Category: Education

What Do Colleges Look at In High School Students?

High school is a time for students to get serious about their future. If they are planning on getting into a good college, they need to start the process of looking for one as early as the ninth grade. However, what do colleges look at in high school students? It is conduct, grades, and career goals.

Having Good Conduct

Having good behavior is important. When an Ivy League university looks into your background and transcripts, it needs to be squeaky clean. There should be no suspensions, assaults, theft, or even arrests sitting on your records. Some colleges may accept you, but a prestigious university will not. Your arrest record might not be something that may come up in college admissions talk often, but it’s highly critical for your future success in higher education. Practice safe driving, if you need to

Extracurriculars

To be a well-rounded student, you need have been involved in other things than just school. Whether it’s a sport or some sort of artistic activity, it’s going to look good on your applications. If you’re not big on either of those types of activities, and want to highlight your leadership abilities, look at starting a club (particularly one focusing on bettering the lives of others or serving a community). You should also look into student council and being a member of the honor society. These might not seem as significant as your grades or the classes you take, but they show that you are above the rest.

Having A Good Grade Point Average

The Honor roll is the most important reward a high school student really should attain to achieve. Not only should you make the honor roll, but you should also stay there. Being valedictorian, salutatorian, magna cum laude, and cum laude can help you get good scholarships. That means less student loan debt, if any, to deal with. It is always good to check your high school ranking and improve upon it as much as possible.

If you’re wanting to go to an Ivy League, you’ll need perfect grades. They have the best degree programs and only want the students who are top achievers attending their schools.

Choosing Career Goals

Whatever your career goals are, there is a university to match them. There are schools that have excellent nursing programs and internships available to help you get that high paying job you want if you know that you want to do that. So knowing what your career goals can help you save money in the future, and help you make a more specific college choice, as not all the top colleges will have the best programs for your specific goals.

At the end of the day, try your best at school, get good grades, and keep out of trouble.

References and Resources:

Should I go to college in 2018 or skip it? College admission expert weighs in.

Roughly 60 percent of undergraduates between ages 18 and 24 enrolled in a four-year bachelor’s degree program that have taken out student loans say they are responsible for covering more than half of the total cost of their education, a new survey from student loan company Ascent found. However, more than half (51.7 percent) said they do not think the “value of a college education has kept up with the cost.” 47.2 percent also said they will need to cover more of their college costs than they originally thought.

We did a Q&A with Tom Barry, one of the experts at Collegewise, a company started by one of the founders of the Princeton Review which has helped more than 10,000 students gain admission to hundreds of universities. Former Counselors and Admissions Officers from Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of Chicago, MIT, and Caltech (to name a few) are part of the Collegewise team.

Today, how much does an average student have to pay out of pocket for a four-year bachelor’s degree program?

The actual cost of a college education is obviously a nebulous one, and you’ll get a lot of different answers depending on how complicated you want to make the economics of the question. There’s the price on the check for tuition. There’s that price plus foregone earnings for the time that the student is in school and not in the workforce. There’s the price on the check plus foregone earnings, minus potential future earnings based on the degree that a student is seeking which is almost always a negative number. This is because despite what makes headlines, on the whole, there is still a real and unquestionable return on investment on higher education over a lifetime.

But students still need to be savvy. Many families fall into a category where, based on financial aid formulas and methodology, they can technically afford a large percentage of the cost of attendance at a particular school, but doing so might require parents to push retirement back several years or to borrow against their home or other assets. Or they might fall into a category where they can afford only a small amount of the tuition, but the gap between what they can pay and the college’s cost of attendance is covered mostly by loans that need to be paid back and that could limit the student’s options when they graduate. So how much families shell out in the short term might be a pretty simple number, but the impact of that price will vary in the long term from family to family.

Is it still worth it to pursue a college education then?

It’s probably more important than ever for students to ask themselves why they are pursuing college and what their aims are after they finish.

If you look at national data, there is clearly a long-term financial benefit for students who pursue tertiary education, even after considering the expense of loans. This is especially true in the STEM fields, which is why you see so many students and families clambering toward computer science and engineering programs.

