High School and College Tips of the Month
May 2013: Planning to visit colleges this summer?
Before you go - read a series of three articles on Career
Vision's website. Begin with "Include
Academic Departments on College Visit Itinerary" to really personalize your visit!
April 2013: What date is practically a national holiday for high school seniors?
May 1 - College Decision Day! Seniors must select their college and make their enrollment
deposit by May 1. One college, and one deposit, no extensions. Time to celebrate! If
students are wait-listed, they still have to submit an enrollment deposit at a school where
they have been admitted. This deposit may end up being forfeited if they are offered a spot,
and accept it, at a college where they are currently on the wait list. Deposits typically
range from $100 to $1,000 - a small price to pay to allow you to attend your dream school?
March 2013: "Earn Your Bachelor's Degree for Less
Than $34,000" Says the Ad
Yes, it's true. In a recent newspaper ad, College of
DuPage, in the western suburbs of Chicago, announced
its innovative "3+1
Programs". To earn a Bachelor's degree, students
complete 3 years of COD classes and then take their
last year of classes on COD's campus while taught by
instructors from the partnering institution. Five local
universities - Benedictine, Concordia, Lewis, Roosevelt,
and Governors State - offer programs in 12 different
majors. Does your community college offer any 3+1 programs
yet? Or 2+2's?
February 2013: Catch Senioritis – and Your College May Send
You a “Fear of God” Letter
Last year, high school seniors admitted to Texas Christian University who allowed their final
semester grades to suddenly slip into C, D, and F territory, received letters known on campus
as the “Fear of God” letter. The grades place their acceptance in jeopardy. TCU requires a written
statement from the student explaining, in detail, the reasons for his academic performance. If the
student misses the due date, TCU automatically assumes he is no longer interested in attending. Yet
another reason to keep up those good grades!
January 2013: College Credit for A.P. Exam Scores May Be an Endangered Species
Dartmouth College recently announced that it will no longer grant course credit for Advanced
Placement (AP) examinations, beginning with the Class of 2018.
The college contends that the difficulty level of the AP exam does not measure up to the level
of academic rigor required in Dartmouth courses. According to the New York Times, “Dartmouth
changed its policy after an experiment measuring whether top A.P. scores indicated college-level
competence…Of more than 100 students who had scored a 5 on the A.P. exam, 90% failed the Dartmouth
[Psych 1 final] test. The other 10% were given Dartmouth credit.” This policy change has already
sparked a lively debate. In time, we’ll know if Dartmouth has started a trend or if they stand alone.
December 2012: Start looking for the best summer jobs NOW – during the holidays. Why?
The “plum” jobs – interesting work, good pay, fun co-workers – are snapped up early. Even
if managers don’t know how many workers they will be hiring, it’s smart for students to
get on managers’ radar early in a face-to-face meeting. And here’s another benefit:
Research has shown that students who work frequently during high school are less likely
to experience unemployment as they launch their careers. Employers look to hire young people
with the skills and work ethic developed by working summer and part-time jobs. So get going!
November 2012: Who do high school students look to first for career guidance?
According to a study by the Career Institute for Education and Workforce Development at
Ferris State University, 78% of high school students reported that their PARENTS were the
top influence and resource for career guidance. Among school personnel, teachers (25%)
edged out counselors (21%) as being seen as helpful in advising on career options or
furthering education…but 51% of the students perceived that no one at school was helping
them with these decisions. Parents who want the best advantages for their children seek out
resources and identify professionals who can assist with these career and college major
October 2012: What changes are happening in law school?
According to a recent New York Times article, New York University is moving toward
more specialization in the third year of law school. This is in response to their
goal of providing "professional pathways that prepare students to operate in a world
that demands increasing specialization." Options include advanced study in areas like
tax or corporate law. This shift would suggest a compelling reason for law students
to explore law specialties through informational interviews and job shadowing, which
helps them make more informed decisions.
September 2012: How to Make Choosing a College Major Less Like the Game
“Pin the Tail on the Donkey”
In the game, “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, players are blindfolded
and then told to pin a paper tail on a poster of a donkey taped to a wall.
For students, choosing a college major can be like this. When students have
little understanding of themselves and the types of careers in which they
would excel, it’s as if they are wearing that blindfold. Choosing a favorite
subject as a major is not the answer, since the student is still not linking
it to a viable career direction. Parents and other adults can provide guidance,
career information, and access to quality career assessments to help students
improve their accuracy with these important decisions.
August 2012: Which Federal government jobs match my major?
Agencies and departments of the U.S. Federal Government
are hiring, but how do new grads and other young adults
find the titles of federal jobs that they may be eligible
for? No problem - the usajobs.gov
website can help with that! Remember, too, that "good
match" jobs also need to align with your aptitudes,
interests, values and personality.
July 2012: What Students with Summer or Part-Time
Jobs Need to Know
Students who work summer or part-time jobs enjoy a distinct
advantage over those who participate in extra-curricular
or enrichment activities only. By working, students
can acquire new skills and knowledge in the "real
world", learn customer service behaviors, and grow
in leadership and responsibility - all highly desired
qualities for college admission and future employers.
Earning money in order to contribute toward college
expenses builds character and pride. Jobs can also introduce
students to potential careers and industries. State
and federal rules protect students who are younger than
16 years of age by restricting hours and the type of
work they are permitted to do. The U.S. Department of
Rules! website has information on these rules as
well as tips for preventing workplace injuries. This
website has sections specific to the needs of students,
parents, educators and employers.
June 2012: Summer is prime time for…
Summer is an ideal time for high school students to
learn about potential career options. (Yes, high school
is not too early to investigate careers!) Informational
interviews and job
shadowing are stellar ways for students to get a
realistic understanding of jobs and careers. This leads
to better understanding which college majors best prepare
them for careers of interest. The first step to making
these important decisions begins with an in-depth understanding
of themselves: their potential (aptitude profile), interests,
values and personality, followed by looking at jobs
they would be a great match for.
May 2012: Build a Relationship with Your Dream College
Many colleges and universities track "demonstrated interest"
from applicants. A campus visit, an interview, participating
in online admissions chats, joining a Facebook page,
and emails are considered a positive indicator that
a student will choose to enroll. In a 2011 report, half
of the colleges and universities surveyed by the National
Association of College Admissions Counselors rated these
interest indicators as considerably or moderately important.
However, grades, challenging high school classes, and
test scores are still tops on the list.
April 2012: What
technology skills are important for students to develop?
We assume that just because students text, tweet, update
Facebook, and play computer games, that they are proficient
in technology. Not so. There is a big gap between students'
tech skills and the kinds of skills colleges and employers
want. Dr. Bill Coplin, Ph.D., observes, "This is evident
when I talk to high school seniors who apply to Syracuse
University. These are relatively high-performing students:
yet, when I ask them if they can use Excel, fewer and
fewer students each year say, 'Yes'." Coplin encourages
students to become proficient on Microsoft Word, PowerPoint,
Excel, and researching on the Internet.
March 2012: Are minimum requirements for high school
graduation sufficient to meet college admissions criteria?
Often - no. The minimum requirements related to coursework
required for graduation from high school may well be
different from those required by colleges. In fact,
for some academic majors, there may be specific additional
high school course requirements. This is another good
reason for why it's important for students to identify
their possible career direction and related majors before
looking at colleges. Students should check with their
high school counselor as well as admissions staff at
the colleges and majors under consideration to uncover
additional high school course requirements. If student
athletes intend to compete in NCAA Division I or II
or NAIA athletics in college, they must also meet academic
eligibility requirements for those organizations as
February 2012: Transform Aspiring Artists into Successful Self-Employed
Artists of all kinds - performing, literary, media,
visual arts - typically learn how to create but not
what to do with that creation. The focus of the organization,
(Self Employment in the Arts), is on the business
of art. Housed at Naperville's North Central College,
SEA was created with the idea that more artists will
succeed if they have business skills, knowledge, resources,
and contacts. Through artist-led conferences, a website
full of resources and articles, and educational tools
like the award winning Entrepreneurial Artist DVD, SEA
helps artists turn their passions into a living. SEA
is for college students, serious high school students,
artists, and educators.
January 2012: What is academic rigor?
