college

When Looking At Colleges, Your Kids Won’t Know To Ask These Questions Part 1

As a parent, if your child is applying to college, you are basically applying as well. The application process is long and complicated, with several steps, questions, and deadlines along the way. As a student coach, I am always advocating that students take on more responsibility as they get older. They should spearhead the task of getting into college because it is their future at stake. However, there is only so much a student will know before starting the process.

This is where you, the parent, play a pivotal role. Managing the whole process from end to end is not a reasonable solution. You will get overwhelmed, and your child will become disinterested. Plus, this robs them of the opportunity to grow and mature as a person and student. Instead, think about the knowledge you have gained over the years. What questions do you wish you would have asked when you were their age. Based on research, and my experience as a youth coach and speaker. This is part 1 of my list of questions that your kids might not think to ask when looking at colleges.

Will all my classes be on one campus?

When we as humans experience something new and impressive, we become star-struck and maybe even overwhelmed. This is what tends to happen when a high school student tours a campus for the first time. They are preoccupied with looking at the buildings, watching the students, and taking in all the facts and figures that are being thrown at them. This where the parent can step in and ask questions on their behalf.

It’s essential to know how far away their classes will be from each other. If everything is within walking distance, as is the case at smaller schools, then they are free to create their schedule as they want. There is no reason to worry about taking two classes back to back. However, if the college has several campuses and requires students to take a bus to travel back and forth, this could cause an issue. Students might be unable to take certain classes because they won’t make it on time.

If a school has multiple campuses, it’s important to know which majors host their courses on which one. For example, let’s say the majority of business courses take place on Campus A. If today’s tour only covers Campus B, then you are not getting the full picture of the school. The beauty and functionality of campus are pointless if you won’t be spending time on it. You want to make sure you take a tour of the campus you will be spending the most time at.

Lastly, multiple campuses mean additional transportation. For students who are used to spending an entire day in one building, the idea of mastering a bus schedule, on top of a new school, new friends, a new town might be too much to take. I have spoken to several graduates over the years who talked about being unable to adjust and having to transfer home as a result.

Speak with your child about what they need to succeed, including class location. Once you determine this, you can work with MyKlovr’s Custom Recommendations section and find colleges that fit this need. This allows you to spend time looking at the right colleges and avoid wasting time at the wrongs ones.

Do You Have An Alumni Network?

The idea of college itself can be an overwhelming proposition. High school students are thinking about things like the SATs, essays, campus visits, major, living away from home, and amongst other things. Essential items such as career prospects and applying to jobs might be pushed to the back of their minds simply because they are perceived to be years away. However, you, as a parent, are aware of how quickly time flies by.

You are also aware of how competitive the job market can be and the importance of having an advantage when applying. While your child is looking at classes, you can be thinking about what comes after college. Be sure to enquire regarding the school’s alumni network. A good school will have relationships with graduates and pipeline that allows new grads to apply to companies where alumni currently work. By showing that they have a job placement partnership with past students, they are proving that they understand the importance of employment after graduation.

MyKlovr’s College Finder function can help you in your research. This function allows you to review various schools for what they offer, including things like alumni relations, job placement, career readiness, and much more. Any school you are giving serious thought to should be providing these types of services to your child.

Do You Partner With Any Local Businesses?

This last question for today’s list also falls in line with career readiness. As we covered earlier, you are much more aware of how the corporate world works because you have worked in it. As you already know, companies will always prefer a candidate with experience if they are going to spend time and resources on a new employee they want proof that they have performed like a valuable member of a team before.

The best way to gain experience as a college student is to serve in one, if not several, internships. The college your child attends must emphasize placing their students into these types of opportunities. Be sure to ask questions about how the school’s career center finds internships for the students. Specifically, what kinds of partnerships do they have with local businesses. It’s one thing to have a platform that collects and presents open internships, but a good school will have partnerships with companies and a pipeline for placing students each semester.

Once again, the College Finder function can help here. When reviewing schools, be sure to check out the career center and internships. See what past students and graduates have to say about the opportunities that were open to them. Doing this type of research now will be invaluable in the future as your child’s list of schools continues to grow.

Conclusion

This was part 1 of my list of questions that your kids won’t think to ask. Your greatest asset when helping your child is the knowledge and experience you have gained over the years. It’s vital that they take responsibility, but it’s okay to ask questions that will help their choice. These questions were chosen based on the research I have done over the past few years. We will continue to release more questions in this series throughout the year.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life, including college, entering the workforce, and the real world. He offers several student-focused services including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org

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 the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life, including college, entering the workforce, and the real world. He offers several students focused services, including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org.

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 ResolutionStudy More
New ResolutionBreakdown studying into multiple nights instead of just one
Sub Resolution #1Study for 1 hour per night leading up to exam day
Sub Resolution #2Complete Sub Resolution #1 for 5 straight exams
TimelineComplete 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 the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life, including college, entering the workforce, and the real world. He offers several students focused services, including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org. 

3 Ways To Use Holiday Break To Help Your Kid Plan for College

There comes a time in every parent’s life where their child reaches a certain age, and it becomes time to start looking at colleges. It is an extraordinary and exciting time in the life of not only the teenager but also the parents as they prepare to guide their kids through this critical and complicated process. The problem is, just because it is time to look at colleges doesn’t mean you magically get more time in the day to do so.

Your free time does not expand simply because your child is now 16 and ready to start researching schools. Most parents have jam-packed days, including their day job, taking care of a house, and tending to their other children who are not on the college hunt. For the typical parent, the idea of adding a complicated task like keeping up with college admissions could seem flat out impossible.

Unfortunately, this is what I hear when I talk to college graduates about their application process. So many grads regret not putting in enough time and conducting enough research and for many, applying to colleges messy and chaotic. The result being they ended up going to schools that weren’t a great fit and taking out student loans they didn’t understand.

The holiday break is right around the corner. This is a rare time where tasks and responsibilities are at an all-time low for the year. You must use this free time to begin the college planning process. You should be sitting down with your child and having critical conversations without the distractions of the typical everyday life. It is also a chance to map out your plan of attack and determining how you are going to fit this crucial process into your daily life.

#1 – Establish the importance of what is coming next

The common theme across all of my research is that today’s graduates are in the state they are in because they did not understand what was coming next. As previously mentioned, the majority of the grads I interviewed admit they did not put enough time and research into their college search. They ended up choosing a few colleges based on family suggestions or location, and that is where they applied to. It is imperative to have a conversation with your students to help them understand the importance of this process.

A student cannot have the mindset that college application tasks are mundane nuances that are meant to be completed as fast as possible. This is serious stuff and needs to be treated as such. It is time to start becoming an adult and caring about their future without being nagged about it. You can motivate your student to develop this mindset by asking them what they are interested in and passionate about. If you can find ways to connect their passion to a future career, they will begin to be excited about the prospects of college.

This is also a time to explain to them what the real world is like and what will be expected of them. In most of my keynote speeches, I show a slide that outlines how much time you spend at work. This is a solid wake up call for those who do not fully understand how much time, energy, and resources go into your career. By helping your student to understand what’s coming next, it will give them the motivation they need to prepare for their future.

The Holistic Student Planner section on the MyKlovr application is the perfect support tool for this conversation. MyKlovr’s virtual counselor helps students begin building a comprehensive student portfolio. It helps the students see the big picture regarding their personal stories. By the end of there college preparation journey, this profile becomes there showcase college application portfolio.

#2 – Determine how you are paying for college

This is an uncomfortable conversation. As a parent, you want to give you kids everything they want and more than what you had. Graduates, I speak to often talk about never having this conversation. As a parent, you probably are trying to avoid it because you are afraid your child will get discouraged or not try to apply to their dream school.

Based on my research, I highly advise you take this break from school to figure out how much if any, financial aid you are prepared to provide to your child. It is much better to do this now than have them choose a school they cannot afford and be disappointed. Once you determine the amount of money you can offer, you can begin exploring financial aid options. This allows you to set a price range before you start looking at college.

The number one regret of graduates I speak to does not understand the loans they signed up for. Many students applied for the amount they needed without understanding how loans worked or how much they would be required to pay back. Make sure your child understands the basics of a loan and what their financial responsibility will be based on how much money they borrow.

Again, you do not have to tackle this alone, thanks to the Financial Readiness service that MyKlovr offers. This service provides valuable insight into the many financing options that are open to future college students. Once you determine your price range and your student has a full understanding of how loans work, they can use this valuable tool to select the right option for your family.

#3 – Map out key milestones and commit to weekly check-ins

Everything cannot be accomplished in just one week. The college application process is long and includes many time-sensitive milestones along the way. Take the time to map out these milestones and markdown essential dates. For tasks that do not have hard deadlines, assign your deadlines to them. This will ensure that they do not fall through the cracks. Lastly, by creating a roadmap for your journey, you will never have to worry if something is being missed.

However, like most new year’s resolutions, they will fade unless you keep working at them. This is why you should schedule 30-60 minutes on the same day at the same time each week to review your student’s progress. The meeting can cover two main topics: what was accomplished last week and what needs to be started/finished this week. This ensures that you hit every one of your milestones on time. It also ensures that each milestone is given the time and attention it deserves.

Once again, you do not have to tackle this alone. The key function of the MyKlovr app, the Assisted Action Plan, is designed to help you map everything out. You can review this action plan each week during your weekly check-in. It will lay out what is due that week, what is on the horizon, and what else you can do to increase your chances of getting accepted to the college of your choice.

Conclusion

Life is busy and moves very fast. Often, we do not make time for the things that matter most. Be sure that your child’s college application process is not something that has to get squeezed into a packed schedule. With life temporarily slowing down after Christmas, be sure to set aside some time to meet with your child and discuss the points listed above. A few hours this month could result in years and years of a prosperous career and life.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life, including college, entering the workforce, and the real world. He offers several students focused services, including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org.

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 the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life, including college, entering the workforce, and the real world. He offers several students focused services, including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org. 

3 Popular Myths About Going To College

By Kyle Grappone

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 the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life, including college, entering the workforce, and the real world. He offers several students focused services, including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org.  

3 Ways To Stay Motivated During Your Senior Year

By Kyle Grappone

Senioritis. Nearly every high school student has heard of this term and almost all high school graduates have suffered from this at one point or another. In case this term is new to you, senioritis is the term used to describe how seniors feel about school before graduation. They have worked hard for several years, chosen what college or trade school they are attending and begin to lack motivation when it comes to school, classwork, homework, or studying.

