Planning for Future
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Planning for Future
How to plan for a healthy, happy life
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Scholarship Application Tips - College Answer

Scholarship Application Tips - College Answer | Planning for Future |

Put your best foot forward when you apply for a scholarship. Our scholarship application tips will help you make a great impression on the award committees.

Different scholarships have different requirements and use their own criteria to select scholarship recipients.

Consider the following as you start your scholarship investigation:

You may be required to write an essay, pass a written exam, or complete a project demonstrating your potential.Programs may specify how scholarship funds must be used, set time restrictions for disbursing the funds, or set a ceiling on qualifying family income.Scholarship funds may be paid directly to the college.Failure to meet certain requirements could jeopardize your ability to keep the scholarship.

Scholarship tips

There is no magic formula for applying for and receiving a scholarship. But these tips can start you on the right foot.

Be organized. Stay on top of deadlines, gather all pertinent documents, and make copies of everything you submit. It is a good idea to send your applications by certified mail to ensure receipt.Be honest. Don't exaggerate your grades, memberships, skills, or qualifications. It is better to focus on the scholarships for which you might be eligible.Follow instructions carefully. Some scholarships require you to write an essay; others may want letters of recommendation. Send in what is requested and proofread everything. Typos and missing materials can cost you a scholarship.

Sample scholarship information

The following text shows examples of information a typical scholarship may provide to applicants:
Applicant requirements

Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.Must be a high school senior or graduate at time of application.Must intend to major in computer science.

Number of recipients: Offered to 25 students annually

Award amount: Up to $4,500 for each academic year, renewable for three additional years.

Scholarship Coordinator
123 Award Lane, Suite 322
Anytown, VA 20191

Deadline: June 1, 20XX

Relevant information

Preference is given to students with financial need.Must rank in the top 25% of senior class.Must score 500 or higher on the SAT mathematics section.


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10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay

10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay | Planning for Future |

Don't sweat this part of the process, but do be prepared with a good topic and concise writing.

No subject is more fraught with anxiety for the high school senior than the essay on the college application. Whether it is as bizarre as the University of Chicago's "How do you feel about Wednesday?"; University of Pennsylvania's "You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217."; or Tufts University's "Are We Alone?"—or whether it is a more mundane question about a formative experience you've had in your life, or about some controversial social or political issue, students tremble at the very thought of writing the essay and being judged on it.

We wondered what tips could be offered to ease the pain. For advice, we turned to visiting blogger Jonathan Reider, director of college counseling at San Francisco University High School, who before that was the senior associate director of admissions (and humanities instructor) at Stanford University. He should know; he's been on both sides of the high school/college door. Here are his 10 best tips:

1. Be concise. Even though the Common Application main essay has only a suggested minimum of 250 words, and no upper limit, every admissions officer has a big stack to read every day; he or she expects to spend only a couple of minutes on the essay. If you go over 700 words, you are straining their patience, which no one should want to do.

[See more tips at U.S. News's Guide to Admissions.]

2. Be honest. Don't embellish your achievements, titles, and offices. It's just fine to be the copy editor of the newspaper or the treasurer of the Green Club, instead of the president. Not everyone has to be the star at everything. You will feel better if you don't strain to inflate yourself.

3. Be an individual. In writing the essay, ask yourself, "How can I distinguish myself from those thousands of others applying to College X whom I don't know—and even the ones I do know?" It's not in your activities or interests. If you're going straight from high school to college, you're just a teenager, doing teenage things. It is your mind and how it works that are distinctive. How do you think? Sure, that's hard to explain, but that's the key to the whole exercise.

4. Be coherent. Obviously, you don't want to babble, but I mean write about just one subject at a time. Don't try to cover everything in an essay. Doing so can make you sound busy, but at the same time, scattered and superficial. The whole application is a series of snapshots of what you do. It is inevitably incomplete. The colleges expect this. Go along with them.

5. Be accurate. I don't mean just use spell check (that goes without saying). Attend to the other mechanics of good writing, including conventional punctuation in the use of commas, semi-colons, etc. If you are writing about Dickens, don't say he wrote Wuthering Heights. If you write about Nietzsche, spell his name right.

6. Be vivid. A good essay is often compared to a story: In many cases it's an anecdote of an important moment. Provide some details to help the reader see the setting. Use the names (or invent them) for the other people in the story, including your brother, teacher, or coach. This makes it all more human and humane. It also shows the reader that you are thinking about his or her appreciation of your writing, which is something you'll surely want to do.

7. Be likable. Colleges see themselves as communities, where people have to get along with others, in dorms, classes, etc. Are you someone they would like to have dinner with, hang out with, have in a discussion section? Think, "How can I communicate this without just standing up and saying it, which is corny." Subtlety is good.

