Thomas Broderick

Image of three young people excited about volunteering.

Creating a Volunteer Movement at Your High School

Happy back to school, myKlovr readers. For most of you, school is A LOT different this fall with the COVID-19 pandemic making a proper return to school impossible. As you’re getting used to distance learning, a process that I guarantee is just as difficult for your teachers as it is for you, I want to introduce something you can do to enrich your learning experience.

In this article, we’ll take a look at creating a volunteer movement in your high school. As you’ve seen with our articles about Volunteer Crowd and Best Buddies, there are many ways to volunteer online and in person and share recommendations with your peers and teachers.

Why Create a Volunteer Movement Now?

There are plenty of good reasons to create a volunteer movement, but let’s focus on a few that apply to the here and now.

  • You Have More Time on Your Hands: Although online learning can be just as rigorous as the in-person experience, you have more free time due to not commuting, and, sadly, the lack of traditional extracurricular activities. As a result, you can explore new opportunities to fill your free hours. Volunteering and encouraging others to do the same is an excellent way to spend your time.
  • It Looks Good on a College Application: Starting a volunteer movement, especially one that involves a large number of your peers, can make your college application shine in college admission counselor’s eyes.
  • People in Your Community Need Help: The COVID-19 pandemic has made vulnerable groups even more so, and hundreds if not thousands of people in your local community fall into this category.

How Do I Make a Volunteer Proposal?

Once you decide to create a volunteer movement at your school, you need a proposal that will both do some good for people in need and inspire your peers to help out. Here are some questions to get you going.

  • What are the most pressing needs in my community which volunteers could impact?
  • What skills do my peers and I have that would benefit organizations that need volunteers?
  • How much time per week can my peers and I realistically dedicate to volunteering?
  • How can I create a volunteer movement that will inspire not just people in my grade but all learners at my school?
  • What role do I want to play in this volunteer movement? Leader? Coordinator? Participant?

How Do I Get People to Sign Up?

Now that you have a proposal, you need to get your message to your peers. Fortunately, taking classes online gives you an excellent way to communicate with other students. Let’s look at a few ways you can raise awareness and interest in your volunteering proposal.

  • Discussion Board: Using a classroom discussion board (ask your teacher in advance to set one up for you), you can reach out to your peers or perhaps the entire school. As with any proposal, write at least two drafts and have an adult, preferably your teacher, review it for clarity and grammar.
  • Ask Teachers/Administrators to Signal-Boost Your Ideas: Send your proposal to your teachers/principal to see if they would promote your ideas to the school’s students and staff. They can also offer you valuable feedback to make your proposal more successful.
  • Leverage Volunteer Crowd and Best Buddies: As you know from myKlovr’s other articles, VolunteerCrowd and Best Buddies allow students to volunteer virtually, an excellent option as in-person volunteering is impossible for most students right now. You can discuss these services’ advantages in your discussion board post or another communication method.

How Do I Keep the Movement Going?

Once your volunteer movement starts gaining students’ interest, you have to sustain that interest if you want your movement to last more than a few months. Here are a few ideas to keep your fellow volunteers engaged.

  • New volunteer projects each month.
  • Recognizing top volunteers.
  • Encouraging incoming freshmen with a presentation during a school assembly.

Personally, one thing I would avoid is trying to make volunteering a school graduation requirement. In my experience as a high school teacher, forcing high school-aged students to do anything can backfire tremendously. Also, people who genuinely want to volunteer are likely to do a much better job than those forced to do it.

Final Thoughts

“So shines a good deed in a weary world,” Willy Wonka once said by way of Shakespeare. The world is certainly weary right now, and any good deed has the potential to make our shared situation a little brighter. By creating a student volunteer program, you can make a lasting impact on your community. So, take some time between your Zoom classes and consider how you can help out those in need.

Do some good, myKlovr readers, and stay safe out there.

Three young women casually walking and talking, having fun

Best Buddies – An Excellent e-Volunteering Opportunity for High School Students

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into Best Buddies International, an organization that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities. Best Buddies provides not only resources and inclusive living training but also One-to-One Friendships to those in need. These friendships involve pairing a volunteer with an individual Best Buddies serves.

The Best Buddies e-Buddies program allows volunteers of all ages to create a friendship with a person with disabilities. In this time when traditional volunteer opportunities are on hold, e-Buddies represents a great way for high school students to make a positive impact on someone’s life.

To learn more about Best Buddies’ mission and volunteer opportunities, I spoke with the organization’s Palm Beach, Florida, area director Tricia Williams. I believe that our conversation will convince you to reach out and make a new friend this summer.

Note: The author edited some responses for clarity and grammar. 

Thomas Broderick: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about people with disabilities?

Tricia Williams: I think that the typical person is surprised at how much they learn from people with disabilities, as there is a misconception that we need to teach them. I have learned so much about compassion and resilience. Also, there are so many people with amazing skills at levels that others think they would not have because of their disabilities. I think of buddies who have amazing skills in accuracy fields, such as mathematics or measurement.

TB: Why is an organization like Best Buddies necessary?

TW: Best Buddies is necessary to help end the social, physical, and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Our programs empower people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships, secure successful jobs, live independently, and feel valued by society.

TB: What do your volunteers (students or otherwise) say that their main reason for volunteering is?

TW: The main reason is getting to know someone who they believe needs their help or assistance. However, they quickly realize they have so much more to learn from people with disabilities.

TB: If I were a high school student interested in volunteering in the e-Buddies program, what advice would you give me about how to be a good buddy?

TW: A good buddy is just another word for a good friend. I would suggest that this is a friendship like any other but like none other at the same time. Your buddy wants to know all about you, and you should want to know all about him or her. Put in an equal amount of effort into getting to know each other. We have so much more in common than we know and we will only find this out by asking each other, ‘What’s your favorite snack?’, ‘What NFL team are you rooting for?’, ‘Do you prefer TikTok or Instagram?’ It is also important to be responsive often. Remember that there is someone on the other end of that email. Your response might be what they look forward to most in their day.

TB: Are there any other organizations you’d recommend where high school students can volunteer online?

TW: As you understand more about the IDD community, find ways to advocate. Don’t participate in offensive social media that mocks our community. Try to understand the differences so you can celebrate the similarities. Special Olympic athletes are also sitting on the sidelines like you and your football friends are. Best Buddies chapters are offering virtual Ambassador Trainings (those wanting to learn how to advocate for the IDD community), or you can join our virtual events, including yoga & dance classes or online games.

Final Thoughts

Pandemic and social unrest have complicated everyone’s life. While we may understand why these negative events are happening throughout the world, some people with intellectual disabilities cannot. This inability can cause fear, anger, and isolation. In other words, people with intellectual disabilities need a friend more than ever right now.

Finally, remember that as you start your e-Buddy journey, a new friendship will not only improve someone else’s life but also your own.

Person on a laptop computer using video conferencing

Virtual Volunteering and You

If you want to gain volunteering experience – an excellent addition to any college application portfolio – summer 2020 seems like the worst time to do it. The COVID-19 pandemic has made many traditional forms of volunteering impossible. However, organizations around the world need volunteers more than ever. But how to do it safely?

This month, we at myKlovr are examining virtual volunteering opportunities in a two-part series. In this article, please review some virtual volunteering basics. In Part II, we’ll look at one organization, Best Buddies International, which has made virtual volunteering an integral part of its mission to help people with intellectual disabilities.

What is Virtual Volunteering?

As the name suggests, virtual volunteering allows you to help an organization without interacting with other people directly. How does it work? Well, that depends on an organization’s needs. Here’s are some typical examples:

  • Making calls to raise money
  • Writing or editing documents
  • Developing educational materials with a team of volunteers
  • Creating a video
  • Creating a website
  • Making social media posts to raise awareness

How Do I Get Involved?

When you visit an organization’s website, first determine whether they have a virtual volunteering program and if your talents match their needs. If so, send an email to introduce yourself and describe how you can help. Form your email like you would a cover letter.

If an organization does not have a virtual volunteering program, you can still contact them and see if they could use your services. Many organizations that rely on in-person volunteers are struggling right now, and they may bring you aboard if you have a convincing pitch.

How Do I Do a Good Job?

Virtual volunteering resembles the WFH (work from home) many professionals have been doing these last few months. The tasks are approximately the same, but working from home has its challenges. There are plenty of fun distractions, many of which exist on the very computer you use to volunteer.

