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How to Approach the 2021-22 Common App Essay

The Common App provides many advantages for high school seniors applying to multiple colleges and universities. However, with convenience comes risk, mainly with the essay section. A poorly written essay goes out to every school, lowering applicants’ chances of college admissions success.

We at myKlovr want to make sure you have the tools you need to impress college admissions counselors. That’s why in this article, we’re breaking down the seven 2021-2022 Common App essay prompts with essential tips that will make your essay the best it can be.

Disclaimer: This advice does not contain every way a college applicant can write a compelling and persuasive Common App essay. Please brainstorm ideas and consult your English teacher for further advice.

1) Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The first four words that stick out are ‘background,’ ‘identity,’ ‘interest,’ and ‘talent,’ giving you some freedom to select a topic. The phrase ‘incomplete without it,’ implies that you possess a passion for your subject and will reflect that in your essay, a narrative ‘story.’

Essential Tips:

  • Your essay should be a chronological narrative detailing how you became interested in a topic, how your passion grew, and what you did with that passion.
  • A narrative does not try to persuade.
    • It’s okay if readers don’t care about your passion. You’re not trying to convince them of anything.
  • Once you select a background/identity/interest/talent to write about, do not go off-topic.
    • Readers will expect to learn about just ONE thing.
  • Wrap up the essay by detailing how you plan to continue developing your background/identity/interest/talent in college.

2) The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Just like before, you have choices: challenge/setback/failure. Each has a different meaning:

  • Challenge: A challenge is a difficult event, but the word itself does not imply success or failure.
  • Setback: A setback implies a problem that stopped you in your tracks. However, it’s something you overcame.
  • Failure: Failure’s the easiest word on the list. You failed in what you set out to do.

The second part of the prompt is the challenge. Readers want to know about the obstacle’s effect on you as a person and how you changed as a result.

Essential Tips:

  • Avoid a negative tone.
    • Yes, your essay deals with an obstacle (not a positive experience), but the tone should remain positive.
  • Don’t assign blame.
    • If someone was the reason for your challenge/setback/failure, it’s best to think of another obstacle or attempt a different Common App prompt. You don’t want to imply that you still hold a grudge or consider yourself a victim.
  • Focus on what you learned.
    • For this essay, it’s not the story of the event that’s important but the way you grew as a person because of it. For this reason, try to limit your discussion of the event to 1-2 introductory paragraphs.

3) Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Here’s another two-part essay! And like other options, it asks you to describe an event and reflect on how you grew as a person.

Essential Tips:

  • Don’t be controversial.
    • Although adolescence is a time when people evaluate what they once thought were their foundational beliefs (e.g., religion, sexuality, etc.), these topics are best avoided in an essay. You don’t want to offend your readers.
  • A changed mindset equals changed actions.
    • Your changed mindset should have prompted you to take new actions in your day-to-day life. How did you become a better person?

4) Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

The key phrase for this essay prompt is ‘in a surprising way.’ Readers will want to be entertained and informed.

Essential Tips:

  • Use standard story structure.
    • Readers will want to know about your life before/during/after the surprising event. Consider the event as your story’s climax.
  • It’s okay not to be funny.
    • You’d think that ‘surprising way’ would denote humor. That’s not always the case. Any kind of emotion can prompt a change of heart.

5) Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Like with other prompts, the first thing you do is make a choice:

  • Accomplishment: A positive thing you did.
  • Event: A positive, neutral, or negative thing that you did or experienced.
  • Realization: A change of thinking.

Once you have something in mind, consider whether it led to personal growth AND how you view other people.

Essential Tips:

  • Stay positive.
    • Although your event may be negative in nature, your essay needs a happy ending.
  • Be specific.
    • The prompt’s phrase ‘other people’ can be just one person. In fact, writing about how the accomplishment/event/realization affected your relationship with just one person encourages a stronger bond with your reader.

6) Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Unlike previous prompts, topics, ideas, and concepts are pretty much the same thing. No need to break them down with bullet points.

Essential Tips:

  • Get nerdy.
    • ‘Passion’ is the key word for succeeding with this essay prompt. In your first draft, jot down every reason this topic/idea/concept enthralls you.
  • Be conversational.
    • Like some other essay prompts, it’s okay to think of your essay as a one-sided conversation. No need to be academic or formal.
  • Branch out.
    • The essay’s second part asks you to describe how your passion influenced you to learn more. Possibilities include learning a new language or picking up a new instrument. Maybe you read a ton of books on a subject before trying to write one of your own.

7) Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

‘Any topic of your choice’ is a double-edged sword if there ever was one. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend this prompt to someone who doesn’t enjoy writing in their free time. However, let’s explore some…

Essential Tips:

  • Be careful.
    • There’s a lot of freedom here, but think of your audience – busy college admissions advisors who want to know what you can contribute to their school.
  • Consider using a work sample.
    • The phrase ‘already written’ gives you the chance to include an academic paper, one that does not go over any word count limit. Like with any piece of writing, have another person read it and provide feedback.
  • Avoid controversy.
    • Seems obvious, but worth repeating. Avoid any topics that might offend your readers.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to unpack concerning the 2021-22 Common App essay options. My advice – play around with a few of the prompts. Jot down ideas and see which one allows you to express yourself and make a positive impression. Over the summer, write a few drafts you can hone leading into this fall’s college admissions season.

Good luck!

Laying the Groundwork for a Stellar Recommendation Letter

On a typical school day, the average high school teacher sees 150+ students. That’s a lot of names and faces to remember, especially 1-2 years later when a former student comes asking for a college recommendation letter.

Most teachers are happy to write a letter for students who ask nicely. However, with little to no memory of the student, they must rely on recommendation letter templates. Some teachers ask students to provide a mini-resume to cherry-pick which accomplishments or niceties they want to include in their letter.

Although teachers may have their heart in the right place, these canned responses aren’t the best when it comes to impressing college admissions counselors.

So, how do you get better recommendation letters from your teachers? It’s not about earning good grades and staying out of trouble. A stellar recommendation letter requires laying the groundwork well in advance. What does that mean, and how can myKlovr help you do it? Let’s find out.

Sophomore and Junior Years: Your Time to Make a Good Impression

Sophomore and junior years are crucial for plenty of reasons. You’re dedicating yourself to 1-2 extracurricular activities, and the grades you earn will have the biggest impact on what college admissions counselors think of your academic potential.

It’s also when you should be making a positive impression on your teachers, especially those teaching the subjects you may want to major in in college. Let’s break down some ways you can do this:

Ask for Help

Just because you enjoy a subject doesn’t mean you always earn the best grades. Some subjects are interesting but difficult to master. When you hit a roadblock, ask for help. Doing so features multiple advantages for a future recommendation letter:

  • Asking for help shows you possess the initiative and desire to improve.
  • You interact with a teacher outside of class, making you not just a face in the crowd.
  • College admissions counselors love an underdog story.

Let’s not forget that when you ask for help, you earn better grades and improve your GPA.

Participate in Class

As a former teacher, I write from experience when I say that the students I remember best are those who made a positive contribution to the classroom culture and those who … did the opposite. There were plenty of students ‘in the middle’ who made okay to good grades but left no impression on me whatsoever.

