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)
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.
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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.
It’s time for a serious talk. As a middle school student, you might think that college is far away in the distance and you will think about it when you’re in high school. But nothing could be further from the truth. In middle school you’re on the launching pad–preparing for takeoff. If you are serious about college-and a national survey says 92% of middle schoolers are—there’s no time like the present to get in the college mindset.
With this in mind, ask yourself these questions:
What are my goals?
How do your interests translate into a college and career plan? Do you have any career aspirations at this point or are you still keeping your options open? Even though you might not know yet, you can begin to formulate a plan to find out. Volunteer or shadow someone with a career that interests you. If you have hobbies, how will that translate into a career goal or college major? While in middle school, set your sights on the future and set some easily attainable goals.
Am I serious about my grades?
Academic success is a crucial factor in a college application. While colleges don’t look at middle school grades, good grades allow you to sign up for advanced courses in high school. If you aren’t serious in middle school, it’s going to be hard to change that pattern in high school. Commit to excellence in every class. This commitment will pay off when you enter high school and start applying to college.
Do I have a good study plan?
You need good time management and study skills to succeed in high school and college. Middle school is the perfect environment to focus on good study habits. Set up a study space, agree on a study schedule, and gather the necessary study materials before school begins. When school starts, get help if needed and communicate with your parents if you are struggling so they can make arrangements for a tutor. Don’t wait until you are drowning to ask for help.
Am I taking the right courses to prepare for college?
The courses you take in middle school will prepare you for high school. Take math and science courses that prepare you for advanced courses in high school. In addition, take English every year, as many history classes as possible, any computer courses that are offered, and foreign language electives. If you are interested in music, sports, or art, middle school is the time to explore those interests. In order to take the advanced courses in high school that colleges require, prepare for those in middle school.
Am I organized or is my room a disaster area?
The floor in your room is not a filing cabinet or a landing zone. Start now by developing good organizational habits. There will be scholarship applications, college information, standardized test information, school calendars, and more. Practicing good habits in middle school will prepare you for all the information you will receive in high school.
Am I reading?
Everyone reads, but is reading a priority? Reading is the best preparation for standardized testing and high school reading assignments. Reading also improves vocabulary and writing skills. Get your family involved by reading the same book and having a discussion or adding vocabulary words to the family dinner discussion. Summer is the best time to dive in to a summer reading program.
Am I involved in extracurricular activities?
Middle school is the perfect time to start exploring extracurriculars. Once you find one that interests you, you can carry it on into high school. Colleges look for consistency in this area and if you find your interest in middle school, you can begin your high school years focused and committed to that one activity.
How do I plan to pay for college?
Paying for college shouldn’t be your parents’ sole responsibility. There’s no time like the present to start applying for scholarships. There are scholarships for all ages and if you get a head start now, that free money will add up. Start asking for money for gifts and special occasions and add it to a 529 savings plan that your parents can set up for you. You don’t have to be legal age to work. Spend summers babysitting, mowing lawns, pet sitting and any other job that young teenagers can do. Add that to your savings account.
Research shows that students who are financially invested in the cost of their degree are more successful in college. Don’t rely solely on your parents to pay—make it your goal to contribute.
Have I visited any colleges?
It’s never too early to visit colleges. You don’t have to be a prospective student to visit. Plan some nearby college visits. It can be a family affair; even a mini-vacation. Early college visits will help you get accustomed to the college environment and a feel for what college life is like.
Are my friends motivated toward this same goal?
Friends are a huge factor in college aspirations. Consequently, start now by choosing those friends who are committed to academics and focused on future goals. When you and your friends are like-minded, you can encourage one another and motivate each other toward success. The wrong friends can certainly have a negative effect on your middle school experience.
It’s hard to look ahead four years and imagine graduating from high school. But, take it from a parent of two college graduates, the time will fly by. You can enter your senior year prepared and confident that you have planned for that inevitable day or you can be one of those students who starts panicking before graduation, knowing he has no plan or goal for the future. It’s entirely up to you.
Plan for the future but enjoy the journey!
Your child going away to college is likely to bring a mixture of emotions. You might be proud, upset and overwhelmed all at one time. So, you need to make sure you prepare and plan to help them (and yourself) through it. Here are some tips that might help you get ready for college:
One of the key things you need to think about when it comes to college life is accommodations. Where will your student live while attending college? Will he live in the dorm? Will he live off campus? Will he live at home and commute? You should sit down and discuss his options. Once you decide, act quickly. On campus housing goes quickly, so be prepared to sign up as soon as your student accepts an offer of admission. If your student is living off campus, investigate options early. Housing off campus also fills up quickly.
Paying for college and tuition fees will be a huge expense. If you want your child to go to a good school, it’s going to cost you. Many parents like to start saving when they’re children are born, and will set up a college fund. But, you also need to be aware of the fact that this might not always be possible. In some scenarios, you’re not going to have the money saved, and this is when you need financial support. This is where things like AES loans come in handy. Make sure you assess everything as a family and decide on the best loan for your child’s education and future.
Everyone is going to have nerves in this sort of scenario. You may be nervous about what the future holds for your child. But, think about how nervous they are going to be as they’ll actually be going through it! It’s important to try to remain calm and to be there to offer advice. Your child is going to have questions for you, and will look to you for support. It’s up to you to calm their nerves (and your own) by offering advice and support. Being nervous is natural with any big life change, and this is something you need to make sure you address.
