…from GuidedPath Edge Guru

  • End of year checklist


    Senior Checklist

    You are almost there!  What are your next steps? 

    • Finish strong!  Strive to get your best grades this semester.  All college acceptances are CONDITIONAL.  They are based on the expectation you will finish strong.  If you do not, your admissions offer can be rescinded. 
    • Plan your room and board.  Complete the forms to request a dorm, select a meal plan and make a housing deposit.  Do this as early as you can.  
    • Schedule placement tests.  Many colleges require you to take Math and/or other placement tests Find out the requirements and get it scheduled.  Sometimes your SATACT, or AP scores will suffice, and you will not need to take the test.  If you have questions about placement test requirements, contact the college. 
    • Schedule new student orientation.  Is your new student orientation in the summer? Or just before you start school?  Don’t miss it – this is often when you register for classes and get other valuable information. 
    • Plan for graduation.  Plan to make this a memorable and safe graduation celebration.  Tell family and friends what you need for college: books, computer, dorm gear, etc. as a suggestion for graduation gifts. 
    • Say thank you.  Tell teachers, counselor, coaches and others that have helped you, “Thank you”.  Give special thanks and appreciation to parents and family for support. 
    • Make summer meaningful.  Plan to work, do community service, improve study skills or other meaningful things over the summer.  Save any money you earn for when you start college in the fall. 
    • Get your shots.  You need to have all your vaccinations up to date before you enroll in college. 

    Take Action 

    Use GuidedPath to record all your college decisions.  Mark the schools you applied to with admitted, waitlisted or not accepted.  Add in your financial aid awards too.  Turn each of the checklist items into a task in GuidedPath.  

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  • Spending money in college

    credit card

    Enrollment decision made? Check!  

    College housing selected? Check!  

    Credit card for college – What?!  Should I get a credit card? 

    Before you leave for college, you be prepared to budget your money.  This could mean having a credit card – or not.  Here are 6 money management tips for you to consider as you prepare to go off to college in the fall. 

    • Open a bank account and get an ATM card (if you don’t already have one).  You may want to even research the local banking options at the school you will attend.  Many colleges have a bank or credit union on campus.  Make it a joint account (you and a parent) That way you can access your money when away from home (in college). 
    • Learn how to check your bank balance from your phone It is a good practice to check your bank balance before you get gas or stop by Starbucks, to be sure you have money in your account for the purchase. 
    • Learn how to deposit checks.  New technology allows you to deposit checks right from your phone.  Great for those graduation checks you will receive. 
    • Create a budget It is essential to have a spending plan.  Know how much money you will have each month from your financial aid or from parents.  With your parents, create a realistic monthly budget.  Then, your biggest task will be to stick to your budget. 
    • Learn how to schedule & pay bills from your account.  You might have phone bills or other bills you are responsible for.  Learn how to pay on time and keep within a budget. 
    • Decide with your parents and if you choose, open a credit card account BEFORE leaving for college Credit card companies will offer many promotions for new students on campus – free shirts, new tech gear, etc.  Don’t be tempted by free stuff!  Open ONLY oncredit card and use this card as a “backup” (if you don’t have cash) to help establish good credit. 

    Start developing good money management skills now, and you will have a great start to your freshman year in the fall. 

    Take Action 

    Use the Cost of Attendance in GuidedPath to calculate your college budget.  Here you can find the amount listed as “Personal Expenses”.  Use this to calculate your college budget.  Divide the number by 9 months to determine your monthly budget. 

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  • Saying Thank You


    It’s May 1!  Congratulations!!  Today is the deadline for college enrollment decisions and it also marks the end of the application process.  And although senior year is not quite over, at least you can feel relaxed in knowing where you will be in the fall.     

    As you wind down in your last few weeks of senior year, take time to acknowledge the people who have made a difference in your life with a card or note.  Often these people are unsung heroes.  Many teachers, counselors, coaches and others have been leading and guiding, and at times, pushing and prodding you to be your best.  Let them know the impact they have made.  Here are the top DO’s for saying “Thank you”. 


