College Apps: Meet Naviance, the Life-Saver


There’s no doubt that the whole process of college applications is difficult – whether it’s figuring out where you’re applying, staying on top of due dates, or making sure you’re really taking care of everything you need to be doing. As a typical life-saving website, Naviance can help to ease the stress of it all. stop-searching-for-the-next-big-thing-tips-for-building-the-best-business-for-you.jpg

Finding Colleges

If you already have an idea of at least a school or two you want to apply to, the website can take those colleges and tell you ones like it based on other students and trends in applications. So, for example, if you were looking into UC Berkeley, it might show you some other UC schools or California universities because that follows the trend of what you’d been looking at.

Also, under the “college match” section, you can find a compiled list of colleges that have strong acceptance histories with students who match your profile – meaning your chances are pretty good based upon your GPA and the information you have inputted into the system.

Finding Your Chances

If you want to sort out which of your schools are safeties vs. targets vs. reaches, a cool way to do this is by clicking on a school and finding the scatter plot graph with data from students specifically at your school. This is incredibly helpful when trying to figure out where might be a good fit for you, even though the college admissions strategy may not be the same from year to year at different schools.

Along with that, if you go under the ‘school stats’ section, you can see acceptance data for regular decision, early decision or early action, which surely can’t hurt when deciding which applications you’re wanting to prioritize to help you most when trying to get into your dream schools.


Keeping You on Track

Since Naviance can connect straight to your Common Application account, it’s easy to keep track of progress you’ve made and requests you’ve sent in to your school (for transcripts, etc.) just by logging onto a computer.

Along with that, it has what seems like an endless source of information when it comes to colleges, acceptance statistics, and scholarships, so covers all of the bases just in one small toolbar on the screen.

With so much data consolidated in one website, it's sure to help you out - whether you know nothing about applying to college or have been preparing for it forever.




Ways to Learn About Colleges Without Visiting Them


Autumn is dawning upon us in just a few weeks, which means a couple things: holidays, festive Starbucks drinks, and of course, college applications. The college application process is practically a world on its own, connecting our high school world with our soon-to-be college world. The first step to the college application process is actually having an idea on where you would want to be for the next four years. While visiting the colleges is always the best choice in this decision making process, you may not always have the time or money, especially if you are looking at out-of-state or international schools. Here are some helpful and just as meaningful alternatives: workshopgraphic.jpg

Research, Research, Research!!! Did I Say Research?

Since you are probably on the internet for the majority of your days, use that to your advantage and browse through various websites and forums that are prospective college student friendly. There are plenty of websites on the internet that include, but are not limited to, college rankings, facts, reviews, and other opinions. Yes, guidebooks can provide this information as well, but the internet has more options, especially when it comes to getting insight from actual college students.

Start off with hitting up the actual websites of the college to learn directly about its history and facts. Then you can begin narrowing down your choices by surfing through student incentive websites, such as Shmoop, College Niche, and College Confidential. Shmoop provides a whole section dedicated to college, where you can find tips on choosing a college and fun little college profiles that can give you a laugh in this stressful process. College Niche and College Confidential are written by students for students. College Niche guides prospective students with reviews and ratings of colleges, and College Confidential has multiple forums where you can interact with current students at colleges, or even with others that are going through the same path as you. Always remember though to research smart and not hard, and look out for any biased or unreliable sources.

Key to Success: Communication

Another way to get a better feel of a campus is to talk directly to advisors, professors, or students from a specific college. Websites like the ones listed above can provide you with chat groups, but the best way to communicate is if you assert yourself first. Usually, there are helpful links and tools on college websites for prospective students where you can contact and talk to members of that college. Professors’ and advisors’ emails are also listed on college websites, and you are actually encouraged to write them an email. Not only will you learn more about the college, but you will also put yourself on a pedestal that says “I am very interested in your school!” which will give you better connections and chances. Talking with your guidance counselor is also key, because chances are they have been doing this for a while, and even if you think they are no help, they have the connections and ability to put you on talking terms with alumni and other students and advisors from the college. Also look out for chats led by current students provided by the college, where dates are usually listed when you sign up for college newsletters. You may be one fish in a huge sea, but it will definitely be worth your while.


Local, At Home Help

You can get almost the same amount of insightful help for colleges in your local area. First off, as mentioned before, talk to your local adults (preferably counselors and teachers)! At most high schools, the administrators and overall faculty use a handful of their time during the fall season of the school year to provide as much help as possible to college-interested seniors. Your high school guidance counselors are practically trained to know the ins and outs of colleges and the college application process. They will usually have multiple pamphlets on various colleges all over the country, as well as college guidebooks. If you have never talked to your counselors before, here is your last chance to start doing so!

One of the best resources are your city’s or county’s college fairs. The college booth or station equivalent of a college campus tour will give you just as much information, especially since there will be a college representative there to answer your questions and talk to you. Also, there will be multiple college information booths present at the fair, so you can start checking off colleges on your list as you go from station to station. Make sure to come prepared with questions and look professional, since these representatives may be interested in you and ask for your information.

You can actually use the digital age to your benefit once again. When you have done all this but still need an extra push to narrow down your choices, take a look at online virtual tours of the colleges. It may not be as invigorating as a real life campus tour, but it can be that little effect that will make or break your decisions.

This Is Just The Beginning

Keep in mind that touring and researching colleges are just the beginning to this new and exciting application process, and that applying to college is the first step to a new chapter in your life. In the end, while all these alternatives will only serve for your benefit, try extremely hard to at least visit and tour the top schools on your college list. It’s especially important to tour the campus once you receive the decision letters in the spring so that you know whether you are making the right choice or not. Picture yourself everyday on that campus, and work hard to make it happen.



Investing in Yourself: Choosing the Path of Your Own Future


Family, finances, fear of failure, and friends: the four main sources of academic pressure. As you’re surfing the waves of the high school and college experience, you’ll come to realize that making decisions that will greatly affect your imminent future and possible career path will be anything but easy. With relatives constantly asking you want you want to do with your future and pressuring you to do well in school, the heavy costs of college tuition, the little devil on your left shoulder telling you that you’re not good enough, and your peers always making remarks about how they have their whole future planned out, deciding what path you want to take after high school is one of the most difficult, yet important decisions you’ll ever make. However, if you keep these pressures at the forefront of your mind, you may lose yourself in the heat of it all. You may end up taking a left turn, and drive along a road that you never wanted to take in the first place. Here are ways to make sure you take ahold of your future before others do. pduzzrvrmruidvz6wuym.png

Make Yourself a Priority

When considering all the factors that contribute to deciding your career path, you should always remember that this is your future; no one else’s. The decisions that you make will impact you, not your grandparents, not your teachers, and not your friends. For some, the opinions of loved ones play a huge role when making choices about one’s future. However, in the case of choosing colleges and career paths, you may have to make your own opinion a priority above those of your loved ones because like I said, this is your future.


Finding What You Love

So many people end up pursuing career paths that they aren’t completely happy with because they didn’t have enough confidence to do what they really wanted to do, or they didn’t think it would be enough to keep them financially stable, or because their family is expecting them to carry on a legacy of a specific career; the list could go on and on. There is a plethora of pressures, fears, and risks that come with deciding what career path you want to take, but it is important that you go through with what you want to do regardless of these fears and risks. You should decide upon a career path based on something that you enjoy doing. Pursuing a job that you love and enjoy is one of the most rewarding things in life. Think about all of your passions and your hobbies. Take into consideration what you want to accomplish in life, your interests, and your values. What do you find exciting? What kind of working environment do you prefer? What’s important to you? What do you excel at; what skills do you have? Combine all of these aspects and create a list of possible careers that fit your criteria. Maybe even consider fields that you’re not so familiar with but are interested in pursuing in the future. Which of these things can you see yourself doing for a living? Once you’ve narrowed the list down, research the remaining topics as careers. Look at how many years of school are required/recommended for a degree in those fields, the average annual salary for employees, and all of the aspects and positions of the job. When you’ve done your research, choose one, or maybe two, careers that you think will satisfy your desires and needs. Keep these career fields in mind as you continue your high school and college journeys, and participate in things that you think might help you in grasping a better understanding of them. Interested in going into politics? Join the debate team! Want to be an engineer? Enroll in an engineering course and/or a physics course! Interested in becoming a photographer? Join the yearbook staff, or join a photography club! Participating in these things will help you determine whether you truly enjoy certain subjects or not, and possibly help you decide what you want to do in the future.

Dodging the Bullets

Like I said before, this process comes with many pressures, fears, and risks, but it’s essential that you dodge these challenges when it comes to your future. Perhaps you’ll disappoint your parents by deciding to pursue the arts when they wanted you to become a neurosurgeon, or maybe your peers will ridicule you for wanting to become a psychologist, but in the end, doing what YOU want to do and following through with it will make YOU happy, and that’s all that should matter.



How to Use College Confidential the Right Way


Every worried student has checked in to College Confidential at some point in their high school career at some point- and there’s no shame in that! I will admit, in my college search I’ve often browsed the endless forums, searching for other people’s opinions about colleges that I’m interested in, classes that I’m taking, etc. On the downside, College Confidential is notorious for being an unhealthy place where people tend to get sucked in to outside opinions and forget their own. However, College Confidential can be very helpful if you know how to use it. So here’s a guide on how to utilize the infamous College Confidential the right way.

SuperMatchTM College Search

College Confidential is not limited to forums. One of the most helpful tools on this site is a college search tool that can help you complete your school list as you discover schools that align with your interests. Basically how the tool works is you can enter your SAT or ACT scores, ideal location, majors, etc. and adjust their varying degrees of importance to you. The site then matches you to colleges that fit your preferences. From there, you can begin to the schools that spark your interest. This can be very helpful in jump-starting your college search!


This is a useful tool that allows you to get a more personal feel for a college you’re interested in. Through CampusVibe on College Confidential, you can view pictures and videos that you may not necessarily find on a perfectly polished college website. It can be very useful if it is not possible for you to visit all of the colleges you would like to. Although it doesn’t necessarily replace a college visit, if you browse the CampusVibe, you can get an idea of which colleges you feel you would be most interested in, and visit only those to save time and money.

Visit the link here:


Obviously forums are a huge part of College Confidential. However, it is important to be careful when using these forums. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by too many opinions. That is why I would advise avoiding forums that are experience or opinion-based. For example, it may not be in your best interest to check out a forum that is along the lines of “What Are My Chances of Getting Into…” This is because many people will have varying opinions that might confuse or dissuade you from your own opinions. I would also not advise reading forums such as, “Should I Take This Class” as the people responding to your post do not personally know you, and therefore can not provide adequate advice on whether or not you would be successful in that class. Forums that can be helpful though are ones that are along the lines of “What Are Overused Essay Topics” or “Alumni Network Questions”. These are better topics to look up on the forums, as they can be fact checked using other resources. College Confidential should be a stepping stool to further research. Your research should not end with College Confidential, but instead it should be the beginning of it.

Overall, take everything you read on College Confidential with a grain of salt. Not everything that you read on the forums will be true, and it may not be the best source to gather all of your advice from. However, it can be a great tool to prompt your research for colleges and get the ball rolling. Best of luck on your college search and browse wisely!



How to Pick a Safety School for Your College List


Harriet Tubman, the great worker of the Underground Railroad, once wrote about dreams, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” When we apply to college, and look for the institution whose name is going to be right above our degree type and our full name with a bunch of scribbles at the bottom that are supposed to be names, we oftentimes dream. When picking the colleges of our choice we are told to dream, to be realistic, and to be confident, as we compile a list of reach, match, and safety schools. While some of us have great success when applying to our match and reach schools, the rest of us may not be so lucky. Safety schools are schools that you are basically guaranteed to be accepted to. This usually means that your academic profile (GPA and ACT/SAT scores) are well above your school’s average. Depending on your resume as whole, some people will apply to five safety schools, and others will take a risk and only apply to one. No matter how many you decide to apply to, they are still colleges that you’re spending precious time and money on with applications.

Sometimes we become overconfident in our resume and application, which leads to neglecting our baby blankets (our safety schools), even though in the end they could easily be all we have left once April comes around. Some of us either pick safety schools that aren’t really safe, or schools that we don’t really like, and end up being stuck somewhere where we feel we can do anything but our dreams. The last position you want to be in is telling everyone that asks you that you will be attending your safety with a face filled with disappointment and sadness that someone may’ve thought your cat just died. To avoid the face that with one snap of a camera could become a meme gone viral, here are some things to consider when picking your safety schools:


  1. The Cost

You want to consider the cost of your safety school, as cost is a factor that you’ll (most likely) consider when in the college process in the first place. From experience, I’ve found that some smaller state schools or some lesser known private schools have scholarships that are guaranteed based off of GPA and SAT and/or ACT scores. Schools that have these scholarships are great institutions to consider because if it’s a safety, you’ll be some of the most qualified applicants, your chances of getting these will be likely. If they don’t have guaranteed scholarships, you can call the safety schools you’re considering and see if they have some sort of informal threshold for merit based scholarships.

  1. Academic Excellence in a Variety of Programs

According to the University of La Verne, 50-70% of college students change their major sometime during their college career. Even if you think you’ll stick with your intended major throughout your undergraduate experience, the odds may be ever in your favor, and you may find yourself going from a science to an art major after the first semester. Because of this risk factor, make sure that you pick safety schools that have your intended major in addition to other schools of interest. This may be easier if you only see yourself liking generic majors, but if you have interests in things like business or journalism that generally have unique individual’s schools within a university, look for these in your safety schools to avoid transferring later.


  1. Your “Must-Haves”

Just like home buyers have on shows like House Hunters of Love it or List It, when looking for colleges you may have a mental list “must-haves” that you want in a college. Whether you must haves a dominant party scene, a library open 24/7, or warm weather, just because it is a safety doesn’t mean you should let it sacrifice in one area or another. You want to be just as picky with how you pick your safety schools as you are with your match schools.

Good luck college searching!



The Difference Between Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Decision Applications


College application season is coming up! This means you have to decide how and when to submit your application to your chosen colleges and universities. Each application plan is unique in its own way and a wrong decision could cause you to rethink or change which institution you want to enroll in.


Early Action


Early Action allows you to apply early for an institution without having to fully commit to that specific school. With this plan, you are allowed to apply for other institutions and are not forced to withdraw the applications to other schools if you get accepted through the Early Action plan.


  • No Commitment - You do not have to fully commit to a school, unlike the ED plan.
  • Early Response - You get an early notification from the school if you are accepted, denied, or deferred into the regular admission applicant pool.
  • Financial Aid - You are able to compare financial aid offers from different schools which could be beneficial financially.
  • Less Stress- You are less stressed about applications when January rolls around.


  • Less Polished Applications - Since these applications are due around November, this could affect the overall quality of your essay when it comes to essay questions or other written components of the application.
  • Single Choice Early Action - Some schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, have a policy of “Single Choice Early Action” in which you are only allowed to apply to that specific school and only that school for EA. You may not apply to any other school via the EA plan.
  • Senior Year Grades - Sometimes your first-semester senior year grades can help boost your application, so if you submit EA you risk the chance of missing out on the inclusion of these grades.


Early Decision


Early Decision allows you to apply to one school that you are going to be fully committed to and by fully committed, I mean you are practically “binding” yourself to that school if you get accepted. When applying with Early Decision, make sure you are confident with your choice school and have done a lot of research before deciding to take this application route.


  • “Slight” Edge - Since you are fully committing to that one school, if you are accepted, it shows the school that you have set your sights to that school and are 100% sure about your decision to attend.
  • Less Stress - Just like EA applications, ED applications are submitted around November which can save you some time later in the application process.


  • Full Commitment - With Early Decision, you can only apply to one school and if you are accepted to that school then you must attend unless there is a reason you cannot attend, such as your inability to physically pay or be on campus.
  • Withdrawal of Other Applications - If you are accepted to your ED school, you must “withdraw” all other submitted applications because of your commitment.
  • Changing Your Mind - You should be 100% confident about your chosen ED school if you choose this plan. Since this plan is a “binding” plan, you must fully look at your chosen school and make sure you are confident in your decision.
  • Chance of Less Financial Aid - Unlike Early Action, ED acceptances usually don’t come with financial aid offers because of your commitment to that school.
  • Less Polished Applications - Like EA applications, these applications are submitted early which may be inconvenient since the fall time can be very busy time for you. If you submit an unpolished application, it could hinder your chance at being admitted into the school.
  • Senior Year Grades - Just like Early Action, you risk the chance of missing out on the inclusion of these grades, but usually colleges will ask you to submit a Mid-Year report.


Regular Decision


When applying with Regular Decision, many colleges have their applications due around the beginning of January. This application path is generally the most used because of the non-commitment aspect of the application process.


  • Applying to all of Your Chosen Colleges - With the regular decision, you are allowed to apply to all of your desired colleges!
  • More Time and Polished Application - Since the deadline is later than both of the EA and ED paths, you have more time to polish up your application to make sure your application is the best as it can be.
  • Senior Grades - Like I mentioned earlier in both of the EA and ED sections, the inclusion of your senior year grades can help show that you are consistent with your grade marks.


  • Competition - Competition to get into any college is always a thing, but when applying with the thousands of other people, your application may not stand out when it comes to the admission process.
  • Later Admission Decision - Although the wait for the decision is longer, it is only a couple of months after EA and ED decisions.

Whichever path you choose when deciding when to submit your college application, make you choose the best path for your intentions and do a lot of research on your colleges!




What the Heck is a Collegiate High School?



What is an Early College High School?


Most students have never heard of a collegiate high school but it is an education route that can eventually be considered a normal high school experience in America in less than 10 years. If you have ever known or heard about a high school student taking dual credit courses, then you already have an idea of what a Collegiate High School is! First and foremost, it is a public school that gives students the opportunity to graduate with their associate's degree almost a whole month before they even receive their high school diploma. Students have actual college professors from a local community college that their school district partners with. Depending on which school a student attends, you may be on that campus all four years of high school or just two years like my school.

Because of the growing number of these schools, I believe it is difficult to have an actual number of how many exist but according to an article on the Great!Kids website they stated “  There are currently 75,000 students in 28 states attending early college high schools. No two early college high schools are alike.” (Tynan-Wood, 2016)

My Story

Before Fall 2012: 8th Grade Decisions

Once 8th grade year started for me I thought I knew exactly where I was going to high school. At the time attended a private school so I didn’t have to go there for high school. I felt that I could see into the future at the time and I saw myself at a magnet school in my school district and after getting wait listed by both of the schools within the magnet school I thought that mother was going to have to struggle putting me through private school for the next four years. I mean I was kind of happy with the idea of staying at the same school with people I knew and the variety of classes and extracurricular activities I could experience. But by the time I go to spring semester of 8th grade it had been decided that I would apply to a school called Kathryn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy and then a few months later Cedar Hill Collegiate High School. Well after applying and getting in to Kathryn Gilliam High School was a little excited because I had never gone to public school before but was also not so sure about this. I mean I knew taking college classes wouldn’t be a breeze but it’s not something that I can’t do either. Then after interviewing with Cedar Hill Collegiate I was little less worried mostly because at this point I would have to watch my mom struggle just to send me to school. A few weeks went by of me thinking “Wow! I am going to attend Kathryn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy and taking college courses” Like I stated before college courses weren’t the thing I was afraid of; I actually recall having a few thoughts of somehow getting ahead so that I could knock off a few college courses. But I was still worried see this school wasn’t in the best part of town and I had never been around kids from the area or my neighborhood so it would be so very new to me. I was also worried about wearing a boring repetitive uniform for the next four years again! Ugh!


After these few weeks passed by and all of these thoughts were had, I finally received and envelope from Cedar Hill Collegiate High School but there was one problem with this envelope. It wasn’t a large one. It was a normal sized one and there wasn’t a thick pack of papers folded up in it. But I just took the biggest gulp I could take and opened it. I opened it and I had been excepted, I could now wear a normal uniform and I would still be attending school with a few people who I know. So, for the rest of eighth-grade, I was happy that I was going to a different school with so many new benefits.

That summer I had to attend two weeks of school, which they called “Summer Bridge”. Even though I had school in the middle of the summer I wasn’t too upset (surprisingly). I knew that this was a fresh new start. Yay!

Fall 2012: My Freshman Year and Beyond!

At the end of the Summer Bridge Camp, we had to take a test in order for us to take our college classes and I honestly was not too worried about it. It was basic reading and I’m like I got into this school so this shouldn’t be too hard. Boy oh boy…was I wrong I failed the test by 2 points. In that moment all I could think was woe is me. I got over it and August came and I could officially say that I was a student of Cedar Hill Collegiate High School in Cedar Hill, TX ( a suburb city in the Dallas Area) But it was not uncommon for people to fail the test so I was able to take health as my college course that first semester and we retook the test in October and I passed. We then had to take a grammar and writing one to be able to take our classes for a sophomore year and this test was an actual breeze like I expected the first one to be. So basically with this program or at least at my school we take all of our basics, a few electives, and maybe some intro courses to receive our associate's degree. So now when I reach my University in a few weeks I will be taking courses that are geared towards my actual degree.

Anyways, let’s get back to walking down memory lane. So I took health and a course called CR Study Skills. CR Study Skills is a course that teaches you about yourself and how to handle college courses a with the different things that you learn in that class. This is a Dallas County Community Colleges Courses which means that it would be named something completely different at any other college you attend. In the summer we were allowed to take college classes that were actually on the Cedar Valley College campus and that summer I took government because the other classes were full and the teacher I had been a “legit” professor in a sense. By this I mean he meant business and he required you to truly do your part. This class was total hell compared to the two easy classes I had taken. I did not do that great in his class and thought that my life at collegiate was over because I had received a D! I had never received a grade like that in my life…I was so ashamed of myself I lied to mother and told her I had received a C. I’m not quite sure how long I waited but I know I waited a really long time before I told her the truth. See when you’re enrolled at these colleges only you have access to your grades and your parents can too IF YOU give them the password. They don’t give you and your parents two separate accounts.


Speaking of Parents! I think you all should know this if you consider attending a school like this that your parents CANNOT go and talk to your college professors. They will not talk to them and probably will be offended if your parents did attempt to get in contact with them. You have to remember that the whole point of this program is not only to receive your associate's degree but also to gain good study habits and really fight for your education.

This was something that was taught to us by our biology teacher she later became our dean of instruction sophomore year. When we got to our junior year she was the person that protected us and watched out for us when we got to the Cedar Valley campus. She truly taught us that we are in control of our education we have to fight for it even if we messed up things for ourselves. She wanted to make sure we understood this because there was only so much she could do for use and she most definitely wouldn’t be able to help us in college.



What You Need to Know about Score Optional Colleges


So many students stress out so much about the SAT and ACT, used in the college admissions processes, and how one test can potentially change their futures. We, as students and test takers, often argue that one type test can't define our intellect. We pour so much of ourselves into these tests, exhausting ourselves for a score that will somehow define us to a college in some way in the college admissions process. But students are now not the only ones who are acknowledging this. As time passes, more and more schools are becoming either test optional or test flexible.


What does it mean to be Test Optional or Test Flexible?

When a school is test optional, it means that it is your choice as a prospective student to send in your test scores. You can send your scores if you believe they will accurately represent you to the school, or choose not to. This gives students more control over how they are presenting themselves academically, which is empowering in the college admission process. An incentive for the college as well is that only the applicants with very high test scores will submit their scores. This will lead to the college appearing to have a higher average SAT and ACT score, because only the top scorers submitted their scores. This makes colleges appear more prestigious, but this doesn’t mean that the college is ill-intentioned!

Some schools, on the other hand, are test flexible. This means that applicants will have an alternative to submitting a test score. For example, a college may have students meet a certain GPA to be eligible to not send a test score. Or, a college may ask for another form of testing besides the SAT or ACT, such as submitting SAT Subject Test scores or AP Scores. This shows a student’s ability to excel in a subject of interest, which may prove to be more valuable.

How many schools are test optional/flexible?

Over 800 schools are either test optional or flexible. This is a growing trend among colleges who want to create an admission process that will allow them to see more out of their applicants. While many of the schools transitioning are smaller ones, a couple of larger schools that have deemphasized the SAT and ACT are New York University, Drexel University, Washington University, and University of Arizona.

New York University is a test flexible school that allows for the submission of the SAT, ACT, three SAT Subject tests, three AP tests, an IB diploma, three IB level higher exams, or a nationally accredited exam that shows completion of secondary education. Drexel University holds the same standards, except they require two rather than three SAT Subject tests or AP tests. On the other hand, George Washington University and the University of Arizona are test optional with the exception of a couple of circumstances.

All in all, test-flexible/optional schools allow the opportunity



Fly-In Programs: An Opportunity to Tour Colleges for Free


When looking for a college to spend the next four years of your life in, many factors come into play. For most, finances play the biggest role when making their decision. It can mean the difference between receiving a significant amount of scholarship aid to pay for your education, having the means to pay it off without creating a strain on your family, or having to take out loans. Other factors include academic rigor, location, size, and extracurricular activities available, all of which hold great importance. Most, if not all of the objective factor’s can be found on the college’s website.  However, one thing that cannot usually be found on the college’s websites is how you will particularly feel at the institution when you are walking on its tree-lined brick path and you look around at your fellow classmates. How will it feel?

A lot of colleges offer virtual self-guided tours through websites such as you visit, or you could always take advantage of Google Maps’ street view feature, however, there is nothing like the real deal.


Fly-In Programs

Touring colleges can mean a car ride to some, and a plane trip to others. Fortunately, colleges realize that traveling to different parts of the country to visit schools is not a luxury everyone can afford. This is the reason why many colleges throughout the nation offer fly-in programs. Through fly-in programs, colleges, particularly liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Bowdoin, Colby, and Williams, in addition to some research universities such as Columbia, Dartmouth, and Johns Hopkins, offer a free trip to their institution which covers transportation, housing, and meals.

These tend to take place on the weekends during the months of September, October, and November, however, they may also include one or two school days, but the benefits of participating make missing a few school days worth it. They are available exclusively to seniors and sometimes are catered to specific demographic subsets such as low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color.  However, don’t let this discourage you from applying! If the idea of visiting a premier institution for free appeals to you, a quick Google search, or a click on this link, will bring up the most up-to-date results.

Applying to Fly-in Programs

When applying to fly-in programs, the key is to start early. Since many of them take place over the month of September, applications for those are due over the summer during the months of July and August.

Here’s the thing, if these colleges are paying for a round-trip to their school, housing, and meals, they are only going to do so if you are qualified to actually be admitted into their school. These applications, in addition to general information about yourself, usually require a transcript, standardized test scores, and sometimes even supplemental essays, letters of recommendation, and an activities list.

Luckily, it very much resembles the actual college application, and you could very well use it to practice for college applications, in fact often the supplemental essay questions are the exact same prompts. With all of that said, it’s good to keep in mind that just because you are rejected from a fly-in program, it does not necessarily mean you will be rejected for admission! Regardless of the outcome, you will have gained a good amount of experience in filling out applications, and at the end of the day, it may aid your application, but it will not negatively affect it!

What to Expect from Attending a Fly-In

In addition to the free trip, what makes these programs so unique is that during your weekend there you get to experience life as a college student. You have the opportunity to attend classes and lectures, grab lunch in the dining halls, and share a dorm with a student, and not to mention an abundance of free college gear!

To make the most of your visit, you could schedule an on-campus interview, knocking out two birds with one stone! During your time there, you will meet with a diverse group of unique individuals from all walks of life who have their own amazing stories to tell, take advantage of this opportunity participate, be outgoing, and get to know these fellow students. Doing so will allow you to get a glimpse of the place you will spend the next four years of your life!

All in All…

I encourage all of you to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities! Applying to fly-in programs will help you become better prepared when the time comes to fill out college applications.  Attending fly-in programs will enable you to experience life as a college student for free, something that is crucial for first-generation students who may not have family members to ask questions to.  In addition, if you attend a college’s fly-in program you are absolutely not obligated to apply to the school! It does not hurt to apply, and of course best of luck to everyone who does!

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Consider the Options: Exploring the Different Types of Colleges


With thousands of colleges and universities in the United States alone, it’s no surprise that there are various kinds of schools that you can attend to get your higher education. It may seem overwhelming, but once you decide what type of atmosphere you’d like to be a part of you’ll find that it will be easier for you to narrow down your college list. Here is a comprehensive list of colleges, in which each type will be explained and weighed for pros and cons, to help you in your search.


In-State vs. Out-of-State Colleges

The first dilemma that most students come across when starting their college search is whether they would feel happier staying in their home state or not. This varies from person to person, for some people have strong connections to their state and would rather not leave it, but others may yearn to go to college in another state for new experiences and opportunities. Personal preferences aside, though, a big factor in choosing whether to go in-state or out-of-state is how tuition rates line up with your current financial situation.

By now, you probably know that going out-of-state for your higher education can be a lot more expensive than staying in state. In fact, on average, it costs $8,990 more for students to attend a college or university in a state where they are not a resident. This should not deter you from applying to the colleges of your choice, though, for you still have the chance to get scholarships and be a part of tuition exchange programs for aid.

If you want to be a more independent student, you should definitely look into applying to out-of-state universities, even if you are not necessarily keen on leaving your home state. Limiting your search to your state is not beneficial to you, and you should instead look broadly for you college choices. You’ll never know what you’ll find if you never try!


Private vs. Public Colleges

Once you have figured out whether you want to stay in your home state or not, you now have to figure out whether you want to attend a public or private university.

Private colleges tend to be a lot smaller than public colleges, with undergraduate usually staying in the mere thousands. This can be beneficial because you can have easier access to professors with smaller class sizes. At public schools, you may get lost in the crowd in class and it may not feel as personal as you feel your educational experience should be. If you love being in a busy atmosphere with a lot of people together, however, going to a public college may sound appealing to you.

Another difference between these schools is that at public schools, you will usually find a larger range of majors that you will at private schools. This is because a lot of private schools have certain academic focuses, like engineering or medicine with better resources and greater opportunities for research, while public colleges don’t necessarily have focuses. If you want to go to a college that is somewhat oriented to your field of study, looking into private schools is a good idea.

Of course, we cannot discuss public and private schools without talking about the cost. As public schools are funded by state governments and citizens’ taxes, it is significantly cheaper for you to go to one of them rather than private schools. Private colleges rely on fees, tuition, and rare donations in order to keep running, and that drives the price of tuition way up; in fact, tuition doesn’t change for people in that state or out-of-state. This is beneficial in a way, for private schools can be region-blind when it comes to accepting students because all who enroll will pay the same amount of tuition, unlike in public schools that accept students that are mostly from the state that they are in.


Historically Black Colleges and Universities

An HCBU, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, is “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.” Even though these colleges are historically black, however, they offer all students, regardless of race, chances to further their talents in their higher education.

At these schools, opportunities may be specifically tailored to African-American history and experiences, which adds to the close-knit community that already exists. This atmosphere is said to be safe and nurturing by graduates, and if you are looking for somewhat familial ties in your college experience, an HCBU may be right for you.


Religiously Affiliated Colleges

People may shy away from colleges that coincide with a religion, especially if they don’t practice  the same religion or any religion at all. You don’t necessarily have to be of the same religion to attend one of these schools and definitely should not let that stop you if you really like an academic program in a school, but you should be wary of what kind of community the school has. For example, religion may intersect with student life when it comes to dress code, curfew, single-sex dorms, and more. Make sure to do your research on a specific school if you are interested, and get a tour if possible. This will allow you to make sure that the atmosphere is right for you.

If you do practice the same religion as a school you are interested in, though, this can be extremely beneficial to you. You can get involved in clubs to further your spiritual growth and attend your specific church with fellow students. This allows you to be in an accepting and familiar community of people who understand you and already have a deep connection with you through religion.

Hopefully, through this article you have gained valuable insight into what type of college you’d like to attend after you finish high school. Now that you have this knowledge, go and research these schools and narrow down your list of possibilities!



Why Choosing a College is Like a Season of the Bachelorette


Choosing a college is like a season of The Bachelorette. Applying to college might seem as stressful as choosing a fiancé, but that’s okay.


Weeks 1-2

During your junior year of high school, you will probably begin compiling a list of potential colleges. Throughout the remainder of your high school career, you will spend countless hours deciding which colleges to apply to, actually applying to them, and finally choosing a school. It sounds rough.

Similarly, JoJo Fletcher underwent a stressful process throughout the ten weeks which made up this past season of The Bachelorette. At the start, she was faced with twenty-six men seeking her heart. Each participant on the show offered a unique set of characteristics to his potential future fiancé, just as colleges do to prospective students. Of course there are colleges that offer none of what we are looking for... I think we all remember Chad from this season. While it may be easy to rule these schools out quickly, there will be multiple colleges with various pros. Maybe one has the name everyone knows and envies, like former NFL quarterback Jordan Rodgers. Another displays incredible guidance and support, like Robby Hayes. How can she choose?


Weeks 3-5

As you begin to acquire acceptance and rejection letters from schools and narrow your choices down, the decision-making grows increasingly more challenging. Take it from JoJo. She shed tears nearly every episode, especially as the weeks went by. She continued to learn more about each man and had even more trouble letting one go. Like JoJo you are looking for a commitment, which can seem daunting. As JoJo send men home week after week, she found herself crying out that she didn’t even know what she was doing. She wondered whether the decisions she made rejecting men would be the best for her future.

Although your decision is far from easy, you will reach a moment of clarity in which you will feel comfortable with the school you have chosen. Trust me, I’ve been there too. Personally, I had a lot of trouble choosing between the University of Southern California and the University of San Diego. Being from New York, I knew that I was choosing a school far from home, in fact on the other side of the country. Just as JoJo visited the homes of her top four men as the season began to wrap up, I made sure to visit my top colleges before coming to a decision, which I cannot recommend enough. The visits helped me immensely, and I left California during the spring break of my senior year, where I visited five schools, with a clear idea of my two favorites- USD and USC.


Weeks 6-7

If you still feel torn after visiting the schools to which you were admitted, as I did, don’t freak out. My first tip is to make a list of the pros and cons of each of your schools. Compare the various factors by their importance, such as the cost of tuition, the majors and minors offered, location, and opportunities for internships and jobs.

Although this process can help you to visualize the school which is most realistic for you to attend, I believe that following your gut will ultimately lead you to the best college for you. When JoJo was left with two men during the final episode of this past season, she talked rationally with her family about her two options, verbally listing their pros and cons. Both were great, but her parents and siblings all seemed to favor Robby. Her brother compared Jordan to a “New Year’s date” and claimed that Robby seemed to be more of a long-term fit for JoJo. However, America’s favorite bachelorette jumped to Jordan’s defense. Just as JoJo defended Jordan, I found myself defending USC whenever a family member or peer would persuade me to commit to USD.


Weeks 8-9

When it comes down to it, you can ask your family and friends for their advice as much as you want, but you won’t end up choosing a school because someone else told you to do so. You are the one spending the four years at that school, not your loved ones. Though JoJo’s family encouraged her to pick Robby, they ultimately expressed their interest in her happiness. My family did the same when I was choosing a school, and I’m sure yours will too.

Instead of asking where you should go, ask your family and friends where they believe you truly want to go. You will come to realize that your heart is set on a college. Clearly, JoJo felt that Jordan was right for her early on in the show, as she gave him her First Impression Rose. She revealed after the season ended that she kept asking herself which man she could not imagine leaving, and the answer was Jordan. Think about which school comes to your mind first. Metaphorically, I gave my First Impression Rose to USC. My family could tell for a while that I genuinely wanted to end up there, since I always talked about it first and most often. I did receive more scholarship money at USD and was offered spring admission to USC, meaning that I would have to begin classes there in the spring semester, rather than during the fall. However, I followed my gut and felt absolutely relieved when I committed to the University of Southern California and made plans to study abroad my first semester.


Week 10

My final piece of advice to you is to not stress too much. Wherever you end up is where you are meant to be. I know that was corny, but it’s true. Please don’t let yourself cry as much as JoJo did this season (if that’s even possible). As May 1 approaches, deliver that final rose, also known as your deposit, to the school you cannot imagine denying. At the end of the day, choosing a college is a process, and you should trust it! After all, JoJo trusted the process this season, and she and Jordan are set to live happily ever after. *Roll Credits*


If you are still stuck, the following links will direct you to more help on choosing between two colleges:,-how-do-you-choose-between-colleges/168/1



The Superheroes of High School: Getting to Know Your Guidance Counselors


Just because guidance counselors don’t wear tights and a cape doesn’t mean they can’t save the day by helping you with high school survival and college prep.

Let’s Get Real

Real Talk: High school is hard. Between studying for tests, completing homework, trying to keep a social life, and preparing for the next big stage of your life (hint: college), high schoolers are lucky if they manage to remember what the cafeteria is serving for lunch (bonus points if you remembered what the cafeteria was serving, and then remembered to pack a bag lunch). Your parents don’t always understand what you’re going through, your friends are too busy with their own workload to commiserate over the size of yours, and your dog, while comforting, does not keep an interesting conversation. Well, now your dog can stop working overtime as your therapist because there is someone whose job is to help you with each and every high school problem you encounter: your guidance counselor.

Don’t roll your eyes just yet. I use the term “guidance counselor” loosely, because in actuality, they are superheroes here to save your day from overbearing class schedules, toxic friendships, and general college prep procrastination. Their super powers include gaining access to scholarships you didn’t even know existed, switching you out of the science class taught by that crazy teacher ( know the one), and seeing the potential in you before you learn to recognize it in yourself.


Initiate Your Own Help

So, how do you gain access to these men and women wearing invisible capes? You ask. Notice how the word “you” is bolded. Guidance counselors are happy to help you, in fact they want you to succeed, but they are not going to save you from the burning building that is your crazy teacher (you know the one) kicking and screaming. No, in contrast to your parents, your guidance counselors will not nag you to apply for scholarships, take AP Chem, or apply to your dream school. You have to have the self-motivation to reach your goals, and you have to ask your guidance counselors for help in reaching them.

Once you ask for help (no, the word “you” will not be bolded for the rest of this article), your guidance counselors will channel Clark Kent and spring into action (outfit change optional). Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s just your guidance counselor working their butt off to help you have a bright future. Your guidance counselor can help you make sure you have enough credits to graduate, that the rigor of your classes is right for you, and you are taking the type of classes colleges look for. As mentioned before, your guidance counselor also has access to information about many scholarships, and can help you find the right ones for you. Your guidance counselor can also nominate you for scholarships your teachers or supervisors can’t (hello, the Presidential Scholarship). Your guidance counselor can also help you figure out your passion, and what career you may want to occupy by taking interest tests, directing you to job fairs, and even getting you in touch with career coaches to guide you. Also, many colleges are now requiring letters of recommendation from your guidance counselors. So, the sooner you get to know your guidance counselor, the more he/she can help you.


Start the Conversation

But you are not the only student these superheroes rescue on the daily, the other students in your school use the help of the guidance counselor as well. Depending on the size of your school, your guidance counselor may be the most accessible person on the planet, or they may schedule your appointment three months out. Whatever the case, your time with them is precious, so here are some questions that can help you get acclimated with what your cape-less hero can do for you:

  • “How can I start building my college resume?”

No matter your age, college is right around the corner and it is never too early to start planning. Your guidance counselor can help you get in touch with sports coaches, direct you to clubs that fit your interest, or help you connect with a teacher who needs someone to help them with research. If there are no activities at your school that you are interested in, your guidance counselor will help you start your own club!

  • “Can we go over my transcript?”

Not only does this give you and your guidance counselor a chance to fix any mistakes that may have been made, but it also opens the door to a conversation about the classes you are taking, if there are any classes you should be taking, and if you have enough credits to graduate with your class.

  • “Which standardized tests should I take, and when are they?”

Your guidance counselor will tell you whether you should take the SAT, the ACT, or both. They will also give you information on how to sign up for the tests, when the tests are being given, where the tests are being given, and the prices of testing. If you are unable to pay to take the tests, your guidance counselor can help you figure out a way to still test. Also, if you are young enough, your guidance counselor may recommend taking the practice ACT and SAT, and will have information about those as well.

  • “Is there anything else I should be doing right now?”

Depending on your age, the answer will differ, but I can guarantee the answer will never be “no.” If you are a freshmen, there is always a new class to try, new activities to join, new passions to discover! If you are a senior, even if you think you are on top of your applications, there is always something more you can do to get extra scholarship money and improve your chances of being accepted. How do you do this? I don’t know, ask your guidance counselor.

It’s ALL Up to You

At the end of the day, the help your guidance counselors give you is what you (last bolded “you”, I promise) make of it. You can either go back to puttering around on the internet while simultaneously putting off your math homework (I see you), or you (I lied) can take their advice, hustle, and make the most of high school. Don't play damsel in distress in your own success story when you can be an ally to your own academic achievements.



How to Not Freak Out About Junior Year



A guide on how to handle your junior year so you will be successful senior year.

“Junior year is admittedly the toughest year of high school student’s life, but in every part of life there is a need for balance” -Unknown

Junior Year. Finally, an upperclassman! You’ve gotten through your first two years and now you’re a step closer to your senior year. Don’t let all that get to your head because as a junior, you have more responsibilities which means you must have more accountability. As prom, homecoming, extracurricular, jobs, AP Testing, and etc. come speeding towards you, make sure to keep these four points in mind to have a successful junior year.

Grades! Grades! Grades!

Make sure to keep your grades up. Your junior year transcript as well as your transcripts from your previous years will be the ones you will send to colleges in the fall of your senior year. Make sure you study for your classes, as well as participate, and ask questions if you don’t understand the content. They say that junior year is the hardest year and for good reason. When selecting your classes, be sure to include rigorous courses (i.e. AP classes or any advanced level class). College admission boards really like to see that a student is challenging her/himself with a college-level class in high school. Take about one or two AP Classes a year. I wouldn’t go as far as to take more than three unless you know you will be able to handle the amount of work you will be given.


Procrastination is A Sin!

Procrastination is something you really don’t want to do as a junior. Try to do your homework right after you come home. Be sure to know when your deadlines are so you won’t to be shocked when you have a project due the next day. You don’t want to be stressed with a difficult task because stress equals no success. When you receive a project, start working on it immediately. Spread out the amount of work you need to do within your given time-frame and try to finish it early so you know for sure that you have completed your work. With the extra time, you can use it look for any mistakes and to review your objectives so you know what you’ve done is to your teacher’s accord. With tests, make sure you know when you will be testing whether it’s for the ACT/SAT or just a regular test. And set aside an hour every day to study.


College Research

Junior year is a great time to start compiling a list of colleges you would like to attend. You can meet with your counselor as well as your parents to figure out what major you would like to pursue. While compiling your list, note the admissions requirements of each college to make sure that you would be the right fit. Plan on going on a few college visits during the school breaks so you can really get a feel for the schools you have listed. This will help you narrow down the list of schools to apply to.

Work Hard... Play Hard!

Last but not least, make sure you have some fun. Continue with the extracurricular activities that you enjoy and even take up some more. Colleges like to see that you can balance your school work as well as a few extracurricular activities. As a junior, try to attend as many school sponsored activities such a sports games, school dances, or parades as possible without hindering your grades. Life can’t just be all work and no play.

I hope these tips will help you out these upcoming year. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions. And as always make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook.




6 Useful Scholarship Websites to Check Out


Finding relevant scholarships can be a challenge; anyone who’s spent more than five minutes searching for one can tell you that. There are numerous scholarship search websites that boast about having millions of scholarships worth billions of dollars in total and that they’ll match you with the perfect ones just for you, but do they actually work? Are your scholarship matches really individualized? How many of those millions of scholarships can you actually apply for? To find out, sign up for six of the most popular free scholarship websites. I filled out each profile as thoroughly as possible in order to get the most relevant matches, listing three different majors (journalism, biomedical sciences, and mathematics) for each website, so as to distinguish between a website not having major-specific scholarships and there not being many scholarships for a specific major.

After a week, here, in no particular order, are the results:


Number of Matches: 51

I’d used Fastweb before as a college search engine, but never to search for scholarships. Every time I would open the website, their main page would always boast about their more than 1.5 million scholarships and how their system targets the perfect scholarships for you based on your interests and skills, so I had high expectations. After filling out my profile, I was matched with 49 scholarships, most of which were pretty general. I only found 3 scholarships that correlated with the majors I put in my profile, but most of the others were ones anyone willing to write an essay or create a short video could apply for. These scholarships seem to be based primarily on age, though the ones I was not qualified for based on my profile were eliminated, so I didn’t have to do a lot of voting through. These types of scholarships are great if you do not know what you’re majoring in or you aren’t super passionate about anything, and if you want to apply to a large quantity of scholarships that don’t require pages and pages of essays.

At the end of the week, I had 2 new scholarship matches, so it seems that their website is updated quite often.

Conclusion: While most Fastweb’s scholarships may not be individualized, it is nevertheless a great resource for scholarships, especially for those who don’t know their major.


Number of Matches: 39

Cappex is primarily a college search website, and, from what I’m told, is a pretty good one, but it also has a section for scholarships, which sounded very promising. Despite my rather thorough profile, the scholarships I matched with on Cappex weren’t at all individualized; I didn’t find a single one that correlated with the majors I entered in my profile, unless you count the Scholarship on plantar fasciitis for biomedical science. Like Fastweb, it seemed I was matched with scholarships based only on my age, taking nothing else into account. This can actually be a good thing, as I previously explained, but unlike Fastweb, some of the scholarships I matched with I could not apply for because I was simply ineligible for them. Whether it was because I was not a returning college student or a resident of Texas, these scholarships could have been weeded out easily using the information in my profile. The remaining scholarships I was eligible for were of quality, but they could also be found on Fastweb, which had a few more than Cappex did as well.

Conclusion: Although it may be a good college search website, I found it to be a mediocre scholarship search website.

Number of Matches: It’s Complicated is a bit different from your typical scholarship searching website. Instead of matching you with scholarships that you then have to apply for, you are awarded with micro-scholarships from different schools based on your achievements in high school: $500 for each A you get, $200 for having perfect attendance, $10 for every hour you volunteer, and so on. You’ll receive more or less money from an achievement based on the school, as some schools are more focused on community service or extracurricular activities more than others. The most money I received from a school was $70,150 ($17,538 a year) and the least was still $1,455 ($364 a year). It all seems a little too good to be true, and, depending on your preference in schools, it is. Of the 130 schools offering micro-scholarships, most of them are small, liberal arts schools; only 38 schools on the site have over 5000 students, and there aren’t exactly any big name schools. Most of the schools I received micro-scholarships from were from schools I had never heard of in cities I had never heard of. So, while I would definitely give a chance, if you know you want to go to a large school or an Ivy League university, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Conclusion: Fantastic for small liberal arts schools and a few large state schools.


Number of Matches: 120

To my complete surprise and excitement, this was the first scholarship search website I visited that actually took my profile into account when matching me with scholarships. The scholarships I was provided with fit not only my majors, but also a few other factors listed in my profile such as my religion and high school activities. While I was matched with a few seemingly random scholarships like the ones for and the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association, most of them either matched my interests or were just generally geared towards all students my age and only required an essay, both of which are things I want when applying for scholarships.

Conclusion: By providing largely relevant scholarships with varying degrees of difficulty, is a fantastic resource and lives up to its’ name.

The College Board

Number of Matches: 194

The College Board website is one many high school students are familiar with in some capacity, mostly from viewing scores for the SAT, the PSAT, and any AP tests, but it also can be used to search for scholarships. Although it matched me with the most scholarships in total, I was not able to apply for many because they were either past the deadline or I was just ineligible. I did, however, get matched with scholarships that were relevant to my major, but not to anything else; it seemed this was the only website that did not take my age and high school status into account when picking scholarships for me. They only provided a few general anyone-in-high-school-can-apply scholarships: most of their scholarships had specific qualifications such as race, religion, and membership to an organization that I did not fulfill, making me wonder why they were presented as options to me in the first place. All that being said, the scholarships specific to the majors I put in my profile were pretty fantastic on a monetary level and, as a whole, not that difficult to apply for.

Conclusion: Can provide one with great scholarships relevant to their major if they are willing to comb through the ones they’re ineligible for.


Number of Matches: 86

When I began looking into different scholarship sites, I had a bunch of people tell me that should sign up for Zinch because they either read an article about it or knew someone who used it. So, sure enough, I typed in and was redirected to a site called Chegg, which specializes in textbook rentals. Thinking I had typed it in wrong, I tried again, but it still came back to Chegg. I soon came to realize that Zinch had been bought out by Chegg in 2011 and their scholarship section had been moved to the last to the last section of the last tab on the homepage. I was curious to see if, despite this major status downgrade, the famed scholarship search engine still lived up to its’ name.

I was matched with scholarships on Chegg based solely on my age and year in school, which at this point I’ve come to expect and appreciate in some ways; however, a little over half of the 86 scholarships I was matched with I was ineligible for. Attached to each scholarship were little tags that showed what aspect of my profile it matched: my age, year in school, or sometimes, my citizenship. These tags only graced 37 of the 86 scholarships I matched with, and the rest I was not eligible for because of my age, year in school, or citizenship. The scholarships I was eligible did have a wide range of participation levels, ranging from collecting peanut butter for a food bank to writing an essay about how collecting peanut butter for a food bank can affect your life. Community service was a common theme among many of the scholarships I matched with, which gave the website a bit of a flair in my opinion, as many of the scholarships I looked through over the week were more about academic achievement.

Conclusion: Not sure it lives up to the glory of its’ original name, but it proved it deserves more than being the last section of the last tab.



Ahead of the Game: Preparing Yourself for the College Admissions Process


“So this is it,” you think as you walk through the crowded hallways on your first day of high school, “this is where I’ll spend the next four years making some of the most important decisions of my life and determining the rest of my future career. My whole life lies within the palms of these classrooms” Ok, maybe not. You'll probably be stumbling through the halls filled with tall, intimidating upperclassmen while struggling to find your next class within the unfamiliar campus. Your mind will be too occupied with the pressure of being the little fish in this giant ocean of sharks and dolphins. College and your career will probably be the last things on your mind as a high school underclassman, but as time progresses, you'll realize that time flies faster than lightning, and your future is much more imminent than you think. Here’s how you can grasp and shape your future before time does it for you.

It’s Never Too Early

So many high school underclassmen, including myself, make the mistake of believing that “it's too early to be worrying about the future.” I mean you barely just got to high school… you still have plenty of time, right? Well, yes, you have 3-4 whole years, in fact. But like I said before, time will fly, and if you leave the idea of preparing for college on the back burner for the first couple years, you might find yourself lost and struggling to make rash decisions as upperclassmen. You don't have to know exactly what career path you'll want to follow right away, and you don't have to have your list of top ten dream colleges on your first day of freshman year either; these things you'll figure out within your time in high school. You just have to be mindful of what you are building for yourself as you continue your academic journey. The smallest things will make the biggest differences in the long run when it comes to college preparation.


Freshman Year: Getting Involved

As a freshman, something that will doubtlessly help you determine what you want to do with your future is getting involved with school. Whether you are involved in athletics, clubs, student council, or community service, participating in these kinds of groups will give you an idea of the things you like and don't like. Don't be afraid to try things that are unfamiliar or new; freshman year is the perfect time to test different waters. This way, you'll discover activities that you love and will be able to pursue those passions in your remaining years of high school, and possibly decide your intended career path through these experiences. However, you should remember to not put too much on your plate and wisely choose activities that you think you'll enjoy. It's better to be completely involved and passionate about a few things than to be slightly involved in an abundance of activities. The great thing about exploring different things in freshman year is that you'll have plenty of wiggle room to change your mind in later years. Being involved in extracurricular activities can also help you build lots of new friendships, which is a great way to get more comfortable with high school. Extracurricular activities are an essential part of college applications, so starting them right away will definitely be beneficial to your application process in the future.

Sophomore Year: Taking Initiative

Sophomore year is definitely one of the most exciting and relaxing years of the high school experience. You've adjusted well enough to the aspects of high school, you're finally comfortable with your atmosphere, and plenty of new opportunities that weren't offered to you as a freshman will be provided to you. Though it may not seem like it, you have lots of control over your future within this school year. You're not yet an upperclassman but you're no longer a freshman, so it's the perfect time to fix any mistakes you made last year, and set yourself on the right track for the upcoming years. If you didn't do so well with grades in your freshman year, now would be a good time to step up your game, and put a little more effort into studying. Sophomore year is also a perfect time to begin the college search. Yes, it may seem a little early, but like I said previously, the smallest things will make the biggest differences. Doing a little research on potential schools won't hurt you. You should start by thinking about the kinds of schools that you would have a good chance of getting into based on your current transcript (GPA, classes), extracurricular activities and potential career path. Though you may not have that much information, and these things can always change as you continue high school, it's good to have a general idea of where you could possibly end up. You should then look for schools that you want to go to or “reach schools”. These are schools that exceed your current grades but you still would love to attend and have a small chance at getting into. The thing about looking into reach schools as a sophomore is that you still have chances of improving your academic performance in your junior and senior years and raising your average GPA. This way, you'll have more motivation to progressively do better in school.

Starting on the Right Track

As an underclassman, especially freshmen, you may not worry too much about getting a 4.0 GPA right away since it's only your first year and you'll have plenty of room to grow. This is exactly right, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try your best to get the grades that you want. You'll later realize that freshman year is the easiest year, so take advantage of this and excel in all of your classes. Since your transcript is the most important element of college applications, it’s better to start off on the right track than to realize too late that you could've done better. But of course, if you don't do so well, you still have plenty of years ahead of you to make up for it. Colleges like to see that your GPA moves in an upward trend as you get older; they like to see that you're progressively getting better and consistently trying to do your best.

Point out Your Flaws and Fix Them

The first two years of high school can be a sort of trial and error experience. You might have difficulties determining who you are and what you want to do with yourself at first, which is perfectly fine because that's exactly what the whole high school experience is all about. But once you start junior year things will get so much more legitimate and serious, so it's important that you consider lots of things before you become an upperclassman. The summer after every school year, you should make a list of things you succeeded in as well as a list of things you wish you could've done better in. You could then have an idea of the things that you want to continue next year, things you want to improve on, and things you want to try next year. Doing this will really help you prepare for every new school year and will keep you ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way. As said before, improvement is something that college admissions officers pay close attention to.


Building a Relationship with Your Counselor

You may not know it as an underclassman, but your guidance counselor is one of the best resources for the college search and college admission processes. Discussing these things with them at an early stage will be nothing but beneficial to you. You should go to them with any questions or concerns that you have about college or your future in general and frequently update them with any information that you come upon while doing research (such as an interest in particular schools or career paths). Keeping in touch with your counselor can also be beneficial to your application itself as they can possibly be writing you a recommendation letter in a couple of years.

Being Aware

The main aspect of being prepared for the college admission process before it comes to you is to simply be aware of the whole situation. Being mindful that your future is a lot closer than you think will definitely prepare you for the challenges that are to come to you in the long run.


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Pros and Cons of Taking Online Virtual Classes aka "Distance Learning"


Distance  Learning, or Virtual Classes, is quickly becoming a valid option for many prospective university students because of it's many positive aspects, but do those factors apply to every student wishing to pursue secondary school?

The Plus Side of Online Learning

Convenience is something that everyone in our modern world looks for, and most online courses offer an out-standing opportunity to 'create' your own schedule. At the very least, earning an education with Distance Learning is efficient time-wise.

With a traditional MBA, or in-class education, everything must revolve about the time of your classes. That includes work, social interaction, and any other daily events.

However, with Distance Learning, self motivation is a huge key factor. Although the thought of gaining a degree with minimal strict guidelines, or a solid schedule, may sound like the better option, it's harder than it seems.

Online learning requires excellent time management skills, motivation, new-found computer literacy, discipline and definitely forms an adult-like independence that'll get you ready for the real world with a dramatic wake up call. Everything depends on you (Yes, that means class material, completed assignments, book readings, and even self-taught information), so be prepared.

Evangeline Hanson, a senior high-school student who successfully completed a secondary-language course online, says, "I think students who work better at their own pace, and in a quiet environment, would get the most out of this (online) course. It allows the student to get full understanding before moving onto the next task and although there are no teachers standing in the same room, there are always people in the course who are only an email away."

"Some students learn better in a classroom environment rather than one on one, but I think both options should be available to all students," she told; "Online courses take patience and Independence because sometimes if help is needed, you'll have to wait for a response. Where as in a classroom, help is always available nearly instantly."

Is Distance Learning a legitimate education?

One of the most asked questions about earning a degree online is: Will future companies look at my education the same as someone with an MBA?

The answer is yes, absolutely.

Society has geared up into a fast-paced, technology run environment, and employers are not longer holding a stigma around online graduates. In fact, a survey conducted in 2012 by Society for Human Resource Management concluded that 79% of employers hired a candidate with an online degree.

"The recruiters who look at our hybrid EMBA really don't differentiate between the two, " Robert Bruner, Business Administration professor at University of Virginia, states; "I would say the online program, even the hybrids, require a higher level of maturity and determination to make the online components a meaningful and successful learning experience."

A Distance Education course can be completely valid as the in-class course, but that also depends on if your program is accredited.

Make sure that your university, and chosen course, is accredited by the U.S Department of Education. This makes your education legit in the eyes of your future employer, and can give you reassurance on your decision.

"Education doesn't only happen in the classroom," Hanson points out.

With Distance Learning, the idea of taking classroom material outside of class is tried and true.

Young woman with laptop computer.

Most online courses require one-on-one meetings with instructors every so often, and some even offer iClass sessions. iClass is a collection of students taking the same online course who meet via internet to discuss classroom topics.

Online gatherings, like iClass, offer students a chance to interact with students from different areas while ensuring that each student maintains a relevant understanding of the subject being learnt.

Education has changed in many ways, for the better.

Distance Education was first invented for the average middle-class family member who wanted to enhance their education, or change careers, while remaining in the same area with family.

A lot has changed since those times, and largely accredited universities like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT are now offering the same excellence in an MBA, though online courses.

Whether you decide to experience the full university experience on campus, or if you decide to conveniently earn your full education online, there are now an abundance of options at your fingertips! Good luck choosing a course that suits your needs, and hopefully the information above will be of good use.

