4 Tips Parents Can Use to Help Pre-College Students Prepare Financially for College

It’s without question that college is the starting line for fresh experiences and a new academic journey. It’s also a time to discover new interests, set and achieve new goals, and form lasting friendships. For some pre-college students, college is the official start of adulthood, which means taking on financial responsibilities and experiencing independence for the first time.

Aside from the upfront investment that moving away to college brings, your son or daughter may be responsible for taking out student loans, applying for scholarships, or putting money aside from part-time job or paid internship earnings. While managing finances can be burdensome for a young adult, there are ways to alleviate the sticker shock of new responsibilities and help your child prepare for success during their pre-college years.

4 Ways to prepare for college expenses

1. Plan for financial success.

Financial independence is a critical point in your son’s or daughter’s life, especially if there’s been little or no financial responsibility in the past. The best thing your son or daughter can do is to apply for a part-time job in high school and save as much as possible during their pre-college years.

To encourage financial freedom when the first semester of college arrives, encourage your son or daughter to apply for a work-study program or a part-time job. While you want your children to focus on their studies, it’s paramount that they begin to take some responsibility, especially since college is such a huge investment.

Work-study programs are a form of financial aid and are available all around campus, from the fitness center to the library, making them accessible and easy to apply for, if your child qualifies. The benefits of a work-study program include working on campus and tuition assistance, and some colleges even cover the cost of room and board in exchange for labor. But be sure to do your research before dismissing a part-time job.

Unlike a work-study job, a part-time job has no limitations on how much your son or daughter can earn. Plus, your child can gain real-life experience, such as working with others in the community. It’s also a chance to prepare a resume and learn the importance of managing a weekly paycheck.

2. Educate your child on the importance of a budget.

If you’re planning to finance your child’s college experience—tuition, room and board, books, food, and fun—be strategic. Instead of depositing a semester’s worth of money at once, consider making weekly or bi-weekly deposits. This can help teach the importance of sticking to a budget. Your child may also be less tempted to spend money on unnecessary outings with friends or on impulse shopping at the mall.

Aside from strategic budgeting on your end, consider assisting your son or daughter with managing day-to-day finances. While this sounds relatively basic, setting a personal budget is especially important because your children are still learning about the concept and importance of managing his or her finances.

The first step to creating a personal budget is to take a look at the financial instruments involved. Does your child have a savings or checking account? How often will you contribute to the account? Using the source of income, you can determine where your child will be spending money and how much is needed each month to finance those expenses. And, if your son or daughter has a part-time job, factor those earnings into this budget, too. While you want your children to have fun, it’s important to convey that education will benefit them now and in the future, and that saving for and during college will serve them well over time.

3. Let your child face natural consequences.

Mistakes are natural and an essential passage to adulthood. Say, for example, that your child makes a decision to open a credit card. While you can discuss the seriousness of credit-card debt, if your child spends too much on concert tickets or an outfit for the spring formal, consequences will follow.

Fortunately, young adults “have to show sufficient income before they can be approved unless they have a cosigner,” reports Reyna Gobel in a Forbes article, “What Parents of Soon-to-Be College Students Need to Know About Credit Cards.” She interviewed Beverly Harzog, author of “Confessions of a Credit Junkie,” who noted that “The CARD Act also banned gift giving to entice college students to sign up for credit cards. No more free T-shirts to sign up for a credit card. And the CARD Act also prevents card issuers from sending pre-approved offers to anyone under 21 without the individual’s consent.”

Finally, don’t take a risk by co-signing a credit card for your child. A credit card is a financial decision young adults should make independently, when they’re ready to handle financial responsibility on their own.

4. Have a talk about finances during the pre-college years.

The cost of tuition is often the most critical element in the college-planning process. While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can ultimately alleviate the cost of tuition, it’s important to discuss any financial limitations you may have. If your family is undergoing circumstances that affect your financial situation, be sure to document that on the financial-aid application.

In addition to financial aid, your son or daughter could benefit from applying for a grant or scholarship, which your child won’t have to pay back after college graduation. Your child can locate and apply to a variety of grants and scholarships from the government, colleges or universities, and private organizations.

If there are still some costs remaining after your child has completed the FAFSA and applied for outside scholarships and grants, you can help your child look into financing college through loans. Unlike scholarships and grants, loans must be paid back after graduation.

Are you interested in learning more about helping your son or daughter manage personal finances and prepare for college? Schedule a time to talk to one of UVM’s Pre-College advisors today.

An Interview With Grace Miller on Her Pre-College Experience

pre-college-experienceHave you always wondered what The University of Vermont Summer Academy experience is really like? Students who participate in a pre-college program, such as Summer Academy, often finish the program feeling confident in the challenging level of academics they’ve completed and ready to succeed in a college environment.

Grace Miller, who’s finishing her junior year at Lake Region Union High School, completed one of UVM’s pre-college programs and is now accomplishing great things.

Continue reading “An Interview With Grace Miller on Her Pre-College Experience”

5 High School Community Service Opportunities

high-school-community-service-opportunities“Giving back is a great way to fulfill your community service requirement for school or a club, build your resume, and make a difference in your community,” writes the staff at TeenLife. “But sometimes it’s difficult to find an exciting volunteer opportunity.” Whether it’s a passion for sustainability or nurturing the growth of the community, start by thinking of your interests and hobbies. From there you can see how you can turn them into a rewarding opportunity, such as a community service project.

5 rewarding high school community service opportunities

1. Donate your time to those who serve or are in need.

Why not donate your time to those who serve us every day? Whether it’s sending a care package or a thank-you letter to our troops, or raising awareness for military-focused charities by organizing a bake sale, volunteering your time to help others is an extremely rewarding extracurricular activity. Some other ideas include donating children’s books, clothes, perishables, and other materials to shelters or to Goodwill.

2. Share your knowledge.

For teens who thrive in a particular subject, consider becoming a tutor. As a tutor, you’ll have an opportunity to help others develop new skills, overcome obstacles, and really make a difference. According to USA Today, tutoring is one of the best part-time jobs for students. “When tutoring someone, you’re not just showing up and getting a series of tasks done — you’re making a difference in a student’s life,” writes Cathryn Sloane of USA Today. “Rather than catering to the needs of a bunch of customers who don’t necessarily appreciate the work you are doing, you are helping someone who actually wants to be helped.”

3. Become a camp counselor.

Not only do you get to spend the majority of the day outside engaging in activities like camping, sports, arts and crafts, and social events, but you’ll also gain a number of different life-long skills, such as leadership and independence. Did we mention it’s a great way to have fun and enjoy your summer, too?

4. Volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Local animal shelters are always eager to welcome new volunteers on board. While volunteers typically need to meet a few requirements, including age and commitment level, there are plenty of options available to get started as soon as possible. Volunteer opportunities range from walking dogs to helping with training. Contact your local animal shelter for more information.

5. Offer your time to kids in need.

Between the Special Olympics, local children’s hospitals, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, there’s no shortage of non-profit organizations that need volunteers. Build lasting relationships in the community and benefit from the reward of helping those in need through one of these programs.

To give you a little inspiration to get involved in the community, we’d like to introduce you to TeenLife, an organization that provides students with a comprehensive directory of community-service programs that help you not only improve academically and socially, but also use those skills to shape a hopeful and promising future. With 15,000 opportunities—and growing—for teens in grades 7 through 12, TeenLife offers you a unique opportunity to “develop a meaningful personal-experience portfolio, no matter the makeup of their individual interests, talents, and resources.”



David Fischer: On Getting Ahead With College-Level Courses

college-level-courses-899224-editedWhile most eighth-grade students are in the midst of developing their writing skills, gaining a solid understanding of algebraic principles, and spending their free time with their friends, David Fischer’s junior-high experience was quite the contrary.

Now a first-year computer science major at The University of Vermont, David’s UVM journey began in the eighth grade, where he supplemented the Common Core curriculum with college-level classes. A junior-high student learning on a college campus: impressive, right? Continue reading “David Fischer: On Getting Ahead With College-Level Courses”

What Does It Take to Be a High School Entrepreneur?

high-school-entrepreneurIt’s no secret that most students experience a wake-up call when they go from the predetermined high-school schedule to the more free-form college schedule. While there’s certainly more flexibility on the college side, one’s time is filled with more responsibilities that require organizing. But what if there were another way to get ahead, feel more prepared, and ultimately become successful—all before you step foot onto campus? Continue reading “What Does It Take to Be a High School Entrepreneur?”

8 Great Books for High School Students

books-for-high-school-students“Summer, like youth, is fleeting,” writes NPR. “But the books we read when we’re young can stay with us for a lifetime. Here’s hoping that when the school bell rings in a few short weeks, it will find you engrossed in just such a memorable read.” With summer right around the corner, there’s no better time to relax under the sun with a good book.

Here are eight books for high school student’s summer reading list.

The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins: In the ruins of a dystopian North America, a young girl and young boy are selected to participate in the annual Hunger Games and fight to the death. The worldwide best-selling trilogy is now a also a box-office hit, with each film setting records at the box office.

1984 by George Orwell: A timely classic about the world we were becoming in 1949, and a very appropriate read for the 21st century.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien: With more than 150 million copies sold, the high-fantasy novel needs little advertisement. Follow the War of the Ring through the stories of hobbits, men, dwarves, elves, and wizards, as they seek to defeat the evil Sauron and free Middle Earth.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo Baggins, a well-respected hobbit, lives a simple life, until Gandalf, a traveling wizard, shows up on his doorstep and requests that he take part in a quest from which he may never return.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee: This classic piece of American literature tells the story of a lawyer, Atticus Finch, who defends an African-American male against an undeserved assault charge. The story is told through the eyes of 6-year-old Scout Finch, as she and her friends learn about prejudice in the setting of Alabama.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger: With more than 65 million books sold to date, the controversial novel follows Holden Caulfield as he asks important questions about innocence, identity, belonging, and alienation.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald: The quintessential American tale takes place in the Jazz Age of the 1920s and follows the narration of Nick Carraway, as he becomes acquainted with his mysterious, eccentric neighbor, Jay Gatsby.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: The best-selling novel, which is now also a major motion picture, tells the touching story of life, death, and the people caught in the middle.

Are there other books you can’t wait to read this summer? Share them with us in a comment below.


Tips on Writing an Essay That Will Knock Admission’s Socks Off

tips-on-writing-an-essay-for-college-admissionsIn an article she contributed to The Huffington Post, “4 Tips for Writing the Perfect Personal Statement,” Alexis Reliford of Her Campus writes: “The best personal statements describe a moment of personal growth, difficulty, strength or confidence, all of which people experience in a wide range of ways.” In essence, the personal statement is your chance to make a lasting first impression. Easier said than done, right?

If you’re feeling the pressure of the inevitable college admissions essay, you’re not alone. While it’s often the most feared part of the college application process, it’s also one of the most important components to your application. And as much as a strong academic background is essential, admissions officers look for students who have demonstrated personal growth. Your essay is a great opportunity to highlight how you’ve grown.

Three tips on writing an essay that will impress college admissions

1. Be clear and concise, and focus on engaging your reader.

Even though the Common Application requires a minimum of only 250 words (with no maximum word count), be sure that you use the space you need to illustrate your personality and convey your interest in the college or university to which you’re applying. That said, the college may have predetermined guidelines for your essay. Whether it’s word count or the essay topic, be sure to review all requirements before you begin writing.

Pursuing a college education is your first courageous step in the application process. Now it’s time to create a descriptive, action-oriented essay around what makes you a truly deserving college applicant. Ultimately, pick a topic that differentiates you from other candidates in order to leave a lasting first impression. And remember, your essay will be read among thousands of others, so be sure to engage your reader right from your introduction. Don’t wait until the conclusion to really let your personality and interests shine through. Finally, when you’re crafting your admissions essay, be clear and concise, and never write more than you need to tell your story.

2. Set yourself up for success.

We all know that the quality of the work will likely suffer if it’s rushed, so leave yourself plenty of time to brainstorm different topics, practice the written word, edit your essay, and proofread carefully. If you’re unsure of how to check for grammar mistakes, ask a parent or teacher to help you edit and proofread before you consider your essay final.

Don’t forget to do your research before you write your essay. One of the best ways to stand out from thousands of other applicants is to demonstrate an interest in the college or university to which you’re applying. If you gain knowledge on college-specific programs and what it’s really like on campus, you can potentially leverage that information and prove to admissions that you’re a serious and passionate candidate. Want to go above and beyond? See If you can connect one of the programs you’re interested in to a brief anecdote of your own experience, such as a community-service project you were involved with.

3. Ask yourself: “Is this the best representation of me?”

Ultimately, your essay is your opportunity to highlight your accomplishments without showing off. And when it comes time to write your essay, be meticulous and honest. While it may be tempting to embellish, colleges want to meet the real you, so be honest instead of writing what you think admissions committees want to hear. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to deliver an essay that reflects the person you are. Good luck!

High School Students Access College Courses through Vermont’s Dual Enrollment Program

By Cynthia Belliveau, EdD
Dean, UVM Continuing and Distance Education

choosing-a-majorGovernor Peter Shumlin has said that one of the top challenges Vermont faces is producing graduates that have the skills to participate in the 21st-cenutry workforce. Vermont’s Dual Enrollment program, which the state Legislature agreed last month to fund for the next two years, can help bridge the gap.

It’s been well reported in the media that despite having one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country — 86 percent — only 53 percent of Vermont high school graduates go straight from high school to college. We clearly have some work to do.

What is the Dual Enrollment program?

Dual Enrollment – and precollege programs offered at many Vermont colleges, including the University of Vermont and Community College of Vermont – can help open the door for Vermont high school students who might not otherwise consider college as an option.

Under the $1.2 million Dual Enrollment program, high school students can enroll in classes at Vermont colleges. Students can take up to two, 4-credit courses free as a junior or senior, usually at night or over the summer, and they receive credit from their high school and the college.

Student participation in the Dual Enrollment program has been going up since the Legislature established the program as part of the Flexible Pathways Bill in 2013, and nearly 1,300 Vermont students participated in 2014.

Overseen by the Vermont Agency of Education, Vermont’s Dual Enrollment Program introduces college-level work to high school students and gives them a head start on college. The Dual Enrollment program is open to Vermont high school students who attend public schools.

Dual Enrollment at The University of Vermont

For the past 11 years, UVM Continuing and Distance Education has offered an outstanding precollege program to high school juniors and seniors who can explore career fields with professors who are leading experts, enroll in classes with other high school college students, experience the challenge of a college-level course, and earn transferable college credit.

Since 2004, 2,586 students have enrolled in UVM’s precollege program, of which 558 have matriculated to UVM. Of the 558 students, more than 85 have graduated. The number of students who have matriculated has been slowly but steadily climbing – from seven in 2005, to 38 in 2009, to 149 in 2014.

UVM’s precollege offerings include entry-level courses and a four-week Summer Academy residential program.

Without a post-secondary education, one’s future earning potential is lower, which we all know Vermont’s economy can’t afford. With the renewal of Vermont’s Dual Enrollment, I hope more high school students will be taking advantage of precollege courses at UVM and investing in their future. At no cost to the student, the payback is well worth the effort.

High School Summer Programs for Students Interested in Healthcare

high-school-summer-programsAre you considering a career in health, or have you already been accepted to a health sciences program? If this is the case, you may be wondering how you can better prepare yourself for the years ahead. Because of the academic investment the medical field is notorious for requiring, we want you to feel confident and fully prepared to excel in this career path. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to do so. Let’s take a closer look at your options.

Four high-school summer programs that can prepare you for your degree in healthcare:

National Student Leadership Program


The NSLC on Medicine & Health Care “uses an interactive approach to learning that gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the challneging complexities of the medical profession.” This program is geared toward incoming first-year students looking to experience the medical field first-hand. Over the duration of the conference, participants will perform clinical rounds, learn useful techniques, explore different career paths, and even earn the opportunity to diagnose and treat patients.

Discovery Internships


The experience you can gain from an internship is immeasurable, and through Discovery Internships, you can find that opportunity. Interns experience not only a hospital’s fast-paced environment, but also shadow doctors on rounds and learn valuable skills with support from internship coordinators. During your internship you’ll assist doctors and nurses with hands-on procedures, learn about medical administration, network with healthcare professionals, and meet like-minded students.

Medical Summer Camps

Envision’s National Youth Leadership Forums is famous for cultivating the skills that set students apart in the medical field. Over approximately 10 days, high school students train as rigorously as a medical students. With two programs to choose from, NYLF Medicine or NYLF Advanced Medicine & Health Care, students participate in hands-on activities that help them build specific skills needed to thrive in their degree program. Students gain experience in providing patient care and in developing treatment plans.

College Courses

Many colleges and universities, including The University of Vermont, offer motivated students an academically challenging experience designed to bring out their best. Every year, UVM places students in the country’s top graduate and professional programs and helps them launch their careers. If you’re a high-school student looking for a head start on a healthcare degree program, a variety of health programs are available to help you hone your skills before you start college.