There are many ways you can make a good impression on a teacher, ensuring that they remember you when it comes time to ask for a letter:

  • Contribute to class discussions.
    • Don’t raise your hand every time the teacher asks for volunteers. But if you have something unique to contribute, go for it.
  • Help your peers who are struggling with the material.
    • Your teacher is only one person and can’t help everyone who needs one-on-one assistance. They will be thankful if you tutor one of your peers.
  • Go above and beyond.
    • You don’t have to do a lot. For example, I recall students who came to me and asked if they could modify one of my assignments. Some of their ideas expressed genuine creative thinking and impressed me greatly.

Join a School Club

Typical high school teachers advise 1-2 after-school clubs. This responsibility allows them to interact with students outside of class. Rising sophomores should take note of which clubs their teachers advise and consider joining one. In a club, you can demonstrate:

  • Your leadership skills.
  • Your ability to work as part of a team.
  • Your creativity.
  • Your commitment, dedication, and passion.

Also, don’t forget that staying with the same extracurricular activity for at least two years will make your college applications shine.

Keep a Work Portfolio 

myKlovr users receive a benefit no high school student should be without – a digital work portfolio. A portfolio allows you to save your best essays, art projects, and other pieces you can show your teacher when you ask for a recommendation letter. Bonus points if the work includes the teacher’s original comments/feedback. Seeing these notes might jog their memory and result in a well-written and thoughtful letter.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of ways you can lay the groundwork for a stellar college recommendation letter. Consider the advice we’ve explored today and choose what works best for you. No matter what you decide, strive to make a positive and lasting impression on your teachers. What they remember about you may be the deciding factor on whether you attend your dream college.

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

College Accreditation: What You Need to Know

High school students and their families have a lot of questions about potential colleges. What majors does this school offer? What are the admission requirements? How can I be a competitive applicant? What about institutional financial aid?

The list goes on.

No matter your list of questions, I bet they all boil down to just one: Is this a good school?

Is this a good school? is a subjective question. Everyone will have a different opinion regarding a college’s academic offerings, campus, food, dorms, etc. But if you sweep away the opinions, and you’re left with one essential trait a school must have for it to be good:

The school must be accredited.

Schools without proper accreditation (there are plenty of them in the United States) may not offer students adequate learning outcomes. Also, some employers and graduate schools may not regard degrees from these schools as valid.

In this article, we’ll break down the three types of accreditation in order of importance and relevance to your college search.

Regional Accreditation

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) sets academic standards reputable colleges and universities must follow. However, the ED cannot pass judgment on the nation’s approximately 5,300 colleges and universities by itself. To ensure that all college students receive a satisfactory education, ED charters seven regional accreditation agencies. Each agency carries out the same mission in a specific group of states or U.S. territories.

Before you look at majors, dorms, or meal plans, ensure that a school possesses accreditation from one of these agencies. That’s your #1 priority.

myKlovr takes the guesswork out of regional accreditation when recommending schools to users. Each of the colleges and universities we feature is regionally accredited.

National Accreditation

Schools with national accreditation differ from those with regional accreditation in many ways:

  • Typical schools do not hire full-time faculty.
  • There may not be a library or other student services.
  • They are for-profit institutions answering to investors.
  • Their students may not qualify for some financial aid programs.
  • They focus on technical and career education.
  • They award credit that may not transfer to a regionally accredited school.

These differences put nationally accredited schools in a bad light. Yes, there have been controversies regarding shady national accreditation agencies accrediting substandard schools.

However…

Prospective online college students should attend a school possessing national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). DEAC ensures that online learners receive the same educational experience as their on-campus peers. And although DEAC is a national accreditation agency, it follows regional accreditation standards when making evaluations.

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation agencies specialize in one academic subject, such as nursing, engineering, business, or theology. Academic departments pursue programmatic accreditation to improve their brand and increase enrollment.

One thing to note about programmatic accreditation agencies is that many evaluate only graduate programs. An undergraduate program without programmatic accreditation may not indicate anything negative about its quality.

Final Thoughts

Accreditation is a complicated business. However, if all the colleges on your shortlist possess regional accreditation, you’re 99% good to go. The final 1% involves online learners checking DEAC accreditation status and graduate students researching programmatic accreditation.

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. Later!”

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.

Admissions Essays Are the New ACT/SAT Scores

Even though a vaccine for COVID-19 is coming sooner rather than later, the virus’ impact will continue to affect high school and college life in the coming year. One effect we at myKlovr noticed last spring was that more colleges and universities were becoming test-optional due to cancelled ACT and SAT test dates and the uncertainty around online testing.

This trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down for the fall 2021 college admissions season. Even if most of the United States receives a vaccine by the fall ACT/SAT test dates, it will be impossible to host 100% safe test sessions by then. As a result, colleges are making a safe bet by remaining test-optional in fall 2021.

Standardized tests were never a perfect way for college admissions counselors to measure applicants’ academic potential. But without them in the picture in fall 2021 – students who want to qualify for institutional scholarships will still need to take these tests – what will take their place in a college application portfolio?

The answer is something nearly all colleges and universities already require from freshman applicants: essays.

Yes, many schools are making admissions essays a more important part of candidates’ college application portfolio. That’s not to say that the essays were not essential in the past. They have always allowed prospective students to introduce themselves and argue why they should receive an offer of admission.

With essays the ‘make or break’ factor for many college applicants in fall 2021, this article will cover some no-nonsense and advanced tips to make your essays the best they can be

The Easy Stuff

Let’s review the easy stuff, three pieces of advice you’ve likely heard more than once regarding admissions essays.

Address the Prompt

Unless the prompt is ‘introduce yourself in any way you see fit,’ you need to address it to the best of your ability. Granted, your first draft will likely go off topic. That’s the point of a first draft. You have the chance to read each sentence and consider two vital questions:

  • Does this sentence address the prompt?
    • If ‘no,’ cut it out.
  • Is this sentence necessary to get across what I want to say?
    • Can I get rid of it?
    • Can I shorten it?

Have Someone Else Proofread it

As an English teacher, it was my job to catch students’ grammar mistakes and provide feedback. Admissions counselors, too, will notice any mistakes you make. As you know, each one isn’t going to do you any favors. The best way to avoid mistakes is to edit to the best of your ability before passing off your essays to a parent or teacher. Select an adult you know well. They will not only catch mistakes but also tell you if the essays are in your voice.

Also, if you ask your teacher, it doesn’t hurt to give them a little $5 gift card when they’re finished. They’re busy folks who didn’t have to critique your essays, after all. 

Don’t Be ‘Clever’

I’d bet that many smart and worthy college applicants didn’t get into their dream college because they tried to be ‘clever’ in their essays. In this case, ‘clever’ refers to trying to sound funnier and smarter than you actually are. Too much self-confidence and a big ego also fall into this category.

Avoiding the ‘clever’ trap involves writing the first draft from the heart. Try not to overthink as you address the prompt. If you can produce a draft that contains who you really are, feedback and editing can help you create an outstanding final product.

The Hard Stuff

Now that we’ve covered some admissions essay fundamentals, let’s look at two advanced tactics that will help your essays stand out from the competition.

Getting Started

As someone who writes for a living, I can attest that getting started with a piece is the hardest part. There will be a million thoughts spinning around your brain when you stare at that blank page for the first time. Those thoughts can lead to indecision and stress. The latter can make you feel that you’ve written 1,000 words even if the page remains blanks.

Here’s my plan for you.

