The Freedom to Choose


Today is Independence Day and along with all the fireworks, barbecues and festivities, we should always reflect on the meaning of freedom. Our college bound teens would tell us that freedom means they don’t have to be under the constant supervision of parents when they leave for college. Our upcoming seniors would say freedom means they have the right to choose the college they apply to and attend.

While the freedom to choose is at the center of our independence, we are also responsible for those choices and the consequences they might bring on ourselves and others.  That’s why it is extremely important that parents explain the consequences of a wrong college choice. What constitutes a wrong college choice:

  • Choosing a college that you simply cannot afford causing you to incur too much student loan debt
  • Choosing a college that you really know nothing about based on the choices of your friends
  • Choosing a college because it’s far away from home or close to home without investigating other factors like graduation rate, course availability and student population
  • Choosing a college because your boyfriend and/or girlfriend is going there and you don’t want to be separated
  • Choosing a college that does not match your social interests (i. e. a college that everyone goes home on the weekends, or a college with a predominant Greek life culture that doesn’t interest you)
  • Choosing a college because someone else has chosen it for you (parents, friends, teachers)

As you can see, all of these choices will result in an unhappy student who will most likely drop out freshman year and result in a large monetary loss as well as student loan debt that will have to be repaid. Teach your teens who crave for the freedom of choice that along with it comes the responsibility of making that choice. Choose wisely after you have all the facts.

Happy Independence Day! Enjoy your family and your freedom!

The Summer Before Freshman Year of High School (10 Tips for Moms)


freshman yearThe summer is a good time for you to have a conversation with your future high school student. Sit down and have a discussion about the value of an education, how you see your role as a parent, some basic expectations, courses your student will take, the value of a good reputation, good citizenship and work ethic. This conversation will make the next four years easier because your teen will understand your expectations and start the year off with a good plan.

Your young teenager is preparing to embark on a high school education as freshman year approaches. In their mind, they are entering the first phase of adulthood. In your mind, they are still children and those feelings that you are “losing them” begin to creep in. High school means that you will be less visible as a parent, but it does not mean you are to be uninvolved. In fact, you will be even more involved behind the scenes as a parent coach.

Here are 10 tips to help you start your teen’s high school years off right:

  1. Make a visit to your teen’s counselor– Do this at the beginning freshman year. Let the counselor know that you intend to be an involved parent and establish a relationship at the start. The counselor is an important source of information and of course guidance regarding your teen’s college pursuit.
  2. Establish relationships with teachers and staff– Since most parents tend to drop out when their teen reaches high school, it’s crucial that you make it clear to the educators that you will be a partner in educating your child. Keep in touch and verify your teen’s progress via email if it’s available and attend any teacher conferences or parent meetings that are scheduled. Show up at PTA meetings and parent information sessions, making you visible to the staff.
  3. Read all school information– Once you have stressed to your teen the importance of ensuring that ALL information gets home to you, you must take the time to READ it. This means reading the school handbook, teacher handouts, letters to parents, guidance department newsletters, any rules and policies, and homework and attendance rules. Discuss these with your teen to alleviate any future misunderstandings that might arise over failing to follow school guidelines.
  4. Stress the importance of good attendance– Attendance is key in high school. Missing even one class can put the student behind. Schedule appointments, when possible, before and after school. If there is an absence, make sure your teen does the make up work in a timely manner. If the absence will be for an extensive period of time, coordinate with the teachers to assure the makeup work is completed.
  5. Encourage strong study habits– These habits will follow your teen to college. Set aside a regularly scheduled study time. Studying needs to be a priority before any added activities. GPA rules in the college admission process and good study habits will assure your teen enters the process with an impressive one. Don’t allow your teen to procrastinate and go into overdrive because they waited until the last minute to complete a project.
  6. Stress regular contact with teachers and counselors-This contact will play an important role when your teen needs recommendation letters. It will also establish in the minds of these educators that he or she means business. They will see that your teen is there to learn and excel and ask questions. Those students are the ones that are recommended for leadership positions and academic awards. It can be something as simple as saying hello in the hallway or using the counselor’s office to research scholarships.
  7. Be the organization coach– My mantra for high school was: Preparation Prevents Panic. If you know where everything is, have a schedule and a plan, you won’t get stressed and frustrated. Sometimes the only filing system a teen has is their floor. It’s your job as their parent coach to help them start and maintain good organization for their date planners, notebooks, folders, files and college related materials.
  8. Stay informed and involved– This does not mean camp out at the school every day and follow your teen around (although that is tempting). It means monitoring quizzes, grades, daily homework assignments and long-term projects. If you begin to notice any problems, schedule an appointment with the teacher and work out a plan for tutoring if it’s necessary. Don’t wait for the report card to lower the boom. If you stay proactive and informed, you and your teen will be able to fix any problems before they become catastrophes.
  9. Know your teen’s friends (and their parents)– Your teen’s out of school activities will always affect in-class behavior. In high school, it’s as much about social activity as it is about academic success. Assuring that your teen’s friends share the same values and goals will make a difference in their focus in and out of school. Encourage them to make friends that have college as a goal and have the same study habits. Take the time to meet and get to know your teen’s friends parents. Make sure they share your values and understand your position on smoking, drinking and drugs.
  10. Be proactive when you encounter problems– All types of problems arise in high school: academic, behavioral and even social. There is a logical solution for all of them, but the key is to be aware when they arise and address them quickly. Academic problems require additional teacher help, tutoring, and possibly study skill courses. If you encounter behavioral problems contact the school counselor or principal and discuss with them recommendations for the particular situation. Coaches can often help, along with a mentor. Sometimes professional counseling is warranted. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. And don’t make the mistake of turning your head and going into denial. Problems only get worse if they are ignored, especially in high school.

