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Wednesday’s Parent: With Freedom Comes Responsibility


responsibilitySince I was a child, my parents have reminded me that freedom has a price. To secure our freedom, many men and women have lost their lives–a possibility for any serviceman when they enlist. But do your teens understand the concept? Have you taught them when granted freedom, they are responsible for following the rules and behaving appropriately. With the freedom to choose, comes the responsibility for your choices and your actions.

Bad scenarios

One of the first things we learn growing up is that all of our actions have consequences. If we pull a glass of water off the table, it will spill all over us. If we touch a hot burner on the stove, it will burn. If we pick up a knife on the blade, it will cut us.

Unfortunately, many teenagers don’t carry that knowledge into adulthood as they begin to make choices that are life changing and life altering. They become consumed with their newfound freedom. They don’t rationalize that sleeping with someone they just met in a bar can have consequences: sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, pregnancy, rape and even at the very worst murder. They don’t think that cheating on a test in school, even if they don’t get caught, robs them of an education and learning. They don’t comprehend that having 20 credit cards that are maxed out will put them so deep into debt that for some the only solution is suicide. And they don’t think that marrying the wrong guy could put them at the bottom of San Francisco bay like it did Laci Peterson.

Functioning in the present

When you’re young and your whole life is ahead of you, you tend to function in the present. Twenty or thirty years from now seems like an eternity to someone in their teens and twenties. But time has a way of catching up with us and every choice we make when we are young has both good and bad consequences. The trick is to know when those consequences aren’t worth the risk. And the other trick is to pause long enough before taking those risks to weigh both the good and the bad.

A free choice with negative consequences

During my son’s senior year of high school, he wanted to join the military. As his parents, and with an underage teenager, we met with the recruiters prior to him signing up. They assured us that he could attend college while serving in the Corps, that he could be assigned to his choice of duty stations, and that he could pick his specialty because of his high test scores on the entrance exam. However, we were skeptical about the promises they were making. But once he turned 18, he would be free to make the choice, so we gave our permission.

Upon arrival at boot camp after high school graduation, he quickly discovered that all the promises were just ploys to get him to sign on the dotted line. Needless to say, he learned a very difficult lesson: every decision has consequences. He served his time in the military, traveled, and made some great friends. But his dream to be a lifetime soldier was affected by his distaste for the unfair treatment he received in the Marine Corps. His decision altered his future goals and sent him on a very different path than he had originally planned.

Lessons learned

If you get anything from this bit of advice, let it be this: teach your teenagers to take time to think before they act. Weigh the good and the bad consequences. Then once they decide, make the best of their decision and swallow the good with the bad. Every path they will take in their life has the potential for greatness. Help them see before they head off to college that freedom brings responsibility –responsibility for their actions and the consequences of those actions.

Read Wendy’s post: Passing the Responsibility Torch


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 Suzanne 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.

5 Free Apps for College-Prep Organization


College-bound students have so many tasks to complete and remember during the college-prep process. Luckily, there are apps for college-prep organization. This is great news because teens live and die with their smartphones. Having these tools at their disposal should help.

Here are five apps that will help your college-bound teen stay organized during those labor-intensive college-prep years.

1. Evernote

college prep organization

Free online tools like Evernote can also help your student keep things organized. This downloadable tool can be easily accessed, so you can access and edit your college application notes whenever you need to. Soon-to-be college students can use Evernote to create virtual notebooks for each school, organize important deadlines and track key documents such as transcripts, test stores and recommendations.Sound complicated? Don’t let its complexity turn you off. Mashable created a beginner’s guide to using the app.

2. GoogleDrive

organization app

GoogleDrive gives students the tools to get things done. Create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on your own or share and collaborate with others in real time. You can access your documents anytime, making them always available. All your changes are saved automatically in Drive. There isn’t even a save button. Connect with others by chatting right inside Docs, Sheets, and Slides, or leave comments on files and images. Add a + in front of an email address in a comment and Drive will send them an email so they know to follow up.

3. Naviance

college prep organizationStudents can now take Naviance on the go with the Naviance Student mobile App. Improve collaboration and help students stay organized with an easy-to-use college research tool. Students can also see upcoming deadlines and set reminders to stay on track. Naviance Student is fully synced with the Family Connection so students will have all of their most important information wherever they may be—at school, at home, or on their phone.

4. Remember the Milk

college prep organizationTake your to-do list anywhere with this feature-packed app; never forget the milk (or anything else) again. Remember The Milk (RTM) for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad connects with the popular online service of the same name. With millions of users worldwide, Remember The Milk is everywhere you are: from mobile to the web to apps including Outlook, iCal, Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter, and more. Key features allow you to add and complete tasks; sync with your online account; organize the way you want to with priorities, due dates, time estimates, repeating, lists, tags and more; get reminded via email, SMS, and instant messenger.

5. inClass

college prep organizationinClass is here to help you survive school. No matter how complex your school schedule is, inClass will help you keep track of all your courses. Not only that, but it will help you keep track of your tasks by reminding you that one is due soon. On top of everything inClass will help you take notes way more efficiently than ever before. Video notes, audio notes, photo notes! You name it! Just take out your iPhone or iPod Touch and start taking notes. inClass will even know which class you are in!

Mom-Approved Tips: Know When to Hold’em; Know When to Fold’em


making college decisionsIt’s coming down to the wire for making college decisions and you and your teen have to decide on a college by the May 1st deadline. For some families, it’s easy. For others, it’s emotional and gut wrenching. If your student got into their dream college and the money is there, congratulations. If your student was waitlisted, or there’s a financial issue, or they didn’t get an offer of admission to their first choice college it’s time to examine the deck. By doing this, you can help your teen make the best decision.

