Dos and Don’ts for Writing Your College Application Essay Reply

Too often are college application essays neglected for their role in the admission process, while all of the focus is put on the student’s grades and tests scores. But your application essay can actually play a pivotal role as it gives the admission board a sense of who you are, reveals why you’re motivated and what sets you aside from all the other top scorers and exemplary students.

You should consider your application as a chance to present yourself and the elements that make you truly unique. While most colleges require only one essay, depending on your aspirations you might find yourself applying for a college which requires two or even more essays.

Don’t stress, because here is the list of dos and don’ts of the application essay writing that can make all the difference. Let’s do it.

Focus on Your Strengths

Naturally, you would want to point out your crowning traits, what makes you such a valuable “specimen”. The personal statement is a chance for the reader to get to know your personality, so make sure to share personal stories and anecdotes that portray your strengths. Did you have someone at your school to whom you helped study for their exam? Did you help the needy in your neighborhood? Those are the kind of stories people want to hear in order to be able to see you as a compassionate, empathetic and genuine person.

Never Show Mediocrity

There are too many average people in this world, and you are not one of them. By all means, do your best to state that. This doesn’t mean you should brag and come off as presumptuous in your essay, no; you need to be walking a fine line between stating your worth and showing humility and respect.

Rather than falling into the trap of resorting to clichés and generic stories heard thousands of times, you should focus on writing a detailed and concise story full of rewarding experiences, portraying your values and personality. This will set you apart from others.

Always Show Wisdom

Your story should be compelling, which means it should include your worldviews, highlighted in the details of your experience, showing a depth of character. People have a tendency of falling prey to the allure of good storytelling without actually emphasizing the key moments that shaped their beliefs, thus negating the main point of the entire statement.

Admission officers who will read your application essay might enjoy the anecdote, but the statement will prove itself worthless in the actual admission process. So make sure your story has a contemplative tone, while a good storytelling could serve as icing on the cake.

Start Writing Your Essay Early

Even if you’re one of the “panic creatives” who are used to doing everything at the eleventh hour, you should do your best to start writing the essay early. This will not only give you time to pick out the approach and the stories you’re doing to tell, but more importantly, it will give you time to edit and improve it.

Too many people start writing their application essays days before submission, completely ruining the possibility of improving and polishing the essay, when they’ve had the time to read it carefully once again and sleep on it. The pressure of a restrictive deadline will only allow for errors to be made, key points to be missed and ultimately, the essay will be pegged as a subpar submission, thrown into the “average” column.

Therefore, make sure to give yourself plenty of time, as most topics and questions for university admissions are made public in June or July, so don’t wait until you’re done with your finals to start writing. Also, don’t be afraid to re-read the essay time and time again. Not only will you gain fresh insight and realize what other approaches you could use, but you will be able to check your essay for any grammar or spelling mistakes as well.

Let Everyone See Your Work

No matter how deep and personal your story may be, if the admissions reader can see it, so can your family and closest friends. It’s very important that you let someone who knows you well take a look at your application essay. This way, you’ll get useful feedback and an objective opinion and advice on the tone, style, and vocabulary. And the most important part, whether the unique points you are trying to convey do stand out in your story.

Don’t Forget to Be Yourself

With all of this talk of portraying a certain image, it becomes all too easy to forget what you’re actually all about, and instead, focus on what you would actually want to become someday. This is the wrong approach that will present something very different from your actual personality, and people will see through it.

This could lead to big problems when your interview comes along, so make sure to never forget who you are at this moment, and emphasize what you would like to become by attending that specific college. It will give the readers an incentive to help you achieve your goals, and will also play with their own vanity and pride, by accentuating the values you recognize in their particular school.

Writing your application essay should not be easy, but it should be fun and fulfilling. Hopefully, with these tips and guidelines, you will manage to write your application essay in no time!


Emma Miller is a marketer and a writer from Sydney. Her focus is digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She’s a contributor at Bizzmark blog and a mother of two.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Simplify Your Education: 4 Tips for Easing School Stress Reply

Almost everyone finds school somewhat stressful, and managing stress is essential for success in both school and at work. However, there are ways to mitigate school-related stress and make difficult times a bit more tolerable. Here are four tips for easing school stress.

