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5 Ways to Skillfully Balance Work & School

A person's shoes balancing on a beam.Students, whether in high school or college, find it challenging to successfully navigate the burdens of school and work without wanting to tear their hair out.  It may seem too stressful, but it is possible!  It’s all about balance.  We’ve come up with 5 tips to help you create a manageable flow between your school and work lives.

1.  Use a Calendar or Planner.  They’re Your Friends!
Considering that one person think an estimated 70,000 thoughts per day, it’s no wonder we’re liable to forget new information, whether it’s an upcoming event or just simply something you need to remember for later.  That’s where a calendar or planner comes in.

Test out a few different types of planners and figure out what works best for you.  Most of you probably have an iCal or something similar installed on your phone, so why not use it?

Once you become aware of an event in your life with a deadline (a test, due date for a project, work meeting, and so forth), enter it into your calendar immediately, then set a reminder alarm.  If you set that reminder for a day beforehand, (or even multiple alarms) it’ll give you some relief.  You’ll take peace in knowing you’re organized;  you’ll be notified, even if it slips your mind.

2.  A Little R & R
You’re not a robot.  Every now and then, it’s important to clear your mind and rest your bones.  For every hour of studying or work, make sure to take a 5-10 minute break, especially if your job requires you to sit at a computer or a desk without much movement.  Go for a short walk and soak in some nature.  You’ll arrive back at work or to your homework refreshed and ready to concentrate.

3.      Leave School Out of Work & Vice Versa
It’s tempting to pull out your math book and work on some problems during your lunch break or while on babysitting duty, but try to resist.  Believe it or not, only about 2% of the population can successfully multitask.  While 89% of those with smartphones use them at their job, 45% also complain they’re already expected to multitask too much within their work situation.  So why add another element that makes your job even more difficult?

As difficult as it may seem, leave your phone in your pocket or purse.  The “what if there’s an emergency” excuse doesn’t hold water when you know you could easily be notified at work.

4.  Sleep Easy
It’s vital to get plenty of sleep to increase cognitive function, alertness and many other positive effects.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens ages 11 to 17 slumber for 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night, while adults 18+ should get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours.  Easier said than done for most teens and young adults, but establishing a recurring night-time ritual will help.  If you always fall into the same routine, your body will naturally adapt and automatically enter a more relaxed state.

5.  Be Realistic
After you’ve sat down and mapped out your needed hours to effectively complete your work and school tasks, take a good look at what you’re asking yourself to accomplish.  According to the 2005 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), 55% of high school students study three or less hours per week, while a mere 8% study 10 hours per week.  While we could say this has to do with laziness, it also may easily chalk up to over-worked students juggling way too many facets of their lives to dedicate enough hours for studying.

Are you ending up still feeling overly exhausted and feel like a zombie?  Do you still find yourself stressed to the point where you lose sleep or it effects either work or school, or both?  You may be overdoing it, regardless of how much you think you can tough it out.  Keep in mind this also depends upon you as an individual.

20 hours of work and 25 hours of school (in-class, studying and homework) combined with other obligations may end up well for some, but not others.  If you aren’t sure, try handling both for a couple of weeks and see how your body reacts.  If you find yourself on the brink with stress flying at you from all aspects of your life, don’t push yourself.  Decrease your work hours and focus on school.  You body and mind will thank you for it.

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning. For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar.

Photo Credit: westpark


Merit Aid: Some Assembly (May Be) Required

Man looking at assembly instructions.Seniors: if you believe all colleges only require their application for consideration of merit aid, think again.

If you’re unfamiliar with merit aid, it essentially grants students with funding stemming from academic or other achievements, such as an impressive GPA or recognized honors, not based upon financial need.

It’s true that most colleges only request you fill out their school-based form along with the FAFSA, but about 300 of them signify you must also submit your CSS Profile.  To search for your top college picks and whether or not they need your CSS Profile, consult this College Board list.

Merit Aid Isn’t Always Automatic?

NYU is one of the few institutions that requires both the CSS Profile and FAFSA for all financial aid considerations, including merit aid.  A few of their scholarships may blend need-based and merit aid requirements, therefore the forms are necessary.

