Most people ask for help from those who they are closest to. Unfortunately‚ Mom & Dad may not be the best advisors when it comes to helping you decide what to do with your life. In fact‚ most people‚ even those who dearly love you‚ will still give you advise based on THEIR personality‚ experience‚ and current life circumstances. In other words‚ most people give you the advice they need to take themselves.
Many of them made the wrong choices and ended up poor‚ fired‚ divorced‚ or at least unhappy‚ and so their advice is questionable. The best thing they could tell you is “I don’t know. You are going to have to figure it out for yourself.” However‚ once they tell you that you are back where you started… still needing help.
MAPS was developed with these students in mind… with ME in mind! MAPS helps students figure out WHO they are, so then they can figure out WHAT they can do. MAPS will give students their top strengths and we can then develop a list of majors that will BEST compliment who they are as a person. Once we figure that out, we can then generate a list of colleges and universities that would BEST suit their individual needs. And we can do it for a fraction of the cost of other counseling options.
College Life Planning does offer a comprehensive list of counseling options, but if you want my honest opinion, using MAPS would be the best, most affordable way to build a college list, choose a school, select a major, and build your College and Career path on!
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By: Mike LaBahn
Trying Things on for Size
In a person’s twenties, it’s common to dabble with a wide variety of jobs to determine the best fit for our personalities, skills and inherent talents. But in fact, most people really don’t make the biggest changes until their thirties, when the big questions start to hit home about how the rest of their lives will be spent. We may have initially gotten into a job for the money, and got complacent, placated and stuck. It’s at this point that people make some of the most life changing and dramatic upheavals to their lives under the banner of finding their true calling. When we look into the future and realize we are not on the road we want to end up on at the end of our journey, major changes aren’t far behind.
I know that certain circumstances outside of our control can be thrust upon us, and these circumstances can dictate most of the rest of our lives. Starting a family young, a death in the family, or some other life-changing event can steer us off course from our best-laid plans. But whatever the obstacle, none of that will matter if you come to end of your life and you say ‘if only…’
So many choices…
It wasn’t until the industrial revolution changed the landscape of our great nation that we, as free Americans with unlimited possibilities on the horizon, even started to ask ourselves ‘what do I really want to do with my life?’ Yes, it had been posed well before the dawn of that era in history, but for the very first time, the answer to that question seemed limitless. Women joined the workforce with more options than had ever been available to them in history. The emerging technology jobs began to appear. And automation made it possible to create, produce and ship more effectively than ever before.
It is in this cradle, this bastion of freedom and democracy and capitalism that we have worked for the right to even ask ourselves ‘what should I do with my life?’ A wealth of choices in every field had opened up. Medical advancements and the science behind it would double in its knowledge and application every decade or so. Not only was the creative mind of human beings bringing new and amazing things into existence for all to utilize and enjoy, the advent itself brought with it a whole new field of opportunities. Cars had to have car parts, tires, service, paint, etc. Computers and cell phones have to have moving parts, networks of people and infrastructure to sustain their use. The creations themselves spawned entirely new categories of work for people to seek out and specialize in.
Our grandparents, and in some cases our parents, could not conceive of such a life of choices and options only 50 years ago. Until that point, people in undeveloped areas, in large part, merely found work. They learned a skilled trade, or in more rural areas they got factory jobs or found whatever it was that would keep the food on the table and bills paid. Those that could afford college or medical school were in the minority. For generations before this one, our parents, grandparents and even great grandparents have toiled, sweat, and struggled to make a better life for the generation to follow their own. It was in this striving that meaning and purpose were found.
As we come to look at the generation of today, we see the culmination of those intense efforts being handed over to our youth. In handing over the keys to the kingdom, the generation of today did little to have to obtain it except reach out and grab it. The sacrifice, the scrimping and saving, and the blood sweat and tears have become but a distant story to them. There were depressions, wars, and rationing. There were social upheavals, political battles, and periods of intense suffering. The generation of today, in large part, did not have to sacrifice in any meaningful way for the choices now available to them. And it’s fair to say that it’s difficult to truly appreciate something if you haven’t worked for it.
Many have called the generation of today ‘the entitlement generation’. The ease with which the engine that is our country runs is something those born in this generation cannot imagine having to suffer or toil for. Many demand rights or access to things that their forefathers bled and died to attain. Are the youth of today doomed to falter for the generation to follow behind them? Absolutely not. No one is predestined to a fate that is not of their choosing. That is the simple beauty of the gift of free will.
