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A slightly overweight student in workout clothes walks down a path

How To Avoid The Freshman 15

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

Schedule Your Workouts

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

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

Eat Healthy In The Dining Hall

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

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

Shop Like Your Parents

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

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

Get An Accountability Partner

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

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

Conclusion

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

About Kyle

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

Three young women casually walking and talking, having fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TB: Why is an organization like Best Buddies necessary?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

College applicant shakes hands with two interviewers at a desk

10 Tips For Your College Application Interview

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

#1 – Dress Professionally

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

#2 – Share Your Portfolio

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

#3 – Research The School

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

#4 – Research Your Major

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

#5 – Participate In Mock Interviews

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

#6 – Know Where The Interview Is Located

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

#7 – Mind Your Body Language

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

#8 – Tell Your Story

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

#9 – Convey Your Value 

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

#10 – Ask Questions

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

Conclusion

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

About Kyle

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

Person on a laptop computer using video conferencing

Virtual Volunteering and You

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

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

What is Virtual Volunteering?

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

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

How Do I Get Involved?

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

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

How Do I Do a Good Job?

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

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

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

Can I Get a Reference?

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

Young woman studying with laptop in college library

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

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

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

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

What Would You Do Differently When Applying To Colleges?

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

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

What About College Were You Not Prepared For?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

About Kyle

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

Student Loans and You

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

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

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

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

When to Consider Student Loans

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

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

Scholarships

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

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

Grants

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

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

The Bank of Mom and Dad

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

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

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

What Types of Loans Are There?

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

Federally Subsidized

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

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

Federally Unsubsidized

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

Private

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

Then the Great Recession happened.

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

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

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

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

  • Loan searching
  • Refinancing
  • Debt forgiveness

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

Simple Answer: It depends on you.

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

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

Young woman loading her car to leave to college as her parents look on

What Not To Do As A Parent of a College Freshman

Going away to college is a significant transition for both the student and the parent. The old ways of doing things are out the door. For parents who are used to being heavily involved in various aspects of there children’s lives, this is a difficult adjustment. You have spent years waking them up, making sure they study, encouraging them to go to sleep, and reminding them of important dates and deadlines. Now, they are on there own. You may be tempted to continue to help them, but it is crucial to their development that you don’t.

I have spoken to and coached many college graduates over the last few years. Almost all of them talk about how their parents were so involved in there daily lives that they never truly learned to become independent. College is supposed to be a time of growth, self-development, and transformation for a student. When you continue to do things for them, you rob them of this opportunity. Here is a list of what not to do as the parent of a college freshman.

Call The Teacher

You may be surprised that this even needs to be said. When I started my coaching, this wasn’t even anything that I considered had to be addressed. However, after conducting a research study that involved speaking to college employees, I was blown away by how much of an issue this has become. When a student is having trouble in a class, it’s the parent that ends up calling the teacher and requesting a meeting. This is a massive problem on several levels.

First, your child needs to learn how to communicate their issues on there own. Professors are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to having conversations with those in authority. Your child’s boss is going to be tougher and less accepting when they enter the real world. Second, the professor is going to lose respect for your son or daughter because they did not address the issue themselves. Lastly, your robbing your child of learning valuable life skills such as problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Wake Them Up For Class

Habits are tough to break. As a parent, you are used to waking your child up each morning and help them start there day. Thanks to cell phones, you can continue this routine if you wish. However, you are doing more harm than good. Yes, you can ensure they never miss a class, but at what cost?

Your child needs to learn to be self-reliant, and following a routine without prompting is a big part of that. Yes, it is possible they may oversleep in the beginning and miss a class. However, that is a valuable lesson that will stay with them for a long time. They need to understand their choices have consequences. It is better they learn this lesson now in college then be late for work and lose their job because of it. Again, it comes back to preparing them for the real world.

Give Into Homesickness

Many college students report feeling some degree of homesickness during their freshman year. This will be amplified if your child had several friends who are staying home for college. They may call home and dramatically claim how unhappy they are at college. What they are really saying is that they are homesick and looking for the same type of companionship and happiness they once had at home.

