The 2018 fall college semester is just around the corner. Whether this is your first (freshman) or last (senior), this could be your most successful semester. We’ve asked one of our college students to identify some steps they take each semester to ensure a successful semester. Our college senior is Mikaela, she maintains a high GPA and is on the highest honors list at her college in PA. Here are some of her tips for a successful semester.
Tips from a College Senior for the fall college semester
Plan before you get to school. Your syllabi usually come out two weeks prior to school. One helpful tool is to purchase or create a planner. These come in many different varieties from daily to weekly. If this is your first semester, you may need to experiment a little. But a planner will help you keep your assignments in order.
Keep up with your college assignments. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your assignments. The tendency is to wait. And sometimes you feel like you have a lot of time left, but time can easily get away from you in college. Waiting will only mean that you get jammed up toward the end of the week, or end of the semester. “I try to get my weekly work done early in the week, so I have the weekends off.” (Mikaela, college senior) You can also divide larger projects into your weekly work schedule. By keeping up with your weekly work, you can ensure a successful semester.
Make a wise decision regarding your class textbooks. First, rent books that you are not going to keep. If you are going to keep your books, think about buying them online or from friends who may have already taken the class. Check the college classifieds or college bulletin boards to find books that may be available for your upcoming classes. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars this way.
Additional Advice includes: You need to work to balance your class work with activity/rest time. Also, use google drive for notes…this way you can share your notes with classmates easily.
Tips from a College Financial Planner:
Find the best way to send money to your college student. It never fails, every semester there will be a call from your student to ask for money. You need to find the best way to send money to your college student. There are multiple options available. Using your local bank to transfer money may be the best option, but make sure there are no holds on funds or restrictions on amounts of transfers. You may also be able to set up an automatic transfer to your student’s college account to give them extra funds for on-campus spending.
Again these are some tips that we have found beneficial. We invite you into the conversation below. Please take time to add your tips, or thoughts on the tips we have mentioned in the comment section below.
This may surprise you, but no one cares more about your child’s college planning than you! I know this may sound a bit strange, but it’s true. Your child has other things to think about than college planning, and the guidance counselor has so many students to care for that they can’t possibly care for everyone. So you, as the parent, need to take control of the college planning preparations. To help you in this endeavor, we have come up with some college planning questions to ask your high school guidance counselor.
College Planning Questions – Plan
This question may sound simplistic, but it is often overlooked. Every parent and student needs to ask if the school has a specific plan to help your student prepare for college. Be specific! Schedule a meeting and simply ask: What is the plan to help me/my student prepare for college? This is sometimes referred to as a roadmap, but you are simply looking for the strategy the school has in place to help the student prepare for college. You don’t have to be in a college preparatory school to be thinking of college planning. But by asking the question, you and the school can at least be moving in the same direction when it comes to college preparation. One final thought, it’s never too early to ask this question. So ask early!
College Planning Questions – Tools
This college planning question has more to do with finding the right major/career path. Ask…”What tools are available to help me/my student find the best career path?” Your particular school may have some valuable tools available to help guide you in good career direction. These tools may include assessments, career counseling and even mentorships. But again, if you do not ask the question, you may miss some valuable tools that are readily available to you.
College Planning Questions – Partnerships
The area of strategic partnerships is not new in the educational arena. Vocational schools have a long tradition of strategic partnership with community businesses that help the student find work and licensure. Private schools offer some strategic partnership with colleges, and even public schools have colleges that offer some great scholarship to individuals in their schools. You will need to ask your guidance counselor if there are any work or educational partnerships available to your student.
These questions will help you gain a better understanding of the ways in which your high school guidance department can help you prepare for college. We would like to know what questions you have already asked your guidance counselor that you have found beneficial? Share a question in the comments section so that we can all benefit from your experience.
It may surprise you that 80% of college students change their major at least once. Sometimes these changes are small shifts within a field of study. However, some changes constitute major shifts that can affect your financial plan for college. One of the ways you can minimize these changes is by exploring a career path before you make your college major decision. Let’s look at some of the tools available to help students explore a career path.
Exploring a Career Path: Career Fair
One tool to help you explore a particular career path is a career fair. Sometimes these fairs are held at local schools, sometimes they are held in conjunction with local college fairs. The benefit of these fairs is that you get to ask any question you may have about a particular job. It may not offer you the specific information you need, but at least you get to meet someone who actually works in that career.
Exploring a Career Path: Shadowing/Internship
Another valuable tool is shadowing or internships. Shadowing is simply following a person in a particular career for a short amount of time. While an internship affords you the opportunity to actually work in a particular career for an extended amount of time. As you can see, these opportunities allow you to actually see what a particular career would entail. This is beneficial information to help you make a good decision when choosing a career path.
Exploring a Career Path: Career Roadmap
One tool that may be available to you is a career roadmap. A career roadmap is an assessment tool you fill out to determine what career path may be of greatest interest to you. The career roadmap would ask you questions to determine what career may be the best fit for you. It certainly eliminates any career choices that would not be a good fit and may help you choose that perfect fit major for you. A good assessment tool will include information like: pay range, average job satisfaction ratings, employment opportunity, and testimonies of people currently employed in that field of employment.
