About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 816 posts from scratch.

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Get Your Dorm Room Organization On!


dorm organization

Who wouldn’t like a dorm makeover? Those dorm rooms are small, cramped and devoid of any style. If your college student is heading to college in the fall, you can sign up for the College Savings Weekend at their nearest store, students will be entered to win one of ten $1,000 Dorm Room Makeovers!  Don’t miss the Container Store’s Weekend event:


college dormAt The Container Store, we’ve been helping college-bound students and their families prepare for the big move-in for almost 37 years now!  We’ve also been hosting fun shopping events for over 20 years to help make the dorm prep process an easy A. No one focuses on dorm room organization like The Container Store does all year round – and especially during the summer months leading up to college move-in!!

This year we are SO excited to host a College Savings Weekend in our stores nationwide, Friday – Sunday, July 10 – 12, where college customers will receive 20% off their purchases ALL WEEKEND LONG!  We will have surprises, prizes and great savings in stores for our college-bound customers and their friends all weekend!  To sign up and to check out our expert dorm tips, checklists and more, students and their friends should visit our Dorm homepage at www.containerstore.com/college.


In addition to our shopping weekend, we offer many great tools, resources and services to help college-bound students and their parents stay organized with their college move. Our website features videos from real college students utilizing our products in their dorm room, an organized dorm checklist and our tried-and-true Dorm Room Basic Six™ – the six areas to focus on when organizing your dorm.

Also, we know many students will be traveling near and far for their first day of college this Fall. At The Container Store, we make it easy to shop and transport purchases to save space and time during the big move. No more worrying about fitting everything in the car in one trip! When customers use our GOSHOP! Service, they can shop at their favorite store or online and we’ll make sure their order is ready to pick up at a store near campus when it’s convenient for them! How cool is that?!

The Summer Before Sophomore Year of High School (10 Tips for Moms)


sophomore yearNot much advice is given for the sophomore year of high school. It’s almost as if it’s not an important year in high school. But it is. Every year in high school is important if your child wants to move on to higher education.

Your teen has jumped in and is now a “seasoned” high schooler. Hopefully you have both gotten use to the high school routine. Sophomore year brings your teen closer to their goal of attending college. It’s during the 10th grade that your teen will begin to take some baby steps toward realizing their goal of a  college education. The focus for this year should be: preliminary testing, looking at careers, delving deeper into the college search, and getting heavily involved in a few activities.

Here are 10 tips to help parents prepare for sophomore year:

1. Begin talking about life after high school

Is your student drawn to traditional college or more toward a technical education or even entrepreneurial endeavors? These are important discussions to have as your student proceeds through high school and on to graduation. Technical colleges like Penn College address both issues by providing hands on training and a liberal arts education. But if your student wants only the technical training which is often a shorter time frame, you should also explore these options as well. Just remember, however, that this is only a discussion. Your student may change his mind many times over the next few years; but be open to any possibility.

2. Do Preliminary Testing

This is the year to take the PSAT (preliminary SAT) and PLAN (preliminary ACT). Why take them so early? First of all, because it doesn’t count and it’s great practice; secondly, because it will give your teen an idea of their testing strengths and weaknesses while they still have time to make improvements.

The key to utilizing these early tests is for your teen to get the scores and the test booklet and review the questions to find out which ones were answered incorrectly. Don’t just take the test, file the scores, and cross that task off your list. The whole point of testing early is to utilize every resource available to help your teen achieve testing success. There is nothing more disappointing than receiving low test scores when your teen excels in academics in school. Testing is all about being relaxed and knowing what to expect. These preliminary tests will help alleviate the stress of the unknown and help your teen prepare for the ones that really matter.

3. Explore careers

By now, your teen should know what interests them in school. Are they drawn to the sciences? Or is drama their cup of tea? Do they excel in math? Or are they interested in literature? These interests will serve to guide your teen down the right career path. It would be useless to pursue a career in the medical field if science and math are your teen’s least favorite subjects. It would also be frivolous to head down an acting career path if your teen does not like being on stage in front of people. Analyze their interests and strengths to guide them in choosing the career that would best suit them and feed their passion.

4. Take personality and/or career inventory tests

You can start here: http://www.allthetests.com/career-tests-job-quizzes.php and search for other tests online. Most of them are FREE and can be used as a tool to further determine the direction your teen might be heading in the college/career search. Many schools have software and testing as well that they offer to their students to help them find the right match.

5. Attend career days

Many cities offer career days with speakers from various walks of life. Encourage your teen to attend these and ask questions. Find out where the speaker attended college and the types of classes he/she might recommend if your teen is interested in that career. There’s nothing more beneficial than speaking with an actual doctor, lawyer, engineer, actress, musician, teacher, fashion designer or entrepreneur.

