TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Andrew Belasco

Andrew Belasco is CEO of College Transitions LLC, a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. In addition to his role as CEO, Andrew is a published higher education researcher and consultant to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admission and financial aid policy. For more information about Andrew and his team, please visit www.collegetransitions.com

Posted June 23, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Should You Consider a Gap Year Before College?

Back in the 80s, parents’ worst nightmare was that their flaky Gen-X teens would defer entry into college, stating that they first needed to “find themselves.” After a year of goat herding in the Himalayas, being one with nature, and going on nightly vision quests, the best some parents could hope for is that their sons and daughters would eventually return, ready to hit the books, embrace Alex P. Keatonesque values, and eventually end up as Wall Street wolves. Should You Consider a Gap Year Before College? While absurd, this introduction offers a kernel of truth—in the absence of proper ...

Posted June 17, 2014, 12:40 p.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Do You Want to Be a Doctor?

So, you want to be a doctor? Welcome to the second installment of College Transitions' "So you want to be a…" series. Designed to help career-minded high school students think intelligently about their postsecondary journeys, these blogs will look at the financial, academic, and personal factors one should consider when exploring various professions. Read the first installment here. Do I Need to Attend a Prestigious Undergraduate School? No, you do not have to attend an Ivy-caliber undergraduate institution to be admitted to med school. The undergraduate school you attend will only help you to the extent that it enables you ...

Posted May 29, 2014, 1 p.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Before Applying, Consider a College’s Career Services

With college costs and education debt at an all-time high, an increasing number of families are beginning to scrutinize the value of a college education. They are right to do so. The throngs of unemployed and underemployed college graduates are testament to the fact that a college degree no longer assures financial security or professional success. Look Beyond College Acceptance In a previous post, we encouraged our readers to think big picture, and look beyond acceptance to explore whether, and how, their prospective colleges could provide returns on their postsecondary investment. We received a number of inquiries in response, many ...

Posted May 17, 2014, 11 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
How to Ace Your College Interview

In today’s college admissions climate, successful applicants need to present more than just the contents of their application. Sure, strong academic credentials are necessary, but they are no longer sufficient to earn admission into many selective institutions. In addition to excellent grades and test scores, students must be able to prove that they are a good “fit” for their prospective schools. Along with the college essay, the college interview provides applicants a golden opportunity to demonstrate that they are not only qualified but suitable for admission into the college of their choice. Download For many applicants, the prospect of meeting ...

Posted May 10, 2014, 1 p.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Do Colleges Really Care About Your Facebook Account?

The vast majority of college admissions officers rarely, if ever, Google applicants names, rifle through their Facebook accounts, carefully pore over their archived tweets, or analyze their “selfies” on Instagram for artistic value. For some officers, this is a moral issue; your social media should be your private space. For others, such as those at universities receiving 80,000 plus applicants, stalking old Myspace pages for evidence of middle school misdeeds would be a terribly wasteful use of precious time. Social Media is Now More Prominent in Admissions While most admissions offices steer clear of online snooping, the practice has trended ...

Posted April 24, 2014, 11 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Paying for College: How to Win Merit Aid

At the risk of sounding like Matthew Lesko, the question mark suit-clad lunatic of early 2000s infomercial fame, COLLEGES WANT TO GIVE YOU FREE MONEY!!! Okay, so schools aren’t exactly looking to send cash to any freeloader with a self-addressed stamp envelope, but each year, billions upon billions of dollars are indeed handed out by institutions for the purpose of luring desirable students onto their campuses. The top factors in netting merit aid As usual, it starts with the good ol’ meat and potatoes of the application—strong test scores and a high grade point average. Some colleges literally have formulaic ...

Posted April 17, 2014, 11 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
How Many Advanced Placement (AP) Classes Should You Take?

Most students are familiar with the basics of Advanced Placement (AP) courses: They offer a chance to experience a college-level curriculum while still in high school, earn college credits, and boost your college admissions chances by showing your rigorous course load. From there, questions typically abound. We’ll do our best to answer the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients about Advanced Placement classes, starting with the most frequent one. How many AP classes should I take? Let’s begin by saying that taking too heavy an AP course load (relative to the caliber of student you are) is never ...

Posted April 15, 2014, 11 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Is There a Private School Advantage in College Admissions?

Prior to the 1920s, attendance at a top-flight prep school was nothing less than a prerequisite for admission into an Ivy League college. Absurdly, a diploma from a blue-blood boarding school actually trumped academic superiority in the elitist admissions landscape of early 20th century America. Today, nearly 100 years later, 65 percent of Harvard students hail from a public high school. For a less Ivy-centric view, consider that fewer than 6 percent of college students in 2012 had attended private, non-religious high schools. So this begs the question: Do private schools still offer an admissions advantage at our nation’s most ...

Posted April 1, 2014, 11 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Playing Your Way into an Elite College: College Athletes

Ivy League schools and many elite colleges with Division III athletics purport not to grant admissions favor or any edge in scholarship consideration to student-athletes. In related news, Taco Bell claims that their tacos are made with 100% sirloin beef… Since you can’t always believe the party line, student athletes interested in parlaying their physical gifts into selective college admission should be aware of the realities that lie beneath the posture of sports indifference. In truth, if you can shoot, skate, cradle, dribble, sprint, throw, or volley better than 99% of your peers, then you have a significant admissions advantage ...

Posted March 25, 2014, 2 p.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
10 Tips for Landing College Scholarships

Attempts to navigate the world of private college scholarships often result in students and families left adrift in the proverbial mile-wide, inch-deep ocean of cyberspace. Let the following tips serve as your guide, helping you to streamline your search for the “best-fit” scholarships and maximize your chances at emerging with the ultimate prize: Substantial funds for your college education. 10 College Scholarship Tips 1. Save time by visiting top scholarship databases You could Google until your fingers go numb and still not uncover a fraction of the legitimate scholarship opportunities that have been prescreened and neatly packed into the following ...

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