Academic rigor refers to demonstrating not only mastery of the content
of courses, but also the application of critical thinking skills.
Research says that past performance is the best predictor of future
performance, so in evaluating student application packages, college
admissions counselors look for a pattern of coursework that demonstrates
the ability to do well in more difficult classes. This analysis
gives them an idea of the strength of a student's academic record
and serves as an indicator that a particular student is up to the
level of work that is characteristic of that college or university.
December 2011: What is Better Than Wanting Our Children to be
"When we cruise around like the happiness police, clearing away
anything that gets in the way of our children's happiness, we're
doing our children a disservice, because adversity is a great teacher,"
according to Aaron Cooper, co-author (along with Chicago Educator
Eric Keitel) of the book, I Just Want My Kids to Be Happy: Why
You Shouldn't Say It, Why You Shouldn't Think It, What You Should
Embrace Instead. "The only way we build those resilience muscles
is by having to practice coping with adversity: sitting with disappointment,
sadness, frustration and other difficult feelings. That's what builds
resilience." (Chicago Tribune, 11/23/11)
November 2011: Can Every Student be a Leader?
Yes, every student can be a leader! In fact, to succeed in today's
world, the ability to lead diverse groups is vital to everyone's success. Parents especially can be instrumental
in introducing their high school and college age children to the characteristics of leadership, and
giving their children meaningful opportunities to practice these constructive behaviors. To learn
the five areas of leadership and view suggestions for how adults can help young people develop these competencies,
here for a great article by the organization, Building Partnerships for Youth, a
partnership between the National 4-H Council and the University of Arizona.
October 2011: Taking the ACT Multiple Times
Ambitious students take the ACT or SAT tests multiple times in hopes of
achieving the maximum score possible, paving the way to get into selective colleges desired by the
student (or, perhaps, the parents). A caution, though - these test scores may get students into a school that
is actually too academically rigorous for them. Realistically, the artificially high level of effort
expended for the college entrance exam is impossible for the student to sustain year over year. The best fit
school for a student is not one where they will be so frustrated, exhausted, and stressed that they lose confidence
and perform poorly, but where they will be appropriately challenged in their college work while
enjoying a healthy quality of life.
September: 2011: How to Prevent Good Students from Hitting
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune shed light
on how students' GPAs take a dive as they
transition from high school to college. Here are some tips
to prevent this "culture shock":
Discuss the differences
between high school and college
Build students' planning skiils by teaching them to do a semester "big picture"
plan as well as a weekly plan (see tip for Oct. 2009 below)
Build Vocabulary! College texts and research demand a more extensive vocabulary.
Use vocabulary games on freerice.com and encourage frequent, consistent use of the dictionary - paperback or website. (see tip for Aug. 2010)
Build critical thinking skills (see tip for May 2010)
Guide students to use campus
August: 2011: Fabulous! Free! New 24/7 online tutoring resource
Have you heard of the
Khan Academy ? Recently featured in the magazine Bloomberg
BusinessWeek, it's a free online resource with a library
of over 2100 ten-minute videos covering K-12 math, biology,
chemistry, physics, finance, history, and SAT prep. The material
is self-paced, contains practice exercises, assessments, and
a profile to measure progress. And the entire site is the
result of a passionate, clever and hardworking young man,
Salman Khan, who began remotely tutoring his cousin in 2004.
And now Bill Gates is one of his biggest fans…and funders.
July 2011: What can students do to improve their memory and boost their learning?
There is no learning without memory, says Harry Lorayne, a
well-known memory training specialist. His book, Super
Memory - Super Student: How to Raise Your Grades in 30 Days,
introduces students to techniques can be applied to learning
numbers; numbers in conjunction with names, words or events;
and reading material, which includes vocabulary and terminology.
These techniques are compensatory strategies that can boost
a student's natural memory abilities.
June 2011: Another Reason Why GPA is Important
The more competitive college majors can be quite selective. They often
require a minimum GPA for admittance to the program, higher than for
general admission to the college. Also, once in a program, students must
continue to prove their competency by maintaining that GPA. Programs like
business, nursing, education or engineering, for example, want to
graduate students that reflect the high quality of the program. Employers
seek them out for internships and jobs because they know the grads are
May 2011:Should an Unemployed Young Adult Get Another Degree?