6. Delve deeper into the college search

You’ve done some internet surfing, looked online at some colleges that might appeal to your teen, and done some preliminary reading. This is the year that you increase the depth of your college search. As you progress through the process and the research you should get closer to narrowing down the schools that best fit your teen.

7. Start making a preliminary list

This is your teen’s list of college possibilities. Every teen has their “dream” college. They may not voice it, or allow themselves to think about it, but most of them have that name sitting in the back of their mind. Once they begin to know what their interests are and what is important to them, the list will start to take shape.

8. Take some online college tours

You and your teen can take some virtual tours of college campuses, and even purchase DVD’s of specific colleges if you want more in-depth information. These preliminary tours will give you and your teen a feel for the campus and prepare you when summer comes along and you start visiting some campuses. These visits are extremely important, and I will go into greater detail during the junior year plan. However, getting an early jumpstart, especially with some colleges within driving distance, will help your teen get an indication of what to expect when the tours become more focused as you begin to narrow down the final college choices.

9. Get heavily involved in a few activities

Admissions counselors have antenna for students that “pad” their high school resumes. These are the ones that dabble in a little of everything but never get involved in depth. While it’s important to try many different activities during high school, it is also important to settle on the few that interest you and stick with them. The goal is to eventually take on leadership positions or an active role in the mechanics of the organization. Help your teen to find the one activity that interests them and stick with it throughout high school. My daughter got involved in NJROTC and eventually became an officer in the corps. She also joined the drill team and the academic team, showing a level of commitment and focus.

10. Don’t forget the scholarship applications

You should encourage your teen to continue applying for scholarships. This task becomes more important during the next few years because many scholarships have age requirements and restrictions. Stay on top of the application deadlines and don’t get the “sophomore slacker” attitude. Your teen is headed into the home stretch and junior year is looming on the horizon.

The Freedom to Choose


Today is Independence Day and along with all the fireworks, barbecues and festivities, we should always reflect on the meaning of freedom. Our college bound teens would tell us that freedom means they don’t have to be under the constant supervision of parents when they leave for college. Our upcoming seniors would say freedom means they have the right to choose the college they apply to and attend.

While the freedom to choose is at the center of our independence, we are also responsible for those choices and the consequences they might bring on ourselves and others.  That’s why it is extremely important that parents explain the consequences of a wrong college choice. What constitutes a wrong college choice:

  • Choosing a college that you simply cannot afford causing you to incur too much student loan debt
  • Choosing a college that you really know nothing about based on the choices of your friends
  • Choosing a college because it’s far away from home or close to home without investigating other factors like graduation rate, course availability and student population
  • Choosing a college because your boyfriend and/or girlfriend is going there and you don’t want to be separated
  • Choosing a college that does not match your social interests (i. e. a college that everyone goes home on the weekends, or a college with a predominant Greek life culture that doesn’t interest you)
  • Choosing a college because someone else has chosen it for you (parents, friends, teachers)

As you can see, all of these choices will result in an unhappy student who will most likely drop out freshman year and result in a large monetary loss as well as student loan debt that will have to be repaid. Teach your teens who crave for the freedom of choice that along with it comes the responsibility of making that choice. Choose wisely after you have all the facts.

Happy Independence Day! Enjoy your family and your freedom!

The Summer Before Freshman Year of High School (10 Tips for Moms)


freshman yearThe summer is a good time for you to have a conversation with your future high school student. Sit down and have a discussion about the value of an education, how you see your role as a parent, some basic expectations, courses your student will take, the value of a good reputation, good citizenship and work ethic. This conversation will make the next four years easier because your teen will understand your expectations and start the year off with a good plan.

Your young teenager is preparing to embark on a high school education as freshman year approaches. In their mind, they are entering the first phase of adulthood. In your mind, they are still children and those feelings that you are “losing them” begin to creep in. High school means that you will be less visible as a parent, but it does not mean you are to be uninvolved. In fact, you will be even more involved behind the scenes as a parent coach.

