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Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 830 posts from scratch.

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10 Snippets of Advice About College I Wish I Had Given My Daughter


advice about collegeWhen my daughter left for college she had just barely turned 18. Not only was she young, but she was attending a college over 2000 miles away from home. I was afraid for her; very afraid. She was entering a world of the unknown: she had no friends, had never spent time away from home, and was going to experience a completely different culture than what she was used to.

Not only was she young and inexperienced, so was I. I did not attend college. I had no idea what to expect. I also had no idea what she would be facing. We both jumped into deep water without a life jacket. I have since then become a seasoned parent and now know what words of advice about college I wish I had told her before she left home.

1. Choose your friends wisely

Most people who attended college will tell you that the friends they made in college stayed with them after graduation. For my daughter, that was true. Your choice of friends will dictate your study habits, your social life and even your future job prospects.

2. Make studying a priority

If you don’t study in college you will fail. College is much more difficult than high school. The reading is extensive, the homework can be overwhelming, and the study requirements can be brutal. Find a study plan that works for you and stick to it. Your good grades will be your reward.

3. Soak up every bit of knowledge

It’s true when they say colleges are institutions of higher learning. But you have to pay attention, be motivated to study, and do the work. The knowledge won’t just soak in, you have to do your part.

4. Don’t waste a moment of your time there

College is a world of opportunity: from social activity, to academic pursuit, to Greek life, to on-campus sports, plays, and concerts. Sitting in your dorm room after your classes and studying are done for the day is just wasting the time you spend there. Get involved, meet new people, and take advantage of all the free opportunities on campus.

5. Leave the past behind

Your friends (and boyfriend or girlfriend) back home will often bring you down. My daughter learned this after the first month of college. They begged her to leave college and come home. Even though attending this college was her dream, she had not moved on. It took some very tough love to keep her in school. She thanks me every day that I stood firm.

6. Start planning for graduation the day you set foot on campus

Four years will pass quickly. Inquire about internships, make connections with alumni, and visit the career center. Most students don’t even start thinking about jobs after graduation until senior year. When graduation day arrives, you will be prepared for a career.

7. Handle roommate issues immediately

Passive/aggressive behavior will make your life miserable. When you recognize a problem, address it. Much of the angst my daughter experienced with roommates could have been avoided if she had simply had a conversation. For the worst problems, go to the RA for mediation.

8. Drink responsibly and always be aware of the consequences of your actions

Every college is a party school. From the day my daughter stepped foot on campus she was offered alcohol. Yes, it was illegal. Yes, the administration frowned on it. But the reality is there will always be drinking on campus. Excessive drinking can cause all sorts of regrettable behavior. Always be aware of the consequences of your actions.

9. Get to know your professors

Your professors are key players in your college success. Establish relationships with them and cultivate them. You might need them for tutoring help, and you will definitely need them for job connections after graduation.

10. Enjoy every moment; those memories are priceless

The memories my daughter made in college are some of her most treasured memories. Her sorority sisters, her study abroad experiences, her trips with friends, and some of her most admired professors and mentors live in those memories. She still, to this day, after almost 10 years, talks about her college experiences with the greatest joy.

Is Your Student Considering a Career in Nursing?


nursingObamacare is changing the face of healthcare, and with it the nursing profession. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering this field.


An LPN is one of the most widely-recognized types of nursing degrees out there. LPNs are licensed practical nurses and perform a variety of tasks under supervision of an RN. They administer medication to patients, check vitals, and give injections. They can also take blood.


A registered nurse, or “RN,” is what you probably think of when you think of a nurse. It’s an individual with an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. They often assist physicians in hospitals and have extensive job responsibilities that can include management. But, they are also responsible for hands-on care of patients.

Clinical Specialist

A clinical nurse specialist is an advanced practice nurse. This type of nurse is proficient in diagnosing and treating illnesses within a specialized niche. These types of degrees are available through online colleges in Florida or specialized nursing schools.

A clinical nurse can focus on patients and families, staff management, or administration. They are often placed in leadership roles because of their extensive medical knowledge.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner might work under the supervision of a doctor, but more and more of them are becoming autonomous and taking on the role of a physician. NPs can diagnose and treat diseases, prescribe medicine, and initiate treatment plans for patients. This is basically the nurse equivalent of a medical doctor.

