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.

VIP Applications: What are they?

May 5th, 2014

A number of high school seniors may already be receiving personalized e-mails or letters congratulating them for qualifying for a special “V.I.P. Application.”

VIP Applications are applications sent from colleges to certain students, encouraging them to attend their school. The VIP applications offer a fast-track, simplified application process and often stress the offer being good for a “Limited Time.”

The students receiving this mail are typically those with SAT scores that fall within a certain (high) range. Students who are out-of-state high-achievers are also common recipients.

Other schools send these applications to students who “qualified” simply by requesting information or visiting campus.

VIP Applications also come under the names “Presidential Select,” “Select Scholar,” “Priority Application,” and others.

These special applications are a marketing ploy with benefits for both the school and the student.

BENEFITS TO COLLEGES
Colleges use these VIP Applications to appear more “selective.” These applications help increase a School’s applicant pool as well as strategically raise the average SAT scores of their applicants. These applications also increase a School’s chances of enrolling students from this desirable pool.

BENEFITS TO STUDENTS
VIP applications are quick and easy to fill out. Many times the student’s name and address are already filled out on the form accompanying the letter or on the form that is easily assessable via the email. Typically these applications don’t require a long essay and applying is free.

Since students are urged to return the application or apply online earlier than the college’s regular deadline, students often get the chance to receive an early acceptance to a school. Having an acceptance so early in the application process can ease anxiety.

An acceptance is not a binding commitment.

College advisors at International College Counselors also note that receiving a VIP Application is not a guarantee that a student will be accepted.

If you received a VIP Application, feel flattered and complete it if you have some interest in the school. It’s a good opportunity to take advantage of. Though, if you’re not a good fit for the school, expert college advisors at International College Counselors would not encourage you to attend.

For more information on VIP Applications or any other college applications, 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.

You’re all VIPs to us!

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.

College Admissions Tips for Students with Learning Disabilities

April 30th, 2014

Almost every accredited university provides support services for students with learning disabilities. These services vary in quality and extent from school to school.  For students with disabilities, it is imperative to find the school that is the best ‘fit’ in providing programs, policies, procedures, and facilities that meet your needs.

Below are some tips on choosing a school that suits your needs and goals — and what you need to do to make them choose you.

Review Your Needs

Sit down with a knowledgeable adult or counselor and review your needs. The goal is to better understand how your disability will influence your college choices. Questions to answer include:

  • How does my disability affect how I learn?
  • What are my academic strengths?
  • How do I learn best?
  • What strategies do I need to help me learn?
  • What facilities may I need?

Once you have these questions answered, the next move is to begin building a college list.

Investigate and Choose Schools

Students with disabilities should follow the same steps for choosing and applying to a school as any other student.  Preliminary research can be accomplished via internet searches, visiting colleges websites, checking out college guides, going on college visits, attending college fairs, and asking around.   Make a list of all the schools that interest you.

Then make a separate list of what your college must have to accommodate your needs.

For each of the schools you are interested in, contact its disability services office to determine if the college has the services and accommodations that can meet your specific requirements. Most colleges have an office that provides services to students with disabilities, or a person who coordinates these services.  Once you contact the office and get your questions answered, put a check next to each school on your list that can accommodate your needs.

Questions for the disability services office may include:

  • Are basic skills, study skills, time management, or organizing classes offered? Are they available for credit? Can they be counted as hours toward full-time status? What is the cost?
  • Is there a support group for students with disabilities?
  • Is there adaptive technology available?
  • How many disability specialists work with the program full time and part time?
  • Does the school offer specialized academic advising for students with disabilities?

Make sure to visit each school’s website for college disability services to get an idea of eligibility requirements, resources, services and accommodations, documentation required, available academic support and policies.

Make Yourself a Strong Candidate for Admissions

Do this by succeeding to the best of your abilities!

It is important to know that a school cannot deny your admission because of your condition if you meet the basic requirements for admission, including application deadlines, grade point averages, and college entrance exam scores. In fact, you don’t even need to tell a school you have a disability on your application, unless you want an academic adjustment.

