If you’re a parent of a college-bound teen, you most likely feel overwhelmed. Where do you go for advice? How do you find the information you need to help? Where do you find support during the college prep process?
These 10 college influencers on Twitter (and a few others) can help you solve the problem. Follow them, ask questions and find all the information you need to go confidently through the college prep process. And it goes without saying, don’t forget to follow me! (@SuzanneShaffer):
Jodi is not only a bestselling author, speaker, entrepreneur and creator of #CollegeCash, she is a parent’s friend. She doles out free financial aid advice n Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and on the blogs she contributes to. Ask a question of Jodi, and you’ll get an answer.
Kelly, the founder of Smart College Visit, has a parent heart. She wants parents to have the best tools available when visiting colleges and most recently, applying to college with her company Smart College Consulting. Kelly has partnered with other college prep experts to give parents all the information they need to help their children along the way.
Seth doesn’t mince words. He is an independent college counselor and using his platform, The College Whisperer, he tells it like it is. He informs parents about how colleges take advantage of you, how they should view rankings, and how to find the best fit college for their student. Follow him and you will get the unabashed truth about college prep.
If your teen needs help with standardized test prep, Lauren is the place to go. She provides parents and students test prep information on her #CollegeChecklist podcast, on Twitter and on Facebook Live. Ask a question about the SAT or ACT? Lauren has the answer. Need some free practice tests? She’s got you covered. She is a rock star in this field.
Ethan studied screenwriting in college. He knows how to tell a story. He uses this technique to help students with their college essays. If your student is looking for essay examples, he provides them (along with critique) on his website. He has a “pay as you can” option for his essay online course. Follow him on Twitter and get tips on essay prompts and essay topics. If you’re tired of nagging, prodding, pushing and poking your student to work on the essay, hook him or her up with Ethan.
Monica rocks when it comes to scholarship advice. She helped her son win scholarships to pay for his entire education. She even wrote an ebook to help parents do the same. She says scholarship advice on Smart College Visit as “The Scholarship Mom” and is constantly updating parents and students via Pinterest and Facebook about current available scholarships. If you need someone that “gets” the fact that you need money to pay for college, follow Monica.
Sarah had a vision for University Parent while she was in college. She felt parents needed guidebooks to help them navigate the college their student chose. She moved into the internet realm by providing parents with practical college prep advice and advice for parents of college students. Parents feel free to comment and ask questions in the Facebook group, serving as a place for parents to commensurate and seek advice from other parents. Sarah is a college parent’s best friend.
Chad is the high school athlete’s best friend. If your student is an athlete hoping to be recruited or play college sports, Chad has you covered. He knows all the ins and outs of college athletic recruiting and can help your student throughout the process. He can help with college prep guidance and personalize it for your athlete. Chad’s the man!
Jessica helps parents and students through the college admissions process. She is an independent college counselor with extensive experience in college admissions offices. One of my favorite aspects of her blog, JLVConsulting, is her extensive lists of scholarships each month along with their deadlines. It’s a great free resource for students who are searching for scholarships.
Harlan was the first to speak directly to parents of college-bound and current college students through his best selling book, “The Naked Roommate”. He asks the tough questions, provides parents with answers, and gives online counseling to parents and students about adjusting and transitioning to college. Sign up for his FREE Live webinar for Parents (17 Things You Need to do Before College) on August 4.
Additional college influencers:
In addition to these personal accounts on Twitter, you should also follow these other accounts as well:
- Mybigfuture-The College Board’s Twitter account.
- Commonapp-The Common App’s Twitter account
- Fafsa-The FAFSA Twitter account
- Giftofcollege-Gift of College’s Twitter account (A company that helps parents save for college)
- SallieMae-Sallie Mae’s Twitter Account (student loans and college financing)
- Cappex– Cappex’s Twiter account (scholarship searches and college info)
Dear High School Junior,
Your quest for college intensifies this year. Junior year is THE most important year in the college process. It’s the year you focus your energy on college preparation. All the years leading up to this year have prepared you to begin this journey and as an admissions officer once told me, “drive the car”.
Focus on these four tasks this year and enter your senior year prepared to apply to colleges.
