The key to helping your junior get in and get money for college

Parents of juniors…I want college admissions to be a stress-free process for your teen. Don’t see how that’s possible? Let me share some intentional things you can do to support your teen’s success to help them (and you!) avoid stressing out. The key is to approach the process in a way that makes sense for your teen, beginning with ownership. 

Own the Process 

First off, having your junior own the process (being engaged, responsible and accountable) will take a lot of pressure off you as a parent. But it goes deeper than that. I know from the research, and from experience with my own children that when your teen takes ownership of the process, they:

  • are much more successful in the college admissions process and more likely to get into the top colleges on their ist
  • can be sure they are a good fit for the college, and as a result, 
  • end up getting scholarship money. 

 

The key takeaway is to be sure your teen is in charge so that they are owning the process

 

Now that we’ve established that, where can you and your teen start with finding money for college?

 

External Scholarship Opportunities 

Let’s talk about external scholarships, which are scholarships that are not from the colleges, but from external sources. Oftentimes families are unaware of the other resources that are out there. This year especially, you want to be intentional around external scholarships. Here are five in particular that you may not have considered. 

 

1. Scholarships from Companies

Many companies, including law firms, major restaurants and retail companies offer scholarships. One widely-known example is the Coca-Cola scholarship for seniors which is a very large scholarship. However, your junior can position themselves to compete for that scholarship going into senior year. Also look at some of the companies in your own community that offer scholarships, which you can often find on their websites.

 

2. Scholarships from Civic Organizations 

Another great resource is civic organizations and foundations. Sometimes they are need-based (which require you to provide proof of need) while others involve a contest, where you complete an application with an essay to qualify. Now is a good time to research the civic organizations in your community that offer scholarships.

 

3. Scholarships from Credit Unions 

Credit unions are wonderful community neighbors, and they often will have scholarships as well. Sometimes, there are additional offerings for members of that credit union. If you’re a member of a credit union, definitely check that out! I recommend that you look into these opportunities in junior year; some of the requirements are junior-year specific.  Another note regarding credit unions: if you know that there is a credit union that offers a scholarship and you’re not a member, now is the time to become a member. If you plan ahead your teen can position themselves for that particular award now. 

 

4. Scholarships from Your Employer 

There are a lot of employers that offer scholarships. I believe that NiSource, the energy company here in Columbus, offers scholarships. See if your employer offers scholarships as well. Again, junior year is the time to look into the criteria. 

 

5. National Merit Scholarship Program 

Most students take the PSAT in junior year and their score will determine whether they qualify for national merit. One thing to know regarding the PSAT, is that it is not really considered for college admission. However, when your junior takes the PSAT and scores in the 99th percentile, then they qualify for a national merit scholarship. Have your teen research the criteria for the National Merit scholarship. 

 

Who Can Apply for External Scholarships?

Although you have a junior, be aware that you can apply for an external scholarship beginning at age 13 (keep that in mind if you have younger children as well). If your child wins a scholarship, that money is held and then sent to the college when they enroll. I encourage families with younger teens to apply for scholarships. Not only does it develop their resilience, it also helps to instill that growth mindset that we want our students to have. Plus, they will be adding to their portfolio of writing samples as well.

What your junior can do in December to prepare for college

If your teen is a junior, you are probably already overwhelmed with a lot of information coming from your teen’s school, neighbors, friends who have kids and maybe even your workplace. With that information overload, it can be hard sometimes to prioritize and stay on top of things. I want to make sure that you don’t get left behind in this process. 

Here are some things that you can do right now in the month of December. 

Researching Colleges 

The first action item would be researching colleges in order to learn whether or not that college is a good fit for them. When they find ones that are a good fit, they will likely thrive in terms of their years in college and that’s what we want for them. 

I’ve mentioned before the five areas of fit which are: academic, social, financial, vocational and cultural fit (You can refer to my previous article on fit here ). 

Decide Which Test They will Take 

The second thing they can be doing in the month of December is deciding which test they’re going to focus on –  the SAT or the ACT. Some states have one particular test as a graduation requirement, for example in Ohio, it is the ACT. However, many students still take the SAT because that’s the test that they favor. Taking both tests is actually no longer required. 

