Federal Government Reduces Educational Loan Interest Rates

June 29, 2015
Bad News and Good News First the good news: Recently while the media went into a frenzy with their best Chicken Little impersonation selling their doom and gloom claiming that educational loan interest rates would double. The Federal Government just announced that federally backed educational loan interest rates would go down. Over the board all […]

Bad News and Good News

First the good news:

Recently while the media went into a frenzy with their best Chicken Little impersonation selling their doom and gloom claiming that educational loan interest rates would double. The Federal Government just announced that federally backed educational loan interest rates would go down. Over the board all of these loans dropped .37%.

This means parents that use the PLUS loan to borrow for their children will pay 6.84%, instead of 7.21%. Parents that borrow $20,000 loan during the 2015-2016 school year will save around $558 in interest on a 10-year repayment plan.

Loan Type Borrower Type Loans first disbursed on or after 7/1/14 & before 7/1/15 Loans first disbursed on or after 7/1/15 & before 7/1/16
Direct Subsidized Loans Undergraduate 4.66% 4.29%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate 4.66% 4.29%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or Professional 6.21% 5.84%
Direct PLUS Loans Parent PLUS Loan Parents and Graduate or Professional Students 7.21% 6.84%

*Perkins Loans (regardless of the first disbursement date) have a fixed interest rate of 5%.

So that is the good news, educational loan interest rates are reduced. Maybe they are anticipating another crash. Time will tell.

On to the Bad News:

While the Feds announced the lower interest rate they have also reduced the Income Asset Protection Allowance by a bewildering 85%. Headlines read: Feds reduced the Financial Aid Asset Protection Allowance by 85%!

Some basics on financial aid, the income protection allowance (IPA) is a modest allowance for basic living expenses( or your emergency funds). The IPA or Asset Protection is a dollar amount of money that is not counted in the financial aid formula. The federal government says that a family of 4 is allowed to have $XXXX. in savings, checking and other exposed assets. Every dollar above this number is calculated into the Expected Family Contribution number thus reducing the aid given.

If a family of 4 has $20,000 above the asset protection allowance, then that $20,000 of exposed money will reduce the amount of aid the student is eligible to receive.

With the age of the older parent at 45 and married; the protection allowance is $6,300. At age 46 the allowance is $6,400, at 50 it is $7,100 at 55 it is $8,100 etc.

Last year the Protection Allowance for a married family with the older parent age 45, it was $30,700. Last year a family that had $30,699 in their checking/saving account was below the protection allowance threshold. This year this same family now has $24,399 of exposed money that will reduce their aid package by 10% to as much as 20%. This family will receive 10% less financial aid and will be forced to take out more educational loans.

It is more important than ever to reduce your exposed assets and move the money into sheltered products just so that you can get what you should have received.

This makes me angry! While diligent families do their best to save for college it only backfires because the money they saved was exposed and counts against them. You must learn how the financial aid system works so that you can legally and ethically take advantage of the system while you stack the deck in your favor. Yes, save money for college but it must be done in such a way that it does not hinder your chances or reduce your overall aid package.

Ask me in person or off line why the federal government is doing this. Without stirring up a hornets’ nest, you’ll be shocked to find out the real reason.

Get your [financial] house in order so that your student qualifies for everything they are entitled and graduate debt free or near debt free. Contact me now.

 

 

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Common Application 2015-2016 Essay Prompts

April 24, 2015
Common Application 2015-2016 Essay Prompts The Common Application Organization announced Essay Prompts for the 2015-2016 Common Application on March 31, 2015. Students will be instructed to select and respond to one prompt with a 650 word limit. 1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application […]

Common Application 2015-2016 Essay Prompts

The Common Application Organization announced Essay Prompts for the 2015-2016 Common Application on March 31, 2015. Students will be instructed to select and respond to one prompt with a 650 word limit.

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

See you at the Application Boot Camp class!

