About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 1093 posts from scratch.

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A College To-Do List for Your High School Junior


high school junior

The fall semester is coming to a close. By now, your high school junior should be concentrating on college choice, preparing for the SAT or ACT, and working on the college essay. I’m sure it’s already starting to become a little overwhelming: so many tasks, so little time. But the winter break is a great time to play a little catchup if you’re lagging behind.

Juniors who aspire to college have much on their mind. Making a college list can seem insurmountable. There are so many choices; how do you know which ones are a good fit? If money is a factor, how do you even know what kind of financial aid you can expect to receive if you apply? What are the colleges looking for in an applicant and do you even meet those qualifications? The list of unknowns can cause a good amount of stress for both parents and students.

Take a few minutes to go over this simple to-do list with your high school junior. Discuss what you can help him with and what he should be focusing on over the break. Breaking these down into small tasks should help, doing the ones that need to be completed first and following with the rest.

Are you tackling these items yet?

  1. Thinking about basic college criteria.
  2. Figuring out how to organize everything.
  3. Setting aside time to visit the colleges.
  4. Figuring out a test strategy.
  5. Keeping focused on academics.
  6. Working on the college essay.
  7. Getting serious about scholarships.
  8. Scheduling regular checkups to evaluate progress.


For the details on how to complete these tasks, you can read the original article at TeenLife Magazine: Share This College To-Do List With Your High School Junior.

Using Statistics to Find Your College Fit



You might be surprised to know that in addition to all the factors students use to choose a college, there is one they might overlook: statistics. While location, major, campus appeal, and others are certainly important statistics will help you and your student make a more informed college choice.

Why statistics? Statistics will help you determine some of the key factors involved in choosing a college. With statistics you increase the odds of your student being accepted, receiving more financial aid, and graduating on time. You can also determine the class sizes, the freshman retention rate and the odds of finding a job after graduation.

Two good sources for college statistics are College Navigator and College Data. These two resources will help you make an informed college choice. Numbers aren’t everything, but consider these eight important stats when you and your student are looking at schools:

  1. Rankings (simply as a baseline for comparison)
  2. Financial aid percentages
  3. Acceptance rates
  4. Student-to-professor ratios
  5. Freshman retention rates
  6. Graduation rates
  7. Student indebtedness
  8. Percentage of student who are employed after graduation

For an in-depth review of each statistic and what they mean, read my original article at TeenLife Magazine: 8 College Stats That Will Help You Find the Right School.

Get a College Education Without the Dreaded Debt



The thought that crosses every students mind is the dreaded debt they will inevitably find themselves in years and years down the line. It seems that students are now facing an uphill battle when it comes to their student loan debt. You will struggle to get a credible job without the relevant qualifications, which means at some point you’re going to need to go and study at college. Unfortunately, college fees do not come cheap. Many people have to boycott college altogether because they simply can’t afford it. It’s such a shame that many youngsters have to miss out on getting the best education because money is short. If you are lucky enough to get into your chosen subject of education, here are a few pointers which will help you to avoid the dreaded debt.

Social Butterfly Without the Burden

You’ve gotten into the college of your dreams and you can’t wait to make new friends and memories, but you’re a little worried about your budget. You are not alone. Every single person is worried. Socializing at college doesn’t have to be super expensive. There are several ways in which you can save money and still have a great time. Join loyalty schemes and get to know which bars and restaurant your campus is associated with. The chances are you will be able to get discounts all year round, which means cheap drinks and food whenever you and your friends go out. Change up how you socialize with your friends too. Spend more time around people’s places instead of going out and hold movie nights instead of taking a trip out to see the latest blockbuster.

Room and Board Can Cost A Little

Room and board costs can stump a lot of students. Seriously, how can it cost so much to live in a pitiful little room with no bathroom? If you haven’t already thought about it, maybe you could consider online education to save yourself a lot of money. Partaking in an online bsw, for example, would allow you to stay at home and would cut your student debt almost completely. By opting to be educated virtually you wouldn’t be overburdened with outrageous costs, but keep in mind you need to be super motivated in order to get a degree from an online format.

Save, Save, Save

Before your further education suddenly hits you like a brick wall you should consider saving up some cash so you have got a head start. The summer before you’re due to head off to college you should definitely consider getting a job. It will not only give you a boost to buy all of the things you’ll need when you’re first moving away, but it will also motivate you to earn some money whilst you’re getting your education. Many students find it useful to take on a part-time job whilst they’re studying. It will ease the burden much more in the future.

So take these points into consideration if you’re due to start your higher education. Maybe you have a younger sibling who is ready to go to college and you want them to learn from your mistakes. Let’s start imparting our wisdom on others and stop the vicious cycle of student debt!

4 Scholarships for Thanksgiving Break


scholarshipsIt’s that time of year when we gather around the table and give thanks. What could make you more thankful than your student winning a scholarship for college?

Here are four scholarships your student can devote some time to over Thanksgiving break. You might not find them on a scholarship search engine which means . . . drum roll . . . fewer applicants!

Student Side Hustlers Scholarship Program from Study Soup

StudySoup just launched a Student Side Hustlers Scholarship program. This is a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded to one student entrepreneur who has demonstrated initiative, perseverance, and a little creativity to set up a side business as a way of bringing in extra income while still in school. It doesn’t matter if they’ve made $100 or $10,000…if they’re an up and coming entrepreneur, we want to hear from them!

Who is eligible:
Any individual at least sixteen (16) years old who meets one of the following criteria:

  • Currently attending high school
  • Currently attending an accredited university or college (undergraduate and graduate students are both eligible)

How to apply:
Follow this link to the scholarship application:

Full information on eligibility as well as terms and conditions can also be found here.

February 1, 2018

2018 Believe and Achieve Scholarship Program from Cumberland Farms

Cumberland Farms today announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Believe and Achieve Scholarship Program. The Believe and Achieve Scholarship program, created specifically to support the development of young people, awards $1,000 scholarships to 130 eligible graduating high school seniors each year, based on a student’s academic performance, as well as financial need. Winners will be notified in the spring of 2018.

Who is eligible:

The program is open to students entering a full-time undergraduate course of study at an accredited college, university or vocational-technical school in the fall of 2018 who live within 30 miles of any Cumberland Farms location.

How to apply:

For more information and to apply for 2018 scholarships, visit the Program Information Page. Information about the Believe and Achieve Scholarship Program, including entry criteria, is available online at


The application period runs from now until December 4th, 2017.

College Raptor $2500 Scholarship

To help students take a thoughtful approach to the college decision process and pay for college, College Raptor is awarding a $2,500 scholarship.

Who is eligible:

•Be legal residents of the United States, District of Columbia, or a U.S. Territory.

•Be age 16 or older.

•Be enrolled (or enroll no later than the fall of 2019) in an accredited post-secondary institution of higher learning (college, university or trade school).

How to apply:

1. Register with College Raptor.

2. Use our College Search tool to find the best colleges for you.


Submit your Essay by January 31, 2018.

Frame My Future Scholarship from Diplomaframe

Unlike most of the traditional scholarships, there are no essays to write, no grade or academic requirements—it is all about creativity. Students are challenged to create a visual entry, whether it is a photograph, collage, painting, illustration, poem, short story—any single piece that demonstrates what he/she would like to do in their personal and professional life after college. Entrants are asked to follow the theme: This is how I Frame my Future.

Award Information
One $5,000 Grand Prize scholarship award

One $1,000 first runner-up scholarship award

One $500 second runner-up scholarship award

Eligibility Criteria
The 2018 scholarship contest is open to students who are:

•Attending a U.S. college or university full-time for the 2018-2019 academic year

•(including community college, undergraduate, or graduate school)

•A legal U.S. residen

How to Apply

Selection Criteria
Church Hill Classics will select 24 Finalists based on the creativity of the full entry, including the entry image and accompanying description (maximum of 500 characters). The full entry must:

•Be your own work and relate to the theme – This is how I Frame My Future

•Contain correct grammar and spelling

The 24 Finalists advance to a one-month public voting phase. The entry with the most votes will receive the $5,000 grand prize scholarship award. The entry with the second most votes will receive a $1,000 scholarship award. The entry with the 3rd most votes will receive a $500 scholarship award. Each winner will also receive a custom diploma frame.

Looking Past the College Names and the Rankings



When I talk to parents and listen to their stories about college prep, it’s hard not to be concerned. I’m concerned because it seems that college choice has become a competition–a competition among parents and a competition among students. It’s all about the prestige, the name, and the rankings and very little about the fit.

I recently participated in a discussion thread on the Grown and Flown Facebook page. A mother was concerned that her daughter was only considering applying to the Ivies. I tried to insert my advice on the matter and was attacked by so many parents whose students were either applying to these colleges or attending them. I was simply trying to point out that these colleges aren’t the “be all and end all” of colleges and there are so many other options out there to consider. Shame on me for disparaging these top-ranked universities.

Seriously though, it surprises me how many parents feel that their student can’t be happy at an unknown college or university. It astounds me how many parents will allow their student to attend one of these colleges and either go into debt themselves or allow their student to accumulate mounds of debt; because, news flash—these colleges only provide need-based aid to the poorest of families and merit aid to the best of the applicant pool. Your student may be accepted but offered no financial assistance.

How do you steer your student away from the these colleges?

If your student is a top candidate for an Ivy league college and you are willing to pay for it, then by all means, she should apply. But if you’re worried about finances or know that your student is applying for all the wrong reasons, it’s time to steer them away from these colleges.

The best way to do this is to draw the focus away from the Ivies and toward other colleges that offer the same benefits at a greater return for your investment. Encourage your student to visit colleges, talk to alumni, connect online with students from other colleges and start a conversation.

How do you find those “diamonds in the rough” colleges?

You can start by looking at the College That Change Lives website. Then move toward College Navigator and fill in some criteria that fits your student’s interests: location, size, major, merit awards, etc.. Look at the stats, financial aid awards, and student debt. After you have a list, do some digging. What is your student interested in studying? Is there a student body better suited for her? If she is at the top of the applicant pool will she have a better chance of winning merit aid?

How do you change your (and your student’s) mindset?

Visit. Interact. Start a dialogue with other colleges. Once your student sees the virtual cornucopia of colleges out there, it will be easier for you to move her toward the colleges that are a better fit. Once she realizes that it’s not about the name, but about the fit, it will be easier to add those colleges that fit instead of choosing one simply based on name or ranking.

With over 4000 colleges and universities in this country, it will serve you and your student better if you look at some of the lesser known colleges and examine their benefits. As my daughter did, she found her perfect match when she moved beyond the college with the ranking to the college that was a better fit for her academically, socially, and financially.