When students are taking both just for the sake of taking both, not only does it waste money, but it wastes time as well. I recommend that students focus on the one that’s best for them, which could even be based on the schedule or availability. Whatever it is, just focus on one test because colleges will take either one, there’s no need to do both. 

After they decide which test to focus on, they need to decide how they’re going to prepare. The month of December is a great time for them to prep for the test they’ll be taking. I usually recommend at least 6 to 12 weeks of prep time. 

 

      Read more about preparing the for test

 

Read a book for pleasure during winter break

There is plenty of research to support why teens should continue to read (and why they don’t do it, as well). Becoming a real reader can improve your teen’s vocabulary, make them a better writer, help them get into college, and enlarge their breadth of understanding of the world around them.  Click here to learn more

But did you know that one of the most commonly used prompts for college admissions essays is “Tell about a book you read for pleasure and why it should be required”?

 

So how can you get your teen to read during their “downtime?”

 

One resource I highly recommend is  Real Ballers Read – a popular Book-stagram with podcast interviews and other literary fun for teens from near-peer mentors. This is a great place to help your teen find a book to read during the winter break.

These are the important action steps that your junior can take during the month of December – researching colleges, determining which test they’re going to focus on (and how they will prepare for the test), and reading a book for pleasure over winter break. Starting this process now, as opposed to waiting until the new year, will make sure that your teen is on track and not feeling behind and rushed as we get into the spring. 

 

For more help with navigating junior year, sign up to receive my FREE College Prep Toolkit. This resource includes my Junior Year Roadmap, so you and your teen will know what they should be doing each month. 

5 Things your junior can do in November

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – junior year is so important because it is the start of the college admissions process. I want to help make this time less stressful to keep you from hurrying through this process at the last minute and avoid having your teen apply to colleges that are not a good fit for them. 

 

Here are five tips as far as actions that your teen can be doing in the month of November. 

 

What Your Teen Can Do in November 

  • Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals 

The first action that your teen can do this month is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. These will help ensure that junior year is a time that is intentional for them. Teens are just like adults in many ways, they want to have a sense of control and setting goals is a part of that. It helps them to be accountable in terms of their actions through junior year – that’s where we want to start. 

 

S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. All of these components will help set your teen up for success and make sure that they have a sense of what they want to accomplish this year. 

 

Goals can be related to academics, be centered around mental health and self-care or pertain to athletics. They should really take the time to reflect and think about these goals. 

 

Teens should have 3 to 5 goals – any more than that and it becomes overwhelming. I always suggest that one of them is a personal goal. It doesn’t have to always be about school. Maybe there’s something they want to do within their community or there is a skill they want to develop. Make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal. 


  • Self-Assessment 

The second thing I would suggest is doing some type of self-assessment; there are a number of them out there. This helps teens develop their self awareness and know what they desire instead of everyone telling them what they should do or who they should be. It is important to give teens the tools that may help them with figuring some of that out. A great tool that I like to use is a personality assessment similar to Myers Briggs, but designed for teens. It’s good to understand your personality and how to determine the best fit for you based on that. 

 

As students are starting to look ahead to which colleges should be on their list, one of the things I emphasize is that the list starts with the student; it doesn’t start with the college. They have to know who they are, what their desires are and their “why” behind wanting to go to certain colleges. The self-assessment can help with that.


  • Career Interest Inventory 

The third one is a career interest inventory, which is sometimes part of the self-assessments. The career interests inventory can help your teen to think about their major and what they may want to study when they’re in college. 

 

I was talking to one student recently and they wanted to do a little bit of everything. Having many interests can be a great thing and some colleges support that love in terms of having all of their different interests. However, a career interest inventory can help with narrowing down all of your interests into a more concise list. 

 

Also, maybe having all of those different interests just means that they are undecided and that’s okay. If your teen is undecided, then looking at colleges that value students who are undecided can be a good idea. A career interest inventory can help narrow it down a little bit to find colleges that are a good academic fit. 


