Scholarship Mom Alert: Horatio Alger College Scholarships

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Would you encourage your student to invest time in applying for a scholarship worth $22,000? How about if you had some extra helpful tips to get your student started and increase chances of winning? College scholarship expert Monica Matthews is making it easier for students to learn about the Horatio Alger College Scholarships and she offers her special winning tips.

Get all of Monica’s important information, see if you qualify to enter, and complete your application by the October 25th deadline:

Horatio Alger College Scholarships

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday’s Parent: High School courses and college admissions

Choosing level of difficulty of High School courses. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Choosing level of difficulty of High School courses. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Picking clubs are a piece of cake compared to choosing high school courses. You can adapt the tips I provided in Pick a club but not any club to select electives, especially the fifth one about personal growth. It gets a little trickier for required core classes because the choice isn’t about subject matter but level of difficulty. The dilemma is balancing that with degree of course completion success displayed as grades on high school transcripts.

Advanced classes come in many forms. Highs schools may have their own Honors classes for more in depth studies. They may offer special curricula via AP or IB programs that many colleges consider either for increased admission chances or college credit. They may have an arrangement with a college to provide dual enrollment in certain classes for college course credit. How a college treats advanced classes and accompanying grades vary so check first and research costs, if any.

Colleges want students to stretch academically and take rigorous course work to demonstrate college readiness. Students want to show themselves as good catches. College Admission Officers often recommend students take the hardest classes they can and do well in.

Should the college-bound risk poorer grades and take advanced classes or play it safe?

The problem is this is the question most frequently asked but it is the wrong one to focus on. The reason students seek higher education is for knowledge and experiences to prepare for the future as a contributing adult member of society. High school is the perquisite so use the opportunity to challenge the intellect and be prepared to put in the effort.

What happens when a student struggles?

This is the right question to ask because it it the Plan B every student should have no matter what course or job they undertake. Recognizing the need for help, knowing the available resources, and seeking the appropriate aid is not only smart but a major step toward maturity and independence.

Collaboration, communication, problem-solving, time management and leadership are soft skills colleges seek in their students that are not reflected in grades. They can be demonstrated in a recommendation letter by a teacher or tutor showing student dedication, determination and progress.

Parents can play an instrumental role in developing these important success survival skills. Parents may help their college-bound kids hone the top soft skills shows how.

Read Suzanne’s post: Choosing Courses to Impress Colleges

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Tonight is Wednesday’s Parent night (the fourth Wednesday of each month) on #CampusChat, Wednesday, September 24, 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will talk with Nicole Lentine @nlentine about choosing high school classes and college admissions. Nicole is an Admissions Counselor at and alumna of Champlain College. She is Co-Host of Admissions Live, a twice-monthly webshow on the #HigherEdLive network. Please join us and bring your questions and comments.

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

The Parent’s Role in Test Prep: Passing the Academic Ownership Baton

Passing the Academic Ownership Baton. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Passing the Academic Ownership Baton. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

POCSmom is all about the parent role in the college process so it is with great pleasure that I’m sharing a guest post from test prep expert Lauren Gaggioli. As founder of Higher Scores Test Prep and host of The College Checklist Podcast (I’m Episode 23), Lauren provides her valuable insights to the parent role in test prep. Take it away, Lauren:

It is the student’s job to commit to a study program and achieve their higher scores. Period.

That may seem basic, but, as a tutor and online test prep mentor, I see a lot of parents trying to will their students into higher scores. They push. They prod. They plead. They fail.

Don’t get me wrong – I know that parents are the best cheerleaders in the world. I love seeing parents involved in the test prep process and highly recommend that they help their students on to test prep victory, but it has to be in a support capacity only.

Taking the SAT or ACT is one of the final rites of passage into adulthood.

If that sounds a little dramatic, let me ask you – What did you score? If you took either test, you probably know the answer to the question immediately.

That’s because these exams have far-reaching effects. College admission, merit-based financial aid, and a good deal of scholarship money are calculated with heavy weight given to exam results. Also, many life decisions are based on your alma mater – where you choose to live, your career trajectory, maybe even marrying a fellow alum.

