APPLICATION TIPS FROM COLLEGE PREP EXPERTS SCHOLARSHIPS, COMPETITIONS, FINANCIAL AID AND MORE!
PRESENTING THE 2022 GUIDE TO COLLEGE ADMISSIONS
We know that college admissions can be overwhelming. Applications, essays, scholarships, tours and more can be intimidating for both students and parents alike, and sometimes the whole process can feel frustrating and never-ending. And that’s before the letters of acceptance even start to roll in.
With this in mind, we’ve designed the TeenLife 2022 Guide to College Admissions with the intention to make the college prep experience as easy and seamless as possible. In the pages of this guide, students will be taken on a journey through their entire college admissions process: from preparing for college in high school, to writing their essays and applying, to paying for higher
education and beyond. We’ll walk through every step in detail, citing exclusive articles from college prep experts and including can’t-miss resources along the way.
College admissions can be scary, but with TeenLife's help it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re looking for the college of your dreams, a summer experience that will boost your high school resume, or an admissions expert who can help you get to where you want to be, you’re sure to find it in the pages of this guide. We can’t wait to see what you do next!Marie Schwartz CEO and Founder TeenLife Media
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PART I PREPARING FOR COLLEGE
Start Your Future with SELF-DISCOVERY IN HIGH SCHOOLBY TIM KENNEDY
hat do you want to be when you grow up?”
Parents ask it. Students wonder about it. And most of us have asked ourselves this question more than once. When you’re younger, the answers take a predictable route, influenced most by what and who you know.
In middle school and high school this question gets more real. In college, most of us get serious about finding answers, only to realize that the stakes and costs are higher. There’s a reason 80% of college students change majors at least once, some as many as six times. Today, many students stay in college longer than needed and pay more for the experience — mentally and financially.
There’s a better time and approach to answering this question. And it begins with understanding you.
THE VALUE OF SELF-ASSESSMENTS FOR SELF-DISCOVERY IN HIGH SCHOOL
Students who start with an assessment find this question much easier to tackle. With the right self-assessment, you:
•Learn about yourself. When you know more about yourself, you can find new ways to describe yourself on college admissions ent gets you out of your head and causes you to look at things from another angle. This naturally makes you think about what matters to you and where you want your future path to take you.
•Reinforce your career choice or empower yourself with new options. The best assessments include career matches based on what’s being assessed, whether personality, interest, aptitudes, or all of these. That can reinforce what you’ve always wanted to be when you grow up. It can also expose you to careers you may have never thought about, didn’t think you could do, or maybe never heard of.
There’s really no reason not to self-assess in high school. But which assessment do you choose? There are three primary types of college and career assessments avail-
able — personality assessments, interest assessments, and aptitude assessments. A few assess two or more of these.
PERSONALITY AND INTEREST ASSESSMENTS ARE BETTER THAN NO ASSESSMENT
A personality test assesses your basic motivations, emotional make up, and how you interact with people — things like openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Understanding your personality is important when thinking about careers. For instance, if you are an introvert you may struggle to find satisfaction in a career in sales. This will save you a lot of time and frustration.
An interest test assesses preferences. Understanding your interests can be useful to a degree. But there are risks in aligning your career choices to interests. For example, you can only have an interest in something you’re exposed to. Let’s say you would make an amazing informatics nurse specialist. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not likely going to pursue it.
Many adults used personality and interest tests to guide their career choices, only to realize mid-career that they’re unhappy and stuck. What’s the secret? Start by basing your choice on something more solid than personality or interests. Start with aptitudes.
WHY APTITUDES ARE A BETTER FOUNDATION
An aptitude is the natural ability to perform or learn in a given area. Your aptitudes matter because, unlike your interests, aptitudes are hard wired. Interests change based on what you’re exposed to. Aptitudes solidify by age 14.
An aptitude assessment taken during high school and used for college and career guidance uncovers your natural abilities and shows career options you may have never considered. In one study that compared aptitude-based career choices to interest-
based choices, 70% of female high school students showed interest in arts, education, social work, and life sciences careers. But only 20% had the natural aptitude for those careers. 50% of those students weren’t wired to do well in those careers yet were considering them. If pursued, they would likely find those careers difficult and unsatisfying.
Reasons to choose an aptitude-based assessment:
•According to the research from The University of Missouri, interests are influenced by perceived “societal norms” that limit the scope of students’ career exploration.
•Aptitude assessment that includes matching careers cut through social noise and biases and show you careers you’re wired to do well — ones you may have never considered or even heard about.
• Having a solid idea of what you can do and exploring career options before college can save you time, wasted money, and wasted college credits when you start and end with the same major.
Many schools have different assessments, such as YouScience Discovery. If your school offers one, take it. Once you’ve taken it, get with your counselor or teacher to help understand and apply your results to both classes and post-high school planning. If your school doesn’t offer one, find an aptitude assessment and take it on your own. The cost is low, the value high.
These tests should measure your aptitudes as they relate to job performance and satisfaction. The best ones use proven methods to uncover your aptitudes, interests, and personality and show you matching careers along with why those careers are a match for you.
There is no reason to struggle with the answer to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When you know yourself, you have a clearer path and the confidence to pursue it.
Tim Kennedy is the VP of marketing for YouScience, a company that’s revolutionizing how individuals, education and industries connect and achieve success. Using psychometrically valid brain games to measure performance-based aptitudes, YouScience Discovery connects students to careers they’ll naturally perform well in and industry-recognized certifications and education pathways to attain those careers. Students can access the YouScience aptitude-based college and career guidance solutions through schools nationwide or take it individually.
7 Tips For GETTING GREAT LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATIONBY: STEPHEN FRIEDFELD
f you’re a rising senior, it is extremely important to make getting letters of recommendation a top priority. How many will you need? Whom should you ask and when? What should they say about you?
Typically, large public institutions don’t require any letters. Admissions decisions are based on students’ grades, standardized test scores, essays, and extracurricular activities. But for most private colleges and universities, you’ll likely need one to three. The more selective the college, the more letters you’ll need.
Here’s 7 tips for high schoolers on getting great letters of recommendation:
1. Your school or counselor will typically write your primary letter of recommendation. It should provide your class rank, your rigor of curriculum compared to classmates, and an evaluation of several criteria about you: your academic achievement, extracurricular accomplishments, and personal character. This is a more objective letter, so be sure to finish your senior year strong.
2. Submit the required number of recommendation letters. If a college asks for three letters, then submit three (or, at most, four). Admissions officers can get a sense of how terrific you are with just a few.
3. Try to ask teachers who know you best (and in upper-year courses). You want teachers to evaluate who you are as you head into college. But if you’ve had a teacher more than once, then they are a great resource too.
4. Request letters from teachers in academic subjects that match your interests. If you are considering a major in engineering, request at least one letter from a science or math teacher. And, if you’re undecided but leaning towards a particular major, it’s wise to ask teachers in those areas.
5. Provide your recommendation letter writers with a resume and paragraph of your academic interests and achievements. Even if they know you well, they will be writing lots of other letters, so they might need some reminders about your character and what you want to study (and why).
6. Timing is everything. If you’ve requested them before the school year ended, terrific—but be sure to follow up when you return to school. If you haven’t yet, send an email over the summer or right away in the fall. You certainly don’t want to hold up your applications.
7. Say thanks with a hand-written note! Many students forget to recognize their appreciation.
Your Go-To Guide for TEST PREP AND PLANNINGBY CASEY LOALBO, INSPIRICA PROS
here’s absolutely, positively no doubt that the college process and all that comes along with it can feel overwhelming. The ever-changing landscape of higher education is intimidating. The goal of this guide is to simplify the standardized testing portion of the college admissions process by breaking it down into easy to follow steps.
1.DETERMINE WHICH TEST IS BEST FOR YOU.
As recently as 10 years ago, almost no one wondered if they should take the SAT or ACT. Instead, in some parts of the country, you took the ACT. In others, you took the SAT, and almost no one gave the
issue a second thought. Now that both tests are much more widely available, students all over have access to either test. Still, it’s easy to feel like colleges might have a “favorite.” But we promise– colleges accept either test and do not prefer one over the other.
The best way to determine which test is best for you is to take a practice SAT and a practice ACT. Students should take practice tests under real-life testing conditions. We want you to be able to get a clear and accurate picture of which test is best for you, and that means taking real tests created by the makers of SAT and ACT. Once you’ve experienced taking both tests and once you’ve received your score reports, you’ll have a good idea of which test is best for you. »
2. REGISTER FOR A TEST DATE
Once you’ve decided which test you will take, it’s time to register for a test date. You can register for the SAT here and the ACT here. When choosing a date, be sure to give yourself enough time to prepare. Now is a great time to begin to familiarize yourself with the look, feel, and format of the test you will be taking. The SAT has 2 sections—EvidenceBased Reading and Writing (broken down into two subsections: Reading and Writing) and Math (55-minute calculator-optional section and 25-minute no-calculator section). The ACT has English, Reading, Math and Science as well as an optional writing test.
3. SET A GOAL SCORE
Your practice test results will give you a baseline score. From here, you’ll set a goal score. You should make sure your goal score is realistic given the time you have to prepare.
4. DEVELOP A PREPARATION PLAN
Once you’ve chosen a date to take the test and you’ve set a goal score, it’s time to develop a study schedule or “prep plan.” Depending on your score goal, you may decide that you need to study for 40 hours before the test. If you have 10 weeks until the test, you’ll want to dedicate 4 hours per week to studying.
5. DETERMINE THE BEST STUDY METHOD FOR YOU
Next, you’ll need to pinpoint exactly how you will study and prepare for the test. For some students, self-studying works well, but many students need a bit more structure. One-on-one tutoring is the best way to optimize your preparation and achieve your potential on the SAT or ACT.
6.REMEMBER: YOU CAN TAKE THE TEST MULTIPLE TIMES
It’s important to give yourself an opportunity to take the SAT or ACT 2-3 times during your testing journey.
Many students under-perform the first time they take the test, and if you’re prone to test anxiety, knowing that you only have one chance to do well will make that anxiety even worse.
Most schools "superscore" the SAT and a growing number super score the ACT. Superscoring means that schools will mix and match results from multiple test dates to give you the best overall score. So, for example, if you scored 640 Math and 550 Reading on one SAT and then scored 560 Math and 660 Reading on the next, your super score would be 640 Math and 660 Reading, and that’s the SAT score most schools would use when weighing your college application. The same is true for ACT scores.
7.KEEP DEADLINES IN MIND
Finally, you’ll want to take into account the Early Decision/ Early Action deadlines for the schools that you’re interested in applying to. Ideally, you want to give yourself the option to apply early to one or more schools. The latest qualifying test dates for the ACT and SAT are the October test dates of senior year in high school so this means you’ll want to be sure to get in all of your test-sittings prior to these deadlines.
With these seven tips in mind, you’re sure to get the score you want on that next standardized test!
For more than 30 years, Inspirca Pros has provided expert 1:1 tutoring to clients across the globe. Their team of experts then analyzes the results and recommends the test that fits you the best. They offer proctored practice tests and help you interpret your results. Click here to learn more, or learn more about their SAT/ACT PathFinder–a 3-hour diagnostic exam that measures your testing strengths & weaknesses relative to the unique characteristics of the SAT and ACT! Connect with an Inspirica Pros tutor today!
30 STUDENT COMPETITIONS for High SchoolersBY JOHNATHAN D. KINDALL
ne of the best ways to make your high school resume stand out is to participate in and/or win a student competition. Contests, competitions and awards programs look great to college admissions officials, and they can also bring all sorts of other benefits like scholarships, trophies, recognition and cash prizes! For this reason, it's important to consider entering a few student competitions as you go through high school and prepare for your college application.
There are all sorts of competitions for high school students out there to explore. In fact, there's contests in art, writing, design, business, STEM and more. We've collected just a few of our favorites here, but, with all of those options, there's sure to be a student competition out there that matches your skills and interests.
Be sure and pay attention to the criteria and eligibility requirements of each student competition listed below. Many of them have deadlines that either vary by region or are quickly approaching. Some may have even already passed. However, since most of the competitions listed here are annual events, we’ve included them here for you to make note of in the upcoming years! Bookmark this page on our website for up to date information on student competitions near you.
▸ Congressional Art Competition
▸ Cool Science Art Competition on Extreme Weather
▸ Hong Kong Visual Arts Education Festival: Mail Art Competition
▸ LEO Art Challenge
▸ National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students
▸ Reflections Arts Program: National PTA
▸ Ocean Awareness Contest
▸ Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
▸ YoungArts National Arts Competition
▸ The Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition
▸ Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs
▸ High School Fed Challenge
▸ Wharton Global High School Investment Competition
STEM COMPETITIONS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
▸ 3M Young Scientist Challenge
▸ Clean Tech Competition
▸ Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge
▸ International BioGENEius Challenge
▸ International Space Settlement Design Competition
▸ Microsoft Imagine Cup
▸ Junior Science and Humanities Symposia Competitions
▸ Math League Competitions
▸ MIT Think Scholars Program
▸ Regeneron Science Talent Search
▸ Space Settlement Contest
▸ spUN Student Debates at ISDC
▸ Baen Fantasy Adventure Award
▸ Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Awards
▸ The Emerson Prize
▸ Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest
▸ National Scholastic Press Association Awards
FIND YOUR COLLEGE FIT:
How to Look Beyond Size, Location, and RankingsBY: LAUREN LINDSTROM, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY AT CORSAVA
ith more than 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. alone, it can sometimes feel impossible to even start your college search. Maybe you’re thinking about a large university that offers more than 150 majors for you to choose from. Maybe you’re considering a school in a city so that you never get bored. In the end though, you’re only going to major in one (maybe two) subjects, and an urban campus may leave you feeling lost without a grassy quad. Perhaps size and location aren’t all that important then.
It’s no wonder that families often turn to sources that rank schools from best to worst to help. However, rankings like the Princeton Review or U.S. News & World Report tells you much more about who is coming into the university, not what
kind of students are coming out. So, when families rely on rankings alone, they may be setting themselves up for disaster. There is still no proven link between the selectivity of a school and the earnings, learning, or well-being of its students.
But, if size, location, or prestige don’t matter, what does? How do you choose a college that really fits?
A good place to start is by asking why you are even going to college in the first place. Are you eager to challenge yourself intellectually? Meet people whose high school years were nothing like your own? Are you dead set on your career path, or would you like a little more time to decide? These are the questions that will lead you to the university that’s right for you.
Once you’ve started answering those questions, consider evaluating your college list by the following criteria:
When it comes to career and lifetime satisfaction, the relationships you develop in college do much more than the university name on your diploma. Find a teacher that makes learning exciting and cares about you personally. Look for schools where the professors are interested in teaching (not just research) and will invite you over for Friday night discussions at their place.
Who you surround yourself with matters more than you think. They could push you to be your best self by getting you out for a hike or talking through your research proposal. Later in life, they might be the ones to land you that CFO position or the reason you got to travel through Africa.
Beyond your inner circle, what do you want the personality of your community to be? Will they fight for social justice and try to correct inequalities on campus? Will they compete over the number of classes and activities they’re involved in?
In terms of the number of choices in front of you, bigger isn’t always better. Your state’s flagship institution may offer those 150 majors and 200 studentrun organizations you were eyeing, but they may also be harder to access due to fierce competition. At a school with closer to 2,000 students, you could be the star of the musical and the football team - just a couple perks of being the big fish in a small pond.
