Huntington Connects Connecting you to the latest news, tips and academic resources Thu, 02 Apr 2020 06:03:06 -0400 Zend_Feed_Writer 1.12.17dev (http://framework.zend.com) https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog rss@huntingtonhelps.com (Huntington Learning Center) Huntington Learning Center Preparing Your Child for Learning at Home With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak causing schools across the nation to close temporarily, it’s probably on your mind: how will your child learn going forward? 

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Wed, 18 Mar 2020 17:27:51 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/preparing-for-learning-at-home https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/preparing-for-learning-at-home Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak causing schools across the nation to close temporarily, it’s probably on your mind: how will your child learn going forward? 

It’s too early to tell whether school districts will transition their students to at-home, online learning for a couple of weeks or for the rest of the school year. However, there is plenty that you as a parent can do to prepare your child for the impending change. Here are several tips: 

  • Address the state of affairs. By no means should you scare your child with statistics and charts you’ve seen on the news, but remind them why schools have closed for the time being and what this might mean for your family. Answer your child’s questions the best you can about how your workplace is affected and what school might look like going forward.
  • Prepare your child for how school might be different. If your school district has not already worked up plans for distance, home-based digital learning, it likely will soon. Talk with your child about what that might look like, should your child need to learn from home for an extended period of time. You’ll learn more soon, but it might involve videos, a digital learning platform, checking in with teachers multiple times a day, and more.
  • Talk logistics. Online learning might sound simple, but if your child is home while you also work from home, you’ll need to discuss and address important things as a family, such as:
    • Where your child/children will do schoolwork
    • The time of day that your child/children should do their schoolwork
    • Screen/technology time rules to keep your child/children on task
    • Whether you have the tools you’ll need to support more than one child in the home (laptops and work space)
    • Boundaries for the online school day that are similar to the rules set by your school, such as no phone usage while doing schoolwork 

Last but not least, remind your child that this is all new, and it’s okay if it takes some time to get comfortable. The coronavirus epidemic is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It induces anxiety for many of us, and it might be stressful for your child. They will need to grow accustomed to the dramatic shifts that have taken place in such a short amount of time. 

Stay safe as a family and do your best to keep in mind that your child will learn a lot from this time – more than you realize. Together, you will get through it alongside your community, your child’s teachers, and classmates. If we at Huntington can help your child during this time, call us at 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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Five Interesting Careers That Use Math When it comes to your teen choosing a college major, it is always a great idea to start with his or her academic strengths and interests. Here are five careers that use math to introduce to your teen to get those wheels turning.

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Mon, 16 Mar 2020 08:12:14 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/interesting-math-careers https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/interesting-math-careers Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center When it comes to your teen choosing a college major, it is always a great idea to start with his or her academic strengths and interests. 

Maybe you have a teen who enjoys math and seems well equipped for majors in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. That’s good news, but what if your teen cringes at the suggestion that he or she become an engineer, mathematician or math teacher? 

The best thing you can do is help your teen broaden the horizons and learn about other jobs that use math but aren’t as commonly discussed. After all, there are many careers where math is important, and your teen might not have considered them before—or even know about them. Here are five careers that use math to introduce to your teen to get those wheels turning: 

  1. Meteorologist – You’ve seen meteorologists on the nightly news for weather forecast reports, but there are also job options in research (working for government agencies, the National Weather Service or NASA, for example) and environmental arenas. Meteorologists often study topics like global warming, the atmosphere and ozone depletion. They use math every day to analyze and predict weather patterns and more. 
  1. Architect – A career in architecture blends math, problem-solving and creativity. Architects design buildings and spaces, using geometry and math to calculate different measurements. Math skills are also important when working with engineers to ensure buildings are properly constructed to bare loads and meet safety requirements. 
  1. Financial Planner – Maybe your teen loves those numbers and is excited by the concept of earning and saving money. If so, a career in something like banking or financial planning could be a lot of fun. Financial planning involves using math to help people determine how much money to save and allocate towards various financial buckets in their lives. The job involves creating models, using projections, analyzing numbers, budgeting and other similar duties. 
  1. Actuary – Actuaries use math and statistics to analyze risks and probabilities in a range of industries, from banking to healthcare, from insurance to the automobile industry. If your teen likes the idea of working with numbers, analyzing those numbers to identify trends and patterns, and developing models and databases, this career could be a great fit. 
  1. Cryptologist – In today’s digital world, cybersecurity is critical for many types of companies and organizations. Cryptographers and cryptanalysts create security systems that protect and encrypt sensitive information. These professionals are important for national security and safeguarding information in industries like finance and telecommunication. Math is essential in this career, as these professionals develop mathematical models as part of their jobs. 

The next time your math-loving teen says he or she does not want to become a math teacher or an engineer, point him or her toward one of the other options out there. There are many interesting and rewarding careers that use math. 

Here’s another scenario to consider: your teen is intrigued by a career that uses math but struggles with the subject. Don’t stand by and let your teen give up on a potentially great college and career path. Contact Huntington. We’ll work one on one with your teen to identify what skills he or she is missing and create a customized program of instruction. Then, we’ll help your teen improve those math skills and get ready for the math that awaits him or her in college and beyond.

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Reality of College Admissions Competitiveness Here are a few interesting facts from the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2019 State of College Admission report to help you understand college selectivity and how it affects your teen.

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Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:06:53 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-admissions-competativeness-2020 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-admissions-competativeness-2020 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center How hard is it really to get into college? The answer: it depends. There are schools that are known for being much more selective and schools that are more accepting of all kinds of applicants.

Here are a few interesting facts from the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2019 State of College Admission report to help you understand college selectivity and how it affects your teen:

  • Same top factors for admission of first-time freshmen – Admission officers continue to care about the same things they have cared about for the last 20 years. The top factors for admission decisions are overall high school GPA, grades in college preparatory classes, strength of curriculum and admission test scores.
  • Admission factors vary depending on college type. While the top four factors mentioned above were reported by ALL types of institutions, institutional characteristics do impact those factors:
    • Private colleges placed more importance on the essay/writing sample, interview, counselor/teacher recommendations, demonstrated interest, extracurricular activities and work.
    • Public colleges valued admission test scores more highly than private institutions.
    • Smaller colleges gave more weight to the interview, teacher and counselor recommendations, and demonstrated interest.
    • Larger colleges tended to place more value on admission test scores.
  • More applications – The number of applications from first-time freshmen rose between 2017 and 2018. As shared in the State of College Admission report (and reported by the Higher Education Research Institute’s The American Freshman report series), 36% of first-time freshmen applied to seven or more colleges during the fall 2017 admission cycle.
  • Many students apply to selective schools – The most selective four-year colleges—those accepting less than half of all applicants—received 37% of all fall 2016 applications but enrolled only 21% of first-time undergraduate students. About 65% of first-time, full-time freshmen were enrolled in institutions with selectivity rates (the percentage of applicants offered admission) between 50% and 85%.
  • Increased average acceptance rate – If this all sounds daunting, here’s some good news: most schools select most applicants. Average selectivity rate was 66.7% for fall 2017 (the percentage of applications offered admission at all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S.). This is up from 63.9% in fall 2012.

Bottom line: yes, there are certain colleges and universities that are hard to get into. The eight schools that make up the Ivy League are notorious for their low acceptance rates as are other non-Ivy schools such as Duke, Stanford and Vanderbilt. But more students are applying to college (and more schools per applicant). This impacts institutions’ yield—meaning, the percentage of students that enroll out of those admitted.

If your teen is starting to think about college, remind him or her that fit is most important of all. Your teen should focus on finding the school that feels right where he or she can succeed. Colleges do not accept everyone—that is a reality. But if your teen works hard in school and puts forth effort to prove that to the schools to which he or she applies, those chances of acceptance are a lot higher.

If your teen needs help getting the grades up or with the college application process, call Huntington.

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Four Note-Taking Methods If note-taking isn’t a skill your teen possesses today, it’s critical that he or she develops it before heading off to college. Note-taking helps your teen retain information as he or she learns it and provides a useful reference for studying for tests.

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Sun, 15 Mar 2020 13:46:12 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/four-not-taking-methods https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/four-not-taking-methods Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center If note-taking isn’t a skill your teen possesses today, it’s critical that he or she develops it before heading off to college. Note-taking helps your teen retain information as he or she learns it and provides a useful reference for studying for tests. It promotes active listening and engaged reading. 

There are many types of methods, from the simplest to the more complex. Here are several options with which your teen should become familiar: 

  1. Cornell note-taking – The Cornell note-taking method has students set up a page with a left-hand column for cues/questions, a right-hand column for notes and a bottom summary. The notes column is where your teen should write down what the teacher says in class and/or puts on the board (key ideas and essential details to remember later). The cues column is where your teen should jot down questions or list terms that are answered/defined in the notes column. 
  1. Outline method – Students who have written essays or reports probably know quite a bit already about outlining. The outlining note-taking method has students divide notes into main topics, subtopics and key points for each of those topics. Your teen should start notes with main topics and indent rows underneath for corresponding subtopics and key facts. Like this: 

Main topic

                Subtopic

                                Key idea 1

                                Key idea 2

  1. Concept mapping – Students who are visual learners might like the concept mapping method of taking notes. Put simply, key concepts and ideas are captured in boxes or circles and related ideas are connected with lines. A larger box in the center of a page might contain the main idea of the notes on the page, while smaller, connected boxes could include the topics and subtopics. 
  1. Charting method – Charting can be especially useful when students are taking notes while reading. It involves creating labeled columns—for example, equation, when to use and example—and rows to fill out those columns. The result is a set of notes that look like a table, making this method ideal for recording lots of information and making it easy to review later in a more succinct way. 

Whatever method of note-taking your teen uses, the same general rules apply: 

  1. Do not write down every word that the teacher says.
  2. Organize notes while writing them (or clean them up after class if needed).
  3. Do not forgo listening for taking detailed notes (and instead, take notes on the important things, not everything).
  4. Call out key ideas, questions and terms/concepts by boxing them, putting them in their own column or using some other approach. 

Your teen’s overall goal should be to translate what teachers cover in class (and what he or she reads in textbooks or online) into useful notes that are understandable. Having clear, clean notes will help your teen study effectively for exams and quizzes and keep up in class. Your teen can review those notes before each new class period to make sure he or she is familiar with significant concepts and can answer any important questions. 

Note-taking does not come easily to all students. If your teen needs help becoming a better notetaker and student, contact Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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What Colleges Expect from High School Seniors It’s important for your teen to think not just about what to share with the colleges to which he or she wants to apply, but what those colleges are seeking from the high school seniors in their applicant pool. 

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Fri, 21 Feb 2020 08:59:04 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-expectations-for-high-school-seniors https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-expectations-for-high-school-seniors Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Everything has led to this: your teen is in the home stretch of high school and starting to think about the future—specifically college. Perhaps your teen has already begun the college research and application process, or maybe you’re just getting started. Either way, it’s important for your teen to think not just about what to share with the colleges to which he or she wants to apply, but what those colleges are seeking from the high school seniors in their applicant pool. 

To guide your teen along this journey, here are three things that colleges expect from high school seniors: 

  1. Effort - When your teen reviews the application requirements on colleges’ websites, chances are he or she will notice similar factors that colleges have at the top of their list of the most important: GPA, grades, rigorous classes, admission test scores, etc. Put simply, colleges want to see that students have given high school their all. They are looking for sincere effort, perseverance through challenging situations in classes, and a commitment to doing their best in school. 
  1. Self-discipline - By the time your teen is a college freshman, it is assumed that he or she is independent and has a strong work ethic. This will be evident in his or her grades and academic performance, but you should also keep an eye on your teen’s study habits and organizational skills. Time management is absolutely critical in college. You will not be around to make sure your teen studies and goes to class. Self-discipline is a must-have. 
  1. Promise - Yes, grades, strength of high school curriculum, and SAT/ACT scores carry more weight than anything else on an application, but colleges especially want to see students’ potential and promise. What did your teen do during his or her four years of high school to be better and make an impact on others? Was your teen a leader? Did he or she persevere in spite of unforeseen and uncontrollable challenges? The more your teen can show that he or she has a bright future ahead and will add value to any campus culture, the better. 

Of course, it is important for your teen to thoroughly read every college’s admissions website to make sure he or she is clear on what that college is looking for. There are many other aspects to the college application that matter as well, including a resume of extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations, counselor recommendations, and the admission essay. 

There’s no doubt that it can be overwhelming to apply to college. If your teen needs support or help or you are concerned that he or she might not possess all of the skills that are essential for college, call Huntington. We work with high school students every day to help them perform their best and get prepared to succeed in college, and we will to do the same for your teen.

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Big Changes Coming to the ACT in September 2020 Beginning September 2020, the ACT will offer students more choices in not only how they take the exam, will help ensure that their scores more accurately reflect their academic knowledge, effort and future potential. Here are some changes taking place.

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Wed, 19 Feb 2020 14:09:18 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/act-test-changes-2020 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/act-test-changes-2020 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center You might have heard about the changes coming to the ACT in September 2020. The ACT will offer students more choices and help ensure that ACT test scores reflect students’ academic knowledge, effort and future potential. Here is an overview of what you and your teen can expect:

  • Section retesting – No longer will it be “all or nothing” when it comes to retaking the ACT (meaning, if your teen did well on three of the four sections but would like to increase his or her English section score, currently your teen must retake the entire ACT). Students will be able to retake one or more section(s) of the ACT to improve their scores. Keep in mind:
    • This is available to all students who have taken the full ACT test, offered seven times a year on the same date as the national ACT test.
    • Students can take up to three retests at a time, as many times as they like.
    • Section retests are offered online only and are identical in content and follow the same format as the full ACT test.
  • Superscoring – Students will now be able to send their best ACT test results to colleges combined as one “superscore,” which shows the highest possible composite score across multiple tests and section retests. ACT calculates the average of the four best subject scores from each ACT attempt. Example:
    • Your teen received the following scores on two different test dates:

 

Test date

English

Math

Reading

Science

Combined

June

28

19

21

24

23

September

24

20

22

20

22

           

The ACT score report will include your teen’s best-combined score of:

English

Math

Reading

Science

Combined

28

20

22

24

24

 

  • Faster results – Students can choose between online and paper testing. Those who choose the online method will get the results quicker—as early as two business days after the test date—allowing them to make faster decisions about retesting. The ACT organization contends that today’s students are more comfortable with online testing, but has no plans to do away with paper-and-pencil testing for those who prefer it.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • These changes begin with the September 2020 test.
  • Colleges have their own policies for admission and might only accept composite scores, not superscores. However, ACT will still supply colleges at least one full composite score with each superscore as well as the scores from the tests that are part of the superscore composite.
  • Pricing for individual section retests has not yet been announced but will be less than taking the entire test.
  • Students who take the ACT on a school day through their district or state can retest at an ACT test center on national test dates (but section retesting will not be available as part of ACT’s state and district testing programming just yet).
  • Starting in July, students who register for the ACT test in September 2020 will see which centers offer the ACT test online.
  • Online testing is available at ACT testing centers.

Huntington is ready to help your teen earn his or her best score on the ACT and make getting into that dream college a reality. Contact us at 1-800 CAN LEARN to learn more about our individualized, flexible ACT prep programs.

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Eight Tips for Building Your High School Student’s Critical Thinking Skills There are many skills your teen will need in college but one of the most important is critical thinking. As a parent, what can you do to build your teen’s critical thinking skills and help him or her get ready for college?

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Wed, 19 Feb 2020 13:45:29 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/critical-thinking-skill-building https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/critical-thinking-skill-building Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center There are many skills your teen will need in college but one of the most important is critical thinking. College professors encourage students to challenge assumptions and not just memorize information. They expect students to analyze, reflect and ask questions. 

As a parent, what can you do to build your teen’s critical thinking skills and help him or her get ready for college? Here are eight tips: 

  1. Ask your teen’s opinion. Whether you discuss the news or the latest movie you’ve watched together, invite your teen to share ideas. Then, when your teen communicates his or her point of view, talk about the “why” behind them.
  2. Let your teen solve problems. Resist the urge to step in and save the day when your teen can’t find something or is struggling with an assignment. Your teen experiences significant growth by figuring out the steps required to deal with adversity, major or minor.
  3. Talk about books and other reading material. If you hit a wall bringing up real-world or personal topics, try discussing what your teen is reading. Ask about the story, your teen’s favorite and least favorite characters (and why), and what your teen predicts is going to happen at different parts of the story.
  4. Teach your teen to take new perspectives. In everyday life, encourage your teen to think about things from his or her perspective as well as the perspective of others. Ask how those viewpoints differ and why your teen thinks so.
  5. Encourage your teen to dig deeper. In every situation, there is the information in front of us and the information one must either assume or determine (from further research or inferences). Instill in your teen a sense of inquisitiveness. Remind your teen not to accept everything as fact, but rather, investigate and think independently.
  6. Talk about the application of concepts. As your teen nears college, he or she is probably thinking about majors and careers. Point out how different subjects and concepts are used in life and in different kinds of jobs.
  7. Have your teen show you. Put your teen in the teacher’s seat and invite him or her to explain to you how he or she approached that math homework or opinion essay. Ask thoughtful questions that require your teen to articulate ideas and methods clearly.
  8. Talk through failures. As mentioned earlier, it is important for your teen to learn to solve problems independently. When your teen does struggle or fail, however, you can help reinforce valuable lessons by asking good questions, such as:
    • What happened?
    • Why did this occur? 
    • What were the consequences of your action or inaction?
    • If you could redo the situation what would you do differently? 
    • What did you learn from this?

No matter what career path your teen chooses, the ability to think deeply and critically is essential. Your teen’s teachers continuously promote this, but there’s a lot you can do at home as well to support their efforts. As a critical thinker, your teen will be better equipped to succeed in life far beyond high school and college.

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Four Important Considerations for Teens When Choosing College Majors Whether your teen has been planning their career since fourth grade or your high school junior is just beginning to review their options, the college major decision is a big one, and your teen could surely use some guidance.

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Fri, 31 Jan 2020 15:42:38 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/considerations-when-choosing-college-majors https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/considerations-when-choosing-college-majors Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Maybe your teen has been planning on a particular career since fourth grade. Maybe your high school junior is just now starting to contemplate the future. Or perhaps your teen has a few ideas of possible college majors and hasn’t yet decided which one to go with. 

The college major decision is a big one, and your teen could surely use some guidance. Here are four considerations for your teen to keep in mind: 

  1. Interests – Make sure your teen thinks about his or her interests. Maybe that’s being outside, working with children, helping others or working with numbers. Encourage your teen to talk with adult family friends and neighbors about what they do, and to start paying attention to the different types of fields and careers out there. It is fine for your teen to go to college with several ideas in mind, but it’s also good to start exploring fields and job duties that sound enjoyable and interesting. 
  1. Academic strengths – Your teen needs to do some research about the types of classes that different majors will require. If medicine appeals but science has never been your teen’s best subject, it might not be a great choice. Struggling through required courses could lead to a difficult college experience. That said, academic strengths alone shouldn’t drive your teen’s choice in major—and your teen should keep an open mind. Perhaps your strong math student has no interest in majoring in math. That doesn’t mean other math-related or math-adjacent disciplines aren’t worth a look, like medicine, healthcare, engineering or architecture. 
  1. Soft skills – Every job is different, and there’s so much more to a career than the day-to-day job duties. Your teen would be wise to reflect on what he or she is skilled at other than school subjects. For example, your teen might be great with people, an excellent communicator, a leader who is skilled at taking charge or an analytical thinker. Similarly, your teen needs to acknowledge that there are skills he or she doesn’t have or wish to strengthen. Someone who is people-driven and team-oriented, for example, might not be a good fit for an isolated job. 
  1. Stability – Salary matters, but stability matters more. Is projected demand for the fields and jobs in which your teen is interested strong? Realistically, most teens probably cannot visualize life 10-20 years after college, but they might one day have children, own homes and have a variety of financial responsibilities. It is smart to research the jobs for which each major will prepare your teen (and the career trajectory of those jobs) and how easily your teen will be able to support him or herself. 

