Most parents believe that the scholarship search begins at the beginning of senior year. But if you wait until then, your student is going to be overwhelmed and frustrated. Senior year is so busy, they have little time to search for scholarships, let alone apply.
Here’s a simple scholarship search timeline for each grade of high school that should help you plan ahead to avoid last minute panic:
Start the search. Begin to look at scholarships that you could qualify for and apply to. Make a list and review the past winners to determine what made them a winner. If there are any scholarships that have no age or school grade requirements, apply now.
Continue the search, digging deeper and unearthing local scholarship opportunities. Talk to the organizations and ask them what types of scholarships they offer and if you need a member to sponsor you. Sign up for scholarship search engines to receive weekly emails matching you to scholarships.
Narrow down the scholarships you’re going to apply to and make a calendar of all the deadlines. Review the essay requirements, if any, and begin thinking about how you would write about them. Summer is a good time to begin writing any essays.
Hit the ground running. Apply, apply, apply. Most college scholarships have deadlines for seniors. Don’t let them creep up on you and use a calendar reminder to stay on track. Pay attention to local news for scholarship announcements and deadlines. Gather all your necessary information: transcripts, recommendation letters, and any honors and awards that might help.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until senior year to start the scholarship process. In order to win the most money, you have to put in the most effort. Stay focused and keep your eye on the prize.
The College Board announced today some sweeping changes to the SAT. These changes will take affect in the Spring of 2016. If you have a high school, college-bound freshmen—heads up! The test is going to change drastically. According to the College Board, “The redesigned SAT will ask students to apply a deep understanding of the few things shown by current research to matter most for college readiness and success. They’ll find questions modeled on the work of the best classroom teachers and perform tasks practiced in rigorous course work. The SAT redesign is centered on eight key changes.”
In order to better understand these changes, I’ve gathered some excellent articles on the subject for you to pursue further reading.
Jenn Cohen, the Dallas SAT Prep Examiner and owner and founder of Word-Nerd.com, along with an SAT prep tutoring service geared toward ADHD students, had this to say:
Overall, my take is that the SAT is going to be an easier test, and that it is clearly making some changes based on the growing popularity of the ACT. I wonder if the SAT is actually tolling its own death-knell by shifting to an easier product that’s less useful to colleges. But on the other hand, maybe a lower than average score will more clearly signal to colleges that a student is not ready for college level work. I guess it remains to be seen!
You can read more of her comments at Examiner.com–New SAT Coming in Spring 2016.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of The College Solution and Shrinking the Cost of College, as well as a regular contributor on CBS MoneyWatch, voiced her thoughts on the changes:
What I found encouraging today was Coleman’s other big announcement that the College Board has entered into a partnership with the Kahn Academy to develop a state-of-the-art test-prep system for any students who want to tackle the SAT. This SAT program will be free.
Sal Kahn, the creator of the Kahn Academy, (see photo) who was present for the announcement, said that the test-prep program will go well beyond providing tips to test takers. The program will identify student deficiencies and teach them the fundamentals, of say, fractions or basic algebra, when needed.
The College Board plans to train tutors, counselors and mentors on how teenagers can take full advantage of the Kahn Academy resources. Coleman noted that the College Board has never entrusted its name to an outside organization until now.
You can read more of what Lynn has to say about the new test on her blog: Big Changes In Store for the SAT.
The College Board in their announcement today, outlined how the test will change:
When students open their SAT test books in spring 2016, they’ll encounter an SAT that is more focused and useful than ever before. The full specifications of the exam along with extensive sample items for each section will be available on April 16, 2014. The redesigned SAT will focus on the knohttp://www.free-tv-video-online.me/wledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The exam will reflect the best of classroom work.
For more detailed information and the changes to the SAT, go to the College Board’s site: Delivering Opportunity, Changes to the SAT.
A lot is riding on making a good college list. Your student will be applying to the schools on the final list so they better offer the best chance for student success. It’s so important that Wendy and I are giving our tips in two parts. Today’s Part 1 is about general criteria and next week’s Part 2 is about refining the list.
