The Right Choice: 5 Reasons to Pursue a College Degree Reply

Earning a college degree is a crucial step in life and is now considered an integral part of the “American Dream.” It is about creating opportunities in life. A college degree prepares your intellect and social abilities for your adult life and career.
Most people want to attend college, but they don’t know why they should or how it will benefit their lives. There are many benefits associated with earning a college degree and here are just a few.

1. Make More Money

For many people, the ability to make more money is what drives them to go to college. Whether it is a bachelor’s or master’s degree, a postsecondary degree gives you the opportunity to pursue higher paying careers that require advanced skills. Research indicates that college graduates earn more money in their lifetime compared to those who only possess a high school diploma.

According to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, high school graduates earn about $30,000 annually, and bachelor’s degree graduates earn about $50,000 a year. In a few years, this translates to a big earnings gap between these two groups of individuals. The earning potential also differs depending on your field of work. Although there is an income disparity based on your gender and race, your earning potential still increases significantly with a college degree.

2. Expand Your Knowledge Base

Getting college education helps you gain advanced knowledge in your subjects of interest and a broad range of experience in many other subjects. It also gives you the ability to exercise critical and abstract thinking. It helps you gain the capacity to express yourself both in writing and speech clearly and to make sensible decisions. These skills are quite crucial both on and off your job.

3. Better Career Opportunities

The most common path to a better career is earning a college degree. Although when most people enter college, they don’t know what they want to become in future, most of them know they need a good job that will pay them well and offer them more satisfaction and security. This is one of the primary reasons people invest their money and time to go to college.

Usually, it doesn’t matter what you study, what counts is just the fact that you earned the degree. Since college gives you a wide range of skills, many graduates end up working in various fields that are different from what they studied. Thus, college opens up doors for opportunities that aren’t always available to those who haven’t been engaged in higher education.

4. Satisfaction and Job Security

A post-secondary degree usually leads to better job security. The truth is, without a degree, you may not be as valuable to your employer. And when things get tough, it can be easier to lay you off. As a matter of fact, higher education is so vital that some companies will offer to pay for their employees’ tuition. That is how valuable a college degree is.

It is considered as an important investment that will be of benefit not only to the employee but the firm as well. Studies show that during economic recessions, college graduates are least likely to be laid off. Those who suffer most job cuts are individuals who only possess high school diplomas. If you are a college graduate, you are also bound to enjoy your job due to factors such as employment benefits, higher income, and opportunities to advance your career, and this translates to job satisfaction.

5. Ability to Weather Adversity

During an economic downturn, with more money available in your savings account, an education, and marketable skills, having a degree will help you survive hardship. The benefits of getting a college degree are very numerous indeed, and college education is a great investment in your life. You will gain more money, a bigger knowledge base, job security and satisfaction, and the ability to withstand tough times. And all these factors will give you a secure future.

Going to college will come with some difficulties. One of the thing you don’t have to do, however, is relocate. If you live in Colorado, for example, try to find a local college in Colorado instead of traveling to an out-of-state university. By attending a local college, you can maintain your current job and life while still attaining the many benefits available to you through a degree.


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.

Make Your College Application Shine: Six Strategies for Success Reply

One of the most important stages of your student life is your college application. However, the process of perfecting the applications that will determine the next years of your life can be scary and stressful.

Here you can find six strategies to optimize your college application process:

  1. Get organized

It’s crucial that you start your applications early and stay organized. Create a system that will allow you to keep track of the multiple tasks and deadlines of the applications you are working on. You can also develop a checklist or spread sheet with all the materials you need for each application such as official high school transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, portfolios and other supporting documents.

  1. Focus on your activities

Your accomplishments, leadership experiences, and community service can be a critical tool in helping separate yourself from all the others applicants with similar scores. Take the time to list all your extracurricular activities. College admissions officers often talk about the importance of being highly involved in activities and organizations, especially if they involve leadership. Many colleges are also placing a greater emphasis on encouraging students to reach out to the local communities.

  1. Decide on your application type and master it

More than 200 private colleges and universities in the U.S. accept the Common Application. You can actually complete the application online and then print out the number of copies you need, making sure your application answers are neat and professional. Make sure each school you want to apply to accepts it and even if they do, you should use the individual school’s application for your top colleges because it is sign that you care enough to individualize your application to that school. No matter what application you go for, always remember to read it thoroughly before starting filling it out. Start by completing a rough draft. Once you are happy with all your answers, take the time to complete the application neatly.

  1. Craft your best college essay

Your college essay is critical to your application. Besides being well written, it should also offer insight into your personality. Your essays should be original, personal, and honest and they are the best way to distinguish yourself from all the other similar applicants. And always remember to proofread your essay as carefully as possible.

  1. Take advantage of online resources

Online tools have become more and more helpful in making the college application process more manageable. Here you can find some of the most helpful resources to help you compose the perfect application:

  • Easy Word Count – this online word counter is perfect to keep a count of your words and characters when writing and editing your college application and specially your college essay.
  • State of Writing – a great tool for you to carefully edit your college application and improve your writing.
  • Grade On Fire – this writing community offers you quality writing guides and professional advice.
  • Uktopwriters – this tool will help you find complicated sentences and common errors that you want to avoid when editing your college application and essay. It allows you to paste your content into the tool and it will analyze it sentence by sentence.
  • Elite Assignment Help – use this tool to get expert writing help to improve your application and essay.
  • Resumention – an online tool that offers resume writing and editing services to help your resume and application stand out from the others.
  1. Seek help

Find someone to help you with the college application process. If you don’t have a family member to assist you, try a teacher or counsellor, a friend or any adult who has been through the process. Accept constructive criticism. The read your application, the stronger it will be.

To have a chance at getting accepted at the college of your choice, you need to meet the minimum requirements for acceptance. But apart from that, the most important element is the quality of your application and essay. Use these six strategies to help you build the strongest application and assay possible.


Freddie Tubbs is an eLearning project manager from Fort Myers, Florida. He works as a language researcher at Best Australian Writers and is a contributing author at The Atlantic.


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 Things to Consider When Applying to Universities Reply

Choosing a college can be really easy. Or really hard. It all depends on a number of factors, some within your control and some beyond it. There are some components, however, that universally need to be considered when deciding on colleges that should be on your application list.

  1. Fit

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is fit. This is why it’s important to actually visit any universities you are seriously considering attending. Meet people – staff, professors and students – to really get a feel of the place and see how you feel about fitting in there. Not every college is for everybody, and you might find yourself simply liking the feel of some over others. Lots of schools have a website like this one for UC Clermont College. Spending some time on the schools website can help you get a feel for what the culture there will be like.

  1. Cost

While it’s not something most potential college students want to think about, the reality is that cost is always something you must consider when applying to universities. If you get more financial help to attend one school over another, that alone might make the decision for you. Or it might not. Always apply to schools you want because you might end up with more financial aid than you thought, and your college experience is not to be decided by money alone. But cost should always be a factor.

  1. Breadth Of Degree Choices

You are likely to change your major during college – that much is a fact. So if you’re looking at a very small school for a very specific program they are well-known for, what happens if you want to change your major and you then find there are not many other options to choose from? The smart thing to do is not only have a few majors in mind you might be interested in pursuing, but applying to colleges that have programs in a handful of subjects you are interested in, as well as other options you might not have even considered.

  1. Your Chances At Getting In

Have a good idea of the acceptance rate and average accepted student GPA of the schools you are considering. It might be best to simply not apply to any you have no realistic chance of getting into. If you are applying to a school or two that might be hard to get into, go the extra mile when crafting your application, essay and interview to present yourself as a student they want to accept. But also realistically determine if you’ll be able to keep up in the academic environment of those schools if you are accepted. And always apply to a “backup” school that you’re sure to get into.

The decision of what colleges to apply for is a very personal one, and there are a lot of things to consider. The benefits of a college education, including becoming a more well-rounded human being, better employment aspects and better lifetime salaries make it all worth it. Ultimately, follow both your heart and your head, as well as consider the four factors mentioned above, and good luck on those applications!


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.

First Year at University? 3 Things You Should Know Reply

You’ve picked your roommate and you know what dorm you’re staying in. You’ve even done the campus tour and mapped out the closest dining hall. You think you’re ready, but the real work is just beginning. Your first year of college can definitely be a huge life change, but it is a great life change. It definitely takes a lot of preparation though. It will definitely be unlike anything you have ever experienced. Here’s what you should know to thrive during your first year at college.