    1. Say “Thank You” the oldfashioned way.  Use a card or paper. 
    2. Handwrite the note yourself.  Make sure it is neat and easily read.  Don’t let your parent write these notes.  They should come from you. 
    3. Make it personal.  Use Dear …., with first or last name. 
    4. Be specific in your expression of gratitude.  Tell this person how they made a difference in your life. 
    5. Deliver it yourself, the oldfashioned way.  Put a stamp on it and mail it, or put in a teacher’s or counselor’s box.  
    6. Set a deadline and write your notes before graduation. 
    7. Think of all the people you can thank.  Don’t leave someone out.  

    Your teachers, counselors and others who have helped you through high school, rarely get a thank you from the students they served.  Make their day by remembering and acknowledging their contributions.  

    “None of us got to where we are alone.  Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance saying thank you.”  Harvey Mackay 

    Take Action 

    Create a task and deadline for yourself to get your thankyou cards completed.  Use your Letters of Recommendation or Course Plan (in Surveys) to review all your teachers, counselors and community people who might need a personalized thank you. 

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  • Study Tips – Acing finals or AP tests

    Worried about your upcoming finals or AP tests?  Reduce stress and ace your tests by using these study tips from a graduate student. 

    1. Find a study space that suits you.
      For students who need a bit of chaos while they work, coffee houses usually have the perfect amount of chatter and noise while also having private study nooks.  For students who want freedom from distraction, a room with the door closed and a white noise playing (like simplynoise.com) is ideal.  Study rooms in your school or public library also make great quiet spaces.  Be sure your surroundings are comfortable to you before settling in for studying.

    1. Enjoy your favorite snacks or drinks while you study.
      Cheese and crackers, granola bars, vegetables with dip, or peanut M&M’s are a great treat to keep you awake and focused through long study sessions.  Coffee, tea, or soda may sound like a good idea but too much caffeine can impact sleep or make you dehydrated so don’t overdo it. 

    1. Never study where you sleep.
      Sitting upright in a chair will keep you in study mode much longer than lounging on pillows in your bed.  Being in your bedroom may be fine, but save your bed for sleeping.
    1. Don’t try to learn anything new the night before.
      Especially if you are part of a study group or study with friends, don’t force yourself to learn their approach right before the test If one of your peers use a different method to get their answers and it helps you – good.  However, youre not confident with a new approach too close to test day you could ruin your chances.  Stick to what you know.

    1. Don’t put all of your time into one area.
      It’s tempting to spend 3 hours on science and 1 hour on everything else if you feel science needs your attention most, but this is a gamble.  You risk not preparing well enough for an entire cluster of subjects because you were in a panic over one.  Attack the chapters and the problems where you struggle most so that you use your time well.  Spending some extra time here or there is not an issue but give every subject the attention it is due.

    1. Avoid thinking “I should have” and “I would have.”
      It is useless to breakdown about how you should have asked that question or met with that study group.  Your notes and the knowledge will have to do, and if you study well, they’ll be enough.
    1. Beware the allure of “study buddies.”
      Friends can help when you are feeling stuck but committing to a study partner is not always best Everyone studies differently.  Your friend may enjoy going over Brown v. the Board of Education with his Pandora station all the way up and a case of sugar-free Red Bull.  But if youre the type of student who needs calm and quietyou will be completely lost.  Be certain that your study mate works the same way you do before agreeing to share your focus time.

    1. Take breaks while you study to stay sharp.
      Study in blocks of 60 minutes with 10-minute breaks in between.  If 60 min feels like a challenge, start with study blocks of 30 minutes with 5-minute breaks.  Set alarms on your phone to let you know when to start and stop and stick to them.  During the study block you should only be studying – don’t pet the dog, don’t check your email, don’t text, just hit the books.  Find apps to help you stay focused and on task.

    1. Do something fun before you go to sleep.
      Don’t study up until you go to sleep, it can make sleep a challenge.  You may lie there questioning whether or not you will remember things tomorrow, or if you learned everything correctly.  Instead, give yourself at least 30 minutes before bed to do something completely unrelated, fun, and relaxing.  Snapchat, TV, a video game – whatever helps your brain decompress.  

    1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
      This tip will give you a serious advantage.  The student next to you may have studied their notes 6 times over, but with only 2 hours of sleep they aren’t likely to remember as much.  Get some real sleep and your nerves will thank you. 

    Take Action 

    Use assignments and appointments in GuidedPath to help you with pacing as you prepare for finals.  Set appointments for study groups.  Use assignments to record project or class deadlines and pace your studying of subjects. 

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  • Now What? Making the Final Decision

    [source: NACAC]

    Italmost here!  The National Candidates Reply Date for U.S. colleges is May 1.  As a senior, this is your enrollment decision deadline.  If you did not do an Early Decision application, you may still be weighing your options.  How do you approach this final, important decision?  Cyndy McDonald, college counseling expert, shared some tips in a webinar, “Now What? Making the Final Decision.” 

    Review your answers to the College Match survey, by Dr. Steven Antonoff, included in GuidedPath Knowing your preferences and traits is important as you prioritize your admission offers If you have not taken the survey yet, you can still do it now!   

    • What are your top 3 categories? 
    • In your own words, describe what your highest score category says about you and your needs for going to college?

    Parents Must Contribute
    Going to college is a family affair.  You are going to college, but your parents are sending you.  It should be as good a fit for your whole family Involve your parents and take their opinions to heart when making your final college decision. 

    As a Family Review Best Fit Categories
    Together as a family, think back to what was most important to you when making your original list of colleges (things like – academics, location, size, activities).  Evaluate which college meets your needs best? 

    Four aspects of “best fit”. 

    1. Academic: Does it offer your major or field of study?  Internships or cooperative educational options?  What will your class sizes be?  Compare the number of undergraduate students at each college. 
    2. Financial: Is it affordable, both for you and your family?  Will you need student loans to afford the school?  Have you been offered generous scholarships or grants?  Do a cost comparison to see which colleges offer you the best financial aid Details for doing financial award comparisons are in previous emails.  
    3. Social: Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate” talks about the importance of identifying PEOPLE and PLACES you will feel comfortable with on campus (see Harlan’s webinar, 7 Big Mistakes HS Seniors Make When Picking a College).  Who will your people and places be?  One of the best ways to do this is an overnight visit on campus.  
    4. Physical: Based on your college visits, which college offers the physical location that best fits your needs?  Does the physical campus environment excite you What about the climate and the surrounding area?  

    Ask for Opinions
    Before you make a final decision, talk to others.  Check social media Talk to friends at the schools you are considering.  Find out what the pros and cons are for each campus from students there.  Use Niche or Unigo to view student reviews about the campus. 

    Make a list of Pros and Cons  
    Using the information in your rankings, create a list of pros and cons for each school and enter them into the Decisions section of GuidedPath Use this information and your review of categories to determine which college you are enrolling as a freshman in the fall. 

    Look forward with Enthusiasm
    Once you make your enrollment decision, look forward with enthusiasm, and don’t second guess yourself.  You can do well at any of the colleges on your list.  It is all up to you to make it happen.  The college name is less important than the experiences you will have while there! 

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  • Choosing the best financial aid offer

    When looking at financial aid awards from the schools you’ve been admitted to, one offer may appear better than others.  But is it really?  How do you know? 

    Once you’ve entered your financial aid offers into GuidedPath (see last week’s Guru blog) you can compare awards.  Which of your college offers adds up to a 5star Award rating?  Follow these steps to compare offers from up to 4 colleges at a time. 


    1. Log into your GuidedPath account. 
    2. Click on Decisions in top blue menu bar.  Find drop down link for Cost Comparisons. 
    3. Select up to 4 colleges with awards you want to compare. 

    Comparison Questions 

    Look over your cost comparison charts on GuidedPath.  Check out the following line items for each college on your list: 

    • Award Rating:  What is the star rating?  5 stars is best. 3-5 stars is a good award. 
    • Percent of need met:  Is the school meeting more than 50% of your need? 
    • Average NeedBased Award Does your award match or exceed the average needbased financial aid package?  If not, ask the college why your award is less than their average. 
    • “Gift” aid offered:  Look at the Total Grants and Total Scholarships awarded.  This is money you don’t have to pay back.  Which school is offering you the most in these two categories combined? 
    • Student Loans offered:  The loan limit for Direct Loans for a dependent freshman is $5500.  Are you being offered this amount between subsidized and unsubsidized loans? 
    • Unmet Need (Gap):  Do you have need?  Is there unmet need?  How much?  If you have unmet need, contact the college using to ask if more financial aid is available. 
    • Four/Six Year Outlook:  Which college will cost you more if you take 4 years to graduate?  6 years to graduate? 

    Take Action
    By comparing financial aid awards side by side, you will see which colleges have given you the best offers.  This is important to consider as you finalize your college choice for the fall. 

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