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 July 12, 2019, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Gap-year-credit

In the past, gap years were pretty rare. In today’s college landscape, however, deferring college for a year after acceptance is becoming commonplace. The best part: Colleges are now very accepting of gap years. Some schools offer their own for-credit gap programs for admitted students, and many are willing to honor credits earned through certain third-party gap programs. This means students now have a chance to explore while gaining clarity towards your goals before starting college and still earning college credit. Colleges with their own gap programs Tufts University: Tufts created its very own gap year program. Their 1+4 Bridge ...

Posted March 25, 2019, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Considering second-choice school

The college admissions offers have all arrived but, sadly, your student’s dream school was a no. Or perhaps, the first-choice school came through, but the financial aid didn’t. It looks like it’s time to re-evaluate the colleges lower down on their application list. Of course, deciding to attend a college that wasn’t a top choice might initially seem like letdown. However, with the right mindset you can transform this disappointment into a higher education triumph. Reconsidering Second-choice Schools As you begin to reconsider your options, remind yourself of these five realities to keep positive and maximize your chances of finding ...

Posted March 5, 2019, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
pencil and SAT answer sheet

What is a “test-optional” college? It is a college and/or university that de-emphasizes the use of standardized tests and picks a substantial number of applicants who are recent graduate U.S. high schools without using the SAT or ACT. Other colleges exempt students who meet grade-point average or class rank criteria from submitting ACT or SAT scores, while others require scores but claim to use them only for placement purposes or to conduct research studies. Test-optional colleges have long been a controversial topic. When a college allows students to opt out of reporting their standardized test scores, do they have an ...

Posted Feb. 25, 2019, noon by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Weighing college offers

It’s that time of year. College admissions offices have been sending out offers of admission along with financial aid award packages. The long wait is over and it’s time to make a decision. Which college will your student attend? Before committing, however, you should weigh your options. You would never purchase a home without determining its value, fit for your family, and location. The college decision should be approached in the same manner. How to Choose the Right College Once your student has looked at the colleges on their list that offered admission, here are seven steps to take before ...

Posted Feb. 19, 2019, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Young woman asleep on couch with book over her head.

Not every student is excited about going to college. Sometimes they need a little push; and sometimes college just isn’t in their headlights. The simple truth is: The four-year college plan isn’t for everyone. For some young adults, the thought of college terrifies them. If they have struggled in school, they know college is going to be more academically challenging. Other students are simply burned out and need a break. But, with all the talk about college during high school, other options are rarely discussed. What if your student simply won’t consider college? My son never saw himself in college. ...

Posted Feb. 5, 2019, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
African-American Woman Using Mobile at Street

Social media makes it easier than ever to connect with colleges and admissions representatives because you don’t have to be on campus to make a connection. College admissions officers prefer students who are partial to their particular school and many consider whether a student is “demonstrating interest” during the admissions decision process. You can find out how much emphasis a college places on demonstrating interest by visiting CollegeData.com, typing in the college name, clicking on the admissions tab, and viewing the Selection of Students information. Bentley University, for instance, considers demonstrated interest as an “important” factor in college admission. But ...

Posted Jan. 14, 2019, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Portrait of sad teenage boy reading message on his phone.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens wasn’t talking about college admissions, but it certainly applies. By late December, the Early Decision answers have come in. If you were blessed, your student will be on cloud nine being accepted to their first-choice college. If you are like many parents and students, the lack of an admissions offer will be devastating. A friend of mine experienced the bad news last year right before Christmas. It rocked her world because her son was a legacy and had impeccable test scores and grades. But it was ...

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 ...

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