Don’t assume that this will be an easy transition for either of you. It’s another milestone in your student’s life and yours as well.

Wednesday’s Parent: Questions to ANSWER and ASK on a College Interview


college interviewLast year, I wrote two blog articles for TeenLife Magazine about the college interview. Since I feel they are great tips, I’m sharing them today on Wednesday’s Parent.

If you’re going to college, expect to be interviewed by a college representative. It’s a vital part of the college admissions process. Why? Colleges want to get to know you: Who you are, what your goals are, and how you will contribute to the student population. They also want to see how you answer questions, how informed you are, and your views on other topics.

When my daughter was in the midst of her college search, she was interviewed by a representative of Boston University. Since this was her first choice college, she was nervous. She wanted to make a good impression and appear intelligent and confident. She prepared for some interview questions. Not all of them were asked, but it helped her go into the interview more relaxed. Although she wasn’t a top candidate according to their applicant statistics, the interview resulted in an offer of admission.

Here is a list of 10 interview questions colleges might ask and suggestions on how to respond. Can your student answer these 10 college interview questions?

Click here for the original article.

Not only is it important to answer the interviewer’s questions, it’s also important to ask questions at the interview.It might seem like the college is interviewing you when you sit down for that appointment. But in truth, you are also interviewing them.

The answers to the questions they ask you are important. But the questions you ask them can be just as important and can also help you make your final college decision. In the end, it’s not just them choosing to admit you, it’s you choosing to accept their offer of admission.

Here are 5 questions you should ask, even if they don’t ask you, “Do you have any questions?”

Click here for the original article.

College interviews can be scary but they are a key element of expressing interest in a college. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting to schedule an interview. These tips should help your student prepare.

Read Wendy’s Post: Interviewing the College Interviewer


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.

How to use Google for Essay Research



You can use Google as a search tool to help you write your essays, and you can manipulate it to save your time, effort and hard work. If you are smart about it, you can cobble together an essay fairly quickly if you use Google. Once you have the raw materials from Google, you can start refining the work, altering the flow and making sure it is correctly weighted, checked and correct.

Run a Google Search for Other Essays

The trick is to copy and paste your questions into the Google search engine. It will kick up any other essays that have been written on the subject, along with blog posts and journals that may answer your questions.

The truth is that many professors use the same questions over and over again, especially if they are listed in the textbooks, and many students upload their work to the Internet or sell it when they finish college. You can take advantage and look up what other people have written.

Don’t copy it verbatim, but make note of their better points and take a look at their reference sections to see if there are any good research materials you can use.

Use Google Scholar for Ready-Made Citations

Having to write out your reference section “correctly” is boring and annoying, even if you have a good citation generator. Instead, search Google scholar for the reference material you are using (books, journals, etc). If it is listed on Google scholar, you can click the cite link and copy and paste a ready-made citation. It saves time and a lot of effort.

Use the Index Section at the Bottom of Wikipedia Pages

On almost every subject you can research, you will find an entry on Google for a Wikipedia page. You are not allowed to reference Wikipedia in your essay because it is not considered reliable. However, some of the links and references at the bottom of the individual Wikipedia pages are very credible. Follow them and they may lead you to some great research material. They may also give you references you can add in to your essay.

For example, if you have just made a point, you may find a similar point made on Wikipedia. If it has a number next to it, which is a link to the reference, you can click on it and copy the reference to prove your point (as it echoes the one on Google).

Use Other People’s Ideas Online

When you Google the questions on your essay, don’t just look at journals and other essays and such. Search around people’s opinions and thoughts on the subject and topic. Use them to spur your creativity and expound on their ideas making them your own.

Search for Proof after You Have Made Your Point

The usual routine is to find, think up an idea, research it, find proof and turn it into a point or argument that you put in your paper. This is all fair and good, but there are many times when you know you are right and you can turn your idea straight into a point that you enter and expand upon in your essay.

The trouble is that at this point you have no evidence to back up your point or even to back up your idea. You are not going to get top marks if you cannot nail down every point with suitable evidence. So, all you do is search for the evidence after you have made and expanded upon your point.

Search out similar points in other people’s work and see whom they referenced, then verify those references. Just make sure that the point that person is making is very similar to yours and that the reference is suitable.


Today’s guest author is Linda Craig, a writing enthusiast and a professional editor at assignment help Her passion is modern British Literature and digital education tools

What You Can Do With a Math Degree


math degree

Image by AJC used under the Creative Commons license.

The study of numbers is a constantly growing field, and thanks to the explosion of the technology industry, mathematics has become one of the most lucrative majors in higher education. The study of math not only creates a technical ability to deal with numbers, but it teaches many analytical and problem-solving skills that are sought after and prized by employers across all industries. So if you’re wondering what it is that you can do with your degree in mathematics, here is just a small selection of options.

  1. Accountancy and finance

Accounting and finance firms are constantly looking for employees with strong technical skills in mathematics and an ability to follow complex algorithms and economic equations to determine the strength of a company’s financial positioning. The various types of jobs include roles such as auditor, tax accountant, forensic accountant, management accountant and corporate advisor.

  1. Actuarial sciences

As an actuary you will utilize various statistical information in order to create probabilities to inform your clients on different types of financial risk. Actuaries tend to be focused on business strategy, combining mathematically derived economic trends and information with practical solutions to insure sound investments and to minimize potential losses.

  1. Banking

Banking careers that are open to students who’ve studied mathematics range from general retail banking to corporate investment banking. Both forms of careers deal mainly with financial assessments of various public and private financial structures, and the largest opportunities lie in departments of merger and acquisitions and lending and IPOs.

  1. Statistics

If your main focus in mathematics was statistics, than your options for career industries are great, as virtually all major businesses and corporation employ statisticians to collect, analyze, and contextual data. Many statisticians also possess advanced IT skills, as they are usually required to work on larger company databases.

  1. Academia

For mathematicians looking to pursue a career in academics and teaching, a great step is to study for a master of science in mathematics education. The academic side of math will allow you to not only teach the future generations of mathematicians, but to continue your own research pursuits within the field, usually leading to publication in magazines and journals. Academic postings can be wide-ranging, and your choice of specialty will dictate what level of education you teach at and in what department.

With such a specific degree like a BSc in mathematics, it can be easy to see why many people might think their future career prospects would be held to a few select fields, but in truth the study of math is a doorway to many prospects.

Scholarships with July Deadlines


july deadlinesFireworks, family picnics, trips to the lake, the ocean and the pool. Who has time for scholarships? Summer is the PERFECT time for scholarship searching and applications. Following are a few lists with July deadlines. The great thing about these lists? You don’t have to search–the links are there for you with scholarship dollars waiting to be plucked from their hands.

10 Scorching Hot July Scholarships

16 Scholarships with July Deadlines

Scholarships Trending Now

75 July Scholarships

Scholarships with July Deadlines

100 Awards with Summer Deadlines

Not all these scholarships will apply to your student, but they are worth investigating and noting the ones that do.


One-Week Online Common App Bootcamp

common app boot camp

Everyone knows the importance of the college application. Books are written about it, articles published, and seminars taught about how to complete it. One of my Twitter colleagues and an essay expert, Ethan Sawyer @CollegeEssayGuy, knows how to craft the perfect college essay and personal statement, and he’s offering help with an upcoming common app boot camp webinar.

If a private university or college is in your future, the Common App is your one-way ticket. You’ve got one shot at a winning application, and Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy, is here to help!

Using the Secrets of Screenwriting to Write Your Personal Statement is his five-part webinar series for students and counselors that runs July 13-17.

In just five days, you’ll finish your:

  • First draft of your Common App main statement
  • Activities list
  • Additional info section

Plus you’ll get tons of tips and step-by-step help to conquer the Common App.

Click here for more info.

Can’t make a particular session? No worries: He’ll email what you missed.

Can’t afford it? Don’t worry, there’s a pay-what-you-can option.

Are you a counselor? You’re invited too!

Click here to reserve your spot.