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Early Decision or Early Action vs Regular Decision

December 29, 2014
Early Decision or Early Action vs Regular Decision If a student has the grades and test scores that match or are in the upper 1/3 bracket of students that are admitted AND the parents do not care about getting financial aid, then apply Early Decision/Early Action. However, if financial aid is needed then apply under […]

Early Decision or Early Action vs Regular Decision

If a student has the grades and test scores that match or are in the upper 1/3 bracket of students that are admitted AND the parents do not care about getting financial aid, then apply Early Decision/Early Action. However, if financial aid is needed then apply under the Regular Decision guidelines (but submit your application well before the Early Decision deadline.
From Harvard’s website.
Harvard does not offer an advantage to students who apply early. Higher Early Action acceptance rates reflect the remarkable strength of Early Action pools. For any individual student, the final decision will be the same whether the student applies Early Action or Regular Decision.
https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/application-timeline/restrictive-early-action

From Forbes website
A New Twist
Something relatively new in the aid world is some public universities and less well-known private colleges are now requiring those students applying for admission early, either through the early decision or early action admission options, to complete the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA, while students applying under the regular admission process need only to complete the FAFSA. Applying for admission early is a proven way to boost a student’s chances of being accepted, but if more and more colleges require the CSS Profile when applying early, and a family’s finances look less favorable for aid based on the Profile, the unintended consequence may be a less favorable aid package.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/troyonink/2014/02/14/how-assets-hurt-college-aid-eligibility-on-fafsa-and-css-profile/

To get the most aid, apply under the Regular Decision guidelines and submit the application before the Early Decision deadline.

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Phoenix College Fair 14

August 19, 2014
Phoenix College Fair is September 28 Sunday 11AM-3PM Imagine filling out 100 plus+ forms. I’ve got writers cramps just thinking about it. At the upcoming Phoenix College Fair, almost 200 schools will be represented. Working on your “College Touch Points” is now easier than ever. It used to be that when a student went to […]

Phoenix College Fair is September 28 Sunday 11AM-3PM

Imagine filling out 100 plus+ forms. I’ve got writers cramps just thinking about it. At the upcoming Phoenix College Fair, almost 200 schools will be represented.

Working on your “College Touch Points” is now easier than ever. It used to be that when a student went to a college fair they would take 5 minutes or more filling out contact forms for each college they were interested in. Now a quick scan from a prefilled out form handles all of it electronically.

No need to fill out all the registration cards for dozens of colleges by hand!

New streamlining procedures are now available. Watch the 3 minute video and register on the link below.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq3sk5nXWJk

Sunday, September 28, 2014

11:00am to 3:00pm

While the College Fair is free to attend, NACAC is encouraging all students to pre-register  online.   After registering, you will have access to a bar-coded page, please print this page and take it to the fair. Each college  and university attending the fair will have a scanner that will retrieve your  information when the barcode is scanned.

Pre-registration is available online at the  following link:

https://www.gotomyncf.com/

Phoenix Convention Center
100 N Third Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Fair Hours: Sunday, Sept 28, 11-3PM

