The college admissions process is a stressful time for the entire family, and parents walk a particularly fine line when it comes to their involvement. Recent research by the College Board found that almost 30% of college-bound seniors wish their parents did more to help them look for and apply to colleges, and only 6% wanted their parents to do less. With that said, it's not an open invitation to fight their battles or make decisions for them during an often overwhelming and confusing time.
The San Jose Mercury News ran 10 tips for parents during the college application process, and it's one of the more actionable lists I've read in awhile. Here are my 4 favorite pieces of advice from the article:
1. Guide your child in choosing colleges that would be a great fit, but don't force your child to only apply to schools that you like. Emphasizing rank and brand might cause your child to react negatively to the pressure.
2. Read over your child's essays and give tips, but do not write or rewrite the essays. A teenager's voice is distinctly different from a parent's voice.
4. If you have questions that can only be answered by an admissions office, have your child call. It helps the student to develop the ability to speak to adults and to take control of the admissions process. <--I particularly love this point because it teaches students to be resourceful, and to be confident when speaking with professors and administrators.
6. Remind your children about due dates and help them manage the process, but don't micromanage them.
Would you advise parents to join the college tour or stay at home? Would you suggest they read their child's college essay before sending or keep their opinions to themselves? How else can parents be supportive without hovering during this time? Let us know in the comments!
Read more tips for parents during the college admissions process and be sure read our free College Parents Survival Guide.
Halloween is just around the corner, and for the last-minute college students on a budget, finding the right costume is a nessecity for the upcoming Halloween parties. Disclaimer: This is one list that doesn't include Lady Gaga or Snooki because, for the love of all things holy, the staff at StudentAdvisor is SO OVER these costumes, and it hasn't even been Halloween yet!
Here are some cheap and easy Halloween costume ideas for college students, as well as a few tips on how to put them together:
- GHOST. Locate an old white sheet. Drape over your head and cut out eye holes so you can see.
- CLOWN. Wear oversized and bright colored clothes, decorate with fabric paint, Sharpies, or different shapes of felt if you're feeling ambitious. Pin some pom-poms to your shoes. Add a cheap colorful wig and hat. Face paint & makeup.
- NERD. Roll up a pair of black pants to make them just a little too short. Slick back your hair, wear white socks, and wear your nicest shoes. Craft a pocket protector out of paper (or not - I'm pretty sure I've never actually seen a pocket protector in real life), and fill it with lots of pens. The finishing touch is a pair of dark rimmed glasses with tape around the nose.
- MISS AMERICA. Old bridesmaid or formal dress and heels. Put your hair in an updo. Add oversized sparkley jewelry and a lot of makeup. Find a piece of wide ribbon and write “Miss America” in glitter for the sash.
- PIRATE. Wrapping one of your legs in brown felt or an old brown t-shirt (the peg leg, duh). Wear black jeans with a striped top. Tie a bandana around your head, and wear an eye patch.
And two from the Pop Culture Reference box:
- JUNO. From the movie, Juno, stuff a pillow under multiple layers of shirts. Wear Chucks and ripped jeans while making snarky references about everyone who's dressed up like a character from Jersey Shore. For added authenticity, carry around a jug of Sunny D.
- DWIGHT SHRUTE FROM 'THE OFFICE'. Not far off from the nerd costume. Find a short-sleeved button down shirt, a tie and part your hair down the middle. Swap the thick-rimmed glasses for wire frames. Talk about how smart you are, and offer beets to Trick or Treaters.
Nearly 33% of college freshmen drop out of college - or switch schools - before making it to their sophomore year. Fewer than half of all freshmen graduate from college at all. Now, admittedly, it's been more than a few years since I was a freshman in college, but Dean Tsouvalas, StudentAdvisor's editor-in-chief, nails it on the head with his guest blog post at TrackAhead.com on 5 tips for surviving freshman year.
