Monday, October 31, 2016

Six Ways to Make Your Scholarship Application Shine!

In this era where college costs are soaring and grants at state colleges are diminishing, scholarships are more important than ever! Here are six ways to make your application stand out from the competition! 

1. Say what makes you unique.  Are you a great athlete or a leader on your teams?  How about a vegetarian, adopted or the first in your family to go to college? 

2.  Show you're involved. Extracurricular activities are a great way to grow as a person. Expand on your passions and

interests by joining a club or organi-zation that's related to your hobby, intended major or future career path.

3.  Volunteer. Make an impact by getting involved in community service and volunteer opportunities.  The meaningful experiences you gain will show how well-rounded you are. Be sure to explain HOW these experiences have assisted your personal growth and helped you develop time management, problem-solving and organizational skills.

4.  Quality, not quantity, counts in highlighting your leadership roles.  Show how your experiences have taught you people skills and how to successfully deal with conflicts.

5.  Be error-free and meet all deadlines.

6.  End with a statement that is both personal and shows your personality.
  • Start with a great "first impression" sentence or paragraph.
  • Sell yourself, but tell the truth.
  • Don't use clichés - be unique and incorporate emotions.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Use active, not passive, verbs.
  • Proofread several times and ask another person to proof it as well.

Learn how you can contribute to your student’s success in college and their career!

Click Here for Strategies to Help Your Student Succeed

Would you like more advice on the college application process? Visit us onlineemail us or call 301-834-6888.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Will my daughter incur so much debt that she will end up living at home again?

This is the fourth in a series about "Face Down Your Top Four College Fears and Help Your Student Succeed!!

The short answer to the headline is, “Maybe.” According to student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz, the average 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student debt.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), estimates the starting salary for a 2015 college graduate was just over $50,000.

While this sounds like a solid salary, consider what happens if the student plans to marry, have children, buy a home or any of the other grownup things to do. That $37,000+ albatross hangs around her neck for quite a while. The
chart below offers information on starting salaries for various disciplines.

Broad Category    # of Salaries Mean  25th Percentile Median 75th Percentile
Computer and                                      
Information Sciences    705   $65,849   $54,000        $65,000   $73,000
Engineering                3,880   $61,819   $55,000        $62,000   $67,000
Liberal Arts/Sciences    264   $50,116   $35,000        $45,000   $65,000
Business                      4,922   $49,536   $40,000       $50,000   $56,762
Social Sciences              458   $39,931   $30,088       $37,499   $48,000
History                             76   $37,957   $31,000       $40,000   $44,500
Visual &
 Performing Arts            211   $36,041   $27,750       $35,000   $42,250
Psychology                    334   $35,108   $27,500       $32,750   $40,000
English                           149   $34,702   $24,000       $35,000   $40,600

Average salaries by discipline for bachelor’s degree graduates
Source: Fall 2015 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers.All data are for bachelor's degree level graduates.

According to the Economic Policy Institute:

Unemployment and underemployment rates among young graduates are improving but remain substantially higher than before the recession began.

• For young college graduates, the unemployment rate is currently 7.2 percent (compared with 5.5 percent in 2007), and the underemployment rate is 14.9 percent (compared with 9.6 percent in 2007).

• The high share of unemployed and underemployed young college graduates and the share of employed young college graduates working in jobs that do not require a college degree underscore that the current unemployment crisis among young workers did not arise because today’s young adults lack the right
education or skills.

• Graduating in a weak economy has long-lasting economic consequences. Economic research suggests that for the next 10 to 15 years, those in the Class of 2015 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.

• The share of young graduates who are “idled” by the economy – neither enrolled in further schooling nor employed – remains elevated in the wake of the Great Recession. This indicates that many graduates are unable to take the two main paths – receiving further education or getting more work experience –
that enable future career success.

• Among young college graduates, 10.5 percent are neither enrolled nor employed (compared with 8.4 percent in 2007).”

Source: The Class of 2015: Despite an Improving Economy, Young Grads Still Face an Uphill Climb, by Alyssa Davis,Will Kimball, and Elise Gould

Additionally, the full cost of attendance has increased 125.7 % for private and 129.0 % for public colleges when we compare enrollments for 1983 - 1984 to the 2013 - 2014 numbers. Source: College Board

This is a pretty bleak picture for young graduates and it is likely that your daughter will come home after college in order to have time to pay down her loans and settle into a job in her field.

How you adapt to that possibility will determine how soon she moves out.
It’s our job as parents to give our kids a leg-up but, after a certain point, we’re enabling them. Before your daughter comes home, make sure that:

• She understands this is a temporary arrangement (six months – a year).

• You have a contract for your expectations and hers while she lives with you. There are some terrific versions of this contract online (just Google: contract for adult child living at home). Tailor this to your specific situation and recognize that you are negotiating with a college-educated adult and not your little girl. She has something to say about what is in the contract too.

• Once all parties agree, stick to it!

Finally, remember that you are not alone!

There are many professionals who can help you navigate these
waters and I am one of them. Give me a call if you have questions!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Can I afford to send him to the school of his dreams?

It’s critical to have an open discussion with your student about the family financial picture that includes a clear explanation of what you are willing and
able to pay toward his education.

Often, our kids seem to believe in the proverbial money tree in the backyard. As adults, we know this is an unrealistic view. It’s also important to explain that parental assets have to go much further than the education of one child.

Take a holistic approach to financial planning. This means that your retirement is just as important as the college educations of your children. No one child, regardless of accomplishments, should take precedence over the future
well-being of either his parents or the other children in the family.

Once your student understands what your limits are, he can then begin to mentally plan for the possibility that he may not be able to attend his dream school, and approach the college planning process more realistically. He can
still apply to the dream college, but it does leave the door open to other, more financially viable options.

Affordable Fit

In my practice, I find that when families follow these suggestions, their students tend to be much more open to colleges that are both affordable and a good fit. It can also encourage students to be more proactive in looking for scholarship
money, or make them work a little bit harder to try to attain the grades that make a more prestigious college possible.

Being realistic can also take some of the pressure off the student to go trophy hunting, rather than finding colleges that provide a good match and fit for him.

What exactly are match and fit?

Match refers to your student’s numbers and how they compare to the middle 50 percent of accepted students at the college you’re considering. If your student’s unweighted GPA and test scores fall in that range, then the college is a potential match for your student.
A = 4.0, B = 3.0, C = 2.0, D = 1.0, F = 0

Subject                                              9th Grade 10th Grade 11th Grade
English                                               B = 3.0      A- = 3.7        B+ = 3.3
Math                                                   A = 4.0     C+ = 2.3        B- = 2.7
Science                                               A = 4.0     B+ = 3.3        A- = 3.7
Social Studies                                    B+ = 3.3   A- = 3.7          A = 4.0
Foreign Language                              C+ = 2.3    D = 1.0
TOTAL                                                      16.6         14.0            13.7

Add up the results and divide by the number of courses.
44.3 ÷ 14 = 3.16 GPA (unweighted).

 Most colleges will recalculate the high school GPA to a basic unweighted 4.0 scale based only on the core subjects. To do that, you pull out the grades for English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Foreign Language,

Looking at your student’s grades from the viewpoints of the admission office can guide you in your class choices. And be sure to avoid declining GPA’s – colleges look unfavorably at downward grade trends. It’s important that your student’s grades remain above a B in all subjects if at all possible.

Fit on the other hand, refers to the social and academic aspects of the college.
• Does he feel comfortable on campus?
• Are there students there with whom he can connect?
• Does the school offer the academic environment and extracurricular options that he is looking for?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Will my daughter find a job in her field after graduation?

Note:  This is the second in a 4-Part Series about "Face Down Your Top Four College Fears & Help Your Student Succeed!"

This question requires a bit of a crystal ball and depends on a number of factors.

A primary factor is how diligently did your student look for a job both while in college and after graduation? Getting your résumé read can be challenging and dependent on factors out of the control of the applicant. But your student can enhance her chances of getting that all-important interview by:

• Seeking out and taking advantage of internship opportunities
during her college years

• Finding chances to shadow someone in the career she is seeking

• Doing informational interviews with professionals in her desired field

• Taking advantage of the college career center to keep her résumé up to date and ensure it contains the elements that will attract prospective employers

Some colleges require students to present an up-to-date résumé to professors at the beginning of every course they take. This forces students to learn the constructs of a résumé, to go through it with a career professional and
to keep it current by adding each honor, job and enhanced skill as these are acquired. If your student has not done this, feel free to call us for help.

