High School Sophomores: Get a Part-Time Job or Volunteer Work to Help You Succeed 1

Portrait of Vietnamese beautiful waitress with a tray standing in a cafe

Working a part-time job.

For high school sophomores, getting a part-time job or volunteering for an organization is a great idea. Part-time jobs allow you to get some pocket cash and gain experience in a field of interest. While you won’t make any money volunteering, the experience you gain looks great on your resume for future jobs and on the application to college. Doing either of these isn’t hard either since you won’t typically be required to already have fully built out resume. For a lot of jobs or volunteering gigs, all you need to do is have an entry level resume and show you are motivated to work hard to succeed.

If you don’t have any experience and want to be able to work in a hospital, daycare, or school, community center, or for local events, volunteering is a great way to gain the experience you need to acquire the job after you have graduated high school. Jobs that require a specific amount of schooling, like a college degree or certificate, are perfect to volunteer for, because although you won’t get paid, you will be establishing yourself as a person who is motivated to succeed.

Part-time jobs are also a great way to gain experience, plus you will get paid to do work. However, a lot of higher paying jobs will require work experience and/or a certain level of education, so don’t expect to be making six figures right off the bat. Don’t get discouraged though, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get a job in your field of interest. Many animal shelters, sales, grocery stores, restaurants, and department stores are happy to higher high school students who don’t have any experience. If you already have some sort of expertise, you can also work freelance, for example as a web designer or writer.

The best way to get a job or volunteer work is to research and ask around your local community if anyone is looking for part-time workers. Most organizations will always be willing to accept volunteers, and typically companies will be willing to hire a part-time worker, especially in the summer. Summer jobs are notorious for being the perfect fit for high schoolers looking to make a little money while school is out.

Also, ask your mentors, teachers, parents, and friend’s parents if they know a good place to apply. A lot of times volunteer opportunities and part-time work are filled by word-of-mouth and friends of friends, so don’t forget to harness the power of your already existing relationships and community. Remember as well that your parents and mentors will be willing to help you out finding a job and building a resume. Wherever you decide to work you will be gaining valuable experience and skills for your future success, including money management, responsibility, a sense of worth, collaboration, and professionalism. All of these skills be beneficial to getting into college and/or getting a higher paying position in the future.

High School Juniors: It’s Time to Gather Your Application Materials for College Reply

When applying to college, you’ll need to gather all of your pertinent documents require for the application process. Along with the school’s application and depending on the program you’re applying for, you’ll want to have a resume, writing samples, letters of recommendation, portfolios, audition tapes, statement of purpose, and any other documents that the college is requesting.

College Resume

Student filling out a resume for college.

A resume for your college admissions packet is different than a work resume. For the college resume, you’ll want to include everything of note that you have already accomplished and will accomplish by the time that you graduate. Include anything from experiences that show a passion for your major to publications, awards, volunteering, jobs, extracurricular activities, sports, and hobbies. For help brainstorming and organizing a formal resume, do some research online for a good template and ask your parents and mentors for help. You want to ensure that your resume is easy to scan and shows that you’re professional enough to put the time into creating a great resume. Whatever you do, don’t just throw a resume together and expect it to be good.

Likewise for all writing samples, portfolios, audition tapes, and anything else that you’ll submit along with your application, be sure that each is formally presented. Be sure to label everything with your name, phone number, email, address, and name of your high school at the top. Admissions departments have so many applicants each year they will appreciate an organized and well-thought application.

When you send your application materials, be sure that you know that all of your documents and application actually get to where you send. This can mean that if you send it through the United States Postal Service that you request a tracking number and notice of delivery. If you send your documents digitally, follow up after a couple of days with an email to the school’s admissions department to be sure they got it. Also, if they don’t reply to your email, be sure to call them during normal business hours to ensure they received everything. It would be a good idea to call admissions if you send everything through the USPS as well after you receive a notice of delivery, just to be sure.

