Why your high school student needs College Push iPhone App…

Welcome to Applying to College with Trish!

My name is Trish Portnoy and I am here to help you apply to college.  Luckily, I am an expert.  I have helped over 1,000 high school students go through this process, and you, too,  will be totally prepared to pick the right college for you…with a little help from your friends…you parents and guidance counselor!

So, through these blog posts, I am going to go introduce you to the same exercises and tasks …so you can make the same great decisions.

Now, it is vitally important that you SUBSCRIBE to Applying to College with Trish and…if you care about your friends, you should SHARE this information with them, as well.  This is perfect timing for you seniors, but really anyone in high school will benefit from it.

Take a look at my website…here we are at www.TrishPortnoy.com and that’s me!

Let’s take a look at the objectives to be covered in this blog:

  1. Introducing the College Push iPhone App
  2. Enter information in My Vitals and My Profile

Recently after writing the book, College Apps: Selecting, Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You…available from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com from the link on my website.  I realized that today’s students would appreciate and prefer having their college planning materials on their smartphones.

This thought lead me to develop the College Push iPhone app, a useful college planning tool that provides you with just enough information and organization in the palm of your hand or on your iPhone…which you most likely are looking at right NOW.

Well, just the other day, my nephew Ryan attended NACAC’s National College Fair here on Long Island.  Since he’s a high school senior, his mission there was to get his registration barcode scanned by the admissions reps for the school’s on his list…which reflects the schools that he’s applying to or to which he his applying (if you appreciate proper grammar).  Plus, he would have the opportunity to ask a thoughtful question about the admissions process or something specific about the college.

Ryan’s list contains about 15 schools right now…when he meets with his guidance counselor later in the month, they will trim it down to the 8 to 10 applications that he will submit.

Sidebar:  We were able to come up with the 15 schools by using the results of his personality assessments to determine his career goals, which are math/science-related…either engineering or medicine with a chance of Business or Accounting. 

We then took those careers and researched the related majors of engineering, bio/pre-med and business.  We used Ruggs Recommendations on the Colleges to find the best colleges for these three majors…we crossed referenced, looked at location, analyzed acceptance requirements including GPA and SAT scores, added a few state school for financial safety…and that was it.  Now, we are ready to rely on the expertise of the guidance counselor to fine tune the list.

So, getting back to the College Fair…Upon arriving, Ryan shoots me a text me asking if I have a copy of his list of colleges…this is where I have my opportunity to proudly remind him that he has all his schools entered  as “favorites” on the College Push iPhone app, which he has right in his pocket.

Sometimes you just need to have that information with you…you never know when you’ll need it but you will soon realize how truly convenient it is to have it when you do.

You can download the College Push app to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch directly through iTunes and the App Store by following the link from my website, www.TrishPortnoy.com .

Getting Started

To get you started with College Push, we will focus on two areas: My Vitals and My Profile.

From the main screen, you can click on My Vitals, where you will enter your high school’s name, address, and CEEB code…which is an ID number used when you register for the SATs and ACTs.  You will also enter your academic information and your guidance counselor’s contact phone and email address.  Finally, you can enter the scores you’ve earned on SAT and ACT exams…which will be a starting point and big help in identifying potential colleges.

Again, from the main screen, you can open My Profile.  Here, you can customize the colors for College Push…should you make them match your high school’s colors or perhaps your #1 college pick? And, most importantly, you will add data which will eventually appear on a summary report that can be shared through the EXPORT function…but we’ll get to that later.

Most of the information you’ll be asked to enter is readily available, such as your name, address, contact information, etc.  Other information can be entered after you’ve completed the activities in College Apps: Selecting, Applying to and Paying for the Right College for You or as you have been completing your TO DO LISTs that were assigned during the quick video tutorials in this series: Applying to College with Trish.

For instance, by using Naviance’s Family Connection, you should have completed two assessments… Career Interest Profiler which reveals your Holland Code and Do What You Are, also known as Meyers Briggs.  Both of these reports help you to learn more about your natural interests and abilities. And, if you haven’t done so already, you should also take the VARK Learning Style Assessment which identifies your best learning modality by navigating to http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/ .

 

If you or your parents would like additional reading on the topic, please refer to pages 41- 45 in College Apps: Selecting Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You which you can get at your local public library or at Amazon.com by following the link from my website.

Trish Portnoy is a YouTuber, blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

Ryan, French Toast and NACAC’s National College Fair

So I texted my nephew on Sunday to see if he wanted to come over for breakfast…I was making French Toast, one of my specialties. Ryan said he couldn’t, and proudly announced that he was at NACAC’s Long Island National College Fair at Suffolk Community College, Brentwood, NY. Like any loving aunt who has written a book about the college selection and application processes (College Apps: Selecting, Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You), I told him to make sure to get his barcode scanned!

Like many of today’s high school seniors, Ryan replied, “What barcode?”

