Behind the Scenes of College Admissions Decisions (Videos) December 11th, 2014
Behind the Scenes of College Admissions

Behind the Scenes of the College Admissions Process

Ever wonder what happens to college admission applications once you submit them? How do college admissions officers really make decisions? We’ve found several YouTube videos that give you a look behind closed doors of college admission offices so you can learn the secrets of college admissions.

College Admissions: Inside the Decision Room: Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Amherst College (MA) admissions officials make their decisions on which students to accept.

The Envelope: This video is a bit long (21 minutes), but it follows Butler University (IN) admissions officials and a group of high school students through the college application and admissions decision-making process.

College Admissions: USC: An admissions official at the University of Southern California gives advice on how to make your college application stand out, including tips on writing your personal statement and how much extracurricular activities and test scores impact admission decisions.

Zinch Prep: College Admissions Behind the Scenes: Learn about how admissions officers make decisions and what things might be out of a student’s control. This video provides advice from three current and former admissions professionals.

Inside Admissions: Two Tufts University (MA) students take you behind-the-scenes at the school’s admissions office. There are some great essay tips in this video.

Life of a Smith College Admission Application: This video shows where your application goes at Smith College (MA), and how it makes to it the committee that makes admission decisions.

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5 Tips for Writing a Stellar College Application Essay December 9th, 2014
College Essays

Tips for Writing a College Application Essay

Writing a personal statement or college application essay can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. The purpose of most college admissions essays is for college admissions officers to get to know you better, beyond your test scores and GPA.

Use these tips to create the best essays possible.

1. Talk about how and why, not what. Most college applications already have you list the “what” (as in what you’ve done in high school, what your GPA is, etc.), so on your essay you need to tell how and why you did what you did, or how you become interested in your intended college major, or why you think the experiences you had and your future goals make you a good fit for the college.

2. Answer the prompt questions. You’d be amazed how many students don’t answer each school’s specific essay prompt questions. Just by paying attention to the actual question and answering the specific question (rather than using some cookie-cutter response that doesn’t relate to that school), you’ll make your essay stand out in a good way.

3. Be creative. Get creative with what you write. For example, start your essay with an anecdote and not just “I’m interested in XYZ university because …” or “I want to major in political science because …” Or, if you’ve taken a creative writing class, use what you learned to create a unique narrative.

4. Don’t overshare. Sometimes students just put TMI in their essays. For example, a Yale University applicant (who didn’t get in) wrote about a moment when she peed her pants when staying after class to get help from a teacher. Consider if what you’re writing about would be something you’d tell your friends, your mom and your grandma.

Remember: you’re not trying to shock the admissions officials—you’re trying to impress them by showing them who you truly are. To do that, you want to use a true-life experience, but if it could come across as gross or inappropriate, you may want to reconsider your topic.

5. Don’t worry too much about word count. In most cases, college admissions officials don’t have time to sit around counting the words in your essay, so if you are under or over the word limit by a few words, it’s usually fine. However, don’t write a full-page, five-paragraph essay when only 250 words are requested. And if 1,000 words are requested, write more than just a couple of sentences.

Image credit: Courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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College Major of the Month: Physical Therapy December 4th, 2014
PT

College Major of the Month: Physical Therapy

Health care is a growing industry, and that’s true for the field of physical therapy, too. That’s why My College Guide has chosen to spotlight physical therapy as this month’s College Major of the Month.

What is physical therapy? Physical therapists help people improve their movement and manage their pain after sustaining an injury or due to a chronic illness. Physical therapists listen to patient and doctor concerns, observe patients, create a plan of care for patients, recommend exercises and therapies to rehabilitate patients, and evaluate patient progress.

What jobs exist for physical therapists? Physical therapists work as part of a patient’s health care team. They may work for hospitals, home health care services or nursing or assisted living facilities, or they may have their own practice.

U.S.News & World Report named physical therapy among the 100 best jobs for salary, employment opportunity and manageable work/life balance. CNNMoney.com recently named physical therapy one of the top 10 fastest growing jobs in the United States.

What education and licensing is required? To become a physical therapist, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. You’ll likely take undergraduate courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry and physics.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), there are three different types of programs available:

  • programs that require you to have your bachelor’s degree, and then complete the three-year DPT program
  • a 3+3 program, that requires three years of undergraduate study in pre-physical therapy and then three years of the professional DPT program
  • freshman-entry programs where high school students are guaranteed admission into PT programs, pending the completion of certain undergraduate courses and other requirements (such as a minimum GPA)

A DPT program involves courses in biomechanics, neuroscience and pharmacology, among other areas. Supervised clinical internships are required.

All states require physical therapists to be licensed. In order to take the PT licensure exam, you’ll need to graduate from a DPT program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

After you complete your education, you may also need to do a residency or fellowship to gain additional experience or you may seek to become board-certified in a specialty area such as geriatrics, women’s health or sports physical therapy.

How much money do physical therapists make? A 2013 APTA study shows the median annual salary for physical therapists is $85,000.

How can I prepare in high school to study physical therapy? One of the best ways to learn about careers, including physical therapy, is to do a job shadow of a professional in the field. Additionally, take as many health and science courses as you can such as biology and anatomy. Plus, consider volunteering in a physical therapy office or in another health care setting to gain experience working with other professionals and with patients.

What scholarships are available for physical therapy majors? Scholarships are available to undergraduate students and for students pursuing a doctoral degree in physical therapy. Look for scholarships from state physical therapy associations, health care companies, hospital systems, medical supply companies and health insurance companies.

Also check with the college or university you plan on attending to learn about additional college-specific scholarships for physical therapy students.

Image credit: Courtesy of Roger Mommaerts/Flickr Creative Commons

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College Scholarships Ending in December 2014 November 27th, 2014
Scholarship Money

Apply for College Scholarships

The college scholarships on our list this month provide excellent opportunities for you to be creative. Some scholarship applications require essays, while others let you choose the format (such as artwork or video) that you submit. If you volunteer in your community, be sure to check out this month’s list as well.

Here are seven college scholarships with deadlines in December 2014:

Look Twice, Save a Life Scholarship: This scholarship program awards $1,000 to a student (with a valid driver’s license) currently attending or planning to attend a college or university. Applicants must create something (video, artwork, essay, etc.) that inspires other students to focus on motorcycle safety. Deadline: December 1

Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarship: This $5,000 scholarship is open to students ages 5-25 enrolled at an accredited educational institution in the United States. Applicants must have a demonstrated, ongoing commitment to their community within the past year. The service must include performing volunteer services that impacts hunger in the United States. Deadline: December 5

Most Valuable Student Competition: High school seniors can apply to win one of 500 four-year scholarships from the Elks National Foundation. Criteria includes excellent scholarship, leadership and financial need. Recipients can win prizes from $4,000 up to $50,000. Deadline: December 5

AT&T Internet and Education Scholarship: High school seniors and current college students can create an infographic “showing how students utilize social media in and out of the classroom” to be considered for this $1,000 scholarship. Judges will select a winner based on creativity, thoughtfulness and insight.  Deadline: December 15

Odenza Marketing Group Volunteer Award: This scholarship recognizes a student who has contributed at least 50 hours of volunteer services in his/her community within the last year. Students ages 16 to 22 with a minimum GPA of 2.5 can apply. Deadline: December 30

ADT Home Security Scholarship: Current college students can apply for this $500 scholarship. You’ll need to write a 400-600 word essay on how you’ve seen mobile technology used in education and how you would use it to improve education and classes for future students. Deadline: December 31

Top Ten List Scholarship: Students age 13 and up can apply for this $1,500 scholarship by writing a top 10 list detailing why you should receive it. Deadline: December 31

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Job Shadowing 101: Get the Most from Your Experience November 25th, 2014
Job Shadow at Rockwell Collins

Make the Most of Your Job Shadow Experience

High school guidance counselors, parents and college career services offices often advise you to do a job shadow if you have an idea what college major you want to pursue or if you’re trying to decide on a major.

A job shadowing experience can give you a taste of what a job in a particular field would be like each day. You might learn you love it or hate it, but either way you’ll learn more about yourself and what you want to do with your life.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your job shadow experience:

Be on time—or early. This is essential in making a good first impression, and in making sure you get to do and see all the things your job shadow host has planned for you. It may take time to find a parking spot and find your job shadow host’s office, so plan to arrive early.

Dress to impress. Wear professional business attire. See pictures and tips on professional dress from various college career centers on Pinterest.

Put away your smartphone. It’s difficult to be fully immersed in a job shadow experience or to be fully observant of your job shadow host when you’re tapping on your smartphone. Keep your phone in your pocket or in your purse, and turn the ringer to silent.

Ask questions. Take a notepad and pen to take notes on answers to your questions, or to jot down questions as they come up (like if you’re sitting in on a meeting of executives) so you can ask your job shadow host at a more appropriate time (like after the meeting is done). The University of New Hampshire University Advising and Career Center recommends doing some research on the company and industry prior to your job shadow. This will allow you to ask better questions during your job shadow day.

Be polite. While you want to ask your job shadow host questions, don’t pepper him or her with so many questions he/she can’t get any work done. Also, be courteous of others you meet in the workplace and shake hands with others when you’re introduced.

Be observant. Do people sit at their desks all day? Are there constant interruptions throughout the day? What technology (old or new, types of software, etc.) is in the office? How are people dressed—formal or casual? Do people take a lunch break? Do people look super stressed or happy? How do employees treat each other?

Send a thank you. After your job shadow experience is complete, send your job shadow host a thank you e-mail the same day or next day. To get his/her e-mail address, ask for a business card before you leave the job shadow experience. And be sure to keep the host’s card and contact info—you never know when it could come in handy later in your college life or career.

Image credit: Courtesy of Corridor Business Journal, Flickr Creative Commons. Photo shows student job shadowing at Rockwell Collins.

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7 Best BuzzFeed Posts About College November 20th, 2014
College campus

Get the Buzz on College Admissions and College Life

Have you checked out BuzzFeed lately? We did, and we found several posts about college life, surviving college admissions season, and how to make your decision about which college to attend.

Check out our favorites below for both serious advice and some good laughs.

On College Admissions

The Cheapest, Best Colleges: BuzzFeed used tuition rates and average starting salaries to create this list of “best value colleges.” Note: The public school tuition used in this post is for out-of-state tuition costs, which are typically much higher than in-state tuition.

20 Tips for Surviving College Admissions Season: Some advice to help you relax during the stressful time when you’re waiting to hear back from schools.

15 Inspiring Stories That Will Help You Make Your College Decision: BuzzFeed writers share their stories of how they ended up at the college they attended. The theme of many of these stories: it’s not as important where you go, but what you make of your experience once you get there.

Confessions of a College Admissions Officer: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the admissions process from an admissions officer’s point of view. This admissions officer talks about odd essay topics he/she has seen and what things students (or their parents) do that impact an admissions officer’s view of the student (and possibly the admission admission decision.)

On College Life—Especially During Your First Year

20 People You Will Meet at College This Year: This post is a great reminder to have an open mind about the people you’ll meet at college—especially the one about possibly meeting someone who might be your boss someday.

24 Rookie Mistakes Every College Freshman Makes: Transitioning to college is about more than keeping up on your classes. From locking yourself out of the dorm to not taking advantage of your meal plan, check out the advice here to help you adjust to college life.

16 Care Packages That Any College Kid Would Love: Bookmark this post and send it to your parents right before you head off for college.

Image credit: Courtesy of Nazareth College (Rochester, NY), Flickr Creative Commons

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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8 Great Scholarship Search Sites to Check Out November 13th, 2014
Scholarship websites

Scholarship Websites You Should Know

College scholarships are an important resource for affording a college education. There are plenty of free online resources for you to find scholarships that you can apply for. Remember: You should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship; if you do, it’s likely a scam.

Use these eight sites to begin your scholarship search.

bigfuture.collegeboard.org: Operated by the same company that created the SAT and PSAT, this site has a scholarship search of 2,000 programs offering nearly $6 billion in aid. Just enter a little information about yourself and your interests to find scholarships that match your criteria.

dosomething.org: This site offers scholarships for students who do good things for others. Each year there are different scholarship options. Scholarships range from $2,500 to $10,000.

