About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 667 posts from scratch.

Suzanne Shaffer's Bio

Suzanne Shaffer's Websites

This Author's Website is

Suzanne Shaffer's Recent Articles

Scholarship Friday: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Scholarships


scholastic awardsAttention, Creative Teens: How to Become an Exhibited Artist or Published Author

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are accepting submissions from students in grades 7–12 who aspire to follow in the footsteps of Stephen King, Andy Warhol and Lena Dunham and gain opportunities for exhibition, publication, scholarships and more.

The annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s longest- running, most prestigious scholarship and recognition initiative for students in grades 7–12, is now open for submissions and invites all aspiring teen artists and writers to share their work. Over the past five years alone, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit presenter of the Awards, has received more than one million original works from public, private and homeschooled students. The program provides top-winning artistic and literary teens with exhibition and publication opportunities, as well as access to millions of dollars in scholarships, while continuing its legacy of identifying the early promise of some of our nation’s most exceptional visionaries.

To learn more about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, visit www.artandwriting.org.

Virginia McEnerney, Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers said, “People who have been successful in their fields, from artists to scientists, all have one thing in common. At one time they were teenagers looking for their first great encouragement. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are a platform of opportunity that allow teenagers to push artistic boundaries and explore as they are shaping themselves to be part of the next generation of leaders, no matter what field of study they plan to pursue.”

Students in the U.S. and Canada, and those attending American schools abroad, are invited to submit creative works in the Awards’ 28 categories, ranging from comic art to photography, flash fiction to poetry, video game design to novel-writing and more. All works are evaluated through a blind judging process based on originality, technical skill and the emergence of a personal vision or voice—the same three criteria since the program’s founding in 1923. Submissions are first judged on a regional level by the more than 100 affiliates of the Alliance, which bring the program to local communities across the country. Top regional submissions are then evaluated on a national level by an impressive panel of creative-industry experts. Luminaries in the visual and literary arts, including Andres Serrano, Edwidge Danticat, Kay WalkingStick, Roz Chast and Stephen Savage, have all served as past jurors.

Deadlines for submissions vary by region throughout the winter months, with National Scholastic Art & Writing Award winners announced in March 2015.

What it means to win a Scholastic Art & Writing Award:

  • The outstanding students who win Scholastic Art & Writing Awards walk in the footsteps of celebrated creative leaders such as Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, Stephen King, Myla Goldberg, Richard Linklater, Kay WalkingStick, Zac Posen and Lena Dunham, all of whom won an Award when they were teens.
  • The Scholarship Partner Network includes more than 60 colleges and universities who set aside scholarships for Scholastic Art & Writing Award–winning high school seniors. With more than $10 million available, the program is the largest source of scholarships for creative teens.
  • Each year, 16 high school seniors are awarded the Portfolio Gold Medal, which is accompanied by a $10,000 scholarship—the highest possible honor a student can receive through the program.
  • Cash awards are also available to students of all grades, as well as teachers.
  • Student writers may be published in The Best Teen Writing series of anthologies, which are available for purchase at amzn.com/0545818966.
  • A large selection of student Scholastic Art & Writing Award–winning works will be on display in the Art.Write.Now. National Exhibition in New York City at Parsons New School for Design and Pratt Manhattan Gallery in June 2015. An annual traveling Art.Write.Now.Tour also brings student work to cities across the country. This year’s tour is now open at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI, and will travel to the Salt Lake City Public Library as well as the Catskill Art Society in Livingston Manor, New York.
  • National winners will be honored during a special awards ceremony at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City, where celebrities, families and teachers congratulate the student winners and encourage them to continue in their paths. To view this past year’s ceremony online, visit www.artandwriting.org/carnegiewebcast2014.
  • Five students in grades 9–11 are selected annually to serve as literary ambassadors as part of the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. Winning a Scholastic Art & Writing Award National Medal in poetry is the exclusive pathway to this honor, which is presented in partnership by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance.