Your junior year is THE most important year as far as college. It’s the junior year transcript that colleges will receive with your application. This is NOT the time to start coasting. Do your best in every class, especially the AP Honors classes. This level of commitment to academics will communicate to colleges that you capable of handling rigorous college courses and have fine-tuned your time management and study skills.
Test prep and study
First–the PSAT is NOT a practice test. It’s your ticket to some substantial scholarship money if you qualify as a finalist. You don’t have to win or be the best; you just have to qualify as a finalist. Most students don’t study for this test so that’s an advantage you will have going into it. If you study, you could be looking at a full-ride at one of the colleges you list on your test. Think carefully before you list a college. Once you do, it’s locked in.
The SAT and ACT are used by colleges to rate you among prospective students. Scoring high on these tests can mean the difference between an offer of admission and a rejection. Study before taking the test. Take advantage of some free test prep even if you feel you don’t need it. Take the practice tests, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and adjust your study accordingly.
College lists and visits
It’s time to start your college lists. Is one college at the top of your radar? Do you want to stay in state or attend a college far from home? These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when you start your list. Remember to look at all types of colleges: private, state, junior colleges, liberal arts colleges, technical colleges and even career specific colleges like a culinary school. One size college does not fit all. It’s time to explore.
Start visiting colleges–either on your list or nearby to get a feel for campus life. Make some preliminary visits before you start scheduling official visits with the colleges. Talk to students. Explore the area around the college. Once you have a tentative list made, start scheduling visits for tours, meeting with financial aid, and interviewing with admissions. Letting the college know you are coming shows interest in their school. Colleges keep track of these contacts; and when the application is received, they can look at their list and see you have expressed interest.
Talk with your parents about how they expect you to pay for college. If they are contributing, ask how much they have budgeted for your education. This will help you know what they are prepared to pay and what you will have to contribute to make up the difference. If it’s substantial you should intensify your scholarship search and start working to save money for expenses.
Don’t apply to colleges that are entirely out of your reach if you don’t receive financial aid. It will only lead to disappointment. Investigate how much financial aid the colleges usually provide incoming students. This will help you plan. Remember that the sticker price of a college is not usually what you will pay. Apply to colleges where you are at the top of the applicant pool. This will improve your chances of receiving merit aid.
It’s time to get serious because senior year is just around the corner. Once it hits, you will be writing essays, applying to colleges, and working hard to keep your grades up. If you prepare in advance by completing these four tasks, you will have less stress your senior year.
Good luck on your journey,
Suzanne Shaffer, Parents Countdown to College Coach
Parenting has certainly changed.
In the 50’s, our parents let us have the run of the neighborhood. We rode our bikes everywhere, walked home from school alone, and rode the bus to the movies alone. In the summer, we left the house early in the morning and returned home in time for dinner. Our teachers terrified us and we knew if we misbehaved, our parents would back them up. There were no car seats or safety belts. You would never find anti-bacterial soap or even consider using it. When we turned 18, we either went to college or got a full-time job and moved out of the house.
In the 80’s, parenting styles began to change. Because of Adam Walsh, we watched our kids like a hawk. We weren’t quite ready to take away their freedom, but we worried. We worried about where they were, who they were with, and what dangers they might encounter when they were at school, outside, and at the mall. Parents began to question a teacher’s authority and loosened the grip on the discipline of their children. Spanking became taboo and “time out” emerged as a parenting technique.
At the beginning of the 21st century helicopter parenting emerged. It’s not like we planned for it to happen. It just did. We sheltered our children from any disappointment. Everyone on the team got a trophy. There were no winners or losers. We questioned all school authority. We would never consider letting them walk home alone or play outside without supervision. If they forgot their lunch, we took it to them. If they left their homework at home, we took it to school. We began to make every decision for them and protect them from every consequence. We began to feel the “parent peer pressure” for our children to be the best and the greatest. If they graduated from college and couldn’t find a job, they came home to live and thus the term “boomerang” generation was born.
How do you walk the tightrope of helicopter parenting?
How do we raise our children in this frightening world without overprotecting them from the disappointments and trials of life? What are the long-term risks of helicopter parenting? Combine a little of the 50’s parenting, some of the 80’s style of parenting, and a very small amount of the 21st century parenting for the perfect parenting balance. There’s a fine line between cautious parenting and being a helicopter mom.