Don't just go back to school because you are having trouble finding
employment. More degrees are not necessarily better. If you decide
to return to college for an additional degree, make sure that the
degree is critical for your career goal. No career goal? Then work
with a career professional to identify one - making sure it is aligned
with your top natural strengths and interests, and that the career
will offer growth and opportunity in the years ahead.
April 2011: When Your Student Earns a Scholarship
It's always good news to hear that a scholarship has been
awarded to your student! Make sure you read the conditions
of the scholarship. For instance, some scholarships require
maintaining a minimum grade point average or number of semester
March 2011: Bachelor's Degree: A Magic Ticket?
For many parents, earning a 4-year Bachelor's Degree was a kind of
"magic ticket" to a professional level job; a student's major was
of less importance because of on-the-job training. Not so today.
Employers often don't have the staff, time or money to hire and train
a college graduate without coursework or experience related to the job.
They look for students that can hit the ground running - students who
have majored and minored in academic areas related to their career field,
and have one or two related internships under their belt as they reach
senior year and begin job hunting.
February 2011: How Important are Internships?
A 2010 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers
found that almost 50% of the new college graduates hired have been
interns for that employer. Companies view intern programs as a great
way to evaluate young talent and determine if there is a good fit with
the culture. In fact, the top business consulting firms prefer job
candidates who have at least two internships to give them introductory
January 2011: When Students Underestimate Their Abilities
In our work with students, we find that most of them underestimate
at least half of their natural talents, or aptitudes.
What impact does this have? Plenty! If they don't have objective
measurements of their aptitudes, they make college
and career decisions on the basis of these inaccurate perceptions.
They may choose careers that are not a good match for their
actual talents, and not even glance at careers that actually
would be an ideal fit. Adults underestimate their talents
as well, and can find themselves in ill-fitting jobs without
an understanding of their unique aptitude profile.
December 2010: How Can Students Find Jobs and Internships Over the Holidays?
Students - Don't wait until spring break or the end of the
school year to start trolling for summer jobs, internships,
or full-time jobs. Holiday social events place you in new
situations where you meet people who might be able to help
connect you to opportunities. Even high school students can
order simple business cards at a local big box office supply
store that have basic contact information: name, address,
phone number, and email address (about $25 for 250 cards).
College students, check with your campus career services office
first, since an increasing number of colleges are providing
students with free business cards that have the college logo
and your major/minor on them. When students meet new people
and share their employment goal with them, handing over a
business card is easy, looks professional, and creates quite
a first impression!
November 2010: A Way to Ease the Transition to College
One of our parents suggested this tip: Have your student begin
college the summer after high school graduation. They can
acclimate to campus, make new friends and get a head start
on a few classes during a term where campus moves at a slower
pace. Apartment rent is a bargain, with many sublets available.
When the rest of the freshmen arrive for fall semester, your
student may be the confident one showing them around!.
October 2010: How can I identify individuals in a particular
career for informational Interviews?
Conducting information interviews is a key method for students
(and anyone, really) to explore potential careers. Most parents
look first to their own networks of friends and colleagues
to identify individuals who are in careers their children
are interested in. Next, turn to the local chapters of professional
organizations. Those who are officers or committee chairs
enjoy their career and because of their involvement, often
are more open to requests for informational interviews. Search
for the associations and chapters online, where you will find
contact information for these individuals. For more great
information on conducting informational interviews, see our
Power of Informational Interviews".
September 2010: Elections This Fall - A Teachable Moment?
Students get pretty wrapped up in their world of school, extracurricular
activities, part-time jobs, and social lives - but at age
18, they are also old enough to vote. Parents can be instrumental
in introducing their teens to this important civic responsibility
in the years leading up to that 18th birthday. Why not walk
them through the process of informed decision-making? Pretend
together that they are old enough to vote. Share with them
the sources that you use to learn about the candidates and
their positions on issues. And help your teen develop critical
thinking skills by charting the pros and cons of each candidate.
Find out what your high school does to teach students how
to be educated, engaged citizens. A number of area high schools
deserve a shout out for their excellent programs for citizenship
development, as noted by the McCormick Foundation's report,
a Civic Blueprint for Illinois High Schools".
August 2010: 3 Easy Ways to Build Vocabulary
Start early - start smart:
1. As you read, look up words immediately on an online dictionary
website or in a low-tech paperback dictionary; write the definition
in the page margin or on a small sticky note attached to the
page. That way, when you return to the page while studying
for the test, the correct definition will be instantly reinforced.
2. Play Vocabulary games on freerice.com.
(Go there also to test knowledge of Grammar, Art History,
French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chemistry, Math and Geography.)
3. Read something other than school textbooks - enjoyable
but with a slightly more challenging vocabulary. Even 10 minutes
a day has been shown to make a significant difference.
July 2010: Students: How important is a good vocabulary?
Research shows that a good vocabulary:
- Contributes to greater success in school, and greater success
in one's career, whatever the career (important for college entrance tests, too!)
- Improves a student's speed and accuracy of comprehension,
so reading becomes easier(especially as students tackle college
- Motivates students to read more, which continues to increase
- Enables a student to communicate effectively with a wide
variety of individuals
- Improves academic and social competence and confidence
June 2010: How Can I Motivate My Child?
When parents ask how they can motivate their child, the question
is usually related to school or work. Think for a moment about
the activities that you DON"T have to motivate your child
to do. Sports? Music? Video games? Shopping? When students
find something that engages them, captures their interest,
and allows them to feel competent, they become motivated.
Like adults, students are motivated when they see a connection
between what they are learning and what they will use. When
parents help students explore careers that are aligned with
their natural talents (aptitudes), interests and values, they
are helping their children discover realistic academic and
career goals that are compelling. Motivation is most powerful
when it comes from within. More information on the power of
internal motivation may be found in the recent bestselling
book Drive by Daniel Pink.
May 2010: Why Critical Thinking is "Critical" for Students
On the job, employers expect young adults to analyze situations,
weigh pros and cons, and make decisions about their work.
Young adults need to recognize false, poorly reasoned, or
improbable information. Critical thinking helps avoid or manage
potential conflict, and improves productivity. A logic and
reasoning class, typically offered as a General Education
course, can strengthen a student's proficiency. Or gain the
skills through independent learning: San Jose State University
offers a free online tutorial called Mission:Critical.
April 2010: How Will College Be Different From High School?
Too often, bright, capable high school graduates head to college
only to get blindsided by the different demands of a college
environment. They start off the semester well, but are quickly
overwhelmed by reading assignments and lack of planning skills.
If they're lucky, they catch themselves and reach out for
help from academic support services on campus. If they don't,
their grades and confidence crash. Here is an article that
families can use as a discussion tool with their college-bound
Will College Be Different From High School?
March 2010: Graduate in 4 Years? Here's How to Do It
Funding four years of college per child is challenging enough
for a family, and yet national
statistics report that 1/3 of students take up to 6 years
to get that Bachelor's degree - another
1/3 take longer or never graduate at all! Here are practical
ways to minimize the time needed
to earn that degree:
Begin with the end in mind. Choose your major early,
based on your career goal - that
is, the job you will do after graduation.
Make sure every class counts toward your general education,
academic major and
minor requirements. Work closely with your faculty advisor
to make sure you stay on
track, carrying at least 15-16 credits every semester.
Take courses during high school
or summers to make faster progress.
Investigate 4-year guarantee programs where freshmen
commit to a major, and the
college guarantees graduation in four years or the remaining
tuition is free. Western
Illinois and Eastern
Illinois Universities are examples of schools with
February 2010: Living on Their Own: Reality Check Website
The Reality Check
website developed by Texas Workforce Solutions is a fast and
fun way to introduce students to the realities of living on
their own and paying for their expenses, and
underscores how important education beyond high school is.
Online, students make a
series of choices about housing, healthcare, transportation,
food, entertainment, personal
upkeep and miscellaneous expenses. There is also a way to
compare expenses with the
salaries of possible careers to see if they will make enough
to cover their expenses. A terrific
tool to prompt discussion.
