Thursday, January 31, 2013

Importance of the GPA

Grades are used as a gage to indicate how well you are doing in a particular subject. This however is not to be construed with how intelligent a person is. Many lower achieving students don’t understand this and unfortunately are affected in their scholastic endeavors. Making high marks in school are unarguably important, especially for those planning on attending college. However, your study skills and consistency in doing your work both in class and at home are what will ultimately give you a high GPA (grade point average). Once students acquire good study habits and practice them routinely until they become second nature, grades aren’t so scary anymore. As you practice what you are learning, you will become more confident in your ability to show and model your proficiency in your academics (e.g. homework assignments, tests/exams and group projects as well as class discussions).
Colleges not only look at your GPA in middle and high school, but also evaluate your courses. High school students need to be aware of this. The rationale that taking lower ranking classes on to have a higher GPA will not make you collegiately competitive because you have not been challenged enough academically. Many students find this out the hard way when they have to take lower level courses of study in college before they can even begin to work on their degree program.
To avoid this potential headache, make a point to do the following: a) Talk with your teachers to find out what you should be doing to keep your grades up and ask about your performance in the particular subject to find out the areas your need to improve on b) Talk with your student counselor to make sure academically and course wise you are on a progressive track in your studies and c) seek out likeminded students who are high achievers academically and find out what are some of their studying strengths .

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Declaring a College Major

Wondering just what major you will settle on? Check out this infograph with data from the National Center for Education Studies that breaks down the most popular undergraduate degrees:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The SAT and ACT


As a junior and senior in high school, one of the most important testing factors that you'll need to consider is the SAT and ACT.  You probably have already begun taking prep courses to get you prepared to take these very important test.  Do you know the difference between the two test?  This is something most high school students if not coached properly on the college entrance process may not be aware of.  Both test hold a high merit for college entry so it is important for you to know what your strengths are because they will determine  how well you perform.  Here is an article about this topic that gives great information about the differences of the SAT and ACT exams.

The SAT vs. the ACT

Colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT. So which should you take?
It's all about the numbers. Some students end up scoring substantially higher on the SAT; others do better on the ACT. In lieu of a crystal ball, we created The Princeton Review Assessment (PRA) designed to help you determine which test is better fit with your abilities.
To help you zero in on the right exam, here are seven key differences:
ACT questions tend to be more straightforward.
ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you're being asked before you can start solving the problem. For example, here are sample questions from the SAT essay and the ACT writing test (their name for the essay):
SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value?
ACT: In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating?
The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary.
If you're an ardent wordsmith, you'll love the SAT. If words aren't your thing, you may do better on the ACT.
The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not.
You don't need to know anything about amoebas or chemical reactions for the ACT Science section. It is meant to test your reading and reasoning skills based upon a given set of facts. But if you're a true science-phobe, the SAT might be a better fit.
The ACT tests more advanced math concepts.
In addition to basic arithmetic, algebra I and II, and geometry, the ACT tests your knowledge of trigonometry, too. That said, the ACT Math section is not necessarily harder, since many students find the questions to be more straightforward than those on the SAT.
The ACT Writing Test is optional on test day, but required by many schools.
The 25-minute SAT essay is required and is factored into your writing score. The 30-minute ACT writing test is optional. If you choose to take it, it is not included in your composite score — schools will see it listed separately. Many colleges require the writing section of the ACT, so be sure to check with the schools where you are applying before opting out.
The SAT is broken up into more sections.
On the ACT, you tackle each content area (English, Math, Reading and Science) in one big chunk, with the optional writing test at the end. On the SAT, the content areas (Critical Reading, Math and Writing) are broken up into 10 sections, with the required essay at the beginning. You do a little math, a little writing, a little critical reading, a little more math, etc. When choosing between the SAT and ACT, ask yourself if moving back and forth between content areas confuse you or keep you energized?
The ACT is more of a "big picture" exam.
College admissions officers care about how you did on each section of the SAT. On the ACT, they're most concerned with your composite score. So if you're weak in one content area but strong in others, you could still end up with a very good ACT score and thus make a strong impression with the admissions committee. (2011). Retrieved from

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Summer Opportunities

 As we enter the New Year and new semester, it is not too early to begin thinking about your summer and what opportunities lay ahead for you!  Here are a few recommendations to keep yourself busy this summer that you may consider:

Summer classes Though school is out for the summer, this does not mean you have to stop learning!  Several colleges and universities throughout the state of Florida offer summer programs for high school students spanning a variety of concentrations, including leadership, entrepreneurship, and medical sciences.  This is a great way to stay busy, meet new people, and to also get a feel for different colleges.  Especially if you are particularly interested in a specific school, this is a unique opportunity for you to meet their faculty and introduce yourself to their program, a major bonus for admissions!  Check out this link for more info on some of these programs!  For college students, many schools offer summer classes, a great way to obtain an accelerated degree.  Summer is also an excellent opportunity to take advantage of study abroad opportunities and learn in a different state or even country!

Volunteer Summer presents a great opportunity to give your time and talents to help others.  In previous blog posts we have spoken about the importance of volunteerism and civic engagement; not only does volunteerism help others and the larger community, but it also enriches your own life.  This is especially true in terms of your college and career plans if you have a specific interest.  For example, if you are interested in veterinary science, you may volunteer at an animal shelter or animal clinic.  This not only helps animals and the community, but it also exposes you to the field of your interest – a great experience to have for a resume!

Internships and Jobs With classes out, summer is a time when most students take on an extra job or internship.  Internships are pre-professional work experiences that provide the opportunity to gain experience in a particular field.  By gaining experience in a field, it can help you narrow your career and research interests.  Internships can also provide academic credit and even supplement classes.  They are great opportunities to try different things, without having the commitment of a contract or career move; internships are usually for a couple months or a 1 year program. 

Internships are also a great opportunity to live in a different city, state, or country!  If you are interested in Fashion, you may consider applying to an internship in New York and those interested in Political Science may consider applying to internships in Washington, D.C.  If you are applying to internships and getting academic credit for it, you can often apply financial aid to help you pay for housing or transportation, which is especially helpful if you are considering interning abroad.
January is a great time to start looking for internships and jobs.  Give yourself ample time to fill out the applications thoughtfully, so that you are able to submit a strong application.

To find the internship or job that is right for you, you must first consider your interests and goals.  It is also important to decide what you want to get out of the experience, if the internship is for college credit, perhaps you need a position that fulfills certain guidelines set by your academic advisors.  Internships are great learning experiences for students, and your fresh perspectives and previous experiences are a valuable asset to the organization and employers with whom you will be working with.  For more information on internships and different opportunities, check out the following to find an internship in your field:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Finances and the College Student

Happy Friday All!

Now that everyone is settled back into their daily routines after hopefully enjoying a wonderful holiday season, I wanted to resurface from the Alumni Alliance Newsletter an article that touched on college students spending habits.

Financial Budgeting in College           

How do you save for a rainy day?           
Well that will all depend on your spending priorities.  Often times, the college experience is the first time that young adults experience the freedom of spending their money at will without their parent’s direct supervision.  However college is not cheap.  There are many needs and wants that will evolve while in college. Though it is human nature to act impulsively, try to resist because spending irresponsibly comes with a cost.  Shopping sprees, parties, and the latest gadgets are all fun but not when you haven’t purchased groceries, put gas in your vehicle, bought your books for the quarter or paid rent.  I’m sure you may have heard at one point or another that you need to stick to your budget and avoid extra expenditures that may be more of a burden in the long run.  So how do you stick to a budget?  For starters, do you have one?  Well there’s no time like the present.

Start with a Budget
Budgets are great tools for you to visually see what your finances look like from week to week and month to month.  You’ll want to start by writing out what your expenses are, beginning with the most important to the least.  The important expenses are what are called “The Non negotiables.”  What that means is take care of your needs first before your wants.  Deviating from taking care of the non negotiable should not be entertained.  Establishing a sound financial regime is a way to develop ongoing responsible spending habits.  Paying your bills on time keeps you out of many financial woes.   Many students don’t take the time to budget their money and end up with more debt than they can handle.  Obligations first, wants later.

Credit Cards
 If you haven’t been solicited by a credit card company yet, you may be soon.  Consider going through your bank to obtain a credit card.  They can provide the best guidance on what suits your financial situation. All you really need is one credit card for emergencies.  Just because you are offered a new spending account at Macy’s doesn’t mean you can afford it.  Spend within your means and you will thank yourself later!

Financial Planning
Planning for your future starts with the present.  Get into the practice of saving money.  A savings account is a great way to start saving.  Consider saving $5 dollars per week.  If you can afford to put more away per week, do so.  It may not seem like a lot at the time but every cent adds up.  Instead of splurging on going out to eat or the movies, plan a dinner night where everyone pitches in the meal lowering the cost on everyone’s pocket book.  Instead of spending $35-40 for a night at the movies, catch a dollar show or host a movie night at your place.  Waiting to see the latest movie won’t really make that much of a difference.  If you have vacations or tripped planned for the future, start saving now.

When in doubt, Ask  
If you need help with managing your money and you don’t know where to go, ask someone who is financially stable.  Start with your parents.  They may or may not be good with financial planning, but they certainly can give you some practical knowledge on their own experiences.  Check with your local financial institutions to see if they offer seminars on managing your money, planning for the future, and credit scores.  You can also talk with your student advisor or financial aid office to see if there are workshops offered for students on financial planning.  The best time to learn how to budget your finances is while you are young so that it becomes a lifelong practice.