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 April 5, 2017, 8 a.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments

It’s that time of year. College admissions decisions are arriving and the award letters are either with them or will follow shortly. For most students who have applied to multiple colleges, comparing those award letters are a crucial part of making the final college choice. Unless your parents will be footing the bill for your entire education, those awards will help determine which college will best meet your family’s financial needs. So, first things first. Use this tool from The College Board to compare the awards of up to four schools. You can enter all the information from each college’s ...

Posted March 14, 2017, 3:40 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments

Your high school resume is more than a list of academics and activities. Your resume can show a college that you are not only involved and committed to academics, but you are engaged in life and committed to exploring new opportunities. These are the qualities colleges look for in a well-rounded applicant. The college essay allows you to focus on one topic; the high school resume sums up all you are and helps colleges get an overall picture of how you can contribute to their student population. Here are six ways you can boost your resume and stand out in ...

Posted March 9, 2017, 7 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments
7 Questions to Ask an Independent College Advisor

The decision to hire an independent college advisor is a difficult one. It’s extra time and money on top of whatever college counseling your student’s school may offer. But some students need the personal attention, whether it’s help organizing their high school resume, polishing a college essay or picking schools that are interesting and appropriate. Once you make the decision to hire an independent college advisor, you should know what questions to ask possible candidates before you start the college admissions process. Here are seven questions to ask before you hire an independent college advisor. Do you provide a preliminary ...

Posted Feb. 21, 2017, 3:50 p.m. by Suzanne Shaffer | View Comments

Are you interested in pursuing a STEM program to work with animals? The animal-related careers in science, technology, engineering or math are as vast as the animal kingdom itself. Jobs requiring STEM skills vary depending on the type of animals and the working environment so it’s important to think about where you want to be and what you want to do. Before you pursue a college STEM program, you should be able to answer these questions: What kind of animals do you want to work with (domestic pets, livestock, birds, ocean animals)? What interests you the most (teaching, conservation, medicine, ...

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 ...

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