About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 711 posts from scratch.

Suzanne Shaffer's Bio

Suzanne Shaffer's Websites

This Author's Website is

Suzanne Shaffer's Recent Articles

Wednesday’s Parent: Enjoying a Break When There is No Break


college prepFor parents of the college bound, there’s no such thing as a break. Even when you take a break from all the college prep, your mind never shuts off. During the four years of high school, every class, every activity, every amount of free time is cultivated to present a stellar application at the beginning of the senior year. It’s the nature of the beast—all hands on deck for the college prep and then when it’s all done, you can relax. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

But after the applications are submitted, we worry about the outcome and agonize over the decisions that will need to be made. It’s a never-ending drama that engulfs our lives if we have a student aspiring to college.

But how do you enjoy a break when there is no break?

Enjoy the ride. You have to grab snippets of time throughout the whole process. Whether it’s the car ride to visit colleges, or a 30 minute conversation in their room while they are getting dressed for a date, you have to steal those moments.

Make it a point to not allocate every waking moment to college prep. It should be an exciting time. Don’t ruin it for you and for your student by becoming a nag or a dictator. This only adds to the pressure they feel and escalates your level of frustration and stress.

Let the holidays be the holidays

If you have a senior, the holidays bring increased college prep activity—with college applications either looming or decisions waiting to be received. Set aside some time for fun when neither you nor your student discusses college prep. Even if you go to a movie or a hockey game, it takes your mind off the elephant in the room and helps you relax, even if for a short time.

The good news—this too shall pass. There will come a day when you move from college prep to college drama. If you don’t believe it, just ask any parent of a college student. College prep activities are replaced with roommate issues, annoying professors, and homesickness. Enjoy the four years while you can—they pass so quickly.

Read Wendy’s Post: 6 Ways to Prevent College Bound Burnout


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.

Test Precision: An App for Standardized Test Prep


test precisionTest Precision is a new app for students preparing to take the ACT or the SAT. It helps students prepare for the test where they are: on their smartphones. As we all know, teens are quite addicted to their smartphones and making Test Precision a part of that existing routine and habit just makes perfect sense.

More than ever today’s high school student has increasingly less free time to study for the ACT and SAT in between class work and extracurricular activities.  Being able to access Test Precision on the way to school or in between activities is a major advantage versus physically scheduling and attending a test prep weekend class or hiring a one-on-one tutor. Test Precision also lessens the anxiety associated with cramming for the SAT or ACT by providing an ‘access anytime’ app so the student can chip away at their preparation over time.  This is in stark contrast to attending high intensity classes or lugging around a static, one-size-fits-all book and trying to pour through too much content all at once.

I asked Mohak Rastogione, a student who has tested the app, to tell me about his experience with Test Precision:

Q. Why did you decide to get help preparing for standardized tests?

I decided to get help for standardized testing because I honestly didn’t know what to expect on the SAT/ACT. I figured by having help in preparing I’d be a little more prepared come testing time.

Q. Why did you choose an app to help with test prep?

I was offered the opportunity to help test the app, so I didn’t necessarily look for Test Precision specifically. I ended up taking the offer for two reasons. 1) I wanted to see how preparing for big tests like the ACT/SAT could be done on the go (on my phone), and how effective it would actually be. The second reason was because I was getting ready to take the ACT and I hadn’t had any prior experience with the ACT besides self studying, so I figured this would be a good time to get some practice in while helping test the app.

Q. How has Test Precision helped prepare you for the test?

Test Precision helped guide me to which test I should take. The diagnostic test determined that I was a better fit for the ACT and my chances of a higher score would be found with the ACT.

Q. How long have you used the app and have you taken a test since you started using it?

I tested the app for around 4-6 weeks and I did take the ACT twice since testing the application out.

Q. What is your favorite part of using the app?

My favorite part of using the application was the ability to take practice tests/questions where ever I would go. Instead of lugging around heavy test prep books, my phone was/is always on me so studying/practicing for the ACT was much easier and flexible

Test Precision is available for free download in both Google Play and on iTunes. Individual SAT and ACT tests are available for a one time subscription fee of $39.99 per SAT or ACT package.

Ready to download

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.testprecision 

iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/test-precision/id872423917?mt=8

The Benefits of an Online Degree


online degreeStarting or continuing your education can be a benefit to your career and earning potential. However, for many people, there is the question of whether or not the degree is worth the time and money. While the rewards of a degree speak for themselves, many people do not have the time to seek a first or second degree while also holding a full time job.

That is where online degrees come in. An online degree offers you a number of benefits that a traditional degree does not. Lets review how an online degree can help move you towards your goals while taking up a minimum of time.

A Long Distance Education

One of the reasons why people do not pursue a second degree is because there is no university near by. Where as an hour a week for nightly classes is not that bad, the hour or more commute each way usually stops people from pursuing a degree. Thankfully, the availability of online degrees, such as through a National University online education, solve this problem by allowing you to attend classes via your own computer. Now, all you need to get credit is a stable Internet connection and a computer.

A Second Degree at Half the Price

As discussed previously, the time commitment is what stops a lot of people from pursuing a second degree. In addition to time however, is the cost. Taking courses in a traditional university setting can cost hundreds of dollars per course. Online courses however are usually much cheaper and are targeted towards adults who are looking to continue their education. As a result, online courses can be half the price of traditional college courses, making them an excellent alternative for those who are looking to save money.

Meeting Pre-requisites for Work and Advancements

Job descriptions often have a preferred level of education and degrees. By getting your degree online, you can quickly work to match these requirements, making yourself out to be a better candidate then you were previously. Online courses are also a great way to show initiative and move up in a company. By taking your own time to study and move towards a degree, you can better prepare yourself for the dream job you want. If you already have a job, then see if the company is willing to cover the time and cost for the classes. More often then not, a company will help you get a degree, as it improves your performance and skill in the workplace.

Mom-Approved Tips: Everything you Need to Know About the Common App


(This article was originally published on University Parent’s blog)

Common AppApplying to colleges can be a daunting task, especially for students who apply to multiple schools as most do. Happily, there is a time-saving tool that allows students to fill out only one “common” application. Yes, I’m talking about…

The Common App

The Common App is an online admission application used by over 500 colleges and universities — public, private, large, and small. Each year, more colleges are added to the Common App list as they recognize the value of its ease of use. About one-third are “exclusive members” that use the Common App as their only admissions application form. If a member college has a separate application of its own, it is required to give equal consideration to applicants using either form. As an added bonus, several dozen schools that accept the Common App will reduce or waive the application fee if a student applies online using the Common App.

Your student may already have created a Common App username and password; if not, she can access the form at www.commonapp.org and view a list of participating colleges and universities. Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are usually November 1 and 15; most Regular Decision applications are due January 1 or January 15, 2015.

The basics

The Common App covers several areas: personal and family information, educational data, standardized test information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a personal essay, and criminal history. Some colleges require a supplement (usually an extra essay). Students using the Common App must be sure to enter all additional information requested by a college. Verify on the college’s website any additional requirements and/or forms to ensure the application is complete.

The parent’s role

How much should you be involved in the Common App completion and submission process? Parents should never assume a student’s identity and fill out the application. However, there’s plenty of work that can be done as a team.

Parents can provide:

  • Personal information (family data, etc.) required by the application
  • Brainstorming help if a student is having a hard time getting started on the essay, or finding the common narrative thread — her “story” — that will help her create a stronger application
  • Institutional memory if your student did not keep a record of activities, volunteer and work experiences, academic honors, etc. over the years
  • Feedback on the essay(s)
  • A second set of eyes to catch typos or omissions
  • Encouragement to stay on track

Knowing the basics is a good start, but in order to submit a perfect and “uncommon” application, you will need to know more. And I’ve got you covered! Following are two articles I wrote for University Parent about the Common App. They should answer everything you need to know about the Common App but didn’t know who to ask.

Parents’ Guide to the Common Application

Look Anything but Common on the Common App

Scholarship Friday: 5 Uncommon Ways to Find and Win Scholarships


5 uncommon ways to find and win scholarshipsEvery parent and student dreams of getting scholarships to pay for college. The problem: it’s hard work and requires dedication. One scholarship expert even said to look at it as a part-time job while in high school. That analogy makes sense because it will require time, energy, and effort to be successful in acquiring scholarships to pay for college.

Conventional Scholarship Search

Most parents and teens know about using scholarship search engines to help with the search. These engines are helpful because they allow the student to input their own personal information and receive a list of scholarships specific to the student. The problem with these search engines is that everyone uses them. They provide information about national scholarships that have many applicants, thus placing you in a large applicant pool with strong competition.

If a student is serious about applying for and winning scholarships, he should use every means necessary—even the unconventional or uncommon methods. The following are 5 uncommon ways to find and win scholarships:


Read the entire TeenLife.com article and find 5 uncommon ways to find and win scholarships