TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parenting for College blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.

Posted Sept. 17, 2018, 9 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Doctor or nurse wearing stethoscope with folded arms.

Are you interested in becoming a doctor? If so, you should be thinking about which college or pre-med program best fits that career path. It’s a long road from college to medical school to residency and you will need to research the education you need and find the best college to reach that goal. What is Pre-Med? When students say they are pre-med, what does that mean? If you are planning to attend medical school and become a doctor, you need to understand the definition of pre-med and what pre-med students study. “Pre-med” is just a description people use to ...

Posted Aug. 28, 2018, 11:52 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Student pumping his fist as he  gets a good test score back from a teacher.

You know that grades are an important part of college applications. You might wonder, however, which grade point average or GPA will get a nod from admissions officers and which will make them place your application in the reject pile. You might also be wondering where you fit in compared to other applicants. As you might imagine, it’s a complicated question. A good GPA for one student or at one college, might be different for another student at another college. Each college uses GPA guidelines in their admissions process but you should know where your GPA fits in at the ...

Posted Aug. 7, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Diverse group of college students with laptops.

Did you know there are more than 4,000 four-year colleges and universities in the United States? That can make choosing a college overwhelming. But there is a college to fit your dreams – and finding it starts with the right list of schools where you plan to apply. Your college list is the basis for every decision regarding college. Without a good list, it’s impossible to make a clearly logical and well-informed college choice. You should begin your college list during your junior year of high school. By the beginning of your senior year, you should have a final list ...

Posted July 26, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Drawing of hand putting money in piggy bank surrounded by textbooks.

Financial aid can be a confusing part of the college application process. Even if your parents can afford to pay for college, it’s a good idea to learn what aid is available and apply for it. You aren’t obligated to accept it, but most students qualify for some form of aid and, if it’s available, why not use it? What is financial aid? Financial aid is intended to make up the difference between what your family can afford to pay and what college actually costs. With college tuition rising rapidly, more than half of the students currently enrolled in college ...

Posted July 10, 2018, noon by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Frustrated teenage woman working at a laptop computer on college applications.

Join a group of parents whose students are getting college admissions letters and you’re going to hear the same conversations. Some are elated, others are confused, and many are disappointed. I guarantee you that the elated parents have students who took the time to research the college and made sure they were at the top of the applicant pool when they applied. The confused and disappointed parents more than likely have students who applied to elite colleges with little hope of being offered admission or little hope of being able to afford it if their students were accepted. It seems ...

Posted June 7, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Mother and daughter at college orientation party talking with female professor.

New student orientation is one event at college neither you nor your student should miss. Parents learn valuable information at college orientation and students make much-needed connections with other students. Orientation will help your student ease into college life and help you cope as they make the move from home to independent living. It is an exciting time for the entire family when a child goes off to college. It’s not only a transition from one phase of education to the next, but the beginning of your child’s first years away from home. This also means, in many cases, the ...

Posted June 5, 2018, 11:30 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Teenage barista serving coffee at a cafe.

Summer is approaching and it’s a good time for parents of college-bound students to make the most of the free time. Your student will certainly be busy, especially if this is the summer before senior year. But there are a few things you should make sure to complete dur ing the summer that will help your student progress along the college admissions path. Start preparing your student for independence. Use the summer to teach some basic life skills. It’s never too early to start preparing for independence. College is the first step toward adult independence. Students will have to make ...

Posted May 15, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
YOUng woman with red nails making a college list.

Each spring, high school juniors begin the nitty-gritty tasks involved in creating the perfect college application list. And each spring, parents start asking one another: “Where is your son applying to college? Is your daughter staying close to home? What colleges are on her list?” The perfect college list means students are flooded with offers from colleges. The wrong list means disappointment and discouragement. The list should be so strong that every student is confident of being accepted, and parents are confident of strong offers of merit aid. A perfect college application list will be well thought out with colleges ...

Posted May 10, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Teenage girls acting silly with mustaches and taking a selfie

It’s tempting to just skate through the rest of the year after you’ve submitted your college applications and been accepted to college. But as tempting as it may be, seniors should finish the remainder of the year strong. Finishing strong will help them carry that momentum into college and the first semester of college is critical when establishing a strong GPA. In addition to keeping the momentum going, there are other reasons for seniors to have a focused and strong finish for senior year. Senioritis will strike! It happens to every student. After almost four years of focused academic activity, ...

Posted May 7, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Mortar board on pile of coins meant to pay for college.

As offers of college admission and financial-aid awards arrive, students (and parents) are faced with some difficult decisions. Do you accept an offer from a dream college that you simply can’t afford? Do you convince your student to be reasonable and attend a second- or third-choice college based on the financial aid awards? For many families, these are difficult decisions that can only be made by carefully comparing awards and making the best financial choice. Where do you begin? Gather all the financial-aid award packages and compare them side by side. This may not be so simple since every college ...

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