Despite all of this effort, your teen might go off to college without a clear plan. Don’t worry—the first year of college consists largely of general education classes and lots of opportunities to explore. It’s still worthwhile to think about now, but there's no reason to push your teen into something that he or she will regret or end up changing later. 

This is your teen’s future, and the decision deserves plenty of attention. Open the lines of communication with your teen about college majors sooner than later. You’ll be glad you did.

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Types of Writing Your Teen Needs to Learn Learning to write well is an essential skill that your teen will use just about every day in high school. As teens prepare themselves for college-level academics, they must be proficient and versatile writers, able to convey their ideas and arguments clearly and coherently.

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Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:59:45 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/types-of-writing-your-teen-needs-to-learn-2020 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/types-of-writing-your-teen-needs-to-learn-2020 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Learning to write well is an essential skill that your teen will use just about every day in high school. Most subjects incorporate writing into their curriculum, and all teachers have the expectation that students are adept at communicating this way. 

As teens prepare themselves for college-level academics, they must be proficient and versatile writers, able to convey their ideas and arguments clearly and coherently. But different assignments and projects call for different kinds of writing. Here are a few types your teen must master during in high school: 

  • Essays – The essay is very common in high school. Essays require students to analyze, speculate or interpret something from their own perspective. Depending on the goal, high school teachers assign a variety of essay types: expository, compare and contrast, persuasive and descriptive, to name a few. No matter the type of essay, your teen should be comfortable planning, writing, editing and revising his or her work by introducing and developing a topic and making any claims or opinions clear and compelling. Your teen must be able to establish the desired tone and bolster any claims with evidence and good reasoning. 
  • Fiction and nonfiction stories – Storytelling is another type of writing that your teen will learn in high school and something that will come up on those college admissions essays. Narrative techniques will help your teen paint a picture, introduce and develop characters and/or the setting, and convey concrete and abstract details to push a plot (or nonfiction story) forward. This kind of writing takes creativity and a lot of planning to bring words to life. Sensory language and the little details can make a tremendous difference in building tension, interest and/or excitement. 
  • Informative writing – With informative or explanatory writing, students introduce a topic, offer facts and examples, and incorporate details. Put simply, this type of writing is all about explaining something clearly (e.g. a complex concept) or answering a factual question. Your teen will be asked frequently throughout high school to prove his or her knowledge about different subjects in this type of format—in longer report form or via shorter responses. 
  • Project reports – The main purpose of a project report is to share research on an assigned topic. Research papers become especially important (and more common) in college. That said, your teen might have projects arise throughout high school wherein he or she is asked to research a topic, synthesize information and present it in the form of a cohesive, coherent report. 

Of course, this is just a sample of the kinds of writing that your teen will be exposed to in high school. There are also other types like reflective journal writing, book or story reports, lab reports in science classes, and more. Bottom line: knowing how to write effectively is absolutely critical in high school—and something that your teen must practice. 

The reality is that writing does not come easily to all students. If your teen struggles with it, contact Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We will assess your teen’s writing skills, identify what building blocks he or she is missing, and develop an individualized plan of instruction to become a stronger writer. The sooner your teen masters this skill, the easier high school course work will be—and the more prepared your teen will be for college.

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How to Get Teens to Read There are lots of reasons teens stop reading as much as they did at a younger age. How can you encourage your teen to read during middle and high school (and beyond)? Here are a few tips.

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Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:53:47 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-get-teens-to-read https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-get-teens-to-read Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center There are lots of reasons teens stop reading as much as they did at a younger age. Nightly reading is often assigned by elementary teachers as homework, and many parents read to their children during those years. This changes in middle school, however, when it is assumed that students are independent readers who need to read to learn—and not the other way around. Also, some teens never have grasped reading well, and would much rather do other things. 

How can you encourage your teen to read during middle and high school (and beyond)? Here are a few tips to help your teen get into (or back into) reading

  • Choose to read yourself. It can be hard to get teens off their smartphones, where the lure of instant access to games, social media and the internet is ever-present. If you’re always scrolling through your phone, however, it’s going to be hard to convince your teen that he or she should not. Set the phone down, pick up something to read and let your teen see you doing so. 
  • Have your teen read to younger siblings. The benefits of reading aloud are well documented, both for the reader and the person listening. If your teen has younger brothers and/or sisters who are learning to read, ask him or her to do the out-loud reading sometimes. 
  • Visit the library and the bookstore. Continue to make regular library visits part of your family routine, and have your teen check out events and clubs that the library has going on. Talk about new releases that interest you and books that you’ve treasured, and reserve them for checkout. Give books as gifts. 
  • Try different genres and styles. Any reading is good reading. If your teen doesn’t gravitate toward nonfiction, how about fiction? If novels aren’t capturing his or her interest, suggest comic books or graphic novels. Get the guidance of a librarian or bookstore employee, who are skilled at enticing readers of all ages with good book choices. 
  • Pick a family book to read. This works well at any age, but reading a book with your teen could give you something to talk about and bond over—and why not make those chats into something fun like a coffee outing, a walk or a hike? 
  • Correct any problems. If reading is overly challenging for your teen, chances are, he or she will not choose to do it during any free time. Talk with teachers and get your teen the individualized assistance necessary to help him or her acquire and strengthen those reading building blocks. When reading becomes easier, your other efforts to promote it will be more successful. 
  • Don’t force it. Be encouraging, but don’t panic if your teen isn’t a voracious reader. Many teens are busy, focusing on school, extracurricular activities and their social lives. Reading might temporarily take a backseat, but if you show your teen through your actions that reading has so much to offer, he or she might come back around later on. 

With so many other options competing for their time, many teens don’t continue reading on their own. However, reading is integral to learning and will always be important while your teen is a student—plus, it is an activity that can bring your teen happiness for the rest of his or her life. Be persistent and patient with your support, which will make a difference in getting your teen to choose reading as an enjoyable pastime.

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Timeline of Changes to the SAT and ACT Have you ever wondered where the SAT and ACT tests came from? Or how long they’ve been used by U.S. colleges and universities to evaluate students for admission? 

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Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:20:53 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/timeline-of-changes-to-the-sat-and-act-2020 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/timeline-of-changes-to-the-sat-and-act-2020 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Have you ever wondered where the SAT and ACT tests came from? Or how long they’ve been used by U.S. colleges and universities to evaluate students for admission? Here’s a quick overview of the history of both exams:

The SAT

  • 1900 – The College Entrance Examination Board (today simply the College Board), a group of 12 colleges and universities, was formed to simplify the application process for students and college admission offices and administer annual exams to be used for college entrance evaluation.
  • 1901 – The first College Boards were administered in June at 67 U.S. locations and two European locations. Most test takers were from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and more than one-third came from private schools, more than one-fourth came from public high schools and the remaining 13% were from other institutions.
  • 1923 – Carl Brigham published a book called A Study of American Intelligence, which concluded that American education was on the decline. He was hired to create an exam for Princeton University freshmen and Cooper Union, a New York technical College. The College Board subsequently hired Brigham to develop a test that could be used by many schools, which ultimately became the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
  • 1926 – The SAT was administered to high school students for the first time and replaced the College Board exam.
  • 1934 – Harvard University began requiring all candidates for admission to take the SAT.
  • 1947 – Educational Testing Service, a nonprofit organization, was founded by the College Board, the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to take over testing activities for those organization’s exams, including the SAT, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and others.
  • 1994 – The SAT went through a major update, altering the verbal section, increasing passage-based reading sections and renaming a section Critical Reading. The Math section was also updated to include free-response questions and allow calculator use.
  • 2005 – The College Board revised the SAT to rename the Verbal Reasoning section as the Critical Reading section and add a Writing section. The score scale of the new SAT became 600-2400 (with three sections: Critical Reading, Math and Writing).
  • 2014 – The College Board announced plans to overhaul the SAT, the biggest changes since its 2005 update. The test went back to a 1600 scale (200-800 for math, 200-800 for reading), the essay became optional, a no-penalty-for-wrong answers policy was implemented, and the testing of obscure vocabulary words was removed, among other changes.
  • 2016 – The newly revised SAT was administered for the first time in March.

The ACT

  • 1959 – The American College Testing Program was formed to administer the ACT Assessment, which was designed to help students make better decisions about which colleges to attend and which programs to study, and provide information helpful to colleges in the process of admitting students. The exam was administered for the first time in November, with more than 75,000 students taking the exam.
  • 1989 – ACT introduced a revised exam, replacing the Social Studies section with a Reading section and renaming the Natural Science section as Science. Updates to the Math and English sections were also made and the overall ACT became longer.
  • 2015 – ACT changed its scoring methodology. Students began receiving four new subscores for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), English language arts, career readiness and text complexity. In addition, the optional ACT Writing test changed, giving test-takers three perspectives on a topic and inviting analysis of those three perspectives.
  • 2019 – ACT announced that in 2020, students would be able to test online during national ACT test dates, take single section retests, and report their best individual section scores, also known as superscoring.

Of course, both the SAT and ACT have gone through many other changes through the years: splitting into different sections, addition/removal of various content, scoring methodology changes and more.

If you have a teen preparing to apply to colleges, we’ll help you learn everything you and your teen need to know about the SAT and ACT, including how to prepare effectively. Learn more about the current iterations of the SAT and ACT by contacting Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.

History of ACT exam (ACT.org)

ACT timeline

History of the SAT (PBS.org)

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Six Life Lessons Teens Can Learn from High School High school is a period of tremendous growth for teens. They build upon the foundation of middle school and move toward college and adulthood, gaining academic and non-academic aptitudes that help them be successful and independent.

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Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:13:49 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/lessons-learned-in-high-school-2020 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/lessons-learned-in-high-school-2020 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center High school is a period of tremendous growth for teens. They build upon the foundation of middle school and move toward college and adulthood, gaining academic and non-academic aptitudes that help them be successful and independent.

There are plenty of academic-focused skills teens will acquire and strengthen throughout high school—time management, prioritization and effective study skills, to name a few—but here are six life lessons that teens will hopefully learn during their time as high school students:

  1. Hard work is always worth it. Whether your teen wants to make the tennis team or earn all As, he or she will have to work hard. The dedication required to achieve a goal is incredibly valuable in and of itself. Good things come to those who put in the effort, and there is growth in the journey.
  2. A growth mindset is the best kind of mindset. In high school, teachers insist that students think critically when attempts to solve problems aren’t successful. They want them to keep trying new ideas, and they encourage taking risks and making mistakes so students can learn. Your teen will find that high school offers an opportunity to cultivate a growth mindset. There’s so much to learn in life. If your teen embraces this belief, he or she is going to gain a lot from high school and college.
  3. Character matters. High school is a time when children mature into young adults—and it’s important for them to decide who they want to be. Students with good character are dependable, ethical and own their mistakes. Character will help your teen build relationships, achieve his or her goals, lead others and live a meaningful life.
  4. It pays to get along with people. High schools are usually larger than middle schools, bringing together a wide variety of personality types. Couple this with an environment that pushes more autonomy and it becomes very apparent how essential it is that teens learn to work effectively with others. The ability to listen to and respect others’ opinions will serve your teen well in high school (and far beyond).
  5. Things change. Adaptability is one of the keys to happiness. In high school, friendships change, your teen’s passions and interests change, and circumstances change. This can be difficult to handle, but your teen will be better off if he or she learns to accept this fact and be flexible throughout life.
  6. Your teen is in charge. One of the most important takeaways from high school is that life is what we make it. Teach your teen to take control of his or her future and learn from successes and failures equally. What happens to each of us isn’t all about luck—it’s about effort, planning and a good attitude.

As your teen navigates high school’s ups and downs, be there for support. Remember that this period of life, while exciting and fun, can also be scary, overwhelming and tumultuous. Your teen, like all teens, will experience highs and lows and a range of emotions. Assure your teen that he or she isn’t in it alone and that with the right outlook, there is a great deal to be learned during the four years of high school.

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Your Teen’s Holiday Ready-for-College Checklist  Holiday break is a great time to make sure your teens are ready to attack the home stretch of high school in order to get ready for college. Here are a few tips on how your college-bound teen can make the most of this holiday break. 

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Tue, 31 Dec 2019 10:41:59 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/your-teens-holiday-ready-for-college-checklist https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/your-teens-holiday-ready-for-college-checklist Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Parents of high school juniors and seniors, listen up. Holiday break is a great time to make sure your teens are ready to attack the home stretch of high school in order to get ready for college. Here are a few tips on how your college-bound teen can make the most of this holiday break:

  • Visit college campuses. Juniors and even undecided seniors could take a couple of days to visit any colleges or universities in their state—day trips or afternoon visits (depending on the distance). Classes might not be in session, but you and your teen can still take a self-tour of campus and the town and visit with any personnel that are available (e.g. financial aid).
  • Register for the next SAT/ACT. The next 2020 SAT dates are March 14, May 2 and June 6 and the next 2020 ACT dates are February 8, April 4, June 13 and July 18. There’s still plenty of time for your junior to prepare effectively for the next exam if he or she is trying to earn the best possible score before starting those senior year applications. Seniors applying to schools with March or later application deadlines could retake the ACT one last time in February to raise that score.
  • Take an SAT/ACT prep course refresher. With the earliest SAT/ACT date being February, December is the perfect chance for your teen to dedicate some time to studying. Have your teen call Huntington to explore our three levels of exam prep programs: premier, 32-hour and 14-hour. He or she could even start the work over break when things aren’t as frenzied.
  • Work on college applications. Have your senior pay attention to those college application deadlines—some might be as early as January. Holiday break is a great chance for them to complete all application requirements, fine-tune those application essays and make sure all sections of their applications are complete or close.
  • Follow up on recommendation letters. Your senior might have already requested recommendation letters from a teacher or guidance counselor, but with some downtime on his or her hands, it’s wise to follow up. If an application is due February 1 and your teen is hoping to have all materials submitted by January 15, the timing to check in with the recommender is perfect.
  • Check on outstanding tasks. If your teen is using the Common Application, have him or her review the Dashboard to make sure there aren’t any outstanding items that might require follow up (such as transcript requests or essay questions to finish). If your teen isn’t using the Common Application, have him or her check the specific college requirements to make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks.
  • Refine that scholarship list. Some scholarship deadlines have passed already, but not all. Your teen should revisit that list of target scholarships to remind him or herself of deadlines and requirements and use the weeks of holiday break to work on applications. When school is back in session and life is hectic again, your teen will be glad he or she was proactive.

Encourage your teen to use holiday break to get ahead on all of the tasks on the horizon for college. Before school is back in session, it is a good time to do so—and the effort in and of itself will help your teen get into college mode and finish high school strong. 

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Six Tips for Building Your Teen’s Confidence Confident teens have a good attitude about school, are persistent and tend to weather the ups and downs effectively. What can you do to bolster your teen’s confidence? Find out here!

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Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:13:31 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-tips-for-building-your-teens-confidence https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-tips-for-building-your-teens-confidence Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center The teen years can be exciting, tumultuous and full of change. Some teens take it all in stride while others struggle with the impending life decisions and the overall stress of school. One of the best things you as a parent can do to help your teen is build his or her confidence. Confident teens have a good attitude about school, are persistent and tend to weather the ups and downs effectively. What can you do to bolster your teen’s confidence? Here are six tips:

  1. Let your teen struggle. Often, learning occurs when teens have to muddle through things and figure them out for themselves. Resist the urge to step in and fix problems for your teen. Over-helping with homework and problem solving does your teen no favors in the long run.
  2. Encourage goal setting. Goal setting is a valuable process for many reasons. It gets your teen thinking about the future, keeps him or her focused on how to achieve important endeavors, and guides your teen toward personal growth. That said, it is important that you let your teen own this process. It’s fine to get your teen’s wheels turning and offer ideas and support, but the goals themselves should be your teen’s—not your goals for your teen.
  3. Teach your teen to care about what he or she can control. Everyone tries and fails sometimes. Remind your teen to take pride in his or her efforts and diligence rather than focus solely on desired outcomes. Acknowledge the development that occurs when your teen puts in the work.
  4. Nudge your teen toward taking risks. Playing it safe all the time limits growth. Your teen might one day go on to start a business or have a job that requires frequent decision making based on different pros/cons and risk factors. Taking calculated risks and pushing oneself to try new things have advantages—and your teen will learn from any missteps.
  5. Put your teen in charge. Hopefully you have given your teen the opportunity to make decisions often throughout his or her life, but this is especially important in high school. Your teen needs to learn how to weigh options and be decisive—and also how to pivot to try new approaches after making poor decisions.
  6. Be a good role model. Mom and Dad, don’t underestimate the influence you can have on your teen every single day. Take pride in your accomplishments. Try something new and give it your best. Learn from your mistakes and share with your teen how you do so—and how you grow from the experience.

Confidence isn’t something that you can simply give to your teen, but you are in a great position to help him or her nurture and develop it.  Believe in your teen and express that faith in his or her abilities. The long-term benefits of a confident mindset are so great that your efforts are definitely worthwhile.

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National Association for College Admission Counseling Changes Its Ethics Code The NACAC has made a decision to remove several provisions from its Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. Read on to find out what the removed sections covered and how they will impact your college-bound teen.

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Mon, 23 Dec 2019 16:59:53 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/nacac-changes-ethics-code-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/nacac-changes-ethics-code-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center If you’ve been paying attention to college-related news in recent months, you might have heard about the decision made by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) to remove several provisions from its Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.

 

The NACAC was founded in 1937 and is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC membership is voluntary, but members agree to uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice in order to promote best professional college admission practices.

 

Acting upon an inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice into these provisions’ violation of antitrust laws, NACAC’s Assembly voted at the 2019 National Conference in September to remove a few sections from its code of conduct. Why? To address the Department of Justice’s belief that those provisions inhibit competition among colleges for students.

 

Here’s what the removed sections covered:  

 

  • Offering exclusive incentives for early decision. Previously, the ethics code stated that NACAC member colleges must not offer incentives such as special housing, enhanced financial aid packages and special scholarships to early decision applicants or admits.

 

  • Recruiting first-year undergraduates who have committed to other schools. This section essentially prohibited member colleges from knowingly recruiting or offering enrollment incentives to students who are already enrolled or have declared their intent to enroll (or submitted contractual deposits) at other colleges. The code referenced May 1 as the point when enrollment commitments become final and mentioned the fact that colleges must respect those commitments. Two notable exceptions to the no-recruiting rule were when students were admitted from a wait list and the students initiated the inquiries themselves.

 

  • Recruiting transfer students. NACAC member colleges were not allowed to solicit transfer applicants from a previous year’s applicant or prospect pool unless the students initiated that transfer inquiry. Colleges were allowed to recruit transfer students if they first verified that the students were enrolled at a college that allowed transfer recruitment or the students were not currently enrolled.

 

Ultimately, the Justice Department argued that the above provisions restricted fair trade—or in other words, they prevented colleges from competing for students. Now that they’re removed, the recruiting practices of college admissions departments could change.

 

How might this impact your college-bound teen?

 

Time will tell, but you might see colleges more aggressively recruiting students even after they’ve already committed themselves elsewhere. If colleges want certain students, they might find creative ways to entice them with financial aid or housing. Some in the industry have even questioned whether we’ll see more high school seniors continuing to debate their college decision well into the summer before college begins.

 

However it all plays out, one thing is certain: it is always important for your teen to make him or herself an attractive college candidate by earning good grades, performing his or her best on the SAT and ACT, and developing a strong college resume. Every college wants to attract the best possible freshman class, after all. Remind your teen that it is essential to stay focused and finish high school strong, because colleges are paying attention.

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Seven Life Skills Your Teen Needs for College The list of academic aptitudes and skills your child needs for college is long. But there are many other important life skills that teens need to succeed in the real world. Here are seven of them.

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Thu, 19 Dec 2019 12:07:26 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/seven-life-skills-your-teens-need-for-college https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/seven-life-skills-your-teens-need-for-college Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center The list of academic aptitudes and skills your child needs for college is long. Whether your teen plans to become an engineer or an English teacher, those college professors expect that he or she has the subject-matter knowledge as well as fundamental 21st century skills like critical thinking and problem solving.

But there are many other important life skills that teens need to succeed in the real world. Here are seven of them:

  1. Money management – Teens go to college to prepare themselves for their future careers (in which they will make money), but it’s essential that they understand the basics of money management long before they set foot in the working world. At a minimum, talk with your teen about how to create a budget, why it’s important to manage to that budget, how to set financial goals (such as saving toward something) and why debt can be dangerous (especially debt racked up by credit cards).
  2. CommunicationEvery career involves communication in the form of writing, talking and non-verbal communication. Teens need to learn how to communicate their ideas and opinions clearly, but it’s also crucial that they are able to negotiate, build good working relationships through effective communication and diffuse conflicts when they arise.
  3. Listening – In addition to being able to communicate and express themselves, teens must be skillful listeners. Remind your teen that listening is not just about hearing people talk. It’s about focusing on what they are trying to communicate, processing it, watching for non-verbal cues and confirming understanding. Good listeners listen to understand, not just to formulate their own responses.
  4. Self-discipline – In college, teens no longer have parents telling them what to do and how to do it. It’s up to them how and when to study and whether to go to class or not. Do your best to take a step back in high school so that your teen can step up and take responsibility for his or her life—including school. You can support your teen from the sidelines by providing structure and encouraging the adoption of good routines.
  5. Self-advocacy – Self-advocacy goes hand in hand with good communication. In college, it is expected that teens will reach out when they need help or want to understand professors’ grading policies or something similar. Encourage your teen to be assertive and to take the initiative in high school to talk directly with teachers and guidance counselors about all things school-related.
  6. Decision-making – Without Mom and Dad around at college, teens are put fully in charge of their lives—quite possibly for the first time. This can be a rude awakening without practice, so the best thing you can do is offer your teen choices when appropriate. For big decisions, let your teen weigh his or her options and think through various outcomes. Be on hand for support, but make sure your teen learns how to navigate decision-making independently.
  7. Emotional intelligencePeople who are emotionally intelligent recognize their emotions as well as those of others and use that to guide their thinking and behavior. This aptitude is essential in college, and helps teens work effectively with others, build good peer relationships, solve problems and feel more confident as students.

The above skills are all related to school and/or productivity, but there are plenty of other life skills your teen will need, like basic kitchen and cooking skills, cleanliness, personal hygiene and healthcare, and navigational skills for driving around. The point is this: Don’t wait until a month before your teen goes to college to show him or her how to use the oven…or to work on fostering the above skills. In the very near future, your teen will need to operate independently in the world.

If you’re concerned that your teen lacks some of the essentials to succeed in college and beyond—such as time management, effective studying and organizational skills—or is missing important content knowledge, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We’re here to help your teen make the transition to college a successful one.

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How the National Association of Colleges and Employers Defines Career Readiness What exactly is career readiness? Are the skills and aptitudes that students need for college similar to those that are essential for success in the real world? Find out how the National Association of Colleges and Employers defines career readiness and about the eight competencies associated with career readiness.

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Fri, 06 Dec 2019 10:15:52 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/nace-defines-career-readiness https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/nace-defines-career-readiness Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center There’s so much for teens to do to get ready for college—both academically and otherwise. You’ve probably heard that college is more challenging than high school and you certainly know, maybe from personal experience, that college professors expect that students are intrinsically motivated. At Huntington Learning Center, we believe there are several traits that make a student college ready:

  • Independent
  • Adaptable
  • Resourceful
  • Skilled at studying/planning to study
  • Analytical
  • Skilled at prioritizing time and multiple responsibilities

At this stage of your child’s life, you’re focused on helping him or her become college ready. The goal of college, of course, is to prepare your child to enter the real world and succeed there. Yet, what exactly is career readiness? And are the skills and aptitudes that students need for college similar to those that are essential for success in the real world?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)* defines career readiness as “the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.” Based on research among employers, they defined these eight competencies as being associated with career readiness:

  1. Critical thinking/problem solving: Just like in college, where college professors invite students to express their ideas, analyze information and make connections, the workplace requires that people exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. NACE explains that career-ready professionals are able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this critical thinking/problem solving process.
  2. Oral/written communications: The ability to communicate is critical in every professional setting. NACE shares that those who are capable of articulating their thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms are ready for the real world. People need to be able to write and edit, speak to others and express themselves.
  3. Teamwork/collaboration: In just about every workplace, people must be able to work with others. NACE says collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers are important, and people need to be able to work within a team structure and manage conflicts.
  4. Digital technology: Today’s workforce operates in a fast-paced, data-driven world. To be ready for that environment, people need to demonstrate effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.
  5. Leadership: Whether people become CEOs or nurses, teachers or doctors, abilities such as leveraging the strengths of others to achieve common goals and using interpersonal skills to coach and develop others are very valuable. People with common leadership skills—using empathy to motivate others and delegating properly—tend to thrive.
  6. Professionalism/work ethic: Every industry, every job and every workplace benefits from employees who take accountability and have effective work habits. NACE explains the importance of punctuality and time management, as well as the impact of integrity and ethical behavior.
  7. Career management: To truly succeed in a career, people must be able to identify and articulate their strengths, knowledge and experiences. It’s also important that people know where they could grow professionally. Career-ready people are skilled at pursuing the steps necessary to advance their careers and self-advocating for opportunities in their workplaces.
  8. Global/Intercultural Fluency: The world is global. Today’s professionals should be respectful and appreciative of those coming from cultures, races and backgrounds different than their own. In life, people need to be able to demonstrate inclusiveness and sensitivity.

Being ready for college is the first step toward career readiness, and the two stages go hand in hand. If your teen is approaching college and you’d like to ensure he or she is prepared, contact Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.

* NACE is the leading source of information on the employment of the college educated. The association forecasts hiring and trends in the job market, tracks starting salaries, recruiting and hiring practices, and student attitudes and outcomes, and more.

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What Are Standardized Tests and What Do Those Test Scores Mean? Standardized tests have been around for a long time. While your child is in school, they will be tested and measured via some form of standardized test. Read on to learn about standardized tests as well as what scores mean and what standardized tests measure. 

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Wed, 27 Nov 2019 16:14:23 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/meaning-of-standardized-tests-and-their-scores-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/meaning-of-standardized-tests-and-their-scores-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Raising children today means that you’re very familiar with standardized testing.

Standardized tests have been around for a long time but became especially noteworthy in the early 2000s with the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, which mandated annual testing of students in grades 3-8 in every state and had punitive provisions for schools that did not make adequate yearly progress toward grade-level standards.

In 2015, No Child Left Behind was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act, which offers greater flexibility on standardized testing. Still, the fact remains: while your child is in school, she is going to be tested and measured via some form of standardized test.

What do standardized tests test?

To put it simply, they measure how students are progressing toward grade-level standards in core subjects including math, English language arts, science and social studies. Each state gives tests—often called statewide assessments—to students in grades 3 through 8 toward the end of the school year. Those exams are intended to provide an overall measurement of:

  • How your student is performing in key content areas.
  • What your student knows and what he needs to succeed in the future.
  • Whether he is on track toward building higher-level thinking skills such as writing and problem solving.

Across the nation, there has been a movement toward refocusing teaching on helping students learn and not preparing for standardized tests. So, the assessment of today is different than the assessment of several years ago. Students are spending less time taking tests, but states still place value on measuring what students know and what gaps exist (so they can determine how to close those gaps).

Types of assessment tests

When the Common Core State Standards were introduced in 2010, many states started using either the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or Smarter Balanced tests that were aligned to Common Core. Things have changed since then, with only one-third of states using either test (as of spring 2019, according to Edweek.org). The other 32 states use tests that they designed themselves or purchased from another source, while three states give hybrid tests that mix their own questions with questions from PARCC/New Meridian or Smarter Balanced. Here’s a summary of the standardized 3-8 tests used in each state as of 2019:

State Name          3-8 Test

Alabama               Scantron

Alaska                   Performance Evaluation for Alaska's Schools (PEAKS)

Arizona                  AZMerit

Arkansas               ACT Aspire

California              Smarter Balanced

Colorado               Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS)

Connecticut          Smarter Balanced

Delaware               Smarter Balanced

D.C.                        PARCC

Florida                   Florida Standards Assessments (FSA)

Georgia                  Georgia Milestones

Hawaii                   Smarter Balanced

Idaho                     Smarter Balanced

Illinois                    PARCC

Indiana                  ILEARN

Iowa                       Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP)

Kansas                   Kansas Assessment Program (KAP)

Kentucky              Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP)

Louisiana              Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP)

Maine                    Maine Educational Assessment (MEA)

Maryland              PARCC

Massachusetts     Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS)

Michigan               Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP), PSAT

Minnesota             Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA)

Mississippi             Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP)

Missouri                 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP)

Montana                 Smarter Balanced

Nebraska               Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS)

Nevada                  Smarter Balanced

New Hampshire   New Hampshire Statewide Assessment System (NHSAS), *Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) (some districts)

New Jersey            PARCC

New Mexico         PARCC

New York              New York State Assessments

North Carolina     North Carolina End-of-Grade Tests

North Dakota       North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA)

Ohio                       Ohio's State Tests

Oklahoma             Oklahoma School Testing Program

Oregon                   Smarter Balanced

Pennsylvania        Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)

Rhode Island        Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS)

South Carolina     SCReady

South Dakota       Smarter Balanced

Tennessee             TNReady

Texas                     State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)

Utah                       Readiness Improvement Success Empowerment (RISE)

Vermont                Smarter Balanced

Virginia                  Standards of Learning (SOL)

Washington          Smarter Balanced

West Virginia        West Virginia General Summative Assessment

Wisconsin              Wisconsin Forward

Wyoming              Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP)

 

The most up-to-date information about testing in your state, including specific skills and subject areas that will be tested as well as any recommended or required high school tests (such as exit exams), is available on your state’s Department of Education website. For questions about how to help your child best prepare for success on any exam, standardized or other, contact Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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FAQs About Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA You probably have a pretty good idea of how your teen’s Grade Point Average (GPA) is calculated based on your own experience as a high school student. But these days, many schools weight GPAs, giving new and confusing meaning to the term “4.0 student.” Find out answers to some frequently asked questions.

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Mon, 25 Nov 2019 11:46:26 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/weighted-vs-unweighted-gpa-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/weighted-vs-unweighted-gpa-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center You probably have a pretty good idea of how your teen’s Grade Point Average (GPA) is calculated based on your own experience as a high school student. But these days, many schools weight GPAs, giving new and confusing meaning to the term “4.0 student.” Here are answers to some frequently asked questions to clear things up:

  • What is the difference between a regular GPA and a weighted GPA? A weighted GPA takes into account how challenging classes are, while an unweighted GPA does not. In other words, your student might receive up to 5.0 grade points for an Advanced Placement (AP) English class but only up to 4.0 grade points for a regular English class. So, a B in that AP class earns the same amount of grade points as an A in the regular class.
  • How do colleges compare students’ GPAs correctly? Because high schools across the country might have different policies for calculating GPAs, you might wonder: how do colleges compare students in an “apples to apples” way? Rest assured, they have their methods. Admissions officers scrutinize transcripts to look at the classes that students take and their rigor, and they probably recalculate weighted GPAs to their own scale.
  • How can colleges tell that classes are weighted? If your teen is worried about this, put him at ease: the marking system for weighted vs. unweighted grades will appear on the high school transcript. Some schools might include a school profile with the transcript that goes into even more detail on the grading scale, number of honors/Advanced Placement courses offered at the school, and the like.
  • What if a teen takes some regular classes and some honors/advanced classes? Your teen’s high school guidance counselor can explain how a GPA is calculated, but remember that each class’s grade is calculated based on its level. That might mean combining 4.0 grade points for four As in regular classes (16 total points), 4.5 grade points for an A in an honors class and 5.0 grade points for an A in an AP class: all As, but some worth more than others.
  • What’s a typical grading scale? Every school is different, but many schools go with each decile being a new grade. So, 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, and so on. Some schools go with a +/- scale—for example, 97-100% = A+, 93-96% = A, 90-92% = A-, and so on.
  • What’s a typical marking system? Again, this varies school to school, but typically, unweighted classes receive 4.0 grade points for an A, 3.0 for a B, 2.0 for a C, 1.0 for a D and 0.0 for an F. Many high schools award additional grade points for Advanced Placement (AP), honors, International Baccalaureate (IB) or other college preparatory courses. Weighted classes might receive 0 grade points for an A, 4.0 for a B, 3.0 for a C, 1.0 for a D and 0.0 for an F. It is possible that AP classes will receive more points than honors or IB classes.

The GPA is a significant factor in college admission, but it’s also essential that teens also show colleges that they are challenging themselves in high school. A student who takes a rigorous class load and earns mostly As might seem like a stronger candidate to a competitive college than one who takes all regular classes and earns As and Bs.

As always, encourage your teen to work hard and push himself. And if you need support, contact Huntington. We’ll help your teen build the knowledge and skills to do his best in high school.

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What Colleges Look for in Applicants’ Extracurricular Activities Grades and strength of curriculum are top of the list of attributes that colleges look for in applicants, however, colleges also appreciate that “something extra” in students. Extracurricular activities are a great way for teens to build leadership abilities and fuel their passions.

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Fri, 15 Nov 2019 10:40:28 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-applicant-extracurricular-activities-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-applicant-extracurricular-activities-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center College is on the horizon, but your teen is looking to do more than just get in. He wants to set himself apart with an impressive resume, and possibly earn a few scholarships while he’s at it.

Grades and strength of curriculum are top of the list of attributes that colleges look for in applicants, but there is no doubt that admissions officers—especially at highly competitive colleges and universities—also appreciate that “something extra” in students. Extracurricular activities are a great way for teens to build leadership abilities and fuel their passions.

Your teen might be on a quest to identify the “best” extracurricular activities that will give her resume a boost. However, the reality is, college admissions officers aren’t partial to certain extracurricular activities. They’re simply looking to see that students are committed to those activities.

Here are a few attributes that colleges appreciate in extracurricular activities:

  • Passion – Above all else, colleges like to see extracurricular activities on resumes that demonstrate students’ excitement about something. So, whether your teen is an avid basketball player or a focused future engineer who founded the school engineering club, the key is that he is sincere about his enthusiasm for the endeavor. In fact, admissions officers would rather a student be committed to one or two activities than passively involved with six or seven.
  • Leadership – Admissions officers consider students with leadership aptitudes as positive contributors to campus life. Your teen’s involvement in a club or activity is much more meaningful when it is obvious how it made an impact—on the school, other students, the community and/or the world. Being a leader requires ardor, vision and values, which are qualities that make strong candidates for college admission.
  • Challenging – In reality, your teen isn’t likely to gain much from a club that doesn’t ask much of her. Instead, your teen should seek out activities that push her to be better, acquire a new skill or set a goal to strive toward. The student with a fear of public speaking who gets involved in debate club stands to grow a great deal.
  • Creative – There’s so much benefit in being able to explore ideas and think creatively, both in school and the real world. Colleges value commitment to lifelong learning, self-discovery and self-expression.
  • Career-Focused – Some students know from a young age what they want to do with their lives. If this sounds like your teen, encourage him to get real-world experience in the field in which he’s interested. If your teen goes to college with plans to major in biology and continue on in medical school, that volunteer work in the assisted living facility or part-time job as a nursing assistant will prove he’s serious.

What colleges especially want to see is that a student has selected certain activities for a reason. Encourage your teen to choose extracurriculars that mean something to her and dedicate her time and energy toward them.

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Four Tips for Talking to Teens About Student Loans and Budgeting Let’s face it, Mom and Dad. A college education costs a lot these days. It’s time to talk with your teen about how your family will fund his college education and other costs associated with living independently.

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Fri, 08 Nov 2019 10:19:40 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/talking-to-teens-about-student-loans https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/talking-to-teens-about-student-loans Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Let’s face it, Mom and Dad. A college education costs a lot these days. Even if you’ve been contributing regularly to your child’s 529 plan or another college savings account, you might not have enough funds set aside to fully cover the cost of college.

It’s time to talk with your teen about how your family will fund his college education and other costs associated with living independently. Here are a few tips as you broach this important conversation:

  1. Start with a discussion about college’s importance. Hopefully, you’ve laid the foundation already, but as your teen approaches junior year, it’s important to make it clear that college is important. With a bachelor’s degree, your teen will have greater earning power and more career opportunities. Even if your teen needs to pay for part of college, it’s definitely worthwhile.
  2. Create a college budget. Even if you’re funding your teen’s tuition and fees (or a portion), your teen needs to learn how to manage money and live within his means. That’s where a budget comes in. Have your teen create a simple spreadsheet and detail out the following:
    • All income sources, including financial aid funds, money from you, scholarship funds, work-study income, his own savings, etc. Some of these line items might be unknown until your teen receives a financial aid package, but build them into the budget anyway.
    • All expenses, including school expenses (tuition, books and fees), transportation expenses (e.g. gas or a parking pass), housing (e.g. dorm or rent), and any food, entertainment or other expenses (such as a cell phone). Address which of these costs will be your vs. your teen’s responsibility.

It might seem premature to create a college budget before your teen is in college, but getting a start on one will help him or her begin to grasp what kinds of costs your family will need to fund in the years to come.

  1. Go over the types of financial aid available to you and your teen. While the budgeting exercise is important, it helps to follow it up with some dialogue about options to fund all those expenses. The U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid website can help you estimate the amount of aid you might receive with FAFSA4caster. Take advantage of this tool to plan ahead. 

Generally, though, here are your and your teen’s options. You can take out federal parent loans (called Direct PLUS loans). And your teen can apply for federal financial in the form of loans, grants and work-study aid.

  • Federal student loans offer benefits that other types of loans (from banks or other sources) do not—namely lower interest rates and the delayed payoff time (until after college). There are four types of loans available to students with or without financial need.
  • Grants are free money awarded to students based on financial need.
  • Federal work-study provides part-time jobs to college students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to pay for school.
  1. Talk about other ways to reduce the cost of college. There are a number of ways students can reduce that college bill. Scholarships, of course, can help, so encourage your teen to work hard in high school and apply widely for scholarships large and small. They can add up. Working part-time during the school year is a great way to cover things like books or housing, and working full time over summer break can help your teen replenish the bank account for school-year bills. Your teen could even consider starting at a nearby community college and transferring to save big on tuition and housing (by living at home).

The key to the college cost conversation is to be transparent. The sooner you talk with your teen about what you will likely be able to contribute toward college and what will be expected of her, the better. While college might be on your teen’s mind, paying for it might not. Discuss the financial part of college early and often, which will help your teen prepare and encourage her to make the very most of the investment.

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Five Characteristics That Predict College Success It’s impossible to guarantee that your high schooler will go off to college, excel in all subjects, graduate summa cum laude and embark upon an incredible career. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that your teen is on the right path?

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Fri, 01 Nov 2019 09:48:24 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/characteristics-that-predict-college-success https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/characteristics-that-predict-college-success Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center It’s impossible to guarantee that your high schooler will go off to college, excel in all subjects, graduate summa cum laude and embark upon an incredible career. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that your teen is on the right path?

There are a number of benchmarks that are correlated with strong student performance, including a high GPA and taking challenging course work in middle and high school. But there are also certain characteristics that are common among students who do well in college and go on to become goal-driven, lifelong learners.

Here are five student characteristics that are predictors of college success and tips on how to build these traits in your teen:

  1. Resilience – College—and life in general—can be stressful at times. Teens must be able to deal with the everyday challenges and issues that arise in a mature, productive way. Take a step back and let your teen fail and experience disappointments, then help him reflect on what he learned from that failure. This will help your teen build mental toughness and grit that will serve him well later on.
  2. Perseverance – Students must learn that no accomplishment comes without effort and persistence. In fact, there’s a good chance that some of the role models in their lives had to work very hard to get where they are. Encourage your teen to set goals big and small—for college and beyond. Remind her that everything worth doing requires effort and dedication.
  3. Decision-making ability – College is a brand-new adventure and it requires that teens be independent. The ability to make decisions is essential in college. Talk with your teen about how to come up with multiple possibilities to solve any problem, weigh the pros and cons of each, and decide/act with confidence. Decision-making and problem-solving go hand in hand.
  4. Self-management – Self-management is vital as teens move into college. No longer will mom or dad be there to micromanage and keep them on track. You can cultivate this skill in your teen by encouraging her to embrace a growth mindset. Teach your teen to believe that she can always learn, improve and grow with effort.
  5. Self-advocacy – Hopefully, teens learn in high school how to ask for help and speak up when their needs are not being met. Colleges professors expect that their students will do so, so the more you can step back while your teen is in high school and put him in the driver’s seat, the better. If your teen doesn’t get the grade he wants on a test, for example, it’s up to him to talk to the teacher about how to close those knowledge gaps and retake the test, if possible.

One last tip for teens as they move toward college: establish a support system. College has its ups and downs. Your teen should feel comfortable reaching out to friends, teachers, family members, or a counselor or other mentor when he needs to.

And remember: Huntington is here for your teen as well! Call us if your teen needs help getting prepared for college and you want to ensure she has the skills and aptitudes to succeed.

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What Happened to the College Board’s “Adversity Score”? In May 2019, the College Board announced plans for their Environmental Context Dashboard, more commonly referred to as the "Adversity Score". In August, a revision to this plan known as "Landscape" was released. Read about this important update here.

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Wed, 30 Oct 2019 12:58:49 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-board-adversity-score-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/college-board-adversity-score-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center In May 2019, the College Board announced a plan to provide college admissions officers a dashboard that gives context to an applicant’s neighborhood and high school with that student’s SAT score reports.

Dubbed the “adversity score” by news outlets, the metric—actually called the Environmental Context Dashboard (ECD)—was intended to allow colleges to incorporate a student’s school and environmental context into their admissions process in a data-driven way. The ECD was designed to allow admissions officers the opportunity to view a student’s academic accomplishment in the context of where they live and learn.

Introducing Landscape

In August 2019, the College Board shared its plans to improve upon the idea of the Environmental Context Dashboard by revising and renaming the tool “Landscape.” Landscape will provide information about a student’s neighborhood and high school, helping colleges consider the context in the application review process.

The revised resource is intended to help admissions officers fairly consider every applicant. It does not replace the individual information included in a student’s application (such as GPA, personal essay and high school transcript). It also shows how an applicant’s SAT or ACT score compares to the scores of other students at the same high school.

Here’s a quick summary of the information presented in Landscape:

  • High school data, including city/suburban town types and rural town type
  • Senior class size
  • % of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch
  • Average SAT scores at colleges attended by the three most recent cohorts of college-bound seniors at the applicant’s high school (who took College Board assessments)
  • Advanced Placement exams (participation and performance)
  • SAT and ACT test score comparison (of the student vs. average scores at their high school)
  • Neighborhood and high school indicators, including:
    • Predicted probability of students from the neighborhood/high school enrolling in a four-year college
    • Household structure (married/coupled families, single-parent families and children living under the poverty line)
    • Median family income
    • Housing stability (vacancy rates, rental vs. homeownership, mobility/housing turnover)
    • Education level
    • Crime

The College Board explains that colleges have long considered context about students’ high schools and neighborhoods when making admissions decisions. Landscape is intended to make this process easier and help admissions offers gather consistent information.

Learn more about the new Landscape tool and how colleges will use it at www.collegeboard.org.

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How Teens and Parents Can Use the Department of Education’s College Scorecard in their Research The United States Department of Education’s College Scorecard is an interactive tool that helps families gather critical information they need to evaluate colleges’ offerings, cost, quality, value and more. Read about its benefits here.

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Wed, 30 Oct 2019 12:50:33 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/using-the-college-scorecard-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/using-the-college-scorecard-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center There’s a lot that goes into the college decision. The more resources available to aid teens and their parents in their research, the better. The United States Department of Education’s College Scorecard is an interactive tool that helps families gather critical information they need to evaluate colleges’ offerings, cost, quality, value and more.

Here are a few ways you and your teen can use this tool to sort through all kinds of information about different colleges and make a smart college decision:

  • Search for schools by location. The College Scorecard offers the ability to select one or more states and/or one or more regions (e.g. Southeast, Southwest, Rocky Mountains). Your teen can then add those schools to a list to compare and further research them (more on this below).
  • Search for schools by program of study. First, your teen must select a certificate, two-year degree or four-year degree. Then, she chooses from a long list of programs. The search-by-program feature is ideal for teens who have specific majors in mind. If your teen wants to further refine that list, she can easily select other filters such as location, region or school size.
  • Find schools based on desired size. Whether your teen wants to look for all small (<2,000 students) schools in your state, all medium (2,000-15,000 students) schools with architecture or psychology programs, or all large (>15,000 students) schools that are public and located in New England, the College Scorecard lets users narrow by size plus other attributes.
  • Narrow down colleges based on a specialized mission or religious affiliation. Does your teen want to go to a school for women or men only? One that is a historically black college or university? One for students of a certain religion? The advanced search feature allows users to easily search for those types of schools.
  • Compare colleges side by side. Maybe your teen knows the few schools in which he or she is interested in. Search for a college by name, add that college to a comparison list, then evaluate several colleges thoroughly. However your teen searches for schools using the Scorecard, the comparison feature is an excellent way to get a snapshot of several schools at once. Your teen can even send a summary via email.

The College Scorecard makes it easy to search for colleges and universities, and also evaluate some of their essential data points. Here are some of the facts the Scorecard helps you and your teen learn (and compare) about colleges:

  • Average annual net price (after aid from the school, state or federal government, including only in-state cost for public schools)
  • Graduation rate (of full-time students who started at that school)
  • Salary after attending (10 years after attending the school)
  • % of full-time enrollment
  • Socio-economic diversity
  • Race/ethnicity
  • % of students paying down their debt within three years of leaving school
  • % of students receiving federal loans
  • Typical total debt after graduation (federal loans only and does not include private student loans or parent PLUS loans)
  • Students who return to the college after their first year
  • Outcomes eight years after attending
  • Typical SAT/ACT scores of admitted students

The College Scorecard can help you quickly compare colleges and universities on a variety of factors, but it is also important to understand that your teen’s situation is unique and figures like cost of attendance will depend on many different factors (like your financial position when applying for financial aid and any scholarships your teen earns, for example). Still, it is a great tool and one to use in addition to other methods of research, such as visiting colleges in person and going to their websites to collect information.

Check out the Scorecard at https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/. Questions about the college search? Contact Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN

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Seven Tips for Writing the Common Application Essay Many colleges require students to submit an essay using one of the Common Application essay prompts. For 2019-2020, there are seven prompts to choose from, one of which is to share an essay on any topic of the student’s choice.

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Wed, 30 Oct 2019 12:32:44 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/seven-tips-for-application-essays-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/seven-tips-for-application-essays-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center More than 800 colleges and universities in the United States use the Common Application, which keeps the entire application process organized. Many colleges require students to submit an essay using one of the Common Application essay prompts. For 2019-2020, there are seven prompts to choose from, one of which is to share an essay on any topic of the student’s choice—even one they have written for another essay prompt.

The other six essay prompts cover a range of topics:

  1. A student’s background, identity, interest or talent
  2. Lessons learned from obstacles, setbacks, and failures
  3. A time when a student questioned a belief or idea
  4. Problem(s) a student would like to solve (intellectual, research, ethical or other)
  5. An accomplishment, event or realization that sparked a period of personal growth
  6. A topic or idea the student finds engaging and captivating

While some teens might immediately gravitate to one of these topics, others find the process of writing an essay overwhelming. Here are seven tips to help your teen approach the task methodically and create a poignant, powerful essay:

  1. Read all prompts thoroughly. We described the Common Application’s 2019-2020 essay prompts briefly above, but the first thing your teen should do is read them in full— and allow some time for them to simmer. Encourage your teen to have a pencil on hand in case any possible ideas pop into his head right away.
  2. Develop a schedule. The essay takes time and finesse. Remind your teen that it should not be the task that she puts off until a couple of weeks before the application is due. Encourage your teen to put together a detailed timeline that allows sufficient time for outlining, multiple first drafts, editing, getting feedback from a teacher and/or you or another family member, revising and proofreading.
  3. Too often, teens run with a topic because it is the first one for which they had a tangible idea. Many students select the “choose a previous essay” topic because it seems easiest. Encourage your teen to build in some brainstorming time. The point of the essay, after all, is to share a little about who your teen is and the qualities he possesses that would be valuable to the colleges to which he’s applying.
  4. Put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard! The point is that your teen should let some ideas flow before trying to write or edit too much. Yes, an outline is important, but for many students, it’s easier to get a few ideas out before circling back to what they have to create a logical flow.
  5. Infuse some structure. As mentioned, an outline is important once your teen has a topic idea and a few thoughts going. Encourage your teen to plan out 1) the overarching desired takeaway 2) the “hook” at the beginning 3) the supporting details that articulate the values or traits about your teen he wants to share 4) the conclusion of the story that brings things full circle.
  6. Show, don’t tell. Your teen has anxiety and has learned how to manage it? He should show how rather than simply say so—perhaps he found peace in the yoga mat. Remind your teen that the details of the essay are what make it special and unique. Whatever he is trying to share about himself and his experience, he should do so by using specific, vivid examples vs. generalities that could sound like any other student.
  7. Re-read after setting it aside for at least a few days. That timeline your teen develops is important for several reasons, but a big one is that it allows for reflection time. Your teen needs to read a close-to-final draft of the essay with fresh eyes to check for important things like:
    • How it flows.
    • How readable it is.
    • Whether it is entertaining/interesting to read.
    • Whether it has any obvious clichés.
    • Whether it is memorable.

The college admissions essay might not make or break your teen’s application package, but it can certainly set your teen apart. Encourage your teen to approach it thoughtfully and give it her best effort. When she’s holding a college acceptance letter in her hands, the hard work will have been worth it.

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Freshman Year Checklist to Get Ready for College High school is a brand-new experience for students, and it may take some time to adapt. One surprise for many students is the importance of getting off on the right foot and staying the course.

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Fri, 04 Oct 2019 08:53:59 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/freshman-year-checklist-before-college-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/freshman-year-checklist-before-college-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center High school is a brand-new experience for students, and it may take some time to adapt. One surprise for many students is the importance of getting off on the right foot and staying the course. Poor grades will haunt your teen later, as colleges look at the cumulative grade point average when considering applicants. In other words, your teen starts building that high school resume from day one of high school.

Here’s a freshman year checklist to keep you and your teen on track:

  • Talk about college. If you haven’t yet done so, freshman year is the time to start talking about the future, what it takes to get into college and what your teen might want to study. Frame up college as a given and encourage your teen to start laying the groundwork early.
  • Set goals. For some, the idea of college feels too far away. A tangible task that will help your child think about college and how to get there is setting specific, measurable goals for this year and beyond.
  • Start researching college majors. Discuss the possibilities. What subjects did your teen enjoy in middle school? What careers sound intriguing?
  • Start researching and visiting colleges. A little online research will help your teen start getting familiar with your state’s schools and any others. On breaks, visit those nearby if feasible. You can also check out the National Association for College Admission Counseling to learn about college fairs in your area. 

Here are this year’s to-dos that are your teen’s responsibility:

  • Focus on school. Freshman year is a big change. Your teen should work hard, stay organized, do all homework and reach out for help early when problems arise.
  • Visit the high school guidance counselor. Early in the year, have your teen pay a visit to the guidance counseling office. Those professionals can share information about college readiness tools used by their office (e.g. Naviance) and help your teen make a plan for high school.
  • Get involved. High school is full of opportunities! Have your teen check out clubs, sports and activities to start building that extracurricular resume and making the most of high school.
  • Become familiar with Advanced Placement (AP) classes and tests. Some high schools offer AP classes for freshmen. If this isn’t on your teen’s radar and should be, it’s a good idea to reach out to the AP coordinator to learn more.
  • Collect information about SAT Subject Tests. The guidance counselor’s office can give your teen information about SAT Subject Tests and which colleges typically recommend them.
  • Ask for help. If your teen struggles in the first month or two of high school, it’s important that he reach out to teachers for help.
  • Build up strengths. If your teen has big goals to go to a prestigious college or simply wants to advance in one or more subjects, it might be worthwhile to explore subject tutoring to help her capitalize on those strengths.
  • Explore summer learning opportunities. Your teen could use summer after freshman year to do a pre-college program or internship program for high school students. Even activities like community service are great ways to build a resume and start exploring career possibilities. 

Freshman year is pivotal. Make sure your teen starts off strong. If your teen needs SAT or ACT prep or general guidance on how to be successful in high school, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We’ll share more about our tutoring and exam prep programs and how you can support your child best.

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Sophomore Year Checklist to Get Ready for College The second year of high school is when many students start thinking more seriously about college. While college applications are still a ways off, it is still important to keep an eye towards that goal. Read some helpful sophomore year tips

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Fri, 27 Sep 2019 10:07:37 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/sophmore-year-checklist-getting-ready-for-college https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/sophmore-year-checklist-getting-ready-for-college Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center The second year of high school is when many students start thinking more seriously about college. Your teen won’t be filling out applications or anything just yet, but it’s important for you and your teen to stay on track with this sophomore year checklist:

  • Talk about the cost. It’s a good idea to begin researching scholarships and the cost of the colleges and universities of interest to your teen and discuss your family budget for college.
  • Start researching college majors. It’s not too early for you and your teen to talk about the possibilities. Open the floor—what subjects does your teen enjoy? What careers sound intriguing?
  • Start researching and visiting colleges. A little online research will help your teen start getting familiar with your state’s schools and any others on his or her mind that are further away. College fairs are an excellent way to explore as well. The National Association for College Admission Counseling hosts college fairs all over the country, and the guidance counselor is also a good resource for local college fairs or college visit days. 

Here are this year’s to-dos that are your teen’s responsibility:

  • Keep up the grades. If freshman year was a little tumultuous, your teen should consider getting individualized tutoring help. It’s important to turn things around quickly because your teen’s grades do matter in high school.
  • Register for the PreACT. This is essentially a practice ACT test for sophomores. Your teen can contact the guidance counselor to learn more about administration dates and if it is available in your area.
  • Register for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Like the PreACT, this is a practice test for sophomores—and juniors—and it is also is the qualifier for National Merit Scholar programs and other scholarships. Your teen should talk with the guidance counselor to get PSAT dates.
  • Take Advanced Placement (AP) classes and exams. Sophomore year is often when more AP classes are available for students. If he or she hasn’t done so already, your teen should consult with the guidance counselor about classes and exam dates.
  • Cultivate good relationships with teachers. Your teen might be asking them for recommendation letters in the next year or two, so that sophomore year is a great time to start building those relationships.
  • Stay on top of SAT Subject Tests. Some colleges request/require them to show subject mastery, but many students mistakenly assume they should wait to take them as upperclassmen. Your teen should take them as soon after the corresponding class as possible. The guidance counselor can advise your teen on which, if any, to take.
  • Explore summer learning opportunities. Your teen should use the summer before their junior year to explore career possibilities or do something resume-building and productive. Maybe your teen wants to get involved in community service or start something entrepreneurial. Encourage him or her to get creative. 

If your teen could use tutoring, SAT or ACT prep, or general guidance on how to be the best high school student possible, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We’ll share more about our learning and exam prep programs and how to help your teen be successful in high school.

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Junior Year Checklist to Get Ready for College Fri, 20 Sep 2019 08:39:06 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/junior-year-checklist-to-prepare-for-college-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/junior-year-checklist-to-prepare-for-college-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center In the journey toward college, junior year is pivotal. This is when your teen should start buckling down and doing serious work to get ready: registering for college entrance exams, preparing for those exams, researching college options and much more. There’s plenty to do between now and next summer. Here’s a checklist to keep you and your teen on track:

  • Schedule a time to talk with the guidance counselor. This goes for both of you. The guidance counselor likely has a list of college to-dos and deadlines for the school year. Your teen should also discuss the best classes to take to stay on the right course for college.
  • Take your teen to college fairs. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) College Fairs all around the country are a great option to learn more about different colleges and universities and their campus lives, majors and more. The NACAC website says each fair draws representatives from 175 to 400 colleges.
  • Start having more serious conversations about what your teen seeks in a college. Your teen should approach the college conversation with diligence and care. Discuss the aspects of college that might matter to your teen, including location, student body size, variety of majors and campus life.
  • Talk about the cost. Now is the time to begin researching college scholarships and financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website is a great resource, as are the websites of the colleges’ financial aid offices.

And here are several to-dos that are your teen’s responsibility

  • Sign up for the PSAT/NMSQT in October. Registration is handled through the guidance counselor. More information is available at www.collegeboard.com.
  • Discuss and sign up for any Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Your teen should talk with the school AP coordinator about upcoming dates for AP exams and which, if any, to take.
  • Visit the guidance counselor. This is the year when your teen must stay in good contact with the guidance counselor, who can keep share what is on the horizon for college and make sure your teen is doing everything needed.
  • Register for the SAT and/or ACT. Spring before senior year is a good time to take these exams for the first time, but your teen might even want to do so in the fall. Upcoming SAT 2019-2020 dates are October 5, November 2, December 7, March 14, May 2 and June 6. Upcoming ACT dates are October 26, December 14, February 8, April 4, June 13 and July 18, 2020.
  • Develop an SAT/ACT prep plan. Now that your teen is an upperclassman, it will take discipline to find time to study for the SAT/ACT. This must be a priority, though, so encourage your teen to call Huntington. We offer three levels of exam prep: premier, 32-hour and 14-hour programs.
  • Make a list of colleges of interest. Early junior year, your teen should make a list of colleges and start doing some research (some might even be at career fairs or high school campus visit days this school year). Then, your teen can narrow this list throughout the year before doing more intensive exploration the summer before senior year.
  • Keep a list of important milestones from high school. These poignant moments and turning points in your teen’s high school experience might come in handy when it’s time to start applying to colleges and working on the personal essay for those that require one.
  • Create a resume. Your teen will continue to add to the resume graduation nears, but it’s a good year to start putting one together in anticipation of applying to colleges.
  • Build good relationships with teachers, coaches or other mentors. Your teen should make letter of recommendation requests early senior year, if not sooner. Remind your teen that letters are best written by teachers and others who can confidently speak to your teen’s abilities, ethics, character and more. If your teen doesn’t have strong relationships with teachers yet, this is the year to cultivate them.

Want to help your teen navigate the college research process successfully? Need help getting your teen prepared for the SAT/ACT, SAT Subject or Advanced Placement exams? Call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN to learn more about our learning and exam prep programs.