My favorite? "Understand that you will feel overwhelmed." It's about this time of the school year that freshman start to see their grades coming back (which aren't always what they expect), their summer savings dwindle, and they still haven't quite found the right group of friends. It's okay. When you embrace the feeling of being overwhelmed, think about the resources at your fingertips. Academic advisors and career services are a great place to start.
What are your best tips to keep from being overwhelmed during your freshman year?
Read more at TrackAhead.com: 5 Ways to Survive Your Freshman Year
We asked students that were accepted to Bentley University what their top criteria were when it came time to choose a college. Here are the results:
Why did you choose a college over another? Does our research line up with what was important to you too?
Choosing a college is an important part of every family's life. While most parents are there to support their children emotionally and financing, it doesn't mean that they are necessarily happy with where their child wants to go.
We got this question from a parent about accepting your child's college choice:
"I don't approve of my child's college choice should I discourage him or just accept his decision?"
Here are highlights from some of the best answers we received:
"You should express your disapproval, but not discourage him from following his dreams. Unless the school is way out of your price range, let your child decide for himself."
"Do not discourage him, my parent tried this and it failed. It also made my years in college much more difficult for me knowing that they didn't approve."
"Ultimately, it's most important for your child to choose a college where they will feel comfortable and be able to learn. Sending children to college is an exercise in letting go of a little control; it's time to trust your child and the values you've instilled in him for the last 18 years."
Read the rest of the answers.
What do you think? Should you tell your child that you don't approve of their college choice? Comment & share below!
By Nancy Ziering, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
There are some big differences between federal grants and private loans that students and their parents should be aware of. Both are good ways to finance a higher education, but one does have advantages over the other.
Federal grants are money that students get from the government to pay for their education expenses, provided they meet the required criteria. Federal grants are almost always based on need, where private loans may not be. The big advantage to grants is that they don’t have to be paid back. They are essentially “free money”.
While most people are aware of the Pell grant since it is the most popular, there are several others available, include some for single mothers and those looking to pursue certain majors like teaching, science, technology and foreign languages useful to homeland security. To obtain a federal grant, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have it processed at the financial aid office at your school. This single application will allow you to apply for all the federal financial aid available to you.
Private loans are exactly what they sound like. They are loans from private institutions or organizations that will need to be paid back with interest. The interest rates on these loans can vary quite widely and they usually don’t depend much on your financial need as they do on your credit score, or that of your parents. It’s important to keep in mind that loans should only be used as a last resort. First of all, anything you need to pay back with interest is going to cost you more in the long run and it’s very easy to get into trouble financially and default on the payments. Private loans may be harder to obtain for another reason.
Usually private loans are unsecured meaning that unlike a house or a car, the bank can’t just come take your education back if you don’t pay. It’s a higher risk and therefore they will want a higher interest rate to compensate for the risk they are taking. If you do go with private loans be sure that you can easily afford the payments, and if possible pay the loan off as early as possible.
Federal grants and private loans are two very popular ways to pay for a higher education, but it’s up to you to decide what will fit your individual situation. Remember, always to for the “free money” first.
Nancy R. Ziering is from College and Retirement Solutions, LLC. www.college-retirement.com
Want to get the low down about Bentley University? Read over 79+ reviews from real students, parents, and faculty members!
Here are some highlights from Bentley University reviews:
“Bentley literally has a resource for everything."
“I've always had someone to turn to if I have had a question.”
“Every student has the best, most up-to-date technological resources available to them.”
“Career services have helped me gain the opportunities for future employment opportunities.”
Read more Bentley University reviews.
Have something to say about Bentley University? Write a review about Bentley University and share your expereinces with other studens and parents!
A 529 College Savings Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. A 529 plan encourages families to save for higher education expenses, and is an easy hands-off way to save for college. The plan is named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code which created these types of savings plans back in 1996.
