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 Parents Countdown to College Coach 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 Dec. 6, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
5 Mistakes That Could Cost You That College Scholarship

Applying for scholarships requires a commitment of time and a dedication to persevere. It is a job in the truest sense of the word. You will most likely spend hours upon hours applying for scholarships hoping the time will be rewarded with money to pay for college. Spending two hours on an application and winning a $1,000 scholarship is a huge payoff ($500 per hour!). But the payoff won’t come unless you take the time to apply for scholarships or if you make these five scholarship application mistakes. 1. Not following directions. Scholarship judges look for students who know how ...

Posted Dec. 5, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
This List of 10 Priorities Eases College Admissions Stress

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with college applications during high school. With test prep, college visits, college applications and financial aid, students and parents often wonder how to prioritize tasks and which should be at the top of the list. Here’s a list of college application priorities from one to 10, starting with the most important: 1. Get organized and stay focused. Stay on top of paperwork, information and important deadlines. Create a college landing zone for all college-related information and start a filing system for the important paperwork. Use a large wall calendar or calendar app to stay on ...

Posted Dec. 1, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
What To Do When College Early Decision Is A Rejection

Early Decision and Early Admission offers from colleges to high school students start rolling in during the first part of December. For many households, this is a stressful time. These college choices are at the top of the student’s college list. They are usually their dream colleges and not receiving an offer of admission can put a damper on holiday celebrations. Every parent wants their child to attend the college of their dreams; but what happens when the college they want to attend doesn’t want them? How do you help your high school student handle those feelings of disappointment after ...

Posted Nov. 17, 2017, 11:40 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
How to Narrow a High School Student's College Application List

Did you know there are over 4,000 four-year colleges and universities in the United States? This makes choosing a college overwhelming. How does your high school student start with a dream list and narrow it down and settle on ones that are good fits academically, socially and financially? First, let’s take a look at some illogical college choices. Colleges might make a student’s list for all sorts of emotional reasons, but in the end, the reasons should be rational, not emotional. Look at your student’s list and determine whether or not any of them fit these criteria: Choosing a college ...

Posted Nov. 16, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
10 Tips to Help High School Students Ace the Common App

Most high school seniors use the Common Application to apply to colleges. Since over 600 schools now use this application, students can apply to multiple schools with one application. That doesn’t mean your student should “phone it in,” however. Taking the Common App seriously is the first step in completing an application that will help you stand out and receive an offer of admission. Here are 10 tips that will help high school students ace the Common App this year: 1. Start early and familiarize yourself with the application. Students can now access the Common App site, log in and ...

Posted Oct. 3, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
8 College Stats to Help You Pick the Right School

Parents know that applying to college is an emotional decision. Students use all sorts of factors to determine which college they will attend: the name, food, sports teams, campus appeal, where their friend/boyfriend/girlfriend is going, etc. While these factors may or may not factor into your student’s college choice, students should certainly consider some other important factors and numbers. Two good sources for college statistics are College Navigator and College Data. These two resources will help you make an informed college choice. Numbers aren’t everything, but consider these eight important stats when you and your student are looking at schools: ...

Posted Oct. 3, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
It's October, time to fill out the FAFSA for College Aid

Since the FAFSA is now available starting Oct. 1, it’s a good idea for parents of college-bound seniors to get a head start before the craziness of senior year begins. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is your golden ticket for college money, including all federal loans and college merit aid. Without the FAFSA, students can’t qualify for federal student loans or receive any financial aid from a college. If there’s one piece of advice I give parents repeatedly it’s, “no matter your income or ability to pay, complete the FAFSA.” Once the FAFSA becomes available, make it ...

Posted Sept. 21, 2017, 1 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
What You Need To Know About the Common Application This Year

It looks like the widely used Common Application has taken some cues from the new Coalition Application. The new changes to the 2017-18 Common App for colleges mirror features found in the Coalition App. Competition often creates innovation and the Common App has some much-needed updates. The Common App changes this year will benefit high school students and make the application more user friendly. While these changes will be welcomed by students, it’s too early to tell whether or not they will bring with them glitches in the application system. Here are some possible complications that could arise as high ...

Posted Sept. 7, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Share This College To-Do List With Your High School Junior

The minute college-bound students begin their junior year of high school, they should hit the ground running. Junior year is the all-important year for college admissions. It’s when students begin to get serious about college choice, concentrate on test prep, do their best with academics, start working on college essays and intensify the scholarship search. It might seem overwhelming, but starting early and chipping away at tasks bit by bit can make a big difference this year and next. Here’s a to-do list to talk over with your student. And while you’re talking, agree on what your role as a ...

Posted Aug. 18, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Is your college-bound student considering private day school? Many parents believe that a private school gives students the upper hand when it comes to college admissions and is more conducive to individual learning.   Whatever your reason for making that choice, what do you need to know? What does

Is your college-bound student considering private day school? Many parents believe that a private school gives students the upper hand when it comes to college admissions and is more conducive to individual learning. Whatever your reason for making that choice, what do you need to know? What does it take to get into one of the top-notch private schools? Much like college admissions, the private school process can be long and taxing. Families must tour the schools, and students must take admissions tests, be interviewed, and fill out the applications. Each school is different in their criteria, but they all ...

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