College Education

2013

MESSENGER POST MEDIA

GUIDE

Getting to know our area colleges.
Advertising supplement for the week of October 6, 2013 Brighton-Pittsford Post • Daily Messenger • Fairport-ER Post • Gates-Chili Post • Greece Post • Henrietta Post • Irondequoit Post • Penfield Post • Victor Post • Wayne Post • Webster Post

Page 2 • Advertising supplement to Messenger Post Media for the week of October 6, 2013

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Money for college
It’s out there—here’s help finding it
By Karen Caffarini | More Content Now

The excitement you feel when your child—or yourself—is admitted to the college of choice could be nothing compared to the fear churning in the pit of your stomach. How are you going to pay for this costly education, especially if there are more family members to follow? There are several websites that can help you find scholarships your college-bound student might qualify for, including some rather unusual ones. Check these out.

FastWeb.com
It says it can help “find your dream school and a way to pay for it” and follows through with suggested scholarships of all types and links to apply for them. It also matches your background with a database of awards. Even if the college-bound student didn’t graduate at the top of his or her class, there are several scholarships listed for which they might qualify, including the featured “GPA Isn’t Everything” $1,000 scholarship. There is a list of military scholarships, those offered for people of a certain ethnicity and those available for unique situations, including being adopted, having a single parent or being from a town with a population of 25,000 or less.

Scholarships.com
View details and apply for scholarships on the site, but you need to be a member to apply. This site also provides a listing of unusual scholarships, including those available to the first member of the family to go to college offered by schools like University of Iowa and Texas A&M. It also tells of $2,000 available to the winner of a duck calling contest, up to $1,000 for tall students, and money for those medically diagnosed with a form of dwarfism offered by the Little People of America.

NASFAA.org
The website of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators provides links to a list of grants and scholarships available by state. For instance, Missouri awards up to 12 grants a year to children or spouses of Vietnam veterans who died from toxic chemical exposure during the war. It also tells of tuition discounts offered to students who attend college in certain other states in the same region. FAFSA is generally not required for the discounts.

CollegeScholarships.org
This site has an extensive list of corporate scholarships in addition to popular athletic scholarships and those offered by student type. Student type includes those who were home-schooled, beauty pageant contestants, nontraditional students and more. It also has links to fill out the actual application. Some corporate scholarships, such as those offered by Walmart, are available just to employees or their children, while others, such as Google’s, are dedicated to a specific field of study.

Finding-college-scholarships.com
Fill out a form on this website and get up to four scholarship matches. Plus, schools will call you to tailor a program and financial aid options that will work for you. It provides advice on how a specific scholarship is designed and steps you need to take to qualify. Do you need community service, a certain grade point average?

Bigstock illustrations

The story Tips offor you a memorable admissions essay
By NextStepU.com

admissions essays

For some students, the prospect of writing the college admission essay is so frightening that they wait until the night before deadline. Others are so confident in their application that they consider the college admission essay extra credit. The admissions process reveals that both sides are missing the point.
Without the essay, a selection committee would have to arbitrarily choose between two (or 200) nearly identical candidates. Unlike every other means of evaluation, the college admission essay is not multiple choice, it is not timed, and it does not require auditions or tryouts. You can re-write it hundreds of times and ask everyone you know to read it. Therefore, there is no excuse for submitting a college admission essay that is not your best possible effort. Many students put off writing this all-important statement of self. They worry about bragging, or they try extra hard to sound intelligent. Consequently, they fill their essay with statements of their achievements, wisdom and the profound lessons they have learned. In trying to create this exaggerated image, many students do not realize that every other applicant is attempting the same thing. Instead of playing along with the crowd, a successful essay stands apart. It tells a unique story true to the writer; one that makes the admissions officer like and remember the applicant.

Topic selection Many students obsess over their choice of topic. Your choice of topic does not matter as much as your approach. Almost any topic can work if it’s tackled in the right way. In most cases, an admissions officer is especially curious how you think and feel about a Continued on Page 5...

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A family affair
Parents, students should talk early about college plans
By NextStepU.com

When the countdown to college begins, the pressure and deadlines can strain even the best family relationships. You and your parents should watch out for these potential conflict areas:
TIME BOMB

Clashes over colleges and courses
Before you know it, you’ll be up to your ears in college planning materials. “The college admission process is allconsuming for families,” says Judy Anderson, a partner with College to Career, a consulting firm in suburban Minneapolis.