  • Nurturing Teacher Relationships 

The fourth thing juniors should be doing is nurturing teacher relationships, especially with core content teachers (English, math, science, social studies and foreign language). You may have a great relationship with your band teacher, and that’s alright, but usually recommendation letters have to come from core teachers. Also, it is a good idea to have teachers write their recommendation letters in junior year rather than scrambling around to handle this during senior year. 

 

It is important to nurture these relationships in a sincere way. Think of a couple of teachers whose class you enjoy – it can even be a class that’s really challenging for you. Get to know that teacher through talking or setting a time to meet outside of class time, ask questions in class and engage in that way.  One of the things that teachers will be rating students on in their recommendations is productive class discussion. Your participation in class can be a way to let your teacher get to know you and for you to really get to know that teacher. 

 

I recommend that my students meet with one or two teachers each month during the school year, and that’s one way they can intentionally nurture those teacher relationships in a sincere way and develop the skills of how to self-advocate. 


  • Contributing in Junior Year 

The fifth one is for your teen to consider how they’re contributing in junior year, whether in their community or at school. A student’s activity resume shouldn’t just be one hour here and a half hour there. They need to become an active participant, contributing in a meaningful way. If there’s a club on their activities resume but they are not contributing or participating in it, then they need to take it off of their resume. They should focus on those things that they enjoy doing and want to be committed to. 

 

Some students say they need to do volunteer work just to put it on their resume. I remind them that that is not the reason to do volunteer work. Contributing to your community by giving back, helping animals, working with other students because they love tutoring – those are all great reasons. It’s not about checking a box or doing it for the sake of your resume. 

 

Next year when they’re completing their applications, the colleges will see everything up through junior year. They don’t want to send in an activities resume that is not consistent and doesn’t show their commitment. It’s a waste of your teen’s time, and it’s a waste of the colleges’ time. They need to think about how they want to contribute this year and do it in a meaningful way. 

 

Parents, each month there is something that your teen can be doing in an intentional way throughout junior year. Junior year is where it’s all happening and it’s going to be a short time before they’re going to be applying to colleges. Be sure to check out my roadmap for junior year! It’s a month by month guide of the things your teen can do to get in and also get money for college.

Get ahead and stay ahead! Get my FREE Toolkit.

Preparing for the SAT or ACT

Your teen has taken the practice tests and knows which one best represents their abilities. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part…preparing for the test. Keep reading for my top tips for preparing for the SAT or ACT. 

 

Preparing for the Test 

 

Independent Study

There are a number of ways that students can prepare for either of these tests. Whether they’re taking the SAT or the ACT, they could get a test prep book from the library or from one of the testing agencies to study on their own. I’ve had a number of students who are more disciplined and study on their own. I would recommend that they spend a specific amount of time going through the book and doing the practice tests. They should be going through the different sections of the tests and even on occasion, maybe on the weekend, sit down and go through the entire test for the amount of time of the real test. This extra step can help ensure they are prepared. Again, If your teen is disciplined in that way, that’s a great approach. 

 

Online Programs 

Another way to prepare is using an online service. My son used an online program and that helped him stay on task. The online program provided the practice test and scoring as well so he could see how he was doing. There were also video modules that complemented the material and practice that he was doing. It worked out very well for him and helped him improve his score. There are a number of these different automated online programs available. 

 

Getting a Tutor 

The third approach, which could be a bit more expensive, is getting a tutor. For a number of my students hiring a tutor was the best approach. You can receive tutoring either individually or in a class setting. This is also a great way to ensure that your teen is being held accountable. 

One of the things I want to encourage you to do if you decide to go that route is to interview the tutor. Below you will find some questions that I prepared for interviewing tutors. When it comes to working with a teacher or tutor, some of that learning comes through being able to connect with them. By interviewing the tutor, you can ensure they are a good fit for your family. 

Before interviewing the tutor your teen should first ask themselves a couple of questions. The first is determining how they learn best: would having a one-on-one tutor or a tutor in a class setting allow them to learn best? They should also identify why they need a tutor. 

