School Admissions Consulting for Kindergarten-12th Grade

July 16th, 2014

Choosing the right elementary school, middle school, and high school can be an overwhelming process. There are many, many choices. Make the right decision and you could put your child on a better path to success. Given that, many parents have been asking us to help them choose the right schools that will best pave the way toward lifelong learning and a prestigious college education.

We are proud to say, we are expanding our services. Through our partnership with School Choice International, expert advisors at International College Counselors will now be helping families understand and navigate the K-12 public, private, magnet, charter and parochial day schools in South Florida and around the world.

Our educational consultants know the local schools and will provide clear advice about which schools are a match for each child. Through a personalized, one-on-one approach, school placement consultation services include:

  • Student Assessment & Strategy
  • School Evaluation, Recommendation and Selection
  • Essay Editing
  • Application Completion
  • Standardized Test Review
  • Interview / Audition Preparation
  • Visual Arts Portfolio Recommendation
  • Letters of Recommendation Support
  • Decision Making Support
  • Deadline Reminders
  • Encouragement and Support

Through in-person meetings (where available), phone calls, email and Skype correspondences, we provide families with the information and help needed to navigate the K-12 admissions process.

For more information, visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or contact us at 954 414-9986.

Applying to College as a Prospective Visual or Performing Arts Major

July 9th, 2014

When it comes to applying to colleges as a prospective visual or performing arts major, students must approach admissions with an abundance of passion for their careers. In addition to an application, personal statement and interview, admission requirements include auditions or portfolios. This can be time-consuming and nerve- wracking.

Most importantly, students need to find the right school for their talents.

Look beyond the elite schools.

Schools such as New York University, Juilliard, the Rhode Island School of Design, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, Berklee College of Music, and Carnegie Mellon are the elitist of the elite for certain visual or performing arts. They are the Harvards and Princetons for the arts. In other words, many students want to attend but only a few will be accepted. In any given major—from musical theatre to graphic design—there are other good schools out there. U.S. News & World Report offers a listing of specialty schools. Look into the schools on the list called “Unranked Specialty Schools: Arts.”

Get an honest opinion on your talents.

Before students and their families spend the time and money on applying to college for visual or performing arts, get an expert or two to critique the student’s talent. It may be better for a child’s future to pursue an arts passion as a minor or a club activity.

Know what you need for the audition or portfolio. Know what the school requires for the admissions process.

Art programs require portfolios that show a student’s best pieces of artwork within specific parameters. Selections for a portfolio should display the student’s interest and aptitude for the arts. Typically, art colleges and programs ask for portfolios with an average of 10 pieces of art. The artwork should illustrate diversity in technique and variety in subject matter. Always check the requirements at the schools being applied to, as some will ask for specific types of work. Visual artists should also be prepared to explain their artistic perspective through an artist statement, and may be required to describe the feeling and intent behind the pieces in their portfolio.

Dance auditions often require a student to attend an open class before the formal audition. Students who attend will learn a routine which he or she will then need to perform. This individual performance will be evaluated on coordination, rhythm, technique, degree of movement, and body structure. The student’s ability to learn will also be evaluated. Certain schools accept video submissions of other performances, either as additional audition material or in lieu of attending auditions in person. Check with each school to see if this is an option.

Music departments are looking for technical competence and performance achievement; however, each program is different. At some schools, students are asked to include two or more pieces as evidence of the student’s skills and achievements. Instrumental auditions should be performed without accompaniment and should be sent in either audio or video format, as requested by the school. Some schools may also require in-person auditions. If so, many times a variety of locations for such auditions are offered. Check a college’s website or call and ask for specifics about their music audition requirements.

Students looking to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theatre, or apply to specific colleges as a theatre major, may be required to audition. Different theatre departments have different requirements for their auditions and students should check with the schools they plan to apply to for details. Many theatre programs require a prescreening for auditions. Students who pass the prescreening process will be invited for an audition. Programs may require a resume of theatre experience, a recent photo, and/or two contrasting monologues from student-selected plays. Musical theatre requirements generally consist of one up-tempo musical selection and one ballad, as well as a monologue from a student-selected play or musical. Students who attend an audition or send in a video must make sure to wear appropriate clothes and perform appropriate material.

Attend joint auditions.

Attending a joint audition can help students and their families save money. Joint auditions mean a number of schools that offer a bachelor’s degree program in a particular major, get together and hold auditions or review artwork and offer feedback for attendees. Theater majors look into the National Unified Auditions. Visual art and design majors look into National Portfolio Day.

Pay attention to financial aid.

Many art schools and conservatories are expensive. They also tend to offer less financial aid than traditional colleges that offer a wider range of majors. Students who are interested in the arts can successfully develop their passions at traditional schools, so don’t ignore them.

Tips for International Students Considering U.S. Colleges

July 1st, 2014

More and more international students are enrolling in colleges in the United States. This increase can be attributed to a number of reasons, including quality of education, future employment opportunities, cost, scholarships, social recognition, and opportunities for immigration. Combine this with several thousand colleges and universities to choose from, and the U.S. has options and educational opportunities for everyone.

The road to acceptance at a U.S. college or university will never be 100 percent stress-free, but there are ways to make the process easier.

Independent college advisors can help international students navigate the admissions process and offer tips on:

1. Deciding where to apply. Getting into a U.S. college is often more difficult for international students. However, a student can gain an advantage if he or she knows which schools are particularly interested in international students as a way to add diversity and cultural enrichment to their programs. Students may also prefer to be at schools with more international students. Being far from home can often feel lonely, and the presence of fellow international students to share the experience can ease “culture shock.”

2. Taking the required tests. Many universities require international students to take the TOEFL or IELTS as part of the application process. The TOFEL and IELTS test a student’s understanding of English. The minimum score requirement on each of these tests varies greatly, so be sure to check with each school’s specific policies when preparing to apply. Oftentimes, if an international student’s native language is not English, the only exceptions would be if the student studies at an English speaking high school, or if the student earned a bachelor’s degreein a particular country like the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, or Anglophone Canada. International students may also want to look into test-optional schools that do not require the SAT or ACT as part of the admissions process. Schools that do not use these scores can be found at Fairtest.org. However, it is best to check the school’s web page for the most current information regarding test policies.

3. Building the resume with extracurricular activities. In addition to good grades, colleges like students who participate in extracurricular activities. Many international students do not have extensive resumes, so these activities can propel one international student over another in the admissions process. With these activities, a student should demonstrate to the admission committee some level of accomplishment, passion, initiative, commitment, and leadership. Activities can include drama, music, sports, dance, volunteer work, work experience or internships. Colleges prefer to see a few activities that show a student’s sincere dedication over a list of as many activities as possible.

4. Completing the application process. There are a number of elements that an international student needs to submit with an application. For one, students need to make sure colleges receive translated versions of transcripts or grades they require along with letters of recommendation. Essays are another area of the application that may cause problems for students of English as a second language. In writing the essays, international students should not try to “Americanize” or “mainstream” their applications. Schools want diversity. The goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants.

5. Deciding where to attend. This is made more difficult because it is often impossible for students in other countries to visit all or any of the colleges being considered. Some countries have international fairs or Skype interviews so students can meet school representatives, but students should still try to visit the college prior to making their final decision.

6. Understanding financial aid. Financial aid in the form of grants, loans or need-based aid is usually not available for international students.Students should also look at each college’s financial aid services website to see if anything is available. Almost every school requires families to submit bank letters that confirm the family has enough money in the bank to pay for all four years of school. If a student does not need financial aid, they should let the college know. In many cases, international students who need financial assistance are less likely to get accepted. Students should research financial aid opportunities at EducationUSA, a service of the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education. The site offers a frequently updated list of financial aid opportunities.

7. Getting scholarships. Searching for scholarships can be a daunting process. For international students who want to study in the U.S., a good place to start looking for scholarships is a student’s own home country. Some countries provide assistance to students for international study.   For example, a number of countries provide scholarships for students who do a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program, for example. Students should look into these options and research them fully. Some, but not all, of these require students to return home upon graduation. International students should also look at each college’s financial aid services website to see if there are any merit-based scholarships. A large number of colleges have merit-based scholarship programs specifically for international students. Additionally, many private companies offer scholarships to international students. A good place to start is with one of the many free search engines for scholarships. Keep in mind that students should never have to pay to find or apply for scholarships. Reputable scholarships never charge to apply.

International students who are not working with a college counselor who knows the application process and best schools for international students should be sure to contact the international affairs department of each college of interest.

18 Tips For Writing The College Admissions Essay

June 19th, 2014

college admissions essayMany students find the college admissions essay to be the most difficult part of the college application process. The essay is an opportunity for students to improve their chances for admission by showing what makes them stand out. This is not an essay that can be banged out in a day or when a student is under a lot of stress. Given this, summer is an ideal time to get the jump on the writing.

“From our many years of experience, students are much less stressed during the summer when they’re not bogged down by schoolwork, or distracted by sports, extracurriculars, socializing and testing,” said Mandee Heller Adler, CEO and founder of International College Counselors. “With less pressure, students are better able to think, reflect and connect with a writing topic. During the summer they also have more time to write and revise.”

The essay may be as short as 150 words, but those words can mean the difference between a “maybe” and a “yes.” The essay tells the admissions committee how and why one student is different from all the others. While there is no exact formula for the perfect admission essay, here are some tips to consider when trying to make a lasting impression on someone who reads 50 to 100 essays a day:

  1. Make it personal. The admissions committee is looking to learn about the student—his or her achievements, obstacles, goals, passions, personality, values, and character. If a student is asked to write about an influential person, the college wants to know his or her influence on the student. In whatever topic is chosen to center an essay around, the student needs to shine through.
  2. Focus on one facet. Admissions committees are looking for an in-depth essay. Pick one project, one activity, or one passion. Students who cover too many topics in their essay will end up with a list. The magic is in the details.
  3. Tell a good story. Students who want to write about a difficulty, should not give the admissions committee a list of complaints. It’s best to tell them how that difficulty was overcome.
  4. Keep it real. Speak from the heart and it will show. Then the essay will flow more easily. A student should choose something that he or she has experienced because this will provide the vivid and specific details needed in an essay.
  5. Come out looking good. Students must always think about what information they want colleges to know and use when evaluating their application. Students should not share anything that doesn’t make them sound good, unless they absolutely have to, or can turn it around to show the positive.
  6. Share your opinions, but avoid anything controversial. Anyone could be reading an admissions essay, so a student wants to appeal to the broadest audience possible. Write about something that is liked as opposed to something that is not.
  7. Don’t repeat information already in the application. If six AP courses in one year are in the application already, students should not insert this fact in the essay unless this relates directly to the focus of the essay. Admissions officers want to learn something about a student from the essay that they can’t learn from reading the other sections of the application.
  8. Avoid cliché topics unless there is something extraordinary to say. These topics include a trip to Europe, the controversial celebrity who is idolized, overcoming an injury and making an athletic comeback, and understanding the meaning of life from a camping trip.
  9. Leverage native culture, traditions, and experiences. International applicants, Native Americans, or otherwise non-traditional students, should not try to “Americanize” or “mainstream” their application. Schools are looking for diversity. The goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants.
  10. Copy-and-paste carefully. Sure, it’s easier to tailor one essay for many schools than to write each one from scratch. However, read each essay over carefully, like it’s the first one that was written. Almost every admission officer can tell tales of students who accidentally wrote how excited they were by the opportunities offered at another school.
  11. Avoid scientific words, acronyms, industry jargon, or foreign phrases. The essay needs to be easy for anyone to read.
  12. OMG! Avoid using slang or other hard-to-decipher language.
  13. Profanity. Don’t use any. It will get a student noticed. Not in a good way.
  14. Spend time on the essay. The admission committee is looking to see what a student can do given the time to brainstorm, rewrite, and polish. They are looking to see what topic was chosen and what was done with it. An essay won’t help a student if it’s sloppy and uninformative.
  15. Check the grammar and spelling. It is OK to write conversationally, but the grammar and spelling still need to be correct. And don’t solely rely on a computer’s spell-checker. Often times, the wrong word (spelled correctly) can slip by.
  16. Show the essay to someone who can provide objective feedback. Sometimes students can get too close to the essay and be unable to see it clearly. Other people can often tell if there isn’t enough being revealed, if essay rambles, if the humor is falling flat, or if the impression being made is not the most flattering one. Remember, this essay is going to a total stranger and is going to be making a big decision based on what they’ll learn from it.
  17. Write the optional essay. Optional essays are not optional.
  18. Don’t lie or plagiarize on the college application. If a university finds out a student lied on an application or essay, the application will get rejected, almost guaranteed. Plagiarism is always wrong, and schools are getting better at detecting it.

“The earlier a student starts writing, the less pressure he or she will feel,” said Adler.

Tips for International Students Considering Graduate School in the U.S.

June 19th, 2014

The number of international students enrolling in United States graduate school programs continues to rise. This increase can be attributed to a number of reasons including quality of education, future employment opportunities, cost, scholarships, social recognition, and opportunities for immigration.
Without a doubt, America has one of the world’s best education systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. Combine this with several thousand colleges and universities to choose from, and the U.S. has options and educational opportunities for everyone.

American culture and the opportunity to meet diverse, new people are other major draws for international students. Many employers, both in the U.S. and abroad, value the knowledge, adaptability and experience that international students acquire by studying in the U.S. Worldwide career prospects increase for job seekers with cross-cultural skills, communication abilities, self-confidence and independence.

International students oftentimes find themselves frustrated by the graduate school admissions process. However, they should not let these feelings stop them. The expert advisors at International College Counselors can help international students navigate the admissions process and overcome a number of specific challenges including the following:

1. Deciding where to apply. Getting into a U.S. graduate school is typically more difficult for international students. Although international students in some fields like STEM make up more than half of enrolled students, many of the “more known” schools often limit the overall student population. A student can gain an advantage if he or she knows which schools want international students to add diversity and cultural enrichment to their programs.

2. Taking the required tests. Many universities require international students to take the TOEFL or IELTS as part of the application process. The TOFEL and IELTS test a student’s understanding of English. Oftentimes, the only exemption for this requirement is if an international student’s native language is not English, but the student earned a bachelor’s degreein a particular country like the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, or Anglophone Canada. Students also need to complete the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT or other standardized test.

3. Completing the application process. International students may need help gathering some of the elements needed to complete this application. For one, students need to make sure colleges receive translated versions of transcripts or grades they require along with letters of recommendation. Essays are another area of the application that may cause problems for students of English as a second language. In writing the essays, international students should not try to “Americanize” or “mainstream” their applications. Schools want diversity; emphasize diversity. The goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants.

4. Deciding where to attend. This is made more difficult because it is often impossible for students in other countries to visit all or any of the graduate schools being considered. Some countries have international fairs so students can meet school representatives, but students should still try to visit the college prior to making their final decision.

5. Getting scholarships. Searching for scholarships can be a daunting process. For top students, there may be aid through fellowships and assistantships, but these aren’t available to everyone and don’t cover all expenses. Some countries provide assistance to students for international study. Students should look into these options and research them fully. Some, but not all, of these require students to return home upon graduation.

An expert advisor at International College Counselors can help the student avoid frustration and get the best opportunity to succeed.

 

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:

This year, college advisors at International College Counselors helped more than 300 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college counselors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college application process.

For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.

18 Tips for Writing the College Essay

June 18th, 2014

The personal essay can help improve a student’s chances for admission.

The essay may be as short as 150 words, but those words can mean the difference between a “maybe” and a “yes.” The essay tells the admissions committee how and why one student is different from all the others.

While there is no exact formula for the perfect admission essay, here are some tips to consider when trying to make a lasting impression on someone who reads 50 to 100 essays a day:

  1. Write about yourself. The admissions committee is looking to learn about you—your achievements, your obstacles, your goals, your passions, your personality, your values, and your character. If you are asked to write about an influential person, the college wants to know his or her influence on you. Whatever topic you choose to center your essay around, make sure you shine through.
  2. Focus on one facet of yourself. Admissions committees are looking for an in-depth essay. Pick one project, one activity, or one passion. Cover too many topics in your essay, and you’ll end up with a list. The magic is in the details.
  3. Tell a good story. Demonstrate how you are compassionate—don’t just tell readers you are. If you had a difficulty, don’t give the admissions committee a list of complaints. Tell them how you overcame them.
  4. Keep it real. If you speak from the heart, it will show, and your essay will flow more easily. Choosing something you’ve experienced will also give you the vivid and specific details needed in your essay.
  5. Present yourself in the best light. Always think about what information you want colleges to know and use when evaluating your application. Don’t share anything that doesn’t make you sound good, unless you absolutely have to, or you can turn it around to show the positive.
  6. Share your opinions, but avoid anything controversial. You don’t know who is going to be reading your essay, so you want to appeal to the broadest audience possible. Write about something you like as opposed to something you don’t.
  7. Don’t repeat information already in your application. If you’ve taken six AP courses in one year, don’t list that you’ve done it unless this relates directly to the focus of your essay. Admissions officers want to learn something about you from your essay that they can’t learn from reading the other sections of your application.
  8. Avoid cliché topics unless you have something extraordinary to say. These topics include a trip to Europe, the controversial celebrity who you idolize, overcoming an injury and making an athletic comeback, and understanding the meaning of life from a fishing trip.
  9. Leverage your native culture, traditions, and experiences. If you’re an international applicant, Native American, or otherwise non-traditional student, don’t try to “Americanize” or “mainstream” your application. Schools are looking for diversity. The goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants.
  10. Copy-and-paste carefully. Sure, it’s easier to tailor one essay for many schools than to write each one from scratch. However, read each essay over carefully, like it’s the first one you wrote. Almost every admission officer can tell tales of students who accidentally wrote how excited they were by the opportunities offered at another school.
  11. Avoid scientific words, acronyms, industry jargon, or foreign phrases. Your essay needs to be easy for anyone to read.
  12. OMG! Avoid using slang or other hard-to-decipher language.
  13. Profanity. Don’t use any. It will get you noticed. Not in a good way.
  14. Spend time on your essay. The admission committee is looking to see what you can do given the time to brainstorm, rewrite, and polish. They are looking to see what topic you chose and what you did with it. An essay won’t help you if it’s sloppy and uninformative.
  15. Check your grammar and spelling. You can write conversationally, but the grammar and spelling still need to be correct. And don’t solely rely on your computer’s spell-checker. Often times, the wrong word (spelled correctly) can slip by.
  16. Show the essay to someone who can give you objective feedback. Sometimes you can get too close to the essay and be unable to see it clearly. Other people can often tell if there isn’t enough being revealed, or your essay rambles, or if the humor is falling flat, or if you’re not making the impression you’d want to. Remember, this essay is going to someone who doesn’t know you and is going to be making a big decision based on what they’ll learn from it.
  17. Write the optional essay. Optional essays are not optional.
  18. Don’t lie or plagiarize on the college application. If a university finds out you lied on an application or essay you will get rejected, almost guaranteed. Plagiarism is always wrong, and schools are getting better at detecting it.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

International College Counselors is an independent college admissions company that helps students in the U.S. and all over the world find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The college counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college admission process. For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.

International College Counselors Announces Winners of 2014 College Scholarship Essay Contest

May 27th, 2014

International College Counselors announced the winners of the 2014 College Scholarship Essay Contest. In its fifth year, the scholarship recognized four high school students who each received $250 in college scholarships. One winner was selected from Miami-Dade County, one from Broward County, one from Palm Beach County and one from outside the tri-county area. The scholarship is part of International College Counselors commitment to give back to the community.

This year students were asked to submit essays that answered the question: “What advice would you give middle school students about achieving success in high school?” Essays were judged on the basis of originality and effectiveness of argument or presentation.

The turnout of nominations was remarkable this year and the students’ advice was truly inspiring. The high school students gave the topic a lot of thought, and mustered constructive ideas for middle school students to achieve success. Choosing the winners was a hard decision.

Students from across the country in grades 9-11 were asked to submit a 500-word essay written in either English or Spanish. Several common themes emerged in the annual College Scholarship Essay Contest, including joining extracurricular activities; keeping up with school work and not procrastinating; making new friends; and managing time wisely.

The Broward winner was Chloe Schumannan 11th graderfrom Western High School in Davie. Wrote Chloe, “For middle school students seeking success in high school, I would advise they befriend their teachers, boldly take on new challenges, and realize they are stepping into the first moments of the life that will predict the outcome of their collegiate future.”

Palm Beach winner Angel Rodriguez, an 11th grader from Palm Beach Central High School in Greenacres, wrote about balance. Said Angel, “Balance truly is the one aspect every high schooler must have not only to be successful, but just to survive high school.” Rodriguez also wrote, “If someone decides to take an AP course simply because that person was told it was easy or just because he or she wants to fill up their schedule, then that person is depriving him or herself of the real value of an education.”

The Miami-Dade County winner was Jonathan DeWainan 11th grader from Miami who attends Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory High School. Said Jonathan, “In middle school, you thought you knew everything there was, and thought you were the prime of the school. In high school you are back to the beginning.” Jonathan recommends that students join clubs, but still set aside time to do homework; know who they are and pick the right friends; and do volunteer work as it “not only benefits the school, but teaches you how to cope with others.”

The scholarship winner from out of the tri-county area was Bethany Kirkpatrick an 11th grader from Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN. She wrote about passion, “the quintessential quality for success both in high school and in life.” Wrote Bethany, “If all middle schoolers can take the challenge, do the hard thing, and find a love greater than one person or item, they will not only succeed in high school but also be remembered long past graduation as the people who made a difference.”

Congratulations to all the scholarship winners and to everyone that put forth their best effort in submitting an essay. We are already looking forward to next year!

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:

International College Counselors provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications to domestic and international students.

The college counseling and college coaching services are tailored to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each student. International College Counselors’ achievements include being recognized as one of South Florida’s Top 100 Small Businesses in 2012.

International College Counselors has offices in Miami Beach, Florida; Miami, Florida; Coral Gables, Florida; Palm Beach, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela.

Celebrate National 529 College Savings Day with Promotions, Sweepstakes and More

May 20th, 2014

May 29 (5-29) is National 529 College Savings Plan Awareness Day. This designated day of the year is for celebrating the importance of preparing for future college expenses and the advantages of 529 College Savings Plans.

For those unfamiliar with college savings, a 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to offer a simple, affordable way for families to save for future college costs. These investment accounts allow tax-free growth and withdrawals of earnings for qualified expenses, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, while attending an eligible educational institution.

The 529 is named after Section 529 of the tax code that created these savings plans. Almost every state has one or more 529 plans available. These plans differ from state to state.

In celebration of 529 day, a number of states are offering special promotions:

Alabama: CollegeCounts $529 Giveaway

  • Enter to win one of $529 in college savings that will be deposited directly into a new or existing CollegeCounts account.
  • All entrants must submit a form and answer two questions in 250 words or less. The questions are related to why they are saving for college.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 29, 2014

Connecticut: CHET 529 Day Promotion

  • Connecticut residents who are the parent, legal guardian or grandparent of a child born in Connecticut during the month of May 2014 are eligible for a chance to win a $1,529 contribution towards a CHET 529 plan account.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Florida: Florida “National 529 College Savings DaySweepstakes

  • Ten winners will receive a $529 scholarship deposited into a Florida 529 Savings Plan account.
  • U.S. citizens over 18 who open a Florida 529 College Savings Plan between April 28 and May 28, 2014 will be automatically entered.
  • Winning is also possible without opening an account.
  • Winners will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 28, 2014.

Georgia: Path2College 529 Plan Newborn Sweepstakes

  • Enter for a chance to win $5,529 towards a Path2College (Georgia) 529 Plan
  • Open to residents – or Path2College 529 Plan account owners – who are the parent, guardian or grandparent of a child born in a Georgia hospital during 2014.
  • One winner will be selected to win $5,529, and will have the option to use all or a portion of the prize to open a Path2College Savings plan for the newborn.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: April 15, 2015

Georgia: Path2College 529 Plan 25,000 Reasons to Save Sweepstakes

  • Enter for a chance to win $15,000 towards a Path2College 529 Plan in Georgia.
  • Georgia residents who are at least 21 years of age or older. All entrants must be a parent, legal guardian or grandparent of a child age 18 or under who is a Georgia resident attending a Georgia school, homeschooled, or not yet old enough to be enrolled in school.
  • Open to all Path2College 529 Plan account owners (regardless of state of residency) and non-Path2College 529 Plan account owners.
  • One winner from all entries will be selected to receive a $15,000 Path2College 529 Plan contribution. In addition, the school of the child from the winning entry will also receive a $10,000 cash contribution.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: August 10, 2014

Indiana: CollegeChoice $5,000 Giveaway

  • Indiana residents who are 18 years of age or older can enter to win a $5,000 contribution to a new or existing CollegeChoice 529 account.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

College Savings Iowa – 2014 $5,290 College Savings Iowa Spring Giveaway

  • Winner will receive a $5,290 contribution to a College Savings Iowa (CSI) 529 account.
  • Must be an Iowa resident 18 years of age or older. Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Kansas Learning Quest $1,000 Seasonal Contest

Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust Newborn Giveaway

  • Open to parents, grandparents, or guardians of babies born in Kentucky during the prior 12 months.
  • One drawing will be held each calendar quarter, and the winner will receive a $529 KESPT college savings account. A total of four drawings will take place this year.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: Entries must be received by September 30, 2014.

Maryland: College Savings Day at the Maryland Zoo and Zookeeper for a Day Giveaway

  • Maryland parents can enter to win a chance to win a $529 Maryland College Investment Plan account, a Behind the Scenes Zoo experience, and a zoo family membership.
  • The first 529 kids to visit the Maryland Zoo on Saturday, May 31, 2014 will receive a special admission of $5.29. Representatives from the College Savings Plans of Maryland will on site to answer any questions on 529 plans.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: June 6, 2014

Missouri: MOST 529 College Savings Day Giveaway

  • Missouri residents can register for a chance to win a $5,290 contribution to a MOST 529 Plan account.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing. Participants can earn additional chances to win by liking MOST on Facebook and following them on Twitter.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Nebraska Educational Savings Trust – Teach Children to Save NEST $529 Drawing

  • Open a new NEST Direct or NEST Advisor College Savings Plan account between April 10 and May 29, 2014 and be entered to win one of five $529 deposits into a NEST account.
  • Use “2014TEACH” as the promotion code
  • More information
  • Deadline: May 29, 2014

Nevada College Savings Day $529 Scholarship Giveaway

  • Nevada residents with children 13 or younger may enter to receive a $529 contribution into an SSgA Upromise 529 Plan. The money will be deposited directly into a new or existing account.
  • Twelve winners (12) will be selected by random drawing
  • Entry
  • Deadline: June 30, 2014

New York: 529 College Savings Day Sweepstakes

 

  • Enter to win $500 paid directly to the winner’s 529 Account (existing account or a to-be-established 529). Simply fill out an online form to win.
    • New York State residents 18 years or older are eligible to enter.
    • Entry
    • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Ohio: CollegeAdvantage $529 Giveaway

      • Win a $529 CollegeAdvantage College Savings Award for the benefit of a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, friend, or other loved one.
      • Twenty winners (20) will be selected by random drawing
      • Entry
      • Deadline: June 9, 2014

Oklahoma: Fizz, Boom, Save for College Sweepstakes

      • One child and teen will each win $2,529 towards an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan
  • Each parent, legal guardian or grandparent who has a participating child in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries 2014 Summer Reading program can receive one (1) Sweepstakes entry form at a participating Library. Online entry at www.ok4saving.org
  • Deadline: August 31, 2014

South Carolina: Future Scholar Palmetto Baby Program

      • Families with a newborn born in South Carolina on May 29th, 2014 who open a new Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan account will be eligible for a $529 college grant.
      • More information
      • Deadline: September 2, 2014

Tennessee: TNStars 529 Day

      • Enter to win $529 for college savings from the TNStars™ 529 College Savings Program. There are a number of other prizes, as well, including zoo and museum memberships, A Family VIO Suite for the Nashville Sounds and a special pack of Memphis Redbirds gear
      • Several promotional events will also be hosted by the TNStars 529 program on May 29, including discounted admission to baseball games, museums, and the Knoxville Zoo.
      • More information
      • Deadline to enter the random drawings is June 1, 2014

Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan 529 Day Promotion

      • Vermont residents 21 or older can enter for a chance to win a $529 VHEIP 529 Plan contribution. All entrants must be a parent, legal guardian or grandparent of a child age 18 or under.
      • Two winners will be selected at random
      • Entry
      • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Virginia529 Matching Contributions

      • Open a new inVEST 529 account between May 15 and May 29, 2014 with an initial contribution of $100 or more and receive a $50 matching contribution from Virginia529.
      • To earn the match, account openers must select 529 Day for “How did you hear about the program?” in the online application.
      • All accounts opened during this time period will be entered into a drawing to win an inVEST account with an initial opening balance of $2,500.
      • Those with existing accounts or who do not want to open an account may also enter the drawing here.
      • More information
      • Deadline: June 30, 2014

Not a state, but another opportunity

College Savings Bank: 5-29 Day Express Lunch Webinar

      • Sign up for a half-hour webinar to learn about FDIC insured college savings certificates of deposit (CDs) in 30 minutes, which includes a live Q&A.
      • All attendees are automatically entered into a drawing to win one of two (2) $250 scholarships toward a new college savings account and a Kindle Fire. Three attendees (3) will be randomly selected to receive either one of the two scholarships or Kindle Fire.
      • Choose one of two times to attend on May 29th: 12:30PM – 1:00PM ET or 3:30PM – 4:00PM ET.
      • Registration

For more information on 529 plans or any other college savings plans, clients of International College Counselors should contact one of our expert college advisors. We can also help you determine if a college is the right fit for you.

How to Apply for Scholarships

May 19th, 2014

 

How to Apply for Scholarships

Even if money grew on trees, you’d have to grab your basket and get to work. The same goes for scholarships.  They don’t come to you.  You have to go out and get them.

The good thing is there are a lot of scholarships – many more than there are money trees. Some scholarships are available to kids as young as six.

Applying for a scholarship is a lot like applying for college.  There are a lot of options to sift through before creating a list of worthwhile scholarships to spend time on.

The first step is finding the right scholarship for you. The second step is applying to them. Here are a few tips for finding and applying to scholarships:

THE SEARCH

Start Early.  The more time students put into looking for scholarships, the more choices they’ll have.  Students also need time to request necessary information and put the materials together.  Scholarships requirements may include:

Transcripts
Financial aid forms like FAFSA
Essay(s)
Letters of recommendation
Standardized test scores
Proof of eligibility, such as U.S. Citizenship, birth certificate, or tribal
membership card

Stay Organized.  Make separate folders for each scholarship and keep track of what is needed and when things are due. Track the Scholarships on a Calendar.  Make triple sure deadlines aren’t missed.

THE APPLICATION

Follow the Instructions. Carefully.  Count the words on the essay and provide the right materials.  If a student has any questions about what the scholarship requirements are, or how to fill out a part of the application, he should call or email the scholarship sponsors. Many applications are eliminated because the directions were not followed to the letter.

Stay on topic in the essay(s).  If the essay asks for the philosophic themes of an Ayn Rand novel, don’t be clever by comparing her to Batman.  Give them what they asked for.  Don’t give more.  Don’t give less.

Check and Recheck and Recheck the Application.  Everything must be easily readable, all the words must be spelled right and all the questions answered.
Make sure it’s signed and dated by the right people, whomever the application requests whether it’s a teacher or employer.

Send the Application in On-Time.  Make sure you do this!

***Scholarships DO Affect Financial Aid Packages***

Students should contact the financial aid office of any colleges they are considering to find out the details.  Each school has its own policy on which types of aid may be reduced or eliminated by the scholarship money.  Different types of aid that may be affected by scholarship monies are loans, work-study and need-based grants.
SOME SCHOLARSHIP SITES

Scholarships.com
Fastweb
Scholarship Experts
Cappex
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:

International College Counselors provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications to domestic and international students.

The college counseling and college coaching services are tailored to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each student. Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors, is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and also received an MBA from Harvard Business School. International College Counselors’ achievements include being recognized as one of South Florida’s Top 100 Small Businesses in 2012.

International College Counselors has offices in Miami Beach, Florida; Miami, Florida; Hollywood, Florida; Coral Gables, Florida; Palm Beach, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela.

7 Great Ways for Parents of High School Students to Spend Their Tax Refunds

May 15th, 2014

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average tax refund this year is roughly $3,000, reported CNN (4.3.14). Here are some great suggestions on what to do with the refunded money for parents of teenagers who plan to attend college:

1. Pay for tutoring. The importance of grades for colleges cannot be ignored. The GPA is the single most important part of a college application. Not only that, colleges want to see a challenging high school curriculum. If a student needs help in one or more subjects, spend some money on tutoring. (It may even pay off more in the form of scholarships.)

2. Put money into a 529 plan.
Even if a child will be a junior this year, it’s not too late to make a tax-preferred investment for college. Many states provide a tax deduction for 529 contributions even if it is only a short time investment.

3. Invest in a summer enrichment program.
Summer enrichment programs can help propel students toward college, as well as help them gain acceptance into a school of their choice. Students can explore a subject of interest or bolster volunteer work credentials. There are programs for all interests, including engineering, career exploration, robotics, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, music, drama and test prep. Nearly every school, including the Ivies, offers a summer program for high school students, allowing students to experience life on a college campus. Some programs offer college credit.

4. Go for the test prep. Next to grades, test scores are one of the most important factors in college admissions. Look into test prep courses with a (SAT word alert) splendiferous SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Test, AP and/or TOFEL tutor who can help boost a student’s confidence and increase the test scores.

5. Visit colleges. College visits can be costly but worthwhile. A student just may find their top-pick school is nothing like they imagined. Visiting a school may also increase chances of gaining admittance and of getting a better award package, if only slightly. Taking the time to tour campus shows commitment.

6. Encourage summer college courses. Summer college courses can give a student the opportunity to attend school classes with undergraduate students or other select high school students and earn college credits.

7. Hire an independent college counselor. An expert college advisor like one at International College Counselors can give a student the individualized attention to properly tackle the college admission process. From help choosing colleges, going on interviews, editing essays and applications, refining extracurricular activities and more, an expert private college advisor gives students the tools they need to find and get into the college of their dreams.

About International College Counselors International College Counselors is an independent college admissions company that helps students in the U.S. and all over the world find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The college counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college admission process. For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.



International College Counselors
4700 Sheridan Street, Suite J
Hollywood, Florida 33021 USA
(954) 414-9986

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