Scholarship Saturday – June 21, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.

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7 Tips For Rising Seniors – #5 – Senior Year Planning

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but senior year is going to be very busy. In addition to your regular studies, you’ll be applying to college, participating in senior year activities, and making sure you don’t get senioritis. To make sure you are at the top of your game, plan ahead during summer.

Review your academic schedule. Senior year is an important year to show colleges that you are serious about your studies. While many high school seniors will choose to slack off senior year and only take the minimum classes, you should continue to challenge yourself.

  • Are you registered for AP or honors classes? If not, but you’re able to take AP or honors courses, look into changing your schedule.
  • Are you enrolled in a math class? Many high schools only require three years of math, so many seniors choose to not enroll in math their senior year. However, this is a mistake. First, most students will need to take a math course in college, so taking a year off from math can make it difficult to pick it up after a year. Plus, Admissions Officers are looking for students who challenge themselves academically. Choosing to continue with math is one of the ways to show them this.
  • Are you enrolled in a full course load? You might have pushed yourself in your earlier years of high school and only need two or thee classes to graduate. Again, show Admissions Officers that you want to challenge yourself by enrolling in a course load full of academic classes.

Register and prepare for the SAT and/or ACT. You have another shot to improve your test scores in the fall. Many colleges will “superscore” your test score. This means they will take the highest score from each section to determine your overall score. Not all colleges superscore, but many do. A higher test score can increase your chances of getting admitted to a college. In addition, if a college awards merit scholarships, test scores are usually considered. The SAT is open for registration now and registration for the ACT opens in July. Register for the tests and put them on your calendar as soon as possible. Take some times during the summer to study for the test.

Review your activities. Colleges want to see students involved in meaningful extracurricular activities. Are you involved in activities that you have a genuine interest? Or, are you involved in activities only because you’re doing it to impress college? Are you more than a member in a club? Do you do more than just show up to meeting? Make sure you are participating in activities you enjoy and try to take a lead in the organization. It may be too late if you don’t have a leadership position, but you can take on more responsibility. During a fundraiser or event, take a leading role. Colleges want to see students showing leadership and participating in extracurricular activities can show your leadership.

Manage Community Service Activities. It’s important to continue your community service activities during the school year. Have you found an activity you truly enjoy? If not, find something that will show your passion. Admissions Officers are looking for students to be involved in something they care about versus something they are doing to just impress colleges – and they can usually tell the differences.

Choose your recommendation writers. Many college applications require a recommendation or two. Instead of waiting until the last minute to choose who will write your recommendation letters, brainstorm options now. The people that write your recommendations should be people that know you academically, as well as personally. It is best to find someone that has served as your teacher, as well as someone that has served as a mentor or advisor for one of your activities. The best recommendation letters can talk about your academics, your strengths and your goals – it shows the writer really knows you. Make a list of people that could be your recommendation writers and rank them based on who knows you the best. Make sure your list has at least three people just in case there is a reason your top choice can’t write the letter.

Get to know your guidance counselor. Many college applications, including the common application, require a recommendation from your guidance counselor. If your counselor has not had the opportunity to get to know you, schedule an appointment at the beginning of the academic year. Again, the best recommendations come from someone that knows you. Admissions Officers can sense from the letters when the recommendation writer does not know the student very well.

Calendar everything! Senior year will have more deadlines then you’ve ever had in a year. Make sure that you put everything on your calendar. If using electronic calendars, set reminders for everything as well. If you miss a deadline for applications, scholarships and financial aid, you can lose your chance. Make sure you don’t miss anything by “writing” it down.

Map out your senior year now to ensure a smooth year with less stress than the students that did not prepare.

Join me next time when I discuss putting together your resume.

In case you missed the other tips for rising seniors:

  1. Build and Narrow Down Your College List
  2. Clean-Up Your Social Media
  3. Connect with Colleges
  4. Gain Experience

 

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7 Tips For Rising Seniors – #4 – Gain Experience

It’s summer time and I know that you want to relax and have fun in the sun. However, it’s important to not sit idly by while other college bound students are out doing things that will help them stand out in the admissions process. Summer is the perfect time to build up your activities resume. Here are some ideas for your summer activities:

Get a summer job or internship. Getting a job is a great way to gain experience and build your networking skills. It’s also a great way to earn some money that you can put away for college.

  • If you know what you think you want to do in the future, try getting a job in that field. So many times, students choose an academic path not because they have a passion for the subject, but because of the pressure they feel to choose something. Why not check in with people doing work in that field and see if you can work or intern with them during the summer? It will give you an inside view of the career you think you want to work towards and will either reinforce your major choice, or make you realize you want to do something else.
  • If you can’t find something in your field, it’s okay to go for something in retail or food service. You’ll still gain valuable skills and experience.  Plus you’ll make some money while you’re at it. I’m still so thankful for my first job at Dairy Queen. I learned so much about customer service, leadership and working with people with different personality types.

Travel. If you’re able to, travel to new areas of the country or the world. Traveling is a great way to meet new people and learn about new areas and cultures. While traveling, visit colleges you may be interested in attending. Take the official campus tour and ask questions while you’re on campus. Visiting a college campus is a great way to figure out if the college is a good fit for you or not.