It is critical as a parent that you stay strong and suggest alternatives to coming home. For example, encourage them to attend campus events and meet new people. Suggest they study or watch TV in the common area and start a conversation. The best thing you can do is help them understand what they are feeling is universal and will go away. Make sure they know that they will soon find there new friends and things will get better.

Over Communication

Obviously, you are going to want to check in with your child while they are away. The key here is to limit the messages and give them the space they need. If you smother them too much, they will begin to resent you and dodge your texts and calls altogether. If you always remind them of home, they will become homesick, as mentioned above. Lastly, they may see this an opportunity to ask you to solve every problem they are having instead of figuring it out on there own.

My advice would be to let them call you on the phone. It may not be every day, but they will feel in control of the situation. As for text messages, try to let them text you first. If you want to text them first, make sure it is something important. An example of this would be wishing them good luck on a test or asking about how their weekend was. Examples of unnecessary texts include random images, just saying hi, informing them about where you are, or anything else that can come off as annoying or trigger homesickness.

Try To Fix Everything

When your child has a problem, their initial reaction will be to run to you to fix it. They won’t even try to handle the problem on there own. These types of issues will include but are not limited to roommates, people on their floor, professors, homework, dining hall food, and other minor, solvable problems. As a parent, this has been your job for 18 years. Of course, you want to jump to action and help them. If you do this, how will they ever become the adult you sent them to college to become?

When your child comes running with an issue, ask them to explain it in detail. Then, ask them what they have done to solve the problem. If they can’t answer that, tell them to think about it for a day and get back to you. Encourage them to solve their own problems, but let them know they can run a solution by you if needed. It’s much better to tweak their ideas then do everything for them at the start. This way, they will learn the valuable skills they will need when they enter corporate America after graduation.

Conclusion

Transitioning from high school parent to college parent is incredibly difficult. Your world seemingly changes overnight, and you long for feeling wanted and useful again. If you have not done so already, begin working with your child to make sure the above issues never even present themselves. If they do, guide them in the right direction but let them figure the issues and problems out for themselves.

About Kyle

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

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

5 Ways To Prepare For Going Away To College

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

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

#1 – Start Waking Yourself Up In High School

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

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

#2 – Learn How To Cook and Do Laundry

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

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

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

#3 – Learn Where Your Classes Are

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

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

#4 – Connect With Other Incoming Freshman

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

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

#5 – Create A Study Schedule

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

About Kyle

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

Person using LinkedIn on a laptop computer

How To Create A College-Ready LinkedIn Profile

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

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

It All Starts With The Picture

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

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

The Headline of Your Story

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

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

What Are You All About?

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

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

You Have More Experience Then You Think

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

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

What Are Your Interests?

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

Conclusion

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

About Kyle

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

Middle-aged woman sitting on the sofa reading a book

5 Books For Parents of First-Year College Students

As a parent, the college application process can be as hectic for you as it is for your child. You get caught up in a whirl-wind of campus visits, FAFSA applications, and deadlines. If this is your first time, you seek the advice of other parents, books, podcasts, and anyone else that can help you survive the chaos that can be college admissions. However, throughout it all, what gets forgotten is what happens when the chaos is over. What do you do when your child actually goes off to college?

You spend so much time focusing on getting them into college that you rarely take the time to prepare for the day when they leave home. This can leave many parents unsure of what to do and how to act. What should I do with all of this newfound free time? How often should I call my child? Will they know how to survive without me? It’s a challenging time for any parent and one that should be taken seriously. No matter where your child is in the college process, here are five books aimed to prepare you for the next step in your relationship with your new college student child.

Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide To Understanding The College Years
By Karen Levin Coburn

Overview

Letting Go has been providing parents guidance and advice for well over a decade. This book focuses on how to support your new college student on an emotional and social level. It is packed with stories from former college students and parents who speak openly about the different issues and challenges they had to overcome. Author Karen Coburn guides parents through difficult transitional challenges, including how to encourage independence, when it’s okay to intervene, what kinds of emotions your child will be facing, and much more.

