Scholarship Tip of the Week…Participate in Extracurricular Activities

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SCHOLARSHIP TIP OF THE WEEK…. Participate in Extracurricular Activities
Surprisingly, most scholarship committees do not simply choose the student with the highest grade point average (GPA) or SAT score. Instead, most scholarships are equally interested in a students extracurricular activities.
  • Are you involved in your community?
  • Do you have an after-school job?
  • Have you started your own business?
  • What hobbies do you have?
The scholarship coordinators are interested in giving the award to the person they consider the most well-rounded student. Grades are important, but they are only half the story. Therefore, it is to your advantage to participate in extracurricular activites. Join 4-H, volunteer at your local library, start a business, find a hobby. All these activities will help make you stand out to scholarship sponsors

Volunteering: How Helping Others Helps You

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Volunteering has a positive effect on your community — and it’s good for you too. Ben, a college freshman who did volunteer fund-raising work, calls it “a win-win situation.” He says, “You feel good because you’re helping others, and the others feel good because they’re getting help.”

Volunteering can help you learn more about yourself and even put you on a path to your future career.

Reasons to Volunteer

Giving back to your community is valuable in itself, but helping others also offers many benefits. For example, it can help you learn more about yourself and even put you on a path to your future career. Learn more about the reasons to volunteer below.

Gain Valuable Life Experiences and Skills

Whether you build houses for the homeless or mail flyers for a local politician, you can experience the real world through hands-on work. And you can explore your major or career interests at the same time.

For example, as a premed freshman, Gregory spent his summer volunteering at a local health clinic. He picked a clinic in an area with a lot of Spanish speakers so he could practice his language skills while observing medical workers. He also found time to ask the doctors questions.

Meet Interesting People

Both the people you are helping and your fellow volunteers can give you new insights. No matter what groups of people you’re working with, you’ll find that they have information and ways of looking at the world that can broaden your horizons.

Get Academic Credit

Some high schools offer academic credit for volunteer work through service learning — a program that offers hands-on learning through service to the community. To find out if your school offers service learning, talk to your school counselor.

Show Colleges You’re Committed

Your volunteer work illustrates your interests and character. When you list your volunteer work on your college applications, you show admission officers the value you’ll bring to their campus community.

Make a Difference

It’s eye-opening to realize that doing even small things can have a big impact on others. Rhea, a college sophomore, still remembers a visit she made to a senior home with a choir when she was in middle school. “An elderly man in a wheelchair looked up at me after the last strains of ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and said in a gravelly voice, ‘You’ve made my day. This means so much.’” She recalls, “No one had ever thanked me in such a way for doing something so small, and a stranger no less!”

How to Get Involved

Organizations everywhere need volunteers. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Call programs based in your community and ask if they need help.
  • Visit your town’s website. It may list volunteer opportunities in your area.
  • Contact a local museum or other cultural institutions or get in touch with similar organizations that can point you in the right direction.
  • Ask libraries, religious organizations and community colleges if they sponsor any volunteer groups.
  • Check out the following websites to learn more about causes and to find volunteer opportunities near you:

Before You Volunteer

To get the most out of your experience, ask yourself these questions before you get involved with an organization:

  • What have I done in the past that I’ve enjoyed?
  • What do I want to do as a volunteer — and what would I rule out doing?
  • How much time can I commit?
  • What talents or skills can I offer?
  • What kinds of people do I want to work with?
  • What would I most like to learn by volunteering?

High School Classes Colleges Look For

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If you’re in high school and you’re thinking about college — and you should be — you should know that the courses you take now matter. That’s because college admission officers want to see a solid foundation of learning that you can build on in college.

To create that foundation, take at least five solid academic classes every semester. Start with the basics, and then move on to challenging yourself in advanced courses. The courses listed below should prepare you for success in college and beyond.

English (Language Arts)

Take English every year. Traditional courses, such as American and English literature, help improve your writing skills, reading comprehension and vocabulary.

Math

Algebra and geometry help you succeed on college entrance exams and in college math classes. Take them early, so you’ll have time for advanced science and math, which will help show colleges you’re ready for higher-level work.

Most colleges want students with three years of high school math. The more competitive colleges prefer four years. Take some combination of the following:

  • Algebra I
  • Algebra II
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Calculus

Take at least five solid academic classes every semester.

Science

Science teaches you how to think analytically and how to apply theories to reality. Colleges want to see that you’ve taken at least three years of laboratory science classes. A good combination includes a year of each of the following:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry or physics
  • Earth/space science

Schools that are more competitive expect four years of lab science courses, which you may be able to get by taking advanced classes in these same areas.

Social Studies

Improve your understanding of local and world events by studying the cultures and history that helped shape them. Here is a suggested high school course plan:

  • U.S. history (a full year)
  • U.S. government (half a year)
  • World history or geography (half a year)
  • An extra half-year in the above or other areas

Foreign Languages

Solid foreign language study shows that you’re willing to stretch beyond the basics. Many colleges require at least two years of study in the same foreign language, and some prefer more.

The Arts

Research indicates that students who participate in the arts often do better in school and on standardized tests. The arts help you recognize patterns, learn to notice differences and similarities, and exercise your mind in unique ways.

Many colleges require or recommend one or two semesters in the arts. Good choices include studio art, dance, music and drama.

Challenging Course Work

To ready yourself for college-level work, enroll in challenging high school coursework, such as honors classes, AP courses or IB-program courses. You may even be able to take college courses at your high school or a local college.

More Help with Choosing Courses

Use Granted 4 U to look up a specific college’s academic requirements to be sure you’re on track to attend the college of your choice. You can also meet with a school counselor or teacher if you have questions about choosing classes and staying on track for college.

Personal Essay Options on the Common Application

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The first step to writing a stellar personal essay on your college application is to understand your options. Below is a discussion of the six essay options from the Common Application. Also be sure to check out these 5 Applicaion Essay Tips.

Option #1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

Note the key word here: evaluate. You aren’t just describing something; the best essays will explore the complexity of the issue. When you examine the “impact on you,” you need to show the depth of your critical thinking abilities. Introspection, self-awareness and self-analysis are all important here. And be careful with essays about the winning touchdown or tie-breaking goal. These sometimes have an off-putting “look how great I am” tone and very little self-evaluation.

Option #2. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

Be careful to keep the “importance to you” at the heart of your essay. It’s easy to get off track with this essay topic and start ranting about global warming, Darfur, or abortion. The admissions folks want to discover your character, passions and abilities in the essay; they want more than a political lecture.

Option #3. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

I’m not a fan of this prompt because of the wording: “describe that influence.” A good essay on this topic does more than “describe.” Dig deep and “analyze.” And handle a “hero” essay with care. Your readers have probably seen a lot of essays talking about what a great role model Mom or Dad or Sis is. Also realize that the “influence” of this person doesn’t need to be positive.

Option #4. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

Here as in #3, be careful of that word “describe.” You should really be “analyzing” this character or creative work. What makes it so powerful and influential?

Option #5. A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

Realize that this question defines “diversity” in broad terms. It’s not specifically about race or ethnicity (although it can be). Ideally, the admissions folks want every student they admit to contribute to the richness and breadth of the campus community. How do you contribute?

Option #6. Topic of your choice.

Sometimes you have a story to share that doesn’t quite fit into any of the options above. However, the first five topics are broad with a lot of flexibility, so make sure your topic really can’t be identified with one of them. Also, don’t equate “topic of your choice” with a license to write a comedy routine or poem (you can submit such things via the “Additional Info” option). Essays written for this prompt still need to have substance and tell your reader something about you.

Build the Perfect High School Resume

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Build the perfect resume with these helpful tips.

A good resume is vital. It’s your calling card to a prospective employer – one that lays out your qualifications and hopefully gets you a job interview. Remember, most employers will spend less than five minutes reviewing your resume. Follow these guidelines to make sure your resume gets you noticed.

Be sure to include these basics:

  • Contact information: Full name, phone number, school and permanent addresses, email address.
  • Education: School, degree, date of completion, honors, special course work. If you’re still in school, provide your expected date of completion.
  • Experience: In addition to work history, include relevant non-professional experience, such as internships, extracurricular activities and significant volunteer work.
  • Skills: List any computer systems, office equipment and software programs you are experienced with.
  • Other categories: If they are relevant, include publications, awards, leadership positions or other notable achievements.

The two most popular formats are:

    • Chronological: To emphasize your work history, list your jobs and activities, beginning with your most recent experiences.
    • Functional: To emphasize your skill sets, group your experiences under categorical headings, such as Leadership or Technology Support.

The key is to pick a format that presents your achievements effectively, and is easy to read and comprehend. See below for samples of a number of resume formats.

Tips for a Winning Resume:

  • Keep it brief. Try to keep your resume to one page. There are cases where a resume might be longer but one page should suffice for students and recent graduates. Write lean sentences and use bullet points to be succinct.
  • Provide meaningful descriptions of your experiences. When detailing your job history, use short sentences or fragments to demonstrate your relevant experience.
  • Use strong action words. For example: “developed and implemented a new filing system”; “created two new membership programs.”
  • Use formatting to help you out. Capitalize and use boldface, italics or underlining to help organize the information.
  • Proofread. Use spellcheck, doublecheck your contact information and make sure your formatting is consistent. Ask a friend or family member to proofread it as well. Check  for errors that spellcheck programs miss (i.e. there vs. their; to, too or two).
  • Custom fit your resume. Revise your resume for each job application to make sure it fits the opportunity at hand.

The final test: Take a look at your resume from arm’s distance. Is it confusing and text-heavy? Or is it easy to find the information you need? Do whatever is needed to make your resume reader friendly.

Living with a Roommate: 10 Tips for a Good Roommate Relationship

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Learn 10 Easy Ways to Have a Good Roommate Experience

You may have grown up living with lots of siblings, or this may be your first time sharing your living space with someone else. While having a roommate inevitably has its challenges, it can also be a great part of your college experience. Follow these ten tips to make sure you and your roommate keep things pleasant and supportive throughout the year (or even years!).

1. Be clear from the beginning. Do you know in advance that you hate it when someone hits the snooze button fifteen times every morning? That you’re a neat freak? That you need ten minutes to yourself before talking to anyone after you wake up? Let your roommate know as soon as you can about your little quirks and preferences. It’s not fair to expect him or her to pick up on them right away, and communicating what you need is one of the best ways to eliminate problems before they become problems.

2. Address things when they’re little. Is your roommate always forgetting her stuff for the shower, and taking yours? Are your clothes being borrowed faster than you can wash them? Addressing things that bug you while they’re still little can help your roommate be aware of something she may not otherwise know. And addressing little things is much easier than addressing them after they’ve become big.

3. Respect your roommate’s stuff. This may seem simple, but it’s probably one of the biggest reasons why roommates experience conflict. Don’t think he’ll mind if you borrow his cleats for a quick soccer game? For all you know, you just stepped over an uncrossable line. Don’t borrow, use, or take anything without getting permission first.

4. Be careful of who you bring into your room — and how often. You may love having your study group into your room. But your roommate may not. Be mindful of how often you bring people over. If your roommate studies best in the quiet, and you study best in a group, can you alternate who hits the library and who gets the room?

5. Lock the door and windows. This may seem like it has nothing to do with roommate relationships, but how would you feel if your roommate’s laptop got stolen during the ten seconds it took you to run down the hall? Or vice versa? Locking your door and windows is a critical part of keeping safe on campus.

6. Be friendly, without expecting to be best friends. Don’t go into your roommate relationship thinking that you are going to be best friends for the time you’re at school. It may happen, but expecting it sets both of you up for trouble. You should be friendly with your roommate but also make sure you have your own social circles.

7. Be open to new things. Your roommate may be from someplace you’ve never heard of. They may have a religion or lifestyle that is completely different from your own. Be open to new ideas and experiences, especially as it to relates to what your roommate brings into your life. That’s why you went to college in the first place, right?!

8. Be open to change. You should expect to learn and grown and change during your time at school. And the same should happen to your roommate, if all goes well. As the semester progresses, realize things will change for both of you. Be comfortable addressing things that unexpectedly come up, setting new rules, and being flexible to your changing environment.

9. Address things when they’re big. You may not have been totally honest with tip #2. Or you may suddenly find yourself with a roommate who goes wild after being shy and quiet the first two months. Either way, if something gets to be a big problem quickly, deal with it as soon as you can.

10. If nothing else, follow the Golden Rule. Treat your roommate like you’d like to be treated. No matter what your relationship is at the end of the year, you can take comfort knowing you acted like an adult and treated your roommate with respect.

(Don’t think you and your roommate are going to be able to work it out? It can be easier than you think to address your problems and, ideally, find a solution that works for both of you.)