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Keep the end goal in mind when selecting a college . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Evaluate dining as part of a campus visit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 New changes to FAFSA impact collection of parental information . . . . . . . . . . . 5 College Savings Iowa offers chance for families to win a $5,290 account . . . . . . . . . . . 6 15 habits to put you ahead of the pack. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Old school rules that need to be broken in the college application process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Student volunteerism can have a positive impact, and help pay for college . . . . . . . . . . 11


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College Guide

February 28, 2014

Keep the end goal in mind when selecting a college Many tools available at I Have A Plan Iowa It may be hard to believe, but graduation is just around the corner for high school seniors and now is the time for them to apply to colleges and make postsecondary education plans. The Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid) encourages all seniors to take advantage of the college planning resources provided in I Have A Plan Iowa and at to help with this process. “One of the worst reasons for choosing a college is because that is where their friends are going,” said Karen Misjak, executive director for Iowa College Aid. “The tools and resources available to Iowa students and families can help them make more informed decisions.” Revisit your list As students narrow down their lists of potential colleges, they should continue to investigate the institutions that offer fields of study of interest to them. Through their I Have A Plan Iowa account, students can browse colleges and universities that match characteristics they find important. A Compare Schools feature allows users to do a side-by-side comparison of schools. By utilizing the School Finder, students can perform a more detailed search for schools based on more than 30 different factors such as size, tuition, specialized academic programs, cultural diversity and more. Iowa College Aid also provides infor-

Tools for financial aid planning for college can be found on the I Have A Plan Iowa website at

mation on colleges and universities in the state at www.IowaCollegeAidDataCenter. gov. By selecting “Iowa Colleges and Universities” from the Higher Education Data Center, students can access college and program information, retention and graduation rates, and the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard that provides information about each college’s value and affordability. Keep an open mind Don’t initially rule out a college or university because of its published cost. The

actual cost of college can be much less than the “sticker price”. The financial aid award package from the college may make it more affordable than initially thought. To get a general idea of the estimated net price after financial aid has been taken into consideration, students can use the college or university’s net price calculator. Iowa College Aid links to each college’s net price calculator in the “Iowa College and Universities” section of the Higher Education Data Center at www.

Determine how much you can afford to borrow When selecting a college, it is most important to focus on the end goal – graduating and securing a career. The choice should be a balance of cost, academics and campus life. In the current economy, in which many families have been unable to save for college and students face a tough job market, it is increasingly important to align college choice with cost and career potential. To keep from joining the ranks of debtridden college graduates, students should select a college where the loan debt can be kept at a reasonable level relative to their future income potential. The Student Loans Over Projected Earnings (SLOPE) calculator in can help students calculate estimated monthly payment amounts for student loans and compare it to projected earnings for their career choice. The results will indicate how much they can afford to borrow. “It is important for students to remember that while they will be spending a few years at college, they will spend considerably more years paying back student loans,” said Misjak. “It is our hope that seniors will utilize resources, such as those provided by our agency, to make informed decisions when selecting and ultimately paying for college.” For information about the resources and services provided by Iowa College Aid to help Iowa families plan, prepare and pay for college, visit or contact Iowa College Aid at 877-272-4456.

The new student housing is surrounded by beautiful lakes and features a recreational trail into town. The grounds also include basketball, sand volleyball, and tennis courts. We invite you to live at NIACC and join our vibrant campus community. There’s no better way to become connected to the college, the campus, and the student body.You’ll experience college life as it’s meant to be, and build friendships that will last a lifetime.


February 28, 2014

College Guide

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Evaluate dining as part of a campus visit by David Porter Across the country, high school students are busy planning college visits in order to winnow their wish lists before senior year applications. “It’s important to visit while classes are in session, and to pay attention to what’s going on in the classroom and outside of the classroom,” advised David Porter, social architect, consultant to colleges and universities throughout North America and author of “The Porter Principles,” a guide to college success through social engineering, ( “What are the wholesome opportunities for socially rich student engagement and study on-campus? What extra-curriculars are offered and how accessible are they? What does the college paper reveal about campus issues, concerns and opportunities?” One often overlooked feature is the structure of campus dining, Porter said “Many universities require freshmen to live on campus for the first year because administrators know that students who live and dine on campus have higher GPAs and higher graduation rates than those who don’t. A properly socially engineered dining-learning commons is central to the day-to-day lives of all students living oncampus and is crucial for face-to-face social networking and study with fellow students,” he said. “But these same universities often fail to realize that student dining is as much – even more - a factor in developing a sense of community and predicting future success. This is the centerpiece of ‘the classroom outside of the classroom’.” Porter offers the following suggestions for evaluating campus dining commons: Is there a centralized dining hall or commons, or are food locations scattered? A dining-learning commons is the living room of the campus, a place where students come together and pause long enough to meet, talk, make friends, see and be seen, relax, study and collaborate. “These are all vital not only to bonding but to learning how to socialize with

fellow students from a wide variety of backgrounds in a neutral environment,” Porter said. “That provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to develop and nurture valuable networking skills for their personal and future professional lives. If the meal plan encourages them to scatter across campus – or go off campus – to pick up fast foods eaten in isolation, vital opportunities are lost.” What are the hours of operation? Students live on a different clock than most of us. For many students, 11 p.m. is the middle of the day. Is the dining-learning commons open, thus respecting and being conducive to their (not our) lifestyle? If so, does it offer more than microwave pizza and hot dogs? This will offer a social and safe on-campus environment, Porter said. “If the place isn’t open when they’re hungry, they’ll go elsewhere.” How far is the dining hall from dorms and the academic core of campus? “I once consulted with a university that was mystified about why two dining halls got lots of student traffic, while the third – the most beautiful -- was largely ignored,” Porter said. “When I visited, I discovered the dining hall had been built on top of a rather steep hill on the far edge of campus. The location offered great views, but the climb was a bear!” Dining halls should be within easy reach of both dorms and classroom buildings in the academic core or students simply won’t use them. About David Porter David Porter, author and social architect, is CEO and president of Porter Khouw Consulting, Inc., a foodservice master planning and design firm based in Crofton, Maryland. He has more than 40 years of hands-on food service operations and consulting experience and is a professional member of the Foodservice Consultants Society International. He is the author of “The Porter Principles, Retain & Recruit Students & Alumni, Save Millions on Dining and Stop Letting Food Service Contractors Eat Your Lunch,” (



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College Guide

NCC offers technical education, option to transfer to four-year schools Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) in Sheldon is offering two smart options for students interested in technical programs and transfer courses. Students who choose to be in one of the technical programs offered at NCC will learn their success is about the hands-on skills they receive. Students work on equipment in stateof-the-art labs and are guided by instructors who have been in the “real world.” Technical careers at NCC prepare students for the workforce and they graduate with solid skills and abilities that will that will help them land a job with the confidence to make good decisions about their career. Many of the NCC technical program transfer to four-year colleges and universities. NCC invites students to explore transfer options by taking the basic core courses at NCC for two years, allowing them to save money and go to school closer to home. Students can then transfer to a fouryear college or university. Students interested in career choices such as accounting, teaching, human

resources and other careers can achieve their goals by choosing NCC for two years and then transferring. NCC offers more than 40 programs of study. NCC is seventh in the nation for graduate success (according to CNNMoney. com); is among top the 20 fastest growing community colleges in the nation (Community College Week); is among the top 150 best community colleges in the nation for three years in a row (Aspen Institute); has the highest graduation/transfer rate (; is the 11th best community college in the nation (; is the safest college in Iowa (; is among the top four automotive programs in the nation (Tomorrow’s Tech 2013 School of the Year Contest sponsored by O’Reilly Auto Parts and WIX Filters); has 10,000+ college alumni; has a 98 percent placement rate for college alumni; and is the 15th best community college in the nation as rated by The average first-time wage of NCC’s 2012 graduates was $17.08 an hour, and 94 percent of NCC graduates are employed in a related field of study.

February 28, 2014

Life at College of Saint Mary College of Saint Mary (CSM) strives to create an environment that emphasizes students’ academic, personal and spiritual development, in addition to making college more affordable. CSM has eliminated all the “hidden” fees. The university does not charge a “student activity” fee, a lab fee, or a “hunt for a parking place” fee. In fall, 2013, CSM implemented one tuition price for any full-time student taking 12 or more credits. This keeps it simple….. One price, period! CSM has also structured several of our programs to make attainment of a degree more certain, affordable and timely. For instance, most regional colleges accept a student into an entry level master’s degree program in the professions of occupational therapy or physician assistant after completion of a bachelor’s degree. Thus, following baccalaureate study, a prospective student applies to a two year occupational therapy or physician assistant program, adding two more years of cost to their college education. At CSM, first year college students may be accepted as pre-occupational therapy and pre- physician assistant students. They then proceed directly through five years of education, instead of seven, and graduate with the appropriate master’s degree enabling them to take the licensure exam, and be eligible to practice. Not only is the time to completion shorter, but students are accepted into the programs of study

and guaranteed a spot from the time they begin college. This reduces costs and uncertainty. Finally, CSM is implementing a new three year Bachelor in Nursing Program in Fall 2014. Students can elect to do the Nursing program in four years, but they can save up to $21,000 by completing the course work in three years if they attend year round. Students take all the same classes they would during a four year program, they just attend year round. While these programs are all health care related, CSM has taken steps to be sure that our students in business and education are also graduating with marketable skills. The business program has recently undergone a significant curriculum revision focusing student work on analytics (big data) and communication. This program’s content is based upon input from Omaha area business owners who want to hire graduates who know how to turn data into decisions and then communicate it well in both written and spoken venues. As a teaching-focused institution, College of Saint Mary is a place where students truly grow in mind, body and spirit. This vibrant community cultivates a passion for academics and inspires student to walk tall toward the career they have always dreamed about. Call us today or schedule a campus visit through or 800-926-5534 ext. 2355.

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OMAHA, NE College of Saint Mary is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL, 60604-1413. 800-621-7440.


February 28, 2014

College Guide

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New changes to FAFSA impact collection of parental information The Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid) said recent changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) take effect with the 2014-15 form. The FAFSA is a standardized application used to determine eligibility for federal grants, loans and work-study funds from the federal government. In addition, many colleges and states, including Iowa, use FAFSA information when determining eligibility for institutional and state financial aid programs. The changes to the FAFSA for the 2014-15 academic year have to do with the financial information that dependent students are required to provide for their parent(s). Most traditional-aged, college-bound students are considered dependent and must include financial information for both themselves as well as their parents when completing the FAFSA. Beginning with the 2014-15 FAFSA, dependent students are now required to include income and other financial information from their legal parents (biological or adoptive) regardless of the parents’ marital status or gender, if those parents live together. Additionally, the FAFSA will now use terms like “Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/ stepparent)” instead of gender-specific terms.

Iowa College Aid urges all college-bound students to complete the FAFSA regardless of their financial situations.

“Before this year, the FAFSA was constructed to collect information about both of a dependent student’s parents only if the parents were married,” said Karen

Misjak, executive director of Iowa College Aid. “As a result, the FAFSA excluded this information from some families solely be-

cause the parents weren’t married, even though the families resided in the same household.” Iowa College Aid urges all collegebound students to complete the FAFSA regardless of their financial situations. “Most families are eligible for some form of financial aid, and they need to apply early to meet the priority deadlines associated with different programs,” said Misjak. The collection of FAFSA information for both of a dependent student’s unmarried parents when both parents are living together will not impact the majority of federal student aid applicants. Nearly 60 percent of FAFSA filers are independent, and therefore, not impacted by these changes. Another 20 percent, while dependent, are not impacted as their parents are married. A portion of the remainder will also not be impacted because the parent with whom the student resides does not live with the student’s other legal parent. Students and families who have questions about applying for financial aid, or are interested in learning more about the resources available for college and career planning, can contact Iowa College Aid at 877-272-4456. Additional resources for Iowa families as they plan, prepare and pay for college are available on Iowa College Aid’s website,


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College Guide

February 28, 2014

College Savings Iowa offers chance for families to win a $5,290 account State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is advocating Iowans to take advantage of the benefits of College Savings Iowa to save for future education expenses. “We want parents to know it is never too soon to start planning for their children’s education,” Fitzgerald said. “And as a way to encourage families to take the first step towards saving, College Savings Iowa is giving away a $5,290 account this spring.” Individuals can visit to enter the giveaway and see official rules. College Savings Iowa offers families a tax advantaged way to save money for their children’s higher education. It only takes $25 to open an account, and anyone – parents, grandparents, friends and relatives – can invest in College Savings Iowa on behalf of a child.

Iowa taxpayers have the additional benefit of being able to deduct contributions up to $3,098 per beneficiary account from their 2014 Iowa adjusted gross income. (Adjusted annually for inflation. If withdrawals are not qualified, the deductions must be added back to Iowa taxable income.) Investors do not need to be a state resident and can withdraw their investment federally tax-free to pay

for qualified higher education expenses, which includes tuition, books, supplies and certain room and board costs at any eligible college, university, community college or technical training school in the United States or abroad. (The Earnings portion of nonqualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10 percent federal penalty tax, as well as state and

Application period open for CCMH hospital auxiliary scholarships

local income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.) To learn more about College Savings Iowa, visit collegesavingsiowa. com or call 1-888-6729116. For more information about future giveaways and events find College Savings Iowa on Facebook and Twitter (@Iowa529Plan).

With the shortage of medical professionals becoming more evident annually, the need for dedicated personnel in the medical field is more necessary than ever. One of the most important on-going projects the Crawford County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary sponsors is the Auxiliary Scholarship Program. More than $75,000 in scholarship monies has been awarded to deserving individuals pursuing an education in the health care field. The scholarship program originated more than 25 years ago with two $300 awards and has grown over the years. This spring the auxiliary will award deserving individuals scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each – individuals who are furthering their education in a medically-related field, including, but not limited to dentistry, optometry, psychiatry, x-ray, nursing or doctoring. The Auxiliary will accept recommendations for and applications from any student living in and/or attending a school in Crawford County. Decisions regarding recipients will be based on financial need, academic standing, outside activities and employment, references, interest in a health-field career, and the applicants’ interviews with the scholarship committee. If the scholarship recipient maintains a 3.0 grade point average, he or she will be eligible to receive a $1,500 scholarship, by application, for one additional year during the course of study in their chosen medical field. Those individuals interested in applying for the scholarship should contact their high school guidance counselor, the office of Western Iowa Tech Community College, the administrative office at Crawford County Memorial Hospital or by going online to and clicking on the “Reference Quick Links.” The deadline for the return of applications is on or before April 12, 2014. Applications should be sent to: Karen Wood, Scholarship Chairman, Crawford County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, 100 Medical Parkway, Denison, IA 51442.


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February 28, 2014

College Guide

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ACT report reveals untapped pool of STEM-interested students Students need early, ongoing guidance to encourage pursuit of STEM career opportunities

A new report from ACT revealed an untapped pool of students who have an interest in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) but are not planning to pursue a STEM career as they prepare for the future. The data point to a gap between interests and intentions that, if addressed, could help put more students on the path to STEM careers. “The good news is that student interest in STEM is high overall,” said Jon Erickson, ACT president of education and career solutions. “The bad news is that a sizable number of students may not be connecting the dots between their innate interests and a potential STEM-related career.” The ACT national and state report series, The Condition of STEM 2013, examines the expressed and measured interests of high school graduates in the class of 2013 who took the ACT college readiness exam. Expressed interest is when students say they intend to pursue

a particular major or occupation. Measured interest, in contrast, is derived from students’ responses to the ACT Interest Inventory, a battery of questions that measures preferences for different types of work tasks. A total of 48 percent of the ACT-tested 2013 graduates had expressed and/or measured interest in STEM, including 16 percent who had both. Twenty-three percent had only expressed interest, planning to pursue a STEM career even though their inventory results suggest that other fields may be better aligned to their interests. But nearly one out of every 10 graduates (nine percent) had only measured interest in STEM; they had no plans to pursue a STEM major or career despite their innate interest. “Nothing is more costly to the nation than untapped potential, and that’s why we must do more to ensure that all students understand the career opportunities that match their interests, particularly those that exist in important STEM fields,” said Erickson. “If we can identify students earlier and then keep them engaged, they may be more likely to choose a STEM career.” ACT’s report also points to a gap between STEM interest and preparation. Around half or more of the 2013 ACTtested graduates planning to pursue STEM majors and careers were not ready to succeed in first-year math or science

coursework in college. Readiness was significantly higher, however, among students with both expressed and measured interest than among those with only expressed interest. “Early assessment and intervention are extremely important in helping students get on track for college and career success, and that’s particularly true in the areas of math and science, where so many of our students are falling behind,” said Erickson. “That’s one reason why we’ve built STEM scores and benchmarks into our new ACT Aspire system and why we’re committed to keeping science tests in the ACT and ACT Aspire assessments.” Selecting a career that matches interests can help students succeed. Previous ACT research has shown that when students’ interests are aligned with their chosen college majors, they are more likely to remain in their major, persist in college and complete their degree in a timely manner. “The findings in this new report are supported by those in our recent College Choice Report, which showed that a surprising number of students are planning to pursue majors or careers that don’t match their interests,” said Wayne Camara, ACT senior vice president of research. “If we encourage young students who are interested in STEM to consider related careers, I believe both they and U.S. employers will benefit.”

A number of national reports have pointed to a need for more workers in STEM fields. A recent report from the Bayer Corporation’s Facts of Science Education survey suggests Fortune 1000 companies are struggling to fill STEM positions due to a shortage of qualified candidates. And a 2012 report by President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology concluded that the need for STEM professionals will significantly outweigh the availability of those workers over the next decade if current trends continue. “This report gives educators, business leaders and policymakers access to important new information regarding the condition of STEM education in our country,” said Lisa Brady Gill, executive director of education policy and advocacy for Texas Instruments. “We feel it provides much-needed insight that will help us as we work together towards real and meaningful change in this area.” The STEM job outlook is strong, and STEM occupations tend to be high paying, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the recently released U.S. News & World Report 100 Best Jobs of 2014, more than half of the top 50 jobs are STEM related. The Condition of STEM 2013 reports for the nation and for each state can be accessed for free on ACT’s website at www.

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College Guide

February 28, 2014

College Success 101: 15 habits to put you ahead of the pack by Dr. Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy Hymann Visit just about any college campus and you’ll observe students who are, to put it simply, doing college right. No, they’re not perfect (who is?), but they are diligent and perform well academically, while still enjoying a healthy social life and maybe even holding down a part-time job or raising a family. They’re on good terms with their professors, and they take a full - but not overwhelming - course load each semester. They’re likely to seek out internships and participate in on-campus student organizations, and no one wonders whether or not they have what it takes to make it to graduation. So, what is it that makes this group of college students successful, while others are, well, less so? The Secrets of College Success, which is newly revised and contains more than 800 tips, provides answers to these questions and offers beginning (and continuing) students the tools they’ll need to become successful themselves. “Sometimes success is a question of intelligence or insight, and sometimes it’s sheer good luck,” said Jeremy S. Hyman, co-author with Lynn F. Jacobs of “The Secrets of College Success: Over 800 Tips, Techniques, and Strategies Revealed, 2nd Edition”.