Ask yourself this question–Do you want your children to be independent successful adults or do you want them living in your basement for years and years depending on you to pay their bills and take care of them? Is it conceivable they will be going off to college and surviving alone, or calling you every day crying for help, or needing assistance with every life task? Will they be running home because they simply can’t survive without you?
My guess–your answers to every one of these questions would be a resounding NO!
Today’s guest post is from GoSchoolWise, a new website offering free tools to help with college prep.
Is this school a good fit for my child? Do we have a balanced college list? How much will college cost us?
If these are the questions you are asking yourself, there is good news. A smart computer called IBM Watson (the computer that beat humans in Jeopardy) is helping answer these questions for thousands of parents this year at GoSchoolWise.com.
GoSchoolWise.com has 3 tools that use sophisticated algorithms to help answer the questions you were wondering. The good news is all these tools are free for high school students and their parents.
College – Personality Fit Tool: The tool has analyzed over 600 US colleges and identified personality traits of students at those schools.
Example: Some of the personality traits of Georgia Tech students are: Unselfish, Go with the flow, Thoughtful, etc. Some traits for students at Columbia University are: Independent, Change-Agent, Direct etc.
The tool can analyze your child’s essay or Tweets to develop her/his personality traits and identifies their personality fit with each school on your schools list. In addition to campus visits this tool can give you a unique perspective how well your child will fit in at a particular school.
Let us know if you agree with the personality traits of your child by sending a message here.
- Admissions Insights: The tool analyzes the schools you are considering applying to and gives you valuable information on the potential acceptance rate based on your child’s gender, and the admissions round you are considering (EA, ED, RD, etc.).
The tool also recommends other schools your daughter or son should consider as well as checks if you are in compliance with the Early application policy such as Restrictive Early Action or Single-Choice Early Action for different schools.
In addition to a bunch of other admissions insights, the tool beautifully lays out the schools on a US map (with school pictures) for you to visualize how far your young one is considering going.
- Financial Insights: The tool takes your family income and uses historical data as well as factors in the financial aid families with similar income received, predicts the total annual cost of attendance for your child. This can be valuable information to help you understand how much college can cost your family.
You really thought this post will end without giving you any bonus tools and features.
Well guess what we have…
3 Bonus tools/features: SchoolWise also has additional tools/features to help families. Some of the other noteworthy features are:
- College Admissions News: College Admissions news and updates from around the web are curated with the help of IBM Watson. The news feed keeps families updated on the latest admissions advice and developments.
- Academic Index: Looking to apply to Ivy League school? You should check out the Academic Index (AI) Calculator. AI is a score between 60 – 240 used by Ivy League schools to score the academic achievement of an applicant. The score is highly correlated to acceptance rates. Even though Academic Index is not a secret anymore, but the Ivy League universities and other highly selective colleges are hush-hush about its use.
- Schools Pages: Each 4-year college has a beautiful schools page, with pretty images, videos, and interactive tools. One example is the gender diversity tool, which shows the class mosaic. Also, check out the notable alumni and the key recruiting companies section for each school. Some school page examples are: Harvard University, MIT, College of William and Mary.
If you need to write an essay for college, you have to be aware of the basic rules of its writing. It is important to follow a standard pattern. You have to reveal your personality and showcase your writing skills. If you have never written an essay before, the following tips will help you craft a good piece of writing.
1. Do research.
You have to know what has been written on your topic before. Check out both printed and online resources. Make sure that you have access to them. Go to the library and order some books. Take notes if needed. Look for relevant literature on the Internet. Download the necessary files and documents.
2. Come up with your own ideas.
Now you are armed with numerous researches and articles. But the thing is to express your personal view on the subject at hand. Your own voice needs to be heard clearly. The essay is not a compilation of works by other authors.
3. Write a solid thesis statement.
Among all of your ideas, choose the strongest one. Ensure that you have enough supporting materials. The thesis statement must be specific and concise. Your task is to expand it through the body of your essay and prove its correctness.
4. Craft an outline.
Writing a well-structured essay without an outline is virtually impossible. It helps you organize your thoughts and follow the intended line. You need to highlight the core сategories and consider each of them point by point. Do not forget to use specific facts and provide examples. An outline usually includes 3 levels.
5. Write an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Like any other college paper, an essay should consist of three logical parts: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. The beginning should be engaging and introduce readers to the topic. Each body paragraph has to start with a topic sentence that is followed by 2-3 supporting statements. You must include no new information in the conclusion. Simply paraphrase what was being said earlier.
6. Create a captivating title.
The title of the essay has to induce the reader to read your writing. Avoid general and boring titles. They have nothing to tell about your paper. Use specific headings instead. There are many essays consisting numbers in their titles at writing2me.com. Such type of the headings is considered one of the most interesting. The readers also find attractive those headlines that debunk stereotypes or appeal to their emotions.
7. Double check the essay.
Once your essay is over, put it aside for a while. No matter how hard you will try, you still won’t be able to see a mistake. You need to let your eyes and mind relax. Better yet, let your friends read the essay. It will be much more easier for them to detect an error with a fresh eye. Your essay must be grammatically flawless. It is out of the question.
Although at first glance crafting an essay for college may seem as an extremely complicated task to perform, this is not quite accurate. Use the recommendations given in this article and you will easily cope with it. All things are difficult before they are easy.
Yes. It’s that time of year again. Parents are trekking hundreds and even thousands of miles to drop off their students at college. For most it’s bittersweet. For moms, it’s a tornado churning inside our hearts. On one hand we are happy for our children. They are now grown up (or so they say) and ready to venture out into the world. On the other hand, our hearts are breaking. The years have flown by and we aren’t quite ready to say goodbye. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Wasn’t it only yesterday that we brought them home from the hospital. They were so small and helpless. When they grabbed our finger and smiled we melted. We wanted to give them everything and we wanted them to have every one of their dreams come true.
And then, the toddler years arrived. With all the “nos” and the “mine” and the dreaded potty training. Most of us felt there would be nothing worse than this. Temper tantrums ruled our house and don’t even get me started on the bedtime tug of war.
But then, they grew up to be teenagers. And we longed for the terrible twos again. During the teen years, we often found ourselves longing for the day when they would leave home. Can college come soon enough? Especially during the summer after high school graduation. Tempers flared, doors were slammed and we wondered just who was living in our house.
Where did the time go? In a few days or weeks, you will be saying goodbye to that child you raised and he or she will be leaving a huge hole in your heart. In spite of it all, you will miss them terribly. And don’t even think they won’t miss you. They may put on a brave front, pull away from the hugs, and hold back the tears, but it will be just as hard for them as it is for you.
It won’t be long before you get the phone call, “Mom, I need . . . “. And once again, you will be aware that it doesn’t really matter what age they are, they will always be your little girl or boy.
Congratulations to every parent who will be dropping off their child at college soon. Hold on to the memories. Believe it or not, they will comfort you in the months ahead.
Today my daughter turns 35. It seems like yesterday we were visiting and applying to colleges. Since then, she graduated with a Bachelors and a Masters in Marketing. She has two wonderful boys and the life she always hoped for.
From the time she was small, she dreamed of going to college in Boston. It’s a mystery why she chose that city. We had never visited there. The only tie she had to it was from a movie that mentioned Boston University. I say this to make a point—college was always in her future. She worked hard during high school and got the grades and multiple scholarships to attend college in Boston.
But if I knew then what I know now, we would have done things differently.
Establish a relationship with your high school counselor early
High school counselors are invaluable resources for scholarships, college information, volunteer opportunities and as a reference. My daughter barely knew her counselor and when we needed help, it was a struggle. A relationship would have made things so much easier.
Use all four years of high school to get ready for college
We waited until senior year to start preparing for college. Needless to say, it was a train wreck. Between all her senior activities, trying to visit colleges, testing, applying for scholarships, and applying to colleges we were both stressed and irritable. Some of those tasks can be done before senior year, even during freshman year. Plan ahead.
Study for the PSAT
My daughter did not study for the PSAT. We had no idea what was at stake with this test. If she had studied, she could have qualified as a National Merit semi-finalist and finalist. This would have meant full-ride scholarships and more at numerous colleges throughout the country.