January 2010: An Additional Benefit for Teens with Part-Time or Summer Jobs
“Teen and young adult employment is very past dependent,”
according to Joe McLaughlin, senior research associate for
the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University
in Boston. “The more you work today, the more you will work
in the future. The intensity of your work ethic influences
the intensity of your work ethic in the future.” (From article
“Teen employment tumbles to state low” by Julie Wernau, Chicago
Tribune, January 26, 2010.)
So – work experiences for teens strengthen their work ethic
and increases their employability in the future!
December 2009: The College Grad Job Market
Companies with fewer than 500 employees remain the backbone
of the college labor market, according to Phil Gardner,
the director of Michigan State Universitys Collegiate
Employment Research Institute. Companies are hiring college
graduates in e-commerce, looking to capture more business
from the Internet. Gardner adds, Other hot sectors that
should see hiring increases include agriculture production
and food processing, environmental sciences, information systems,
manufacturing, nonprofits, statistics, nursing, social work,
multimedia and Web design. Decreases in 2010 are expected
in accounting, banking, engineering, transportation, utilities,
real estate and computer science and computer programming.
However, students should remember that these are short term
decreases due to the economy, and not reason enough to abandon
a career path that may prove to be very rewarding.
November 2009: Tough Savings Decisions: Retirement vs. College?
Most financial experts encourage parents to make retirement savings a higher
priority than using that money to pay for their children’s college expenses.
A recent article in U.S. News and World Report, quotes Lynn Mayabb, a senior
managing adviser for BKD Wealth Advisors in Kansas City, MO. “There are other
ways to pay for college; there are no loans for retirement." Retirement account
balances and the value of the family's primary residence or a family-owned small
business are not counted toward the expected family contribution the government
expects your family to be able to use to pay for college.
October 2009: Plan Out a Semester Using Visual Techniques
Many students (and adults!) find long range planning difficult.
At the beginning of the semester, they tend to think they
have plenty of time to get everything done.
It may be helpful for them to create a visual picture of the
entire semester on a white board, mounted on a wall in the
student's study area. Draw a grid, with a horizontal row for
each subject, extra-curricular activity and job. Use vertical
lines to mark each week. Label the dates across the top. Finally,
fill in not only dates when tests are scheduled and papers
or projects due, but also tag the dates when different steps
of the assignments need to occur, or mini-deadlines. Students
can color code their subjects if they find it helpful. When
finished, the student has a large picture of what the semester
looks like "at-a-glance". It's easy to identify
crunch times and then strategize ways to prepare. This helps
a student learn how to plan, troubleshoot, and avoid unnecessary
September 2009: Important College Application Deadlines
It's best to apply to colleges you are interested in by November
1, so have your application in your admission counselor's
office at least two weeks before this date to allow time for
processing. Some schools set their priority application deadline
between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1. Scholarship or talent grant money
often has an early deadline, too, between Dec. 1 and Feb.
1. Each college handles these dates in their own way, so it
is important for seniors and their parents to check their
colleges for the specific deadlines.
August 2009: Faster, Friendlier FAFSA Coming in 2010
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced the U.S.
Department of Education is taking steps to make the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) shorter, simpler, and more
student friendly. The changes - some of which are already
in place while others will be phased in over the next few
months - are designed to increase postsecondary enrollment,
particularly among low- and middle-income students. Students
and counselors can track the rollout of the new form at the
website. (From the American Counseling Association's ACAenews,
July 2009: New College Grad - and Still Unemployed? Part
It's easy to feel isolated and discouraged if you are
trying to conduct a job search by yourself and at home. A
much more productive method is to connect with people. Designate
daytime for making phone calls, meeting with contacts, and
participation in a few job search groups. Confine your online
job search activities to evenings or on weekends. And don't
forget to fully utilize the resources available at the local
branch of the state employment office (called workNet Centers
in Illinois) and the career center at your alma mater.
June 2009: New College Grad - and Still Unemployed? Part
Many communities are home to job
search groups and community career centers where speakers
educate job seekers of all ages on best practices for researching
companies, writing resumes, and practicing interviewing. These
settings can also make networking easier for those who are
just learning the skills. Job search groups are fantastic
resources, but know that age-wise, new college grads will
be in the minority. Most members will be closer to their parents'
ages. However, by learning from these mid-career professionals,
young adults will quickly become street-smart about how to
market themselves to employers.