“But a lot of the time, success happens because of good habits - things you do on a regular basis that set you apart from the hordes of other, more scattered students,” he said. “College is a completely different place, academically and socially, from high school,” added Jacobs. “Developing some strategically important, college-level habits will make the transition go much more smoothly - and help ensure your success.” Hyman and Jacobs, who have taught at eight different colleges and universities, share in their book decades’ worth of their observations and advice on everything from choosing a major to avoiding bad professors to developing study and time management skills and much, much more. To help students hit the ground running in the coming semester, Jacobs and Hyman share 15 habits that the most successful students tend to share. You’ll find that these individuals: Have a goal. Successful students have a definite reason for being in college - and know what it is. “Could be a future career, graduate or professional school, or just wanting to further their education,” said Hyman. “But it’s almost never because their parents told them to go to college, or because it’s the next thing to do after high school, or because they’re too unimaginative to think up anything else to


do with their time.” Set priorities. For every student, college is a balancing act between going to classes, doing the homework, having a social life, and, for many students, holding down a job. But the successful student knows how much time to allot to each of these activities - and how to set limits. “Maybe partying is held down on weeknights, or an employer is told that hours have to be cut back during the jam-packed midterm week, or the family Thanksgiving dinner is jettisoned in favor of extra work on the term paper,” said Jacobs. “Look, there are only 168 hours in a week - and not one of them can be spent twice.” Divide up the work. For the successful student, readings get broken up into manageable chunks (not 200 pages in one sitting); quizzes and tests are studied for over the course of a week (not at 3 a.m. the night before); and ideas for papers start gestating when the assignment is handed out (not two days before the paper is due, when you can barely formulate an idea, much less think through an issue). “Cramming may be a habit you’re used to from high school, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work well at college,” said Hyman. Are organized. Successful students have gotten used to the fact that, in college courses, there’s not a lot of redundancy, review, or “going over.” So they




make it their business to make it to most of the lectures (and they don’t cut the sections, such as science labs or discussion groups, either). “We’ve noticed that successful students take really good class notes and keep them in super-neat condition,” said Jacobs. “And they always get their work turned in on time - no one-week extensions that only make it harder to complete the work in their other courses.” Work efficiently. Each task is done well - and once. For these students, there’s no listening to the lecture a second time on their iPod (they paid careful attention the first time); no copying over all their notes (why would they do that if they have a good set from the lecture?); no doing the reading three times (once for a general overview, once to understand the argument or direction, and once to focus in on the finer points). “In a 15-week semester, with four or five courses on tap, who has time to do things twice, or, in the case of some students, thrice?” asked Hyman. Are consistent. Successful students do the work every week even when nothing is happening on the grade front. These students realize that in college, most professors expect the bulk of the work to be done by you, on your own. “When asked, most professors will say that they expect students to do one to two hours of work outside



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February 28, 2014 of class for every class period: doing the reading and homework; preparing for the quizzes, tests, and presentations; doing research and writing papers, etc.,” said Jacobs. “Figure out an out-of-class study schedule that works for you and stick to it. Many students also find it helpful to stake out a regular study spot: a particular table in the library, their dorm’s lounge, a quiet coffee shop, or their own desks.” Are persistent. Successful students know that sometimes the going gets tough. Maybe there’s a problem set that requires serious hard thinking, or a paper that has to go through a number of painful drafts, or a presentation that has to be rehearsed until one really has it down. But whatever the case, the successful student doesn’t flinch at the extra effort needed or the uncertainty of the result while he or she is still working on it. “This student’s mantra: I’ll get this thing right if it kills me - which, of course, it usually doesn’t,” commented Hyman. Challenge themselves. Successful students are intellectually energetic. So, when they read, they think actively and critically about what they’re reading (not just slog their way through, to get the plot). When they go to class, they actively think about, and question, what the professor is saying (not just taking it all in like a giant sponge). And when they write papers, they probe more deeply into nuances of the issue (not just looking for the most basic “yes/no” answer). “Above all, they get the wheels and springs of their minds moving and keep them moving throughout every intellectual task,” said Jacobs. “That, let me tell you, is a professor’s dream.” Hang out with smart friends. Successful students know that peer support is as important as getting good grades from professors. Finding friends who are intellectually engaged and eager




College Guide - in some cases, taking the same classes as you - can stimulate and reinforce your own intellectual drive. “On the other hand, spending lots of time with dormmates who don’t know what courses they’re taking or even why they’re in college at all - can create an atmosphere so toxic that any attempts to do well immediately wither and die,” warned Hyman. Are open to feedback. The best students realize that returned papers and exams are a golden opportunity. These are the times in the semester when the professor is giving one-on-one, customized feedback on your own level of achievement. So instead of tossing away the graded papers and exams, or conveniently forgetting to pick them up, it’s good to pore over the comments and redo the missed problems in the hopes of really learning where you went wrong - all with a non-defensive and genuinely open frame of mind. “This is tough for everyone, but somehow these students manage to do it often while deepening their relationships with their professors,” said Jacobs. Engage the professor. Successful students realize that the prof isn’t just some content-dispensing machine, pouring out what he or she knows during lectures, but is a working scholar who’s happy to work with them on the content and materials of the course. With this is mind, these students go to office hours, talk to the professor (or TA) after class, and e-mail questions about things they didn’t understand. “In the best case, students forge a two-way relationship with the professor and, in doing so, learn more than the average college student and defeat the anonymity of the (for some students) alienating mega-university,” Hyman said. Don’t kid themselves. When they study, successful students are really studying - not flitting between




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the e-article, their Facebook page, and the football scores. When they get a bad grade, they don’t just tell themselves everyone messed up or the professor gave an unfair test. “And when things aren’t going quite according to plan, they diagnose the problem and, if need be, adjust the plan,” said Jacobs. Manage their emotions. It’s difficult to excel at college if you’re feeling inadequate, bummed out, or doomed to fail. So, successful students know how to focus on their own positive achievements - rather than on their failure to get a check-plus on the quiz that counts for only two percent of the grade. And they’re not hypercompetitive or concerned to find out how everyone else did on that just-returned piece of work. “They know that, for every assignment, there’ll probably be someone doing better than they did, and many doing a whole heck of a lot worse,” said Hyman. “And even if not, there’s nothing they can do about it, so why add negative emotions to a less-than-stellar situation?” Visualize success. For any multi-step activity, especially one that’s spread out over four or five years and 40-odd courses, it’s helpful to visualize the end product and to imagine the good feelings that will come with it. That’s why the most successful college students repeatedly picture what will come at the end of the road for them: their dream job, their acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school, or simply the next stage in their lives. “This provides motivation and energy, especially when you’re in a rut, and makes it all seem worthwhile,” said Jacobs. Strive for excellence. No matter what the task, successful students aim to do it well. “Could be the term paper, the midterm, or even the (seemingly dumb to others) weekly quizzes, problem sets, or daily homework,” said Hyman.




“No matter. If I’m going to put my name on it, top students think, I might as well do it well. Which they usually do.” “Now that you know these 15 habits, you shouldn’t think that no mere mortal could develop them,” said Jacobs. “Look at yourself. You could. With any luck you might already have developed three or four (or more) of these habits in high school.” “But whatever the case, as you start college, strive to develop as many of them as you can,” urged Hyman. “Your life, both in college and after, will thank you.” About the authors Dr. Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman are coauthors of “The Secrets of College Success: Over 800 Tips, Techniques, and Strategies Revealed, 2nd Edition”. Jacobs is a professor of art history at the University of Arkansas and has previously taught at Vanderbilt University, California State University Northridge, and NYU. Hyman is the founder and chief architect of Professors’ Guide content products. He is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Arkansas and previously taught at UCLA, MIT, and Princeton University. Jacobs and Hyman write an education column at U.S. News and World Report and have contributed to the New York Times “The Choice” blog, Reader’s Digest, Fox Business, Huffington Post, and numerous other television, radio, print, and Internet media. They offer a college orientation program, Gimme an A: The Secrets of College Success, and are currently developing a video course for first-year college students. Jacobs and Hyman live in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with their 15-year-old collegebound son, Jonah. Their website is www. and they can be reached at and

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College Guide

February 28, 2014

It’s not your momma’s college application process Old school rules that need to be broken by Alison Cooper Chisolm and Anna Ivey All across America, the parents of rising high school seniors are gearing up to help their children tackle this fall’s college applications. Yes, there’s a lot of excitement about taking this major step, but it’s mixed with a liberal dose of dread. Acceptance to top schools gets more brutally competitive every year. The number and variety of standardized tests seem to sprout like mushrooms. Were your kids really supposed to be building huts in Guatemala over the summer instead of lifeguarding? And why are there so many application essays to write now? It’s enough to make any sane person throw her hands up in the air. If you’re like most parents, you probably can’t help but feel a little wistful about how much easier life was back when you yourself were applying to college. Despite the many ways in which college admissions has changed, though, parents can still do a lot to help their children child navigate this important process, but only if they know which information is and isn’t up to date. “Parents can and do play an important role in helping their children stay focused and motivated in the run-up to application season, especially during crunch time,” said Alison Cooper Chisolm, coauthor with Anna Ivey of How to Prepare a Standout College Application: Expert Advice That Takes You from LMO (Like Many Others) to Admit. “But in fact, they sometimes steer their kids in the wrong direction because they rely on outdated wisdom about what it takes to get in.” “No question, in some ways the college application process was easier back when today’s parents were in high school,” said Ivey. “It’s important to realize what has changed, otherwise it’s too easy to default into what worked best for you back then. What got you in then might not get them in now.” Modern technology can be a blessing and a curse in that regard, said Chisholm. “Discussions boards and social media feed a lot of misinformation,” she said. “As with any social media today, it can be hard to separate truth from fiction. There’s lots of good, reliable information out there about the admissions process, but it can be hard to tease it out from the conventional wisdom that might be completely wrong.” The authors, both admissions coaches and former admissions officers, talk to hundreds of parents every year about their most pressing admissions questions, and they find themselves debunking the same myths over and over again. Realizing that parents needed reliable, real-time admissions advice as much as the applicants themselves, they wrote their new book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application, with both students and parents in mind. Their guide to every component of the application includes special tips for parents and debunks the holdover, outdated admissions advice that is still in circulation. Following are what Chisolm and Ivey consider the top six myths about college admissions: The Myth: More is better. In the past, college applicants were instructed to show how “well-rounded” they were by filling in every single line on the Activities list. Nothing - not even playing the dulcimer once at a cultural festival - was too insignificant to report. The more interests, achievements, and activities an applicant

could share, the thinking went, the more impressive he would be (e.g., “Can you believe that this student found time to lead four school clubs, play three different sports, march in the band, tutor children, write poetry, participate in Boy Scouts, and get good grades?”). The New Reality: Deep passion and big impact matter a lot more. “There is no reward at all just for signing up, showing up, or meeting the minimum requirements,” said Ivey. “Admissions officers would rather see real commitment to a smaller number of activities, because they can realistically assume that applicants will bring those interests, skills, and talents with them to campus. Not so with the one-time-only dulcimer performance!” The Myth: It’s best to leave a (long) paper trail. Sending colleges newspaper clippings, your history paper (“Truly outstanding!” read the teacher’s comment), science project descriptions, and as much unsolicited documentation as possible used to be a big trend. Parents and students who believe this myth operate on the assumption that anything to make their file thicker will help. They envision admissions officers raptly poring over each and every sheet of paper, slowly falling in love as they learn more and more about the applicant. The New Reality: Concise is nice. “Less is more, clippings are out, and YouTube videos are sometimes in (but proceed with caution),” said Chisolm. “A great application is neither a scrapbook nor a PR media kit. Don’t get me wrong - it’s not that admissions officers don’t want to get a clear, accurate picture of each student. They do! That’s partially why there are so many quirky long- and short-answer questions on applications. But the reality is, with thousands of applications to evaluate, there simply isn’t time to read 10 newspaper articles about how you won the science fair. And chances are, your application will reflect the fact that you’re a chemistry fiend, anyway.” The Myth: Geography determines which standardized test you should take. In days gone by there was some truth to the belief that East Coast colleges prefer the SAT to the ACT, while Midwestern and Southern colleges prefer the ACT to the SAT. The New Reality: Testing knows no borders (and sometimes isn’t required at all). “These days, top colleges accept either test, so focus on the one that plays to your strengths,” said Ivey. “If you’re a repeat test taker, familiarize yourself with each of your colleges’ mix-and-match opportunities like Score Choice and Super Scoring. Also, be aware that at some schools, reporting any test scores at all is optional - and that trend is growing.” The Myth: Early Decision helps only the cream of the crop. Early Decision was once thought of as a good strategy only for the super-duper top of the applicant pool. It won’t make a difference for anyone else, applicants believed, so why worry about completing an application months before the regular decision deadline? The New Reality: Applying early can give many applications a boost. “Early Decision (especially when it’s binding for admitted students) can make the difference, and it’s worth considering as long as you’re at least competitive for that college,” Chisolm said. “Colleges want to ‘lock in’ qualified students who are interested in attending, because they know they’ll ‘lose’ many similar Regular Decision applicants to other schools. But if you’re not in the running to begin with, applying early won’t make a difference.” The Myth: High-profile endorsements help. In general, people believe that name-dropping can’t hurt. It’s a common belief that recommendations from college alumni, university VIPs or the president will only help your application. The New Reality: Recommendations from famous people add next to no value. “However, admissions officers might get a good chuckle from these ‘high-

