Package Yourself Well

I talk with students regularly looking for a “magic-plan”. This plan will somehow transform mediocre work into something amazing and these “C” students will somehow be admitted into Yale. The reality is far from that. Do you know who gets into Yale? Smart people. This is most often reflected in their grades and test scores; that is why they get into Yale. But with an acceptance rate (according to College Board) of 8%, being smart isn’t good enough- you also have to be wise. Wisdom is a word that isn’t used much in America today, but it really is needed in order to get really bright students where they ought to be. This short article is about “packaging yourself” for the college admissions process.

The truth about the Ivy’s is that they are great universities, but equal in truth is the reality that there are hundreds of great universities around the country and you need to open yourself- it’s just about getting into the best school, it’s about getting into the right school. It is about getting into the school that will help you to fulfill your dreams and hopes and aspirations.

These days getting into any school has become a challenge and with budget cuts, increases in class sizes and reduction in counseling departments, finding good help can be difficult, and even pricey! College Life Planning hopes to bring some light into the college guidance world, give you some solid information you can run with, and save you money.

Back to packaging yourself. When it comes time to apply to college, you are a senior and you have been busting your behind to get everything in the right order. You have taken the right classes, you’ve been dedicated to the homeless ministry at your church, you studied for the SAT and got a great score, you even have a recommendation from a federal judge- you are ready! But the reality is that there are literally 40,000 other students who look exactly the same on paper. Great grades, good test scores, and involved. So how do you stand out?

There is a phrase that goes something like this, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” This is very true, especially when it comes to your admissions applications! You have got to let your application come alive, this is not just a piece of paper that determines your future- it is your story.

Here is a silly video you may enjoy:

It is a bit long, so I’m not offended if you just jumped right back into where I was going with all this (I know you’re riveted by my writing and style)…

Here are the top four things you must include in your admissions application:

  1. All the normal stuff: This is your transcripts with the most rigorous courses your school offered (or the most rigorous you could stand) with the grades to show your dedication and commitment. Your SAT or ACT scores would be sent to the colleges directly from College Board and these are critical. Study for this test, and take it at least two times. etc etc. You get the point; you apply to the schools that are within a range of your abilities with some obvious shoe-ins (for you) on one hand and on the other, some reach schools that would be difficult for you to get into.
  2. The recommendations: These are often very important int he admissions process. Who recommends you and what they say about you is vital! So with this in mind, choose people you know and more importantly, who know you (well). In addition, be sure to get recommendations from people whoa re in a field of study that you hope to continue into college. If you want to pursue biology, but your recommendations are from your AutoShop class and Spanish… there might be a disconnect there- and colleges can see it. One other point, ask your recommender to review their recommendation of you. They may say “no”, and that settles it, but they will probably be willing to show you what they wrote, and then you can ask for clarification and even give some coaching.
  3. Your extracurricular activities: These will NOT get you into college. But they sure help! When you are working with a pool of potential college applicants as big as Lake Michigan you need to go above the pack. Mike Moyer over at says one way to set yourself apart is with an NTA, or a non-teenager activity. He defines this as, “quite simply, any activity that other teenagers don’t typically do. By choosing an NTA you will differentiate yourself in a way that will have a very positive impact on your chances of getting into college.” Need some ideas? Contact us.
  4. Your personal Statement: This is a key component because it is your chance to tell your story. The truth is that the entire application for admission is telling your story, but the personal statement/essays might be a way to share the more personal side. This is a chance to demonstrate that it’s not just a number on an application, this is YOUR life. And you are living and breathing and your life matters. And with this life you have you are going to make a difference no matter the odds, no matter the circumstances, good or bad; you will be a difference maker, in your own way. You are saying to the admissions officer, “you already have my grades, activities, clubs, jobs, passions; you know all the facts about my life; no let me introduce myself to you.”

At the end of the day you are “selling” yourself. Don’t get me wrong, the colleges need you too! That is an entirely different post. But you are showcasing your achievements, your passions, your values, and you are pleading your case on why you not only deserve to go the school you are applying to, they would be remiss if they didn’t accept you, leaving a gaping hole in their university. So choose which school you are going to attend, and then package yourself well.