Virtual volunteering success is two-fold. One, ask your contact to provide you with a solid deadline for your work. Second, create a schedule that provides some break times that are away from the computer or phone you use for volunteering. Until the workday is over, you want to keep your electronics – or at least some of them – for work only.

Another challenge that WFH poses to both employees and volunteers involves communication. If you receive an email or text that you don’t quite get, always clarify. It may feel a bit embarrassing, but many adults – me included – make mistakes when juggling emails with the tons of other things we’re doing online.

Can I Get a Reference?

Before we discuss references, let’s briefly talk about another advantage that virtual volunteering can bring to your college application portfolio. As you volunteer from home, keep track of all work you complete, especially if you’re creating products such as website copy or illustrations. A sample of one of these can make a great addition to a college application.

Back to the references. Just like asking your teacher for a reference, do so as politely as possible. To increase your odds of a great reference, make sure you communicate with your contact person effectively throughout your volunteering experience. Respond to emails in a timely manner and turn in work on time.

As your volunteering time wraps up, make sure to ask nicely and let them know that you’ll be in touch with details once you know which colleges you’ll apply to. In the meantime, send an email every so often to keep them person updated, and maybe ask if you can do anything else for them.

Final Thoughts

COVID-19 has made volunteering incredibly complicated but far from impossible. If you offer your talents to an organization that does some good in the world, they’re likely to accept your help. If you’re forthright and do your best every day, you’re likely to have a positive virtual volunteering experience that will set you up for college admission success.

Student Loans and You

I want you to imagine $1,560,000,000,000 – 1.56 TRILLION dollars. That’s approximately the annual GDP of Russia. With that amount of money, you could buy everything Thailand, Iran, and Austria make in a year and still have enough left over to purchase the entire NFL.

That massive pile of cash also represents the student loan debt Americans held in 2019.

Student loans are a serious business, and many Americans are struggling to pay them back. As this is an election year, you’ve probably heard candidates talk about their proposals to address this pressing issue.

In this article, we’ll discuss some student loan basics, as well as how myKlovr is trying to make the process easier and safer for users like you.

When to Consider Student Loans

Out of all the ways to pay for college, you should consider student loans as your last resort. Now, don’t get me wrong. Student loans, like credit cards, aren’t inherently evil or wicked. It’s just that, in general, it’s incredibly easy for young Americans to get in way over their heads with debt. Entire books have been written on this topic, so I’ll spare you the details.

Before we tackle student loans, let’s explore some of the – mostly – risk-free alternatives to funding your college education.

Scholarships

Pros: In my humble opinion, scholarships represent the absolute best way for you to pay for college. And with the internet, it’s easier than ever to search for and apply to them. Also, many colleges and universities award automatic merit-based scholarships to incoming students with an excellent high school GPA and outstanding ACT/SAT scores.

Cons: Like grants, scholarships have many stipulations that you must meet for them to renew. For example, a scholarship may require that you maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA every semester of college. For you, who likely earns excellent grades in high school, that requirement may not seem like a big deal. However, remember that college can throw you curveballs, and many students struggle their freshman year.

Grants

Pros: Grants, like scholarships, require no repayment. They’re literally free money. Also, too, many schools award them to eligible students automatically.

Cons: Most grants are need-based, meaning that if your parents make over a certain amount of money, you don’t qualify even if your parents do not intend to contribute one red cent to your college education.

The Bank of Mom and Dad

Pros: Who doesn’t love the Bank of Mom and Dad? I did. But why did I put it at the bottom of this list? Well, the Bank of Mom and Dad will be most likely to chip in if you can show them you’ve already earned some scholarships and grants. Also, the less they have to help you out, the more likely they are to do so. They love you and all, but they also have a mortgage, need a new carpet, and, you know, dad’s 401(k) just took a hit…

Cons: Money issues rank at the top of the list of things that families fight over. And the more your parents contribute to your education, the more influence they have over you. If they want you to be a doctor or lawyer, and you want to be one, too, that’s cool. But let’s say you want to change your major to something…less financially lucrative. That could cause some serious friction between you and your folks.

Now that we’ve discussed the best ways to pay for college without loans, let’s get into debt!

What Types of Loans Are There?

Just like in the previous section, I’ve listed loan types by my personal preference. In other words, start at the top and work your way down.

Federally Subsidized

As the name suggests, federally subsidized loans are those the federal government provides college students. Both subsidized and unsubsidized loans have annual limits, meaning you can only borrow so much money each year. Also, federal loans have much lower interest rates than private loans.

So why are subsidized loans at the top of this list? One reason – interest does not start accruing until you graduate. This simple fact can save you thousands of dollars down the road.

Federally Unsubsidized

Once you exhaust federally subsidized loans, you may need to take out some unsubsidized loans. Yes, the interest will start compounding from day one, but they pose less risk than…

Private

Starting about 20 years ago, skyrocketing tuition rates made it impossible for many college students to fund their education with only scholarships, grants, and federal loans. The private market jumped in to fill the gap – easy credit with high-interest rates attached.

Then the Great Recession happened.

After 2009, the private student loan market contracted significantly, and today, most private loans require a co-signer (e.g., your parents) who is also legally responsible for paying back the loan. Fortunately for you, most private loans in 2020 are significantly less predatory than they were pre-2009. However, higher interest rates mean that you will end up paying more over time.

Who Can Help Me Choose the Right Loan(s)?

As private loans are where many college students get into financial trouble, we at myKlovr want to provide you with tools that can help you explore private loan options that best fit your needs. That’s why we’ve partnered with GradFin, a financial services company that works with college students and graduates to both select the right loans and create a payment plan that promotes long-term financial stability.

In the near future, myKlovr users will be able to take advantage of GradFin’s many services, including:

  • Loan searching
  • Refinancing
  • Debt forgiveness

Throughout the process, GradFin experts work with users one-on-one to create a bespoke plan that features loans with the lowest interest rates.

Additionally, GradFin will offer its services to myKlovr users at no additional cost.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up, let’s take a moment to consider how much debt is too much debt.

Simple Answer: It depends on you.

Complex Answer: As you begin exploring student loans, consider your academic and career goals. Is the job market that aligns with your intended major soft right now? Are average salaries lower than you expected? If the answer to either question is ‘yes,’ you may want to consider cheaper colleges and universities.

Finally, no matter which school you attend, myKlovr and GradFin will help you make the right decisions regarding your academic and financial future.

Looking down at my own sneakers, the pavement covered in arrows pointing in all directions

How to Pick a College

When it comes to college admissions, the problem you don’t want – a problem that you’ve probably considered numerous times – involves not receiving an acceptance letter from any of your top-choice schools.

That would stink.

But there is another problem, one that I would bet has yet to cross your mind.

What if all of (or most of) your top-choice schools accept you?

Yes, for some of you, there will come a day when you open your digital or physical mailbox and find it stuffed to the gills with acceptances. It didn’t happen to me, but I’m sure your first emotion will be sheer giddiness.

But after the excitement fades, you’ll be faced with a unique problem – which one do you choose? You’ll have 30 days or fewer to make up your mind. Additionally, let’s not forget that during that time, you’ll still have to study for a slew of exams, including AP/IB.

That’s a lot of stress.

In this article, we’ll discuss the three most vital things to keep in mind as you weigh your options. 

Academic Offerings

Let’s discuss your future academic major. Now, you may not know which one you’ll pick, and there’s always the chance that you’ll change your mind halfway through freshman year. Even so, it’s time to compare what each of your top schools offers.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that most top schools feature the same majors. That’s not much help. What can help is when you deep dive into each program’s academic requirements. Here are some questions to keep in mind while performing research. (Note: You should ask these questions not just for each school but also for each major you’re considering.)

  • What are the graduation requirements?
  • What electives/concentrations/specializations does this program offer?
  • Does this program have a special feature, such as a unique study-abroad program?
  • If I select this major, can I perform research as an undergraduate?
    • This question is REALLY important if you want to go to graduate school.
    • Related question: What is this program’s graduate school acceptance rate?
  • Can I complete a second major or a minor in a different area?
  • What career services does the school offer?

If you can find answers to these questions, the differences between your top schools should become more apparent. In other words, you’ll know how each school meets your academic needs and expectations.

Cost

After academic offerings comes cost. Top schools often charge top dollar, and although you won’t know about financial aid for a while, it’s time to run through a few hypotheticals. Here’s what you can do now.