1. Set a Schedule

Procrastination is the main enemy of students, even those earning advanced degrees. Treat school like a job, and force yourself to clock in at predetermined times. Cramming for tests can be exceedingly stressful, and feeling that you’re falling behind can cause you to fall in a vicious cycle where stress prevents your from focusing as much as you need. Feel free to tweak your schedule as needed, but make sure you stick to it.

2. School and Life Balance

Too often, those enrolled in online history masters programs and earning other degrees have trouble balancing their school time and leisure time. It’s difficult to learn effectively if don’t give your mind time to relax, and studies show that getting away from books and flashcards can help with memory retention. In addition to scheduling time for school-related activities, schedule time for relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Make the most of your free time.

3. Sleep and Exercise

School often causes people to have hectic schedules, and this often leads to poor sleep schedules. Learn how many hours of sleep you need per night, and make sure you’re getting enough. Sleeping lets you study more efficiently, which can give you more free time. It also helps you perform well in the classroom, enabling your to walk into tests feeling confident. While it can be difficult to insert exercise into your schedule, doing so can improve your mental function considerably. Explore various exercise options and find options you enjoy.

4. Study Effectively

School demands time, but using your time most effectively can help relieve stress. Explore online resources to find ones that work for you. Flashcards, for example, are great for rote memorization, and online resources can let you access flashcards from your smart device or Ipad, enabling you to study on the go. Place an emphasis on studying early as knowing your paper is ready well in advance means you won’t have to fret as the deadline approaches.

Advanced education provides tremendous opportunities, but many students find themselves feeling overwhelmed during the school year. Be proactive; taking some time to chart a realistic schedule can have a major impact on your stress levels, especially when courses get more demanding.


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her family. Kara recommends looking into diplomacy programs for more information on degrees that can help save the world.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

How to Be a Highly Successful Online College Student Reply

Today, students have multiple opportunities to get higher education and now they don’t even need to move to another country to study at the university of their dreams. Online education diminishes all borders and reveals more opportunities to everyone. However, not all students use this opportunity. Most of them know about online education, but they don’t feel confident enough to study without visiting classes and directly interacting with the professors and other students. That’s why they give preference to classic education.

For many students, interaction with students and professors is of the primary importance. They find inspiration and motivation to study in this interaction. That’s why when they start to study online, they don’t demonstrate good results, as they always lose concentration and the desire to study itself. For these students, online education is not the best option.

However, many students also find this way of getting an education to be one of the most effective ones. The matter is that you may create your own schedule and decide for yourself when you want to study and when you want to have a rest. Of course, online education also has some tricky points. In this article, we’re going to talk about the best methods to become a highly successful online college student and get better results.

Organize your activity

First and foremost, you need to organize how exactly you are going to study. You need to know and remember the syllabus of every class that you need to take. Classes can be held in the form of lectures supported by images and videos, or in the form of webinars. It’s better to write down when exactly you have these classes and determine if you are free to watch the video records of the lectures. It’s even better to note when you should watch them according to your own plan. Also, create a schedule of your assignments and tasks that you need to accomplish to get your grades. It will be a good idea to use special apps for creating schedules. These apps can be installed on nearly all devices with any OS, so just choose the one which is the most suitable for you. Another trick here is to keep all activities in one app as in this way you won’t miss anything.

Visit all online classes

Most online students think that they don’t need to attend classes as they can get all this information somewhere else. They don’t even watch or listen to the records of online classes! Thus, they miss a lot of important information that can help with task accomplishment. If you have decided to become an online student, you need to visit all classes, and if you miss some classes, check the records to get the information. Besides, when a student starts to skip classes, it becomes a habit, and they no longer cares about checking these classes later on. Self-discipline is your main tool to continue online education and succeed in it.

Set study goals

Self-discipline and time management are crucially important for your online education, but they’ll be useless unless you have properly set goals. If you don’t understand why exactly you study online, it’ll be difficult for you to stay persistent with your work. When you know what exactly you want to achieve, you tend to make more effort to get the results. Of course, by setting study goals, you’ll need to follow certain patterns. For example, you need to set smaller goals for every class and some bigger goals that consist of accomplishing those smaller goals. The bigger goals should lead to your main goal.

Communicate with your professor and other students

Communication is important even in online studying. Of course, here communication differs from the communication in real life, as you do not spend the time together with your classmates. Still, all of you have one common goal – the education itself. Most online colleges have special forums and portals where online students may communicate. In addition, they may communicate with professors on these forums. Communication with professors is one of the most important aspects of successful education, and you should always keep that in mind. Every time you feel that you need to get an explanation of some pieces of information, you need to write your professor and ask questions just like you would ask a professor in brick and mortar universities and colleges.

Implement modern technologies

Technologies, including the possibilities of the Internet, enhance the quality of online education. First of all, you need to use technologies to communicate with other students and professors (although the college may have some forum or portal, you can also create group conversations in Facebook or Viber). Social media can really help students study and you should not ignore this way of studying, as it will bring more benefits to you. You may even use social media for your research! For students who study marketing, this can become a perfect platform for trying their own marketing strategies in practice.

Additionally, you may use modern technologies to enhance the quality of your writing. For example, you may use special spell checking programs that help improve the quality of your writing. Also, the Internet is full of resources that you may use to make your essays sound more profound and professional. Besides, after writing your essay, you may immediately check it for plagiarism to make sure that you have followed all the rules.

Online education is the way of getting a degree that does not suit everyone. It has too many tricky points but, in fact, real-time education also has these tricky points and students need to deal with them. Self-organized and disciplined students will feel equally confident both in traditional colleges and on online education portals. So, build your discipline and work on your self-organization to be able to receive an education at the best colleges without the necessity to leave your home!


Sophia Clark graduated from the University in the City of New York with a B.A. in Journalism, 2011. She is a creative writer from New York who loves to share her thoughts with readers. In her free time she enjoys writing fiction as well as reading it. Her big dream is to publish a novel one day. Connect with her on Twitter and Google +.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Speedy Degree: Best Tips to Help You Finish Your Program In Record Time Reply

speedy-degree-best-tips-to-help-you-finish-your-program-in-record-timeWhile college can be a great experience, every extra semester you spend taking classes will cost quite a bit of money. This has left many people wondering what they can do to complete their courses and graduate as quickly as possible.

Take One or Two Extra Courses Each Semester

Even though graduation rates are up, many students now take college classes for six or more years. One of the most straightforward ways to reduce the amount of time you spend in college is to add one or two classes to your schedule every semester. Some colleges require students to sign waivers or maintain a certain GPA before taking additional classes.

Test Out of Your Basic Classes

Depending on what institution you have been accepted to, you might have the option of testing out of basic classes. This is especially popular among students who have recently taken advanced classes in high school. Those who complete difficult classes in high school should be able to bypass various college courses by taking a handful of competency tests.

Start an Online Program

Trying to complete college as quickly as possible can be very stressful when taking traditional courses. An online program could save you hours every week by cutting back on how much time you must spend driving to and from class. The work that must be done for these classes can also be completed around your own schedule instead of a rigid schedule set by the school. There are online programs for pretty much any degree out there. There are some for education-related careers, engineering, and science. There are even accelerated msn programs that you can participate in online if you’re wanting to go the healthcare route.

Take Classes Throughout the Year

Summer school used to be something that students dreaded, but off-season classes are an absolute necessity for many college students. The vast majority of colleges and universes offer ongoing courses with as many as six full semesters throughout the year. While it can be stressful, taking classes nonstop could halve your total time spent in school.

Obsessively Organize Your Study Area

With so much work to be done in the next few years, you must become obsessed with organization. Every student needs a very organized study area where they can relax, take a deep breath, and then focus on the task in front of them. This area should be free from distractions and exclusively used to get work done.

In addition to these few tips, you can also speak with your counselor about earning credits with your job. Many companies now offer internship and externship programs to students in exchange for course credits. This could potentially save you thousands over the course of your college career.


Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can follow her on twitter and LinkedIn.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Choosing the Right Degree: When it Matters and When it Doesn’t Reply

Confusion , Direction , ArrowPicking the right degree in college can be a difficult decision. After you graduate, you will want to be happy with your decision and be able to get a job in a career field that you enjoy. However, you don’t necessarily have to make the decision right away. Most colleges will want you to declare your major by the end of your second year, so you’ve got some time to explore your options.

Take an aptitude test.

Every college will have an advisor’s office, and I would be surprised to hear if everyone didn’t offer some kind of aptitude test to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take multiple aptitude tests at your school as well as online to narrow down your choices.

These tests are great for figuring out what careers are right for you right now, but also keep in mind that college is a place to learn and improve all of your skills. So even if the aptitude test doesn’t coincide with what you actually want to do, they are still helpful in giving you suggestions and ideas for determining your future.

Don’t worry about it right away.

Being undecided or undeclared for the first couple of years in college is OK. Not everyone should or does know what they want to do their first years in school. The majority of your first two years in college will be spent on general requirements and prerequisites for your upper division classes anyway. While you want to take the right prerequisites, plan on taking classes that help you explore opportunities and will also steer you in the right direction.

Research career paths.

Career paths are just that: a path towards a career. These paths aren’t exact and you will be able to take multiple roads to get you where you want to be. The majority of students will end up changing their major throughout their first couple of years, and quite a lot of graduates will end up working in jobs that aren’t directly related to their major.

When you are researching career paths, keep this in mind. In other words, research online and talk with people who work in that field and see what they majored in and how they got to be where they are. For entrepreneurs especially, the path to their success will come from a plethora of different backgrounds. LinkedIn is a great place to start – look at professional’s profiles and see where their academic and work experience has taken them.

Talk with your mentors, parents, and teachers.

Your family, mentors, teachers, and school counselors will know a lot about you and have a lot of knowledge about the world. Reaching out to these folk will help give you ideas about what degree is the best for you. Ask them about their past experiences and tell them to be honest about their advice. You’ll learn more than you think when you listen to their nuggets of truth.

Considering graduate school or an advanced degree?

The one time when you will want to have a definite idea of what you want to major in is if you plan on going into a specified career. For example, if you want to go to medical school you will have to major in a small number of specific degrees to have the knowledge and prerequisites to pass the MCATs and get into a medical school.

There are certain advanced degrees that don’t absolutely require a degree in the same field to get into, though. An MBA for example will typically take any bachelor degree graduate as long as they pass the required entrance exams and show an aptitude to succeed in their program through the admissions essay and qualified experience.

Keep an open mind.

More than anything keep an open mind as you never know what kinds of opportunities will present themselves and what you might be interested in. Take classes that help you both explore your interests and things you don’t know are your interests yet. Never been in a school play but always wanted to? Take an acting class as one of your liberal arts requirements and see what you think. College isn’t only about preparing for a career, it’s also about experiencing things you never have before.

Saving For School: It’s Never Too Early To Prepare For the Future Reply

Few things can be as heartbreaking for a family as the inability to pay for school. Saving for school, which may seem far off in the future, takes a backseat to the immediate household priorities and bills. Finally, the day arrives when teenagers must decide next steps or parents must seek better employment. At this point, the future arrives, but no one has prepared for it.

What’s At Stake

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers with college degrees earn almost twice as much income per week as workers without one. A college degree also cuts the probability of unemployment in half. Over a lifetime, these gaps add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in earnings gains. From this wider perspective, school is a low-risk investment in the future. It is all but guaranteed to pay off. School does not pay off when you do not go, and takes much longer to pay off when you owe astronomical student loans.

saving-for-schoolWhy Saving Early is Critical

Scores of uninformed people believe financial aid will cover all their school costs. They do not understand how the Application for Federal Student Aid works. The FAFSA application factors household income, household size, household assets and debts, and family members in school with their combined costs. This information generates a Student Aid Report, setting an estimated family contribution based on scaled standards. If the government determines you can afford to contribute X Amount of dollars to school costs, then schools will deduct X Amount from grants they offer you and suggest student loans for the rest. Without savings, student loans add up or college is not affordable.

Tips on Saving Early

As early as you can, invest in an IRA, 529 Plan or other tax-deferred savings product you prefer. Pay off or minimize household debt. Refinance and consolidate debts to lower payments. Then, put the interest and principal savings aside for school. A local financial institution like Union State Bank can help you explore your options. Encourage part-time jobs for teens aiming to go to school and try one yourself, for savings income only. Lastly, make saving a fun family project, and encourage all to chip in on little things to lower bills and conserve resources.

As the costs of higher education rise every year, preparing early is essential. As soon as parents can afford to begin and children can contribute, saving for school must be a family affair. Doing so can mean the difference between future stability and generational wealth, or underemployment at best and poverty at worst.


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her family. Kara recommends looking into diplomacy programs for more information on degrees that can help save the world.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

5 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out Reply

unique-2032274_960_720When applying for scholarships, one of the things that you’re likely to be asked to do is to write your college application essay. This is uniform for all the people looking for scholarships and in order to be picked, you have to make yours stand out from the rest. For you to come off as unique, you need to strike the judges as memorable and effective. This may seem like quite a lot of pressure, but worry not. We have come up with five tips that you can follow when you write your college application essay. Follow them to the letter, and you will edge closer to impressing the members of the scholarship committee.

  1. Show Them, Do Not Just Tell

When most people write essays, they hardly pay attention to painting pictures with words. For scholarship essays, doing away with this is a very serious mistake that will leave one mile behind. The reason this has so much gravity is that the mental pictures that a writer paints are a vital tool in capturing the attention of readers. No one on the planet, including judges of the scholarship committee, enjoys reading essays that are dry and have nothing but statements and facts. To achieve this alluring aura in your essay, pay attention to narratives, pacing, and imagery among many other things.

It’s an already proven fact that people like reading texts that are laced with a significant amount of depth and emotion. Expressions, stories, and words that open you up to them in a way that they can gaze into your soul is what can set the difference between your essay and millions of others. One of the best tips we can offer you to get this spot on is to give everything a personal touch. In the place of telling judges about how you overcame adversity, you should show it to them in form of a story. Find a situation or better still, a scene that relates to your story and gives it to them at full throttle. Be sure to appeal to their senses so that they can be in your shoes. When experiencing what you did and feeling what you felt, they are less likely not to pick you ahead of others. A word of caution, however, you should always stay right on the topic you have been given and try as much as you can to never stray far from your point.

  1. Get to The Point

pexels-photo-259009All good essays have some similar characteristics, meaningful and clear points being one of them. For example, after you’ve written and read your essay, ask yourself this question: “So what?” You’re supposed to answer yourself at full length about what you learned and all the things that your writing put across. It’s an additional plus for you if your essay did elicit some emotions.

On the other hand, if the emotions it kindled did not drive the reader to a specific conclusion or realization, it will be of little use to you. For instance, if the master plan of your scholarship essay entails proving that you are worthy of the money because you have a certain trait, you have no other option but to make this the center point of your essay. If the essay you’re writing has a question prompting it, it goes without saying that you must answer it and also remove all doubts as to why your answer holds some significance.

The final tip we will give to you about getting to the point is to avoid writing phrases that indicate that you’re about to make your point. A good example of such phrases includes stating “in conclusion.” The reason behind us emphasizing on this is that if you have written effectively, your essay will itself lead the reader to the point that you are trying to drive home. This, in turn, counters the essence of announcing the place where you put your main point across.

  1. Always Come Out Swinging

For this particular topic, we would like to challenge you to ask any avid book reader what makes them know that a book has the potential to be a good read. We could challenge you further by telling you that we already know the answer they more likely than not will give you. Good books are defined by how brilliant they are at captivating the reader with the first few pages!

You could also go right ahead and imagine that you have to choose only one book among hundreds of thousands. Being perfectly honest to yourself, wouldn’t you settle for the book that grabbed your attention in an instance? Likewise, the scholarship judges are in a similar situation shortlisting just a few among millions of essays. The same way the mind-blowing start to that one book made you choose it over all other books, an essay with a great start will get priority over the others.

Bearing this in mind, you should strive to do things differently from others in your approach to writing an essay. For instance, instead of diving straight to your place of residence and where you were born, you should make things more interesting. You could start by skipping to the interesting bit of your story, then afterward finding a way to explain your origin and introducing yourself in other parts of the essay. This will give you almost a fool proof way of standing out from the rest of the applicants by leaving the judges in need for more of what you have to offer.

In a nutshell, the whole idea behind all this is that after reading the first paragraph, they should be in awe of what they have just taken in. Once this is done, you have an easier task ahead because you will only be required to back up the creativity and energy you have started with in the remaining part of the essay. Do all this and make sure that your essay is informative and interesting, and it will definitely be memorable.

  1. Follow All the Guidelines

More likely than not, you will not have met with your judges when you write this essay. It is, therefore, difficult to know what they prefer and what criteria they use to single out good applicants from the rest. One thing that could help you get a whiff of what they expect is the guidelines that they provide for the essay. The guidelines are your only avenue of getting to know your audience, so you should read them inside and out in order to know intimately the instructions that are emphasized on.

Go ahead and look at what they mention first. If it is about length, be sure not to write even a letter less or more than the indicated number. Take note of the things they put in bold and also any recommendations they give and see to it that what they require has been taken care of in your essay. You should also take interest in reading deeper into the given directions and modify your tone of writing accordingly.

The other important reason as to why you must know the instructions by heart is to prevent yourself from veering off the right direction. It’s no surprise that a lot of times, the essays are hardly read once the judges notice that the instructions haven’t been adhered to. If by any chance you are thinking about bending some or even one of the rules, don’t. If you want to stand out and also have the best of chances to succeed, make sure you aren’t disqualified because of a technical error.

  1. Take the Road That’s Less Traveled

You will find that most of the essay queries have a feel of having relatively obvious answers. Once you have read a question and find that the answer has come to you too quickly, it is wise to remember that it has occurred easily to others too. To curb this, set aside the first ideas that come to you. If the essay feels like an easy one to you then choose a different direction.light-bulbs-1125016_960_720

Dare to do something that’s different or even strange as compared to others. You can even decide to go with the opposite of the first reaction you had regarding the topic. This might have a challenging ring to it, but it also has a brighter side to its every aspect. This is that the judges will be bound to consider you before the others because your essay comes off as more interesting compared to the rest that just has basic answers.

As mentioned earlier, the first thought that comes to you when thinking of what to write may also occur to all the other students required to write the same essay. If your plan is to stand out, then you’ll have to dig deeper and think of an alternative, usually more challenging, ways to do the essay. The easy route is full of travelers but the road less traveled is like that because it presents many obstacles and challenges.

Conclusion

All that having been said, we would like to let you know that it is indeed possible to stand out once you follow the above-stated tips. These are the best tips you will get on how to write your college application essay. Finally, we would like to know how effective you have found this article. Leave us a comment.


Lori Wade is a freelance content writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. Lori is used to handling many writing orders at the same time and as she likes sharing her ideas and experience, she decided to write a great article for you to show how multiple tasks should be dealt with. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her in other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

 

4 Keys to Succeeding in a US College as an ESL Student 1

4-keys-to-succeeding-in-a-us-college-as-an-esl-studentThe United States has been a melting pot of cultures since it began more than 200 years ago. People have been coming to the US to find their fortune or to receive an education that may not be available in their own country.

Today, there are more than 180 different languages spoken in American schools and students who speak English as a second language are a growing percentage of school populations, especially at the college level. These four tips can help ESL students not only achieve their educational goals, but also allow them to find greater success in their academic endeavors.

1. Watch Television

Although most people look at television as a distraction when it comes to education, it can actually help improve language skills in ESL students. Watching television in English for 30 minutes each day can help train the ear to understand the nuances of the English language. It may help to watch with Closed Captions which are designed for deaf viewers. The words that are spoken will appear on the screen helping the student connect the spoken word with the written word.

2. Interact with Other Students

The best way to develop language skills is to learn from the people who actually speak the language. Find someone who is bilingual who can speak in both English and the student’s native language. Encourage both students to use English as much as possible to help the ESL student better understand the words. One suggestion is to find a study partner whose first language is English but who may also understand the student’s native language.

3. Perfection is Not Necessary

In some cultures, not being able to do something perfectly suggests failure. When it comes to learning the English language, it is important for ESL students to understand that they will not be able to speak, read or write English perfectly immediately. It takes time to develop an understanding of any language, but English is one of the most complicated.

Add the fact that many areas of the country have their own dialect or slang and it is easy to see how difficult learning the language may be for others. ESL students need to recognize that it will take much practice to perfect their understanding and that they should not give up simply because they are not perfect at it right away.

4. Set Milestones

One key to achieving education success is through goal-setting. However, it is also important to break those goals down into steps. These steps, or milestones, can be as simple as finishing a conversational English course online or watching 30 minutes of English television each day for one month. As the student achieves those milestones, they move closer to completing their goal. This process can be used for any academic endeavor, regardless of whether you are enrolled in a master of healthcare informatics program or your standard MBA degree.

ESL students have the added pressure of learning a new language on top of their already rigorous college studies. These four tips can help them develop a better understanding of the language and improve their ability to learn.


Anica is a professional content and copywriter from San Francisco, California. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Your Scholarship Application Checklist Reply

By: Francine Fluetsch

When it comes to finances, applying to college can be stressful for college students. Loans can deter students from shooting for schools that are a bit out of their price range, as they hope to avoid future student debt.

However, there is a free way to finance your college years: apply for scholarships. There are hundreds of them out there, and you are bound to find a few that you could qualify for — it will just take some digging.

Filling out scholarship applications on top of college applications sounds like a drag, and is definitely a lot of work, but if you can push through, it will be worth it when you land that scholarship that will send you to your dream school. Keep in mind that these applications and the stress that comes with them will only last a short few months, but your college education will give you the future you deserve for years and years to come.

Since you are going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to researching scholarships that fit you, this article will serve to ease the rest of the scholarship application process by giving you a general checklist to follow as you are about to apply to scholarships and also to reference when in the middle of the process.

  1. Letter of recommendation

Not every scholarship application is going to require a letter of recommendation, but it is always better to be over prepared than to not bother getting a letter of recommendation and then realizing you need one when it’s too late to request one.

Try to obtain letters from two trusted people, just to be safe. Ask a teacher who knows you and your achievements well, a supervisor at a job or volunteer position, a coach, or someone in the professional world whom you know quite well (but don’t use family members with your same last name). Supply the person or two that you ask with a “brag sheet” where you list all of your accomplishments and why you are a fit for the said scholarship you are applying to.

This step is the first one for a reason: do it in advance! You can’t go up to your teacher and say, “Would you mind writing me a letter of rec? I need it for an application that is due tomorrow.” Chances are, they will not fulfill your last minute request, and you will be the one who suffers for it.

Give your person at least a month to write your letter, so they have time to think about what to say, and you have time to make sure that they finish before you start stressing about the deadline.

  1. Transcripts

Scholarships are usually awarded to those who excel in school, meaning you’ll have to supply your transcript to prove you are worthy of the reward. However, you can’t just log on to your high school’s website and print out the transcript listed there — you need an official copy. To get your official transcript, you have to go through the Registrar’s office or talk to your counselor.

With this, just like the first step, make sure to give yourself plenty of time, since these orders don’t get filled nearly as quickly as they should. I remember when I was applying to colleges and my request for my transcripts somehow got lost, and luckily I checked back with enough time or I might have lost my spot at UC Santa Cruz. Don’t let a timing issue be the reason you don’t get a scholarship; make sure to plan ahead and order more transcripts than you need.

  1. Cover letter

Scholarship committees want to know about you and why you are a good fit for them, so your cover letter is your chance to make yourself stand out and to highlight all of your attributes for why you deserve their money. Make sure you are not simply creating one cover letter and using it to apply for different scholarships. A lot of the time, they have specific things they want to see, so you need to go through and personalize each cover letter to the scholarship you are applying for.

Double check you are sending each letter to the right place to avoid an embarrassing mix-up! Also, make sure to have another pair of eyes look at your cover letter before you send it, so you can avoid any spelling or grammatical mistakes that you didn’t catch during your proofreading round.

  1. Essay

Scholarship applications include many steps but organizations aren’t just going to give their money out to any random person. Half of the process is seeing if you were diligent and determined enough to give it your all through the application steps, so keep your eye on the prize and bust that essay out!

Like the cover letter, you want to make sure you personalize your essay towards the scholarship you are applying for. The scholarship essay evaluators have seen it all and will know if you are giving them a generic essay that you sent to other scholarships as well.

Get your essay done early so you can show it to one of your teachers and ask for some notes on it. This seems like a daunting task, but your teachers want you to do well and have been at this for a while, so they might know what necessary tweaks you should make to help you get that scholarship.

  1. Photo

Some applications will ask you to include a small photo of yourself, and while it might seem silly to mention it, this does not mean that you can send a selfie to them. Make sure to send a professional picture (like your senior yearbook photo) that shows your college-ready side. You should try to make an impression and stand out, not have them laugh at your lack of seriousness when they receive an Instagram photo of you.

This checklist should get you through the bulk of any scholarship application, but remember to read all instructions carefully and include everything and anything that they require. Good luck scoring that money!


Visit uloop.com for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, scholarships, tutors near campus, jobs for college students, and more.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Top Three Tips to Improve your AWA Score Reply

I’m going to do something bold here: I’m not going to include one of the most common–if not the most common–essay writing tips. And that is organization. Surely, you contend, that must be one of the top three tips. Arguably so. But it is also the one that many GRE students internalize and obsess over, often to the exclusion of other, arguably, more important aspects.

Additionally, most of us (let’s be honest: practically all of us) have had the five-paragraph structure hammered into our heads long before we were able to legally drive a car. The AWA, though, has its own rules, which many are aware of, stuff that can impress the graders (just writing a standard paragraph essay isn’t one of them). The following three tips will shed insights into what the graders are looking for.

  1. Read real sample essays

Both essays are graded from 0.0 to a 6.0. A zero score essentially means that you decided to fall asleep, your forehead pressed on the keyboard, a torrent of gibberish appearing on the screen. A 6.0 is a well-crafted essay, full of analysis, nuanced thinking, specific examples, and stylistic, sophisticated writing. There’s even a specific rubric describing exactly what each 1-point increment on the six-point scale means.

But I would recommend skipping this part. Interpreting the descriptions of those scores is too subjective. Really, what does “stylistic, sophisticated writing” mean to the GRE grader?

Well, to get that answer all you have to do is read the sample essays of actual student responses. This can be found online or in the GRE ETS Official Guide. You’ll get to see the kind of response that merits a ‘2’, a ‘4’, and a ‘6’. Below each response, the GRE graders themselves have given an analysis of the essay: what it did well, and what it could do better. When you go to write your own practice essay, you’ll already know what the GRE graders are looking for–and aren’t looking for.

  1. Work on sentence construction

One thing the graders love is logical flow. Your sentences should have key transition words (“for example,” “however,” “therefore,” etc.) that allow you to persuasively make your point. When you lack that logical flow, even if you have the right ideas coursing through your brain, your writing becomes muddled, and the test graders become confused.

To avoid this, go back to the basics: sentence construction. What is the difference between an independent and a dependent clause? What transition words most effectively link ideas within–and between–sentences?

This is the kind of logical organization that gets overlooked in favor of holistic organization: intro, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. But as long as you have a clear topic sentence for your paragraph, and your ideas logically flow from that first sentence and end with a clear statement of your point at the end of the paragraph, it isn’t that big of a deal whether you write two body paragraphs or four body paragraphs. (Though make sure you do have a clear intro and a conclusion–neither of which, by the way, has to be more than a few sentences.)

  1. Don’t time every practice essay

When learning a new skill, or even refining an old one, you have to practice or develop it under non-stressful conditions. Otherwise, it is difficult for such learning to take root. However, many mistakenly assume that it is always a bad idea to write the AWA essays without having a time limit. Unless, the essay is two days off and there really isn’t much time for “learning to take root,” begin without a timer. (I’d recommend at least 30-days to prep for the GRE–check out this helpful GRE study guide.)

For example, if you’ve been practicing clause construction by writing simple example sentences (“Because I gave myself plenty of time to prep for the GRE, I felt prepared. Nonetheless, I arrived 15 minutes late to the test center”), you’ll want to give yourself time to apply what you’ve learned about clauses when writing a practice essay. Or, if you’re just learning how to identify logical fallacies in the Argument essay, you’ll want to give yourself time to identify these fallacies and express them logically. Conversely, starting the timer will put you in a “flight or fight” mode and you are likely to fall back into your old habits (which for many is to write whatever comes to mind).

Once you’ve noticed improvements in your writing, give yourself a “soft” time limit. Keep practicing until you are writing comfortably within this time limit. Then put a slightly more aggressive time limit in place, until you are finally down to the allowed time. Your final score will thank you.


Chris Lele is the GRE Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 8 million views.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.