References used:

  1. Franklin EDU
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On a Quest: The Questbridge Application Process


A few months ago, I remember receiving an email from Ana McCullough titled, “An invitation from Questbridge.” Admittedly, I simply selected it and marked it as read, as I do with all of my college emails. However as time passed, I continued to receive more and more emails from Questbridge inviting me to apply, so I finally clicked the link. That is when I learned about the College Prep Scholarship program. On their website, I discovered the plethora of resources they were offering to students who were awarded their scholarships: counseling with college essays, full rides to pre-college summer programs at top universities, and more. I did not end up applying to the program however, and it is something I regret as I begin my college application process.

Questbridge was created by Stanford students as part of an initiative to increase student outreach. Their mission is to help high-achieving, low-income students learn about a myriad of opportunities available to them by assisting in their application process to top universities partnered with the organization. In addition, they offer a variety of resources on their website for everyone to use such as tips for writing a college essay and using the low-income strategy. Questbridge offers three main services: College Prep Scholarship Program, The National College Match, and The Questbridge Scholars Network.


College Prep Scholarship Program

The College Prep Scholarship program is targeted at low-income, high achieving, high school juniors. The application opens in mid-February and is due in the last week of March. It includes a very extensive application that requires personal information, financial background, academic records, letters of recommendation, personal essay, short answer responses, and an activities list. Even though a lot is required of applicants, the benefits for the scholarship winners are endless.

As the name suggests, the program offers rising seniors with college preparation resources. Members will receive the opportunity to attend Questbridge’s annual conference to sit in on exclusive presentations by admission counselors. Students who previously had not thought of applying to a selective college often leave the meeting inspired after learning about the generous financial aid offered by top colleges and the large support system waiting for them at these universities.

The essay used for the application will be used for college applications and will be reviewed by a college counselor for free, a service that can cost up to thousands of dollars, and is otherwise unattainable for low-income students.

Another major component of this program is full-rides to attend pre-college summer programs at these prestigious universities, including Stanford, Columbia, UChicago, to name a few. Students are able to earn college credit and experience learning in a college environment while still in their high school years, something that low-income students would not have the chance to experience otherwise.

In addition, admitted students are able to receive information throughout the year regarding topics such as fly-in programs, mentoring programs, and will have the opportunity to apply for Quest for Excellence awards.

While the application may seem daunting at first glance, if you start early and work step-by-step without procrastinating, you will complete it in time. If accepted you will be able to meet with a community of people who have gone through significant challenges in life, and you will be able to have them as a support group for your college admission journey and beyond.


The National College Match

The National College Match is a program targeted at rising high school seniors. The application opens in June and is due in late September. It is very similar to the application used for the College Prep Scholarship, in fact, you even have the option to reuse its application for this program. The National College Match helps high school seniors apply to college and gain admission to top universities by providing them with a free application that is able to highlight the strength of their accomplishments in regards to their circumstances. This program offers opportunities for low-income students to be recognized in the same light as their competing peers.

After submitting the application, members have up to mid-October to rank Questbridge’s partner colleges from 1-12, 1 being your top choice and 12 being your last, of course you don’t have to fill all 12 spots, you could even only submit 1. Ranking colleges means that these are the colleges you want to be considered for admission with a college match scholarship which provides a full-ride for all four years of college. While all partner colleges provide students with scholarships to fulfill 100% of demonstrated financial need, the college match scholarship eliminates the need to fill out FAFSA and the CSS profile every year. However, with the exception of Stanford, MIT, Yale, and Princeton, the college match is binding, meaning you have to attend no matter what. You will only be matched to the school that is higher up in your list that wants to offer a match. (Say the University of Pennsylvania is your second choice and Trinity College is your fourth and both schools are interested in providing a college match scholarship, you will only be matched to the University of Pennsylvania). Students will receive notification of their status in the first week of December, students who do not match have the option to apply early action/decision or through regular decision.

To some students, this may seem as a high degree of commitment, therefore some finalists opt to not enter the match, but rather choose to apply through Regular Decision. Applying through regular decision allows them to apply to partner colleges for free, and are still able to receive a generous financial aid offer, and are able to compare offers if admitted to more than one. If admitted to a partner college either through the match or regular decision, students gain access to the Questbridge Scholars Network, a community of scholars to guide you through college and other elements of it such as internships, to help you succeed through it.

Bottom line, applying to the National College Match does NOT guarantee admission to a partner college, in fact most students are not admitted. However, there is nothing to lose from applying. You are granted the opportunity to begin applying to college two months before applications even open on August 1st. By September, you will have everything needed for your other non-Questbridge college applications, minus the supplements. Even if you are rejected, you almost have all the materials needed to apply to schools through the Common Application. And of course, there’s also the chance of being selected as a finalist, and even admitted to a top university.


The Questbridge Scholars Network

Once a student commits to a partner college they become a member of the Questbridge Scholars Network chapter at their respective college. The QSN will send information about internships and grants throughout your college career to help ensure each student's success. In addition, the chapter serves as a support group, preventing students to drop-out as a result of unforeseen pressures and stress, allowing them graduate in four years, and helping each other overcome the hardships that come being a low-income, first generation college student. 

I encourage all students to read more information about Questbridge and their many programs offered. Every year, low-income students are given a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a top university for free.


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The Wizardry of Junior Year: A Guide to Managing Your Priorities


SAT testing, extracurriculars, AP courses, prom, applying for jobs, volunteer work, getting your driver’s license, and maintaining friendships. All of these things combine to create the most bittersweet era of the high school experience: the dreaded junior year. As you may know, it’s a lot to handle for one person within just ten months, and it is hands-down, the most difficult year, especially considering you are only a year away from sending in applications to your dream schools.

It almost seems impossible, doesn’t it? Staying involved in sports, clubs and work, while still managing your GPA and preparing yourself to receive good scores on all of your exams to keep yourself as “well-rounded” as possible seems like a task designed just for Wonder Woman. Well as challenging as it is, it is also the most critical era, since several of the decisions that you make as well as the outcomes of this school year will have an essential impact on your near future in regards to your college admissions process. As Ben Marcus once wrote, “The impossible is just a blind spot that dissolves if we move our heads fast enough.” So move your heads quickly and learn to master the wizardry of junior year.


Setting Goals for the School Year

A skill that will doubtlessly help you through the rigorous year as well as through the rest of your college admissions journey is setting specific goals for yourself. If you are reading this as a sophomore or as someone about to enter junior year, then you’re right on time to give yourself a head start. Before you start the year, you should try to prepare yourself a “game plan” on what you intend to do and accomplish within the year. You should make a list of all the classes you’ll take and what grades you hope to get in them, the extracurriculars you’ll be participating in and how much time you think you’ll dedicate to them, standardized testing (SATs and ACTs) dates and how much time you’ll devote to studying, and other things that you plan on doing throughout the course of the ten months (such as applying for jobs, volunteer hours, etc). Keep this plan for when you actually attend school in the fall and begin to keep track of what you accomplish and what you don’t. This will help you manage your time and your tasks. Having a clear physical plan for what you want to do will keep you much more organized and relieve the stress and panic of procrastinating to complete things. However, this idea of a plan/agenda will only work effectively if you are totally consistent and determined to do well, so it is absolutely essential to stay focused.


Course Selection

Choosing the right courses in junior year may seem very difficult at first, since a whole new span of options will be made available to you, and you might not know which ones you’ll need. In terms of electives, you should first think about your high school’s graduation requirements, and check to see if you haven’t yet fulfilled some of the required classes. Those classes are the ones you should definitely make sure you enroll in. You should then consider the possible career field that you might want to work with in the future, and select a class or two that correlate with that field. If you’re not sure about the career path you want to follow yet, try signing up for classes that seem interesting to you; definitely do not choose electives that you think you won’t enjoy or be interested in. Now in terms of the levels of difficulty of your classes, you absolutely want to make sure you make the right decisions. You may feel pressured to take 4-5 honors and AP courses, but in most cases, this probably won’t be the right thing to do. Taking challenging classes is obviously something that you should consider in your junior year, as it is something that college admission offices pay close attention to. However, there is always a limit to the amount of rigor that one can handle. Keep in mind when selecting your courses that you’ll need time throughout your days to do other things such as sports or other extracurricular activities. A good amount of AP classes for junior year might be 2-3, depending on your daily schedule and academic interests. When you’re up at 2:00am finishing your AP Bio paper, there’s no doubt that you’ll thank yourself for not taking on that extra AP course.

Big Future

Beginning the College Search

If you’re a junior and still don’t know what kinds of colleges and schools you want to go to/ apply to, now is the perfect time to start looking. It’s extremely important that you have, at the very least, a general idea of what schools you are looking for before senior year comes around, as you’ll spend the majority of your first semester and the summer before you’re a senior preparing your applications. It may seem slightly difficult to decide what you want to do with your future when it seems so far away in time, but once you’ve indulged yourself in research, you’ll have a much more distinct image of what you want, and your search will become much simpler. You should start by considering all of the contributing elements: location (in-state or out-of-state), type of school (private/public), size, academic programs, intended major(s), cost, financial aid, etc. Many of these you’ll be able to decide yourself, but some may have to be discussed with your counselor or your family before anything is set in stone. It is important that you take as much time as you need to deeply consider which colleges you’ll apply to so that you’ll make the right decision when choosing which one you’ll attend after you graduate. Do not make any impulsive decisions to apply for a school without doing plenty of research beforehand, and do not wait to start looking.

Time Management

As you’re experiencing your junior year adventure, you’ll realize that time management will become more and more difficult to maintain. One thing to keep in mind in order to avoid this from interfering with your grades and academic performance is to not procrastinate. So be efficient, put all distractions aside, complete your work on time, get your projects out of the way, and have all the leisure time you need when you're finished. Trust me on this; it's a lot more satisfying to relax knowing that you've finished all your school work for the day. Try your best to balance school work, extracurriculars, and personal free time. A great tool to keep track of all of your assignments is The HW App, which is available in the Apple Store.


