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 Feb. 9, 2017, 2:28 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments

When my children were young, it never occurred to me to consider private school. I was a public-school kid of the 1960s. None of my friends went to private school. All the middle-class, average kids I knew walked to school every morning to the closest neighborhood school. It was that simple. My parents never considered the private school option. But times changed. The public schools changed. A generation later, the choice of schools was more complicated. Parents were considering other options as my children reached school age. The public schools became more crowded. Teachers became overwhelmed with responsibilities that added ...

Posted Feb. 2, 2017, 4:42 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
ssat for boarding

Whether you are thinking of applying to a private school in Los Angeles or a boarding school in Massachusetts, the odds are you will be required to take the SSAT - the Secondary School Admissions Test. It is used for admission to private schools and boarding schools, from elementary through high school, to assess applicants’ verbal, math and reading skills. What do you need to know about the SSAT? Here are the answers to some FAQs: 1. How often is the SSAT given? The SSAT is given once a month from October to April and once in June. It lasts ...

Posted Nov. 30, 2016, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Don't shy away from applying for scholarships.

There is great discussion among parents and students about whether or not college scholarship applications are worth it. Students complain about the time involved with seemingly little to show for it. Parents urge, and often nag, their students to apply. Other parents believe it’s simply a waste of time. I happen to be one who believes scholarship applications are indeed worth the time and effort. My daughter attended an expensive private university based on the scholarships she won from outside sources and from the college or university itself. Those scholarships allowed her to attend a school that was financially out ...

Posted Nov. 10, 2016, 9 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Comparing the Different Types of College Applications

Not only can choosing a college be confusing and overwhelming, once you finalize your college choices you have another decision to make: Which college application should you use? In the past, each college had its own application. Students had to complete an application for every college they applied to. It was a tedious task and often discouraged students from submitting multiple applications. Now, students can take advantage of various online applications. But does it matter which application you submit? How do you know which application is the best one for the colleges you apply to? Each of these application choices ...

Posted Nov. 8, 2016, 1:40 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Don't Make These 10 College Essay Mistakes

A key part of any college application is the college essay. Essays create much stress among students (and their parents) who want to craft the best possible application essay to make the best possible impression on admissions officers. There’s a reason why schools require students to include essays, and it’s not just to see a sample of their writing ability. With thousands of applicants sporting similar qualifications, something has to tip the scales and it just might be the essay section. Download Following are 10 mistakes you should avoid on your college application essays: 1. DON’T write about controversial subjects. ...

Posted Nov. 3, 2016, 9 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
The 5 Best Reasons To Go To College

Is college truly all about ROI (return on investment)? Do we encourage kids to apply to college solely based on the fact that they will give us a good return on our investment – a job that pays well after college? Should you go into massive debt for a liberal arts degree that leaves you unemployable? Absolutely not. But can you get a liberal arts degree and in the process discover your passion? Absolutely. If you ask both of my children if they considered college ROI, they would have different answers. My daughter would say that college was so much ...

Posted Oct. 21, 2016, 9 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Make Sure You Get the Best College Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters. Every student needs them. Almost all teachers dread having to write them, especially if they barely know you. That’s why it’s crucial that you prepare and ask the right people to write your recommendations. The letters are a part of the college application process and they should be taken seriously. No last-minute panicking on this task – it requires some thoughtful planning so that your recommendations will complement your high school resume and college essays. Letters of recommendation provide critical additional information about your academic performance, your interests and your personal qualities and may sway the admission or ...

Posted Oct. 18, 2016, 9 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
The 5 Most Important First-Semester Tasks for Seniors

The first semester of senior year is filled with anticipation. It’s your last year of high school and you have so much to look forward to, such as graduation and college. But in order to reach those goals, you have some high-priority things in the area of college admissions and creating the best college application that you can. 1. Get recommendation letters. There’s no time to waste. Teachers and administrators and other mentors are busy people. With multiple students asking for recommendation letters, you want to be first in line. If you’ve done your homework, you have built relationships and ...

Posted Sept. 23, 2016, 9 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
The 5 Best Reasons to Consider Private School

Perhaps your student is restless in large public school classes, has a long wait for an appointment to discuss college with the public school guidance counselor, or is lost in a big public high school that has little sense of community. If so, it might be time to consider private school. Private school advantages include smaller classes, sufficient staffing and a sense of camaraderie that helps support students. Don’t be turned off by the sticker price. Most private schools want diverse student bodies and offer scholarship opportunities. So if your public school student is yearning for something more, and you ...

Posted Sept. 19, 2016, 9:27 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
3 Ways to Take Charge of Your College Search

So many of my daughter’s friends chose a college based on all the wrong reasons: a boyfriend was going there; a parent was an alum; it was close to home; it had a prestigious name; the football team was rated; or they simply waited until the last minute and were out of options. Many times, students and parents just let the college decision happen. They automatically assume that once they decide to go to college, they will be able to get in somewhere, even if it’s a local community college. But you should take charge of your college search and ...

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