 

When interviewing the tutor possible questions to ask: 

  • How will you measure your student’s progress throughout their session together? 
  • What kind of homework will they do in between sessions? 

 

(This will allow your teen to plan their schedule and make sure that they have the right expectations around what they should be doing in between time because not only will they be preparing during sessions but also between their time together.) 

 

  • Can you provide a demonstration of a typical session? 

For example, if they have a difficult math homework problem from school can they share it with the tutor and then have the tutor demonstrate how they would explain solving that problem? That can be a way to ensure that the tutor’s teaching style aligns with your teen’s learning style.

 

  • What kind of training have you  had in terms of tutoring?

I know a lot of tutors do professional development. Many of them take the test themselves to make sure that they understand what their students are going through. 

 

Some other questions that parents should also consider would be their cancelation policy, how much they charge, their availability over the holiday break and also asking for references from other parents. By talking with other parents you can get a good sense of how that tutor works, learn about how they engaged their students, as well as their test score results. 

 

If a tutor says they usually help their students get a certain increase over their practice score, then that may give you some indication around their success. Of course it may vary with your own teen. I wouldn’t set the expectation of going from a 22 to 30, but at least getting a sense for how they’re going to engage with your teen. Also, check to see how they will follow through on checking in on the student’s progress between sessions. 

 

If you decide to use a practice book or an online course, then certainly it could be similar in regards to finding out about the best book or program for your teen by reading about past success stories. Any case studies or testimonials available online would be a great resource to check out. 

 

At the end of the day, it’s going to be a two-way street in terms of your teen participating and doing the work. You don’t want to make the investment if they’re not going to follow through on their side. However, if they do follow through they really can achieve those great results. 

 

Have you signed up to receive my FREE College-Prep Toolkit? It includes a Junior Year Roadmap to help you navigate junior year and to know what your teen should be doing each month to stay on track. 

Get ahead and stay ahead! Get my FREE Toolkit.

3 Tips for Finding the Right College for Business Majors

Is your teen planning to major in business and having difficulty deciding which colleges should be on their list? Keep reading for my top three tips for finding the right college for your teen who wants to pursue a career in business. 

 

Look at the functional areas within “Business” If you search online for “business majors” you will come up with a list of thousands of colleges, so when students say they’re interested in business, I ask them, “What are the specific areas of business that interest you?” There are many different functional areas within the business realm, such as:

  • accounting
  • marketing
  • finance
  • operations

Looking specifically at one of these areas will help guide them to different sets of colleges. If your teen is looking into a liberal arts college that doesn’t offer business, they could try looking into economics which will touch on business. Again, the first step is thinking about the functional area of interest.

 

Research summer programs for business majors

One of the key things I recommend to students who are interested in business is to consider a summer program to learn more about specific areas of business, such as programs focused on investment banking, finance, marketing or entrepreneurship. There are countless summer programs out there, many virtual.

 

What Does the Program Offer?

After your teen considers their functional area of interest and looks into summer programs, my next tip would be to look at what the college programs offer. For example, the University of Southern California has an international program in different areas of business that allows for the opportunity to study abroad. There could also be organizations within the college to help get your teen more involved and around other students in the same field.  

Side Note: Another thing to consider when your teen is fine-tuning their list of colleges is the math requirements for different programs; many require that you take calculus in high school. If they’re not on track for that, it can hurt their chances of being admitted. For some business programs, there may be an option to test out of that course. If that is the case, make sure they take that test by the end of junior year. 

 

Recap for Finding the Right College for Business Majors 

If your teen is considering majoring in business, they should first look at the functional areas within business to find their area of interest. Narrowing their interests down will help with finding colleges that are a good fit. Secondly, your teen should look into summer programs as a viable way to learn about the functional areas of interest. Finally, look at what the colleges offer to support your teen’s success so they can thrive while they’re there and have rich career opportunities afterwards as well. 

Junior year is a critical year for the college admissions process. I want to make sure that your teen is successful throughout the school year and not overwhelmed by this process. If their initial list is too overwhelming, your teen may lean towards popular colleges they’ve heard of before and that’s not going to serve them well.  