But there’s more to it than that. A student who hates math and science in high school probably isn’t going to fall in love with calculus all of a sudden when they get to college. And then they’re stuck having to do a job they’re not excited about for the rest of their lives rather than something they’re actually passionate about. In that case, one might turn the question around and ask whether the increased income is worth the education.

What do you think schools should do to increase the value they provide compared with the tuition they receive?

Many colleges are already doing a lot to reinforce the marketability and job placement results of their graduates, in large part due to demand from students and parents to see tangible results from their college educations. Frankly, though, I’m not convinced that it is – or even should be – the college’s job to increase their value to students. Rather, it’s the student’s job to maximize the opportunities available to them, whatever those happen to be.

It doesn’t matter how fancy a college’s career services portal is or how many resume workshops they run if you, as a student, aren’t willing to take ownership of your own future and put in the time to take advantage of the college’s offerings.

How can students select a school that will provide an education equal to its costs?

Most colleges release earnings reports of graduates immediately upon graduation or within five years of graduation. Practically speaking, those reports typically rely on self-reported data that is only collected from the graduates who are interested in responding in the first place, so they can be rather inflated and misleading. (People who are doing well for themselves are usually more excited to share information about their earnings than those who are not.) But these statistics provide an actual, concrete number to latch onto, so it’s not unrealistic for students to view those numbers as a solid indication of how they might fare after graduation.

But just like so many other aspects of a student’s college experience, you get out what you put in. So rather than just asking “What’s available?” or “How have other people done in the past?”, try to reframe the question so that instead you’re asking “What am I going to take advantage of at this particular school?” Because in the end, while colleges are institutions of learning, it’s not realistic to think that someone else is going to do the learning for you. It’s the student’s job to seek out resources and take advantage of the ones that will help them to be successful.

What less expensive options are there?

Community colleges and two-year institutions are fantastic ways for students to try out higher education at a lower price. And many public four-year universities, particularly in California and Washington (the two states with the education systems that I happen to know best), are quite explicit that when reviewing transfer applications, priority goes to students looking to transfer from a two-year college rather than to students already enrolled at a four-year university.

In addition, we’re seeing a lot of growth in apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs that can provide an education that focuses more on the skills of the trade. And for kids interested in the military, there are also service academies, the GI Bill, and a few community programs that can provide stipends that count toward the cost of higher education or even cover the whole thing.


Tom Barry served for four years as an assistant director of admissions at his alma mater, Colorado College, home of the beloved Block Plan where students plunge into one course at a time for three-and-a-half weeks before moving on to a new subject. After earning a master’s degree in international education administration from Stanford, Tom worked as a global programs manager for the African Leadership Academy before migrating to the Pacific Northwest to join Collegewise in June 2014.

A budding master chef who can flip food in a pan with only the rare catastrophic floor drop, Tom won first place in the “Took a Risk and Totally Nailed It” category of a recent pie baking competition for his original creation, The Burrito Pie. When he’s not counseling or cooking, Tom enjoys traveling, spending time in the great outdoors, and writing the occasional product review for USA Triathlon Magazine.

Education & Experience

  • M.Ed., Stanford University
  • Former Assistant Director of Admissions, Colorado College

4 Ways To Get A Headstart On Your College Credits

Transitioning beyond high school can seem complicated, but with specific resources getting a headstart on college is possible. Here are four ways you can approach earning college credit before you ever step foot in your first lecture hall:

1) Take AP classes in high school

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are designed by The College Board and implemented in high schools across the country which allow students to take college-level courses without the college price tag. Students who take AP courses can take subject exams that could qualify them for placement in upper-division courses in college, or college credit. However, if your school doesn’t offer college courses, online high schools generally do. Be sure to do your best with these courses, as they can be touch and accelerated – read up on some tips we have on better ways to study.

2) Consider an online high school

Admit it, and you already spend a lot of time scrolling through your feed. Why not consider spending some of that screen time earning a high school diploma online? Like other programs that give you a leg-up on your way to college, online high schools can be a worthwhile investment towards your future. In addition to earning dual credit, online high schools also tend to offer flexible schedules, and some are even affiliated with existing colleges. Whether you want to zoom through or take your time, the choice is yours with online high schools.