8. Be cautious in your use of humor. You never know how someone you don't know is going to respond to you, especially if you offer something humorous. Humor is always in the eye of the beholder. Be funny only if you think you have to. Then think again.

9. Be controversial (if you can). So many kids write bland essays that don't take a stand on anything. It is fine to write about politics, religion, something serious, as long as you are balanced and thoughtful. Don't pretend you have the final truth. And don't just get up on your soapbox and spout off on a sensitive subject; instead, give reasons and arguments for your view and consider other perspectives (if appropriate). Colleges are places for the discussion of ideas, and admissions officers look for diversity of mind.

10. Be smart. Colleges are intellectual places, a fact they almost always keep a secret when they talk about their dorms, climbing walls, and how many sports you can play. It is helpful to show your intellectual vitality. What turns your mind on? This is not the same thing as declaring an intended major; what matters is why that subject interests you.

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Three Tips for Balancing Work, School and Life | Snagajob

Three Tips for Balancing Work, School and Life | Snagajob | Planning for Future |

Trying to balance school, fun and work? Whether you're a college student or a high school student, these three tips will help you get the most out of student jobs without ruining your GPA or social life.

High school and college students don’t get enough credit. They get up early, go to school, whip through an endless list of extracurriculars, work part-time jobs and attempt to squeeze in a social life, a.k.a., sending texts and checking Facebook.

Well, many students leave out that whole part-time job thing. They’re easily identifiable as the ones who are also bumming money off their parents, staying in on the weekends and showing up to proms and formals in a tuxedo T-shirt (the guys, anyway).

Combining school and work, whether we’re talking about high school jobs or college jobs, is a tough balancing act. But when you add up all the benefits – from learning time management skills, to career development, to cold hard cash – it’s easy to see why a part-time job is an elective you shouldn’t pass up on.

Here are some tips for successfully managing the challenge:

1. Pick a job with flexible hours

There are plenty of cool part-time gigs out there that can accommodate a schedule stuffed with classes, club meetings, sports practice and even a little downtime catching up on “Jersey Shore” or playing Modern Warfare 2 (a personal favorite). In particular, restaurant jobs are prime territory for students looking to make a few extra bucks. And both quick service and casual dining restaurants offer after-school and weekend hours.

Retail jobs can also fit an already tight schedule. If you choose to work on school nights, just be sure to save plenty of time to catch some zzzz’s before that first morning bell chimes. The amount of sleep you need to lead a productive day varies depending on the individual, but most experts recommend getting at least seven hours a night. Odds are you won’t be getting any nap breaks at your job.

Also, be make sure you don’t over-commit to working more than you’re comfortable with, or your life could become a slippery slope of missed classes, broken promises and Starbucks dependency. It’s better to target a lower number of hours to work in the beginning. If you get in a groove and are comfortable taking on more, ask your employer if there are more shifts available.

2. Make a schedule and stick to it

You’re not going to successfully juggle work with your other priorities unless you exercise a little discipline. This doesn’t have to be as painful (and no fun) as it sounds. Before you take on a new job, sit down and write down all of your priorities, followed by about how much time they take up each week. Estimate on the high end. Then figure out how much time you need to chill out with your BFF, tweet your heart out, etc. Now crunch the numbers and see how much time you’ll have to work. Even if it’s only enough for a shift or two a week of work, that’s fine. That is of course, unless you need to work a certain amount each month to pay for rent and other cost-of-living expenses, in which case you might have to skimp on socializing time.

Once you have your schedule sorted out, it’s important to stick to the rules. If you decided the only way to make it all work is to devote one weekend night each week to doing school work, use this time efficiently and don’t get distracted by a “16 and Pregnant” marathon. By developing these time management skills now, you’ll be ready down the road when life throws even more responsibilities your way.

3. Remember the money (and the other stuff)

Keeping a student job is tough. Every morning you reach for the snooze alarm, but can’t afford to push it. Every night you get to see your friends – but it’s on the wrong side of the drive-through window. But every time you mistakenly show up to class with your trainee nametag on or drop your assignment pad in the deep fryer, remember one thing: money. Cash. Dinero. Moolah.

While your friends are rolling quarters, begging for allowance advances and ding-dong-ditching the neighbors, you’re earning money that can be used for vacation time, tuition costs and non-dining hall food. And while it doesn’t sound as fun, you’re also absorbing skills and experience that will come in handy down the road, such as customer service, real world math and conflict resolution.

Balancing school and work is never the ideal situation, and requires patience and accountability. But trust us, it all gets easier once that first paycheck is in the bank.

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Focus on 7 Strategies to Get Into College

Focus on 7 Strategies to Get Into College | Planning for Future |

Measuring up in the admissions game calls for early preparation and using common sense.

