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

Wednesday, 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

Monday, 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

Monday, 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

Monday, 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.

Five Tips for College Bound High School Juniors from International College Counselors

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Junior year is the homestretch for students in high school. Critical decisions will need to be made during the winter and spring that could have a major impact on the next five years and long beyond. This year students need to start narrowing their list of colleges and potential academic paths. Expert college advisors at International College Counselors understand that college admissions officers look very closely at junior year grades.

1. Prepare and Take Standardized Tests

Waiting for senior year to take the all important SAT and ACT will cause unneeded stress. By taking the tests now, students also have time to assess their weaknesses and address them by studying.  Then they can retake the SAT or ACT in the fall.  Fall will be their last chance.

Students are also strongly advised to take the SAT Subject tests in the subjects that they took this year.  There are twenty different subject tests and each is designed to measure specific knowledge in a particular academic area. The next tests are May 3 and June 7.

“If students wait until their senior year to take the SAT Subject Tests, they may find they’ve forgotten the material,” said Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors.

2. Consider Possible Majors

The best way to start a list of possible college majors is to start with personal interests.  These interests can include animals, nutrition, film, medicine, writing or a million more.  It may even be a motivating school subject like algebra or literature. Some students find taking free assessment tests online to be helpful.  These websites match interests with possible careers. Some high schools offer these tests through the school guidance counselor. The idea here is not to commit to a career path, but to try and narrow down career possibilities. Keep in mind, many students switch their major at least once during college.

3. Research Colleges

Information on different colleges and universities can be gathered in books and on websites. Attend any local college fairs, as well as presentations by traveling college admissions officers.  Go on college campus tours, as many as possible. Talk to alumni or current students. Try to look at the whole range of schools: public, private, large, and small. Consider taking a college road tour over spring break. In the late spring, draft an initial college list. Before the start of senior year, a student’s goal is to develop a list of fifteen to twenty colleges of interest. Having an idea of college majors makes the college search easier.  However, students can create a list of prospective colleges even if they do not have a major in mind.

4. Search for Scholarships

Research scholarship opportunities and apply to them. There are many scholarships open to students in their junior year. When looking for scholarships, juniors will also discover many scholarships they may want to apply to in their senior year.  Students who apply to scholarships need to make sure they proofread everything and meet all deadlines.

5. Plan to Maximize Summer

Colleges like to see that incoming seniors spent the summer in a meaningful way. This could include an internship, job, or college program. Whatever it is, students need to start planning their summer now.

Many competitive and prestigious summer programs are available and these cover hundreds of interests including engineering, journalism, and business. The right programs help students learn and also look great on college applications. Students should also consider attending a summer program at a college of interest. While this does not guarantee admissions, it may help a student confirm interest in the school and make an early decision choice easier.

Junior year comes with a lot of stress, but with planning and positivity, it can also be a time filled with excitement about the future,” said Adler.

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.

 

Five Tips for College Bound High School Juniors

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Junior year is the home stretch for students in high school. Critical decisions will need to be made during the winter and spring that could have a major impact on the next five years and longbeyond. This year, students need to start narrowing their list of colleges and potential academicpaths. College admissions officers look very closely at junior year grades, so here are five tips for college bound juniors:

1. Prepare and Take Standardized Tests

Waiting for senior year to take the all-important SAT and ACT will cause unneeded stress. By taking the tests now, students also have time to assess their weaknesses and address them by studying.  Then they can retake the SAT or ACT in the fall.  Fall will be their last chance.

Students are also strongly advised to take the SAT Subject tests in the subjects that they took this year.  There are twenty different subject tests and each is designed to measure specific knowledge in a particular academic area. The next tests are May 3 and June 7. If students wait until their senior year to take the SAT Subject Tests, they may find they’ve forgotten the material.

2. Consider Possible Majors

The best way to start a list of possible college majors is to start with personal interests.  These interests can include animals, nutrition, film, medicine, writing, or a million more.  It may even be a motivating school subject like algebra or literature. Some students find taking free assessment tests online to be helpful.  These websites match interests with possible careers. Some high schools offer these tests through the school guidance counselor.  The idea here is not to commit to a career path, but to try and narrow down career possibilities. Keep in mind; many students switch their major at least once during college.

3. Research Colleges

Information on different colleges and universities can be gathered in books and on websites. Attend anylocal college fairs, as well as presentations by traveling college admissions officers.  Go on college campus tours, as many as possible. Talk to alumni or current students. Try to look at the whole range of schools: public, private, large, and small. Consider taking a college road tour over springbreak. In the late spring, draft an initial college list. Before the start of senior year, a student’s goal isto develop a list of fifteen to twenty colleges of interest. Having an idea of college majors makes the college search easier.  However, students can create a list of prospective colleges even if they do not have a major in mind.

4. Search for Scholarships

Research scholarship opportunities and apply to them. There are many scholarships open to students in their junior year. When looking for scholarships, juniors will also discover many scholarships they may want to apply to in their senior year. Students who apply to scholarships need to make sure they proofread everything and meet all deadlines.

5. Plan to Maximize Summer

Colleges like to see that incoming seniors spent the summer in a meaningful way.Thiscould include an internship, job, or college program. Whatever it is, students need to start planning their summer now.

Many competitive and prestigious summer programs are available and these cover hundreds of interests including engineering, journalism, and business. The right programs help students learn and also look great on college applications. Students should also consider attending a summer program at a college of interest. While this does not guarantee admissions, it may help a student confirm interest in the school and make an early decision choice easier.

Junior year comes with a lot of stress, but with planning and positivity, it can also be a time filled with excitement about the future.

 

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.

The Guidance Counselor Shortage

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
In many high schools, students have the opportunity to see their college guidance counselor only once a year.  One time.  In the entire year.  Don’t blame the students or the counselors though.  This statistic makes sense when you hear that public school counselors in the U.S. now have an average caseload of 471 students!

471 is not a typo. According to an article in Time Magazine, the American High School Counselor Association (ASCA) said public school counselors in the U.S. now have an average caseload of 471 students. The recommended student to school counselor ratio is 250 students per counselor.  Nationwide the average ratio is 239 students, but some states like Florida averaged 451 students per counselor in 2011.   To make matters worse, budget cuts are forcing some counselors to spend even less time with students and more time on other unrelated responsibilities, like handling discipline issues, supervising the cafeteria at lunch, or proctoring exams.

In contrast, counselors in private schools have a median caseload of 106, according to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). But even though the article uses the word “only” before the 106, that number is high, too. Each student is different and there are over 4,000 colleges in the U.S. alone, thousands of different academic tracks, and any number of ways to pay the tuition.

While we’ve rarely met a high school counselor who has not done a high quality, professional job, needless to say, the numbers make life difficult. College counselors are often the primary source of information about college and without their help many students end up at colleges that are the wrong fit for them, or never learn about scholarships and/or financial aid for which they may qualify. A number of students give up and never attend college.

Colleges are more expensive, and the college process is more confusing than ever. Students need a counselor for help with everything from choosing the right high school courses to take, planning their SAT/ACT exam schedule, selecting the best colleges for themselves, completing the college applications, getting financial aid, scholarships, and more.

To us, it’s penny wise and pound-foolish.

If you’re looking for more personalized and individualized attention with the college admissions process, please be sure to lobby your politician or school headmaster, and of course, make sure to contact us atInternational College Counselors.

 

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.

The College Application is Submitted, but There’s Still Work to Do

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
For most high school Seniors, the college application season has come to an end. But submitting the application is not necessarily the end of the process.  There is still work that can – and needs – to get done by students who really want to get accepted to a favorite school.

1.  Check the status of your application to make sure the Colleges have everything they need. It is the applicant’s responsibility to check the application status to ensure that each School has received all documents. This includes transcripts, letters of recommendations and any other supporting materials.  Some schools allow students to check their application status online.  Check the colleges’ websites for information. If you cannot check application status online, call the School to confirm that they have what they need.

2.  Apply for scholarships. There are scholarships for just about every possible interest, family situation, personal trait or talent, including ethnicity, religion, community service, veteran status, twins, children of single parents, creativity, left-handedness and more.   The scholarships with large dollar amounts are typically extremely competitive.  Apply for some scholarships with smaller dollar amounts, they add up. Apply to many scholarships.  The more you go for, the more chances you have to receive.

3.  Send in additional information that is worth sending.  These can include improved SAT or ACT scores, new honors or awards, a faster time or other sports achievement, a new internship or research responsibility, and a new leadership position in a group or team.

4. Continue studying & doing well in school. Colleges look at a student’s entire high school academic record when making admissions decisions. They can ask for grades at any time, even after a student has been admitted.

5. Check with your school to know your exact graduation requirements, including courses, minimum GPA, and necessary community service hours. You must meet your local district requirements to graduate. Different colleges, especially the most competitive ones, may have additional requirements for applicants.  Research these requirements and make sure they are met.  Online courses can help close some gaps.

6.  Prepare thoroughly to pass any Advanced PlacementInternational BaccalaureateSAT Subject exams or others that schools will be looking at and considering. You must take and pass the AP test in order to receive college credit.

7. Check your email to see if your College contacted you. This is the way schools communicate to let you know if they need additional information or if a student has been accepted or denied.

8. Demonstrate interest or enthusiasm for your favorite colleges.  This can be done by visiting the school again (or for the first time), meeting with faculty members, sitting in on a class, attending any regional events that the school might host, checking out blogs and linking to the school via online media. All of this demonstrates to the admissions committee that you are truly interested in attending. These actions can also help a student make a more informed decision on which school to attend.

9. Enjoy senior year!  It goes by so fast.

CONTACT 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.

It’s FAFSA Time. Fill it Out ASAP.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Now is the time to start filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as FAFSA. ** ALL** high school seniors and their parents should be filling the FAFSA out. This application is used to determine eligibility for federal grants, loans and work-study funds from the federal government. In addition, many colleges and states use FAFSA information when determining eligibility for institutional and state financial aid programs. A number of other scholarships require the FAFSA as well.

It’s a pain well worth it.  Many parents who thought they earned too much to qualify have been happily surprised by financial aid. You won’t get any money if you don’t fill out the form.

The FAFSA is available in both English and Spanish at https://fafsa.ed.gov

Some advice when filing for financial aid:

Fill out the FAFSA ASAP

Although the FAFSA deadline for the 2014-15 academic year is not until June 30, 2014, a desired college’s deadline may be sooner. Chances of collecting the maximum amount of FAFSA financial aid diminish as more time goes by.  Many schools work on a first come, first serve basis when it comes to financial aid.

Finish Taxes Early

Most of the information FAFSA requires comes directly from a family’s tax returns. If the 2013 tax forms are not completed for whatever reason before some schools’ February deadline, parents can use last year’s tax returns and pay stubs from December 2013 to estimate their earnings.

Save time and reduce error by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.  It allows you to automatically transfer the required tax information to the FAFSA. The 2014-2015 Tool will be available on Feb. 2nd.

If an estimate is used, the form will need to be updated once the 2013 taxes have been submitted. We encourage you to do this because this action will increase your chances of receiving the most money.  The IRS Data Retrieval Tool can be used to make a FASFA correction.

Do Not Report Retirement Assets

Do not include retirement assessments on the FAFSA. This can only ruin a child’s chances of receiving financial aid.  The form does not ask about assets from 401(k) plans, Individual Retirement Account or 403(b) plans-only non-retirement assets. Give them what they ask for and no more.

Report Any Unusual Information

Higher Ed institutions and the government understand that financial situations can unexpectedly change. Because of that, families have the ability to appeal to a college to adjust their financial aid after submitting the FAFSA. This means if a parent is laid off or facing an expensive medical bill, it should be reported. If earnings reported on a tax return will likely not recur the following year, also make sure the college’s financial aid office knows this.  Unexpected money may include a rare bonus or winnings from a game show.

Don’t Inflate Education

Rumors are that some schools will give applicants extra credit if they are considered “first-generation college students.” Given this, parents who never graduated from college should select “high school” as their highest education qualification.

Make Sure the Right Person Fills Out the Right Information

If parents are divorced or separated, the right parent needs to fill out the financial aid form.  The parent responsible for filling out the form is the one a student has lived with for the majority of the year, even if the other parent is the legal custodial guardian.

Check and Double Check Check Everything

Make absolutely, positively sure no answers were left blank or lines left unsigned. Enter a zero or N/A where appropriate if the question does not apply to you. Make sure everything is spelled correctly and numbers are accurate.   Check and double check the FAFSA before it’s submitted.  Errors will slow the FAFSA process and lower the aid.

Keep Records

When you file any form keep a copy of the form you are submitting for your records.

For more tips on completing the form, find additional information on the FAFSA Help site.

 

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, please visithttp://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.

10 Reasons Parents Of High School Students Are Thankful

Friday, November 29th, 2013
Thanksgiving is here and there is a lot to be thankful for.  Students are thankful that the school year is almost half way over and there are two long breaks coming up.  Parents are thankful for their children, especially the students who have done the following:

 

1.  Set goals and achieve them. This shows a teenager can handle responsibility and is ready for the independence that comes with college life.

 

2.  Manage time well and stay organized.  Thanks to the kids who keep a calendar and pay attention to application and scholarship deadlines.

 

3. Keep their grades up. Colleges look at a student’s entire high school academic record when making admissions decisions. Parents know the higher a GPA, the better the chances of getting accepted to a college of choice, the fewer the tears.

 

4. Prepare for standardized tests.  There are no secret tricks to getting good scores on the SAT and ACT except to work hard.

 

5.  Do something new. Colleges look at how a student chooses to spend their time outside of school.  This is the time students can try new things and explore fields of study. Parents love when their children find something they love to do.

 

6. Commit to things. Admissions officers want to see evidence of commitment to activities and leadership. Captain, president, editor, mentor, counselor, founder, coordinator and similar titles are all ones colleges like to see and parents are thankful to brag about.

 

7. Take initiative.  Parents appreciate when their students look into college courses, online courses, internships, job shadowing, community service and any other activities that will get them ahead.

 

8. Save parents money.  Parents appreciate when their students look into scholarships and apply to them.  They are also thankful that students keep their grades up for federal/state scholarships.

 

9.  Take school seriously. After all these years nurturing a student through school, it kills parents to see their kids blowing it in the home stretch.

 

10. Stay positive and banish self-doubt.  Parents view their child as best/smartest/ funniest/most talented.  They want their kids to know they’re #1 too.

 

The advisors at International College Counselors are thankful for working with so many amazing students with so many extraordinary talents and personalities. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

CONTACT 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 954 414-998

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

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