If we don’t give these exams their due as a pretty important part of a student’s transition to adulthood, we miss the opportunity to teach our almost-adults who are about to embark on the college adventure without parental supervision how to take ownership of their academic journey.

Below are a few tips that will help you ease the transition and bring your student to the test prep table fully prepared (and maybe even excited) to rock out his or her very best score.

Notice that throughout this process you’ve gone from being the planner to preparing to hand off the reins to a more managerial position? You now help from afar but don’t get involved in the day-to-day minutiae of your student’s academic life.

The academic baton has been passed. For better or for worse, this is your student’s adventure. Let it be and enjoy the ride.

Before Junior Year

Take a College Visit  Preparing for the SAT or ACT without ever seeing a college campus is pretty silly. I mean, when was the last time you worked hard at something just for the heck of it? Take this trip before ever breathing a word about test prep and the exams.

Address Academic Challenges ASAP As soon as an issue bubbles to the surface, get help. If challenges are addressed in a spirit of problem-solving rather than a under the label of “you’re bad at [insert subject here]”, students be much more open to the process.

The Summer Before Junior Year

Set Your Testing Timeline Set an appointment with your student’s counselor at the end of Sophomore year to learn more about the exams and hear his or her suggestions regarding when your student should take the SAT, ACT, or both. If you need help with this step, I’ve created a free resource called the Test Prep Boot Camp for Parents. This will help you determine which test may be a good fit for your student and when you should take the exam. Learn more here.

Talk About Test Prep Options with Your Student I rarely see students included in this conversation and I think it starts the whole test prep process on the wrong foot. We need to empower our students to make good choices…so let’s do that! Their voices should be heard and their objections addressed so that families can find the test prep options that fit them best. (You can learn more about the ROI of test prep here.

Make a Plan & Commit Once you’ve talked through the options and weighed your considerations, make a plan and stick to it. I recommend typing up a simple contract (that the student actually agrees to) that everyone in the family signs. Together, you should decide what you the parent is responsible for (i.e. financial commitment with dollar amounts, limitations on how often you will check in on your student’s progress, vocabulary checkpoints for the SAT, and so on). Also, spell out what the student is responsible for (i.e. attend all sessions, complete all homework, take the real exam on a particular test date, stay in the night before that test date, etc.). Depending on your student’s motivation levels, it might be wise to have a retroactive financial commitment clause if he or she defaults.

Junior Year and Beyond

Help Find Inspiring Schools There are so many amazing colleges in the world. Sit with your student and do a little research, take virtual campus tours online together, and have your student create a list of a few schools that he or she is really excited about attending. Buy t-shirts, sweatshirts, or swag from online bookstores and help your student start connecting with his or her bright future by placing little reminders of it into everyday life. (Notice – schools. Plural. Having a few options takes pressure off students to fit the mold of one college.)

Execute the Plan (with Love and Understanding) Junior year is typically the craziest year of a student’s high school experience. The academics are challenging. College is on the horizon. Hormones are raging. The future is nigh, and our students are frazzled. During this time is important for you to remind your student of the commitment to the contract. It is imperative that students stay the course! When kids get disconnected from the “why” of test prep, they lose interest. Parents can help students get reconnected by dreaming big about the college experience and then diving into the details – in this case, test scores – that will get them there.

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Lauren Gaggioli is the founder and head mentor of Higher Scores Test Prep, an online test prep company. To learn more about her test prep courses visit: http://www.higherscorestestprep.com or call (760) 814-9655.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Amazon Student Scholarship

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Scholarships can help pay the college bill but students have to apply or they lose their chance to win. If your student is planning on attending college full-time in the fall of 2015, check out the Amazon Student Scholarship.

Be mindful of the selection criteria for this merit-based scholarship contest. College scholarship expert Monica Matthews points out the specifics along with her must-read winning tips:

AMAZON STUDENT COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP

There’s a lot of money at stake and not a lot of time to prepare. “Amazon will award $250,000 in scholarships and $25,000 in text book gift cards. The due date for this scholarship is November 20,” Monica says.

