Monthly Archives: July 2014

Why Every High School Student Needs a Reading List

A few weeks ago I shared why I believe reading is the key to getting into college. I briefly wrote about the importance of having a strong reading list. I’d like to go into that a bit more.

Summer is the perfect time for reading. You’ve probably got a little more free time than normal and can devote a little more time to reading. I understand that summers do fill up quick and go by fast, but try to take some time out to work on your reading list.

Maybe you are a “reader”, maybe not. For those of you who love reading this will be easy. For those of you who don’t love reading, this will be important. file000777035782

Readers

Readers read a lot. It’s what they do right? But, what readers don’t always do is remember. That’s why the reading list is so important for them. You need to create a document, spreadsheet, or a list that keeps track of all the books you’ve read and a very brief description of each of them. This will help you a lot when it comes time to start applying for scholarships and colleges.

Non-Readers

For those of you who don’t like to read, and you know who you are, the reading list is even more important. If reading isn’t your thing then you need to make sure that you don’t forget to record each book you read so that you aren’t “wasting” any of your time.

The List

The reading list is simple. It should include a lot of classic literature and great novels. Just include the name of the book, the author, the date you read the book, and a brief description. If a book impacted you in a big way, share more about it. Write about how the book impacted you, a mini book report. You don’t need to do that for every book, just your favorites. Try to read a little from a variety of subjects and genres.

How to Use it

The list can be used in two major ways. First, use it to help you write application essays. Scholarship applications and college admission applications usually include essays. Some even ask about books that impacted you. Having the list handy makes those essays a breeze.

The second way to use the list is to share with college admission staff additional information about you. Colleges what to know that you are focused on academics and that you can succeed in their program. Showing them a well-established pattern of reading through your reading list is an excellent way to do that.

Colleges ask for certain documents, but that doesn’t mean that that is all you are allowed to show them. Bringing some additional information about you is usually allowed and even encouraged. If you haven’t already, get started making your reading list today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Interesting College Stats

How you approach this whole “college” thing is a big deal. The decisions you will make are some of the biggest ones you have had the opportunity to make so far. They will also stick with you for a long time to come. How you think about college is important.

Here are some quick but interesting stats about what others think about college.

The Most Popular Degree

1. According to Pew Research most people are choosing to study business, 20.5% to be exact. Business has been the most popular bachelor’s degree since 1980. Before that it was education.

How Long You Go

2. Another interesting fact is that most students are choosing to attend college longer. 60% of students are taking 6 years to complete their bachelor’s degree rather than 4 years.  Less than 40% of students graduate “on time.”

What You Major In

3. Students who choose to major in science or engineering are the most likely to say that their degree prepared them for the job they really wanted.

That’s it, short and sweet. I’ll let you interpret the data however you like. In fact what do you think? I have some ideas but I’d really love to hear what you think these stats can tell us if anything.

 

 

Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/

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Is it Really that Important to be Well Rounded?

Why are we so obsessed with being well-rounded? Round is boring. When we think of all the interesting and fascinating people in the world how often do we say,

“Wow, that person is a really well-rounded individual; I mean just look at how incredibly mediocre they are in everything!” 

Let me ask you. Which would you rather be: average in everything or freaking awesome in one or two things?

I’m guessing you chose the second option. I would too.

Mediocre Round is boring

You don’t become awesome by focusing on your weaknesses. You don’t become great by correcting all your faults. You become awesome by focusing on your strengths. You become great by figuring out what you’re pretty good at and then working on that one thing endlessly.

As a high school or college student this is a very important concept to grasp. It’s tempting to focus all of your time and energy on improving the things you aren’t very good at. The problem is that when you do this you are neglecting the areas of your greatest potential.  For example,

Let’s say you’re a great writer. You’re an amateur, but you’ve got serious talent. You’re imaginative and articulate. You have the potential to become a phenomenal writer, but because you are already pretty good at it and you pass all your writing classes with ease; you don’t spend nearly as much time studying literature or writing as you do studying biology. You don’t even like biology, but you do your best. Nevertheless, all you’re efforts go into studying biology and thanks to all your hard work you become good enough in that class to pass with an A-. You do the same thing with some of your other classes: statistics, French, economy, and world history. Unfortunately, by the end of the school year you didn’t really advance much at all in writing because you were already pretty good in it. Now you are pretty good in lots of great subjects you don’t care two cents about.