3) Enroll in community college courses

Community colleges can have a bad rep, but they are actually useful resources to high school students. Many community colleges offer semester-long courses to high school students looking to get ahead. When courses during the semester are not offered, there are often summer options that likewise count towards college credit. Though costs are involved, the U.S. Department of Education recently rolled out a plan that would help provide some financial aid assistance to students seeking dual enrollment, making prices more affordable.

4) Take your college’s placement tests

English 101 and Math 98 are just a few of the introductory courses you may have to take during your freshman year of college. However, you can often opt to take a placement test in any of these subjects to skip ahead to upper-division coursework, or claim the general credits. These tests will determine whether your existing knowledge of the subject meets college standards, and can be requested through advisors or individual departments depending on your college.

Regardless of the approach you use, earning college credit before or within your freshman year is doable, all it takes is knowing about your options.

References:

https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/home

https://www.connectionsacademy.com/curriculum/online-high-school

https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-expanding-college-access-through-dual-enrollment-pell-experiment?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

 

7 Daily Habits To Improve Your Grades

Getting good grades is really something that doesn’t happen overnight. It is the result of decisions over a whole semester. You need to develop good habits and skills if you want to end up with good grades. Here are seven daily habits that will help improve your grades.

Don’t procrastinate

Procrastination is a great way for you to have your grades drop and have a whole lot of stress. As long as you are working on big projects a little bit at a time and studying for your big test every day, you won’t be overwhelmed when it comes time for your due dates or exams.

Find a great place to study

Finding a great place to study can really make a big difference. When you are used to studying in a certain area, your mind and body will be ready to get to work once you enter this quiet place that is free from distractions.

Be consistent with your work

If you are trying to shove out a ton of work on certain days but not others, you are going to have a hard time consistently getting good grades. Make sure that you are taking time out of each day to study and do your homework.

Re-solve tough math problems from the day before

If you really want to have an edge, work on tough math problems from the day before. You will learn the concepts much more efficiently this way.

Find free tutoring programs

There are many free tutoring options for those who want to maintain good grades. Whether you are in high school or college, you will be surprised by the many different tutoring programs that are available to you.

Listen to music that helps you focus

It is amazing how much music can help you focus. The best type of music to listen to when you are doing your homework is instrumental music without lyrics. This way, you won’t be distracted while reading or writing.

Prioritize your activities

While having a social life is very important, you need to realize that grades are a big part of your future. It also feels a whole lot better to go out with your friends after you have gotten all of your difficult work done.

These are just a few habits that can really help you improve your grades. If you are able to create great study habits, you are probably going to have some pretty great grades.

References:

Campus Explorer | Top 10 Study Skills for High School Students

Collegewise | Want Better Grades?

US News | 10 Study Methods for College-Bound Teens

 

Do You Really Need To Go To College To Succeed?

It has long been said that there’s a link between college and success. It’s true in some regards. There are many high-level positions which necessitate a college degree. However, not everyone needs to go to college in order to have a satisfying career. While college is beneficial to many, it also comes with a number of drawbacks that should also be considered.

A degree does not equal a career

Once upon a time, the secret to success in life seemed to be getting a college diploma and then seemingly walking right into a well-paying job. Unfortunately, that’s no longer a feasible reality for college graduates around the world. With more and more people getting their degrees, the market has become saturated to the point of the degree losing value. While employers might have previously seen having a diploma as being a bonus, it’s now seen as more of a requirement. If someone’s most significant accomplishment is getting their college diploma, they might as well get in line with thousands of other candidates who can say the same thing.

It seems what’s more much more important than having a degree is having desirable skills.

Despite their association with employment success, colleges are primarily about education, not job training. Unless you’re majoring in a field such as pre-med or physical therapy, with a readily-identifiable career track, it can be challenging to find work after college without a solid list of skills.

Avoiding debt

Student debt in America is now at $1.5 trillion. If you know anyone who has graduated with loan debt, you might hear about how they have tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay back. Even if someone can get a well-paying job out of college, their debt can be so enormous that an unsettling amount of their paycheck needs to go into paying it off. Scholarships and paying in-state tuition help to some extent, but not everyone has those options.