Here are 10 tips to help you start your teen’s high school years off right:

  1. Make a visit to your teen’s counselor– Do this at the beginning freshman year. Let the counselor know that you intend to be an involved parent and establish a relationship at the start. The counselor is an important source of information and of course guidance regarding your teen’s college pursuit.
  2. Establish relationships with teachers and staff– Since most parents tend to drop out when their teen reaches high school, it’s crucial that you make it clear to the educators that you will be a partner in educating your child. Keep in touch and verify your teen’s progress via email if it’s available and attend any teacher conferences or parent meetings that are scheduled. Show up at PTA meetings and parent information sessions, making you visible to the staff.
  3. Read all school information– Once you have stressed to your teen the importance of ensuring that ALL information gets home to you, you must take the time to READ it. This means reading the school handbook, teacher handouts, letters to parents, guidance department newsletters, any rules and policies, and homework and attendance rules. Discuss these with your teen to alleviate any future misunderstandings that might arise over failing to follow school guidelines.
  4. Stress the importance of good attendance– Attendance is key in high school. Missing even one class can put the student behind. Schedule appointments, when possible, before and after school. If there is an absence, make sure your teen does the make up work in a timely manner. If the absence will be for an extensive period of time, coordinate with the teachers to assure the makeup work is completed.
  5. Encourage strong study habits– These habits will follow your teen to college. Set aside a regularly scheduled study time. Studying needs to be a priority before any added activities. GPA rules in the college admission process and good study habits will assure your teen enters the process with an impressive one. Don’t allow your teen to procrastinate and go into overdrive because they waited until the last minute to complete a project.
  6. Stress regular contact with teachers and counselors-This contact will play an important role when your teen needs recommendation letters. It will also establish in the minds of these educators that he or she means business. They will see that your teen is there to learn and excel and ask questions. Those students are the ones that are recommended for leadership positions and academic awards. It can be something as simple as saying hello in the hallway or using the counselor’s office to research scholarships.
  7. Be the organization coach– My mantra for high school was: Preparation Prevents Panic. If you know where everything is, have a schedule and a plan, you won’t get stressed and frustrated. Sometimes the only filing system a teen has is their floor. It’s your job as their parent coach to help them start and maintain good organization for their date planners, notebooks, folders, files and college related materials.
  8. Stay informed and involved– This does not mean camp out at the school every day and follow your teen around (although that is tempting). It means monitoring quizzes, grades, daily homework assignments and long-term projects. If you begin to notice any problems, schedule an appointment with the teacher and work out a plan for tutoring if it’s necessary. Don’t wait for the report card to lower the boom. If you stay proactive and informed, you and your teen will be able to fix any problems before they become catastrophes.
  9. Know your teen’s friends (and their parents)– Your teen’s out of school activities will always affect in-class behavior. In high school, it’s as much about social activity as it is about academic success. Assuring that your teen’s friends share the same values and goals will make a difference in their focus in and out of school. Encourage them to make friends that have college as a goal and have the same study habits. Take the time to meet and get to know your teen’s friends parents. Make sure they share your values and understand your position on smoking, drinking and drugs.
  10. Be proactive when you encounter problems– All types of problems arise in high school: academic, behavioral and even social. There is a logical solution for all of them, but the key is to be aware when they arise and address them quickly. Academic problems require additional teacher help, tutoring, and possibly study skill courses. If you encounter behavioral problems contact the school counselor or principal and discuss with them recommendations for the particular situation. Coaches can often help, along with a mentor. Sometimes professional counseling is warranted. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. And don’t make the mistake of turning your head and going into denial. Problems only get worse if they are ignored, especially in high school.

Don’t assume that this will be an easy transition for either of you. It’s another milestone in your student’s life and yours as well.

Wednesday’s Parent: Questions to ANSWER and ASK on a College Interview


college interviewLast year, I wrote two blog articles for TeenLife Magazine about the college interview. Since I feel they are great tips, I’m sharing them today on Wednesday’s Parent.

If you’re going to college, expect to be interviewed by a college representative. It’s a vital part of the college admissions process. Why? Colleges want to get to know you: Who you are, what your goals are, and how you will contribute to the student population. They also want to see how you answer questions, how informed you are, and your views on other topics.

When my daughter was in the midst of her college search, she was interviewed by a representative of Boston University. Since this was her first choice college, she was nervous. She wanted to make a good impression and appear intelligent and confident. She prepared for some interview questions. Not all of them were asked, but it helped her go into the interview more relaxed. Although she wasn’t a top candidate according to their applicant statistics, the interview resulted in an offer of admission.

Here is a list of 10 interview questions colleges might ask and suggestions on how to respond. Can your student answer these 10 college interview questions?

Click here for the original article.

Not only is it important to answer the interviewer’s questions, it’s also important to ask questions at the interview.It might seem like the college is interviewing you when you sit down for that appointment. But in truth, you are also interviewing them.

The answers to the questions they ask you are important. But the questions you ask them can be just as important and can also help you make your final college decision. In the end, it’s not just them choosing to admit you, it’s you choosing to accept their offer of admission.

Here are 5 questions you should ask, even if they don’t ask you, “Do you have any questions?”

Click here for the original article.

College interviews can be scary but they are a key element of expressing interest in a college. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting to schedule an interview. These tips should help your student prepare.

Read Wendy’s Post: Interviewing the College Interviewer


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.