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Answers to Your College Questions

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Posted by on in In the News

Do you ever wonder why some students freeze up during exams while others breeze through without breaking a sweat? In the New York Times article “Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?,” authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman say the answer may lie in your genes. Recent research on the COMT gene reveals that the gene has two variants: one that removes dopamine from the brain slowly, and another that removes it quickly. Interestingly, people who have the faster-acting enzyme tend to perform better in high-stress situations such as taking tests.

But the story doesn’t end there: students who were told that their anxiety would be beneficial to them showed improved cognitive function. And people who are acclimated to stress can improve their performance, even if they carry the so-called “worrier” gene. These studies are important because they show students that they can overcome their fear of taking tests; instead of being at the mercy of their genes, they can take steps to control their reaction to stress.

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Tagged in: Test Anxiety
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Posted by on in College Admissions

It’s so important for you to confirm that your applications are complete and that all required components have been received by the schools to which you have applied. Application requirements vary by school, making it all the more important to stay organized.

The easiest way to do this is to create a list of your schools and the specific materials required by each one. Then, verify online (check the online service your high school uses or consult the online tracking system many colleges assign to applicants) or by phone whether each school has received the following components:

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Posted by on in College

Far too many college students think that preparing for a career starts the second semester of their senior year with a trip to their career services office. Many others never even make use of this crucial campus resource, believing that good grades are all they need to get a job after graduation.

How to get on the college to career pathAlthough earning a high GPA in a major that suits your strengths and interests is a good start on the college-to-career pathway, in today’s tough economy, good grades are not enough. Here are some steps that you should be taking as early as your freshman year to ensure that your job search will be successful:

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Tagged in: Careers College Life
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Posted by on in College Admissions

do transfer students have an edge over high school gradsThe short answer to that is yes, but, since that wouldn’t be a very useful answer, allow me to elaborate.

I would venture to say that transferring is actually easier than applying to college as a high school student. That’s a big statement, so let me back it up. First, the application pool is totally different. Everyone remembers that one person in high school who did well at everything, graduated valedictorian, and was voted “most likely to be great at everything.” When you are applying to schools as a high school student, you are going head-to-head with these kinds of students. As a transfer applicant, you are applying with other community college students and students who are leaving their current four-year university. The application pool is smaller for transfer students (on average 30,000 students apply to the Ivy Leagues from high school while only 1,500 apply for transfer), so you’ll have a much easier time standing out.

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Posted by on in Choosing Colleges

How do I prepare for a college visitIs there one perfect college or university for you? Perhaps. Most likely, though, there are many schools that could be a great fit. When visiting schools, you’ll sense the characteristics that differentiate one school from another.

School visits offer you a chance to sample different schools to determine what suits you best. There are many factors to consider, so here are a few things you should do to ensure that you are well-prepared for your visit:

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Tagged in: College Visits
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Posted by on in In the News

The student debt crisis has been in the news a lot lately, but according to a recent article by USNews.com's Student Loan Ranger, student loans can place a heavy burden on parents as well. They state that, “In the first quarter of 2012, approximately 2.2 million people ages 60 years and older held student loans” and that “the Social Security checks of 115,000 retirees were being garnished to pay defaulted loans.”  Can you imagine having to give up a portion of your Social Security when you’re retired because of unpaid student loans?  While there are limits on the amount of government money families can borrow, there is no set limit on the amount of private loans, and that has gotten a lot of Americans into financial trouble.

In a recent College Countdown survey of parents of college-bound students, several respondents commented that they were still paying off their own student loans, making it difficult and stressful to decide how much they would contribute to their children’s educational goals. While most parents were willing to contribute to their kids’ education, others felt that paying for college was the student’s sole responsibility.

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Posted by on in College

This Valentine’s Day, many students are taking a break from long nights at the library for an evening with their college sweetheart. Those in long-distance relationships, however, might not be so lucky. Being away from a loved one during college can be difficult—but can it still work? Read on as Harlan Cohen discusses college love and LDR’s in this excerpt from the New York Times bestselling guide, The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College.

Can LDRs last through collegeLong-distance relationships (LDRs) in college have never been so cheap and easy—that is, with free long-distance, live streaming video, email, text, Twitter, Facebook, cheap flights, and weekend visits. But still, the emotional toll of not being hand in hand, face to face, lips to lips makes it too hard for most couples to survive.

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Posted by on in Paying for College

As parents of high school seniors begin to file the FAFSA, some are having difficulty completing the form accurately. To ensure that your FAFSA is completed correctly, be sure to avoid these seven commonly made errors:

  1. Listing non-working income (i.e., social security income) in the untaxed income category. If your non-working income already shows up as a part of adjusted gross income, you do not need to list it twice. Untaxed income and adjusted gross income are added together to arrive at total income. If you list non-working income in the untaxed income category, you will increase your EFC (expected family contribution) number.
  2. Listing the equity of your home or the value of retirement plans as an asset. These items should not be included.
  3. Listing student’s college savings as a student asset as opposed to a parent asset. In the 2013–2014 FAFSA, college savings accounts should be listed as a parent asset. This will reduce the EFC number.
  4. Not including all members of a household. When listing members in a household, anyone who lives in the parents’ household and receives more than 50 percent support from them, such as grandparents or older siblings, should be included.
  5. Listing parent income in the student income line item.
  6. For divorced families, including a parent who should not be included. Only the parent and/or stepparent with whom the student resides most of the time (i.e., for more than six out of the last twelve months) should be included. Divorce decrees or tax return exemptions are not involved in this decision.
  7. Waiting to complete the FAFSA until tax returns are filed in April. If you plan to file your taxes after mid-February, it is wiser to complete the FAFSA now using estimated information and then update your Student Aid Report (SAR) after you’ve completed your taxes.

Get more help with the FAFSA and other financial aid documents, plus understanding loan options, financial aid award letters, and more with the Financial Fit® program.

Tagged in: FAFSA Financial Aid
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Posted by on in In the News

In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, “How to Choose a College,” Frank Bruni discusses the question that plagues millions of high school seniors and their parents every year. The author’s basic premise is that we should look beyond traditional criteria when selecting a school. I agree with this statement, but I have mixed feelings about the criteria he suggests—for example, the percentage of students who study abroad and the number of students who are from foreign countries. While exposure to global influences is important, should these criteria matter more than, say, the percentage of applicants a school admits, or what the tuition is? Bruni also recommends that students choose a school outside of their comfort zone, to seek diversity and new experiences. This can be great advice for many young adults, but it may lead others to select a school that isn’t right for them.

What do you think?

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Posted by on in Paying for College

Should I look for scholarshipsI applied for more than 350 scholarships and paid for my entire education using scholarships. I’d like to say that first so that you don’t worry that I’m just some old guy sitting at home and blogging about scholarship stuff that I read online once.

I’ve been in the trenches and I have my battle scars (mostly paper cuts) to prove it.

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