Posts Tagged “college advice”

It’s officially fall (although the 88 degree weather outside would beg to differ) and the college admissions marathon is in high-gear. There’s a lot to stay on top of no matter what year of high school you’re in, but senior year is especially hectic with looming application deadlines, tests to be taken, recommendations to get written, and last minute-college visits.  To help you stay organized and on top of everything, check out the FREE college admissions counseling program My College Calendar.

My favorite feature is that once you log-in and create an account, you can upload your own school calendar and start receiving daily reminders to help you stay on top of your college admission deadlines.  It’s like having your own personal college counselor, and it doesn’t cost a thing!  Hmmm…anyone going to develop an iPhone app for this?

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Q: “I’ll be a senior in high school next year and still have no clue what I want to do. Help!”

–Brittney, 17, Calhoun, LA
A: Don’t worry; you’re not alone! High school goes by so quickly, and suddenly there are so many decisions to be made. Do you want to go to school? Get a job? Take a year off? Go to a four-year or two-year college? Try out a vocational program like cosmetology or fashion design?

The choices can be overwhelming, but it’s important to think through your options so that if you do, say, want to go to college, you’re not missing out on any important steps you need to take to get there. The first question you need to answer is whether or not you want to continue your education after high school. (If your answer is yes, skip to the next paragraph.) If you don’t want to continue your education beyond high school, then you can start looking into job opportunities during your senior year. But if there’s any part of you that might want to go back to school at some point, then make sure you don’t slack off during senior year. Colleges will still take into consideration your high school transcript even if you apply several years after you graduate.

If college or a two-year program is something you see in your future, then make sure you keep up your grades and meet all the basic requirements for admission (i.e., take the necessary math, English, science, and foreign language classes; sign up for standardized tests). Apply to a variety of schools, so that you keep your options open after you graduate. You can always decide in the spring of your senior year whether or not you want to go directly into a four-year college, take a year off, or do a two-year program at a community college or vocational school.

Visiting campuses or programs during your senior year may help you figure out what you want to do after you graduate. Sometimes you just don’t know until you see the possibilities that are out there! Good luck!

For more of my answers to your college and career questions, check out Seventeen’s College Q&A!

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That’s right!  It’s another chance to win a signed copy of my book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College. Five lucky winners will be picked at random once the contest ends at 11:59pm EST on Friday, Dec. 5th.  For your chance to win visit Just Jared Jr., leave a comment on the contest page, and enter as many times as you wish!

Good luck! :)

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Next week I’ve been invited to speak at CollegeWeekLive, the world’s largest 2-day virtual college fair.  I’ll be giving a presentation on “Telling Your Story in the College Application,” giving tips on how to stand out in the admission process based on my experience working behind the scenes at Columbia University.  But the coolest part is that the bulk of the time I’ll be answering live questions from viewers all over the globe, and you can join in on the fun by registering on the CWL website.  Registration is totally free, and over the course of the 2-day event you’ll have the opportunity to speak with admission reps from over 200 colleges, sit in on sessions with college and financial aid experts, and hear from current students at universities across the country.

And, did I mention I’m giving away signed copies of my book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College?!  We’ll be doing a random drawing of all the registered users who attend my session on Thursday, November 13th at 5pm (PST)/ 8pm (EST), and 5 lucky winners will receive an autographed book.  So check it out, and be sure to stop by my session and submit a question during the live web broadcast.

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Q: Why is it necessary to write essays to get into some colleges and universities?

–Sarah, 17, Calabasas, CA

A: Believe it or not, colleges are actually interested in more than just academic grades and test scores. They want to know how you think and what you have to say, and one of the best means of getting your voice heard is through the college essay.

The reason many schools ask for an essay is to give you a chance to showcase your personality, creativity, and unique sensibility that might not be captured elsewhere in the application. This is your chance to shine and speak your mind, and the cool thing about the essay is that there are no wrong answers! It’s really an opportunity to take control of one aspect of the college application and leave a great impression on the admission office.

An awesome essay can be the tipping point that pushes a good application into the acceptance bin, so take some time to think about what you’re going to say and how you say it. And don’t forget to proofread! A stellar essay can be totally ruined if it’s riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Have someone else that you trust look it over to make sure it’s absolutely perfect.

For my top ten essay topics to avoid, check out the chapter “Writing Your Story” in my new book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College.

So, what do you think you’re going to write about for your college essay?

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As the fall college application process gets underway, there’s one more thing you should add to your application checklist:

Clean up your social networking sites!

According to Kaplan’s recent survey of 320 top U. S. colleges, 1 out of 10 admissions officers looked at students’ social networking websites as part of their application review, and 38 percent of those surveyed said what they saw had a negative impact on their admission decisions.  And it’s not just college admissions officers browsing the web, would-be employers also admit to using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to gain insight into job seekers.

So, if you’re applying to college or a job in the near future, here are some tips to ensure your online impression is a good one:

Edit Your Pics–First off, make sure your profile picture doesn’t contain any offensive, illicit, or illegal behavior.  And while you’re at it, go through the rest of your pics and either delete or make private any other photos you wouldn’t want to show off in a job interview. It may seem obvious, but even that hilarious pic at last week’s party could give off a less than responsible image.

Stop Posting About Your College or Job Plans–You may be super excited to tell your friends that USC is your top choice school, but if a college admissions officer reads that on your page it may unwittingly bias their decision to admit you.  So keep the college and career talk limited to IM, chat, or a private message.

Maintain Your Privacy–Of course, the easiest way to make sure you keep tabs on who’s viewing your pages is to change your privacy settings so that your profiles are only visible to friends.  And then if an admissions officer or potential employer friends you, you’ll have the heads-up to either edit your profile or deny the request.

Have your social networking pages ever backfired for you?  What do you think about employers and college officials checking out your profiles?

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One of the most frustrating things about researching colleges is that with all those slick marketing materials, every school starts to sound the same: a totally awesome, super diverse place where all your dreams can come true.  If you’re tired of wading through all the college spin, now you can hear opinions and read reviews from current students at Unigo.

According to their website, “Unigo is the world’s largest platform for college students to share reviews, photos, videos, documents, and more with students on their campus and across the country. It’s also the best place for high school students to find out what life is really like at America’s colleges, and to make friends to help them find the school that’s right for them.”

So if you’re looking for the inside scoop on colleges, register here to check out the social network on Unigo, and let me know what you think and if you find the student perspectives helpful.

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Q: “My first two years of high school were not so good, I got B’s and C’s but my junior year I got all A’s and I plan to do the same next year. Will my first two years of high school drastically affect my going to a really good college?”

–Genesis, 17, Houson, TX

A: First off, you deserve some props for working so hard junior year, and if you keep up that trend it’s definitely going to make a difference in your college applications come senior year. So just how big of a difference will it make? Well, it’s true that colleges take into account grades from all four years of high school, but junior and senior year tend to carry the most weight since more often than not the toughest classes are taken during this time. Plus they reflect your most recent work ethic which, let’s be honest, may have gotten a little more serious since 9th grade health.

As far as getting into a really good college goes, it all depends on your definition of really good. If you’re talking Harvard, well, your earlier grades may make admission a bit of stretch, but there are plenty of great schools that admit students with less than perfect GPAs. You just want to have realistic expectations, so when you’re making a college list check out the stats for the previous year’s admitted class at every school where you’re thinking of applying. You can typically find these on a school’s admission website, and it’ll have loads of info like the average SAT scores and GPAs of admitted students. Once you’re armed with that information you’ll know if a particular school is a reach, a good match, or a safety, and that can help you make a decision about whether or not to apply. Sounds like you’re on the right path, so keep up the good work!

As first seen on Seventeen’s College Q&A.

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Q: “I’m a junior in high school, and I’ve heard a lot of different things about when I should start filling out college applications. When do you suggest I start filling them out?” –Savanna, 16, Douglas, WY

A: College applications for the following year generally tend to be available at the end of summer, so there’s really no point in getting started on your applications before then. But there are some things you can do prior to fall of senior year to make the whole applying to college process a little easier.

-Put together a high school résumé listing your activities, awards, honors, and leadership positions. Keep track of the number of hours you spend on each activity, and think about which is most meaningful to you and why. This question often pops up on apps!

-Take a look at applications from the previous year to get a sense of what kinds of essay questions might be asked and any additional information you may need. For example, in 2007 USC asked students to name their favorite quote and favorite food, among other things. Take advantage of extra time in the summer to get a head start on at least brainstorming ideas for your college essay or coming up with answers to those random questions.

-Make a list of all the colleges where you’ll apply and keep track of the corresponding deadlines, like early admission, scholarships, financial aid, and the final date to apply.

Don’t wait until the last minute to start filling out your applications — you’ll be more prone to make mistakes if you’re rushing to meet deadlines! Give yourself at least two months to gather all the materials you need, request recommendation letters from teachers, and write your essays and short answers. And, of course, don’t forget to proofread before you send off those apps!

To read more of Jaye’s College Q&A visit, Seventeen!

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I am so excited to announce that my first book “Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College” is now in stores!!!  This college guide leads you through every step of the admission process: knowing your schools, making the grades, writing your story, putting yourself to the test, impressing the interviewer, finding the cash, getting ready to apply, and what to do once you’re in. It includes a master four-year-calendar to map out your game plan (because it’s never too early to start thinking about that AP class or extracurricular activity); a pocket organizer for keeping track of college brochures, financial aid info, and other important papers; oodles of advice; and fun stuff, like interactive exercises, a “brag sheet” to tote up your honors, and “17 Must-Ask Questions!”

So if you’re freaking out about college (or can’t wait to start), this just might put you over the top…and into your first choice!!!  Thanks for all the support, and don’t forget to tell your friends to check out this book!  I’d love to hear what you think!

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