10 Beautiful, Smart Celebrities Who Got a Scholarship to College

Read Original Post Here

Most people don’t think of celebrities as academics, but the fact is that there are a number of well educated celebrities out there. Some of them were even promising enough to be given scholarships to pursue degrees in language, dance, acting, music, and even political science. Read on, and you’ll learn about ten celebrities who were smart and lucky enough to take advantage of scholarships.

1. Hugh Grant: This British actor received scholarships for two different schools. First, the Latymer Upper School where he participated in academic competition and sports including cricket, rugby, and football. Then, he received the Galsworthy scholarship to New College, Oxford. Grant studied English literature at Oxford and graduated with Upper Second-Class Honours.

2. Madonna: Madonna’s dance skills have served her from early on. At Rochester Adams High School, she was a straight-A student and a member of the cheerleading squad. She was awarded a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan, where she was taught ballet by Chris Flynn.

3. Denzel Washington: Denzel Washington studied drama and journalism at Fordham University, earning a BA in 1977. While at Fordham, he enrolled in the Lincoln Center campus to study acting, and received a scholarship to attend the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Denzel and his wife Pauletta now have the Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program in Neuroscience at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which offers awards to students in the field of neuroscience.

4. Jeri Ryan: Jeri Ryan graduated high school in 1986 as a National Merit Scholar, and received a scholarship to attend Northwest University. At Northwestern, she was a member of Alpha Phi. Jeri also participated in pageants, winning Miss Illinois and 3rd runner up at the Miss America Pageant. She received a BA in Theatre from Northwestern in 1990.

5. Alicia Keys: Alicia Keys attended the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan, where she graduated as valedictorian. She received a scholarship to Columbia University in New York. Now, Alicia has donated to Frum tha Ground Up, an organization that offers scholarships to students from Jacksonville, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Harlem in New York City.

6. Sharon Stone: Growing up, Sharon Stone loved to read, and was awarded a scholarship to Edinboro University in Pennsylvania when she was just 15 yeas old. There, she studied creative writing and fine arts. Sharon is also a well known MENSA member.

7. Thandie Newton: Thandie Newton says that she likes learning and did well in school. At 11, she earned a scholarship to go to the Arts Educational School, a performing arts boarding school in Tring, Herfordshire. Later, she studied anthropology at Cambridge University.

8. Tom Cruise: Tom Cruise’s early life was tough, and he ended up in eight elementary schools and three high schools. He graduated from Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey, where he played as a linebacker on the football team. At one point, he attended a Franciscan seminary in Cincinnati on a church scholarship, studying priesthood for a year.

9. Kristin Chenoweth: Kristin Chenoweth earned a full scholarship to study voice at Oklahoma City University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in musical theater. Later, she earned a master’s degree in opera performance. She also finished runner-up in the Miss Oklahoma pageant.

10. Elizabeth Shue: While studying at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Shue took on modeling and ad gigs, but was still able to complete her studies. She earned a scholarship to study political science at Harvard University and appeared in TV and movie projects including Adventures in Babysitting.

Juniors… Get Ready!

High School Juniors prepare for CollegeJuniors

Hopefully, you have been examining your profile and doing everything you can do to make yourself ready for college. The admissions process isn’t overwhelming unless you procrastinate! Here’s the point of this article- next year you will start applying at the colleges that you have chosen. If you’re struggling to decide how to pick a college, you might want to check this article out or use the awesome AdmissionsSplash Facebook app. I want to go through the top 4 things that, as a junior, you ought to be doing over the course of the next year.

  1. Look over your High school Academic Transcript: This is your grades, your accomplishments… it’s you on paper. This document will help you to set realistic goals for which college to apply to based on your accomplishments. What are Admissions Officers looking for in a high school transcript? The extent to which you challenge yourself academically relative to the resources available to you. Academic areas that interest you. Your ability to perform; in other words, what do your grades reflect? The degree to which these factors overlap with the university’s character and priorities. Eva Ostrum in her book, The Thinking Parent’s Guide to College Admissions states, “Deans of admission around the country can usually characterize in a phrase or two what they hope a transcript will reflect about a student. Jim Sumner at Grinnell College hopes to see “intellectual engagement.” Harold Wingood at Clark University describes the ideal entering students as “academically independent, willing to take academic risks.” So this summer, look over your high school grades and look for these things: Letter grades and GPA, the difficulty of the course work, the types of classes (did you focus more in one or two subjects than in others?).
  2. Examine your extracurricular activities: Aren’t you glad to hear that it isn’t all about grades? Well, it is mostly about your grades and most colleges are really looking for students with a strong academic profile. You can, however, increase your chances of enrollment into your reach schools by supplementing your academic profile with strong extracurricular activities; and you can have a lot of fun in the process!  “Admissions officers at selective colleges and universities want to see commitment to activities over time rather than a series of single-year affiliations with various clubs or committees” (Ostrum). So there you have it, get involved with an organization or an activity and stay involved!
  3. Study for your Standardized Tests: Next to grades, your scores on the ACT or SAT (I & II) will be the most important part of the admissions process. Make sure that you take this test seriously. BY simply studying, you can raise your scores and by taking the tests more than once you can dramatically increase your score. This could be the difference between your reach school and your match school. Students who do not take these tests seriously do themselves a major dis-service. You will want a review time before you take the tests of about 8-12 weeks and you can utilize books, online test prep services (ePrep), or a tutor. Use the resources available to you and study for your tests. Also, plan to take the test at least twice.
  4. Essays: These essays are critical! If you have the grades and the test scores, then your college admissions essays need to help set you apart from the other 10,000 applicants who also have excellent grades and test scores. In order to have a winning essay, you will want to have help. Have one of your parents read it over and give you input, show it to your guidance counselor or a favorite teacher, or you can have someone like me look it over and provide feedback. Some characteristics of a winning college application essay are: They tell a story; They provide vivid examples that allow the reader to put himself in the student’s situation or mindset; They sound authentic, like they are coming from the student herself, rather than from a college-essay coach; and finally The writer gets to the heart of what she wants to say, so that the essay reflects who she is and what she cares about. Long story short, make it interesting and get to the point.

There are so many other things that go into preparing for college, but as a junior, you ought to be thinking about these key areas right now and you may want to consider some help. I offer a variety of services for students (and parents) to help students get ready for college. CAP is my online college prep course that will cover these things (and a lot more) in a four week online course. It is self directed and very easy to take so you can take the course as you need it, and once you sign up, you have access for an entire year! I also offer comprehensive in-person services that can help prepare you for college and help you get into the best school possible.

You can always call me: (619) 823-5974 (Nathan) or email me:

Origins of 10 famous schools

You might take for granted that big name schools like Yale and Stanford have always been around. While they do have histories that go back hundreds of years, they each had to start somewhere. Often, the stories about how these early colleges came into existence are quite interesting and make for great reading – even if you’re a college student somewhere else, as many of these schools played a key role in the formative years of the United States and the cities and states we know today. Here are just a few stories to educate you on how some of the biggest and most well-known colleges in the U.S. got their start.

  1. Stanford University: There is a myth about the origins of Stanford that is quite widespread. It states that a family wanted to set up a memorial to their son and approached the administration at Harvard where they were discouraged. Put off by the Ivy League school, they decide to set out westward to not only set up a memorial, but dedicate an entire school to their son’s memory. While the story is charming, it isn’t entirely true. Stanford University was started by Leeland Stanford, a California railroad tycoon to honor his son, but not because Harvard had shut him down. It was Stanford’s plan all along to replicate Harvard and other Ivy League schools on the West Coast, and the businessman and politician paid big bucks to bring out experienced teachers and administrators to start up the school. While Stanford U struggled through the turn of the century, it came to be an educational powerhouse after the establishment of industry in what today is known as Silicon Valley.
  2. Yale University: Founded in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest university in the United States – older than the country itself. The school was created as a place where clergy and political leaders could be trained in the new colonies rather than having to be imported from England. The story thickens, however, as unrest grew between rival school Harvard’s clergy and president over-religious politics, causing the latter to promote Yale in hopes that it would to return to the Puritan values he felt so strongly about. While the religious leaders of Yale were fairly conservative, they were also swept up in the spirit of the Enlightenment and encouraged students to learn just as much about science and the laws of nature as they did about theology. The school almost came to an early end during the American Revolution when British troops ordered it to be razed, but it was saved just in the nick of time and has gone on to become one of America’s most prestigious institutions of higher education.
  3. Princeton University: Princeton also holds the title of one of the oldest colleges in the United States. Established in 1746 by a group of New Light Presbyterians, the school served as a center of religious education for the region’s numerous Scotch-Irish immigrants. Yet only a few years after it was established, it was nearly destroyed. During the Revolutionary War, the school was severely damaged in the Battle of Princeton. George Washington led his troops against the forces of British General Cornwallis, eventually causing them to retreat into Princeton itself. There, British troops took cover in Nassau Hall, Princeton’s oldest and possibly most historic building. There, they were forced to surrender, a victory that helped raised morale in the army and increased enlistment– factors that may have played a role in the ultimate success of the revolution. Few schools can claim a history so intimately tied to that of the founding of our nation and while it took a toll on the school, Princeton has emerged as an academic powerhouse in the decades following the war.
  4. Georgetown University: The pilgrims may have come to America seeking religious freedom, but the country didn’t stay free from religious persecution for long. Following a defeat in the English Civil War, strict laws were enacted against Roman Catholic education and required the extradition of any known Jesuits in the colonies. It was not until the American Revolution that a Roman Catholic school could be founded, and that’s just what happened in 1789 with Georgetown University. The school had just started to grow and expand when the Civil War broke out, causing many buildings to be commandeered for use by Union troops. The school declared itself neutral territory and chose blue and gray as their school colors, representing the colors of the Union and Confederate uniforms. The war took a heavy toll on the school and it nearly went under until Patrick Francis Healy, a former slave, took it over and reformed the programs. Because of the rebirth he afforded the school, Healy is regarded as its second founder and played a major role in the continued success enjoyed today.
  5. The College of William & Mary: If you want historical schools, there’s only one older than the College of William & Mary. Founded in 1693 by a royal charter, the school helped to educate founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Because it was so closely allied with the British royals, all school leaders were required to be members of the Church of England and declare their adherence to the Thirty-Nine Articles, a fact that would become an issue during the American Revolution when freedom of religion became a key issue for colonists. The school, like many others at the time, was not only interested in secular education but religious education as well. Because of this, colonists also set up a branch to help educate the Native American men of the area, hoping they would bring their lessons back to their tribes and share them. The school is ranked among the top in the nation today, but like Georgetown almost met its end when it was used to house Confederate troops during the Civil War.
  6. Tulane University: Tulane is unique among American universities in that, while today it is private, it was originally founded as a public institution of higher education. The school began in 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana, in response to high levels of fatalities from illnesses like smallpox, yellow fever and cholera and a lack of properly trained doctors to treat them. At the time, it was only the second medical school in the entire southern United States. Through the next few years, the school would expand to include a law school and would be renamed the University of Louisiana. Yet the Civil War would be hard on the institution, and the agricultural depression and recession that followed the war would cause it to nearly go under. It was only the work of Paul Tulane, a wealthy businessman, which allowed it to survive. With his financial support and guidance, the school began to flourish and was eventually transferred from the state into private hands– the only such conversion to ever have taken place in American higher education. Today, Tulane is one of the premier colleges in the south, with a bright future and a rich history.
  7. Dartmouth College: Founded shortly before the American Revolution, Dartmouth is much different today than when it was created. Eleazor Wheelock, a Puritan minister, wanted to create a school to educate Native Americans to act as missionaries. After raising money at home and abroad, Wheelock would establish the beginnings of Dartmouth College. As it turns out, however, he didn’t plan the location of the school very well, and being far from any Indian lands it made recruitment nearly impossible. The school expanded to include educational programs for white students as well in order to stay afloat. Only a few short years after the college got on its feet it faced additional problems. The State of New Hampshire attempted to take over the school, and wanted to make it a public university. Dartmouth fought the state and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court when it was, as you can guess, decided in its favor. While the school puttered along throughout the 19th century, it was not until a grant given in the early 20th century that it truly emerged as the prestigious institution it is today.
  8. Columbia University: As the oldest college in New York and the fifth oldest in the nation, Columbia University has a rich history behind it. It was created by a royal charter given by King George in 1754 and was originally known as King’s College. After the Revolutionary War, this name understandably wasn’t particularly favorable, and the school was renamed Columbia College. What is interesting about the founding of this university, however, is what motivated state and local officials to petition to get the college there in the first place. At the time, Princeton University was a rising star in education on the East Coast, a fact that disturbed a number of conservative leaders at the time. Not only was Princeton a Presbyterian school interested in the ideals of the Enlightenment, but it also posed a threat to the cultural and intellectual superiority of New York. Spurred on by these concerns, New Yorkers established their own rival school with the help of the British Monarchy. This association may have helped it get its start, but it was also nearly its downfall, causing the university to be closed for eight years during and after the war.
  9. University of Pennsylvania: Another Colonial College, The University of Pennsylvania is an extremely old institution by American standards, getting its start in 1740. The University was founded by noted politician and inventor (not to mention founding father) Benjamin Franklin as a place where students would not only learn the essentials of classics, theology and academics, but would be able to prepare for careers in public service and commerce as well. Things the school is still known for today. Franklin’s proposed program of study became the basis for most modern liberal arts curricula, blending a variety of different disciplines to create a more well-rounded educational experience. Through the successive decades, the school has grown and expanded, with tens of thousands of students pursuing high regarded educational programs each year.
  10. University of Missouri: The first public institution of learning west of the Mississippi, the University of Missouri was founded in 1839 through the Geyer Act. Because having the university established in a local community was such a big deal, cities within the state battled it out, with Columbia winning after coming up with $117,000 in land and cash. The school had scarcely been around for two decades before the Civil War caused it to close, but it was not abandoned by the local citizens. They banded together to form the “Fighting Tigers of Columbia” bent on repelling anyone who intended to come into the city or college to loot or destroy it. Their determination inspired the school to name its teams after the group. While some of the original buildings on campus no longer stand, the University is today one of the biggest in the Midwest.