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday’s Parent: Pick a club but not any club

College-bound: Pick a club but not any club. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

College-bound: Pick a club but not any club. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

When it comes to college admission, extracurricular activities matter. Colleges want students who have focused on a particular area or two to achieve higher competency, show leadership, and display maturity and commitment. Students may not know what they want to major in but they can demonstrate focal points of pursuits. Selecting the right one is like finding a friend.

A year ago, I explained the importance of Adding the extras because, “Colleges want interesting, motivated students who show commitment to their passions and will not just fit in but will contribute to their campus.” I provided ways parents can help their college-bound develop interests, talents, hobbies, volunteer and job experience.

Not all activities and not all levels of participation will help the college-bound. To help your child pick a club, use these five lessons learned from choosing a friend:

1. You have something in common. Teens are often drawn to a particular club either because of an interest in participating in the activity or because they want to join other club members. They stay in it and get the most out of it when the two combine. Give it a good try when mixing new or old passions with new or old friends because student interests can change.

2. You want to spend time together. It can be challenging or comfortable but the activity chosen should make the student smile. Students should enjoy participating and look forward to spending their free time there.

3. You want to give as much as take. It is better to be an active club member of one or two activities than a passive brief contributor to many. Use the opportunity to grow in the organization, hone skills and polish leadership abilities.

4. You can count on it. To be most rewarding, the club and its members have to be reliable. Even if it is a seasonal activity, students have to be able to count on certain events and other club members for doing their part. When students put in their time and dedication, they should expect reciprocal support.

5. They bring out the best in you. The goal is to grow, thrive and mature in the chosen environment. Like hanging with a bad crowd, a club that doesn’t suit the student should be ditched. The best clubs and activities can help the student reach new heights and accomplish more than he could on his own.

Don’t worry if your teen is not a joiner. There are plenty of solo activities and sports that fill the role of a club. Students can use the above lessons to help them choose.

Read Suzanne’s post: Wednesday’s Parent: An Extracurricular Match Made in Heaven

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund

American flag. Photo by Mitchell Gaines

American flag. Photo by Mitchell Gaines

Over a dozen years has passed since September 11, 2001 but the memory is still fresh. For those college-bound dependents of 9/11 victims, college scholarship expert Monica Matthews is sharing information about the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund.

The fund provides scholarship money to financially needy high school, college, and adult students who are dependents of 9/11 victims.

“If you or someone you know is a dependent of a 9/11 victim, please share this link with them and encourage them to apply for this scholarship,” Monica says. I join her in urging you to share this valuable info.

Read Monica’s post: September 11: Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund


Wednesday’s Parent: Choose a mentor in 3 steps

Choose a mentor carefully. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Choose a mentor carefully. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Earn while you learn explains the popularity of apprenticeships to employees and internships for college students. For the college-bound, a mentor can supplement classroom learning and provide enrichment in  understanding. Who to choose as a mentor is not always an easy choice because there is a lot riding on the consequences of taking a mentor’s advice.

Mentors can serve as advisers, guides, gurus, counselors, consultants, confidantes, trainers, teachers, tutors, and instructors for any part of the college and career prep and process. As experts in their field, they can share valuable insider tips, tricks and insights. They can furnish introductions through networking opportunities and serve as role models. Here is my three-step method to choose a mentor:

1. Do a big picture analysis. The first step in choosing a mentor is to determine which position a student needs a mentor to fill. In my article, It takes this village to get into college, I explained six different roles students look to for counsel. A mentor can fill more than one part and students can have more than one mentor for different reasons. Use the parent-student team to explore the areas a student could benefit from extra guidance. Since college prep is preparation for achieving success in college and beyond, take both a short and long view. As objectively as possible, analyze together the student’s current academic and extracurricular interests, skills, abilities and talents. Let the student lead the discussion on future plans and dreams. Compare the two to determine the qualifications of a suitable mentor.

