Archive | January, 2013

Grades are still important!

23 Jan


About now you are probably getting those wonderful acceptance letters or electronic notices that start “Congratulations!”

There’s no better feeling than knowing that at least ONE college wants you, right?

However, after you’ve gotten a few of these and know you’ll be somewhere on a college campus next fall, the tendency to slip into Senioritis is a huge problem.

What many seniors do not realize is that acceptance they have received is a CONDITIONAL acceptance. You are still expected to achieve at the same level you have been for the other three years of your high school existence. It is possible that a college could revoke your acceptance. So, yes, Virginia, you still need to STUDY and get good grades.

Here are a few motivational strategies:

  • Think of this new semester as the beginning of school. Get organized all over again. Reorganize your notebooks. Get a new stash of 3×5 cards and notebook paper and pens/pencils. 
  • Buy a new calendar if you haven’t yet. Keep tracking important deadlines for your colleges and for scholarships, senior year activities, and AP and other tests.
  • If you haven’t already, organize a study group to prepare for those challenging spring exams, such as the Advanced Placement tests, set for May 6-10 and 13-17.
  • Check your online college portals DAILY! Announcements will most likely be delivered to you there regarding deadlines and financial aid.
  • As you and your family are able, visit any college campuses to which you have been accepted but have not yet visited. Schedule tour appointments. Some colleges also have spring visitation programs that are very reasonable and very worthwhile. (See my earlier blog about how to make the most of college visits.)

    Congratulations on your acceptances!


    Keep studying to keep all your options open!


Time to do the FAFSA!

7 Jan

Do this four-page FAFSA worksheet before doing the online application.

Do this four-page FAFSA worksheet before doing the online application.

Seniors and continuing college students, it’s time to do the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA. The California deadline is March 2; other states’ deadlines are listed on the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet, found at Choose the shorter of  the deadlines (state deadline and federal deadline can differ).

Here are some tips to complete the FAFSA:

  • The main FAFSA online adddress is (Do NOT go to — this is a commercial site that will take money from you; the authentic FAFSA site is a government site and the process is FREE! Note that if you Google “FAFSA,” the .com address will come up first, but this is NOT the authentic site.
  • Do the 2013-14 FAFSA for the next school year (NOT the 2012-13–that one is for the current school year).
  • Get personal information numbers for student and for parent at Each of you needs a PIN — one for the student, one for the parent. You will need those first before completing the fafsa.
  • Download a FAFSA worksheet at It’s wise to do this ahead of time, so that you have no surprises about the information requested when you go online to complete the FAFSA.

When you submit the information on the FAFSA, doublecheck everything carefully. One of my former students put the wrong Social Security Number on her FAFSA, then wondered why she wasn’t getting a financial aid offer from her colleges. Another student’s parent put an extra zero behind her annual income, so the income read something like “$350,000” instead of the correct $35,000. Again, that student was surprised when her college offered her zip grant money.  It’s all in the numbers, folks, and those numbers need to be correct.

Make sure you actually have submitted the FAFSA and get a verification number of its submission. Keep a printed copy for your records. The sooner you submit the FAFSA, the sooner you will get financial aid offers from those colleges that have given you admission acceptances.