What you must do is keep your grades up and become involved in extracurricular activities—just like any other student. Disabled or not, students must meet school standards for admission.

To Tell or Not to Tell

Whether you should reveal your disability early in the admissions process is up to you. The best filter may be: Will it hurt my chances?” or “Is it helpful to know?”

Disclosure early in the process is often recommended for applicants who need to provide context. For example, a student with disabilities may need to explain why a standardized test score appears low when compared with outstanding grades. However, applicants with strong grades and test scores should think twice before disclosing any learning issues, especially if there were no academic repercussions or if they are no longer relevant.

The Application

If you decide to disclose your disability, you can either describe your disability in a letter to the appropriate school personnel and keep a copy of the letter, or call attention to your disability in your main essay. If you choose to disclose your disability in your main essay, the essay must be positive and show how you can succeed. Do not try to write an essay designed to make an admissions officer feel sorry for you; this doesn’t work.

Testing Adjustments

Students with disabilities can receive special accommodations on standardized tests including the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP Exams and PSAT/NMSQT. As a student with a disability, you can request accommodations when you schedule your exams.

Be prepared to send copies of your psycho-evaluation, testing records, and any other assessments of your disabilities directly to the school or testing agency.

Stay positive

The college admissions process can be daunting for any student, but it can be entirely manageable if you start early and take it step by step.  The more information you have, the more “educated” your decision can be.

For more information and for other locations, visit http://www.exploringcollegeoptions.org

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.

 

7 Ways High School Students Can Make the Most of Their Summer

March 26th, 2014
Spring break is almost here. That means it’s time to start thinking about summer.

High school students who want to stand out on their college applications should consider the summer an ideal time to add some resume gold.

There have been changes over the past few years in what admissions officers are looking for. For one thing, colleges are no longer giving extra points to students who build huts in Costa Rica. They are looking for summer activities that tie in with a student’s overall narrative. Activities that allow students to take a leadership position or connect with an interest in an academic area are ideal. There are many choices of summer activities that raise the APA (application point average).

Summer is coming up fast so here are some ideas for high schools students to make the most of the summer.

1. Attend an Enrichment Camp. There are hundreds of different summer enrichment programs, from the local to the international and, between them all, they offer thousands of opportunities. There are art camps, athletic camps, academic programs, adventure based programs, volunteer programs, leadership programs, and more. Some come with the opportunity to earn college credit. A number of programs give high school students the taste of life on a college campus. Importantly, the camp that is chosen should tie in with a student’s long-term goals. Many of these programs exist. Below is a glimpse of two of them.

For rising high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors, the Boston University Summer Challenge program is one example of a program that allows students to explore existing interests, investigate new topics, examine subjects not offered in high school, and maybe even determine a college major. The two-week, residential summer program offers a preview of college life. Students participate in lectures, discussions, individual and group work, project-based assignments, and field trips.

Another summer program is the Columbia University Summer Program for High School Students. This three-week program allows college-bound high school students to follow a curriculum designed to meet their interests, talents and needs. Each day students will participate in independent study and tutorials, private meetings with instructors, extracurricular activities, and use of the university’s libraries and other facilities.

2. Get a summer job. Summer jobs are great ways to gain valuable real-world experience and earn money towards college. However, in a tight job market, a high school student’s best bet may be the internship. Any job is good, but working in a challenging job that shows colleges’ leadership skills and-or ties in with a student’s academic interests are best.

3. Become an intern. An internship is unpaid (or token payment) work experience that provides students with an opportunity to gain experience in a field of interest. What isn’t gained in cash, is gained in experience, friends, and networking connections. Think of it as a summer course. With persistence and luck, a student can even land an internship in a dream career.

4. Do volunteer work. It can be profitable to work for nothing. Students can make a difference, gain experience make networking connections, and explore interests. Students get more points if the volunteer work links with an area of interest. For example, if a student is interested in a career in medicine, he or she can volunteer at a hospital or nursing home. The choices are endless and the hard work and time can pay off. Colleges and scholarship funds truly adore students who can demonstrate that they make the effort to help others. Then there’s always the fact that doing good is a wonderful reason to volunteer in itself.

5. Take virtual classes or attend a dual enrollment program. Virtual classes and dual enrollment programs offer students a chance to explore something new. Both can help save time and money if the classes count both for high school credit and college credit. Depending on what college is attended, the credit may reduce the course load per term or even allow early graduation.

6. Dive into a language immersion program. There are a number of programs both in the U.S. and abroad. Perfecting a second or third language is always worthwhile. The additional benefits of study abroad programs are cultural immersion and a greater understanding of the world. However, colleges look favorably on any language immersion programs.

7. Start a business. Launching a business or collaborating on one can be a great learning experience and even set a student up for success. The general recommendation is that students start a simple business with an immediate and obvious customer base. The idea is to generate a profit. Students with a passion for business who want to learn more about entrepreneurship may consider attending a program to help them get started. Nova Southeastern offers an Entrepreneurship Summer Camp and Personal Enrichment, called ESCAPE. Similar programs also exist.

Don’t forget to add some down time into the summer. All students need time to relax, recoup and regenerate. They need energy and enthusiasm for the fall.

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.

10 Ways of Handling the Other March Madness: College Acceptances and Rejections

March 24th, 2014
March madness is here. Anxiety is in full swing.
Surprising to many, the craziness has nothing to do with basketball and brackets.  Students and parents are thinking of college admissions. It’s around that time acceptance letters are on their way – or will soon be on their way. Parents need to be the supportive rock, even if they’re suffering from anxiety, too.   This time is about the student; it is not about the parent.

How to Help Your Child Deal with College Admissions Disappointment and Fear

1. Lay the groundwork.  Before the acceptance letters come, parents need to let their child know how proud they are of him or her for getting through high school and wanting to go to college. Make sure children know they’ll have a great experience no matter where they go.

2.  Stay supportive.  After the letters arrive, whether a child gets into a first choice college or not, parents need to stay supportive. This is a hard time for a student whether they get into their first choice college or not. For students who get rejected, this may be the first time they’re dealing with major disappointment. A parent’s job is to stop this from damaging their self-esteem. For students who get in, after the initial euphoria, they’ll start thinking about what going to college really means. Leaving home, leaving friends, leaving a comfortable routine, having to find themselves, and make their own way is difficult. Understandably, this may feel overwhelming.

3.  Talk it out. If your student is rejected from the first choice college, allow your child to vent their emotions. Talk about it and turn it into a teachable moment. Be sensitive and acknowledge the pain of disappointment. Then help your child, one, accept that he or she didn’t get in and, two, move forward with the opportunities that do present themselves.

4. Let your child know that getting into a first pick college is important, but if they don’t it’s not the end of the world. Let them know you won’t love or like them any less and they shouldn’t love or like themselves any less either. College is a step on a long road. It’s a big step, but college is not the final destination. Let your student know a lot of the college admission process was out of his or her control. While the process is fair and thorough, college admissions are subjective. Perhaps even more than most students and parents realize. High scores aren’t the only thing that counts. Subjectivity comes into play as admissions officers compare the applications. Maybe the band really needed a new bassoon player.

5. Once all the results are in, call or meet with your student’s International College Counselor advisor, as needed.  An expert college counselor can go over the pros of the schools a student was accepted into and there are a number of colleges still accepting applications.

6. Don’t let your child take denial personally. Someone at the college just didn’t think your child was the right fit at the time. Your student may actually be better off someplace else and it’s just not apparent right now.

7. Remind your student to thank the people around him/ her that made a college acceptance possible.  Every student’s success had a lot to do with a parent driving hours and hours of carpool, a teacher writing a thoughtful college recommendation, a coach staying a little bit longer after practice to go over a drill, and a principal making sure the student got the classes he/she needed.  No child gets into college on his/ her own.

8. Celebrate the college acceptance letters your child does get. Getting into any college is something to celebrate. Talk through how the child will let his/her friends know.  Will their happiness lead to greater disappointment for others?  How would they like to be told of good news by their peers? How should they handle good news for them, but also the disappointment around them?

9. Think to the future.  Although jitters are normal, really worried students should relax a bit by knowing that he/she can always transfer. Our recommendation is to keep this as a back pocket option and not as a goal. If a student goes to a college with the intent of transferring, he or she won’t be able to enjoy the full college experience they can have. Many students find that once they settle in, they’re actually very happy.

10. Do something nice. Students are at the end of a long journey. When all the letters are in, celebrate the end of this intense time.  Go out for a nice dinner as a family, or give a student a meaningful gift. Make this time positive.   We wish all of our students luck with the admissions decisions. No matter what happens, after the madness, there will be a calm. _____________________________________________________________________  

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.

Essay Prompts for the Common Application 2014-15

March 24th, 2014
Juniors, we have some good news to announce! Unlike in years past where the essay prompts were cloaked in secrecy well into the summer, the Common Application has revealed its essay prompts for the 2014-15 application cycle. Students who like to plan ahead can now choose from one of the five options below to write their essay for the Common Application.

For those families who are part of the International College Counselors family, your counselor will begin working with you on the essay during your next meeting. The prompts are designed to encourage reflection and introspection. If the essay does not include some self-analysis, then the response to the prompt is not successful. All five essay choices have a word limit of 650 words, and the Common App is very strict on this. Here are the five prompts with some general tips for each:

Prompt 1: Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
The word “identity” is key. Students are being asked for a story or something in their background that made them who they are today. Background can be a broad environmental factor such as growing up in a military family, living in an interesting place, or dealing with an unusual family situation. A “story” could be an event or series of events that had a profound impact on a student’s identity. Whatever way this prompt is approached, students need to reflect and explain how and why their identity was influenced by the background or story. In picking a topic to write about, students must think of something that they “believe their application would be incomplete without.” This means the background or story told absolutely needs to be unique to the individual.

Prompt 2: Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
Students who choose to answer this question must show their ability to learn from their failures and mistakes. How a student describes his or her response to failure is the critical part of this essay. The answer should include what a student felt, learned, and how they grew from this experience. A good essay will have introspection, honesty, self-awareness, and strong critical thinking skills The recounting time of this essay is basically a plot summary. Students should use as few words as possible on this part – without sacrificing quality. Make sure the essay leaves the reader with a positive impression. If the essay does not show that the student is a better person because of the failure, then the response to this essay prompt is not successful. Schools are looking for students who do not blame others for their failure. They want to see that a student has assessed a failure, learned from it, and moved on.

Prompt 3: Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
The “belief or idea” this prompt refers to could be a student’s own, someone else’s, or that of a group. The belief or idea can take many forms: a political or ethical belief; a theoretical or scientific idea; a personal conviction; an entrenched way of doing things (challenging the status quo); and so on. It is not important if the student’s challenge was successful. With this prompt colleges are looking for students to reveal one of their core personal values and show personal growth. The best essays will be honest and reflective as they explore the difficulty of working against the status quo or a firmly held belief. The answer to the final part of the question does not have to be “yes.” Perhaps, with retrospection, the student has discovered that the cost of an action was too great. While colleges are looking for an issue that is important to a student’s identity, students should stay away from controversial topics. Colleges want students who will fit into a diverse campus community. This means the answer needs to show thoughtfulness, sensitivity, analysis and open-mindedness.

Prompt 4: Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
Students have lots of options for a “place or environment” to describe. These can include a house, a barn, a classroom, a stadium, a stage, or even an imagined space. The main challenge isn’t the place that’s chosen but how the student analyzes “why” he or she is content in that place. What is it about the space that makes it special? To do this, a student needs to be introspective and share what it is he or she values. This question is not necessarily asking students for a place where they feel peaceful. The word “content” can mean more. It can also be interpreted as a state of satisfaction. An adrenaline junkie might be most content when skydiving, and a dancer might be most content when performing in the spotlight. The description part of this essay should be kept simple. Students should use as few words as possible on this part – without sacrificing quality. The end of the prompt is most important.

Prompt 5: Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
This prompt is good for students who want to explore a single event, accomplishment or achievement that marked a clear point in their personal development. Students must be careful to avoid the all-too-common “hero” essay like a season-winning touchdown or star turn in the school play. The essay is to show a student’s personal growth and analytical thinking. To identify the correct “accomplishment or event,” to write about, the discussion of growth needs to have enough material for self-analysis and deep thought. The best choice topics will be a significant moment in a student’s life that also gives admissions officers a peek at something the student values highly. The mention of “culture” in this prompt gives a student the opportunity to talk about personal culture and diversity. A student should feel free to connect the “accomplishment or event” to a context that is specific to their cultural heritage. Describing the accomplishment should take the least amount of words. A strong essay will show off the student’s ability to explore the significance of the event. A student will need to look inward and analyze how and why the event caused him or her to grow and mature.

End Notes Via the essay, the school is gaining a piece of information that it will use to judge the student as a whole person. In any essay, the student wants to come across as an intelligent, thoughtful person who will contribute to the community in a meaningful and positive way. Students must also demonstrate a strong writing ability. We encourage all Juniors to start thinking about their essays.

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.

How To Work with Your High School College Counselor

March 24th, 2014
A high school guidance counselor can be very helpful when applying to college. Guidance counselors are there to help students succeed.  They may help students plan their high school schedules, find “best-fit” colleges, fill out applications, write letters of recommendation, find scholarships, and more.

Students, at your meeting, be friendly, but respectful, and let your counselors know their efforts are appreciated.  Most counselors deal with many students each day, year after year, and whatever a student can do to make herself or himself stand out in a positive way can motivate counselors to give them extra assistance.  The relationship with the counselor should be treated as the kind of personal network-building that will help a student succeed in college and in their professional career.

Freshman and Sophomores
Students in their Freshman and Sophomore year should stop in or schedule a quick appointment with their counselor at some point during the school year. At the meeting students should:

  • Introduce themselves.
  • Briefly go over their goals.
  • Review their schedule and make sure they’re on track to graduate.
  • Ask for recommendations on extracurricular activities.


Juniors
 
Students in their Junior Year should meet with their counselor in the spring.  A twenty-minute appointment should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance.

What to Bring to a Meeting 

Counseling time is limited, so come prepared!

  • Preliminary resume – Students should bring a resume to their meeting.  The resume should outline their goals, both in and out of the classroom, what they’ve done during the summer, and their college goals.
  • List of qualities the student is looking for in a college. The school college advisor may help build the college list.

Some Questions to Ask

  • What is my current academic standing?  Students should review their current transcript with the counselor, identify any weak spots, and discuss how to maintain or raise their grade point average or improve themselves in any other areas.
  • Do you know of any good scholarships available for me?
  • Am I on track to complete the core requirements for graduation?
  • What do you think of my target school list?  Do you have any other school suggestions?
  • Should I take the ACT? The SAT? Or both? If a student has already taken one or both tests, then the scores should be reviewed with the counselor.  A guidance counselor can help students weigh the pros and cons of each test, offer constructive advise on the scores, and recommend resources for test-prep.
  • Do you review essays and applications?  If so, what is the timeline?
  • Will you be writing me a letter of recommendation?  If so, what materials would you need from me?
  • What should I do to make myself more desirable to college admissions officers? Students should ask about community college courses and summer opportunities including internships, jobs, and summer programs.

  How to get the Best Recommendations From a High School College Counselor

  • Talk about accomplishments, hobbies and plans for college and the future.
  • Discuss any “red-flags” on the transcript, like low grades during the sophomore year.  Student should explain why they had difficulty and discuss how they’ve changed and improved since then.
  • Let the counselor know EXACTLY which college a student wants to get into.  A counselor can often make phone calls on a student’s behalf.  Also, if the college is coming to the high school, a counselor may help schedule a private meeting with the admissions reap.

As a reminder, many high school counselors do not love independent college counselors (IECAs); so students do not need to tell their high school counselors they are also seeking outside help.

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 help from an experienced college advisor who can help a student in English or Spanish, please contact the expert college counselors at International College Counselors at 954-414-9986.



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

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