Parents: Prepare a healthy care package

Healthy Care Package

When packing for college, many students and their parents forget about medication. It’s just something many people don’t think about when packing for college. Instead, their focus is on things like extra-long bedding and room decorations. However, many students will get sick during the fall semester of college. From the changes in sleep patterns to the communal living, it’s bound to happen.

Whether students have moved-in already or are moving in soon, parents should prepare a “healthy” care package for their child. Here are list of items to consider:

Students will not want to go out and get these items for themselves, especially if they are already getting sick. Plus, drug or convenience stores are not always conveniently located near college campuses. Therefore, parents should prepare a care package full of medication and healthy items for their children before they get sick.

I have found that CVS has everything available students may need. CVS carries name-brand products, as well as CVS brand products. I’ve tried many of the CVS products and they do the job just as well as name brand and cost much less!

Parents can go to the store themselves and prepare the package, or shop online and have it shipped directly to their child. Shipping rates are a standard $5.49, no matter how much is purchased. However, shipping is free for most items if you purchase $49 worth of merchandise. CVS also offers 20% off and free shipping if you choose to have items automatically shipped on schedule. For example, this would be a great option for vitamins.

Before your child get sick, make sure they have the medication they need to take care of themselves when away from home. You, as a parent, won’t be able to be there physically, but you’ll know your child will have everything they will need to get better.


Helpful tips for the ‘why us?’ college admissions essay

Many colleges ask the question, “Why us?” as part of the college admissions process. The question is asked differently by the colleges, but the idea behind the question is always the same: why us?

Here are a few examples of “why us?” essays:

  • Columbia University: “Tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why.”
  • Northwestern University: “What are the unique qualities of Northwestern – and of the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying – that make you want to attend the University?”
  • University of Notre Dame: “Why Note Dame?”
  • St. John’s College: “Explain in detail why you wish to attend St. John’s College.”
  • University of Pennsylvania: “The Admissions Committee would like to learn why you are a good fit for your undergraduate school choice (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, The Wharton School, or Penn Engineering). Please tell us about specific academic, service, and/or research opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania that resonate with your background, interests, and goals.”

Colleges are asking “why us” because they are trying to learn how serious students are about their college. Admissions officers do not want to admit students who are not serious about attending their college, especially at competitive institutions. Unfortunately, many students do not answer this question in the way admissions officers would like to see. General responses that could be used at other colleges suggest that the student is not serious about attending the institution. Admissions officers are looking for serious interest in the institution and a passion for wanting to attend. Therefore, students must do their research about each college and be very specific about why they want to attend the institution.

Students must research the programs, resources and activities of interest at the college before submitting the essay. Writing “I want to attend ‘X’ University because it feel right,” is not enough. Instead, students should go into detail about the unique offerings the college offers and why it would be beneficial for the student. For students who have visited the campus, they should use this information in the essay. Students should talk about the activities they attended, the classes they visited and the professors they met during their visit.

Other tips for “Why us?” essays:

  • Recycling college admissions essays is common. However, students must proofread to ensure it is specific to the college. Do not send an essay that says, “I want to attend ‘X’ university” when applying to ‘Y’ university.
  • Check the facts. Do not use the wrong information when talking about a university. If mentioning city, state, professor name, team colors, etc., make sure the correct information is included.
  • Do not regurgitate information that is listed on the website or publications. The average class size, for example, may be great, but many other colleges have the same statistics.
  • The main reason for attending a college should not be location, prestige, size or weather. Do not list these reasons in the essay because they can apply to many other colleges. This information should only be included if it is supporting other reasons listed in the essay.
  • Read each sentence of the essay and see if it could apply to another college. If it can be for another college, it might not be specific enough for the “why us” essay.
  • The “Why us?” essay is the perfect time to use names. Students should mention names of professors, students, student organizations and other items that are drawing the student to the university.
  • Although many of the essay prompts do not ask this, students should also include what they will contribute to the college campus. Colleges want to admit students who will be active on campus.

If students are having a hard time writing specific reasons they want to attend a college, it might suggest the college is not the best fit for the student. Alternatively, it might suggest the student needs to dedicate more time to researching the college to learn about the unique opportunities the college offers.

California community colleges could offer baccalaureate degrees in future

 On Thursday, California’s Legislature unanimously approved legislation that would allow some of the state’s community colleges to issue baccalaureate degrees. Governor Jerry Brown will now consider SB 850. If signed by the governor, California will be the 22nd state to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees.

Proponents of the bill suggest California needs to produce at least one million more baccalaureate degrees to remain economically competitive. The bill states California’s four-year public institutions cannot meet the demand and community colleges can help fill the gaps. The bill was introduced by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) who says, “this is landmark legislation that will change the face of higher education in California.” Senator Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) gave the example of the Nursing program at San Diego State University. He said there were approximately 300 freshman students who wanted to enter the Nursing program, but only about 70 spaces. He says the bill “is a viable way to help people, many from backgrounds who otherwise would not have [the] opportunity.”

The bill would allow the community colleges system to establish a pilot program that would allow no more than 15 community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees. Each community college would only be permitted to offer one baccalaureate degree program. The bill does not designate specific community colleges or programs. Instead, the bill requires community college districts to seek approval from the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. When seeking approval, community colleges districts must show unmet workforce needs in the subject area they wish to offer in the local community or region. Community colleges could start offering baccalaureate degrees as early as 2015.

Scholarship Saturday – August 23, 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.

How to get great recommendations

IMG_0929 by DoDEA licensed under CC BY 2.0

IMG_0929 by DoDEA licensed under CC BY 2.0

A large part of the college application is securing the recommendations. The Common Application requires a recommendation from the counselor and a teacher. Other colleges require recommendations from coaches, pastors or volunteer coordinators. Some students view the recommendation as a requirement that carries little weight, while others think it is much more important. It is true that the weight of the recommendation varies depending on the colleges students are considering. In the world of holistic admissions, anything can come into play and a great recommendation can put a student over the top to be admitted. Therefore, students should consider the recommendation an important part of the application process and work just as hard on it as the other application items.

Students should choose a recommendation writer who knows them well. If students are engaged in classes, students should not have a problem finding a teacher who can speak highly of them. However, many students, especially at public schools, will not know their counselors very well. Therefore, students should reach out to counselors early to build a rapport. Students should never ask someone that they just met to write their recommendation because the lack of knowledge someone has about a student will come through in the recommendation. Students never want to have a recommendation sent to a college that says, “I do not have much knowledge about this student.” Although it seems unlikely, colleges receive responses like this every year.

Students should give their recommendation writers much time to prepare their recommendations. Teachers and counselors are busy, especially during the fall when seniors are applying to college. Therefore, it is best to request recommendations as soon as students know they will need them. It is best to schedule a meeting with the recommendation writer to formally ask them to provide the recommendation. Prior to the meeting, students should come prepared with information about the recommendation, deadline information and a brag sheet that gives the recommendation writer further knowledge about the student they may not know. Students should watch their application accounts for confirmation the recommendations were received. If the recommendation has not been received two weeks before the deadline, make sure to give the writer a friendly reminder.

Lastly, students should never forget to thank their recommendation writers. There should a quick thank-you after the recommendation is sent, preferably in writing. Students should also give the recommendation writer updates. For example, if the writer sent a recommendation for college applications, students should let the writer know when college decisions come in, as well as their final decision on the college they will attend. Without the recommendation, the student might not have been as successful. Students should keep this in mind and genuinely thank their recommendation writers throughout the process. Not being appreciative of their work could burn bridges and students never know if or when they will need another recommendation. Therefore, show your appreciation.

By planning and offering support to recommendation writers, students can have glowing reviews sent on their behalf to colleges or scholarship committees. That one recommendation could be the thing tips the scale on the student’s behalf. Therefore, students should view the recommendation just as important as all other items of the application process.