Your Best Friends: Your Counselor and Teachers

Keeping in contact with your counselor and your teachers throughout this year is crucial to your application journey, since these are the people that will be writing your recommendation letters required in your college and scholarship applications. Frequently visiting your counselor to discuss college plans will show him/her that you are serious about getting a higher education, and will give him/her more great things to write about if they decide to write you a letter. Counselors are also one of the best college and education resources that you'll ever have, they'll tell you anything that you need to know about the schools you want to attend, the careers you intend on pursuing, and the classes you'll need to take in high school to get where you want to be. So never be afraid to consult with them and build relationships with them! It's also important that you stay on your teachers’ good sides, since they are the people that observe your dedication and hard work in the classroom, which is something colleges really consider when looking through applications. Remember that although it may not always seem like it, your school’s faculty is always on your side, and will do anything to help you become what you aspire to be.

Self-Motivation and Effort

You will only succeed as far as you’ll allow yourself to be pushed. Being your own number one supporter and motivator is a major key to tackling obstacles such as junior year. You must make yourself want to do well and want to succeed; you won’t get as far as you are able to by telling yourself that you need to do things. You have to want to do them. Put all the effort that you have into each and every one of your assignments, and constantly remind yourself that you’ll succeed if you try your best. Yes, it will be very tiring and time-consuming, and sometimes you’ll want to just BS all of your assignments and take a nap. But keep in mind that hard work will always pay off. Not only will self-dedication help you through the year, it will help you to strive to do better in all of your life obstacles that await your future. You do not want to look back your senior year regretting your grade in a class that lowered your GPA, or disrespecting a potential recommendation letter writer.

So Maybe it’s Not that Hard

Maybe referring to this year as some mysterious sorcery is a bit of an exaggeration. It may seem that way at first, but trust me, you’ll get through it. It’s all a matter of consistency, perseverance, and hard work. As long as you stay focused and keep your goals in mind, you won’t need a magic wand to keep you sane.

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College Search Websites You Need to Be Using


If you are a high school student in any grade, you most likely have been asked about college.  For example, ‘Where do you want to go?’and ‘What do you want to do?’.  Presumably, unless you are a senior in your second semester, you do not know the answers to these questions.  Luckily, these websites and apps are here to help.  Whether you are looking for colleges that match the criteria you want or majors that might interest you, at least one of these websites will have what you are looking for. Not only is it important to find what you want in a specific college, but it is important to get your name out to colleges.  Signing up with these websites will put you out there, and colleges that are interested in you can get into contact with you, making it easier to have an idea on where to apply senior year.

I started signing up for websites like these ones the summer before my freshman year of high school.  That way, when I wanted and needed to start looking into colleges, I already had a basic account set up with all my information.  Because I signed up for websites, I started receiving letters and emails from colleges that were already interested in me, before I had even started high school!  I highly recommend all of these websites, as they are great ways to fuel your college search.

Big Future 2

Big Future (

CollegeBoard is the owner of the Big Future website as well as the SAT, PSAT, and AP tests and classes.  Big Future has a college search engine where you put in factors that you want in a college, for example: size, location, majors, selectivity, and diversity.  It goes through all the schools in it’s database and picks out the ones that match what you want.  After you search, you can then pick specific schools to look more in-depth in.  Big Future provides average GPA, average test scores, what the campus life is like, average cost, deadlines you need to know, and more.  Big Future also provides inside looks into different careers and majors, planning tools to help you get on the right track for colleges, and has information about financial aid and affording college.

Cappex 2

Cappex (

Cappex is a great way to connect with colleges.  Colleges can send you messages through this site and if you state that you are interested in a specific school, Cappex will connect your profile with that school.  Cappex is interesting because you can see your chances of getting into a certain school.  Cappex provides statistics for average test scores, an admissions scattergram, campus life, your fit at that school based on criteria you enter into your profile, and tuition and costs.  Cappex also has a quiz you take to see what majors or careers are right based on your personality and a tab where you can find scholarships.

College Raptor

College Raptor (

College Raptor also has a college search engine. You put in information such as GPA, test scores, financial information, and intended major and it matches you to schools that have what you want.  It also provides if the school is a reach, target, or safety school.  (Safety: a school you will probably get into for sure, target: you have about a fifty percent chance of getting in, and reach: it is a stretch to get in, but it might happen.)  This site gives you an approximate percentage of the chance you have getting into a school and you can add schools you are interested in to your college list.  College Raptor also provides statistics for each school and has a blog page and a YouTube channel.


Niche (

Niche (formerly collegeprowler) has many great factors including a feature called “Chance Me”.  Chance Me basically allows other students to look at you GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and basic information to determine how good of a chance you have of getting into a certain college.  Niche also ranks the colleges with scores ranging from A+ to F.  You can find scholarships you are interested in and compare colleges side by side with their compare tool.  They also give you recommendations of colleges you might be interested based on your profile and schools you have already added and connect you with the colleges you are interested in.

Niche 2 ( can also be a considered a college search engine, but is actually a scholarship website.  This website gives micro-scholarships for simple things you have completed in high school, such as getting an A in a class, scoring well on the ACT/SAT, participating in an extracurricular activity, volunteering, and participating in a college event.  If you choose to go to a school that participates with, they add the scholarships into your financial aid package.  Not every college participates, but many are being added every day.  (One school has given me $45,030, which is $11,258 per year!


Schoold (get the app at

Schoold is an app that can also aid you in your college search.  It is not very in-depth, but if someone mentions a college, you can quickly look it up and learn some information about the school.  If you add them on Snapchat, they give snapchat tours of different colleges and give away scholarships.  You can also find careers, majors, and scholarships right on the app and Schoold gives you an approximate percentage of your chance of getting into different schools.

It is important to take the college admissions predictions from these websites with a grain of salt. Do not let yourself be discouraged if a website tells you that you do not have a good chance of admission at one of your dream Universities. It is important to still apply and see what happens, you never know.



Oh, The Places I'll Go: A Guide to Selecting Where to Apply for College


There’s so many college choices, but you can only choose one...

Choosing a college to go to is probably one of the major parts of your college application journey and also the most important.  You’re going to be studying there for just about 4 years so you want to choose wisely! When choosing a college, you also have to make compromises.  A college isn’t going to have everything you want.  You have to compare and contrast the general information, major and minor selection, extracurricular activities, the location, and lastly the tuition.  All the researching can be overwhelming so grab a notebook and a writing utensil so we can get started.

Finding a Major!

First, you want to decide on what you want to major in.  Think about what you are passionate about and not what your friends or family suggest you should do.

It’s good to know what you want to major in before hand because when searching for colleges, it can help you narrow down the schools you wish to go to.

However, some students have no idea what they want to major in and decide to apply to schools under undecided.

What If I’m Undecided?

If you have no clue on what you want to major in, there are plenty of quizzes online to help you decide.  Loyola University Chicago, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, and Buzz Feed offers quizzes to help.

If you’re still unsure, many colleges allow you to apply as an undecided major. This means that you will take your general classes and then declare your major after your freshman or sophomore year of college.

For those who do not want to take that route, I recommend taking a gap year. This is when you do not enroll in college after high school graduation. You take the year off to pursue community service, travel, working, or another quality use of your time. Most colleges will expect you to explain why you took a gap year so do not take this time to be unproductive.

If you’re not interested in taking a gap year, going to a community college for the first year is also a great alternative because you can get all (or most) of your general courses out of the way and save plenty of money.  Your class credits then transfers over with you to the college/university you decide to attend.

 Finding General Information

The next step is to start on building a foundation for your college list.  The best way to start is to Google, “Top (insert major name) Schools” and pick about no more than 10 from the list in which you can begin to conduct research on. To begin research, you want to start off by noting the general information: the tuition, acceptance rate, graduation rate, location, size, and other important factors to consider. Doing so will help you get an idea on what you’re looking for.

Also, a good way to see “the campus life” is by finding on YouTube if anyone vlogs (a vlog is when someone basically shows what they're doing during the day/week) their college experience, seeing if someone does a campus tour, watching a Q&A about the school, and things in that nature.  Keesha Kaylee and Brelynn both are vloggers at Spelman College.  Nia Imani is a Hampton University vlogger. Queen Chioma is a Toledo University vlogger. Amber Martin is a vlogger at the University of Tennessee, and of course there are others!  If you look, you can possibly find someone that vlogs at a school you’re interested in.

Location! Location! Location!

Another important thing to research while creating your list is researching the location!   It’s good to know about the areas you are and are not interested in living in. If you love the city life, going to school in a rural area for 4 years most likely wouldn’t make you happy.

Another important factor of location is climate. It is up to you to decide if you want to spend your time studying near the beach or in the snow!

Extracurricular Activities

Try to research the activities and clubs that the colleges you are interested in offer. Participating in extracurriculars will make your college experience so much better!  You can pledge to a sorority/fraternity, participate in intramural or varsity sports, join the dance team or band, join clubs, or participate in community service activities with the school.

If you are interested in playing a sport it is important to see that the schools you are interested offer that sport. There are requirements for the NCAA as well as just intramural sports.

Studying Abroad

If studying abroad is also something you thought about participating in, you want to make sure your school offers that program!  Studying abroad is a good way for you to travel the world and learn about different cultures.

 The Fun Word Called “Tuition”

The last thing I want to mention is tuition.  I put this one last because personally I don’t think this is so important when you’re only creating a list.  Many schools do offer scholarships/grants when you receive your acceptance letter.  You will never know until you apply so don’t miss out due to the price.

You also want to keep in mind that there is still the possibility that you may not get money to help cover your tuition or that the money you receive isn’t enough so it’s a good idea to have 3-4 in-state schools on your list that you wouldn’t mind attending. These offer in-state tuition which is cheaper for those that live in the state that those who live outside of the state.


So remember, when starting to create your list, you want to know your major, have a foundation of schools to start your research on, learn about the location, discover the extracurricular activities, and to know that tuition shouldn’t be the number one factor!