4 ways colleges can prep you for Valentine’s Day

Cliché: A labor of love.    
POCS Reality: College can help you prep for a lovely Valentine’s Day.     

Every Feb 14 is a celebration of love. Whether you are a born romantic or don’t know where to begin, college can help you prepare for a lovely Valentine’s Day.

According to holidayinsights.com

The roots of Valentine’s Day goes back to ancient times, when people paid honor to the Roman God of Fertility. This was known as the Feast of Lupercalia, and was celebrated even then on February 14th.

Here are four ways college can prep you for Feb 14:

  1. Look good, feel good One reason colleges are so costly is their amenities-especially the sports kind. If you are not on a team but want to stay fit, check out a college gym or pool for Intramural sports, exercise classes and personal exercise equipment use. Memberships and day passes may be available for both students and the public.
  2. Let your inner poet out Take a college poetry course and commit a couple of romantic poems to memory to recite at the appropriate time. Take a creative writing class so you can make your own thoughtful cards and letters.
  3. Dine fine on a budget Many colleges have a wide choice of fast food eateries along with a cafeteria. Why not order take-out and plate it yourself for a romantic meal at home.
  4. Do something special Colleges host a wide variety of entertainment options including art exhibitions, plays, movies and concerts. Check out the campus events calendar and attend your favorite with your beau.

Some activities and facilities are only for enrolled students and others are open to the public. Check prices because many events are free, low cost or have reduced rates for students, senior citizens, alumni, staff/faculty.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Who said studying the humanities wasn’t practical? Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Colleges sponsor free and low cost fun

Cliché: Have fun.
POCS Reality: Students and the public can take a break and enjoy the fun activities and events your local college sponsors.

Adelphi University Outdoor Sculpture Biennial 2010 - 2012


Looking for some free or low cost fun? Go to the calendar page of a local college. Schools sponsor events and activities for students and many are open to the public.

If you’ve finished filing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to help pay for college, you may be ready to relax and reward yourself. Would you like to take in a show, enjoy a concert, learn something at a lecture, view an art exhibit or cheer on a sports team?

Don’t forget to check out campus architecture and landscaping. There may be opportunities to stroll or hike through gardens, arboretums or bird sanctuaries. See if you can spot treasures like outdoor sculptures or specimen trees.

From opera to ballet, from theatre to recitals, from athletics to workshops, colleges can sponsor a wealth of entertainment choices.

Read more:

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Colleges are more than a place that educates students. They are a vibrant cultural marketplace offering free and low cost events for its students and the public. Go ahead and find some fun!

How college libraries help students graduate

Cliché: Help out.     
POCS Reality: College libraries can help students graduate.


You filed your FAFSA, applied for scholarships, and are planning how to pay for college but once you’re in, will you leave with a diploma?

Besides money to pay for college, what major factor helps students graduate? It’s bigger than a breadbox, often taken for granted, and is the campus knowledge keeper. If you answered the college library, you are right and here are 7 reasons why:

1. Free academic resources College libraries store or can obtain information upon request for any topic students are researching. Classics, recently released studies and rare book collections can be viewed for the asking to help students ace their papers and exams. Can’t find want you want? Ask a librarian for help.

2. Study compatible Students seeking a quiet refuge or study group meeting space can often find a comfortable spot in a study carol, comfortable chair or private room. Explore your library for the best spots and policies for reserving rooms.

3. Special events/exhibitions Check your college library’s calendar for art, music, photography and literary collections that are ongoing or upcoming. Speakers, readings, panel discussions, seminars, workshops, performances and special gatherings may be hosted.

4. Bargains Before you shell out big bucks for a book you want to purchase for your home library, browse a book sale.

5. $ search Information about finding and applying for scholarships, internships, jobs and starting your own business can supplement the college Financial Aid or Job Placement Offices’ assistance.

6. Eye candy Inside and outside, libraries can be beautiful structures. Check out the architecture and decor of these 25 most beautiful college libraries and spend some time with yours.

7. Fun Sometimes you just want a break from studying and want to read a good book for fun. Borrow your choice and relax.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: It is up to students to take full advantage of college libraries to help them focus on their studies and graduate on time. College libraries are a must see on a collegecation (college visit + family vacay) and ask about the exhibitions/events open to the public.

7 Habits that lead to Spectacular Failure

Cliché: Kick the habit.    
POCS Reality: Certain traits can derail college success and lead to failure.


There are skills that can lead you to success and habits that can doom you to failure.  I was reading the Forbes article The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives  and immediately thought of similar traits in the college-bound.

Colleges look for leadership abilities in their applicants but students must be careful to avoid the dark side. Here are 7 habits that can lead to spectacular failure:

  1. Conceit Top grades, stellar test scores and glowing recommendations illustrate high achievement that attracts attention. However, smugness and arrogance can derail this fast track to college success.
  2. One-dimension Relying on academics only takes students so far. Colleges also want their campus filled students who demonstrate a strong passion in an extracurricular activity or interest.
  3. Know-it-all Life-changing opportunities await students in college. Making snap decisions, before weighing all the pros and cons or asking for advice, can lead to disaster.
  4. Bullying Competition, jokes and pranks can be fun or destructive, good natured or spiteful. College campuses are more sensitive than ever to hazing and harassing.
  5. Show-off College campuses are a community. Negative attention can lead to a bad reputation that is difficult to shake.
  6. Self-doubt Lacking confidence and low self-esteem can hinder maximizing your college experience and taking full advantage of your higher education opportunities.
  7. Inflexible What works in the past may not thrive in the future. Change may not be easy but may be necessary to get back to the path for college success.

Read more: 7 Skills to college success students already have.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: If any of these traits describe you, now is the time to ditch the habits that can lead to spectacular failure and start planning for college success.

5 Ways Parents Can Help During College Finals

Cliché: Help out.    
POCS Reality:  Parents can help their student during finals week with care packages and kind words.


 Is your college student sleep-deprived, bleary-eyed but caffeine motivated to study beyond human endurance? Does he have 4 papers, 3 exams, 2 group projects, and 1 presentation due within the next 7 days? Then it is finals week and students are stressed to do their best, show what they know, and prove they got the most out of their college dollars.

 Here are 5 ways parents can help students achieve their goals:

  1. Send a care package Remind your student you care with a favorite healthy, easy to prepare/eat snack, family photo, CD, and silly tension-relieving toy (beach ball, squeeze ball, stuffed animal). Include a brief note of support or a joke that will bring a smile and perhaps a laugh or two. Pack your own care package or buy one ready-made from a school organization or private gift shop.
  2. Keep contacts short and sweet Whether it’s a phone call, email, or text, keep the message brief and upbeat creating a momentary respite so your student can get back to studying refreshed. Let your student know he can contact you anytime but you will limit your calls so he can finish his work.
  3. Read between the lines Listen to what your student says and notice what he doesn’t say. Sometimes students need a little more help such as from tutoring or counseling services.
  4. Hold your tongue Unless it is an emergency, discuss stressful topics and issues bound for disagreement until after finals. Let your students focus on studies rather than distractions, so he can be better positioned to do his best.
  5. Stay tuned Sign up for college alert emails and regularly review the college’s website. Your student may be so involved in her studies tucked in the library she is unaware of a flu outbreak, severity of a snow storm, or other emergency that lead to schedule changes for dorm/cafeteria/school closings.

 POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: “I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m here for you. Do your best. I’ll see you soon.” Parents can be supportive guides, cheerleaders, and mentors and convey the above messages to their student during finals week.

How College Can Improve Ice Cream

Cliché: Flavor of the month.    
POCS Reality:  So many ice cream flavors but there are just two in a twist.


When it comes to soft ice cream, I’m a big fan of the twist. That way I get two deliciously entwined flavors. As I visit colleges and each campus’s fave parlor, I find the variety of flavors has exploded. What I need is a multi-twist and I call on college students to make it happen.

 The problem

The twist has not kept up with technology. The number of flavors has increased so it has become ever more difficult to just pick two. When the decision has finally been made, inevitably the twist machine’s pairing is different.

What if I want to mix more flavors? Say, red velvet cake, chocolate peppermint frozen hot chocolate, Bananas Foster, and coconut custard pie? Or cinnamon apple strudel, berry cobbler, Dulce de Leche, and sweet cappuccino? The twist stops at two.

 Not a solution

The last time I complained of my dilemma, I was directed to a serve yourself parlor. Although my dish was filled with all of my choices, my cup runneth over. I’d much prefer a pre-measured twist dose that fits my belt notch and budget.

 This is the solution

Attention college students, engineers, inventors, and ice cream lovers everywhere-your challenge is to create a multi-twist soft ice cream machine. Problem solved.

 POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: I’m wondering if there are now more ice cream flavors than college students…

No More College Roommates

Cliché: I want to be alone. 
POCS Reality: College students have a choice of campus living quarters from traditional doubles to single room suites.


More students prefer a single room to double occupancy and colleges are happy to comply, according to a NorthJersy.com article.  

