Wednesday’s Parent: Enjoying a Break When There is No Break


college prepFor parents of the college bound, there’s no such thing as a break. Even when you take a break from all the college prep, your mind never shuts off. During the four years of high school, every class, every activity, every amount of free time is cultivated to present a stellar application at the beginning of the senior year. It’s the nature of the beast—all hands on deck for the college prep and then when it’s all done, you can relax. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

But after the applications are submitted, we worry about the outcome and agonize over the decisions that will need to be made. It’s a never-ending drama that engulfs our lives if we have a student aspiring to college.

But how do you enjoy a break when there is no break?

Enjoy the ride. You have to grab snippets of time throughout the whole process. Whether it’s the car ride to visit colleges, or a 30 minute conversation in their room while they are getting dressed for a date, you have to steal those moments.

Make it a point to not allocate every waking moment to college prep. It should be an exciting time. Don’t ruin it for you and for your student by becoming a nag or a dictator. This only adds to the pressure they feel and escalates your level of frustration and stress.

Let the holidays be the holidays

If you have a senior, the holidays bring increased college prep activity—with college applications either looming or decisions waiting to be received. Set aside some time for fun when neither you nor your student discusses college prep. Even if you go to a movie or a hockey game, it takes your mind off the elephant in the room and helps you relax, even if for a short time.

The good news—this too shall pass. There will come a day when you move from college prep to college drama. If you don’t believe it, just ask any parent of a college student. College prep activities are replaced with roommate issues, annoying professors, and homesickness. Enjoy the four years while you can—they pass so quickly.

Read Wendy’s Post: 6 Ways to Prevent College Bound Burnout


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to and vice versa.

Test Precision: An App for Standardized Test Prep


test precisionTest Precision is a new app for students preparing to take the ACT or the SAT. It helps students prepare for the test where they are: on their smartphones. As we all know, teens are quite addicted to their smartphones and making Test Precision a part of that existing routine and habit just makes perfect sense.

More than ever today’s high school student has increasingly less free time to study for the ACT and SAT in between class work and extracurricular activities.  Being able to access Test Precision on the way to school or in between activities is a major advantage versus physically scheduling and attending a test prep weekend class or hiring a one-on-one tutor. Test Precision also lessens the anxiety associated with cramming for the SAT or ACT by providing an ‘access anytime’ app so the student can chip away at their preparation over time.  This is in stark contrast to attending high intensity classes or lugging around a static, one-size-fits-all book and trying to pour through too much content all at once.

I asked Mohak Rastogione, a student who has tested the app, to tell me about his experience with Test Precision:

Q. Why did you decide to get help preparing for standardized tests?

I decided to get help for standardized testing because I honestly didn’t know what to expect on the SAT/ACT. I figured by having help in preparing I’d be a little more prepared come testing time.

Q. Why did you choose an app to help with test prep?

I was offered the opportunity to help test the app, so I didn’t necessarily look for Test Precision specifically. I ended up taking the offer for two reasons. 1) I wanted to see how preparing for big tests like the ACT/SAT could be done on the go (on my phone), and how effective it would actually be. The second reason was because I was getting ready to take the ACT and I hadn’t had any prior experience with the ACT besides self studying, so I figured this would be a good time to get some practice in while helping test the app.

Q. How has Test Precision helped prepare you for the test?

Test Precision helped guide me to which test I should take. The diagnostic test determined that I was a better fit for the ACT and my chances of a higher score would be found with the ACT.

Q. How long have you used the app and have you taken a test since you started using it?

I tested the app for around 4-6 weeks and I did take the ACT twice since testing the application out.

Q. What is your favorite part of using the app?

My favorite part of using the application was the ability to take practice tests/questions where ever I would go. Instead of lugging around heavy test prep books, my phone was/is always on me so studying/practicing for the ACT was much easier and flexible

Test Precision is available for free download in both Google Play and on iTunes. Individual SAT and ACT tests are available for a one time subscription fee of $39.99 per SAT or ACT package.

Ready to download

Google Play: 

iTunes Store:

The Benefits of an Online Degree


online degreeStarting or continuing your education can be a benefit to your career and earning potential. However, for many people, there is the question of whether or not the degree is worth the time and money. While the rewards of a degree speak for themselves, many people do not have the time to seek a first or second degree while also holding a full time job.

That is where online degrees come in. An online degree offers you a number of benefits that a traditional degree does not. Lets review how an online degree can help move you towards your goals while taking up a minimum of time.