  • Find out exactly how much – if anything – your parents will contribute to your college education.
  • Start researching your top school’s scholarship websites. Many have a search engine with the latest scholarship opportunities, requirements, and deadlines.
    • If possible, begin preparing scholarship application materials even before you know about an acceptance. Many schools have similar requirements.
  • Research what current students are saying online.
    • How much institutional financial aid did they receive?
    • What are the best scholarship websites?
    • What are the worst financial aid traps?
    • Do current and former students regret attending because of the cost?

As you perform these and other tasks, keep in mind that in the vast majority of cases, it is not worth going into debt to attend college. So, if you don’t want to say no to your dream school, start racking up the scholarship and grant dollars ASAP.

Personal Preference

So, let’s get back to the beginning of this article. All of your top schools said yes. Also, potential majors look good at all of them. Additionally, these schools are offering you a full ride, or you have attained the necessary scholarships and grants. If all of these wonderful things should happen, what do you do then?

Besides flipping a coin or throwing a dart at a board, it’s once again time to dig deep and consider your personal preferences. Maybe some of your high school friends are attending School A, while at School B, you wouldn’t have to have a roommate. Maybe School C has pleasant weather all year round.

In other words, if all of the choices are great, it’s up to you, which, at 18 years old, can seem like an impossible decision. Even if it’s just between two schools, go with what feels right. Yes, you’ll set aside a whole world of possibilities by saying ‘no’ to one or more great schools, but you’ll also be saying ‘yes’ to what I’m sure will be an incredible four years.   

Final Thoughts

Let me restate this article’s most important point – think about these ‘what-ifs’ now. As with anything college application-related, the sooner you start putting in the work, the easier the process becomes.

Lastly, wishing you a mailbox full of ‘fat envelopes’ this spring.

Large, gray, neo-Gothic, granite college campus building, Georgetown Univ. campus.

Fall 2020 College Admissions and You

This month, myKlovr is taking a look at how college admissions will change this fall due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Our coverage has two parts. In this article, we’ll discuss changes that affect all upcoming high school seniors. In Part II, we’ll look at specific issues related to student-athletes and college recruiting.

Last Minute College Tours

Haven’t finalized which colleges are on your shortlist? Traditionally, now would be the time to take that last-minute college tour. However, as we don’t know which schools will have in-person tours this fall, it’s time to think virtual. To get you started, head over to my recent article on the topic. Please give it a read before you continue with this section.

So, let’s assume that fall is safe enough for colleges to allow students back on campus and for you to take a tour. Even so, colleges may still have restrictions in place that protect faculty, staff, and students. For example, your tour guide may not let you see inside many (or any) campus buildings.

To help you get a better view of campus life, try YouTube. I guarantee that for nearly every college and university in the country, there is at least one video wherein a student shows off a dorm room, lecture hall, or dining hall. It may not be a perfect substitute, but seeing what real students have to say is just as invaluable as taking a tour.

Standardized Tests

In response to COVID-19, some schools are dropping the standardized test requirement. And although the College Board has yet to make a final decision, they’re already designing an online SAT that students can take at home. It would be a tremendously different testing experience – one wherein the College Board can monitor test-takers from their computer’s camera and lock out all other software applications to prevent cheating.

Even though we don’t know what the future will bring on this front, the College Board is still offering fall 2020 in-person testing dates. My advice – sign up for a test date and continue studying.

 One final thing to keep in mind is that even if colleges on your shortlist no longer ask for standardized test scores, lucrative scholarship opportunities may require them. For that reason alone, aim for the highest score you can achieve. 

Junior Year Grades

Did quarantining at home this spring throw your junior-year grades into uncertainty? Underperform due to stress? If so, you’re not alone. I’d say that every upcoming high school senior is in the same boat as you.

I don’t have a Magic Eight Ball, but I have an idea of how high schools around the country, despite their varying eLearning policies, will help college applicants like you. Normally, when you apply to a college or university, your high school sends them a short document that discusses its course availability, extracurricular actives, and grading policies. I suspect that this fall that high schools will also include another document that describes how it rolled out distance learning during the quarantine and how grading policies changed.

But if this document never materializes, you still have two options to explain to colleges why your grades may have dipped this spring.

Essays and Recommendation Letters

Although no teacher or student was 100% prepared for online learning last spring, you can still take some time in your essay to discuss how you rose to these challenges and still attempted to do your best work despite the rapidly evolving situation. As always, be descriptive so that admission counselors obtain a clear picture of how COVID-19 affected not only your academic performance but also the learning experience.

The same advice can apply to recommendation letters. If possible, ask your teachers if they could explain how they modified academic expectations/assignments/etc. Details from teachers will complement what you write in your personal essay.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, we live in interesting times, and as a result, I want to assure you that college admission counselors understand that this year’s crop of applicants will have a unique academic and personal story to tell. At least for the next 12 months, the concept of the ‘ideal college applicant’ is significantly different than what you were led to believe.

Colleges may regard how you reacted these last few months as a strong indicator or your academic and personal potential. They may see you as a valuable addition to their school, even if your grades slipped or you didn’t earn as high an SAT/ACT score as you wanted.

In other words, trying your best is both all you can do and what you should do right now.

Football player standing alone on the tunnel into a stadium

Fall 2020 College Admissions and Student-Athletes

As we discussed in Part I, college admissions this fall will look VERY different than what students like you were expecting. In this article, we’ll look at advice for upcoming seniors who are student-athletes.

To learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting college recruitment  – and what student-athletes like you can do in these trying times – I reached out to Steve Britschgi, founder and president of Advocates for Athletes (A4A). From standardized test preparation to skills videos, A4A offers a variety of services custom-tailored to each student-athlete’s needs.

Note: Some answers have been edited/condensed for clarity. 

Thomas: What questions do you hear most these days from current and potential clients? ​

Steve: By far, the two most common questions I hear daily are ‘Do you think there will be summer AAU competition, showcases, or college camps?’ and ‘Do you think there will be fall high school sports?’ My answer is that it’s all speculation at this point, so you just have to make sure that you are ready to go when your sport does open up. Use this extra time to work even harder to get ahead of the competition. So many things you can do, the simplest of which are pushups and sit-ups. There are also so many creative ways to keep in shape, get stronger, faster. At A4A, we are setting written goals for our athletes to work on turning any weaknesses into strengths at this time.

T: This fall, it’s likely that some schools and districts will remain closed while others open up again. How do you think recruiters will try to give student-athletes who can’t yet play competitively a fair shot at recruitment? ​

S: Hard to say! That’s the million-dollar question right now. Without being able to watch an athlete play, it’s hard to recruit them. How do you give them a fair shot? It’s tough unless they have credibility from the year before or the coaches already know who they are. Coaches cannot recruit on just a resume. They have to know what they are getting, especially if scholarship dollars are involved. And, again, it will make it that much more difficult If there is no summer competition or camps to watch athletes perform (which I believe there will not be).

So, how will recruiters give a fair shot? Not sure, but if you present yourself the right way and do all the right things, you will make the recruiters’ job easier. Combination of film, resume, reputable references, character of the athlete, passion for the sport, GPA, work ethic, interview, past stats and their height, weight, strength, speed as it pertains to the athlete’s sport. That’s where the creativity comes in.

T: It seems that college coaches (like the students and families that you serve) are still trying to figure everything out. One suggestion I’ve seen is that student-athletes record themselves. What advice would you give to a student-athlete who wants to create a video but plays a team sport? After all, it’s not safe right now for teammates to meet up.

S: Do it!! Film a workout; film yourself doing drills that pertain to your position. If you are a pitcher, film a bullpen. If you are a QB, show your arm and footwork. If you are a lineman, show your strength and get off the line. If you are a basketball player, show your array of shots, form, footwork, dribbling, hops, etc. If you need to get your dad or brother or sister to help, do it! But look good in the video and go all out. First impressions last forever so make it a good one. Then send with a well-written letter/email and film that looks good. Keep it to 3 minutes and make sure it can be seen, not grainy…clear! 

Biggest mistake that an aspiring athlete to make is to sit back and wait…wait for what?? Have to be proactive and then have to be persistent. BUT make sure you are being honest with your ability and send to schools in NCAA, NAIA, NCCAA divisions that you have a true shot playing in/at.

