It’s March – Which College Should You Apply To and When? 1

So you’ve gathered a list of prospective colleges and you are ready to apply. But with applications fees stacking up creating a financial burden, which ones are the right ones to apply to?

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Girl pushing university button on search toolbar of virtual screen.

By now you should have a good list of 5 to 10 or more colleges that you are considering attending once you graduate high school. These colleges should include colleges that are a long shot, some conservative selections, as well as safety nets like local universities and community colleges. The reality is, everyone wants to go to the best college, but a lot have to go to a more conservative option due to a number of reasons, including the cost of attendance, how far the college is from family, and what the college has to offer.

Whatever the case, March of your junior year in high school is a good time to start narrowing down your list of schools. But, how do you know which school is the right school for you?

There are many factors that come into play when choosing which school you want to attend, and ultimately the decision is up to you. However, there are a few things you should keep in consideration no matter what your particular situation is, for example, the cost of attendance, what majors the school has to offer, and the geographic location of the school in terms of where you want to live and how close you want to be from home. Other things to consider are extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, and special programs, housing options, and last but not least, the facilities on campus, like science labs, theaters, and gyms.

Each of these things should be carefully considered when deciding where to apply to. You don’t want to end up paying for application fees to places you don’t plan to go to anyway. Some of the can be upwards of over $100 to submit your application.

Get the best information on how to choose the right college for you with Peterson’s.

Getting Ready for College as a High School Senior Reply

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Student loans and scholarship money.

It’s crunch time for high school seniors preparing for college. For many, the end of the prior school year and the summer before senior year was spent applying for scholarships and grants  and spent September applying to colleges.. Most students will have a decision from the colleges they have applied to by April, but there are things that need to be done before then.

Finishing up scholarship applications:

High school seniors should be finishing up the application process for most of their scholarship requests. It is important to review the scholarship application deadlines as well as ensure that all requested information for each scholarship is completed correctly. Many scholarships are very competitive and incomplete or incorrectly completed applications are often not considered. Others may require essays or letters of recommendation or transcripts. It is important to take the time with each scholarship that has not already been submitted to ensure that all requirements have been accurately completed.

Even though college starts in the fall, it is not too late to continue to look for other scholarship opportunities. This may be a good time to check with local social and philanthropic organisations in within the community for further opportunities. College expenses add up quickly and any extra fund sources, even smaller scholarships, are worth the time to investigate.

Two misconceptions regarding completing the FAFSA:

It is time to complete the FAFSA application, if it has not been completed already. Some students and parents think that they must wait until after 2016 income taxes are completed. Others think that they cannot apply for financial aid until they have been accepted by a college. Neither of these are true. FAFSA applications can be completed prior to income tax returns, and can be amended once the returns are completed. If a student has applied for more than one college, information on all colleges can be included in the FAS application.

With the FAFSA application, timing is everything. Many of the grants and financial aid options offered by the FAFSA are offered on a first come, first served basis. The sooner the application is completed, the more opportunities for financial aid will be available.

Most applications to college are decided in March or April. If a student has applied for Early Decision or Early Action, then likely he or she has already received the decision. It is important to speak with admissions counselors and understand the complete admissions process. Regardless of the admissions process for the individual college, having the FAFSA completed will simplify the process.

Learn more about what seniors in high school should be doing for college applications with Peterson’s.

Juniors: Prepare and Sign up for the ACT in February 1

It can sneak up on you. Sure, you’ve thought about college in the past, but suddenly now it’s just over the horizon. One more year of high school is all there is before you pack your bags and head off to higher education. Now, in addition to your current schoolwork, homework, and extracurricular activities, you’re looking at colleges and researching scholarships. There’s so much to do!

Contemplating the ACT® test can be daunting, but it’s an important part of preparing for college. Your ACT scores will be a very important factor schools look at during the application process. If you feel overwhelmed or concerned, it’s tempting to postpone the test. After all, you could take the test as late as September of your senior year.

That may not be the wisest course. Unless you have a very specific reason to wait, it’s a good idea to start preparing and schedule your test as soon as possible. We have two great ways to help you prepare for the test: Peterson’s ACT Prep Guide and online practice tests.

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Peterson’s ACT Prep Guide

The Peterson’s ACT Prep Guide provides detailed information on each of the five test categories, general information on the test itself, and six full-length practice tests.

