Tag Education

Road Trip: Preparing for Spring Break College Visits

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Using your spring break to visit colleges is a great idea, but be aware of spring break schedules for the colleges you wish to visit. It’s best to see a college when students are on campus. Here are a few tips to prepare for your spring college visits. 

  • Create a College Visit Itinerary. Using a map, look at college locations and decide on an itinerary that fits within your given time.  Don’t worry if you can’t see all of the colleges on your list. Focus on some of your top choices and then plan other school visits that are within the same geographic area. 
  • Register for college visits online.  Once you have a list of colleges to visit, register for campus tours online with the admissions office.  Resist the urge to plan “drive through” visits.  An official campus tour takes more time, but gives you a better feel for the college/campus. And don’t plan too many visits in a day –  one or two per day is best. 
  • Review your priorities for a good college fit. As discussed in the blog  What is College Fit, fit includes 4 components; academic, social, emotional and physical.  
  • Learn the basics.  Look up the school’s size, majors offered, and other details that interest you. Your visit will be more meaningful when you know the basics.
  • Create a List of Questions. Write down your Top 10 Questions for each college visit.  Focus on what you would study and who would you study with. 

Take Action 

Use GuidedPath to find links to college admission offices to schedule visits. Take a virtual tour of a college by viewing YouVisit videos from the “Tours” tab. 

Review the details on the colleges by clicking on the “Info” and “FISKE” tabs.  Watch for next week’s email: How to make the most of your college visits.  


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Finding money for college

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You may have thought you were done with writing essays and sending applications, but not quite yet.  Now is the time to look for scholarships.  And don’t get discouraged.  In this case, one more essay or scholarship application could mean a big pay-off for you.  A few more hours of your time could turn into hundreds or even thousands of dollars!   

College scholarships typically come from three sources: 

  1. The colleges to which you have been accepted. 
  2. Local community organizations 
  3. National or larger regional organizations 

At your college 

Most scholarships come from the schools that have admitted you.    See the scholarship tab in GuidedPath for your schools.  It lists academic scholarships offered to 8 or more students. 

Start locally  

Local organizations are the hidden gems of scholarship money.  Although the awards are typically smaller in dollar amount, you also don’t have as much competition.  Many local scholarships are actually looking for applicants!  Churches, service organizations (like the VFW, or the Junior League), local charitable funds, even your parent’s employer may have scholarship opportunities.  The key is finding the information – who, what, when, where, why and how to apply!     

Check with: 

  • Your high school counseling office 
  • Parent organizations (PTA, Booster clubs, etc.) 
  • Your local library 

Expand regionally 

Use your residence as a means to get more money for college.  Many states offer scholarships to top students.  Check to see what is offered through your state.  Check deadlines for any state scholarships you qualify for. 

Compete nationally 

There are dozens of national scholarship search engines available.  Many are nothing more than a way to market credit cards or other products to you.   These are our recommended scholarship search engines.   

Take Action 

Add your college scholarship deadlines to your application plan.   

Review the scholarship tab for all colleges on your list and determine your eligibility for specific awards.  Add milestones or notes for the scholarships you are planning to apply for.

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Who’s watching your social media?

Alan Katzman, founder and CEO of Social Assurity, guides students on creating a winning social media presence. He is a pioneer in developing and advancing techniques to teach students how to use social media to build a compelling and reflective digital presence as a game-changing tool for creating academic and career success at all educational levels.  We’re giving you his top four reasons why you should be aware of how social media can impact your college planning. 

Reason #1: Admission Officers Are Looking at Your Social Media
Thanks to Kaplan Test Prep and its annual survey of college admissions officers, we know that at least 35% of admission officers in the United States looked at applicant social media during the 2016 admissions process. We also know that admissions officers are more likely to look when considering scholarships and when invited to do so by applicants. 

Reason #2: Since They’re Looking, Why Not Give Them Something to See?
College admissions officers have neither the time nor the interest to search social media simply to find reasons to reject qualified applicants. If and when colleges look, logic dictates they are looking to learn more about the applicant, opening the door of opportunity for the prepared applicant to make a strong impression and set themselves apart from other qualified applicants. 

Reason #3: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Almost all colleges now have a prominent social media presence and encourage applicants to interact with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.  By optimizing social media to showcase their activities, interests, accomplishments, and service, applicants can freely and safely interact with colleges and may very well impress the right people as a result. 

Reason #4: Managing Social Media is an Essential Life Skill
Social media is here to stay and will continue to influence character and credibility assessments made by colleges, scholarship committees, and employers. Today, a thoughtful, transparent, and reflective digital presence across social media networks can help students achieve their academic and professional goals and aspirations.  

Take action
Review your social media accounts.  What would you like colleges or others to see about you? Want to do more?  Social Assurity offers online classes to get your social media presence right. 

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Spending money in college

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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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Defining Financial Aid Terms

By now you’ve received financial aid awards from the schools that have offered you admission.  But interpreting those awards might seem a bit like reading a foreign language.  Here are six common terms that you will see on a financial aid award. 

  1. Cost of Attendance – The Cost of Attendance is more than just tuition, it is an estimate of the total expense for one year of attendance.  It should include – 1) Tuition & Fees; 2) Room & Board; 3) Books & Supplies; 4) Personal Expenses, 5) Transportation (getting to and from the campus).  If the financial aid award does not include these items, search the website for the information or call the college.
  2. Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – The amount your family is expected to pay toward college (your EFC) is calculated by the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid).  You can find your EFC on the confirmation page you received when you submitted your FAFSA form.  This number should be listed on all your awards.  If it’s not there, ask the college why.

    Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution = Need 

  3. Student Financial Need – Use the financial aid equation above to determine your “financial need” for each school.  Then check the college’s award letter.  If the school’s total financial aid award is less than your financial need, you have a “financial aid gap.”  You must pay this gap (in addition to paying your EFC amount) with other sources of funding not provided by the school.  Scholarships from community groups or other sources, personal savings, or private loans are examples of how students pay their EFC plus any financial gap.
  4. Grants and Scholarships – Grants and scholarships are awards that do not need to be repaid.  Are these grants or scholarships renewable (will you received them for just freshman year or every year)?  What are the eligibility requirements that you must meet to receive the scholarship for additional years (a minimum GPA, a certain number of course credits, etc.)? 
  5. Loans – Has the college included student or parent loans in your award?  This money must be repaid by you or your parents.  An offer of $20,000 parent loan alone is not a good offer.  
  6. Work-study – A work-study award is potential income that you may earn by working part-time in a work-study position.  Most work-study jobs are on-campus which can make them convenient, but a work-study award does not guarantee you a work-study job.  You must apply for work-study positions like any other part-time job.  And just like other part-time jobs, you will receive a paycheck for your work-study earnings.  It is not automatically applied toward your cost of attendance.  Contact the university financial aid office to learn about the availability and application process for work-study positions.     

Are you being offered a mix of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study?  The more money you don’t have to pay back, or earn by working, (ideally – more scholarships and grants, less loans and work-study) the better.     

Take Action 

Enter all your admission decisions and financial aid awards into GuidedPath.  This gives you a list of all the awards colleges are offering you. 

To enter college awards: 

  1. Log into your GuidedPath account. 
  2. From your dashboard, click on the blue Decisions box. 
  3. Click on each college Decision Details. 
  4. Click on Responses: Admitted? Waitlisted? Not Admitted? 
  5. Click on Awards. Add each award from your award letters in this section. 

Enter Award type | Name of the award | Annual Amount | Total Amount (4 year amount) | Additional Information (if any) 

Repeat this process for EVERY college. Get all your numbers entered to prepare for the next step: Comparing Financial Aid Awards 

Next week: How to determine the best financial aid award.  

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Study Apps Students Must Have

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Do you dream of spending less time studying and still getting great grades?Turn your phone or device into a study machine!  There are great resources available to turn all that time you spend on your phone into something productive.  You may find a favorite that you’ll continue to use in college!

Here are 10 apps you can use to be a better student! 

  1. Evernote: place to keep and record notes (desktop, online and mobile app) 
  2. ScannerPro: an add-on to Evernote, this allows you to “scan” documents with your phone and upload them to Evernote or the cloud  (mobile app) 
  3. Trello: create and track projects (online and mobile app) 
  4. Khan Academylots of subjects covered in a way you can relate to (online) 
  5. GoConqr: create mind maps for projects, make flash cards, create your own quizzes (online and mobile app) 
  6. Wunderlistorganize and share your to-do, work, grocery, movies and household lists (online and mobile app) 
  7. Quizlet: learning tools and flash cards for the 21st century (online and mobile app) 
  8. My Study Life:  an online planner and organizer, never forget a deadline again (online and mobile app) 
  9. XMind: a mind-mapping and brainstorming tool (online and mobile app) 
  10. iStudiez: a student/assignment organizer with multiple features.  You can even enter your grades and calculate your class average or overall GPA (mobile app) 

Many of these resources are free or offer a free basic version you can try out!

Take Action
Use GuidedPath to manage your college related tasks.  Add an assignment for things like essay deadlines, standardized test dates, college visits or anything related to your college or career preparation.  You’ll see these on your calendar and get reminders as deadlines approach.  Add college related documents to Dropbox or Google Drive in a folder that you can share with your counselor on GuidedPath.

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