A Long Distance Education

One of the reasons why people do not pursue a second degree is because there is no university near by. Where as an hour a week for nightly classes is not that bad, the hour or more commute each way usually stops people from pursuing a degree. Thankfully, the availability of online degrees, such as through a National University online education, solve this problem by allowing you to attend classes via your own computer. Now, all you need to get credit is a stable Internet connection and a computer.

A Second Degree at Half the Price

As discussed previously, the time commitment is what stops a lot of people from pursuing a second degree. In addition to time however, is the cost. Taking courses in a traditional university setting can cost hundreds of dollars per course. Online courses however are usually much cheaper and are targeted towards adults who are looking to continue their education. As a result, online courses can be half the price of traditional college courses, making them an excellent alternative for those who are looking to save money.

Meeting Pre-requisites for Work and Advancements

Job descriptions often have a preferred level of education and degrees. By getting your degree online, you can quickly work to match these requirements, making yourself out to be a better candidate then you were previously. Online courses are also a great way to show initiative and move up in a company. By taking your own time to study and move towards a degree, you can better prepare yourself for the dream job you want. If you already have a job, then see if the company is willing to cover the time and cost for the classes. More often then not, a company will help you get a degree, as it improves your performance and skill in the workplace.

Mom-Approved Tips: Everything you Need to Know About the Common App


(This article was originally published on University Parent’s blog)

Common AppApplying to colleges can be a daunting task, especially for students who apply to multiple schools as most do. Happily, there is a time-saving tool that allows students to fill out only one “common” application. Yes, I’m talking about…

The Common App

The Common App is an online admission application used by over 500 colleges and universities — public, private, large, and small. Each year, more colleges are added to the Common App list as they recognize the value of its ease of use. About one-third are “exclusive members” that use the Common App as their only admissions application form. If a member college has a separate application of its own, it is required to give equal consideration to applicants using either form. As an added bonus, several dozen schools that accept the Common App will reduce or waive the application fee if a student applies online using the Common App.

Your student may already have created a Common App username and password; if not, she can access the form at and view a list of participating colleges and universities. Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are usually November 1 and 15; most Regular Decision applications are due January 1 or January 15, 2015.

The basics

The Common App covers several areas: personal and family information, educational data, standardized test information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a personal essay, and criminal history. Some colleges require a supplement (usually an extra essay). Students using the Common App must be sure to enter all additional information requested by a college. Verify on the college’s website any additional requirements and/or forms to ensure the application is complete.

The parent’s role

How much should you be involved in the Common App completion and submission process? Parents should never assume a student’s identity and fill out the application. However, there’s plenty of work that can be done as a team.

Parents can provide:

  • Personal information (family data, etc.) required by the application
  • Brainstorming help if a student is having a hard time getting started on the essay, or finding the common narrative thread — her “story” — that will help her create a stronger application
  • Institutional memory if your student did not keep a record of activities, volunteer and work experiences, academic honors, etc. over the years
  • Feedback on the essay(s)
  • A second set of eyes to catch typos or omissions
  • Encouragement to stay on track

Knowing the basics is a good start, but in order to submit a perfect and “uncommon” application, you will need to know more. And I’ve got you covered! Following are two articles I wrote for University Parent about the Common App. They should answer everything you need to know about the Common App but didn’t know who to ask.

Parents’ Guide to the Common Application

Look Anything but Common on the Common App

Scholarship Friday: 5 Uncommon Ways to Find and Win Scholarships


5 uncommon ways to find and win scholarshipsEvery parent and student dreams of getting scholarships to pay for college. The problem: it’s hard work and requires dedication. One scholarship expert even said to look at it as a part-time job while in high school. That analogy makes sense because it will require time, energy, and effort to be successful in acquiring scholarships to pay for college.

Conventional Scholarship Search

Most parents and teens know about using scholarship search engines to help with the search. These engines are helpful because they allow the student to input their own personal information and receive a list of scholarships specific to the student. The problem with these search engines is that everyone uses them. They provide information about national scholarships that have many applicants, thus placing you in a large applicant pool with strong competition.

If a student is serious about applying for and winning scholarships, he should use every means necessary—even the unconventional or uncommon methods. The following are 5 uncommon ways to find and win scholarships:


Read the entire article and find 5 uncommon ways to find and win scholarships

Stay Employed With These College Majors


college majorsLook to the future and what do you see? Flying cars? Steampunk kids riding hoverboards? Downtrodden dystopias with Harrison Ford-alikes running around in long brown overcoats?

