How to apply to college if you have a disability

How to apply to college if you have a disability

Tens and thousands of students with disabilities enroll in college every year. Applying to college can be a stressful experience. It may be even worse for disabled students because they must worry about not just if the schools offer the best possible education route for them but also if they provide enough accommodations to assist them.

As a senior with a physical disability, I have learned a few things about the college application process that could help others.

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6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Applying to My First College

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Applying to My First College

Explore the 6 things I wish I knew before starting my college applications which could have helped me avoid stress. The process was a learning experience. This post will help others not make any of the mistakes I made when I began my college applications.

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How to Balance School and College Applications


If you are like any high school senior or junior, the demands from inside and outside of the classroom combined with the pressures of getting into college can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Seniors often feel that they have no way of balancing difficult academics, extracurricular, and college applications. Students should always try to start their applications in the summer in order to alleviate some of the work that comes in the fall. With essays, homework, exams, and extracurricular activities, it’s all about a balancing act in order to make the deadlines, This article will help you with how to balance because if you don’t balance, you’ll find that you may have missed something important in the end.

1. Get Organized

Getting organized is always the first step in finding balance. We have plenty of tools that can help you get organized. Start as simple as buying a planner from any office store or getting apps such as SoCal, Cal, Weekly Planner, etc;  in that has some sort of calendar to log all school assignments, application deadlines, and any important meetings or college interviews. Taking your time to organize your schedule and writing down everything you need to do will help you see what needs to get done. This schedule will allow you to get tasks done little by little. If you manage to all get papers, applications, and other assignments done before deadlines, you will be less stressed at the end the day.

2. Prioritize

When everything seems to be important, prioritizing assignments can often seem difficult. However, some assignments are more important than others. Learning to prioritize certain assignments and choosing what is most important will allow for students to not only alleviate stress but get you in bed before midnight. If you have an essay due in a week, this should have higher precedence over finishing some projects or applications that due in another month or two. Not only will you keep your grades up but you be able to work proficiently throughout the school year

3. Fight Senioritis

Don’t catch senioritis. Seniors fall victim as early as September of their senior year but when the second semester comes around, students get caught in a whirlpool. Senioritis will hurt your college admissions when you have to send in your final transcript. Students often make the mistake of waiting last minute to start on assignments and even college applications. Putting off these assignments will stress you out because these deadlines do come sooner than you think. Start your year off strong and stay motivated by keeping up with your deadlines and making sure that you do step back and take a breath.  Senior year is difficult and busy so make sure you have some fun.

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



Four Methods to Organize Your College Application Materials


If I’ve been known to be borderline obsessive about two things, they would be college and organization. I’d made my first college-themed binder in the seventh grade, taking my list of my top colleges at the time and collecting statistics to organize into the huge pink folder. Now, with college a lot more relevant and right around the corner, I’ve caught onto more quick ways to make the whole process a lot easier and more accessible for all of you guys!

College List Organization

 When I was first sifting through hundreds of college listings online, I had no idea where to start and how to keep track of the information I was getting in an accessible way. Let’s just say Google Sheets has been a college application lifesaver, saving me so much time and effort by keeping everything I need to know exactly where I can find it easily.

Every time I come across a college I like, I put it into my college spreadsheet. Within this spreadsheet, all of these categories are filled out: “College Name”, “My Chances”, “Location”, “Number of Undergraduates”, and “Tuition”. I’ve figured out location and size are the most important factor to me, but my chances of getting in and the cost of the school are also important in deciding, so those are added in as well.

This can definitely be adjusted to whatever factors you may care about the most, but this system has worked incredibly well in getting me a solid list of schools I really love even before my senior year has started.

 If you’re interested in looking into other factors that may play a part for you in choosing a college, there’s a great list of them here to sort through to see what’s really important to you.

Calendar with Deadline Circled

Deadline Organization

If there are two lifesavers I’ve come across while figuring out my deadlines for this upcoming year, they are Google Calendar and Google Sheets.

While I use my phone calendar religiously for anything social going on, I like having Google Calendar on my laptop reserved solely for school and college-related deadlines. It’s insanely helpful just for keeping up with school work, but having the deadlines shown to you in a really visual way helps you to see just how much time you have left.

I also like using Google Sheets, though, just to keep one concise place for keeping track of deadlines. With some applications potentially being due early, it’s easiest for me to lay all of the due dates out with what is due on each day so I can color code my way through the year, marking essays as green for done, yellow for in progress, and red for not yet started.

Essay Organization

First thing’s first: Folders, whether on your regular computer or Google Drive, will save your life. I have one for each college I’m applying to, just to keep each essay where it belongs. Any other essays, like drafts of the Common App or scholarship essays, all have their own folders so that everything has it’s place and I can’t accidentally submit an essay to Northwestern saying why I want to go to UChicago.

Hard copies are super important, at least as far as editing goes. I got a 5-layered magazine rack from IKEA for only $15, and labeled each section as follows: “First Drafts”, “Ready for Revisions”, “Ready to Be Read”, “Last Edits”, and “Submissions”. The first drafts section is probably pretty self explanatory, but the others may not be as easy to grasp if you’re not in my weird organization mindset.

“Ready for Revisions” means it’s not a complete mess, but it’s not close to being done yet. “Ready to Be Read” means it’s been made as good as I can make it on my own, but I need to get other opinions and make those edits before I can submit the essay. “Last Edits” is for essays that have been read and revised a few times, and just need a few last touches before they’re ready for submission. “Submissions” are for finished essays. Ta da, time to send those in (in all their magic college glory that you’ve worked so hard on)!

