It’s just around the corner and many high school seniors still aren’t ready for college and the Jr’s are still picking their nose waiting for their moms and dads to make them fill out paperwork. If you don’t start pulling your act together (and I mean you high school freshman out there), you are going to miss prime deadlines for the best scholarships, grants, and other admissions requirements. All this means to you is that by dragging your feet YOU LOSE.
I once spoke with a parent who told me (over the phone) that he didn’t think it was a good idea that his daughter (who was a sophomore in high school at the time) needed to start thinking about college because he believed two things, 1) that the college admissions standards would be changing drastically, and 2) he didn’t think his daughter needed to be thinking about such things so soon, she was still so young! I know two things about this well-meaning father, 1) that he has a limited understanding of the college admissions process, and 2) that he still views his daughter as the little girl who once sat upon his knee and to whom he once read bed-time stories. This however lack of understanding doesn’t serve his “little girl”, it sets her back.
This is the first post that has gone up in over 6 months, primarily because I have been in Guatemala, working with my wife to establish a non-profit organization that serves the disabled there. Our primary focus was establishing Guatemalan leaders to run the organization. But secondarily we aided in the purchasing and distribution of food for the malnourished, therapy for the physically disabled, and education for local business leaders including English as a second language, as well as leadership and business principles.
The point is that hesitation in planning for the future will not enable success. There is a quote, it states, “If you aim for nothing, you are sure to hit it.” We must take aim at our futures and fire shots based on calculated reasons, any other way is simply foolish. College Life Planning exists to help students and parents plan for college and career, we exist to help find that lighted path that will lead to success and happiness in our future generations.
Sometimes there are questions that while we feel we ought to somehow already know the answer to, we just don’t. It happens all the time, it happens to me. The key to success isn’t so much with what you know, it is WHO you know. Having a college advisor at your finger tips can be a huge help to you as a student, to your parents, for your future. The main difference between your traditional college advisor and an independent college advisor is availability. When you need an answer about which classes to choose, which college to go to, which major to focus on, how to write a brag sheet, how to find the most financial aid… you need an independent college advisor.
Check out my website at: http://www.collegelifeplanning.com
If you’re going to college, no matter what stage of life you might be in, as a High School senior, or a 21 year old transfer student, or a 42 year old father of 3; I would love the opportunity to answer your college questions and help you chart a path for your future.
Here’s an interesting article if you (or your teen) is getting ready to gear up for college next year. Lining up your letters of recommendation are critical. This is very basic, but it will give you an idea on where to start. If you would like more information, or have questions; check us out on-line at www.collegelifeplanning.com
Lining Up Letters of Recommendation
Long ago, in a public high school far away, I made plans to
apply to three universities. Early in my senior year, I asked
my creative writing teacher for a letter of recommendation to
William and Mary, her alma mater. Her response: “I don’t
know you well enough to write a good one.” Ouch. By spring,
when she knew me well and had heard I was waitlisted, she apologetically
offered to write a letter. I sullenly rejected her offer and pulled
myself off the waitlist.
I made several mistakes: 1) colleges usually prefer letters
from core academic teachers-English or math, for instance-and
I had no business asking a creative writing teacher unless I had
phenomenal talent (I did not) 2) in a public high school with
big classes, it takes time for a teacher to know a student well-a
junior-year teacher would have been a better choice, and 3) when
the teacher offered an extra letter, I should have accepted-such
an additional edge might have led to my admission.
A decade after I left for the University of Virginia, I began
teaching English to juniors and seniors in a college-prep school.
Since then, I’ve written scores of letters of recommendation and
have seen that students today are better informed and coached.
Their savvy sets the bar higher for you. Here’s how to match the
Make a list of dates by which recommendations must be submitted.
Are you applying early decision or early action? Then forms might
be due as early as November. A month before the first deadline
is not too early to ask a teacher; a week is too late. Teachers
may limit the number of recs they will write, so if you’re among
the last to ask, you could be shut out.
Not during a fire drill. Not as a teacher sits at the lunch
table among other teachers or students. Find a quiet time when
the teacher can talk one-on-one and consider your request thoughtfully.
In a perfect world, you would make an appointment to talk with
the teacher about your list of schools, your plans for college,
and what you see as your accomplishments and strengths. Don’t
walk in with forms in hand, assuming he will say yes. Ask first.
I loved when students gave me a folder with all the forms and
envelopes organized inside, lines for names and addresses completed,
envelopes addressed and stamped. The best was when a student attached
to the outside of the folder a schedule chronologically listing
due dates for recommendations. Teachers are busy, with many demands
on their time, and with papers continuously flowing into and out
of their lives. Anything you can do to help organize these papers
makes a good impression and helps ensure your letters are submitted
on time. I also loved when students used the Common Application,
which meant fewer forms for me to fill out. Finally, it’s not
pushy to remind the teacher of a deadline a week before it arrives:
if the date has slipped his or her mind, you’ll both be glad of
Find this and more at College Board!
Your school counselor is one of your best resources as you plan for college. Your counselor has information about admissions tests, college preparation, and your education and career options. Here are some basic questions to help get your conversation started:
- What are the required and recommended courses—for graduation and for college prep?
- How should I plan my schedule so I’ll complete them?
- Which elective courses do you recommend?
- Which AP® courses are available?
- When is the PSAT/NMSQT® going to be given here?
- Is this school a testing center for the SAT®, or will I need to go somewhere nearby?
- Do you have any after-school or evening sessions available for college planning, or the SAT?
- Do you have college handbooks or other guides that I can browse or borrow? Do you have a copy of the free SAT Practice Booklet, which has a practice test in it?
- What activities can I do at home and over the summer to get ready for college?
- What kinds of grades do different colleges require?
- Are there any college fairs at this school, or nearby?
- Where do other kids from this school attend college?
- What are the requirements or standards for the honor society?
- Can you put me in touch with recent grads who are going to the colleges on my wish list?
- Do you have any information to help me start exploring my interests and related careers?
- If my colleges need a recommendation from you, how can I help you know me better, so it can be more personal?
- Are there any special scholarships or awards that I should know about now, so I can work toward them?
- Can I see my transcript as it stands now, to see if everything is as I think it should be?
- Do you have any forms I need to apply for financial aid?
- How does our school compare to others, in terms of test scores and reputation?
Your school counselor may be the most wonderful and accessible person on the planet, or may be juggling a thousand students and barely know your name. So remember that the person who has the biggest stake in your academics is you. It’s up to you to stay on top of opportunities and deadlines, to take control of your future.
For more tips and help, contact College Life Planning!
“Choose your area of study:” When you see a service for finding a college, they often start with ‘help finding a college’, but then they ask the student to select the area of study they are interested in. Now I wonder… if I am planning for college, or life; how do I select an area of study if I don’t know what I want to do with my life?How can I select an area of study to find the right college for me if I do not know what I want to do with this degree?!
College is an important investment, and there certainly should be a certain amount of soul searching in order to “find yourself”, but knowing what you want out of life is often then key to success! And it isn’t about pleasing yourself and your own goals! Helen Keller said, “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Going into college should be a well thought out goal, a “worthy purpose”, and fidelity to that purpose, is what will bring about the greatest sense of accomplishment and self worth. It will be the winning formula for students, and society at large.
Finding the right college is about knowing where you’re going and what the expectations will be once you get there. I recommend using a private college counselor (primarily because I am one), but I also recommend finding and using as many resources as you possibly can to make the best decision you can for this “worthy purpose”.
Find this and more at: www.collegelifeplanning.com
Written by: Nathan Cornett
College Life Planning can be a challenging thing; especially because most teens don’t really think along those lines. Using the resources is probably the best way to make sure that you are ready for college, and more importantly, ready for life after college. That is the real issue in my opinion. Going to school is important, but as one person said it, college is a means to an end: A JOB! So how about some basic pointers from a guy who knows how to screw up royally.
- College isn’t magical. You won’t finish college and somehow by some magical power be transformed into a super genius, and jobs will not by miracle just ‘fall’ into your lap. Going to school after high school will require planning and precision if you are to get the most from your college investment. The parties are great, and some of the friends are for life, but if you don’t work hard, and pay attention to what your doing; you can still fail to succeed.
- College COSTS MONEY. Have you ever heard the old adage, “it takes money to make money”? well it is true (most of the time) and you will be spending quite a bit of money on your college degree. The key is to know how much money you’re spending, why your spending it, and what the return will be once you’re done. There are plenty of estimates out there that outline the earning potential on various careers, the major that you chose can be associated with several careers and it is important that you know and understand the potential return on your investment. If you use loans, you WILL get a bill when you’re done with college- no one pays it off for you, you have to make that payment!
- Your friends are important! So don’t hang out with losers! Friends influence us in a huge way! In fact, many times we tend to act a lot like our friends and we tend to get pushed, or held back, depending on the caliper of the friends we chose to keep. So be very careful to chose your friends carefully!
- College and life planning is not easy! Don’t give up when you find out that your essay didn’t win you that fifty thousand dollar scholarship, or your application for Dartmouth was rejected, again. Keep your eyes on the goal. It’s not about getting into the ‘best’ college, it’s about getting into the best college FOR YOU.
If you need any help or advice, feel free to contact me: