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Get in the Groove to Succeed at Life (and School)!!

By on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Newest Article |

Get in the Groove to Succeed at Life (and School)!!   As I see it, we humans have two choices.  We can do the things that will make us successful, or we can be miserable.  For those who aren’t sure, please watch: 7 Ways to be Miserable  Then you’ll see just how to ruin, eh hmmm, improve your life. In fact, setting clearly defined goals and a set daily rhythm is a  GREAT way to start your school year.  Even the most accomplished among us can improve their way of life, so take a few minutes to explore – What’s my sleep cycle like?  If you’d like to reek havoc on your life, be more depressed and less productive, have an irregular sleep cycle.  Keep your body confused about when to rest and when to rise, and you’ll be more miserable by the day.  Happily, it only takes three days/nights to “reset” your body clock.  So, determine the optimum time to arise in the morning, count back 8 1/2 hours, and set that as your bedtime.  The MOST important set time in your day is your bedtime.  Give yourself half an hour to wrap up your day and get ready for bed, then let your head fall gently on your pillow.  If you need more sleep, adjust the plan accordingly. Do I ever get moving?  Feeling good involves getting your motor running.  Just pouring coffee down your throat to wash down your sugar laden “breakfast” will not do the trick.  God gave us bodies on purpose.  In order to get our minds working, able to focus and concentrate, settle our moods, slow down our fidgets, get out and walk, run, swim, bike, etc.  Take a good half hour every morning to move your body.  Then, take a refreshing shower, eat a decent breakfast (which you’ll be more interested in after exercising than you typically are), and get on with your day. Is silence my friend?  Our worlds are NOISY!!!  I can’t get a moment to clear my head, can you??  Integrating time in silence each day is calming, centering, and enables our minds to rest.  Meditation or prayer or Scriptural or spiritual reading can be part of this time, but they...

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Raise.me – Scholarships or Sham???

By on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Newest Article |

Raise.me – Scholarships or Sham???   Raise.me sounds great!  Who doesn’t want to be rewarded for their efforts?  The idea of getting “micro-scholarships” for getting good grades, etc. sounds ideal.  A little too ideal, perhaps.  Let’s take a look… Raise.me was founded in 2012.  It’s a site where students can create a profile and enter in their achievements.  Participating colleges (there are over 200 so far) promise students micro-scholarships based on their achievements (getting an A in a class, for example) starting in the 9th grade.  Of course, the students must be accepted at a given school in order to “receive” the micro-scholarships based on his or her raise.meaccount. On the one hand, students are encouraged to do well throughout their high school careers by receiving the promise of awards.  Hopefully, this will encourage students to excel in their studies.  Students are rewarded for good grades, community service, working, taking tests (PSAT, ACT, AP, SAT, etc.), and extracurricular activities. On the other, the pressure of looming college applications is now obvious to students at an earlier age.  Some argue that this program puts too much pressure on younger students who should be exploring, etc.  However, by freshman year in college, I believe students should be maturing and developing a strong sense of cause and effect and the impact that their choices of today make on the opportunities, or lack thereof, of tomorrow. Colleges pay a fee to participate. Apparently, Raise.me is a mechanism they can use to attract students.  Colleges set the value of the various rewards, or micro-scholarships they offer, so have a way to attract the attention of students and compete with other colleges for their attention.  After all, who doesn’t think well of a school after seeing the message pop up that says, “Great job!  $500 from XYZ University for you!” I am unable to find any information regarding how the scholarships relate to the overall financial aid package.  Based on my experience as a college consultant, I am skeptical that students with Raise.me accounts are receiving any more aid than they would have if they had not had an account. So, the information regarding Raise.Me is inconclusive.  it might be a helpful tool to encourage a student, but will it have any real impact on the...

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FAFSA, More Changes 2017

By on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Newest Article |

FAFSA, More Changes 2017  The only thing true about college is that things are always changing. The DRT/Data Retrieval Tool was introduced a few years ago to help families pull information from their tax returns into the FAFSA forms.  It was designed to eliminate the need for verification since the information was coming directly from the IRS.  However, there were significant security issues last year.  So, the DRT was turned off and many FAFSA filers were not able to use it. In the interim, the IRS and Department of Education made changes in order to “enhance the security and privacy of the sensitive personal data transferred into the FAFSA form from the IRS.”  Starting this year, the information brought over will be encrypted.  Users will be unable to see the data when they access their tax forms with the DRT and the information will remain encrypted when it is transferred to the FAFSA.  The data entry fields will show “Transferred from the IRS” instead of the data.  The colleges will be able to see the actual data and make any adjustments required. Since the information will be encrypted, some changes need to be made both in the “income earned from work” questions and in the instance of IRA rollovers.  Because the FAFSA formula gives an allowance for the extra costs incurred when both parents are working, parents have to enter in how much each made from working.  In the past, the combined income was transferred from the joint tax return.  Now, the amount earned from work by each parent will need to be entered in manually.  In the event of IRA rollovers, parents (and students, if applicable) will need to indicate whether or not an IRA distribution includes a rollover.  If it does, the amount of the rollover will need to be indicated.  The processor will then deduct the amount “rolled over” from the total in the income calculations. One problematic outcome of this change is that the correlation between income and the EFC will not be evident since the income data will be encrypted.  Manual calculations will be necessary.  If you need help in this regard, please contact Katherine O’Brien directly...

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College Consultants & HS Counselors – Competitors or Collaborators?

By on Apr 26, 2017 in Newest Article |

Create a College Prep Power Team:Use the services of both a College Consultant AND your HS counselor How the work of a college consultant complements that of the high school counselor Freshman Year Some school counselors give a HS success 101 presentation to teach freshman  the basics about time management, good study skills, social interactions, and teacher expectations.  It’s given as a presentation to a group of students.  I provide the same information to each of my clients, then walk them step by step through implementation of the various strategies, helping each of them develop his or her skills, providing one on one coaching and personal encouragement along the way. Most of the time, high school counselors explain how to create a 4-year high school course plan during their presentation to the freshman class.  The focus is on ensuring that the students are on track to complete all the high school’s graduation requirements in four years. I create a course plan with each individual student. We review and adjust it regularly as the student progresses through HS to incorporate the requirements for the level (top tier, state school, etc.) and type of college (liberal arts, engineering, art, etc.) the student is likely to attend.. Sadly, it is not uncommon for HS counselors to have out of date and/or incomplete information.  They simply have too much to keep up with.  I have seen counseling department brochures from expensive private high schools stating that they administer the ACT’s PLAN & EXPLORE tests despite the fact that those tests were discontinued four years ago and have been replaced by the Pre-ACT[1][2][3]. I wonder, if the school counselors haven’t had time to update their brochure, what else are they not up to date on or able to keep up with?  I have also found high school counselors completely unfamiliar with the admissions requirements for schools many of their students apply to year after year. While it is extremely helpful to students to start exploring their interests and correlate them to potential careers, high school counselors don’t provide support for this process.  For my part, to help students explore possible careers that correlate to their interests and personalities , I use a prestigious online tool, which gives specific career options and provides links to majors that...

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The average length of time to earn a bachelors degree is SIX years!!

By on Apr 4, 2017 in Newest Article, Uncategorized - ( College Prep Answer) |

Working during HS to set a goal is KEY to graduating in FOUR years  I was recently asked by a very experienced, elite tutor if making a goal really makes a difference. Here’s what I told him – and his colleagues…    Over the years, I have found it essential for students to have a goal, even if it’s a bit “fuzzy.” Having a goal in mind motivates students to improve their scores, more deeply explore a field (which also demonstrates that they are working beyond their regular schoolwork. Also, they look at colleges differently when they visit because they are much more engaged in the process and are better able to differentiate the type of learning environment they prefer.    The student’s desire to go to x,y, z schools because they have great programs in his or her field(s) of interest is a concrete motivator to keep grades up, take demanding classes, and to be well prepared for the various tests. If they have any tier one colleges/universities on their list, students will have a focus and a drive to go above and beyond the offerings of their high school, which is something the top schools expect. Sometimes the students learn that they don’t like whatever the field was as much as they thought they did. Sometimes they shift to an adjacent field, while other times they make a significant change. It costs you nothing to change your major while you are in high schools whereas it can significantly increase your costs to do so while you are in college (about $50,000 for one additional year of college and $100,000 for two).    In all cases, students come to better know, and be more comfortable with, themselves. Their confidence is boosted. Even learning what you don’t like and where you don’t thrive is beneficial self knowledge. I turn the college selection bit on its head, to some extent. Rather than thinking that the name brand schools (top tier or most highly ranked, or best reputation in their geographic area…) are the ONLY options, they more critically evaluate possible schools and the departments within them and only allow the schools best suited to their needs to be included on their...

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Catholic Colleges & Universities

By on Mar 29, 2017 in Newest Article, Uncategorized - ( College Prep Answer) |

Catholicism itself aims for a deep understanding of all creation in order to bring people closer to Jesus Christ.  Hence, intellectual pursuit has been a hallmark of the Church’s existence over the past two millennia.  Consequently, many scholars, Catholic as well as non-Catholic, attend Catholic educational institutions at every level from kindergarten to post-doctoral studies. The Catholic Intellectual Tradition began in the first centuries after Christ’s death. It is identified by two characteristics: the classic texts, art, architecture, music, science, and technology to be cherished, studied, and handed on as well as the holistic way of considering those things that is the fruit of centuries of experience, prayer, action, and critical reflection. The 264 American Catholic colleges & universities have a wide variety of strengths and specialties.   For some, adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church is a very high priority.  These schools encourage living in a Catholic manner with their dorm and campus policies. Like all Catholic schools, these institutions are open to students of all, or no, faiths.  These schools include: Ave Maria UniversityBenedictine CollegeCatholic University of AmericaFranciscan UniversityUniversity of DallasWyoming Catholic College Some Catholic colleges and universities are highly selective and offer some of the most academically rigorous programs in the country.  These schools accept students with very high test scores, GPAs, and significant extracurricular accomplishments.  Among these are: College of the Holy CrossFordham UniversityGeorgetown UniversityMarist CollegeSanta Clara UniversityUniversity of Notre DameVillanova University Additionally, a number of highly selective non-Catholic colleges have strong Catholic communities on campus, including: Barnard CollegeColumbia UniversityCornell UniversityDuke UniversityHarvard CollegeLehigh UniversityMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyStanford UniversityUniversity of PennsylvaniaUniversity of Southern CaliforniaUniversity of VirginiaVanderbilt University Numerous Catholic colleges are generous with need based financial aid. Most or all of this aid consists of scholarships, grants, and work study, none of which needs to be repaid.  These are a few very generous Catholic institutions: Boston CollegeCollege of the Holy CrossGeorgetown UniversityThomas Aquinas CollegeUniversity of Notre DameLoyola U. of MarylandCollege of St. BenedictSt. John’s University (MN) Lastly, a number of Catholic colleges have highly rated online degree programs.  These include: 1 Villanova University2 Georgetown University3 College of St. Scholastica4 Duquesne University5 Creighton University6 Gonzaga University7 St. Mary of the Woods8 St. Joseph’s College (NY)9 Wheeling Jesuit University10 Misericordia University In conclusion, Catholic colleges &...

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