By having an organized system both on your computer and in real life, it’s a lot less difficult to keep track of what you still have to work on before the approaching deadlines.

As you work on and continue to edit your essays, sometimes it can be hard to have to critique your work as much as you do. For some advice on easy ways to edit your own essays, here are five quick tips.


Life Organization

While it may all be stressful – I get it – it can be totally manageable, especially when you have everything organized. Whenever you find time to work on college applications, everything you need is accessible and catered just to you, making it so much easier than having to pull out the scratch sheet of paper you wrote your dream colleges on back in eighth grade.

Everyone’s way of creating an organized system for dealing with college applications may be a little bit different, but hopefully you’ve gained a tip or two for creating a good organization system on your own. With even a bit more organization in your college search, it can free up so much time for you and really let you enjoy your senior year. And, I mean, who could turn down that offer? Not me, and hopefully not you either. All it takes is a spreadsheet.



12 Ways to Distract Yourself While Waiting for College Decisions


After consulting teachers for recommendations, filing the FAFSA, researching college admissions procedural advice, and refining your Common App or college-specific application, all that is left to do is wait.  The reality is that the result has moved beyond your control and in the hands of the admissions decisions committee, and the weeks-long waiting period can the hardest part of it all.

Given the fact that I am currently going through the college admissions process myself, I have compiled a short list of mindful things that I do, and affirmations that I keep, to ease my nerves during the selection process.  Hopefully, you will see these motivations personally fit upon awaiting your admissions decisions.

12 Ways to Keep Yourself Busy While Waiting for College Decisions

  1. Remind yourself that it is not the end of the world.
    • Often, we may find ourselves overwhelmed with the over exaggerated notion of failure if we are not admitted into a specific university of choice. However, the label of a university cannot affirm nor defer your innermost worth.
  2. Handwrite a list of positive affirmations and post them around your room.
    • I prefer to reaffirm myself of positive characteristics, as I believe it digs deeper than, and ultimately influences, compliments about physicality.
  3. Create something, whether it be a painting, a journal entry, or a music mix.
  4. Bake yourself a batch of cookies.
  5. Remind yourself that everything happens for a reason.
    • No matter the outcome of the situation, it is important to remember that you are not always given the results that you want, but rather, the ones that you need.
  6. Give yourself a spa treatment.
    • Physical self-care is just as important as spiritual self-care. Spa care can range anywhere from taking a bath to painting your nails.
  7. Build a play fortress. Gather flashlights and read under it.
    • There is something pleasurably nostalgic about emulating a favorite activity from your childhood.
  8. Take a spontaneous walk with no destination.
    • In a situation as demanding as college admissions, it is necessary to do something for yourself that does not involve intricate planning.
  9. Talk with a friend or relative that you haven’t spoken to for a while.
    • Whether you ask the person specifically for advice pertaining to college admissions, or you’re catching up on life’s adventures, you will gain a new perspective from someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
  10. Have a solo dance party to your favorite music playlist.
    • This is the best release after finishing a college supplemental essay.
  11. Dress elaborately for the sake of dressing elaborately.
    • I truly believe in gained self-confidence through the expression of outerwear. If you enjoy doing your makeup, I would suggest doing your makeup fancily for a day, it is simply another esteem-boosting tactic.
  12. Watch something on Netflix that you wouldn’t normally.
    • I find independent and international films to be particularly intriguing; you can gain new insight and it feels as though you traveled to a completely foreign place, all while sitting in your room.
    • There are great instructional meditation videos available online for first-time meditators. My personal favorite instructor is Jazz of Life By Jazz.  I would also recommend reaching out to your local meditation classes or camps if you prefer meditating in a group setting.


All in all, keep busy.  Your life does not end the moment that you apply for colleges and restart when you attend it, so you should value every allot of time during this process towards self-improvement and productivity.  The college admissions process is an exciting, unparalleled once-in-a-lifetime event.  There is no need to worry, you will end up right where you need to be.




Five College Admissions Blogs You Should Be Following!


Some of you may be wondering, “Is YGITW the only source for my college admissions needs?” and the answer is no! There are many different admissions blogs available on the internet (although YGITW is obviously the best ;), but here are six blogs that will help you will all of your admissions questions!

Ivy Coach

Are you interested in the Ivy League? If you answered yes, then this blog is for you! Ivy Coach provides information on the college admissions process for the schools in the Ivy League such as Yale, Harvard, and Dartmouth. With the Ivies being some of the most competitive schools in the nation, Ivy Coach is sure to help when it comes to fulfilling your Ivy dream. Along with college admission, the blog also includes information about Ivy League sports and college athletes. Ivy Coach has also received national recognition and has been featured in credible newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Particularly Helpful Posts:

The College Solution

The College Solution is a blog created by Lynn O’Shaughnessy who is a nationally recognized college expert, journalist, author, and educator. Her blog consists of everything from college rankings to finding different scholarships. Her articles provides an expert's view on the college admissions process and this blog is great for many different uses!

Particularly Helpful Posts:

College Coach - The Insider Blog

The Insider Blog contains information for both parents and students. This blog highlights three major aspects: A Parent’s Perspective, School Spotlight, and Scholarship Spotlight. These different topics feature articles about parents, details about specific schools, and scholarships. But, these aren’t the only topics available on the website, College Coach provides various others such as Advice from the Experts and Tips for Acing the Essays. Another unique feature of this blog is that they provide podcasts for students and parents to listen to on an ample amount of topics.

Particularly Helpful Posts:

College Advice from the Princeton Review

Princeton Review is most notably known for its Advanced Placement review books, but did you know that there was a college admissions blog? College Advice from the Princeton Review provides everything about college advice. The menu selector located on the website can be easily navigated. The menu consists of different sections: Apply, Pay, Prep, Study and Succeed. These tabs can be easily located and it can help you with whichever topic you need. A great feature on this blog is that it also includes tools that can help match you to your perfect university and major!

Particularly Helpful Posts:

College Planning Blog from Best College Fit

College Planning from Best College Fit provides great information about the college admissions process. One thing that stands out for this blog is the Readers’ Forum. The forum allows students to send in questions to the blog’s primary contributor, Peter Van Buskirk. He also tailors his articles based on the questions he receives from his readers. This blog is especially helpful because of how applicable these posts can be as well as how personalized.

Particularly Helpful Posts:



Four Things to Do When You Receive An Acceptance Letter


It’s exciting when you get your first acceptance letter through the mail or e-mail. After weeks or months of anticipation, you open that email or that envelope and you read that you’ve been accepted to one of your schools.  But after a couple minutes of celebration, you sit there and wonder, “What now?” Here are a couple of steps that you could take after receive your first letter.

1.Celebrate good times, come on!

That acceptance letter is a reminder of how much hard work and dedication you have put in for the 4 years of high school. Those countless nights that you’ve pulled all-nighters (or is that just me) for upcoming tests have paid off. All that time you’ve poured into studying for the ACT/SAT, the AP tests, or just regular tests have paid off. Grab some friends and family and go out to eat because you deserve it.

But it’s not over because you still have to maintain your GPA or improve your GPA because scholarships require that main your score to hold them. So please don’t decide that you need to stop going to class.

2.Whip out that calculator

Tuition, room and board, and supplies cost can be expensive especially if you are going out of state. Be sure that you have been researching scholarships that you are eligible for that are in your school or from outside sources. If you earn them and you realize that you still don’t have enough money, make sure that you are comfortable getting a loan or working a part-time job to pay your fees. If you find that you can’t pay for your fees and you don’t want to work or take loans, consider another school on your list that you know you can afford. Consider your financial options before accepting your letter.

3. Make your final decision

After getting all your letters and considering the location and the costs, decide if you still want to go to that school. If the school is your first choice, submit your deposit and begin the process of selecting your housing and setting up your school email. If the school isn’t your first choice, think about all the schools that you’ve applied to and think about the order of which you like them. Then, select the school that is fit for you both financially and in liking.

4. Schedule another campus tour

Once you are certain that you will attend this school, schedule another campus tour get another new feel for that school. While on the campus, think about the area where you would like the live, the general locations of the classes that you will be taking, the activities that you would like to participate in, and the distances between areas you will be frequenting. If you have a few unanswered questions, aim to ask the questions to the guide or the admissions office.

I hope these tips will help ease with what to do when you first get your letter and will help in many more letters on the way. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions. And as always make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook.


Five Things to Check Before Submitting College Applications


With the first semester almost under the belts of seniors across the country, the college application process is coming to a close. Deadlines are quickly approaching and it is easy to become completely overwhelmed by last minute application tid-bits. Here are some important key points to keep in mind and double check before submitting your applications.

Did You Say Essays?

Probably the most difficult aspect of completing your college applications is getting your personal statements, insight questions, and any other essay material the best it could be. The more common essays applicants have seen are the UC personal insight questions, and the Common Application personal statements. Before submitting these writing materials, make sure that these essays have been revised and edited multiple times, showcasing the most positive aspects of yourself to the college admissions.

Keep in mind that different colleges require different writing supplements. The UC, or University of California, system requires applicants to submit four out of the eight writing prompts, and the Common Application requires just one personal statement essay. In some cases, colleges may request more than just the standard, required essays. For example, colleges on the Common App, (like Chapman University and New York University just to name a few) require a writing supplement that is uniquely tailored for their school. Research the colleges you are applying to, and make sure you do not miss any additional supplement essays or questions that are specific to that college.

rec letter.png

Reminding Recommenders

By now, if you are applying to private universities or other colleges that require letters of recommendations, then you should have already asked your teachers, adviser, and counselors for their time and help. The adults writing your letters of recommendations have their own lives happening too, and most likely have a list of several students who need letters also. During this process, it is crucial that you continuously check up on your recommenders and remind them of any deadlines coming up and other important factors of your application they may need to look at. I suggest that you set a designated time before the applications are due to sit down, and talk to your recommenders about not only their letters, but the application as a whole as well. Help them through the Common App site if they are having trouble, and seek their pair of eyes to look over your application one more time before submitting it. Your teachers and advisers understand that this is a stressful time, but if you work together you will get that application in hot and ready!

Of Test Scores and Transcripts

Next to essays and letters of recommendations, submitting your official test scores and school grades come in a hard third place. Although these may not be at the top of your list (especially with those daunting essays in your mind) these are nonetheless just as important. Official test scores, the SAT and ACT, are serious requirements for most, if not all, colleges around the nation and even the world. Look at the requirements at each of your schools, if they request a certain test or not, and make sure that the scores are submitted.

Your official high school transcripts should be taken care of by your school counselor, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them and make sure that they will submit that as well. On the other hand, applications require you to manually type in your transcript and the grades you have earned in the classes you have taken. Double check that section of your application and watch out for any grading mistakes or missing courses. Colleges will match your official transcript to what you typed in the application, and you do not want a little mistake to be mistaken as a lie.


Proofread Like a Boss!

When you think that you are ready to turn in your application, think again! Edit and proofread every section of your application, despite how little or insignificant you think it may be. Your computer is a robot and won’t catch the human mistakes you make, such as repeating a word or phrase and misspelling an acronym or abbreviation. The best way to get the greatest result is printing your application and reviewing it without that electronic screen. Your eyes will see more without the bright lights from your computer, and you won’t accidentally click “submit” instead of “back.”