The Alliance is grateful for its generous sponsors, who provide funds to support and produce the Awards: Scholastic Inc., The Maurice R. Robinson Fund, Command Web Offset Co., the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, The New York Times, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, The National Endowment for the Arts, Blick Art Materials & Utrecht Art Supplies, 3D Systems, The Gedenk Movement, Golden Artist Colors, Bloomberg L.P., the Bernstein Family Foundation, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Duck Tape® and additional contributions from numerous other individual, foundation and corporate funders.

To learn more about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, visit the Scholastic Media Room online at mediaroom.scholastic.com/artandwriting.

Wednesday’s Parent: An Extracurricular Match Made in Heaven


extracurricularWhen it comes to extracurricular activities, it requires some careful thought and exploration from your student. Picking a volunteer activity is more than just pulling a name out of a hat. The number one criteria for choosing an extracurricular is: pick something that interests you AND stick with it. Of course, there are the obvious: hospitals, local charities, beach clean-up, etc. But what if your teen isn’t interested in any of these options?

Where do you go to find some unknown volunteer opportunities? Here’s a good list of sites that might help you find the best volunteer fit for your college-bound teen:

Hands On Network: With 250 action centers around the country, it’s easy to connect and get started with a volunteer opportunity that fits your schedule and location.  Plus, they’ll occasionally partner with corporations like Disney to offer special incentives for volunteering.

Do Something: Focused more on teen activism and engagement with causes, their site offers “Virtual Volunteer” opportunities so you can take action without leaving your couch!

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Interested in volunteering in our National Parks?  For the Smithsonian?  Start here.   You’ll find a host of ways to volunteer alongside existing government programs.  The HUD site also lists opportunities to provide technology access and job training to those who need it on a volunteer basis.

VolunteerMatch: One of the largest online databases for volunteering, where over 71,000 nonprofits have listed local and regional events and projects.

Go Abroad: Want to volunteer on vacation?  Fulfill your travel bug and your need to do good at the same time by applying for one of the nearly 6,000 “Volunteer Abroad” opportunities from more than 1,300 organizations around the world.

iParticipate: Follow the stars.  Literally.  The Entertainment Industry Foundation launched this project with Ashton Kutcher, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Katie Couric (and many others) in a campaign designed to encourage Americans to consider volunteering as an integral part of our national identity.

Serve.Gov: One year old today, this site and associated initiatives were created by the Serve America Act.  One of its purposes is to help Americans get back to work by building skills and connections through volunteer opportunities.

Need more ideas? Here’s an article I wrote for TeenLife: 10 Community Service Ideas for College Bound Teens.

Every college expert will tell you that volunteering is an integral part of the high school resume. But remember…one day here and there does not a volunteer make! Consistency over the course of your teen’s high school career shows a level of commitment to the cause and a willingness to give back.

Read Wendy’s post:Pick a Club, But Not Any Club


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.

Parent Toolkit App



parent toolkit app

The Parent Toolkit App is designed to help you navigate your child’s growth and development from Pre-K through 12th grade in the classroom and beyond. For each grade, the app offers benchmarks to see what your child will be learning in school, and recommendations for diet, sleep and physical activity. The grade-by-grade tips work into your everyday schedule to support what your child is learning and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Choose whether you want to browse through academic or health and wellness benchmarks and tips. The academic information will help you ensure your child is on the path to success. It also provides helpful advice on homework, parent-teacher conferences and supporting learning at home. In the health and wellness section, you’ll find tips on encouraging physical activity, eating a well-balanced diet, and ways to make sure your child gets enough sleep.

Set priorities for you and your child to come back to using The Parent Toolkit App. A priority is an item that you mark as important to your child’s development. It can be something you want to review later, or a tip you want to remember to try. Use the “+” button to mark items as priorities and create a list for review later. You can then mark items as completed once you’ve accomplished your goals. You can also share helpful information and tips throughout the app with family, friends, and more using social networks or email.