The most important part to the admissions process is to ensure that you have done everything properly and submitted the required documents so that your application isn’t delayed. Be sure to ask your teachers, mentors, and parents for help creating the perfect application packet.

Sophomores: Now is the Time to Visit and Tour College Campuses Reply

iStock_000004837175SmallVisiting a college campus is a great way to find out if a college is the right fit for you. With all of the variation in college campuses, student housing, and academic and student life, the only way to experience a college before actually attending is to do a campus tour. Plus, it can be fun to have a road trip with your parents or friends during a summer to hit two birds with one stone. During the summer is usually the best time for high school students, however, in order to get a true feel for how the campus will be during the school year, it might be best to visit during the Fall or Spring semester.

The first thing you need to do when planning out your on-campus visits is to choose a number of universities and state colleges that are close and far from your hometown. How many you want to visit is up to you, but it is important to at least visit the colleges on your top 5 list. Keep in mind that sometimes college tours only take a couple of hours so you can visit 2 or 3 during one day if you schedule in advance. However, some colleges also offer the chance for potential applicants to stay the night with current undergraduates. If you have the time to do this, it is highly recommended. Staying the night in a dormitory is a great way to learn firsthand from students what the college experience will be like.

After you have narrowed down the colleges you want to visit, be sure to call the school’s admissions office so that you can be sure you are visiting during an appropriate time. If you want a tour that is led by someone who knows about the campus, most require that you call at least 2 weeks in advance. However, simply going to the campus and walking around without a guide can be helpful too. Though colleges prefer that you schedule a tour, exploring the campus can often give you a more authentic experience.

If you want to get all of the information possible in one visit it is also a good idea to set up appointments with an academic advisor, financial aid office, a professor in the field you want to major in, and a coach if you are planning on doing college sports. Professionals at the school will typically be willing to meet with you during business hours to help answer your questions and show off their school to get you to attend when you graduate high school. And don’t worry, you don’t have to have everything planned out right away. You still have plenty of time to decide what you want to study and where you want to go. Plus, over 50% of students change their major at least once, so don’t feel bad about trying out different specialties until you find one that you truly enjoy.

Applying for Scholarships: Start Early and Apply Often Reply

Students studyingLocal scholarships are scholarships that various organizations in your community offer students who reside in particular place to help pay for college. Often these scholarships are offered through municipalities or prominent figures that wanted to give back to their home communities. Plus, since these are largely given out based on geographic location, it can often be easier to be awarded money for school because of the smaller applicant pool.

Even if you live in a small community, there are often plenty of scholarships available, you just might have to do more work to find them. So, before you start your junior year, you should already be asking your teachers, mentors, employers, parents, and other people in your community that might know about local scholarships that might be available. You might be surprised to find out how much money is available to eager and driven students.

Most scholarship deadlines are in January, so you should be ready by mid-year of your junior year to have scholarships already lined up for after you graduate. This might seem early, but it isn’t. Plan on carving out some time in your schedule in order to find and apply for scholarships. Preparation and due diligence are key here.

Along with asking those who are close to you about available scholarships, check with your guidance office. They will likely have a list of scholarships available. But don’t just stop there as they might not have a full list. Contact state and local agencies, community colleges and universities around your area, as well as searching online for local scholarships in your city. This is a time when picking up the phone or scheduling a meeting with someone in-the-know can greatly pay off in the long run.

10 Body Language Tips for Your College Interview Reply

Having a successful college interview means more than just saying the right things and having a great digital resume, having the right body language is extremely important too. Non-verbal cues can convey a message stronger than your actual words since they can often be unintentional yet express your true meaning. Here is a list of the 10 body language tips for your college interview.

  1. Sit firmly back in seat

Sit up straight

Sitting all the way back and firmly in your seat not only shows that you have great posture, but also that you are confident. It gives a sense that you are comfortable and relaxed and ready to tackle any tough question that might get thrown your way.