Colleges attending

1-Adams State University
2-American University
3-Arcadia University
4-Arizona Christian University
5-Arizona State University
6-Assumption College
7-Augustana College
9-Baylor University
10-Benedictine University at Mesa
11-Berklee College of Music
12-Black Hills State University
13-Boise State University
14-Bradley University
15-Bryant University
16-California Baptist University
17-California Lutheran University
18-California Maritime Academy
19-California Polytechnic State University
20-California State University-Fresno
21-California State University-San Marcos
22-Carleton College
23-Central College
24-Central Washington University
25-Chapman University
26-Coe College
27-Colorado Christian University
28-Colorado School of Mines
29-Colorado State University
30-Colorado State University-Pueblo
31-Columbia College Chicago
32-Concordia University-Irvine
33-Cornell College
34-Creighton University
35-DigiPen Institute of Technology
36-Dominican University of California
37-Drake University
38-Drexel University
39-Earlham College
40-Eastern Washington University
41-Eckerd College
42-Education Management Corporation
43-Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
44-Empire Beauty School
45-FIDM-The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
46-Florida Institute of Technology
47-Fort Lewis College
48-George Mason University
49-Gonzaga University
50-Grinnell College
51-Hastings College
52-Hawaii Pacific University
53-Hendrix College
54-High Point University
55-Hillsdale College
56-Hofstra University
57-Holy Cross College
58-Humboldt State University
59-Illinois Institute of Technology
60-Illinois Wesleyan University
61-John Cabot University
62-Johnson & Wales University
63-Juniata College
64-Lehigh University
65-Lewis & Clark College
66-LIM College - Where Business Meets Fashion
67-Loyola University Chicago
68-Marquette University
69-Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
70-Menlo College
71-Michigan State University
72-Mills College
73-Minnesota State University Moorhead
74-Montana State University-Billings
75-Montana Tech of The University of Montana
76-Mount Marty College
77-Mount St. Mary's College
78-New Mexico State University
79-New York Film Academy
80-New York Institute of Technology
81-Northeastern University
82-Northern Arizona University
83-Norwich University
84-Nova Southeastern University
85-Oklahoma City University
86-Oregon Institute of Technology
87-Oregon State University
88-Pacific Lutheran University
89-Pacific University
90-Penn State University
91-Portland State University
92-Prescott College
93-Purdue University
94-Quest University Canada
95-Radford University
96-Regis University
97-Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
98-Rice University
99-Rochester Institute of Technology
100-Rocky Mountain College
101-Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
102-Rutgers
103- The State University of New Jersey
104-Saint John's University
105-Saint Louis University
106-Saint Mary's College of California
107-Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
108-Samford University
109-San Diego State University
110-San Jose State University
111-San Juan College
112-Santa Clara University
113-Sarah Lawrence College
114-Savannah College of Art and Design
115-Seattle Pacific University
116-Seattle University
117-Seton Hall University
118-Simpson College
119-Soka University of America
120-Sonoma State University
121-South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
122-Southern Methodist University
123-Southern Utah University
124-St. Edward's University
125-St. Katherine College
126-St. Mary's University
127-Texas Christian University
128-Texas State University-San Marcos
129-The American University of Paris
130-The Catholic University of America
131-The New School
132-The University of Alabama
133-The University of Arizona
134-The University of Montana Western
135-The University of New Mexico
136-The University of Tampa
137-Trinity University
138-Tulane University
139-Universal Technical Institute
140-University of Advancing Technology
141-University of California Santa Barbara
142-University of California-Davis
143-University of California-Irvine
144-University of California-Merced
145-University of California-San Diego
146-University of California-Santa Cruz
147-University of Central Florida
148-University of Colorado Boulder
149-University of Colorado Colorado Springs
150-University of Hawaii at Manoa
151-University of Kansas
152-University of La Verne
153-University of Mary
154-University of Miami
155-University of New Haven
156-University of North Dakota
157-University of Northern Colorado
158-University of Oklahoma
159-University of Oregon
160-University of Portland
161-University of Redlands
162-University of Rochester
163-University of San Diego
164-University of San Francisco
165-University of Saskatchewan
166-University of St. Andrews
167-University of Utah
168-University of Washington
169-University of Wisconsin-Madison
170-University of Wyoming
171-Utah State University
172-Utah State University- College of Eastern Utah
173-Vanderbilt University
174-Vanguard University of Southern California
175-Virginia Military Institute
176-Wartburg College
177-Washington State University
178-Weber State University
179-Webster University
180-Wentworth Military Academy & College
181-Western State Colorado University
182-Western Washington University
183-Whittier College
184-Whitworth University
185-Willamette University
186-Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba (XUSOM)
187-Yavapai College

 

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Scottsdale College Fair 14

August 19, 2014
the Scottsdale College Fair 14 2014 Scottsdale College Fair Saturday, September 27th, 20141:00-3:00pm the day before the Phoenix College Fair at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. This website is easier to use than the NACAC website. (about 100 colleges will be in attendance) Scottsdale College Fair September 27 2014, 1-3PM Scottsdale Center for the Performing […]

the Scottsdale College Fair 14

2014 Scottsdale College Fair 
Saturday, September 27th, 2014
1:00-3:00pm

the day before the Phoenix College Fair at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. This website is easier to use than the NACAC website. (about 100 colleges will be in attendance)

Scottsdale College Fair September 27 2014, 1-3PM Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts 7380 E. 2nd Street Scottsdale, AZ 85281   www.ScottsdaleCollegeFair14.com

Here is a link to the colleges that will be attending... http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.410373392343057.86931.166314886748910&type=1 about 98 colleges are represented...

Go to the fair, see the colleges, meet the recruiters.

 

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Essay Prompts for 2014-2015 Common Application

February 13, 2014
Essay Prompts for 2014 -2015 Common Application Just announced this February 2014: the 2014-2015 essay prompts will remain unchanged from the previous year. The 2014-2015 Common Application, launch date August 1, 2014, will include five “personal statement” essay prompts. The prompts were designed to enable applicants to tell their unique stories as part of a […]

Essay Prompts for 2014 -2015 Common Application

Just announced this February 2014: the 2014-2015 essay prompts will remain unchanged from the previous year.

The 2014-2015 Common Application, launch date August 1, 2014, will include five “personal statement” essay prompts. The prompts were designed to enable applicants to tell their unique stories as part of a holistic selection process.

Carmen Lopez, Executive Director of a non-profit catering to college success of Native American and Native Hawaiian students, believes this is especially true for these types of students and any student "We have found the Common App's new essay prompts to be highly effective. Students are presenting themselves as multi-dimensional, writing with an authentic voice, and writing meaningfully as both students and Native students."

In a recent survey, nearly 70% of Common Application member colleges and 90% of school counselors indicated that the prompts are effective in helping students represent themselves to colleges.

Students are instructed to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic that “helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice” and enables “readers of your application to know you apart from courses, grades, and test scores” using the prompt “to inspire and structure your response”.

The Common Application will be maintaining the word limit of 650 words for the “personal statement” essay. 650 words is the limit, not the goal. The application will not accept a response shorter than 250 words or greater than 650 words.

The following prompts on the 2014 -1015 Common Application:

  1. Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Remember to sign up for the Application Boot Camp Class

Use this link to register for this class http://azcollegeplanning.com/bootcamp/800-application-boot-camp

Here is the article from collegeapp.org 

 

1

One Point = $50,000 Lost!

December 6, 2013
Terminal mistake made by too many families and students: Starting the college process late. I met with a family early October who had a senior.  He was a great kid, good grades, a high PSAT score, great extracurricular activities and leadership – a prime candidate for scholarships.  However, he had never taken the SAT or […]

Terminal mistake made by too many families and students: Starting the college process late.

I met with a family early October who had a senior.  He was a great kid, good grades, a high PSAT score, great extracurricular activities and leadership – a prime candidate for scholarships.  However, he had never taken the SAT or ACT, so we immediately signed him up for October 26 ACT (with the late fee).  As we discussed his college choices, his top choice had a December 1st  deadline for scholarship applications.  I was sure we would have a good shot if we could squeeze in an intensive prep in the few weeks we had.  He worked hard and we got his scores November 11 off the website.  He scored high… but not high enough.  He was ONE POINT short of a FULL SCHOLARSHIP!  We contacted the college before Thanksgiving about another test date.  They were polite but stressed, “We have deadlines for a reason, especially when we are awarding scholarships.” With his scores and resume, he would qualify for a partial scholarship, but not the full scholarship.

The difference is a little over $12,000 a year or $50,000 over four years!

ONE Point!  FOUR MORE correct answers!  $12,000 per answer!

He went ahead and sent in his application.  We still have other options, choices, and opportunities with other colleges, but it is sad that we missed this by ONE POINT.  If he would have come a month or two earlier and we could have gotten another test under his belt and more prep time, I am sure this would have been a “slam dunk!”  He would have had a full scholarship to his first choice in his back pocket before Thanksgiving with no pressure on him or his family the rest of his senior year.  Instead, we go to Plan B.  More work, more time, and more stress.

Time is your enemy.

This happens every year. I meet with a family who has a senior, great kid, tons of potential but TIME is against us. There just isn’t enough time to properly position and market those kids. And the statement “If only… if only we came to you a year or two ago..” is uttered by these parents.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start early.

If you know families with sophomores and juniors, please share this with them.

So what should you do?

  1. Attend one of my free workshops, there are two scheduled for December on the 10th or 11th. Use this link to register - http://azcollegeplanning.com/static/workshop.html
  2. If you have attended the free introductory workshop, then call me immediately at 1-888-237-2087 ext 2, and schedule a time to schedule a College Planning Analysis. At this appointment I will evaluate your family specific situation and come up with a strategy. This appointment is $97.00 but I will waive this fee if the appointment is scheduled for December or January. Mention this note.
  3. Share this note on Facebook, forward it to a friend or print it out and give it to a family who has a junior, sophomore or freshman in high school.