Read the original post here:

10 Famous and Noteworthy College Commencement Speeches

Most college commencement speeches consist of bad jokes and bland advice, but there are a few that are made memorable by genuine wit and wisdom. Below are 10 noteworthy commencement speeches offering worldly advice from famous comedians, authors, politicians, entrepreneurs and even a prison inmate.

1. Winston Churchill (Harrow School)

Memorable quote: ‘Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.’

The commencement speech Winston Churchill gave to his old preparatory school in 1941 isn’t just famous because he’s Winston Churchill – it is also the shortest such speech on record. In fact, the above quote has been used by a whole slew of people who couldn’t come up with any other way to close their own commencement speeches.

2. Steve Jobs (Stanford University)

Memorable quote: ‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.’

Apple co-founder and famed college dropout Steve Jobs gave a highly respected commencement speech to Stanford University students in 2005. He wore his trademark blue jeans and sandals and shared three of the most pivotal points in his life. Jobs also encouraged students to pursue their dreams and dodge the obstacles that hold them back. His speech closed with the sign-off quote from the final issue of The Whole Earth Catalog: ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’

3. Jon Stewart (College of William and Mary)

Memorable quote: ‘I’m sure my fellow doctoral graduates–who have spent so long toiling in academia, sinking into debt, sacrificing God knows how many years of what, in truth, is a piece of parchment that, in truth, has been so devalued by our instant gratification culture as to have been rendered meaningless–will join in congratulating me.’

One of the most humorous commencement speeches in recent years was the speech comedian Jon Stewart gave in 2004 at the College of William and Mary. He began by assuring the parents in the crowd that they would not hear any language that was not common at a Tourette’s convention or profanity seminar. The entire speech was peppered with jokes, but Stewart also dished out valuable advice to graduates near the end, telling them to ‘love what you do’ and ‘get good at it.’

4. Theodor Geisel (Lake Forest College)

Memorable quote: ‘As you partake of the world’s bill of fare, that’s darned good advice to follow. Do a lot of spitting out the hot air. And be careful what you swallow.’

In 1977, the beloved Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) was chosen as the commencement speaker for Lake Forest College. Both the students and faculty were surprised (yet pleased) when he stood up and recited an original poem called My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers in place of a traditional speech.

5. Mumia Abu-Jamal (Evergreen State College)

Memorable quote: ‘Out of the many here assembled, it is the heart of he or she that I seek who looks at a life of vapid materialism, of capitalist excess, and finds it simply intolerable. It may be one hundred of you, or fifty, or even ten, or even one of you who makes that choice. I am here to honor and applaud that choice and to warn you that, though the suffering may indeed be great, it is nothing to the joy of doing the right thing.’

In 1999, Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a controversial commencement speech to Evergreen State College via audiotape. The speech was controversial because Abu-Jamal was a death row inmate convicted of murdering a police officer. Students, law enforcement officers, the policeman’s widow, Congressman Tom DeLay and a number of others protested the school’s choice of speakers, but Abu-Jamal’s speech was delivered nevertheless. The 13-minute audiotape included comments on racial oppression and liberation as well as advice for graduating students.

memorable commencement speeches

6. Russell Baker (Connecticut College)

Memorable quote: ‘The best advice I can give anybody about going out into the world is this: Don’t do it. I have been out there. It is a mess.’

American columnist, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and political satirist Russell Baker amused Connecticut College students with his short, but memorable, commencement speech in 1995. The backbone of the speech was Baker’s list of ‘ten ways to avoid mucking up the world more than it already is.’ His advice included ‘sleep in the nude’ and ‘don’t take your gun to town.’

7. Will Ferrell (Harvard University)

Memorable quote: ‘After months of secret negotiations, several hundred secret ballots, and a weekend retreat with Vice President Dick Cheney in his secret mountain bunker, a Class Day speaker was chosen, and it was me. You obviously have made a grave error. But it’s too late now. So let’s just go with it.’

Love him or hate him, actor Will Ferrell is responsible for one of the funniest and most unorthodox speeches ever made at a Harvard commencement. The 2003 Class Day speech was full of jokes and included an uncanny George Bush impersonation.

8. Stephen Colbert (Knox College)

Memorable quote: ‘I have two last pieces of advice. First, being pre-approved for a credit card does not mean you have to apply for it. And lastly, the best career advice I can give you is to get your own TV show. It pays well, the hours are good, and you are famous.’

Stephen Colbert’s 2006 commencement speech at Knox College is one of the most oft-read speeches on the Internet. Colbert’s speech features his trademark humor and candid advice for college grads. He also shows off his ability to ask for a McDonald’s Happy Meal in five different languages.

9. David Foster Wallace (Kenyon College)

Memorable quote: ‘Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.’

In 2005, a couple of years before his tragic suicide, influential postmodern author David Foster Wallace delivered the commencement speech at Kenyon College. Both witty and wise, the speech explored the value of a liberal arts education and offered some very practical advice on surviving the ins and outs of real life.

10. J.K. Rowling (Harvard University)

Memorable quote: ‘The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.’

J.K. Rowling may be one of the best-selling authors of all time, but before she published Harry Potter she was an unemployed single parent one step away from homelessness. In her poignant 2008 commencement speech at Harvard, Rowling shared the value of failure and the importance of imagination.

Original Post:

Scholarship help from a student who’s got the blues!

Scholarship Help

I have a student in Louisiana , planning to go to LSU for Biological Engineering. He has a 4.55 GPA and is as sharp as a tack. He has applied himself, pushed himself and now, he is ready to go to college; he will be the first in his immediate family to graduate from college. His dad works long hours to support a family of 6, and he has done that for nearly 20 years. Tonight he sounded despondent, I asked why he was so discouraged, he said that he was so disappointed about scholarships. This young man’s future may hinge on the ability to get scholarships because his dad makes just over $80k per year. This salary was just enough to make it through the years, put a roof over his kids head, and now his son has a chance at graduating from college, and it may be just out of reach.