Money from a 529 college savings plan can be used toward tuition, fees, books, and supplies required at any accredited college, university, or vocational school in the United States. For most plans, your school choice is not affected by the state where you started the 529 college savings plan. For example, you can live in Massachusetts, invest in a 529 college savings plan in Vermont, and send your child to college in California.
Each state has at least one 529 college savings plan available. Plans will vary state to state, so make sure to research 529 college savings plan benefits and options before you invest. There are special tax benefits for having a 529 college savings plan. Some, but not all, states offer tax incentives to investors as well.
There are two main types of 529 plans:
- SAVINGS PLANS work by investing your contributions in mutual funds or similar investments. The plan will offer you several investment options from which to choose. Your account will go up or down in value based on the performance of the particular option you select.
- PREPAID PLANS work by letting you pre-pay all or part of the costs of an in-state public college education. They may also be converted for use at private and out-of-state colleges.
You can enroll in a 529 college savings plan through a 529 college savings plan manager directly, or through a financial advisor.
What are some ways that your family saves money for college? Comment & share below!
By Mary Fallon from StudentAid.com, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
One of the biggest mysteries about college is “how much will it cost me?” Some students who want to go to college don’t even apply because the sticker price posted on a college’s websites scares them off. But sticker price is not the price most students pay. In the past, students have had to wait until getting admitted before finding out how much they’d receive to help pay for their education.
A new federal law is aimed at helping you know how much aid to expect before applying. Schools—from career colleges to major research universities—that offer aid must post a college cost calculator on their websites by October 2011.
Net price calculators solve the “How much will it cost me?” mystery. They will show you a personalized estimate of the aid a specific school expects to offer you. All you’ll need to do is answer a few questions about your family’s size and income to get your estimates.
A net price calculator shows a “sticker price”—what colleges call the price (or cost) of attendance, including tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel and other expenses. Calculators estimate your grant aid—the free money given for merit or need. Subtract grant aid from price of attendance for your net price. But net price isn’t your true cost of college.
The final step is to subtract any work-study and loan amounts you’re offered. Only then will you know how much you must pay out of savings for college. The most dangerous part of college planning is not knowing your net price and out-of-pocket costs before applying. Net price calculators will help you find colleges you can afford without taking on lots of debt.
What to do if a school hasn’t added a net cost calculator yet?
If the college you’re interested in does not currently have a college cost calculator, there are other ways to determine your net cost. StudentAid.com’s College Cost & Planning Report™ provides the same information, plus you get to compare up to 10 schools in their personalized report. Additionally, you can contact the schools admission’s office for more information.
The school year is in full swing - is your dorm room outfitted with these cool products? Check out some of this year's best dorm room products, as determined by the StudentAdvisor.com team:
1. Scentsy Warmer
"This is a great product for female AND male students to make any dorm room, messy or clean, smell delicious!"
2. Yogibo Supreme Lounge Bag
"The perfect impromptu chair or mattress for guests!"
3. George Foreman Evolve Grill
"Grilling burgers indoor for my friends has never been easier!"
4. Dropps Laundry Detergent Packets
"Perfect for any college student...they are the perfect amount for each load."
5. Hydros Reusable Filtered Water Bottle
"I wanted to get a water purifier for my mini-fridge but I couldn't find one that would fit. This solves that problem!"
6. iSafe Backpack
"An essential purchase for any woman going to college. Since you need to purchase a backpack anyway, what better than to buy one with a protective device built in."
7. WOWee One Gel Audio Portable Speaker
"I placed the speaker down [on a desk] and the sound instantly transformed. It was truly amazing!"
8. Samsung DualView Digital Camera
"Very sleek and I love how you can see the image on the front of the camera."
9. EcoSmart Solar Charger
"The ability to charge a variety of devices as well as its portability is unparalleled."
10. Design Your Own Lamp by Lamps Plus
"Own your style - you design the lamp you want. Pick a fixture, pattern, colors, and trim of the lamp!"