One option that’s worth considering is not going to college. Saving money is an essential skill for everyone to develop, and it can be made a lot easier if you more money to your name. When you opt for a non-college career path, you can make it easier to save for emergencies and pay your bills. The scary state of student debt in America might get even worse before it gets better. If you go to college and aren’t able to pay off your loans, it could significantly damage your credit score, making it difficult to find housing or purchase a car.

Jobs that don’t require a career

Some people would have you believe that you need to go to college or you’re going to be stuck in a dead-end, low-paying job. However, that’s simply not true. All kinds of high-paying careers don’t require a college diploma. Many of these are essential for our society to function properly and require specific abilities.

Some of the highest-paying, non-college jobs include dental hygienist, postal carriers, web developers, and pilots. Think about how much trouble we would get into if those positions weren’t filled by qualified individuals. You might have suspected that at least a couple of those would require a college degree. Even without a bachelor’s, you can still find success in the workforce.

Delaying college

Many people go to and leave college not feeling like they have any sort of understanding as to why they’re doing it. To them, it can seem like going to college is something done out of obligation. This can cause many people to drop out (still with plenty of debt), because they aren’t emotionally mature enough to handle the life changes associated with college or find the proper motivation. Even those who get their degree might leave college wishing they had been better prepared for the transition.

However, going to college can indeed be worthwhile. If you think that you might look to go to college, but don’t think you would be ready at this time, don’t feel pressured to apply. Instead, you can figure out what you want out of life. You can try out different jobs and save money along the way. You can also try volunteering or traveling to expose yourself to how different people live. When the time is right, you can decide to enroll in your college. Alternatively, you can decide that college isn’t the best choice for you.

Getting the most out of college

People who have a specific reason for going to college to are already a step ahead of the people who go for the sole purpose of getting a degree. If you’re planning to go to college, you shouldn’t let anyone discourage you. However, you need to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons.

You should have an interest in a career that will require a college diploma. Some things are wonderful to study, but they don’t lend themselves easily to post-college success. If you like the idea of education for education’s sake, that’s great. However, you shouldn’t feel like you’re entitled to the job of your dreams because you went to college.

It’s almost crucial that you consider the financial burden of college. There might be a school that you’ve wanted to attend for years, but if it’s out-of-state and you don’t have a scholarship, it can become almost unfathomably expensive. Apply for as many scholarships and financial aid packages as you can. It’s also worthwhile to narrow your search down to schools that are in-state.

While at college, you need to hold yourself accountable. It’s crucial that you go to class, pay attention, and complete all assignments in a timely fashion. If you find yourself falling behind, speak with your professors and advisor. Just about everyone experiences stress in college, but it only gets worse if you don’t speak up.

The value of networking

People can have trouble after leaving college because they didn’t make any valuable professional contacts while in school. With so much competition in the workforce, networking should be a priority in college. You should sign up for internships for course credit that give you a taste of work experience. You should also consider going to networking events hosted by your school.

Networking is your chance to show employers that you are worthwhile when there’s much less pressure. You can cite recent accomplishments in class, such as projects you received high grades on or skills you’ve obtained, such as learning a new language. When it comes time to leave college, you can have multiple contacts who would love to work with you.

If your college offers any job fairs, you should absolutely attend. Even if you don’t think you’ll get anything out of it, it can still be a worthwhile experience. Look at the various booths and take notes on what each company offers. You might be surprised by which companies stand out to you the most. Take the time to really get to know each business. You should also do your best to stand out. Come prepared with an updated resumé and wear your best business attire.

Not going to college shouldn’t be seen as limiting yourself. It can actually be a matter of freeing yourself from things like student debt or deciding on a career path before you’re ready. When you take the time to consider your priorities, you might find that while college sounds nice, it’s not something that you need to do, either at this time or ever.

Resources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB121623686919059307

https://www.americanexperiment.org/2017/11/skills-matter-type-degree/

https://www.onlinecash4payday.com/  

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/student-debt-just-hit-15-trillion-2018-05-08

http://teenswannaknow.com/5-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt/

http://www.businessinsider.com/high-paying-jobs-that-dont-require-a-bachelors-degree-2015-7

7 Life Hacks for Every Teenage Student to Work Smarter

Being a student can be challenging. There are so many new things changing in your life and so many responsibilities that you can’t even find time for yourself. Instead of procrastinating or trying to change the system, you’d better find some shortcuts that’ll help you work smartly. While, working hard is necessary to win in life, working smartly on the other hand can help you accomplish even more.

 

If finding a balance is a problem for you too, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss a few tips that will change your school experience for the better – and most of them are quite easy to do.

Record Lectures

If you want to simplify your studying process, here is what you could do:

• Record classroom lectures (make sure you professor agrees)
• Download the recorder on your laptop or tablet
• Play it loud and make sure you understand the content
• You can edit audio quality using QuickTime Pro or Audacity
• Play the recordings again, at twice or triple the speed
• Start learning

Voila! Now you don’t have to spend hours looking through your old notes and various textbooks. All you have to do is press play!

Set Your Schedule as Your Wallpaper

Its hard to remember your schedule and room numbers the first few days of class. One tip is to take a picture or type out your schedule and take a screenshot of it. Set it as your phone, tablet, or laptop wallpaper and you will have it available at a moment’s notice.

Use Google Translate as an Essay Checker

Writing essays can be boring. There’s so much structure, and so much work to do. Professors can be pretentious, and deadlines can be a pain in the bum. Shorten your time spent at your desk by using Google Translate.

• Write down your essay
• Copy the first paragraph
• Paste it into Google Translate
• Press “Translate”
• Close your eyes, and let Google read your essay out loud for you
• When you hear a grammar mistakes or spot a typo, correct it in your oroginal paper
• Repeat with the following paragraphs

Why not use this free tool to improve your writing — and your grades?

Use Amazon Prime for Free

Laila Johnson, freelancer worker at Essay Geeks service and former Manager at Amazon, shares her advice:

“Did you know that if you are a student, Amazon Prime is free for you? For every e-mail ending in ‘.edu,’ Amazon gives out amazing advantages.”

You can:

• Download Kindle books for free
• Read unlimitedly
• Get instant videos in a second
• Benefit from two-day shipping, and many others

Since you are already a student, open up an account with your school’s e-mail, and benefit from unlimited options!

Use Noise Down

The new intelligent App application called Noise Down automatically detects the noise level in your home, class, or wherever you are. All you have to do is tune your app to suit your needs. If the background noise exceeds your own settings and preferences, an alarm will sound. This is an amazing way to realize whether you need to change study environments or not.

For instance, studying in a café is only a great choice as long as others don’t distract you from your work, right? Know where that boundaries lay by using Noise Down.

Learn How to Use Photoshop

We all know that being a student means living on a tight budget. As technology is developing as such a fast pace, learning how to use Photoshop will always be of great use to you to create presentations, posters, and funny memes of course. Why not start learning, while still young? Not only will it help with your graphics for school, it might even help you get a job down the line! Adobe offers Photoshop to students at a discount as part of its Creative Cloud.

Create a Special Playlist to Stay on Time

This life hack is one of my favorites! Because who doesn’t like listening to music in order to figure out time?

• Choose your favorite pumped songs
• Set up a special Playlist on Spotify
• Listen to it a couple of times
• Start playing it early in the morning, and try to finish your routine by the end of your playlist

Great music while showering, great music while taking breakfast, great music while preparing for your day. Could you ask for more?

Conclusion

If you decided to work smart, here is your opportunity. Record your lessons, set your schedule as your phone’s background screen, use Google Translate to correct your writing mistakes, use Amazon Prime for free, try out Noise Down to focus better on your work, learn how to use Photoshop, and create a special Spotify playlist to always be on time.


Chris Richardson is a journalist, editor, and a blogger. He loves to write, learn new things, and meet new outgoing people. Chris is also fond of traveling, sports, and playing the guitar. Follow him on Google+.

 

5 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism in High School Writing

Plagiarism is using in writing someone else’s text published in paper or electronic form, without full reference to the source or even with a reference, if the volume and nature of borrowing provoke questions regarding the independence of the work performed or one of its main sections.

It is the worst sin in the academic world, and it can cost you pretty much. We are sure you are not intended to plagiarize, but anyway, too many students suffer from the accusation of plagiarism every year. Even if you are in high school, you can use these five ways to avoid plagiarism and stay on the safe side.

WAY #1. Using Direct Quotes

Put someone else’s text in quotes and mention the reference to the source of the text in a link or square bracket (a must for the academic text). In this case, citation is necessary when:

  • A genuine formulation has a special meaning;
  • The original phrase so faithfully conveys a meaning that it is impossible to surpass it;
  • When you want to mention  significant statements of a political leader or a universally recognized researcher on this issue.

When quoting, be very accurate and bring it unchanged. When quoting is not borrowed from the source, but from a secondary source, mention this in a footnote (if applicable according to the chosen formatting style), for example, cit. by: …, is given by: … and indicate the primary source itself. When adding something to the citation, you should indicate this in square brackets. Your explanations in the quotes themselves should also be enclosed in square brackets. It is allowed to single out individual passages in the quotation, but then it should be noted in the same place or at the end of quoting [highlighted by me]. To avoid doubt, it is customary to specify [highlighted in the source], even when the selection already exists in the source itself.

Quotation, the volume of which does not exceed four lines or two sentences, should be enclosed in double quotes. A longer quote is given in a separate paragraph by expanding or narrowing the margins on both sides of the text. In this method of quoting, there is no need for double quotes.
When quoting, it is allowed to remove not relevant extracts from the text, but only on condition that they do not contain meaningful content. The place of seizure should be indicated by adding this sign […] regardless of whether one word or the whole passage was withdrawn.

WAY #2. Paraphrasing

For the reasons mentioned above, do not use a lot of direct quotes in the text and preferably lead the arguments of authoritative researchers through paraphrases with reference to the source. In order to describe the author’s ideas, it is necessary to rephrase his statements, and not to rewrite them from this source. Thus it is necessary to be guided by two principles:

  • The paraphrase should express the essence of the author’s ideas, do not distort and do not violate their meaning;
  • The paraphrase should be directly related to the topic under discussion.

WAY #3. Using Online Plagiarism Checkers

You can’t trust them fully, but they are rather helpful when it comes to the unintentional plagiarism and online sources. All free online checkers work only with open data, it means they can’t find the same piece of text in someone else’s paper which was submitted and added to the database uniting colleges and universities. However, the possibility that you will write something that was written before is rather theoretical, isn’t it? Paid online plagiarism checkers dig deeper — they have a database of journal articles and books, they are mostly also connected to the bases of the peer reviewed journals, which means the search will be truly deep and intense. It takes more time, but it is worth it. When it comes to some serious assignments it is better to use paid plagiarism-checkers. If you have such a necessity not more than once or twice a month it is better to pay for a single check, but if you want to check every paper, it is more beneficial to buy monthly account or even an annual one.

WAY #4. Using Only Valid Sources

Pay attention to the list of sources you are allowed and required to use when writing your paper. Such lists are often provided by your professor in the syllabus to the particular course. Avoid using any kind of “wiki” articles, blogs and other sources which can hardly be named academical. Of course, there are even some tweets which have changed the history, and you can definitely quote them, however, in other cases it is better to stick to the conventional academic sources: books, peer-reviewed journals, academic journals, etc.

WAY #5. Paying Attention to the Citation Style

Failure to use the citation style properly often is the reason why students get accused of plagiarism. It is only normal because if you don’t cite something the way you should, it means that you might be willing to conceal the fact that you used someone else’s work. Use sources like Purdue Owl and similar to hone your formatting and to speed the process up find some free citation generators. Make sure that all the names mentioned in the text are mentioned in the “works cited” part — for this, use Ctrl+F first starting from the top to the bottom, then reverse.

It is not too much difficult to avoid plagiarism if you are writing your academic paper diligently and fast, but it is better to be extra cautious regarding this issue.

 

Sleep Easy: What College Admission Officers Won’t Tell You

According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, private colleges and universities are trending toward raising their tuition “discount” rates despite annual increases of the “sticker price” of attendance. Did you know the average private college’s discount rate reached 48% in 2014?

This tuition “discount” rate makes the enrollment process more akin to shopping for a mattress than
choosing a higher learning institution. This steep discount is offered by using institutional grants that largely come from tuition revenue. Does the old saying about “robbing Peter to pay Paul” apply? Let’s take a closer look at the current process of “shopping” for a private school.

A tale of three mattresses

Buyer #1, an undergraduate applicant in Chanel couture clothing, walks into UberSleep (private college) to buy the perfect mattress (education). The salesman (admission officer) shows the buyer the Hypnos Luxury Mattress with the inflated sticker price of $15,000. The buyer immediately buys the Hypnos because she can afford it and believes the mattress is worth it. Her inner monologue: “I’m spending almost half my life in bed, and this mattress is an investment.”

Buyer #2 walks into UberSleep to buy the perfect mattress wearing clothes she purchased on a discount rack at Marshall’s. She sees the sticker price of the Hypnos and walks out, resolving just to buy a good mattress from Target for a fraction of the cost. In education, she may settle for a less competitive college than she might be able to attend, just because no one has explained to her the way this game gets played.

Buyer #3 walks into UberSleep and falls in love with the Hypnos, but he can’t afford it. He advocates for why he is the perfect customer and convinces the UberSleep salesman to offer a 48% discount. He positions himself as a future advocate for the store, as someone likely to bring more money in the future as the result of the excellent restful nights he’s experienced. The mattress, although still expensive, is sold.

Spike and discount

How is this possible? The mattress salesman can offer the cut because the sticker price of the mattress is inflated in the first place (not to be confused with an inflatable mattress). The first buyer paying the full price allowed enough revenue to offset Buyer #3’s attendance at zero profit.

This “spike and discount” trend has been a staple of the private institution enrollment process and has been increasing since 2008. And it doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon.
Here’s why this should make you mad: it’s a form of lying. It unfairly requires students and parents to play a game as if they’re haggling at a street fair when the future is at stake.

Know your options

The problem for countless potential undergraduate applicants is that they resemble Buyer #2. Many highly qualified high school seniors are deterred from applying to private schools where they would thrive and find academic fulfillment because the “sticker price” of enrollment seems unmanageable. They either cannot afford or simply won’t pay the hefty premium of an “elite” education. They don’t want to risk a potential rejection letter from a dream school because of their inability to pay the tuition in full.

My advice: DO NOT BE BUYER #2! If your dream school is a private university, apply. If your second choice is a private university: apply. If your safety school is private . . . you guessed it: apply! Like any good “salesman,” these enrollment officers need their bottom line. Enrollment and revenue are down for many private colleges, so you’d be surprised how many seemingly unattainable schools are willing to work with you.

The cult of prestige

So many of the elite institutions need to keep enrollment numbers up so they can maintain their ranking and prestige. These numbers partially rely upon the quality of academic achievement within their student body and how many admitted students become freshmen at their institution. Yes, the “sticker price” of a private school is exorbitant, but now you know the tricks of their tuition trade.

As millions of private school college freshman can attest, requiring assistance for your education does not necessarily influence your chances of admittance. These schools are spiking their sticker tuition so that they can offer discounts in the form of grants to excellent applicants who cannot afford to enroll. Yes, private institutions need tuition revenue, but they also need an academically competitive and well-rounded student body to keep their ranking. If you are within the target range of admittance for a school that you believe you would like to attend, don’t let the advertised tuition deter you from getting to attend your dream school.

Aside from scholarships and institutional aid offered through a specific institution, there are many opportunities to obtain additional aid. You can apply for a federal or state grant (“need-based aid” does not need to be repaid); a federal or state scholarship (“merit-based aid” also does not need to be repaid); or a federal or state loan.

As we head into college application season, please keep in mind that the “ticket price” is not where you want to focus. Building your future is not about money, it’s about fit. I trust you’re a more informed consumer—please join me on my website for more insider information to help you on your way to college admission.

Happy shopping!


Pamela Donnelley is a 20-year educator and the founder of GATE College System; co-developed by 26 Ivy League educators that’s committed to increasing equitable access to higher education and improved post-graduation outcomes for underprivileged 9th-12th grad students across the country. GATE is partnering with public high schools nationwide to provide its platform gratis to 50% of disadvantaged, at risk and first generation students, and in partnership with nonprofit JAG.org has been embraced by 34 high schools in 7 states this spring, with major districts now lining up for pro bono access for its disadvantaged student population.

How Can I Create a Relaxing Study Environment?

As a student, studying is a big part of having success and getting your work done. You will spend a large amount of time studying for tests and homework assignments. To get your work done with high quality, it is necessary to have a good environment to study in. Trying to prepare for a test or focus on a difficult assignment becomes nearly impossible when your environment is distracting or noisy. Here are some of the best ways to set up a relaxing study environment.

Find a Quiet Place

As stated before, noise and distractions are going to make it very difficult to study. The best thing that you can do is find a quiet area. If you are a high school student and still live at home, find an area in your home that is calm, like a corner of the basement or your room. If you decide to designate your room to study in, don’t do it in your bed. Studying in your bed will make you more likely to fall asleep and possibly not get your work done. It will also make it harder for your brain to relax when it is actually time for you to sleep. If you are a college student and live on campus, there are tons of quiet places to study in. Libraries and study rooms are widely available on college campuses and make for a great environment to study in.

Make Yourself Comfortable

If you are in a public area, this may not work for you. However, if you are in your room or dorm, you can make your study area more relaxing with a few simple tricks. First of all, some people really enjoy playing soft music in the background. Studies have shown that calm music can help stimulate the brain and make remembering things easier. Another way to make your area more relaxing is to diffuse relaxing scents. The aroma in your room can greatly affect your productivity. Try using a diffuser along with a scent like lavender or sandalwood, which are both known for their relaxing properties. You should also try to let some natural light in. Natural light puts less stress on your eyes, which can help you relax more.

Block Out Distractions

As a student, we are often drawn to one specific distraction: our phone. Cell phones can make a study session much less productive, especially if you get sucked down the rabbit hole of social media. If you want to have a good study environment, the phone needs to go. The simple act of muting your phone and setting it aside can allow you to have a much better study environment. Resist the urge to check it, except on scheduled study breaks and make sure you give yourself a time limit.

As you can see, there are many quick and easy ways to create a relaxing study environment. Each method is pretty simple for students to perform. If you are having a hard time being productive in your current study environment, try a few of the things we discussed here.

How to Get More Volunteer Experience

Let your volunteer experience show potential schools and (employers) that you are dedicated, self-motivated, and that you care about something other than yourself. If you are looking for volunteer opportunities within your community, use what speaks to you. As a teen looking to beef up their volunteer experience, here are some volunteer options to consider.

height=”566″ />

Define Your Cause

If you haven’t done so already, think about what motivates you. Is it relevant to the work you want to do? Defining the purpose of why you are volunteering will guide you toward the best opportunities. At the end of the day, you will be donating your time, so it should be doing something that you can connect with.

Make Connections

Now that you have your cause, contact local establishments for volunteer opportunities. The following organizations often have current openings:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Provide care and support for local children by volunteering as a mentor to younger kids.

Animal Rescue Shelters. Assist with cleaning, feeding, and general care of animals in your town.

Food Pantries. 1 in 6 people in America faces hunger. Get out there and help!

National Parks. If you love the outdoors and wildlife preservation, this opportunity is for you. Apply at your most local park and learn lots of useful wildlife tips and tricks.

Your Local Library. Education is the key to success. Help provide knowledge to your local community by tutoring, helping with Storytime or re-shelving books part-time.

RedCross. Help prepare your local community for disasters and others when in crisis.

Retirement Homes. Spend time with the elders of your community with a smile and an afternoon of fun.

Goodwill. Consistently donate clothing or household goods

Be Genuine

When an employer is seeking potential candidates, they want to hire the best. This does not mean volunteering for ten different organizations to meaninglessly fill up space on your resume.

If you volunteered your time for a day with a few different organizations, you are not going to benefit by placing this information on your resume. Complete or continuously stay committed to one or two organizations. This will show that these are causes that you care about, you’re a team player, and you can make a commitment. As with many things in life, quality is more valuable than quantity.

No matter where you volunteer, remember that employers want candidates that have strong values. Make your resume stand out and showcase the hard work and dedication you have given to your volunteer programs. Include important details and statistics about the projects you have completed. In the end, create your resume to represent who you are as a person and an employee.