I want you to get some actual paper and pens out. Write the essay prompt at the top and then put away the computer and other electronics. Listening to music is fine, as my experience as a teacher revealed that it helps some students concentrate.

What happens next, that depends on you. Brainstorming can take numerous shapes: word storms, mind mapping, and word banks, just to name a few. No matter which one you select, the point remains the same – getting your initial thoughts down on paper. No one will see them but you, so try your best to let go of excess anxiety.

I want you to fill that page up and then set it aside until the next day. Come back to your ideas ready to hunt for the best ones. Those ‘diamonds in the rough’ are your essay’s core. Use them to start writing the first draft.

The Final Edits

Imagine that it’s January-March 2022. At colleges and universities throughout the country, admissions counselors are reviewing applications. They must take extra care in reading essays, meaning that each decision takes longer than in years past. However, they must ensure that all prospective students receive a reply by early April. It’ll be a stressful time for them, to say the least.

Why bring this up? Knowing that essays are more important in fall 2021 means that you need to take a new look at the editing process, specifically when your essays are about 95% ready to submit.

At the 95% percent mark, you’ve accomplished the following:

  • Brainstormed
  • Wrote a rough first draft
  • Edited the rough first draft yourself
  • Asked an adult to provide feedback
  • Incorporated feedback into your essays
  • Made additional minor tweaks you think are necessary

In previous years, completing all of these steps meant your essays were ready to submit. But it’s 95% in fall 2021 because admissions counselors feel the time squeeze. That means your essays need to lose a little weight, even if they already come in below the maximum word count.

You should shave approximately 5% of the word count from your nearly completed essays. Shortening your work without losing any meaning makes admissions counselors’ job easier. They’ll also be impressed that you can write concisely.

When completing this stage, consider the following question when examining EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. Does this help get my point across? Maybe you don’t need that introductory clause, transition word, or brief aside.

When you take something out, reread the paragraph out loud. If it sounds fine, then you made the right choice. If it sounds off, err on the side of caution and put back the word or phrase.

Final Thoughts

College admissions essays are more essential than ever in fall 2021. But if you follow my advice, the writing/editing process can start and finish on a high note. Your essays will act as your loyal and eloquent ambassadors in the college admissions office.

Between now and next fall, practice writing any chance you get. Also, read a few good books. They’ll help you hone your writing and communication skills in more ways than you know.

AP Exams in May 2021: What You Need to Know

AP test-takers in May 2020 experienced difficulty navigating online testing. Many encountered IT issues affecting their testing experience and final score. These problems frustrated high school students and their families, as a good AP score equates to a stronger college application and the ability to earn a degree sooner than other undergraduates.

In this article, we’ll look at how the College Board is preparing for May 2021 by breaking down what they’ve changed in the last 12 months. We’ll also explore how myKlovr subscribers can use the service to earn the best score possible.

What Happened in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic made companies around the world reevaluate how they do business. The College Board was no exception, as the company had only weeks to figure out how to administer AP exams safely.

Their solution was online, at-home testing. Unfortunately, approximately 1% of test-takers experienced IT issues, including the inability to upload work or submit answers. Students worried if their submission would count or if the College Board would allow them to retest.  Other questions concerned whether the newly developed online exams put students with disabilities or those with slower internet speeds at a disadvantage.

The College Board has had a year to fix the bugs that plagued some students and frustrated parents in 2020. Let’s see what changed!

A Look at May 2021

The first big change involves exam dates. The College Board created three testing windows. Let’s break them down:

  • Window #1: May 3-17
    • At-school testing
  • Window #2: May 18-28
    • At-home and at-school testing
  • Window #3: June 1-11
    • At home and at-school testing

At-school testing will resemble what high school students experienced before COVID-19 (There will be masks and perhaps a few plastic dividers this time). Also, multiple opportunities to give the same exam will allow schools to reduce the number of test-takers in the room, promoting social distancing.

What will online testing look like this year? The College Board’s detailed guide breaks down the technology requirements that students must satisfy before exam days, such as a fully charged computer and stable internet access.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Students cannot return to unanswered questions.
  • There are now accommodations for students with disabilities.
  • The digital testing app allows students to continue working on an exam if their computer momentarily loses its internet connection.

Other benefits in 2021 include digital practice tests launching in April.

The testing experience in 2021 also solves a problem that many students experienced in 2020 – uploading work. In 2021, no AP exam requires test-takers to upload images or other files. That information should come as a relief to high school students.

Getting Ready for Exam Day with myKlovr

In the weeks leading up to your AP exams, use myKlovr to set goals for exam-day success. Your goals may include:

  • Studying for a certain number of hours each week.
    • Always a good idea.
  • Receiving one-on-one assistance from your AP teacher.
    • Ask them to review one of your free-response answers.
  • Downloading the AP exam app and taking a digital practice test.
    • Remember, a lot of exam-day stress comes from the unknown. You need to feel comfortable with online testing if you want to do your best.
  • Checking the latest updates from the College Board.
    • Although it’s unlikely anything will change before exams begin in May, please stay on top of the latest news.

Also, don’t forget that a myKlovr subscription includes tons of Young woman studying with laptop in college libraryresources at no additional cost.

Final Thoughts

Spring 2021 is a time of hope for many reasons, including the changes to online and in-person AP exams. Please reach out to us if you have additional questions regarding how myKlovr can help you prepare for exam day and college admissions.

Grit and Success

Overhead view of two students studying on a bench indoors

Grit is a short word describing a tremendously valuable personality trait that educators and parents wish they could teach children and young adults.

What’s grit? It’s a lot of things:

It’s not giving up in the face of adversity.

It’s possessing strong moral values.

It’s having the courage to take on new challenges.

It’s the desire to do something well.

It’s putting passion into your work.

In other words, grit makes someone successful in a rapidly changing world, no matter their age, level of education, or profession.

So, that’s what grit is. But knowing what something is doesn’t mean you can do it. Not yet, anyway. In this article, we’ll look at ways you can build up the traits that define grit and prepare for a successful college application season and beyond.

Where Do I Start with Grit?

Well, there’s good news, and there’s not-so-good news.

The Not-So-Good News

The main characteristics that define grit involve picking yourself up after failing at something. Failing is an unpleasant experience, but one we’re all familiar with in one way or another. Maybe it’s struggling with personal relationships or performing poorly in school. Whatever it is, grit begins at or near the bottom.

The Good News

The good news is that when you encounter failure, you have a choice about how to react. Now, doing so is MUCH easier said than done. However, like any other skill, practice makes perfect.

Starting Small

Everyone has something they do that instills feelings of joy and frustration. Maybe it’s a video game, sport, hobby, or any other passion. The point is that you already have a starting place to begin incorporating more grit into your life.

The next time you do that activity, take a mental note of why you persisted despite negative outcomes or emotions. What is it that drives you to continue? Everyone’s answer will be unique, but whatever it is, use that information to push yourself a little bit harder next time. Your chances of failure or frustration may increase, but these experiences will allow you to practice the traits defining grit in a small and safe environment.

Applying Grit to School and Life

Okay, so you have some grit, at least when it comes to an activity you enjoy. That’s great news because you can now consider applying these positive traits to other parts of your life, namely education.

Now, if you already earn good grades, you may wonder how grit can help you. Remember that grit has a lot to do with failure and that as you start taking more advanced courses and applying to colleges, failure or frustration will occur more. And let’s not forget that many college freshmen, even those who earned top grades in high school, struggle to adapt to new academic and social expectations. Those with grit push forward and succeed.