Fastweb.com: With 1.5 million scholarships, this site is worth a stop. You’ll need to register for the site in order to begin searching (and for the site to match you with scholarships that fit your profile.)

LatinoCollegeDollars.org: This site connects you to a database of more than 2.4 million scholarships for Hispanic students. It’s run by ScholarshipExperts.com and is supported by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

ScholarshipAmerica.org: Again, you’ll need to register with this site to begin searching. Registering will also match you with scholarships for which you are eligible.

ScholarshipExperts.com: This site offers a different scholarship opportunity each month. All you have to do is write a 250-word (or less) essay on the given topic. Students age 13 and up are generally eligible for ScholarshipExperts.com awards. In addition, the site has a Scholarship Search database with more than 2 million scholarships. There’s also a Scholarship Directory that breaks scholarships down by category: athletic scholarships, merit-based, college-specific, minority and more.

SchoolSoup.com: You can be matched to 250,000 scholarships via this website. You can view scholarships by state, city, college, major and other categories. As with other sites, once you register it will automatically match you to relevant scholarships.

StudentScholarships.org: This site claims to be “the largest scholarship database on the Web.” You can register with the site and it will match you with scholarships and grants that fit your profile. Or, you can browse through scholarship listings of awards with upcoming deadlines. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the site’s career and salary info, too.

Learn more about paying for college and financial aid.

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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5 Things LinkedIn Can Tell You About Colleges November 11th, 2014
LinkedIn University Page

Using LinkedIn in Your College Search

Have you checked out LinkedIn? If not, now might be the time to take a look.

Last year, LinkedIn launched university pages on its site. Today you can use these pages to learn lots of career information about the graduates of colleges you’re considering. If you’re at least 14 years old, you can sign up to create a LinkedIn profile. Go to www.linkedin.com/edu to search for colleges on LinkedIn.

Here’s what LinkedIn can tell you about colleges and universities:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn University Page for The University of Chicago

1. Where alumni are employed. LinkedIn shows you a list of the top companies where a school’s graduates are employed (aka “Where They Work”) and the industry in which they work (aka “What They Do”). This can give you insight into what the most popular majors or programs are at a school.

For example, if  LinkedIn’s “What They Do” data says Finance is in the top three, that college likely has a strong (or at least popular) business or finance major. Likewise, if Engineering is in the top three, it’s a good chance engineering is a top major at that school.

In addition, a “Where They Live” graph shows the cities where most alumni live, which can tell you what cities you might expect to get a job in once you graduate from that school.

LinkedIn Alumni

Details on university alumni on LinkedIn

2. What alumni studied. Click on the Students & Alumni tab to get even more detailed info on alumni careers. Click on the left or right arrows to see more data, including a “What They Studied” section. This shows what majors were most popular at universities, based on information the college’s alumni on LinkedIn have provided.

Also, when you click on a specific area of study, LinkedIn pulls up profiles of alumni. You can browse through those profiles to see the types of career opportunities that might be available if you pursue that area of study, too.

Next to this section, is a “What They’re Skilled At” section, provides insight about skills the college’s curriculum emphasizes, such as communication or leadership.

LinkedIn Recommendations

LinkedIn Recommendations for the University of Colorado-Boulder

3. What graduates really thought about the college. Check the Recommendations tab to see recommendations from alumni. The recommendations may talk about specific programs and professors, and may even give advice on earning your degree or on what to do with your free time when you’re not studying. For example, one University of Colorado-Boulder recommendation advises students to take summer session courses to stay on track to graduate.

4. Notable alumni. Each college listing also pulls a list of the school’s notable alumni. For example, Boston College’s page lists notable alumni such as John Fanning, founder and CEO of Napster.

5. College news. Colleges have the opportunity to post information about the school, so you’ll see a Facebook-style news feed with news and updates from the college. You (and others) can like or comment on the posts. You’ll also see updates when the college gets new recommendations.

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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College Major of the Month: Food Science November 6th, 2014
Food Science

College Major of the Month: Food Science

Do you like food? Were you captivated watching movies like “Food, Inc.” and “Supersize Me”? Are you curious about how food gets from the farm to your plate?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to take a closer look at this month’s College Major of the Month: food science.