Make Sure They’re Happy
It’s important to make sure your child is happy with this upcoming chapter in their life. You need to make sure that college is something they want to do. It’s crucial that they’re in the best possible frame of mind, so you need to keep an eye out for any pre-college anxiety. Going away to college is a big step in life and something they need to adapt to. And the only way of ensuring that is to make sure they are perfectly placed to enjoy everything college life offers.
When your child is going off to college, there are going to be a lot of things to address. And, as the parent, you should take responsibility for many of them. You have to make sure that you help your child choose the right college and major. And you need to make sure you address issues of finances and accommodations. If you can focus on these, your child’s transition to college should be smooth.
Most scholarship applications require a letter of recommendation, some will require as many as three. The individuals you will ask to write these letters are called references.
Getting a great letter of recommendation takes a little planning on your part.
Here are 8 tips to keep in mind:
1. Start thinking early about who could write you a good letter of recommendation. Common examples include teachers, your principal, school counselors, employers, community members, church leaders, etc.… Anyone can do this, as long as they are NOT related to you.
Did you know? Teachers are the most common required authors of recommendation letters. It is important to build relationships with your teachers early to ensure that they will be willing and able to write you a good letter of recommendation.
2. Some people will serve as better references for certain scholarships. If you are applying for a community service focused scholarship, it would benefit you to get letters of recommendation from individuals who have interacted with you in this capacity. However, if you are applying for a math scholarship, you will want to ask people who can attest to your mathematical abilities.
3. If you are given a copy of a recommendation letter, make copies and save a digital version. These saved letters can be used in situations that do not require the recommendation to come directly from the author. But keep in mind that original, signed letters may carry more weight than electronic or copied letters.
4. Come up with a diverse list of potential references, e.g. not all teachers.
5. Provide your recommender with your resume. Even though you should be choosing people who know you well, it is helpful to remind them of your activities and accomplishments. This will make it easy for them to talk about your skills and involvement specifically, ensuring a more personal letter. You should also tell them what the recommendation is for, so they can highlight the reasons why you should be chosen.
6. If there are special requirements for the letter, these will be provided to you. Make sure you read them carefully. For example, some committees require:
- A survey to be filled out by your recommender and accompanied by the letter
- The letter to be printed on official letterhead
- The letter be sealed and signed across the seal
- The letter to be mailed directly from the author
7. It is a nice gesture to provide your recommender with all the materials they will need to deliver your recommendation. If the author needs to mail the letter directly to the scholarship committee, make sure you provide a stamp and envelop, unless it must be sent in an official envelop. Once again, read all the directions.
8. Send a thank you to everyone who gave you a recommendation. Send another thank you if you receive the scholarship, mentioning your appreciation for their role in you receiving the award.
- Start early building relationships with individuals you may use as references.
- Come up with a list of potential references.
- Choose people who know you well. Most applications will ask you how long you have known the individual.
- Make sure your references are good writers and that they are comfortable writing letters of recommendation.
- Ask early for letters of recommendation, not only is this courteous, it also ensures that they will have plenty of time to complete the letter before the deadline.
- Don’t expect to be able to read the recommendation for your approval, so choose your references wisely because many letters must be sealed.
- Follow the specific requirements given on each application.
- Provide your reference with your resume and any other information and materials they might need.
- Thank your references, and send another thank you if you receive the award.
Today’s guest blog post is contributed by ScholarPrep! The organization brings students, parents, and counselors together to prepare for the college and scholarship application process. The ScholarPrep Organizer saves time and money by encouraging students to start planning for their future now, helping them to set goals, organize information, and track their progress.
Many people are under the impression that college is the place where teens generate their life skills. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. College is the place where they will face their greatest test. Here they’ll be exposed to alcohol and drugs. And here, they’ll have to organize their own time in the way that they see fit. They need basic skills to prepare for college.
The way that they respond to that new environment is a function of everything that has come before. It’s all the preparation that goes on in their teen years that will determine whether college is a success or not. That’s why it’s so important to start building their life skills early on. Otherwise, they’ll do what so many college dropouts do: arrive at college and practice risky behavior. And then wonder why they didn’t pass any of their midterm exams.
The whole point of going to college is to study. It’s at college where we are supposed to build up our skills and become valuable to employers. But, as discussed, many young people squander the opportunity. Often it’s because they’ve been pushed into doing degrees they don’t want to do. But most of the time it just comes down to the fact that they still feel as if education is something being done to them. Now’s their chance to rebel, and they take it.
As parents, it’s important not to force education on children. It should be something that arises out of their natural interest in the world around them. Yes, there will be times when they are growing up when they won’t want to study. But the aim should be to make study something to be enjoyed, not forced.
A Sense Of Community
Too many young people these days are focused on themselves. And, given the pressure to do well in education, can you blame them? One of the consequences of this is that they are not focused on the world or the community around them. At college, this means that teens make it harder to make friends and establish satisfying relationships. That’s why teen mission trips can be so useful. Here teens learn about concepts of justice and fairness. And they get to interact with other people in their community and do their bit for the environment.
Teens are used to having food prepared for them. And that’s all well and good – until, of course, they go to college. Once they get there, their inability to cook really begins to show. And this then means that they end up spending money on takeaways and putting on weight.
Cooking is an essential life skill. It’s something we all need to master if we’re going to lead longer and healthier lives. And it’s something that’s crucial for young people when they get to college. Food is an important part of our culture. And so students who can cook are often at the centre of student social life.
Being able to cook your own food at college can also be a great comfort. You get to eat homemade meals away from home with the added bonus of saving money.