Check out your options off-campus: those provided by the school and others you could create nearby. Do you want a career counselor to send internship opportunities for the summer, or will you naturally seek those out yourself? Be honest. This isn’t about who you wish you could be, but who you are now and what you will need to succeed in the future.
What you will ultimately pay for an education can be hard to figure out. The posted ‘sticker price’ might look astronomical, but don’t let that scare you away. Here are a few money-saving secrets that might surprise you.
Private schools aren’t as expensive as you think. Colleges know that paying up to $75,000/year on tuition is not feasible for most Americans, so they figure out how to cut down the cost for almost all of their students. If you have limited resources, that means meeting your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which you can calculate on any college’s Net Price Calculator. If you don’t meet the income cutoffs, there is still money out there. Many excellent colleges will give scholarship packages of $40,000 or more, especially if they're in regions you haven’t considered or accept more than 20% of their applicants.
Don’t discount in-state education. One of the public institutions nearby might have exactly the program you’re looking for. Be sure to check out the Honors College, which allows ambitious young adults to get the discussion classes and close professor nteraction of a small college with the big school experience and price tag. There are also several inter-state agreements, such as WUE (the Western Undergraduate Exchange), that discount in-state tuition for their neighbors.
Hopefully by now you’ve picked up a few more ways to evaluate your colleges. It’s fine to think about the number of students or part of the country that would suit you best - but these might not be the first place to start. Identifying your deeper preferences for campus culture, educational opportunities, and financial parameters will likely lead to your very best fit.
If you save space for reflection in your college search, you will easily build a list of 9-12 schools that you know and love. In the end, though, it is not the college you attend that determines your success; it’s what you do with your time there that counts.
Corsava introduces students to a broad scope of college characteristics, helping families understand student preferences and encouraging them to find a college that truly resonates with their wants and needs. An easy way to figure out what’s important to you is to do a Corsava Card Sort, placing qualities like Collaborative Environment or Hands-On Learning into piles of what you ‘Must Have,’ ‘Would be Nice,’ and ‘No Way’ want at your school.
PART II APPLYING TO COLLEGE
What Did the 2021-22 COLLEGE ADMISSIONS CYCLE TEACH US?
he numbers from the 2021-22 College Admissions cycle are in, and they can tell us a lot about what to expect this upcoming year. So, let’s take a closer look at the information on this past admission cycle, how applicants fared, and what this all means for applicants this year.
APPLICATION STATISTICS AT THE IVY LEAGUE SCHOOLS
Let’s examine the numbers for applicants to four Ivy League Schools: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Brown.
This past year, Harvard University saw an application increase of 7% at 61,220 total applicants. That caused an acceptance rate of just 3.19%. This is the lowest acceptance rate in school history.
Another Ivy League school that saw its lowest acceptance rate in school history was Brown University. Their acceptance rate for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle was just 5%. This was due to an application increase of 9%. Brown fielded 50,649 total applicants.
Similar to Brown and Harvard, Yale University also saw a stark increase in applications. Yale received 50,015 applicants, which put their application increase rate at 6.6%. Not as high as Harvard or Brown, but certainly significant. This led to a 4.46% acceptance rate, which is the lowest the school has seen in three years.
Finally, Columbia is one Ivy League that did not see a significant increase in applicants, fielding 60,377 hopeful students. Out of that number, only 3.73% were accepted, which puts Columbia’s admissions rate below both Brown and Yale.
WHERE DID THIS APPLICATION SPIKE COME FROM?
There are a few influential factors that pushed this application spike, leading to an increased selectivity in the college admissions process this past year.
First, test optional policies that were put into place during COVID remained widely unchanged. Many schools still allowed for students to choose whether their test scores would be considered as part of their application, which means one less hoop for applicants to jump through. This increase in accessibility at schools is one of the biggest causes for the overall application spike.
For example, Vanderbilt University is one school that has promised to remain rest optional through 2028. This past year, only about 60% of applicants submitted their test scores. Conversely, MIT announced they were returning to mandatory test score submissions included in applications. However, prior to this announcement, MIT applications were up 66% compared to pre-pandemic. That’s a huge jump!
Another factor that may have contributed to the application spike is the economy. Unfortunately, shaky economic conditions lead to an increase in college applications. So, if the economy remains on its current trajectory, we may continue to see this application spike for the upcoming admissions cycle.
The final factor which could be contributing to the application spike at colleges is changing financial aid policies. Schools’ Need Blind and Need Aware policies are evolving, in order to make college more accessible for all students. This may be the reason why Dartmouth saw a 2% increase in international applications. »
WHAT ELSE INFLUENCES SELECTIVITY AT THESE SCHOOLS?
Other than the above factors, which contribute to the application spike and subsequent low admissions rates, what else causes an increase in selectivity at colleges? Well, there are several factors to look at.
The first is departmental needs. If you’ve been doing your research on the college admissions process, you know that applying for certain majors at certain schools can be much more selective than applying for other majors at the same college. If certain departments or programs are seeing an influx of applicants but are limited to the number of students they can accept due to the size of the program or teaching staff, then that school will ultimately have to turn away more applicants.
Schools also have relationships with third party programs, which can increase selectivity for other applicants. Furthermore, there are enrollment caps at some schools for students from certain geographic locations. And finally, tuition dependency can affect the selectivity of a school. If a school cannot support its students with the income from tuition, donations, etc., then they may need to just accept fewer applicants.
WHAT DOES THIS DATA MEAN FOR THE UPCOMING APPLICATION CYCLE?
So, we’ve gone through what the data is and why it’s happening, but what does this mean for future applicants? Well, it seems unlikely that application numbers will suddenly swing in the opposite direction. It’s safe to predict that demand will continue to increase for a college education, especially at a prestigious or elite university. Applications may slow but will ultimately continue to rise, perhaps not at the current rate, but this data indicates that they likely will not drop back to pre-pandemic levels any time soon.
One thing this may eventually lead to is more independent movement between colleges. We can perhaps expect to see admissions practices that will become more differentiated by school, which may make the application process more complicated for students applying to many schools. Also, the return of testing requirements will lead to temporary dips for certain institutions, which may ultimately spur a new focus on mid-tier schools that remain test optional in the coming years.
Finally, this tells us that unique applications are increasingly important in upcoming application cycles. Pressure will continue to be placed on applicants to establish their “fit” at a school, so the school can feel confident that the student will be an asset to the school environment.
WHAT TO DO NEXT TO PLAN FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS:
1.Start Building an Application Strategy NOW! Time is your greatest asset, so schedule application prep time throughout your high school career and use time off effectively.
2.Follow the Data
Do you know how your applicant profile has fared in the most recent admission cycles?
Rumors kill applications, so be sure to double check everything you hear about a school on its website.
4.Build your Brand
Develop and share your passion - colleges want students who are bright, motivated, and inspired!
Nearly half of all applicants are getting third party assistance with their college applications today. This is the biggest decision of your life, so why risk it?
With over 300 former Admissions Officers and Admissions Experts at the ready, CollegeAdvisor.com can provide you personalized college admissions advising to help you and your family navigate all parts of the college application process. Not only does professional college guidance save you time, it can also lower stress and anxiety for the whole family. Click here to increase your admissions odds with CollegeAdvisor.com.
4 Steps to Writing a GREAT COLLEGE ESSAY
t’s normal to be stressed out at the very idea of writing a college essay. Normal — but not necessary.
This article will help you cut out the worry that trips up most students when it comes to this vital part of your application. We’ll steer you clear of these time-sucks:
•Writing beautiful prose. Finding brilliant metaphors. Being a “good writer.”
•Capturing your “soul” so that the admissions officers can “get to know you.”
•The agony of the blank page — our method doesn’t wait on the muse to come to you.