T: Have you heard anything from your high school and college contacts regarding keeping players and spectators safe in the coming months? Even if nothing’s 100% decided, I think readers would like to know what ideas are being proposed.

S: It is still too early at this point to speculate but I have heard ideas about no fans at games, keeping them 6ft apart in line, 6ft apart in the stands, mandatory masks, letting a certain number of people in attendance, regulating the inflow and outflow. I am sure that going forward, that will be a huge topic of discussion for all levels of sporting events. 

But players are a different story. How do you keep them safe? I do not know! Take football players, for example. Twenty-two guys on the same field at the same time, a foot apart on the line of scrimmage, sweating, spitting, and tackling. I have not heard any ways to change the game to make these athletes safer. I don’t know how they can. This is all new for all of us, so I am sure we are going to be hearing a lot of different ideas in the very near future. Safety over money is and should be the number one concern.

This from NCAA President Mark Emmert: “All of the Division I commissioners and every president that I’ve talked to is in clear agreement: If you don’t have students on campus, you don’t have student-athletes on campus,” Emmert said. “That doesn’t mean it has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you’ve got to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students. So, if a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple.”

T: Finally, COVID has brought uncertainty to nearly every economic sector. Have you seen an impact, and even if not, are you considering tweaking your business model (e.g., offering new or modified services)? I ask as it relates to what clients might encounter in the next 1-2 years. ​ 

S: A4A has seen a slight impact as some families are understandably needing to tighten their belts and watching their money closer. Most see engaging in A4A as an investment, though. Our fee is very reasonable, and the return on investment, say a scholarship worth $80,000, is a pretty darn good return on the fee they pay.

No plans to change our model. We started working with out-of-state athletes a few years back so we were forced to go with FaceTime and Zoom meetings. You see, we meet with these student-athletes for about an hour a meeting, setting goals, creating a plan, researching schools, writing emails, etc. Who would have known that was the way we would be meeting with all of our athletes today…..via video. That has worked out very well for us.  

However, every athlete is different, so we can create a personalized plan based on who they are and what their needs are. We continue to listen and adapt as necessary. That’s what keeps what we are doing fresh with each new client.

Final Thoughts

Student-athletes applying to college this fall certainly have plenty of challenges when it comes to the admission process. However, there are still numerous ways that they can network with – and most importantly, impress — college recruiters and coaches. If you are a high school student-athlete, I recommend that you visit the A4A website and learn more about their excellent services.

Finally, to all the student-athletes out there, keep honing your skills and try your best to stay healthy as possible.

A stack of books on the grass in a college campus courtyard

Handling Admission Deferrals

Getting into your dream school is great!

Getting rejected stinks!

But what about a deferral?

You probably haven’t considered how you’d react if a college told you, “Well…maybe. We’ll get back to you in a month or so. Until then, enjoy being on the waitlist. Laters!”

Okay, colleges don’t say that last part, and, to be honest, it’s no fun waiting to see if a spot will open up.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can handle admissions deferrals in a positive way that preserves your sanity and ensures that you finish your senior year strong.

Don’t Overanalyze It

First off, let’s make sure that a deferral doesn’t send you to a dark place. It would be far too easy to think, ‘Oh, if only I had been just a little bit better…earned one more good grade…studied more for that one AP Exam…et cetera ad infinitum.’

Take a deep breath. You’ll never know exactly why a school put you on the waitlist. Instead of the negative examples the previous paragraph highlights, maybe your dream school had a surplus of highly qualified candidates, you included. And maybe, just maybe, you are at the top of the waitlist, virtually guaranteeing an admission letter in May.

My best advice would be to allow that self-doubt to wash over you for no more than five minutes. It’ll happen no matter what, so get it out of the way early.

After that… 

Continue on Business as Usual

As you can’t change what will happen at this point, do your best to push the situation out of your mind. There’s still plenty to do between now and graduation day:

  • Final exams
  • AP/IB test
  • Making some good memories with friends
    • That’s important, too 🙂
  • Etc.

Focusing on what’s still on your plate will make time go faster. It really works.

A Bird in the Hand….

Now, I have my fingers crossed really tight that as you’re waiting to hear back, you’ll receive one or more acceptances from other schools. Hopefully, these letters will boost your spirits and make you feel better about yourself.

However, at this point, you have a dilemma. There’s at least one school that wants you, and one that hasn’t made up its mind. Do you go for the sure thing, or see what happens with the school that waitlisted you?

Before you decide, determine if you can wait it out. Maybe you’ll find out if you got off the waitlist before any other school’s deadline to commit. If so, waiting it out is no big deal. I recommend it.

But if deadlines make waiting it out impossible, it’s time to make a hard choice. If you have one or more ‘birds in the hand,’ do you let it go to wait on the one still hiding in the ‘bush’? In this case, I’d recommend choosing one of the schools that accepted you. Yes, it’ll be a bummer to let your dream school go, but you’ll be doing the right thing.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of uncertainty in these times, and I know that a deferral can make things even more stressful – stress you don’t need. So, if it happens to you, take a step back, set it aside, and push on.

Fingers crossed that only acceptances arrive in your mailbox this April.

Dice with letters spelling Stay Home or Stay Safe

Transitioning to College in the Time of COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought innumerable challenges to American life, too many for any one article to list. For high school students such as yourself, classes may have gone online or stopped altogether. So much seems up in the air right now.

And what about college in the fall? What’s going to happen then?

In this article, we’ll take stock of the situation – examine a few ways that the current pandemic will (and might) affect your life in the coming months, as well as discuss how you can react healthily.

AP/IB Exams

The College Board has risen to an immense challenge by revamping its AP Exams so that students can take them from home. As information might change, please use this link to receive the most up-to-date information about each test’s new format.

Additionally, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has canceled all May 2020 exams for high school juniors and seniors. The IBO will award diplomas to seniors based on the grades a high school reports.

What You Can Do: If you still have AP Exams in the future, keep studying for them. Although they’re shorter this year – and maybe next year – the graders will have the same high standards when they review your work over the summer.

Graduation Day

When I think about all the teachers out there working tirelessly to ensure that students can keep up with schoolwork at home, I know they haven’t forgotten you and all that you’ve accomplished over the last four years. However, large gatherings are likely out of the picture for the next few months. The following are two ideas that your school might adopt to ensure that you’re recognized on graduation day.

Going Digital

Some countries battling COVID-19 have already adopted elaborate virtual graduation ceremonies. Although these ceremonies are pricier than what your school may be able to afford, who knows. Also, don’t expect your entire senior class to have to call into a Zoom chat on graduation day. Even if one chat could handle that many people at once, it would be impractical, to say the least.

One option that comes to mind is that teachers create a series of videos that not only mimic the traditional graduation experience but also give each teacher the chance to address and recognize students that he/she knows well.

Your school may have other plans for a digital graduation. But if you liked my idea – or come up with a few of your own – feel free to contact your high school principal.

Delay

The other option is that some schools might schedule a graduation ceremony at a later date. At that time, your principal may decide to host multiple ceremonies – each would recognize a small group of seniors to limit the number of people in attendance. Additionally, your school might forbid guests and instead steam the ceremony live so family members can view it at home.

What You Can Do: Recognize that graduation day won’t be what you and your family imagined. If this fact makes you sad or angry, that’s okay. You and your immediate family members can still celebrate your accomplishment at home, and once it’s safe, celebrate with others.

Fall 2020

With all that’s been going on, Fall 2020 – your first year of college — may seem like a lifetime from now. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that by the time August rolls around, the situation with COVID-19 will be a lot less scary, but not completely safe yet. That brings us to…

Fall (and Maybe Spring) Semester at Home

There’s a good chance that the online learning colleges and universities are mandating now will still take place during the fall semester. The main issue is space – cramped dormitories and lecture halls are the perfect environment for a virus to spread (Why do you think you need a meningitis vaccine before going to college?). As a result, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be staying at home for your first semester as an undergraduate.

How about spring 2021? That depends on how much COVID-19 infections change during the winter months – a time when other viruses like the flu and colds reach their peak. For now, all I can say is, “We’ll see” and “Hope for the best.”

What You Can Do: If you know which college or university you’re going to attend in the fall, keep up to date with their COVID-19 policies throughout the summer. As always, be sure to reach out with questions if you have them.