1. Get an early start and finish strong: Colleges want to see that you've focused from the start on getting the best possible education your high school has to offer. "You really need a four-year plan," says Katherine Cohen, whose IvyWise admissions consulting company begins working with some families as early as the end of the student's eighth-grade year. "High school shouldn't just happen to you. You need to proactively make the most of your time there."

2. Challenge yourself responsibly: While grades remain the single biggest factor in admissions decisions, strength of curriculum is an ever-closer second. In the National Association for College Admission Counseling's most recent "State of College Admission" survey, 66 percent of staffers said they assign considerable weight to degree of challenge. Thank the evidence piling up that high schoolers who take more demanding classes are more likely to succeed in college.

3. Don't apply too broadly: "It's tough to put together a personal, genuine application that shows commitment to a particular school when you're applying to 20 different places," says Jeff Pilchiek, the director of guidance at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. "It's much better to be an exceptional applicant at six schools than an average applicant at 12 or 20."

4. There's room for error, with an explanation: You don't need a perfect record to get into the school of your dreams. You must, however, provide an explanation for any significant blip. "Seventeen-year-olds ... haven't seen the world yet or perfected who they will become, so it's natural to see some students who have some flaws in their applications ... It lends an authenticity to their candidacy," says Seth Allen, vice president and dean of admissions at Pomona College in California. But, he adds, you shouldn't just "hope we don't notice you goofed up!"

5. Don't just be a joiner: Top colleges are increasingly after well-rounded student bodies of individual specialists: the football player, the poet, the mathematician. So "it's better to be involved in fewer activities wholeheartedly over time, rather than 9 or 10 superficially," and make an impact, IvyWise's Cohen says.

6. Work the wait list: High schoolers aren't the only ones who have to deal with unpredictability. Because colleges now have such a tough time figuring out how many accepted students will actually show up on the first day of classes, many are being more strategic these days about using the wait list, taking a number of students from it in order to improve their stats.

7. Be true to yourself: All through his time at High Tech High International in San Diego, classmates and teachers kept telling Nathan Roberts that he should aim for the Ivy League. So he put Harvard and Yale University on his list, even though he sensed he'd be happier at a smaller liberal arts school.

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Tips for the Personal Essay Options on the Common Application

Tips for the Personal Essay Options on the Common Application | Planning for Future |

Find tips, sample essays and essay critiques for each of the six Common Application personal essay options.

The first step to writing a stellar personal essay on your college application is to understand your options. Below is a discussion of the six essay options from the Common Application. Also be sure to check out these 5 Application Essay Tips.Option #1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

Note the key word here: evaluate. You aren't just describing something; the best essays will explore the complexity of the issue. When you examine the "impact on you," you need to show the depth of your critical thinking abilities. Introspection, self-awareness and self-analysis are all important here. And be careful with essays about the winning touchdown or tie-breaking goal. These sometimes have an off-putting "look how great I am" tone and very little self-evaluation.

Read Drew's essay, "The Job I Should Have Quit," for an example of option #15 tips for essay option #1

Option #2. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

Be careful to keep the "importance to you" at the heart of your essay. It's easy to get off track with this essay topic and start ranting about global warming, Darfur, or abortion. The admissions folks want to discover your character, passions and abilities in the essay; they want more than a political lecture.

Read Sophie's essay, "The Allegany County Youth Board," for an example of option #25 tips for essay option #2

Option #3. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

I'm not a fan of this prompt because of the wording: "describe that influence." A good essay on this topic does more than "describe." Dig deep and "analyze." And handle a "hero" essay with care. Your readers have probably seen a lot of essays talking about what a great role model Mom or Dad or Sis is. Also realize that the "influence" of this person doesn't need to be positive.

Read Max's essay, "Student Teacher," for an example of option #3Read Jill's essay, "Buck Up," for another example of option #3Read Catherine's essay, "Diamond in the Rough," for yet another example of option #36 tips for essay option #3

Option #4. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

Here as in #3, be careful of that word "describe." You should really be "analyzing" this character or creative work. What makes it so powerful and influential?

Read Felicity's essay, "Porkopolis," for an example of option #4Read Eileen's essay, "Wallflower," for another example of option #47 tips for essay option #4

Option #5. A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

Realize that this question defines "diversity" in broad terms. It's not specifically about race or ethnicity (although it can be). Ideally, the admissions folks want every student they admit to contribute to the richness and breadth of the campus community. How do you contribute?

Read Carrie's essay, "Give Goth a Chance," for an example of option #55 tips for essay option #5

Option #6. Topic of your choice.