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You may soon discover that you and your parents have very different ideas about which college you should attend and what you should study. It’s important to discuss your differences. Your parents might be able to help you see other factors in a college choice, or you might convince them of another school’s worthiness. “Where you go to college does not guarantee success,” reminds Anderson. It’s what you do with your education that matters most.

Talk to your parents about money now, before you get to deep in college planning. Don’t wait until the first bill is due to discover they can’t pay as much as you hoped. The earlier you can start your search for funding, the better. Before you decide to cover your tuition with college loans and credit cards, consider getting a job. Nunn says students who work during college tend to be more organized and earn better grades. If you work on campus, your boss will probably let you work around your class schedule. “A job on campus can be like a home away from home,” says Nunn. “It’s nice to know that someone on campus knows you and is looking out for you.” a job and open a banking account. Teach him how to use credit wisely so it doesn’t affect his or her ability to get loans later on.

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TIME BOMB

Misunderstandings about money
“It’s fairly common that a family can’t or won’t be able to pay” for an entire college education, says Helen Nunn, director of financial aid at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa.

Don’t let that error be missing your school’s financial aid deadlines. Check to see if additional financial aid forms are required by the colleges you’re considering, and keep a calendar of deadlines in a prominent place. If you need your parents to complete certain paperwork, let them know immediately. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for help.

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TIME BOMB

Difficulties with details and deadlines
Michael Alexander, chairman of Student Financial Aid Services in Davis, Calif., says, “One error on the FAFSA could keep you from attending your college of choice.”

Parent tip: Your teenager has a ton of work to do right now. Look for ways to lighten the load.
Doing simple things like making copies, running to the post office or pulling information from a few websites can demonstrate your support. Don’t admonish them if they take a day off now and then. After all, they’re human.

Parent tip: There are lots of terrific universities. Help

your student explore the possibilities. Remember, getting into college is the easy part, but getting out with a degree is what matters. If your student is excited about his coursework and campus, there’s a greater chance he will succeed.

Parent tip: Discuss money now. Help your student find

By NextStepU.com

You shouldn’t pick a college just because you like the dorms. But, if you’ve decided not to live in off-campus housing, a school’s residence halls should be one of the things you consider when making your choice. After all, you’ll spend a lot of time in your new home. As you visit schools you’ll see a variety of residence halls. Some will be in the same building as a cafeteria, classroom or game room. Some have one bathroom for a few dozen students and some have suites where just a few people share a bathroom. If you find a college that’s right for you, you’ll also find campus housing that’s a great match for what you want out of your college experience. As long as the residence halls are clean and well-maintained, it all comes down to your personality and preferences. “They’re not just places where you sleep and study,” says Christina Spearman, interim director of student life at Loyola University Maryland. When you’re thinking about where to live at college, whether in a dorm or in off-campus housing, she suggests thinking about how you envision your life at college: How many people will you share space with? Do you imagine yourself being close friends with everyone on the floor of your building? Will you have a roommate who’s a close friend or someone who keeps a schedule like yours?

Types of housing
You may have heard about colleges building student apartments and off-campus housing with extras like fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and tanning beds. You might be able to live in one of these places at some point—but probably not in your first year. Emily Glenn, corporate librarian for the Association of College and University Housing Officers International, says upperclassmen usually get first dibs on the residences with the most luxuries. Colleges often reserve those buildings for older students. Plus, students who already live on campus probably get to decide in the spring where they’ll live the next year. They’re more likely to pick a place where they share a bathroom, living room or even a kitchen with a few roommates. In your first year at college, chances are you’ll live in a traditional dorm—that is, a room around the size of your bedroom at home with a bathroom down the hall. There might even be laundry facilities and a kitchen on your floor. Colleges don’t put new students in traditional dorms to be mean. When you have to share a kitchen and bathroom with lots of other students, it’s easier to meet classmates who will become close friends. “Freshmen need to meet new people, and it’s harder to meet people if you have your own little space,” Glenn says. “When you’re an upperclassman you already know a bunch of people.” You’ll have at least one roommate when you get to college, but most colleges don’t assign freshmen more than two. Spearman says that if you’re like a lot of first-year students, college will be the first time you’ve shared a room. It can be overwhelming to go from having your own space at home to having five new roommates.

Campus
The best dorms don’t have to be fancy
residence hall for students who share the same interest. Your college might let you request to live on the same floor as other freshmen who share your passion for community service or healthy living. Some colleges have designated “living-learning communities” that combine academics and residential life. Glenn says this might mean a chance to live with other students in your major. Some living-learning communities offer special seminars or activities for students to take part in. Other living-learning communities are focused on foreign languages, politics or a college’s honors program. Fellow students might not be the only people living in your dorm. At Loyola, a Catholic college, Jesuit priests live in some of the residence halls. Even

Consider
n How does the college keep its

life

residence halls secure? quiet study rooms?

n Do you need a dorm with n If you attend a large

university, can you live in a residence hall near the academic building for your major? place in the dorms?

n Do any special programs take n Do you like to cook? Do you

have dietary needs that will mean you’ll have to make some of your own meals?

faculty members at some schools live in the same buildings as their students.

The right fit
So what’s the bottom line when you’re checking out college housing? “Look for a place you feel comfortable at,” Glenn says. Your dorm isn’t just the place where you’ll sleep. It’s a place where you’ll make a lot of lifelong memories. “And don’t worry if empty rooms look drab on a tour,” Spearman says. Your room will probably come with a few pieces of furniture, but the rest is up to you. Just a few pictures and knick-knacks of your own can make the room feel like your own space. “Think about this as your new home,” she says.

Themed housing
Glenn says many colleges are designing their campus housing options so freshmen have an easier time meeting other students. Some schools are doing this by setting aside whole floors in a

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Continued from Page 3... topic and what this says about your creativity, sophistication and personality. However, some essay topics never work. Hopeless essays are ones that betray a student’s lack of perspective. Nobody likes a 17-year-old who cannot imagine the world beyond high school. On the flip side, nobody appreciates 17-year-olds who think they know everything. A 700-word essay was not meant to solve urban poverty or discuss the great themes of life and love. Likewise, you should steer clear of sounding preachy, for instance when condemning the evils of alcohol, eating meat or regulating the sale of firearms. An essay should never risk offending the reader’s sensibilities or beliefs. That said, many possible topics remain, although some are used more often than others. It is common to read of a student’s immigration to America, big loss in the soccer playoffs or admiration of her father. Choosing one of these essay mainstays means working extra hard to make it special. It means concentrating on the details of a story, the facts that pertain only to you, to make the story unique and revealing. This goes for even the most unusual subjects. Regardless of how original the topic, the essay needs to present authentic, vivid details of your life in order to implant itself in the reader’s mind and convey something memorable about yourself. Tell a story Your essay will succeed if it tells a good story. Too often, an essay will fizzle into a series of statements that “tell” rather than “show” the likeable traits of the writer. Some students wrongfully assume that the reader will not “get it” if they do not spell out their main arguments. As a result, the essay succumbs to the usual clichés: the value of hard work and perseverance, learning to make a difference, not taking loved ones for granted, dreams coming true or learning from mistakes. These statements are fine if used minimally, but the best essays do not use them at all. The worst essays are composed entirely of such statements. Use details You should allow the details of the story to make the statement for you. An example helps elucidate the difference. A mediocre essay might say: “I developed a new compassion for those with disabilities.” A better essay says: “Whenever I had the chance to help a disabled person, I did so happily.” However, an excellent essay says: “The next time Mrs. Cooper asked me to help her across the street, I smiled and immediately took her arm.” The first example provides no detail, the second example is still only hypothetical, but the final example evokes a vivid image of something that actually happened, thus placing the reader in the experience of the applicant. Of course, this technique works only insofar as it highlights the qualities of the writer. These larger points should always lurk in the back of your mind. Once a good story is written, any details that distract your overarching qualities should be removed. Revise, revise, revise In order to bring these points to the surface, feedback plays a crucial role. You should give drafts to a variety of readers: relatives, friends, teachers and, if possible, to an experienced editor. Test readers should give their first, unadulterated opinion of the piece, answering questions such as: What is this essay about? What does it say about the applicant? Is the essay memorable? Since there is no predicting who among the admissions staff will read the essay, any early feedback helps. The great value of a second opinion—or 12th, as the case may be—means the essay has many chances at improvement. Make your essay reflect your personality and circumstances in as flattering and detailed a way as possible.

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