Nurse Case Manager

A nurse case manager coordinates long-term care for elderly or disabled patients who need long-term skilled nursing care.

They often choose to specialize in treating people with diseases like cancer or the elderly.


Getting your PhD in nursing almost always means you’re headed into teaching or some kind of educational role. A PhD in nursing is heavy on theoretical knowledge, but also allows a nurse to gain a deeper understanding of the practical application of the nursing profession.

Travel Registered Nurse

This type of nurse works in temporary jobs across the country or in foreign countries, sometimes for weeks at a time, and even years at a time. Travel nurses may perform many of the same duties as a traditional RN, but often work for an agency that needs to supplement core staff at a facility.

Staff Nurse

A staff nurse works in a variety of different settings, including rehab centers psychiatric wards, ICUs and critical care, and outpatient facilities. They often provide direct care to patients and administer medications, perform IV therapy and assist LPNs and RNs.

Emergency Room/Triage Nurse

This type of nurse treats patients in an ER, and often works with trauma victims, though many types of individuals enter an ER and a triage nurse needs to be quick on his or her feet in order to address emergency and life-threatening situations. The job is stressful, but the pay is commensurate. If you don’t mind working in constant chaos, this job is for you.


Audrey Lovett works in a senior role involved with medical recruitment. She likes to be able to share her insights and experiences with an online audience. Her thoughts have been published across a variety of different websites.

Scholarship Friday: My Best 3 Tips for Finding Scholarships


tips for finding scholarshipsA mom on Twitter asked me where to start searching for scholarship money. It’s hard to answer that question in 140 characters, but as I was crafting the tweet, I realized there are three basic tips for finding scholarships:

1. Search locally

The best place and the easiest place to find scholarships is to search locally. Not only is it an easy search, but the odds of winning are far greater since there is a much smaller applicant pool. Check with your local librarian for a list of organizations that offer scholarships. Watch the news and read the paper for scholarship award announcements and winners.

2. Ask your high school counselor

Counselors have multiple scholarships come across their desk on a daily basis. You can check the school website as well. But don’t just stop there. Look at other high school websites in your area for scholarship postings.

3. Follow my blog and READ my Scholarship Friday posts

Most every week I provide scholarship search tips and often scholarship awards on my blog. You can also do a search for “scholarships” and find websites that can help you with your scholarship search.

But, don’t stop there. Get on social media! Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook are great resources for locating scholarship money.


The Summer Before Middle School (10 Tips for Moms)


middle schoolEntering middle school is a huge transition for students. They go from one classroom to multiple classrooms, lockers, multiple teachers, and more homework. The summer before your student begins middle school is the perfect time to begin preparation for the future. Although it might seem premature to start thinking about college, it’s never too early. Your child needs a strong middle school foundation in order to take the high school courses that colleges expect of a college-bound student.

A national survey by Harris Interactive found that while 92% of seventh- and eighth-graders said they were likely to attend college, 68% said they had little or no information about which classes to take to prepare for it. The National Association for College Admission Counseling emphasizes that parents should begin planning for college in middle school.

Here are 10 tips to jumpstart the middle school transition:


1. Broach the subject of college

By no means is it the time to push for Harvard or Yale, or any other specific college. But it is important to discuss goals, interests, and career aspirations. Once you start the discussion, it will make it easier to see how these interests can translate into a college and career plan.


2. Amp up your involvement in the school

Once your child has moved past grade school, parents often see this as a time to become less involved. However, this is the time your student needs your encouragement and guidance. He will be making decisions about course selection, struggling with academics, and searching for electives and extracurricular activities that will require your input. Ask the counselor to evaluate your student’s school test scores and identify any areas of weakness that might require extra tutoring. Be involved and be vocal when necessary.

3. Be prepared for course selection

The courses your student takes in middle school will prepare him for high school. Make sure he takes math and science courses that prepare him for advanced courses in high school. In addition, he should take English every year, as many history classes as possible, any computer courses that are offered, and foreign language electives. If your student is interested in music, sports, or art, middle school is the time to explore those interests. In order to take the advanced course in high school that colleges require, he should prepare for those in middle school.

