The Savvy Student's Guide to College Education

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Savvy Student's Guide to College Education

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Introduction

You decide you want to go camping. You have a vision of the perfect weekend. There will be hiking, fishing, meals cooked over an open flame and S'mores. Oh man, S'mores! You can see yourself coming back to school on Monday refreshed and feeling great about yourself and nature. Friday comes and drags by but then finally the awaited weekend has come!

But, your camping weekend is an unmitigated disaster! How did this happen? Everything was going to be perfect, just the way you imagined it. Well, the weekend flopped because no planning or preparation went into the trip. There was no research into the best campsite, no careful selection of which gear worked best for this time of year in your area, nothing.

Too many times this is the exact way that we approach one of the most important decisions that we will ever make—our college selection and preparation. While it's perfectly normal (and acceptable) to spend long spring afternoons your senior year daydreaming of walking across the stage Magna Cum Laude at Harvard, that dream has very little chance of becoming a reality unless some serious planning and preparation has already been going on for several years. There's so much to consider.

What is the right school for me? Should I start at a two-year school or go directly to a four-year school? Will I get in? Which major should I choose? How am I going to pay for this? You are by no means the first person to face these difficult questions. After years of dealing with these kinds of questions, The Carson Scholars Fund commissioned TheBestSchools.org to come up with a guide for their scholars. But realizing that this guide hold information of interest to all high school graduates, TheBestSchools.org decided to make it available to everyone.

This twelve-chapter guide addresses everything from beginning the search for your ideal college your freshman year of high school (Yes! It should start that early) to your first day of classes as a new college student, to preparing for a job and onward to tips for your first day in a job. Don't know how to write an effective admission essay? We got you covered. Worried about paying back student loans until you're in your seventies? The Savvy Student's Guide will give you the information you need to borrow responsibly as well as tips for researching scholarship opportunities. Wondering if you'll be able to get a job with that basket weaving major that sounded so cool? Maybe check out Chapter 9: Career Trends so you can know where the jobs are before you invest your hard work, time, and money.

A successful college experience takes planning, and planning for something you've never done before is difficult. The Savvy Student's Guide to College Education is here to help.

Ch 1—Selecting the Right College for You

selecting-the-right-college-for-you2Many students are surprised at how easy it can be to choose among the thousands of colleges out there. Once you have a clear understanding of who you are, what you like, and how you best learn, picking a college becomes a pretty easy and fun thing to do. Learning about yourself is something you've always done, and that's the key to a successful ninth grade, where you ramp up and fine tune your self-knowledge by learning to be a good student, participating in clubs and activities, and learning how to help others. You keep building these skills throughout high school... Read more...

Ch 2—Selecting a College Major

selecting-college-majorOne of the most exciting parts of applying to college is thinking about what the major focus of your studies will be once you get there. In choosing a major, students will want to get a good understanding of all the possible majors that are out there, since most high schools don't offer classes in every single major. After doing that research, students may want to think about what they'd like to do as a job or career, since many jobs require students to complete some kind of training in a specific major... Read more...

Ch 3—The College Application Process

college-application-processOnce senior year arrives, it's time for you to build a plan to complete your college applications. Using what you've learned as juniors by researching colleges and visiting college campuses, your first list of colleges will probably be between 6-8 schools, with each school on the list meeting a special need of either being close to home; a college where your chances of admission are above average; a college that's affordable, or a college you just plain love... Read more...

Ch 4—Writing Effective College Application Essays

college-application-essaysMany students don't think the college essay matters all that much in the college application, but since this is the only time students can “talk” to a college, the essay proves to be very important. Since colleges are reading the essays to get a sense of the student's “voice”, you'll want to write a personal essay that shows them how you think, how you feel, and what matters to you in the world. The “Why Us” essay asks students to explain what they see in the college that makes is a special place to them, and how they plan on making the most of what the college has to offer... Read more...

Ch 5—Researching Scholarship Opportunities

researching-scholarship-opportunitiesCollege scholarships continue to be one of the most important parts of the college application process, especially since a scholarship can make the difference in helping make any student's college dreams come true. When looking for scholarships, it's important to remember there are other kinds of funds that are also available to help pay for college—scholarships are money for college that's given based on a particular talent the student has. Scholarships break into two categories—the kind offered by companies and organizations, and the kind offered by colleges... Read more...

Ch 6—Financing a College Education

financing-a-college-educationThere's certainly no question that college costs a lot of money—much more than when your parents were growing up—and most students aren't going to be able to afford college without a plan, and without some help. While most pre-paid tuition plans are designed for younger students, some can still be of benefit to older students, and a 529 savings plan can help out any student, regardless of change. The process of applying for financial aid is a joint effort among the federal and state governments and the college you'll attend... Read more...

Ch 7—Benefits and Pitfalls of Student Loans

benefits-pitfalls-student-loansStudents thinking about taking out loans to pay for college usually fall into one of two categories. Either they are more than willing to take out any amount they need, or they are too terrified of not being able to pay back the loan to even think about taking one out. The best way to consider if a student loan is right for you is to get an understanding of the purpose of loans in general, and understand how they work. From there, students should consider the reasons why a student loan would create a stronger college choice for them—or, in some cases, create a college choice... Read more...

Ch 8—Career Prospects of Different Majors

career-prospectsIt's easy to fall in love with a job and find out the many degree options that could prepare you for that job—but what do you do if you fall in love with a major in college, but don't know where that will lead in the world of work? A carefully outlined three-step process will help you understand how to convert your college studies into job prospects, and that process starts by becoming familiar with the many programs available through your college's career placement program, including their major-career match website... Read more...

Ch 9—Career Trends: Where the Jobs Are

where-the-jobs-areFinding the growing occupations in the job market is a little more complicated than most people realize. While the federal government has an easy-to-find list of the careers where there are lots of job openings, not all of those careers offer the kind of salary many young people dream of, or are in the fields that are of interest to some people. A look at some additional resources that address higher-paying job fields that have openings shows that students considering these careers need to be prepared to take on a higher level of risk in most of these jobs... Read more...

Ch 10—Writing an Effective Résumé

writing-effective-resumeThe key to writing an effective résumé is to understand that the résumé needs to tell the reader—your potential employer—everything they want to know about you. That may not be the same as everything you want to tell them about yourself, so it's important to focus on your audience as you put your résumé together. This is also true when deciding which of the three résumé types to use, depending partially on the job, but depending more on your work experience. The plusses and minuses of digital résumés are discussed... Read more...

Ch 11—Giving a Successful Interview

sucessful-interviewA well-constructed résumé can take you to the next step, which is usually an interview. In most cases, the content of a college application interview and a first job interview is very similar, keeping in mind that many colleges don't require interviews, while nearly every job requires some kind of interview as a condition of employment. Congratulations! You've put together an application and résumé that stood apart from the others enough to get you an interview for the college of your choice or the job of your dreams. But now that you're going to talk with someone in person, you're starting to feel a little nervous... Read more...

Ch 12—Your First Day on the Job

first-dayNew employees are often eager to begin the work they've been hired to do, only to discover that their first day on the job is filled with paperwork and training exercises that seem to have little relation to their “real” work. While these activities may seem minor, the attitude the new employee shows in completing this work—and, more important, the warmth they extend to the colleagues the new employee meets while completing these introductory tasks—send important messages to the colleagues they'll be working with for a long time, as well as to the boss who saw such promise in the new employee's resume and interview... Read more...

Savvy Student's Resources

College Application checklist—College Board

College Application Checklist—NACAC

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Ordering ACT Test Scores

Ordering SAT Test Scores

College Admissions Glossary

Early Action and Early Decision Admissions

Admission Decisions: What Counts

Top 15 Mistakes to Avoid in Choosing a College

Colleges and Universities: Choosing the Right Fit

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TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.
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