Parents of college-bound teens often ask this question in utter astonishment and trepidation. Following the paths of their peers or college notoriety can make for added stress and baffle and frustrate any parent when it comes to starting the college list. Their choices might also not be up to what you feel are your standards or choices, especially if you have your heart set on them attending your alma mater or a local college.
In spite of these obvious pitfalls, the conversation needs to begin and a preliminary list needs to be made. And with any good list, it’s important to ask your teen some serious questions, and then complete the responses.
What can the family afford?
Any list without this discussion is sorely lacking. It’s not prudent to add a college to the list when you know it’s unattainable for the family to finance. If the sticker price is high, and your EFC is high as well, it makes sense to steer clear of these colleges.
However, don’t discount a college solely on its sticker price. If your student is a top candidate (and only if), it’s possible they could receive substantial merit aid or scholarships. But don’t add a school to the list that attending will require substantial student loans if the aid doesn’t materialize.
What do you want to study?
It’s rare that high school students know what they want their career to be. But they do know what interests them and the type of degree they might want to pursue. Even though you may want them to be an aerospace engineer or a doctor, they may have their heart set on studying English literature and becoming a teacher. Don’t force them into a career just because you believe it pays well. Adults know that if you like your job, you will be happier and more successful.
However, you do need to have a conversation about pursuing a degree plan that might not be employable when they graduate. Even though a degree is a degree, finding work in a field of study that isn’t in high demand could have them working at a minimum wage job after graduation.
Where do you want to go to college?
Most students see college as a step toward independence, which usually translates into another state and as far away from home as possible. Don’t limit them to your home state or cities close by if they want to spread their wings and move further away. Additionally, if you limit their choices to your surrounding area (or a state college), you could be neglecting some excellent colleges choices. Be open to all options that fall within your financial capability, even if it means they are not as close to home as you would prefer.
What type of surroundings appeal to you?
There are so many levels to explore when asking this question. Does your student want to attend a small college or large university? Do they like an urban campus or a suburban one? Is the weather (climate) a factor? Is entertainment off campus a factor? Is Greek life, sports, or theater important? As you can see, exploring each of these questions further will help as you start the list and narrow down the choices.
Which college admission criteria do you meet or exceed?
This requires a little bit of research. If your student has less than stellar grades and standardized test scores, it’s not prudent to add MIT or Harvard to their college list. But, if their grades and scores meet those of qualified applicants and they have expressed interest in attending, consider adding that college to the list. Look at each college website, use CollegeData.com and the College Board’s site to determine what their average scores and GPAs are for accepted students. Don’t waste your time applying to schools that your student doesn’t have a chance to receive an offer of admission.
Be wise about choosing colleges that see them as top applicants, or at the very least, competitive with other applicants. Top applicants receive the most merit aid and scholarships. These colleges should go to the top of the list.
Before you balk at your student’s choices and say “absolutely not”, give them the courtesy of listening before you respond. After you listen, discuss your concerns and communicate those concerns without judgment or condemnation. Remember, they are the ones attending the college—not you. They should be the ones that make the list. Even if your choices are not their choices, it’s conceivable to find common ground and proceed with a final list.
For more advice on how to start the college list, read Wendy’s article:
Even with the Internet, smart phones, video games, movies and television, reading is one of the most popular and pleasurable pastimes for children and adults. Still, not all young people enjoy or value the experiences that can be had via the printed page. For parents, finding ways to get your teen to engage with written material can be a challenge, and getting those same students to develop a reading desire of their own can feel nearly impossible.
Motivating anyone to want to read is as much an art as it is a science, and even if you have training as a reading specialist it can still be difficult. If you’d like to instill a love of reading in your teen, here are seven tried-and-true ways to create the reading spark and motivate students to read.
1. Building Students’ Self-Confidence and Self-Efficacy
For some students, reading is a challenge that may have been, or still might be, a source of shame. For a less-advanced reader, spend time building their confidence. Let them know that reading isn’t about measuring up, but that even if it were, you’re convinced they’d pass muster. A belief in one’s own self-efficacy is necessary before a child can put effort toward something. As long as your student doesn’t believe they can read well, they won’t be motivated. Working with your student to master the skills of reading will also enable them to enjoy it.