I want to offer just a few pieces of advice from

  • You must to be able to organize and prioritize
  • You must be able to write about a variety of topics that may or may not be exciting to you in a fluid and thoughtful way, demonstrating that you are a scholar or would like to be a scholar.This may be the most difficult part about becoming a successful scholarship winner. However, we know that with some help, you can do it.
  • You must understand yourself well enough to create a compelling portrait of who you are. You must understand your audience well enough to be able to position your skills and strengths as deserving of their support.

Knowing yourself takes more work than writing down a list of extracurricular activities. But it can start there! You might find that with some help, and some of your own introspection, you will be able to find and apply for some of the best scholarships out there, and get them!

A few more tips from are:

  • Start with local searches: Foundations are often looking for worthy candidates for scholarships int heir own backyard, you may find some great scholarship help from businesses and organizations in your area- start there!
  • When you are doing a Google (or Bing) search, get specific. If you type in the word, “Scholarships” you get “About 61,400,000 results [in] (0.11 seconds) “. If you some specifying words like, “lsu scholarships for biological engineering” you’ll find “About 18,700 results [in] (0.09 seconds)” This will help narrow your search significantly. You can clarify further by putting [“”] around specific text. For example, “scholarships for Louisiana students” will find you “About 3,990 results [in] (0.20 seconds)” At the end of this, you might actually apply for all 3,990 of those!
  • Don’t give up!
  • Find similar scholarship contests in similar areas and write essays that can be “grouped”. This doesn’t mean turning in the same essay for each one, but you can write “themed” essays that can be slightly modified for specific scholarship contests (or projects) and submit them for multiple scholarship opportunities.
  • Have someone else read through your scholarships! Finding grammatical errors can be an instant turn off, and I am the WORST at this. I am a horrible speller, and I don’t slow down to check my work either- having someone else to read over and check for errors could be a huge asset for you!

These are just a few tips that you can learn from, and hopefully it will EARN YOU MONEY FOR COLLEGE! Let me know if I can do anything to help you in your quest to be debt free and pursuing your college dreams!

C.A.P. First Release… Success? Or failure?

We released the first CAP workshop to a group of great teens this past month, they paid between $20 and $30 for this first release course and they helped us to work through some of the bugs and concerns and questions that we had about the course. College Admissions Prep is an online, 4-week college prep course that students direct themselves through to learn about how to prepare for college. It is cheap, and an easy way for parents and students to get ready for college admissions!

But was it a success?

Well, yes and no. Every student I talked to said they loved the content, what they read and how they read it was funny and easy to read. They even said they learned something they didn’t know before about planning for college. They liked the videos, they liked the discussion posts, and they felt that they learned something valuable as a result of taking this course.

On the other hand… Only about 35% of the enrolled students participated in the discussions, and only 1 in 14 completed the final assignment, a short essay, geared at helping students get ready for the college admissions essay. She wrote an excellent essay by the way and, with some minor tweaking, will be a great college admissions essay!

So what’s the problem?

It’s a question of motivation. Why would a group of kids complete an online course helping them get ready for college? That’s an excellent question, one that I haven’t effectually answered in full. However, I know it is a multifaceted issue. First, parents must be willing to help motivate their kids. One student actually suggested that if I raised the price, parents are much more inclined to care about it and thus provide that parental motivation teens often need. For example, “I paid [insert expensive amount here] for that college prep course and you’re going to do it whether you like it or not!” Adding an explicative or two might depend on the family you come from.

Truly, many students are genuinely busy, so another route I am researching is a way to get teachers on board by offering extra credit or some other external motivation that may help increase student involvement. Do you think that would help?

Lastly, we are and will continue to offer fun drawings for iTunes gift cards, and increasingly more expensive tech toys like iPads to help motivate students that may not have the intrinsic drive to succeed.

So, which is it?

It was a huge success in my book, one that I have learned from. One that I am growing from and have already made huge improvements and set some more realistic goals. If you were waiting to find out what would happen with this release, there you go. For what it’s worth, I’d like you to take a risk and have your kids sign up for the course, there is a 110% money back guarantee if you don’t like it, and really- you will probably learn as much as your kids will; so make the investment and start preparing for college NOW!