The Parent Toolkit App is produced by NBC News and sponsored by Pearson. It has been accessibility tested and works with VoiceOver. Download The Parent Toolkit App in English or Spanish and get started today — it’s free!

You can download your FREE mobile app here: http://lksn.se/toolkit 

Or text “Toolkit” to 33733

Scholarship Friday: 9-11 Scholarships


9-11 scholarshipsThis week marked the 13th anniversary of  September 11th. Thirteen years ago today our country was attacked by terrorists. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,977 victims. The victims included 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. All of these victims left behind families. In these families, there were children who would eventually be pursuing higher education.

Seeing the need to help these families of the victims, scholarships rose up across the country to help their dependents fund higher education. The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund was established. According to the fund’s declaration, their purpose is:

“… to provide education assistance for postsecondary study to financially needy dependents of those people killed or permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and during the rescue activities relating to those attacks.”

Scholarship America played a major role in the creation of the September 11 Scholarship Alliance, formed by leading scholarship providers and associated organizations to coordinate the various scholarship funds for postsecondary education created in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Although the Scholarship Alliance officially concluded its activities, there are still a number of scholarship funds in addition to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund that provide assistance for postsecondary education for 9/11 families. Start your search here, in any of the following categories:

Memorial Funds and Other Funds
Scholarship America manages and administers Memorial and Other Funds. These Funds are managed and administered separately from the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund and have separate eligibility criteria. Generally speaking, Memorial Funds are provided for a group of families associated with a specific funder, while Other Funds are open to all 9/11 families.

College Funds
There are scholarship funds managed by individual colleges and universities, for use on their campuses only. Many of the colleges and universities provide matching scholarships to students who receive Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund education assistance.

Outside Organization Funds
Citizens throughout America stepped forward and donated funds to many relief efforts in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America. The establishment of scholarship funds was one means of providing such relief and assistance.

The fund this year will recognize an exciting milestone – this summer they awarded over $100 million to financially needy families since the inception of the Fund in 2001. The great news is that the Fund has been invested well and there remains over $96.5 million for the thousands of students who are yet to apply for awards.

College Rankings


college rankingsU.S. News released their college rankings yesterday. There is always a great deal of emphasis placed on these rankings. Colleges boast about their possession in the pecking order and use it for marketing to students. But are these rankings accurate? What do they mean? What don’t they mean?

Personally, I don’t put much weight on the U.S. News college rankings. These rankings are based on a subjective collection of information from the colleges themselves. Colleges have been known to pad their data, cheat on the reporting, and shift the data in their favor in order to rank high on the list.

Parents have been known to use the list to insist their student attend one of the high ranking colleges. But honestly, it’s just a way to claim bragging rights for the parents and has very little to do with the actual quality of the education for the price.

I always suggest that parents use more than one source when comparing colleges and gathering data.

Custom College Rankings

Custom College Rankings is an amazing site created to help you view all the college statistics on a spreadsheet and change the criteria of the spreadsheet as you view it. There are over 2900 colleges and universities with statistics for each gathered from the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education.

ETC College Rankings Index

“The ETC College Rankings Index measures the improvement in employability and earnings that a particular college brings to its graduates, relative to students similarly situated at other colleges” – states Michael R. Havis, president and founder of the nonprofit Educate To Career, who adds – “Students and parents are focused on the value-added by going to a particular college and pursuing a specific area of study.”

College Factual

Unlike other college ranking systems, College Factual serves as a decision-making hub throughout the entire college search process, sharing outcomes-based data such as average student loan debt per student and default rates; how well colleges retain and graduate students; graduates’ starting salaries and earning potential; and return on investment based on cost of a degree.

In addition to these sites, you can use College Navigator, Cost of Learning, and College Data to gather more information. Never rely solely on one set of rankings. Use the comparison tools to make a wise college choice.