By now, you've become intimately familiar with our college review contest. By writing a review about your college experience (or that of your child), you enter for a chance to win up to $500, not to mention the gratifying feeling of knowing you've helped prospective students and their families figure out exactly which college is right for them.
Each month, one winner is chosen at random to receive a $250 gift card. The StudentAdvisor.com judges also award an additional winner with a $250 gift card for the "Best in Class" review from all entries submitted.
Today we announce the first winners of our college review contest!
Alumni Eric H.'s review of Eastern Illinois University has been chosen as StudentAdvisor's "Best In Class" review for the month of September. According to the StudentAdvisor judges, "We believed Eric's review conveyed such energy, passion, and honesty, so he deserves this recognition for helping prospective students of EIU really get a feel for the school."
From Eric's review:
Our athletics programs are out of this world. We have the first women's rugby NCAA sanctioned team, who typically rout opposing teams by 100 points or more. Our players are approachable, you can actually talk to them like human beings and not just idiots who can throw the pill or dunk the ball. Our fight song REALLY gets me pumped for some Panther Athletics.
The second review, which was chosen at random, was an extremely well-written perspective from Mary R., an alumni from Our Lady of the Lake University. Mary had this to say about OLLU:
Since it is a private school, I found all staff including employees, professors and students to be very friendly and helpful. I felt very safe in a family oriented setting. I had no problems getting tutoring or assistance when I needed it.
Thanks to Eric and Mary for being such an important members of our community!
Do YOU want to enter for a chance to win? Write a review about a college you have experience with and help students make the right choice about which college is best for them.
Rap music - hate it or love it. Regardless of what rap artists rap about, back in the day some of them were studying at colleges and universities around the country, just like you!
Let's take a look at where some popular rap artists went to school:
Lil Wayne: Majored in Sports Management at the University of Houston.
Ludacris: Graduated Summa Cum Lauda from Georgia State University.
Talib Kweli: Studied experimental theater at NYU.
Paul Wall: Has a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Houston.
Sean Paul: Attended University of Technology in Jamaica.
Has a Radio Communications/Business Degree from Adelphi University
Common: Attended Florida A& M University.
Read more about where rap artists went to school.
Where did you go to school? Write a review of your college & share your experiences!
College kids have tight budgets - here are some ways to get the most out of your dollar and save money while living on campus.
1. BUY IN BULK. A lot of food will go a long way! Talk with your roommates about pitching in for a membership at your local grocery warehouse. By stocking up on industrial sized non-perishable foods, toiletries, and beverages you save money in the long-run. You may even get a college discount with your school ID.
2. STUDENT DISCOUNT. Use your student ID to receive discounts at grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. It never hurts to ask surrounding businesses if they offer a student discount either - it may just not be advertised! You can also ask your campus center or student life department if they have a list of the participating places on and off campus where you can use your student discount. It may not be much - but 10 or 15% off can really add up after awhile! And since you have to have your student ID on you at all times anyways, it's easy to have it readily available when you are making purchases. Either way, it's a discount - so you might as well use it.
3. WATCH WHAT YOU DRINK. College students are always downing massive cups of coffee or sipping on bottles of water while studying or working out. Ditch your local coffee spot, and invest in a coffeemaker so you can brew your own coffee. Think about it - if you get a coffee a day, for approximately $4 a coffee - that's $20 dollars a week you could be saving (or $80 a month!) While you are at it, get a water filter for your fridge and a reusable water bottle that you can wash and use over and over again. You will be saving money and also helping better the environment by not wasting hundreds of plastic water bottles each year!
4. HIDDEN GEM: THE DOLLAR STORE.
The dollar store is full of toiletries, snacks, candles, stationary, cleaning supplies and other household products - for cheap! With each item only costing a dollar, you can stock up on items you use every day for not a lot of money at all! Buy stuff that doesn't need to be name brand at the dollar store (like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, or soap) and avoid paying more at places like Target or CVS.
Keep a lookout for coupons from local grocery stores or pharmacies. Major department stores also do one-day shopping events and hold store-wide sales. Sign up for emails from stores to receive special offers or coupons to your favorite restaurants.
6. SAVE WITH YOUR ROOMIE.
Figure out ways that your roommate and you can split costs for things around the dorm. For example, save money (and quarters!) and do your laundry together. Carpool when doing errands, and split cabs to parties. Share a printer or other appliances. While you may not live with this person forever, you can save some money by sharing things and splitting costs.
Students - comment & share ways you save money at college below!
By Leah Liebler, Red Window. Special to StudentAdvisor.com
If you’re a guy, you don’t think this affects you. I can already tell. But listen up gentlemen, you don’t want to be the one carrying your girlfriend’s books up that steep hill to class, while she trails behind you, complaining on her half frozen half sweat drenched crutches. So yes, this college predicament applies to us all- both male and female.
So ladies… It’s the first weekend of school and everyone, who wants to “fit in”, is going to THAT frat party people have been talking about since your Tuesday 8:30am science lab. You plan on wearing that short black skirt you just bought, you know the one you would NEVER let your parents see? And… of course, with that hot pink v neck, with the low back or maybe that flower print tube top… guess you’re not quite sure yet, depends on what your roommate is wearing. Anyways, the one thing you are SURE that you are wearing-- are those really shiny black stiletto pumps that you spent your entire week’s (minimum wage) paycheck on. WRONGGG! Do you WANT to be known as THAT freshman who broke her right leg and scraped the entire left side of her face from falling down the stairs? … I didn’t think so.
In order to avoid falling down those beer saturated and split wooded steep staircase , you’re going have to adapt a quantity over quality attitude. Why spend a ton of money on gorgeous shoes that will be tortured by bush light and natty ice? Basically, this means that it’s better to have a bunch of really cheap, yet cute, and comfortable heels rather than paying top dollar for some stilettos that are indisputably going to break the heel, and one of your body parts, in half.
As a female senior, who has been to my fair share of fraternity parties, I can say I’ve literally been there, done that, and SEEN the shoe predicament far too many times… young college girls falling flat on their faces simply in efforts to impress a couple college guys who can’t even tell the difference from Aldo or Kmart anyways. I am a passionate advocate for getting your comfy, attractive, and affordable ‘frat party shoes’ from either Charlotte Rouse or Forever21. Regardless of where you decide to attend, I urge you to strongly remember this lesson-- Because those stairs are one aspect that is universal to all colleges across America.
Like this story? Tell us how you feel about your school, or a funny anecdote. Write a review about your school or experience.
We received the question, "Need help talking to my daughter about sex before she goes to college!"
This is always a touchy - but very important - subject that you must address with your child. With disease, rape, pregnancy, and domestic violence prominent in our society, students heading off to college should know about all the risks and consequences of having sex.
Here are some of the best answers we got from the question about Talking To Your Kids About Sex Before College:
1. "I think that the most important points that you should stress are include the importance of using a condom to reduce the risk of STI's/STD's and to prevent pregnancy. Discuss options for other forms of birth control if she decides that she wants to use a form of hormonal contraception. You should also stress that she should never feel pressured to engage in any type of sexual activity with anyone, and should only do what she feels comfortable doing. Also tell her that she should never leave her drink unattended at a party. If she puts it down, she should just get a new one. Don't let strangers get drinks for you if you're not with them."
2. "The most important thing is that she use protection, and you can even make her an appointment at a Planned Parenthood or her pediatrician, where she can talk to a professional about her options."
3. "Tell her the most important thing is to believe in the power of "no." She doesn't have to be promiscuous to be popular. If she does decide to have sex, tell to never ever do it without protection - no matter what."
