Use Summer-Enrichment Programs to Try Out a Major

summer-enrichment-programsWhile most students have to wait until their first year of college to experience program-specific material and the campus community, high-school students enrolled in a summer-enrichment program can gain that experience much earlier. In fact, every year colleges and universities across the US place students in a number of different summer programs that are unique to their academic interests.

“Summer programs often give teens a taste of the most attractive aspects of college life: dorm housing, challenging classes and a parent-free environment,” writes Delece Smith-Barrow in U.S. News. “While advisers and program directors help students navigate their new surroundings, there are ways parents can help high school students prepare for the experience before they ever set foot on campus.”

What major is right for you? Explore your academic options with summer-enrichment programs

It’s not uncommon for first- and second-year college students to find out that the career path or major they’ve selected isn’t for them. This can result in additional courses, extra semesters, and a larger sum of student debt. By taking a summer pre-college program, high school students can start exploring different majors and career paths much earlier, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their future. Here’s a breakdown of how students can benefit from a summer-enrichment program:

  • Explore and study topics of interest at an in-depth level.
  • Continue the learning momentum they gained during the academic school year.
  • Evaluate their performance using the same academic standards and procedures that undergraduate college students use.
  • Experience the college environment first-hand, and make new connections with peers and professors.

When it comes time to select a summer-enrichment program, approach it like you would a major. “Not only does your major determine what you’ll be studying during your time as an undergrad, but it also influences your future career. Instead of focusing on immediate pay-off, look for something you’ll enjoy in the long run,” says Casey Lewis of Teen Vogue.

The same rings true for your pre-college program. From community and non-profit programs, to university and statewide programs, you have plenty of options. So be sure to enroll in a program that will set you up for long-term success, just like a major would. For students who are concerned about maintaining an enjoyable balance between academics and leisure, fear not. Students typically have the option to participate in academic extracurricular activities and residential program activities.

Ready to see what a pre-college program can do for you? Check out our guide: 7 Benefits of a Pre-College Program to learn more today.

5 Tips for Finding Scholarships That Match Your Skills

shutterstock_50570824-740906-editedThere’s no denying that a college education is a huge investment, but there are ways to alleviate your sticker-shock. Fortunately for most students who don’t hold the title of class president or captain of the football team, there’s still hope for a scholarship. “Being a high school football or basketball legend certainly helps, but many students don’t fall under those categories,” says the staff at Peterson’s. “Perseverance, researching what’s available, filling out endless forms, and getting those forms to the right place at the right time can all lead to scholarships, too.” Read on for help with your scholarship search.

Struggling to find scholarships that are right for you? Here are five tips:

#1 Start as early as possible.

While deadlines depend on the scholarship and its source, it’s important that you start your search as soon as possible. Keep in mind that the ideal time for your scholarship is the window between your junior and senior year of high school. If your academics, college search, SAT prep, or extracurricular activities are packing your schedule, fear not. There’s still time to find scholarships that pertain to your interests and financial needs. U.S. News writes: “A few dozen charities and nonprofits hold open their scholarship contests for procrastinators. Some of these competitions are more fun than the standard essay contests. And a few offer comparatively good odds.”

#2 Do your research.

Searching for scholarships isn’t the hard part—just type “scholarships” into your search bar and you’ll see why—but finding the right scholarship may take some time. The staff at Scholarship Experts by Unigo writes: “In today’s world, if you are willing to spend some time looking for scholarships that match your unique background and qualities, it is likely that you will find programs matched to your personal information.” Take your search over to Fastweb, where you can find scholarships based on your interests, skills, and more.

#3 Be specific.

Now that you know when and where to begin your search, narrow your search based on the field of study of your undergraduate program, as well as the city and state where you live. Many scholarships are awarded to those who have undergone hardships, live with a disability, or prove themselves to be non-traditional students, which just goes to show that when you specify what diversifies you, you may discover new scholarship opportunities.

#4 Use your resources.

When you’re looking for the best fit, nobody knows you better than your family and friends. If you have an older sibling or a relative who’s been through the scholarship process, ask for some advice. In addition, schedule an appointment with your school counselor to discuss scholarship options that are right for you.

#5 Check with the colleges where you’re applying.

Contact your preferred colleges or universities about their scholarships opportunities. Many schools offer scholarships for incoming students, and some even offer a search tool that enables students to search for scholarships by major and interests. For more on finding scholarships and preparing for college, stay tuned for our next article…

The Top High School Paid Internships

high-school-paid-internshipsThe experience you gain through an internship will help you establish credibility on your resume and can help you qualify for a higher-ranking position when it comes time to advance your career. So it comes as no surprise that college students and recent grads aren’t the only candidates applying for internships. High school students are also looking to become the next superstar interns.

The most coveted high school paid internships in the world

When it comes to applying for an internship, high school students may have to put in a little extra work to prove their readiness to employers. “For students on the internship circuit, you know that to get a great internship is wonderful,” writes Elizabeth Hoyt, the editor, contributing writer, and social media manager at Fastweb. “To get a paid internship is to [be] considerably lucky. And, taking it further still, to get one of the following internships, is to hit the jackpot.” Hoyt is referring to some of the most coveted internships in the world, including those for Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Sounds like a dream, right?

Not only are these internships among the most coveted in the world, but these organizations pay as much, or even more, than most employers for entry- and mid-level positions. In fact, an Apple intern could earn close to $6,000 a month, along with free housing and eligibility for benefits, meals, and more.

How to find an internship you’ll value

Simply put, Apple and Google aren’t for everyone, and these opportunities aren’t the only ones out there that can provide value or support your college fund. To find an internship that you can value, begin by thinking of the careers that interest you the most. While you don’t have to be 100 percent sure of the career you want to pursue in 10 years, you may have a handful you’re curious about, so start there.

Once you have a list of potential organizations, turn to their websites to see if they offer internships. Better yet, see if any are offered strictly to high school students—trust us, they exist. Remember that the goal of any internship is to explore potential career paths, acquire lifelong skills, and set yourself up for success by the time you graduate from college. Plus, working as an intern will help you to meet a variety of professionals you may not have met otherwise.

For more information on the top internships, check out Hoyt’s article and get started on your cover letter and resume. Good luck!

What Are Colleges Looking for in Extracurriculars?

what-are-colleges-looking-forIt’s no secret that extracurriculars serve as a foundation for growth among high school students. As the race for college acceptance becomes more competitive, high school students are looking for ways to distinguish themselves on their college application. One way this can happen is through what they’ve done outside the classroom.

Extracurricular activities—what are colleges looking for in today’s students?

While it’s been rumored that some very specific extracurricular activities and the title you’ve earned—such as captain of the football team—may be more favorable to admissions officers, that’s not necessarily true. According to Peterson’s, “[c]olleges aren’t terribly picky about how you spend your down time, as long as you’re doing something meaningful. They won’t know if you spend hours upon hours playing video games; they will certainly notice a lack of notable activities on your college application.” So if you weren’t elected class president, but you’re still focusing on building your skills through other activities, don’t be so hard on yourself. A college or university doesn’t add up every activity in which you participate. In fact, admissions officers would rather see you demonstrate a commitment to just a couple of activities, rather than dabble superficially in many. What’s important is that your involvement aligns with your interests and the program to which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying to college with a focus in environmental studies and you’re a dedicated member of the environmental club, the admissions office is likely to notice that connection.

While an extracurricular activity alone isn’t enough earn a college acceptance letter, it will help if you have a strong GPA and can demonstrate other self-starting initiatives. Admissions officers are often asking these questions when reviewing applicants: Can you demonstrate growth and potential? How can you contribute to the campus community? Involvement in an extracurricular activity can help shape a strong applicant—one admissions officers are looking to add to their list of accepted students.

Be sure to demonstrate your commitment to whatever you do, from extracurricular activities to your academics. Doing so will not only help shape your personal statement, it will also help you shape who you are now and who you’ll become in the future.

Helping Your Child Find High School Summer Internships

high-school-summer-internshipsInternships serve as a stepping stone to the career world for college students, but did you know that they may be just as valuable for high school students? There are a variety of internships aimed toward high school students across a wide range of career fields.

Preparing Your Child for Success: The Rise of High School Summer Internships

Before you dive into the options at hand, ask your children to start considering their interests and goals. Doing so will help them think about their skills, as well as the skills they’d like to build through the internship experience. An internship is truly about acquiring new knowledge, acclimating to the working world, and networking with professionals in a field of interest.

Once you’ve put your children’s goals at the forefront, encourage them to start their research. According to Forbes, you can’t truly “trust” whether an internship is the right fit until you complete your research.”You’ll need to research the firms, and look at size, industry, reputation, and history, among many other things to decide which ones best suits [your child].” Once your children have a list of companies that offer a good internship fit, see if any of your personal connections, such as your colleagues or friends, are employed there. While you want your student to take most of the initiative, there’s no harm in leveraging your personal connections to give your child a leg up.

Encourage your child to speak with a high school counselor or check the local paper to see if there are any internship fairs coming to town. Before attending, your child should plan for success, which can include researching the company thoroughly and dressing to impress. Keep in mind, however, that “It’s easy to overdo helping your child and turn into a helicopter parent,” says Carolyn C. Wise in a contribution to MomSpace. “Be sure to share your job search experience with your child, but remember that there’s a difference between encouraging and nagging.”

To begin research on internships, high school students can look on the “careers” page of the organizations they are considering or check out Internship Programs to explore some options.

Didn’t Get Into Your Dream College? How to Overcome Rejection

how-to-overcome-rejectionWhen you’re in high school, nothing can be more discouraging or disappointing than receiving a rejection letter instead of an acceptance to college, especially when it’s from the school of your dreams. While it may feel like a huge setback, the truth is you still have plenty of options and an exciting chapter ahead.

How to overcome rejection and find success at your second-choice school

Always remember, this is only an initial setback.

Just as you would grieve over a breakup, it’s totally acceptable to grieve over a rejection letter. But don’t let it last forever, and try to do something productive to get your mind off the negative. Just ask Alexis Manrodt at Teen Vogue: “While it may feel like your entire future is dependent upon getting into the perfect college, a rejection letter is not the end of the world. Don’t let your disappointment keep you from enjoying what your second choice has to offer.”

So instead of letting the negativity you may feel right now ruin your day, week, or month, use this time to have fun. Plan a dinner or movie night with a group of your friends, or cure the blues with a long run or bike ride. These activities will help occupy your time with the things you enjoy most and help you cope with rejection in a more positive way.

Reach out to someone you trust for advice or support.

While it may be second nature to hold in your emotions, the best thing you can do is express yourself. Talk out your feelings with a friend who’s going through the same situation or with an adult you trust, such as a parent or school counselor. Whatever you do, don’t suppress what you feel. Doing so can lead to even more anxiety.

Attend accepted-students day at a school that accepted you.

As you reassess your options and consider the college that accepted you, why not do something productive? Attending accepted-students day will help you see that you have other exciting options with plenty to offer. It’s also a great way to see the campus, explore the area, and meet other accepted and current students.

Be open to new possibilities and the future ahead.

Attending an event on campus will help you stay optimistic and become open to the possibilities ahead. “Many people love the idea of a school or a profession so much that they’re afraid if their ambitions change,” writes Manrodt. So instead of viewing your second- or third-choice school as, well, second or third, consider this change in your plan as a fresh, new opportunity.

How to Find Credible Online Internships

online-internshipsInternships are a great way to gain work experience in a hands-on environment, develop and grow your skill set, and make strong business connections. In other words, an internship can help you establish credibility in the professional world.

While internships have always been popular among college students, high schoolers are now submitting resumes in hopes of gaining the same professional experience. But with competition at the forefront of every profession today, it’s essential to seek career-building opportunities early so that you have an advantage when you apply for a coveted full-time job. An internship can help you do just that.

If you’re a high school student interested in gaining experience through a reputable internship that also aligns with your interests, chances are you’re not exactly sure where to begin. And you’re not alone. The search for the right internship is complex, especially on the Web. Here are a few tips.

How to get started in your search for credible online internships

Before you dive into your search, start with the basics. Think about your goals and the outcome you’d like to receive from your internship. If you’re not 100 percent certain of the career field you’d like to enter after college, don’t fret. An internship in high school is a great way to discover new interests before you apply or begin your first year of college.

Remember, however, that your desired career may not be available through a virtual internship, say the experts at Online College: “Virtual internships aren’t showing up in all industries across the board — at least not yet. They tend to be concentrated in certain fields. Currently, prospective interns will find the greatest number of virtual internship opportunities in sales, marketing, and social media, though a growing number are showing up in graphic design and software development. This shouldn’t be especially surprising as these kinds of work naturally lend themselves to working off-site and often require minimal supervision.”

Here’s a list of online resources that will help you find a credible internship:

The pros and cons of a virtual internship

The pros are simple: With a virtual internship students can gain experience without the hassle of the commute, which is especially appealing to those without a car or other means of transportation. With a virtual internship, students can also gain a number of skills, like time management and self-discipline. Furthermore, an online intern will benefit from the flexibility of working from home, allowing for more time to accomplish other tasks, including homework or managing multiple internships.

The cons of a virtual internship involve the lack of hands-on training. With an in-person internship, you can shadow multiple employees and ask questions directly. With an online internship, you may have to wait for an answer, or you may need further direction before you can start or finish an assignment. With an in-person internship, you can benefit from employee interaction, behavior, and etiquette—elements that are certainly missing from performing the same duties over the Internet.

When considering your transportation options, work with a parent or guardian to see if it’s possible to coordinate your schedule with theirs. Or look for other means of transportation in your area, such as bus or subway schedules–or even ride sharing–that will get you to the internship that’s right for you.

How to Introduce College Requirements to High School Freshmen

college-requirementsAs your child prepares for the first day of high school, you may feel like college is a lifetime away, but the truth is, there’s no such thing as “too early” when preparing for college.

Freshman year is an opportunity for students to try new activities, explore new topics of interest, and find their place academically. It’s common for high school freshmen to experience growing pains, but with the right guidance, you can help make their adjustment to high school a smooth one.

Just ask the experts at big future by The College Board: “The beginning of high school is an exciting time. Your child may be adjusting to a new school, making new friends, and becoming more independent. But your child still needs your help and involvement.”

Becoming familiar with college requirements

The first year of high school is the year of adjustment. With a new environment, classes, faculty, student body, and academic requirements, it’s possible that your child may face a challenging learning curve. However, it’s also a great chance to create healthy habits for the long-term. For instance, freshmen can use this time to push themselves academically and add a few challenging courses to their academic schedule. While particular requirements may vary from college to college, all colleges have one thing in common: the goal of admitting students who demonstrate strong potential for college success.

Beyond high school GPA and class rank, it’s also important for freshmen to think about preparing for standardized tests and participating in extracurricular activities. While they don’t need to worry about diving right into every activity or prep class, their first year is a golden opportunity to consider what colleges and universities look for and how to prepare accordingly. Plus, their new skills and experiences will be useful when it’s time to write the college essay.

Motivating your child to start planning early

The important thing to remember is that your children may not be as ready as you are to start planning for the future. After all, they’re just learning to acclimate to the high school environment and may need some time to adjust. And while you don’t need to push college exploration before your child is ready, you can still encourage a healthy effort, such as meeting with a school counselor to discuss class preparation and goal setting. A little encouragement can inspire freshmen to think about adding an AP course to their schedule or participating in a volunteer program during the summer.

Pre-college programs

There are a variety of pre-college programs that can help your student stand out as a college applicant and enhance college readiness. Through a pre-college program, prospective students can familiarize themselves with college-level course material and expectations. Students in these programs can also earn transferable college credits.

For more information on pre-college programs in your area, speak with your school counselor or inquire at a school that interests you.


The Advantages of High School Independent Study

high-school-independent-study-advantagesToday’s high school students have the opportunity to add a course to their academic program that enables them to explore a topic of interest at a deeper level outside the traditional classroom setting. This course is typically referred to as an independent study and is most often weighed on the same academic scale as standard courses in an academic catalog. But unlike standard course offerings, an independent study will most likely require approval from the school counselor and parent before a student can enroll.

How does a high school independent study work?

Students who are serious about adding an independent study to their high school programs should make sure they have the space in their schedules before making the commitment. An independent study is time consuming and could potentially interfere with a student’s graduation, if he or she chooses this elective course over a course required for graduation.

Many high schools offer independent study options online, in-person, or via pre-packed programs. Always check with your school counselor before purchasing or enrolling in a program to be sure it’s reputable and a practical academic option for you.

The advantages and disadvantages

An independent study is a golden opportunity for students to add a topic of interest to their curriculum, which not only complements their personal learning styles, but also enables them to explore a certain area of study before college. Plus, many students find success in an independent-learning environment. Finally, an independent study is one of the first times in students’ academic careers where they can demonstrate initiative and build skills—such as self-discipline and time management—that will benefit them in college and beyond.

On the other end of the spectrum, an independent study requires a student to spend a lot of time planning, organizing, and staying on track. And depending on the program, an independent study can be costly. Be sure to do your research and find the option that’s right for you.

College Planning for High School Sophomores

college-planningIt may feel like college is a lifetime away, but the truth is, sophomore year of high school is a perfect time for your child to start exploring potential colleges and thinking about the future. Just ask the experts at Peterson’s: “Tenth grade is a banner year for most kids. For the most part, the classes your child takes this year will determine the courses your child will be qualified to take in grades 11 and 12.”

As your children settle into their second year of high school, use the fall semester to initiate a college-related conversation and find ways to boost the caliber of their transcripts. Ultimately, this can help give them a better chance of getting into the college they want.

College planning for parents or guardians

At the start of the school year, encourage your child to speak with the school counselor to discuss options for preliminary exams, such as practicing for the PSAT. While the SAT practice test is more commonly taken by high school juniors, practice makes perfect, and it’s never too early to form critical reading, writing, and math skills that can help improve SAT and ACT scores.

Make sure your children meet and develop a comfortable relationship with their school counselor. By doing so, they’ll feel more ready to contact them with questions they may have about college or career options, financial aid, and AP courses. This is also an opportunity for your children to ensure that they take all the courses they need, such as a foreign language or chemistry.

In addition to preparing for standardized tests, encourage your child to attend a college fair. College fairs provide an opportunity to meet with college representatives, ask important questions, and collect resources. A few days before the event, make a strategic plan with your children and determine what type of questions they will ask. Since this is just their sophomore year of high school, their questions may not be as thorough as if they were in junior or senior year. However, it’s still an opportunity to ask meaningful questions that may affect their decisions down the road. Most important, don’t push this exploration too early, as your child may not be ready. If you feel your child is prepared, college planning during sophomore year can lighten the burden later on.

Finally, encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities, volunteer programs, or even a part-time job or internship. In addition to having a strong academic record, taking part in school and community activities can boost your child’s maturity and self-esteem, as well as add interesting experience to college applications.