Final Thoughts

These are trying times, and, regrettably, the milestones you had looked forward to for so long will not be what you expected. If nothing else, take solace in the fact that the college experience you want will happen. You might arrive on campus a few months later than you anticipated, and campus life may be a little different than what you thought. But it will happen. That, I guarantee.

But for now, stay inside and stay safe.

Person typing on laptop computer

Virtual College Tours and You

COVID-19 has disrupted college life more than any event in recent history. The last few months have seen college dorms empty, professors learning to teach courses online, and undergraduates adjusting to a new and uncertain academic environment. However, colleges around the nation still strive to provide essential services, including recruitment.

Traditionally, campuses invite prospective students to take an on-campus tour. However, with schools likely closed through the summer, admission officials have thought up new ways to give you a taste of on-campus life without putting you or family members at risk.

In this article, we’ll examine three topics:

  • How colleges and universities throughout the country are launching virtual tours
  • How the experience differs from an in-person tour
  • How to make the most of your virtual tour experience

How are Universities Responding?

If you go on a college website these days, you’ll likely find a link at the top of the page that goes into detail concerning that school’s COVID-19 response. There, you’ll discover similar information no matter the school – the campus is closed, student and career services are now entirely online, etc.

While some schools have quickly developed a virtual college tour, others lack the resources to create one or don’t have them ready yet. If schools you want to know more about do not offer a virtual tour, you can still create your own using the steps ACT recommends. Other reputable organizations provide valuable tips, as well.

Don’t forget that you can always learn more about a college or university by contacting professionals in the admission department. Although these individuals are working from home, they can still answer your most pressing questions.

What’s It Like Going on a Virtual Tour?

Let’s focus on one excellent example of a virtual tour – Seattle University. As the institution is located in the heart of the COVID-19 epidemic, school officials have launched a virtual tour platform to give you the on-campus experience at home.

Using a smartphone or computer, you log on to the Seattle University tour. The tour consists of a prerecorded tour guide who takes you through the campus’ main buildings. Using the arrows at the bottom of the screen, you can take a ‘stroll’ through campus while learning valuable information. Seattle University’s virtual tour also includes a checklist that shows which campus highlights you have already reviewed.

Finally, even if schools on your shortlist have not yet developed a virtual tour like Seattle University’s, be sure to check back often. They should have something in place soon.

How Can I Make the Most of the Experience?

Unlike a traditional college tour, a virtual tour gives you the chance to backtrack and revisit at your leisure. While viewing the tour, be sure to take notes of your first impressions and any questions that come to mind (i.e., These are things you should do anyway during an in-person college tour.). Afterward, follow the same steps you would take after an in-person tour – email admission department advisors with your question.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, in the coming months, college campuses will once again open their doors to current and prospective students. Even when that happens, though, virtual tours will remain a pillar of each college’s recruitment drive. After all, not all high school students and their families have the time or money to make the trip.

So, in the meantime, enjoy your virtual tours, reach out to a school if you have questions, and stay safe indoors.

Beach Party

Maintaining Your Grades After You’re Admitted to College

You’ve gotten your letter. You’ve been admitted to college. In a millisecond, that great physical and mental engine that you’ve been revving for the last four years – the one dedicated to getting into the best college – shuts off. The chaos is over, and you can use that now-cooling engine’s remaining momentum to coast over the finish line that is high school graduation.

There’s a terrific contradiction at the heart of each college-bound high school student’s senior year. On the one hand, it’s a time of tremendous work and worry. You have college applications, honors and AP courses, and who knows what else to juggle.

And then comes the moment you know which college you’re going to attend.

The work is over and you just want to coast.

Doesn’t that sound absolutely glorious?

Indeed, it does.

However, this appealing mindset gets more than a few high school seniors in trouble each year. For some, it means attending a few too many high school parties, getting into trouble, and losing a college acceptance. For others, it means letting their grades and test scores slip and losing a scholarship.

Let’s talk about that second trap. Even if you have an acceptance in hand – which is amazing – it’s time to live up to that acceptance by finishing strong academically. Any financial aid award you’ve received may be contingent on maintaining your grades. Also, finishing strong in AP classes may let you skip freshman classes in college. Let’s talk about how you can keep your focus and finish strong.

Put (Most of) It Away

When you get that acceptance, you’re faced with a lot of new work. There are forms to fill out, housing to apply for, etc. When you receive an admissions packet, do take the time to read everything carefully. Note each important deadline. Anything that’s due between now and when you graduate high school, stay on top of it.

But for everything else, put it away until after graduation day.

I know that ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ won’t work entirely. You’ll be excited about the future, and that in itself will be distracting. Still, find a folder – physical or digital – where you can place your acceptance materials and ‘to do’ list until June.

Maintain Your Study Schedules

Just because you’ve been admitted to college doesn’t mean that those upcoming AP/IB tests (and let’s not forget your final exams) disappear into thin air. They’re still approaching on the horizon, and although the score you receive won’t affect your future college’s opinion of you as a potential student, don’t forget the biggest reason these exams are important:

Time & Money

Wouldn’t it be nice to save some money on college, maybe graduate early? Wouldn’t it be nice to skip the packed-to-the-gills intro-class lecture halls your freshman year? I think you would agree that the answer to both questions is ‘yes’.

So, keep your eyes on the prize. Maintain your study schedules. Your future self will thank you.

A Little Meditation Never Hurt

Finally, let me provide some personal advice. The spring of your senior year represents what I’d bet is the biggest transition period your life has thrown at you so far. Things are ending, and others beginning. And although a lot of pressure is off, it can still take a lot more effort to stay centered.

That’s why I’d recommend some meditation. Now, don’t go out and buy a giant book on the topic. There are plenty of free apps that have 1-5-minute meditation sessions. If it works, great. If not, no big deal.

Final Thoughts

Well, I hope my three pieces of advice help you maintain your grades and test scores now that you have been admitted to college. Everyone’s situation is different, so I wanted to provide the best general advice possible. If you, a teacher, or family member has something better to say on the subject, please take it. I won’t be offended whatsoever. As long as you try a few things, I’m sure you’ll be just fine.

And congratulations on getting into college.

Cartoon of 10 people in varying career uniforms

Using a Personality Assessment to Select a College and Major

If you’re an ambitious high school student – which I assume you are since you’re reading this article – you have a lot on your plate. There are your classes, extracurricular activities, standardized test prep, and so much more.

And then there’s getting ready for college.

With so much going on right now, it can be tough to find time to think about your future college and major. ‘Where and what do I want to study?’ is one of the most important questions you’ll answer at this point in your life. As a result, you need to take it seriously and give it due consideration.

However, the question should not add stress to your life.

In this article, we’ll discuss a tool that can help you make these important decisions just a little bit easier – personal strengths assessments.

Personal Strengths Assessments and You

Personal strengths assessments, also known as personal interest inventories, have been around probably as long as the printed word. After all, it’s human nature to want to identify our strengths, weaknesses, preferences, dislikes, etc.

What can a personal strengths assessment tied to college and career aspirations do for you? In short, the results can give you a new perspective on what you want at this point in your life. Things may change in the future (e.g., You switch majors in college.), but as you must make some big decisions during your junior and senior years of high school, a personal interest inventory can make some things clearer.

An Important Disclaimer

Before you start looking up personality tests, I want to give you a disclaimer in the form of a short story. Back in my teaching days, my principal was a huge fan of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, one of the more well-known personality assessments. “Broderick,” he would tell me, “you’re such an INTJ.” When I finally got around to looking up what ‘INTJ’ meant, it bummed me out for a lot of reasons, mainly that my boss was boiling down my personality into four letters.

What made me feel better was learning that Myers-Briggs is, to put it mildly, a flawed instrument that has no basis in psychology or human development.

A lot of personal strengths assessments are the exact same.

My story has two takeaways. First, research a personal strengths assessment or interest inventory before putting any stock in the results. Second, although today’s assessments have come a long way, I want you to remember that results aren’t perfect. They exist to give you guidance, not pigeonhole you into a type of college or career path. In other words, if a result doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.

Even so, if an assessment gives you a result you didn’t expect, it doesn’t hurt to research that possibility. Maybe you’ll discover a college or major that matches your evolving interests.

Final Thoughts

MyKlovr is partnering with an acknowledged expert to launch its own personal strengths assessment and career interest inventory shortly to help users like you make better-informed decisions. When that day comes, we encourage you to answer the questions honestly and consider the results a valuable tool as you prepare for your life’s next stage.

