About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 791 posts from scratch.

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Degrees That Work: A Working World Within a College


This week I continue my series on Degrees That Work—a look at Pennsylvania College of Technology. Take a visual walk with me across the campus and you will see there are labs; and then there are labs.

Anyone who has ever been to high school or college has done lab work related to a class. But as I mentioned previously, Penn College is no ordinary college. What does that mean? The labs on their campus are no ordinary labs. It’s one thing to add a lab to coursework days after the subject is studied. It’s another thing to use the lab for hands-on training and experience immediately after learning about it in the classroom.

Penn College has taken this concept and turned it into a well oiled, rock star training, job securing, life-altering education.

penn college constructionThese labs simulate the working world

It may be hard to visualize the scope of these on-campus labs, but imagine several mini-worlds all operating under one roof. You have a chef’s kitchen, fully equipped with students taught by professional chefs and a fully staffed restaurant serving their culinary creations. Across the campus you have a construction zone with miniature houses from foundation to roof, with plumbing, electrical, and trim work all being completed by the students. In another facility on campus you have welding cubicles where each student has the opportunity to practice his craft with real-world simulations on pipes and fittings. Walk down a long corridor and you find yourself in a full automotive diagnostic room and automotive bay with actual vehicles and students solving electrical and mechanical problems.

Off campus on separate facilities you can find an aviation hangar with every flying craft imaginable from a helicopter, to a small single engine plane, to a private jet, to a commercial airliner donated by FedEx. A short drive down the road there is a forestry department with actual logging facilities, greenhouses, and several working oil rigs used to train students for the oil industry.

penn college degrees that workThese labs teach students how to deal with real world problems and issues

Students are given hands-on experience dealing with and diagnosing problems as their education progresses. By providing students with actual problems, Penn College teaches them to master these problems and find solutions before they enter the workforce. The automotive training requires students disassemble and reassemble a complete engine, diagnosing any problems that might occur upon reassembly. The aviation training gives student actual simulation experiences with warning lights, faulty wires, and instrument malfunctions.

Have you ever wished that the student nurse trying to draw blood had actually practiced on a live human before you? Penn College solved this problem with their SIMM family. Students in their health science program get the opportunity to practice using this SIMM family. These simulations cover everything from live childbirth (I got to experience this!) to caring for the rest of the family. Instructors can simulate illnesses and emergency situations that might arise during a healthcare situation. This SIMM family is like no other in any education training program.

degrees that workThese labs prepare students to enter the workforce as fully trained employees

Once students graduate from Penn College they can hit the ground running. It’s not necessary for employers to train them on basic techniques or skills. They are familiar with equipment, tools, practices and techniques used to work at their chosen career immediately after graduation. Employers hire Penn College students because they know these students have been trained properly and are familiar with their products, services, and equipment.

penn college chefsThese labs spawn creativity, innovation, and confidence

Students from Penn College compete in competitions all across the country. They are challenged to search for ways to solve common problems and push the boundaries using the skills and techniques they learn in these labs. Manufacturing engineering technology students have spent the past year constructing, from scratch, a battery pack intended for lithium batteries and an electric car. Just recently, Penn College student chefs helped prepare the Kentucky Derby feast for 140,000 fans. Students are encouraged to move beyond the basic textbook knowledge and find ways to improve the working world with the skills and technology they receive from a Penn College education.

Watch this short video to see why students love the working world within Penn College:

If you missed the first article in the series, click here–>Degrees That Work: One College’s Best Kept Secret

Scholarship Friday: 3 Social Media Scholarship Strategies


social media scholarship strategiesYour teens live on social media (and you do too!) Why not parlay some of that recreational social media time into a productive scholarship search? These three social media scholarship strategies can add some scholarship dollars to your college fund!


Looking for scholarships? Why not use your Facebook time to your advantage. All you have to do is “like” some Facebook scholarship pages and watch the scholarship information fill your timeline.

Here are 10 Facebook pages that dispense regular scholarship information:



Pinterest is an excellent place to find scholarships. If you follow these boards, you could unearth some scholarships, get scholarship tips, and gather a wealth of scholarship information. If you aren’t on Pinterest, you should be. It’s easy to follow these scholarship boards—just click on the links and start gathering scholarships.



Twitter 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



Finding a Job: How to Help Your Student Be a Perfect Match

Teens go to great lengths to find and win the perfect match to share their personal lives, even during high school and onto college. Just as there are interpersonal relationships in social circles, you and your teen might not realize there are personality interactions in the workplace. Prospective employers are looking for the worker they deem to be the best fit for their company’s personality and aspirations. When your teen graduates from college and can show the hiring managers that he is the one they are seeking, the search will be over. To bring about this intended match, think of the future job hunt as a courtship and picture your student’s resume as the missive suitor.

finding a jobAnnounce Availability

Social networks afford wonderful opportunities to get the word out about your job search, even starting with internships. Join groups and link to professional associations that can share your capabilities in areas of interest that may be outside your geographic sphere. This broadens your scope and increases the chances of finding the right match for your skills. It also provides networking opportunities which will help later as your job search becomes more focused. Once you locate a desirable prospect, you can begin your courtship.

Get to Know Your Intended

When one person finds another to be of interest, all efforts are centered on discovering likes and dislikes and understanding important relationship parameters. In the same way, when looking for a job, the applicant needs to understand the specific desires of the prospective employer. As you begin to personalize your resume for the opening, read the job description carefully. Do extensive research on the company and learn its purpose and major accomplishments. Find out what its long-term goals are. The more you know, the better you will be able to match your skills with the company’s needs and pique the interest of the hiring staff.

Turn the Resume Into a Matchmaker

Armed with the information from your study, craft your resume to pair your skills and experience with the requirements listed for the position. Show your recent accomplishments that exhibit proof of desired qualifications shown in the advertisement for the opening, along with any internship experience. When completed, your resume should read like answers to the employer’s job search questions, so that once the hiring staff picks up your information, they need look no further.

Become Irresistible

In all your interactions with the company, whether by resume, cover letter, phone conversation, or face-to-face interview, pay careful attention to interpersonal relationships. You want to make an unforgettable, positive impression in every instance so that all the hiring staff will see the importance of bringing you into their workplace.

Clinch the Deal

Although a job search is no romantic courtship, the rules of human attraction work in much the same way. By approaching the hiring process as a quest for the ideal relationship, you can make your application more relevant to the needs of the workplace. Your expectations become more clearly defined through your efforts and your student’s future employer enjoys the benefits of having hired the perfect candidate for the job.

Wednesday’s Parent: Scoring FREE Pre-College Costs


pre-college costsEvery parent knows about tuition, room, board, books, and other college-related expenses once your student is accepted. But what about the costs prior to being accepted to college? How can your score some fee waivers, free advice, and free tutoring. Let’s face it—every little bit helps when you are saving for a college education and cutting these costs can put more in the college savings piggy bank!

Fee Waivers

With all the standardized tests, AP exams, and college application fees, those fees can add up. Not everyone qualifies for fee waivers, but it’s worth asking.

On top of those fee waivers, there are colleges that don’t require application fees:

America’s 25 Top Colleges With No Application Fees


348 Colleges with Free College Application Fees


Free Advice

If you have a computer or a smartphone, your resources are limitless. You can search on Facebook, browse Pinterest, and ask any question you might have on Twitter. You can also attend Twitter Chats to get free advice from the experts. You would be surprised how many are willing to offer their expert advice for free.

Here are a few resources that can help:

50 College Info Websites


50 More College Prep Websites


25 School Counselors to Follow on Twitter


25 + 25 Twitter Accounts Every Parent Should Follow


Why You Should Attend Twitter Chats


10 Facebook Pages Every Parent Should Like


How to Use Pinterest for College Prep


Free Tutoring

Most every student needs tutoring help at some point during high school. Complicated subjects like calculus, physics, chemistry and others can stump even the brightest students. Before you opt to pay for a tutor, check out the high school’s tutoring department, talk to a teacher or ask for students who are tutoring as part of their volunteer service.

You can also check out these smartphone resources to give your student some added help:

Writing and Research Apps


8 History Apps


10 Math Apps


10 Study Apps for Students


SAT Prep to Your Smartphone


For a list of pre-college costs and how they can save you money in the long run, read Wendy’s post:

7 Pre-College Costs That Can Lead to Big Savings Later


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 pocsmom.com and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Parent vs Student Reasoning


parent vs student reasoningThe stress of the college admissions season weighs heavy on your college-bound teen. I read an old NY Times blog article that went inside the mind of a college-bound teen by asking them exactly what they were feeling and thinking. Students voiced their concerns related to college prep; but what would the parents say? What is the parent vs student reasoning?


Students may seem fearless at times, but as they approach the final months of high school fear sets in. One teen, Phoebe Lett, 16 talks about how she feels as a junior.

“I fear for my rapidly approaching senior year. Should I really spend nine hours a night on school work? As I rack up as many extracurriculars, community service hours and “beneficial relationships” (college-prep speak for impressive recommendations), I can’t help but think that it’s not good enough. Better grades, higher scores, more varsity letters, more leads in the play: have I been bulking up an application that perhaps doesn’t reflect who I am, but instead just represents what a college wants from me? That is my true fear.”

Parents, on the other hand, feel fear as well. They fear their student will experience rejection on so many levels. Along with this, they fear their student won’t make the right college choice and regret it later.


The pressure they feel is of paramount proportions. This pressure will be exhibited in all kinds of emotions from tears, to anger, to denial to frustration. Robin Karlin, 17 felt the pressure of failing.

“Around the application deadline you’re studying for finals, and it’s your senior year. You already have a lot of classes and you have to write essays and you’re already stressed out thinking “what if they don’t want me?’’ And you worry what if you don’t get into any school at all? I’m not from a big city. We have pretty good schools, but I think in a bigger city with more people you have more perspective on where you stand in the nation. I’m not really sure how good I am.”

Parents feel pressure as well—from other parents, from themselves and sometimes from the students as well. Other parents can make them feel inadequate. They feel pressure when it comes to the finances related to college. They also feel pressure from their student when they choose a college that is out of their financial reach.


If your student hasn’t experienced rejection, get ready. There’s a strong possibility some of the colleges they apply to won’t offer them admission. Sam Werner, 18, felt disappointment when the rejection letters started arriving.

“Everyone I had talked to, once they heard “perfect SAT,” they said, “You can get in anywhere.” That was the hardest part, having everyone tell me I would and then not getting in. It was a rough few days. The rejection letters and my parents both kept telling me it’s not a case of me not being good enough, but a case of too many qualified applicants. But it’s really hard not to feel like you got rejected….”

Parents feel the same rejection students feel when they aren’t offered admission—perhaps more. It’s hard to watch your student do their best, only to realize they didn’t achieve their goal (through no fault of their own).

Relieving some of the pressure

College admission is how students (and parents) define their success. Years down the road, you will see that some of those rejections probably sent you and your student into better directions. In the meantime, recognize your feelings and empathize with your student. You can both weather the college admissions storm together.

Read Wendy’s Post: How Parents and Students Can Be on the Same Page


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 pocsmom.com and vice versa.