It is important to note that feeling this way does not mean you are lazy. It is natural to want to take a break after a stretch of difficult or time-consuming activities. The college application and selection processes are long and difficult. Once you decide on that next step, you will feel inclined to reward yourself on a job well done. Yes, in some ways, you do deserve a slight pat on the back for getting into college. However, this is hardly the time to take the foot off the gas pedal. This is the time to keep moving forward and working towards your goals. To help with this, I have listed 3 things to remember in order to stay motivated during your senior year.

#1 – Colleges still care about your grades

The majority of college acceptances are based on successful completion of your senior year classes. Remember, colleges are looking to accept the best and the brightest. If they are going to let you come to their school, they want to make sure you are going to be a hardworking student and represent the school well.

Imagine putting in all that hard work and telling everyone what college you will be attending just to have it taken away due to poor grades. If you used getting into college as motivation before, there is no reason to stop now. As you sit in class, think about your future. Think about the college you will be attending and the things that made you choose that school. That should supply you with the motivation to keep working hard towards your goals and not slack off as your time in high school comes to an end.

#2 – It is only going to get tougher from here

Your senior year may feel like the end of an era. However, it is just the beginning of the rest of your life. Each step from here on out will be tougher. As you get older, more and more will be expected of you. College classes are longer than high school classes which means there is more you need to learn each time. The class sizes are larger which means less personalized attention. The professors move faster which means they expect you to already know how to pay attention and take notes.

The point is that you need to use your senior year as a time to build up important skills such as note-taking and studying. This is the time to learn how to focus on and increase your attention span.

Pretend you are already in a college lecture hall. Instead of going straight to your teacher with a question, try to answer it on your own. Try your best to take exceptional notes and absorb as much information as you can, regardless of what class it is. Use your senior year as a practice to prepare for the tougher courses and experiences that are coming next.

#3 – What are you working towards?

When I coach my students, we always begin with the same question. I ask them what type of person they want to become. We talk about the type of life they want to work towards. What are they passionate about? What are they good at? We figure out what type of impact they want to have on the world and then we create a plan to achieve that goal.

Figuring out your purpose is key to staying motivated. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now, but you should begin to think about where you are going. Think about why you are going to college and what type of career you are looking to achieve. Any type of life you want is going to require hard work and determination. It’s going to require you to become the type of person who always works hard and is trying their best. That type of person does not slack off in their senior year, or ever for that matter.

Conclusion

Senior year is not the end of the road. It is simply a stop on a much longer path to your future. You must continue building towards becoming the type of person that you will be proud of. Skills like problem-solving and independent thinking only become more valuable as you get older. It is up to you to continue to work at building these skills and preparing yourself to enter college and eventually the real world.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life including college, entering the workforce and the real world. He offers several students focused services including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org. 

 

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Get Into College

By myKlovr

The College Process is Similar to Starting a Business

Much like starting a business, getting into the school of your choice requires a plan which extends beyond good grades. A successful college strategy includes how well you utilize resources. Resources include people, tools, information, Technology, and much more.

Entrepreneurs know that it can be a struggle to compete with larger companies with more resources. This situation requires that the entrepreneur think and operate creatively, which is beneficial. The ability to leverage existing resources more effectively (and in new and imaginative ways) can provide an advantage.

Technology: the Resource that you need to be using 

What is an accessible resource that students can be leveraging Right Now? If you guessed Technology, then you are correct.

Students can proactively use Artificial Intelligence (AI). As described by Techopedia, “Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.[i]

AI enables machine learning; machines are taught from experience and can adapt to new information and complete jobs. The Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute points out that “[m]ost AI examples that you hear about today – from chess-playing computers to self-driving cars – rely heavily on deep learning and natural language processing. Using these technologies, computers can be trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data.[ii]

How can AI be leveraged during the college admission process? 

Well, the ability to process large amounts of data and recognize patterns means that computers can do much more than predict a chess move or drive a car. AI can make valuable predictions and suggestions relating to the college admission process.

For instance, Technology has introduced virtual platforms and mobile applications that play the role of a personalized guidance counselor. A personal college counselor is of particular interest for the majority of high school students who do not have readily available access to college advisors. College advisors are a crucial part of the college admissions process, providing students with the insight and information needed to make critical decisions.

Common questions include:

  • “How do I choose a college?”
  • “What are my chances of getting into my dream school?”
  • “What can I do to increase my chances of getting into college?”
  • “Once I get in, how will I be able to afford college tuition?”

Tools that combine AI and data science can answer these essential student questions, and the best part is that AI-based college counseling platforms and websites provide personalized consulting at any time. The suggestions provided by these tools are based on extensive data sets, including personalized information provided by the users. Platforms combine the experience of multiple guidance counselors into a cohesive individualized plan.

5 Examples of How You can use a Virtual Counselor Right Now

AI-based virtual counseling platforms can instantaneously help you to:

  1. Find colleges that are a strong fit for you and meet your needs.
  2. Develop a list of safety schools.
  3. Receive guidance on how to get into the schools of your choice.
  4. Learn about available college financing solutions and how to use them.
  5. Plan and execute the activities necessary to complete the college application process.

What’s Next?

Whether you’re a parent or a student, it’s a smart strategy to learn more about AI-based virtual counseling platforms and similar solutions. These can be a helpful supplemental resource to assist with making more informed decisions and start students on a path to success!

[i] “What is Artificial Intelligence.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jul. 2019 https://www.techopedia.com/definition/190/artificial-intelligence-ai

[ii] “Artificial Intelligence – What It Is And Why It Matters | Sas.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jul. 2019 https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/analytics/what-is-artificial-intelligence.htm.

[Press Release] MyKlovr Offers Best-In-Class Virtual College Counseling Benefits via Namely’s Brokerage Services

By myKlovr

Partnership Makes Disruptive College Planning Technology Available to Namely’s Clients as Voluntary Benefit

(New York City, June 4, 2019) MyKlovr, a growing virtual counselor for college-bound students and their parents, has entered into a partnership with Namely, a leading HR platform for mid-sized companies, to offer a first-of-its-kind benefit to its 1,300 corporate clients. Starting today, companies that use Namely’s brokerage services to manage employee benefits can offer myKlovr’s virtual college counseling services as an innovative education planning benefit.

Founded in 2016, myKlovr enables students and parents to leverage artificial intelligence to receive personalized, step-by-step guidance to increase their chances of being admitted into the college that suits them best. The platform offers in-depth support for the whole college-planning process, from school identification and academic readiness to detailed action plans and financial preparation.

“Planning for college is one of the most important life phases for a student and their parents, and it is often one of the most stressful,” says Gustavo Dolfino, CEO of myKlovr. “We wanted to work with an innovative partner like Namely to ensure we are bringing our platform to a wider audience who can benefit from the relieved pressure and stress our first-of-its-kind platform offers.”

With this partnership, Namely now offers myKlovr as an efficient post-tax voluntary benefit for clients’ employees and their families through seamless, convenient payroll deductions.

“We are thrilled to offer myKlovr’s suite of products to our valued brokerage services clients as part of our growing portfolio of both traditional and non-traditional benefit options,” said Vin DiDonna, benefits director at Namely. “We are always looking for ways to extend the innovative benefits we offer, so we can help our clients differentiate their mid-sized businesses by better serving employees, and we expect this college planning platform to provide immense value.”

Namely’s award-winning, powerful, easy-to-use technology allows companies to handle all of their HR, payroll, time management, and benefits in one place. Coupled with best-in-class account support, every Namely client gets the software and service they need to deliver great HR and a strong, engaged company culture.

About myKlovr
MyKlovr is a media division of Student Global, LLC, established in New York in 2016. MyKlovr is the first-of-its-kind virtual college counseling platform that utilizes predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence to increase every high school student’s chances of college admission. For more information, visit www.myklovr.com.

Near Year’s Resolutions and You

By Thomas Broderick

Happy 2019! It’s a new year, which means new challenges and new opportunities. As a high school student, you certainly have a lot to do over the next 12 months. No matter what lies ahead, I want to help you start your year on the right foot.

Let’s talk resolutions!

Should You Set a Resolution?

You probably know the story by heart: a well-meaning person sets a new year’s resolution only to give up on it within a month, week, or even a day. With so many people unable to keep their resolutions – and feeling bad about themselves when they do – does it make sense to make one at all?

First off, no, there’s nothing inherently wrong about setting a new year’s resolution. It’s just that for most people, they set their sights too high. I’m going to the gym every day isn’t an impossible task, but for someone who never works out, that goal is too big. Missing a day makes people feel like they failed, and then they give up entirely.

Let’s make sure that you don’t fall into the same trap by picking a reasonable resolution and seeing in through to the end.

Picking a Resolution 

You’ll have different priorities depending on whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. That said, your resolution should relate to one or more academic or personal milestones the next 12 months will bring. Maybe you’re taking the SAT/ACT for the first time or going on your first college tour. How can you tie these events into a resolution? Here’s a sample resolution for each grade level:

  • Freshman: I will select a new extracurricular activity this year or continue one that I enjoy.
  • Sophomore: I will go on at least two college tours this summer.
  • Junior: I will take three ACT/SAT practice tests before attempting the real thing.
  • Senior: I will maintain my grades until graduation.

Each of these resolutions requires a different set of steps. However, no matter which resolution you set, achieving it boils down to the same strategies.

Achieving Your Resolution

Break Up Your Resolution Into Smaller Goals

If you want to increase your chances of success with your new year’s resolution, break your goal into smaller, more manageable goals. Let’s use the same resolutions from the previous section as an example.

  • Freshman: 1. I will write down what I like and don’t like about my current extracurricular activity. 2. I will research what new activities I can join this semester. 3. I will decide on whether to change to a new activity or keep my current one.
  • Sophomore: 1. I will research at least 10 colleges by exploring their websites. 2. I will talk to my family about which ones they think would be a good fit. 3. We will go on the tours this summer.
  • Junior: 1. I will pick an ACT/SAT study guide to use for my test prep. 2. I will see if I can find a free one at the library or a used copy online. 3. I will take three practice tests.
  • Senior: 1. I will continue to prepare for tests and assessments. 2. I will ask teachers how I can maintain my grades during this crucial time. 3. I will research how having good grades as a senior can qualify me for merit-based scholarships.

If you set the same resolution as in the last section, you may not follow these steps exactly. Everyone is different and may need extra or modified steps. The point is that you need to break down your big resolution into 3-5 smaller pieces.

Set Dates for Completion

Once you have your smaller goals, give each one its own ‘due date.’ Keep in mind that even if you and your best friend have the same resolution and goals, you may have different completion dates. No one is the same, and you want to ensure that you give yourself enough time while still completing everything by the final deadline.

Final Thoughts

You’ll have a lot to do this year, but give your resolution the time and attention it deserves. Yes, it’ll be a lot of hard work. However, when you see it through, you’ll be one step closer to attending your dream college.

Good luck in the coming year!

Helping Your Child Who Struggles With Anxiety

By Kendell Shaffer

Anxiety is an epidemic among teenagers and college students.

In many cases, students are dropping out of college because of anxiety and health centers are seeing more students than ever. The APA sites, “Anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent) and relationship problems (35.8 percent).”

So what’s the best way to help if your child is suffering from anxiety?

Talk to them about it. Let them know you understand they are suffering and assure them they are not alone. Encourage them to talk to their friends or roommates. Chances are their friends are suffering too. Visiting the mental health center on campus is also a good idea. Or even the urgent care at school, if they are really concerned.

Often anxiety presents itself with physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, a racing heart, and lightheadedness. It can also bring on numbness in fingers and hands. These symptoms can frighten a student who is otherwise healthy.

My daughter picked up a brochure at the health center about anxiety and the headline read: You Are Not Having a Heart Attack. It then explained the top physical signs of anxiety. She thought it would be a great idea if the college handed out these flyers to all the freshman, since just about everyone she knew suffered from the symptoms.

A friend who is a therapist suggested that sometimes freshman have too much time on their hands since often colleges suggest an easier workload first semester. She said they have too much time to worry and suggests they take on an additional pass/fail classes or find an on-campus job.

Social media is to blame for a lot of this newly brought on anxiety, but so is being away from home for the first time and tougher academics. Anxiety can also be hereditary. This article from the Huffington Post offers a helpful list of seventeen ideas to help with anxiety. My daughter and I are both trying ideas on this list. Just because I’m not in college, doesn’t mean I don’t get anxious. Getting off social media is one of the top items. Not a bad idea for all of us these days.

But please take your child’s anxiety seriously and if you feel it’s becoming a bigger problem than the above list can help with, seek professional help. If you can aid them in managing their anxiety at this young age, they will take those skills with them into the future.

Is It Too Soon to Start Planing for Summer?

By Kendell Shaffer

It’s not even January and I have to think about summer?

Yep, now is the time. Especially if you have a high school student and they are planning on attending an academic summer program because applications will be due soon. And from my research, I’ve learned that colleges really look at what students do the summer between junior and senior year.

What if you also have a college student. How will they plan their summer? A  college class? Travel abroad? A summer job? And what happens to their dorm room? Most colleges close the dorms to college students during the summer, so they will have to move out and perhaps back home. Is their room ready or have you already turned it into a sewing room? Or has their younger sibling taken it over?

And what about family vacations?

I remember vividly my friend Jenny, who had her kids a lot earlier than I did, lamenting when they were in high school that there were only so many family vacations left. Her words are ringing true as I realize my kids will be in opposite directions very soon.

Gone are the days when both my children are at the same school with the same summer schedule. If you have kids in college and high school then I’d plug in the summer vacation dates now for both. Does your college student start back early August, but your high schooler begins after Labor Day? You might want to know that now as well.

How about college tours? Will you be taking those with your high school junior or senior? Will your college student want to attend those with you? Can you combine college tours with a family vacation?

This is all overwhelming as I try to coordinate college tours, summer academic programs, summer jobs, and a family vacation. Not to mention the cost as college payments are just around the corner. I’ve never been really good at planning so far ahead, but I see the benefits.

So during the upcoming holiday week, I will sit down with my family and try to sort all this out. Perhaps we can come up with a summer plan that suits everyone. Or maybe everyone will just want to stay at home this summer, as it might be one of the last ones at home where we can be altogether as a family.

Exploring Non-Traditional Colleges

By Kendell Shaffer

What if your child isn’t a traditional learner? What if following the path of every other college freshman turns them off? Not to worry, there are colleges that cater to the needs of students who want a more independent academic experience.

St. John’s College with campuses in both Annapolis and Santa Fe offers only one major, Liberal Arts. They base the curriculum on a “Great Books Program” and they have few tests and lots of class discussions. The website boasts that it grants one of the most affordable tuitions at $35,000 per year.

How about Hampshire College, a member of the Five College Consortium including Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, and the University of Massachusetts. At Hampshire there are no grades and the students can design their own concentrations of study (no majors either). It’s a great choice for creative, self-directed students.

Antioch College (Yellow Springs, Ohio) requires that the students hold down “full-time co-op jobs” switching between work and study. This can be great for students who need to support themselves and still wish to get a college degree.

College of the Ozarks is another college that requires the students to work. This time in exchange for tuition. The entire campus is run on solar power and 30% of their cafeteria food is grown on campus. It’s a liberal arts college that is also Christian based.

Then there is Colorado College which seems ideal for the outdoor student who would like to study one subject at a time for an extended amount of time, (three weeks) then have a week off to explore the great unknown.