A simple way you can apply grit to your education is by taking a proactive approach to roadblocks or problems you encounter in school. This approach starts with asking questions:

  • Am I responsible for this negative outcome?
    • If so, what did I do?
  • What result did I want to happen?
    • This question helps you set a future goal.
  • How can I turn my goal into reality?
    • Talk to a teacher/counselor.
    • Ask for tutoring.
    • Find study materials online.

These questions also apply to issues surrounding interpersonal relationships with teachers and peers. As a teacher, I saw firsthand the relationship between perceived social acceptance and academic performance.

Improving Your Grit with myKlovr

We at myKlovr developed the first virtual college counseling service to prepare students like you to succeed in the college admissions process and beyond. Our services can also help you become a student with grit and better your college and career choices. Here’s how:

  • Set goals.
    • MyKlovr allows users to set academic and personal goals. As you think about building your persistence, set 1-2 goals for the near future. If you cannot accomplish your goals, reflect on what happened and what you can do when giving yourself a second chance.
      • Remember, start small.
    • Connect with your myKlovr network.
      • We encourage all users to add trusted adults (e.g., parents, teachers, counselors) to their unique myKlovr network. Ask people in your network how you can improve your grit.
    • Take career assessments.
      • MyKlovr’s career assessments help users research potential career paths. Discovering one or more options gives you the chance to start setting goals and pushing yourself to achieve them.
        • Users who take career assessments use the results to research potential undergraduate majors and the colleges offering them.
        • Career assessments also reveal users’ personal strengths, such as action-taker, visionary, and mentor. This information helps them identify areas where they apply grit regularly, as well as explains why they struggle in others.

Final Thoughts

Like chess, it takes minutes to learn what grit is and years to master it. Yet if you set reasonable goals, reflect on failure, reach out to trusted adults, and use myKlovr’s ample resources, you’ll have a good start in applying grit in your education and personal life.

Good luck with grit. No matter your plans for the future, you’ll need it.

The Importance of Social Media in College Sports Recruiting

Social media has very quickly become a huge part of the recruiting process for student-athletes. If you’re a high school student, you most likely have a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest account, if not all of them. Because of this college coaches have become more and more active on these platforms as a way to research and get in touch with high school athletes. It is very important to realize that coaches use these accounts as their first impression. Trust me when I say, coaches have done their research on potential athletes’ way before they make the initial phone call or email.
Now more than ever, it is so important to make sure you are posting the right content on social media, because once it is out there all it takes is one screenshot and it is saved forever. You do not want a coach seeing something that is not deemed appropriate i.e., swearing, drinking, smoking, bragging, or anything that can be considered provocative. You want to use social media to your benefit, not to your detriment.
So, what do you post? When do you post the things that need to be posted? That is where we (A4A) come in. A4A teaches athletes what content to post after big games, tournaments, showcases, meets, matches, showings, or wins. We teach our athletes that it is alright to be confident, just don’t be cocky when posting. An athlete talking about how their hard work has paid off when they hit their goal is awesome. Thank your coaches for calling the plays or your number to enable you to have scored what you did that day is even better! A great approach for high school athletes is the J.J. Watt approach: “Read each tweet about 95 times before you send it. Look at every Instagram post about 95 times before you send it. A reputation takes years and years and years to build and it takes one press of a button to ruin it.”

Just remember to be smart and be careful!

Steve Britschgi

Community Colleges in the Time of COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to disrupt education at all levels. College students throughout the United States find themselves studying from home while paying the same tuition they would if they were learning on campus. This disparity has led many degree-seekers to believe that the high prices aren’t worth it. Granted, some schools are slashing tuition to retain students. Yet many would-be college degree-seekers are forgoing their post-secondary education entirely.

Rather than pay too much for online education or enter the workforce right out of high school, I want to use this article to propose a different solution – community college. For decades, community colleges have helped students who couldn’t afford a four-year school advance their education and career. And as it seems that COVID-19 will continue to affect higher education for another year, it might be time for all high school seniors to consider what their local community college can offer them.

Let’s explore community colleges and how students who enroll can continue using myKlovr to meet their academic and career goals.

Community College: Facts and Misconceptions

Community colleges award associate degrees to learners who need a degree for career advancement or to transfer to a four-year college. Like four-year schools, community college offers academic majors, extracurricular activities, financial aid, and career resources. Learners who use the latter in tandem with myKlovr’s career assessments gain valuable insight into their long-term goals.

One vital misconception that many high-achieving high school students have about community college revolves around their reputation. There is the belief that they lack the prestige of four-year schools, and attending one ‘taints’ you in the eyes of the big-name colleges and universities.

This. Isn’t. True.

To put it another way, community college is one of the most practical options that all graduating high school seniors have this year. Yes, even community college students are learning online because of COVID-19. But they aren’t spending a fortune doing it.

Before Enrolling

If you decide to attend a local community college, consider how the school you select will affect your long-term academic and career plans. Public and private four-year schools use different transfer credit policies, such as a GPA cutoff and a transfer credit limit. Contact each school directly to learn about their transfer student admissions process.

Don’t forget to research community colleges with the same critical eye as you have done with four-year schools. Remember the key questions:

  • What majors does this school offer?
  • What services can students access if they need tutoring or other academic resources?
  • Does the school offer institutional financial aid? If so, how much?
  • Does the school award college credit for good AP/IB scores?
  • Does the school award college credit for passing challenge exams?

While in School

Consider your year (or two) in community college as a continuation of your high school experience. You’re still preparing to attend your dream college, so don’t forget about fostering relationships with teachers, you will need 1-2 to write you a recommendation letter. Also, consider joining a club or student organization. The college may not have on-campus courses next fall due to COVID-19, but some extracurricular activities may exist in a virtual or in-person format. 

Integration with myKlovr

MyKlovr’s functionality can help you stay on top of your academic goals as you work to transfer or look for employment. Start with myKlovr’s career assessments to research career paths. You may discover that your ideal job (at least an entry-level position) requires only an associate degree.

You can also ask your community college teachers and advisors to join your support network. Don’t forget about myKlovr’s academic tutors, essay writing assistance, and internship opportunities. High school and community college students benefit from these included services equally.

Final Thoughts

A lot is still up in the air regarding in-person college education over the next 12 months. Your community college experience may involve online courses and a less personalized educational experience than you desire. However, by starting your post-secondary education at a community college, you save on tuition and can apply these savings toward the latter half of your undergraduate education, and perhaps an advanced degree.

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.

A slightly overweight student in workout clothes walks down a path

How To Avoid The Freshman 15

If you are a high school student in the college application process, the chances are good that you have heard of the term ‘Freshman 15’ before. It refers to the weight that first-year students tend to put on during their first year at school. This tends to be a result of no longer having parents to watch over what you are eating, among other things. If you are not careful, that extra weight could take years to come off, if it ever does. So, here are some simple yet effective tips to avoid putting on the dreaded Freshman 15.

Schedule Your Workouts

Every college has a free gym for the student body to utilize. You may say you are going to go four times a week, and you may even do that for a few weeks, but unless you block out the time in your schedule for it, your new habit won’t last. When planning out your week, find three one-hour blocks that you can dedicate to going to the gym.