But please, with our personality assessment or any other, take the results with a grain of salt and trust your – and don’t forget your family’s – best judgment.

Using myKlovr as a Retention Tool

As of the writing of this article, the economy is booming. That’s great for many reasons. However, for employers, a strong economy also means that employees might start looking for a more lucrative position at a different company. Additionally, with a smaller-than-average labor pool, competitors raise wages and improve benefits.

When an employee leaves a position, they might also leave a professional association. In this scenario, both employers and professional associations lose out, especially when they could have taken steps to increase retention.

In this article, we’ll explore how using myKlovr as a retention tool can reduce employee and membership turnover during a strong economy.

myKlovr: A Brief Primer

Over the last few years, we at myKlovr have developed and launched a first-of-its-kind college counseling app that helps high school students identify their academic strengths, research colleges, and create an action plan for college admissions success. Another one of our service’s exciting features is that users can invite trusted adults – parents, teachers, guidance counselors – to review progress and verify milestones. This way, the people who care about the user the most have real-time information about what the user still needs to accomplish before applying to college.

We are also partnering with outside companies to increase the number of benefits users receive. These services include debt advising and a marketplace that showcases the best online tutoring and test prep services available. Additionally, we offer these extra resources at no extra cost.

For Employers

The work landscape is changing, and as a result, employers must try new strategies to attract and retain top talent. Millennial workers’ growing families will include high school-aged children in the next few years. This fact gives employers the perfect opportunity to provide benefit options that target employee’s children’s needs.

Besides helping student users, myKlovr can increase a company’s retention rate in two essential ways:

  • Offering myKlovr shows that employers care about employees’ well-being outside the office.
  • Once employees see myKlovr’s value, they will want to continue receiving it at the discounted price their employer provides.
    • Of course, an employee’s child can continue using myKlovr if that employee changes jobs. However, he or she will pay the full price for our service.

For Professional Associations

Voluntary benefits are arguably more important for professional associations, as members inherently have less motivation to remain compared to a paying job. That’s why associations must offer unique benefits that prospective and current members cannot find elsewhere. In addition to the reasons mentioned in the previous section, professional associations should consider offering myKlovr if they meet the following criteria:

  • They appeal to mid-career professionals in any field.
  • Their membership primarily consists of education professionals.

Let’s take a brief detour to discuss non-professional and pre-professional associations that cater to young adults (e.g., scouting, honor societies, etc.). These associations, too, should consider offering myKlovr to increase enrollment and retention. This way, members gain both the life skills the association instills as well as myKlovr’s expert college planning advice. That’s a recipe for academic and professional success.

Final Thoughts

myKlovr may not match every corporation and association’s needs, but for some, the benefits are clear. Please contact us if you believe that your company or association could increase retention by offering myKlovr. We look forward to working with you.

myKlovr: A Short Primer for Benefits Brokers

By Thomas Broderick

As a benefits broker, you give one or more clients expert advice on how to provide the best benefits at a cost affordable to employees, answer employers and employees’ questions, and stay up to date with the latest laws and regulations. As a result, you need to keep on top of the rapidly evolving benefits landscape to succeed at your job.

In this brief article, we at myKlovr want to introduce you to our employee and member benefit, one that appeals to mid-career professionals with middle and high school-aged children. We feel confident that by the time you finish reading, you will recognize myKlovr’s value and want to offer it to your clients.

What Is myKlovr?

MyKlovr answers a question many high school students have: ‘How do I get into my dream college?’ Unfortunately, high schools across the country lack proper college counseling resources, and the best private college admissions counselors charge as much as some lawyers. Many families go into the process blind, and without help, prospective college students cannot attend the right school.

To help families in need, myKlovr developed a first-of-its-kind virtual college admissions counseling service that combines seven key functions:

  • A student portfolio where users can curate their best academic and extracurricular work
  • Personalized goal recommendations (e.g., improve a grade, join a club) that align to the user’s top college picks
    • Users can modify these recommendations, also known as an action plan, at any time
  • A progress dashboard that visualizes users’ accomplishments
  • An advanced college finder with multiple filters
  • A support network wherein users can invite trusted adults (e.g., teachers, parents) to offer advice, keep up to date with progress, and confirm milestones
  • Specialized courses that teach users how to create college-friendly social media accounts
  • Financial education modules that provide valuable information on how to pay and save for college

Users receive all of these services the moment they sign up for myKlovr. Once they input personal and academic information, they can begin improving their chances of college admissions success.

How Does Offering myKlovr Differ From Other Benefits?

You’ve likely come across dozens of voluntary benefits that appeal not only to employees but also their families (e.g., public transportation passes, discounts on entertainment, gym memberships, etc.). myKlovr stands apart in one crucial aspect – cost.

Our low cost not only attracts new users but can help your clients, as well. Unlike with other, more expensive traditional and voluntary benefits, your clients can offer myKlovr at any time of year. Without the need for an open enrollment period, new employees in our target demographic can sign up on their first day of work. Your clients can use this fact to their advantage as they try to recruit the best talent.

Final Thoughts

Please visit our website to learn more about myKlovr and how it helps students and their families. Also, feel free to contact us if you have questions or would like to start offering myKlovr to your clients.

We look forward to working with you.

How myKlovr Can Integrate With Your Company’s HRMS

When we developed myKlovr, a first-of-its-kind virtual college counseling service, we knew we wanted to have companies offer it as part of their benefits package. To help companies integrate myKlovr into their Human Resource Management System (HRMS), we developed different methods applicable to your systems.

In the following paragraphs, you can learn more about our integration goals and the ways you can make myKlovr part of your HRMS. If you have questions after reading this article, feel free to reach out.

Integration Goals

No matter how you integrate myKlovr into your HRMS, we want to make sure the process is a successful one that achieves the following:

  • Employees can view their myKlovr benefits on your company’s benefits portal.
    • Employees can use this same portal to cancel myKlovr or view their billing history.
  • Signing up for myKlovr creates an account for an enrollee’s child or beneficiary (e.g., grandchild, nephew, etc.) automatically.
  • If an enrollee cancels myKlovr, the child/beneficiary has the option to continue using myKlovr at the standard per month rate.
  • Your company’s HR staff can update multiple employees’ enrollment status simultaneously.

Once you decide that myKlovr would be an excellent employee benefit for your employees, we will first determine pricing and set up service levels. When we finish the prep work, we can help you decide how to integrate myKlovr into your HRMS.

How to Integrate

To make sure that your company can meet its integration goals, we offer seamless methods you can use for your HRMS. The following sections provide a non-technical explanation based on technical documents myKlovr developed. We would be happy to share these documents with your HRMS professionals during the integration phase.

API-Based

An application program interface (API) allows your company to create a custom interface that HR professionals and employees use to manage the myKlovr benefit. Although your company would have more control over this system, API requires that your HR professionals have a high level of technical expertise.

Flat File Transfer

Flat file transfer provides companies the freedom to decide when to update enrollees’ information, a boon for companies who allow employees to sign up for myKlovr at any time.

If you prefer to use flat file transfer when updating enrollees’ information, we have prepared a simple six-step process that involves minimal work on your end and near-instantaneous confirmation concerning any requested changes. Also, we take care of the job of informing your employees about the latest modifications to their myKlovr benefits.

We have a host of resources that make this process as easy as possible. As a result, even HR professionals not formally trained in flat file transfer should be able to implement it successfully.

Final Thoughts

Even after integration, we at myKlovr want to make sure that your company’s HR professionals can manage enrollee information in a timely, accurate, and, most importantly, secure manner. As a result, we not only want to help you integrate myKlovr but also forge a productive and long-term business relationship.

We look forward to responding to your comments and inquiries.

How myKlovr Can Bundle with Other Voluntary Benefits

By Thomas Broderick

As voluntary benefits become more popular in the workplace, employers are often given the options of choosing benefits that are bundled together in order to save time and money.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros of benefits bundling,  and how myKlovr can bundle with complementary benefits.

Bundling vs. No Bundling

The most significant advantage of bundling involves cost. In a bundle, employees pay less for each benefit than if they had selected them individually. In voluntary benefit bundles, employees pay less and receive the same great benefits.

So, how do companies decide whether to bundle or not to bundle?

