Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Avoid Needing College Loans

When I first started teaching, few of the students who graduated from the school where I worked went on to college. That included my foreign language students. I knew for them to do well after high school graduation this had to change. I started slipping reasons for going to college into our conversations. A hint here, a hint there, the idea eventually took hold.

I started putting up a poster each January and encouraged all seniors to list their post-graduation plans for everyone to see. This had a positive impact as well. After a couple of years of doing this, I noticed all seniors listed college as their destination. As college prices increased to absurd levels, I started informing my students of ways to avoid college debt. Some students were better at this than others. I wondered what they did that made the difference.

After doing a great deal of research, I put together a questionnaire. I distributed it widely and also solicited comments. It became clear those who received the most scholarship money had several habits in common. I wrote the book above with this information. In addition to listing the sixteen successful strategies, I explain them and the results I saw for each. I suggest ways families could adopt them as well. The families and/or students who were better at practicing these behaviors received more scholarship money than those who only performed some of them. Those who did them all received Full Ride Scholarships.

I feel it’s important to make this information public. I want it to be known by families everywhere. This way, everyone will be aware of what to do to avoid college loans. College debt is difficult to pay off, and becomes a monster that follows college students for years, if not for life. My book is at the publisher now and should be available this fall. I’ll announce on my website when families can buy a copy. If you have Pre-K through High School students in your life, my book could help you and them. 

Free College Awareness, coming soon from Griffin Publishing. How to avoid needing college loans; available soon to families of Pre-K through High School students.

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Photo: My book cover

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer, Music Lessons and College Scholarships

One of the strategies families use to help prepare children for college is to provide music instruction. Learning to play a musical instrument can begin as early as three, but starting a little later is more common. There are many long term benefits derived from studying music. Lots of studies show improved development of the left hemisphere of the brain. This helps in math, science and language study as well as in other subjects. Music lessons have also been shown to lead to larger college scholarships.

Summer is a perfect time to start. There’s plenty of time for exploring music, deciding upon an instrument and beginning lessons. Music lessons are held in local music stores, city recreation departments and civic organizations like the YMCA. A good place to start looking is online. Group lessons cost less than individual ones. Let the personality and age of the child dictate which is best.

If children are already taking lessons, summer is a great time to recommit to practice. Rewards can be doled out for dedication and focus. As children improve, so will their work habits and character.  Visiting locations where the instrument being studied is used in a live performance (restaurants, festivals, parties, concerts, etc.) will provide motivation. Be sure too that family members show their appreciation of a student’s efforts by attending any recitals in which the child is performing.

Playing an instrument doesn’t have to lead to a career in music to be of benefit. It’s fun, and it brings families together. Brain development progresses. Personality and character traits change for the better as musical skills improve. In addition, more college scholarship money seems to be awarded to students who have taken music lessons when young. Summer is for relaxation and enjoying time with family. Be sure it’s also put to use to help kids prepare for the future.

For more information, you’ll want my new book, Free College Awareness, coming soon from Griffin Publishing and Watering Seeds. How to avoid needing college loans; available soon to families of Pre-K through High School students.

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Photo credit: Google Images

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Take Your Kids to College This Summer

No matter how old your children are, they are (almost) never too young for college. Each year (including during the summer), colleges and universities hold many family friendly events. Most people know about the football and basketball games which are held on campuses near them, of course. But not everyone is aware of other activities. Some sporting events which families may attend are free, others have a nominal fee. The easiest way to find out what’s going on is to subscribe to the various online newsletters published by local colleges and universities. Practically every department on campus has an online publication of some sort.

Each season I receive brochures describing various performances held on the campus of a community college in my area. I went to a Christmas concert with a friend a few years ago, and have received mailings regularly since. Children benefit from attending sports, music, drama and other events on college campuses. Not only do they provide low cost entertainment, attending events on campus exposes children to collegiate life. They learn that college isn’t some far off fantasy, but a reality in their own neighborhood.

In addition to providing entertainment, colleges and universities often hold summer classes, workshops or programs for younger students. It may not be too late to enroll in such classes for this summer. I would check. Even if it is, connecting with these programs this year may make it easier to enroll next summer. My nieces were enrolled in Minecraft workshops at a university near their homes last summer. Their mothers learned of the program via word of mouth, but all such programs are announced online. Simply type “summer college enrichment programs” into your favorite search engine, and you’ll find lots of them. If you wish to stay close to home, go to the website of colleges near where you live and search there.

In addition to the enjoyment and learning children of all ages obtain from visiting college campuses, watching sports or other performances, or participating in enrichment programs, they can also improve their odds of earning scholarships for college. Be sure to record attendance in any program or class. List the names and dates of each, including the name of the instructor, and obtain a letter of recommendation, if appropriate. One of the most significant habits major college scholarship winners develop is attending enrichment programs on college campuses. Although attending these activities may just seem like a way to keep kids busy and entertained over the summer, it could end up paying for college later.

For more information, you'll want my new book, Free College Awareness, coming soon from Griffin Publishing and Watering Seeds. How to avoid needing college loans; available soon to families of Pre-K through High School students.

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Photo Credit: Google Images

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Use Summer Vacation to Find Scholarships

Although I fully believe students, teachers and parents need time off to destress and have a little fun over the summer, high school students would be wise to set aside some time during the next two months to look for scholarships. Depending upon the age of the student, thirty minutes to an hour each day could be devoted to doing this research. Doing so while other teenagers are goofing off will pay large dividends when it’s time to apply.

It’s helpful to create a routine. I find getting tasks out of the way early in the day is best. This leaves the rest of the day free for swimming, going to the movies or hanging out with family or friends. Students will want to create a journal or folder of scholarships they find. They should list the name of the scholarship, contact details, how much is being awarded and the requirements. If an application is provided, students could keep a copy in a file or on their computer.

Many scholarships are out there, but they won’t all be well suited for each student. Be sure to read the fine print. Avoid any scholarships or grants that contain loans of any kind. Work-study grants or scholarships will take away free time, but they won’t saddle graduates with decades of debt. The goal is free college; that means debt free. No loans. Don’t pay for information. Reputable colleges, universities and institutions do not charge a fee for information. Also, refrain from giving out your contact information at this point. You don’t want to be inundated with ads. Just search for scholarships and take notes about those that look promising.

You can start searching by looking at the websites of colleges you're interested in attending. You can also find information by searching the field you're interested in pursuing. Type in “scholarships and grants for students studying…..” Or, “scholarships and grants for future……. (engineers, doctors, lawyers, architects, software designers, teachers, dancers, artists, etc.)" in your search engine. But there’s another way to do this. You can use the efforts of other people. My Twitter account (@elizawallace27) focuses on free college. In addition to publishing tips on how to raise children who could qualify for massive scholarships, I retweet information I think will be helpful. I include tweets that announce scholarships or people who collect lists of scholarships. Looking through my twitter feed, therefore, could save time.

I haven't checked out these scholarships or grants in detail. I just want to make families aware of them in order to save time, and hopefully, money. If you find something of interest, record everything and do a little research to be sure the scholarships are real. Remember, those who do more, end up with more. While most teenagers won't start looking for scholarships until they're seniors in high school, those who start early will have an advantage. Play the game to win.

For more information, you'll want my new book, Free College Awareness, coming soon from Griffin Publishing and Watering Seeds. How to avoid needing college loans; available soon to families of Pre-K through High School students.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay