Extracurriculars Can Boost College Applications


Grades are important on college applications, but the best way your kids can stand out to administrators is to have a few extracurriculars listed somewhere in their applications. While colleges do care about the grades of their prospective students, they also care about the character of people they admit; therefore, what your children do after school, during weekends and over summers tells them a lot about the kind of person they are. Not only do the following activities look good on an application, they help your kids become well-rounded individuals.

Part-time job

Most kids are encouraged to get a part-time job during the evenings and weekends because it will give them a little extra cash to spend on excursions with their friends, or saving for something big. However, jobs look good to a college administrator because they show reliability, professionalism, and time-management skills, as well as some extra qualities depending on what the job actually involves. Your child doesn’t need to write an entire essay on how to fill out your Marshalls application like a pro, but they can write about what they have gained from working during the weekends, and what they have learned about themselves. A part-time job also gives your kids valuable work experience that will help them get a part-time job during college if they need some extra cash to support themselves, and it will also teach them financial responsibility for the future.


While some kids would prefer some cash compensation for working in their free time, the benefits of getting involved in the community by volunteering cannot be overstated. Volunteering for a charity, either at home or abroad, can help your kids develop skills such as compassion, hard work, and fundraising, which will certainly be useful when they join clubs in college. Volunteering also shows initiative and a willingness to help others. All these qualities will shine on a college essay, especially if the topic of said essay is the goals of the charity your child works with.


One of the best ways to confirm that your child is a superb student in a particular subject is if they tutor other students in said subject. Tutoring is definitely something your child should mention in their application if they are hoping to major in this topic in college, or if they’re looking to get into teaching in the future. For your kids, tutoring teaches them patience, the ability to be flexible with their teaching plans if it doesn’t work for a particular student, and they’ll be able to give concise explanations – a talent that college administrators will appreciate when they read their applications.

School newspaper

Working on the school newspaper will sharpen your child’s writing skills, as well as teach them critical thinking and the ability to work to deadlines.Whether they want to major in journalism or not, these skills will be invaluable in the future, and it shows college administrators that your child is actively involved in school events.

7 Tips for Summer SAT Prep


summer sat prep


As the school year is over and the final examination grades are being compiled across the nation. Many students and parents are brainstorming different ways of squeezing in some test prep time over the summer.  If that’s not you yet, don’t worry! Here are 7 actionable tips you can use to help your child on their way to SAT success!

It’s best to start test prep during the summer and make it a habit for when it’s really needed. During this time of the year, students are more relaxed, and are less consumed by class schedules, social protocol, and extra curricular activities. 

Parents of students who are set to attend college and are serious about scholarships should take advantage of this time to prepare adequately for SAT examinations. Test preparation is best started early to give students the best shot at a good SAT score and a place at their first choice college. Starting now builds up the habit in time for the start of a new school year.

  1. Make it a habit!  Your child should make it a habit of dedicating an amount of time each week practicing questions they find hard. This could be 1-2 hours, once or twice a week, so long as it is consistent.  This time doesn’t have to be all in one go, in fact most people work best and retain more information in short bursts of up to 20 minutes.
  2. Set achievable goals.  Every student should have an SAT score in mind.  Set a goal for what kind of test score your child needs to get into their college of your choice.  It doesn’t hurt to aim a little higher either.
  3. Choose the right type of test prep; Every student learns differently, some require more guidance than others.  When it comes to SAT prep there is something for everyone, including: local classes, online courses, student forums, Youtube videos, printable practice tests and a whole lot more.
  4. Learn visually; with vocabulary cartoons, SAT crosswords, Flocabulary (hip-hop music that boosts vocabulary), yes that’s a thing! Or even the Kaplan SAT/ACT Score-Raising Manga Series. There are many other unique resources, as well. Reading will help students with the SAT’s vocabulary and writing components.
  5. Get help from tutors. SAT tutors usually have firsthand experience with the SAT test and what it takes to achieve a high score.  They can help identify your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and work precisely on the areas that help them to achieve their desired SAT score.  Seeing a tutor over the summer gives students more time to dedicate to the areas they struggle with most.
  6. Practice makes perfect. Each time you take a practice test, more and more questions will seem easy to you.  As you begin to collect these questions you answer right, without fail, work these easier questions into your daily review habit.  Spend 20 minutes, twice per day reviewing each question.  Do easy question reviews at least three days per week.
  7. Study the answers that matter most.  Make sure your child spends time working on questions they find hardest.  It is best to use the longer time period to focus on these areas, than to rush them at the end. Study the explanations until they are understood.  If you have questions, be sure to ask someone.

Ultimately, it’s never too early for students to start preparing for the SAT.  Having more time will mean that your child is less stressed and more familiar with the SAT come test time. Cramming at the last minute rarely sees positive results.  Summer SAT prep doesn’t have to be all consuming, any amount of regular study, however small can prove beneficial.


Today’s guest post is from James Maroney, the founder of First Choice College Placement, a test preparation center based in Milford, CT.  Since 1999 James has traveled the country helping students to prepare for the SAT and ACT tests and gain a place at their first choice college.

Watch Out for These Secret and Dangerous Apps

dangerous apps

One of the most surprising parenting moments for many of us happens when our sons and daughters morph into teenagers. Almost overnight, our sweet little ones, who once shared all their hopes and dreams with us, begin shutting us out of their lives. Suddenly, we are talking to closed doors and blank stares, grasping at anything that resembles the bond we used to share. This stage of development is tough on families for several reasons, but one of the most startling is the strained relationships between our children and us.

However, this shift in our family dynamics catches many of us off guard. As our teens desire independence and privacy we are often left behind, especially when we factor in their digital devices and smartphones. In fact, 70 percent of our teens actively seek out ways to keep us in the dark when it comes to their technology and social media usage. While we might be able to look at a child’s Facebook account, one area we should be concerned about is the world of secret and disappearing messages.

Secret and Disappearing Messages

Disappearing messaging apps are one of the newest trends to hit the social media scene and they keep evolving. These apps feature messages that automatically delete after being viewed. The amount of time varies depending on the app or settings, but they all promise that eventually the data will be gone. BurnNote and Snapchat are probably the most popular disappearing messaging apps that our children enjoy using.

Our tweens and teens enjoy using disappearing messaging apps, because they don’t keep a running list of all their activity, comments, likes, and friends like traditional social media giants Facebook or Twitter do. Kids are concerned about maintaining their digital footprints and view disappearing messaging apps as a convenient way to promote more authentic conversations. With these apps kids can stop worrying about creating a database of comments, thoughts, and activities that anyone can view or access.

Disappearing messages are one thing, but secret apps take privacy to a whole new level. Secret apps come in a wide variety of formats, but the premise is all the same. These apps create a benign cover that looks harmless to parents, teachers, or adults. On a phone, the icon may look like an ordinary calculator app. However, if you were to click it open, you would uncover a place to store information and photos you don’t want others to view. Often, kids will store sexts or x-rated images in secret apps.

Secret and Disappearing Messaging App Dangers

While disappearing messages and secret apps have some good qualities there will inevitably be some drawbacks to this technology. Unfortunately, the private and fleeting quality of these apps encourage our kids to make extremely poor content choices. These apps become perfect vehicles for bullying and sexting, because evidence of any wrongdoing disappears. Both of these offenses carry very real emotional consequences and have even been prosecuted by the authorities in court.

Although the lack of accountability and the threat of not being monitored is liberating, tweens and teens often forget anything sent over social media isn’t really private. While at first glance, this doesn’t appear to be possible with disappearing apps, children need to be reminded that everything digital has the potential to be retrieved, shared, or saved. Users can always figure out methods to save messages by using screenshots or other devices to click a photo.

dangerous apps

7 Essential Tips for Keeping Teens Safe

Thankfully, we are not entirely helpless. As parents, we can teach our children a few tricks and methods to safely enjoy disappearing messaging apps. Listed below are a handful of essential tools to overcome a child’s secrecy to keep them happily scrolling:

  • Teach social media etiquette
  • Keep all devices in common living areas
  • Prevent children from using phones in bedrooms
  • Have a child tell you if they witness anything that makes them uncomfortable online
  • Let kids know it is okay to say no to sexting
  • Monitor a child’s activity by friending them online or asking to see their accounts every now and then
  • Begin a conversation about the power of words

How do you keep your teens safe while they use dangerous apps?

3 Ways You Can Help Your College Student


college student

If you are a parent of someone in college, then you are probably keen to help them as much as you can. As it happens, being able to help your college kid can be easier said than done. But if you know the main areas where they are likely to want help, then you can do a surprising amount to do so. In this article, we are going to try and give you a head start on that, by looking at some of the main areas where your college student might need a little assistance.


Subject Choice

For some children, it is perfectly clear what they should be studying. This is usually the case for those who already know what career they want to follow, or what kind of topics they are interested in. But for many others, it is much less of a clear cut issue. If your child is not entirely certain on which subject to study, then this is something you can probably help them out with quite well. To help them here, encourage them to focus on their strengths as well as their enjoyments. This should lead them to choosing the subject that is best for them as an individual.

Essay Writing

A big part of college education is essay writing, regardless of the subject matter. Many children struggle more than they expect to with this part of the education, particularly if they did not have to write so many essays in high school. The leap from one to the other is often quite difficult to deal with, and you should do everything you can to help them in that way. This doesn’t mean that you should help them actually write their essays, of course. But there are resources out there which can help by providing an essay and thesis writing service, and these can be useful for new college students who are struggling to make sense of it all. 

Social Life

College is not just about education – although that is obviously an important part of the whole experience. Most kids who go to college will soon find that it is also a deeply social experience, and one which they will probably be a little anxious about from time to time. If you really want to help your kids adapt to college life, then helping them with the social side of things might prove to be necessary. If necessary, work with them on developing their confidence and social skills, so that they feel better equipped to handle such situations. Or it might be the case that they just need to dive into the deep end and get stuck into it. For many people, this is actually the best way to go about it, and it is worth considering if you want to really help your college kid make the most of their experience.

College Applications Approaching. Be Prepared.


college applications

Throughout their entire school career, your students can often be working towards that one thing – college! So, when it comes the time to start thinking about applying, it can come with a lot of mixed emotions. Not only are they going to be happy that the time has finally come, but they’re also going to be nervous, excited, scared and confused. So, as a parent to a would-be college student, you’re going to want to work out how to support them through the process. It’s likely that your student will have had some support from their school so they may understand their process better than you. So, how can you work it out?

It might take you a bit of research and time, but you’re going to be able to get through it, just like your student will. There are so many different aspects of college applications, so it helps to have a rough idea before the process comes up. Chances are, your entire family is ready for this moment. Your college-age student has definitely been working for this for a while, so it’s likely that they know exactly what to expect. But just in case, these few pointers should help you out.

Know Their Major

First of all, your student should know what major they want to study. Sometimes, they could have been working towards one set major, like pre-med or pre-law, for the past few years. So, they’re going to have this one down already. But, for some students, it’s not that easy. They could have a lot of different options, or not even know which one to choose from between two they’ve been working towards. So, you’re going to want to help them choose their college major before applications start.

Nail The Extracurriculars

You’ve also got their extracurriculars to think about. A lot of colleges like to see well-rounded applications. So, you’re going to want to make sure that your student has their finger in a few pies when it comes to the activities they partake in both in and out of school. If you’ve got a few years to go, then this could be fine, but if you only have months, you might want to prompt them to start volunteering or join a club as soon as they can.

Get Good References

With college applications, your student is going to need a letter of recommendation. So, it’s a good idea to line up the ideal reference candidate as soon as you can. This will need to be teacher or counselor, ideally one that knows your students well and has done for a long time. The more recent the relationship, the better. For the letter of recommendation to be great, you’re going to want to make sure that your student talks to the candidate about their suitability to the course holistically.

Practice The Admissions Essay

One of the most daunting parts of the college application process for most students is the admissions essay. Not only can it make or break their entire application, but they can also often want to make it as interesting, inspiring, and original as possible. So, it’s a great idea to get them to practice now. They can then take pieces from each try to put together the perfect essay. It will also help to get a guide to read over it for them.

Apply For Scholarships Early

If you or your student are hoping for a scholarship, you’re going to want to make sure you look into this as early as possible. Not only do you need to search for the different scholarships available for each school and major, but you’re also going to want to get the applications in early too. But, before your students starts the application process, here are a couple tips to note on writing the essay.

Get Interview Practice In

Alongside the admissions essay on the list of most daunting parts of the process is often the interview. Sometimes, a student can really wonder what they’re going to be asked, if they know all the right answers, and if they’re going to make the right impression. But, the best they can do is just be themselves. They know why the want to study at that school and take that major and why they have the academic background they have. And if they’re still unsure, get some interview practice in for them, just in case.

Invest Where Necessary

You’ve already invested in your college-bound teen, that’s for sure, but your investment in both time and money may not be over yet. At this time, you may need to focus on a few last thing. Whether they need some extra help with their extracurricular, tutoring, or even a college admissions coach to ensure they are on the right track, now’s the time to invest.

Have Backups

Although your student may have their heart set on a particular school, you’re going to want to make sure that they have backups. For some reason, they may not have done enough to get into a certain school, so they need to be sure they have alternates. So, right now, make sure that you stress the importance of contingency plans, just in case.

Think Ahead

As the process starts to come to an end, you’re then going to want to start thinking ahead. Even though applications are close to being in, there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to preparing your student for college life. So, they’re going to want to consider things like money and moving, as well as adjusting to their new environment and meeting new people.

Stay Calm

Above all else, make sure that both you and your student stay calm. Right now, stress isn’t needed. It can put you all in a bad place. Instead, stress the importance of relaxing and still having fun. Life can’t be all work and no play – it won’t be good for any of you. Your student still needs to relax – they have worked hard for this, so they deserve some respite too.


4 Alternatives to College


Most parents want their children to get a good education and grow into mature adults. They save from an early age to ensure they can afford to send them to college. However, that path isn’t right for everyone, and some children would do better if they selected an alternative. The issue is that most parents have no idea about the other options on the table. Research shows that a traditional university education doesn’t guarantee success in life. With that in mind, we wanted to highlight some of the other things you might like to consider. All of the options below could help your children to become successful without following the standard process. As with anything in this world, sometimes you have to think outside of the box to get the best outcomes.

Getting qualifications online

If your children aren’t suited to university, that doesn’t mean they can’t get the skills they require. Maybe it’s the social aspect of learning with others at college that causes the issues? Well, thankfully, there is an alternative that would allow them to get the education and recognition they deserve. Whether they want an online BA in organizational studies or anything else, there are many companies offering that service. As a parent, you just need to research the top organizations to ensure your child has the best opportunities. Look for an internet-based educational firm that has a good track record. In most instances, you will find lots of reviews from people who’ve used the service in the past. If they haven’t experienced any significant problems, you’re on the right track.

Applying for an apprenticeship

Governments around the world have pledged to put more money into creating apprenticeships than ever before. That means there are many more opportunities than most parents and children realize. Apprenticeships as a fantastic idea because they allow your child to learn as they earn. In most situations, the company will have your child working in-house for most of the week. They will then send them off to college on day release. All the costs are covered by the business, and so your child doesn’t have to pay anything for their education. It’s an excellent solution if your kids want to become tradespeople. Those schemes work well in the construction and service industries. So, if you want to create the world’s next best plumber or something like that, consider an apprenticeship.

Getting a job and working their way up

If your child can’t find a suitable apprenticeship, they might like the idea of finding a job when they leave school. That’s an incredible idea if they select something with lots of promotion opportunities. Nothing is wrong with starting at the bottom and working their way up. So, they just need to find companies and industries that offer those benefits. Of course, your kids are never going to become brain surgeons following that method. However, they could become managers or consultants once they’ve gained enough experience. Best of all? You won’t have to pay for their education, and they won’t end up with lots of debt from tuition fees. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what they hope to achieve from their working lives.

Investing In Your College Bound Teen



Most parents like the idea of investing in their child. By putting money aside for your child, as they get into adult life, you make their future much more secure. Unfortunately, though, a lot of parents put their investments into the wrong place. Young people have a very specific set of needs. And, these needs can usually be met with just a little bit of funding. So, before you start putting money away for them; you should think about a couple of other options. To help you out, this post will be going through three examples of ways you can invest in your teens. But, don’t expect a high return!

A Car

It can be hard when your child leaves home. A lot of kids decide to move far away from their hometown, in the pursuit of a more interesting life. This leaves a lot of parents feeling like they don’t see their kids enough because of their new busy life. It’s likely that you child feels the same way, too. So, to solve this little issue, it could be best to simply buy them a car. This will give them the chance to come and see you a lot more often. And, it will provide them with some great benefits in their normal life, too. Having a car makes it possible for people to look much further for jobs. And, it will make the little parts of their life, like shopping and visiting their partner, much easier, too.

Their Education

The price of education is going up throughout most of the world. Unfortunately, though, the need for a good education is getting more important. Life can be hard for a young person who has to work to pay for their education. So, taking this out of their hands can make their life much easier. The price of studying something like an MBA online, to enable your child to get into their own business, is much less than what they will make doing the job. So, it’s worth helping them at this point. And, then, when you’re all older; they can return the favor and help you.

Their Interests

The last thing to think about this list is the interests of the child himself. Often, people won’t find their dream job through education. Instead, that will be the platform they use to start exploring. And, they will find their true dreams through exploring the things they enjoy. Unfortunately, though, this will cost some money. For example, you might find that your child loves both animals and photography. In this case, sending them to enjoy a wildlife photography session with an instructor could inspire them to work harder on their passion. It’s easy to find things like this; if you know your child well enough.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to start working harder on your child’s future. Investing in your child isn’t the sort of investment you make to get money out of it. Instead, you do this a labour of love for your kids.

Preparing Your Child for College Life


college life

Up until this point, your child has always lived with you. Over the past couple of decades, you have become used to seeing them almost every single day: cooking for them, picking them up and dropping them off to the places they need to be, helping them resolve problems and offering a shoulder to cry on when things get tough. In short, you have organised their lives and provided constant loving support. Some of these things will never change. You will always be there for your child. But it’s time for them to grow up, fly the nest and learn to stand on their own two feet. College will probably be the first time that they will experience living independently. It is important that you help them in this transition so that they can develop into the independent, strong person you know they are capable of being. Whether your child is moving to a different state, or just down the road, you need to help ensure that they settle into their new college life as quickly as possible. There a few ways to do this, which we will run through now.



It may be months until your child is due to pack their bags and leave, but it’s better to organise things sooner rather than later. There’s plenty that you can sort out well in advance.


Tuition fees and living costs should be settled on as soon as your child accepts a place at a college. But that isn’t the last of financial worries. You should ensure that they have a reliable student bank account set up. Different providers offer a whole variety of overdraft limits and interest-free lending periods, so shop around and find the best offer available.


How is your child going to get around when they get to their new home? Bus? Rail? Look up local travel networks and consider investing in rail cards or bus passes. Most networks will offer discounted rates for young people who can prove they are studying full time, so always make sure to ask. After all, every penny counts when you’re living on a college budget, right?


Living Essentials

Most student accommodation is furnished. But they generally won’t have much else. Your loved one is going to need basic things that they might not even think about coming up to moving out. Think of cutlery, bed sheets, toilet brushes. Everyday living essentials aren’t always the most exciting of things, but they are things that your child will need to live comfortably and cleanly. Understandably, the cost of these numerous small items mounts up. You might want to use coupons, which can be found on, to reduce the amount payable and make the whole process more affordable. As we’ve all learned from shows like Extreme Couponing, coupons (when used correctly) can cut the cost of your shopping dramatically.




Make sure that your child has all necessary identification documents on their person. You might be used to holding onto these for them so that they don’t lose them. But they are going to need them now that they will be living independently. You may also need college acceptance letters, enrolment details, accommodation booking confirmations and any other relevant receipts to make the process of enrolling and getting their keys as smooth as possible upon arrival.


Some students like to travel light, leaving most of their personal belongings back home. But the majority will want to take the majority of their things with them. You probably won’t be able to get all of this in your regular family car. So consider hiring a van or using a removal service. You don’t want their belongings getting damaged or broken in transit, and you also don’t want to take multiple trips back and forth to get them moved in properly.


Travel early in the morning, so you have a full day to help your child unpack. If left to their own devices, they will probably end up living out of boxes and suitcases for weeks; most will choose to go out and socialise over creating their nest.


Saying Goodbye

This is going to be the hardest part. Your child is flying the nest and emotions might run high. Consider going for a celebratory dinner in their hometown. Let them know how proud you are of them. There might be a couple of tears, but not to worry. You can visit at near enough anytime, and they’ll be home for the holidays.