  1. Keep feet on the ground

Planted feet shows that you are secure and steady. Since your feet are planted on the ground literally, it can figuratively mean that you practice sound judgement and good common sense, which any college interviewer would look for in a prospective student. Also, it has been scientifically proven that you can respond to questions more creatively and with more complex answers with both feet on the ground.

  1. Make and maintain eye contact – but don’t stare

Maintain eye contact
Making eye contact shows that you are being direct. Maintaining eye contact shows that you are listening and engaged to your interviewer. Even without speaking, proper eye contact shows that you are an active participant in the conversation. However, while you should maintain eye contact, you should not stare. According to Forbes, this can be interpreted as aggressive and even creepy.

  1. Gesture with your hands

It can often feel awkward to hold your hands still while talking, so it’s okay to use your hands to gesture while you speak. It can show that you are passionate about what you are talking about, which would be impressive to any college interviewer. Just be cognizant of your gestures, so don’t point in an aggressive manner.

  1. Palms up means honesty

According to Mashable, putting your palms up conveys honesty and engagement and can actually make the interviewer feel more comfortable. If the interviewer is more comfortable, this can cause you to relax, as well, making for a better and stronger interview.

  1. Nod while listening

Slightly nodding while listening is a great way to send the message that you’re listening, without actually speaking and interrupting your interviewer. Nodding at key moments drives home the fact that you’re engaged. Just remember not to overdo it and nod at every single word your interviewer has to say.

  1. Lean slightly forward

Leaning forward slightly during your interview can show that you’re listening intently. It’s also reducing some of the space between you and the interviewer, which can make things more relaxed and comfortable.

  1. Don’t cross arms

Crossing your arms can seem like a defensive mood, where you can seem off-putting to your interviewer. It’s better to keep your arms at your sides to seem more relaxed and personable. You want to seem open and approachable during your interview.

  1. No hands behind back

Don’t keep your hands behind your back at any point; it can seem as if you have something to hide. Place your hands lightly in your lap while not speaking or gesture with them while talking as cues that you are engaged throughout your interview.

  1. Make sure tone and expression match

You could send mixed signals to your interviewer if you are speaking passionately, while having a deadpan expression on your face. This can signify that you don’t believe what you are saying. Therefore, make sure that both your tone and expression match to convincingly get across what you are saying is exactly what you mean and how you honestly feel.


About Vera Marie Reed

Vera Marie Reed is an ex-elementary school teacher turned freelance writer from Glendale, California. She is now a stay at home mother to her two young daughters and enjoys writing about education and parenting issues. She hopes on day to write and illustrate a series of children’s books. Follow her on Twitter at @VMReed.


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 Important Are Test Scores in College Admissions? 2

With the recent trend of more colleges going test optional, you may think that test scores have become less important in college admissions, but this isn’t exactly the case. The reality is there are many schools and many categories of students for whom test scores remain to be very important. So let’s break it down.

Why Test Scores are Still Important

Currently, there are over 850 colleges and universities in the United States that are test-optional, or “test-flexible” in some capacity, but these make up less than ⅓ of the 4-year colleges and universities in the country. SAT and ACT scores are considered by many institutions to be the most effective data points we have right now to compare students from different high schools and different parts of the country. These tests are not perfect, by any means, and they do not accurately assess many of the intelligences and skills a student might bring to a school, but, for better or worse, they are what colleges have right now to use as an equalizing factor. And so they will remain an important component in admissions at many schools, particularly large institutions. Even many schools that appear to be test-optional are not truly test-optional for all students. They may require other testing in lieu of the traditional SAT or ACT, such as AP or IB scores, or they may require scores from student athletes and students seeking scholarships even if they aren’t required in general admissions.

Test Scores are More Important at Some Schools than Others

Every higher ed institution ranks the factors it considers in admissions from “very important”, to “important”, to “considered”, to “not considered”, and you can find this information online in college profiles. For example, Yale lists test scores as “very important,” the University of Michigan lists them as “important,” and Harvard lists them as “considered.” But because this information is self-reported, you have to take it with a grain of salt (Harvard boasts some of the highest test scores in the country, after all). Test scores are also calculated into U.S. News and World Report rankings, so this puts additional pressure on schools seeking higher rankings to increase the average SAT score of their admitted students.

Still…Test Scores are Just One Factor in Admissions

Knowing how important test scores are to certain institutions can give you valuable insight into the level of scrutiny that your SAT or ACT score report might face, but it is also important to keep in mind that scores are only one factor in admissions. Most institutions consider your high school transcript and GPA to be the most important component in admissions and also consider other elements such as essays, teacher and peer recommendations, extracurricular activities, and personal obstacles. This is a good thing for students who feel that their test scores do not best represent them, but it also means that students should realize that test scores might be even more competitive at their dream schools than they realize. Say a school deems test scores a “considered” factor in admissions and releases a middle-50 percentile SAT score range of 1200 – 1450 (I’m using new SAT scores out of 1600, since that is what we will be working with from now on). You may think your 1250 makes you competitive at this school, and it might, depending on the rest of your profile. But remember that this score range is likely pulled down by some students who have been admitted for special reasons. You should always target scores in the upper half of this range, then, to consider yourself to be truly competitive. If you’re wondering how to improve your ACT score or your SAT score to move up in this range, one of the best ways to do so is to practice with all of the official tests you can get your hands on (and do so under a time limit). You can find previously given SATs and ACTs on the College Board and ACT websites as well as in the official books published by these organizations.

The moral of the story is that good test scores can only help you in college admissions. Test optional schools are a great choice for students for whom the SAT or ACT is not a good fit, but, with the state of college admissions today, good scores still stand to open up a lot more doors.


About Kristin Fracchia
As Magoosh’s resident ACT Expert, Kristin creates awesomely fun ACT lessons and practice materials for students. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.


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.

 

The Importance of Following Up on Your Financial Aid Reply

Financial Aid Follow UpThe prospect of college can be a very exciting as well as a little scary. Your life is about to change dramatically, in many ways. Soon you’ll be attending a university, living on campus, and taking classes that will actually lead to your future career! It seems anticlimactic that your preparation consists mostly of tedious applications and almost endless research. While it can be frustrating to spend so much time and effort on such brain numbing tasks, persistence and follow-up can ensure that you get into the school that is the best fit for you, and obtain all of the financial aid that you deserve.

You’ve put the time in. There were the hours spent researching and applying to scholarships, writing essays, and gathering references. You’ve spent your time investigating schools, finding the ones that you feel would be the best fit for you. Finally, you’ve worked to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), reviewed it for accuracy, and it has been sent off to your school choices. Once your schools receive your FAFSA report, they will begin their process of determining what financial aid you are entitled to. The report helps the school determine the Federal financial aid you can be awarded, but it also is often used for other types of grants and loans that the school may offer.

Now is not the time to rest. Once you have been informed that your FAFSA is complete, and you have reviewed your Student Aid Report (SAR) and made any necessary corrections or changes, then your FAFSA information will be sent to the schools you have listed in your application. Now it’s important to follow up.

Check with each school where you have applied to make sure they have received your application. While most of the time a school receives your FAFSA report without a problem, it would be very unfortunate if you were denied admission into one of your top school choices because the school never received it. If it hasn’t been received, most of the time either you or the school can work with FAFSA to make sure it is sent to the school.

Once you have confirmed that the FAFSA report has been received, you can ask the school if there is any other information they need from you and inquire when you could expect to receive an awards letter. This does a couple of things. First, it gives you a timeframe for when you can expect to know how much financial aid you will receive. Second, it leaves a good impression with the school. You show that you are a proactive student who is deeply committed to your education, and it expresses your desire to attend the school. Following up is essential. Being proactive will put you a step ahead of those who simply wait to hear from their school, and help you avoid an unexpected setback.

Need a scholarship? Let Peterson’s help!