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How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park

December 1, 2013
 How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park PDF Version of this page One of my students Matt knocked the ACT score out of the park. This increase in his test score changed his scholarship from good to GREAT! It took effort and you can do it too! Matt specifically […]

 How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park

PDF Version of this page

One of my students Matt knocked the ACT score out of the park. This increase in his test score changed his scholarship from good to GREAT! It took effort and you can do it too! Matt specifically mentions the ACT, however the methodology can be applied to the SAT, P-SAT and even APs!

Here's what I believe bumped up my score:

  1. Taking the ACT 3 times helped me get used to the test format. (*Matt took the SAT and ACT and did better on the ACT. He will supply the college his ACT scores. Matt did not wait until his senior year to start taking the tests, start early. High achieving student should start as early as 7thgrade. When Matt took the ACT his second time, he got the same test score just like the first time he took the test. The reason his score did not change was because he did not do any prep between the first and second tests. Before he took it a third time, he studied the prep book and videos.)
  2. I went to the same testing center almost every time I've taken the ACT or SAT, so I knew where I was driving to and I knew where in the school to go to check in.
  3. Taking the test with people from my school who I am well acquainted with helped relax me before the test. Also talking to them in the morning before the test helped wake me up.
  4. Practice tests from "The Real ACT Prep Guide" book made an authentic test feel where I could time myself and bubble in answers. My improvement in the sections made me more confident in myself. (*Matt reviewed one section from the book areas that he needed to improve in. He reviewed the book 3-4 times a week about 30 minutes each section for two months.*** Use an official Prep Book from CollegeBoard or an official prep book from ACT. Using a prep book from another company or unofficial book will not produce the same results.)
  5. Snack for the break. I felt a significant difference on the second half of the ACT when I didn't have a snack the second time I took it than when I did have a snack the third time. (*Being distracted because of grumbling hunger can cost you points)
  6. Lay everything out that I was bringing for the test the night before. (Pencils, ID, admission ticket, calculator, snack, etc.)
  7. Getting up at 6:00 AM gave me more time to wake up. (Go to bed earlier the night before.
  8. English (1st section) strategy: Mouth the sentences and try each possibility to mentally hear which sounds correct. (Straight from Dr. Beasley’s test strategies, how to beat the test.)
  9. Math (2nd section) strategy: Know all formulas and don't spend more than a minute on a question.
  10. Critical Reading (3rd section) strategy: I find it easier to read the passage and underline key information and not have to look back at the passage when answering the questions. Time is incredibly limited for reading. (*Again straight from Dr. Beasley’s test strategies, how to beat the test.)
  11. Science (4th section) strategy: Look at the question first then answer it using the graphs and possibly skim any paragraph information.

-Matt A. Class of 2013

Numbers 5 through 11 are straight from Dr. Beasley’s test prep videos. Review the Test Prep strategies on AZCollegePlanning.com.

  • Take a real live test for practice, review the videos, review an official prep book, retake. Matt took two months reviewing and studying the official prep book. [Starting review the week before or worse the night before will not produce the results you want.]

A great test score is within your grasp if you implement these ideas.

You can do it! You can craft and create a great score.

 

 

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Testing Strategy for the College Entrance Exams

November 30, 2013
Beat the Test PDF Version of this page Creating a test taking strategy will put you ahead of the competition. Too many high school seniors take the tests (SAT, ACT) only once in their senior year, hoping and praying that they get a great score. Students who are stressed tend to not score as high […]

Beat the Test

PDF Version of this page

Creating a test taking strategy will put you ahead of the competition. Too many high school seniors take the tests (SAT, ACT) only once in their senior year, hoping and praying that they get a great score. Students who are stressed tend to not score as high as they could have if they weren’t stressed out. Don’t wait until your senior year!

Great scores are designed, created and implemented.

First identify the most difficult college that you want to get into. Not everyone wants to go to Harvard, Stanford or the United States Air Force Academy. Create a list of colleges and identify the most difficult school to get into that is on your list.

Next, find the Middle 50% Scores for that college. To find the Middle 50%, go to CollegeBoard.org, type in the name of the school and then click on “Applying” on the left side, then scroll to and click the SAT/ACT tab. Also look at the ‘Application Requirements’ tab and see if there are any special admission requirements that you need to complete, such as Subject Tests. Check the ‘At A Glance’ section (tab on the left side of screen). Scroll down to find out what percentages of students are admitted.