Well, while these visions of the future might never happen, one thing is certain – some jobs will be obsolete, so you have to make your education count.

It’s a tough call to make. But some jobs will always be vital, no matter what era we live in.

So here are a few future-proof college majors for you to study, whether we move into a glistening or a downbeat future.

The children are our future

Despite declining birth rates in the western world, the need to look after and understand the needs of children is greater than ever.

But that doesn’t exclusively lead you towards childcare. For high wages and the chance to work out your brainbox, try studying for a degree in child psychology. Relative to other medical fields, psychology itself is in its relative infancy, making the possibilities for unique advancement high.

Knowing the inner workings of a child’s mind will never go out of style.

Digital love

You can see the impact of the internet on businesses already. As high street stores close their doors and indie retailers struggle to stay afloat, internet giants like Amazon dominate the marketplace.

The future is now in the digital world. As the tech for the internet unfurls before us, the reality is clear – the net is going nowhere.

As such, there are now countless avenues of study for a life in the digital world. Web development, computer programming, app design, game design – the list goes on. Some colleges even offer the chance to study the cultural impact of the web on society.

Not only is the world of the web putting convenience at our fingertips – it’s giving us the jobs of the future.

Get arty

We’ve all dreamed of it in some form or another – wearing a beret on the south bank of the Seine, Paris, you pen your latest novel, pursing a cigarette between your lips and living the life of the moody artiste.

But the successful artist – be they pretentious poet, literary heavyweight, beard-stroking filmmaker or agent provocateur raconteur – is usually one in a million. Yet however precarious a career as an artist might be, it will never go out of date. While the modes of distribution might change, the need for art won’t.

A degree in fine art, illustration or any other creative subject, won’t guarantee you a job straight off the bat. However, many people learn to combine a side job with their artistic aspirations. Creation may not pay amazingly – but it’ll never age away.

Wednesday’s Parent: My Daughter Chose a College by Location


college locationDoes location matter when it comes to choosing a college? For some students, it’s all about the location. For others, the location plays a key role in narrowing down the college list. My daughter chose a college by location: Boston. It was the number one factor on her college list.

Where did we start?

We started our search by creating a list of colleges in the Boston area. Because Boston is a college town with more than 100 colleges and universities to choose from we had a very long list—some in the city itself and some in the surrounding suburbs. We used the College Board’s site to start the search by location. Then we added other criteria like majors, college size, financial aid, along with other important statistics like graduation rates and student debt figures.

How did she choose?

Once we had the list, she did her research by delving deeper into the college culture, student population and acceptance rate. She chose some in the city and some in the surrounding suburban areas. Each of these choices met the other important criteria: majors available, merit aid awards, and graduation rates.

What did we learn?

We learned that it’s perfectly acceptable to choose a college based on location, as long as you delve deeper into the college and what it offers. We didn’t use location as the sole deciding factor, but colleges who were not in the desired area did not make the list. We found the perfect college for her in the suburbs of Boston—offering the major she wanted, the college size, and the merit aid she needed to avoid high student loan debt.

If your student seems to make an illogical college choice based solely on location, remember that you can work with it if you do your research and add the other important criteria.

Read Wendy’s Post: 3 Ways to Consider College Location


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to and vice versa.

Mom-Approved Tips: Internship Available



I was forwarded an opportunity from my son-in-law who works for an aerospace engineering company in Dallas that has a summer internship available. The application process starts now. I want to pass it along to parents of college students who are majoring in engineering or engineering related fields. It’s a great company and an amazing opportunity for any college students. And, you don’t have to live in the Dallas area to apply.

Here’s the details–pass it along to friends, family, colleagues and anyone you might know that would be interested in an internship this summer. If your students applies, post a comment below and I will give you a referral name to use; and I will pass your student’s name along to my son-in-law.

The 2015 Summer Intern application is now open.  If you have a referral, please have them apply online and let Jeanne and I know that they have applied.

Here’s the link to apply:

L-3 Mustang’s 2015 Summer Intern Program begins mid May 2015 and runs through August (approximately).  Our intern program is for Engineering students entering their junior or senior year and typically majoring in Electrical, Mechanical, Computer, Software, Industrial, Aerospace, Mathematics or Science.

·       All candidates should APPLY ONLINE - Application Deadline – January 31, 2015

·       All candidates should provide a RESUME with your current GPA and expected graduation date

·       All candidates should provide an unofficial TRANSCRIPT for review if contacted for an interview

·       Interviews are generally conducted in the January – February timeframe.

·       Due to the nature of our business we require U.S. Citizenship.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Getting Organized: A Key Element of College Prep


getting organizedThere are times we all wish we were more organized. We are not born organized; quite to the contrary, organization is a learn skilled. It is imperative we help instill the life skill of organization into our children at an early age so that they may better their chances at a successful future as college students and fully functioning adults. Applying to college is an exciting and nerve-racking time for both parents and students. There are some tips and strategies to help your student get organized so he or she will posses the required skills for future success.

List making and checklist

It is never too early to start a to-do list. Utilizing checklists will help your child create and maintain their daily assignments, household chores and responsibilities. Help your child understand the benefits of writing and keeping daily and extended goals. By organizing their responsibilities into lists student can ensure tasks are completed on time and in full. By completing the check list, students also gain a sense of accomplishment and accountability. These will become necessary and vital life skills for a successful future as college students.

Applying to colleges is also a involved and complex undertaking, requiring vast amounts of paperwork and preparation. The more organized you and your child become the easier that process will become in the near future. Many schools are utilizing online tools like the ones found at, which offer eplanner solutions to facilitate one to one teacher and student relations. Be sure to find out if your school is using their own online 1:1 solutions or if they are using a BYOD, bring your own device, to best prepare your budding student.

Create a dedicated and organized work space

Children and students thrive in environments with set and understandable boundaries. Boundaries don’t have to stop at household rules. Creating dedicated places for study helps create an environment of success. Students often preform much better and with much more efficiency when studying in a dedicated workspace. It helps them understand that this space is for them and for study. This location doesn’t have to be in any particular place but any space dedicated to study should be quiet, consistent, and organized. This also helps create a separation between family and leisure activities, cutting down on wanted or unexpected distractions. By creating a dedicated space for study you will help condition your child/student’s mind into entering a state of calm and purpose dedicated to study. Organizing and retaining organization in the space is important. The space should be occupied only with tools and materials related to study and learning.

Dedicated set times of study

Routine is very important aspect in fostering an organized lifestyle. Students and children preform better when expectations are set. Having a consistent time dedicated to study will help your future college student organize and prioritize their time responsibly. Contrary to popular belief the best time may not be directly after school. Students need some time to decompress and unwind. Be sure to make an agreement with your child. Including them in the decision making process with help begin to make important decisions on their own. It can also become easier to make them accountable if their time agreements are not met. Be sure what ever time you both agree on leaves enough time for the work to be reviewed and completed without cutting into their sleeping or resting hours. Well rest students often out preform sleep deprived students.

When considering college

Help your child start making important considerations early. What areas of study are they most interested? Which schools specialize in these areas? What do these college look for when considering potential applicants? Every college has its own set of requirements and their own application process. Be sure you and your child begin to research each college of interest early so that they can start working toward specific goals geared to their college’s desires and requirements. Asking the right questions early can help you and your child create a plan of attack. What do their colleges of interest value beyond GPA? What types of extracurricular actives are considered most important? What steps do these college expect students accomplish during and before the application process? Organization is a key to success during this time of research and consideration. Keep separate up to-date files and folders containing all pertinent information for each school.

Understanding and keeping deadlines

When your student/child is old enough to begin thinking about applying to colleges keep on top of looming deadlines and requirements. The college application process is complicated and complex and deadlines are firm. Be sure what ever steps you took in organizing the application process includes the a calendar designed to help you prioritize and keep on top of deadlines. Having a fully inclusive calendar will help you visualize any looming deadlines and help ensure you stay current with any requirements. Many colleges require student to take standardized testing. These test also have their own deadlines and dates. It is important to include these dates into any calendar you have created.  By staying organized you can allay much of the stresses associated with the college application process.


Scholarship Friday: 20 Twitter Scholarship Accounts to Follow


twitter accountsTwitter is a wealth of resources for parents of college-bound teens. Just about any question you have about college prep can be answered on Twitter. And if you’re looking for scholarships (and who isn’t) follow these Twitter scholarship accounts from two lists compiled by US News:

10 Twitter Handles to Help with your Scholarship Search

10 More Twitter Handles to Help with your Scholarship Search

…and if you need more, just review my Scholarship Friday posts. There is a wealth of information there as well.

And don’t forget @aidscholarship. She’s been through the scholarship search process for her boys and she’s always willing to help!