This is how we become mediocre.

So What Can We Do?

I know, I know, you can’t just skip all the general education classes you don’t like (as awesome as that would be) so what else can you do?

Focus where you can.

A lot of your high school and college schedule is made up for you. You have to take certain classes and you have to fulfill certain responsibilities, but not all of your time is spent for you. We all have a limited amount of time and energy. Focusing your free time and energy on the things you love, your passions, seems like a good place to start in the journey to becoming awesome.

Let’s take the following four things for example. Do they line up with your passions?

  1. Your volunteering positions
  2. Your evening and weekend activities
  3. How you kill time or procrastinate
  4. How you spend your time online

If you start with those four things you’re off to a good start. Make sure that the themes of your life center around the things you are naturally talented at. Simply put, do what you want to be doing.

 Take Away

Don’t neglect the things you’re already good at, those might just be the keys to your success.

3 Reasons Reading is the Key to Getting into College

Everybody knows that reading is really important once you’re in college. Most college classes typically involve lectures followed by massive reading assignments. If you don’t like to read, college is going to be a struggle.

Most people know this, but did you know that reading is actually the key to getting into college in the first place?

Here are three reasons reading is the key to getting into college:

1. Admission Tests

Your high school grades are important to colleges, but admission test scores are equally important.

Why?file0001494750257

SAT and ACT scores are important because they are consistent.  Grades can vary from school to school. An A+ at one school may not equal an A+ at another school. Some teachers require more out of their students. For example, getting a B+ in a challenging chemistry class may mean that you have learned and can apply more knowledge than a student who received an A+ in a chemistry class with a teacher who wasn’t challenging at all.

The bottom line is that if you want to get into college you will need to demonstrate your knowledge and ability through a good score on the SAT or ACT.

So what does any of this have to do with reading?

Reading drastically improves SAT and ACT scores. It’s all about vocabulary and comprehension. To do well on either the SAT or ACT you have to have excellent reading comprehension and vocabulary.  Being able to read (and understand what you are reading) will help you in every section of the admission tests. You will save a lot of precious time if you don’t have to stop and think about what words mean and what the questions are asking.

Reading is the single best way to improve vocabulary and comprehension. You can prepare for the admission tests by studying vocabulary specifically, but honestly, how long can you study the dictionary? Reading is a much more natural and effective way to improve your vocabulary. The earlier you start the better. Reading should be a part of your daily routine.

 2. Essays

When it comes time to start applying for college, students will need to be able to write. Essays are a crucial part of the college admission process as well as the scholarship process. Colleges want to find out about who you are and what better way is there than through your essays.

But wait, I thought this article was about reading not writing? It is, I promise.

Consistent and regular reading is one of the best ways for you to develop your own voice, your storytelling voice. Reading great books, magazines, blogs or anything else that interests you will help you learn how compelling stories are told. As you read you will naturally and effortlessly absorb great writing skills. You’ll learn more about writing from reading your favorite sci-fi series than you could possibly imagine and it won’t even feel like studying.

3. The Reading List

Are you smart? Prove it. Colleges want to know if you are smart enough to handle their most challenging courses. After all, colleges are all about academics. A lot of students will only submit the required information to colleges when applying, but you can do more.

Submit a copy of your reading list.

Show admission officers that you are self-motivated and that reading is a part of who you are. They know that reading is crucial to your success at college and this will go a long way in helping them see that you are ready.

So what are you waiting for? Set some goals for yourself this summer to read more than ever before. You’ll be glad you did.

What About You?

Now I’d like to hear from you. What’s your reading list look like? Do you even like to read?

Share your favorite book(s) of all time below. Maybe we can all find some great books to add to our reading list. Thanks so much.

 

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How to Graduate College Debt Free

Disclosure

In full disclosure let me start this post by saying I did not graduate college debt free. I didn’t learn this stuff until it was too late. The advice I’m about to give you is the advice I wish I would have been given in high school.

You don’t need to follow the herd. You’re not a sheep. Break out of the mold. A lifetime of student loan debt is not mandatory for a successful career.  I want you to be fully informed so that you can make the best possible choices for your future. So here goes, 3 simple ways to graduate debt free.