Wednesday’s Parent: 5 College Essay Tips


college essayI don’t know what it is about the college essay that strikes fear in the hearts of students and parents. But the very mention of the task sends students running in the opposite direction. If there’s one part of the application that causes more procrastination, it’s the college essay. Here are five tips that should help ease the dread and alleviate some of the pressure.


The essay if only one part of the college application. It may be an important part but the more your stress, and worry, and fret the less creative you will be in your writing. Forcing the issue when you’re not feeling it will only hinder your writing.

Start early

Begin thinking about the essay during the second half of junior year. When the summer arrives put some thoughts down on paper and start formulating a rough draft. Waiting until the last minute will make the essay rushed and incoherent.

Be yourself

College admissions officers want to get to know you. Pretending to be someone you are not in an effort to impress them isn’t going to earn you any points when evaluating the application. They want to know more about you, who you are, what is important to you, and why you want to attend their college. They can’t get that information if you can’t be yourself in the essay.

Practice writing

Start journaling early, ideally once you enter high school. Write about anything that interests you, about your feelings, frustrations and dreams. You can use the journal when you begin crafting your essay and the writing practice will be a plus.

Do some research

Get essay advice from the experts. Use websites, social media, and books to educate yourself about writing a stellar essay.

Preparing for the college essay removes the fear and helps with the stress. There’s no need to dread or procrastinate when writing your college essay.

Read Wendy’s Post: Savvy Prep for College Essays


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. Tonight’s guest is @CollegeEssayGuy with a Parent’s Guide to the College Essay.

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.

The Summer Before Senior Year of High School (10 Tips for Moms)


seniorIf your life isn’t crazy enough right now, it’s about to get even crazier. Once your child becomes a high school senior, your time is not your own. Anything and everything is focused on college. Your family (not just your teen) will eat, drink and sleep all things college. Before the year ends you will wonder how you will survive mentally, physically and emotionally. It will be a rollercoaster of highs and lows for both you and your college-bound teen.

We entered the beginning of my daughter’s senior year with anticipation and halfway through I began to think we would never survive. By the time she walked across the stage at graduation we were both exhausted. Senior year begins with a slow pace and amps up in January, culminating in a feverous pitch in April and May.

Here are some tips to help you keep your sanity and navigate the college maze productively.

1. Do the prep work

Get ready for the mounds of catalogs, test prep booklets, flyers and email reminders. Start your filing system now, before school starts. Set up an email account (, purchase a small thumb drive for filing computer files, create a landing zone for all college-related materials, start adding tasks on a calendar (either a wall calendar or an app that can be synchronized with the family. Here are 5 Free Apps for College-Prep Organization.

2. Do your best to control your emotions

It’s going to be an emotional time for both you and your student. Angry words will be spoken if you don’t make a conscious effort to bite your tongue, count to 10, and take a deep breathe. You are the parent and your teen needs emotional stability during this time, not an emotional basket case.

3. Prepare for rejection

The upcoming year will most likely mean that your student (and you) will have to deal with rejection. It’s not personal, but you will feel like it is. I know it’s tempting to spew platitudes like, “Everything happens for a reason”, or “I know how you feel”, or “They didn’t appreciate you.” But the reality is, all the platitudes in the world aren’t going to remove the disappointment. Once the dust has settled, however, it might be good to offer some words of wisdom from those “in the know” about the college admissions process: The Truth About College Rejection Letters.

4. Decide what role you will take

Please. I beg you. Do NOT be the parent that shoves, manipulates, and actually does the work for their student. Be the parent who encourages, supports and offers help and advice when needed. Be a coach, not a bully. Decide before things ever get crazy to let your teen OWN the process, or “drive the car” as one admissions officer often told me.

5. Prepare for emotional outbursts

This is one of the most stressful times in your family. There will be emotional outbursts as the stress intensifies. Your student will say things she does not mean. You will lose your temper and wish you didn’t. Just remember that most of what is said is fueled by the stress of the process and when it’s all over everyone will breathe a sigh of relief, hug and move on.

6. Discuss the money

If you want to avoid disappointment when offers of admission arrive, have the “money talk” before your student applies to colleges. Decide what you can afford, what you will be willing to contribute toward the costs, and what you expect your student to contribute.

7. Accept there will be consequences to actions

Your student will most likely fail or mess up at some point during senior year. When she goest to college, your student will have to fix her own problems. Let her do it now, while she lives at home, and it will be easier for her once she is gone. Rescuing your kids all the time only makes them into dependent adults and colleges aren’t impressed with those type of students or the parents that come with them.

8. Be open and not pragmatic

Be open to any college choices your student might make. You will not be the one attending the college and it’s not up to you to choose for her. You can give your advice and direct her in what you think would be the best path for her; but don’t shove her toward your alma mater or toward a college with a prestigious name if that is not her choice. If your teen mentions a gap year, don’t panic. Gap years are becoming more popular and it might be exactly what your teen needs. Read this post for some insight on gap years: What Parents Need to Know About a Gap Year.

9. Don’t push-it simply won’t help

If your student is unmotivated, it’s not going to help to nag her and push her to do the college prep work. If there is one thing I learned with both of my kids (and clients), if your student is not invested in the college process she won’t be invested in college. Save yourself some time, money and heartache and wait until she is. If not, she can learn from the college of hard knocks (as my son did)–minimum wage jobs are the BEST motivator! Here’s a post about my son and how he finally saw the light: Motivating an Underachiever Toward College?

10. Enjoy the journey

This is an exciting time in the life of your teenager. She has worked hard and will be planning her future. You can be proud as well. Enjoy the next year, even when you feel stressed and overwhelmed. It will pass all too quickly and before you know it she will be walking across the stage accepting her diploma and heading to college in the fall.

Scholarship Friday: Tips to Efficiently Apply for Scholarships


apply for scholarshipsWhen financial aid administrators at a college are in charge of scholarships, they may receive 200 applications or more for each opening. They don’t see much personal information, but rather a list of numbers and dates. You need to do everything in your power to make your application stand out from the rest.

Not every scholarship candidate will get called in for an interview. The helpful tips to efficiently apply for scholarships below will allow you to make a good impression on the people who determine whether you get scholarships or not.

Get all the Information about every Scholarship

Every school and organization has its own ways to handle applications for scholarships. Reading all the information completely is vital. If you’re not sure of something, email or call the scholarship provider to make sure everything is clear to you. If your desired scholarship is funded by a company or organization, go to their website and find out more about them.

Make Sure You are Eligible

It’s important that you only apply for the scholarships that are relevant to you. Check to be sure that you fit the special group, age or gender specified in the information.

Organize your Documents

Make files for each individual scholarship you wish to receive. Sort these files by the due dates of the applications. You will need other paperwork in addition to the application. They include:

  • Financial aid forms, such as the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® or FAFSA
  • High school transcripts
  • Parents’ latest financial information, including their tax returns
  • Standardized test scores
  • Letters of recommendation (the number will be specified by the scholarship)
  • Essays
  • Proof that you are eligible for the scholarship

Prepare your Resume

Some organizations and colleges will ask for a resume when you apply. If you have held jobs, include those, but don’t worry if you have no work experience yet. Point out honors and awards you have received, and all volunteer service you have completed. If you have spent many hours in volunteer service, omit those that are not as significant as the rest. You want to impress the committee without boring them.

Get Eloquent Letters of Recommendation

Letters should come from academic advisors or teachers who are familiar with your scholastic abilities and your personal interests, as well. This will show the reader that you are able to carry out the specified program you want to pursue. If your academic advisor or teacher knows of your leadership ability or community service, that should be included, too.

Ask people early, if you want them to write letters of recommendation for you. They should know why you are applying and what area you wish to study. Speak with them to help clarify your plans and goals in their minds. Give your writers plenty of time. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Your Application Essay

This is sometimes called a statement of purpose or a letter of intent. It gives the scholarship committee the information they need to become acquainted with you. It should tell of your experiences in the field you wish to pursue. Tell them what you will do with your degree, after you earn it.

Your personal statement gives you a chance to speak about yourself. Show the committee that you have valid opinions and ideas, that you think in a logical way, and that you express yourself eloquently, yet economically.

Have your Transcripts Ready

Many applications require transcripts of schools you have previously attended. Get this information as soon as you know you’ll be applying for scholarships. There may be a small fee for your schools’ official transcripts.

Before you Submit your Application

Proof-read your application with care. Use the grammar and spelling check on your computer. Have someone else read it and offer any helpful ideas they may have.

Be sure that you fill in every blank. Contact the sponsors if you’re not sure what information they want.

Be sure that anything hand-written is legible. Filling the application out online, if available, makes it easier than writing information by hand.

Be sure that you sign and date the application.

Keep Copies of all Documents

Having extra copies of all your documentation makes it easy to send additional forms in, if requested by a scholarship committee. If you apply online, save your work on your laptop.

Track your Package

If you submit your scholarship application through the mail, you may wish to send it via certified mail, or request a return receipt, so that you know your documents arrived on time.


Today’s guest post is by Pyper Barnes, a Junior Finance Major at the University of Alabama. Pyper is the owner of WeirdScholarships. is a website dedicated to helping students find unique and interesting scholarship opportunities.