What is food science? Food science combines chemistry, microbiology, chemical engineering and other sciences to study the makeup of food. Food scientists work to understand processing and deterioration of foods and analyze food content and nutritional value. Food scientists research new ways to ensure processed foods are safe, tasty and healthy. They also develop new food products and packaging.

What jobs exist for food science majors? According to Penn State University, “industrial food scientists are needed in food quality management, processing, research and development, marketing and distribution.” Food scientists need strong communication, math, critical thinking, observation, data analysis and decision-making skills.

Food scientists work for food manufacturing companies, restaurants, and private and federal food research organizations. Think companies like Butterball (where your Thanksgiving turkey might be coming from!), Hormel, Barilla, Del Monte, Kraft Foods, Frito Lay, General Mills and Campbell Soup Company.

Also think organizations like the National Food Laboratory, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What are education and certification requirements for food science majors? First, look for a food science major at universities that have colleges or departments for agriculture and life sciences. Most entry-level jobs require food scientists to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Undergraduate courses you’ll take may include biology, botany, physics, mathematics, food chemistry, food analysis, food microbiology, food engineering and food processing operations. Many food scientists go on to get a master’s or doctorate degree to study advanced topics such as genetics or biotechnology.

Additionally, you can obtain certification from organizations such as the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

How much do food scientists make? The median annual salary for food scientists is $54,890 for those working in the food manufacturing industry, $70,920 for those working in research and development, and $71,440 for those working in management, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more salary information, check out the IFT’s biennial salary survey.

How can I prepare in high school to major in food science? First, check out the IFT’s Day in the Life of a Food Scientist online series to learn more about food science careers. Next, be sure to take all the science classes (including AP courses) you can. Plus, take any home economics courses that cover nutrition or food preparation. It’s also a good idea to find a professional in your area that you could job shadow for a day.

What scholarships are available for food science majors? Many college scholarships are available for food science majors. For example, Feeding Tomorrow awards multiple $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors planning to pursue a degree in food science.

Look for scholarships from food companies, environmental organizations, as well as from food producers associations in your state. For example, the Iowa Pork Producers Association offers various scholarships for students studying an agriculture-related major like food science. Goya (a food company specializing in authentic Latin cuisine) offers the Goya Foods Culinary Arts and Food Sciences Scholarship Program that awards students up to $5,000 per year.

Image credit: Courtesy of KEK064/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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College Scholarships Ending in November 2014 October 30th, 2014
Scholarship Money

Apply for College Scholarships

We know that finding a way to afford college is super important for you and your family. That’s why each month we bring you a list of college scholarships you can apply for, and this month is no exception. Our list of scholarships with deadlines in November 2014 includes opportunities for high school freshmen through seniors. Many require essays, so plan ahead and start writing ASAP!

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program: This highly competitive scholarship program is open to high-achieving high school seniors with a financial need. Winners receive up to $40,000 per year to pay for tuition at an accredited four-year college. In addition to financial need, winners are selected based on academic achievement, persistence, a desire to help others and leadership. Deadline: November 1

Voices of Democracy Audio-Essay Competition: High school students in grades 9 through 12 can enter this audio-essay contest for a chance at a grand prize of $30,000. You’ll need to write a speech about why veterans are important to our nation’s history and future, and record yourself saying it. Deadline: November 1 (for submitting to your local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post)

Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum Student Essay Contest: High school students in grades 9 through 12 can participate in this contest for a chance to win up to $300. To participate, write a 500-word essay responding to a political cartoon and text passages that highlight the responsibility of the government to keep us secure in the context of our personal freedoms. Deadline: November 3

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards: This program recognizes students in 9th through 12th grades for their volunteer service to the community. Each school or organization will forward one applicant to the state competition. State finalists will participate in the national competition. State winners receive $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. National scholarship winners receive an additional $5,000. Deadline: November 4

Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest: This out-of-the-ordinary contest in Arkansas provides high school seniors a chance to win up to $2,000 to help pay for college—all you need is the best duck call. Deadline: November 28

Education Matters Scholarship: Write a short essay about why college matters to you to win a $5,000 scholarship. This scholarship competition is open to all U.S. students ages 13 and up. Deadline: November 30

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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