4. "Protection is the key point you want to emphasize. She probably knows about sex but you need to make sure she is practicing safe sex. Slip condoms in with her stuff before she leaves."
5. "Be open and honest with her and be willing to answer any of her questions. Most importantly, let her know that you're there for her - no matter what she may do in college and that you are there to talk to her if she has an problems. It doesn't help to be a judgmental parent, I mean my parents made clear their expectations of me, but they also made clear if something went 'wrong' they would be there for me."
Read the rest of the answers from this question about talking to your kids about sex before college.
Have more advice for talking to your kids about sex before college? Comment & share below!
Here are the upcoming SAT test dates. Make sure you register for the test you want to take by the below registration deadline. Good luck!
TEST DATE / REGISTER BY:
November 6 / October 8
December 4 / November 5
January 22 (2011)/ December 23, 2010
*If you have questions regarding the SAT or registering for the SAT, make sure you contact your high school guidance counselor as soon as possible. You don't want to miss out on taking the test, and spots fill up quickly - plan ahead!
Some students take college athletics very seriously. For some student athletes, the college they attend either scouted them out, or provided a decent athletic scholarship.
Regardless if you are a jock, a student athlete, or a huge sports fan, we wanted to share the 25 Best Colleges for Jocks according to Newsweek Education:
1. University of Nebraska Lincoln
2. University of Tulsa (TU)
3. University of Alabama
4. Bates College
5. Bowdoin College
Read the full list of the 25 Best Colleges for Jocks.
What colleges do you know of that are really into their sports teams, or have tons of sports fans on campus? Comment & share below!
Are you a single parent? Have you taken time off from school to start a family and raise your children? Sooner or later you will most likely want to go back to school and continue or finish your education - and StudentAdvisor.com is here to help you!
We have compiled a list of scholarships for our non-traditional students out there. If you are a single parent, check out these great scholarship opportunities!*
1. Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund
- Scholarships for single parents living in Arkansas
- Specific eligibility requirements per county
2. Denny’s Single Parent Student Scholarship
- Sponsored by Hispanic College Fund
- Must be of Hispanic background
- Must demonstrate he/she is a single parent.
3. Women’s Independence Scholarship Program
- The Women's Independence Scholarship Program helps survivors of intimate partner abuse obtain an education that will in turn offer them the chance to secure employment, personal independence and self sufficiency.
- Requests for assistance are accepted on an ongoing basis.
4. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
- Women, aged 35 or older
- Enrolled in, or accepted to, a regionally or ACICS accredited school
- Applications available online November 1, 2010 for the 2011 school year
5. Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards
- The program assists women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills, and employment prospects.
- Reside in one of Soroptimist International of the Americas’ member countries/territories (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guam, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, United States of America, Venezuela).
6. Association of American Indian Affairs: Displaced Homemaker Scholarships
- The Association on American Indian Affairs offers Displaced Homemaker Scholarships to those men and women who would not otherwise be able to complete their educational goals due to family responsibilities. This scholarship is generally for older students who have put off college to raise their children and students who are returning to college after raising their children. Funds may be used to assist with childcare, transportation and basic living expenses in addition to educational costs.
7. Possible Woman Foundation International
- Applicants must be at least 25 years of age
- PWFI scholarship program identifies women whose education was delayed or interrupted
- Preference is given to women who are pursuing their educational endeavors in the state of Georgia.
- 2011 scholarships available online in the Fall 2010.
8. Royal Neighbors of America Scholarships for Women
- Specific scholarships women aged 35 or older returning to school to advance their careers.
- Eligibility requirements and deadlines vary
9. AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship
- AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship Program is for women who are 40+ years old, and who are seeking new educational opportunities, job skills, and training.
10. Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation
- For low-income women with children who are pursuing education or training.
*Eligibility requirements and deadlines vary per scholarship. Click the specific scholarship link for more details.
For more scholarship information, check out StudentAdvisor's Free Scholarship Secrets Guide!