The wait list card

If your teen gets waitlisted, it’s time to fold. Even though some students do get off the waitlist, it’s too much of a gamble to take; especially if other colleges are offering admission. The risk you take is not worth the reward. Toss in the card and move on to the next hand.

The rejection card

Nobody likes this card. It’s a deal-breaker and you have no choice but to fold and move on. It’s disappointing but there is a better card in the deck.

The admission card

This is the payoff. With these cards you have a full house. Hold on to them and treat them as they are—winners. There are no losers with admission cards and even if they weren’t the cards you wanted they will reward you in the end. It’s from these cards that your teen will pick the college they attend. Evaluate their worth and look deeper into their face value. Your teen might discover a wild card in the bunch that trumps all the other cards in their hand.

The financial aid card

This is the high card, or the ace, because it improves your hand and increases your winnings. When colleges send this card to accepted students, the amount on the card is a direct indication of how much a college wants you to accept their offer of admission.

When your student mailed off their college applications, it was a gamble. They were all in and now it’s time to claim the winnings. The right college for the right price is a jackpot.

Scholarship Friday: Top 10 Scholarship Posts


top 10Today I’m sharing my top 10 posts about specific scholarships, the scholarship application process, and scholarship tips. If you haven’t looked at them before, this is a good time to check them out. Sit down with a cup of coffee and be prepared to be informed!

1. Scholarships for special groups

This is a recap of some previous posts about college scholarships for special groups. If your college-bound teen fits into any of these groups these posts should help you find scholarships.

Read more . . .

2. Minority scholarships

Your cultural heritage, your sex, and your sexual orientation could end up paying for your college education. There are scholarships and grants that are reserved for specific minority groups. You don’t need to be a first generation immigrant to qualify for these scholarships; you just have to prove that you are indeed a member of the minority to qualify for the awards.

Read more . . .

3. How to apply for scholarships

There are many scholarship opportunities that anyone can apply for. Some are merit based, meaning you need to meet particular standards, some are based on financial need, and there are many for having a certain background. They can be awards of a few hundred dollars or can cover all of your tuition costs, but whatever the amount, they will decrease the price of your education. How do you apply for scholarships?

Read more . . .

4. Go local

Consider going local. Unearth local scholarships in your own community. The applicant pools for these scholarships are smaller and your chances of winning them increases. You will be surprised at the local scholarships that are often overlooked and no scholarship money is dispersed.

Check out these resources and add them to your scholarship search criteria:

Read more . . .

5. Merit Aid

Financial aid is always on the minds of parents and students, especially when they begin to research college costs and their financial aid statistics. The terms can be a bit confusing and today I want to discuss merit aid and answer a few questions about what it is, how do you find it, and how do you apply for it.

Read more . . .

6. What are the odds?

Most students hope for some sort of scholarship for college. Few are able to pay for the entire four years. Parents dream of getting that letter in the mail that says, “Congratulations, you have won a full ride for four years.” It happens, but it’s not the norm. The students who receive scholarships work hard and spend time searching and applying.

Read more . . .

7. Ask an expert

My commitment has always been to provide parents with the best information available to help with the college process. I recently listened to two podcasts on How to Pay for College HQ about scholarships. The guest was Elizabeth Hartley, owner of Scholarship Gold Consulting. I thought the information was so valuable, I wanted to share some of the excerpts with you. Make a point to listen to both complete interviews (you won’t regret it and you will save money paying for college) via the podcasts.

Read more . . .

8. 10 Scholarship summer prep tips

For students, summer vacation usually means sun, beaches, and fun.  For parents of the college-bound, however, summer means one step closer to college tuition bills and students loans.  There are a number of things students can do to get a jump-start in the college scholarship process during the summer, while at the same time saving time for fun in the sun.

Read more . . .

9. 10 Easy Scholarships

What could be easier than winning a scholarship and you didn’t even have to write an essay and/or fill out a long application? There isn’t. The rewards may not be as big as those long, involved essay scholarships, but 10 $1000 scholarships add up to $10,000. That’s not chump change! Most of them just take a few minutes to enter:

Read more . . .

10. Should your college-bound student apply for scholarships?

There is great discussion among parents about whether or not scholarship applications are worth it. I happen to be one who believes they are. My daughter attended an expensive private university based on the scholarships she won from outside sources and from the university itself. Those scholarships allowed her to attend a school that was financially out of reach. Hence, I’m a firm believer in the value of scholarships.

Read more . . .

Making the Final College Decision


college decision

photo from Zinch at MoreThanATestScore.com

May is quickly approaching. In just 20 short days your student will be required to choose which college they will be attending. For many, the choice is easy–they received an offer of admission from their first choice college. Or is it? Are there things you should consider? And what if your student didn’t receive an offer of admission from her first choice college? What are her options? How can she choose the right school for her and be happy? And here’s a kicker–what if she received an offer of admission to her dream college, but the money to pay for it just isn’t there?

All these questions, and more are answered in an article I wrote for Zinch about weighing your college options before making your final college decision. Following are the topics covered:

    1. Compare the financial differences
    2. Discuss the decision with others
    3. Ask questions
    4. Consider factors unrelated to the education
    5. Delve further into academics
    6. Explore the campus
    7. Make a pro/con list

The college your student attends is an important decision. Before you mail off that card to a college or accept online, you should weigh your options.

Read all the tips in Zinch’s article:

Weighing Your College Options