If you currently go to the gym, then this won’t be new to you. However, if this will be the first gym you do to, it’s important to pace yourself. The last thing you want to do is pull a muscle or get hurt during the first week of school. Download a workout app, and be sure to pace yourself. Also, try and find someone in your dorm building to be your workout buddy. This will keep you motivated to go when you’d rather just go back and nap.

Eat Healthy In The Dining Hall

Unhealthy meals are unavoidable when going away to college. There will be plenty of nights where you will have pizza for dinner or even breakfast. It’s okay to be social and go out to eat. However, this must be balanced with healthy meals in the dining hall. When eating on campus, try to eat as healthy and clean as possible.

For breakfast, be sure to load up on eggs and skip the pancakes and waffles. For lunch, try going back and forth between salads and sandwiches. Leave out the fried foods. For dinner, keep track of what you eat each day. Try not to have burgers, pizza, or fries two nights in a row. When possible, eat your vegetables and double down on healthy protein like chicken or steak.

Shop Like Your Parents

One of the biggest reasons new college students put on weight is because they have spent their whole lives eating whatever their parents put in front of them. Most parents avoid stocking up on unhealthy snacks or serving too many unhealthy meals. You may not have realized it, but I am sure there were several times that your parents refused to get take out because they thought you needed a home-cooked meal.

When at the grocery store, ask yourself if your parents would buy that? You can still buy your favorite snack, but limit it to one. More importantly, be sure to purchase the same type of healthy foods your parents used to buy. When in the dining hall, try to recreate the healthy meal your Mom used to serve you. If you can get into the mindset of your parents, you will be able to eat healthier.

Get An Accountability Partner

High achievers in the corporate world often speak about their accountability partners and how they have helped them grow and succeed. Trying to keep weight off at college is a difficult feat and requires support. Luckily for you, you do not have to look too far to find someone who is probably going through the same thing.

Once you agree to be accountability partners, you need to set your own fitness goals and share it with the other person. Then, you need to set a weekly meeting to review the previous week. This includes what you ate, how often you went to the gym, when you made good choices and when you made poor ones. Lastly, you need to agree that you can text each other when you need the motivation to go to the gym or eat healthy at dinner.

Conclusion

Going away to college is one of the most exciting times in your life. You deserve to have fun and not worry about putting on too much weight. While some weight gain might be inevitable, you can limit it by following the advice listed above. By following these tips, you can enjoy college and stay healthy at the same time.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

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.

College applicant shakes hands with two interviewers at a desk

10 Tips For Your College Application Interview

For many schools, the path to admission includes a formal one-on-one interview with an admissions counselor or alumni representative. While some high school students may have experienced a job interview, it is unlikely that students have gone through an interview as important or detailed as this one. A college application interview is an opportunity to highlight your achievements, explain any shortcomings, and show colleges the type of person they will be getting if they extend you an acceptance offer. Below are ten tips to ensure your college application interview is a successful one.

#1 – Dress Professionally

Dressing professionally for an interview is more than simply wearing an old suit or a nice dress. Taking time to look as clean and professional as possible sends a strong message to the person interviewing you that you are taking this process seriously. Be sure your clothes are dry cleaned and fit well. If your professional clothing is too big or small, it is time to purchase a few items that fit you better. 

#2 – Share Your Portfolio

Most high school students do not have a resume because they lack a job history. Colleges aren’t looking to find out what positions you have held, they are looking to find out who you are, so use the interview as an opportunity to share what makes you special. You can utilize the myKlovr platform to help you create your portfolio, you’ve already uploaded your grades, awards and achievements, sports teams, volunteer commitments, and more! By presenting your character attributes and accomplishments, you give college interviewers a lot of great information. 

#3 – Research The School

Colleges want to accept students who want to specifically come to their school. Even though you may have applied to others, you need to express your interest in attending this one. Your research should include the year it was founded, famous alumni, what programs they are known for, and any recent events they hosted. Try to memorize a few of these facts and bring them up when you are answering questions.

#4 – Research Your Major

In addition to researching the college as a whole, it is essential to dive deep into the major you intend to study. Be prepared to explain why you chose that major and why you want to go to that specific school to study it. If you don’t know that’s ok, research the learning experience at the college. You can focus on educational opportunities abroad, teaching styles, as well as anything that will show to the interviewer that you have done your homework. It is also a good idea to research the faculty and write down any interesting notes about their work. 

#5 – Participate In Mock Interviews

Mock interviews allow you to craft the right answers to possible questions. The last thing you want is to forget an important detail or bomb a question because you were not prepared. While it is difficult to know exactly what they will ask, prepare to answer questions about anything you did in high school, why you want to attend that college, what your plans are after college, and stories about how past experiences have helped you become who you are today.

#6 – Know Where The Interview Is Located

It is important to show up at least 15 minutes early to your interview to show you are punctual and respect others’ time. Confirm the location of the interview and who it will be with once the appointment is made. Then, view a map of the school to understand where the building is. If possible, use Google Earth to understand what the building looks like. If the school is local, then take a drive the week before and find the building you need. If you are traveling to the school, arrive 30 minutes early to avoid any wrong turns or unforeseen delays.

#7 – Mind Your Body Language

We are often so focused on the words we are saying we forget that our body language and non-verbal cues speak for us as well. The most important thing to remember is to maintain eye contact throughout the entire interview. If you struggle with this, practice mock interviews with your parents or friends. Be sure to sit up straight at all times, this shows the interviewer you are prepared and ready to take the interview seriously.

#8 – Tell Your Story

The key to a good interview is to stand out from the rest of the candidates. While it’s important to point out all of your accomplishments, you need to find ways to separate yourself from the others. Tell stories about obstacles you have overcome, problems you have solved, or anything unique that the interviewer will remember. Don’t be afraid to open up and talk about anything you feel gives a complete picture of who you are and the value you will bring to the school.

#9 – Convey Your Value 

When answering questions, talk about how you see yourself as a student in the school community. Help the interviewer envision what it will be like to have you on campus every day. This includes clubs you plan on joining, classes you’re taking, events you are interested in, and the career you will pursue when you leave. Admissions officers want to make sure that they accept students who will be involved students and engaged alumni.

#10 – Ask Questions

At the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. This is where you can show your genuine interest in the school and decide if this school is the right fit. Be sure to practice and ask questions about the size of the student body, types of events they host, the internships they offer, partnerships they have with companies, and anything else that helps you get a complete picture of the school. 

Conclusion

Interviews do not need to be stressful. Being prepared will allow you to focus on the task at hand of presenting the best version of yourself possible. Do the research, look professional, practice your answers, and ask questions. If you follow all of the tips on the list, you will be able to leave your interview knowing you did your absolute best.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

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.

Young woman studying with laptop in college library

Sit Down With A College Graduate And Ask Them These 3 Questions

The most time-consuming thing a student will do during the college application process is research. They will have to research different colleges, programs, majors, financial aid, dorming, and more to get the full picture of what each school has to offer. Luckily, in 2020, all of this information is readily available online. Yet, it’s the information that is harder to find that is the most valuable.

Hundreds of websites and services will guide and coach you into how to get into college. However, not everyone explains what happens when you get there. Very rarely do you find information regarding advice from college graduates about the obstacles they had to overcome and what they experienced after graduation? To gain this knowledge, you must put in time and effort to speak with other college grads.