April 2009: What Kind of Work Experience Do Employers
More than 75% of employers said they prefer to hire candidates
who already have relevant work experience, according to Job
Outlook 2009, a study from the National Association of Colleges
and Employers. High school students who identify a career
goal and related major as early as junior or senior year can
then seek out career-related work experiences during the rest
of high school and throughout college. Part-time and summer
jobs, internships and cooperative education assignments in
their career field provide a significant competitive advantage
among new college graduates vying for jobs.
March 2009: When the Financial Aid Package Falls Short
If your student's financial aid package offer is less than
you'd like, appeal immediately. The later you wait, the less
funds the college will have.
If your family's financial situation has changed since applying or
requires special consideration, contact the college. This includes
loss of a job, divorce or separation, and disability or death of a
Appeal in person…and be personable.
Let College A know that College B is offering more aid…but you prefer
College A. See what they might be able to add to their offer.
Follow up in the fall. When students who are offered
aid in the spring decide not to attend the college, their
grant money becomes available.
February 2009: What contributes to college success?
Those students who coped with their career-related choices
at the end of their senior years [of high school] had easier
academic adjustments in higher education and greater commitment
to their chosen fields of study, according to the researchers,
V. Germeijs and K. Verschueren. This finding is contrary to
the beliefs of some that career decision making and planning
should be given a more serendipitous or happenstance approach.
- Career Development Quarterly, December 2008
Basically, the research supports Career Vision's perspective
- if students go to college with a sense of direction and
have the essential Career Literacy skills, they greatly improve
their odds of a successful transition.
January 2009: Is Transferring Part of Your College Plan?
Does your student plan to start their academic career
at the local community college, and then transfer to a four-year
school? Proceed with caution! Credits for coursework are not
always accepted when transferring from one college or university
to another. Here are two resources to ensure course credits
If they know the school they will be transferring to:
Use the online resource u.Select
Illinois and the Transfer section of the college's website
to find the course requirements for the academic major as
well as general education classes. Work with academic advisors
at both colleges to confirm that the courses your student
takes at the community college level will transfer smoothly
to the new school.
If they do not know the school they will be transferring
The Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) is a statewide
transfer agreement among more than 100 participating college
or universities in Illinois. Visit the
IAI website to find information related to General Education
Core Curriculum as well as Baccalaureate
December 2008: Almost Time for Financial Aid Forms
Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, forms
have a June 30 deadline – but states and colleges have their
own deadlines, as early as February. Submit as soon as possible
after Jan 1. For more information, see www.fafsa.ed.gov.
November 2008: When Students Come Home for the Holidays
The holiday season can be stressful, especially for parents
and college students returning home. Young adults who have
been living on their own for several months may chafe at having
to be accountable once again to parents. Some actions that
will help make it an enjoyable visit for all:
Share your expectations for the visit ahead of time with
Your student will want to spend lots of time with friends.
Agree upon some times they can reserve to be with just family.
Make some time for one-on-one conversation, away from the
Maintaining a sense of humor can keep things in the right
October 2008: Practice Effective Study Skills Before
For optimum academic performance, college professors recommend
two hours of studying
for every hour spent in class. Though students say they find
that standard excessive, the time
that college students need to devote to studying is more than
in high school, sometimes dramatically so.
In high school, much of the homework is assigned by the teacher
in small amounts, such as prep for a weekly quiz. Students
are not required to do much independent planning, and certainly
not for an entire semester. In college, students need to be
able to plan on their own. They need to make sure hundreds
of pages are read as suggested by the schedule on the course
syllabus, well in advance of a mid-term or final exam. Parents
who help their high school child practice the skills needed
to plan and manage their studying will see it pay off when
their son or daughter begins their college classes.
September 2008: More $$$ for Illinois College Students
Eight Illinois credit unions announced recently that they
have partnered with two state agencies to provide $100 million
in new financial aid. The program is designed to address the
funding gaps caused by lenders withdrawing from the student
loan market due to the current credit crisis. The funds will
be awarded through the Stafford loan program, offering a 6.8%
interest rate. Final approval is expected September 19 at
the Board Meeting of the Illinois
Student Assistance Commission.