Watch for Red Flags Along the Way

What if you don’t see your daughter progressing toward a career while she is in high school and college? First, try to determine what is keeping her from doing the things she needs to do to become independent and employable.

And try to avoid some of the well-meaning roadblocks I see parents putting in the paths of their student:

• Is she afraid of her looming independence?
• Is she concerned that she cannot make it on her own?
• Has she been given the opportunities to both succeed and to fail, or have you protected her from this?
• When you speak with her, is your focus on her intellectual growth or on her social growth?
• Is she subliminally receiving messages that your goals for her are different than those for her brother?
• Does she know how to keep a budget or do you pitch in when she runs short?

Foster responsibility by helping your high school student plan her budget, and making your financial expectations clear before your student leaves for college.

Tell her exactly how much spending money you are willing to put into
her account each semester and what you expect her to do if she overdraws that amount.  The goal, of course, is not to enable the behavior by adding more money to the account, but to expect that she will do something to earn money to offset the overdraw. There will be no advance on next semester’s deposit.

One of my students could not understand why she was not free to park in front of her residence hall even though it was clearly posted as a no parking zone. Soon after she brought her car to campus in her sophomore year, her parents began to see $10 parking tickets added to the quarterly tuition bill. After warning her of the consequence, rather than pay these fees for her, they opted to take the fee out of her next allotment.

She was incensed until she was willing to accept that the rules applied to her as well as to everyone else on campus and that she could not change them because she didn’t agree.

These are life lessons that responsible adults have to learn; without consequences, there is no growth!

Watch for Part 3 - Can I Afford to send Him to the School of His Dreams?  Our answer may surprise you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Face Down Your Top Four College Fears And Help Your Student Succeed!

You want your student to get into a good college, have a fantastic college experience and find a rewarding career – all on an affordable budget! 

But where do you start sorting through the overwhelming steps of the college preparation and application process?  

After all, with 3,500 colleges nationwide, and tuition costs alone ranging from $23,410 a year upwards of $46,272 and up, there’s a lot at stake!

In my 20 years of work as a Certified Educational Planner, I’ve found that the top four fears that most concern parents are:

1.       If my student doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, how can he pick a major that will lead to a solid career?

2.       Will my daughter find a job in her field after graduation?

3.       Can I afford to send him to the school of his dreams?

4.       Will my daughter incur so much debt that she will end up living at home again?

This blog post series is designed to examine each of these concerns and give parents some solid strategies to lead to their student’s success. Today's blog post will deal with the first question:

1. If my student doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, how can he pick a major that will lead to a solid career?

Have no fear! Think back to when you were 17. Did you know exactly what you wanted to do and did your life unfold as you expected it to? 

One of the best ways to help your student identify his interests is to encourage him to think about what he is good at and what he likes to do.
Is he a hands-on learner? Does he prefer to work alone or in groups? Does he prefer to learn by doing or from practical experience? Is he more of a theory or application person? 

Simply asking him these questions won’t get to the answers you seek because teenagers, although self-involved, are not usually self-aware. What does that mean? It means that they don’t tend to think deeply about the big questions like:

·         Who am I?

·         What makes me happy?

·         How do I learn?

The best way to answer these questions is not by direct questioning, but through careful observation on your part. As you watch your son take apart the engine of the car, for example, comment on the fact that he really seems to enjoy working with his hands.

Ask if he thinks this has something to do with his desire to know how things work or more that he likes to solve the puzzles of how they are put together. When he tells you that he does not enjoy chemistry class but loved biology, ask why he thinks this might be. Is it because biology is a more visible science and chemistry more theoretical?

Does he have a facility for foreign language but has no idea what he can do with it? Point out the opportunities in our global economy for those who are multi-lingual.

Career Assessments are Useless without Feedback

One of the ways I do help my students to identify their passions is to administer the Strong Interest Inventory and, often, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Many high schools also administer a version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but they frequently don’t review the results with the student.

Career assessments without the crucial element of follow up is a waste of time for the student and money for the school district.  One student I worked with resisted taking the assessment because of his negative experience taking the MBTI on the Naviance College Career Readiness Platform at his school.

