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 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 ...

Posted Aug. 10, 2017, noon by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
8 Tips for Making Summer Prime Time for College Scholarships

The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Kids are out of school. Families take vacations. The last thing anyone wants to think about is searching for college scholarships. But wait! Summer is prime time to search and apply for scholarships. While everyone is playing, your high school student can be hard at work figuring out how to win a scholarship for college. This makes for a productive and financially beneficial summer. Sacrificing a few hours a week could mean graduating college without debt. Here are eight summer scholarship search tips to help your high school student on the path to ...

Posted July 29, 2017, 7 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
It's August! Check Our College To-Do List for High School Seniors

Getting a head start on applying to college the summer before senior year can make the fall and spring less stressful for parents and high school seniors. High school seniors will need to be prepared for the overwhelming amount of college admissions activities once school begins. Tackling some of those college related tasks now can help ease some of the pressure in the fall. Get ahead of the game and prepare in advance by using this checklist. If you do, parents and seniors should be ready for senior year to begin. 1. Get ready for standardized tests. The fall standardized ...

Posted June 27, 2017, 9:53 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
high-school-teen-summer-volunteer

It’s tempting for high school students to spend summer hanging out with friends, sleeping past noon, and attempting to do absolutely nothing. And while it’s true that down time for growing teens is absolutely necessary, too much is neither a healthy option nor the wisest choice if college is in their future. Encouraging high school students to get out and have some worthy, productive summer experiences is super important – for parents and for them – especially for those students hoping to score a scholarship or two. And even if teens are working, attending a teen summer program, or taking ...

Posted June 20, 2017, 2:19 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
act-act-test-prep

Even as they start to enjoy summer, high school juniors and seniors know they are facing standardized testing in the fall. For seniors, it’s the last chance to get their best scores on the SAT or ACT before college applications are submitted. For juniors, the fall SAT or ACT can be a good indicator of areas that need improvement and require more preparation. Taking advantage of the summer to prepare for these tests makes smart academic sense and teaches students how to get over test anxiety. Standardized test prep doesn’t need to be torturous. Your student will retain more if ...

Posted May 30, 2017, 9:12 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
admissions-college-tour

Spring and summer are busy times on college campuses, as high school juniors start taking college tours and admitted high school seniors come for one more look around or college orientation. But college visits are such a crucial part of choosing the right college that colleges welcome these students and look forward to making a positive connection. There is a definite goal and purpose in the college visit: determine if the college is a good fit. But just showing up and walking around campus will not help teens from any worthwhile opinion of the college or the students. For college ...

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