August 2008: Fall application frenzy starts September
This month, seniors can begin working on college essays and
some application forms. When they return to school, students
can plan to run their essays past their high school counselor,
but they should make this request as early as possible to
respect the counselor's hectic schedule this time of year.
Build in plenty of time to allow for unexpected delays or
doing some revisions
July 2008: Make Writing Well a Top Priority
Students today communicate at lightning speed through text
messages. But all those abbreviations used in texting do not
prepare them to write a coherent research paper or essay.
Strong writing skills are also demanded for the writing section
on the SAT test and college application essays, assessing
a student's ability to handle college-level work. During high
school, English teachers or private tutors can bolster a high
school student's ability to write well. On a college campus,
head immediately to the writing center to see all they offer
- before you need the help. Trained staff, top English majors,
and peer tutors offer free coaching with all stages of the
writing process, from formulating a topic to preparing the
final copy. Tap these resources early and you'll see the payoff
in academic success!
June 2008: Volunteering: You'll get more than you give
If your summer job isn't giving you enough hours, consider
a volunteer position a few hours a week to introduce you to
career options. Colleges and prospective employers look for
leadership and volunteer experience in the backgrounds of
applicants. Grab a friend and seek out a volunteer opportunity
that you both find interesting. Identify organizations to
approach or find some ideas at www.chicagovolunteer.net
For those who live outside the Chicago area, search on www.1-800-volunteer.org/1800Vol/OpenIndexAction.do.
May 2008: Save Gas, Earn Credit
This summer, consider getting a head start on your college
coursework by taking an online course. Though there are designated
start and end dates, coursework can be completed at any time
of the day – or night! This makes it easy to fit around a
work schedule. Students submit assignments, receive feedback,
participate in discussions with other students and complete
testing – all online. These courses are just as challenging
as classroom-based courses. If you are self-motivated, and
can set up and stick to a study plan, you are a great candidate
for this method of learning!
April 2008: College 101 Finale
Spring reminds us that there can always be new beginnings.
At college, it is never too late to begin following these
Set priorities, don't skip classes, procrastinate, or let
your study habits slip.
Feeling homesick or overwhelmed at times is completely
normal. Call family or friends, send an e-mail, journal,
or reach out to your support network on campus.
Don't overspend or get caught in the credit card trap of
Decide now that a bad class or professor will not change
your academic or career goals. Keep your eye on your goals
March 2008: More College Success 101
Making a successful transition to university life and
enjoying your experience in college includes practicing some
Understand course requirements and assignment due dates,
and clarify instructor expectations early in the term.
Set realistic academic goals and grades for yourself and
strive to attain them.
Get involved in fun campus activities and (if living on
campus) resist leaving on the weekends.
Exercise and eat right to maintain your physical and mental
health. A healthy student is a student who learns better
February 2008: College Success 101
Unfortunately, 50% of students entering college never
earn a degree. Stack the odds of succeeding in college in
your favor by following these tips:
Determine your best career paths and supporting college
major(s) as soon as possible to avoid changing majors or
spending extra semesters in school.
Get to know and build a support network of peers and mentors
on campus (students, classmates, academic advisors, professors,
Get and stay organized!
Understand course requirements and assignment due dates.
January 2008: Networking
Social networking sites, like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn
have now become the latest trend in employment. Students
are finding internships, summer jobs, and full-time employment
through these sites. Individuals are able to use their network
of influential contacts to introduce them to potential employers,
increasing their odds of being considered for a position.
Thousands of recruiters and employers (including all Fortune
500 companies) peruse these sites for talent. Be professional
in your profile content and communication, and also be aware
that an increase in connections can lead to an increase
in spam, raising the possibility of identity theft.
For comprehensive information on protecting your privacy,
go to: privacyrights.org
December 2007: Parents of High School Seniors
Check with your student's guidance counselor to determine
if there are any remaining scholarships or grants for which
your student might apply. Note: Seniors who have determined
their college major may be eligible for additional scholarships
through the college they plan to attend, associations, foundations,
or businesses. January is the month to file your FAFSA
For additional scholarship and financial aid information,
check out these websites: