About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 202 posts from scratch.

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Stressed About the SAT? Relax!

This post is sponsored and written in partnership with the College Board.

Parents of college-bound teenagers love to compare notes. They discuss college choice, essay frustration and of course, test prep. Has your son taken the SAT yet? Did he do well? Is he happy with his score? How many times is he taking it? Are you and he stressed about the test?

It’s only natural for parents to ask these questions. SAT test-related anxiety is very real. Students are stressed because they feel their entire future is riding on how well they do on the exam. Parents are stressed because their students are stressed and want them to succeed. Both parents and students often feel the anxiety is simply part of the process and there is nothing they can do to relieve it. This is not true.

With the right knowledge and preparation, anxiety can easily become a non-issue for you and your student. Three factors can help remove the stress surrounding the test and help prepare your student for the March SAT.


Let’s face it—test scores are an important part of the college application; but the key word here is “part”. Colleges use the SAT score as a tool to evaluate the student’s readiness to attend college. However, they also use your student’s GPA, his or her essay, the quality of their academic performance, extra-curriculars and other factors. They look at the whole student—not just a test score. Keeping this top of mind should remove some of the stress and pressure.

If you want your student to feel relaxed and confident, remind him that you’re proud of the work he is doing and you have every confidence that he will succeed and get an amazing education. He is, of course, more than a test score!


Students know that taking any test without studying or preparing can be recipe for disaster. The same rings true for  taking the SAT. The more time your student spends studying and preparing, the less anxiety he will feel on test day. Fortunately, there is  free Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy available online for every student. Your student should take advantage of these resources and allocate the time to study and prepare. It’s important to remember: preparation prevents panic and it leads to confidence and score growth!


Familiarity breeds confidence. Once you are familiar with a task, it’s easier to tackle it the second time. Practice tests are available for a reason: they help students become familiar with the test. Start the SAT prep process early and encourage your student to take the timed, realistic practice tests. When test day arrives, he can take the test with confidence.

Keep all these points in mind and you and your student will be more relaxed and confident on test day. Anxiety and stress are real, but they don’t have to be a problem when you follow these guidelines.

Don’t forget to register by February 9th for the March SAT to avoid late registration penalties.


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.

Dealing with Senioritis (The College Dream Killer)



Senioritis. Yes. It’s a word (and a disease). It hits most seniors the last semester of high school. It usually strikes after all their college applications are completed and submitted, and grabs total hold after they have received offers of admission. Senioritis says, “The year is almost over. I’ve been accepted to college. It’s time to take it easy and P-A-R-T-Y!” It is no respecter of persons and hits almost every senior at some point after they return from winter break.

What should you look for?

When senioritis begins, you might not notice the symptoms. It could be an unusually low grade on a test. Or you might notice she is studying less and less, with a complete lack of motivation. More severe symptoms include skipping class, a major drop in grades, and often accompanied by an “I don’t care” attitude. More so than your typical teenage defiance and resistance.

Why is it “deadly”?

Senioritis can “kill” your student’s dream of college. The colleges that offer admission are closely watching your student to see if she continues to excel until the end of her senior year. A drop in grades or even disciplinary action can be a red flag, signaling to colleges that your student isn’t ready to be on their own and handle the rigors of a college education. If she can’t commit and stay the course with all the adult supervision around her, how will she stay the course in college without anything except self-motivation?

Colleges have been known to withdraw offers of admission if a student exhibits any of these signs during the final months of high school. Hence, senioritis can KILL you student’s dream of college.

What is the cure?

A reality check. If you see signs of senioritis setting in, it’s time for a cold, hard conversation. Lay it all out on the table. Explain that colleges are watching. She won’t get a second chance. Once the offer is pulled, it’s pulled, for someone else who is committed. It’s a harsh reality check for most students, but one that needs to be made clear. The final months of senior year are just as important as the previous ones. Your student needs to keep her eye on the prize and realize once she walks across that stage with her diploma in hand, she can take a deep sigh of relief and spend the entire summer relaxing. Not until then, and only then, can she rest on her laurels.

