Scholarship Friday: 5 Uncommon Ways to Find and Win Scholarships


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

Conventional Scholarship Search

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

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


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

Stay Employed With These College Majors


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

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

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

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

The children are our future

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

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

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

Digital love

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

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

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

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

Get arty

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

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

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

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


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

Where did we start?

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

How did she choose?

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

What did we learn?

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

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

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


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

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

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

Mom-Approved Tips: Internship Available



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

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

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

Here’s the link to apply:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Getting Organized: A Key Element of College Prep


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

List making and checklist

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

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

Create a dedicated and organized work space

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

Dedicated set times of study

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

When considering college

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

Understanding and keeping deadlines

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


Scholarship Friday: 20 Twitter Scholarship Accounts to Follow


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

10 Twitter Handles to Help with your Scholarship Search

10 More Twitter Handles to Help with your Scholarship Search

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

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

Campus Steps: A Free Resource for Students and Parents


campus stepsCampus Steps, the first free platform for students, parents and counselors to connect, communicate and navigate the road to higher education, launched recently. The company is being incubated by Campus Explorer, a leader in college recruitment technology in partnership with developers from Learning Core, which provides integrated school communication and content delivery systems.

Campus Steps addresses the nation’s broken college preparedness system. Nearly 75 percent of high schools lack online counseling technology solutions that can fundamentally improve the success of college and vocational school-bound students. For every 477 students, there is just one counselor and the average student receives less than 30 minutes of college counseling over their entire high school career. According to the American Psychological Association, high school students are now considered the most stressed-out age group with 80 percent of their stress related to workload.

“Students lack the critical support they need to find the right college or vocational school,” said Mark Eastwood, general manager, Campus Steps. “Campus Steps brings transparency and empowerment to the college admissions process. Just as adults use Linkedin to manage their professional profiles, our goal is for students to use Campus Steps to manage and track their academic profiles.”

Campus Steps hosts multiple online and mobile ready apps to easily allow a student to keep tabs of their academics, search colleges, apply for colleges and communicate with their counselor via text or email. The platform matches students to colleges based on a database of more than 8,500 public and private four-year universities, community colleges and trade/vocational schools, regardless of their academic level, socioeconomic background or location.

Key apps for students include:

  • High School Resume – Students track academic info and accomplishments with a mobile friendly, easy to use tool. The Resume Score shows where a student stands compared to the national average.
  • College Matching – Discover new colleges with the personalized matching technology.
  • My College Goals Manager – Students create a college goal list and manage their application process all in one place.
  • Student Resources – Articles, resources and guides answer all college related questions.

Campus Steps also helps counselors better manage their workflow through setting appointments, automated messages and tracking their students’ college search and application plans.

About Campus Steps

Campus Steps is the first free platform with powerful apps for students, parents, and counselors to connect, communicate and navigate the road to higher education. The platform currently has 150,000 users and democratizes access to higher education, regardless of a student’s academic level, socioeconomic background or location. Based in Santa Monica, Calif., the company is being incubated by Campus Explorer, a leader in college recruitment technology in partnership with developers from Learning Core, which provides integrated school communication and content delivery systems. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook @CampusSteps and Twitter @CampusSteps.

Wednesday’s Parent: College Prep in Middle School


college prep in middle schoolMost parents don’t begin to think about college prep until junior or senior year of high school. But the problem with that strategy is that by that time you will be at the end of the line. While I’m certainly not a proponent of ramming the thought of college down your middle schooler’s throat, I do believe there are some tasks you should do for college prep in middle school.

I recently wrote an article for TeenLife on “How to Prepare for College Before High School”. Here’s an excerpt from the aticle:

In a Forbes article about preparing for college, Director of Admissions MaeBrown said, “Start preparing for college at grade six. ”That’s when parents and students should increase the focus on the final goal after high school graduation: college.

Start planning academics

Middle school students should begin planning their academic path that will carry into high school. Meet with the school counselor and discuss the courses that can be taken in middle school to prepare for high school, especially in the math and science categories. Many middle schools offer classes that were traditionally reserved for high school students. These math classes are required to take more advanced math classes in high school and to take science classes like chemistry and physics. In addition to taking math every year in middle school, your child should take:

  • English: Every year.
  • History (including geography) and science: As many classes as possible.
  • Foreign language: Many colleges require at least two years of a language, which your child can begin in middle school.

Because college work and many jobs now require computer skills, your child should also try to take advantage of any computer science classes offered in middle and high school. He’ll gain new skills and may discover a career path.

Read, read, read

Establish an environment at home that encourages reading. Students can start adding to their vocabulary by reading diversely. Tweens should be reading all types of books, articles, blogs and news articles. This increases their vocabulary, which is a strong component in essay writing and standardized tests. While you’re at it, why not make vocabulary building a family game by learning a word a day? There are lots of free subscription services that will email a word of the day.

