Archive | December, 2016

Take advantage of your break

15 Dec


Yes, doing scholarship apps will be worth the time you invest.

Yes, doing scholarship apps will be worth the time you invest.

While it may be tempting to just couch surf over your Christmas break, the couple or more weeks off provide a great opportunity to work on and submit the last of your college applications, as well as scholarship applications.

While you won’t win every scholarship for which you apply, you definitely WILL NOT win any for which you do not apply. Increase the odds, senior: get as many done as you possibly can. If my small-town students can win big, national scholarships, so can YOU!

Here are some tips for winning scholarships. I feel confident in sharing these, because my own four children won more than FIFTY scholarships.

  • Your best odds are local scholarships. Do those first, because a few number of students are applying for them.
  • Answer each question thoroughly.
  • Use formal language but be real and personal.
  • Use specific examples to explain your claims. Don’t just speak in generalities.
  • Don’t exaggerate who you are, but definitely think through your own personal history and try to connect with the organization.
  • If there are optional questions, answer them.
  • Spellcheck your essay. Ask someone else to read it over and offer suggestions. It needs to sparkle to rise above the pile of ho-hum submissions.
  • If the organization asks for an essay of say, 100-300 words, use the whole 300 words, which gives you that chance to show you are the right person.
  • Double-check the requirements before you mail or submit the application. Make sure you have met all the basic requirements.
  • Do not pay to enter a scholarship–that’s a ripoff.

Remember: Doing a little each day to work toward your college and career goals makes what might seem like an overwhelming task quite reachable.

Keep those grades up!

9 Dec

Fight off senioritis!

Fight off senioritis!

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 the first two full weeks of May.
  • 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!

Appealing financial aid offers

2 Dec

uc-berkeley-sproul-hall-sproul-plaza-occupy-uc-berkeley-7d9994-wingsdomain-art-and-photographySome of you may already be getting financial aid offers from the colleges to which you have applied — especially if you did your FAFSA early.

However, some of you may be disappointed with the offers.

Please know you can still plead your case with the financial aid office at those colleges. Do this with a letter addressed to “Financial Aid Officer” and include information that could improve your offer:

  • Information about a parent losing a job or being cut back to part-time.
  • Loss of a job you have had.
  • Information about high and unexpected expenses for situations your family has recently experienced, such as medical care or a car accident.
  • Death of a supporting parent or other close family member — thus creating loss of income or increased expenses.
  • Separation of your parents — so that you now only need report income for the parent with whom you are living (or who provides the greater amount of support).

It is helpful if the school counselor or administrator can write a letter authenticating your case.

Also, the letter may receive quicker attention if the school faxes your letter to the financial aid department(s).

Please don’t delay on this. Some money pots — such as work study — are limited, and colleges can only offer what’s available.