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Senior Year Checklist to Get Ready for College If your teen graduates next spring and intends to go to college, there’s a lot for your teen to do this school year (in addition to keeping up those grades, of course).

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Fri, 13 Sep 2019 16:45:28 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/senior-year-checklist-to-get-ready-for-college-2019 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/senior-year-checklist-to-get-ready-for-college-2019 Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center This is it: the culmination of high school! If your teen graduates next spring and intends to go to college, there’s a lot for your teen to do this school year (in addition to keeping up those grades, of course). Here’s a checklist to keep you and your teen on track:

  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You and your teen should complete this form as soon as possible after October 1. Check with the colleges to which your teen is applying to confirm their college financial aid deadlines.
  • Review the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will arrive via email within a couple of weeks of submitting the FAFSA. This is what colleges your teen listed on the FAFSA use to determine eligibility for financial aid. It’s essential that you make any necessary corrections to the information on this report as quickly as possible on the FAFSA website.
  • Explore an SAT or ACT prep class. If your teen is intent on improving that SAT or ACT score, Huntington can help. Check out our SAT prep and ACT prep programs for students who seek to improve on one or more SAT/ACT sections or raise their overall score. 

While the above tasks involve both you and your teen, here are several to-dos that are your teen’s responsibility:

  • Visit the guidance counselor. There’s so much to keep track of during senior year. The guidance counseling office is a great resource for information. Encourage your teen to stop by early in the school year to ensure your family is on track with all college-related tasks.
  • Register for the SAT or ACT one final time. If your teen wants to raise a score, fall is the best opportunity to do so before college deadlines come up. The February ACT exam is a last-chance option as well, depending on colleges’ application deadlines (the SAT isn’t offered in January or February).
  • Register for all required tests. Those include the SAT, ACT, Subject Tests and Advanced Placement exams.
  • Narrow the list of colleges. Your teen should decide on the top colleges on his or her list and collect all important information, such as application deadlines, application requirements (e.g. letters of recommendation or admissions essays) and scholarship/financial aid deadlines.
  • Request any letters of recommendation. Colleges that require such letters will expect them with your teen’s application package, so it is important for your teen to make such requests of teachers/counselors as early in the school year as possible.
  • Work on the essay. If a college requires it, your teen should give the admissions essay sufficient time and attention. It’s best to have a teacher review and edit the essay before it goes into the application package.
  • Start completing all applications in the fall. Early decision/early action deadlines can be as soon as November 1. Regular application deadlines tend to vary, but could also come as soon as January.
  • Assemble a list of all scholarship possibilities and start applying. Many scholarship deadlines fall between October and March, so by mid-fall semester, your teen should begin submitting those applications. Read our blog post on how to tackle the scholarship search.
  • Review acceptances and make a decision. Together, you and your teen should review and compare financial aid packages when they arrive in the late winter/early spring and discuss what college is the best fit from a financial perspective. Then, your teen must make his or her decision based on the factors of most importance (those might include location, field of study and cost) and notify his or her college of choice.

Need help getting your teen prepared for the SAT/ACT, SAT Subject or Advanced Placement exams? Want to help your teen finish high school with a strong report card? Call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN to learn more about our learning and exam prep programs.

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Six Reasons Your Teen Might Need Huntington this School Year For some students, learning doesn’t come easy. School and homework are daily frustrations and a major source of stress at home. And the further these students get in the school year, the worse the problems become.

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Fri, 13 Sep 2019 16:23:38 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-reasons-your-teen-might-need-huntington-this-school-year https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-reasons-your-teen-might-need-huntington-this-school-year Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center For some students, learning doesn’t come easy. School and homework are daily frustrations and a major source of stress at home. And the further these students get in the school year, the worse the problems become.

Sound familiar? It might be time to get help for your student. Here are six reasons your teen might need Huntington this year:

  1. To pinpoint and correct problems – Taking a broad-brush approach to fixing school issues will not be effective long term. At Huntington, we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all tutoring. All programs are customized to meet the unique needs of each student. Our teachers start by pinpointing teen’s precise areas of weakness so that we can develop programs that correct those areas.
  2. To close the skill gaps – Your teen brings home a bad test grade or poor report card, but what’s really going on? There are likely many contributors, but skill gaps are a common issue we see at Huntington. Skill gaps occur when teens are missing important knowledge that they need to progress in a subject. For example, geometry problems will prove difficult for a teen who still struggles with basic algebra and other skills reaching back to middle school. We identify these gaps through an Academic Evaluation, then build an individualized learning program.
  3. To facilitate an attitude change – When school isn’t going well, many students become pessimistic about learning altogether. Huntington’s primary goal is to help children make substantial gains in school, but our learning programs are about more than that. Our teachers will identify the root cause of your teen’s learning difficulties and tackle them one by one. The more we guide your teen toward success, the better she feels—and the faster she lets go of those negative emotions. With college on the horizon, bolstering this type of persistence and independence as a learner is very important.
  4. To give your teen a boost in motivation – All children have periods in school where they lose steam temporarily, but if your teen has seemed less and less engaged in school for a while, tutoring can make a big difference. For some, the lack of motivation stems from frustration and embarrassment. It’s easier to give up than continue to fail. For others, homework that is too difficult—because they lack the skills to complete it—seems pointless. No matter the source of the problem, Huntington can help. As your teen gears up for college-level academics, we’ll help your teen become more engaged and motivated to learn and push him or herself.
  5. To help your teen feel happy again – When school is challenging, it’s very easy for teens to experience a range of emotions. Some become highly self-critical and lose self-esteem, while others shut down completely. A tutoring program tailored to your teen’s needs can transform him for the better into a confident, enthusiastic student who is eager to learn and eager to go on to college.
  6. To set your teen on the path to lifelong success – You might think of tutoring as a short-term fix, but the benefits your teen will gain in the Huntington program will last a lifetime—into college and beyond. Your teen will emerge as a more optimistic student who perseveres when faced with any challenge and isn’t afraid to self-advocate. That alone is worth the investment.

If last school year was difficult for your teen or you simply want to help your teen get off to a great start this year as college nears, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We help students of all ages fulfill their potential in school and life and can do the same for your teen.

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Six Scholarship Resources Your Teen Should Check Out If you have a high school junior or senior who is about to start applying to colleges, cost and financial aid might be top of your mind. One of the best ways to lower the cost of college, of course, is by earning scholarships—and the more your teen applies, the greater chance he has of securing some scholarship money.

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Fri, 13 Sep 2019 16:05:47 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-scholarship-resources-your-teen-should-check-out https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-scholarship-resources-your-teen-should-check-out Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center If you have a high school junior or senior who is about to start applying to colleges, cost and financial aid might be top of your mind. One of the best ways to lower the cost of college, of course, is by earning scholarships—and the more your teen applies, the greater chance he has of securing some scholarship money. Here are several scholarship resources to explore: 

  1. High school guidance counselor – Hopefully your teen’s high school encourages students to meet regularly with the counseling office—and you should do the same. Doing so helps your teen stay apprised of all things college, including scholarship tools your teen can use to research and apply for scholarships. Guidance counselors have lots of experience helping students find and get scholarships. They are also the best source of information about local scholarship programs, community foundations and other resources that you won’t learn about on the scholarship search engine websites. 
  1. Teachers – Your teen shouldn’t assume that her teachers are solely focused on what happens inside their classrooms. They are connected to the local and national education community and might know more than your teen realizes about scholarships and how to get them. When the time comes, your teen should also lean on her teachers to review and edit her application essays and write recommendation letters for scholarship and college applications. 
  1. College websites – Just as your teen should stay in touch with guidance counselors and teachers and visit the high school website regularly to ensure he’s up-to-date on local scholarships, it’s a good idea to check out colleges’ financial aid pages for information on any merit-based scholarships. If your teen is certain about his major, make sure he visits the department or school section of the website too to look into any field-of-study scholarships. A direct phone call is also worthwhile. 
  1. Fastweb – Fastweb gives students access to its database of more than 1.5 million scholarships worth $3.4 billion in funding. Your teen simply creates a profile and the site matches her with scholarships for which she might be a candidate. She can also manage deadlines and keep track of applications. 
  1. Big Future – This is the College Board’s scholarship search platform, which offers much more than a scholarship search engine: financial aid information, a college comparison tool, a tool to help students explore careers and majors, and more. But the scholarship engine is searchable by scholarship category and lets users filter categories by a variety of criteria (ethnicity, GPA, test scores, etc.). Big Future has access to scholarships, financial aid and internships from more than 2,200 programs, totaling nearly $6 billion in funding. 
  1. Cappex – The name Cappex originates from the phrase “College Application Exchange,” and the database connects students to colleges that might be a good fit based on various recruitment criteria. It matches students with eligible scholarships from its multi-billion-dollar database and provides them with direct links to apply. Teens can also search for scholarships manually by category to uncover scholarships that might still be a good fit, even if their profile doesn’t show it. 

The students who put in the time are the ones who are the most successful with securing scholarship money. Encourage your teen to treat the scholarship search—and the college application process—like his job during the last half of high school. His chances of success will go up significantly, and the effort will definitely be worth it.

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FAFSA FAQs for Parents of Teens If you’ve got a college-bound teen, you’re probably at least a little familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but do you know how this application can affect your teen’s future?

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Fri, 13 Sep 2019 15:55:25 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/fafsa-faqs-for-parents-of-teens https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/fafsa-faqs-for-parents-of-teens Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center If you’ve got a college-bound teen, you’re probably at least a little familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but do you know how this application can affect your teen’s future?

Here are some frequently asked questions about the FAFSA and the process of applying for and getting federal student aid:

What is the FAFSA? The FAFSA is an application, but it is also your family’s gateway to getting financial aid to pay for college. Your teen cannot get federal student aid (such as federal grants, work-study, and loans) if they don’t complete the FAFSA. And many states and colleges use it to determine student eligibility for state and school aid, too.

When should we complete the FAFSA? For the 2019-2020 school year, students and/or parents can apply between October 1, 2018 and June 30, 2020. For the 2020-2021 school year, students and/or parents can apply between October 1, 2019 and June 30, 2021. Keep in mind, however, that many states and colleges have earlier deadlines for state and college aid. Your teen should check with the college to be sure.

Who is eligible to receive financial aid? The FAFSA website lists the specific, detailed requirements, but generally, students must hold a high school diploma or General Education Development certificate and be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate, maintaining satisfactory academic progress. They must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens with Social Security Numbers, not be in default on any federal student loans, not have any convictions for the possession or sale of illegal drugs, and register with the Selective Service System if male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

What do students need to complete the FAFSA? Students and/or parents need a Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number, federal income tax returns, W-2s, and records of taxed or untaxed income, bank and investment records, and an FSA ID, which parents and students can create at https://fsaid.ed.gov.

When are state student aid and college aid deadlines? They vary from state to state, college to college. It’s best to contact the colleges your teen is interested in attending to find out for sure.

Should my teen apply to colleges before completing the FAFSA? Applicants have to list at least one college that will receive their FAFSA information, but they don’t have to wait until they have applied to list a school. Your teen should list all schools they’re interested in (up to 10 are allowed). If your teen later considers a new school, they can submit a correction to the FAFSA online.

Are grades a factor for financial aid? They are not. However, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to continue receiving federal student aid. Each school has its own policy for what that means (typically a minimum GPA and number of credits per year), so check with the college.

Does my teen have to apply one time only? No, your teen needs to submit the FAFSA every year. It is possible that the aid package awarded to him or her will change after the first year. Your teen also needs to make satisfactory academic progress in order to remain eligible for federal aid. In other words, students who earn poor grades in college are putting their financial aid eligibility at risk.

Once we’ve applied, what happens? Your teen’s application will be processed by the U.S. Department of Education within 3-10 days. After that, your teen will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes the information provided on the FAFSA and includes an Expected Family Contribution. Colleges use this figure to determine federal and nonfederal student aid and to create student award packages.

How is the Expected Family Contribution calculated? This federal formula considers your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (like unemployment), as well as your family size and the number of family members in college that year. Expected Family Contribution is not an amount of money your family is required to pay for college or the amount of financial aid your teen will be eligible to receive.

For more frequently asked questions and detailed information about federal student aid the FAFSA, visit https://fafsa.ed.gov.

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Guiding Your Uncertain Teen Toward College When you’ve put money away in that 529 plan and talked with your child for years about college, it might feel like a punch to the gut when your teen suddenly declares that they aren’t interested. What can you do?

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Fri, 09 Aug 2019 14:56:38 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/guiding-your-uncertain-teen-toward-college https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/guiding-your-uncertain-teen-toward-college Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center When you’ve put money away in that 529 plan and talked with your child for years about college, it might feel like a punch to the gut when your teen suddenly declares that they aren’t interested. What can you do? Here are a few tips to guide your uncertain teen toward the pursuit of higher education:

  • Talk about the higher earning potential. As teens become more independent, the appeal of a more comfortable living might be a good way to nudge them toward college. After all, it’s been proven over and over again that workers with bachelor’s degrees earn more than those with high school diplomas. This Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that the median weekly earnings of a worker with a bachelor’s degree is $461 higher per week than a worker with a high school diploma.
  • Talk about the big difference in unemployment rates. College or no college, your teen will need to support him- or herself as an adult, and it’s a lot easier to be employable with a college degree. The same BLS report mentioned above shows that the unemployment rate of workers with high school diplomas is 4.6%. Those with bachelor’s degrees, on the other hand, boast an impressive 2.5% unemployment rate.
  • Discuss the fact that college is where self-exploration happens. A common complaint among uncertain teens is that they don’t know what they want to study or do for a career. While it would be great if your teen were decisive about the future, college is the time to self-exploration and discovering interests. If your teen hasn’t gravitated toward a high school subject, in college, they’ll be pleased to discover a range of interesting majors that go beyond the typical English, math, and science disciplines they’re used to—from exercise science to philosophy, from graphic design to political science.
  • Share that even some college is a smart idea. At a minimum, your teen should give college a try. The fear of the unknown might be holding them back, but the truth is, they aren’t alone. College can seem as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. But the fact is that the earning potential of a high school graduate with at least some college education is higher than that of a student with no college at all. Encourage your teen to commit to one year of college. Chances are, they’ll find it valuable – even enjoyable – by the end of those nine months.
  • Make it sound fun. If your attempts to elevate college’s importance flop, try the easy route. Tell your teen that college is a great time. There are new people to meet and many activities and clubs with which your teen could get involved. College campus life is vibrant and exciting. Your teen will get the chance to explore newfound passions and do things on their own for the first time. It is the perfect opportunity to reinvent themselves.

You might not be able to change your teen’s mind overnight about college, but be persistent and patient. Offer your advice and encourage your teen to be open-minded and do a little soul-searching. College will benefit your teen in numerous ways. Do your best to convince your child it is worthwhile!

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How Your Teen Can Make Senior Year Great After working toward a future that seemed far off, the time has finally come for your teen to graduate high school and head to college and into the real world. After all of your teen’s hard work leading up to this point, it’s important for them to finish strong.

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Fri, 09 Aug 2019 14:26:02 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-your-teen-can-make-senior-year-great https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-your-teen-can-make-senior-year-great Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center For most parents, the arrival of a teen’s senior year of high school comes with a lot of both excitement and trepidation. After working toward a future that seemed far off, the time has finally come for your teen to graduate high school and head to college and into the real world.

After all of your teen’s hard work leading up to this point, it’s important for them to finish strong. Here are several tips to help your teen make senior year great:

  1. Don’t slack off. Understandably, many teens lose motivation toward the end of high school. Help yours avoid this by reminding them to stick to a routine and study schedule, continue to think about and refine future goals, and keep in mind that college admissions officers do review final high school transcripts. They will not hesitate to revoke admission if a student’s grades drop significantly.
  2. Focus on the future without losing sight of today. Your teen might be over high school and ready to move on to the next exciting stage in their life, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. It’s more than just keeping up in school and maintaining the GPA, too. Senior year has a lot of social opportunities and milestones to celebrate. Your teen needs to keep studying, doing homework, and devoting time to college tasks.
  3. Create a college task calendar. There’s a lot to keep track of senior year, for both you and your teen. Print out Huntington’s senior year college application calendar, which will help your teen stay on top of all college-related deadlines from fall until graduation.
  4. Maintain good relationships with teachers. Teachers can serve as mentors, write recommendation letters, and offer a wide range of guidance and advice for students as they navigate the end of high school and prepare for college. Make sure your teen is getting the most out of those relationships by participating in class, visiting teachers outside of class, and putting in the work.
  5. Commit to time management. By now, your teen should have a good handle on what it takes to succeed in school. They must stick to the time management and organizational system that has served them well in high school. This will become even more critical in college.

Lastly, your teen should remember that there are many resources available during senior year. Teachers, guidance counselors, and school staff know that senior year is busy, stressful, and important. They have ushered many students through this time and are more than willing to help your teen stay on the path to success. Encourage your teen to reach out to them and you when needed.

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Guide to Your Teen’s Freshman Year of High School Middle school is officially behind you and your teen. You both have been preparing for this transition to high school for a while. Here is a quick guide to help you and your teen through their freshman year of high school.

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Tue, 13 Aug 2019 09:05:50 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/guide-to-your-teens-freshman-year-of-high-school https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/guide-to-your-teens-freshman-year-of-high-school Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Guide to Your Teen’s Freshman Year of High School

Middle school is officially behind you and your teen. You both have been preparing for this transition to high school for a while now, but here’s a quick guide to help your teen make it great:

  • Talk about the change. There’s no question: high school is vastly different than middle school. You’ve probably been having conversations throughout eighth grade, but this summer is a good time to remind your teen that it’s OK to be uncomfortable for a little while. The adjustment period is something every high school freshman goes through, so your teen isn’t alone.
  • Get organized. This is a tip for both you and your teen. Your teen must work on organizational skills, particularly if this was a weakness in middle school. He or she needs a reliable system for keeping track of homework, assignments, and upcoming test and project due dates, and a good filing system for paperwork. For your part, hang a family calendar in a central location. Designate a study space in the home and stock it with supplies. Set up inboxes near your home’s entry point where your teen can drop important papers for you and graded assignments or other papers that he doesn’t need to carry to and from school.
  • Go over time management essentials. High school academics are more rigorous, so it’s important that your teen learns how to be as efficient as possible with his or her time. Especially if your teen plans to get involved with sports or extracurricular activities, she will need to schedule her time diligently and become adept at avoiding distractions. Learning to prioritize homework each night is vital. Learn more about developing a foolproof time management system.
  • Talk about self-advocacy. Remind your teen that high school teachers expect independence. Your teen, not you, should speak up for himself or herself in high school. You can support from the sidelines, but if your teen feels he’s falling behind in class, it is up to him to reach out to the teacher to find ways to catch up and clarify any confusing areas. Bottom line: if your teen needs help or advice, he should ask for it.
  • Encourage relationship-building with teachers, staff and the guidance counselor. It is essential that your teen establishes good relationships with teachers from the start of high school. Your teen should pay attention in class, ask questions and visit the teacher whenever she needs help. Regular visits with the guidance counselor and other support staff are also important to keep your teen on track toward graduation and do everything required for college.
  • Make sure your teen gets enough sleep. Many high schools start classes earlier than middle school, and the schedule adjustment can be painful for teens. Insist that your teen make sleep a priority. He or she will feel more alert overall and focus better in school and when doing homework.
  • Discuss your teen’s goals. Maybe it feels early to bring up college, but your teen’s performance in high school matters—and will have a big impact on where she can go to college. Start talking about the future. What subjects does your teen like in school? Does she have any careers or college majors in mind? Plant the seeds now by having these conversations, which will get your teen planning ahead in her mind as well. 