Being in the Middle 50% gets you through the first door, but not yet admitted. Your goal is to score better than the Middle 50% or on the higher end of the Middle 50%. This gives you a stronger chance of being admitted and being admitted with scholarships.

The strategy is: Take both tests, the ACT and the SAT twice. Then look and see which test you are the most comfortable with and focus on retaking that test.

When you take the tests for the first time don’t guess on any of the answers. If you guess, and get the answer correct, you won’t know if you need to brush up on that specific subject area. Review the answers after you have taken the tests to see which areas you need improvement on, prep, study and retake.

  1. Take both tests (SAT/ACT) twice, get a base score, review  the score and see which area needs improvement
  2. Click “Yes” to release your contact info to colleges for interest. On the SAT it is called Student Search Service.
  3. Pick up an official prep book and review 10 - 15 minutes every day. Official Prep books from CollegeBoard or American College Testing are best.
  4. Register on AZCollegePlanning.com and review the Test Prep Videos*
  5. Download the ACT Question of the day and the SAT Question of the Day APP and review it every day.
  6. Review the ACT Question of the Day, every day. ACT questions found on ACTStudent.org.
  7. When you review the Question of the Day, before you click on the answer; ask yourself which of Dr. Beasley’s Secret Test Strategies will get you to the correct answer fastest. (Print out Dr. B.’s cheat-sheet [available online at AZCollegePlanning.com] & review it when answering the Question of the Day.)
  8. Review “retired” tests (these can be found on AZCollegePlanning.com).
  9. Order the “Test Information Release for the ACT and the Question and Answer Service for the SAT
    1. ACT http://www.actstudent.org/scores/release.html
    2. SAT http://sat.collegeboard.org/scores/verify-sat-scores
  10. Take the tests again, but this next time for points. Practice and repeat, practice and repeat!

*Students who practice and apply Dr. Beasley’s Secret Test Taking Strategies found on AZCollegePlanning.com are more likely to increase scores and potentially earn a perfect score. Higher test scores increases the chances of admission and scholarships.

Some colleges require students to take the SAT Subjects test. Double check and verify that the college requires the Subject test or not. Some colleges will take the ACT in lieu of the SAT Subjects test along with the main SAT I. All colleges will take the SAT or ACT test. Some colleges require the students who take the ACT to take the writing section is also. Check the requirements for each college/university that you plan on sending in an application.

Some students take the test as early as 6th or 7th grade. (7th graders can qualify for the Duke TIP program by taking the SAT.) If it is later in your high school years, don’t fret, start now. Sign up and take the earliest test date that you can. Evaluate and retake as necessary.

Students should start taking the SAT/ACT and P-SAT as early as possible. Get a base score, prep/review and retake the tests often and frequently.

Students often worry that taking the SAT/ACT test too many times will impact their chances of admission. This is not true. Colleges will accept the student’s highest test scores.

You can take the SAT/ACT prior to your freshman year. Academically talented students should take the SAT in sixth or seventh grade as part of Johns Hopkins University’s Search for Talented Youth program or the Duke TIP program. Some eighth graders just want to see what it’s like, so they experiment with it. This is good.

My personal opinion is that every freshman should take the SAT/ACT once in the fall and once in the late spring. When those scores come in, special note should be taken of the areas of weakness. The diagnostic report that comes with the score report can be helpful in targeting efforts for improvement.

Juniors should keep in mind that they will be taking the P-SAT in October. The P-SAT is not only a preliminary version of the SAT but also a qualifying exam for National Merit Scholarship competition. Don’t consider the P-SAT as one of your SATs; it’s not an SAT. I recommend that Juniors take the SAT/ACT in the late fall/winter and again in the spring. Preferably you hit the scores you want in your Junior year. Your Senior year should be reserved to retake the SAT/ACT only as needed or if you believe you can bump your scores. Each college can have different test deadlines. In order to make sure your scores arrive on time, check the deadlines of all the college on your list.  Schedule tests accordingly.

You can take the SAT/ACT as early as you want, as often as you want. Colleges will take your highest score. Many colleges actually ask you to retake it to raise your score to get more money. Some colleges will take your best component scores from different tests (Super Score).

My GPA (weighted) __________ (unweighted) __________ High School Graduation Year __________

.
The most difficult college to be admitted to on MY list is: ____________________________________

The percentage of students admitted is ___________________%.

The Middle 50% SAT Scores at my proposed college is:

SAT Reading __________           Math __________         Writing ____________

The Middle 50% ACT Scores at my proposed college is:

ACT ___________ [] with writing [] without writing

This school requires SAT Subjects Test [] Yes [] No

My PSAT Score (Freshman year) _________ (Sophomore year) _________ (Junior year)_________

My SAT Scores                                  _____/______/_________test 1 ______________ date of test

(Read/Math/Write)        _____/______/_________test 2 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 3 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 4 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 5 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 6 ______________ date of test

My ACT Scores                  _______________test 1 ______________ date of test

_______________test 2 ______________ date of test

_______________test 3 ______________ date of test

_______________test 4 ______________ date of test

My SAT Subject Score    _____________ score _______________ subject _________ date of test

(subject)              _____________ score _______________ subject _________ date of test

_____________ score _______________ subject _________ date of test

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How to develop a Passion

November 29, 2013
How do I develop a passion? PDF Version of this page “I’ve heard that college admission people like to admit students that show that they have a passion about something.” One parent and student told me. A high school student wrote that he was worried about his burn-out and his lack of extracurricular activities. This […]

How do I develop a passion?

PDF Version of this page

“I’ve heard that college admission people like to admit students that show that they have a passion about something.” One parent and student told me.

A high school student wrote that he was worried about his burn-out and his lack of extracurricular activities.

This combination of passion and burn-out gets to the heart of a good college application strategy. Far too many students join clubs, compete in sports, and play instruments because they feel these activities are essential for getting into college, not because they actually have any passion for these extracurriculars. When you spend a lot of time doing something you don't love, you will burn out.

College applicants should think broadly about what can be defined as an extracurricular activity. Not everyone can be or wants to be class president, drum major, or the lead in the school play. And the truth is, unusual extracurricular activities are going to make your application stand out more than membership in Chess Club and Debate Team (mind you, Chess Club and Debate Team are both fine extracurriculars).

So the question is: How do I develop a passion and is it unique?

Develop a passion. This starts with what your interests, explore, learn research your interest. The greater your knowledge of your interest, the more passionate you will become. Remember my story about ice hockey. For my birthday I received some tickets to see the San Jose Sharks NHL team. At first I did not understand the rules and why the referee would stop the game play for what seemed like no apparent reason.  I later learned the Icing rule “Icing in ice hockey occurs when a player shoots the puck across at least two red lines, the opposing team's goal line being the last, and the puck remains untouched.”

The more I learned about it the more I could appreciate it and my passion grew.  The more you learn about the subject the greater your passion will become. Passion starts with interest.

So what are you interested in? Movies, books, sports, animals, cars, mountain biking…

Pick up a magazine on the topic. Browse the internet and search for your topic. Find other people who are interested in similar things.

Things that will really make your application jump are activities that the typical teenage is NOT involved with. While National Honor Society is good, hundreds of thousands of teenagers belong to this organization, as well as Key Club, Best Buddies and Yearbook. All these are good but are not stand out different.

Think about what will make me stand out and develop a passion around this. Ask yourself what makes me unique and different, what things do I like that are not typical teenage activities. Do you like the Rubik’s Cube, want to build a sound studio in your home, did you start a lawn and garden care business?

Here’s some ideas for Unique Teen Activities, what’s your UTA?