Instead of flailing around those murky waters, let’s orient you to what really matters: impressing your audience. Who is your audience? If you guessed “admission officers,” you are correct.
STEP 1: SHOW ADMISSIONS OFFICERS THAT YOU’LL BE SUCCESSFUL IN COLLEGE AND BEYOND
Let’s go on a little tour. It’s a tour of the college admissions office. Ugh. What is this atmosphere? It’s an atmosphere of stress and hurry. Where are the officers? They’re hidden beneath massive piles of applications. They have so many to read that they generally spend less than 10 minutes reading the entire file.
Now, what are they looking for in those 10 minutes (or less)? They’re looking for proof you’ll be successful in college and beyond. What do they do when they see such evidence? As they read your essays/activity list/recommendations, their notes will become one score — the personal score — that summarizes how much potential they think you have. Just one number for all those essays you’ve worked so hard on!
But how exactly do you prove you’ll be successful in college and beyond? How do you get a high personal score?
2: EXPERIENCES THAT DEMONSTRATE
THE “5 TRAITS” ARE THE BEST WAY TO SHOW YOU’LL BE SUCCESSFUL
People who are successful generally have one or more of these 5 traits — we call them The 5 Traits Colleges Look for in Applicants:
Your first order of business, before you start on any essay - even the personal statement - is to think about your high school experiences:
•In your extracurriculars
PART II: APPLYING TO COLLEGE
•At your job
•In your family/friend life
•During your summers
•Learning/reading/pursuing knowledge/crafts/ independent artistic pursuits.
In a massive brainstorming session (or a few smaller sessions), get all your experiences out on paper. Next, think about which ones exemplify any of the 5 traits. You’ll get a sense of the 1-3 traits that best define you (ex: initiative and intellectual curiosity) and can start building your application around those.
Your application is a spotlight. Your job is to shine it on the experiences that best demonstrate the 5 traits and your potential to succeed. For each college you apply to, you need to use every essay and question they give you to highlight as many of the very best experiences that you can to show off your potential.
We recommend that you go college-by-college with this process so that each application is cohesive and makes the best use of supplemental essays to spotlight your potential.
STEP 3: STRUCTURE YOUR ESSAY SO THAT IT IS FOCUSED ON YOU AND THE ACTIONS YOU’VE TAKEN
Remember the admissions officer, looking for one thing only: evidence of potential. Don’t squander that opportunity by waxing philosophical, setting the scene, talking about your love of music, or sport, or algebra. Keep everything focused on actions you’ve taken because not much else demonstrates things that matter to admission officers.
In addition, for longer essays, we have two structures that can set you up for success (and as a bonus cut down on the time it takes to write):
The Journey: For showing a clear progression or personal growth through a specific experience (ie: a Before You, and an After You). Here, you start with a vivid anecdote or intro. Then describe “Before You,” and the actions you took to overcome an obstacle, learn, or grow. Finally, spend a good third of the essay on “After You:” what actions you take now as a result of this growth.
The Theme: For showing either (a) how you developed one trait over many experiences or (b) one meaningful passion over time. Here, again start with a vivid anecdote or intro that introduces the positive trait or meaningful passion. Next, illustrate this theme with a few experiences that each demonstrate one or more of the 5 traits (ideally, cohesively).
Finally, remember that your reader is going fast. Score points by being direct, clear, and to the point. Don’t confuse them or lose them in florid language.
STEP 4: REVISE YOUR ESSAY FOR CLARITY AND FOR THE 5 TRAITS
We know it’s predictable, but we’re saying it anyway: great writing is all about revision. So take this last step seriously.
There are two ways to revise (1) by yourself (or with a writing coach), and (2) with a trusted adult.
As you revise, or if you have a coach who knows admissions well, stay focused on the 5 traits. Which traits are you demonstrating? Can you strengthen any of them by adding a sentence? By swapping out one experience for a better one? By cutting fluff to make room for more action?
But if you have, say, a parent revising, it is very important that you not let them derail you from your laser focus on those 5 traits that resonate with admissions. (We often see parents want kids to mention some cool award, for example.)
Ask these revisers to read for clarity. Ask them to circle bits that are unclear. Ask them what questions they are left with. What more do they want to know?
If, after this process, your essays shine a crisp light onto your top traits and are crystal-clear, your chances of getting in will be hugely improved.
Prompt is a world leader in writing education, supporting more than 50,000 learners. Prompt provides fully-integrated writing education solutions, combining instruction, curriculum, and feedback. Prompt supports learners of all ages, working directly with educational institutions, companies, and individuals. Feeling inspired? A great place to start is at their College Essay Help Center
COMMON APP VS COALITION APP: Which Should You Choose?BY JOHNATHAN D. KINDALL
t’s best practice to apply to a number of different schools when you’re going through the college application process. Doing so not only increases your chances of getting into a school of your choice, but it also opens up your options when taking cost, financial aid and a whole other host of factors into consideration.
However, manually applying to dozens of different schools can be exhausting. Writing a new essay, filling out your accomplishments and awards, and submitting all of your personal information over and over again can be tiring and tedious. Luckily, there are a few different solutions that collect your applications and allow you to send your information to a number of schools at once - all with the same standardized application.
The Common Application (Common App) and the Coalition Application (Coalition App) are the two of the most popular college application aggregators used in the United States today. While very similar, the two applications are not exactly the same, and one may be better for you or your students' needs.
In this article, we’ll look at the details of both the Common App and Coalition App and help you decide which is best for you!
THE COMMON APPLICATION
The Common App was founded in 1975 and serves nearly 1,000 colleges worldwide. It is older and larger than the Coalition App, and is many schools' centralized application service of choice.
In addition to servicing schools in the US and abroad, The Common App allows students to apply to up to 20 colleges at a time. Students will fill out all of their personal information and write one short essay, which will be submitted to each of the colleges they choose.
Most colleges will require further supplemental information like test scores, additional essays, and recommendations, but the general information will not have to be repeated for each school. While there is no cost to use the Common Application site, many schools charge an individual application fee.
There are a few other benefits to the Common App. Resources like college search allow for students to use the application portal not just for admissions but for research and brainstorming as well. Additionally, since the Common Application is large and well-established, teachers, counselors and parents probably already have some familiarity with the service and its interface.
Other advantages of the Common App include a robust support staff, a wide range of essay prompts, and the ability to start your application early.
THE COALITION APPLICATION
The Coalition Application is a newer tool for students that was launched in 2016 by the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. It shares many similarities with the Common App, like the ability to submit one essay to a number of colleges, though there are a few key differences.
For one, the Coalition App services fewer schools than the Common App, about 140 as of this school year. Many colleges, including all eight Ivy league schools, accept both the Common and the Coalition App. However, there are some popular schools like Rutgers, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Washington that accept the Coalition App only.
Other differences? The Coalition App offers a “locker” feature that lets students keep track of their personal and creative material as early as ninth grade. It also allows students to “invite” teachers, parents and counselors to their application space, making it more of a resource hub for application materials than an application portal only.
Lastly, the member schools that accept the Coalition App have committed to the Coalition’s overall mission to support lower-income, under-resourced, and/ or first-generation students. Applying to a coalition school with a Coalition app guarantees nothing, but if you’re applying to a school that accepts it, you can be fairly certain that they are committed to providing students with robust financial aid.
However, since the Coalition App is still new and unfamiliar to many students and administrators, its interface may be more difficult to navigate and understand for some. Additionally, if the top schools on your list don’t accept the Coalition App, its many supplemental resources are ultimately unhelpful.
COMMON APP OR COALITION APP: WHICH SHOULD I CHOOSE?
While the Coalition and Common App do have their differences – essay prompts, number of extracurricular activities allowed, user interfaces and support staff – they are undeniably very similar. In the end, the choice of which to use should ultimately come only down to which colleges you’re planning to apply to.