4. Create a plan to pay for college

Don’t wait until the college offers of admission arrive to think about how you’re going to pay for it. Do your homework and start aggressively saving if possible. There are also other ways to fund college like scholarships, taking AP classes, dual credit classes at a community college, and taking summer courses for college credit. Begin researching all these options and take advantage of all of them; but in order to do it, your student must be prepared.

5. Encourage reading

Reading is the best preparation for standardized testing and high school reading assignments. Reading also improves vocabulary and writing skills. You can make this a family goal by reading the same book and having a discussion or adding vocabulary words to the family dinner discussion.

6. Make a study plan

You student will 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 provide the necessary study materials before school begins. Discuss how important it is to get help if needed and encourage him to let you know if he’s struggling so you can help him get tutoring if needed.

7. Explore extracurriculars

Middle school is the perfect time to start exploring extracurriculars. Once your student finds one that interests him, he can carry it on into high school. Colleges look for consistency in this area and if the student finds his interest in middle school, he can begin his high school years focused and committed to that one activity.

8. Plan some nearby college visits

It’s never too early to visit colleges. Schedule some nearby college visits. It can be a family affair; even a mini-vacation. Early college visits will help your student get accustomed to the college environment and a feel for what college life is like.

9. Look at high school programs

Investigate the programs at the high school or schools your student might attend. Do they offer AP classes, honors classes, or college prep courses? Are there opportunities for creative options like art and music? Does the school have a strong college network of counselors and advisors? These questions can guide you as you prepare for the next step—high school.

10. Start the organization process

Create a filing system for all future college-related information. There will be scholarship applications, college information, school calendars, and more. Set up a landing zone and a filing cabinet to keep all these documents organized.

It’s time to begin your homework to make college affordable for your student and your family. Apart from the obvious of financial planning, you should research all the nuances of college admissions—standardized testing, financial aid, college visits, college searches, academics and extracurriculars. It takes time to research and consider all your options. The days of waiting until senior year of high school are over.

2 Fantastic Online Resources for Teenage Girls Entering High School


Entering a new school is hard enough, but add on the difficulties that come with being a teenage girl and starting high school begins to feel truly daunting. While family, friends, and school counselors can offer much needed support, there are also some great online tools that can help young girls cope with the transition from middle school to high school. Here are two websites that every girl can rely on during her pivotal teen years:

teenage girls

photo courtesy of Pixabay 

Rookie Mag

Although there is no perfect guidebook for dealing with the complexities and challenges of being a teenager, the online publication Rookie Mag offers a tremendous amount of useful and fun information for girls. Rookie’s numerous post topics cover everything from combating insecurity, to dealing with friendship drama, to music recommendations, to DIY craft guides. The site’s eclectic writing and editorial team features females of varying ages and backgrounds, which helps make it an incredibly inclusive and comprehensive magazine. All teen girls can benefit from the candor and positive advice found on Rookie Mag.

PBS Digital Studios

teenage girlsWhile magazines like Rookie can help girls cope with the social and emotional problems they may face during high school, other online resources can help foster their intellect. One such tool is PBS Digital Studios, an educational program consisting of several different video blogs. For teens having a hard time relating to certain teachers or staying focused in class, the hosts of PBS digital shorts make learning entertaining with their funny and informative videos that cover various topics like nature, history, and pop culture. It is an especially wonderful resource for girls interested in subjects stereotypically considered more popular with boys, like science or video games. PBS Digital Studios is a virtual place where teenage girls can access news and facts that may not reach them in their actual classrooms. The series encourages all viewers to geek out and get nerdy about learning, regardless of their gender or age.



While some adults may lament on how today’s youth spend too much time online, the Internet does give teens access to some wonderfully engaging and intellectually stimulating resources. For teenage girls, certain websites and blogs can offer inviting and safe spaces for them to explore topics that either feel closed off to them or uncomfortable to talk about in real life. Virtual tools like Rookie Mag and PBS Digital Studios can help female students avoid feeling overwhelmed or isolated from the social, emotional, and intellectual demands of high school.


Javaher Nooryani is a writer 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 tutor, Javaher is passionate about higher education and is glad to share her knowledge on CollegeFocus, a website that helps students deal with the challenges of college.