you have not done so by now
Virtual fairs are on Sep 13th, Oct. 12, Oct 18, Nov. 8th in the fall For all ACT test dates in October, the deadline to register is September 25, 2020 September 26, 2020 test date, registration August 26, 2020. September 4th is deadline for SAT Subject Test is Oct 3, 2020 test date
ACT test dates available Oct 10, 17, 24 and 25 October 31st
ROTC application initiation and documentation deadlines Send out mid-year grade reports to colleges Take SAT Subject tests Take or retake ACT test if you have not done so already
Complete and file college applications that are due Send any results from tests retaken to colleges
If you miss Jan 15th deadline for a college application, consider colleges with rolling admissions or a later deadline, or other options. FEBRUARY 2021 Complete college specific financial aid forms File all federal aid forms MARCH/APRIL 2021 Begin Receiving decision letters from colleges Review your financial aid packages and award letters Follow up with schools where you are wait-listed Make a plan for visiting or touring college - these might be virtual MAY 2021 Prepare Acceptance Letters for the National Decision Day
Test Dates and deadlines - See calendar below for ACT and SAT dates this year
RESOURCES https://bit.ly/2H4MhHj https://etsy.me/33zOrqd www.nacacfairs.org/virtual
Recommendation letters folder/list https://bit.ly/3cfyoBS Thank you letters https://bit.ly/2FJ4XvF https://bit.ly/2ZL5FQe https://bit.ly/2Hbmv4r https://bit.ly/32GxU4C https://bit.ly/3iIX9J8
Available October 1, 2020 Completed application
College transcript for dual enrollment
If you are using dual enrollment, contact the college for your transcripts Check with colleges of interest if financial forms are required
Register for ACT if you have not done so already Determine list of scholarships that are a fit and begin applying
DECISION OR OUTCOME College Ist, Reach, Match, Safety Schools College application calendar College admissions introductions/contacts Test dates and deadlines - See calendar below for ACT and SAT dates this year
ACT test regitratio deadlien is November 6 for December 12th test date Scholarship due dates vary Scholarship lists to apply for
December 1st for air force ROTC, January 1 for Navy/Marine ROTC, and Jan 10th for ARMY ROTC
https://bit.ly/3iIXxY6 Mid-year grade reports
Test date December 5th Test date December 12th January 1 - February 28 college appplication deadlines vary but many are from Jan 15- Feb 1
Completed college application
https://bit.ly/2RxukU1 February 2021 February 2021 March or April 2021
May. 1, 2021
Send depositss to the accepted school Notify schoools that accepted you that you will not be attending If applicable, take IB and AP tests, AP exam week 1 and 2 Send final transcript to college
Completed finanical aid forms
College tour plan Acceptance Letter
Graduate high school and make a plan for the summer
Keep track of college summer mailings and deadlines that require action Orientation date, housing form deadlines, scholarship deadlines such as housing forms, scholarships and orientation
Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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Magazine • Fall 2020 • www.nextstepu.com
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