2. Brainstorm candidates to serve as a mentor. A mentor’s academic and life experience may relate to a particular profession, business, or membership. The person may be a prior or current teacher or school counselor, family friend/colleague or someone from a club or organization the student or parent knows. A mentor usually comes from a direct connection but doesn’t have to. Recommendations may come from others. It is worth doing some research to find the best match and double-check reliability. Students will be trusting the mentor’s judgement. Read How trustworthy is your college info source? for what to watch out for.

3. Make the first move. Whether it is someone the student knows already or comes by way of recommendation, the approach is the same. Start the mentor relationship on a higher plane by being professional. Students should be prepared with an elevator speech about themselves, what they want, and how they believe the person can help as a mentor. The key is to explain why they are worthy of the mentor’s valuable time and knowledge. Be respectful and prepared by bringing a resume similar to the one I suggest be given when requesting teacher recommendations. A conversation about how the mentor experience fits in will follow naturally.

Read Suzanne’s post5 Qualities a Mentor Should NOT Possess

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound. 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Birthday Mail Scholarship

Scholarship Mom Alert: Birthday card and scholarship. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Scholarship Mom Alert: Birthday card and scholarship. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

A scholarship that provides a double benefit is what college scholarship expert Monica Matthews, author of How To Win College Scholarships, has found. When entering the $10,000 Everyone Deserves a Birthday Scholarship from DoSomething.Org, applicants have a chance of winning money to help pay for their higher education and make a birthday card for a child experiencing homelessness. I explained other ways “Volunteering is a double benefit to the college-bound when they help themselves by helping a charitable cause they care about” in College-bound volunteers get double benefit.

Monica shares the details for applying and her tips for winning this scholarship in her must-read post:

$!0,000 Birthday card college scholarship

Be sure to enter before the October 17 deadline.

Good Luck!!!

 

Wednesday’s Parent: 3 sure-fire words to adjust to new routines

New routines disrupt patterns. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

New routines disrupt patterns. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

There is comfort in knowing the pattern. It makes meeting expectations easier. Alterations mess with predictability and wipe out the ease of habit. Fortunately, there are tips to smooth the adjustment to new routines.

A new school year represents big change for students and their parents. Students must adapt to new schedules, classrooms, activities, teachers and classmates. Parents have to merge their child’s schedule with their own. Time pressed, added responsibilities and increased workload can stress families to the max. Perhaps the hardest part is getting to know new people or reacquainting with those one hasn’t seen for a while. Or maybe it’s adding all the extra things to do for college prep.

As students and parents get familiar with the new rules, it’s is helpful to review my 5 rule-breaking ways to encourage. To this I add my three easy to remember S-words to spark the adjustment to new routines:

Sleep Never underestimate the power of getting enough rest. Sleep improves mental and physical abilities. It is a biological necessity that is often not respected. Without adequate rest, it’s more difficult to think and act clearly and efficiently in the best of times let alone dealing with new situations and people. A nap may help but make getting sufficient zzz’s each night a priority.

Study This is two tips in one word. First, get full value out of an education by learning the material and not for the sake of a test. Plan for study time and create a quiet place to do it. Tap available resources in or out of school when additional help is needed. Second, refine observation skills. Notice and remember details about people, places and things. Making studying a priority will help navigate the school’s halls as well as remembering facts like a new friend’s name (see also first reason).

Smile Don’t be afraid to say hi first and smile when you do it. Smiles are a two-way street with double benefits. Most times they are automatically reciprocated. Simply turning the corners of one’s mouth upward can become an ice-breaker while reducing stress. Smiling can be a mood lifter. Just think about a happy memory or future event and gain confidence by making smiling a priority.

Read Suzanne’s post: Establishing a Back to School Routine

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Tweet for Success Scholarship Contest

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Does your college-bound student have time to write a tweet? If so, he can apply for the Tweet for Success Scholarship Contest.

College scholarship expert Monica Matthews, author of How To Win College Scholarships, researched and found this quick and easy scholarship that does not require a long essay but merely the length of a tweet of 140 characters or less.

Monica’s Winning Tips are a must read for scholarship applicants. The deadline is September 18 so read her post Tweet for Success Scholarship ASAP.

Good Luck!!!