About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 688 posts from scratch.

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Scholarship Friday: Frame My Future Scholarship


The 2015 Frame My Future Scholarship Contest is  currently accepting applications. The prizes are as follows:

  • frame my future scholarship1 Grand Prize Winner – $1,000 scholarship, $1,000 donation check to winner’s 2015 attended college/university, and a commemorative Frame My Future frame
  • 4 Scholarship Winners – $1,000 scholarship and commemorative Frame My Future frame
  • 19 Finalists – commemorative Frame My Future frame

How do I apply?

To apply, you must create an original creative image (a photograph, collage, poem, drawing, etc.). 24 Finalists will be chosen to move on to a one-month public voting phase. Church Hill Classics will select 22 of the Finalists based on the judging criteria, and two of the Finalists will be selected based on Fan Favorite criteria.


Applicant eligibility is fairly broad. To apply, you must be:

  • Attending a US college or university full-time for the 2015-2016 academic year (including community college, undergraduate or graduate school)
  • A legal US resident

Application and deadline

You can apply online. The deadline is March 3, 2015 .

Is Cheating the SAT Easier With Today’s Technology?


SATThere has been scandal after scandal of students cheating in recent years. And believe it or not, they are doing it on standardized tests for college. Why do students do it? Is it easy? What do they have to lose? Is cheating the SAT easier with today’s technology?

Peter Wayner, in “SAT Sneak Attack” addresses these questions and more. In his short ebook he uncovers how a group of elite students use tools that are allowed by the College Board, and by repurposing them, get close to that elusive perfect score. It’s not a “how-to” cheat book but it looks at how easy it is to cheat and what motivates students to cheat on the SAT. You might be very surprised as a parent to read some of those techniques.

They take advantage of the proctors and their lack of interest during the tests. And, using the fact that the tests allow the use of calculators during the test, they reprogram calculators. In his book, Wayner notes:

One web site distributes the “SAT Operating System” that solves SAT problems and the little counter on the web site says that 2901 copies have been downloaded at this writing. That’s just a lower bound because it’s one of dozens that are offering the tool. Once the files are downloaded, kids can pass them around or load them on the machines of their friends. It’s fair to say that there many thousands of copies of just this free version.

While you’re not supposed to use your calculator during the verbal sections of the SAT, the proctors often don’t notice. If they happen to be patrolling, some students say the trick is to write the verbal questions down on their scratch paper and then return to them during the math section that comes later.

Wayner offers some suggestions on how to fix the problem as well. It’s an easy read and it will shed some light on how easy it is to hack the SAT.

You can get the book here:  http://www.satsneakattack.com/buy.html

Preparing For a Career in Finance


career in financeAs a parent, you obviously want your children to achieve success in their education and careers. It is often easy to guide your children when they follow your example, but when they show aptitude in subjects and topics in which you are unfamiliar, then it can be difficult to know how to help.

This guide provides you with practical advice to ensure your son or daughter will be fully prepared to enter the competitive and rewarding world of finance.

Why should you help?

Some parents take the attitude that once their children reach higher education it is time to stand back and allow them to find their own paths. However, many young adults in school have little idea about how the working world operates, and while colleges and universities provide some career advice, it usually comes from scholars who have spent most of their working lives in academia.

By taking an active role in preparing your children for their careers, you will greatly increase the chances of them landing a role that will offer excellent prospects for the future.

How you can help

There are many ways to prepare your children for a career in finance, such as understanding more about their education and interests and how this may fit opportunities. Start by talking about what their main interests are in finance. The financial industry requires more than just accountants and investment managers. Firms require business development managers, client service executives, data analysts, human resource managers, IT systems support, and marketing officers.

After gathering details from your children, begin researching the career paths that will allow them to reach their goals. To achieve the best positions in finance, they will need to obtain financial certificates and further qualifications. Students who begin studying for these qualifications as soon as they graduate will give an excellent impression to prospective employers.

The best way to determine which courses are required is to review job listings and read the qualifications. Many websites will list the latest opportunities, and the qualifications and experience required for each role.

Many roles ask for candidates to have knowledge and practical experience with specific computer packages; many of these can be studied online and courses can provide a good foundation in using them.

Although your child will not beat out somebody with several years of experience, in the recruitment process, they may well come across as the best of all graduates, if they can demonstrate they are familiar with the computer systems used.

Teach interview skills

Interview skills are possibly the most important part of landing a good career. How a person performs in 30 minutes in a room with two total strangers can determine his or her entire career.

What many students do not appreciate is that an interview is an opportunity to sell themselves; this is where you can help. Encourage your children to list all of their most positive aspects, their best skills, and their educational strengths and get them to talk candidly about these.

People who can casually talk about their best aspects come across as being confident, articulate, and professional. An interview is not the time to highlight to an employer all the things that you do not know; it is a time to sell yourself as an asset they cannot afford to lose to a competitor.

What companies are the best?

This is one of the most common questions asked by parents. Many people assume the best companies must be the huge financial organizations that are in the news every week. Although J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America Corp, and Citigroup are the largest in America, they do not necessarily offer the best career prospects; competition within the banking industry is extremely tough and they all take on hundreds of graduates each year.

It is often better to look to the smaller investment companies that provide a more bespoke and personal approach. In a smaller company, it is often easier to impress and rise through the ranks to board level, which is ultimately most people’s ambition.

Some excellent local opportunities that are an ideal match for your child may be available, so research the local area. Small regional offices can often be a great place to start a rewarding career in finance.

Supporting your children during this time is a challenge, but with a little information and some research, you can help guide them and hopefully they will land the career they have been dreaming of, or at least, the one they would have been dreaming of, had they known what opportunities were out there.

Wednesday’s Parent: The Dreaded Group Projects


group projectsThese adages speak to the potential groups have to be more productive, creative, and motivated than individuals on their own. Ask students and they are going to say, “I hate group projects”. Teachers love them, students dread them.

5 Reasons Why Students Dread Group Projects

  • There’s always a slacker in the group that hides behind the good students
  • There’s usually one grade for the whole project
  • Teachers usually assign the groups and it’s hard working with people you don’t know
  • Coordinating time to work on the project is difficult
  • Agreeing on ideas and content always causes conflict

5 Reasons Why Teachers Assign Group Projects

  • Break complex tasks into parts and steps
  • Plan and manage time
  • Refine understanding through discussion and explanation
  • Tackle more complex problems than they could on their own
  • Develop new approaches to resolving differences.

While the potential learning benefits of group work are significant, group projects are no guarantee that these goals will be achieved. In fact, group projects can – and often do – backfire badly when they are not designed, supervised, and assessed in a way that promotes meaningful teamwork and deep collaboration.

No matter how much a student detests the group project, they will get them in college. Learning to handle them now, will alleviate a ton of heartache later down the road.

To do this, read Wendy’s post: 7 Ways to Get the Best Out of Group Projects


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.

Mom-Approved Tips: Planning for an Informed College Choice


college choiceBuilding off of the fabulous and informative articles about the economics of choosing a college featured earlier this month (Payscale’s 2015 College Salary Report and Mom Approved Tips: How to Choose a College), I want to share with you a simple system to help you make this huge decision and an informed college choice.

1. Schedule Time in Your Calendar to Implement the System

The first step in any system is scheduling time to implement it. Set aside an hour this week to start working through the following steps. This can be done as a family or by the student. The key to not getting overwhelmed by the process is taking it one little step at a time. Break down each task into small, easy to accomplish tasks, and you’ll be done before you know it.

2. Start with a Large List and Narrow it Down

You are much better off with a long list than a short list of colleges. Remember when you are deciding which college to attend it will have been three-six months since you were applying. A lot can change in that amount of time, so you want to make sure you have enough options to make the best decision. I recommend students have a final list of 8-10 schools. If applying to that many schools is a financial burden for you and your family, remember you can always request application fee waivers. You can do this my writing the college directly or check out the College Board or NACAC for more information on the standard application fee waiver requests.

To get down to those 8-10 schools, start with a much larger list. Put any school on the list that even piques your interest. Spend time browsing the net and talking to friends, family, teachers, and counselors. Don’t limit yourself. Just write everything down right now. You want to make a large list and then focus on narrowing it down by asking yourself the following questions.