Cornell College (not Cornell University) in Iowa offers a one class at a time curriculum. And according to their website, the student can immerse themselves in “1 Course x 18 Days x 8 Blocks. The territory we cover is the same as on a semester system. But the path we travel offers an entirely different journey.”

And for something completely different, Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois is run by McDonald’s and based on managerial training. Classes translate into business management credits at other colleges.
It opened in 1961 and every year about 5,000 students graduate from campuses all around the world. China’s division has an admission rate of 1%.

Your student may find an alternative school that feels like home, or after looking at the alternatives, they might prefer a traditional college after all. But this is the time for exploration and with over 3000 colleges and universities in the United States, surely your student will find a school that is right for them.

Exploring why 30% College Freshman Don’t Go Back After the First Year and How to Prevent It

By Kendell Shaffer

I recently read the New York Times story, When A College Student Comes Home to Stay. And wow. This would have been very helpful to read when my daughter was in high school. Luckily I still have one more at home and hope my son will benefit from my newly acquired wisdom.

The article suggests many reasons for dropping out of college after the freshman year including; finances, failing grades, mental health issues, and homesickness. But the idea that impressed me most was, “at the end of the day, what your child needs most is practice running his or her own life — and college is a risky place to do that for the first time.”

This rang true because I now understand the main reason my daughter is struggling at college emotionally is because we did too much for her while she was in high school.

She was telling me the other day that now in college she has to make every decision for herself including what she will eat for dinner when she will eat dinner and if she will eat dinner. What I thought would be a liberating moment for her, was more of a stressful one.

These simple choices about food are only compounded as she decides everything for herself. What classes to take, where to study, how to get around campus etc.

I hadn’t realized that while I thought I was supporting her by being on top of her high school schedule and driving her where she needed to go and cooking healthy meals, I was actually weakening her. She needed some training on making her own decisions.

How do I do that for my son? He is a high school junior, so there is still time. The first thing I have implemented is to have him help me with some household repairs, something I wish I had done with his sister.

So when the toilet clogged this weekend, I showed him how to use the plunger. When we needed to change out a deadbolt on our front door, I had him do the work as his dad and I talked him through it. And starting this week I am going to see to it that he finds his own way home from school on Fridays. He can take the bus or the train or ride with a friend. And I think one day of the week, we’ll have him make dinner. He needs to develop according to the article, “skills to take care of himself.”

The article goes on to say that, “students haven’t been given control of their own lives until way too late.” So even as our instincts as parents are to hang on to our young ones as long as we can, we actually need to let go a bit sooner. It’s going to be hard for us, but it will be more helpful to our students in the long run.

College Support Groups for Parents

By Kendell Shaffer

As soon as my daughter committed to a college, I was sent an email from the school inviting me to join a parent’s Facebook page. I joined and didn’t think much of it.

At first, parents were mostly discussing dorm bedding and the best type of storage bins. As the quarter began, parents posted pictures of their students on moving day. I noticed a couple of posts about fall harvest festivals and a monarch butterfly festival that looked intriguing. I forwarded it to my daughter who actually went with her roommates and sent me a picture of the three of them with butterfly face paint. I didn’t post the picture.

Three months into the college year I now find myself gravitating to that Facebook page often and I notice others do too. Parents now discuss concerns. What to do when your child has anxiety, a bad roommate situation, not getting the classes they want? The parents rely on each other when they can’t find help within the university.

Over Thanksgiving break, there were endless posts of happy teens arriving back home for the holiday. Those were accompanied by photos of unpacked suitcases dumped by the front door. One single dad who had been posting quite a bit lately was so happy to be reunited with his daughter, his post brought tears to my eyes.

When my kids were in elementary school parent support was a big thing; room reps, cupcake baking, helping out on soup days. During middle school, the amount of parent support slowed down and by high school, the parents were not expected or really wanted to help on campus.

It feels like the parents of the college freshman are retreating back to elementary school where they want to get involved and need the support of each other. Leaving your teen at college is not dissimilar to leaving them in the first-grade classroom. You know it’s the right thing, but it doesn’t feel good having them so far away. I remember the first-grade moms clustering after dropping off waiting almost as if they hoped they’d be called back to take their little one home. I kind of feel that way now and I think other parents do too.

The parent Facebook group has become a support group. A place where parents go to share the joy and sorrows of having a child so far away. Even though the parents are from all over the country, I feel like I am getting to know them. And when I have a concern, I know where to turn for answers because someone else has probably had that same concern too.

Can Your Freshman Make it Through the Rest of the Semester?

By Kendell Shaffer

My daughter was home from college this weekend and she was in heaven. She was grateful for her bed, her home and most importantly her family. She’s met many students with difficult family lives and realized how good hers was. Her revelation made us all grateful.

At the end of the weekend, it was hard for her to imagine a nine-hour bus ride back to college where she would be crammed into a small room with two other girls. Exams are looming and the food in the cafeteria is starting to all taste the same.

“What would your life be like if you didn’t go back?” I asked her when she started to make noises that she couldn’t. She said, she would get a job and then go to community college. She couldn’t finish the sentence without realizing it wasn’t really what she wanted. Yes, being away from home is hard. Especially when everything she has ever known is at home. But I asked her to think about what she wanted for her life and how she was going to get that. She wants to go into politics. So I asked her if she needed to go to college for that career. She agreed she did.

I suggested every time she thought about wanting to be at home, to think about her big goal and know she needs to finish college in order to achieve that. Don’t think about the comfort you are missing at home, but think about the life you will lead in the future. Besides, a comfortable life would be a boring life and I know if she stayed home and did not go back to college she’d be bored in about a week.

 

So how do you help your college freshmen get through the rest of the semester?

  • Remind them that Winter break is only three weeks away
  • Remind them that their job right now is to focus on schoolwork
  • Plan a couple of fun activities for winter break, a trip or something local. Put that special event on the calendar or buy tickets for it now, so they have something to look forward to
  • Perhaps start planning a community service day for when they return. Visit a nursing home or homeless shelter
  • Read one of the books they have been assigned so that you can discuss it with them when they return
  • Plan a day with you and your college student, lunch, mani-pedi, bike riding, tossing a football. Something where they get your full attention for the whole day. You will love this too because in a couple of years they may be studying abroad during winter break or off vacationing with friends

I believe freshman are confused as to where they belong. They are living between home and dorm. Let them know that when they are home, nothing has changed, you can still do the things as a family you used to. Comfort and routine are what they crave. Adventure is what they need.

Decisions, Decisions: Early Decision, Early Action, Instant Decision or Regular Decision

By Thomas Broderick

When it comes to your journey to college, you have to answer many important questions:

  • Public or private school?
  • Small or big school?
  • How much can I afford?
  • Which scholarships should I apply to?
  • And so on.

Answering each of these questions brings you one step closer to attending college. However, one of the final questions you must answer may have the most significant impact on where you go to school:

  • Should I apply early decision, early action, instant decision, or regular decision?

Yes, there are many choices of how you can apply to college, and each one comes with a unique set of rules and regulations. In this article, we’ll examine each type of application so you can choose those right for you.

Early Decision

 As the name implies, early decision requires you to decide where you want to go to college before most application deadlines. You apply to one school 1-2 months before regular decision, and you can expect a decision in about six weeks. You may already know the catch: if the school accepts you, you have to go there. No, they won’t drag you off to jail if you don’t attend, but when you send in your early decision application, you’re telling the college that, “Yes, I will 100% go here if you accept me.”

Students who apply early decision have a slightly higher chance of receiving an acceptance letter. Don’t be fooled; schools accept a higher percentage of early decision applicants because these applicants represent the cream of the crop. Finally, schools may decide to push some early decision applicants into the regular decision pile to review their applications again between January and April.

Who should apply early decision?

If you 100% know deep down – you feel it in your bones – that you want to attend a specific college, by all means, apply early decision. And if you get in, more power to you. With that significant weight off your shoulders, you can celebrate during winter break and have a less stressful spring semester.

And if you shouldn’t get in – it happened to me, too – take a moment to grieve before refocusing your energy on your remaining applications.  

Early Action

Want to know if a school will accept you early but not 100% sure you want to attend? Then early action is for you!

Schools that use early action typically have the same application deadlines as schools that use early decision. You receive a decision around the same time as if you had applied early decision, too. But unlike early decision, applying early action does not constitute an agreement to attend a school if it accepts you. Also, you have until May 1st to make your final decision.

Who should apply early action?

You should apply early action if there is a school you love, but you’re not entirely sure you want to attend. Also, consider early action if you want to see how your regular decision applications turn out.

Instant Decision

Don’t let the name fool you. Instant decision takes a little more time than a cup of instant ramen. It’s more like speed dating. Here’s how the process works for some schools:

  • You gather all application materials.
  • You take them to a college on its decision day, also known as D-Day.
  • The college makes an admission decision that same day.

Like with early action, you still have until May 1stto select a college or university. Compared to early decision, early action, and regular decision, instant decision is rare. None of the schools you apply to may use it.

Who should apply instant decision?

Consider instant decision a good choice you want to know your results as soon as possible. D-Day can feel like a gauntlet, however, especially for schools that use interviews, so be ready for the stress. 

Regular Decision

Regular decision represents the bulk of applications colleges and universities receive throughout December and into early January. Schools spend the spring curating their next year’s freshman class before sending out decisions around April 1st. Accepted students have until May 1stto accept an offer.  Schools put some regular decision applicants on a waitlist: these students may not find out until May or June if a school accepts them.

Who should apply regular decision? 

No matter who you are, you should plan to apply regular decision to at least three schools. It’s your best bet to receive one or more acceptances.

Final Thoughts

Applying to college has never been more competitive, and you may think that applying one way or another may give you an advantage. If I were you, I’d push these thoughts out of my mind. Apply early decision/action to your top choice and apply regular decision for the rest of the schools on your shortlist. After that, all you can do is sit back, wait, and continue doing your best in high school until graduation day.

What to Talk About With Your College-Bound Student in Preparation for Their College Applications

By Kendell Shaffer

My son is a high school junior and we talk about college in small increments. We are trying to balance his life and not make it all about college, because at some point we know he will be shifting his focus to “it’s all about college.”

So what can we talk about now to plant the seeds so we are not scrambling next fall when he officially begins his college application process?

At a recent high school meeting for parents of juniors, we learned that colleges look at what the student will be doing the summer between junior and senior year. The colleges want to see that the student is either working, enrolled in an academic class, or enrolled in some sort of program to enrich their education.