Special applications separate from the admissions form may also be desired, but typically only one or two, such as the Barnes Scholarship at Colorado College or Johnston Scholars at the University of North Carolina.

On the other hand, a total of 14 scholarships through the University of Michigan require individual applications.  They, like NYU, also prompt students to complete the CSS Profile regardless of merit or need-based aid.

Look Out for the Details

Unfortunately, you’re left to read the fine print.  Students and parents must scrounge through each school’s financial aid program to figure out special stipulations.

While not many fit into this category, it pays to check just in case the college of your choice does need the FAFSA or CSS Profile for merit aid.

If your student’s SAT scores are through the roof or they consistently receive top marks, definitely consider the possibility of merit aid to lessen the burden of college-related debt.  Just be aware of possible extra applications so they don’t miss out on the opportunity.

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning. For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar.

Photo Credit: Sharyn Morrow


Receiving Federal Financial Aid

Among the myriad of grants that students can apply for, the Federal Pell Grant is one type of federal financial aid college students should be aware of if their financial need is high. Unlike a loan, a grant does not need to be repaid.  This is one reason why grants are a much better long term option for students. This specific type of grant provides need-based income to low-income undergraduate students. No student should be denied the opportunity to go to college because of financial problems, and this grant allows students to access funds for college.

Federal Pell Grant Basic Information

The Federal Pell Grant is just one of the many types of federal financial aid available for college students. These grants are preferable for many students because:

  • They don’t need to be repaid.
  • The amount college students receive depends on their financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
  • The maximum Federal Pell Grant for the July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012 year was $5,550.
  • As of July 1, 2012, college students can only receive the Federal Pell Grant for 12 semesters.
  • If a college student’s parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, they may be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funds.

Federal Pell Grant Eligibility Requirements

Federal financial aid often has specific requirements that need to be met, and the Federal Pell Grant is no exception. College students need the following to be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. They must:

  • Be an undergraduate or vocational student enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a participating school.
  • Not have earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree.
  • Demonstrate financial need.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Be registered with Selective Service (if the student is male).
  • Complete the FAFSA and sign statements on the FAFSA that:
    • They are not in default on a federal student loan.
    • They will use federal financial aid only for educational purposes.

Want more information about federal financial aid options available for college students? Come to my next Tackling the Runaway Costs of College workshop to learn more!

This Money for College blog was written by Beatrice Schultz of Westface College Planning. For more Money for College tips, sign up for a free College Funding        workshop or webinar.

 


Gearing up for the FAFSA, Middle Class Scholarship & More

It’s December!  We reach the end of 2013 and what better time to get a head start on the FAFSA?

Because the application period for the FAFSA opens on January 1st 2014, the time sandwiched between the two holidays presents a fantastic opportunity to collect related documents.  This includes tax forms and bank statements, among others fully listed in this month’s FAFSA-themed Senior Scoop.

Waiting until the 11th hour poses the threat of obtaining very little student aid.  They cater to students in order of submission so it’s vital to apply as early as possible.

Middle class families may shy away from applying for the FAFSA because they believe they won’t qualify for any aid.  For these families, this month’s featured find is for you.  We indulge you on the requirements and details of the Middle Class Scholarship.  For the 2014-15 academic year, it has the potential to award aid to students of families with up to $150,000 of income.

Reserve a seat at a webinar or give me a call when you are ready to take your next step on the path to creating a clear college funding plan.  To avoid rushing or being shut out of opportunities, both financial and academic, having a plan is key!

If you have any questions, please feel free to join me on Tuesday, Dec. 17th at 12pm via Google Hangout, where I’ll be discussing tips on preparing for your FAFSA submission.  It’ll be a live video feed and allows you to ask questions throughout the broadcast.  Happy Holidays!

All the best,
Beatrice Schultz, CFP®
Westface College Planning
College Funding Specialist
650-587-1559

College Smart Radio CrestCollege Smart Radio:  Tackling the Runaway Costs of College
Tune in to 1220am KDOW – the Wall Street Business Network from 3:00pm-3:30pm every Saturday for my radio show, College Smart Radio – Tackling the Runaway Costs of College.  The show can be streamed live at www.KDOW.biz, too!

Curious what College Smart Radio covers?  Tune in Saturday, December 3rd when my guest Christine VanDeVelde, co-author of  “College Admission: From Application to Acceptance”, reveals insight on the seemingly impenetrable fortress of being accepted.  It’s not as impossible as many perceive.Listen in to the College Smart Radio podcast of a show last week when I spoke with guest Dr. Neal King.  He laid out the differences between non-profit and profit colleges, emphasizing which choice works in favor of your goals and financial benefit.

It’s all great information you won’t want to miss out on. Thanks for listening!

Girl laying head on booksFeatured Find: Middle Class Undergrads, Rejoice!
Thousands of middle class students suffer with a tremendous lack of financial aid simply because their household income lies above normal need-based aid.  For those of you in this category, prepare for some amazing news!  Governor Jerry Brown signed a California bill enacting the “Middle Class Scholarship” (MCS) program.It will help support undergraduate students with up to $150,000 in family income beginning the semester of 2014-15.  Otherwise, loans have been nearly inevitable, but the MCS will lend students within the middle class bracket more leeway.

Continue reading article here.

Upcoming “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” Webinars
Seating may be limited – Register to ensure your spot!

Most parents are not financially prepared to enter the most expensive time period of their lives, covering their child’s college education. Our 1-hour workshops provide steps you can take right now to assure you understand the cost of attendance and how you can afford college without jeopardizing your retirement.

Our next upcoming workshop is:

It’s reported that up to 70% of FAFSA submissions contain errors or remain incomplete.  This leads to delays and possibly refusal of obtaining student aid.  Don’t let yourself fall into this category!

FAFSA Teal LogoSenior Scoop: The 5 W’s to Buckling Down & Gearing Up for a Successful FAFSA
As we approach December, dressing Christmas trees with festive ornaments and enclosing presents in colorfully decorated wrapping paper, some muse about the upcoming year’s resolutions.

One in particular should rank high on your list, particularly for those orchestrating a smooth transition from high school to college: preparing for the FAFSA.

FAFSA?

While the majority of parents are overly aware of the FAFSA and its benefits, some are entirely new to the world of preparing for college. So, what is the FAFSA?

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) allows parents and students to submit a yearly application that leads to accessing and utilizing student aid money-grants, loans, and work-study, to name a few.

Continue reading Senior Scoop here.

Advice & Insight
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About Westface College Planning

If you are a typical parent with college bound students, you’re probably overwhelmed by all the research necessary to help your sons and daughters make the right choices and prevent overpaying for their education.

You are not alone!


Get the facts. Educate yourself to potentially save tens of thousands of dollars on a single college education. Parents of more than one child heading to college in the next few years, can save even more.

At Westface College Planning we work with families to help you plan for and navigate the “paying for college” process. We teach you how to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses, maximize financial aid eligibility, understand the best way to navigate through the college selection process and prioritize your sources of college funds to protect your life savings!

Sign up for a free workshop or webinar or call to schedule a complimentary college funding consultation today.

More information at westfacecollegeplanning.com.


SAT vs. ACT: Which Test is Right for You?

1. Which of the following should students focus on when preparing to apply for college?

  • A. SAT scores
  • B. ACT scores
  • C. Neither
  • D. It depends on the student!
Photo Credit: CaCollegePrep.com

ACT and/or SAT. It depends on the student.

When it comes to college admissions, many parents and students wonder if it’s best to focus on achieving a high ACT score or whether they should turn their focus to the SAT test. The answer is, D. It depends on the student. When it comes to the ACT vs. SAT, there are several factors to consider. Just make sure you check the requirements of all the schools you plan to apply to as some require one over the other.

Format: When it comes to the ACT vs. SAT, one distinguishing characteristic is the format. As the Princeton Review explains, “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.” Generally, the SAT tests logic, while the ACT tests knowledge. One way to find out which format might be better for your student is to have them take the practice tests during their sophomore year of high school; they cover very similar material in a similar style and are good indicators of how well your student will do on the SAT test or what they might receive as an ACT score.

Length: As New York Times columnist Michelle Slatalla asks, “How long can you sit without fidgeting?” The ACT is nearly an hour shorter than the SAT, so if your student has a hard time sitting still for long periods of time, it might be better for them to pass on the SAT test and focus on getting a higher ACT score. She goes on to share that those that have trouble processing information “may do better on the ACT…the SAT is more nuanced, puzzle like, trickier.”

Achievement: Every student is learns at a different pace and level. Some are more academically driven in class whereas others have better reasoning and logic skills. The SAT, traditionally a logic and reasoning based test, is suited for students with strong reasoning skills regardless of how well they do in class. The ACT however, being an academic test, is more catered towards academically driven students who tend to receive high marks on school exams.

Gender: For some reason, gender seems to play a role in the ACT vs. SAT debate as well. Slatalla explains, “Boys as a group do better on the SAT, according to data published by both testing companies.” Although this doesn’t mean every boy should take the SAT test and every girl should focus on achieving a higher ACT score, it is another factor to consider.

Ultimately, choosing the ACT vs. SAT really depends on the student. Peterson’s explains, “The vast majority of students perform comparably on both tests…however, if you’re short on time and money and want to put your efforts towards test prep for only one of the tests, your best bet is to take a few practice exams.”

Want to know more about whether your student should take the SAT test or focus on a higher ACT score? Westface College Planning can provide helpful resources when it comes to college admissions, financial aid and more. Contact us or reserve your seat for our next Tackling the Runaway Costs of College workshop!

This Money for College blog was written by Beatrice Schultz of Westface College Planning. For more Money for College tips, sign up for a free College Funding       workshop or webinar.

Photo Credit: CaCollegeprep.com

 


Keeping Community College in Mind

While researching all your college options, you should keep community college high on your list.

While researching all your college options, you should keep community college high on your list.

With high school graduation approaching, students are beginning to craft plans for their futures. While researching all your college options, you should keep community college high on your list. With the cost of higher education rising to exorbitant levels in the past few years, community college can be a great way to save money. However, there are many other reasons as to why going to a community college first could be the right step for your college career. Here are four reasons to consider attending a community college.

Find Your Career and Major: The current price of a state four-year institution is nearly triple that of a community college. Going to community college first can also give you the ability to figure out what you field you want to go into. Its common for college students to switch majors in the first two years of college, adding to the cost of tuition by having to take additional courses and/or delaying graduation in order to fulfill requirements for the new major. You can take general education classes at a community college and save a considerable amount of money while you are deciding which field will work best for you. By attending community college, it’s ok to not know which career one plans on pursuing after college. Students have the opportunity to figure out the right path for themselves, a virtue for many.

Save Money: Another way to save some cash by going to community college is living at home instead of living in the dorms. Though living at the dorms can be a great experience by giving you a taste of freedom, it’s expensive. You normally have a flat fee for the dorm cost each year and will most likely have to purchase a meal plan. If you live at home and go to community college, you get to save on these two expenses and eliminate a considerable amount of post college debt.

An Easier Transition: Besides the fact that the price of community college is much cheaper than a state school or private university, you’ll be saving more than just money. Going to a community college can be an easier transition from high school. Many students who attend university after high school have trouble keeping up with the academic pace and larger class sizes made up of hundreds of students. Most community campuses are small compared to universities, which mean that class sizes are typically smaller, providing more one-on-one time with professors and a more intimate learning environment.

Flexible Hours: If you’re a person who is looking to get your degree in addition to tackling a full time job, then community college is a great alternative to a four-year institution. Most community colleges offer a wider range of class times and because class sizes are smaller they are able to offer flexibility in their class schedules. This could be a great option for those who have a busy schedule outside of school.

College is a time for change and figuring out what you want to do, but you don’t have to waste money doing it. Making an informed decision with your money is the best strategy. Practicing fiscal responsibility now will ensure that you’re in a better position to take advantage of opportunities later.

This Money for College blog was written by Beatrice Schultz of Westface College Planning. For more Money for College tips, sign up for a free College Funding      workshop or webinar.

 Photo Credit: Eric E Johnson

 


Preparing for College: Your Freshman Year

 

Photo Credit: Edsortium.com

70% of High School graduates plan to attend college

Today, a record 20 million are expected to attend college this fall – that’s 70% of all high school graduates. This means that for students aspiring to attend elite colleges, competition is higher than ever. Ambitious high school students know how to prepare during their sophomore, junior, and senior years. Unfortunately, however, most seem to be completely in the dark on how to prepare during their freshman years.

The first year of high school is universally acknowledged as the easiest, but that doesn’t give you license to coast. Most high schools do not allow freshmen to take Advanced Placement, Accelerated, or Honors classes, so don’t worry if your GPA freshman year is unweighted. Instead, use your easy course load to keep your GPA up, and use the inevitable free time left over to participate in school activities like sports and extracurriculars.

Although colleges always look at a student’s GPA and SAT score first, extracurricular activities are important as well. Look into what your school’s strengths are and get involved with those activities in particular. For example, some schools have a strong Key Club (a club dedicated to community service), or Robotics Club. School involvement is a fundamental aspect on your college applications. Students are encouraged to start their own club in a subject that they are passionate about to demonstrate leadership skills and enhance their high school experience.

Freshman year is also an ideal year to complete the necessary community service hours in order to graduate. Make sure not to procrastinate on this – in order to go to college, you need to graduate first. Look into nonprofit organizations that reflect what you’re passionate about, or your future career goals. For example, if you’re interested in the medical profession, volunteer in a hospital (but those spots go fast, so apply as soon as possible). A good place to start is www.volunteermatch.org. Remember, this is important not only for college applications – if you plan on applying for a job or an internship later, you can put this volunteering job on your resumé.

If you’re thinking about preparing for the SAT 1 Reasoning Test freshman year, don’t. The test is designed for juniors and seniors. If you start prepping now, you’ll forget everything by the time the test actually does roll around. Don’t waste time and energy on preparing for the SAT freshman year, instead find what you’re passionate about and explore your extracurricular options.

Another looming fear when it comes to college is the rising costs of tuition. How can your family begin preparing now? Come to my next College Funding Workshop! I’ll provide steps you can take right now to start planning ahead.

Remember not to overburden yourself by worrying too much about college. You have three years to go, and if all you’re focused on is getting into college the entire time, you’ll not only regret it, but also stress yourself out.

This Money for College blog was written by Beatrice Schultz of Westface College Planning. For more Money for College tips, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar.

Photo Credit: Edsortium.com


Does what you HAVE matter more than who you ARE?

Mother’s Day, 2012

For many years, Doug and I told our son that if he didn’t have a college degree and a successful career, hot chicks weren’t going to date him; basically we were telling him that an achievement mattered more than who he is. We researched pay grades and scoffed at his desire for a career in the military, wondering, How would he be able to afford to live on this measly salary?

We pushed him in directions he excelled, like athletics, sales or public relations, but none of those things interested him. Instead Trace went to an Automotive Trade School because he kind of liked working on cars. Once he got there, he discovered that kind of liking something didn’t mean he wanted to do it the rest of his life, so he enlisted in the Marines. He is currently in Boot Camp (Recruit Training), working harder than ever before, and looking at his future with a high level of excitement.

He will work it out, supporting himself on the salary he will earn, which will be yet another Life Lesson to make him into the responsible and mature young man he aims to be.

Am I HAPPY that this is the direction in which my precious, only child has gone????? Oh, HELL No!

Am I HAPPY that my son will live life well, doing what he has wanted to do since he was just three years old?

YUPPPP


The ‘Why’ of GiveTeens20.org

My son and his friends graduated from High School in June, 2011.

During the years before graduation, I‘d ask Trace’s friends about their post-high school plans. Not surprisingly, some had chosen a path and others were still waiting for that directional lightning bolt to hit.

 

 

I began volunteer teaching at the local High School in 2006, working with the students to analyze their:

  • Vocational Interests (what you do when nobody is telling you what to do) and their
  • Non-Negotiables (what you will not live with, and what you will not live without). (See ‘Self Awareness’ link at GiveTeens20.org)

Once a path (or 2 or 3) have been chosen, interview a person working in the career that you are interested in. Ask them:

  • What made you choose this career path?
  • How did you get here? (Education/Experience)
  • What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone who wants your job?

GiveTeens20® is a tool that will help determine directional options for your future AND provide filmed interviews for your research.

Take the time to assess yourself then pick some possible career fields. Click around the Interviews and see what it is going to take to operate within those fields.

Do not let anybody tell you that you won’t be able to do something that you have a desire to do.

You just have to go for it!