Living in a strange place with a stranger was an expected part of the college rite of passage. Adjustment to campus, classroom, and cohabitors was assumed.

Now, more dorms are being built with suites containing single bedrooms, common living/dining areas, and a bathroom. This recognizes student preferences and decreases potential roommate conflicts concerning rising and retiring times, activity and noise levels, visitors and alone time.

Single room suites do not tell the whole building/renovation story. As I tour colleges across the country, I’ve seen suites decked out with all the trimmings: washer/dryers, walk in closets, wall-to-wall carpeting. Furnished suites can include sofas, dinettes, entertainment units, full-sized beds, computer desks, and dressers.

Freshly painted walls and professionally cleaned surfaces are often completed prior to occupancy. After move-in, some suites include periodic house-cleaning services and others provide fully equipped kitchens stocked with stainless steel appliances that rival any home channel makeovers.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: College competition is fierce, costs are rising, and high-priced living quarters are one reason. Single room suites are often more costly than traditional double or triple rooms with a common bathroom down the hall. It’s a sweet suite deal for those who can afford the price of the room but all students may bear part of the financial burden…if the college absorbs building costs in its tuition/fees.

5 Ways Colleges/Students Use Twitter

Cliché: Sign up for Twitter.    
POCS Reality:  Colleges and students use Twitter.


 How do you get info, make connections, and stay current in 140 characters or less? You get on Twitter and easily read brief bits of time-dated posts. The social media site has also become invaluable for colleges and college students for a variety of uses.

Here are 5 ways colleges and college students use Twitter:

1. Emergency Alerts Using Twitter, colleges and students can send real-time updates. For example, The Virginia Tech University newspaper The Collegiate Times got out the word and photos concerning the December 8th campus shootings through it’s Twitter feed when staff were evacuated from the newspaper office, according to The New York Times article: Using Twitter Virginia Tech’s College Newspaper Kept On Publishing.

2. College recruitment Communicating with college staff via Twitter and following Twitter tweets for college updates and photos can help create connections during the admission process.

3. Paying for college Twitter college tweet/essay scholarships can help pay for college. You can start a tweet scholarship search by using keywords: “Twitter and scholarships.”

4. Professor-student contact Through tweets in or out of the classroom, profs and students can share info, videos, and notes. Check this Infographic for surprising results of higher classroom engagement and grades for college students using Twitter to get answers to their questions.

5. Internship/Job search There are several ways and sites to find an internship/job on Twitter including through a Twitter job search engine, Twitter job sites, and creating your own Twitter account to network.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Twitter is a powerful social media tool. College students should use it wisely and self-edit. A good update of the carpenter saying “Measure twice, cut once” for Twitter users can be “Read twice, post once” before tweeting.

Tech Makes College Easier for Disabled

Cliché: There’s an app for that.    
POCS Reality: Technology makes college easier for students.


“Having a disability should not stop any student from pursuing higher education,” reports ED.gov Blog.

Effective assistive technology tools can meet the diverse needs of students.

From screen magnification, voice recognition, and reading software, to amplification systems, specialized keyboards, and other equipment, technology can enable the disabled.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Check with your college’s Office of Disability Services to see what services/technology they offer and how they can best help you. As the technology revolution and the economic crisis continues, innovations to use inside traditional classrooms and the number of online college classes will increase, giving students a chance to learn at there own pace and with effective assistive tech tools.

5 Things You Should Know Before Accepting Federal Work-Study

Cliché: Work for a living.    
POCS Reality: Eligible students can earn their financial aid through the Federal Work-Study program.


5 Things You Should Know Before Accepting Federal Work-Study is a post I wrote for the Student Advisor Blog.

Read the whole post for details but here are the 5 key points about the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program:

  1. FWS award is a job on or off campus, usually for Federal minimum wage.
  2. After accepting the FWS award, students apply for a particular FWS job which may or may not be in their field of study and which may require an interview.
  3. FWS recipients receive a paycheck as they work and do not get the total award money up front to reduce the college bill.
  4. FWS earned money is taxable, although students are not penalized for FWS money earned on their next year’s FAFSA.
  5. FWS job ends when award amount is met. Any unearned money cannot be rolled over into next year’s award.

 POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: If you’re a full-time student, the FWS financial aid award is a part-time job. Before accepting FWS, make sure you can balance your studies with time spent working. The best jobs are the most valuable way to spend some of your free time because they:

    • give you experience in your field of study
    • provide networking opportunities in your field of study
    • pay more than another opportunity

 When considering your schedule, plan for downtime and extra-curricular fun. You can pass on Federal Work-Study for one semester, adjust to campus life, and accept it the next.