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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.

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

Fall 2020 College Admissions and You

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

Last Minute College Tours

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

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

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

Standardized Tests

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

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

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

Junior Year Grades

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

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

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

Essays and Recommendation Letters

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Football player standing alone on the tunnel into a stadium

Fall 2020 College Admissions and Student-Athletes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Handling Admission Deferrals

Getting into your dream school is great!

Getting rejected stinks!

But what about a deferral?

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

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

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

Don’t Overanalyze It

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

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

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

After that… 

Continue on Business as Usual

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

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

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

A Bird in the Hand….

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Six students, sitting against a wall and reading

5 Books To Read Before Starting College

Almost anytime someone successful is interviewed and asked questions about their daily routine; they almost always mention how much they read. Reading is crucial because it’s a great way to gain knowledge that you can use in your own life. Thanks to the internet and social media, there is a lot of content vying for your attention. However, nothing beats a book written by an experienced author who is sharing practical advice they have already learned.

Of course, saying you are going to start reading more is great, but where does one begin? There are a ton of books out there to choose from, and it can get overwhelming. Furthermore, there are plenty of college-based books as well. That might seem like the right place to start, but it really depends on what you need to learn. Starting college means beginning a new chapter of your life and starting your journey towards becoming an adult in the real world.

Therefore, this post will provide five suggestions on what books to read before starting college. The list was created based on several factors. First, I have conducted years of research to learn what skills first-year college students are lacking. Second, I chose books that will help you begin to develop skills that will help you in college as well as life afterward. Lastly, I wanted to suggest books that you, as a high school student, wouldn’t think to read or may not even know about.

The Compound Effect

Overview

The Compound Effect is written by million-dollar business owner Darren Hardy. In this book, Darren breaks down how repeating small habits each day can lead to significant long term results. He covers topics such as work ethic, positive mindset, eating habits, time management, and much more. This book is engaging because he uses practical examples that you can relate to your own life.

How Can It Benefit You?

Before starting this book, you should write down three habits you need to break and three habits you want to create in order to be more successful at college. For example, habits you want to break could include procrastination, eating junk food, or lack of motivation. Habits you want to create could consist of planning for the week, managing your time better, or staying calm during stressful situations. Keep these habits in mind as you read the book. By the end, you will have the advice and processes you need to implement them into your life.

Start With Why

Overview

Start With Why is written by a popular motivational speaker and best selling author, Simon Sinek. What started as a simple Ted Talk has become a rallying cry for so many people and brands around the world. Its primary focus is on helping you figure out your “why.” Why are your goals what they are? Why do you get up every morning and try to achieve them? By starting with and remembering your why you can remain on course and put purpose behind everything you do.

How Can It Benefit You?

As a high school student, you should be focusing on why you are going to college. What are you looking to accomplish? What type of life are you looking to build for yourself? Take the time to figure out what kind of person college is going to help you become and what exactly you need to do to get there. As you progress through college, you will have moments where you will stumble and get overwhelmed. Remembering why you started and what you are working towards is a great way to get back on track.

Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College

Overview

Secrets of Top Students, written by Stefanie Weisman, is significantly less well known then our first two books but can be just as, if not more helpful. This book focuses specifically on advice for college that you would never think to ask for. The best part of this book is the information being offered was collected from over 40 top students across the country. Theses success stories are offering up the tips and tricks they learned and used to get to where they are today.

How Can It Benefit You?

This is the type of book you should read twice. First, read it cover to cover before going away to college. Pull out any information you can use right away, like preparing for dorming, habits you need to work on, etc. Then, highlight anything you find valuable and think you may need in the future. Once you are done, keep it handy because you will want to go back to it throughout college. Anytime you run into a situation and are unsure how to proceed, you can go back into the book and see what the experts have to say on the matter.

Stuff Every College Student Should Know

Overview

This pocket-sized book is written by Blair Thornburgh. It makes our list because it covers the “non-educational” part of college. This is a perfect book for anyone who is planning to go away to school. It covers life skills such as doing laundry, cooking basic meals, getting along with your roommate, and much more. Many of the college graduates I have spoken to over the years regret not learning these types of skills before college started.

How Can It Benefit You?

The beauty of this book is that it doubles as a reference guide throughout college. During your first read, you can identify what skills you don’t already have. Once you make that list, it will be crucial to dedicate time each week to learn them. This will prevent you from getting overwhelmed once college starts. Due to its convenient size, you can carry this book with you at all times and look back on it when you get stuck.

To The Next Step: Your Guide From College To The Real World

Overview

Full disclosure, I am the author of this book. However, I am including it because I wrote with you in mind. I wanted to take all the information I had learned from my interviews with college graduates and present them to you in one place. This book was designed to ensure you make the right choices the first time and learn from other graduates’ mistakes. It covers topics such as setting goals, learning adult responsibilities, creating good studying habits, finding internships, and preparing for the workforce.

How Will It Benefit You?

This book will help you do two main things. First, it will help you clarify your mission for college. You will have a firm understanding of why you are going to college and what you want to achieve. Second, it prepares you for what lies ahead during all four years. You will understand the importance of working hard, when to starting looking at internships, when to build your network and when it’s time to start preparing to look for jobs. It is also meant to be a reference guide for you to re-read at the beginning of each new school year.

Conclusion

Reading is a great habit that will provide you with an endless supply of valuable knowledge. The books listed here are meant to help you gain clarity before you start the next chapter of your life. By reading these books before college, you will have a leg up on other students who did not take this type of initiative. You owe it to your future self to prepare for college, the workforce, and the real world by learning everything you can by those who have already done it.

About Kyle

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

Dice with letters spelling Stay Home or Stay Safe

Transitioning to College in the Time of COVID-19

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

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

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

AP/IB Exams

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

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

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

Graduation Day

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

Going Digital

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

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

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

Delay

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

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

Fall 2020

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

Fall (and Maybe Spring) Semester at Home

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

But for now, stay inside and stay safe.

5 Skills To Learn Before Going Away To College

Going away to college is a life-changing event. For the first time in your life, you will be entirely on your own, independent from your parents, who you lived with your entire life. It’s an exciting time where many students grow and mature. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn new things, and prepare yourself for the real world that awaits you. However, living in a dorm room is not all fun and games. You are living on your own means new responsibilities that you may not be used to having.

When I started my educational coaching company three years ago, I did extensive research regarding what college graduates regretted about their time in school. Many of them spoke about going away to school without knowing how to do anything for themselves. Several graduates actually had to leave school and come back home because of how unprepared they were. To prevent this from happening to you, here are five skills you must learn before leaving for college.

Cooking

This is a skill that gets overlooked because most students assume they will eat all of their meals in the dining hall. What they don’t realize is that sometimes their schedule may not match up with the dining hall hours. You may find yourself getting out of the library or a club activity later than you thought and having nowhere to go for food. As a freshman, you most likely will not have a car on campus. It’s critical that you are prepared for these types of situations.

Now, I am not expecting you to whip up a 3-course meal. However, I do expect that you could cook up some frozen veggies, rice from a box, scramble some eggs, or make a grilled cheese. You could also buy some grilled chicken, freeze it, and then take it out thaw on days you know you will be cooking your own dinner. You should know how to cook any of the food listed above before living on your own. 

Laundry

I cannot tell you how many freshmen tell me they have no idea how to do their own laundry. Thinking you can keep wearing clean clothes and wait until you go home is a poor strategy. Your dorm room will begin to stink due to the mounting pile of dirty clothes. You will also undoubtedly run out of clean clothes quicker than you think. Furthermore, you are in a new place, meeting new people. You should try to look presentable at all times.

If you don’t know how to a load of laundry, find your Mom or Dad and ask them to show you. Pay attention to the difference between how to wash your colored clothes as opposed to how to wash your whites. Trust me, you will not be happy if you screw that up. Once they teach you, it’s now on you to do your laundry moving forward. Don’t let them keep doing it and wait for college to start. The only way to learn and be prepared is by starting now and not stopping.

Budgeting

When entering your freshman year, you most likely will not be working. This could be the first time in several years you won’t be earning a paycheck. While this may change at some point, it’s essential to prepare for not having an income for at least the first two months of school. Whatever money you get from high school graduation or your summer job will need to last until you start working again. If you run out too soon, you won’t be able to go out and do things with your new friends.

The easiest way to save money is only to spend it when you have too. For example, if you have a meal plan, use it! Yes, you can order pizza on the weekend. However, do not fall into the trap of ordering food every time you don’t feel like walking to the dining hall. If you think you might struggle with this, ask your parents to only deposit a certain amount of money into your account each week to avoid spending too much too soon.

Time Management

A high school class schedule and a college class schedule are entirely different. In high school, you start and end each day at roughly the same time. The most significant difference is that in high school, all your classes are back to back with very little room for breaks. In college, depending on your schedule, you could have breaks that last as long as 2-5 hours. Unlike your previous school years, your parents will not be around to get on your case about doing your homework.

As soon as you get your schedule for the semester, map out all the breaks you have throughout the week. Those are the times you will go to the library to do homework, study, or prepare for the next class. Avoid going back to your dorm room when possible. There will always be someone doing something much more fun than the schoolwork you have to do. The key is to commit to this schedule. Being in a class by 8 am is just as important as being in the library by 10 am.

Communication

As we mentioned before, going away to college means meeting a ton of new people. This includes roommates, neighbors, professors, and college employees. These are all people who do not know you very well. Unlike your friends or family, they cannot guess what you are feeling. They have no idea what makes you happy, sad, frustrated, or overwhelmed. You will need to learn how to communicate your feelings and thoughts in various situations.

For example, you may have a professor who teaches in a way you are not used to. They will not stop and make sure you are okay. If you are falling behind, it is up to you to communicate that to them before it is too late in the semester. If your roommate or neighbor does something you don’t like, you have the right to stand up for yourself and say something. However, you must do it in a respectful way that does not damage the relationship. The last thing you want is poor communication causing long term tension between you and someone you have to see every day.

Conclusion

Going away to college is something everyone must prepare for. Your life is going to radically change in so many ways. Now is the time to start learning these types of skills while you still have time to make mistakes and ask for guidance. By mastering these skills, you can enter your freshman year with confidence and focus on growing as a student and a person.

About Kyle

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

Beach Party

Maintaining Your Grades After You’re Admitted to College

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

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

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

The work is over and you just want to coast.

Doesn’t that sound absolutely glorious?

Indeed, it does.

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

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

Put (Most of) It Away

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

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

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

Maintain Your Study Schedules

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

Time & Money

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

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

A Little Meditation Never Hurt

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

And congratulations on getting into college.

How To Continue Your College Search During The Coronavirus

The coronavirus has put a halt to many of our everyday activities. The things we used to so freely are now no longer available to us. Schools are closed, events are canceled, and we are basically being told to stay in one place until whatever is going on is finally over. Even then, no one can really tell us when that will be. This can be nerve-wracking for people of all ages. Even the perfectly healthy can’t help but think about there various life plans that are being completely upended.

While it might not be the most important thing in the world, it is natural for any high school student to be concerned about how this national pandemic is going to impact there college search process. How do you properly research a school if you are unable to go to the campus and visit? How do you know what life will be like on a campus when all the students have gone home for the foreseeable future?

These are valid concerns that need to be addressed. Unfortuenly, nothing can truly replace the value of going on an official campus visit. We have talked in detail in past blog posts about what to look for and questions to ask as you gather all of your information. However, there are a few things you can do while you sit at home and wait this thing out.

Schedule A One On One With Your Admissions Counselor

No campus tours mean no opportunity to ask your tour guide important questions about the campus. Therefore, we suggest e-mailing your admissions counselor and request a one on one video call. Since you are home from school, you will be readily available during there work hours. In addition, this type of initiative and interest in the school will certainly be noted when it comes to acceptance time. If the counselor has a full schedule, as them if you can e-mail him or her a list of your questions.

Since you want to be respectful of there time, make sure your questions are specific and to the point. Be sure to write out 10 questions and order them by importance in case you do not get to all 10. Once you create your list, browse the school’s website and make sure none of the answers are already there. Your questions should cover a variety of topics such as dorm life, graduation rate, internships, alumni relations, average class size, student transportation and anything else that can help you understand if the school is right for you.

Take A Virtual Tour

In today’s world of technological advancement, most schools will offer some sort of a virtual tour for you to take. We would advise you to reach out to your admissions representative and see what your options are. Some schools may offer a pre-recorded tour of the whole campus, while others may have a series of videos based on your major of interest. If you are lucky, the school will be on the cutting edge and offer live tours at a certain time.

While a virtual tour should not fully replace an in-person one, there are several things you can look for as you get to know the campus better. The size of the classrooms can give you an idea of how big your classes are going to be. The technology in those classrooms can provide insight into how much the school reinvests in there students. Take notice of what they choose to focus on in these tours and more importantly what they chose to skip. If the tour spends a lot of time on the sports fields and completely skips the dining hall that could be a red flag worth researching further.

Interview An Alumni

Typically, we suggest reaching out to college alumni after you have visited a school. However, these are the times to get creative and ensure you are getting the information you need. If you haven’t already, create a LinkedIn profile so you can easily reach out to alumni who are now working professionals. Send them a direct message and explain that you gathering information on the college they went too and would like to ask them a few questions either on the phone or in-person.

Make sure you have created your list of 5-10 questions before you contact them in case they offer to speak to you the same day. Just like before, be sure your questions are direct and to the point. It is important to remember that unlike your admissions counselor, the alumni you are connecting with do not work for the school. They will much more likely to give you more honest and straightforward answers. Ask questions centered around there time at the school, what they liked, didn’t like and if they would do it all again if they had the chance.

Contact The Career Center

One of the most important reasons you are going to college is to work towards a fulfilling and prosperous career. The value of a degree is limited if it does not prepare you for the real world and workforce that will await you after graduation. If you are going to dedicate four years and thousands of dollars to a school they need to earn it. This is why it is important to learn all about the school’s career center and what it can offer you.

When speaking with your admissions rep, ask them to directly introduce you to someone at the career center via e-mail. Once you have made the connection, ask them to set a time where you can tell you about things such as internships, company partners, and job placement programs. Unlike your previous conversations, here is where you can ask open-ended questions about the type of internships the offer, the companies they partner with and the processes they use to place the students with those opportunities. Any career center worthwhile should be able to give you specific answers and examples as to how they will help you prepare for life after college.

Conclusion

Once the coronavirus is over, and life returns to normal, be sure to plan an in-person visit to any college you are considering. Until then, stay focused on conducting as much research as possible. Remain proactive by reaching out to the people who have the information you seek. Most importantly, remember to enjoy this journey, even when it takes an unexpected detour.

About Kyle

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

5 Questions To Ask Before Making Your College Choice

As a high school senior currently involved in the college application process, the last few months have been long and complicated. At this point, you have visited several colleges, submitted applications, written essays, double-checked deadlines, and filled out enough forms to last a lifetime. For many, the final step of the process has finally arrived. If your lucky, you were accepted to a few or several colleges you applied too. Now, you must choose where you will spend the next four years of your life.

Most schools set the deadline for choosing a school for May 1st. I highly advise you to review the deadline for each school to ensure they do not have there own, earlier deadline. Regardless of when the deadline may be, the choice of where to attend college is not something to take lightly. It is a decision that will have long-lasting implications on your future, career, and overall quality of life. As you consider your options, here are five things to think about before making this critical choice.

#1 – Does the school provide the type of environment you need to succeed?

It is easy to be impressed by a sprawling campus that has beautiful buildings, new classroom technology, big-time campus events. The quality of the school is essential. However, it is not about how wonderful the campus looks or the school appears to be. It is about the environment it produces and if it is right for you. If the school is not providing what you need to be successful, then you need to ask yourself why you would go there in the first place?

To understand what exactly you need, you can ask yourself some basic questions. For example, what kind of class size are you comfortable in? If you benefit from smaller class sizes and situations that allow you to ask questions, then you should avoid the schools that offer mostly large lecture hall type classes. How easy or difficult will it be to get from class to class? If the school you are considering has your future classes located on different campuses, that is something to take note of. The key is to collect as much information about what life will be like at that school and decide if it will serve your needs.

#2 – What types of career services to offer current students and graduates?

 If there are two or three colleges that you are considering that appear similar, this could be a crucial tiebreaker. While college is meant to help you grow as a person and become independent, it’s primary purpose is to prepare you for a fruitful career that will allow you to make the impact you seek. If you are going to spend four years and thousands of dollars on a school, you need to be sure they have the necessary services to help you obtain a job when you graduate.

 As we have spoken about in past blog posts, it is crucial during campus tours to visit the school’s career center. This is the department that is supposed to help you find internships, craft your resume, and help connect you with employers after graduation. Does the school you are considering to offer these services? If you are unsure, connect with alumni on LinkedIn and them directly about how helpful the school was with these tasks. It would be best if you were choosing a school that will act as your partner and does everything possible to ensure you start your career off on the right foot.

#3 – What do the alumni have to say?

During this process, you have hopefully asked a lot of questions. You have inquired about various topics with your tour guide, admissions counselor, and faculty you have met along the way. While their answers are essential and can be valuable, it is crucial to gain information for those who are not currently employed by the school. It’s not that these people will give you incorrect information; it just means that they are more likely to provide you with positive answers because they work for the school.

This is where school alumni come into play. Alumni are a great resource because they used to be a student and have already gone through all of the things you are about to encounter. They will give you an honest insight into the school. This is where you ask your questions about internships, dorm rooms, food quality, class size, and anything else that is important to you. Ask about where they are in their career and the role the school played in getting there. Lastly, ask them point-blank if they could go back in time would they still choose that school. By connecting with 3-5 alumni, you can get the complete picture you seek.

#4 – What makes this college worth it?

I have spent the past few years asking college graduates about their time in college and what they would have done differently. Nearly every single graduate answers by talking about student loans. Simply put, graduates did not do enough research when it came to the loans they were signing up for. The result was massive debt waiting for these students after graduation. They were caught off guard by the considerable monthly payment they were being required to make.

I am not saying that you should not take out loans to cover the cost of college. However, if you are going to be taking out loans that impact your future, you should know precisely why you are doing. It is crucial to understand what makes this college worth the price tag. If you are deciding between a few schools, and one is considerably more expensive then the other, you owe it to yourself to find out why that is. Ask yourself, is this college worth this amount of money? If they have the major your want, a great internship program, and an amazing alumni network, then yes, it might be worth it. However, you may find that cheaper option on your list also has all of these things. If the more affordable, less known school, is going to deliver what you need to succeed, then that might be the school for you.

#5 – Am I ready to go to college?

This last question is more about internal discovery and honesty; then, it is about any particular school. The college admissions process comes on strong and basically takes over your life for several months to over a year. You get so caught up in paperwork and research that you may lose sight of what is truly important. College is the step in life that is supposed to prepare you for the real world. It may seem like the obvious next step, but that does not mean it will be an easy one.

Before you choose a college, you need to conduct some self-discovery. Are you mature enough to go away to college? Are you ready to study harder and longer than you have before? Do you know what your plans are for after college? What are you going to study, and why did you choose that area? It is okay if you do not have all the answers right now. Just be sure to take the time to answer them before you move forward into one of the most important phases of your life.

Conclusion

Choosing a college is a choice that will impact your quality of life for decades to come. You owe it to your future self to make a choice that is in your best interest. You also have every right to ask if a school is worthy of your time and your money. As long as you do your research, ask the right questions, and take it seriously, you will end up with a choice that will set you up for a successful college experience and real-world career.

About Kyle

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

Campus Building - University of Nebraska

5 Things To Notice During A College Campus Tour

With the weather starting to get warmer, on-the-ball high-school juniors will be going on college campus tours. Campus tours are an ideal opportunity for juniors to learn more about schools they might apply to, including facilities, course offerings, and campus services. In past posts, we have talked about the importance of asking the right questions on college campus tours. This week, we are shifting focus away from questions you ask others to zero in on the things you need to take note of yourself.

Choosing a college is a crucial decision that has a long-term impact on your future. It is a choice that should not be taken lightly and should be done after you have collected as much information as possible. However, while it is crucial to understand college stats, job placement rates, and course offerings, several things will be up to you to notice. This could very well make or break your decision to attend a particular college. Here are five things you need to take note of when visiting a college campus.

Classroom Quality

Yes, you have to apply to and be selected by a college. You are, in a sense auditioning yourself in the hopes that they choose you. However, you are also auditioning them. Never forget that a college must earn your time and money just as much as you need to secure your acceptance into that school. With tuition rates as high as they are, you have a right to know exactly what you are paying for.

When on a campus tour, attempt to see as many classrooms and lecture halls as possible. If your tour group skips a building, then go back and tour it on your own. Also, if you know what majors you are interested in, be sure to visit classrooms used by the departments you are targeting. When viewing all the rooms, take note of the type of technology they do or do not have, including smartboards. Do desks have enough space for a notebook or laptop? Are desks old and wobbly or new and solid? This is an indicator of whether or not the school invests in its facilities.

Dorm Room Size

Most college students are so excited about being on their own they don’t take the proper time to examine their new living quarters. The idea of having your own space away from your parents can be thrilling and overwhelming. This is why you need to ground yourself and understand what you are signing up for. Take a hard look dorms during your campus tour and make sure you can be comfortable in them.

Many schools are known for accepting more students than they can house because they do not want to turn down the tuition revenue. The result of this can be overcrowded dorm rooms holding more students really fit. Your campus tour guide will show you one or two hand-picked rooms. Examine them and confirm they are of decent size. Then, connect with alumni and current students via LinkedIn and Facebook and ask about their campus living experiences. This fact-finding will come in handy when comparing schools down the line.

If you are planning to live off campus, see if there is adequate public transportation or at least parking close enough to campus that you are not taking an extended hike to and from class each day.

Surrounding Area

The focus of any college campus tour is the actual campus. However, it is equally important to drive through the surrounding area and town where the college is located. Regardless of whether you are going to dorm or commute, you will be spending a considerable amount of time in that area for the next four years. This area and what it includes it just as important as any building you visit on campus.

The first thing to take notice of is the type of town that surrounds the school. Several schools I have visited over the years have been in the middle of lower-income cities. Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. However, the surrounding streets appear to be less than safe than request a copy of the school’s yearly safety and incident report. This will tell you if there is anything to be worried about.

Second, what does the town around the school have to offer? Does it include simple services such as a grocery store and places to eat? Again, this is not something you think about when visiting a college and learning about the education they offer. However, based on my conversation with graduates, having easy access to things like groceries and entertainment becomes more important than they thought initially. The last thing you want is to move in on campus and then learn it’s 45 minutes to the closest grocery store or movie theater.

Building Quality

Earlier, we dove deep into the importance of taking classes is clean, well-maintained classrooms. It is equally important to examine the buildings on campus. Once again, this is a reliable indicator of how much the school reinvests into their campus and infrastructure. Each building you go into should showcase the school’s effort to create an inclusive learning environment for its students. If you leave your campus tour unimpressed, that could be an indicator of what else the school is hiding.

Specifically, when is the last time the buildings you are touring have been renovated. Are the hallways clean and fresh or old and run down? Once again, your tour will undoubtedly focus on the newest buildings. If you have to, tour the other buildings on campus by yourself. Lastly, make sure you know exactly where you will be spending the majority of your time. It all comes back to the type of experience you want to have each day on campus.

Student Body Attitude

The last item on this list focuses on the overall attitude and vibe of the students you encounter on campus. This one is tricky because even the happiest students can seem blah early in the morning or on the way to a challenging class. The key here is to be aware of the various students you encounter across the whole campus. What is their overall attitude and demeanor? Does it appear as if they are having fun, or are they most likely walking heads down in silence?

If you are taking your campus tour on the weekend, take note of how many students and cars are on campus. This is a sign of how active the campus is on the weekend. If it feels like a ghost town, then chances are the student body is made up mostly of commuters. On the flip side, if you notice students playing games, parking lots full of cars, and various signs of life, then you most likely are looking at school with a vibrant and active student body.

Conclusion

There are a lot of things you know to research and look for when looking at colleges. You will be presented with a ton of information without even asking for it. The key is to know what else you need to look for – the things they don’t cover in brochures and tours. During each visit, imagine yourself at that school. What do you need to have the best experience possible? Choosing a college is not a time to settle. It’s a time to be stubborn and only accept an opportunity that will earn your time, money, and deliver the best experience possible.

About Kyle

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

Cartoon of 10 people in varying career uniforms

Using a Personality Assessment to Select a College and Major

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

And then there’s getting ready for college.

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

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

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

Personal Strengths Assessments and You

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

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

An Important Disclaimer

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

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

A lot of personal strengths assessments are the exact same.

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

3 Things To Review On Any College Website

In today’s world, the first thing we do when we hear about something that interests us is hopping on the internet and look it up. This is no different when you are starting your college search. Before you start your college visits or have a full understanding of what you are looking for in a college, you tend to hop online and starting visiting their websites. Most students begin to visit sites of colleges they have heard of before simply so they can start to look around.

The issue is, if you dive into a college website without a plan, it can get very overwhelming very quickly. As you learn, colleges have a lot of moving parts. Furthermore, their official website is tasked with relay a high volume of information to a variety of audiences. Students, graduates, alumni, professors, job seekers, and the media are just some of the various groups that use this website to gather information about the institution.

Over time, if you choose to consider and apply to the school seriously, you will understand which parts of the site are most valuable at different times. However, for those who want to conduct primary research, I have listed three things to looks for and review when visiting a college site for the first time. As I mentioned, as you move forward, you will need to review additional sections more carefully. For now, to avoid being overwhelmed, you can stick to these three parts.

Admissions

When you enter the site, you will most likely be greeted with a lengthy menu of options. Start by clicking on Admissions. This is where you will need to start if you are giving any thought to attending this school. If you don’t get in, then the other stuff doesn’t matter. Once you land on the admissions page, click around to find the “undergraduate programs” section. This may be in the form of a new page or a downloadable catalog.

Take a few minutes to review the various courses that are offered. This will allow you to learn what the school focuses on. That college with the billboards on the highway may not offer you anything you are interested in. On the flipside, by reading the descriptions of the different courses, you may discover something new. You do not need to make any decisions at this time, but it is helpful to begin to understand what this and other colleges have to offer.

Before leaving the admissions section, find a link to request more information. This usually is a simple form that allows you to exchange your e-mail for a PDF brochure about the school. It also shares your information with an admissions counselor who can reach out and answer questions. Again, you are not committing to anything, but it may be helpful to speak to someone about the information you just learned about the school.

Student Life / Campus Life

These two sections may be combined into one page or separated into two different parts. The purpose of both sections is to show prospective students, like yourself, what life is like on the campus of that school. They will show pictures of past events and provide information on the various clubs, sports, and future events open to the student body. This is a great way to learn more about the non-academic side of the school. If the site boasts photo albums of happy students and a long list of events, then it’s clear that they prioritize the happiness of there students.

This is also where you can look for activities you might be interested in joining. They may offer an organized club centered around a hobby you have always wanted to take up. Joining one of these clubs or groups could be an ideal way to make friends right away. These are the little things that are worth noting because they might convince you to choose this school over similar ones on your list.

When diving into content that speaks about campus life, dig around to gain a better understanding of what the campus is like. How big or small is it in size? Are all dorms and class buildings located within walking distance of each other? One of the things I work with my college-bound coaching clients on is determining what type of environment they need to succeed at school. Will they thrive on a large campus, or should they be sticking to smaller schools to ensure they are comfortable and able to focus on their academics. Beginning to understand the makeup of the different campuses will be valuable when comparing these schools int the coming months. 

Alumni

The last section to visit before getting to overwhelmed with the alumni section. This may seem odd since you are not even a student yet. The alumni section is not terribly overwhelming. It also does not force you to make choices about what information to read about. It is a section devoted to students who have graduated from that school and the successes they have enjoyed.

Every school will boast an alumni network that includes former grads that are now in the workforce. Research this network to understand how many grads are in it, where they are located, and how active they are. If a school boasts active alumni, it means typically those grads enjoyed their time in the school enough to actively give back. This is yet another insight into what life might be like as a student at that school.

The alumni network can also have an impact on your career after graduation. When you graduate, you are among thousands of grads who, on paper, look identical. You all come from similar schools with the same degrees and grades. When it comes to getting that first job, being able to connect with a hiring manager that went to the same school as you could be invaluable. Being able to call on alumni to help grads get jobs is a huge selling point for any school. Now, you will need to continue to do extensive research as you move forward to ensure this network is as valuable as they claim. If it is, then it could be the driving force behind your final selection.

Conclusion

As you move through this process and determine major and other things you are looking for in a school, you will return to the site and take advantage of the additional information it has to offer. For those just starting, it is essential to have a basic plan when visiting a website with such a high volume of information. The three sections above will allow you to get comfortable in navigating college sites. It will also let you to get familiar with what college is all about and what it has to offer you and your future.

About Kyle

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

New Years Resolutions for High School Students

Believe it or not, 2019 is almost over. As a high school student, I didn’t take the time to think about the year that had passed or the upcoming one. I was usually in straight survival mode, just trying to get to Christmas break. Once on break, I didn’t dare think about school or how I could better myself in the new year. As an adult, I can only wish I had played less video gaming and done more planning for my future.

Don’t get me wrong; holiday vacations are a time to take a break from the routine of the school year. However, out of the 10+ days you get off, it would be beneficial if you put aside a few hours to focus on your future. By simply committing to sitting down for a few hours one afternoon after Christmas, you will be setting yourself up for success for the upcoming year.

Setting resolutions for the new year is a popular topic and exercise for most people this time of the year. Millions of Americans commit to making changes such as eating better, exercising more, switching jobs, or starting a new project. The reason so many people have to make resolutions to change bad habits is that they never took the time to prevent them from becoming habits in the first place. Another reason why this exercise is so crucial and with several days off in a row coming up, there is no reason not to do it.

Year In Review

You can start this exercise by thinking about the year that just passed. Specifically, list three things that went well. This could include excellent grades, new habits, making a sports team, or anything that you look back on with joy or pride. Once you list them out, think about what you did to make them happen. What positive habits did you create to reach these milestones? By doing this, you are accomplishing two critical things. First, you realize what works for you and what solid habits you already have.

Second, you have proven to yourself that you can handle stressful situations and accomplish your goals. When it comes time to start looking at colleges, you can enter the journey with confidence, knowing that you have already had many of the positive habits you will need to navigate such a complicated process. You will also look at that list of habits and figure out how to best put them to use.

What’s Next?

As you already know, you can’t live in the past. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know my message is based on being prepared for the future. I cannot tell you how many college grads tell me they regret not planning for the next steps in life. Therefore, your time during this project should be focused on what’s coming next for you in 2020.

What major life events are taking place? Are you taking the SAT’s? Are you visiting colleges? Perhaps, you will turn the legal age to start working and plan on finding your first job. List all of these out so you can see just how vital these upcoming 12 months are. Then, think about if you are ready to tackle these significant life milestones. If not, what specific things do you need to accomplish? If the SATs are on your list and you have poor study habits, then this is the time to make a resolution to improve those habits. If you are getting ready to enter the workforce via part-time work, then resolve to find a job where you will be challenged to grow. Choose a job that will help you become a better person. Ideally, you will work somewhere that you can mention on your college application

Create Sub-Resolutions and a Timeline

The majority of new years resolutions fail. This is because people set broad goals without mapping out how they are going to get there. Furthermore, they do not acknowledge that they need to make specific changes to reach their desired destination. For example, “losing weight” is a weak resolution because it’s too vague. There is no way to gauge success or pre-determined deadlines designed to hold you accountable. Also, most people say they are going to lose weight but admit that they need to change there eating habits or commit to incorporating exercise into their daily routine.

The point I am making is that if all you do is make resolutions such as “Study more” or “get a good job,” then the odds of the resolution creating a lasting impact are very slim. You need to break these resolutions down into attainable sub-resolutions. Once you do this, then you can assign yourself deadlines. This will give you small goals to reach for and motivation or completing them in a timely fashion.

Below I have taken the popular resolution of “Study More” and broken it down as an example to follow:

Original Resolution Study More
New Resolution Breakdown studying into multiple nights instead of just one
Sub Resolution #1 Study for 1 hour per night leading up to exam day
Sub Resolution #2 Complete Sub Resolution #1 for 5 straight exams
Timeline Complete Sub-Resolutions #1 and #2 by March 1st

 

As you can see, you have taken a broad goal and transformed it into specific mini-goals. Each time you learn of an upcoming test, you will schedule 1 hour of studying each night the week leading up to the test. You want to ensure this habit sticks, so you are committing to not only doing it for the first test of the new year but for accomplishing the feat for five straight exams. Lastly, by setting a goal of early in the year, you are motivating yourself to complete those five consecutive exams as soon as possible. If you do not set a deadline, you may slip and figure you have all year to complete the sub-resolution.

Conclusion

The theme of this new year should be “Preparing for the future,” and there is not a better time than to start now. You can enjoy Christmas and the days afterward. However, before the new year hits, set aside a few hours to complete the tasks above. This process will help you create better habits for not only the new year but every year after that.

About Kyle

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

How To Choose a College That Fits Your Specific Needs

One of the most overwhelming parts of the college selection process is the sheer number of options to choose from. Even if you have a general idea of what you want to study, it is easy to be intimidated by all the different colleges that offer your desired major. This scenario can lead to students limiting the number of schools they research or choosing the wrong college altogether.

Over the years, I have spoken to many graduates regarding the college application process. Many of them talked about not knowing where to start and often just simply choosing a school without doing the proper research. As I have documented in past posts if you are going to dedicate four years and thousands of dollars to a college than you need to be sure it is the best fit for you.

As a high school student looking at colleges, it is important to remember that you are unique and that you should never make decisions based on what everyone else is doing. Before you start spending time researching and visiting colleges, take the time to think about who you are a person and student. Only you know what kind of environment and situation you need to be successful. To get started on this journey of self-discovery, I have listed a few key items to think about when determining what type of college is right for you.

Class Size

Class size is an aspect of college that often gets overlooked. As a high school student, you are used to a classroom of fewer than 25 students. In college, class sizes will vary based on the course, the major, and the school you are attending. Some colleges will offer class sizes that are similar to a high school setting. Others conduct the majority of their courses in large lecture halls where you could be seated with 50-100 other students.

When you start looking at schools, figure out how important class size is to your success as a student. Are you someone who benefits from individualized attention? Do you learn best when you can interact directly with the teacher? If this sounds like you, then one of your first research questions should be how large the class sizes are. There is nothing wrong with deciding that a huge lecture hall is not for you. The important thing is that you are putting yourself in an environment that is best suited for your learning needs.

Campus Size

College campuses come in all shapes and sizes. The stereotypical college tends to be large, with many buildings sprawled out across several campuses. However, smaller colleges can and will offer the same level of education. Do not buy in the myth that the bigger the college, the better it is. It is not about what works for most people. It is what works best for you.

If you attend a college with multiple campuses, you may be forced to take a bus to each class. This might not seem like a big deal at first. However, you have to factor in all the other new things that you will be getting used to. I have spoken to several students who have spoken about how the transition became too overwhelming and their grades suffered as a result. Some of these students were unable to recover and ended up transferring back home. 

How are you when it comes to time management? Do you think you will be able to thrive in a scenario where your three classes from the day are all in different areas? If yes, then, by all means, continue to look at those large sprawling campuses. However, if the situation seems overwhelming, you may want to look at colleges that will allow you to take all your classes within walking distance of each other. Again, there is no wrong answer here. It’s about knowing what works for you. The last thing you want is to be so stressed about getting to the class that it takes away from your ability to learn and grow as a student.

Distance From Home

Another common stereotype surrounding college is the idea that you must go away to school. Society often portrays college as this four-year party and that the only way to get the right “college experience” is to live in the dorm, away from your parents, family, and friends. This is not only false but is a dangerous trap that many students fall into.

Yes, there is a benefit in going away to college. You get to meet new people, experience new things and learn how to be independent. That being said, just like everything else on this list, it’s not for everyone. It is a significant life change that requires the ability to transition quickly in new surroundings. Not only are you getting used to a new city, friends, and bedroom, but you will be doing all of this while taking new, challenging courses.

This is not an impossible task. Thousands of students do it successfully every year. The key is to understand if you are that type of student. Will you thrive in the situations I just mentioned? Perhaps you benefit from being surrounded by family and friends. Contrary to popular belief, you can still get a valuable college experience by staying local and commuting to class. The important part is that you are honest with yourself from the start to avoid making a costly mistake in the future.

Conclusion

There is no one right answer when deciding what makes the right college. The answer is different for each student because each student is unique. Everyone reading this post has different strengths and weaknesses. Only you know what you need to be successful in school and eventually in life. Applying to college is a serious process that deserves the proper time and attention. Set aside the time to understand what you need from the start and you will be able to select a college that will set you up for long term success.

About Kyle

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

Applying to college? Here’s where to start.

You’ve decided that you are ready to start the college application process. Chances are you’re a sophomore in college and realize that this is the time to begin thinking about colleges. The problem is once the initial excitement about looking at colleges wears off, you are left staring at a mountain of information, tasks, deadlines, and options that can leave you overwhelmed.

The entire process can take over two years and includes several different phases. These phases include but are not limited to, researching schools, campus visits, applications, researching majors, and financial aid. So, before you even start this long and winding journey, let’s talk about a few things to do right at the start.

Why are you going to college?

College is a serious commitment. You are committing four years of your time and thousands of dollars of money to this next step in your education. Therefore, you need to be clear as to why you have made this choice. If your current answer is “I don’t know,” “Because I am supposed to,” or “My parents are making me,” then you need a new answer.

College is your opportunity to create a future of your own choosing. This is the beginning of a journey that, if done correctly, will prepare you to build a career and life of satisfaction and fulfillment. Now is the time to start thinking about what you are looking to get out of college? Do you want to meet people in a particular field? Are there certain subjects you want to learn more about? Having a basic idea of why you are going to college can help you figure out which schools you should be looking at.

What Type of Person Do You Want To Become?

What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a question that you have been asked several times in the duration of your life. It is also a question that is closely tied to choosing a college. The issue with this question is that it can limit your choices. You are forcing yourself to make a life-altering decision without understanding all of your options. Instead, before you start looking at colleges and majors, ask yourself, “What type of person do I want to become?”.

This question is designed to open you up to new possibilities and ideas. Think about when in your life do you feel the most accomplished or satisfied. Perhaps, it is when you are helping other people and giving them the advice to solve a problem. Maybe you should become the type of person who helps people for a living. Your next step is to list out all the jobs that are associated with that type of person. Finally, take the time to find people who are currently doing those jobs and learn more about them.

Once you complete this, you will have a much better idea of what majors and careers you’re interested in. By learning more about these possible jobs and careers ahead of time, you will know which ones you maybe passionate about and which ones you can forget about. This allows you to focus solely on schools that are going to help you become the person that you want to be.

Determine The Type of Environment You Need To Succeed

If you have read my past posts, you know the basis of my advice comes from surveying and interviewing college graduates. The majority of these grads often speak about how they did not take enough time to determine what they as an individual needed from a college to be successful. They got caught up thinking they had to go away college or choose a big-name school with a huge campus and successful football team.

Take the time to do some self-discovery and be honest about your academic and personal needs. Is going away to school a good fit for you? Will you be successful in large lecture halls, or should you find a school that offers smaller sized classrooms? Will you be okay in a new town and living with new people? How important are things like seeing family and friends when it comes to your mental health?

There are no wrong answers to these questions. The only wrong path is not taking the time to ask these questions at the beginning. These answers will guide your college search and help you only focus on schools that fit your needs. Remember, you are a unique individual that needs to do what is best for you.

Tell Your Story

Everyone has a story to tell. You may think that is not true and that you are boring or are uninteresting. First, I am almost positive you are more interesting than you give yourself credit for. Second, it is your best interest to figure that out sooner rather than later. You will be applying to the same college and thousands of other high school students. The last thing you want is to blend in and look like every other applicant the admissions department sees.

Take the time to map out your personal story. Start with why you are going to college and what you are looking to accomplish. Write out your interests and passions. Think about how going to college is going to help you build the life you want. Think about what that life looks like and what you are doing to get there. List out all of your accomplishments, awards, and past jobs. Make a list of teachers, co-workers, and other individuals who would be willing to vouch for you as a person.

This will help you begin to craft the story you will tell during your application process. This story will accomplish three main things. First, it will give the admissions counselor a better understanding of who you are as a person. Second, it will show the counselor the value you will add to the school if accepted. Third, it will help you stand out during your college essay. It could be the edge you need to get in over a student who just picked an essay topic off the internet.

Get Serious and Get Organized

Looking at colleges should be an enjoyable experience, but it is also not something to take lightly. You will be spending a considerable amount of time and money on college and want to ensure you get it right. There are also several deadlines and tasks to keep on track of. Before you even begin, figure out how you are going to keep track of everything.

The myKlovr platform can help you accomplish this. It allows you to enter all these crucial deadlines and due dates in one place so you can keep track of everything. It also provided reminders when an important date is approaching. However, this is only half the battle. For this to work, you must be committed to putting in the time and energy to the entire process. Understand what’s expected of you and commit to staying on top of it for the duration of the process.

Conclusion

If it’s time to start looking at colleges, then it’s time to get serious about your future. Yes, it can be overwhelming. You will most likely make a few mistakes along the way. The critical thing to remember is that if you apply yourself to the process and give it the time and attention it deserves, then you will be just fine. We covered a lot of valuable information at a very high level. 

About Kyle

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

3 Popular Myths About Going To College

According to a recent research study, about 70% of high school graduates attend college. This means there is a large number of students and parents who are looking to consume college related content to prepare for this critical process. This high demand for content has resulted in an overwhelming amount of articles, interviews, case studies, and videos about what you need to know to make the best possible choice when selecting a college.

Typically, this blog is dedicated to helping you sift through all of that well-intentioned advice. It is essential to identify all the factual information out there. However, it is also important to admit that there is a lot of incorrect data, as well. Somewhere along the way, various myths regarding what’s important about college starting popping up. Therefore, this week, we are going to debunk three popular myths regarding going away to college.

Myth #1 – You must go away to school

As a society, when we speak of college, we automatically connect it with going away to attend it. Somehow, we have forgotten about millions of students who attend college and still live at home. When you begin this process, you will be tempted to look at schools far away from home. After all, the idea of being out on your own is very attractive. Attending a college out of state is an opportunity to become independent, meet new people, and experience new things.

For many, this is the right call. It is important to get out into the world and experience things that are different from what you are used to. However, if this is your next step, you have to do it for the right reasons. Do not go away to school because you want to get away from your parents or you want to party all the time. If you are choosing a school far from home, you should do so because it aligns with your goals and your plans.

Also, there is nothing wrong with deciding that going away is not for you. The most important thing a student must do when looking at colleges is to understand what type of environment they need to succeed. Are you the type of person who benefits from familiarity? Will a new bed, town, and friends on top of harder classes be too much to adjust to? If that is the case, please understand it is okay to choose a college close to home. This does not make you lazy, nor does it make you ill-equipped to handle new responsibilities. It merely means you have identified what you need to succeed and refuse to put yourself in a situation where that is not going to happen.

Myth #2 – You must go to a 4-year school

Community colleges get a bad rap. For some reason, they have been labeled as a place that are reserved for those who were not driven or smart enough to get into a four-year school. This is not true. Community colleges offer high-quality education at lower prices than there four-year counterparts.

A community college is an excellent choice for someone who is not clear about what they want to study in college. It is also an option for someone who knows they want to go to college but cannot yet afford it. You can attend for two years and complete your basic requirements while you work and save money for the last two years. This allows you to continue your education and take our fewer student loans.

Again, this comes back to what your plan is. What are you looking to accomplish? Why are you going to college in the first place? Understanding your needs and goals is imperative. Many of the college graduates I speak to talk about how they regret not going to community college first. They speak about “falling into the trap” of thinking that only the unmotivated start at community college. Do yourself a favor and research your local community colleges. You will be pleasantly surprised at what they have to offer and how it can fit in perfectly with your future plans.

Myth #3 – You have to have all your career mapped out before you start college

This is the biggest one of all. I left it for last, so you have something to think about after you have finished reading this article. There can be a tremendous amount of pressure placed on a high school student when it comes to planning for the future. They often think that by choosing a college, they must also know exactly what career they want to pursue and how they are going to get there. I promise you; this is not true.

The most flawed question we ask students is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. This implies that they must already know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. It is flawed because how are you supposed to be able to answer that question without knowing what all the options are. This is not a time for you to be making these types of decisions. This is a time for you to be asking yourself, “What type of person do I want to become?”.

By exploring this question, you are opening yourself up to a field of options based on the type of person you want to work towards being, and the impact you want to have on the world around you.  This allows us to have an idea of what we are working towards while keeping our options open.

You are not expected to have a concrete answer regarding your future before you go to college. College is supposed to be the time in your life when you ask more questions. Where you explore your options, talk to those who came before you, and then start to determine what you want to do with the next steps of your life. You do not need to have everything figured out; you need to start thinking about what questions you need answers too.

Conclusion

The college application and selection process is challenging. There is a lot of information floating out there. Most of it is based in fact and therefore can be helpful. However, there are, unfortunately, several myths surrounding this process that need to be addressed and debunked.

About Kyle

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

5 Things To Expect When Going Away To College

College can be a once in a lifetime type of experience for a young student. For those lucky enough to go away to school, it is an opportunity to meet new people, experience new things, and learn skills that will propel you into the next phase of your life. However, going away to college can bring with it several unexpected challenges. When I speak to college graduates, they often refer back to the bumpy transition they had when starting freshman year. As you prepare for this next step, here are 5 things to expect when going away to college.

Not Everyone You Meet Will Be Like You

Often, towns and high schools will be filled with similar people. Most residents and students will share similar characteristics and backgrounds. If you grew up surrounded by people like yourself, you may be tricked into thinking the whole world is like this. It is very common and is often the cause of issues for new college students. They arrive on campus and encounter other students of different backgrounds and upbringings.

The key is to be prepared to have an open mind. The way you view the world is not the only way. Your opinions can be strong, but be open to new ways of looking at things. Most importantly, do not shy away from something new. If you grew up in the city, seek out those who may have grown up on a farm. This is the best way to enhance your knowledge about the world around you. The real world you are going to enter after college will have more people that are different than you than are similar to you. It is best to begin getting used to that now and use your new surroundings to your advantage.

There Is A Quiet Consequence To Missing Class

In an earlier post, we spoke about taking over the things your parents currently do for you. One of the items on that list was waking yourself up for school. That will come into play as soon as you begin classes. If you overslept in high school, the consequence was loud and obvious. Your Mom probably started yelling at you or your school called home to say you did not show up to class. Again, that most likely caused you to get yelled at. College is different.

You are responsible for attending class. Yes, if you miss it, your parents will not know. However, your teacher will know. Depending on your professor’s policy, those absences could impact your final grade. It will be easy to skip class knowing that no one is going to yell at you or call home to inform your parents. However, know that you are still very much being reprimanded for missing class. In many ways, deducting points from your final grade is much worse than a parental scolding.

Not Everyone Is There To Learn

Colleges exist to educate young adults on the road to the real world. Most students have spent the last few years working very hard to get into the school that they did. They have chosen their major and class schedule and are ready to go. You may think that everyone is as focused and motivated as you are. You may be surprised to find out that not everyone is.

When you enter freshman year and settle into your dorm, you will quickly see some people are there simply to party. These are the students who are always playing video games and watching movies. They stay up late and never go to class. You will often wonder how is it that they have so much free time while you are stuck in class or studying in the library. It is because they cannot handle going to school with no parental supervision.

The most important thing is to not fall into this trap. It will be very tempting to join these slackers. After all, they will always be doing something more fun than going to class or studying. The thing is, these students do not last very long. They are usually gone after the first semester or two. All they did was waste their time and money and delay their education. These students will have to start from scratch at a college back home. Be prepared to rise above these types of distractions.

A Dorm Is A Terrible Place To Study

Your dorm building will be useful for many things such as sleeping, bathing, and hanging out with your new friends. Studying and doing homework is not one of them. As previously mentioned, there will always be people doing something more fun than what you are doing. Even students who go to class will have free time when you do not. There will always be someone knocking on your door or making noise in the hallway. Even if you do get some studying done, you will always be tempted to cut it short to join in on the fun next door.

Accept the fact that doing work in your dorm room is not going to happen. Instead, make the library one of your first stops when you get to campus. Some campuses have more than one, and others have libraries dedicated to specific majors and programs. Be sure to take a tour and understand where the best places to get some peace and quiet. Start to get into a routine of going to those spots in between classes. This will allow you to give your studies the time and energy they deserve.

It Is Very Easy To Gain Weight

This last one has nothing to do with academics. It has to do with your health. Most students report that they gained some weight when going away to school. Between the options in the dining hall, the take out order with new friends, and your parents no longer making healthy meals, it will be incredibly easy to gain weight.

This can be prevented by preparing for what is coming. First, ensure that you are going to the campus gym 3-4 times a week. Even if you have never gone to the gym before, this is the perfect time to start. Second, make an intentional choice to eat healthy foods and reasonable portions. Now that you understand the importance of these habits, you are much more likely to start building them from the beginning and stick with them throughout the year. 

Conclusion

Going away to college is a wonderful yet complicated experience. There are a lot of new things, people, and situations you will not be used to. The best advice I can give is to speak to those who have already gone through it. Ask current college students and graduates what it was like for them. They will give you all sorts of advice to make your transition as smooth as possible.

About Kyle

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

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