3. What do you want to do after you graduate?

Do you have a particular career or major in mind? Spend your time researching the best undergrad programs. See which schools your dream companies recruit from. Are there intern or co-op programs? You can use the Payscale Best Schools by Majors list shared last week to help you. You can also look at rankings for different majors.

Maybe you are unsure about what you want to do after you graduate. That’s OK! You just might want to steer clear of very specific programs. For example, if you’re on the fence about engineering, you don’t want to have a list of exclusively engineering schools.

Look at your list and cross off any schools that don’t offer the major(s) you’re interested in. Put the schools with the best programs at the top of the list. Be sure to take a look at the companies that recruit from and attend the career fairs of the colleges on your list. Not many students or their parents do this, but it is probably one of the biggest factors for how easy or difficult your future job search will be.

4. What are the economics of your choice?

I specifically don’t want you to think about what your “budget” is or how much the college costs. You need to look at the whole picture. What sort of financial aid and scholarship packages do the schools offer? What are your parents able and willing to contribute? Use Katie’s advice to broach the subject. What is your potential starting salary? What are your potential lifetime earnings? WRITE IT ALL DOWN. Use this wizard to figure out how much student loan debt is reasonable for you. Use the Payscale information to get median salaries for different careers.

For example, if your dream job is teaching middle school, your salary will likely be in the $30,000-$60,000 range during your lifetime. So you need to consider if spending $200,000 on your education will be too big of burden. If so, cross those hefty price tag schools off your list.

On the other hand, if your dream job is a petroleum engineer for a big oil company, I would consider spending more money on a school with a strong program that has relationships with all the big companies over a school that’s cheaper but doesn’t have any oil companies going to their career fairs. Put the schools with the applicable company connections at the top of your list.

5. Where do you want to live and study?

Location, location, location. It can be a big factor in your enjoyment of college, the expense, and the ease of your future job search. It’s definitely easier to get a job in the city or area where you go to school. If you know you want to work in a particular city or region, check out the schools there. You’ll be able to build your network while in school, making the job search process a breeze.

Maybe you know you want to go to school in the South, Midwest, or Coasts. Keep in mind there are additional expenses if you go to school far from home (flights home, storage between semesters, etc.). Cross off any schools on your list in regions or cities you know you don’t want to spend four years of your life. Move schools in your ideal regions/cities to the top of your list.

6. Will I like spending the next four years there?

Are you big city or small town? Do you need to be close to family or want to break out on your own? Is Greek life important? How did you feel when you visited the school?

Do you have any friends or family who went to a school and loved it? If they have similar likes and dislikes to you, their opinion is very valuable. Ask them why exactly they like the school. Are their reasons important to you?

I had a mother ask me this very question. Her daughter visited a school and wasn’t crazy about it. This year her friend is going there and loves it, which is making her reconsider the school. Typically we’re friends with people who are similar to us and have similar likes and dislikes. I think your friend’s experience is actually more pertinent than a visit, especially if it was a visit you took during the summer. It’s hard to get a feel for a school by going on a campus tour when most of the students are gone. Ask your friend why she loves it. Even better, visit your friend at school if you can. You might even be able to catch a class or two with her. Use this information to cross off the schools where you know you won’t enjoy your time. Make sure the top 10 schools on your list are places you’d like spending the next four years.

Action Steps:

  1. Start your list today!
  2. Research schools based on majors/careers.
  3. Use this wizard  to figure out how much student loan debt is reasonable for you. Use Payscale  to get median salaries for different careers.
  4. Talk to people! Your friends, family, and mentors can all help you to decide on your final list. Just remember to ask questions to find out why they like the schools they like.
  5. Narrow down your list to the top 8-10 schools.
  6. Comment or email me with any questions. If you are looking for resources to help you craft the best application to get you into those 8-10 schools, get my four-step Base Brainstorming Workbook and 7-page GPA Boot Camp for FREE!


Jessica YeagerToday’s guest post is from Jessica Yeager, a grad of Harvard and MIT, and a tutor and college coach for high-achieving students and their parents at Impress the Ivies. You can get her Base Brainstorming Workbook & GPA Boot Camp for free.