 

Grab your copy of our College Prep Toolkit now to ensure your success in helping your teen navigate through this school year

5 Tips for when your teen returns to the classroom

Transitioning from online to in-person learning brings another set of challenges.

For a lot of the parents and high school students I’ve talked to, it’s exciting. For others, its’s daunting. One thing I know is no one is returning “back to normal.” Schools have changed. Routines have been upended. Familiar students and teachers may have moved and new ones entered.

Get Ready. Get Set. Change Again.

The number one thing you can do to help with returning to the classroom is recognize how difficult a change can be. It’s going to be just as hard to flip back into school as it was to embrace virtual.

Even if your teen is returning to the same school, they are not returning to the same environment. I know I’ve changed. Really, who hasn’t been changed by the past 18-months? There may be different routines, new rules, safety procedures and for some, spending all day in a mask will be an added difficulty.

Some kids will feel a loss going back to school. They might miss the family time. Home might have felt comforting. Social interactions in-person may bring renewed worries about their hair or clothes or fitting in- really about anything and everything.

As you consider how you can support your teen with this “new normal”, here are 5 quick tips to consider.

What Parents Can Do

Begin by recognizing back-to-the-classroom may be stressful. Helping them adjust to yet another new normal starts with hearing them and feeling for them. Remember optimism is contagious so spread some around.

Set A New Schedule- Since the previous commute was from the bed to the laptop, they may have forgotten how to build in enough prep time. Help them in planning enough time to eat, shower, dress and commute. Getting up earlier means winding down earlier is crucial.

Get a Renewed Grip on Screen Time – Keep in mind any good screen limits you had before the pandemic probably flew out the window. Work again toward a healthy screen time balance. Gradually reducing electronics time by swapping with in-person activities is a good method.

 

Tip- One tip I’ve found that really works is to have your teen charge their phone in your bedroom overnight. Not having instant access to every text or platform will help them get back into a good sleep-wake routine.

 

Get Informed- Read up on your school’s return-to-school policies. Know how they will handle infection outbreaks, mask requirements and rules on social distancing. This is also a good time to discuss ways to handle difficulties with your student. They are going to encounter vaccine-no vaccine controversies, people who disagree with Covid-related policies and outright misinformation. Asking them how they will handle someone whose opinion is different than their own is a good way to get into that discussion.

Offer Coping Ideas – Give your kids some strategies for first-week butterflies. Remind them everyone is feeling the same way. Suggest if they make someone else feel comfortable, it will also make them feel better. It’s as simple as smiling or just saying hi to the person next to you.

Talk It Out – Help them verbally explore how they have changed during the time of Covid. Remind them their old friends will seem familiar but may have changed too and there will be chances to include new people in their friends’ circle.

Keep an Eye Out – Watch for behavior changes that could mean they are stressed. It takes time to adjust to changes so remember to allow them time to accept their new normal.

Take time for you – Self-care is not selfish. With so many more demands on your time as you manage career and family, it’s even more important for you to take time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. I encourage you to find ways to integrate self-care into your routines every day. For example, an easy self-care practice is keeping a daily gratitude journal.

The week of August 2 is Back to School Week on Keep C.A.L.M. for Moms, my LinkedIn Live show. Join me daily for timely tips and insight to make this the best school year ever. 

If you have a college-bound teen, be sure to check out our College Prep Toolkit here: https://bit.ly/toolkit_5

5 reasons College-bound Teens must Set Goals

campus visit teen

Every school year brings surprises, so teens can’t plan ahead for every event. However, setting 3-5 foundational goals each school year can make a difference in its success. Examples of goals that my own teens and teen clients have set include:

  • Maintain a _____ GPA
  • Meet with a teacher after school each week
  • Increase volunteer hours at _________________ by 1 hour per week
  • Start a ___________ club at my community center
  • Complete art portfolio with __ drawings by end of semester

WHY GOALS?teen with parent

Setting goals during high school can help a teen in numerous ways even beyond college . . . for life success:

  1. Have a Purpose – Goals gives teens something to work for – a sense of purpose and direction. One of the first questions I ask my teen clients is “Why do you want to go to college?” If a teen can articulate why they want to go, then it makes it easier to help them find the best fit as well as have a reason to continue being their best.
  2. Stay Motivated – Goals give teens that extra boost to keep going, especially if they start to waiver.
  3. Believe in Yourself – Goals give teens the inspiration to aim for something that they may not have thought possible.
  4. Be Accountable – Goals remind teens at the end of the semester or school year of what they have accomplished or NOT.
  5. Get help – Goals give teens a way to be more specific when they ask for help. The best help comes when others know how to help

START NOW

The question for every college-bound teen – What are your goals for this semester? School year?

Responding to this question is the first step towards a successful school year. Please share your high school year and goals.

 

Why a Scholarship Search is a Waste of Time

Why a Scholarship Search is a Waste of Time

For some students, getting into college is a challenge in and of itself. Add on top of that finding the money to pay for college and it can feel downright impossible. But let me assure you, it’s not! There are plenty of tools and resources available to help you get into and pay for college. But some students turn to a scholarship search in hopes it will find the money they need.

But is that really the best way?

Scholarship search resources

Every year during this time, I hear from parents who are worried about the costs of college and want more information on available scholarships. I certainly understand their concerns and will suggest these sites to them for a scholarship search:

The truth about performing a scholarship search

But I also point out something else they need to know: these private scholarships only represent a fraction of the monies available to students every year.

In fact, the 2011 Trends in Student Aid from College Board reported that scholarships from private and employer sources (combined) represented only 4% of all student aid. More recently, the total amount of aid that undergraduate and graduate students received from all grants, loans, tax credits, and work-study was $246.0 billion as of 2018-2019. Click here to see more highlights from Trends in Student Aid 2019.

Not to mention, these private scholarships typically require an application, recommendations, and, often, essays! Imagine the time it takes to compile this information.

By the way, here’s how juniors can get the best teacher recommendations before their first college application.

Let’s take for example this popular scholarship: Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Inc.

This program offers 250 scholarships valued at $2,500 – $5,000. Recently, there were 70,000+ applicants for these awards. Hmmm. . . that’s a 296 to 1 odds of winning.

But, if you are indeed one of the 2,200 finalists, you must submit an application, essays, recommendations, and transcripts.

On average, students could spend several hours writing these essays and collecting all the required information. You should apply for this scholarship if you meet the criteria. Keep in mind that you can not apply until senior year when you’re likely spending time on college applications, academics, athletics, and more.

Scholarship opportunities with better odds

For students who may be sophomores or juniors and have a little more flexibility in their schedule and time to carefully write their essays and obtain strong recommendations, you can consider other scholarship opportunities with better odds.

US Bank offers even an online scholarship application that must be used at selected colleges. There are 40 recipients of these $1,000 awards.

Recently, 14,000 applicants. Hmmm. . . 350 to 1 odds of receiving this one.

So, where’s the money?

For freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, here’s where you can really get more bang for your buck and save time . . .

Do well in the things you already do well, i.e. academics, athletics, musical talents, school leadership!

There are so many colleges that are competing for new students. Some colleges are seeking “A” students. Other colleges are seeking quality “B” students. There are even other colleges that are seeking “C” students with potential!

Another set of colleges is seeking those students who will lead community service efforts. The list goes on in terms of great college matches for athletics, musical talents, and future club leaders!

Focus on your strengths

By continuing to do well in your areas of strength, students have access to about 17% of the student aid pie.

That percentage represents monies that come directly from the colleges. For many of these colleges, such as Agnes Scott, Occidental, or the University of Michigan, students apply by submitting an admissions application. So the time you spend completing your application with recommendations and essays benefits your search for student aid.

Being a student that’s a good match for the types of students that college recruits have much more favorable odds than only completing a scholarship search.

For example, the University of Rochester offers millions in merit aid. Ninety-one percent of their students received aid from the university with an average package of $21,000. Their admissions rate is about 35%. Hmmm. . . that’s about 3 to 1 odds!

Those odds seem to be a better use of your time!

Okay, now fill me in. Where have you been finding money for college?

Are you looking for the right college to get in and get money? Click here to check out my free master class.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss these either:

Living Off-Campus: Pros and Cons
College Application Checklist
Colleges with Free Laundry: A Time and Money Saving Consideration

This article was updated from the original post from February 4, 2012.

How to Stay Healthy in College: 5 Top Tips

How to Stay Healthy in College: 5 Top Tips

You won’t be surprised to hear that healthy college students will be more successful and productive. That’s why, today, I’m sharing these 5 top tips for how to stay healthy in college.

You’ve done the hard work of preparing for and getting into college. All of the testing, tours, interviews, applications, and volunteering have paid off. But once you begin your college education, it can be easy to fall into the trap of too little sleep, not enough water, and other unhealthy habits.

Healthy college students.

Being healthy in college includes the health of your body AND mind.

Understandably, your freshman year of college can be an overwhelming time. The stress of exams, classes, and other responsibilities can take its toll. It’s important to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape to ensure a successful college experience.

The truth about the “Freshman 15”.

When you think of college freshmen and their health, the term “freshman 15” might come to mind. This refers to new college students gaining 15 pounds in their first year of school.

It’s typically associated with eating college cafeteria food, not exercising, consuming high-calorie beverages, inadequate sleep, and other unhealthy habits.

In fact, studies show students aren’t likely to gain this much—if they gain at all. Ohio State researchers found most students don’t gain as much as 15 pounds during ALL four years of college. In their study, female students gained an average of 8.9 pounds while men put on an average of 13.4 pounds. Again, this is over four years, not just freshman year.

How to stay healthy in college.

When it comes to how to stay healthy in college, there’s so much more to focus on than your weight and avoiding the freshman 15!

Have a look at these 5 top tips for feeling your best during your academic adventures so you can be a productive, happy college student and get the most out of your experience.

1. Get help.

Most colleges and universities have several resources in place to help students with a multitude of issues. Particularly important are the mental health resources many schools offer.

When college students feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to turn, these counseling and support resources can mean a world of difference. For example, Cornell College’s Counseling Center offers a variety of services, including online screening, education, counseling, and much more.

2. Utilize free resources.

The free resources your college offers will vary by institution.

For example, some offer free laundry for students. This is a time and money-saving consideration for college students that shouldn’t be overlooked. I talk more about colleges with free laundry in this post.

 

Most colleges offer free gym memberships for current students to use their on-campus facilities. Take advantage of this service while you have access to it! Keeping active during college will help keep your mind and body sharp. If your school doesn’t offer a free gym membership, look into the discounts offered to college students at off-campus locations.

Speaking of off-campus life, have a look at these pros and cons for living off-campus during college.

3. Eat at regular intervals.

Have you ever had your head buried in a textbook, only to find you haven’t come up for air in hours? During this time, you’ve likely neglected to eat. Then, you might be tempted to reach for the quickest, most convenient options to satisfy your hunger.

Unfortunately, these quick options don’t tend to be the most nourishing choices. Do your best to schedule regular meals and stick to this schedule as much as possible. Planning your meals ahead of time and keeping healthy snacks nearby is another way to achieve this goal.

Some students find it hard to eat healthy on a college budget. The truth is, there are plenty of healthy, low-cost foods available. Sometimes it just takes a bit of research to find the right ingredients and recipes that suit your budget.

Quick Tip: If you’re regularly eating college cafeteria food, start each meal with a serving of fruit or vegetables and you’re less likely to fill up on less nourishing options.

4. Stay hydrated.

Have you developed the habit of grabbing a soda from the vending machine rather than visiting the water fountain? Over time, this choice can have a dramatic effect on your health. To make sure you’re getting enough water, invest in a good quality reusable water bottle to keep handy at all times. This is one of the 7 college essentials worth investing in for your freshman year.

5. Prioritize sleep.

Unfortunately, sleep is often at the bottom of the list of priorities for college students. Instead, things like studying, school work, and social activities take precedence.

While all of these elements are important, you simply won’t be as successful at any of them if you’re sleep-deprived.

Setting up a sleep schedule and sticking to it can be challenging at first. But once you find a pattern that allows you to get enough rest while also fulfilling your other commitments, you’ll find your productivity soars.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What have your biggest health challenges been during your freshman year of college? What did you find helped you stay healthy during your time at school?

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here to learn more.

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these:

Choosing a college: How to find the right academic fit
Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors
7 ways to support your child during the college application process

7 College Essentials Worth Investing In For Your Freshman Year

7 College Essentials Worth Investing In For Your Freshman Year

Your post-secondary experience can come with a lot of expenses, but what are the college essentials really worth investing in? 

We’re going to cover seven of these worthy essentials to invest in for your freshman year in college in today’s post to help make sure you’re spending your money wisely.  

7 college essentials worth investing in:

  • Your laptop
  • Your mattress/bedding
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Good walking shoes
  • An outfit for interviews, meetings, etc. 
  • A sturdy, comfortable backpack
  • Some comfort items

Invest in a good-quality laptop.

There’s no question that a laptop is on the list of college essentials! While the initial investment you spend on a good quality laptop might seem steep, keep in mind just how much you’ll be utilizing this tool. For many students, it will be several hours a day. If you have a reliable, fast laptop, you’ll be more productive and efficient, ultimately making this one of the most worthy investments for your college experience. 

Bedding.

Whether you’re living in a dorm or off-campus, good-quality bedding is a smart investment.

Sleep is a valuable resource for college students—one that’s often not prioritized as much as it should be! In fact, all kinds of studies point to college students not getting nearly enough sleep. 

There are bound to be some nights you don’t get quite as much sleep as you’d like. So it’s critical to maximize the quality of sleep you DO get. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to ensure each night of sleep is as good as it can be. 

A reusable water bottle.

You won’t always have time to run to the cafeteria to grab a bottle of water. When you purchase a durable reusable water bottle, you’ll find it comes in handy more than you ever imagined! 

Not only is a reusable water bottle an environmentally friendly option, but it can also save you money over the years! A high-quality water bottle that keeps your liquids cold all day could run you about $40. But if you’re spending $3 a day on a water bottle, you’ll see a reusable water bottle is a much wiser investment!

Walking shoes.

Investing in a good-quality pair of shoes will pay off every single day you wear them. As a college student, you’ll cover a lot of ground in a day walking from class to class. When you can make these trips in supportive, comfortable shoes, you’ll be a much happier camper! If you’re not focused on your sore feet, you’ll have a lot more time and attention to give your studies and other important matters. 

A business casual outfit.

College students will find a business casual outfit comes in handy a lot more than they initially expect. From dinners to interviews, meetings, and more, showing up in a clean, somewhat professional outfit for these occasions sends a message that you’re put together, responsible, and serious about the opportunities you’re presented with. 

Your backpack.

A backpack is one of these college essentials that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

College textbooks are notoriously heavy, and you’ll often have to carry several of them at a time. Look for a backpack that can comfortably carry several pounds, while still keeping your shoulders and back protected from the load. 

Another consideration for your college backpack is finding one with a dedicated laptop compartment with padding. If your backpack gets dropped or thrown, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your laptop is well protected! 

Comfort items. 

Are you attending post-secondary away from home? Having some things on hand to keep you comfortable or remind you of home is something worth investing in—to an extent. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy the exact same couch you have at home or the same painting on the wall. 

But if there are little things—like the same laundry detergent your mom uses or a candle that reminds you of home—spending a bit of money on these things can be a reasonable investment. 

As a good rule of thumb, anything you want to last all four years of college (or more) tend to be worth a higher price tag than something you won’t get as much use out of. Something all seven of these college essentials have in common is that they can be used year after year! 

What are some of the college essentials you brought with you for your freshman year? 

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here to learn more. 

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

What to expect at freshman orientation

Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors

7 ways to support your child during the college application process