Perhaps that seems like too straightforward or easy of an answer. However, the truth is that colleges and
universities do not prefer one application method over another. Schools offer different application methods to allow accessibility and flexibility to students, and the method by which you submit your application has no bearing on its consideration or its strength.
So how do you decide which application to use? First, make a list of all the schools you’re interested in. Then mark whether they take the Common App, the Coalition App, neither or both.
If all the schools on your list accept the Common App, but only some take the Coalition App, then choose the Common App. Vice versa, if they all take the Coalition App, but only some accept the Common, then choose the Coalition App.
If the schools you’re interested in accept both, then pick the one that you feel most comfortable using. Under-represented students may choose the Coalition App in this case, if for no other reason than that it offers resources to underserved groups, but again, the decision is ultimately up to you.
If some of your schools only accept the Common App but others only take the Coalition App, you’ll unfortunately need to use both. Some schools may take neither, very possible as there are a number of public school systems that do not accept outside applications. In this case, you’ll need to apply to those schools directly.
There’s enough to worry about during the college application process, but which application aggregator to use should not be one of those things. Though there are benefits and differences between the Common App and Coalition App yes, but, ultimately, the only thing that should influence your decision to use one app over the other is the schools that you’re interested in attending. Create a free account on both sites, explore the schools they serve and the resources they offer, and start applying today!
Johnathan Kindall is the Content Editor at TeenLife Media. He attended Boston University’s College of Communications, graduating in 2020 with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism. Johnathan is dedicated to launching teens into life by providing them with resources that help them navigate the often intimidating world of college applications and higher education. You can find more of his work at the regularly updated TeenLife Blog.
PART III PAYING FOR COLLEGE
High School Parents: PLAN AHEAD TO PAY LESS FOR COLLEGEBY CYNDI MENEGAZ, NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR AT SMARTTRACK® COLLEGE FUNDING
e get asked every day by middle and upper-middle income parents if there is anything they can do to make college more affordable. The problem for these families is that they don’t expect to see much in the way of financial aid but they will definitely be challenged by the high cost of college. If they have more than one child to educate - oh boy - their concerns multiply.
The short answer is to start thinking strategically about your funding plans when your child is still 1-4 years from going to college - 9th grade is optimal; 10th grade acceptable; 11th grade is 911!
Parents should ask themselves these questions:
• How much can we comfortably afford?
• Have we saved enough for all our children?
• Will my child’s college choices be limited by cost?
• Which of our financial resources should we draw upon?
It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers just yet, but delaying the conversation could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
The full retail cost of attendance for a four-year undergraduate education currently runs between $80,000 to $320,000 or more. Most families have not saved that much or don’t have enough cash flow to cover it. Many also believe that the Financial Aid system is for lower income families, so they don’t engage in the process at all.
The reality is that the Financial Aid system is much larger and more inclusive than most families realize, even for those in the middle and upper-middle income ranges.
EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION
When you submit your information during the financial aid process, the schools and government will determine the minimum amount they’ll expect you to pay out of pocket - this calculation is called your Expected Family Contribution (aka Student Aid Index).
We have rarely met a middle or upper-middle income parent who got their EFC estimate and said, “No problem, this is what we can reasonably afford.” No, it’s usually more like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is ridiculous, why is it so high???”
The reason is simple - for many middle and uppermiddle income families, how they have their financial life organized can artificially inflate their EFCs. It is critical for parents to review their profile in the years before their child applies to college and mitigate any red flags inadvertently elevating their Expected Family Contribution calculations. When you give yourself the time to organize your finances - including how your income is derived, how your assets are configured, how your taxes are structured, etc - you put yourself in a position to be more favorably assessed. Your tax return offers the best analogy - you’ll pay more in taxes if you don’t take every legitimate deduction available to you, right?
TIMING IS KEY
The tax year that will become your base-year for financial aid consideration is not last year’s, but the year before that. Referred to as your “prior-prior year,” it means that your tax return from the year your student is a sophomore or first-semester junior in high school will become the basis for future grants, scholarships and loan offers! You have the power to impact that tax return but only if you start thinking strategically in advance.
MORE TO IT THAN FINANCIAL AID
How you pay for college will impact how much you pay for college. When you use your resources in the most tax-advantaged, cost efficient way possible, you can potentially save yourself tens of thousands of dollars. For example, let’s say you withdraw from your retirement account to help cover costs for freshman year. When you submit financial aid forms for sophomore year, they’ll assess those funds as income which will reduce your aid eligibility. So now you’ve damaged your retirement and reduced your financial aid package.
But when you learn to leverage your income and assets to maximize what’s available from the government and the colleges, it will reduce the amount you may have to borrow, which will save you mightily.
Another big factor in maximizing your savings is to include good-fit schools likely to be generous with your student and family. A generous school is one that can meet your family’s financial need with more grants and scholarships (free money) and that has the resources to provide merit aid to incentivize your student to accept their offer of admission. A school is not considered generous if they fill your aid package with nothing but loan offers. Many families will miss the boat here because they’re deterred by the high price tag of private schools that might actually be very generous, making those institutions more affordable than expected.
For middle and upper middle income families with students heading to college in the next 1-4 years, now is the time to get your financial house in order. This will help you maximize your eligibility for grants, scholarships and financial aid, and set you on a path to paying for college in the most affordable way possible given your personal circumstances.
For over 20 years, nearly 400,000 families have trusted SMARTTRACK® College Funding to help them better pay for college, pay less for college, and protect retirement in the process. Cyndi Menegaz is SMARTTRACK’s National Program Director. She is a popular speaker and conducts workshops across the country, educating and empowering parents and professional colleagues on the critically important financial piece of college planning. Prior to joining SMARTTRACK®, she had a successful career in the video business and received a degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University. Cyndi is also the proud mom of twins who recently graduated from college debt free!
Everything You Need to Know About COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPSBY AMANDA MADENBERG
id you know you could win money for showing generosity to others? For surviving tough family circumstances? For getting good grades? For demonstrating interest in a particular area of study, even if you have not yet been admitted to college? Did you know you could win money for being you?
Finances are one of students’ and families’ biggest concerns when thinking about the college process. Many colleges are very expensive, and this fact can seem daunting when considering college options. Fortunately, there are several resources to help students and families pay for college, including many forms of financial aid.
There are two overarching types of financial aid for college: need-based aid and merit aid. Need-based aid is provided by the government and/or institutions to students whose families demonstrate financial “need” in order to cover the cost of a two or four
year degree. Merit aid is provided to students who meet particular requirements of merit, whether that is academic, athletic, or other kind of merit.
Scholarships are one of the most common forms of merit-based financial aid, though some scholarships do have some need-based components that consider student and family financial circumstances. Scholarships can range from smaller amounts of money that students can put towards any college-related cost, such as purchasing textbooks, to awards that cover a student’s entire tuition for four years. Some scholarships target specific groups of students, such as students who will be the first generation in their family to go to college or students in particular racial or ethnic groups. Other scholarships are open to all students.
Institutions sometimes automatically consider their applicants for scholarships in the college admissions process if they meet particular GPA or other requirements, and other schools ask that students apply separately to scholarships.
Scholarships can be awarded from the particular school that a student attends or from a separate group, such as religious or nonprofit organizations. Scholarship application requirements vary; some ask for short essays or personal statements, a letter of recommendation or referral from a school setting, a GPA and/or standardized test score, or sometimes nothing at all except for providing personal information.
Students can be eligible for scholarships at many points in their high school careers. While many scholarships target seniors in high school specifically, there are big scholarships to which juniors can apply and receive even before they have any idea where they are headed to college.
Here are some tips for high school students who want to consider scholarships:
•Create a profile on Fastweb, Cappex, and Student Scholarships. You can create an account at any point. These three websites allow students to create profiles with any identification information and select academic and extracurricular areas of interest in order to filter scholarships that may peak special interest.
