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 Oct. 20, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
FAFSA form on clipboard and keyboard

The biggest complaint from parents and students about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is that it’s too complicated and difficult to complete. In fact, many have found the process so overwhelming that they don’t even start it. This is a bad decision for prospective college students because the FAFSA is the form used to determine not only eligibility for government financial aid, but state and institutional aid, and some private scholarships. The U.S. Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid processes about 20 million FAFSA applications a year. But experts say many students who could and ...

Posted Oct. 9, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Computer keyboard with Apply Now button

To help you and your student prepare for this season of college applications, it’s important to understand any changes in the application requirements and formats. There are four college applications currently available to students: The Common Application, The Coalition Application, the Universal Application, and college-specific applications. Each year, the applications offer changes and upgrades to the previous year, and the 2018-19 application season is no different. Following are some changes to note for this year’s applications. The Common Application The 2018-19 Common App launched on August 1. This is the most widely used application by prospective college students because you ...

Posted Oct. 5, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
calendar showing November 2018

Early Decision has become more and more popular among students applying to college. A vast majority of students are opting to apply Early Decision to their first-choice colleges in order to get an answer before Jan. 1, rather than waiting for the regular college application cycle in the spring. But when students apply Early Decision, it’s a commitment to the college. If accepted, they promise to attend that college and agree to not apply to any other colleges. What are the deadlines for Early Decision? Early Decision application deadlines are usually prior to Nov. 1. The deadlines for Early Decision ...

Posted Sept. 27, 2018, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Two girls celebrating SAT results in school corridor

Parents and students worry and fret over the SAT test. Parents nag students to study and prepare. Students worry that their scores won’t be good enough to get them into the college of their choice. The SAT test and scoring is a topic of conversation among all parents of college-bound teens. Every student dreams of the perfect SAT score of 1600; but not all can achieve perfection. Since most teens don’t fall into the perfect score category, what is a top score, a good score, an average score and a bad score? The SAT is scored on a scale of ...

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 ...

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