The More the Merrier

Whether it is two o’clock in the morning or two o’clock in the afternoon, you never know what kind of evil games your mind or eyes are playing on you. Having another pair of eyes, or even a handful more, will catch more mistakes than you ever will on your application. Get your friends, family members, coaches, teachers, anyone to spare no more than maybe fifteen minutes reading over your application and checking for any errors you may have missed. In addition to that, have an English teacher review your essays to give meaningful insight and advice on how to improve it, and of course check for any misspelled words and awkward phrases in your writing.

There is only a few weeks (and less than two months for those Common App peeps) to submit your applications and hope for the best. The best applications are the ones that are completed fully, so don’t forget to have your apps and essays edited multiple times by different sets of eyes. I myself am in the midst of finishing up and submitting my first batch of applications. The most helpful key point I can factor out is to stay calm and organized until the very end of application season. Best of luck to all my seniors out there!



What You Should Be Doing Each Year in High School to Have a Successful College Admissions Experience


Growing up, I used to watch a lot of TV. Even though the heat didn’t work in my basement and the room gave me shivers that went to the balls of my feet, a show or two was always on my daily agenda. With age, the shows I was interested in shifted from wanting to watch the PBS Kids nightly specials to recording every Disney Channel and Nickelodeon original movie that was ever mentioned on a commercial. I was one of those that can still sing both the Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2 soundtracks by heart. Still can, actually, and still with no shame. With my introduction to Nickelodeon and Disney Channel shows, my different visions of the high school life became brightened like Christmas lights, and I was becoming more than excited to go. While I knew I would never be acting at (the fake) Hollywood Arts High School or living on a Cruise Ship, I wanted to know how I could make my years of high school as productive and entertaining as possible within a more traditional high school experience.

Because of the lack of older siblings or other family to help give me advice, I turned to YouTube. At the time, I had already learned a lot through the site, like that cats can do absolutely anything and oranges are extremely annoying when they talk. However, when I tried to do research on how my four years had to go in order to have a competitive college application, I was only able to salvage a few genuine responses, as 95% of the knowledge I gained from the videos were identical advice regurgitated with different wording, advice as common and bland as a saltine cracker. With the help of some exceptions, including YouTubers (Katherout, Annemarie Chase, and Joi Wade), I was inspired to try some things for myself, and found what worked and when I needed to start things.  I worked for you to avoid the mistakes that I’ve made during high school, and a good timeline to follow to prepare yourself for the college admissions process.

Freshman year


Academically, freshman year of high school is an adjustment period. Some people, like myself, find the adjustment easy, and others find it more difficult. However, it is a year that goes on your transcript so it’s important to start the year focused and stay focused throughout the year.

Extracurricular Activities:

Get overly involved in activities. If you have any slight interest, sign up to get alerts and go to the first couple of meetings. It’s easier to join some activities then quit them after freshman year, if you don’t like them, than to try to join clubs, sports, etc. as an upperclassman.


This should be an area you are least concerned with. Because most of you won’t have the math skills or have built up the English language skills that are crucial to the ACT/SAT. Don’t do more than the practice tests your school may require you to take.


  1. One of the best ways of getting through the stresses of high school and the college admission process is having friends or a community that will support you through both your successes and failures. Freshman year is a great time to establish your “crew” that will be there for you. While these people may not stay with you throughout your entire high school journey, at least having a past connection is a great support mechanism to make the high school experience both fun and rewarding.
  2. Set both short and long-term goals for yourself academically, within your extra-curricular activities and socially. These goals can range from making the varsity lacrosse team, to getting a 3.8 unweighted GPA, to getting into your state school. Writing these goals down and keeping them somewhere where you’ll read them often can help you maintain your focus throughout the school year.

Sophomore Year


Keep grinding. Stay focused. If you slipped into bad habits freshman year or were not happy with your academic performance, don’t dwell on those mistakes. Use them as motivation and a learning experience for this year and going forward.


By the summer, talk to your parents/guardians and determine how you’ll be preparing for your standardized tests (the ACT/SAT), whether that’s with prep courses, private tutors, or self-studying, in order to get ahead of your peers. If you think prep courses or private tutoring are paths you’ll need to go on, it may be a good thing to pursue during the summer as you have more free time to do the practice.

Extracurricular Activities:

By sophomore year, continue to search for the extracurricular activities you really enjoy. There is no shame in quitting or joining activities this year. If you want to have the possibility to gain leadership in one of these activities, make sure to attend as many of the events/practices/meetings for the activity, in order to show dedication to the advisor or coach.


If you’re interested in doing some more unique things during college, like playing a sport, joining an ROTC program (which you can read about here or studying the performing arts, talk to your guidance counselor and see what sort of preparations you’ll have to do before-hand. The last thing you want is to find out when you’re applying that these programs aren’t available to you because you waited too long.

Junior Year  

Junior year is the year you’ve got to get your head in the game. This is the most looked at year by admissions committees on a college application, so you need to.

If this year is getting too stressful, make short-term goals. Sometimes it’s easier to look at getting through a stressful week than a well-known stressful week.


  1. For those of you who decide to apply to colleges at the early deadlines in November, the end of this year is the last impression colleges will have of you when you apply, so you need to push yourself academically. Try to do the absolute best that you can academically.
  2. Since you most likely got all of your graduation requirements done with, this is a year to establish a schedule in areas of interest. For example, if you want to be pre-med, it would be beneficial to double up on science classes, to show your dedication to your major to your colleges of choice.


Try to get all of your testing out of the way as early into junior year as possible. Start doing prep and taking actual exams by December to give an adequate amount of time to improve your score. If you believe you are going to be applying to a college that requires or recommends SAT subject tests, make sure to plan for those as well.

Extracurricular Activities:

  1. If by this point you have found a few activities that you really enjoy, try to dedicate a bunch of time to them. If you love playing the trumpet, you can play in a myriad of bands, mentor beginner trumpet players, and go to intensives in the summer to help you improve your craft. This sort of strategy allows you not only for tremendous improvement in what you do, but shows colleges your dedication to the activities you involve yourself with.
  2. Look into possibly pursuing leadership in the things that you’ve been involved in. No matter how much you doubt yourself about getting a leadership position, just do it. While one of your volleyball teammates with an ego bigger than the Pacific thought they were guaranteed being captain BS’ their speech and is basically not going to be considered, you’ll wish that you had written a speech yourself.


  1. If affordable, try to visit some of the colleges that you are interested in. If the visit list is still limited, maybe take a week and go to a couple of concentrated areas with lots of colleges, such as Boston or LA, because there are a variety of different colleges that you can visit in order to get a feel for the type of environment that you would like in a particular college.
  2. Stay sane and socialize. Go to a couple of football games. Go to Homecoming, prom, girls ask guys dance. Go to a party, even if you have a lot of homework due on Monday. It will keep your mind clear and sane. You’d be surprised by how much screaming the lyrics of your favorite song can take you out of the stresses of the world and into a happy place.

Senior Year


  1. If you end up applying to any regular decision deadlines, you will have one-two marking period grades that will be sent to colleges. Just like junior year, it’s another time to impress colleges and show another strong academic record.
  2. Remember that even after a college accepts you, they can take back their acceptance if your academic performance is not where they would like it to be, so try to stay focused enough where you can achieve grades of a level that is near your highest performance in high school.


If your standardized testing is not already completed, work on getting it completed in the September and October dates.

Extracurricular Activities:

Enjoy being on your sports teams, orchestras, and unique clubs while you can. If you aren’t interested in pursuing these at a collegiate level, this year will be the last that you’ll be able to experience them. Make that last year count.


  1. Make sure to dedicate time nightly for your college applications. You don’t want to fall behind on these and not have them at the quality that you like.
  2. Visit the colleges that you got accepted to if possible, to help make your final decision of where you’ll be attending college easier.
  3. Have fun! Treat yourself for the hard work put in you put in the past 3 ½ years.



Things to Do When You Are Too "Rich" for Financial Aid and Too "Poor" to Afford College


Shortly after I started senior year of high school, I attended a FAFSA informational meeting. I walked in into the meeting room to hordes of parents and their uninterested children crowded around the front of the room near the speaker. Throughout the meeting, parents raised their hands and took pages of notes but at the end, the most common asked question from the parents was whether their child would qualify when they are more than well-off (combined your parents make over 150-200K). Parents at the end of the session waited in line to speak with the presenter to tell them of their situation, among them were my parents. They asked whether they should even attempt to fill out the application among other things. However, the one answer that the presenter told everyone was that the parents should definitely file out the FAFSA. FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a FREE form that the federal government, states, and colleges/universities use to award grants, scholarships, work study and student loans. The maximum amount college students received from the 2014-15 financial aid award year was $5,730. The grants and scholarships are free but any loans have to paid back. This year, the FAFSA has received a few changes. The form is available in October instead of January and parents are allowed to use the prior-prior year tax information instead of the prior tax year. This gives students more time to apply for aid as well as allow for parents to file for FAFSA before filling their previous year’s taxes.

1.Change in Situation

Filing for financial aid is a good idea just in case your family experiences a change in financial circumstance such as a job loss. Some schools may not be able to reconsider applications for assistance after their deadlines, even if a family’s financial status changes. Do notify them however as soon as possible. It will make the process easier. Having a FAFSA form filled out allows for you to get the option to request reconsideration due to the fact your status changed. Some colleges do have contingency funds for such situations. Money is limited but schools might give priority to the students who have their FAFSA on file.

2.Siblings could equal more money.

Financial aid is calculated based on the difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution, or EFC, which is calculated on the FAFSA. So if you have siblings, especially if they are in your age group, you are in luck! Students from well-off families could qualify for aid at expensive colleges, especially if multiple children from the family are in college at the same time.


The government requires students to complete a FAFSA if they want to be eligible for any federal student loans or grants. When you fill out the FAFSA, they send you a letter with information regarding your applications as well as any grants and loans you would could earn. There are non-need-based loans that students from wealthy families can qualify for.  If you want to consider borrowing money for your student, you will need to complete a FAFSA to access government college loans. Some colleges may also require a FAFSA in order to be considered for certain non-need-based scholarships.

Now, if you do not get money the first time, you can apply for FAFSA every year so if your EFC changes as mentioned above changes, it adjusts to your needs. However, make sure you keep up with your grades to earn the maximum amount of money.

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


How to Sell Yourself to a College in Your Admissions Application


A big part of college application essays is selling yourself. You are your biggest promoter and supporter. For the basic college prompt of why do you want to attend *blank school*?, there lies the hidden blessing when it comes to showcasing yourself. Colleges want to see through your essay how you would contribute to their academic and campus life, and they want to see what personality or admirable qualities they could admit to their school by accepting you.

It is your job to convince and persuade them that you will be a valuable member of their student body.

Here are factors that you should definitely include in your essay to highlight your place in their school.


List Your Skills

Colleges want uniqueness and usefulness. Mention in your essay what skills you've collected inside and outside of the classroom that will be useful and unique to their institution. Include volunteer work and employment skills that you've learned and applied in real life.

Don't be shy to also include awards and memorable mentions that you've earned in your community or school, to display in your essay that you can actually utilize your skills to make a change in your school or community. Most importantly, integrate into your essay how you used those skills in your academic or work life and how you can use them to improve or contribute to the school you are applying to.

Example: As the student body President, I have obtained many leadership skills, and plan to continue my expansion with leadership positions beyond my high school education. I want to be involved in causes I find important, like for example the Breast Cancer Research Foundation that operates in the Medical School at your university.



Don't hide your admiration for the school you're applying to. Include the courses and programs you are excited about and explain how you would benefit from those classes. Also, write about the causes and organizations the school has, or is a part of, that you are very passionate about and admire.

Tell them why this is the place for you.

 Even look for nearby organizations by the school and talk about how you want to use the knowledge and skills you will surely gain from their education to make a change around the community. Show them that you will also be a good representation of their school by sharing, not only what you would like to do at the school, but what you would like to do beyond it.

Example: The agricultural program holds such rich opportunities to learn management skills that I would surely utilize in other areas, like my goal to intern for Disney Animal Science and Environment. I believe I can gain the skills and knowledge from the astounding teachings from the agriculture professors to manage my career goals.


In your essay, empathize about how you want to learn. Show how determined you are to learn new things and gain new skills.

Nobody is perfect, everyone can improve, and they want to see your thirst and hunger for new information and opportunities. Explain how you would like to go in-depth on a certain subject and how you would like to use that knowledge to help the school or community.

Colleges and universities are learning and teaching opportunities, so also mention any research the school has done and how you would like to be a part of contributing and creating research at their institution. Look up certain projects or programs you admire about the school and explain how you would like to be part of it and what you would like to gain from it and how you would use those new found skills.

Example: Through your amazing activities and outstanding organizations, I believe I can expand on my Violin musical talents with the remarkable and award-winning Music Society Club at your university. I aspire to win and participate in their events, and to represent the musical talent at your university.



Lastly, show them what you are capable of.

Paint them a mental picture of you attending the school. Show how you would mix into the student body with the clubs, activities, and academics.

Do research on their website and find specific points where you think you might fit in and write how you would like to learn and contribute to it. Definitely, include if a club or organization has inspired you in high school and how you would like to bring that sprit to the school and continue your contribution. In your essay, you also want to talk about your personality. Describe the qualities and recognition you would add to the school made if you were accepted.

Example: From my attendance at the Women of Tomorrow club at my high school, I would also like to bring my spirit and passion of empowering and motivating women in today's society to the campus. This college is so mature and modernize, and I would like to continue that by joining other clubs that empower women to strive for their place in the business world.

Those are some help tips and subjects to include in your college essay.

Recall that it is your responsibility to represent yourself. Be confident in your abilities and also include any hardships you have been through that you think has made you who you are. As a hard working student, you owe it to yourself to trust in your abilities and be confident in your skills.

Write in your essay how valuable you will be to the world and their school. As your number one supporter, give yourself a good spotlight in that essay.



How to Avoid Cliche College Admission Essay Topics


          The mandatory essay of the Common App and other college-specific streamlined applications are one of the few opportunities given to showcase the student’s individualized character separate from academic statistics and achievements.  While every part of the Common Application is to be taken seriously and concisely, the personal essay equally requires a mindful ease and authenticity. Students are constantly asking how to “stand out from other applicants.” The more appropriate and less overbearing question to pose to oneself is: How can I present my unique character in the most authentic way possible?  The goal in mind should be to pose a well-written personal narrative distinctive to you; originality can often be lost if you are extraneous in your efforts to differentiate yourself from others.


Most Commonly Used Essay Prompt

According to the Common App’s 2015-2016 selected essay topics, 47 percent of the 800,000+ applicant pool chose to write about their background, identity, interest, or talent.  It was the most frequently selected prompt of the time.  Out of the five essay prompts offered by the Common App, why was this prompt the most commonly used?  Perhaps the reasoning could lead to the prompt’s broadness in scope in comparison to the other essay topics.  If you are looking to highly distinguish yourself from other applicants, I would suggest to test the other given prompts.  However, if you strongly feel that your topic of interest does not best fit in the more narrowly-posed questions, do not feel pressured to constrict yourself to another topic just to be “different.”

Once you have reviewed the question(s) being asked of you, you may start to think of the content of your essay.  Here are some things to avoid, and to keep in mind.


Write About a Fact Already Stated Elsewhere in the Application

It is important to take note of which accomplishments, interests, etc. are already noted in other parts of your application.  Your essay should reflect a facet of yourself not already known to the admissions counselor.  For example, if you have participated in a varsity sport in your high school career, and have indicated as so in the “Activities” portion of the application, do not focus your essay around that point.  It has already been made obvious to the admissions counselor and would therefore make for a less interesting read.

Select A Crazy Format

I have seen unique formatting choices made by previously admitted students; however, the format of your essay should not be so pretentious that it distracts the application reviewer from the factual content of the piece.  Stick to a standard paragraph format, or review any unique formatting choices with a trusted English teacher.


Read Other Students’ Essays

Find inspiration and ideas from other essays that have been successfully admitted into prospective colleges and universities.  You can either read an essay from a close family member or friend, or do an online search.  A personal preference of mine is: Grade Saver: Admitted Application Essays

Write a List of Things Significant to You

A moment, accomplishment, or failure of any significance to you, whether big or small, can make a great essay.  Start with a brainstormed list of any instance of significance to yourself, big or small.  Then, narrow the list down to topics that you feel have the potential to be expanded into a greater essay.  From there, assign the smaller list of ideas to a prospective question, or questions.