None of the career options presented to him had rung true, or were things that he saw as leading to a successful life. No one explained to him about personality preferences (for example, one is not an ESTJ but one shows a preference for that personality style in personal interactions).  As a certified career coach, I’m qualified to have these discussions with your student over the many months we typically work together. This offers him a chance to ask questions as they develop and as he grows and matures.

Watch for our next blog post on "Will my daughter find a job in her field after graduation?"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why Study Abroad?

By Gail Grand, The College Advisor, Inc.

Imagine hopping on the Paris Metro for the first time, after purchasing your
ticket with Euros, and zooming off to discover the latest Picasso exhibition at the Louvre; or wandering the ancient streets of Rome, and ordering a gelato from a real gelateria in Italian.

Do these adventures sound exciting? Would you consider attending a college semester or a full year in a foreign country?

Studying abroad can be one of the most unforgettable experiences you will ever have, and it comes with a myriad of benefits. Since college is already a transitional phase from childhood to adulthood, time spent abroad during these years can have a particularly positive effect on your self-esteem and confidence.

Navigating foreign streets, learning and speaking a new language, and travelling on your own are all great ways to gain independence and self-reliance. By confronting the challenges of exploring the unknown, you will learn so much about yourself.

Another important aspect of studying abroad is that it gives you the chance to see a new side of your major. You will gain a more well-rounded view of your subject by studying and learning about it through different styles of teaching.

 As society in the United States becomes more multicultural and multilingual, students can greatly benefit from gaining a global perspective. Not only will you be immersed in a foreign language, which is the quickest and the most effective way to become fluent, but you will also have the opportunity to explore a country’s customs, historical landmarks, people and food. This may lead to newfound interests, such as sports and entertainment that do not exist at home.  Have you ever played bandy? What about kubb? These are both popular sports in Sweden.

Studying abroad is a great way to make friends and meet people
(and potential contacts) who hail from completely different backgrounds. Many students report that they stay in contact with the people they meet overseas for years to come. In today’s increasingly globalized society, gaining an international perspective may be one of the most important things you can take away from studying abroad. If you plan on working within the global markets, this experience can set you up to be an ideal job candidate.

Learning how to interact with people from other countries is crucial, and building cultural competency will certainly be attractive to future employers. Immersing yourself in a new culture is a great way to learn how to embrace differences, and that’s a great asset in any professional environment.

Studying abroad will always look impressive on your CV or resume, not to mention on graduate school applications. Many universities direct their own study abroad programs, so for more information, contact your school’s study abroad office.

Another helpful organization is the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a non-profit educational community comprised of over 300 universities in more than 50 countries. They can assist with financial and academic issues as well as placement at international universities. Gaining a fresh perspective, learning in a new environment, and making memories that will last a lifetime are just some of the benefits reaped by studying abroad.

And who knows? You may return home having made lifelong friendships with young people from your host country -- and with students from other universities in the USA who were on your Study Abroad program! 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Charlotte Klaar, PhD, Receives Prestigious Award from the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)

Charlotte Klaar, a Certified Educational Planner with more than 20 years of experience, is being honored with the Steven R. Antonoff Award for Professional Achievement at the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Spring Conference in Boston, MA on Friday, May 6, 2016.

The award was created to recognize an IECA professional who has distinguished him or herself by their outstanding contributions to the profession of independent college consulting.

Dr. Klaar has been a professional member of IECA since 1998, and has served on the Summer Training Institute faculty for many years, served on the IECA Board of Directors for four years, was chair of the Board Development Committee, served on the Education and Training Committee, was  chair of the Mentoring Sub-Committee, served on the Ad Hoc Master’s Degree Committee, and was chair of the Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee.

Additionally, she has taught in the College Counseling Certificate program at UCLA Extension and the Certificate in Independent Educational Consulting program at UC Irvine Extension, and at Assumption College in its master’s in School Counseling Program.

“I’m both honored and humbled by receiving this professional recognition from my peers,” said Dr. Klaar. “With the rising costs of colleges, the competition for acceptance, and the ever-changing admissions and testing criteria, Independent Educational Consultants play a more important role than ever in guiding students to college success,” she added.