This is not the summer to hang out at the beach! Luckily our son has already thought this through and is looking into several summer programs.

I have already put the SAT and ACT test dates on the family calendar, so my son can look ahead at the entire year and see when the tests are coming up. Hopefully, this will allow him to pace himself with his test prep and his social activities.

We’ve printed his transcript and have gone over it together. He understands the difference between his GPA and his weighted GPA. He sees what classes he needs to bring his grades up and what classes he needs to maintain grades.

After winter break, we will meet with his college counselor. Since he is interested in perhaps going to art school or drama school, we have encouraged him to set up meetings with the head of the art and drama departments at his school.

He will be able to get their input on colleges which might be a good fit for him. I’m encouraging him to seek out their advice since they know his work better than his college counselor will, even though she did attend his school play this weekend!

As a family, we will determine if we are going to go on a college tour this spring break. This will be planned and booked over the Thanksgiving holiday.

After getting input from his art and drama teacher, he will start working on his art portfolio and select some audition pieces. I know from past experience that if he wants to apply to drama school, he will need a reel and a resume. These are pieces that will take time pull together and I want him to get started on them as soon as he can.

It helps to have gone through this college prep with my daughter. But even if you haven’t had that experience, it’s not too soon to educate yourselves and jump right in!

College Prep List:

  1.  Plan for your student’s educational based summer activity 
  2. Add SAT and ACT test dates to calendar
  3. Review your student’s transcript
  4. Meet with your student’s college counselor and department heads
  5. Think about what colleges to visit with your student during Spring break
  6. Help your student plan art portfolios or prepare audition materials

Top 10 Private Colleges in The United States

By Emma Lorenzo

Thinking about applying to college?  MyKlovr has provided a list of the top ten private colleges in the United States.

1. Harvard University

Medical School at Harvard University.

Location: Cambridge, MA

Total Enrollment: 20,324

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Harvard University was founded on September 8, 1636, and named after its first benefactor, John Harvard.

The first graduation ceremony for Harvard University was in 1642, honoring nine graduates.

2. Stanford University

Overview of Stanford University campus.

Location: Bay Area, CA

Total Enrollment: 16,914

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Standford University was founded on November 11, 1885.

Stanford University has six schools, Business, Earth Energy and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, and Medicine.

 

3. Yale University

Harkness Tower at Yale University.

Location: New Haven, CT

Total Enrollment: 12,458

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Fun Facts

Yale University was established on October 9, 1701.

Yale is home to the oldest collegiate newspaper, the Yale Daily News.

 

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top ten list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Princeton UniversityUniversity8,181Princeton, NJ7%Suburban
5Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUniversity11,376Boston, MA8%Urban
6University of PennsylvaniaUniversity21,826Philidelphia, PA9%Urban
7Columbia UniversityUniversity25,084New York, NY6%Urban
8Brown UniversityUniversity9,781Providence, RI9%Urban
9California Institute of TechnologyUniversity2,240Pasadena, CA8%Suburban
10Duke UniversityUniversity15,928Durham, NC11%Suburban

 

MyKlovr created this top ten list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

How to Use the Thanksgiving Break as a Fresh Start to Set New Academic Goals if Things Aren’t Going Well

By Kendell Shaffer

I always feel refreshed after a long nap. So I’m hoping the Thanksgiving break can be a long nap for my son. It’s been a tough junior year so far. He took on a big course load, a full plate of electives and two honors classes. He also performed in the school play and one outside play. I think a big meal and a long rest are necessary for him right now and Thanksgiving break is the perfect time for him to reset his battery and get ready for the rest of the semester and his impending final exams.

Not only is it important for your student to study and focus, but it’s equally important for them to have some downtime. Perhaps think of Thanksgiving break as that. Hold off on the college talk for a while. Get their mind off their studies and have them dive into family activities. Maybe an old fashioned game of Monopoly or a family hike. These are their last years of childhood so let them be a kid this week. The time for adulthood just around the corner.

Reading is essential for relaxing too. So in my son’s case, I am going to suggest now is a good time to catch up on his independent reading for school, or maybe get a jump start on that novel that is looming for his English class. He’s not the best one when it comes to independent reading, so we’ll take some reading time as a family this week. We can all use some downtime to curl up with a good book.

So after turkey day, a day of eating resting and family activity, then bring up your child’s academic year. Set some goals, maybe reassess their homework load and extra circulars. Is it important to be on the sports team for the Spring sport, or is that just too much to take on this year? Is it time for a tutor? Maybe the after school job is taking away too many homework hours. Be aware of their schedule, notice their concerns. Let them know you are on their side.

We decided as a family that this Thanksgiving we would decide if we are going to do college tours for Spring break. After reviewing my son’s Spring schedule, we think a trip would be too much and he should spend Spring break completing some extra projects he has signed up for. We all felt a big relief upon this decision and will now plan on some college tours this summer.

Just because our kids might be taller than we are and are driving, working and can do things themselves these days doesn’t mean they have the capacity to manage their time. It still is helpful if someone can access their schedule and look at it with fresh eyes. They may have bitten off more than they can chew and what could be a better time than Thanksgiving to learn how to manage just how much you can put on your plate without overloading it.

Enjoy your time with your students and family this Thanksgiving!

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