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Choosing a College Goal: Personal Interest vs. Career

Is career choice an either-or situation?  When students foresee the goal of their college education, they are caught in a tug-of-war between the sensible prospect of job security or a career path tailored to their passions and interests.  Rarely do they overlap.  They may consider the kitchen their happy place, but know that majors in Culinary Arts fall on the lower end of the college grad income spectrum.  Therein lies the conundrum: What should be their focus?

Out of a pool of Freshman polled entering UCLA, the majority listed a decent job as their top reason for attending college.  This is a clear shift from 20-30 years ago, when gaining skills and exploring interests reigned as the core ideal.  As expected, this correlated with an overall deviation from the number of awarded degrees in science and the arts.

Despite technically-driven majors leading to the highest paid entry-level careers (Engineering in particular), such programs offer little if any skills in communication.  According to Bloomberg’s “2015 Job Skills” interactive graphic, the most desired and rarer attributes would sorely lack in technical programs: Leadership, Creative Problem-Solving, and Communication.

Speech 101 may cover the basics, but GE courses typically only dip the student’s toe into the pool instead of drilling deeper into specifics, as they are intended.  Those students of technical study must then train themselves via self-education or consciously step outside their area of expertise by enrolling in courses unrelated to their degree.  This more than likely parallels our earlier mentioned tug-of-war.

Unrelated courses may inspire and motivate, while required material feels more like a tried and true job; it may lead to possible dislike and eventually resent toward their field.

As with life, students should find that golden balance between necessity and passion.  Avoid relying on an illustrious career as a renowned author, but find a way to weave your writing prowess into a job with a proven record for stability.  Who knows; actively pursuing creative hobbies on the side may end up paying the bills, too!

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning.  For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinarcall us at (650) 587-1559, or send us an e-mail.


Future Investing with Summer Programs and Internships

watermelonWith summer approaching, you and other high school students may first bask in the glow of three months away from essays and assigned projects.  Once that feeling subsides—particularly for all of you wonderfully ambitious students—you’ll wonder if any options exist to keep your mind stimulated, prepare yourself for their future careers, or possibly explore avenues they have yet to tread.  So what’s the answer?  Summer programs and internships!

Science? Art? Communications? There’s a Program for All of Them!

For our California pupils, here are a few local opportunities orchestrated by colleges over the summer that may peak your interest, courtesy of the Los Altos High School College and Career Center:

Academy of Art College in San Francisco
“Six-week intensive art program offers up to four classes either online or onsite in San Francisco. Get a glimpse into college life, meet other young artists and explore a variety of art & design fields. Note: Students staying in Campus Housing must take four on campus classes.”

COSMOS (California State Summer School for Math and Science)
UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz

“Cosmos is a four week residential academic experience in math, science and engineering for top high school students. Students can participate in one of the many clusters of the COSMOS program at any of the above UC campuses. Some sample clusters are Under the Sea: Exploring Marine Organisms and Their World, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering: Robots and Flying Machines, Medical & Veterinary Responses to Infectious Diseases, and Environmental Sciences and Experimental Ecology.

Students apply to one of the four University of California’s COSMOS campuses — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz. Each campus may have a different focus.”

Internship Programs

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program
Palo Alto, CA

“An 8-week summer internship program open to high school juniors and seniors. Hands-on research under guidance of a one-on-one mentor. Choose from immunology, stem cell biology, neurobiology, cardiovascular medicine and cancer biology.”

ZOMA Worldwide
Palo Alto, CA

“An international internship program for high school students based in various industries in Shanghai, China. Must have completed sophomore you and have strong academic records and proven leadership abilities. Chinese language is not required by students enrolled in Chinese language coursework is preferred. Internships are available in the areas of high tech, marketing, public relations, advertising, law travel and hospitality and architecture. Bilingual resident assistants are on-site 24 hours for supervision and assistance.”

Make a Decision Based on YOUR Goals

If earning some cash on the side is your driving force, an internship may not be your best choice for this summer.  While internships add bulk to an otherwise sparse resume, they are often notoriously unpaid.