What Companies Can Do

When it comes to bundling, companies should turn to the experts – their employees. To understand their employees’ wants and needs, employers can hire survey researchers. These highly-trained professionals perform in-depth research into a company’s history, culture, workforce, turnover, performance, etc. Using this research, they design unbiased surveys (e.g., forms, one-on-one interviews, etc.). After obtaining the results, they present findings and recommendations to senior management.

By asking outside, impartial experts to uncover whether bundling meets employees’ needs,  managers can make an informed decision on whether voluntary benefits bundling works for them.

How myKlovr Can Bundle

When we developed myKlovr, we thought about more than just our primary audience – high school students. We knew that parents would play a vital role in both reviewing their children’s Individual Action Plan and verifying accomplishments. In other words, parents and other trusted mentors play a significant role in helping student users succeed.

For this and other reasons, myKlovr can bundle effortlessly with other voluntary benefits that appeal to mid-career professionals with middle and high school-aged children. The following are just a few of the voluntary benefits that employers can bundle with myKlovr:

  • Discount on a gym membership, local entertainment, etc.
  • Additional medical coverage (e.g., dental insurance that covers braces and other orthodontic services that young adults typically need)
  • Life insurance policy
  • College-savings plan
  • Automobile insurance discounts – a boon for families with young, inexperienced drivers

Final Thoughts

Finally, please keep in mind that if you make surveying your employees part of your company’s culture, you can promote both workplace satisfaction and employee loyalty.

How myKlovr Can Benefit Homeschooled Students

By Thomas Broderick

As of 2013, approximately 3.4% of all U.S. K-12 students were homeschooled. And each year, the percentage of homeschooled students continues to grow. Parents who choose to homeschool their children do so for many reasons (e.g., concerns about school safety, desire to provide a unique educational experience, having a child with special needs, etc.).

Fortunately, over the last 20 years, the internet and software have radically changed homeschooling. Parents can research the best resources, and students can go more in depth with the material than their peers who attend a traditional public or private school.

Although these advancements have made it possible for more students to receive an excellent education outside the school setting you may have experienced, attending college presents unforeseen challenges for homeschooled students. For example, even if a student plans to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree online, these programs use an application process designed for applicants who attended a public or private high school.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the many barriers homeschooled students face when applying to college. We’ll also explore how myKlovr, our first-of-its-kind virtual college counseling service, can make applying to college a less confusing and frustrating experience.

For Homeschooled Students, Why Is It So Hard To Apply To College?

First off, no one thinks that applying to college is an easy process. Like filing tax returns, the process is bureaucratic, and making a simple mistake could cost you everything. Traditional high school students, even those in schools with inadequate counseling resources, have two advantages that their homeschooled peers do not.

Grades

When it comes to what college admissions counselors value over all else, grades are paramount. Yes, counselors take a holistic approach to every application, but grades are the first thing they review. However, for homeschooled applicants, grades are not a simple matter.

Some states require that parents who homeschool submit grades for their children each year. But how does an admissions counselor view an ‘A’ from a homeschooled applicant when that counselor has no information about the quality of education that the applicant received? And when there are no grades, the process becomes even harder.

For applicants who attended a traditional school, the process is much simpler. High schools often send colleges and universities a fact sheet describing the school’s academic offerings (e.g., number of AP/IB courses), student body demographics, and average and median GPA. With that information in hand, counselors can quickly make a reasonable conclusion about what an applicant’s grades really mean.

Unfortunately, these same difficulties surface when homeschooled students apply to merit-based scholarships, ones that require high school transcripts or use GPA cutoffs.

Counseling Services

Although many traditional high school students throughout the country lack proper college counseling resources, they typically have some access to knowledgeable professionals who can provide help applying to college. Homeschooled students and their families, lacking these resources, must spend precious time researching the best advice on how to apply to college and gain admission to the best school.

How myKlovr Assists Homeschooled Students Apply to College

When we developed myKlovr, we had traditional high school students in mind, those whose college counselors could not provide the time and attention students needed to help them gain admission to a dream college or university. However, our service can offer the same valuable benefits to homeschooled students, as well.

Application Information

After users answer a series of questions concerning standardized test scores, personal interests, extracurricular activities, and academic achievements, we save this information so that they can track their progress over time. This tool can help homeschooled students stay on top of their accomplishments, a useful resource when filling out college applications.

Student Portfolio

College applicants are more than a series of letter grades and test scores. In the Student Portfolio, users input examples of their best academic and extracurricular accomplishments. This way, they can access these examples as they write college essays – telling a unique story to stand out from the hundreds or thousands of other applicants. Also, by creating a portfolio, college applicants improve their organizational skills, something all college students need to succeed academically.

Goal Recommendations

myKlovr’s software uses users’ data to make academic and extracurricular recommendations, a boon for users who have little to no idea how to improve their chances of college admissions success. Adults in a user’s support network (e.g., in the case of homeschooled students, their parents) verify accomplishments as they happen. Goal recommendations tie into myKlovr’s Advanced College Finder.

Advanced College Finder

myKlovr offers users much more than a college search engine. Using users’ data, we recommend a list of College Match schools – colleges and universities that users have an excellent chance of attending if they follow their goal recommendations. We are so confident in our ability to match college applicants with schools that if a user achieves his or her goal recommendations but does not receive admission to a College Match school, we will refund the entire subscription fee.

Financial Fitness Modules

Finally, we understand the difficulty that all students face when searching for and applying to financial aid opportunities. Our financial fitness modules help homeschooled students and their parents explore college savings plans, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs, among other financial aid opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Whether they learn at home or at a high school, students can gain an advantage over other college applicants by using myKlovr. This advantage is especially crucial as many families lack the financial resources to afford professional college admissions advisors, many of whom charge hefty fees. By leveling the playing field, we hope to ensure that all young adults can attend a college that matches their academic interests and career aspirations.

How myKlovr Can Complement Organizations’ Membership Benefits

By Thomas Broderick

Professional and civic organizations connect groups of like-minded people throughout the United States. As you’re reading this article, you or someone in your family is likely a member of one of these organizations. Many of these organizations provide tangible benefits to their members.

When an organization decides which benefits to offer, it considers options that can both address members’ current needs and potential ways in which to attract new members. For this reason, let’s discuss how all organizations should offer myKlovr no matter which age group they target.

Here are a few examples:

Ages 14-18

  • Scouting Organizations: Scouting includes more than just the big-name organizations you may have been involved with as a child. Since 1907, the Scout Movement strives to instill positive qualities (e.g., responsible citizenship, personal growth, and community involvement) in children and adolescents.
    • MyKlovr’s mission dovetails with the Scout Movement’s goals in many ways. Both encourage adolescents to take on personal responsibility, plan for the future, and develop interpersonal skills.
  • Honors Societies: In high schools throughout the nation, academically gifted students can join one or more honors societies. These societies are much more than a resume booster. Members often participate in service-learning (e.g., raising money, volunteering) and other projects.
    • Honors societies attract college-bound high school students. MyKlovr can help these dedicated students create an action plan.

Ages 18-25

  • Trade Unions: Trade unions and apprenticeship programs allow high school graduates to obtain a fulfilling career. However, many of these trades require years of training, a time when young professionals make much less than their mentors.
    • Many excellent community colleges boast one-year certificates and degrees in areas such as HVAC, welding, and carpentry. To help young union members advance faster, unions can offer myKlovr to help these professionals so they can explore educational opportunities.
  • Gig Economy Worker Associations: As the American economy evolves, more young workers are part of the gig economy. Although these jobs provide flexibility, they often do not pay way well nor offer benefits. However, in recent years, these workers have banded together to demand greater rights.
    • As the gig economy does not translate into economic stability for employees, many gig workers wonder whether attending college can improve their career prospects. The organizations that represent these professionals should consider myKlovr for its affordable price and college-search functionality. Like with high school-aged users, young adults can also benefit from our counseling service and success steps.

Ages 25-65

  • Corporations: Employees’ benefits need to evolve each year after they have children. For this reason, your company should continuously monitor employees’ satisfaction with their benefits and research new ones you can offer in the coming years. Not only do benefits for working parents increase employees’ satisfaction and loyalty, but they can also, through word of mouth, help your company attract top talent.
    • The complexity surrounding college admissions can put undue strain on parents and negatively affect their work performance. This challenge is one of the reasons that we at myKlovr designed the first virtual college counseling service that provides students personalized goals aimed at increasing their chances of college admissions success. Employees can review their children’s academic and extracurricular accomplishments at any time.
    • Social Worker and Counselor Organizations: When young men and women need help, social workers and counselors step in to uncover problems and propose solutions. These solutions may involve collaborating with children’s teachers. The organizations that these professionals join emphasize professional development and resources.
      • MyKlovr can help social workers and counselors forge a stronger relationship with the adolescents they serve. For example, a high school student may not have any trusted adults who might support them on their myKlovr journey. Counselors and social workers can use myKlovr to communicate with and help these students.

