Win Scholarship Money Now! 10 Essay Contests for High School Sophomores and Juniors October 23rd, 2014
Scholarships

Essay Contests for College Scholarships

Opportunities abound for high school sophomores and juniors to write essays and win college scholarship money. For potential pay-days as big as $10,000, it’s time well-spent.

My College Guide has gathered a list of 10 essay contests that high school sophomores and juniors can participate in. Be sure to check each contest’s website for complete rules and deadlines. Now, get your laptop ready and start writing!

American Foreign Service Association Essay Contest: Write an essay for this prestigious national essay contest for a chance to win a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the Secretary of State and full tuition to cover a Semester at Sea voyage once you enroll at an accredited university. Any high school student can enter. New essay contest rules and the application are posted in November each year. The deadline is typically in April.

Bennington Young Writers Awards: Students in grades 10 through 12 can participate in this writing contest. Choose from one of three categories: poetry, fiction or nonfiction personal or academic essay. The deadline is usually November 1 each year. Top prize is $500.

DuPont Challenge Science Essay Contest: Middle school and high school students can participate in this essay contest. Write an essay on a science-related topic on one of four of the identified challenges: feeding the world, building a secure energy future, protecting people and the environment and being innovative. The deadline is typically in February each year. Prizes range from a $250 U.S. Savings Bond to a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond. First, second and third place winners also receive a trip to Orlando.

EGirl Essay Contest: The National Academy of Engineering’s EngineerGirl website offers an essay contest on an engineering topic for girls and boys. Awards range from $100 to $500. Winning entries are published online.

First Freedom Student Competition: Write an essay (or create a video) about a topic examining the history and current-day relevance of religious freedom. Top prize is $2,500. The deadline is usually in November each year.

The Fountainhead Essay Contest: High school juniors can read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and write an essay on one of three topics. Prizes range from $50 to $10,000. The entry deadline is typically in April.

JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest: Write an essay on a U.S. elected official “who has chosen to do what is right, rather than what is expedient.” The winner gets $10,000, second place gets $1,000 and up to five finalists receive $500 each. The deadline is typically in early January each year.

George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest: The National Society Sons of the American Revolution sponsors this annual essay contest. Students compete at the state and national levels. You must write an essay on a topic related to the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence or U.S. Constitution. The top national winner receives $2,000. State/local deadlines are usually by no later than December 31 each year, but these deadlines can vary depending on location.

National Peace Essay Contest: The U.S. Institute of Peace offers this contest. First-place state winners receive a trip to Washington, D.C., and a $1,000 scholarship. National award winners receive $2,500 to $10,000. Essays are typically due in February.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: Apply in one of 28 categories to earn a scholarship and have your artwork exhibited or writing published. Awards range from $500 to $2,500. New submissions are typically accepted beginning in September each year. Deadlines vary by region and contest.

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The Latest College Admission Advice for High School Sophomores October 16th, 2014
Sophomore Edition

2015 Sophomore Edition, My College Guide

Have you seen the latest edition of My College Guide? Our 2015 Sophomore Edition is now available online! This edition provides the latest information on the college admissions process, the hottest college majors and careers, preparing for the ACT and SAT, pre-college summer programs, and how to pay for college.

Check out the topics covered in the latest My College Guide.

How to Prepare for College During High School

Choosing a College

Choosing a Major

Paying for College

College Life

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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How to Calculate the Cost of College October 14th, 2014
College Costs

Determining College Costs

How much will college cost you? This is a huge question for students and parents. And sometimes it’s difficult to get a good answer. But a relatively new and little-known tool on college websites can help make it easier for you to figure out what you’ll pay out of pocket at different colleges on your short list.

What is this tool? It’s called the net price calculator. In 2011, the federal government began requiring that all colleges and universities post a net price calculator on their websites.

A net price calculator lets you enter information about your and your parents’ financial situation, and then calculates the amount of financial aid you may be eligible to receive during your first year at the college or university. All calculators will show the cost for tuition, room and board and other expenses minus the amount of need-based aid you may qualify to receive.

Some colleges also include college scholarships you might be eligible to receive, too.