Is Your Student Interested in Pursuing a Skilled Trade?


skilled trade

Is your student looking for a hands-on career that pays well but isn’t on your traditional college major radar? With an estimated 31 million skilled trade vacancies by 2020 and a potential oversaturation of IT employees, the following jobs are smart choice for young adults.

HVAC technician. HVAC techs don’t just provide tune-ups to residential heating and cooling systems. Many HVAC professionals work on industrial refrigeration equipment, boilers, heat pumps, and air handling systems. The Advanced Technology Institute reports that HVAC jobs will grow by more than 20% through 2022 and claims the top professionals in the field earn more than $68,900 annually.

Machinist. Creative minds that lean toward problem solving might like a career as a machinist. A machinist repairs or creates large machines and often makes their own tools to get the job done. A high-school diploma and some manufacturing experience can help a budding industrial machinist take home $42,000 each year.

Electrician. Electricians are the men and women who work to ensure that buildings, vehicles, and ships are wired correctly and that that wiring is safe. Earning more than $25 per hour in the early years, an electrician can charge $75 per hour or more as an independent contractor or business owner in less than a decade.

Plumber. Plumbers are the people you call when your toilet, drains, or hot water heater fail to function. But they are also important in construction as these professionals are knowledgeable in everything from drainage to pipefitting and how a building’s design might affect its plumbing system. Plumbers help create blueprints and may work alone or with a team on large projects. With an expected $50,620 salary and 12% job growth through 2024, it’s a career that isn’t going down the drain any time soon.

Brick mason. A brick mason gets to build things with their hands, from mailboxes to courthouses to chimneys. It’s a job that requires heavy lifting, a keen eye for detail, and the ability to follow detailed instructions. There is little room for errors in this job, as a brick mason’s handiwork is literally set in stone.  Although many in the industry work as an apprentice instead of undergoing formal education, there are a number of college programs that offer certification in masonry. Brick masons that work for local governmental agencies can earn more than $93,000; the median salary in the private sector is $46,650.

Civil engineer. A civil engineer works on a large scale to create infrastructure plans in towns, at airports, seaports, and along the highways and byways. There are virtually no areas where civil engineers don’t touch. These construction and architectural experts are the ones responsible for keeping tragedy at bay and must understand natural disasters, such as flooding and tornadoes, in order to minimize their impact on the community. Civil engineers can earn up to $100,000 or more depending on location and expertise.

Industrial engineer. An industrial engineer works to increase operational efficiency. This job offers the best of both worlds: the ability to work on-site as well as time in the office. Industrial engineering jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 10% through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And with a median salary of $84,310, it’s a high-paying career with growth opportunities.

Construction and manufacturing industry experts hope to fill these and other open positions with new workers in the coming years. And each of these industries is adding jobs quickly as Baby Boomers begin to age out of the employment pool. This is good news for young adults is that job growth has a positive impact on the economy today and builds the foundation for tomorrow’s homebuyer. More jobs leads to higher wages, which leads to more people buying homes, which ultimately leads to lower interest rates and more favorable loan terms across the board. Getting in the door to these fast-growing careers now is one sure way to pave the way for a bright financial future.

And believe it or not, there are scholarships available to help you pay for this type of training:

2017 Technicians in Residential Plumbing, HVAC or Electrical Scholarship & 2017 Troops to Trades Training Grants and Scholarships

2017 Skilled Labor Shortage Scholarship

Women in Skilled Trades Scholarship Program

National Housing Endowment Student Scholarships

World Plumbing Council Scholarship Program

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers Scholarships

Capture High School Memories Before College with a T-shirt Quilt

t-shirt quilt

We’ve been talking about it for years–doing something with my daughter’s old t-shirts. Too many memories to just toss them and storing them was becoming an issue. We wanted to use them and make a blanket, but we didn’t have the sewing skills to accomplish it. We researched options but they all seemed so expensive. Until we found Project Repat.

This Christmas I was able to give my daughter a gift of memories. When she opened the box, her face lit up. There on a quilt were her favorite t-shirts from high school and college days. A shirt we purchased on a family vacation. A memory of her 18th birthday trip to Six Flags. One she purchased during her study abroad in London and Paris. Another her brother purchased for her while he was in the Marines. Her sorority and college shirts reminding her of some of the best memories of her life.

When your college-bound teen signs that letter of acceptance from his or her dream college, she will be leaving home in the fall. Homesickness almost always sets in. It would be great for your teen to have a little bit of home with her every day. She can choose the shirts that hold her favorite memories from childhood and high school to take with her to college. The t-shirt quilt will remind her of happier times and comfort her during those moments when she misses home.

Click on the text below for a chance to win a FREE QUILT and a DISCOUNT COUPON CODE from Project Repat.

Yes. I want to order a t-shirt quilt for my college-bound teen.

These Mistakes Could Cost You That College Scholarship


Applying for scholarships requires a commitment of time and a dedication to persevere. It is a job in the truest sense of the word. You will most likely spend hours upon hours applying for scholarships hoping the time will be rewarded with money to pay for college. But the payoff won’t come unless you take the time to apply for scholarships or if you make these five scholarship application mistakes.

1. Not following directions.

Scholarship judges look for students who know how to follow directions. If the student can’t follow the directions, the application will be immediately placed in the reject pile. If the directions ask for only three recommendations, and no more, don’t send five. If it requires students provide a transcript, don’t forget to include it. If the essay word count is specific, (i.e. no more than 500 words) stick to the word count guidelines.

Along with following the directions, always check spelling and grammar on the application itself and any essay submissions. Since many scholarships have thousands of qualified applicants, this one simple mistake can cause you to lose the scholarship.

2. Applying to the wrong scholarships.

Read the scholarship qualifications carefully. If you don’t qualify, don’t apply. Guidelines such as GPAs, specific areas of interest, specific heritage and gender require applicants who meet the criteria. Applying for these scholarships when you don’t match the qualifications is a waste of time.

3. Not personalizing your application.

Just about every scholarship asks for details related to academics, activities and future plans. But personalizing the application will make you stand out. Also, find some time to learn about the organization presenting the scholarship and find a way to include this knowledge in the application or the essay and why it might relate to you.

Research previous winners and find out what the scholarship judges found valuable in these winners. Make sure the application explains why you are the perfect applicant for this award. Be careful when copying and pasting information from previous applications. Make sure the information you provide is unique to each scholarship.

Read the original article at TeenLife Magazine: 5 Mistakes That Could Cost You That Scholarship

Borrowing Wisely for Students



There are plenty of options available when the time comes for you to pick a loan. If you are a student and you need a student loan you will need to have a loan with a very low-interest rate. There are student loans that cover this and it is repayable over time, or even when you start working. The problem is if you need a loan for something else, such as for a car, or to fund a course then you may not feel as though there are many options available. You may even face charges if you are late making the payment, and this can make you feel incredibly trapped, especially if you are on a budget and trying to save money at the moment.

Borrowing on a Low Credit Rating

There is a huge difference between having poor credit and having no credit. They both however, make it difficult for you to secure a loan with a low rate. If you have no credit history then you may struggle to get a loan at all, and if you have poor credit then you may have a note against your name or you may have missed payments and this can make you difficult for a loan company to invest in. If you are young and you need to take out a loan then lenders such as Lendkey are ideal for this and they can provide you with the rate that is suitable for your situation.

Improving your Credit Rating

There are a lot of different ways for you to improve your credit rating. One of them is making sure that you are registered on the electoral roll or the corresponding register in your own country. If you are not then there is a high chance that you will not secure any credit at all. It also helps to space out any credit applications that you have. This will leave a footprint on your file and if you do happen to get rejected from one then this will make it less likely for the next lender to give you a loan. The cycle is going to carry on like this until you get accepted, which is rather unfortunate. The best way for you to get around this would be for you to apply and wait to see if you get accepted, and leave quite a bit of time between each application. You also need to make sure that you take the time and research each application properly.

Your History

If you are struggling to get your credit rating up then one idea would be for you to apply for a high-interest credit card. This is not ideal because if you are on a budget then it means that you are paying more than you should be for your interest, but it does mean that you can slowly build up your rating until you can eventually find a card that has the interest rate you’re looking for. This may take time, but that is just how things work and there aren’t many other options available for you to take advantage of.