  1. Map it Out

In any college setting, it’s common for professors to assign a research paper to be turned in towards the end of the semester. Papers like this can take a lot of research and a lot of time. That’s why you are going to want to make sure to get started on it as soon as you can. By doing that you can avoid a lot of heartache and stress further on down the road. Sadly, chances are the paper will be mentioned once on the first day of class and then will hardly be mentioned again. That is until the day it’s due. Without proper organization and a plan to meet all of the deadlines you will face, you may find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Get a planner, use sticky notes or write it on the front of your notebook. Do whatever works best for you to stay organized and ensure you get all those papers with longer deadlines completed on time.

  1. Find Your Study Spot

By this stage in your scholastic career, you should be well acquainted with the most effective study strategies for your learning style. Now it’s time to take what you know about your learning techniques and apply that in a whole new environment. Scope out all the best study spots on campus. Find the space that will benefit you and then create a study schedule. Make consistent study dates with yourself and keep them. Resist the temptation to ditch the books in favor of pizza and dedicate yourself to your study spot. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. Become An Expert

Counselors are there to help and guide, but they also have a lot of students and expect you to take charge of your education. Understanding the requirements and deadlines for your program can keep you on the right track and make sure you are prepared for graduation. These requirements are also imperative if you want to pursue a graduate degree. Some programs like the criminal justice master’s program actually place their requirements directly on their webpage making it easy to track your progress and make sure you have what you need to gain acceptance into the next phase of your education.

College is a wonderful experience, full of excitement and challenges. These tips will help you embrace all that college is and allow you to conquer your first year. As you keep yourself organized and disciplined you’ll find handling your schedule more bearable. While most of the weight of your success rests on your shoulders, never be afraid to ask for help from teachers, counselors, and upper classmen.


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.

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

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

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

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

Focus on Your Strengths

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

Never Show Mediocrity

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

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

Always Show Wisdom

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

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

Start Writing Your Essay Early

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

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

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

Let Everyone See Your Work

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

Don’t Forget to Be Yourself

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

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

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


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


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

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.

Juniors: Make a List of Potential Colleges Reply

Making a list of collegesAs a high school junior, the task of picking a college can be daunting. There are so many colleges out there. So much to consider. There are a variety of different guidebooks and websites designed to help you search for a college that is right for you. Sometimes, the sheer amount of information on colleges makes things more confusing. You won’t really know for sure if a college is right for you until you visit it, but you certainly can’t visit every single college you find interesting. So how do you decide?

The best way to start is to make a list of colleges that you could see yourself attending.  In preparation for making this list, it’s important to really consider what qualities you are looking for in a college. It is much easier to evaluate a school, once you have done some thinking about what you want in a college. Make a list of the things you need and want from your prospective school.

Qualifications

Some qualifications are obvious and fairly objective. If you know what you want your major to be, or at least have an idea of where your main interests lie, then you’ll want to make sure that the school you are looking at offers degree programs that fit your goals. Location can be a factor.  Do you want to go to school close to home, or are you looking to move away? Cost is always a factor, though one that is difficult to measure.  Certainly you don’t want to add a school to your list if the cost to attend will exceed your budget.  Still, many schools that may have a tuition expense that is out of your range also have grants and scholarships that can help you offset those costs. A school’s athletic program might be an important decision factor for athletes who plan on continuing their sport at the college level.

Other qualifications are more subjective. What is the best college environment for you? Would you rather be in a big university or a smaller college? In a big city or a smaller one? College is not just about classes and grades and diplomas.  It’s also an experience.  Think about the things that are important to you as a person. What are your hobbies?  What kind of weather do you prefer? What clubs do you think you’d like to join?  What is the overall environment like?  These questions are much harder to answer without visiting the college – and if you are making fairly long list, you probably cannot visit them all! Sometimes visiting the school’s website, talking to someone who attends or did attend the college, or to the admissions personnel might help with some of these more subjective questions.

Share Your List of Schools

Once you have more clearly defined what types of colleges you’d like to attend, then it is much easier to research and add good candidates to your list of colleges.  Throughout this process it is a good idea to talk with your parents, other family members and your high school counselor to get feedback.  Those around you, who know you well, can be great resources because they can provide insight and ideas that may not have occurred to you. Once you have a list, they can also help you narrow it down to a handful of colleges that you can visit.

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.