Sometimes you have a story to share that doesn't quite fit into any of the options above. However, the first five topics are broad with a lot of flexibility, so make sure your topic really can't be identified with one of them. Also, don't equate "topic of your choice" with a license to write a comedy routine or poem (you can submit such things via the "Additional Info" option). Essays written for this prompt still need to have substance and tell your reader something about you.

Read Lora's essay, "Eating Eyeballs," for a sample of option #64 tips for essay option #6

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Top Ten Ways To Stay Financially Organized

10 tips for getting financially organized: healthy bookkeeping, helpful software, good mail habits, personal filing system, shredding. Judith Heft & Associates.

Top 10 Ways to Stay Organized

Being organized can bring you peace of mind, and it is easier than you think. A professional
bookkeeper or financial organizer can get you started so that you’re able to keep things in
order with little effort:

Get your financial records in shape. Healthy bookkeeping contributes to a healthier life style, and organization means less emotional stress and a greater ability to think more clearly without the distractions of anxiety, frustration, and guilt.“Sweep” your desk, office, and kitchen counter on a regular basis. Whether you clean them daily, weekly, or monthly, a clutter-free work surface contributes to a clutterfree mind.Use financial software wisely. Programs like Quicken can give you a better handle on your finances, as long as you don’t over-categorize and create a system that is too complicated.Open mail every day. Read it once and then act on it by filing or discarding by shredding or recycling. A home office shredder can help you get rid of mail with sensitive personal information like your social security number, bank account numbers, or other confidential information.Follow the 90-10 rule. As you sort and clean up, throw away 90 percent and keep just 10 percent. Make three piles – put away, give away, and throw away. As you pick up each item, ask yourself the following: Do I need it or do I love it? Do the memories associated with it justify keeping it? Is it worth storing? Is it worth repairing?Develop your own personal filing system. But don’t get hung up on what method to use; it’s more important is that you use one. Consider something as simple as a monthly accordion file or file folders marked with categories such as travel, entertainment, expenses, auto, healthcare, household, merchandise and education. Buy a small label maker for tagging the files -- You will feel more organized when your files look neat.Check your credit reports and clear up mistakes. You are entitled to one free report per year from each credit reporting agency.Review your bank statements and bills. If you don’t reconcile your bank statements, you’re not alone. But banks make mistakes and you could be missing thousands of dollars. Also check phone and utility bills, as well as credit card statements.Shred old records. Keep tax returns and tax-related credit card statements for seven years, paycheck stubs for one year, brokerage statements until you sell the securities, records of major purchases in the event of a loss, home and condo records for as long as you own the property, and IRA contributions permanently.Take a look at all your insurance policies. Make sure that your auto insurance policy is covering the correct number of cars, your life insurance policies are adequate, and your homeowner’s policy adequately covers you in the event of a loss.


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Finding Scholarships How And Where To Look - Scholarship Application Strategies - College Scholarships - Financial Aid -

Finding Scholarships How And Where To Look - Scholarship Application Strategies - College Scholarships - Financial Aid - | Planning for Future | - Finding Scholarships...

There Are Many Ways to Look for Scholarships

Naturally, the most efficient way is to have somebody tell you which ones are not only available but available to you specifically based on your background, interests, abilities, financial situation, etc. That is what does - free of charge! Another way to find out how you will be able to fund your college education is to search colleges, which can also be done at's College Search. You can look up, among other things, the cost of attendance and room and board and then perhaps contact the college directly to find out what kind of scholarships/other financial aid they would offer you.

There Are Many Types of Scholarships

Some of you might still be under the mistaken impression you can't win a scholarship unless you play sports or have an I.Q. over 130 or a GPA over 3.5. The simple fact is that, yes, you probably stand a better chance with a 4.0 GPA or play quarterback for the varsity squad, but those are only a few kinds of scholarships a student will find if they do a thorough search. This is why we advocate conducting a search at We match you to any scholarships in our database you might be able to win, regardless of why. We'll let you decide whether you want to apply for the scholarship after you have read more about it.

Don't Give Up

New scholarships are created all the time and finding scholarships is as simple as knowing how to conduct your search and following up periodically. Your credentials change over the course of a year. These are a few reasons why you shouldn't give up looking for scholarships. If your GPA goes up by .3 points, come back to and edit your profile to reflect this improvement and check your search results to see if this has qualified you for additional scholarships. If you have changed your mind about what you would like to major in or which college you would like to attend, come back to and make these changes in your profile. You never know when one or two seemingly minor changes in your life, academic or personal, might be worth thousands in financial aid.

Allegra Bozorth's curator insight, April 14, 2014 2:15 AM

This is an awesome resource for learning about how to find scholarships and realizing that scholarships are not only for 4.0 students and that anyone can get scholarships if they work for it.