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 July 27, 2014, 11 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
risky behavior in teens

Risky behavior. It’s something that can start in middle or high school and carrying into college. Why? Teens and young adults believe they are invincible. They are young and carefree and want to “experience life.” Unfortunately for parents, it causes many nights of worry and fret, especially when they are away at college. It would be sticking our heads in the sand to believe that our kids won’t be faced with risky behavior decisions in college. Prepare your teens to make responsible decisions Talking to your high school students about this reality, and how to handle it responsibly, is essential ...

Posted July 11, 2014, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
10 Online Resources for Student Financial Literacy

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes that financial literacy needs to be a staple of the American education system. Speaking at Pensions and Investments’ Innovation and the Global Future of Retirement conference, Mr. Duncan likened financial literacy education to learning a foreign language in that it's something that should be taught as early as possible. Financial Literacy is an Essential Skill “If our young people aren't financially literate, we are part of the problem, not part of the solution. And as a nation, we have a huge problem,” Duncan said. He also noted that financial literacy is a topic ...

Posted July 7, 2014, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Reasons to take the PSATs

For many high school students, the PSAT is their first big standardized test. The PSAT is often considered a practice test, but it is technically a preliminary test for the SAT, with one big distinction: Scoring well can get you named as a National Merit Scholar finalist and earn you cash for college. It’s the perfect test to figure out your best strategies for test prep, especially if you’re a sophomore taking it for the first time. The PSAT has three categories worth 80 points each: reading, writing and math. A perfect score would be 240 Points. The test takes ...

Posted July 2, 2014, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Colleges That Change Lives

Student debt is continuing to rise; and graduates are finding it harder and harder to find jobs after graduation. The job market is flooded with graduates who have degrees that aren’t employable in their specific field. We’ve all heard stories about students who graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and end up working at hourly jobs to pay their student loans back. But when a student attends college, is his final goal only about employment after graduation? Or should he be getting more from the experience? Are colleges recognizing this growing problem and doing something to remedy the situation? What about ...

Posted July 1, 2014, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
What to Expect at College Orientation

Colleges instituted orientation for incoming students to ease the transition into college. Freshman orientation is a way for students to meet other students, become familiar with campus services, and register for fall classes. Every student attending college in the fall should add orientation to their to-do list this summer. While orientation has been traditionally for students, in the last 10 years, colleges have recognized the fact that parents need help dealing with the transition. To the traditional student orientation, they have added parent orientation. If you have a teen heading to college in the fall, parents should consider attending if ...

Posted June 27, 2014, 4:11 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
How to Cope with Graduation Anxiety

High school graduation day is supposed to be one of the best days in your life. But the unsettling truth is it can be a time of great anxiety—for both students and parents. Even though this is a milestone, a combination of both positive and negative emotions can turn this happy time into one filled with stress. It’s hard to imagine that this time for celebration also produces feelings of fear, frustration, sadness and separation. But it does. Why is there such anxiety around this time of celebration and accomplishment? Graduation Anxiety for the Students Of course students are happy ...

Posted June 24, 2014, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Video Essays for College Applications

In this multimedia age that we live in, it should come as no surprise that many colleges are now accepting video essays. With the mountain of applications colleges receive, the challenge is for students to find a way to stand out. For years, video essays have been a common part of applications to art and design schools. It’s only recently that 4-year colleges and universities have begun to accept them as part of the application. Download What is a video essay? A video essay is a dynamic new way to make your application gleam.It’s a chance to deliver a message ...

Posted June 19, 2014, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
Valedictorians: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

High schools have traditionally awarded the highest GPA in the senior population the honor of valedictorian. But recently, this practice has come under fire by many who claim it’s not a fair measure of excellence. The trend is to award the title of “valedictorian” to any student who has amassed a 4.0 GPA. One high school in Oregon had 21 valedictorians, while another had 10. College admissions counselors worry that this is muddying the waters. Jim Rawlins, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling said, “Yes, it has definitely watered things down a little bit. Definitely, the more ...

Posted June 18, 2014, 10 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
How to Prepare for College During High School Summers

There has been much said about summer activities and how to spend the summer: volunteering, reading, working, and more. But for the college-bound teen, summer gives each grade level an opportunity to concentrate on specific tasks before the school year begins. Soon-to-be Freshmen It’s the year of new beginnings. Wide-eyed freshmen enter high school campuses overwhelmed and excited. High school is the beginning of the college pursuit. It means added responsibility and academic challenges. And it also requires organization and preparation. Following are four tasks for soon-to-be freshmen: 1. Plan The summer before freshman year is the best time to ...

Posted June 16, 2014, 11 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
How Many Colleges Should You Apply To?

Most teens will tell you that making the college list is one of the most stressful times in their life. It’s a process that begins with a little bit of knowing what you like, what your goals are, and that intuition that every student takes to the table. Knowing yourself, your likes, and your dislikes will help you in the process. There’s a theory among teens and many parents, which says, “The more colleges you apply to, the better your chances.” In theory it makes sense, but there are other things to consider besides hedging your bets with numbers. Three ...

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