Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Choosing the College for You!

College is a multi-faceted experience, a combination of academics, financial aid, social life, and so much more.  If you are in need of some help to decide which is the right school, we have compiled some factors to consider when choosing the college for you!

Identify your goals
Identifying what you want out of your education is one of the most important factors to consider in choosing the college for you.  Where do you see yourself in the future? What are your career goals? What enriches your life? If you are looking for specific training in a certain field, then you need to consider choosing a school with a strong program in your field.  A pre-professional education prepares you for a specific job and includes areas such as engineering and pre-med. Some schools like M.I.T. have very strong programs for those interested in the sciences but might not be right for someone interested in literature.  A liberal arts education, on the other hand, aims to equip you with general knowledge and reasoning skills suitable for many jobs.  Colleges can often be strong in certain areas, but perhaps a little weaker in others, so it is important to consider rankings of specific programs, and not necessarily just the school as a whole.
Speak to teachers and counselors. Your guidance and college counselors are specifically there to help recommend schools for your ability and interests.  If you can't stand the cold, it might be important for you to only consider schools down south; if you are interested in music, you may want to seek out schools with strong music performance programs; if you are looking for certain athletic scholarships, you may need to find the right school for your talents.  Your teachers and counselors can help you navigate this process to help you find your perfect fit.

Social life
College is not simply about academics; college is where you will be spending the next few years of your life, studying, living, and playing.  It is important to consider what type of city you are interested in living in, what kind of opportunities are available to you (including things like study abroad programs, research opportunities, financial aid, etc.), and what kind of social life exists.  Many colleges offer Greek life (sororities and fraternities).  For many, this is an excellent opportunity to meet new people, establish a network for years to come, and to get involved.  For others, Greek life can be overwhelming or take away from academics and other interests and may not be the way to go.  It is important to consider these factors in your consideration of “the big picture.” While a school may have strong academics, if you are unhappy otherwise, it may be advantageous to look to other schools as options.

Residential life
Similarly, it is important to consider where you will actually be living.  Finances are a big factor for many, especially in terms of paying for housing or rent.  Perhaps you may consider living at home if that option is available, perhaps dorm life is the way to go, or maybe you will choose to live off campus with a roommate.  Whichever route you choose, it is important to consider all of the implications, maybe living on campus will offer you more social life, maybe living off campus gives you more freedom, and maybe living at home is most cost-wise.

Attend college fairs or visit campuses
After taking all of these factors into consideration, it is important to try to visit college fairs and college campuses.  College fairs are events in which colleges will gather to offer prospective students information about their programs.  These fairs are great to help you see a variety of different programs and meet representatives from the different schools.  Visiting specific colleges allows students to see the campus in person; see the students, the facilities, and the location.  Often at college visits, students will also be able to meet with admissions coordinators to ask specific questions pertaining to the school, therefore making it a really great opportunity to see if you could envision yourself attending that specific school.

Once you have considered all of your options and developed a list of schools you are interested in, many counselors advise students to divide your colleges into three categories: schools that are a “reach,” ones that you have a reasonable shot getting into, and safety schools.  This ensures that you are reaching for your fullest potential while guaranteeing that you will be accepted to some great colleges that you can choose to attend.

If you ever have any questions about specific schools or anything about college more generally, please feel free to reach out to us! We are your College Success Coaches here to ensure you have the most successful college career possible.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Staying on Campus for the Holidays?

With the holidays coming up, maybe you find yourself staying on campus this year to avoid a long drive home, expensive plane tickets, or a myriad of other reasons, but don’t think that staying on campus will be boring, lonely, or for naught, as there are plenty of things you can do to make this break great!