How It Can Benefit You

To get the most out of this book, it’s beneficial to read it before your child actually leaves for college. As you read it, take notes about what challenges mentioned in the book might be an issue for your child. Then, set aside time to discuss the book with them. Have an open conversation about how they are feeling about being independent and if they understand the responsibilities they are being entrusted with. This might be the time to set ground rules such as how often they will call home to ensure you are giving them enough space.

The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only
By Harlan Cohen

Overview

The Naked Roommate is a funny and laid back guide for parents to prepare for the new world that their kids are about to enter. Written by Harlan Cohen, a trusted guru of all things college, this book is designed to collect and deliver fact-based advice to any parent of a first-year college student. This book is a collection of stats and stories from parents, students, and experts across the country. It covers a wide variety of topics such as preparing the summer before, keeping in touch, going to class, financial advice, dealing with roommates, handling homesicknesses, and so much more.

How It Can Benefit You

This book will prepare you for all the surprises you are in store as the parent of a college student. Again, this type of book should be read months before your child leaves for school. If something in the book concerns you, then you should raise it with your child. Otherwise, at least you have a reference guide on how to deal with the majority of issues that may arise during their four years away at school. 

Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro
By Jodi Okun

Overview

It seems like almost every day we read something about the student loan debt problem in this country. Several candidates for President over the years have promised to get this issue under control, and even a few have pledged to eliminate the debt entirely. In her best selling book, Jodi Okun tackles the issue head-on in a way that can help you prevent the issue before even starts. Jodi has decades of experience in the arena of financial aide and shares her sound and practical advice with you in this book.

How It Can Benefit You

Navigating financial aid can be complicated for any parent and downright overwhelming for any student. This book can help answer your questions and ensure you are making the right choices before and during your child’s college years. Before you make any decisions, read this book and highlight anything you don’t understand. This way, you can come up with specific questions to ask your family, friends, or financial advisor and get the specific advice you need.

From Mom To Me Again
By Melissa Shultz

Overview

As a parent, you spend nearly two decades being Mom or Dad to your child. That is a full-time job with a ton of responsibilities. For most, it keeps them so busy that it defines their existence and gives them their purpose. Then, their child goes off to school, and everything changes. This book tells the story of how one Mom dealt with these issues and reinvented herself to move on with her life.

How It Can Benefit You

As we mentioned earlier, the process of applying to college revolves solely around the child. However, the aftermath significantly impacts the parent as well. Adjusting to an empty home for the first time is not something to take lightly. You owe it to yourself to prepare for what life will be like after your child leaves for college. This book can provide the guidance you are looking for that isn’t always found in your more traditional college-based books.

How To Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap
By Julie Lythcott-Haims

Overview

This book tackles the issue of helicopter parenting head-on. Author Julie-Lythcott Haims speaks openly about the damage of helicopter parenting by telling stories of her time as a student dean. This book is a collection of her conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers as she explores the varying ways parents have meddled in their children’s lives and the adverse impact it had on their future. She also provides practical strategies to help parents allow their children to make their own mistakes and develop the skills necessary for success.

How It Can Benefit You

Admitting that you are guilty of being a helicopter or overbearing parent may be difficult. After all, you want what’s best for your child. However, intervening every time there is a problem, and ensuring they never have to endure failure is a recipe for disaster. Just listen to the conversations and stories Julie has had with those in the educational and corporate worlds. If you think this is something you are guilty of, you owe it to your child’s future to read this book and begin implementing its advice.

About Kyle

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

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

Investing In Personal Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Kyle

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

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

4 Ways College Is Different From High School

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

#1 – Class Size

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

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

#2 – Attendance

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

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

#3 – Class Length

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

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

#4 – Living Environment

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

About Kyle

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

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

How to Pick a College

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

That would stink.

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

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

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

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

That’s a lot of stress.

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

Academic Offerings

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

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

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

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

Cost

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

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

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

Personal Preference

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Fall 2020 College Admissions and You

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

Last Minute College Tours

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

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

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

Standardized Tests

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

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

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

Junior Year Grades

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

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

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

Essays and Recommendation Letters

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Football player standing alone on the tunnel into a stadium

Fall 2020 College Admissions and Student-Athletes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Handling Admission Deferrals

Getting into your dream school is great!

Getting rejected stinks!

But what about a deferral?