High school brings many changes to students’ lives, and making the transition from middle to high school can be both nerve-racking and exciting. Open the lines of communication with your teen this summer and discuss some of the above. You will find that doing so mentally prepares both you and your teen for the impending change.

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How to Get Your Child Thinking About the Future Not all children know exactly what they want to be when they grow up. And while it’s perfectly fine if your child doesn’t talk about potential careers right now, it can’t hurt to encourage him to start exploring possibilities.

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Fri, 09 Aug 2019 11:05:15 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-get-your-child-thinking-about-the-future https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-get-your-child-thinking-about-the-future Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Not all children know exactly what they want to be when they grow up. And while it’s perfectly fine if your child doesn’t talk about potential careers right now, it can’t hurt to encourage him to start exploring possibilities. In high school, it becomes especially important to have these conversations—don’t assume your child will discover the path for him without a little research along the way.

Here are a few tips on how to get your child thinking about the future—both college and career:

Start asking questions. Ask your child more than just what subjects she enjoys most in school. How about jobs that sound intriguing or fun, or topics that pique her curiosity and make her want to learn more? If your child doesn’t have ideas, help her brainstorm a bit. Go online together to check out possible careers that might blend your child’s love of math and music. Talk about the pros and cons of working in different fields and jobs.

Talk about college as a definite plan. You want to make sure your child goes to college? Talk about it like it’s not optional. That way, your child will believe that college is on the horizon and begin making plans to get there. This is also a good opportunity to impress upon your child the importance of working hard in school to get into a good college and prepare for the rigors of college academics.

Visit colleges. If there is a college in your town or close by, take your child there for strolls or picnics, to sporting and theater events, or any opportunity to expose your child to the collegiate environment. Check out any camps or classes for children. Take your child to visit your alma mater if feasible, and point out your dorm and the buildings where you spent time learning and taking classes.

Try lots of different things. You never know what activity or pastime will light your child’s fire. Get your child involved with a nonprofit. Have him shadow family friends at their jobs. Go to music concerts, lectures and movies as a family. If your child has the chance to do something unique, encourage him to go for it.

Get involved in extracurricular activities. Encourage your child to try out different clubs and activities in and outside of school—even those that seem like a departure from his usual choices of pastime. Debate team, student government and the school newspaper are obvious career-relevant options, but your child might discover his passion as a peer tutor, in the choir or the recycling club, or working as a teacher’s aide.

Take a strengths finder. College career centers are a great resource to help students explore their strengths, determine career-related interests, and find career choices. But there are all kinds of different strengths finders out there that will help your child understand herself and guide her in a direction even earlier. Do an online search to see what you find.

Remember: you are your child’s greatest influence and can help guide him toward promising college majors and career paths—or at least help him formulate ideas. Talk about college in your home. Make it sound exciting and worthwhile. Invite your child to try new things, delve into ideas, ask big questions and seek to find the answers. Start early, and by the time your child reaches high school, he’ll be eager to plot his future.

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Seven Benefits of Your Teen Getting a Summer Job If there’s one thing every teen wants, it’s a little extra spending money. Without a doubt, a summer job has a big financial advantage for your teen. There are also a wide variety of other benefits they will find come with this experience.

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Fri, 09 Aug 2019 10:45:33 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/seven-benefits-of-your-teens-summer-job https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/seven-benefits-of-your-teens-summer-job Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center If there’s one thing every teen wants, it’s a little extra spending money. Without a doubt, a summer job has a big financial advantage for your teen, but here are seven other benefits:

  1. Earning money boosts your teen’s independence. A summer job helps your teen grow from a child who is completely reliant on you into a young adult capable of starting to support himself. With an income, your teen can start becoming a little more self-sufficient, saving for things she wants. That gives her a feel for independence from you and your pocketbook.
  2. Work instills a sense of pride. Extra spending money will give your teen a little more freedom, but it also fosters your teen’s sense of self-worth and self-respect. No longer does he need to ask you for money every time he wants to make a purchase. He’ll feel empowered and proud of his hard work and growing bank account.
  3. Your teen will gain life skills. Filling out job applications, learning to make a strong impression in an interview, working with customers and dealing with different management styles—these are real-world tasks and skills. Your teen might not realize how much that summer job is actually preparing him for scenarios he will face in life.
  4. A job teaches responsibility. By its very nature, a job requires your teen to be accountable by showing up somewhere on time, being dependable, fulfilling job duties and striving to do a job well. Teens who earn money also realize its value and begin to understand what it takes to accumulate those paychecks.
  5. Work nurtures your teen’s fiscal responsibility. Learning to save and manage money are important lessons your teen learns from working. Your teen might even choose to invest some money into a certificate of deposit or high-interest savings account, which cultivates good habits for adulthood.
  6. Working will help your teen learn to manage his time. If your teen wants to maintain his social life, put some effort toward college applications and also get a part-time job over summer, he’ll need to learn to prioritize his activities. That requires good time management and learning about a healthy work-life balance.
  7. Your teen will be exposed to different fields. Some jobs might spark a passion in your teen—like working at a bookstore, in a hospital or in a hospitality setting. You never know when your teen might discover a possible career path.

There are many advantages to your teen getting a summer job, and best of all, a summer job won’t interfere with school and your teen’s extracurricular and other obligations like an after-school job would. So, let him apply away and explore the options. The commitment will be good for him!

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Four Creative Ways to Pay for College Mon, 08 Jul 2019 11:51:40 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/creative-ways-to-pay-for-college https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/creative-ways-to-pay-for-college Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center The cost of college is on the rise, and if you have a high school student or a younger child who is starting to talk about college already, chances are you’re thinking about how you will fund your teen’s education.

 

Obviously, you should apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and your teen should search for scholarship opportunities. But aside from you both taking out loans and tapping into your own savings, how else can you afford the price tag of higher education? Here are four creative ways to pay for college:

 

  1. Explore prepaid tuition plans. The number of states that still offer prepaid tuition plans has dwindled over the last decade, but these plans do still exist. You can lock in today’s tuition rates for your child for the future. The risk, of course, is that your child might decide not to go to college. But many plans account for this possibility, so if you’re comfortable with the fine print, you can save big money this way. Take the Maryland Prepaid College Trust for example. If tuition increased 20% from the year you purchased your contract, the prepaid college trust would still pay that higher tuition. This program even lets you change the beneficiary on your account or delay using the funds if your child decides not to attend college right away.

 

  1. Join the military. If your teen has ever considered serving our country, here’s another powerful incentive to do so: she will get funding for college. Check out the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a program in which students attend school full time and receive financial assistance to cover their education costs. Eligibility and benefits vary depending on the branch of the armed services, but the benefits are great. Once your child graduates, she’ll have a commitment to serve on active duty in the military. The upside, of course, is a guaranteed job right after graduation and a generous ROTC scholarship.

 

  1. Start at a community college. One of the most affordable ways to earn a bachelor’s degree is to start at a community college and then transfer to a four-year school to finish there. All across the country, states offer guaranteed transfer programs, which allow students to earn their first two years’ worth of college credits at a community college and be guaranteed to transfer into most any four-year colleges in that state as juniors. Going this route could save you and your teen tens of thousands of dollars.

 

  1. Seek employer reimbursement. There are many corporations out there that offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits packages. Take Starbucks for example, which gives it part- and full-time employees 100% tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program. Chipotle and Home Depot offer tuition reimbursement for hourly and salary employees too. If your teen is willing to work part time and go to college, it’s worthwhile to research corporations with tuition reimbursement programs.

 

Even if you’re willing to help fund your child’s education, it can’t hurt to explore the options to reduce the cost and likelihood that your child will have to go into debt. Remember to complete that FAFSA as soon after October 1 as possible the year that your child is a senior, which will ensure your teen is considered for federal assistance in the form of loans, grants, and work-study. Encourage your child to get to know the guidance counselor in high school, who will share information about scholarships and offer other ideas. It takes a little effort, but you can reduce the cost of college. Do your research, and feel free to call Huntington for tips and advice!

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Seven Essential Study Skills Your Teen Needs It’s important that your teen develop those study skills sooner than later—both for success in high school and in college.

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Mon, 08 Jul 2019 11:18:20 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/essential-study-skills-your-teen-needs https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/essential-study-skills-your-teen-needs Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center With college on the horizon, there’s a lot for your teen to think about: getting good grades, maintaining a strong GPA, creating a solid college resume and more. It’s important that your teen develop those study skills sooner than later—both for success in high school and in college.

Here are seven study skills that are critical in high school and will prepare your teen for the rigors of college:

  1. Learning preference self-awareness – As teens progress through high school, class work gets increasingly difficult, and things step up even more in college. Ideally, teens need to know how they learn most effectively and when they focus best. Knowing their learning styles and preferences will also help them achieve optimal learning.
  2. Critical thinking – In high school and college, teachers expect that students are able to think methodically and critically and are capable of analyzing and evaluating what they read and hear.
  3. Active listening and reading – Active reading means being engaged with the text, not just by reading but by doing “self-checks” for understanding and jotting down notes for reference later. Active listening requires tuning out outside factors (and any internal “mind chatter”) as well as paraphrasing and asking questions to clarify understanding.
  4. Prioritization – Prioritization helps teens make the most of their time and get homework done more efficiently. Teens should divide homework into categories, such as due tomorrow, due later this week, and due next week or this month. Then, they should rank homework from highest to lowest priority and hardest to easiest—every night. Learn more about prioritization.
  5. Test-taking aptitude – There are many ways teens can improve their performance on tests. A study schedule, some mental preparation, a few stress management techniques and plenty of practice deciphering question types can make a big difference in test scores and test-taking confidence.
  6. Organization and time management – Time management is vital for keeping organized with homework, classes, extracurricular activities and more. Teens should put a planner to use in which they can record their goals, detailed schedule and daily to-dos. Learn more about the components of a foolproof time management system.
  7. Note-taking – Teens should be comfortable taking notes in an organized way. Good note-taking involves writing down sufficient information to understand main points, summarizing key ideas and noting important examples.

High school is a time when teachers expect students to take responsibility for their learning. That means less hand-holding at a time when the workload and subject-matter difficulty are increasing. Bottom line: your teen needs to develop good study skills to achieve his best in high school and beyond. The sooner he does, the better equipped he will be—and the more prepared he will feel—to do well in college.

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Nine Things to Know About 529 Plans A 529 plan offers a range of tax and other benefits for parents putting away money for their children’s college education. You might already know this if you have one set up for your child, but if not, here are a few essentials about this excellent college savings plan.

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Fri, 09 Aug 2019 14:29:56 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/nine-things-to-know-about-529-plans https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/nine-things-to-know-about-529-plans Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center A 529 plan offers a range of tax and other benefits for parents putting away money for their children’s college education. You might already know this if you have one set up for your child, but if not, here are a few essentials about this excellent college savings plan:

  1. The 529 plan’s biggest benefit: tax-free growth. Earnings on 529 plans’ contributions grow federal tax-free. Earnings are taxed when the money is withdrawn for college.
  2. Many states offer a full or partial tax deduction or credit for 529 plan contributions. Over 30 states offer this opportunity for each year you contribute to the 529 plan. State income tax benefits vary in different states, so it’s best to check with your financial advisor on the rules.
  3. Mom and Dad have control over the plan. You, not the named beneficiary of the 529 plan, stay in control of the 529 account you open. That means you can make sure your child uses the account for college costs.
  4. Everyone can take advantage. There are no income limits, age limits or annual contribution limits on 529 plans. However, there are lifetime contribution limits, which vary by plan (ranging from $235,000 to $520,000).
  5. Funds can be used at college or K-12 schools that charge tuition. The full value of your 529 plan can be used at any eligible college or university, including some international institutions. As of January 2018, 529 plan savings can also be used to pay for tuition expenses at private, public or religious elementary or secondary schools, up to $10,000 per year, per beneficiary.
  6. Yes, 529 plans affect college financial aid, but not much. Assets in 529 accounts owned by a parent are considered parental assets on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The first $20,000 of parental assets aren’t counted in the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation. If you save more than that, a maximum of 5.64% of parental assets are counted (as compared to other student assets, which are counted at 20%).
  7. What does that mean? Higher EFC means less financial aid. So, while 529 plan funds increase your EFC, it’s minimal, especially compared to other student assets. Also, qualified 529 distributions to pay for college expenses are not included in the base-year income that reduces college financial aid eligibility each year. And 529 accounts owned by a grandparent, other relative or family friend have no effect on a student’s FAFSA.
  8. If you don’t use the 529 plan funds for college, there are some penalties. The good news is they’re minimal. If you withdraw from a 529 plan for something other than college costs, the earnings are subject to a 10% withdrawal penalty (and an additional 2.5% state tax penalty in California). Your contributions will never be subject to tax or penalty (because you make contributions with after-tax dollars).
  9. There are exceptions to the 529 plan withdrawal penalty. The 10% penalty is waived if the 529 plan beneficiary passes away, becomes disabled, receives tax-free assistance (like a large scholarship), receives tuition assistance from an employer (there are some rules to this, of course), or attends a U.S. military academy.

College is expensive. The 529 plan is an excellent vehicle for college savings, and investing in one earlier in your child’s life means you benefit from compounded earnings. Contact your financial advisor with questions and to learn about the best 529 plan options in your state.

Information referenced from savingforcollege.com, an independent resource for parents and financial professionals. You can learn more about 529 plans’ tax benefits at www.irs.gov.

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Ultimate Summer SAT/ACT Prep Plan So, your college-bound student is starting to think about taking the SAT and/or ACT this summer—for the first, second or even third time. A summer exam prep plan is definitely in order.

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Mon, 08 Jul 2019 10:57:30 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/ultimate-sat-act-prep-plan https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/ultimate-sat-act-prep-plan Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center So, your college-bound student is starting to think about taking the SAT and/or ACT this summer—for the first, second or even third time. A summer exam prep plan is definitely in order. Here’s an example of an SAT/ACT prep plan for your teen (based on Huntington Learning Center’s exam prep program):

Week one: Choose the SAT or ACT.

  • Take an initial evaluation test.
  • Choose either the SAT or ACT based on the results of the evaluation (and any college preferences).

Week two: Get a baseline score.

  • Take a full-length, timed practice exam to get a baseline score.
  • Develop a targeted study plan based on strong and weak areas identified in the practice test.
  • Create a study schedule by exam section and sub-section and study according to customized prep schedule (# of days depends on exam timing and goals).

Week three: Start to work on different problem types and keep studying.

  • Get familiar with multiple choice, student-produced response questions, improving sentence questions, etc.
  • Continue to study according to a customized prep schedule.

Weeks four/five: Focus on time management, get familiar with how the SAT/ACT exams are scored and keep studying.

  • Work on exam time management by learning the structure of the exam and building skills like how to rule out obviously incorrect answers.
  • Learn about scoring and adjust test-taking strategies and pacing accordingly.
  • Continue to study according to a customized prep schedule.

Week six: Review progress.

  • Take a full-length, timed practice exam.
  • Adjust study schedule based on results, if needed.
  • Improve on question types where the lowest practice scores are received.
  • Continue to study according to a customized prep schedule.

Week seven: Continue improving weaker areas.

  • Improve on question types where the lowest practice scores are received.
  • Continue to study according to a customized prep schedule.
  • Review test-taking strategies and stress management techniques in the week leading up to the SAT/ACT exam date.

Week eight: Take the SAT or ACT!

This is an example of what your teen’s ultimate summer SAT/ACT prep study plan could look like, but at Huntington, we do not believe in one-size-fits-all learning—or SAT/ACT exam prep. Each prep program is developed based on a student’s specific needs, goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Call 1-800 CAN LEARN to learn more about Huntington’s individualized exam preparation services.

 

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How to Create a Scholarship Game Plan Parents of high school students have plenty on their minds, but at the top of the list is paying for college—and for good reason. While many families plan on taking out federal loans to help cover the cost, teens should absolutely apply for scholarships.

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Mon, 08 Jul 2019 10:44:48 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-create-a-scholarship-game-plan https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-create-a-scholarship-game-plan Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Parents of high school students have plenty on their minds, but at the top of the list is paying for college—and for good reason. The cost of college has risen steadily for the last three decades.* While many families plan on taking out federal loans to help cover the cost, teens should absolutely apply for scholarships. That “gift” aid (free money) can make the cost of college a little or a lot more affordable.

There are thousands of scholarships out there that can come from many different sources: the federal government, state government, colleges and universities, private organizations, nonprofits and even businesses. It is definitely worthwhile to search and apply for scholarships, but in a methodical, organized way. Here are a few tips on creating a scholarship search game plan:

  1. Create a spreadsheet for tracking research. Before teens start researching scholarships, it’s a good idea to develop a system for keeping track of them. Many of the popular scholarship engines out there have a dashboard of their own that allows students to manage their scholarship matches and application progress, but it’s wise for teens to have their own database too since they might apply to different scholarships from different sources. A simple Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet will do the trick.
  2. Research. Too often, high schoolers disregard the idea of scholarships, thinking they’re reserved only for the highest achieving students. However, there are scholarships for students from many backgrounds with various skills and in different niches. Students should do their research, keeping several things in mind:
    • Get to know the guidance counselor.
    • Sign up for any college platform or email list recommended by the high school guidance counseling office (such as Naviance), which is likely to be the best way to keep on top of deadlines for scholarships the school advertises.
    • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is used by both state and federal agencies (and colleges use the FAFSA’s Student Aid Report to determine the financial aid award they offer, which might include scholarships).
    • Keep small scholarships in mind, as they tend to be less competitive and can add up quickly.
    • Start early, as many scholarships require elements like letters of recommendation and essays.
    • Find ways to be efficient, like reusing/revising personal statements and essays to fit similar but slightly different scholarship applications.
    • In addition to the guidance counselor’s office, there are many other places to look for scholarships:
      • Scholarship databases like scholarships.com and fastweb.com
      • Local foundations, community organizations, businesses and civic groups
      • Library resource desk
  3. Dedicate time each week to scholarship research. There are lots of scholarships available to students, but those who earn them are dedicated and diligent. Teens should make time every week for researching scholarships and applying to those for which they’re qualified.
  4. Log progress. Teens should update their scholarship spreadsheet regularly, which will keep deadlines top of mind and keep them motivated to continue the effort. Here’s an example of how a tracking system might look:
Name Provider Website Deadline Award Criteria Other Status
Johnson Scholarship ABC Foundation ABCFoundation.com 11/1/2019

$5K - $10K per year for tuition + fees

in-state schools

3.75 GPA New Freshman,

Top 10% of class

Average SAT 1300

Average ACT 30

 

Letter of rec

Interview required

Requested letter from Ms. Smith 8/10/2019

Started online application 9/1/2019

Applying for scholarships takes effort, but the task is much less stressful when teens stay organized. Parents, encourage your teens to approach the job in a disciplined way, which will make it easier to apply widely and streamline the application process.

 

* “Trends in College Pricing 2017,” published by the College Board, states that over the past three decades, the dollar increases in published tuition and fees (in 2017 dollars) ranged from $1,550 (from 1987-88 to 1997-98) to $2,690 (from 2007-08 to 2017-18) at public four-year institutions and from $5,860 (from 1987-88 to 1997-98) to $7,220 (from 2007-08 to 2017-18) in the private nonprofit four-year sector.

 

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Tips for Researching College Scholarships With school on break, summer is a great chance for high school students to dedicate time to the college search, including looking for scholarships. The process of finding and applying for scholarships takes commitment and effort, however.

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 14:51:03 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/researching-college-scholarships https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/researching-college-scholarships Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center With school on break, summer is a great chance for high school students to dedicate time to the college search, including looking for scholarships. The process of finding and applying for scholarships takes commitment and effort, however. Here are a few tips for teens on how to approach the task this summer:

 

  • Repeat this mantra: “The scholarship search starts freshman year.” Teens should start thinking about college freshman year—and how to pay for it through financial aid and scholarships. Early on, they should visit the guidance counselor to ensure some of the notable/local college scholarship programs are on their radar. They should also start to browse websites like Scholarships.com and Fastweb.com and the College Board’s Big Future scholarship database.
  • Talk to alumni who earned scholarships. Word of mouth can be an invaluable search method. Parents should encourage their teens to talk with friends (and friends of friends), older siblings and others in their high school network about how they approached the scholarship search. That could turn them onto possibilities they weren’t aware of previously.
  • Create a spreadsheet. A Google sheet or Excel spreadsheet is a helpful tool to keep track of any scholarship research. Teens should include the scholarship name, scholarship provider, website, application deadline, criteria/eligibility information, award amount and any documentation required. It’s also wise for teens to include a column for ranking each scholarship in terms of how qualified they think they are (to help them prioritize when they start applying).
  • Create a timeline. The college application process ramps up significantly junior year, and it can be helpful to use summer break (even if your teen is just a soon-to-be sophomore) to start planning ahead. Many scholarship deadlines fall between October and March, so fall of senior year is a good time to start applying. That means by junior year, teens should have a working list for scholarships to which they plan to apply.
  • Be open to the possibilities. Sure, that full-ride scholarship that a local foundation gives out to students in your state might be most appealing, but teens shouldn’t disregard smaller scholarships. They are likely to be less competitive and lesser known—and nabbing several of them adds up quickly.
  • Search online and locally. As mentioned above, there are several scholarship websites where teens can start exploring what’s out there, but every community and every state has local scholarships too. Teens should check out the websites of big employers in town, community organizations and nonprofit organizations. A visit or call to the local library or community center is also worthwhile.
  • Start working on the essay. For many students, the essay is the most dreaded part of the scholarship application. Teens who are headed into senior year should check to see whether the scholarships they’re considering have released essay prompts yet and start brainstorming ideas. Those who are starting sophomore and junior year in the fall can still use summer to make a list of experiences, role models, life lessons and personal growth moments that could be essay-worthy topics.
  • Start thinking about teachers who could write recommendation letters. Summer break offers the opportunity to reflect on the year, including the teachers and other mentors who were influential and helpful (great people to keep in touch with). Teens can keep a list of these people for when the time comes to start requesting recommendation letters.

 

Many teens assume scholarships are reserved for only the top-tier students with impeccable academic and extracurricular records, but that’s simply not true. The truth is, there are many scholarships available for all kinds of students. Encourage your teen to take advantage of the slower pace of summer to do some research and dedicate time toward this effort.

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The Importance of Writing Skills for College Students In just about every subject, professors assign essays along with many other writing assignments. But beyond the fact that students are expected to do a lot of it in college, why else is the ability to write so important?

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 14:46:43 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/writing-skills-for-college-students https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/writing-skills-for-college-students Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center You and your teen already know how important writing skills are in high school. It probably comes as no surprise that they are just as critical in college. In just about every subject, professors assign essays along with many other writing assignments. But beyond the fact that students are expected to do a lot of it in college, why else is the ability to write so important? Here are six reasons:

  1. Communication is vital in today’s world. It’s a digital world where communication skills matter—and writing is at the core of strong communication. No matter what students go on to major in at college (and what they intend to do after they graduate), they will be expected to express their work clearly, concisely and coherently in writing.
  2. Writing helps students refine ideas. In college, students are often asked to do research and formulate arguments and present that information in written format. This prepares them for the real world, where professionals in many industries must do this on a daily basis—when emailing colleagues and creating and sharing reports, for example.
  3. Good writing leaves a strong impression. Like it or not, these days, many people are judged by their writing because so many introductions in the real world are made via email or similar. Quality writing will make students stand out (and bad writing will also make them stand out, but not in a good way).
  4. Writing skills prove workplace readiness. The goal of college, of course, is to prepare students for their future careers—and communication is consistently ranked as one of the most valued traits by all types of employers. Having an aptitude for writing earns people credibility, no matter what field they’re in.
  5. Having writing ability shows professionalism. Great leaders are often great writers, capable of inspiring others and instigating change with their words and ideas. Even on a more practical basis, professionals must be able to write emails, reports, memos and letters that are clear and effective. Students who hone their writing abilities in college will be better equipped as professionals.
  6. Poor writing gets ignored. Rambling essays…confusing emails…wordy titles…disorganized papers: these will get ignored by a professor, just as poor writing in the workplace will get disregarded as unimportant and irrelevant. Whether a student plans to become a journalist, business professional, teacher or engineer, it’s essential to learn that writing well means getting heard and noticed.

It’s crucial that your teen has good writing skills and techniques before she sets foot on a college campus. If your teen needs support throughout high school, call Huntington. We’ll help your teen hone those imperative writing abilities and become a more confident writer before she heads off to college.

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Eight Resume-Boosting Experiences for Your Teen This Summer If your teen complained about being bored last summer, it’s time to reframe the thinking. Summer break is a perfect opportunity to gain experience and better oneself.

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 14:41:38 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/resume-boosting-teen-summer-experiences https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/resume-boosting-teen-summer-experiences Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center If your teen complained about being bored last summer, it’s time to reframe the thinking. Summer break is a perfect opportunity to gain experience and better oneself. Here are a few great uses of time that will benefit your teen and strengthen her resume:

  1. Get an internship. Internships are one of the best ways for teens to get practical experience and exposure to a real-world professional setting. Though more common in college, many organizations hire high school interns too. Have your teen talk with the guidance counselor to learn about what might be available in your area.
  2. In every community, there are all kinds of organizations in need—and these organizations rely on volunteers. This is a perfect way for your teen to get experience and grow as a person. Look to the high school clubs for ideas, but the local nursing home, animal shelter, and community center are also likely to have options.
  3. Build skills. Subject-matter knowledge is essential in college, but there are other aptitudes your teen needs for success like communication, speaking, and writing. Contact Huntington about using summer to help your teen build skills like these.
  4. Try something totally new. Encourage your teen to get out of his comfort zone and learn something new. Explore academic camps on everything from marketing to programming. Check out a new hobby, instrument, sport or activity.
  5. Work on a personal project. If there’s one thing teens have a lot of in summer, it’s time to explore passions. Formal experiences and jobs offer the chance to learn, but your teen can also create her own learning experiences. Create a blog. Do a photography project. Research something. There are many possibilities if your teen gets creative.
  6. Learn a language. Your teen might take a foreign language class during the school year, but summer is a good time to do some online learning. Check out Rosetta Stone or Babbel for starters.
  7. Take a college class. Your teen might not get excited about the idea of summer school, but college classes will challenge him in new ways. Check out local colleges for high school-specific programs and community colleges that welcome high school students.
  8. Prepare for the SAT or ACT. Strong scores on the SAT/ACT make teens more impressive applicants for their colleges of choice—and make them stand out as students. And there’s no better time than summer to take a prep course at Huntington.

Summer is a great chance to relax and recharge after the grind of a busy school year, but for college-bound teens, it’s also an opportunity to learn, grow and build the resume. Encourage your teen to use this break wisely. When the time comes to apply to college, she will be glad she did.

Huntington Learning Center works with high school students every summer who are eager to become better students. We focus on all kinds of academic subjects as well as essential study skills like organization and time management. Contact us to learn more about our learning programs for high school students.

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Six Things to Look for in an Exam Prep Program College entrance exam scores are a significant factor in admission too. Make sure your teen prepares effectively for the SAT or ACT with an exam prep program.

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 14:35:16 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-thing-for-an-exam-prep-program https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/six-thing-for-an-exam-prep-program Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Applying to college is exciting and nerve-racking for teens. All of the hard work of high school becomes incredibly important as teens bring it all together—the transcript, grade point average, letters of recommendation and more—and assemble their applications.

College entrance exam scores are a significant factor in admission too. Make sure your teen prepares effectively for the SAT or ACT with an exam prep program. What should you look for when selecting one? Here are six musts:

  1. Customized for each student – Studying for the SAT or ACT is made easier when teens know their individual strengths and weaknesses and can focus their study plan. Parents should make sure that their teens receive a diagnostic evaluation at the start of any exam prep program. That assessment of subject-matter knowledge and skills will serve as the baseline for the study program.
  2. Structured and scheduled – The most effective exam prep program will be scheduled based on teens’ precise needs in each exam subject and overall score goals (which might be driven by their college of choice). Certain subjects might need more attention than others, and thus, more time and focus.
  3. Highly knowledgeable teachers – Studying for the SAT and/or ACT is different than studying for a regular test. It’s best to work with tutors who are trained in college entrance exam prep. Teens will learn the best working with tutors who know the exams well and understand both the unique structure of each exam and the best strategies for exam preparation and success.
  4. A focus on test-taking strategies for each exam – The SAT and ACT are similar in what they cover, but there are many distinctions teens need to understand in order to adjust their approach to each exam. For example, students cannot use a calculator on the SAT math test. And in the reading test, students get 22.5 more seconds per question on the SAT than on the ACT. Bottom line: knowing such differences (and how to approach different parts of the exams) is critical.
  5. Test practice – The best test prep programs incorporate full-length, timed, practice exams. These help teens get comfortable pacing themselves on different question types and allow them to get a feel for the actual exam setting.
  6. Prep materials for outside practice – Let’s face it: to boost their SAT/ACT scores, teens need to put in the work outside of the hours they’re with their exam prep tutor. Additional resources and materials help teens practice questions and focus on areas/subjects on their own time.

Not all SAT and ACT prep programs are created equal. If you decide your teen needs individualized help, make sure you invest in a proven test prep program that has helped many high school students perform their best.

Huntington’s SAT and ACT preparatory programs are individualized for each student’s needs and focused on guiding students toward achieving success. For more about our process, exam prep curriculum and more, call us at 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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Making the Best Use of the College Counselor at Your Teen’s High School Your teen might be vaguely aware of the counseling office at his high school, but less aware of what the staff in this office does to help students prepare for the college search and application process.

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Mon, 20 May 2019 15:30:51 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/leveraging-your-teens-high-school-college-counselor https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/leveraging-your-teens-high-school-college-counselor Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Your teen might be vaguely aware of the counseling office at his high school, but less aware of what the staff in this office does to help students prepare for the college search and application process. Here are a few tips to share with your teen to make sure he is taking full advantage of the counseling office’s services:

  • Visit early. Too often, teens make the mistake of visiting their counseling office as juniors but not before. Freshmen and sophomores would be wise to drop in early to talk about their goals (e.g. their dream colleges and careers) and what it will take to reach them. The goal-setting process can be impactful, inspiring students to work hard and stay motivated.
  • Learn about on-campus college visits. The high school guidance counseling office frequently arranges college visits right on campus. Teens who are in the know can take advantage of this and learn about colleges that they might not otherwise hear about or be able to visit in person.
  • Take advantage of nearby college fairs. If there are college fairs in your area, the counseling office will be the first to have information. This is another great way to learn about a variety of different colleges and universities without having to travel to them. Teens can start exploring options and get a feel for what different types of colleges are all about.
  • Talk about the SAT and ACT. The counseling office keeps students informed of upcoming SAT and ACT test dates, registration details and sites in the area. Counselors can also advise students on how the exams are structured, their similarities and differences, and which exam might fit them best.
  • Prepare to be successful in college. There’s preparing to apply for college and then there’s preparing for college-level academics. The counselors at your teen’s high school are trained to educate teens about what the high school-to-college transition will be like so when they set foot on a college campus as freshmen, they feel ready.
  • Learn about financial aid. One of the biggest areas of concern for parents and teens regarding college is the cost. The counseling office is an invaluable source of information for families and can share more about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), how to find and apply for scholarships, and so much more.
  • Stay apprised of college-related activities all four years. Arguably the best thing about the counseling office is its commitment to keeping students and parents informed about all events, to-dos and deadlines. Every school is different, but this office helps students register for college and career exploration web resources (e.g. Naviance), set academic goals, explore careers, gather valuable information about colleges and the application process, and much more.

At Huntington, we encourage high school students to make the most of the resources at their disposal that will help them make plans for college and achieve their dreams. The counseling office is there to advise students on choosing classes, but they can do so much more—like provide information about college admission tests and registration, support students on their journey to college, and offer information for students and parents about paying and planning for college.

Huntington is also here to assist you. Contact us to learn more about how we help teens succeed in high school and get ready to do the same in college: 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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What You Need to Know About SAT Subject Tests You’ve obviously heard about the SAT, but what about the SAT Subject Tests? These exams are college admission tests on specific subjects. Students can choose the tests that best showcase their strengths and weaknesses.

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Mon, 20 May 2019 15:26:49 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/important-things-to-know-about-sat-subject-tests https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/important-things-to-know-about-sat-subject-tests Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center You’ve obviously heard about the SAT, but what about the SAT Subject Tests? These exams are college admission tests on specific subjects. Students can choose the tests that best showcase their strengths and weaknesses. The SAT Subject Tests measure students’ knowledge at the high school level.

Here are a few things you and your teen need to know about these exams:

  • There are 20 SAT Subject Tests available in five subject areas. Those areas are Mathematics (2), Science (3), English (1), History (2) and Languages (12). Each test is one hour long, multiple choice and scored on a 200-800-point scale.
  • Exams are offered on the same days as the regular SAT. That’s six times a year, although not all 20 tests are offered on every date. The Language and Listening tests are only offered in November.
  • Students cannot take the SAT on the same day they take an SAT Subject Test. However, students can take up to three SAT Subject Tests on a single test date.
  • Students can use the SAT Subject Tests to prove they are ready for certain majors or programs. Colleges and universities sometimes require or recommend one or more SAT Subject Tests when they want to get a sense of students’ readiness for a particular subject or program. A student interested in majoring in math, for example, might choose to take both Mathematics Subject Tests as a way of highlighting this subject strength and interest on their application.
  • The SAT Subject Tests offer the chance to highlight several subjects not tested on the SAT. There are Math and English Subject Tests (subjects covered on the SAT), but there are also Subject Tests on science, history and 12 different languages. For students interested in pursuing majors related to these subjects, SAT Subject Tests might be a good idea, especially if students already possess a high level of knowledge in those subjects.
  • Preparation is different than it is for the SAT. Like the SAT, the SAT Subject Tests are based on what students learn in high school. However, these tests go deeper into a subject. Thus, it can be helpful to prepare individually for these tests, even though the best method (as with all standardized exams) is to work hard in high school classes.
  • Want to find out if a school requires, recommends or considers SAT Subject Test scores? Call their admissions office or visit their website. Very few colleges/universities in the U.S. require SAT Subject Tests (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, certain colleges/schools within Cornell University and Harvey Mudd College are among them) but some schools recommend submitting such scores (e.g. Harvard, Georgetown, Brown). The best and most current source on this, of course, is the college/university itself.

Huntington helps students perform their best on the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests. We know how to help students prepare effectively for these exams. Questions? Call us to learn more about our test prep programs. 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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How to Keep Grades Up Throughout High School There’s a lot of truth to the statement that high school is when students’ grades really start to matter. Middle school lays the groundwork and helps students establish good study habits, but high school is when things count.

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Mon, 20 May 2019 15:22:30 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/keeping-grades-up-through-high-school https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/keeping-grades-up-through-high-school Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center There’s a lot of truth to the statement that high school is when students’ grades really start to matter. Middle school lays the groundwork and helps students establish good study habits, but high school is when things count. Teens’ performance (i.e. their academic record) will impact where they go to college, whether they are eligible for scholarships and much, much more.

So, what’s the secret to keeping up those grades? The simple answer is effort, but in reality, it’s a bit more complex than that. Here are five tips for teens striving to keep that GPA high all through high school:

  1. Put school first. Students who treat high school as their highest priority will have the best chance of success. Yes, achieving balance is important, and teens should make time for family, friends and things they like to do (e.g. a favorite sport or club). However, high school is a commitment that requires daily studying and homework—and perseverance when things get difficult.
  2. Get the most out of class. Going to class and paying attention while in class are two obvious musts to do well in high school, but it’s not just about showing up. Teens need to use active listening techniques, participate in class discussions to solidify their knowledge, and take notes that help them retain knowledge later on (which makes for more effective studying).
  3. Be organized. Strong organization is the not-so-secret weapon of high-performing high school students. This includes planner use and maintenance, solid time management, prioritizing of assignments during homework time, and of course, organization of the backpack, locker and any papers kept at home (or stored in a Google Drive or similar). Learn more about how to help children be more organized.
  4. Become a skilled note taker. Effective notes will help students retain information delivered in class and prepare well for quizzes and tests. But not all notes will serve students well. Teens should practice good note-taking habits: by recording meaningful facts, grouping ideas, using their textbook and more. Read more about good note-taking strategies for high school students.
  5. Use teachers as a resource. In high school, students need to make a shift from passive to active learner if they haven’t yet done so. A big part of that is self-advocating to ensure their learning needs are met. Teens should establish relationships with their teachers—and not just for show. They should take advantage of any study sessions and reach out to teachers when they need help.

There’s no doubt that the bar is higher in high school and your teen will need to work hard to keep up and even harder to excel. Rest assured, your teen will do well if he puts forth the effort and embraces these tips. The report card will show those efforts, but even better, your teen will become a more independent, proficient student in time for college.

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Avoiding Senioritis After three and a half years of hard work, it’s easy for teens to lose motivation as they near the end of high school. Once teens achieve their desired SAT/ACT scores, apply to colleges and decide which one to attend, it’s understandable that they might assume that the hard work is behind them.

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Mon, 20 May 2019 15:10:46 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/avoiding-senioritis-in-students https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/avoiding-senioritis-in-students Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center After three and a half years of hard work, it’s easy for teens to lose motivation as they near the end of high school. Once teens achieve their desired SAT/ACT scores, apply to colleges and decide which one to attend, it’s understandable that they might assume that the hard work is behind them.

Reality check: the final semester of high school really is important. So, parents if your high school seniors seem to be losing steam, here are a few things to share that should help them get back on track:

Explain that college admissions officers do pay attention to final semester grades. What teens might not realize is that if their grades decline significantly after they’ve accepted admission to a college, they’re at risk of getting their admittance revoked entirely. In fact, many colleges even state in their admissions letters that admission is contingent on students’ continued successful performance until high school graduation. Expect that colleges will review the final high school transcripts of all admitted students.

Talk about their goals. Many students hit ruts along the academic journey. It can be helpful for such students to take a step back and think about what they’ve been working toward. There’s nothing wrong with releasing some of the pressure once students have selected a college and are making plans for their future careers. However, a reminder of what’s in front of them can be the boost students need in the home stretch of high school.

Most Advanced Placement (AP) exams are in May. Teens taking AP classes with the intention of sitting for the corresponding AP exams must keep up with class work if they want to perform well. The AP exams are given in the first two weeks of May. The AP program has two important benefits. First, students earn college credit by scoring high enough on AP exams. And second, AP classes actually help prepare students for college because of their similarity to college classes as far as structure and rigor.

Think about college class placement. Some colleges and universities require students to take one or more placement exams in subjects like math, reading, writing and foreign languages before they finalize their freshman year schedule. These tests measure what students have learned in high school, making it all the more important for teens to get as much out of their remaining classes as possible. Slacking off and getting placed in unchallenging classes (or even remedial classes) would be a disappointing way for a student to begin college—and long term, a waste of money.

Bad habits now could translate into a rough start at college. Doing the bare minimum (or not even that) could be a tough habit for students to break. Teachers are working diligently to prepare their second-semester seniors to succeed in college. Teens should take full advantage and soak up all of the knowledge and study skills they possibly can.  