Get together with others
Many colleges have festivities going on around the holiday season including yummy potlucks with friends you may not have met yet!  Check with your RA or Student Activities office to see what is going on, and if there isn’t one that you know of, start one yourself!  This is a great way to get involved and make campus life your own.
Check out Black Friday
If you’re looking to get ahead on your holiday shopping and want to go on a midnight adventure, Black Friday offers that much and more!  Make it a fun adventure by going with your roommate or other friends who are also around on campus!
Find a cool service project
Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, so it is a perfect opportunity to give back to others! If you are looking for something to do for the holiday break, check out local service opportunities at the soup kitchen to feed those in need, Habitat for Humanity to help build a house for a desrving family, or maybe you can coordinate a clothing drive for those affected by Hurricane Sandy in the North. 
Catch up or wind down
This break is also a great time to both catch up on work and unwind for some much needed rest.  Many students are either in thick of finals, or about to embark on the dreaded finals week.  This makes the week of Thanksgiving a great time to get in a little extra prep, or to savor the days after your huge chemistry final.  Many college deadlines are also quickly approaching, so if you are looking to transfer to another school for next year, this break is an excellent opportunity to crank out those applications and send them off! 

This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for students like you! No matter if you are on campus, with friends, or at home, we hope you have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday this week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TSIC President and CEO's article in the Huffington Post!

Take Stock in Children President and CEO Emilio Alonso-Mendoza recently contributed to The Huffington Post with an article about the college attainment gap among low-income students. 
Studies have shown that just over half of high school graduates in the poorest quarter of families attend college. As game changers in education, Take Stock in Children is making sure the road to the American Dream is accessible for all young minds accomplished through our proven program of scholarships, mentors and hope. We have a 17-year history of helping more than 18,000 students successfully attend college and enter the workforce. Read the article in its entirety here!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Civic Engagement: Your right and duty as an American !

Getting involved, Make a difference, volunteer, become apart of, etc.

These are the terms that are immersed into our societal conversation. You see these phrases in billboards, brochures, here them at speeches and pep rallies  But do we know what they really mean to each and every one of us?  As a citizen of this country, as a fellow member of society and as a diligent neighbor in my community, I have learned that in order to have a safer, cleaner, and respectable world, it is imperative that I always do my part to ensure that not only I get to continue to enjoy the quality of life that I am accustomed to, but that the generations to come are just as fortunate as well.  A couple of days ago, I had the distinct privilege to here First Lady Michelle Obama speak.  I came expecting to here a standard political push on how Florida should vote for this next presidential election, I left the speech as a better person, a better woman and a better human being.

Mrs. Obama candidly spoke about the opportunities that she had been afforded because of her being able to go to college and to make something of herself. For those of us who have been blessed to seek out this opportunity and have reaped it's reward, we understand first hand what it is like to go to college, then to progress forward in our careers and our lives.  We also know first hand that those who go to college also are afforded opportunities that wouldn't have even been prevalent in our lives had we not done so. Mrs. Obama then emphasized on something that many talk about but often times many forget; reaching back and giving back.  She stressed how once you have obtained success to not just go on about your life and forget those behind you but to make sure you reach back and help others in need just like you were helped.  Mrs. Obama's words rang in my head all night after I left that speech.

Being born in this country afforded freedoms that others may not have been able to have, being the first one of my parents children to graduate from college as well as a citizen who has consciously made a choice to immerse my life into service, I am keenly aware of what it means to " get involved ".  My commitment to civic engagement and social change came from people imparting into my life at a very young age a wealth of knowledge and opportunities that awoke me to the possibility of a better life and better world outside the constructs of my impoverished, crime ridden neighborhood.  But these possibilities were shown to me right in my neighborhood, right in my world.  This is why Mrs.Obama's statement left such an imprint on my brain and my heart.  For I am the product of what happens when people choose to reach back into where they came from and make a difference by getting involved, making a difference by volunteering their time and resources so that the future becomes apart of something great while feeling the responsibility of making their world a better place right where they are.  I made  a promise to myself, and to my Creator that I " HAVE TO" give back because someone made this conscious decision to do the same for me.

So no matter how you choose to get politically involved, make for certain that you are being actively involved in the process of make our neighborhoods, cities, countries and ultimately our world a better place for the generations now and those to come.

Until next time Peace and Blessings


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Scholar Spotlight - Tia Brock!

Originally from Green Cove Springs, Florida, Tatila Brock graduated from Clay High School in 2010, upon which she then enrolled at the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and minor in Non-Profit Organizational Leadership.  Tia loves to write and blog, and even has her own blog dedicated to promoting the importance of mentorship and scholarship called Inspiring Mentoring Succeeding, of which she writes, “The blog is geared toward all teenagers, especially girls.  It’s a guide on how to get to college, and advice on what to do when you get there.”  Check it out here!
Tia credits Take Stock in Children as one of the reasons she was able to attend the University of Florida.  She became a TSIC student in 7th grade, Tia writes:

[Take Stock in Children] had a huge impact on my life and changed it for the better in several ways.  It is the reason I’m at the University of Florida, and the reason I’m so determined to succeed in life.  It’s also the reason I want to create a blog geared towards mentoring.  It’s changed my life…It truly gave hope to my life and taught me how to conduct myself as a student and professional so I could be seen in a positive light to others.

As a testament to her commitment to TSIC, Tia’s post-graduate plans not only include working for a magazine company, but she would also like to be a student advocate for Take Stock in Children as well as a mentor of the program.  Tia credits much of her success to her own mentor, Mrs. Janice Tucker, the vice principal of her middle school and the school’s director for TSIC.  Of Mrs. Tucker, Tia writes:

I never met anyone who cared about students getting a good education more than her. Anything school related she backed me 100%. She encouraged me to make good grades, challenge myself, and work hard so I could have a better tomorrow. She took me places my disabled aunt couldn’t; she was able to do this because she became my big through Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  She took me to architecture firms because at the time that’s what I wanted to be…went to different TSIC events together, such as football games, career workshops, and volunteer opportunities.

Even when she didn’t believe in herself, it was Mrs. Tucker’s steadfast encouragement that helped Tia during her college application process.  “When senior year rolled around it was crunch time. [Mrs. Tucker] and I worked on scholarships daily that we learned about through the guidance office at school and TSIC.”  Tia continues:

We went to the University of Florida’s career day and explored different college options over the Internet. Even though [Mrs. Tucker] encouraged me to look at a university. I doubted I could get in so I decided I wouldn’t apply…and I didn’t have the money to pay for the applications fees. Right then [Mrs. Tucker] whipped out her checkbook and wrote me two tickets to places that could offer me opportunities I had never dreamed of. I submitted the applications that week and waited for the results to come in. In February, they arrived that I didn’t get into one, but I did get into the other. I was now a part of the Gator Nation because my mentor believed in me even though I didn’t believe in myself.

The story of Tia’s relationship with her mentor reveals what Take Stock in Children is all about: by equipping deserving students with a support system and scholarships, opportunities become endless.  Tia is a true scholar and inspiration to us all at Take Stock in Children for her perseverance, dedication, and altruism. 
These qualities are further exemplified in her commitment to involvement on campus.  She is the Historian for the Gator Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalist, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the former Historian for the Jamaican-American Student Association at University of Florida, and most inspiring, Tia is the current President and one of the founders of the Take Stock in Children Alumni Alliance club at University of Florida.  She writes:

Being the leader of the TSIC [Alumni Alliance club] is an honor and I would say it has empowered me because the executive board and myself are working hard to make the organization successful. It is allowing us to take things we learned as leaders of other organizations and implement them into what TSIC is all about.  When the opportunity presented itself I was all for it because of our mission: to implement the goals and objectives of TSIC by breaking the cycle of poverty, raising awareness, and providing opportunities to reinvest in our communities and out TSIC family.
At a Take Stock in Children contract signing event Tia talks about her life and her experience with Take Stock in Children, which you can view a recording of here. “Being a leader [of the TSIC Alumni Alliance club] has empowered me to make this organization successful because I believe it is, and will be, a great resource for TSIC scholars or anyone one who wants to see the next generation of college students prosper.  Take Stock in Children salutes Tia for all that she has accomplished, and we look forward to all that the future holds for her!