Free will and an absolute abundance of choices simply means that this generation has a different kind of calling upon it. That calling is to preserve the work that has come before them, and to keep the momentum of the work laid out in front of them. A generation of wondrous and amazing advancements awaits, for it is the nature of man to strive, to create and to sustain, and I believe that is exactly what we will see out of the up and coming minds of this millennium. People of all ages should look positively to the future with the knowledge that they hold the keys to their own kingdom.
Dear College Money Guru,
I’m only 15 years old, but after watching my parents put my sister through college, I realize they’re going to need help. Since I don’t have a college fund, how can I save or put away money strictly for college?
It’s wonderful (but, alas, not too common) that you are thinking ahead and looking to save for college. Many parents struggle to afford college for their children, and your folks will appreciate anything you do to help.
The most effective way to help your parents is to make colleges want you as their student. That means taking on a challenging high school curriculum, achieving high grades, scoring well on standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, and becoming a leader outside the classroom in one or more activities for which you demonstrate a passion.
Most of the Ivy League schools have recently revised their aid policies and are spending more of their endowments to make college affordable for moderate-income families.
For example, if Harvard accepts you for admission, and your family income is below $180,000, your annual cost at that school will be capped at 10 percent of your family income. And Harvard is just one example.
Only a small percentage of students are able to gain admission to Ivy League and similarly endowed schools. But while less-selective colleges may not have the resources of a Harvard or Stanford, they are just as interested in attracting a diverse and high-quality group of students.
Many will offer generous grants or tuition discounts beyond the standard need-based financial aid package to students who demonstrate exceptional talents and academic prowess.
Here are some other things you can do that will help bring down the cost of college.
4 ways to bring down college costs:
- Consider a public school. Your in-state public university offers a great education at subsidized tuition prices. However, as discussed above, many private colleges will bring down their prices for the right applicants.
- Think about your goals. Start investigating the schools you are most interested in while carefully weighing academic and career goals. The wrong choice can be expensive if you later decide to transfer schools or drop out entirely.
- Enroll in advanced placement. Look into advanced placement classes at your high school. Many colleges accept AP for credits, which can reduce the time you spend in college. In some cases, you can substitute a year at a local community college for your senior year in high school.
- Research scholarships. Visit your high school counseling office or your public library. Or, search for free scholarship sites on the Internet. When the time comes to apply, you should have already developed a sound strategy for seeking out scholarship money.
With regard to saving money, my suggestion is that you open a Roth IRA and contribute as much as $5,000 per year with the unspent earnings from your job. The Roth IRA will not count against your federal financial-aid eligibility, although the school may count it in awarding institutional aid.
If you choose to do so, you can pull out your Roth IRA contributions at no tax cost to pay college expenses. However, I suggest you take loans for the first three years and wait until your senior year before tapping your Roth IRA. That way, the distributions will not have to be reported as income on your financial-aid application.
Remember that although the law allows you to tap your Roth IRA contributions to pay for college, you’ll be even better off in the long run, leaving the money untouched so it can grow for your retirement. Only use these funds for college as a last resort.
The worst mistake would be for you to keep large amounts of money in a bank account or mutual fund. The funds will be counted heavily against you in determining your eligibility for financial aid, and the interest, dividends and capital gains from your taxable investments may become subject to the expensive “kiddie tax.”
If you cannot open up a Roth IRA because you do not have job earnings, your next best options would be a 529 plan or a Coverdell education savings account. Learn more about the advantages of these vehicles at Savingforcollege.com, a Bankrate company.
To ask a question of the College Money Guru, go to the “Ask the Experts” page, and select “college financing” as the topic.
Bankrate.com is the Web’s leading aggregator of information on financial products including mortgages, credit cards, new and used automobile loans, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Visit Bankrate.com to get the tools and information that can help you make the best financial decisions. No virus found in this incoming message.
by Rachael Holtz on February 23, 2010
Wacky, interesting, unusual and strange — those words can describe some “easy” college scholarships that are available today. But, while those scholarships might be described as the easiest scholarships to enter, the time and work you might need to apply to find scholarships adds up — as do the odds against your winning any given “easy” scholarship.
Few studies have been conducted on your odds of winning a scholarship. The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which is conducted every 3-4 years, showed that students at four-year colleges represent 71.5 percent of scholarship recipients in 2003-04 and 77.0 percent of scholarship recipients in 2007-08.
If you further restrict the data to just the students who were enrolled full-time at 4-year institutions, 12.1 percent of students, or about 1 in 8, received scholarships worth $2,223 on average in 2003-04 and 10.6 percent of students, or about 1 in 10, received scholarships worth $2,815 on average in 2007-08. Full-time students at four-year schools represented 63.2 percent of scholarship recipients in 2003-04 and 69.4 percent of scholarship recipients in 2007-08 (breakdown of this information is found at FinAid).
The information shown above means that more students are applying for scholarships, increasing the odds against any one student attaining a scholarship.
But, another study, which shows that the odds for an athletic scholarship do not depend upon participation numbers, applies more to this article…as this article shows that winning a certain scholarship depends more upon the applicant’s ability and skill levels, rather than the number of individuals in the competition.
Scholarships provide one of the best ways to pay for your college education, as they do not need to be repaid. Easy scholarships are those that are easy to apply for, easy to understand and take little time for application. But, you must know yourself and you often need information at your fingertips for applications. You can pull together the following information and keep it in a file for easy access:
- Standardized test scores
- Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or PROFILE
- Parent’s financial information, including tax returns
- One or more letters of recommendation
- Proof of eligibility (e.g. membership credentials)
- Medical records for student and parents
- Military records for student and parents
- Job and career proof for student and parents
Next, make a file for each scholarship and contest that you enter, noting the entry deadline and end of contest dates. You can do this easily online at Evernote.com.
When you apply for a scholarship or contest for college funds, be sure to read instructions carefully and follow those instructions to the letter. Make copies of everything you do and don’t leave any items blank. Proofread your entry before you hit the “send” button or before you seal it up to send it off in the regular mail. Finally, get all your applications in early and often (some scholarship funds are offered monthly, and you must reapply each month to be in the running). Make a calendar to note these dates so you don’t forget to enter again.
Your preparation and organization can increase the odds that you might win, especially when competing against people who are not organized.
But, the odds of winning scholarship funds when you enter depends upon the number of people who enter a contest in competition with you. If, for instance, you decide to enter an essay contest where hundreds of students enter and no one in your area has ever made the top ten spot since 1947, then the odds may be against you. But, if you never enter the essay contest at all, the odds are 100 percent against you.
Determine Your Categories and Your Odds
Scholarships basically are divided into four categories: contests and sweepstakes, money provided to special groups, money provided for talents and skills and money based upon activities. These categories are covered below, along with the odds of success for each category. The links included in each category lead either to lists of scholarships or specific scholarships that provide an example of what you can find through Web searches.
Contests, Lotteries and Sweepstakes
Contests are easy, some contests are fun to enter, and most are geared to students with less than stellar grade point averages. Some contests might require essays, but the topics usually are preselected. Some contests require an entry form, nothing more.
But, contests and sweepstakes that depend solely upon registration and nothing else are just like lotteries — and the odds are about the same. Single state lotteries usually have odds of about 18 million to 1 while multiple state lotteries have odds as high as 120 million to 1. But, like any other contest, you cannot win if you do not enter, and — unlike the lottery — the only cost to you for these scholarships is your time.
Therefore, use your time wisely by using scholarship search sites that list contests and update them regularly. Some of these sites include:
- Scholarship Hunter: This page contains updated information on contests designed specifically for college students. One contest, for instance, offers $1,000 in a monthly giveaway and up to one year of free tuition with a simple registration.
- Scholarship Lotteries: The odds of winning a free scholarship from these lotteries usually is less than 1 in 10,000 (if well-publicized). Note that FinAid, the author of this information, also states that the odds of winning a scholarship are closer to 1 in 15 if based upon academic, artistic or athletic talents.
Are of you Native American or European ancestry? What is your religious preference? Are you legally blind, or over six feet tall or female? All these characteristics provide opportunities to find scholarship money, and the odds against thousands of entries is high. Here are some resources to learn more about these scholarships:
- FinAid Student Profile-Based Aid: This list includes scholarships for international, Canadian, female, older, Jewish and gay students as well as students with disabilities.
- Native American Scholarships: This list offers many scholarships offered to Native Americans. If you are Native American, most often your tribal leaders may have more information available for you.
- Religious Scholarships: These scholarships are very specific and cover a variety of sects and religions. Be sure to check with your local church or regional or nationwide office for further information.
- Scholarships by Ethnic Background: Fastweb offers ethnic-based scholarships that range from African to Vietnamese.
Use your search engine to find more scholarships in all categories listed here. Just use keywords that describe you (one at a time) + scholarship to find results. For example, the keyphrase search, “deaf scholarship” provides links to sites such as Scholarships for the Deaf.