2. Build Connections
Choose books and reading materials whose topics build bridges and connections with your student’s personal life. Your student has realities at home and at school that are probably wonderfully addressed in stories or essays somewhere. Find them, and encourage them to read about them.
3. Build Textual Variety
There are so many ways to read! From graphic novels and comic books to weekly magazines like Weekly Reader when they were younger, illustrated stories and biographies, you can build a variety of readable genres for your student to explore. When they see that reading is more than just black on white, their curiosity will come alive.
4. Increase Their Choices
When students have a choice of what to read, they can find ways to make deeper and more meaningful connections with the materials they choose. To that end, make sure you can supply every literary genre either by downloading books on an tablet, or by visiting a public library.
5. Build Excitement
Find the places of passion, and feed that passion with reading materials. Invite them to discuss and write about how their experiences of reading do and don’t relate to their own experiences in the world.
6. Promote Conversation
While it can be a challenge to carry on a discussion about a book with your student, it can be a tremendous experience for both of you. Ask questions about the reading that build empathy and invite reflection, and ask them questions about their reading based on the tenants of the SA
7. Share Your Own Love of Reading
Perhaps the most salient motivator of all is your own love of reading. Tell stories of narratives and memoirs that impacted you and why. If you adequately display your own deep affection for reading, it can leave an indelible mark on the students you seek to inspire.
Reading is a skill whose necessary and practical application can sometimes get in the way of its ability to provide pleasure. If you’re a parent who values your students’ reading experiences, it’s worth the effort to motivate them to develop a desire for it. Whether “Island of the Blue Dolphins” or “Diary of Anne Frank,” the written word, at times, invites readers into a stunning world, and all people should have the opportunity to visit.
For seniors, the New Year brings those long-awaited college decisions: deferred, accepted, rejected, and wait listed. One knowledgeable college counselor once told me, “I don’t like to call these letters of acceptance. I use the term—offers of admission.”
As a parent, I like that distinction. This alternative wording makes it easier to stomach those not-so-pleasant responses and help your college-bound teen work through the gamut of emotions that come when decisions arrive.
Your student may be the one receiving these communications from the colleges, but you feel every emotion they do from failure to excitement and everything in between. But unless you understand what each term means, it’s hard to know how to help your student (and yourself) with appropriate responses and proper action.
When the letters from the colleges (or online notifications) arrive, your student will receive one of four responses: deferred, wait-listed, rejected (declined admission) or accepted (offered admission). Once you understand these terms, you can determine what your response should be and how you need to take action.
Read more from Zinch: You’ve Heard from the Colleges–Now What?
According to the latest “Open Doors” survey of international conducted annually by the Institute of International Education., the number of international students at U.S. universities increased 7.2 percent in 2012-13 to an all-time high of 819,644. The number of Americans studying abroad grew to 283,332 in 2011-12, representing a 3.4 percent increase over the previous year.
Inside Higher Education recently discussed a new program called Generation Study Abroad:
More than 150 U.S. colleges have pledged to increase their study abroad participation rates as part of a new national initiative, Generation Study Abroad, being spearheaded by the Institute of International Education. The initiative has the exceedingly ambitious aim of doubling American study abroad enrollment, to about 600,000, by the end of the decade. According to IIE data, just under 10 percent of American undergraduates currently study abroad during the course of their degrees.
Should you encourage your student to study abroad? The easiest way to decide is to weigh the pros and cons.
Any study abroad student will have a unique cultural experience. This is something they can’t have if they remain in the states. Becoming immersed in a foreign culture offers them a new perspective on life and enhances their view of the world.
Enhances the degree
When students study abroad, they will study subjects that might not be taught in their college or university. These courses are often unique to the country they are studying in. It’s also an opportunity to study with students from another country.
Broadens their employment eligibility
Students can add significant value to their resumes simply by studying abroad. In the competitive market of entry-level jobs, most resumes look more or less the same. The interest in multiculturalism that studying abroad suggests can make your student’s resume stand out from the pack. It also shows the ability to adapt to a new environment and take on new and challenging situations – all green flags for potential employers.
More than attending college away from home, attending college in a foreign country helps students learn to survive on their own and mature in the process. Studying abroad teaches them how to manage time, money and other resources in a way that nothing else can. A child who studies abroad doesn’t just take classes in another country. They learn about a whole new way of life and that better prepares them for “the adult world” once they return home.
Opportunities to travel
It’s a great way to see the world. College is the perfect time for a young person to get out and see the world by experiencing different kinds of cultures including food, music and architecture. It will create lasting memories for the rest of their lives.
Study aboard can be costly. Most colleges offer the programs as part of the regular tuition, room and board but it won’t include travel or day to day expenses. Colleges, however, describe plans such as increasing fund-raising for study abroad scholarships, introducing a study abroad scholarship tied to student fee income, and promoting the Gilman Scholarship Program, which supports study abroad for Pell Grant recipients. With these added initiative, the cost might not be prohibitive.
Some students might be afraid of the language barrier, studying abroad at schools that often teach in the native language. On the positive side, living and participating in the culture will help them learn the language more quickly.
Delays graduation timeline
It’s not uncommon for study abroad programs to delay graduation by a semester or more. It’s important to investigate the course offerings before making the decision to study abroad during the school year. If the credits are not a part of your degree plan you will have to take courses after returning home to make up for the time you lost while abroad. One way to avoid this is to attend during a summer program.
For most students, study abroad is a positive experience. And with the college’s help, it can be affordable. Many students who study abroad gain a world view unlike any of the students who opted out of the programs. My daughter and many of her friends participated in a study abroad program offered by her college. The program was coordinated with the degree plan and she was able to stay on track for graduation in four years. She considers it to be one of the most beneficial aspects of her liberal arts education. Since then, she has become a world traveler and enjoys experiencing other cultures. If you can swing it, encourage your student to explore the study abroad program. Weighing the pros and cons, the pros win!
Using the internet is essential when you are a college student. The vast majority of college students use the web to revise for exams, to research and submit assignments, and to communicate with friends and family. However, to ensure your safety and security, there are a number of steps you will need to take when surfing the web.
Here are three tips to ensure internet security in college.
1. Ensuring that your computer is safe and secure
When using the internet at college, make sure that the computer is equipped with the latest security software and web browser to minimize the risk of viruses, threats and other threats.
Make sure that your computer firewall is turned on. If you are using a shared computer in a library or classroom, you may be unable to change the security settings of the computer without permission from the relevant department of your college. If you suspect that the computer is unsafe, or doesn’t have the latest security updates installed, contact a member of staff.
USBs and other devices that you connect to the computer can sometimes contain viruses so will need to be scanned via the security software on your computer.
Ensure that your computer is able to update the latest software updates automatically. You will be able to customize your security settings from the control panel of your security software. Remember, software updates are one of the most important tools to protect safety and security of college students on Internet.
2. Protecting your personal information when browsing the web
You may have to provide some personal information when purchasing items online at college, or when submitting personal details to faculty or members of college staff. Security will need to be adhered to at all times to minimize the risk of cyber-crime.
When choosing a password for an online account, make sure it contains both a capital letter and a number. Your password should be strong enough so that it will not be easily guessed by other people.
Create unique passwords for different online accounts. You may need to create a password to access your college emails for example, or to submit assignments online. Separate passwords for individual online accounts can minimize the cyber-criminals from accessing your details.
Never leave your computer or laptop unattended when you in a public space, for example at the college library or when in a classroom or lecture theatre. Take care to lock the computer and to password protect the account on your operating system to safeguard against other people accessing private information.
3. Protecting college work and assignments
You will most likely be spending long hours completely assignments and other work when at college, so care must be taken to back up your work.
Make an electronic copy of all files, documents, photos, and folders and store this in a safe place using not so complex backup tools. Not only will this ensure that no-body can access your files if your laptop or computer is stolen, but you will be able to access these files if your computer has become affected by a virus.
Label USBs so you can find the files that you are looking for quickly. You may also want to include a phone number or email address on the label so somebody can contact you if you lose it.
If you’ve been to college, are in college or are planning to go, you know that a college degree can cost enough to affect your personal finances for years – sometimes for life. We look at some facts and figures about college, tuition, and some of the ways that students pay for their degree.
Funding College: The Numbers
There are three timelines for raising funds to pay for college tuition: before, during and after. Obviously, having some or all funds upfront is nice. It gives you a 3-4 year head start on students who accumulate college debt. But given the cost of college, it’s not an option for everyone. Earning and paying tuition during college costs you time while you’re studying, potentially delaying your degree with distractions — but it’s a fact of life. Paying for college after graduating — i.e., acquiring student debt — is of course the most costly option because it involves interest payments. Of course, if you drop out of college and have loans, those could come due immediately.
BestCollegesOnline.org takes a look at the numbers for college enrollments, tuition and other related figures to give you creative ways to fund your education. Click on the image to see the complete infographic.
Your cultural heritage, your sex, and your sexual orientation could end up paying for your college education. There are scholarships and grants that are reserved for specific minority groups. You don’t need to be a first generation immigrant to qualify for these scholarships; you just have to prove that you are indeed a member of the minority to qualify for the awards.
Some minority groups that receive scholarships for college include:
- African American
- Native American
- Multi-racial or multicultural
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT)
If you are a member of a minority group, work with the financial aid professionals at your school, to ensure your minority scholarship search is exhaustive. Talk to your counselor and ask her if she knows of any scholarships that might be available locally for your specific minority. Individual minority scholarship awards range from a few-hundred to several-thousand dollars annually.
For an exhaustive list of minority scholarships with links to their applications, you can visit CollegeScholarships.org.
With all the talk about senior to-do-lists and the excitement around the college offers and graduation, it’s easy to forget about the juniors. When it comes right down to it, this should be when juniors amp up their game in anticipation of the fall and senior year. It’s time to start now!
Here are my top 10 activities for college-bound juniors:
- Research colleges–If your junior hasn’t started already, it’s time to get down and dirty and start researching colleges. Make a list of “have tos” and start there. Use sites like CollegeData.com to narrow down the choices and look at some of the statistics about each of the colleges that interest them.
- Visit campuses–Even if you haven’t tied down your choices, visit some college campuses. Spring is a great time to visit colleges, and if you can’t travel far, find one in your neck of the woods and check it out. You would be surprised at how visits tend to shape the choice.
- Take the SAT/ACT–Spring SAT and ACT tests are just around the corner. Register and take them now. If your student isn’t pleased with the scores, that will leave them time to study over the summer and retake them early in the fall before your student begins their college applications.
- Choose the right classes for next year–It’s time to start surveying the courses for next year. Encourage your student to take as many AP classes as they can handle and consider dual credit courses as well. College look positively on students who take strenuous course loads. And the added bonus it these classes can help your student get credit for college level courses—saving you tons of money in the long run.
- Search for scholarships–Junior year is the time to focus, focus, focus on scholarship searches. Most of the scholarship s for seniors already have applications available for next year. Budget some time each day for your student to do the searches, and it’s perfectly acceptable for you to help. Remember, however, to help motivate them to search when you have the money talk with them about college expenses and student debt.
- Connect with your high school counselor–The high school counselor will be responsible for some of the application process and you want them to know your student when they are sending letters of recommendation and transcripts to the colleges. I often say this and some counselors have disagreed, but the squeaky wheel gets the oil and your student needs to be squeaky to the point of annoyance.
- Keep your grades up–Junior year is the grades that EA and ED college choices will see when you apply. It’s the most important year for your student as far as grades are concerned. Waiting until senior year to buckle down will not have much effect on the GPA.
- Get organized–Organization is the key to surviving senior year communication and deadlines. Set aside a landing zone for college related work and information, create a college calendar, and get an email for college communication only (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Attend information sessions when campuses send representatives–Colleges will send representatives to high schools during the spring to connect with students. Make sure your student stays in contact with the counselor so they will know when those sessions occur—and encourage them to attend.
- Stay involved–Whatever your student is doing now as far as extracurricular activities, don’t stop. Colleges like to see consistency and commitment. Giving up before senior year won’t paint a positive picture. It may be hard as the new school year begins, but it’s critical for the big picture.
Junior year is when parents start having conversations with their students about career goals, college choices, course choices and financing the college education. Start now and you won’t be caught overwhelmed when school begins in the fall.