On that same token, unpaid internships and volunteering may seem like thankless work, but both can easily lead to a future “in” at a company.  A connection with them on LinkedIn® assures an open-ended opportunity to re-connect once you’re finishing up the last requirements for your degree.

We all deserve some R&R, but with three long months ahead of summer 2015, why not devote part of your time to a worthwhile investment in your future (and bank account)?

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning.  For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinarcall us at (650) 587-1559, or send us an e-mail.

Photo Credit: Harsha KR


College Choice: How Important is Financial Fit?

3493082186_52d4d2807f_z-150x150Acceptance letters are in!  Seniors have less than a month to finalize their college choice.  Most seniors have applied to multiple colleges, and potentially found two, three, or more acceptance letters sitting in their mailbox or popping up in their inbox.  While some find the choice is a no-brainer, others are stumped.  Out of five acceptances, perhaps not a single one stands out as the golden opportunity.  So, how do you choose? Does the cost matter?  How do you measure your ROI (return-on-investment)?

ROI

Your choices may be pitted against one another as equally good academic and social fits, but what about the financial fit? Which college measures up as the best investment based on financial returns for your student?

ROI, as defined by PayScale, refers to the college’s net cost combined with the length of time required to earn that amount after securing a job.

Recently, PayScale released their yearly list of top colleges based upon ROI.  They offer a quick review of their top performers in their “Best Value Colleges.” According to PayScale, majors and career choices matter as well as college choice.  Science majors would see Cal Poly and San Jose State topping the chart, while students of Economics would mull over Rank #1 University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley at #2.

“Results May Vary”

The report lists estimated ROI, the average 4 year cost (with and without financial aid), graduation rate, and more.  Keep in mind the data is mined from average statistics at each college, not data down to the individual student.

Results do vary by student.  Every student will pay a different amount for college (it’s true!), so you’ll need to calculate your own ROI, using PayScale’s salary estimates for the career you are seeking.  ROI provides an analytical, practical means to assist in determining your final college choice.

We recommend keeping financial fit in the forefront of your decision making process, along with academic and social fit.  The cost of college does matter to the majority of families.  Consider ROI as one determining factor to make your ultimate decision.

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning.  For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar or call us at (650) 587-1559.

Photo Credit: circulating


Benefits of Being A SAC Member

As mentioned in a previous post, GiveTeens20® is currently looking for 10 awesome interns to join our Student Advisory Council. There are some great benefits and opportunities to joining our SAC internship. Instead of having us explain what they are, we decided to interview two current SAC members and have them tell you about their experiences.

Cat Tran

Cat Tran

Status: Graduating senior at American High School. She is currently on the SAC as an intern and the secretary of SAC.

Interests/Hobbies: Tran enjoys singing and has been in several performances at her high school. She loves watching television shows that revolves around suspense and is currently obsessed with “Grey’s Anatomy”.

What do you do as a SAC Member?

“I provide teen input and opinions on certain topics like teen employment, and trending topics that would hit home to a lot of teenagers. I also contribute in community service events like the Ohana Health Fair and Fremont Street Eats, but I am pretty much a representative. I attend these events and I talk about the purpose of what this internship is or on a broader scale what GT20 is.”

The benefits of being on SAC: “I got to implement my interpersonal skills that I developed over the years, as well as my time with GT20 for Kaiser Permanente. I think it has served me really well in terms of building relationships with co-workers and patients. That’s an asset that I really value.”

The opportunities/experiences: “I have a lot of memorable moments with the SAC. I feel like every meeting is refreshing and exciting. Not only do I get to voice my opinions and offer innovative ideas to the GT20 board, I feel like I have a purpose. I have all of these cool ideas that will attract teenagers and I love that Kathy is open to hearing all of my suggestions… At the same time, I enjoy going to all of these events…I feel like communications skills, getting myself out there, getting exposure, and getting connected with people will help me network. GT20 provides that for me.”

What would you say to someone who is thinking about applying but isn’t sold on the idea just yet?

“I would say an internship looks way better than a volunteer on a [college] resume. Also, the fact that you’re a teenager working for an organization that revolves around teens benefits.”

Continue Reading


GiveTeens20® is looking for interns!

Ribbon cutting picture

Kathy and the Student Advisory Council.

 

GiveTeens20®, an education non-profit, is currently looking for 10 enthusiastic, creative minds to join our Student Council Advisory Internship this year. If you are a hardworking freshmen or sophomore in high school and not afraid to voice out your opinions, this internship is definitely for you. This internship is unpaid, but you will learn about business and your strengths will be enhanced. Volunteer hours will be available for your great work.

As a SAC member, you will…

  • Help guide the direction of GiveTeens20® (your opinion matters A LOT)
  • Participate in events and special projects
  • Attend monthly meetings

GiveTeens20® is an education non-profit that encourages and equips teens with no-cost, easy-to-use tools and resources to help them find their career ‘fit’.

If you are interested in applying, fill out our application here. If you have further questions, please email us at info@giveteens20.org . We hope to hear from you all soon!


Financial Aid Awards: Can You Spot the Differences?

Two Toads - Financial Aid Award LettersYour applications are complete.  Admission and financial aid offers are starting to come in.  It can be confusing to decipher exactly what portion of the awards are free and which come with a cost.

On average private colleges discount 46% of college tuition for first-year applicants.  Wow, it sounds like a decent chunk of the cost, but every college–whether public or private–has a customized formula for awarding financial aid; every student is subject to a different amount.

A quick reminder: You must complete the FAFSA as well as the CSS Profile (for some colleges) to qualify for all available financial aid.  Along with assessing your need-based aid it’s a requirement for many colleges–such as Stanford)–to apply for financial aid  in order to receive an award letter.

Award Letters: The Equation

As you sift through financial aid award letters, it’s important to figure out exactly what your financial offer is.  How much money must you pay back and what amount is handed to you for free?

This leaves you with your Out-of-Pocket Cost:

Total Cost of Attendance – Gift Aid (Scholarships + Grants) = Out-of-Pocket Cost

Note that if you research award letters, the terms Out-of-Pocket Cost and Net Cost are used interchangeably.

Keep in mind that:

  • All freshmen qualify for $5,500 in total direct loans (unsubsidized plus subsidized).
  • All college students qualify for Parent PLUS Loans up to the Cost of Attendance minus all other financial aid offered.
  • There are private loans available today (most recently from credit unions) many which have more favorable features than the Parent PLUS Loan.

A nice free tool available to contrast costs is FinAid’s Award Letter Comparison Tool, which allows you to input information for 3 different colleges simultaneously.

Quick Tips

  • Add up all expenses: tuition, room and board, materials such as books, fees, and other necessities.
  • Separate gift aid from loans.
  • Double-check your net price. If the college lists a total, recognize that the college may figure in loans.
  • Assess your out-of-pocket cost via the formula above, if a net price is missing.

While there are multiple factors to consider when choosing your college, it’s unquestionably important to understand the financial commitment you and your family will face.

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning.  For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar or call us at (650) 587-1559.

Photo Credit: Matt Reinbold


The Money-Hungry Monster of Textbook Prices

Textbook PricesImagine this scenario: You’re a newly accepted freshman wrought with a sense of anticipation and wonder as you hit the “submit” button to finalize your class roster.  To fully prepare for your upcoming venture, you view your college’s bookstore website to add up prices.  Then you sit, horrified and wide-eyed as your textbook cost amounts to $300, $400, or $500+ for the required materials.

This number may be particularly shocking for California community college (CCC) attendees, who intentionally avoided excess cost for their initial 2-year courses spent at a CSU or UC.  Instead of shelling out over $13,000 per year for a CSU in-state tuition, the average a CCC student can expect is around $4,000.  So they accept their $1,000 to 2,000 or so fee for the term, only to realize that books alone could reach up to $600 or more that semester.  That’s 40% of their tuition.  Talk about excessive!

Unimaginable Price Jumps

As pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, the book “Principles of Economics” forces students to pay at least $250 for that single text.  Many students end up covering textbook costs using their own money.  If they clocked in 35 hours of minimum wage earns, they could afford that book, but compared to 1982, a book with that information cost $20.  With minimum wage at $3.35, it instead took merely six hours to cover the cost.

To put the massive sticker price jump into further perspective, let this digest for a minute: In the past 30 years, textbook prices have swelled up—get ready for it—a whopping 812%.

Underlying Reasoning

If you get the chance, unfold the front cover of a classroom textbook and see if you can find its retail price hidden anywhere among the usual publishing details.  We can almost guarantee that’ll be a futile venture.

While publishers purposely leave out the wholesale price, teachers and students fail to question it further.  The allure of used and rental opportunities beckon penny-pinching students, but unfortunately, additional features like online quizzes (via SAM or other mediums) can only be accessed using a code, either bundled with a pricey brand-new book or as a stand-alone code.  It seems silly, but you could purchase what you think is a full-fledged text, and find yourself $200 deeper in debt for a piece of paper typed with an activation key.

Instructors choose these routes because of the beneficial features to save them time: PowerPoints, pre-made exams, and other helpful materials… but these are for the teacher’sconvenience.  Despite the outrageous sticker prices, instructors accept it as necessity, and thus render students unable to bypass the extra cost.  With the focus on rising tuition costs, textbooks become a side-product of the higher education inflation.  At what point will we start raising our voices and pushing back to what’s considered unreasonable?  900% inflation?  1,000?

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning. For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar or call us at (650) 587-1559.

Photo Credit: Jeff Krause


Studying Tunes – Remix Edition

In our previous post we mentioned how finding the right studying mix is important. Music can help you concentrate and keep you motivated. It can be difficult to find the perfect playlist and here at GiveTeens20®, we want to make your lives a little bit easier.

Today marks the last day of our Studying Tunes series and we are going out with a bang. Today’s genre? Electronic/Remixes.  We hope you guys enjoy listening to them as much as we did finding them. Check out the playlists below.

Electronic/Remixes

1. A mix containing 16 relaxing tunes including remixes by Kygo, Flic Flac, and Filous.

 

2. If upbeat music is more of your style to keep the study party going, check out this playlist. 19 songs. 19 remixes. Remixes done by Calvin Harris, Audien, The Chainsmokers and many more.

 

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Studying Tunes – Pop Edition

In our previous post we mentioned how finding the right studying mix is important. Music can help you concentrate and keep you motivated. It can be difficult to find the perfect playlist and here at GiveTeens20®, we want to make your lives a little bit easier. Every day this week, we will post playlists recommendations from different genres. Today’s genre? Pop. Check out the playlists below. Happy studying and listening!

Pop

  1. Popular songs covered by well-known artists, as well as indie artists.  This playlist has a good amount of upbeat and slow songs to help you stay motivated. The mix contains music from Ed Sheeran, The Heydaze, and The Neighbourhood.

  1. Another playlist that contains covers and unplugged versions of well-known songs. This mix does not disappoint, and with 90 songs on here, you are bound to find a hidden gem. Playlist includes cover songs of U2, Coldplay, Ingrid Michaelson, MGMT, and many more!

Be sure to come back tomorrow to check out our next “Studying Tunes” post. Next up: Electronic/Remixes.

Be sure to follow/like us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!


Studying Tunes – Acoustic Edition

In our previous post we mentioned how finding the right studying mix is important. Music can help you concentrate and keep you motivated. It can be difficult to find the perfect playlist and here at GiveTeens20®, we want to make your lives a little bit easier. Every day this week, we will post playlists recommendations from different genres. Today’s genre? Acoustic. Check out the playlists below. Happy studying and listening!

Acoustic

1. A playlist full of covers and acoustic versions of popular songs. Have your cup of coffee or tea next to you and get ready to study.  If you love this playlist, be sure to check out Ms. Williamson’s Beautiful Covers and Acoustics Part 2 playlist.

 

2. This playlist has a good amount of ballads, covers, and folk music. If that is up your alley, check out this playlist. The mix features artists such as Angus & Julia Stone, John Mayer, Boyce Avenue.

 

Be sure to come back tomorrow to check out our next “Studying Tunes” post. Next up: Pop.

Be sure to follow/like us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!