  1. Create a Green program at your school, neighborhood or workplace Besides going paperless, what other things could be done. Write up a report and give it to the principle or homeowners committee or boss. Then take action. Perhaps create a website promoting the topic for your local community.
  2. Start a business. What talents do you have? Are you an expert at fixing computers, great at math or English and can tutor, professional dog walker or a wiz at creating web pages. You don’t have to be the next Zukerberg, but who knows maybe you can create an empire as well.
  3. Raise homing pigeons- how many of your friends have homing pigeons? Probably none. Raise them, train, and compete. Create a web page or a special report that you could distribute to friends or even the news paper.
  4. Start a recycling program in your community- work with city officials, not just other teens. In order to make this an UTA it needs to be organized. Other teens could volunteer to participate, but make sure you have some adult participation as well.
  5. Conduct scientific research- learn some basic analysis skill from your biology or chemistry class and conduct an organized research effort in your area. If you design your study to give insight to a local problem you will garner local interest in the community and perhaps get written up in the paper or appear as a guest on local TV or radio. For instance, you might research the impact that global warming has had on the species of plants that will grow in local gardens. Or, perhaps you can design a study to track effective mosquito-control techniques that safely work on the local mosquito populations. Feel free to enlist other teens to help you do the research, but be sure that the project has some adult oversight and participation to ensure that the results get taken seriously. Try proposing your project to the local government and asking them to support the research with a small budget. Obtaining even a small grant will elevate your UTA in the eyes of the college.
  6. Write for your hometown newspaper- find a local “beat” in which you have expertise and write-up a few sample articles or opinion columns. Present the material to your local newspaper and offer to do a regular story for them. Be prepared to commit to a certain number of issues and stick to the schedule no matter what.
  7. Manage a rock band- lots of teenagers start rock bands, but few teenagers are rock band managers. Managing a rock band requires the development of a number of skills including money management, negotiation, marketing, people management and a variety of legal issues. A good manager can manage several bands at a time. You can organize gigs and shows in your area.
  8. Play the stock market- opening a trading account and learning about investing is not complicated, but few, if any, teenagers do it. You’ll have to save money from your part-time job or allowance to get the account started, but the time you invest will pay big dividends for getting into college (and paying for it).
  9. Buy some real estate- you don’t have to be wealthy to buy and manage rental property. You may be able to raise the down payment through a summer job. You will have to advertise to find a tenant and maintain the property. You will develop an invaluable set of skills that many Americans don’t even get exposed to until their late twenties or thirties. You will have a very impressive essay.
  10. Invent something and apply for a patent- come up with a new product or even a process for doing something better and you might have a unique invention. Enlist some adults to help you develop a prototype and apply for a patent. You don’t have to hire a lawyer (although you may find one who is liberal with the free advice because you will impress them); you can complete the patent paperwork yourself. It is a big, big job and it will probably get rejected by the US Patent Office, but in the process will teach you a lot about how the patent system works. If your product is a good one you may find a company to produce it and pay you a royalty. Your experience will make a great essay.
  11. Run for public office- get your hands on the local city code and see what offices are available. Your age may not prevent you for running for city counselor even mayor. You will have to raise money for your campaign, organize your political platform and conduct your campaign. Even if you don’t win you will have an incredible NTA. If you do win you will have to take the job and learn about your local government. Being an elected official is probably not a full-time job, but you will have to forgo a few extracurricular in order to find the time.
  12. Swim the English Channel- you may never be in better shape in your life. If you are a swimmer and you dare make the 21-mile swim, you will not only be the talk of the town, but also you’ll be the talk of the admissions department. You’ll need to work with the right people to make it happen and, of course, train like crazy. If you can’t afford the trip why not use the opportunity to raise money for charity.
  13.  Write and publish a book- While there have been some teenaged authors, it would help if your passion and potential major is literature and writing. Enter a short story contest or publish poetry. Who knows you might be the next Mary Shelley (she wrote and published Frankenstein when she was 19.)
  14. Create a club or charity in your community or school- One student’s 'passion' of hunting for free things on the internet turned into a cause. This student collected of toiletries, boxes and textbooks and novels, and free food and donated them to several charitable causes. This student then created a Freebie Club at the high school, collect items and donate them to chosen charities. This activity looks good on a college application for several reasons: it's unusual, it helps people, and it demonstrates the student’s creativity and initiative.
  15. Take your ideas one step further. The student could take this club one step further to accomplish the dual goals of getting into college and helping others -- how about using the club to fund-raise for a charity? Perhaps create a competition for your club or interest; collect donations; get sponsors -- use the club to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.

Use these ideas as a starting point to jump off and explore new and different activities. After you have developed your passion contact the local news paper or TV stations and see if you can get interviewed. TV and radio love to interview kids who have done something special.

What are you interested in?

When you are not doing school work, what can we find you doing?

What hobbies do you have and enjoy?

What kinds of things do you research online and offline?

My passion, my different and uniqueness is and/or my interest is: 

Find your dream and follow your passion!

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