Your Talents, Knowledge and Skills
Are you a skilled writer? Are you an award-winning actor, athlete or artist? Do you have a stellar grade point average? These skills, your efforts, knowledge and talents can land you a scholarship with odds in your favor. Once again, a Web search can yield many more results than shown here.
- Fastweb: Although you might find a few scholarships geared toward characteristics and activities here, most scholarships are geared toward your talents and knowledge (essays, etc.) and skills (art, etc.) This site also lists contests, but — for the most part — they are skill-based contests. Note that, on the page linked here, Fastweb makes the claim that one in eight applicants win scholarships through their site. See the link immediately below for confirmation of this information.
- FinAid Scholarship Searches: Use this page at FinAid to learn more about other scholarship search engines that focus on skills, talents and knowledge. But, you might want to check the FinAid scholarship database quality information to learn more about the best scholarship search engines. Use the top-rated engines first and often.
- Talent Scholarships: This link provides an example of what some colleges may offer to incoming or current students. This shows that your choice of college may influence your ability to earn a scholarship.
Have you been involved in student organizations, community outreach or politics? Do you or your parents belong to a specific club or organizations? You can find many scholarships based upon affirmative action, which targets funds to minorities and low-income families as well in this category.
- Ambassadorial Scholarships: No membership is required in Rotary International, but you are required to attend at least one orientation if it is offered in your region. This site provides just one of hundreds of examples of scholarships offered by organizations for local or regional students.
- FinAid Scholarships for Average Students: We’re not sure that “average” students might want to apply for these great scholarships, which focus on community activities, entrepreneurship and creativity.
- National Black Police Association Scholarship [PDF]: This scholarship’s guidelines may not fit you, but that means that you inability to apply narrows the odds for those who do fit the guidelines. This is just one example of a number of associations that offer scholarships that are “easy” to obtain if you fit the specifications.
Although some scholarship opportunities may seem easy, the odds against you winning many “easy” scholarships may be against you. Therefore, work smart, consider the odds and find scholarships that fit your personality, goals, talents, abilities and your family and health history to lower those odds.
The following resources contain more tips to follow to put the odds of winning in your favor — making your search for a scholarship truly easy:
- Eight Steps to Winning a Scholarship: Offered by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration.
- Less Competitive Scholarships: FinAid provides tips on how to make scholarship competitions less competitive. With the odds averaging about one in eight for an average four-year college scholarship, FinAid suggests you find scholarships that are less competitive — because fewer students qualify for them. They show you where to find them.
- Upping Your Odds of Winning: An excellent article provided by U.S. News & World Report. Pay special attention to the “Zig where you expect your competition will zag” option on writing essays. This is a hint on how to strengthen essay-writing skills.
A lot of these posts seem so boring and canned because they deal with the rote side of going to college. This stuff can be found anywhere. But the untold story about college planning hasn’t been heard quite as often. There is pain for me behind this topic. The reason I want to start a business revolving around college planning is because of my own shortsighted mistakes. Granted the tools have improved significantly since I went to college, and so has the college environment. There are some timeless truths however that can be taught, and the truth is, it is about the journey, not the destination (thanks dad, I always knew you were right, generally).
The key to success in college is different for everyone. It is impossible to say what worked for me will also work for you; it may or it may not. This is exactly the approach that most colleges and high schools take! There is a broad assumption that going to college is the BEST for everyone, and to take this deeper, the assumption is that going to a four year (Ivy) right out of high school is the best option for everyone. The truth is that it may not be.
Another fault that many students make (including me, and the heart of my pain) is in the area of finances. Often, it isn’t the frugal, basic use of student loans, but the extravagant use of student loans, car loans, credit cards, and a small private loan for “just in case”. This kind of financial pressure leads to emotional pressure which leads to mental pressure. It stifles innovation and creativity and it KILLS… ABSOLUTELY KILLS passion.
So in my journey to pursue a brighter future and a restored past, I am working hard to help lead other young men and women with me. To help young high school students discover their strengths and to discover a path to achieve their greatest passions and dreams. This is my calling. To uncover the calling of others and launch them into their future. I use MAPS because it works. Simple as that. It is the most detailed and ACCURATE tool I have ever seen.
My pain is your gain. The lessons I have learned through pain and frustration you can learn from the comfort of your living room, and then you can enjoy an earlier starting point and achieve far greater success than I ever could.