Review Your Essay, and Review It Again

Your first draft should never be your final draft.  Once you feel that you have laid a foundation for your essay, leave it alone for a few days.  Revise your essay with a fresh insight.  Then, ask for secondary audiences to review your essay.

*TIP: Create a list of questions to ask of your reviewers once they have read your essay.  Questions such as: What was the mood of the essay?  In your opinion, does the essay most accurately reflect my everyday demeanor?  If your reader believes your essay not to be the most precise reflection of yourself, ask for an explanation and personally review the essay once again and make any further revisions.

Remember that colleges want to read about the interesting quirks and experiences that have shaped your persona.  Your voice is the most valuable tool that you possess, use it to your advantage. Get to writing.  Good luck!




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.




A Beginner’s Guide to the Perfect College Recommendation Letter


By now, college applications are coming to a close and you’re probably putting the final touches on your application. Or, if you’re a junior you’re already thinking about how to submit the perfect application. Part of the application process is the recommendation letter. Recommendation letters are an integral part of a college application. Some colleges, most in fact, require that you submit one. So, what is a recommendation letter and do you get your hands on one?

Letters of recommendation are simple: it’s a letter from people who know you well enough to write about you as an individual.

 Why Do Colleges Even Want Recommendation Letters?

Colleges understand that you are more than the numbers that define you (GPA, SAT, ACT, etc.). Admissions officials love when students excel academically. However, letters of recommendation from people who know you well supply a more personal approach to your application. Much like the essay, the letter reveals things about you that test scores and numbers cannot. It shows the college or university things such as: your ability to work in a group, how well you overcome challenges, your ability to adapt, etc.


Who the Heck Do I Ask?

Talk to peers, family, teachers and councilors about who you should ask.

If you decide to use a teacher for your recommendation, use a current teacher or someone who knows you inside and out of class (i.e. your English teacher who also coaches your baseball team) Believe it or not, you don’t have to just ask teachers and administrators. Ask influential adults who can write strong recommendation letters. These can be people like, youth pastors, outside sports coaches, etc.

No matter who you ask, make sure they are fully willing and excited to write one for you, you don’t want a letter that was written by someone who felt obligated to write it. 


When Should I Start Asking?

It’s never too early to start thinking about college recommendation letters. Start having meetings with the people who you think could best represent you.

About the middle of your junior year start having conversations with your teachers and councilors about who is the best fit to write your letter. This is going to give the person writing plenty of time to write the best letter-- a last-minute recommendation isn’t going to be all that good.

When you find those select people to write your letters make sure to communicate with them. Let the person writing your letter know about all of your accomplishments. Some examples of things you could tell them would be: a job you have, a project you did or an obstacle you over came. Have meetings and talk about the contents of your letter. Be certain that the writer knows when the letter is due.

Teachers especially write many recommendation letters, be sure to show your gratitude and be patient with them. Showing your gratitude through a nice thank you e-mail or card would really mean a lot to them!

A good recommendation letter can put the finishing touches on an already great college application, so be sure to stay organized through this process. Know your deadlines, keep tabs on the people doing your recommendations and everything should run smooth.



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!



My Experience Applying to My First College


August 1st: the day most college applications open and one of the most stressful days of the whole application process.  On August 1st, I started receiving a lot of emails from colleges stating that they had opened up their applications.  This is where the stress began.  busy

I am a very busy person, like most high school students.  I have a job in the summer and participate in many extracurriculars, plus I will have all the homework that gets piled up over the school year.  I knew that if I didn’t start college apps right when they opened, I might never get any done.

After August 1st, I started receiving personalized emails from colleges saying that I had been ‘specially selected’ to complete shortened versions of applications, and without the typical app fee (most schools charge anywhere from $55 usd to $90 usd), which was very exciting for me.  One email that caught my eye was the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.  I had UMN on my list for quite a while, so I already knew I wanted to apply and the shortened app made it even better.

Even though the application was shorter, it still took me about two hours to actually complete the finished applications.  They still asked for short writing supplements, so I had to complete those as well as all the basic information that the school needed to know.  I had to think about what I actually wanted to say and stay in the word limit.  (Trust me, it’s hard to write about something in 200 words or less).  

After I finished the actual online application, I still had to have my counselor submit my high school transcript and send my ACT score from the actual ACT agency.  This might take a little longer, especially if your specific counselor has a lot of students applying to different colleges.


Even though I was not officially done after just submitting the online application, I felt like I really accomplished something.  This was taking a small step leading up to my next big stage of life and it felt really good knowing that I completed three years of high school successfully.

College applications do bring stress, but it’s amazing to realize what you have actually accomplished when applying.



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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How to Create the Perfect Kick-Butt Resume


There I was, sitting in my first college class. The teacher had just given us our first big assignment….to create a resume. As a dual enrollment student, I was struck. What exactly is a 17-year-old supposed to write about on their resume? I knew this assignment was very important. After all, a resume is a key to success. You use it for jobs, internships, scholarships, and college. But many teens like myself may have little to no work experience. Creating a resume doesn’t have to be difficult, though. With careful reviewing and processing, anyone can come up with a resume that’ll leave future admission officers and employers in awe.

Personal Information

Begin your resume by providing your background information. Don’t, however, provide your race, social security number, or age. All resumes should include your contact information. This should include your first and last name, your email, and a phone number you can be reached at. Be sure to make sure that this information is as current as possible because you never know when someone may call to offer a position or admission!