Reviewing Your Student Aid Report – an Important Step in the FAFSA Application Process 1

FAFSA

FAFSA and Financial Aid

Completing your FAFSA application can be a tedious and lengthy process for both students and parents, particularly the first time you go through the process. After gathering your tax information and other paperwork, you and your parents likely spent quite some time entering in information, answering questions and signing (electronically in most cases) the FAFSA application, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR).

If you provided an email address during the application process, the Student Aid Report will be emailed to you. If you didn’t, then you’ll receive a copy of the report in the mail. If you completed the FAFSA online and signed it using your FAFSA ID, then you’ll most likely get your emailed copy within 3-5 days, or mailed to you within 7-10 days. If you didn’t sign online, but rather printed and returned a signature page, then the report will likely be available to you after about 2 weeks. If you make a change or correction to your FAFSA, it will generate a new report – in some cases immediately, and 3-5 days in other cases.

Once you have completed the FAFSA and received your SAR, it is important that you review it carefully for accuracy. This report is what your school will use to determine your Federal aid. It can also be used to help determine any other scholarships or financial aid that may be available to you. Any errors in the report could affect the student aid that you received.

The report will also tell you if your application is complete. If it is complete, it will contain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If it is incomplete according to FAFSA, then it will provide information about what else might be needed. However, just because FAFSA shows your SAR as completed and populates the EFC, that doesn’t mean that you have completely entered everything in accurately. When reviewing, ensure that you have entered all of your information correctly, and that you haven’t omitted information on any of the questions.

If you do need to make changes, either because you’ve found an error or because the report asks you for more information, you simply log into your FAFSA application and make the necessary changes. After you’ve applied the changes, you’ll receive another SAR to review.

After all the time you spend completing the FAFSA, it may seem overly tedious to review your SAR, but it is a necessary part of the process. Take the time that you need to submit an accurate and complete application. The Student Aid Report is your tool to make sure you’ve done everything that you need to do, and it is the same report your school will use. When you’re certain that your application is complete, you can be certain that you’ve maximized all of the financial aid you are entitled to.

Find out more about the FAFSA on Peterson’s.

Apply for ROTC Scholarships in March Reply

ROTC

Female JROTC Cadets in Sarasota

The Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) offers assistance in paying for college in return for a promise to serve in the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force. A student enrolled in the ROTC will participated in military training around 4 hours a week, on average, during the course of earning a degree, and will receive scholarships to help pay for tuition as well as a monthly payment to cover living expenses while in college. You’ll also be required to enroll in elective classes and labs that are relative to your future military career. After college, you’ll enter the military as an officer.

It’s important to remember that ROTC is more than just a scholarship program, and you should be absolutely certain you wish to join the military after college before you apply for a scholarship. Your scholarship and monthly stipend are contingent upon your promise to serve in the military after your education is completed. If you fail to live up to your active duty commitment, you could be subject to ROTC disenrollment, which can include an obligation for you to repay the aid that you have received and a mandatory active service requirement.

If you are a high school junior who is planning on joining the military and looking at ROTC as an option, it is important to start looking at this in March. There are 1,100 colleges that have ROTC programs for the Army and Air Force/Marines and about 153 colleges that have ROTC programs for the Navy. It’s important to talk to your counselor now to determine which of the schools you are interested have an ROTC program for the branch of the military you are interested in joining. If you currently participate in JROTC in high school, that organization can also help you find schools.

There are many considerations to applying for the ROTC program. It is helpful to have a B average for your high school career. If you can, join the honor society and participate in school programs such as athletics or student government.

It’s recommended that you apply to multiple schools that have the ROTC program you are interested in, to increase your chances of being accepted into a school. It’s also recommended that you start preparing and take the SAT or ACT test as soon as you can. Your performance in these tests will be a factor in your application for the ROTC program. You will also be required to take and pass a physical fitness test prior to being accepted into the ROTC program – so while you are studying for classes, applying for schools and scholarships, and preparing for tests, don’t forget to stay in shape!

Check out ROTC Scholarships on Petersons.com today.