The majority of the college grads I speak to were unprepared for the next steps in life because they didn’t take time to prepare themselves. They never sought out the advice of those who came before them. You must include this type of research while going through the college selection process. Therefore, I challenge you to contact a college graduate, sit down with them, and as them these five valuable questions.

What Would You Do Differently When Applying To Colleges?

We all make mistakes when doing something for the first time. Some errors are unavoidable and are apart of the growing pains of being an adult. However, sometimes, you can avoid making mistakes if you know what to look out for. The only way to know this is to learn from someone who made a mistake previously. It might have been unavoidable for them, but by taking the time out to speak with them, it can be very avoidable for you.

Many of the graduates I have surveyed over the years talk about how they wish they had looked at more schools. If the individual you are speaking to shares this regret, ask them to expand upon it. How many more schools would they have visited? Why did they stop when they did? Would they look for different things? The answers to these questions will give you a list of items to keep in mind during your search process. I guarantee you will learn things you would never have thought to think of.

What About College Were You Not Prepared For?

Every graduate I have ever spoken to has a story about something they were not ready for when it comes to starting college. The answers have varied to include classwork, homework, due dates, living at school, and being independent. Whatever it may be, they ended up having a hard time transitioning into this new phase of life. This is avoidable if you are asking the right questions.

When discussing this topic, ask questions about what caught them off guard and what they had to do to adjust it. This lets you know what awaits you and what you need to prepare for. Ask about their first few classes and any pain points they experienced. The chances are good that their answers will reveal possible issues you did not even know existed. College has a lot of moving parts, and most people do not realize all of them until they are actually in it.

If You Could Go Back To College, What Is One Thing, You Would Do Differently?

Everyone has things in life; they wish they could go back and do differently. This is especially true when it comes to attending college. Most students attend college without having a solid understanding of the real world they are supposed to be preparing for. Therefore, once they get their first job, they end up wishing they had done things differently to be better prepared for it.

Ideally, you are trying to learn from this person’s mistakes. For example, a graduate may talk about how they did not get enough work experience before graduating. Clearly, they are saying this because they struggled to adjust to the workforce. The takeaway here is that internships are essential. When looking at colleges, ask about their internship program and how they prepare there students for the real world. Then, remember to apply to multiple internships throughout your college tenure. This type of mindset allows you to avoid the common mistakes most graduates fall into. It also prevents you from becoming the same type of regretful graduate in the future. 

What About Applying To Your First Job Were You Not Ready For?

As a high school student, all your energy and attention is on applying to and getting accepted to college. It’s natural not even to think about what life is going to be like after college when you have not even gotten there yet. However, this is a common mistake that most graduates make. It is a mistake that leaves them unprepared when they are about being their careers.

Now, I am not saying that as a 17-year-old high school junior, you need to have a full understanding of the job application process. All you need at this time is a basic understanding of what will be expected of you. Any insight regarding what employers are looking for will be invaluable as you work your way through college. If you know you will need a particular skill after graduation; you can plan how you are going to work on it during college.

What Is One Piece Of Advice You Would Give Someone Currently Applying To Colleges?

This allows you to gather any information that was not covered in the previous questions. At this point, the person you are speaking to is recalling their memories associated with applying to and attending college. By asking them this broad question, they will give you there most detailed and honest advice.

Regardless of what they say, be sure to pull out all the relevant information and write it down. Capture any regret they have or lesson they learned. Then, make sure you are taking time out after the conversation to review that list and create an action plan around it. The information you are gathering is useless if you do not create a detailed plan of how you are going to use it to your advantage.

Conclusion

In most aspects of life, the answers you seek lie with those who have already done it. You owe it to yourself to be as prepared as possible when entering this crucial phase of life. Take the time throughout your junior and senior years to speak college graduates and ask about their time in school. The more people you talk to, the more knowledge you will get, and the better prepared you will be for that next step in life.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

A young man and his parents unload bedding and books from the car, dropping off at college

5 Ways To Prepare For Going Away To College

Going away to college is one of the most exciting times in a young student’s life. You are taking the next step in your life by living on your own. You will get to meet new people and experience new things in a brand new town or even state. Living in a dorm is a great way to practice independence and prepare yourself for the real world that awaits you. If done correctly, it can be an overwhelmingly positive choice that turns you into someone that brings value and impact to the world around you.

It is also a significant change that should not be taken lightly. Over the years, I have heard from hundreds of graduates who spoke about being unprepared for living in a dorm and away from home. They entered college thinking about stuff like partying and how great it will be to be out on there own. Most of these graduates never stopped to think about the skills they would need or the lifestyle changes that were coming their way. This is why, this week, we are going to focus solely on how to prepare for this significant transition and change.

#1 – Start Waking Yourself Up In High School

Surprisingly, one of the most common issues that graduates tell me about there freshman year was oversleeping for class. Many of them spoke about how their parents would wake them up throughout high school. If they went back to sleep, their parents would come back in and wake them up again. Letting your parents wake you up and push you through your morning routine may seem harmless, but it is actually creating a bad habit with severe consequences. If you oversleep too many times, it will impact your grades and drag your GPA down before your event start.

If this sounds like you, it is time to make a change. Start small by setting the alarm on your phone and placing it on the other side of the room. The key will be telling your parents to no come and wake you up. If they think you overslept, they are not allowed to come and help you. Even if this means missing the bus and being late to class, it is better to try and fail now when the stakes are lower. After two weeks of getting yourself out of bed and into the shower, you will begin to develop a new routine that you can carry into college.

#2 – Learn How To Cook and Do Laundry

If you choose to go away to school, you are agreeing to begin your transition into becoming an adult. Being an adult means learning how to complete basic tasks by yourself. You especially need to grasp an understanding of skills like cooking and laundry because you will be required to do them at college. Not having clean clothes or food to eat can add unnecessary levels of stress. This may seem minor, but if you are struggling in a class at the same time, it can become overwhelming.

Not to worry, you still have time to prevent this from happening to you. Once again, it would be best if you started small. Ask your Mom to show you how to do the laundry. More importantly, even if you already know how too, start doing your laundry every week. It is not enough to learn something once. The only way to truly understand how to do something well is by doing it over and over again. Also, you want to start getting used to having more things to do throughout the day. This will help you budget your time better and ensure that you do not forget actually to clean your clothes.

In terms of learning to cook, this can be a vague task since there are so many different skill levels when it comes to preparing food. Learn the basics, including how to scramble eggs, make grilled cheese, soup, and grill chicken. You do not need to know how to cook gourmet meals every night for your entire floor. You need to know how to cook the occasional basic meal for the days you cannot make it to the dining hall. 

#3 – Learn Where Your Classes Are

As we mentioned before, going away to college is a massive transition. Even the most well-prepared freshman can become overwhelmed with all the new changes. Once you are signed up for your classes, it is crucial you know where they are in relation to your dorm room. Some will be within walking distance while others may require a bus. The last thing you want is to be late for your first class because you do not know where you are going.

Also, the amount of time it takes to get from class to class needs to be worked in your routine. You may not have your first class until 10 am, but if you are required to take a bus that leaves at 9:30, then you need to work backward to determine what time to get up. Again, it is all about not getting overwhelmed. By planning out your days and understanding where you need to be, you are reducing unnecessary stress and increase your chances of a smooth transition into college.