Partner with your child’s educators

Middle school is the time parents tend to be less involved, but it’s the very time your child needs encouragement and guidance. Meet your child’s teachers, if you haven’t already done so, and make it clear that you want to be kept up to date about any changes in your child’s work or behavior.

Go over your child’s standardized test results with the counselor to identify strengths and weaknesses. Talk to the counselor about your child’s interests to see if there are electives and extracurricular activities that will help him develop his talents. If your child needs extra help or more challenging assignments in a subject, talk to the counselor about how to arrange it.

Start working on extracurriculars

A key ingredient in the college application is extracurriculars. Begin looking at areas that interest your child in middle school. Try out some volunteering, connect with a mentor for an internship, and explore hobbies and interests. If your child enters high school committed to one activity, it will be much easier to carry that through the next four years.

Read Wendy’s post: 3 Ways to Prep Middleschoolers for College Prep


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.

Veterans Day–Thanking Those Who Served


marinesAbout 30 years ago, my son came to me and said he wanted to join the Marines. You can imagine–as a mom my heart dropped. I felt pride and angst all at the same time.

My father was a World War II veteran and I always loved to hear his war stories. Of course, I’m sure he spared me the painful ones, but I know he had some.

I’m sitting here today, as are we all, because these men in my life served in the military to defend our freedom. It was a decision they made and it took great courage knowing they might pay the ultimate sacrifice. I will always have admiration and respect for our veterans.

What better way to honor our veterans than by sharing some of my favorite posts from my blog and from others:

Our Military Academies–How to apply

If your son or daughter is considering a military academy? There are numerous steps they will need to take before applying.

Is Military College Right for your Student?

For those students who don’t want to attend one of the five military academies, military colleges can be an excellent option.

Best Colleges for Veterans

Do you know a veteran who wants to attend college?

A Tribute to Vietnam Vets on Veterans Day

One of the most heartfelt posts I have ever read and an example for future generations of Americans

Thank a veteran for his or her service today. We owe them a debt of gratitude.


Mom-Approved Tips: Be Wise-Apply to Backup Schools


Being admitted into your first choice school is a challenge and not a guarantee. No matter how positive you are about your application, no matter how hard you’ve worked to be an ideal applicant, it is important not to assume that gaining admission to your top choice for college is a sure thing. But don’t get dejected or cynical! Here are three ways to increase your chances of being accepted by applying to backup schools.

backup schools

Photo Courtesy of Andre Lüd

Why You Should Apply to Backup Colleges

Rather than be overly confident or too doubtful during the college application process, try to balance your reason with your desire by applying to more than one school. The responsible way to deal with the possibility of being rejected from your first choice is to apply to backup schools. Applying to more colleges and keeping your options open will only increase your chances of being accepted somewhere. Since it is possible that you’ll get in to a backup school over your ideal school, it’s a good idea to take the time to consider several colleges that you’re interested in attending.

The Number of Colleges You Apply to Matters:

Application fees can be costly, but it’s a good idea to invest your time and funds on more than just a few applications. For most students, anywhere from 5-7 applications is a good number. If you under-apply, you run the risk of not getting in anywhere; if you over-apply, you may get overwhelmed and unable to complete the whole process.

Although quantity is vital in increasing your chances of getting in, the quality of your applications also affect your chances of being accepted. Many state schools have one application portal for every school location, which makes applying to more than one school easier. Regardless of whether you’re interested in public or private, try to apply to a manageable number of colleges without overexerting your energy.

Applying to the “Right” Colleges for You

When choosing backup schools to apply to, think thoroughly about major options, location, tuition fees, and each school’s unique application process. If you’re undecided about your major or open to changing it in the future, apply to schools that have many strong programs.

Even if you’re not adventurous, try to picture yourself living in more than one college town. Consider affordability and look for schools that have good scholarship or work study programs. Research what schools like in an applicant and how they accept students to see if you’re their ideal candidate. For instance, if you’re a poor test taker but have a high GPA or write great application essays, apply to colleges that rely more heavily on the latter.

 Photo Courtesy of Minh

Photo Courtesy of Minh

Bottom line: widen your educational horizons by keeping an open mind. When you apply to several schools, you give yourself the opportunity to have a variety of options or the chance to be surprised by your acceptances. It’s likely that the “right” college for you picks you rather than you pick it.

Due to intense competition and circumstances beyond your control, you may not get in to the college of your choice or be able to afford it. If you’re serious about higher education and gaining a degree, then be wise and apply to backup schools. If you want to make the best of your college experience, be open and pro-active during your application process.


Javaher Nooryani is a writer and editor based in Denver, CO. She has a BA in American Literature & Culture from UCLA and a Masters in English & American Literature from NYU. As a former private tutor and college prep advisor, Javaher is passionate about higher education and is happy to share her knowledge on CollegeFocus, a website that helps students deal with the challenges of college. You can follow CollegeFocus on Twitter and Facebook.