Volunteer. Do something good for the community. Choose a volunteer activity that is important to you, rather than just picking a volunteer opportunity out of convenience. Many colleges will ask about your community service activities and it impresses Admissions Officers when they see a passion for the work students do. Don’t fake it – Admissions Officers can usually see through it.

Take a summer class. Get a head start and take a college course at your local community college. Not only will you get a feel for what college course expectations are, you’ll get college credit that you can take with you to the college you will attend in the future. Check in with the Transfer Center at the community college to discuss the class you are interested in taking to ensure it will transfer to the colleges you are considering.

Read. Reading is good for you in so many ways. You will continue to grow your vocabulary (great for the SAT) and knowledge. Reading will also help you when it comes to the college essays and interviews. There are many colleges that will ask you what you’ve read and you’ll be able to answer that question. Be diverse with your selection and choose to read nonfiction and fiction. Also, read about current events and issues in the academic fields you will be studying.

Stay ahead of the college admissions game and stay busy over the summer. Everything that you do can help you in the college admissions process – every little bit can help you to get accepted into the college of your dreams.

Join me next time as I discuss planning out your senior year.

 

In case you missed the other tips for rising seniors:

  1. Build and Narrow Down Your College List
  2. Clean-Up Your Social Media
  3. Connect With Colleges

 

Above photo credit: Extraordinary Leadership by Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography is licensed under CC by 2.0 | Text added to original.

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7 Tips For Rising Seniors – #3 – Connect With Colleges

There’s a trend in college admissions called the “stealth applicant.” These are students that never officially show interest in a college until they actually apply for admission. The students might have visited a college fair and grabbed materials from the Admissions Officer. They may have done an unofficial tour of the college. And, they may have visited the college websites numerous times. But, they never “said” to the college, “I’m interested in you.”

There could be many reasons students choose not to share their interest before the application. I’m here to tell you all of the reasons it’s a good idea to let colleges know you’re interested:

  • The colleges will send you more information that might not be available on their website or in their publications.
  • You’ll be notified about ways to visit campus, including prospective student events. This could even mean being invited to fly-in programs where the college will take care of your travel arrangements.
  • Some colleges might waive the application fee for students they “know.”
  • You’ll be reminded about important deadlines and information about the application process.
  • Admission Counselors are more likely to advocate for you when it’s time to make a decision on your application.
  • You’ll be able to connect with people that are associated with the university and ask your questions.

Not all of the above reasons to connect are guaranteed to happen. But, there’s a chance they could happen. Why not put yourself out there and connect with the college? It doesn’t hurt and it’s free.

There are many ways to connect with the institutions. You can do one or all of the suggestions below to connect with a college.

  • Sign-up for the mailing list. Most colleges make it very easy to sign up to receive more information about their institution. Just head over to the main university page and find your way to the admissions/prospective students page. Fill out the form for “more information” and you’ll start receiving mail and emails from the college.
  • Visit college table at local college fair. Visit the college at a local college fair and do more than grab materials and move onto the next table. Introduce yourself to the representative and ask questions. The person on the other side of the table will have a lot of insight into the admissions process and could possibly be the person that will be making the decision on your application.
  • Attend information sessions. If the colleges you are interested in attending visit your high school or area, attend their information session. The presentation will give you general information about the university and admission. An advantage to attending presentations is that you’ll probably also get to hear personal stories about the university that are not always shared in the printed publications and website. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with an Admissions Officer and ask questions
  • Visit campus. Visiting the colleges you are interested in is probably the most important step you can take in deciding if a college is for you or not. Every piece of material you receive from the college will be marketing. The whole purpose of the publications you receive is to make you want to attend the college. You’ll never know for sure if the college is the place for you until you step on campus and see how it feels to you.
  • Follow college on social media. Each platform offers something a little different and is worth checking out.
    • Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest – Colleges will use these platforms to share information about admission, news about the college and general information about college and higher education. By following the main university pages, you can learn about other pages or groups that are more specific to your interest, such as Admissions, a sporting team or an academic major. If you spend time on these pages and observe the people that participate on the page, you can connect with them. These people could be current students, alumni, faculty, staff or even other prospective students.
    • YouTube – You’ll find many different types of videos on the college YouTube channels. In addition to marketing videos, you’ll probably also find virtual campus tours, student produced videos and videos of lectures. Viewing videos on the YouTube channel is especially important when you haven’t visited campus because you’ll get a feel for the personality of the college.
    • LinkedIn – Connecting to universities on LinkedIn is a new feature. However, it offers something the other social media platforms don’t – reviews are featured on the page and you can connect with the alumni that are posting the reviews. This is a great opportunity to see what students that attended the college have to say about the college, as well as where the alumni are today.
  • Get to know your Admission Counselor. At most colleges, the Admission Counselor is a very important person, especially to you. At many colleges, the Admission Counselor that works with students from your geographic area will be the person that makes the decision on your application. Making a good impression, showing your interest in the college and connecting with the Admission Counselor in general can benefit you during the application decision time.

Connecting with colleges is a great way to get as much information about a college a possible. Because college is such a huge investment in time and money, you want to make sure you learn as much as you can. In addition to helping to give you as much information as possible, connecting with the college could potentially help you during the college admission process. Why not check them out and let them know you’re interested?

Join me next time when we discuss summer activities.

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Check out the other tips for Rising Seniors:

1. Build and Narrow Down Your College List

2. Clean-up Your Social Media

 

Scholarship Saturday – June 14, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.