Visit every college you apply to
This was a tough lesson to learn. My daughter applied to numerous colleges without visiting. After being awarded a full-ride scholarship at one of them, we visited. She immediately hated the campus and the entire college setting. It was disappointing for me, as a parent knowing this college would have meant no debt. But it would have been worse if she had gone there and dropped out freshman year.
Spend time writing and rewriting the college essay
The essay is your best chance to give the colleges a picture of who you are. There are so many available essay coaches online and free essay help available. I wish we had taken advantage of those opportunities.
Don’t apply to colleges that aren’t within your financial reach
When my daughter received an acceptance from her dream college without any financial aid we knew it was impossible for her to attend. We were anticipating scholarship money to assist us but when it didn’t come through, she was devastated. Do your homework and look at the colleges financial aid profiles. If they award a small percentage of aid and you can’t afford it without it, don’t apply.
Apply early to get the best financial aid
The early bird gets the worm with financial aid. My daughter applied regular admission and her dream college had already dispersed aid by the time they received her application. If I had known then what I know now, she would have applied for early decision.
Start applying for scholarships early
We waited until senior year to apply for scholarships. It was a struggle working all the senior activities in and finding time to apply for scholarships. There are scholarships for all ages—start early.
Appeal the award letter and ask for more money
With several full-ride scholarship offers we could have used them to ask for more aid from her first and second choice college. We didn’t ask for more money from any of the colleges and we didn’t appeal any of her awards. It was a huge financial mistake.
Only apply for federal student loans and know your repayment options
We followed this advice in college, but when she decided to get her master’s degree, she took out private student loans. These loans, combined with her federal loans, put a financial burden on her after graduating. It was difficult to pay them back early in her career and she had to file deferments several times, extending the time and interest on the loans. She made the mistake of not investigating repayment amounts before signing for those loans.
Roommate issues can be the worst part of college
I had no idea the drama that would ensue with college roommates. There were tears, anger, frustration and cries to come home early. If she would have discussed these issues with the RA or dealt with the conflict early, it would have saved both of us a ton of heartache.
As you can see, I’ve learned quite a bit since her college years. If you have a question about any of this advice or any other college-related question, feel free to leave a comment. We parents have to stick together.
Harlan Cohen, New York Times bestselling author of The Naked Roommate: 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into College and The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only! is hosting LIVE webinars for college-bound students and their parents.
17 Things You Need To Do Before College
THIS FREE EVENT WILL COVER:
- WHY HIGH SCHOOL GRADS are NOT prepared for what’s next and how to prepare for the BIG changes ahead.
- BIGGEST MISTAKES millions of first year college students and their parents will make and how to avoid making the same mistakes.
- HOW TO… make new friends, get involved, get along with roommates, pass classes, save money, stay together, stay sober, break up, deal with parents, and more.
- SPECIAL OFFER: Naked Roommate College Boot Camp for Students and Parents.
RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW!
Sign up for one spot at 12 pm CST or 7 pm CST on August 4th (pick one session)
*Sign up even if you can’t attend LIVE and get access to the replay!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of change. Even if it’s good change. Maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s that I know with change comes confusion. Such was true when the new SAT was rolled out. Then came the ACT and the confusion about scoring. Such is the life of a student who has plans to apply to college in the fall.
Magoosh certainly recognizes your confusion. In an effort to help, they provided students and parents a breakdown of the new scoring process and how colleges view them. In their post about this, they commensurate with your pain over the new SAT:
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it: the new SAT scoring system is extremely confusing. There are subscores, cross-test scores, a science score and much more. And don’t even get me started on the new concordance tables (though started I’ll get, but later in the post!)
Because I don’t want you to be uncertain about something as important as your SAT scores, I’m here to dispel any confusion and answer your questions.
I’ll talk about all of the different scores: what they mean, SAT score ranges, what SAT scores you need for top colleges, and how everything ties together.
I’ll also let you in on a little secret: the SAT scoring tables comparing the old SAT and new SAT are a little wonky (but more on that later).
We’ve also put together this table of SAT score ranges for the top 100 universities in the United States.
Read through the article using the link below and see the comparisons. It will help your student set score goals and it will help you understand why change might not be welcome, but might just be better for your student.