10 Unique Graduation Gifts

Who doesn’t agonize over what to get a graduate? No high school graduate wants a bear with a diploma or a copy of “Oh The Places You Will Go”. We can certainly be more creative than that. Here’s a list of my fav graduation gifts. Share it with your friends and pin them on a graduation gift board.

Picture Keeper

Graduation gifts

Give your graduate a peace-of-mind with back up security from Picture Keeper. With so many memories stored on computers, don’t risk your graduate’s photos getting lost or deleted without a backup plan.This little gadget plugs into your smartphone with an accompanying app that automatically backs up photos to the built in storage. The photos can be copied to other mobile devices that have the app. There is also a USB plug on the other end to it’s easy to send photos to your computer.

Shower Squids

This is so much easier than using a shower caddy. Not to mention, they are fun! They are available in tons of colors too!

Baggu Bags

These will be great for trips to the campus bookstore or carrying groceries. Your graduate will love these. Since they are affordable, they make the perfect gift for your high school grad—they come in dozens of colors and patterns.

Laundry Bag

By far the best laundry bag for college students. You can stuff the pouches outside of the bag with laundry tabs, dryer sheets and crystal beads to make clothes smell fresh and clean. Add a jar of quarters for laundry money. With the double compartments for separating/storing clothes this makes laundry a breeze for students.


Dorm rooms can be noisy places. These bedphones are thin and soft and can block out the noise. The perfect gift for the soon-to-be college student.

101 More Things to do with Ramen Noodles

This is more than a book, it’s a survival guide. College students live on ramen. Why not add some spice to the average package?

Smartphone Charger

Your student’s phone is his lifeline. A portable charger is a must. But why not make it fun? One of these 30 chargers should put a smile on your graduate’s face.

PocketMonkey Multi-Tool

Finally…a pocket tool that is actually convenient! Twelve functions packed into one millimeter of stainless steel. It’s the size of a credit card, so it easily slips into your wallet.

Magnet Photo Cable

The college student can display their favorite photos of friends with this fun hanging photo display! Amazingly strong magnets are adorned in crystal clear gems.  Hang the cable on a wall and use the magnets to put up photos, notes and memories—cool for college dorms.

Bedside Pocket

Keep your bedside essentials handy with this convenient felt pouch. Slide the sturdy flap between your mattress and foundation and the soft, open pocket holds everything from books to remote controls.

A Recipe for College Success


college success

As a parent, knowing that you child has got into college is such a thrill. You are so happy for them that their hard work has paid off, and that they get to move on to the next stage of their life and better their career chances. But of course, there is a little worry and concern in that mix too. Worry about whether they will be OK, and concern for whether they will achieve their full potential in the college system. By why worry, when there are the thing that you can actually do to ensure they do their best when studying for their degrees? Just read on to find out what they are.

Help them get practically prepared

One important thing that you can do as a parent is to help your child to get partially prepared for college. This can be a thing like getting them the right supplies to survive a year in a dorm like thong sandals for the shower, and a decent frypan.

Or it can be by setting them up with a budget tracker and planner. So they can stay organized however hectic their schedule is.

It can even be helping them to have all the basics that they will need like clothes, toilets and washing powder, or a school bag and laptop.

Also if they aren’t heading to catered halls, then it’s a great idea to get some practical cooking lessons in with them in the run-up to going way from college. It doesn’t have to be anything 5 star. Just basic means like spaghetti bolognese, boiled eggs, and omelets. They will certainly be glad of these skills when they get there.

Help them improve weaker areas

Of course, college isn’t just all about being independent and exploring the world on their own, and there is a fair bit of studying to do as well. That means it can help your child prepare for college by getting their educational skills up to scratch.

This includes helping them improve with a thing like their spoken English skills by doing courses like the ones provided by the Effortless English Club. Or improving on their study skill by showing them different ways of making notes like mind mapping.  

Help them emotionally prepare

Of course, another ingredient of the recipe for college success is to help your child be mentally prepared for the experience. To do this, you may take advantage of the college open days. So they can get used to the layout and being on campus?

It’s also a great idea to speak to them about an emotional issue that might arise while they are away from home. This could be things like stress, mental health issues like depression or anxiety, sexual health issues, or being homesick.

More than anything it’s crucial to let you shall know that while their education is important, it is not vital to your parent-child relationship. This means that if they are having problems and are considering dropping out, they know that you will be there for them unconditionally and support them no matter what.