So, here’s the deal…for both students and parents…because parents will remember to look this up in the future, as students will usually only remember what affects them today.

As a tenth grade student, you should enjoy a college fair like window-shopping at the mall…take a look around, pick up some brochures, smile and ask questions, if you’re brave enough…and get your registration barcode scanned at each college’s table that you visit.

As an eleventh grade student, you should be a bit more serious in your tactics. Preview the list of colleges that are in attendance at the college fair, mark off the schools that you’d like to learn more about, and make a plan to ask specific questions about each school, majors and programs offered, and available job placement resources…and get your registration barcode scanned at each college’s table that you visit.

As a twelfth grade student, you should have a list of 10 – 15 colleges to which you intend to apply. Hopefully, you’ve already started those applications! While attending your final college fair, you need to visit those schools ON YOUR LIST! You should ask thoughtful questions to each of the admissions representatives that you connect with, asking politely for their business cards for follow-up…and don’t forget to get your registration barcode scanned!

Now, all those brochures that fill your bag contain great visual, graphic portrayals of historic college buildings, beautiful campuses and happy students. However, most of the information (aka data) is more readily available on the Internet…and much easier to keep track of using downloadable worksheets available on my website atwww.TrishPortnoy.com and even easier to store in the College Planning Binder…which you can learn more about on my YouTube Channel, Applying to College with Trish.

College fairs are a great vehicle for expressing interest in specific colleges, and this data is very important to admissions committees. So please make sure to get “credit” for driving all that way, spending your valuable time in a potentially cramped, sweaty sea of students and parents, tables and swag, with a traveling bandwagon of college admissions reps. And don’t forget to get your registration barcode scanned!

Trish Portnoy is a YouTuber, blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

College Applications: Your Guidance Counselor & Resources

Welcome to Applying to College with Trish!

My name is Trish Portnoy and I am here to help you apply to college.  Luckily, I am an expert.  I have helped over 1,000 high school students go through this process, and you, too,  will be totally prepared to pick the right college for you…with a little help from your friends…you parents and guidance counselor!

So, through these blog posts, I am going to go introduce you to the same exercises and tasks …so you can make the same great decisions.

Now, it is vitally important that you SUBSCRIBE to Applying to College with Trish and…if you care about your friends, you should SHARE this information with them, as well.  This is perfect timing for you seniors, but really anyone in high school will benefit from it.

Take a look at my website…here we are at www.TrishPortnoy.com and that’s me!

Let’s take a look at the objectives to be covered in this blog:

  1. Taking advantage of your Guidance Counselor’s expertise
  2. Knowing which resources your counselor and guidance office have to offer
  3. Using the resources in a productive manner

Your guidance counselor is your greatest resource during the college research and application process for two reasons. One, he or she has known you for the past 3 or 4 years, watching you grow academically and socially.  Two, he or she has a historical perspective on college applications…acceptances and rejections…from YOUR high school.

So, the first thing on your to-do list is to download, print and complete the School Services Questionnaire, Worksheet 6.  You can find all my checklists, worksheets and references pages on my website at www.TrishPortnoy.com  Just click on College Apps Text, then Companion Files.

The School Services Questionnaire is a scavenger hunt-type assignment.  You can get much of the information off of the Guidance Department page of your high school’s official website.  Additional information can be found by stopping in the Counseling Office and having a quick chat with the department’s office staff or your guidance counselor, if time allows.

Most of the answers to the School Services Questionnaire will be one or two word answers, but they are very important to completing all your applications and meeting deadlines in a timely fashion.

Once you complete this worksheet, store it in your College Planning Binder…you can refer to it throughout the year.

A few specific resources that I would like to mention are Naviance and it’s alternatives, College Board’s Book of Majors, and Ruggs’ Recommendations on the Colleges.

Naviance is a comprehensive web-based software program to which school district’s purchase access.  Students need a username and password to log in to Naviance’s Family Connection web portal.  To learn more about Naviance, see https://naviance.com/solutions/parents-students

My favorite features are:

About Me which offers many personality assessments which will direct you to a potential career path and college major, in that order.

Colleges that I am Thinking About which lists colleges and then compares your grades and scores to students’ from years past using the Compare Me feature.

College Maps which uses a map of the United States to visually demonstrate different analyses of colleges’ acceptances and students’ attendance data.

College Visits which list schools that are offering admissions presentations at your high school.

If your high school does not subscribe to Naviance, then you need to speak with your Counseling Department to learn ways to access personality assessments and information about acceptance rates and admissions presentations.

Once you receive feedback on your personality assessments and the questionnaires you’ve completed, you can turn your attention to College Board’s Book of Majors.

Here you will narrow your choice of college majors to two or three.  The book is huge, so don’t get nervous.  Only two or three pages are dedicated to each college major…it offers descriptions, career paths, and professional association information.  You can read about the two or three majors you are considering or just leaf through to find something new!

This will bring you to review Ruggs’ Recommendations on the Colleges which you can view at your guidance counselors office, your public library or download your own copy at http://www.ruggsrecommendations.com/

Mr. Ruggs is the Consumer Reports on colleges.  He is independent and unbiased is his analysis of US colleges and their reputations for specific majors.

You can use Ruggs to find colleges that are great for Zoology, Pre-med,  Engineering or plenty of other majors by referring to the Table of Contents.

Or you can look towards the end of the book to learn more about a specific college and all the majors that Ruggs recommends.

These three resources are my GO TO when starting the college research and application processes.

Inherent personality traits and talents will lead to a potential career path. The potential career path or paths will lead to certain a college major or majors to pursue. One or two college majors will lead you to certain schools that are highly regarded both of those majors. 

From this jumping off point, you will be able to fine tune your list based on admission criteria, cost, distance from home and other “Best Fit” criteria.

Ruggs is a very powerful book.  You can take it to “the bank.”  Just don’t be fooled by college admissions staff who will say that their school is great for any major you ask about.  They get paid to do that…Ruggs doesn’t.

If you or your parents would like additional reading on the topic, please refer to pages 41-45 in College Apps: Selecting Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You which you can get at your local public library or at Amazon.com by following the link from my website.

Trish Portnoy is a YouTuber, blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

College Applications: Letters of Recommendation

Welcome to Applying to College with Trish!

My name is Trish Portnoy and I am here to help you apply to college.  Luckily, I am an expert.  I have helped over 1,000 high school students go through this process, and you, too,  will be totally prepared to pick the right college for you…with a little help from your friends…you parents and guidance counselor!

So, through these blog posts, I am going to go introduce you to the same exercises and tasks …so you can make the same great decisions.

Now, it is vitally important that you SUBSCRIBE to Applying to College with Trish and…if you care about your friends, you should SHARE this information with them, as well.  This is perfect timing for you seniors, but really anyone in high school will benefit from it.

Take a look at my website…here we are at www.TrishPortnoy.com and that’s me!

Let’s take a look at the objectives to be covered in this blog:

  1. Purpose of Letters of Recommendations

  2. Whom to ask?

  3. What to provide?

  4. Using Naviance or Common App to Request a Letter

The letter of recommendation holds the opportunity for an educator to give a first-hand account of a student’s performance in the classroom.  Your performance can include grades earned, participation in class discussions, high achievements, and honors.  It also includes effort put forth such as attending extra help sessions, overcoming an obstacle, attendance records and punctuality.  And, it can also highlight special interest in a particular topic, pursuit of additional extension activities, acknowledgement of passion in the subject, and identifying career path opportunities and more.

So, whom should you ask to write your letters?  Preferably two teachers who can and will put forth great effort to describe you in the previously mentioned ways.  Many recommend selecting a teacher in the core academic subjects of English, Math, Sciences, Social Studies and World Languages.  In addition, You may also ask an educator who teaches a specialized area, such as business, art, computer technology, media arts, music and so on.

So, how do you go about this…your first step is to ask your teacher, politely, if they would please be willing to write you a letter of recommendation.  Hopefully, you will receive a resounding “of course!”.  However, I have witnessed some teacher decline the honor because they don’t have time to write letters or for personal reasons.

Also, I have witnessed students asking teachers who are great wizards in the classroom but who are not great-letter writers, leaving students with a lost opportunity…which may

Realize this…you may never see the letter that a teacher writes for you.  At some point in the application process, you will be required to sign a FERPA waiver which may require you to give up rights to see application documents.

So, choose wisely..Remember, you need to ask the two teachers who are capable of writing a great letter for you and who are capable of writing a great letter…period.

After your teachers agrees to write you a letter, you should provide them with some supporting documentation which will allow them to write an amazing letter.

First, you should provide them with a draft copy of your activity sheet, resume or listing of your extra-curricular activities, in case they would like to include items or refer to it during their letter writing process.  However, your English teacher should not really be writing about your season on the Varsity Soccer team.  Your English teacher should be writing about your performance in his class, your work ethic, your passion for creative writing, etc. etc.

See http://www.trishportnoy.com/userfiles/file/companion%20files/RefD.pdf

Second, you should provide a summary of details that will support your teacher in writing the best letter possible.  For example, include the name of the course or courses that you took with the teacher, the length of time you have known him or her.  Remind the teacher about your grades earned, homework and assignment history, grades and honors earned, level of class participation, attendance at extra-help sessions and extension activities.  It is also a great idea to inform your teacher about your career aspirations and life-plan.

Believe me, the more concrete information you provide to your teacher, the more detailed the letter will be, and the more useful the letter will be to the admissions committee and to you.  All this information can be shared via email and document attachment after you ask your teachers in person.

Finally, you may need to “invite” your teachers to upload their beautifully written letters by using Naviance’s Family Connection, Common App or a college’s website.  Less high-tech high schools, may have teachers submit their letters in paper copy directly to the guidance counselor so it can be included in the student’s file.

The letters of recommendation are a great item to get done and cross off your list.  Once the letter are written, uploaded and filed, they can be shared with all the schools you apply to.

And, a Thank You note is always the right answer.  Just sayin’.

If you or your parents would like additional reading on the topic, please refer to pages 90-94 in College Apps: Selecting Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You which you can get at your local public library or at Amazon.com by following the link from my website.

Trish Portnoy is a YouTuber, blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacherwho helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

College Applications: SAT & ACT Exams

Welcome to Applying to College with Trish!

My name is Trish Portnoy and I am here to help you apply to college.  Luckily, I am an expert.  I have helped over 1,000 high school students go through this process, and you, too,  will be totally prepared to pick the right college for you…with a little help from your friends…you parents and guidance counselor!

So, through these blog posts, I am going to go introduce you to the same exercises and tasks …so you can make the same great decisions.

Now, it is vitally important that you SUBSCRIBE to Applying to College with Trish and…if you care about your friends, you should SHARE this information with them, as well.  This is perfect timing for you seniors, but really anyone in high school will benefit from it.

Take a look at my website…here we are at www.TrishPortnoy.com and that’s me!

OK…so let’s get started. Let’s take a look at the topics to be covered:
1. Are you familiar with College Entrance Exams: SAT and ACT
2. Do you know how to register for SAT & ACTs
3. Can you commit to studying and practicing?
4. Do You Need a Review Course or Tutor?

1.The SAT and ACT exams are a method that college admissions staff use to compare and rate students across the U.S. Consider this….the grading and competition in your high school can be really tough, so your 88 average or GPA might really reflect the same learning and achievement as another student’s who earned a 94 GPA in another part of the country. The SAT or ACT score should theoretically show how smart, capable and successful each of you would be according to the same national test.

Now, some colleges are using a test-optional philosophy where you are not required to submit your SAT or ACT scores as part of your college application. This is a great opportunity for students who are hard-workers and high-achievers but are not great test- takers. You can find an updated list of test-optional schools by going to https://www.fairtest.org

There are differences in the SAT and ACT exams…the length of the exams, the number of sections and the topics covered. For example, the ACT has a basic science section which some students really enjoy a break from English and Math while excelling.

Even though the tests are becoming more similar, the grading scale couldn’t be more different. The SAT scores their Critical Reading and Math Sections out of 800, so a 1600 is a perfect score. The ACT has 4 areas of testing in English, Math, Reading and Science Reasoning…with a 36 as its perfect score or composite.  Both tests have optional writing sections that may or may not be required as part of your college applications…each school has its own requirements…so it may be smart to take it, just in case.

2. Registering for the exams are pretty straight forward. You navigate to the official websites, create an account. Select an exam date, upload a recent photo, then register and pay the fee. You will need to bring photo id on the date of the exam. You can also speak to your guidance counselor to obtain waivers for students who meet lower income criteria.
You can take the exams as many times as you’d like…and many colleges will use superscore, which allows you to combine your best section scores from all the tests you have taken.  See http://www.ACTSTUDENT.ORG and http://www.COLLEGEBOARD.ORG/SAT

3. The most challenging part of this process is actually studying and preparing for the exams. They’re not IQ tests that assess your natural abilities or “smartness”. They’re tests that assess your ability to study and master areas of learning and then correctly answer questions based on your practice. That’s it.
So, this is where you need to do what you need to do. Your school may have a subscription to an online test prep software…such as Method Test Prep in Naviance or Castle Learning. There are books available in your public library, courses available at your high school or through various learning centers like Kaplan and Huntington, and ultimately, your counseling office will have information about tutors who will meet with you one on one for customized instruction.

Let’s take a look at the SUNY Admission Statistics Website so we can get an idea of the GPA and College Entrance Exam requirements. For New York Students, similarly in other states too, in 9th grade, students should be given this sheet so they will have a goal in mind as they complete their coursework and studies throughout high school.

https://www.suny.edu/media/suny/content-assets/documents/summary-sheets/Admissions_qf_stateop.pdf

For example, if a student has SUNY Geneseo as a dream school, then they need to accept that their overall GPA should be 90-96 with a minimum of 1140 SAT and 26 ACT…theses are median requirements for acceptance. And, if a student has SUNY Plattsburgh as their first choice school, they need to focus on keeping a GPA of 85-91 and scoring a minimum of 990 on SATs and 21 ACT Composite.

No matter which state you live in or which schools you are interested in…this same information is available on the individual schools’ websites, https://www.CollegeNavigator.gov or College Board’s Big Future website.

Looking at your to-do list you will see that you need to make a plan to score well on these college entrance exams…it’s best to get this done early so you don’t miss the registration deadlines. Reminder: Traditionally, high school juniors take these exams in April and May and high school seniors take it again in October and November. However, some students choose to take additional attempts to obtain a higher score.

So this is what you need to do.
1. Create an account at http://www.CollegeBoard.org/sat.
2. Create an account at http://www.ACTStudent.org.

Don’t forget to record your usernames and passwords in your Password Organizer worksheet in your binder

3. Discuss with parents and guidance counselor which tests you will register for and on which dates
4. Hash out a plan of study that may include a review course, online practice software through Naviance’s Family Connection or Castle Learning, and a tutor.
5. Register for the designated exams.

In keeping these video segments short and sweet, I am going to give you the opportunity talk to your parents and counselor. Don’t forget that you can always send your counselor a quick email rather than waiting to meet them in person. Decide which exams to take and when, then talk about your study plan including online resources, texts, courses and tutors and stick to it. Have a goal score in mind…for example, with the SATs shoot for breaking 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300 or higher based on your abilities and GPA.

If you or your parents would like additional reading on the topics, please refer to pages 69-78 in College Apps: Selecting Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You which you can get at your local public library or at Amazon.com by following the link from my website. But one point before you start, the SAT has just gone through a transformation to make it more like the ACT, so make sure you are referencing the most up-to-date information.

Trish Portnoy is a YouTuber, blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

Congratulations, Arne Duncan! But Before You Go, Can You Please Answer My Question?

Congratulations, Arne Duncan, on your upcoming resignation as US Secretary of Education!  We’re happy to hear that you plan to continue your professional journey as a change-agent for education in your hometown of Chicago.   But please pardon my persistence, Arne, you still haven’t responded to my question and suggestions about programs to help high school seniors mindfully navigate the college research, application and selection processes. #AskArne

Excerpted from Trish Portnoy’s blog, College Push: Room 106:

askarne

 https://collegepushroom106.wordpress.com/

The question comes up again in my Twitter feed…because educators and college planning professionals realize that many families are overwhelmed by and struggling with this process.  Parents don’t know whom to trust, which websites to use, in what order to complete the tasks, or even what exactly needs to be done to apply to college.  If parents aren’t comfortable with the process, how can they confidently approach it with thought to select the “right-fit” school that won’t strap their child with enormous amounts of student loan debt?

suggestions

https://twitter.com/trishportnoy

And thanks to @CollegeForAll we now get to continue this conversation!  Parents need guidance and answers to the following questions, but not in a two-hour presentation where the whole college-thing is glossed over by experts who do it every day.  I support weekly parent/child workshops where they can work together to complete tasks for “homework,” ready to come back next week, over the course of a month or two, with the information, knowledge and building blocks necessary to make mindful decisions.

 1.  How does college work?

Most teens and many parents aren’t familiar with the terms and vocabulary used in higher education…consider Early Action vs Early Decision, Undergraduate vs Graduate, Associates vs Bachelors, Registrar vs Bursar, Credits vs Courses, or Subsidized vs Unsubsidized.  How can we convey the meanings of these terms beyond distributing a piece of paper with definitions?

2.  How does a 17-year old know which major to pursue in college?

Students and their families are committing time and money to this endeavor, and they don’t want to waste either or do it twice!  It’s a very early age to be making this commitment, but there are indicators and assessments available to guide each student to a course of study that should appear and feel like a natural fit.  Let’s create programs to identify and explain free and available resources that will provide information to teens while they learn more about career opportunities available in the Information Age and within the global economy.

3.  How do we find great schools for that major?

A great school or even a good school will have the reputation for properly educating and training future employees in the field.  A savvy employer wants to quickly hire employees who can “hit the ground running,” know what to do and how to get the job done.  An investment in a college degree carries the weight of the school’s reputation.  Parents and teens need assistance looking beyond name-brand recognition to find the best opportunities.

4.  What tasks and documents are required to complete a college application?

Some documents and tasks are completed by the guidance counselor, others by the student, one or two by teachers, and a few by parents, but they all come together to complete the college application.  Who should be the project manager for this job and how can he/she get it done in a high-quality, timely, organized manner?

5.  How do we pay for a college education?

Parents and teens should know the limits of their resources, in addition to identifying and taking advantage of opportunities for scholarships, grants, work-study and student loans.  Ultimately, the final decision-making moments of selecting a college may be determined by finances, first.

6.  Which school is the “right-fit” socially, economically and emotionally?

If the list of colleges has been well-crafted, then a high school senior should have at least two or three colleges from which to choose.  Some students prefer to live at home while pursuing their degree, and some families prefer it, as well. Visiting each campus while classes are in-session is the best way for students to “see” themselves as future members of the community.

7.  How do we prepare our 17- or 18-year old to be successful on campus?

Teens and their families must believe that the college student will be successful on campus.  Education on time management, academic integrity, campus-life and safety, commuting, date-rape, hazing, binge drinking, and health and wellness is vital to college students’ achievement.

These self-directing questions may serve as a guide to small-group discussion and workshops because their answers will lead participants to the next step in the process.

We need programs and resources to bring college planning programs to the masses, low-income and middle-class alike, so parents and teens can answer these questions for themselves based on their family-mindset which may include interests, abilities, goals, expectations, limitations and resource allocation.

Trish Portnoy is a blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

 

Thank You POTUS for the #CollegeScorecard…but was it really necessary? Students and families need more guidance, more structure, but no more data, please!

Last week President Obama introduced the College Scorecard,  an online tool for students and parents researching and selecting colleges.  Reviews of the site and its data have been mixed, as discussed in  Jordan Weissmann’s  post “The Government Just Made it Much Easier to Tell Which Colleges Are a Waste of Money”  where he appreciates the information on the earning power of schools’ graduates.  His view directly contrasts with J. Randall O’Brien’s  Huffington Post article “President Obama’s New College Scorecard Receives an “F”  where the university president criticizes salary information as an indicator of a college’s worth as it may discourage liberal arts or service majors by focusing on the lower earning power of these graduates.

Taking the College Scorecard for a Test Drive 

collegescorecard

(www.collegescorecard.ed.gov)

Dear Mr. President, the underlying issue is not a lack of data…there are thousands of websites that already use solid US Government data to provide ratings, rankings and profiles…but rather how students and parents should be using data, along with advice from guidance counselors, admissions officers and well-meaning community members, to make mindful decisions.

As a classroom teacher, I create exercises where students use these tools for college research and planning …basically, we take them for a test drive by compiling specific data in an organized fashion and then attempting to draw conclusions which will assist students in their decision-making process. At West Islip High School on Long Island,  we offer a semester-long course where students have the opportunity to explore and use many of the tools available on the Internet in a structured environment.  Students reflect and share their results with peers, guidance counselors and parents to take command of the college planning process while synthesizing an individualized course of action for higher education.

And, I am sure Mr. Arne Duncan, Secretary of the US Department of Education, knows that there is no tool or website that can take the place of the arduous, stressful and sometimes complicated multi-step process of #ApplyingToCollege.  Students and parents need instruction in how to go about the whole thing…they need more guidance, more structure, but no more data, please.  @ArneDuncan How about a video series, grants for weekly, hands-on workshops for parents and their children or specific funding for college planning courses in high school like we have in West Islip?

To begin the conversation, this type of program should include the following objectives:

  1. Identify the student’s interests, including aptitudes and natural abilities, by using resources available on the Internet and at his/her school.
  2. Match potential college majors and career paths to the student’s interests, aptitudes and abilities.
  3. Begin a List of Colleges to Consider by asking the guidance counselor, professionals in the field, and well-meaning community members for their recommendations.
  4. Conduct research on career path(s), including education and licensing requirements, daily tasks, and expected salary. The student should consider obtaining an internship, part-time position or Job Shadow experience in the intended field to build confidence and confirm interest.
  5. Add more schools to the List of Colleges to Consider by reviewing Rugg’s Recommendations on the Colleges and other valued references and resources, including the newly introduced College Scorecard at https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/.
  6. Use data-heavy tools such as College Navigator at http://www.CollegeNavigator.gov and College Scorecard to compare and contrast factual information about each school on the List of Colleges to Consider.
  7. With the guidance counselor’s assistance, pare down the List of Colleges to Consider to create a List of Colleges to Apply To based on many factors  specific to the individual student and his/her family’s expectations and needs, including admissions requirements, location, cost, etc.

The “mix of schools” on the List of Colleges to Apply To should include local and “away” schools, expensive and sensibly-priced schools, and schools where the student is reasonably assured of acceptance.  Once the acceptance letters are in, the student should ideally have two or three schools to choose between based on “factors of the heart” and cost.

  1. Students and their parents should visit colleges to get a feel for the campus facilities, surrounding area, current students and faculty. It’s VITAL to visit while classes are in session (not during summer!) so that the student connects with the “factors of the heart” which are identifiable when stepping foot on campus, touring dorm rooms and dining halls and interacting with students.

Note: Parents can wait until acceptance letters arrive to visit schools in order to cut down on unnecessary expenses and time off from work.

  1. Complete and submit the required college applications which may include the student’s transcript, SAT or ACT test results, extra-curricular resume, essays, portfolio of creative arts, letters of recommendations, and so on.
  2. Once the college applications are submitted, students and their families can focus on scholarships, financial aid and finishing high school on a high note.

An Exercise Using College Scorecard

As listed in objectives five and six, the College Scorecard is a useful tool when used within the process of #ApplyingToCollege to identify additional schools for consideration and to compare and contrast a limited number of colleges.

Here’s how I would use the College Scorecard in class with my students:

Use the College Scorecard website to identify schools to add to your List of Colleges to Consider by completing the following steps:

  1. Navigate to the College Scorecard website, open the Programs/Degrees tab (+) and select the appropriate Degree and Program from the drop down lists.
  2. Open the Location tab (+) and select the States and/or Regions you are considering. If you are planning to stay close to home, enter your Zip Code and 40-mile radius.
  3. Click the Find Schools button to continue.
  4. Use the Sort By menu to sort the results by % Earning Above HS Grad. View the list of schools and learn more about each by clicking the View More Details link.  Consider adding schools to your List of Colleges to Consider based on the possibility of earning the highest salary after graduation.  Email the listing of schools by clicking the Share button.

resultsscorecared

(www.collegescorecard.ed.gov)

  1. Use the Sort By menu to sort the results by Average Annual Costs. View the list of schools and learn more about each by clicking the View More Details link.  Consider adding schools to your List of Colleges to Consider based on paying the least amount for your education.  Email the listing of schools by clicking the Share button.
  2. Use the Sort By menu to sort the results by Graduation Rate. View the list of schools and learn more about each by clicking the View More Details link.  Consider adding schools to your List of Colleges to Consider based on other students’ ability to successfully graduate from that school.  Email the listing of schools by clicking the Share button.
  3. Select a school and open tabs (+) to view additional information on Costs, Financial Aid & Debt, Graduation & Retention, Earnings After School, Student Body, SAT/ACT Scores and Academic Programs.
  4. Record data on ten (10) schools on the provided worksheet.

 

lehighscorecard

(www.collegescorecard.ed.gov)

College Scorecard in the Toolbox

The College Scorecard is the Obama Administration’s effort to assist students and parents in the college selection process understanding that the fall-out from the Student Loan Crisis could have been prevented by properly educating consumers.  But, selecting a college is quite different than buying a car because there are fewer options to consider with a car, and hundreds of facets to each student’s interests, abilities, goals, expectations, and resources.  The College Scorecard, while trying to meet a need as Edmund’s auto-rating website does, falls short as there is no easy way or short cut, each student and family must put in the hard work to find the right fit college.

Trish Portnoy is a blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

 

6 Relevant Internet Sites for College-Bound Students (and their parents)

  1. Naviance

Naviance is a multi-faceted education planning, application management, web-based platform used by guidance counselors, teachers, students and parents.  To log in you must follow the link from your school district’s website and register with the code provided by your counselor.

The subscription-only portal offers an easy-to-navigate layout which includes three categories of useful features on Colleges, Careers and About Me:

  • SAT/ACT Preparation
  • Personality Assessments
  • Career Planning Tools
  • College Search Tools & Information Database
  • Application Management
  • Common App Interface

Learn more about Naviance at http://www.Naviance.com  

  1. State University of New York (SUNY)

New York State’s system of higher education includes sixty-four campuses in various sizes, locations and specialties, including University Centers and University, Technology and Community Colleges.

Site highlights include the following information and data:

Learn more about SUNY at http://www.suny.edu

  1. City University of New York (CUNY)

New York City, including Manhattan and four more boroughs, is the epicenter of fashion, finance and the arts.  More and more students are including John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Baruch College, Hunter College, Queens College and sixteen more campuses as their top schools.

Important resources available on CUNY’s site include:

Learn more about the CUNY system at www.cuny.edu

  1. FastWeb Scholarship Database

Scholarship and grants are a great way to keep student loan debt to a minimum.  There are tens of thousands of scholarship opportunities available; however, students must apply for them by completing and submitting forms, as well as meeting the requirements set forth by the donating company, organization or person.

Upon registration, you’re required to complete a profile which matches you to possible awards…please be mindful to skip opportunities for unwanted spam and advertisements by sponsors.

FastWeb’s comprehensive database of opportunities will possibly lead you to scholarships offered by:

  • Ford Motor Company
  • Dr. Pepper/7 Up, Inc.
  • DECA
  • The College Jump Start Scholarship Fund

Create Your FastWeb Profile at www.Fastweb.com

  1. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Take note of the URL extension at www.fafsa.ed.gov, the .gov signifies that this is an official US Government website…don’t be fooled by knock-offs!  Another thing, pay attention to the word “free” in the title…you should not pay a fee to complete or submit this application…watch out for scams!

The basics on FAFSA:

  • Begin the application after January 1st because the government needs your current year’s salary and income amounts to determine eligibility.
  • Gather personal financial information beforehand, including bank statements, portfolio statements and payroll stubs for both student and parents.
  • The opportunity for financial aid is “first come, first served” so submit the application by March 1st.

Learn why you need to complete the FAFSA by watching this entertaining video at Five-Minute FAFSA

Learn more about Financial Aid, in general, at the US Department of Education’s Website at www.studentaid.ed.gov

  1. College Apps: Selecting, Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You

College Apps takes a hands-on, step-by-step approach to researching colleges, completing applications and confident decision-making.  The text includes a glossary of college-related vocabulary, as well as insightful tips and tales from high school students and admissions officers.

College Apps and the author’s website include the following comprehensive resources:

Order College Apps at www.Amazon.com

Trish Portnoy is a blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

Senior Year: Top 5 Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself

  1. Am I really doing enough?

Spend less time watching Netflix, especially during daylight hours, and put more effort into helping others, networking with adults, and engaging in new experiences.  You’ll never know how these outreach activities could enhance your life…by building self-esteem, meeting people who can help you in achieving your goals or getting exposure to a potential career or field of study.  Ask your #BusinessTeacher if there are available opportunities for work-study, internships or community service.

  1. What do I have to give?

Learn enough about yourself to know your strengths and talents.  Each of us comes with natural gifts and the best investment is to develop them to the fullest so you can become an expert in your field.  Use the results of personality tests to discover whether your gifts include deductive reasoning, leadership and interpersonal skills, entrepreneurship, technical aptitudes or creative inspirations.  And, if you don’t know what the heck I am talking about, then it’s time to learn how these terms apply to you in the global economy.   If your school subscribes to Naviance, the Career Interest Profiler will give you the results you need to get started.

  1. Do I respect my Learning Style?

We all receive information and learn through our eyes, ears, and body, but each of us has a preferred style.  Vark-Learn.com offers an online questionnaire which identifies your most efficient method.  No matter which way a teacher or professor teaches, you should always adapt the information to your preferred style of learning.  This will allow you to retain and apply the lesson easier, faster and with better recall and test-taking results.  Complete their assessment, consider the results, and follow the recommended strategies  to achieve success.

vark

(www.vark-learn.com)

  1. Is social media advertising my skeletons in the closet?

Be mindful of photos and texts that you post on the Internet.  The Internet is forever.  We all know a friend, or ten, whose reputation was undone by something stupid (or illegal) that was captured in pixels.  A quick Google search of your name and town can give you an indication of what’s out there, but it will never show what’s already been stored on someone’s (or everyone’s) Camera Roll or hard drive.

  1. Is senior year a cake-walk or am I up for a challenge?

Even though you worked really hard last year, it’s not time to sit back, yet, and it won’t be for a long time…sorry.  I know you feel that you deserve a rest and that you want to reduce your course-load, leave school early and take easy classes, but you can’t.  And, you shouldn’t because colleges look at your senior year course schedule really carefully as an indicator of your desire to learn.  Remember, you are selling yourself (not literally) to the Admissions Committee as a life-long learner with huge potential and taking the easy-way-out senior year may red flag a lack of commitment and maturity.

Trish Portnoy is a blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.

Follow Trish on Twitter!

Colleges Accept Students Who Are Active Participants In Life, Not Couch Potatoes!

Ideally, this guidance, as well as all other college planning advice, must be given to students before they step foot into high school.  Currently, most of these teaching moments occur during junior year, right before students take SAT or ACT tests, or during the fall of twelfth grade.  Slight problem… by then, some requirements of college applications cannot be changed, except with the wave of a magic wand.

Often times, I will hear high school seniors say in lament, “Oh, I wish I would’ve gotten better grades in 9th grade” or “I don’t really do anything after school, I just hang out with my friends.”

The High School Transcript

Did you know that the high school transcript, the one that colleges base their admission decisions on, lists coursework and grades from ninth through eleventh grade…and for some students, it even includes eighth grade math and science.

We, as parents and educators, are missing the boat by not having the “college planning” talk earlier.  By 9th grade, students should be aware of what colleges are requiring for admission.  For instance, according to State University of New York’s Admission Information Summary, Binghamton University’s requirements for admission are a GPA of 91-97 with SAT scores of 1240-1380 or ACT scores of 27-31.

Binghampton admit

(www.suny.edu)

Athletes have better outcomes when they are able to successfully visual their goals…and the same is true for high school students.  When 14-year old students enter high school knowing that their dream college has expectations of high achievement, with a target GPA, then each test and assignment becomes a building block to receiving that acceptance letter.

Extra-Curricular Activities

A college resume or activity sheet summarizes and describes the activities a student has participated in throughout high school, and even longer.  You see, colleges and universities accept students who are active participants in life, not couch potatoes.  Their outlook is that if students are athletes, club members, activists, volunteers, student government representatives, performers or employed that they will continue those same passions throughout college.  A school earns its reputation through student achievements, and if these amazing students remain active and receive a stellar education, they will go on to dazzle their future employers and do great things to change the world for the better.

From early on, students and their parents should work cooperatively to keep detailed notes, including dates and descriptions, of all school and travel sports, volunteer experiences, club meetings, and music and arts programs.  And don’t forget to add all those church activities, summer jobs, and private programs, like Karate, equestrian lessons and so on…taking special care to highlight any leadership roles or special recognition received.

Trish Portnoy is a blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacher who helps high school students and their parents to research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people