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

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

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

Don’t Overanalyze It

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

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

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

After that… 

Continue on Business as Usual

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

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

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

A Bird in the Hand….

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Overhead view of two students studying on a bench indoors

How To Guide Your College-Bound Teen Through The Coronavirus Pandemic

A lot has changed since many states ordered a shelter in place in early April of this year. Millions of students have found themselves sitting at home, wondering how this global pandemic is going to impact their future plans. While there is very little one can do about the situation we find ourselves in, there is plenty that both students and parents can do to make the best of it.

Even if you are working from home, you are saving over an hour of time since you no longer need to commute. Your child may be learning online, but they are no longer attending after school activities. You as a parent are no longer running around, shuffling kids to sports, making lunches, going shopping and running around like your hair is on fire. The world has slowed to a crawl. It’s important to use this extra time wisely and talk to your college-bound teen about their future.

Now that you are both finally home at the same time, take a moment to sit down with your child and have a conversation about college and their future plans. We move so fast through life that we often view everything as an obstacle we have to overcome. We consider applying to college like a series of challenges that need to be completed as quickly as possible. We rarely stop to actually examine what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Ask your son or daughter how they are feeling about the college application process. What has them concerned or confused? You may learn that they have a serious concern about writing their essay or filing for financial aid. Now that you are aware of it, you can use your newly found free time to explore resources such as MyKlovr’s Financial Readiness section or a YouTube video series on writing college essays. The important thing is that you conquer this obstacle together before it becomes a more significant issue.

Next, talk about the colleges they are considering applying too. Challenge your child to explain why each college is on their list. This is not meant to be negative but rather to have an open conversation about what they are looking for in a school. You can talk about the importance of things like internships, alumni networks, tuition costs, and campus size. If your kid is struggling to create a list of schools, our College Finder service will work with them to create the ideal list based on their interests, qualifications, and needs.

As we’ve covered in past blog posts, there are a number of things that you may know a lot about, but your kids will not. This is the perfect opportunity to dispense that wisdom and guide them in the right direction. For example, many of the grads I speak to tell me they were basically clueless when it comes to student loans. They had no idea how they worked or how much money they would be paying back per month after graduation. Be sure to sit down with your children and discuss these things before they start applying for loans.

The chances are that this pandemic has canceled at least one if not several college visits your student was planning to attend. Encourage them to visit the school’s website and YouTube channel and find any virtual tours they can check out. Then, visit sections on the website like student activities, student life, campus activities, and residence life to learn more about the various events they hold on campus throughout the year. Lastly, visit the school’s social media pages to get an idea of what life is like on campus. It will not deliver the full picture that a campus tour would, but at least it is something that will yield information about what it might be like to attend that school.

Lastly, you should encourage your child to use this time to do their own research once this particular conversation is over. If they haven’t done so already, I highly suggest all high school students create a LinkedIn profile. Next, use the search bar to find alumni that have graduated from that school. Then, send them a private message and ask questions about the college such as what they liked, didn’t like, what they studied, and if they would do it all over again if given a chance. You will find great value in their answers because, unlike college employees, they are not being paid by the school and have no reason to sugar coat anything.

In addition to alumni outreach, LinkedIn is perfect for connecting with working professionals. If your child has an idea of what career or industry they are interested in, they should seek out those who are already doing those jobs. Those are the people who can give you an idea of what that career is like and whether or not you will enjoy it. Encourage them to ask questions to learn more about their day to day responsibilities, what they studied in school, and what advice they have for someone just starting out.

This pandemic will be long and hard. It’s not fair that so many students have had their progress stalled, and their futures be thrown into question. Unfortunately, we can do very little but stay home and wait it out. However, what we do at home can make all the difference. Commit to having a conversation, or series of conversations, with your children about the importance of using this time wisely and preparing for the future. This way, when they look back on 2020 ten years from now, they will remember that it may have been a dark time, but it was also the start of something positive as well.

About Kyle

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

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.

Person typing on laptop computer

Virtual College Tours and You

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

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

In this article, we’ll examine three topics:

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

How are Universities Responding?

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

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

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

What’s It Like Going on a Virtual Tour?

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

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

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

How Can I Make the Most of the Experience?

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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