• As a senior in high school, if you want to make applying to scholarships a priority, set a weekly reminder to check the websites above. New scholarships are added to the above sites all the time! Throughout high school, you can ask your school counselor and/or college counselor, if you have one, for a list of scholarships. There are times when schools are asked to nominate a particular number of students for a scholarship, so it can’t hurt for your counselor to know you are interested in opportunities.
• Plan ahead. Many scholarships have hard deadlines, meaning you will not be able to submit applications once the window closes. If the
scholarship to which you’re applying requires documentation from your school, ask your school counselor for anything you need with enough advanced notice to make the deadline. If you think you may have missed the deadline for a scholarship competition, explore the website: it’s possible that there are multiple deadlines for submission.
•Save essays that you write for scholarships. You may be able to use the same essay for multiple competitions!
•Stay positive, even if you experience some rejection. Some scholarships are competitive, whether that’s due to the number of applicants, the qualifications, or the reward at stake. Similar to the college admissions process, applying to scholarships might subject you to feelings of disappointment if you don’t win. Keep applying!
Applying to scholarships may not only benefit you if you win the scholarship and money that comes along with it. The application process can also help you when applying to colleges. For instance, when applying to college, you will need to write a personal statement with the goal of sharing anything with colleges that demonstrates who you are outside of the data that colleges will already receive from your high school. The personal statement might be an easier task if you have already done some thinking about what sets you apart as a student and as a person.
Additionally, some scholarships require the submission of a resume of extracurricular impact, and this is a document that can significantly help you when completing the Activity Section of the Common App.
We know that applying to scholarships can sometimes be just as intimidating as applying to colleges and universities, but with this information in this article you can get a head start on making college affordable and worthwhile. We can’t wait to see what you do next!
Amanda Madenberg recently graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University, with a Master's in Education and Master of Arts in Counseling, along with an Advanced Certificate in College Advising. Amanda co-authored a book with her mom, a college counselor, called Love the Journey to College. Amanda worked in three Undergraduate Admissions offices at Cornell University during her time as a student there, completing her Bachelor's degree in Human Development. While in graduate school, Amanda interned as a College Counselor at the NYC iSchool, and she also served as a Course Assistant for the College Advising Program at TC and The American College Student course.
Arts, Business, Healthcare and STEM SCHOLARSHIPS FOR TEENS
id you know that, in addition to need and merit based scholarships, many colleges offer financial aid to students who are studying specific topics or majoring in a certain field? That’s right! You can get paid just for studying a certain subject that you’re passionate about.
The following is a list of scholarships for students interested in the arts, STEM, business and healthcare. This is far from a comprehensive list - so be sure to do your own research into any major specific scholarships in your areas of interest!
Many of the scholarships listed below have application deadlines that are either rapidly approaching or already past. However, as the majority of these scholarships are annual awards, we’ve included them here so that you can make note of them for the coming years. For up to date information on special interest scholarships for high school students, be sure to check out the regularly updated TeenLife Blog.
▸ Creative Innovation in Education Scholarship
▸ Frame My Future Scholarship
▸ Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest
▸ Greater Than Gatsby Annual Scholarship
▸ Ocean Awareness Art Contest
▸ Against The Grain Scholarship
▸ Congressional Black Caucus Visual Arts Scholarship
▸ Congressional Black Caucus Performing Arts Scholarship
▸ Educational Theatre Association Scholarships and Grants
▸ SAG-AFTRA Scholarship Programs
▸ Kennedy Center Playwright Discovery Competition
▸ Joan Meyers Brown Equity Scholarship Fund
▸ New York City Dance Alliance Scholarship Program
▸ Cynthia and Alan Baran FIne Arts and Music Scholarship
▸ Associated Male Choruses of America Scholarship
▸ Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Music Scholarship Competition
▸ BMI’s John Lennon Scholarships
▸ Women Band Directors International Scholarships
▸ A&F Business Consultants Scholarship
▸ Adore Me Scholarship
▸ AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship
▸ The Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition
▸ Breanden Beneschott Ambitious Entrepreneurs Scholarship
▸ Cargill Global Scholars Program for U.S. Students
▸ David R. Parsley Scholarship Fund for Supply Chain Management
▸ Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs
▸ Future of Business Scholarship
▸ High School Fed Challenge
▸ LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship Program
▸ Mildred C. Hanson SIOR Memorial Scholarship
▸ Party Headphones Business-Forward Student Scholarship
▸ Paul S. Mills Scholarship
▸ Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship
▸ Robert J. Yourzak Project Management Scholarship Award
▸ SILA Postsecondary College Scholarship
▸ Washington Media Scholars Foundation Media Fellows Scholarship
▸ Wharton Global High School Investment Competition
▸ Women in Public Finance Scholarship
▸ American Psychological Association Scholarship Database
▸ American Physiological Association Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships
▸ A Nurse I Am Scholarship
▸ Caroline E. Holt Nursing Scholarship
▸ James “Rhio” O’Connor Mesothelioma Scholarship Fund
▸ National Black Nurses Association
▸ National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program
▸ Nurses Educational Funds, Inc
▸ Sunshine Behavioral Health’s Opioid Awareness Scholarship
▸ Tylenol Future Care Scholarship
▸ U.S. Air Force ROTC Nursing Scholarship Program
▸ American Society of Mechanical Engineers Scholarships
▸ Association of State Dam Safety Officials Scholarship Program
▸ Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
▸ Employment BOOST STEM Scholarships
▸ Great Minds in STEM Scholars Program
▸ Google SVA Scholarship
▸ Herbert Levy Memorial Physics Scholarship
▸ LabRoots STEM Scholarships
▸ Latinas in STEM Scholarships
▸ Lockheed Martin Scholarships
▸ Microsoft STEM Tuition Scholarship
▸ NACME Minority Engineering Scholarship
▸ Out to Innovate LGBTQ+ STEM Scholarship
▸ Pixel-Plex Bi-Annual STEM Scholarship
▸ Peggy Dixon Two-Year Physics Scholarship
▸ Steinmen Engineering Scholarship
▸ UNCF STEM Scholars Program
▸ Universities Space Research Associations (URSA) Awards
What You Need to Know About
STUDENT LOANSBY JOHNATHAN D. KINDALL
ollege is expensive, and while scholarships, savings, aid and other awards are great, they unfortunately don’t cover the full cost for many students out there. That’s why, in the United States and elsewhere, student loans are a common way to supplement the cost of higher education.
We know that committing to a student loan is a big decision to make while you’re still in high school. However – for better or for worse – student loans
are a fact of higher education. It's estimated that about 55% of Bachelor’s Degree recipients graduating from four-year public and private nonprofit colleges in 2020 had some form of student loan debt when they graduated, and that number is only going up.
So, if more than half of all college students will interface with student loans during their time in college, it’s important to TeenLife to make sure that students know what they’re getting into and how to best prepare themselves for college and beyond. Remember: student loans, no matter the type, consist of money that you borrow and must pay
back with interest, so be sure to consider your options carefully before committing to a loan or to a college.
Below, you’ll find a brief overview of the different types of student loans that are available to students and their families. It’s meant to be an introduction to the topic – not a comprehensive guide. Once you’ve taken a look at the different kinds of loans available then, talk with family, friends or even a financial advisor to do more research on what kind of student loan, if any, is right for you.
A majority of student loans in the United States are handled by the U.S. government. These loans are made with the U.S. Department of Education as the lender, and almost always have better terms and benefits than private student loans. To qualify and apply for federal student loans and other types of federal aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, each year. There are a few different types of federal student loans to know about:
• Direct Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized): Commonly referred to as Stafford Loans, money for these loans comes directly from the United States government. In a subsidized loan students are not required to make payment until six months after they graduate college, and the federal govern-ment pays the interest on the loan for that period. In an unsubsidized loan, payments are still not due until after graduation, but the student, not the government, is responsible for the accumulated interest on the loan. The maximum amounts, interest rate, and repayment plans for direct federal student loans varies based on need, income and a whole host of other factors.