No tool will ever be able to eliminate changes in one’s college major, they will give you better confidence in your decision. Remember, not all tools are created equally. So choose well, and use a variety of tools. We offer one of the best roadmaps on the market, so if you would like more information, please contact our office.
October is an important month in your college planning. It starts with the important task of filling out your FASFA but also includes an important decision. Do you want to try to obtain admission early? For most colleges, the deadline for early admission is November 1st, that makes October the month to apply. Early admission offers some benefits, but the terminology can be confusing at best, and detrimental at worse. So here are the facts about Early Decision and Early Action.
The Facts about Early Decision
Early decision is the process of applying early to your specific college with the intention of attending that college if accepted. This is a binding agreement between the college and the student. It shows the college that you as a student are serious about attending their college. While it does allow the student greater opportunity to be accepted before the admission spots are taken, this form of early admission is “usually” binding.
The word “usually” offers a great amount of confusion. While many sources say that it is totally binding, others say that it is only binding if the financial award meets the financial need. (See our post on words of confusion.) Also, you need to note that it is up to the family to demonstrate that the financial aid package does not meet the need. So make sure you read the information for your specific college regarding early decisions
The Facts about Early Action
Another option is early action. “Early action is a type of early admission process for admission to colleges and universities in the United States.”(1) The greatest benefit of early action is the fact that it is not binding. Another benefit is that students are free to apply early to other colleges. The student will benefit from early action because it still shows that the student is serious about attending that particular college. The student also benefits from being able to compare the financial offerings from different colleges before making a final decision.
A new kind of hybrid option is the single choice early action option (SCEA). While not binding, it acknowledges the students’ willingness to attend that particular college by only applying there. The student is free to apply to other colleges during the regular admission round.
The important thing to remember is to make sure you understand your colleges’ early admission guidelines. These guidelines are usually available online and are always available through a conversation with your admission advisor. We think the best early admission option is Early Action since it allows you to compare financial offerings to find the best fit for your family.
We live in a technology-driven world that is ever changing to meet the needs of its consumers. The moves in technology happen so quickly that the consumer doesn’t even know they have a need until the latest innovation alerts us to that need. Nowhere is this truer than on the college campus in the lives of the modern day college student. There is no way to stay ahead of this technology curve unless of course, this is your field of study. This is not the time to run and hide, but rather the time to make some quick technology choices that will aid your college needs. Here are the kind of college apps for the college student that are most beneficial.
Our goal is not to give advice on specific apps, although we will name some specific apps that are getting great reviews. But rather, to show the kinds of apps that may offer the greatest benefit for the college student. We have come up with three primary categories relating to college life: productivity, study and financial.
Productivity College Apps
Productivity apps are defined as those apps that help you accomplish your coursework on a timely basis. They would include your word processors, spreadsheets, note taking apps, calendar, task lists, just to name a few. This is a large category, so let’s start super obvious.
- You need to make sure you have your college’s online platform loaded or linked for fast access. Many colleges are asking that assignments be loaded and dropped into an online platform like Blackboard, Dropbox, Moodle, Schoology, and others.
- You need to have a robust planning platform. This would include a way to track your schedule and tasks. There are many options available from your calendar and task lists, to dedicated programs designed to track classes. One such app is entitled myHomework Student Planner. But a simple internet search will show many other options.
- You will need a productivity office suite. I know this sounds simple, but make sure you have a suite that will accomplish all your student needs.
Study College Apps
Study apps are closely related to productivity apps, but these apps are more for personal help rather than submitting work to your professors. These apps will be more about personal preference than fulfilling class requirements. For instance, would you prefer flashcards or bullet points? Do you learn better by reading over the notes, or practice quizzes? Here are a few options:
- You need a note-taking app. You can certainly use a word processor here, but other options are available. Evernote is a note-taking app but combined with its Studyblue, it can become flashcards and quizzes.
- You may want a flashcard app. There are many to choose from, so it really becomes a matter of preference.
Financial College Apps
This last category is often forgotten about by many college students. Many don’t think they need to know this, but it is our belief that this may be the most important kind of app. Here are two kinds of apps that are necessary to help you make the most of your college finances.
- You need your banking institution’s app. This is the place where you can go to check the account balances. This is the foundational piece of your financial planning. You need access to this information so that you don’t overspend your money. Your bank(s) will have a free app for you to track all your accounts.
- You need a financial budgeting app. This app allows you to track your spending and ensure that you are staying within your college financial plan. While the banking app offers you little choice, the budgeting app offers you maximum choice. You can even get apps that will sync with your bank to bring their information right into their app. One such app is Mint, but there are other like available as well.
There are certainly other apps that the college student will use like, entertainment apps, social apps, music apps, and even reading apps. But the kind of apps we have listed above are essential. Make sure you use the best college apps for college students.