Ages 65+

  • Retirement Associations: Retirement associations claim millions of members ages 65 and over. They spend much of their resources advocating for lower drug prices and strengthening Social Security.
    • At first glance, it seems that retirement associations and myKlovr would be an odd mix. However, consider retired Americans with grandchildren ages 14 and up. If a retirement association offered myKlovr, members could gift it to their grandchildren. Also, student users could invite grandparents to become part of their support network. In this way, myKlovr has two benefits. Students gain expert college counseling advise, and retired individuals have a new way to interact with their grandchildren.

Final Thoughts

As myKlovr has grown, we have realized that people of all ages can find value in our service. We think that myKlovr would be an excellent addition to your association or organization’s benefits package. Please contact us to learn more about myKlovr and how it can help your organization or association.

Why High School Counselors Struggle (And What We Can Do About It)

By Thomas Broderick

I spent my entire K-12 education attending public schools in the same district. I received excellent academic support services from my schools’ counselors, without which I would have never been able to attend Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate.

Years later, I returned to my old school district – one of the richest in the United States – to teach at a high school just down the street from the one where I graduated. Over the next four years, I saw a different side of education, one where students lacked the counseling resources that had helped me succeed.

Many of my students, not knowing much about higher education, wrote off college as an unattainable dream. Also, they had no time during the school day to explore career-preparation programs, trade schools, or other educational opportunities that could have prepared them for the next stages of their lives. These issues were not entirely the fault of the counselor. Yes, you read that right. The entire high school, one that catered to at-risk students, had only one counselor.

Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon in the United States. The average high school counselor works with approximately double the recommended number of students that the American School Counselor Association recommends. And in many parts of the country, the counselor-to-student ratio is growing.

In this article, we’ll look at how proper counseling can help students, why this isn’t happening, and how myKlovr has stepped up to provide a service that assists high school students with college admissions and makes counselors more effective professionals.

The Challenge High School Counselors Face

In a perfect world, counselors would have time to analyze students’ academic – as well as emotional and social – needs. Counselors would meet with students at multiple points throughout the year to discuss progress, challenges, and goals. Finally, counselors would have detailed notes to refer to before working with a student – much like a patient file a doctor uses during a checkup. In this world, high school students would not only receive excellent advice but would also have a solid action plan for after high school.

However, the typical high school counselor is responsible for nearly 500 students. This workload leaves them little time to address students’ needs, let alone learn names. As a result, students spend only a few minutes each year with a counselor.

Sadly, too few counselors working with too many students is only one part of the problem that 21st-century counselors face.

Only So Many Hours in the Day

School counselors’ job responsibilities extend much further than what most people realize, and when Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)in 2001, counselors found themselves with an even larger job description. Before NCLB, high school counselors were responsible for administering some high-stakes standardized tests (e.g., AP, ACT, SAT). In the district where I grew up and taught, each of these tests took place during school hours, further reducing counselors’ time for other activities.

By the time I started teaching 10 years after NCLB became law, my school’s counselor was responsible for state- and district-level assessments. There were pre-assessments, formative assessments, and benchmarks sprinkled throughout the year. Although teachers administered these tests, it was the counselor’s responsibility to analyze the data, further taking time away from students.

Besides additional responsibilities, counselors are some of the first targets when a school or district tightens its budget. Districts make this choice despite overwhelming evidence that reducing the number of counselors increases the dropout rate.

Although some school districts have embraced change and hired additional counselors, most counselors still struggle with finding time for their primary duty: serving students. For this reason, counselors need resources that can make their limited time with students more efficient and effective.

One such resource is myKlovr.  

The myKlovr Advantage

Our goal at myKlovr to provide college-bound students with personalized college admissions advice. Our service helps students identify their academic strengths and weaknesses, create an action plan, and research colleges that would be a good fit. Concerning the latter, we develop a College Match for each user – a list of schools that a student would have an excellent chance of receiving admission if he or she followed the action plan we recommend. Parents, counselors, teachers, and other trusted adults can stay up to date with that student’s academic and extracurricular progress by receiving notifications or accessing the student’s profile.

Final Thoughts

High schoolers throughout the nation suffer from a lack of counseling resources, and counselors are overburdened to the point where they cannot provide their limited resources effectively. MyKlovr aims to close the gap. Students receive individualized advice, and counselors can keep up to date with their students’ evolving needs.

Understanding Millennial Employees’ Benefits Needs

By Thomas Broderick

In 2019, millennials became the largest living generation in the United States. Their ages range from 19 to 37, and overall, they possess many liberal economic and social views. On the job, they want to apply their talents toward producing meaningful work.

Economically, most millennials lag behind the previous two generations (e.g., generation X and baby boomers) due to the “Great Recession” that began in late 2007. This two-year recession and the long recovery stunted many millennials’ career opportunities and salary potential. The recession’s lingering effects have a continued impact on millennials’ earning power.

When considering these challenges under a benefits microscope, two words come to mind: stability and opportunity.

In this article, we’ll explore both traditional and voluntary benefits that appeal to millennials. We’ll also consider how millennials’ benefits needs might change in the coming years.

What Young Families Want

Although millennials differ from other generations, they still value traditional benefits packages. Millennial employees are marrying and starting families, meaning that they put a priority on careers that offer good medical and life insurance policies. Both provide young families – many of which are still adjusting to new financial realities – the knowledge that sickness or death will not cripple them financially.

Yes, millennials greatly appreciate traditional benefits, but their generation also values their families’ well-being over all else, including their employers or careers. This desire to provide their spouses and children with the best quality of life makes it easier for millennials to switch companies if they can attain a better benefits package.

For this reason, companies are offering voluntary benefits to attract and retain employees. Let’s look at some of the voluntary benefits that align with millennial employees’ short- and long-term needs.

The Best Voluntary Benefits for Millennials

Millennials, whether they have families or not, generally want a voluntary benefits package that boasts flexibility, encourages peace of mind, includes their family, and promotes personal fulfillment outside the office.

  • Gym Memberships: Gym memberships represent an excellent supplement to a traditional health insurance policy. Exercise not only improves health, but many people report that it also affects mental well-being. Also, as gym memberships can extend to family members, healthy spouses and children translate into happier employees who can focus on their work better.
  • Financial Literacy: Financial literacy resources can include courses at your job site, apps, and other online tools. If your company adopts financial literacy courses as a voluntary benefit, choose a service that emphasizes 529 plans (i.e., college-savings plans), retirement savings, and student loan repayment strategies. These services best match millennials’ most pressing needs.
  • Additional Paid Time Off: In recent years, companies have used unlimited PTO as a way to attract highly-trained professionals. With more time off, employees can spend more time with their families and feel higher loyalty toward their employers.  Even if your company does not offer employees additional vacation days, ensure that employees feel safe in taking time off.
  • myKlovr Virtual College Counseling: MyKlovr has developed a first-of-its-kind virtual counseling service to assist high school students and their families navigate college admissions. Students receive personalized advice that helps them improve their chances of college admissions success.

Looking to the Future

Although millennials’ children will not enter high school for a few years,  the myKlovr employee benefit can be extended to siblings or even nieces and nephews who are in need of specialized tools to help them gain admission to a good college or university. We at myKlovr also believe that this benefit can be extended to workers who may have taken time-off from studying after high school,  and are currently employed but enroll in college.

Our program works by asking students a series of questions concerning their academic achievement, extracurricular activities, and college preferences. MyKlovr turns this information into success goals that students can achieve throughout high school. If students meet these goals, they can obtain letters of admission from the colleges and universities that myKlovr recommends. We call these recommendations a College Match. In fact, if none of a student’s College Match schools admit the student, we gladly refund the entire subscription fee (terms and conditions apply). That’s how confident we are in myKlovr’s ability to help high school students attend college.

Final Thoughts

Whether through fitness incentives, financial literacy courses, PTO, or myKlovr, your company can attract and retain millennial employees by offering voluntary benefits that match their evolving needs.

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