Where can you find net price calculators? The U.S. Department of Education provides an online search tool so you can easily find net price calculators on the websites of the colleges you’re interested in. Simply go to the Net Price Calculator Center, and type in the name of the college. This website also provides more details on what “net price” is, and what the net price calculators can tell you.

Learn more about how to pay for college.

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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Check Out 2014 College Fairs October 9th, 2014
College Fairs

College Fairs

Attending a college fair is a great way to start exploring different colleges. At a college fair, you can talk one-on-one with admission representatives, ask questions about college majors and student clubs, and collect brochures and information from colleges you’re interested in.

Each year, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) hosts free college fairs in cities across the country. Here’s a list of the upcoming NACAC college fairs in 2014:

  • October 11: Jacksonville
  • October 12: Orlando
  • October 18: Denver
  • October 19: St. Louis
  • October 21: Fort Lauderdale
  • October 26: Philadelphia
  • October 27-28: Baltimore
  • October 29: Boise
  • October 31-November 1: Seattle
  • November 2-3: Portland
  • November 5: Spokane
  • November 13: Atlantic City

In addition to national college fairs, several regional and state organizations host college fairs, too. To find a college fair in your state, Google the terms college fair with your state’s name, such as college fair new york or college fair california.

Before you go to a college fair, check out My College Guide’s previous article for tips on “Preparing for the College Fair: What to Know Before You Go.”

Image credit: Courtesy of Lacey Loftin/Metro College Fair, 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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College Major of the Month: Nursing October 2nd, 2014
Nursing

College Major of the Month: Nursing

Careers in the health care industry are in high demand, especially nursing. In fact, nursing ranks No. 6 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Jobs in 2014 list. But nursing isn’t an easy-peasy college major. It requires lots of hard work, book smarts and a sincere interest in caring for other people.

My College Guide is spotlighting nursing as our College Major of the Month to help you gain insight on what it takes to succeed as a nursing major, as well as learn what career opportunities and college scholarships are available for nursing majors.

What jobs exist for nursing majors? A nursing major prepares you to become a Registered Nurse. Nurses work at hospitals, doctor’s clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and schools.

Nurses must have compassion and excellent communication and organization skills, as they coordinate patient care, educate patients about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support for patients and their families.

What are the education and licensing requirements for nursing majors? The college curriculum for nursing majors is rigorous. You’ll likely take courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and social and behavioral sciences. All accredited programs also require supervised clinical experience, where you observe and work in a hospital or clinic setting. Many college programs also have simulation laboratories where you can practice skills prior to working in the field.

Most nursing jobs today require at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. You also have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) after you graduate in order to qualify for entry-level positions. States may have additional licensing requirements.

How much do nurses make? The average starting salary for nursing graduates is $55,800, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ April 2014 Salary Survey. The median annual salary for registered nurses is $65,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How can I prepare in high school to be a nursing major? Taking science and anatomy courses, especially AP or honors courses in those subjects, can help prepare you for the rigorous nursing curriculum in college.

Also, to help make sure nursing is a good career option for you, volunteer at a local hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home or a local chapter of the Red Cross. Or, ask a nurse you know if you can job shadow him or her for a day to see what the job is really like.

What scholarships are available for nursing majors? Check with local hospital and health care systems and their foundations to find local nursing scholarships. Organizations like the Red Cross and businesses (such as medical supply, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies) offer scholarships, too.

NursesLink.org offers a $1,000 scholarship to nursing students. Plus, Johnson & Johnson’s DiscoverNursing.com website provides a list of more than 300 college scholarships available to nursing majors.

Image credit: Courtesy of College of DuPage, Flickr

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 October 2014 September 30th, 2014
Scholarship Money

Apply for College Scholarships

Fall is an important time for submitting college admission applications. It’s also an important time to apply for college scholarships. Every little bit of scholarship money you can earn will help lighten the burden of paying for college. Check out these seven college scholarships with deadlines in October 2014.

Wendy’s High School Heisman: The program recognizes high school seniors, both men and women, who participate in sports, school and community activities. One male and one female winner will be selected from each school, and then go on to participate in the state and ultimately the national competition. State winners receive a $50 Wendy’s gift card and 12 national finalists win a $100 Wendy’s gift card. Two national winners win a $500 Wendy’s gift card plus a $10,000 award donated to your high school in your name. Deadline: October 3

HotelsCheap Scholarship Program: Current college students can apply for this $1,500 scholarship. This scholarship is need-based, and requires answering four open-ended questions about extracurricular activities, your goals in life, the top five things you like to do in your favorite vacation destination, and your family’s circumstances that affect your financial need. Deadline: October 15

Say “No” to Bullying Student Video Contest: Students ages 14 through 19 can create a video to enter this scholarship contest. The video can portray a bullying situation, story line, parody or scene, and show what you would do to take a stand against bullying. The top three videos that receive the most votes will receive cash prizes of up to $800. Deadline: October 20

Joe Foss Institute Video Scholarship Contest: High school juniors and seniors can submit a video to this scholarship contest. The video must focus on the contest’s theme, “Keepers of the Constitution: Service and Freedom.” The video “should inspire viewers and remind them why our freedoms, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights are worth defending; the price for protecting our freedoms; and our responsibilities as engaged citizens.” Winners will be selected via online voting. The grand prize is $5,000. A runner-up will receive $2,500 and a second runner-up will receive $1,000. Deadline: October 19

Horatio Alger Association Scholarships: Students from low-income families can apply for this scholarship worth $20,000. You’ll need to submit an application, essay, high school transcript, recommendation (aka Support Form) and income verification, plus you’ll need your high school counselor to verify your academic info. Allow at least two weeks to complete all the application materials. Check out the state scholarship programs available, too. Deadline: October 25.

Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarships: High school seniors with a GPA of at least 3.0 can apply for this achievement-based scholarship program. Scholarship awards range from $10,000 to $20,000. Deadline: October 31.

Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship: All those hours watching “The Walking Dead” episodes might just pay off. Any student ages 13 or older can submit a short essay to apply for this unique annual $2,000 scholarship. Deadline: October 31

Learn more about how you can pay for college.

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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7 Tips to Explore Your Passions and Choose a College Major September 25th, 2014
Explore Interests

Explore Your Passions & Choose a College Major

Choosing a college major is a big deal. It not only sets you on a path for which courses you’ll take in college, but it also establishes the foundation for career opportunities you can pursue.

But how do you choose a college major and career you’ll love? The key is to explore careers and things you’re passionate about before you get to college.

Here are a few tips on ways you can explore your passions and choose a major (and a career).

1. Think about what you like.

Chances are there’s something you enjoy doing that you could get paid for as a career. Do you enjoy blogging or tweeting? Perhaps a career in public relations, communications or social media marketing is up your alley. Enjoy baking or cooking? Maybe a career as a chef, baker or even a dietician or nutritionist is right for you. Love sports or exercising? Look into careers such as sports marketing or management, athletic training or personal training.

2. Talk to your parents.

Do you know what your parents do every day when they go to work? If not, talk to your parents and find out more about their jobs. Ask them what they like about their jobs, what they don’t like about their jobs and what they do in a typical day. If it sounds interesting to you, ask to “shadow” them at work for a day.

3. Get a part-time job.

To explore some careers, you might be able to get a part-time job during the school year or in the summer. For example, if you’re interested in fashion design, see if a local tailoring or sewing shop is hiring. If you’re interested in a technology career, try getting a job at a local electronics store.

4. Volunteer.

Volunteering is a great way to explore careers, if you choose a place to volunteer that’s related to your interests. Want to be a veterinarian? Volunteer at an animal shelter or local animal clinic. Want to be a nurse or doctor? Volunteer at a local hospital or nursing home.

5. Take career and personality assessments.

You may already have had to take a career or personality test at school. But if not, talk to your high school counselor about taking one of these tests. If you have taken a test, look at the results for clues as to what majors or careers might be a good fit for your interests and talents.

6. Participate in extracurricular activities.

Want to find out if a business major is a good fit for you? Check out your school’s local DECA chapter or Junior Achievement program. Think engineering might be in your future? Sign up for your local FIRST Robotics team. Want to write or design a magazine or website? Try working on your high school yearbook or newspaper. Finding and participating in organizations at your school can help you gain experience and learn more about whether a career in that field is a good fit for you.

7. Sign up for a pre-college summer program.

Many colleges offer programs in the summer for high school students to explore majors. Check with colleges in your area for information on summer programs and camps they offer.

Image credit: Courtesy of Master Isolated Images/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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Sign Up to Take the ACT or SAT September 18th, 2014
SAT money-saving tips

SAT and ACT Test Dates

It’s that time of year! The time to start signing up to take the ACT and/or SAT. Ideally, you’ll want to sign up to take the test no later than the spring semester of your junior year or fall semester of your senior year of high school. The earlier you take it, the more opportunities you have to re-take it if you don’t like the score you get.

Here are the 2014-15 testing dates you can sign up for.

ACT Testing Dates

  • October 25, 2014
  • December 13, 2014
  • February 7, 2015
  • April 18, 2015
  • June 13, 2015

SAT Testing Dates

  • October 11, 2014
  • November 8, 2014
  • December 6, 2014
  • January 24, 2015
  • March 14, 2015
  • May 2, 2015
  • June 6, 2015

Remember, you need to register for the testing dates well in advance, usually at least a month before. Also, even though both SAT and ACT have recently announced big changes to their exams, those changes won’t take effect just yet. ACT’s enhancements will go into effect in 2015, and the SAT changes will start in 2016.

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 Admission Essay Tips from the Pros September 16th, 2014
Writing Essays

Writing Essays for College Applications and Scholarships

Writing a college admission essay is hard work and may be overwhelming. But there are many professionals out there who can help you write the best essay possible. My College Guide has searched the Internet for their best advice, and now we’re bringing you four blog posts with great advice you can use to write your own essays for college applications and college scholarships.

How Parents Can Help You Write Your Essay: The College Essay Guy blog has some great advice on essay writing, but this particular blog post provides great tips on how to let your parents help you—from brainstorming essay ideas to asking for specific feedback to improve the essay.

College App Grabber Trick: Show First!: In this post, the author of the Essay Hell blog shares her favorite technique for grabbing a reader’s attention in writing: using anecdotes. Check out this post to learn more, plus see a sample essay that got a student admitted to Middlebury College in Vermont.

College Essay Dos and Don’ts: This post gets right to the point, and delivers 13 tips for things to do (or not to do) when you write a college essay.

Writing the Common Application Essay and What to Avoid: Are you applying to colleges via the Common Application? Get several great tips on brainstorming and writing your college admissions essay for the Common Application.

Image credit: Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/DotMatchBox

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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Changes Coming to ACT September 11th, 2014
ACT

Changes Coming to the ACT

Changes are coming to the ACT exam and its scoring, beginning in 2015. According to an article by Inside Higher Education, the changes to the test itself are minor and students will still receive a score from 1 to 36. Where you’ll really see the change is in the addition of new “readiness” scores and indicators. The changes are designed to improve readiness and help you plan for future success.

So what exactly is changing? Here’s a recap of the changes you can expect.

1. New indicators to predict student readiness and performance. New indicators will evaluate your readiness in categories such as career readiness and science and math. As a result, you’ll get a STEM Score (representing your overall performance in science and math portions of the exam) and an English Language Arts Score (representing your overall performance in the English, reading and writing portions of the exam).

You’ll also receive a “Progress Toward Career Readiness Indicator” and “Text Complexity Progress Indicator, ” which will essentially tell you how prepared you are to perform successfully as part of today’s workforce as well as how well prepared you are to understand complex texts you’ll encounter in college and in your career.

2. Enhanced writing test. The essay will remain optional, but essays now will be evaluated on four aspects of writing competency: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use. The writing test “will measure students’ ability to evaluate multiple perspectives on a complex issue and generate their own analysis based on reasoning, knowledge and experience.” The writing prompt may be tweaked slightly as well to provide additional information and give you more direction in crafting your essay.

3. Digital version of the test. Starting in 2015, select schools will begin offering a computer-based version of the ACT. Students who take the digital version will see their results within minutes.

4. More probability and statistics questions. You may see one more probability and statistics question on the test (such as four questions instead of three) than you would on past tests.

5. Additional reading comprehension passages. Reading comprehension questions currently are based on single passages. The updated test will base these questions on comparing or analyzing information from two separate passages.

The ACT isn’t the only college entrance exam introducing changes. The SAT is overhauling its test as well. Learn more about changes to the SAT.

Image credit: Courtesy of ACT

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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