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.

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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.

10 Things About College Admission That Might Surprise You Reply

Portrait of stressed female student in library

A lot of stuff can surprise you in the college admission process—and they’re not always the good surprises, like finding money in your jeans or those magical extra French fries at the bottom of the bag.

Luckily, we’re here to take some of the shock out of these common college admission surprises. Because the more you know, the less likely you are to be caught off guard…

  1. Surprise! Taking tough classes is better than getting a high GPA

College admission folks would rather see you get a “B” in a challenging class than an “A” in an easier one. They want to see you pushing yourself academically—and they definitely don’t want to see you pad your GPA. So take the toughest course load you think you can handle, especially if you have any AP, honors, or other advanced classes available to you.

  1. Surprise! A long list of extracurriculars won’t impress colleges

College admission reps would also much rather see that you committed yourself to one or two extracurricular activities, especially over a longer period of time. That’s way better than joining 17 clubs spring of junior year. Admission counselors are looking for depth, not breadth of involvement. They want to see passion! So join the clubs you love, devote as much time to them as you can, and look for leadership roles that fit you.

  1. Surprise! That “optional” interview isn’t actually optional

Okay, it’s not like you won’t be considered for admission if you don’t participate in an “optional” interview. But college admission interviews aren’t that common, so when a school suggests participating in one, they probably think interviews are pretty important. Also, participating in an interview shows you’re really excited about attending the college. Admission counselors call that “demonstrated interest”—and it could give you a little bit of an edge compared to the kid who didn’t participate in an interview.

  1. Surprise! A recommendation letter from a VIP isn’t that helpful

You might be tempted to e-mail someone like your state senator, school superintendent, or Neil Degrasse Tyson in hopes that they’ll write you a college recommendation letter. But unless the VIP happens to know you really well, don’t waste your time (or theirs) trying to get a recommendation. Colleges only want to see recommendations from people who know you well enough to speak to your character and strengths, whether it’s your favorite teacher, mentor, coach, drama director, employer, pastor, etc.

  1. Surprise! The most expensive colleges on your list might be cheaper in the long run

Here’s the thing: financial aid changes everything—and you never know what kind of financial aid package you’ll get until you apply. It’s totally possible that the most expensive school on your list will offer you enough aid to magically become your cheapest option. Or you might find the school offering you the biggest financial aid package made a huge chunk of that “aid” student loans. Or you might get a big scholarship from one school that only lasts freshman year, whereas another school offers a smaller scholarship that gets renewed all four years and is ultimately worth more… Confusing, right? Instead of hunting down the cheapest colleges you can find, focus on applying to schools that really and truly fit you. Then make sure you fully understand your financial aid award letters when you get them (they come with your acceptance packages).

  1. Surprise! Admission counselors are looking at your social media accounts

You might’ve already been warned about this: yes, colleges look at your social media accounts, and, yes, you should delete any questionable posts. However, you don’t want to erase yourself from the Internet. In fact, you want admission counselors to find you and see all the fun, interesting stuff you do and care about. Look at your social media through a college admission counselor’s eyes: do your posts reflect the kind of thoughtful, creative, passionate student they’d want to admit?

  1. Surprise! Asking for financial aid can sometimes hurt your chances of admission

Learn these two terms if you haven’t already: need-blind admission and need-aware admission. Colleges with need-blind admission don’t care if you apply for financial aid, and they won’t consider it when they review your application. But colleges with need-aware admission do consider it—and they might weigh your financial need against you. It’s not necessarily an admissions deal-breaker. But, at need-aware colleges, all else being equal, the student who doesn’t need aid will get in before the student who does need financial help. You can typically figure out if the schools on your list are need-blind or need-aware by doing a little online research, or you can e-mail or call the admission office to ask.

  1. Surprise! The PSAT matters

It’s not just a practice run for the SAT. The PSAT is also the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. If you score high enough (in the top 50,000-ish test takers), you could be eligible for a National Merit scholarship. (Here’s the breakdown of how to qualify.) Not only that, but most colleges love admitting students who crack the top 50,000, even if they don’t end up winning an official National Merit Scholarship. That might get you a leg-up in admission—and maybe even an institutional scholarship. So give the PSAT your best shot.

  1. Surprise! The college that sent you brochures and e-mails might not accept you

Yes, colleges and universities send out marketing materials to students they think might be a good fit for their institution, students they very well might accept. But they also send brochures to lots of students in hopes that lots will apply—which might boost their selectivity rate. At the end of the day, you should absolutely, positively apply to any and all schools that fit you. Just remember, a brochure isn’t a guarantee.

  1. Surprise! Admission counselors actually read your application essays

They really do. Why would they ask for them if they didn’t? Colleges use the essay to get a sense of your personality, values, motivations, and college readiness. It helps them see if you’re a good overall fit for their institution—and the kind of student they should admit. So take advantage of your application essays. Show the admission committee why they should invite you to join their campus. And tell the story only you can tell.

Did anything on this list surprise you? Or have you encountered any other surprises in your college search? Let us know in the comments!


Jessica Tomer, Editor-in-Chief, CollegeXpress

Jessica Tomer is the Editor-in-Chief for CollegeXpress, a free college and scholarship search site designed to guide students through the entire college journey—admissions, financial aid, majors, campus visits, you name it. She is an education advocate, storyteller, and grammar nerd. Like many of her fellow Emerson College alumni, Jessica is a news junkie and bookworm. You can get in touch with her on Twitter: @CollegeXpress or @JessicaTomer.

A Step By Step Guide to Writing the Best College Admissions Essay Reply

Office of Admission Sign on WallCollege admissions essays are seen as an insurmountable obstacle in your college application. Most students haven’t written an essay quite like it before, and now this piece of writing will confirm whether you get into your chosen university? It’s too much pressure.

It helps when you have a guide you can follow. This step by step guide will show you how to go about writing your essay, and give you tools that will help. Soon you’ll have an essay that you can really be proud of.

Step One: Really think about your prompt

Many an essay has floundered because the writer hasn’t quite grasped what the question was asking of them. They may have read it once, got the wrong impression, and then started writing. Really spend some time reading, rereading, and thinking about the prompt. How can you relate to it, and what experiences can you bring to it?

Step Two: Brainstorm your ideas

Now you need to get together all of the ideas that are floating around your head. Sit down with a piece of paper, and start writing down everything that comes to mind when you think of the prompt. Get down as much as you can, as you’ll be narrowing down your ideas soon. Reflect on all the experiences you have, and which ones will be relevant to your essay. Write down the ones you think will work in your essay.

Step Three: Plan out your essay

This is the point where you’ll be writing out your outline for your essay. It’s important that you don’t miss this step, as if you do you’ll find it much harder to write the essay. Plan out what you’re going to say, when you’re going to say, and how it will answer the prompt given. Use the information you got in the brainstorming session to inform your plan. You’ll pick the best ideas and experiences from that to include in your finished piece.

Step Four: Get writing

Now you’ve done all the planning, so you need to get writing! Sit down at your computer, and work on a rough draft. Don’t worry too much, just get it all down. You’ll be editing it in the next steps. As you’re writing, remember to be yourself. The admissions committee are looking to see what you’re like as a person, so be tempted to show off, or pretend to be someone you’re not. Just let your real self shine through.

Step Five: Proofread and edit

Proofreading and editing is one of the most important jobs you’ll have to do with your essay. You’ve got your basic rough draft, now you need to polish up. It’ll take a few passes until it’s perfect, but keep at it. Look for spelling and punctuation errors, confusing or run on sentences, and incorrect facts. A good tip is to give the essay to someone else read over. They’ll be able to spot errors you can’t, as you’re too close to the text.

Step Six: Use online tools to polish your work

Writing The College Application Essay: This resource has detailed instructions for the different sections of your essay. Also, there’s a plenty of samples to check out and take inspiration from.

Australian help: This educational portal can be used almost anywhere to brush up on your skills. Watch tutorials and do short tests to get you feeling confident in your chosen topic.

The Writing Center: This guide gives you some detailed, usable advice for writing your essay. It includes advice on avoiding too much style in your essay, and how to research your ideas.

Personal Insight Questions: This video gives you some ideas on how to present yourself in your essay. You’ll think about what answers you’ll need to give to tell the committee what they need to know about you.

Readability Score: Your essay needs to be easy to understand, but how do you know how readable it is? This tool allows you to check it against several readability tools, so you know the committee will be able to really get what you’re telling them.

UK Writings: It’s not that easy to write, edit and proofread a great essay. This interactive online writing tool will work with you to organize and plan your essay.

Examples of Awesome Personal Statements: It’s always easier to write when you have some examples of successful essays to hand. This is a great depository of such examples to draw on when you’re struggling with your own essay.

EssayEdge: Get admission essay suggestions from experts in their field, all graduates from Ivy-League schools such as Harvard and Yale.

If you follow this step by step plan, you’ll be able to write the best essay you possibly can. You’ll wow the committee reading your essays, and convince them they’re the student they want for their university.


About Gloria Kopp

Gloria Kopp is a web content writer and an e-learning consultant from Manville city. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and started a career of a creative writer. She has recently launched her Studydemic educational website and is currently working as a freelance writer and editor.


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 Many Times Should You Take The GRE And When Should You Start? Reply

how-many-times-should-youThese days, many students are realizing that submitting GRE scores is a part of the graduate school application process. With this reality in mind, you may be wondering when you should start preparing for the GRE and how many times you should take it. Review the short outline below to obtain answers to these questions and more:

It’s Never Too Soon To Start

If you’re wondering when you should begin preparing for the GRE, know that it’s never too soon to start. Familiarizing yourself with the format and content of the exam can alleviate test anxiety and empower you to attain a higher score. As such, it’s a good idea to get started immediately. Luckily, there are a wide range of learning resources at your disposal. For example, companies like ETS, Barron, Peterson’s and Kaplan provide a wide range of test prep material you can use to study for the Verbal, Math, and Written components of the exam.

Taking online courses in the fields of English, Math, and Writing is another technique you can implement to prepare for the exam. If you’ve already obtained your bachelor’s in English, you may want to consider completing an online masters computer science program. This can make you a more competitive candidate for a grad school program while also sharpening your reasoning skills.

How Many Times Should You Take The GRE?

Before you decide how many times you should take the GRE, consider the following facts:

  • You can take the computer-based test once every 21 days.
  • You may take the GRE up to five times within one year.
  • If you cancel your GRE scores, the test that you took still counts towards the five annual test dates.

There are several reasons why an individual might want to take the GRE again or several times. Generally, the reason pertains to the score. In some cases, an individual might not have had sufficient time to prepare for the exam. When this happens, a substandard score may be the unwanted outcome. If you know that the score you’ve obtained is below the average score that individuals admitted into the learning institution attained, it’s definitely a good idea to retake the exam.

Keep in mind that you can take the GRE as many times as you want and submit your highest scores to the college in question. However, if you’re taking the test over and over to try to attain a perfect score, keep in mind that the GRE is not the only component of your application process. You’ll also want to concentrate on other critical elements like your letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, writing sample, etc.

If you’re serious about acing the GRE so that you can get into your dream school, now is the time to start studying. Review the information and instructions found in this quick reference guide to get on the path to an excellent score today!


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.


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.

Time to Get Moving on Early Decision Reply

DecisionIf you are a high school junior or senior that is planning on applying for early decision, then you are a student who knows exactly what your first school choice is. It also means that you have to be on top of all of the various deadlines you will need to meet in order to successfully apply for early decision. You can only submit an early decision application to one school. This is because your application is binding. By applying, you are committing to attending this college if you are admitted. You may perhaps have some other schools that you are applying for, but these schools are really second choices. You know for certain where you want to go to college and why. You’ve done your research. Here are some items to consider about early decision:

SAT and ACT: Something for juniors to consider:

  • If you are considering completing and early decision application for a school, then you will want to make certain that you have completed your SAT or ACT test by October of your junior year. This ensures that your test results will be available when you are sending in your college application. If you take the test any later, there is a high probability that your test scores will not be ready and you will not be able to complete your early decision application.
  • It may be a good idea to take the test even sooner than October however, so that you can retake the test if you are not satisfied with the results.

What seniors should be doing now.

  • Obtain information from your prospective college about the early decision process, and obtain an application. While you are preparing to start your new school year, it is important to remember how fast the time goes, and how busy you often get as you acclimate to another year. By starting your application now, you can be proactive and make certain that you obtain everything you need to complete your application.
  • You’ll need letters of recommendation to submit along with your application. If you did not start obtaining these in your junior year, you need to start asking for these. Letters of recommendation can come from teachers, counselors, community leaders who know you, or other references.
  • Get working on scholarship and grant applications. One of the more complicated aspects of early decision is that you will be making a decision on your college before you really know how much financial aid you will receive. Applying to more grants and scholarships now may help insulate you from the unknown.
  • Know your deadlines. Many early decision application deadlines are in November. Some are as early as October. Make sure you are persistent in getting any information you need to complete your application by the deadline.
  • Complete your financial aid applications. If a school offers scholarships directly, make sure you apply for them as you are applying for early decision and that you know the deadlines for financial aid applications, which may be different. Complete the FAFSA in January.

Early decision works well for students who are certain they know their top choice of college. In some cases, applying early may increase your chances for getting into a school. It also saves you stress because you won’t have to wait as long to receive your decision. Still, early decision is not for everyone, be certain to talk with your parents, school counsellors and college admissions people prior to committing to early decision.

The New Frontier – Preparing for Your College Experience Reply

Female college student walk on the road to start her journey and gain bright future

Female college student walks on the road

A lot of the big work is finally behind you. You’ve taken your SAT tests. You’ve applied and been approved for college. Countless hours have been spent writing essays and filling out long grant and scholarship applications. In a short time your life will be very different, you will be packing your stuff, moving out of your house and into a dorm at college, where you will spend the next several years of your life. Now reality sets in.

This time can be very exciting, but it can also be a little scary. You will soon be away from your parents, in a strange place with a lot of people you don’t know. Certainly it will be a wonderful time. Most everyone looks fondly back at their college years; the friends they made and all of the fun they had. Yet it is also one of the most stressful times. For most, it’s the first taste of independence, and a huge increase in your personal responsibility. Here are some tips for making this transition easier.

Know what to pack and what not to pack

Every school will provide you with a list of recommended items to bring to the dorm. They will also provide you with restricted items that you should not bring with you. Most of these items are common sense, but these lists can be useful. Keep them with you when you are shopping. These lists are not all-inclusive however. Other items you may consider bringing:

  • A sleep mask and earplugs – your roommate may be on a different schedule than you!
  • An external hard drive – your list will probably include a laptop, but backing up your schoolwork is a good idea.
  • Power strips – it’s always good to have a surge protector to plug your electronics into.
  • A basic tool kit
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Shower shoes

The important thing to remember is that dorms are small. You won’t have much room for stuff, so the more you can limit and still be prepared and comfortable, the better off you will be.

Having a Roommate

Some of you may already know your future roommate but many of you will not. Much of the time, you will have a positive experience with your roommate. This person may well end up being a friend for life. However, you are living with another human being, and will undoubtedly have different preferences habits and personalities. The best way to start your relationship off in a positive way is to set ground rules and expectations with each other. It’s a good time to begin thinking about what is important to you when living with someone and how you plan to balance your school work and social life. When you get to the dorm and meet your roommate, discus those items and come up with a set of “rules for the dorm” that is acceptable for both of you.

Finally, be prepared for the unexpected

Your first few months at college will likely be a bit chaotic while you acclimate to a new schedule, learn your way around, get used to the rigorous academic requirements, and get to know your fellow students. Likely, things will not always go as expected, or as you would like them to. Be prepared to be flexible and patient. Bring some extra spending money to purchase the inevitable few things that you either forgot, or didn’t know you needed.