profile’ letters,” Ivey said. “The fact is that top schools have thousands of living alumni out there, so coughing one up is no distinction. What can help is called a ‘flag on the file’ - when someone with a truly important connection to the school makes a behind-the-scenes call on your behalf. That’s just a small plus, though, not a huge one. As admissions officers, Alison and I each denied lots of people with important recommenders and flags on the file and had carte blanche to do so. It really does happen.” The Myth: Community service needs to be “exotic.” Unfortunately many parents lie awake at night worrying that they’ll need to wipe out their retirement savings in order to send their kids on glitzy but charitable-looking trips to exotic places every summer. Otherwise, they believe, their child’s community service won’t stand out from that of thousands of other applicants. The New Reality: Service is service, wherever it happens. “The first 10 people who tried the ‘exotic locale’ strategy may have made an impression just for the sheer novelty, but it doesn’t distinguish anyone today and hasn’t impressed admissions officers in a long, long time,” said Ivey. “There are plenty of opportunities to do something meaningful closer to home and without spending a king’s ransom. And admissions officers realize that volunteering every week at a nursing home for the past four years demonstrates much more commitment and compassion than a parent-funded weeklong mission trip to South America, for example.” Bonus Myth (which hasn’t been true since the Eisenhower era): Applications should read as though they were written by adults. In the more distant past, a great college application essay emulated the style of sober-minded grown-ups or middle-aged managers. All evidence of adolescent quirkiness, it was believed, must be squelched. The New Reality: Essays should sound like a teenager both in voice and in content. “Rewriting your child’s essay to talk about the ‘sweat equity’ that went into founding the Model UN Club won’t fool anyone, and the end result will be far less interesting to admissions officers than what your child would have written when left to her own devices,” Chisolm said. “Admissions officers know that teenagers, not adults, are applying. They don’t expect perfection or even consummate maturity. What they do expect is to get an accurate picture of who the applicant is and what she likes, believes, hopes, and does from reading her application.” “I miss the ’80s as much as the next Gen Xer, but it’s time to leave the retro admissions advice behind,” said Ivey. “In general, doing so will give your child more freedom to be authentic, and it will – hopefully - help you to worry a little bit less.” About the authors Alison Cooper Chisolm and Anna Ivey are the coauthors of How to Prepare a Standout College Application: Expert Advice That Takes You from LMO* (*Like Many Others) to Admit. They work together at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ivey College Consulting, an admissions coaching firm that helps applicants around the world get into top U.S. colleges. Their blog can be read at They can be followed on Facebook at /IveyCollege and on Twitter at @IveyCollege. Alison Cooper Chisolm draws on her admissions experience at three of the nation’s most selective universities: Southern Methodist University, the University of Chicago, and (most recently) Dartmouth College. Anna Ivey is a former dean of admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, where she made final admissions decisions on thousands of applicants. Inspired to help applicants navigate the admissions process more effectively, she founded Ivey Consulting and assembled a first-rate team of experts to coach college, law school, and business school applicants one-on-one.

February 28, 2014

College Guide

Page 11

Student volunteerism can have a positive impact ... and help pay for college Volunteerism can help young people grow into well-rounded, responsible individuals. When volunteering, kids can learn new skills, foster new friendships and contacts, and improve both their social and interpersonal skills. In addition, a 2011 study from researchers at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine found that people are generally happier and healthier when giving back to their communities. The study even recommended that health care professionals recommend volunteering to patients 12 and older, with the belief that helping others provides significant health benefits, including allowing volunteers to escape their stress and anxiety. And, there could even be a few added bonuses for volunteering! Students between the ages of six and 18 who haven’t yet graduated high school have the chance to be recognized for their volunteering efforts and earn money for higher education thanks to Kohl’s Department Stores. For more than a decade, the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program has recognized more than 19,500 students, awarding nearly $4 million in scholarships and prizes. This year the organization will award nearly $400,000 in scholarships and prizes to more than 2,300 young volunteers who have made a positive impact in their communities. Finding the right activity is often the most important step when fostering a love of volunteering in youngsters, and there are a number of great opportunities and

causes that children can relate to. Embrace eco-volunteering. Today’s kids are increasingly eco-conscious, and concepts like recycling, reusing and conserving fuel and energy are second nature to many young people. That makes eco-volunteering a natural fit for today’s eco-conscious students. Children can volunteer with organizations that remove trash from beaches and parks; plant trees to establish community green spaces; work to promote wildlife conservation; or further recycling efforts in their communities. Help the needy. Volunteerism can open youngsters’ eyes

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to the plight of the less fortunate. Various organizations dedicated to helping the needy depend on volunteers of all ages to meet their missions. From soup kitchens to shelters to private clothing or food collection drives, opportunities abound for kids who want to help the less fortunate. Help the sick. Many organizations that cater to the sick also provide volunteering opportunities to youngsters. Many kids who volunteer with such organizations are motivated to do so by a close friend or family member’s battle with a particular illness, but some kids even turn their own personal adversity into an

opportunity to help the sick. Such was the case with 18-year-old Tyler O’Briant of Tonganoxie, Mo. After spending more than three semesters of high school in and out of Children’s Mercy Hospital battling chronic bacterial and viral infections, Tyler, a 2013 Kohl’s Cares Scholarship winner, decided to host a book drive and fundraiser, which ultimately raised more than $1,150 to purchase books and e-readers for the hospital waiting rooms, where young patients now have access to hundreds of books thanks to Tyler’s efforts. Visit the elderly. Kids can learn a lot from their elders, and many organizations that work with the elderly offer volunteering programs for boys and girls. Individuals in group homes or hospitals often appreciate visits from youngsters, and kids can learn valuable life lessons in return. Tutor fellow students. A child who is proficient in a given subject can lend a helping hand to fellow students who need some assistance. Working together to improve grades and school performance can improve others’ sense of self-worth and instill a greater sense of accomplishment in tutors. Volunteering can foster a sense of social responsibility in youngsters, and may even help them finance their college educations. Nominations for the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program are accepted from January 31, 2014 to March 14, 2014. More information is available at

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College Guide

February 28, 2014

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