• PLUS Loans: PLUS loans are available to parents of dependent undergraduate students as well graduate students. These two types of loans are referred to as Parent PLUS Loans and Grad PLUS Loans respectively. Unlike direct student loans, PLUS
loans have flexible maximum amounts and can be used to cover education costs not covered by other financial aid.
• Direct Consolidation Loans: Many students who take out student loans will receive them from a different borrower depending on the year or semester. This results in some students having up to a dozen different loan payments due every month after graduation. A direct consolidation loan is a way to simplify the repayment process for students who have already graduated. As the name implies, these loans let students make one payment to one servicer every month.
If more assistance is needed, students and their families may consider a private student loan, also referred to as an alternative education loan. These loans do not come from the government and are instead offered through various banks or credit unions. Familiar names in this space include Sallie Mae and Citizens Bank.
Private education loans require a credit check for eligibility, resembling other types of personal loans more than they do federal ones. Private education loans have higher interest rates and are never subsidized – meaning that students are responsible for paying any and all accumulated interest. Some require payments while students are still in school, and deferment and forbearance options are limited. For these reasons, private education loans should typically only be considered once all federal options have been exhausted.
That being said, the industry is growing, and many students might not have other options. Right now private student loans only account for about 9% of all student loans debt, but since 2012 the industry has outpaced credit cards, automobiles and almost all other forms of consumer loans. If you are considering a private student loan, be sure to do your research on interest rates, repayment plans and more.
Johnathan Kindall is the Content Editor at TeenLife Media. He attended Boston University’s College of Communications, graduating in 2020 with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism. Johnathan is dedicated to launching teens into life by providing them with resources that help them navigate the often intimidating world of college applications and higher education. You can find more of his work at the regularly updated TeenLife Blog.
PART IV GOING TO COLLEGE
How To Prepare
YOUR TEEN FOR COLLEGEBY MONICA REYNOSO
fter years of your child spending countless hours studying for exams, SATs, and writing up college admission essays, they have finally been accepted to a 4-year university.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that around 11 million students enrolled in 4-year institutions every year. As the numbers increase for U.S. students and international students attending four-year universities, so do the uncertainties that come with parents transitioning their students into college.
Before the first semester of college starts in the fall, students are to already have solidified their place of residence, purchase their books for classes, and have an understanding of what classes need to be taken for their major.
Is your student ready for college? Find out how you can help your college-bound student prepare and succeed for their four-year university experience.
1.EDUCATE YOUR STUDENT ON FINANCES
Most of the time, students who begin college, have only had experience handling money from their allowance. It can be easy for a new high-school graduate to throw caution to the wind and spend money without taking a step back. Parents need to teach their students how to budget and categorize their expenses. Before sending your young adult to school, teach them how to set up a bank account. After, teach them what expenses to prioritize and how much money they should put in each category. Categories for budgeting and spending can include going-out money, groceries, school supplies, and laundry. If your college student has received their first credit card, make sure they keep track of bill due dates and have a basic understanding of interest rates.
2.STUDENTS SHOULD LEARN HOW TO PREPARE QUICK, EASY DISHES
Eating out can not only be costly, but it can also be unhealthy. On the other end of the spectrum, if your child is constantly eating instant noodles, although they may be saving money, their health could be the ultimate price they could be paying. Teaching your child to adopt a well-balanced diet can aid them physically and mentally. When educating your child on how to cook quick, healthy meals, start with substitutes. For example, instead of eating instant noodles that contain a large amount of sodium, teach your young adult to substitute that for pasta with different types of seasoning.
3.SECURE A PLACE TO LIVE FOR YOUR STUDENT
Over the years, on-campus housing has become increasingly expensive. To top it off, a majority of universities expect that you buy a meal plan to accompany the dorm-housing as well. Having your student live off-campus can be cost-effective. Renting an apartment with other students can provide them with a dorm-like experience. Students who live off-campus will also learn the skills they need to cooperate with others. Shared responsibilities such as cleaning the kitchen, buying the toilet paper, or speaking to the landlord about a leak in the ceiling, will help your young adult mature and gain the life skills they will need outside of college.
4.INTRODUCE THEM TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
First-year students usually do not have access to a car. Many college-bound students choose to live out of state and do not bring a car with them from home. When introduced to the public transportation system, college-bound students will be more aware of their college town and rely on themselves rather than others who have a vehicle. Another advantage of utilizing public transportation is that it is cheaper than having a vehicle, as parking on-campus can be expensive and cost anywhere from $40 up to $2,500 per semester, depending on where the school is located.
One of the most important actions you can take as a parent is to stay connected to your college-bound student. Just because they are attending a school far away does not mean that communication with each other needs to come to a complete halt. In fact, the older your young adult becomes, the more they may need your advice. If your young adult feels the need to, block out some time out of your day to routinely speak to them. Remember, at times, no news is good news. They may be finally having the healthy and happy college experience you had always wanted for them.
Monica Reynoso obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications. She is passionate about spreading awareness about educational topics that aid teachers, students, and parents in preparing their children for a higher education. Ms. Reynoso believes that every student should have access to the knowledge they need to succeed in a classroom.
PACKING FOR COLLEGE?
Here’s 6 Tips to HelpBY EVAN BERKOWITZ
’m headed off to college in a week and a half, so these past few weekends have been spent scouring stores for the best buys in dorm room necessities and…not-so necessities. Quite the pile has sprung up in the front hallway, and the prospect of leaving is, by sheer volume of possessions, becoming a great deal clearer.
But, as fun as this packing process has been and can be for everyone, it must be undertaken with rhyme, reason, and careful planning. Hopefully, these tips will help your or your soon-to-be-college student’s transition be all that much smoother. Good luck!
1. MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE.
When planning and buying the items that will come with you or your student to college, don’t just rely on spur-of-the-moment decisions on what should and shouldn’t go. Before you even consider going to the
college aisle of the big box stores, make a thorough list of what items the student needs, what items the student already has, and what the student needs to buy.
In fact, many colleges and universities publish lists like these on their websites or with move-in day materials. Use this list as a baseline: cross out what you might not need and add what you will. If you want your own list, make sure that all the required items of the college’s list are present. That being said…
2. DON’T OVERDO IT.
Perusing the aisles of [Insert Store Here] with a double-wide cart of dorm room goodies (or doing the same virtually on Amazon et al), it can be all too tempting for a student or their parents to buy an insanely exorbitant amount of stuff - more than could ever hope to fit in a dorm room closet or bureau.
The cause of this is twofold. First, the stuff that might seem necessary, fun, or super cool in the moment may not be so thought of with the benefit of hindsight. Second, in an effort to mentally delay the concept of their child leaving, a parent might try to duplicate home, with all the trappings, at college. A student, of course, might do the same. While the intention surely springs from a place of love, this practice is by no means practical. Dorms are smaller, not to mention shared. That being said…
3.DON’T UNDERDO IT EITHER.
This is different from forgetting things (as in number one). This is the situation where you go so far away from number two that your dorm begins to look less like a room and more like a cell. Like it or not, this is going to be the student’s home more than any other place over the next year and it should feel like it.
Whether this means dressing the room to the nines with bedazzled block letters and sparkling, sequinspotted photo frames like some dorms I’ve seen, or simply laying out a few pictures and some familiar objects, it’s an invaluable step toward making the drastic transition from high school to college a little easier for all involved. Take some time to pick out a few (preferably small) things that mean a lot to you or your student and find a place for them. These little things can make a big difference on a rainy, homesick day. That being said…
4.DON’T FORGET THE BARE NECESSITIES.
Focusing on all the fun new things that you get to buy and bring (a shower caddy, dearie me!), it’s no wonder college-supplied move-in lists (including my own) are peppered with warnings of commonly-forgotten, no-brainer items. Pillowcases, for example, or laundry detergent.
Band-aids, Advil, and a sewing kit can fall by the wayside when everyone’s bigger concern is the now-famous “micro-fridge.”
At four in the morning during finals week when your calculator’s batteries die, that Phillips-head screwdriver is going to fall like manna from Heaven on your desk. When a loose button jumps ship of your nicest blouse or button-down the day of an interview, that needle and thread will be heralded as the Greek gods themselves.
5.CHOOSE A STYLE SET.
I am not an interior designer, and a college dorm is certainly not the pinnacle of the craft, but when things look alike and, more importantly, seem to belong with each-other, it can make a space cleaner, sleeker, and more comfortable to be in. I’m not saying you have to create an HGTV-style masterpiece, but when your hot pink desk lamp and green camouflage pencil box are at odds with each-other, you’ll know what I mean and you’ll want to make a change. In today’s world of countless styles, each available online or in-store in all 256 colors, this shouldn’t be too hard.
6.PLAN AHEAD FOR BIG-TICKET ITEMS.
This is an important way to avoid tricky situations. Weeks before move-in day, contact your roommates and decide on who will bring and who will buy large, pricey items like televisions or small appliances like vacuums, irons, or the aforementioned microfridge. If you and your roommate agree they are necessary, plan ahead for how they will physically get into your dorm room and how they will be paid for and shared after the fact.
Hopefully you will take or have already taken some of these tips to heart and will have the smoothest possible transition to college living. Sure, no list can eliminate the anxiety over a new environment, the homesickness, or the distance itself, but being as prepared as can be in a simple area like possessions themselves can leave extra room to make new friends, have new experiences, and generally eliminate some of that ubiquitous sadness.
Evan Berkowitz is a freshman at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a graduate of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, where he was Managing Editor of the student newspaper, The Forum. He is a contributor at TeenLife and the now-defunct Boston Globe GreenBlog. He is also a staff reporter for the University of Maryland Writers' Bloc, a literary and arts-focused news website.
What to Expect At COLLEGE ORIENTATIONBY SUZANNE SHAFFER
olleges instituted orientation for incoming students to ease the transition into college. Freshman orientation is a way for students to meet other students, become familiar with campus services, and register for fall classes. Every student attending college in the fall should add orientation to their to-do list this summer.
While orientation has been traditionally for students, in the last 10 years, colleges have recognized the fact that parents need help dealing with the transition. In addition to the traditional student orientation, they have added parent orientation. If you have a teen heading to college in the fall, parents should consider attending if it’s offered by the college.
High school graduation has passed and it’s time to look toward the future. The summer before college is not only a time to enjoy your family and friends, but a time to move toward your life in college. Student orientation will be your first real college experience. Even if you’ve visited the campus in the past, it will be the first time you go there as an official student. For many schools, like Texas A&M’s Fish Camp, orientation is mandatory. But even if it’s not, you should make plans to attend.
How Should You Prepare?
You can certainly attend orientation expecting to learn what you need to know there, but it’s helpful to do some research beforehand. Read all the information the college sends you, read their online publications and information, especially the details of freshman orientation. You should bring any documentation or paperwork you will need such as vaccination records.
Many colleges also have you register for classes while at orientation. Look at the course catalog as it pertains
to your major and get an idea of which classes you need to take and which you will choose as electives. Advisors will be available to help but if you aren’t going into the process blindly, it will make registration easier.
What Will You Do at Orientation?
The most important task you want to complete at orientation is to get acquainted with college life. You will attend “getting to know you” sessions, informational sessions, and advising sessions. You will learn about school policies, general rules, the honor code and more. You will be given a wealth of information in a short period of time. During the evening, most colleges offer fun activities like parties, sports competitions and games.
The college’s goal is for you to immerse yourself in college life so that when you arrive on campus in the fall you can hit the ground running. Orientation gives you the opportunity to make friends, get acquainted with roommates, purchase textbooks, and become comfortable with navigating the campus.
What Else Does Orientation Offer You?
Colleges provide incoming freshmen with information about the different clubs and organizations available on campus. It’s a great opportunity to investigate and learn about each one and determine what you would like to be involved in. Whether you want to be part of a service organization, play intramural sports, be active politically, write for the campus paper, work at the campus radio station or volunteer, this is the time to get information on each.
If the college has Greek life, orientation will probably have some informal rush activities and you will be able to speak with representatives from the sorority and/or fraternity. This is a good way to decide if Greek life is right for you and which groups you feel comfortable with.
Sign up for emails from any club/organization you’re remotely interested in, ask for contact information from
representatives and ask about the organization’s social media presence as well. Doing this helps you stay in the loop and make a decision once you arrive on campus.
Is It Easy to Make Friends at Orientation?
If it’s an option, stay overnight in the dorms instead of staying overnight with your parents. This is the best way to immerse yourself in campus life and get to know other students. You may not make lifelong friends at orientation, but you should still socialize with as many people as possible.
Remember that everyone is in the same boat--they are just as new as you are and probably just as nervous. Try starting a conversation in the dining hall with someone you have never met. Participate in all the social activities provided by the orientation leaders. This will help you get to know one another. Once you are out socializing, talk to lots of people instead of just clinging to one person.
Parents may experience this education phase as a cause for relief, a cause for worry, or, more than likely, both. It’s no wonder that many would like a little guidance. College orientation for parents can provide some of that guidance, as well as equipping parents with a more accurate mental picture of what their child’s new life will be like.
Why Does Orientation Matter?
College orientation offers students and parents a glimpse of the school that will play a defining role in the whole family’s life for the next four years, and in that sense, it should be just as important to parents as students. Becoming familiar with the physical campus and the school culture will make it easier for parents to understand their children’s lives and have informed conversations with them in the coming years. Learning about rules, campus safety and the academic calendar will also be of practical value to many parents for obvious reasons. Meeting other parents will also provide a feeling of community, as well as the potential for long-lasting friendships.
How Should Your Prepare?
Try to think of yourself as both a parent and a student during your orientation. Bring paper and pencil or an iPad to take notes with, make sure to ask questions and introduce yourself to parents and school officials. Especially at a large institution, it can be helpful to get to know a couple of contacts personally or at least to know who to talk to if you have a question about financial aid or your child’s academic record. In addition to taking care of the practical details, you will also benefit more from the experience if you allow yourself to enjoy it.
Is Orientation Helpful?
In recent years, more and more colleges and universities have offered orientation events specifically geared toward parents during the days, weeks, or months before school starts. The Boston Globe reports that most parents found the events to be more than worthwhile. With events ranging from “Meet the Dean” to model classes and seminars on “Letting Go,” parent orientations offer an in-depth understanding of today’s college experience. Colleges also offer sessions on student health, campus safety and security, financial aid and Q&A sessions.
What Should You Do if Orientation Isn’t Offered?
While parent orientations have become the standard at large colleges and universities, some smaller schools still do not offer these events. If this is the case, you should check with both the school and your child about whether it is appropriate for you to attend student orientation events. Spending time on campus, meeting a few other students and parents, and helping your student to settle into his or her dorm are generally very positive experiences — but it is also important to recognize the boundaries around your student’s new life outside your home. Remember: If the school doesn’t offer a seminar on “Letting Go,” you still have to.
It’s clear that orientation is the first college activity that students (and parents) should make a priority to attend. Parents should remember to maintain your boundaries and ask questions to ease your mind. Students should be sure to embrace this new experience by taking advantage of every aspect of the event.
Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parenting for College blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.
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