The Online Prep Course provides similar information on the test but has a few more added features. You can get an initial diagnostic that will give you an idea of where you should focus your study. It also allows you to enter your testing date and even has automated essay scoring to take the guesswork out of the test.

Remember, if you do your prep work, take the test, and are not satisfied with your results, you can take the test again. Testing early gives you more of an opportunity to continue ACT prep and re-take the test than if you waited until later in your junior year to take it the first time.

If you take the test the first time, and feel that more assistance might help you get a better score on the test, these ACT preparation products are readily available to you.

There is a lot to do between now and the end for your senior year to prepare for college. The best course is to continue to make steady progress. Getting the ACT under your belt sooner will allow you to focus on your other goals. This is one you shouldn’t put off. Take the test as soon as you can!

Is the University of the People a Template for the Future? Reply

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Students sitting in lesson, in classroom, low angle view

It’s election time. As is usual, we hear a lot about the high cost of higher education from all of the prospective presidential candidates, each of whom is working hard to connect with young voters. Yet when the election is over, very often the rhetoric about reducing college costs or helping struggling students tends to die down. Other priorities seem to rise to the foreground and very little is done to help with the cost of education.

However, the rhetoric regarding college education has been changing in recent years. More people are seeing higher education as a right, rather than a privilege. Public K-12 school was established with the idea that this basic level of education should be accessible to all, because it is difficult to make it in the world and be a contributive member of society without this basic education. As we continue through the digital age, K-12 education no longer provides that basic level of education needed to be successful – a college education or some kind of secondary vocational training is essential.

Places like the University of the People start for this very reason, stating clearly that everyone should have access to higher education. UoPeople is a non-profit university that is associated with and is partially supported by many groups such as the United Nations, UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), and the Clinton Global Initiative.

The philosophy behind universities like this is simple: higher education creates economic development both on a global scale and on a personal scale. This is especially true in developing nations, where quite possibly the lack of access to education can keep entire societies in a position where they are unable to lift themselves out of poverty. The theory is: an educated world is a more productive and peaceful one. This is a sound theory, one proven in many parts of the world. India, for example owes its relative peace and rise as a developed nation at least in part to its efforts to educate its citizens.

At UoPeople, anyone who is qualified for higher education should be able to get it. A prospective student must be able to demonstrate that they have at least a 12th grade education in order to be ready for college level work; have a qualified level of English, and access to internet. Those who attend pay no tuition, simply a $100 exam fee at the end of each course and a one-time $50 application fee to register. For those who are unable to afford that, scholarships are available. The college is fully accredited, and the courses are online – so they can be taken from anywhere around the world. Currently there are Associates and Bachelor degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science available, but a new Health Science and MBA program will likely be added in time. In 2015, the school reached an enrollment level of 3,000 students.

While still in its infancy, the school is growing and providing a high quality education that will help students get high paying jobs later in life. The development of this school and the degree programs makes us wonder – will more schools like this pop up? Is this a possible template for universal college education in the future? It’s worth thinking about.

High School Juniors: Ready to Start Looking For a College? Start in January Reply

Thinking about attending college? Congratulations! You’re on the first step towards planning for a successful future. But what should you do next?

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College class in session.

The first step is to start sending letters or emails to the colleges that you want to attend. Do this in January of your high school junior year so that you have plenty of time to submit all of the application materials by their due date. The college application process can often be time consuming and require you to write and gather various paperwork, like letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, personal essays, ACT and SAT scores, and sending your transcripts.

Each of these things will take time, so preparation is key here. Plan on asking for information from 5-10 colleges. You don’t have to apply to all of these schools, but this will give you a good sense of what prospective colleges are looking for in their future students. Consider diversifying where you ask for information. Contact a couple of colleges that you have a good chance to get into and a couple of colleges that might be a long shot. Also, contact colleges close to home and away from home. It will be good to compare prices of colleges with both in-state and out-of-state tuition, financial aid assistance, and living costs, so that you know what to plan for.

As you start to gather all of this information, start a list of follow up questions that you come across. Jot down anything that comes to mind, like asking about their acceptance rate, student to teacher ratio, and what the dorm life is like for current students. This whole process can be overwhelming, so ask your parents and mentors for help. They will

love to help you plan for your future.

Now take a deep breath and start looking forward to a bright future ahead!

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Fill Out Your FAFSA Early to Help You Estimate Your EFC Reply

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College money

Navigating the financial aid process can be confusing and difficult, especially when trying to calculate your estimated family contribution (EFC) on your FAFSA application. Your EFC is a number that determines your eligibility to receive federal student financial aid. This number is calculated by a formula that is established by federal law, and includes your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (unemployment, Social Security, etc.), family size, and other family members who will attend college. Luckily, you don’t have to do this on your own. The US Department of Education makes a lot of great tools to help you estimate the aid you will receive.

First, if you are a high school junior scoping out colleges to attend after you graduate, you should start in January so that you can find out what the cost of attendance (COA) is for each of your prospective colleges. Depending on how much tuition and room and board is going to be, it will help you decide which colleges are worth spending time on.

So, how do you calculate your EFC? After you’ve filled out your FAFSA, this number will be available to you after the FAFSA has been fully processed. Though you are able to fill out your FAFSA between January 1st and June 30th for the same calendar year, you should file the application as soon as they are available so that you don’t miss out on any aid. You will have to fill out the FAFSA every year you attend college, so it is good to get familiar with the process.

However, if you want to estimate your EFC before filling out your FAFSA, there are many free tools online to help you do that. On the Department of Education website, they have a FAFSA4caster that will give you an estimate of your eligibility for need-based and non-need based aid, including federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans and other grants to help you pay for school.

Find out what your EFC is with a free calculator.

High School Juniors Will Get to Take the SAT for Free Reply

New York City public schools have taken a big leap in helping students pay for standardized testing and ease the burden of the college application process. The New York Department of Education has announced an initiative coined SAT School Day that will allow high school juniors to take the SAT for free starting in the spring of 2016.

By waiving the registration charge of around $54.50, free testing will go a long way in helping students get into college. Though it was intended to help low-income families have an equal chance of going to college, all students, no matter their income, will be able to take the test free-of-charge.  

Schools will also be scheduling SAT test-taking time during the school day so that students won’t have to take time out of their weekends, which is how it is typically done now. High schools won’t make the test mandatory, but this should help improve test participation.

More than anything, this is part of New York State’s educational plan to increase the number of students applying to college after high school graduation. The hope is that taking the SAT will become a regular part of a student’s high school atmosphere. Kids take enough standardized tests as it is, but the SAT has become a requirement for admittance into most major colleges and universities across the nation.  

High School sophomores and juniors were given free access to take the PSATs back in 2007 as a step towards ensuring student success. On the same day sophomores take the PSAT, juniors will have the option to take the SAT.

Six thousand students in 40 NYC public schools participated in the SAT School Day pilot program in the spring of 2015, and another 52 schools and 9,000 students will be added to the program. The citywide implementation of the SAT School Day program will happen in the Spring of 2017.

Peterson’s to Release ACT Prep Guide in March 2016 Reply

Petersons ACT Prep Guide_NonDVD_FrontCoverPeterson’s ACT® Prep Guide: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the ACT is the latest installment in Peterson’s very successful history of publishing leading ACT test prep. Peterson’s published ACT titles have sold more than one million copies over the past five years and have been the preeminent ACT resources on the market.

“Peterson’s is excited to announce that the story continues with the latest addition to our product line, the Peterson’s ACT® Prep Guide: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the ACT,” says Jeffrey Noordhoek, Nelnet CEO. “Peterson’s published the official ACT test preparation guide for over a decade and we know how and where students prepare for their academic future. We remain committed to publishing resources with the highest standards to ensure accurate, dependable, high-quality content to help students prepare for the best score possible.”

The ACT® Prep Guide offers students exactly what they need to prepare with confidence for this important college admission test, including: a full-length diagnostic test to evaluate a student’s strengths and weaknesses, six practice tests – four in print and two online – all with detailed answer explanations and in-depth review of all test sections, as well as strategies on how to raise test scores and feel at ease on test day.

For more information on this publication, see the full press release on PRWeb.

11 reasons why volunteering in college will make you successful Reply

Volunteering isn’t just good for the soul, it is also good to help build your resume when you are in college. One of the most important things for hiring managers when they are looking at your resume is the extra things you do to establish yourself as a successful person. Plus, unlike getting an internship, volunteering allows you to gain work experience on your own time without a large commitment. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, consider volunteering to help boost your chances of finding a job after graduation.

  1. Gain work experience

There is nothing more beneficial to have on your resume than work experience. Especially if you are volunteering for an organization that is in the same industry as your chosen career path, having work experience will show hiring managers that you know what you are doing and will be a valuable member to their team.

  1. Build your resume

How many times have you heard that is very important to build your resume before you graduate college? Degrees are becoming more and more common in the job market, and showing potential employers that you are a hard worker and care about your community through volunteering is essential for being successful in your job search.

  1. Help out your community

A great community creates better opportunities for everybody. By helping out your community, whether it be through volunteering with the homeless shelter, hospital, or other community events, you will gain a new appreciation for your community and be able to help out those in need.

  1. Learn to work as a team

Volunteering is all about working as a team. Working well with complete strangers is valuable to hiring managers and it will help you learn from other people’s strengths. Showing that you can work with others productively and efficiently is essential for the typical work environment. Take the opportunity of volunteering to learn about working with others and becoming a leader.

  1. Get scholarships

One of the things that organizations look at when awarding scholarships is how much applicants have volunteered. Scholarship organizations love applicants that show they care about their community and want to help. While volunteering a little bit is good, doing it over an extended period is even better. If you start volunteering in your freshman year of college, or even in high school, you will be able to get scholarships for higher amounts and from private and public organizations.

  1. Gain references

Good references are key when finding a job. By volunteering you can meet people in your industry that will give you a good reference when applying for full-time positions. Don’t be afraid to ask the mentors that you work under for a reference — most of them will be more than happy to help you become successful.

  1. Networking is essential

By volunteering you won’t just gain references, it will also give you the opportunity to gain contacts and network within your industry. This will help you find job opportunities that aren’t advertised and potentially give you a foot in the door. Networking. Networking. Networking. This is essential if you want to have a successful career.

  1. Prepare for graduate school

The graduate school admissions process is tough, especially when trying to get into high-ranking schools. Volunteering is a great way to separate yourself from the competition and show that you are dedicated to succeeding. Showing that you care about your community and can work as a team will help to show hiring managers that you are a well-rounded employee.

  1. Test out career opportunities

If you are unsure as to whether or not you want to work in a specific industry or not, volunteering is a great way to test out potential companies and job titles. Consider volunteering for a company that you want to work for to help you get a sense of the overall work environment and how well you work with your fellow employees.

  1. Gain perspective

With all of the great benefits for your future career that comes with volunteering, you will also gain a better perspective of the world around you. Seeing perspectives from your mentors, workmates, and those you help will give you a sense of accomplishment in what you do. Volunteering also helps you see the bigger picture within companies, your community, and the entire world.

  1. You will enjoy it

Believe it or not, the vast majority of people who volunteer enjoy it — and you will too. Take the opportunity to volunteer to learn about yourself and those around you and you might just find a career in something that you have passion in and love to do.

Peterson’s Author Helps Students Achieve Their Education Goals Reply

Peterson’s is more than just information for students and teachers. Just last week, Justin Ross Muchnick, author of Peterson’s The Boarding School Survival Guide, awarded two students $1,000 scholarships for their essays, which he called “honest, thoughtful, and authentic.” The two winning incoming freshmen are Bob Moore from Louisville, KY, who will be attending McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN, and Elise Hogan from Sicklerville, NJ, who will be attending St. Andrews School in Middletown, DE. Students submitted essays on the reasons, desires, discoveries, etc. on why they want to attend boarding school. The applications came from all ends of the earth – Egypt, Iran, Canada, and across the U.S.

In June of 2014, Peterson’s released The Boarding School Survival Guide, written by students, for students. This guide was the idea of Peterson’s youngest author, Justin Muchnick – 16 at the time of publication – who personally navigated the difficult waters of selecting a boarding school. His book is designed to provide students insight from other students who attend or recently graduated from a boarding school.

The Boarding School Survival Guide includes 25 chapters that help students choose and navigate life at boarding school, including advice on campus visits, how to deal with homesickness, and finding a mentor. Justin reached out to boarding school students throughout the country. Chapter contributors include students at Andover, Exeter, Choate Hotchkiss, Deerfield, Hill, St. Paul’s, Lawrenceville, Thatcher, Cate, Taft, Tilton, Kent, South Kent, Webb, Hebron, Pomfret, Middlesex, THINK Global, Maine School of Science and Mathematics, Culver, and other boarding schools across the United States.

Congratulations to the winners of the scholarships, and to the Peterson’s publishing team, which works tirelessly to bring students all the information they need to have a successful college career.


 

You can read the full story as a press release here.

See The Boarding School Survival Guide and Peterson’s other titles at PetersonsBooks.com.