Next, you need to include your highest level of education. List where you attend or have attended school and when you graduated. If you are still in high school, put down your anticipated graduation year. If you are a dual enrollment student, be sure to put the name of the college you are currently taking classes at. Your GPA and class rank may also be included next to your school’s name if it is appropriate. You should also list any awards or recognition you may have received. This can include Regional Science fair awards, academic honor roll, art competition awards etc.



Now this is the important part! Listing the activities you do outside of the classroom gives others a view of you as a person (test scores only tell so much). It gives future employers and admission committees a glimpse of your interests and passions. You may want to begin by listing the activities that you have gained valuable skills and experience from that are school related. When writing these experiences on your resume, be sure to spell out the names of clubs or societies like National Honor Society. Even though you know it as N.H.S., others may not know what it stands for. Also, include a brief description of the club if it is unique. For example, you may need to describe what clubs like Key Club are. It is also important to include any leadership roles you have taken on. Taking a leadership position is a great way to show others that you are capable of having many responsibilities. When you are describing what your responsibilities are, avoid using “I “or “me”. Instead, use action words like “organized” or “cooperated”. Having a commitment to a certain activity also shows colleges what type of person you would be on their campus.



One of the most important parts of your resume is your work experience. As usual, having more experience makes you look more favorable to whoever is looking at your resume. However, as teens, we may have less than stellar experience. But that’s normal for people just entering young adulthood, and colleges and employers will know that. So don’t worry if you don’t have much to put in this area of your resume because that’s where your involvement in extracurricular activities will benefit you!

If you do happen to have work experience, that’s great! Work experience can mean anything where you put your skills to work. Specifically, on a part-time job, at an internship or through volunteer work. Keep in mind that even a simple after-school job can leave you with a positive effect on future employers and admission officers. It shows your maturity and ability to handle responsibility. You also get bonus points from admission officers when your part-time job or internship relates to your intended area of study.

Even though it may seem as if you won’t need a resume until you are out of college and looking for work, that’s not the case. Many colleges are recommending students to send in resumes along with their application for review. So if you use these tips, you’ll be well on your way to getting accepted or landing a job!



The Advantages of Starting Your Common Application Early


It’s August, which means the return of two things: school, and the opening of the Common Application.

Many colleges across the country use the Common Application as a way to make the application process as smooth and concise as possible for students. While this is a big help, there is another thing that you can do in order to make the process even easier for yourself- starting your application early, and giving yourself the greatest amount of time to work on it.


The Race Against the Clock

It is no secret that it is time consuming to fill out college applications. The process can become even more stressful when paired with school work, and can put strains on your friendships and grades, in which the latter are extremely important during your senior year of high school.

The only way that you can combat the inevitable pressure during this time of year is to begin your application as soon as you possibly can before things start to get busy at school. The procrastination of this important process will only lead to unneeded anxiety, and you will miss out on opportunities that will help better your applications.

Here are a few advantages of starting your applications early and tips on how to make them the best that they can be.

Talking to Your Counselor

One of the best things about starting the application process is that you are never alone, even if you start ahead of everyone else. Your counselor will be there for you every step of the way, and can advise you and answer any questions you have.

If you aren’t in school yet, don’t be afraid to send your counselor an email, and if you have already started school, make it a point to set up an appointment with them in the near future. They will be happy to assist you in any way they can, whether it be for helping you choose your shortlist of colleges and universities, helping you send out the transcripts and test scores necessary for your applications, or assisting you in choosing which activities would best showcase your positive qualities on your Activities List. Being ahead of the game can only help you as counselors will not be completely swamped with appointments yet; due to this, they can give you the best possible advice about making decisions concerning your future.

Getting Teacher Recommendations

For some students, approaching teachers for recommendations is terrifying and anxiety-inducing, while others already know which teachers they want to write theirs and can easily inquire about them. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, you need to make sure that you ask your teachers to write your recommendations as soon as possible.

Deciding which teachers will write your recommendations can be difficult, so giving yourself a lot of time to figure out which ones would be the best for you is a huge plus. When you work the list out early, you can ask them before others start crowding them with requests. By doing this, you save both yourself and your teachers a lot of stress, and give them a lot of time to write the best recommendation they can without the strain of a deadline hovering above their heads.


Writing Your Essays

Writing the essays for your applications is possibly the most stressful part of the application process due to tricky, open-ended prompts and word counts that limit your creativity. This part only gets worse if you attempt to write these essays while you are in school, for homework and extra-curriculars can get in the way- you don’t want to have to focus on your college essay while writing a research paper for your English class at the same time.

If you are not in school, you are currently in the best-case scenario. Even though you are probably trying to embrace your last days of summer vacation, take out some time to at least look at all of the prompts for the colleges you are applying to and brainstorm what you will write; it would be even better if you write rough drafts for all of them. If you are already in school, then you will have to manage your time wisely. When you have breaks, take the time to jot down ideas for your essays and write blurbs that will fit into them. After school and on the weekends, put your mind to writing drafts based on your ideas, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted by others so that you can write as best as you can.

A big advantage to starting your essays early is that you give people a lot of time to read and edit them. Not only can you ask friends and family to assist you in making sure your essays are absolutely perfect, but your teachers can also give you more in-depth advice so that you can express yourself clearly through your writing. Getting help editing is a valuable opportunity that you cannot pass up, so put a pencil to paper and start!

Hopefully, throughout this article, you have realized that starting your Common Application early can only be advantageous for you and the people who are willing to assist you in making sure you impress the colleges you are applying to. Avoid all possible stress and begin now—you’ll be thankful when application deadlines come rolling around!



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.