#4 – Connect With Other Incoming Freshman

Most incoming Freshmen have spent the last 12 years surrounded by family and friends. When you arrive at college, you are no longer surrounded by either. Adjusting to not seeing your family every day can be difficult and is pretty much unavoidable. However, not having friends to lean on during this transitional period can prove to be too much to bear. Most students who transfer back home do so because they are homesick. Again, it is not about being overwhelmed by one change but by the combination of several changes.

Make it a point to connect with other incoming first-year students through Facebook and Instagram. Do your research and see if someone has created a Facebook group for your incoming class. Then find some people who live close to you and send them a personal message. It may seem awkward at first, but chances are they are looking for the same type of connection. If possible, try to meet a few of your future classmates in person. At the very least, you will have a few familiar faces when you arrive on campus.

#5 – Create A Study Schedule

It is almost impossible to prepare for what it is like to live in a college dorm. There are dozens of students living on the same floor as you. They have different majors and schedules and, therefore, will be free and active at different times of the day. Take it from experience; there will always be someone doing something more fun than going to class or studying. This is a very easy trap for anyone to fall into. The key is to create a plan to prevent it from happening.

A hard rule I implore all of my student coaching clients to follow when they get to college is to not study in your dorm room. It may seem like the more comfortable option at first, but it comes with several distractions. First, you will have roommates who may be watching TV or playing video games and will want you to do the same. Second, there will be other students in the hallways, knocking on your door and doing fun things you would rather be doing. You may be tempted to cut your studying short to join in on the fun.

My strong advice here is to create a studying schedule for yourself. Take your class schedule and find blocks of time where you can go to the library and study instead of going back to your dorm room. For example, if you have a 3-hour block in between classes, make it a point to get something to eat and then go to the library. Look at what work you have due that week and next week and get started on it. This will allow you to focus and ensure you are dedicating enough time to your studies.

Conclusion

Living at college can be a fantastic journey. It can provide new connections and experiences that help you grow as a student and a person. Most college students stay in contact with the people they met at school for decades after graduation. Going away to school is not something to be feared. However, it is something to take seriously. Significant changes are coming in your life, and you need to be prepared. You owe it to your future self to be as prepared as possible to have the best college experience you can.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

Person using LinkedIn on a laptop computer

How To Create A College-Ready LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn has become the premier networking social platform across the globe. Unlike it’s more casual social counterparts in Twitter and Facebook, this platform is solely dedicated to connecting like-minded professionals and allowing them to share personal and business updates with the world. Just like you may follow someone on Instagram after meeting at a party, it is best practice to connect with someone on LinkedIn after meeting them at work-related functions.

The myth that surrounds LinkedIn is that it is strictly for working-class adults. Most students believe that you do not need one until you graduate college and begin looking for a job. This is not necessarily the case. If used correctly, a high school student can leverage their LinkedIn profile to increase their college admissions prospects, build their network, and meet the right people before going off to college. Here are a few basic guidelines for creating that college-ready LinkedIn profile.

It All Starts With The Picture

I will assume you are capable enough of logging onto LinkedIn and follow the steps laid out to get started. The first step in this process is selecting the right profile picture. This picture is the first impression you make on new contacts you connect with. This picture must be as professional-looking as possible. Do not use a picture of you making a silly face, out at a sporting event, or with someone else. It should be a headshot of just you.

When taking the picture, try to find someone in your network who own a professional camera. The quality will be much better than taking a selfie on your iPhone. In the event that you cannot find anyone with a professional camera, try to find someone with an iPhone X or higher. Next, be sure that your picturing is being taken against a blank background to avoid distractions. Lastly, wear the type of shirt you would wear to an interview and make sure your hair is done. For men, this is the time to shave your beard or at very least trim it down.

The Headline of Your Story

Your LinkedIn profile is a chance to tell your story of who you are, what you have done, and, most importantly, what you are looking accomplish. As a high school student, your primary purpose is to impress college admissions counselors and connect with college employees, alumni, and future students. Keep this in mind as you begin to fill out the rest of your page. 

Underneath your picture and name is a section for a headline. This is an opportunity to catch the attention of anyone visiting your page. Spend some time thinking about college and what you plan on studying. Let’s say you are currently a junior, still applying to colleges, and interested in education. Your headline would read something like this: “Motivated High School Junior With A Strong Interest in Studying Education In College.” This headline tells your new contact who you are and what you are looking for.

What Are You All About?

As you scroll down the page, you will run into the “About” section. This is not a section to leave blank or mindlessly enter in a few random facts about yourself. Think about your audience and the message you are trying to send. This section should tell the story of a motivated high school student who is actively building its network to create long term success. After reading, you’re about section, people who have never met you should know that you are a motivated individual who cares deeply about their future career.

Personally, I have no problems talking about myself. However, I am a speaker and author, so it comes naturally. For many, speaking about themselves is incredibly difficult. You may find it even more challenging to write about your positive attributes and future plans. If this is the case, simply go back to the questions I asked earlier about what you are looking to accomplish on LinkedIn. Who are you looking to connect with? What topics are you interested in studying? Where are you currently going to high school? What extracurriculars are you currently participating in? Those answers should give enough information for a brief 3-4 sentence About paragraph.

You Have More Experience Then You Think

As a high school student, you may not think you have anything to put into the experience section. Typically, this section is meant to list out the jobs you have had, the companies you have worked for, and the responsibilities you were entrusted with. Over time, this is where you will include your internships and on-campus jobs. For now, it’s a section that can highlight the jobs you had in high school.

Any job you had in high school is worth listing. It shows that you can be trusted with responsibilities. When adding a job, think about the tasks you completed and anything that shows you being mature, trustworthy, loyal, reliable, and creative. This may include handling cash, creating the schedule for other employees, keeping count of inventory, or tracking shipping. Also, be sure to add any school clubs you were a part of or volunteer work you have done or continue to do.

What Are Your Interests?

The last important section that a high school student can focus on is Interests. This is a section to show others what types of companies, products, and people you are interested in. First, choose two companies that are well known in the field or industry you are considering. Then, choose two profiles of thought leaders such as Tony Robbins, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos. Lastly, choose a few companies whose products you enjoy. This is a straightforward section that simply meant to give new contacts even more information about who you are.

Conclusion

LinkedIn is a no brainer for anyone who is serious about the next steps in their life. As you progress, you will be able to add things like internships, awards won, and degrees earned. For now, focus on telling the story of a high achieving and ambitious high school student. The people you connect with will be impressed that you are taking control of your future at such a young age. Remember, you never know who you will meet or where your new relationship will lead you.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

Female college student, successful at something, pumping her fist and smiling

Investing In Personal Development

As a high school student, your days are packed with learning. You attend 7-8 classes per day, and they all assign varying degrees of work, including essays, projects, and tests to study for. As a student, you have been conditioned to work on whatever is assigned to you. It’s easy to adopt a mindset that if it isn’t required, I am not going to do it. This is a dangerous type of attitude to choose because of the severe impact it can have on your future.

As a high school student preparing for college, you are about to embark on one of the most transformative phases of your life. Here is where your choices will lay the groundwork for your career and your future. Yes, you should be focused on getting good grades and applying to colleges. However, you should also focus on growing yourself outside of the classroom. The most successful people in the world attribute that success in investing time in their personal development.

Personal development is a fancy term that many people use to sell books, courses, and other services. In simple terms, it is the act of gaining knowledge and skills that will help you grow and mature. Think of it as a workout for your brain. You go to the gym and use specific machines to increase the strength in your arms, legs, chest, and back. Personal development materials help you improve your mental strength in areas of communication, work ethic, organization, time management, and other areas of your life that help you succeed.

Most adults spend time in this area by watching videos, reading books, or listening to podcasts. However, those same adults would tell you that they regret not investing in themselves sooner. If they had taken the time to learn the skills listed above, they would have done better in college, gotten a job faster, and most likely be making more money. Personal development is critical at a young age because it gives you an edge over your competition.

So, how does one get started in improving themselves in this way? First, you must set aside time for it. Chances are, your schedule is packed, and whatever free time you do have is spent playing video games or watching TV. To start, schedule 30 minutes of personal development time, three days a week. Choose days and times that you will always be free to ensure you stick to your schedule. Then, designate an accountability partner to check-in and ask about what you are studying and what you have learned.

Once you have the time set aside, then you can focus on what to learn. Take out a pen and paper and write down your three most significant weaknesses. For me, as a student, this was organization, time management, and staying motivated. Then, write down three things you want to learn. This is where you can write down specific skills you want to learn before college, such as becoming a better writer, being stronger in math, or even adult responsibilities you haven’t learned yet.

Now that you have your list, you must prioritize them. You will not always have time to cover all your desired topics every week. Therefore, you need to decide what is most important. For example, if you struggle to manage your time, and you want to go away to college, this is a skill you need to start learning. If you are interested in a major that requires a lot of math or writing, that is what goes to the top of your list. Personal development is about learning specific skills that will help you achieve your short and long term goals.

The most overwhelming part of committing to developing your soft skills is the massive amounts of material out there for you to choose from. They come in all forms, such as books, podcasts, and courses. Only you understand how you learn best. Also, think about what is going to be most enjoyable for you. If you don’t love to read, don’t buy a book. If you are a visual learner, then commit to watching videos. The key is to know what you are trying to learn and putting in a process that will help you retain the information and refer back to it in the future.

It’s been proven that younger adults enjoy consuming videos over print content. You might be amazed to discover how much free content is on YouTube for you to take advantage of. A simple search of your desired topic will return thousands of results and several videos created by experts and reputable sources. If you are looking for more organized content that will guide you through a series of courses, I suggest checking out LinkedIn Learning. This paid platform provides multi-videos courses for skills such as time management, communication skills, and much more.

In addition, there are countless books and podcasts that will teach you almost anything you want to learn. When deciding which to choose, read the reviews to get an idea of what other people think about the content. Again, do not worry about picking the right book or podcast. Focus on where in your life, you are looking to grow, and what specific skills you need to learn in order to get there.

Personal development is something everyone should do, but most people don’t until it’s too late. As you begin your journey into the real world, you owe it to your future self to invest in giving yourself the best possible chance to succeed. Your weaknesses and shortcomings will not go away if you ignore them. They grow larger and threaten to damage your future and overall quality of life. Now is the time to commit to bettering yourself and creating a long-term plan centered around personal development.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

Really, really messy dorm room - clothes, food, everything everywhere

4 Ways College Is Different From High School

Out of all the students and graduates, I have coached throughout the years, the one thing they all seem to have in common in that they weren’t adequately prepared for the next phase of their life. All of them are referring to the real world and life in corporate America. However, most of them often speak about how difficult it was to adjust to college life after spending the last four years in high school. To avoid the missteps of the grads before you and to ensure your transition is an easier one, We have compiled the four ways college is different from high school and what you can do to prepare accordingly.

#1 – Class Size

This one catches people off guard because most students know that their college classes will be larger than those they attended in high school. You have already seen the lecture halls on the campus tours and are aware that you will be taking some of your classes with 50 or even 100 other students. What surprises first-year students is how different the actual learning experience is. You are no longer guaranteed to get your question answered if you raise your hand. The chances are high that you won’t have a personal relationship with your teacher either. You will be expected to learn quickly, take good notes, and figure things out on your own.

If this does not sound like your ideal learning situation, you should keep this in mind when applying to colleges. While large lecture halls may be unavoidable for some of your core classes, make sure that your major classes are smaller. When you take a course in this type of setting, take detailed notes, and pay attention. Also, be aware of your teacher’s office hours. This is your opportunity to meet with them in a personal setting to review anything you don’t understand. Remember, you have to make an appointment to do this, so do not wait until the last minute before a big test.

#2 – Attendance

If I were to ask you what is the number one reason you don’t skip class, it would be because you don’t want to get in trouble. In high school, and the years leading up to it, if you missed a class, you got detention, and your parents were notified. You have been unknowingly conditioned to attend class out of fear of the consequences. When you go to college, there are no more consequences. If you miss a class, your teacher marks it down and moves on. No one else finds out about it. This is where most freshmen get in trouble.

The critical thing to remember here is that while your teacher doesn’t notify your parents, they may deduct it from your grade. At the start of the semester, be sure to scan the class syllabus for the professors’ attendance policy. When you are aware of how missing a class will lower your grade, your motivation to attend suddenly returns. However, you really shouldn’t need consequences to attend the courses you are paying for. Remember why you applied to college in the first place and the goals you have set out for yourself.

#3 – Class Length

Some of the high school students I work with get very excited about the idea of only having to take certain classes two or three times a week. What they don’t realize is that those classes can be between 60 and 90 minutes. This can be a difficult adjustment for someone who is used to all there classes being under 45 minutes. It is even more difficult for someone who struggles to pay attention and takes poor notes. Longer classes mean more information is being covered. If you decide to zone out or skip the class altogether, you will be missing a significant amount of learning and knowledge.

The easiest way to stay focused during longer classes is to take consistent notes. If you have something to do, you are less likely to zone out and miss something. You can take this a step further by creating an organized process for your note-taking. Determine how to structure your notes in a way that will allow you to refer back to them in the future quickly. Also, be sure to get enough sleep the night before. The better rested you are, the more energy you will have to pay attention in class.

#4 – Living Environment

This one pertains specifically to those students who will be going away to college. It is natural and expected to be excited about dorming at college and living on your own. You can finally enjoy the freedom you have been longing for. However, that newfound freedom is one of the top reasons, so many freshmen end up coming back home after their first year away. Living at college is a complete lifestyle change and can be a culture shock for anyone who does prepare for it.

First off, you no longer have your parents around to bug you to do things. You are entirely on your own to wake yourself up, make sure you eat, clean your clothes, go to class, and study for tests. If you do not already know how to do any of the things on that list, you are going to have a problem. Second, when living in a dorm, there will always be someone around who is doing something more fun than studying or homework. It will be incredibly easy to seek these people out and blow off your schoolwork. This type of mindset is what sends more than half freshman home to attend a local college there the second year.

The first step to avoiding this type of disaster is making a list of everything your parents currently do for you. By the time you go off on your own, you should be able to do everything on that list. Second, commit to completing all of your schoolwork in the library. It is ideal to complete your work before you even return to the dorms. This way, you can relax with your friends and not worry about being distracted and missing any crucial assignments.

Conclusion

As an incoming freshman, you have every right to be excited about college and what lies ahead for you. The key is to take it seriously and prepare yourself accordingly. Take the time before you graduate to understand what skills you need to learn and what type of environment you need to succeed. Determine why you are going to college and what kind of person you want to become. Once you figure that out, you will have the focus and motivation you need to transition into and succeed in college.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

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.

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