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.

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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.

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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

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10 College Scholarships for High School Sophomores September 4th, 2014
Scholarships

College Scholarships for High School Students

It’s never too early to start looking for (and applying for) college scholarships. Even as early as your sophomore year in high school you can start entering essay, video and other scholarship contests to earn money to help pay for college.

Here’s a look at 10 scholarships high school sophomores can apply for. The deadlines for these scholarships vary, so refer to each scholarship’s websites for its annual deadlines, rules for applying and additional details.

$2,000 CaptainU Student-Athlete Scholarship: Want to be recruited to play a sport in college? Sign up on this website to enter to win a $2,000 scholarship. Students must be 13 or older to qualify. Four scholarships of $2,000 each are awarded each year.

Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation: Compete with other high school students in grades 9 through 12 in online quizzes about general “common knowledge” items, specific academic subjects, books, websites or movies to win scholarships from $250 to $2,500.

Innovation in Education Monthly Scholarship: LATutors offers this monthly $500 scholarship. Any high school or college student can apply. Students must have designed an innovative project that makes a difference in the lives of others (a website, blog, app, fundraising event, etc.) and submit an essay about the project. The deadline is the 20th of each month.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards: This program annually recognizes high school students for volunteer community service activities. State award winners receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., and $1,000. National award winners receive an additional $5,000. The application process begins in September and involves a local, state and national competition.

ScholarshipExperts.com Scholarships: This awesome scholarship site offers a new scholarship opportunity each month for writing 250-essays on everything from ice cream to zombies. Students age 13 and up can apply. Scholarship amounts range from $1,500 to $5,000.

Scout of the Year: The Veterans of Foreign Wars annually awards three scholarships for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts age 15 or older who have achieved their scouting organization’s top rank. Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000. Applications go through a local competition before qualifying for the national competition.

Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology Scholarships: Win a scholarship for conducting a research project! Each year the Siemens Foundation hosts this scholarship contest. All high school students grades 9 through 12 can participate. High school sophomores can compete in teams of two or three. Prizes range from $1,000 for regional awards to up to $100,000 for the national top prize. The deadline is usually in September.

United States Hispanic Leadership Institute Scholarship: This Chicago-based nonprofit organization offers this scholarship to any student who is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident or is lawfully authorized to work full-time for a U.S. employer. Grades are part of the criteria. An essay is required. Three scholarships for $1,000 each are awarded to high school students. Students in grades 9 through 12 can apply. The deadline is typically in April. (Click on the High School Students tab for details on this scholarship.)

U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Scholarship: Top prize is $3,000 for this scholarship. Applicants must have Asian-Pacific Island heritage and be living in the United States. The scholarship is open to high school students from grades 9 to 12. The deadline is usually in April. (Click on the High School Students tab for details on this scholarship.)

Zinch $1,000 Weekly Scholarship: Register for Zinch.com and submit a three-sentence essay to apply for this site’s weekly scholarship contest. All high school students can enter this contest.

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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: History September 2nd, 2014
History

College Major of the Month: History

College majors in the humanities or the liberal arts often get a bad rap, but there are plenty of career opportunities for students interested in these traditional subjects. To highlight some of these career opportunities in humanities fields, we’re featuring history as My College Guide’s College Major of the Month.

What can history majors do for a career? A degree in history can prepare you to work for government agencies, museums, archives, historical societies, research organizations and consulting firms. For example, you could be a director of a museum, or you could be an archivist that preserves and displays historical artifacts. Or, you could manage a state or national historic site that’s open to the public.

Additionally, you could work for a government agency to research and provide historical context on current policy issues. You also could become a high school history or social studies teacher.

What education and experience is required for history majors? History majors need to develop strong analytical communication, problem-solving, research and writing skills.

Most historian jobs require you to have at least a master’s degree, although you can get some entry-level positions with a bachelor’s degree. While your bachelor’s degree may be in history, your master’s degree may be in a more specific area such as museum studies, historical preservation or archival management, depending on the career path that interests you.

How much money do history majors make? Historians make a median annual salary of $52,480, while archivists, curators and museum workers make a median annual salary of $44,410, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How should I prepare in high school to major in history? Take as many AP history, social studies and government classes as you can. Studying a foreign language is also beneficial. Volunteer at your local historical or genealogical society or a local museum to get experience researching historical topics or learning how museums operate. Start developing your research skills by researching your family’s history in old documents, newspapers and more.

What scholarships are available for history majors? College scholarships are available to students majoring in history. Check with national historical organizations, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or National Society, Sons of the American Revolution for information on scholarships and essay contests. Also check with museums, historical societies and genealogical societies in your area.

Get more advice and information on choosing a major.

Image credit: Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (165-SB-62); photo by Timothy H. O’Sullivan. The photo shows the construction of telegraph lines, April 1864, during the Civil War.

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College Scholarships Ending in September 2014 August 28th, 2014
Scholarship Money

Apply for College Scholarships

We know you’ve got a lot on your plate with classes back in session already (or soon, if you’re not back in school yet). But don’t let this month’s college scholarship application deadlines pass you by. There are scholarships ranging from $500 up to $100,00 on the line.

Here are six college scholarships with deadlines in September 2014:

DirectTV Scholarship: To enter this scholarship competition, write an essay on how technology (TV or the Internet) has helped you explore the world. Top prize is $2,000. It’s open to high school seniors (who enroll in college by spring 2015) and current college students.  Deadline: September 1

Aaron Seever Sales Scholarship: Current college students can answer two questions on their experience and interest in a sales career, and submit a short application form to apply for this $500 scholarship. The winner also gets an iPad mini. If you miss the September deadline, you can try again in January. Deadline: September 30

AfterCollege Succurro Scholarship: Current college students in any college major with a minimum 2.5 GPA can apply for this $1,000 scholarship. Simply fill out the application and write a 250-word personal statement. Deadline: September 30

CoffeeforLess.com “Hit the Books” Scholarship: Current college students can enter to win up to $500 to use towards educational books and materials. An essay on the importance of education in your life and how the scholarship money will assist your goals is required. Deadline: September 30

Shout It Out Scholarship: Write about any topic you want the world to know about in 250-words or less to apply for this $1,500 scholarship. Any student age 13 or older can apply for this college scholarship. Deadline: September 30

Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology Scholarships: Win a scholarship for your research project! High school seniors can enter as individuals, while 9th through 11th graders can enter in teams of two or three. Prizes range from $1,000 on the regional level up to $100,000 for the top national prize. Deadline: September 30

Learn more about paying for college.

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How to Be a Great College Roomie August 21st, 2014
Dorms

How to Be a Great Roomie

Going to college means you get to experience freedom (no parents!), fun and, of course, living with a roommate. If you’re like most students and get your first roommate by the luck of the draw, it’s possible you could end up with many stories to tell.

You may have good stories like how you remarkably have all the same interests or how your roommate got you food from the dining center when you were sick. Or bad stories like he never washes his clothes (which are in one large, smelly pile in the middle of the floor), he uses your iPad without permission or she locks you out of the room all day (and night) when her boyfriend comes to town.

Although you may have certain expectations for your college roommate, he or she probably has expectations for you, too. Being a college roommate is a two-way street, though. So, how can you be the best roomie you can be?

Keep it clean. The room doesn’t have be pristine, but it goes a long way to create a pleasant living environment if you keep your dirty clothes in a hamper and not on the floor. If you use a shared microwave, clean it up if your SpaghettiOs lunch explodes all over it, and wash the dishes you use (so they don’t start to reek, mold or attract creepy crawly insects).

Be considerate. If your roommate has an 8 a.m. class and needs to go to bed early, be kind and don’t blare your music, video games or have friends over when she’s trying to sleep. Hopefully she’ll be just as considerate when you need quiet time to study or sleep!

Respect each other’s space. You’ll each have your own desk, bed and even a closet and/or dresser. There’s no need to go through your roommates things when he’s not there. Also, remember to ask your roommate permission to borrow her earrings or use his PlayStation before you use it. You wouldn’t want your roommate to take your stuff without asking, would you?

Talk about problems. If you experience an issue with your roommate, talk to him or her (in a calm tone of voice) before it escalates. Be open to hearing his or her point of view, and be willing to compromise to find a solution. If there’s a huge issue you can’t deal with through talking directly with your roommate, ask your Resident Assistant (RA) for help.

Be realistic. Living in the dorms should be fun, but no roommate will be ideal. You’ll likely have disagreements and she may get on your nerves now and then, but remember, your roommate is human just like you. And, it’s perfectly fine if you’re just roommates and don’t become BFFs.

For more tips on being a good roommate check out Saint Louis University’s How to Be a Roommate guide, Washington College’s Roommates 101 videos and tips and the University of Colorado-Boulder’s 10 Crucial Tips for Getting Along With Your Roommate.

Image credit: Courtesy of Brenda/Sweetapathy, 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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Confessions from a College Scholarship Winner August 19th, 2014

Kristina Ellis earned more than $500,000 in college scholarships to pay for college. The scholarships covered her college bills from her undergraduate degree program all the way to her doctoral degree. Last year, she wrote a book, Confessions from a Scholarship Winner. She was featured on several talk shows.

Here’s a YouTube clip from a TV interview with Kristina, where she shares tips for how to get scholarships, finding your “story” to use in scholarship application essays and more:

Scholarship Tips
Get additional tips from My College Guide on finding college scholarships.

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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What Students Should Know About Credit Cards August 14th, 2014
Credit Cards

What Students Should Know About Credit Cards

When you go to college, chances are you’ll get bombarded with credit card offers. Many times, sign up tables will be set up on college campuses offering you a free T-shirt or free meal just for signing up.

When budgets are tight (and the tuition bill comes due, plus a new version of your favorite video game is being released) it’s easy to think of credit cards as the answer to your money woes. In fact, a 2013 study by Fidelity Investments found that the average college student graduates with $3,000 in credit card debt.

The decisions you make now regarding credit cards can affect your life for many years to come. So, here’s what you should know before signing up for a credit card.

1. Good (or bad) credit counts. Having a credit card isn’t a bad thing because it helps you build a credit history. But your credit (good or bad) will impact your life. In college (or graduate school), it may impact your ability to get a private student loan to cover tuition, room and board costs.

After you graduate, employers may request permission to run a credit check before they decide to hire you. When you want to rent an apartment, your landlord will run a credit check to see if you’ll be a good tenant. When you want to buy a house, your bank will use your credit score to determine if they’ll lend you the money, how much and for what interest rate.

2. Some cards charge an annual fee. Having a credit card isn’t “free.” You still have to pay for what you buy, and some cards may charge you an annual fee (from about $50 to more than $100 per year) just to have the card in your wallet. If you do sign up for a credit card, avoid ones that have an annual fee.

3. Shop around. Be wary of credit card companies that push the card on you—offering freebies for signing up or using other high-pressure sales tactics. By shopping around, you can compare credit cards online to make sure you get the best credit card deal for you. When shopping around, look for low APRs (annual percentage rate—aka the amount of interest you’ll pay if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month).

4. Don’t charge more than you can pay (or more than your limit). Again, having a credit card doesn’t give you “free” money. You must pay your bill each month. And you can’t spend more than the card’s credit limit. If you don’t pay your bill (or you exceed the limit), you’ll have to pay interest and possibly additional fees. That means the $200 dress you bought for a campus party, could end up costing you $224.80 and take you 15 months to pay off (assuming your interest rate is 18 percent and you pay the minimum balance of $15 per month). The debt can really add up fast.

For more advice on using credit cards, check out Purdue University’s Becoming Credit-Wise article, as well as Consumer Union’s  credit card tips for college students (PDF).

Image credit: stockimages/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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5 Resources to Help You Understand College Student Loans August 7th, 2014
College Loans

College Student Loan Resources

Do terms like subsidized, unsubsidized, FAFSA, EFC, annual percentage rate, capitalization, consolidation and forbearance make your head spin? Well, you’re not alone.

As you prepare for college, it’s a good idea to become acquainted with these important student loan terms and resources for student loans. To help you understand more about college student loans (what they are, how to get them, how you pay them back and more), we’ve rounded up a list of five excellent resources for you to check out.

FederalStudentAid

The FederalStudentAid website is a good place to start to learn about your student loan options. It explains the types of federal student loans available (direct subsidized, direct unsubsidized, Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans), how much money you can borrow and how to get a federal student loan. It also has a glossary of terms and tips on avoiding financial aid scams.

StudentLoans.gov

StudentLoans.gov is the federal government’s student loan website. This is the place you’ll go when you want to get your federal student aid personal identification number (PIN) and get info on filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s also where you’ll go to manage your loan after you get a federal student loan. (Also check out FAFSA.gov site for more details.)

The Project on Student Debt

The Project on Student Debt is an initiative from the Institute for College Access and Success, an organization that works to increase public understanding of the implications of student debt on families, the economy and society. Under the site’s Resources tab, you can access information on special topics such as net price calculators, private student loans and Pell Grants. It also has a glossary of financial aid terms and advice for you about borrowing money for college, including questions to ask before taking out a private student loan.

Fastweb.com

Although Fastweb.com may be best known for its college scholarship listings, it also has information about student loans as well as helpful tools and resources, including a college budgeting calculator, info on the FAFSA and info on private student loans. Check out its Quick Guide to Financial Aid Terms (PDF) and its financial aid videos on maximizing financial aid.

FinAid.org

FinAid.org walks you through all the types of student and parent loans available, private educational loans, student loan consolidation and more. It also provides a glossary of financial aid terms. Plus, check out the Loan Payment Calculator to estimate your monthly payments once you graduate from school.

Image credit: Stuart Miles/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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