InsanityMoney

Student loan debt is a real problem. It’s crazy. It’s out of control. At 18 years of age I had no business taking out tens of thousands of dollars going into debt for a private college education I really couldn’t afford. But this is happening every day to a bunch of people across the country.

Close your eyes and imagine this scenario with me (wait, you’re reading this, so don’t close your eyes… just imagine).

An 18 year old guy walks into a bank and asks for a loan, we’ll call him Jimmy.

Jimmy: Hello Mr. Banker, I’d like to borrow some money.

Banker: Alright, how much would you like to take out?

Jimmy: Hmmm…. how about $75,000?

Banker: Okay, let’s see what we can do for you.  Do you have a job?

Jimmy: Nope.

Banker: Do you have any assets?

Jimmy: Nope.

 Banker: Do you have a high credit score?

Jimmy: Maybe, what’s a credit score?

Banker: Well Jimmy, a credit score is a 3 digit number generated by a mathematical algorithm using information from your credit report. It helps us predict risk and determine the likelihood that you will be able to fulfill your credit obligations and pay back your debt.

Jimmy: Oh. Then no, no I don’t.

Banker: Okay Jimmy, let me just run some numbers here…. alright finished. Congratulations Jimmy! You’re approved.

Absurd, right? Of course you wouldn’t loan some 18 year old bum with no job, no assets, and no credit score that kind of money.  But it happens every day, and it’s called student loans.

With massive amounts of students taking on massive amounts of debts each year, it’s no wonder we’re in the midst of a student loan crisis. Our nation currently has over 1 trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt. That is a lot of money. Now combine that with the fact that the cost of college is consistently increasing way beyond normal inflation rates and hopefully you’re starting to understand the gravity of the situation.

Student loans are becoming a rather large problem.

Graduating College Debt Free

So what can we do about it? More importantly, what can you do about it? Well, let me make three simple suggestions on how you can make a stand against student loans and graduate debt free or at least with significantly less debt than most.

 

1. Selection

Where you go to college is important. A lot of people are willing to enter into a life time of debt all for the sake of going to a prestigious university. Let’s be real. You’re not rich (yet) and it’s not worth it. Go to a college you can afford.

Trust me.

It might not be as glamorous, but employers don’t care where you went; plus what’s more glamorous than not being broke and having to live in your parents’ basement after graduation?

2. Work

Work is good. Having a job in college will not cause you flunk out. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true. A study done in 2012 by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that students who worked up to 20 hours a week got better grades than students who did not work at all.

College is not adolescence continued. It’s a new chapter in your life.  The college experience is not a transition into adulthood, it is adulthood. It’s time to grow up.  Working is a part of adulthood, therefore work should be a part of the college experience.

Working in college will help you with developing a consistent schedule and it will teach you incredibly important things like balance, time management, prioritization, and other real world skills.

But, in this post we are talking about graduating debt free, so let’s not forget the fact that working throughout college will significantly lower the amount of aid you will need. Just pretend that free loan money was not available to you and that working was your only option.

3. Scholarships

While you are still in high school scholarships, should be your main focus. Treat scholarship searching like a part-time time job. Spending just 10 hours a week completing scholarships could yield a whole lot more money than working at the local fast food restaurant. During summer vacation kick it up a notch. Work on scholarships 20 hours a week and that still leaves you plenty of time for volunteering, vacations, or working.

Just a quick example of how working on scholarships can easily pay more than a summer job…

A student working 20 hours a week for 10 weeks (average summer vacation) at $7.50 an hour will make approximately $1,500 over the course of the summer. (20 x 7.5 x 10 = $1,500)

A student working 20 hours a week for 10 weeks could easily complete 40 (or more) scholarship applications. If the student was awarded only 10% of those scholarships and if those scholarships were a modest $1000 each the student would make $4,000 over the summer.

This example is a very conservative example. With that amount of time the student could have easily looked up a lot of high potential scholarships and devoted a lot of effort into them. Remember, scholarships can range from $100 up to a full ride. If you spent your whole summer working on scholarships and could earn a full ride, you would be making considerably more than a part-time fast food job.

There are a lot of other unique and creative ways to avoid racking up big student loans, share your ideas below.

 

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