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Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 685 posts from scratch.

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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

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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!

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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.

Scholarship Friday: FIRE Scholarship

 

FIRE scholarship

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) hosts an annual FIRE scholarship essay contest for high school juniors and seniors.

The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity.

FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.

Also check out FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus and explore thefire.org to learn more before you begin the scholarship essay process.

Who Can Enter

High school juniors and seniors for the 2014–2015 school year who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to participate.

Essay prompt

Why is free speech important at our nation’s colleges and universities? Using examples from both videos, discuss how censorship of student speech is incompatible with higher education

Word Length

Students must submit an essay between 800 and 1,000 words on the provided topic below.

Deadline

FIRE must receive all entries by January 1, 2015. Winners will be announced January 31, 2015.

Prizes

One $10,000 first prize, one $5,000 second prize, and three $1,000 runner-up prizes will be awarded for the best essays.

Four $500 winners will be chosen from the remaining entrants in a drawing.

 

Enter here:  http://www.thefire.org/student-network/essay-contest/#prompt

Payscale’s 2015 College Salary Report

 

salary reportWith college costs rising, along with student debt, it’s more important than ever for parents and students to look carefully at college ROI (return on investment) when creating the college list. Payscale recognizes the importance of choosing a college major that will be a good return on investment and has released their 2015 College Salary Report.

Following are just a few of the categories covered in the data:

Majors That Pay You Back (Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees)

When somebody tells you they are headed to a college or university, whether it’s for an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, MBA or PhD, the first question out of everybody’s mouth is “Where are you going to school?” In reality though, the choice of major can have a much bigger impact on your future earnings than the school you attend. PayScale ranks the top college majors by salary to help you figure out how much you can earn after graduation.

Most Recommended Majors (by alumni)

What makes graduates recommend their major to students trying to pick a major today? One look at this list of most recommended majors shows us that the majors that people rave about are the ones that allow them to easily find a job in their intended field. It’s not necessarily how much money a person makes, but the likelihood that they can find work doing what they want to do.

Best schools for particular majors (by earning potential)

Choosing a college and deciding to get a degree are big decisions, so do your homework and choose the degree and school that will set you up for the career of your dreams. PayScale’s 2015 College Salary Report ranks undergraduate and 2-year colleges by the highest earning graduates.

Common jobs for particular majors

Choosing a college and deciding to get a degree are big decisions, so do your homework and choose the degree and school that will set you up for the career of your dreams. PayScale’s 2015 College Salary Report ranks undergraduate and 2-year colleges by the highest earning graduates.

College Comparison Tool (compare up to 5 colleges side by side)

Trying to decide which college or university to attend? PayScale has alumni salary data about more than 1,000 schools. Select up to five schools and see how they compare based on earning potential and more.

Most Meaningful Majors

When it comes to choosing a career and picking a college major that will help you achieve your goals, money isn’t everything. Job meaning counts for a lot too. That’s why PayScale asks everybody who takes our survey if they feel like their job makes the world a better place. This list ranks 207 college majors by the percentage of graduates in each major who answer that question with a resounding “yes.”

Here’s an article published in Money Magazine, “Choosing a College Major by Age 16 Pays Off”, proposing that students should think about choosing a major early to avoid spending more for the college education than necessary.

A college choices isn’t all about the money, but it should certainly factor into such a large financial investment. Parents and students should do their homework, just as they would if purchasing any other big ticket item.

Wednesday’s Parent: Turning a Hobby Into a Resume Rave

 

hobbySay what? A hobby can be a plus on your college application? You bet! What do hobbies communicate? Passion. What are college admissions officers looking for? Passion.

Hobbies and Extracurriculars

Hobbies can be a valuable component of the extracurricular record. If your teen already has a hobby, help them find clubs or organizations related to that hobby. Hobbies can also be used as a non-teenager activity. These activities are viewed by admissions counselors as unique and can often differentiate your teen from other applicants. If your teen is interested in writing for instance, blogging might prove beneficial. Many admissions counselors are looking for those unique qualities that set your teen apart from the thousands of applicants in the pool. If your teen raises homing pigeons, for example, a counselor might find this fascinating and vote yes on an application that is sitting in the maybe pile. There are all kinds of hobbies that can lead to college majors and future careers. (i.e. forensic science, gaming, history buff). Whatever hobby your teen has chosen, find a way to incorporate it into the high school resume and utilize it as one of the many components of the extracurriculars.

Hobbies and the College Essay

Experts recommend that students take every available opportunity on an application to fill in details about who they are and how they spend their time. Talk about your Etsy shop, rock band, or videography for example, if they highlight your individuality, personality and passion.

You can use the essay to talk about why you chose this hobby and why this makes you passionate – and then definitely include why the university that you want to go to will help you get to where you want to go in the future.

Explaining your hobbies in your college application can also help officials recognize valuable traits that aren’t revealed in a high school transcript. For example, admissions officials say entrepreneurship in high school shows that you’re a leader who takes action – a characteristic that colleges value.

Paul Hemphill, College Planning Expert, relates a story about one of his students who spent the weekends tending to the graves of Civil War soldiers. He parlayed that into an amazing essay about respect, honor and commitment. As you can imagine, this unusual hobby made the student stand out in the college application process.

Hobbies and Scholarships

And here’s a bonus: turn your hobbies into college cash! Scholarship Experts points out that many hobbies are showcased by organizations that award scholarships to those who pursue that hobby: amateur radio, poetry, art, knitting, and video for example. And don’t forget about the Bass Fishing Scholarship offered by several colleges.

Read Wendy’s Post: Hobbies Can Lead to College Prep

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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.