Senior year is an emotion-filled time for many teens. The culmination of so much hard work, anxiety and contemplation about the college decision can easily lead to senioritis. Remind your teens why they should stay focused and finish their high school careers strong. When they get to college and begin the next chapter of their lives and feel motivated and well prepared, they will be grateful that they did.

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FAQs About the Differences Between the SAT and ACT Exams College just around the corner for your teen? There’s a lot to do to prepare, including take college entrance exams. When it comes to choosing the SAT or ACT, you might wonder how these exams differ and whether one is “better” for your teen than the other.

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Mon, 20 May 2019 15:14:29 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/differences-in-the-sat-and-act https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/differences-in-the-sat-and-act Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center College just around the corner for your teen? There’s a lot to do to prepare, including take college entrance exams. When it comes to choosing the SAT or ACT, you might wonder how these exams differ and whether one is “better” for your teen than the other. Here are a few FAQs that will help you and your teen understand the differences between them:

  1. What do the exams measure? The SAT focuses on the skills that matter most for college readiness and success. The ACT measures skills that are most important for success in postsecondary education and that are acquired in secondary education. Both exams measure what students learn in high school.
  2. Are the sections on the SAT and ACT the same? Both exams have reading and math tests. The ACT has an English test and optional writing (essay) test, while the SAT has a writing and language test and optional essay. The ACT has a science test while the SAT has science elements throughout every section of the test.
  3. Is one exam longer than the other? Testing time on both exams is similar: three hours (plus a 50-minute optional essay) for the SAT and two hours, 55 minutes (plus a 40-minute optional essay) for the ACT.
  4. Can students use a calculator on the math portions? The SAT has a calculator section and a no calculator section on the math test. On the ACT, students can use a calculator on the whole math test.
  5. What are some of the other differences in the math sections (other than the calculator)? The SAT’s math test is 80 minutes and 58 questions, while the ACT’s is 60 minutes and 60 questions. On the SAT, some formulas are provided to exam-takers. Math is half of the total SAT score and just 25% of the composite ACT
  6. How many questions are on each exam? There are 154 questions on the SAT and 215 questions on the ACT. So, that’s a big difference between the SAT and the ACT: the amount of time per question. SAT exam-takers get an average of one minute, 10 seconds, per question, while ACT exam-takers get just 49 seconds per question on average.
  7. Are both exams accepted at all U.S. colleges?
  8. How often are the exams available? Both the SAT and the ACT are offered seven times a year. For the 2018-2019 school year, SAT dates were/are August 2018, October 2018, November 2018, December 2018, March 2019, May 2019, and June 2019, and ACT dates were/are September 2018, October 2018, December 2018, February 2019, April 2019, June 2019, and July 2019.
  9. What are the score ranges? On the SAT, total score range is 400-1600 (reading/writing is 200-800 and math 200-800). The essay test is scored on three dimensions, with scores ranging from 2 to 8. The composite is calculated by averaging scores (1-36 points possible on each of the four subject tests: math, science, English and reading). Writing is a separate score that ranges from 2 to 12.
  10. What is the best way to prepare for the SAT and ACT? Taking challenging courses in high school is the best way to prepare, since both exams are focused on what students learn in high school. Beyond that, individualized test prep guided by a customized study plan is the best way to get ready.

Huntington can help! Contact us at 1-800 CAN LEARN to discuss how we can help your college-bound student prepare for the SAT or ACT.

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Should Your High School Student Seek an Internship This Summer? When teens get to college, something they’ll hear often from professors and the team at the college career center is how important it is to get work experience. Enter internships, which offer many important benefits.

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Wed, 10 Apr 2019 08:49:48 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/should-your-high-school-student-seek-an-internship-this-summer https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/should-your-high-school-student-seek-an-internship-this-summer Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center When teens get to college, something they’ll hear often from professors and the team at the college career center is how important it is to get work experience. Enter internships, which offer many important benefits:

  • They give students practical experience in a field and an idea what a career in that field might be like.
  • They offer students the opportunity to experience a professional workplace setting firsthand.
  • They are the perfect “test run” for a career, giving students the chance to try out an industry or job type with minimal risk.
  • They establish students’ connections with real-world professionals who could serve as mentors as they navigate their professional journeys.
  • They help students build their resumés and their skills.

Getting an internship is a great idea…but are internships reserved for college students? Definitely not! There are many programs and options for motivated high school students. Internships are an ideal way for high school teens to get a head start on researching possible college majors and career paths—plus the experience looks awesome on a college application. 

Parents, here are some tips to offer your high schoolers as they engage in an internship search:

Visit the guidance counselor. The guidance counselor’s office might have lists of internship opportunities and local resources for internships. High schoolers should stop by regularly and make sure they’re registered on any internship websites or email lists that the guidance counselor recommends.

Check out nearby colleges. Colleges, universities and community colleges often have formal internship programs (many science related) for high school students. Colleges’ websites are a good place to start, and students can reach out to specific departments/programs as well. Some colleges and universities even invite students to live on campus for the summer. Two examples:

  • Stanford University’s Cardiothoracic Surgical Skills and Education Center Stanford Summer Internship exposes high school students to careers in science, medicine and public health.
  • Boston University’s Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) program invites high school juniors to conduct scientific lab research.

Make a list of companies. Because there are more internships available to college students, high school students need to be diligent…and creative. Parents should encourage their teens to look not just for formal internship programs but also companies and organizations in their local area that interest them. High school students can approach organizations directly with a resumé and a cover letter expressing their desire to gain professional experience (explaining their specific area of interest). Many companies might be willing to create an internship position for an ambitious teen.

Create a resumé. Speaking of resumés, teens who are serious about finding internships definitely need resumés along with cover letters that they can customize as they apply for (or inquire about) internships. The resumé must include sections for education, GPA (unless the GPA is low, then omit it), interests/objective, any work experience and any special qualifications (e.g. communication skills or particular subject strengths).

Look nationally. High school students looking for a transformative internship experience should consider big companies with reputable internship programs for high school students. Here are just a few examples:

  • Microsoft has several summer high school internships.
  • Bank of America offers a Student Leaders program that places students into internships.
  • The Smithsonian’s Youth Engagement through Science internship program has several options for rising high school students in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
  • NASA has several internship options for students in high school.

There are lots of summer jobs out there for teens, but an internship will benefit your high school student tremendously. With college on the horizon, it’s not too early for your teen to think about creating an impressive, well-rounded application package. Combine a strong GPA and an academic record of challenging classes with a quality internship experience and your teen will definitely set himself apart.

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Seven Reasons Your Teen Needs an SAT/ACT Prep Course The SAT and ACT are arguably the most important exams in a high school student’s life. It pays to prepare! But here’s something to keep in mind: there are several must-haves when it comes to effective preparation and many teens are ill-equipped to approach the task correctly on their own.

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Wed, 10 Apr 2019 08:41:52 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/7-reasons--your-teen-needs-an-sat-act-prep-course https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/7-reasons--your-teen-needs-an-sat-act-prep-course Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center The SAT and ACT are arguably the most important exams in a high school student’s life. It pays to prepare! But here’s something to keep in mind: there are several must-haves when it comes to effective preparation and many teens are ill-equipped to approach the task correctly on their own.

Here are seven reasons to enroll teens in an SAT/ACT prep course:

  1. To work with skilled teachers. Find a well-designed exam prep course that is taught by an experienced tutor. Ideally, that teacher will have significant SAT/ACT exam prep experience and great training and hold state certifications. Teachers like this know how to help students succeed on the SAT/ACT.
  2. To get an organized study plan in place. The problem with students studying on their own for the SAT/ACT is that they might be spending too much time on one area and not enough on another. It’s natural for students to want to focus on subjects they know well, but no two students should study exactly the same way. A customized exam prep course will ensure each student’s needs are met and goals considered.
  3. To get a clear picture of each exam’s structure. Before a student dives into studying, it’s important to understand how the SAT differs from the ACT, especially if that student plans to take both exams. Organizers of SAT/ACT prep courses can also guide students toward the exam that fits them best and aligns with the preferences of the college(s) to which they’re applying, if applicable.
  4. To customize their study plan. Great prep courses start with individualized study plans that are created based on students’ practice SAT/ACT scores. This initial assessment identifies students’ strengths and weaknesses on the exam(s) they are taking. A customized study approach and schedule is more likely to help students improve where they need to improve. Students rarely need to study the same amount for all exam sections, after all.
  5. To learn trusted test-taking skills and strategies. The SAT and ACT are not structured or scored the same. A quality exam prep program will guide students through good strategies for answering different types of test questions, knowing how each type is graded.
  6. To improve speed. There’s no getting around it: students don’t have the luxury of time during the SAT and ACT. These exams are timed and students are expected to move quickly from question to question. Too often, students struggle with this aspect of these exams. A good prep program teaches students to improve their speed and become adept at narrowing down answer choices fast so they make the most of their test minutes.
  7. To get actual test-taking practice. An initial practice test is important to ensure students focus their studying on the right areas, but prep courses usually incorporate multiple practice tests into their curriculum. This is valuable, as practice tests get students comfortable with the structure of the SAT/ACT and give them the opportunity to practice those test-taking skills.

Whether your teen is taking the SAT or ACT for the first time or has taken these exams before and wants to boost those scores, Huntington can help. Call us to learn more about our proven approach and to find the Huntington SAT/ACT prep program nearest you: 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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Six Musts When Requesting Recommendation Letters At some point in your teen’s life, it’s likely that he will need to request a letter of recommendation. Many top-tier colleges and universities require or strongly encourage applicants to submit such letters.

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Fri, 15 Mar 2019 14:03:31 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/requesting-recommendation-letters-how-to https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/requesting-recommendation-letters-how-to Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center At some point in your teen’s life, it’s likely that he will need to request a letter of recommendation. Many top-tier colleges and universities require or strongly encourage applicants to submit such letters. Or, your teen might need one for a scholarship, internship or pre-college program application.

These letters can seriously bolster your teen as a candidate, so it’s important to take them seriously. Huntington offers a few essential guidelines for requesting recommendation letters:

  1. Build relationships. Before teens even get to the point where they need letters of recommendation, they should work on cultivating good relationships with teachers and superiors. That means being engaged in class, being a good classmate or teammate, and giving all endeavors, from school to extracurricular activities to part-time jobs, their very best effort.
  2. Ask the right person/people. It’s imperative that students request letters from appropriate teachers/mentors. They should ask individuals who know them well enough to speak to their academic performance, character and willingness to persevere in the face of adversity. High school students should avoid asking for recommendation letters from the teacher who doesn’t know them very well or the guidance counselor they’ve only visited once during high school. Also, it’s important to pay attention to the guidelines offered by the college (or scholarship or other organization), as the committee reviewing applications might want the writer to focus on certain traits, such as the student’s communication or critical thinking skills.
  3. Give some background. Many teachers/coaches/mentors are willing to write recommendation letters, but students shouldn’t assume those people know everything about them. They have lots of other students, after all. When requesting the letter, students should provide a resume if they have one (or a list of their accomplishments and activities) and a little background that the teacher might not know, such as their career plans or personal background.
  4. Allow plenty of time. Teachers and other recommenders are busy people and will likely receive requests from other students too. They need time to think about and write every letter requested of them. Giving notice is a good idea, and the earlier the better. Students might even consider making a “soft request” via email to confirm the teacher/other individual is willing before following up with a more formal request after they agree to the task (with all of the aforementioned details). Again, students should make sure the teacher has the application deadline (and recommendation letter, if different).
  5. Share any specific guidelines. Students can make things easier on the teacher/counselor/other individual that they ask by providing a rundown of the guidelines of the letter of recommendation. They should also include the application deadline and the website where the letter should be submitted or the address where the letter should be mailed.
  6. Be appreciative. Last and certainly not least, high school students should write thank-you notes or emails to the people who write letters of recommendation for them. Doing so shows their professionalism and appreciation and can help strengthen those relationships for the future.

There’s an art to requesting recommendation letters. Encourage your teen to take this seriously, as arming those individuals from which they request letters with all the right information will result in a well-written letter that articulates your teen’s best assets.

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What Does it Really Take to Get into the Ivy League? So, what does it take to gain acceptance into one of these colleges? High grades, class rank and outstanding standardized test (SAT and ACT) scores top the list of requirements. A rigorous high school curriculum and an impressive resume of extracurricular activities are also essential. But beyond those things, there are the intangible elements that make certain students stand apart from others.

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Fri, 15 Mar 2019 13:57:55 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/what-does-it-really-take-to-get-into-the-ivy-league https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/what-does-it-really-take-to-get-into-the-ivy-league Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center If your teen is a high achiever, the Ivy League might be on her radar. Officially the name of an American intercollegiate athletic conference, the Ivy League consists of eight private colleges and universities: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University.

These schools are known as some of the best and most prestigious in the world and consistently top rankings by U.S. News & World Report and other notable ranking institutions. For students who value academic excellence and reputation, they are the gold standard.

What it takes to get in to the Ivy League

So, what does it take to gain acceptance into one of these colleges? High grades, class rank and outstanding standardized test (SAT and ACT) scores top the list of requirements. A rigorous high school curriculum and an impressive resume of extracurricular activities are also essential. But beyond those things, there are the intangible elements that make certain students stand apart from others.

Tips to strengthen those chances of acceptance

Many brilliant students apply to Ivy League schools each year, and just a small percentage are accepted. Teens must demonstrate to their schools of choice that they have the potential to do incredible things. If your teen wants her application to shine, here are some tips that come from the Ivy League institutions themselves:

  • Show your potential. Teens must show that they have reached not only their academic potential, but their personal potential. They must put their initiative, motivation and steadfast dedication to achieve certain goals on display right in their application package.
  • Take full advantage of school offerings and look beyond school walls for more. Teens who challenge themselves as much as possible at their high schools and take it upon themselves to look for additional learning opportunities (e.g. through independent study or local colleges) prove that they are highly motivated.
  • Show your leadership. Genuine commitment to one’s activities is important to the schools in the Ivy League. Teens who are dedicated to and care deeply about certain pursuits and have taken on the additional responsibility to assume leadership roles in them will stand out.
  • Demonstrate character. Ivy League schools extend admission to students they believe will make a notable impact and difference on campus and in the world after they graduate. Teens should try to show who they are and what they stand for in their applications. They should share how they will contribute in the classroom and take advantage of the unique experience offered at their school of choice.
  • Get the best recommendations. There’s no question that Ivy League schools appreciate the recommendations of teachers, counselors and other mentors when considering candidates’ overall potential. For this reason, teens need to take the decision on who to ask for such letters very seriously. Those individuals are tasked with helping admissions officers understand teen’s promise, intellect and strengths.

Admission into the Ivy League is highly competitive. If your teen has her sights set on attending one of these elite schools, it will take a great deal of hard work and dedication—as well as that “something extra” that makes your teen’s application exceptional.

Encourage your teen to put in the effort in high school—from day one. Huntington can help in several ways:

  1. Supplemental tutoring to help your teen get ahead in every subject and build on those academic strengths.
  2. SAT and ACT prep to help your teen score higher on these important exams.
  3. Study skills development to develop your teen’s essential organization, time management, executive functioning and test-taking skills, which will make your teen a stronger student overall.

Call Huntington to learn more about how we can support your teen’s Ivy League dreams. Our tutoring and test prep programs will set your teen up for success!

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7 Tips for Summer College Tours Summer is around the corner, and if you’ve got a high school student, it’s the perfect time to visit colleges. Whether your teen will be headed into junior year—a pivotal time in the college research journey—or is earlier or later in high school, college tours are eye-opening, insightful and very worthwhile.

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Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:08:28 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/7-tips-for-summer-college-tours https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/7-tips-for-summer-college-tours Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Summer is around the corner, and if you’ve got a high school student, it’s the perfect time to visit colleges. Whether your teen will be headed into junior year—a pivotal time in the college research journey—or is earlier or later in high school, college tours are eye-opening, insightful and very worthwhile.

Make your travel arrangements now to hit the most important colleges on your teen’s list. Once you’ve got an itinerary, plan ahead! Follow Huntington’s seven tips to make the most of summer college visits:

  1. Make a list of questions. Before your trip, your teen should take the time to develop a list of questions she has about a college and a checklist of areas on campus that she definitely wants to visit. Questions of students might focus on campus life, residence hall life, what led students to choose that college and what they enjoy about it (and anything they would change if they could). Questions of professors and staff should focus on information that isn’t readily available on the website.
  2. Take a guided tour. You and your teen absolutely should wander around campus on your own, but a guided tour is also time well spent. A guide might be a current student who can show you notable buildings and places on campus, give some insight what classes and campus life are really like, share some of the college’s history and points of academic pride, and answer your teen’s questions. Over summer, a guided tour might give you access to resources or buildings that are otherwise closed to the general visitor.
  3. Sit in on a class. If possible, teens should sit in on a class or two—ideally both a larger lecture and a smaller class. This is a great opportunity to see what college classes are really like, how professors teach, and how students learn and participate. Just as important, seeing classes in action can help guide students toward the colleges that would fit them best. If a large lecture hall scares your teen, maybe a smaller college that doesn’t have any large classes (even for general education classes) will be a better fit.
  4. Talk with a professor or two. If your teen has the chance to schedule a meeting with a professor—especially one in the field of study in which he’s interested, he should. This will give your teen a chance to learn more about opportunities for undergraduate students in the major and ask pertinent questions about a program’s reputation and strengths.
  5. Check out the residence halls. The dorms will give your teen a peek into day-to-day student life. It’s a great way to see what the living quarters, cafeteria and bathrooms look like, and it’s also an ideal chance to talk with any students who are living on campus over summer about what they enjoy about campus living and the college overall.
  6. Contact each college to reserve tours and information sessions. At many colleges and universities, summer is a prime visiting time for high school students. If you want to do any of the above, make sure you register early, as tours and information sessions are likely capped at a certain number of families and reserving one-on-one time with professors will need to be set up in advance.
  7. Record takeaways right away. As soon as you finish a college visit, your teen should get out the laptop or notebook and record all observations: any feelings about campus and the different buildings visited as well as all impressions of professors, staff and students. This is especially important if you’re visiting more than one college during your trip, as you don’t want them to blend together. These notes will come in useful later on when the time to apply draws nearer.

An in-person visit is the best way to get a feel for a college’s campus, students, programs and overall atmosphere. It can help your teen rule out schools that don’t feel like a good fit and motivate your teen to assemble a stellar application package for those she’s excited about. Plan ahead to get the most out of these visits, which will help your teen make a smart college decision.

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Helping Teens Choose a College Major There’s nothing wrong with teens going to college without a set-in-stone career game plan, but one thing is certain: students who put thought into possible majors are more likely to minimize wasted time and make a smart decision.

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Wed, 06 Mar 2019 13:13:21 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-choose-a-college-major https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-choose-a-college-major Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center There’s nothing wrong with teens going to college without a set-in-stone career game plan, but one thing is certain: students who put thought into possible majors are more likely to minimize wasted time and make a smart decision.

Parents, as your teens move through high school toward college, Huntington offers a few tips to get them to think about their future career path and pick the best major for them:

Talk about interests. Many teens freeze up looking at a list of college majors. Instead, try talking about things your teen enjoys doing. For athletically inclined students, playing sports might come to mind first, but maybe those students would enjoy career endeavors in which they get to work in teams. Some teens are great with children, or love taking care of people or animals. Encourage your teen to think broadly about interests and how those might translate into other aptitudes.

Assess academic strengths. Pull out the report card and use it as a springboard for potential career paths. Some teens might resist this exercise, but it’s important to point out the many pathways for each academic strength. Take math as an example. Math is obviously key for careers like computer science and engineering, but math is also used in fields like actuarial science, architecture, geospatial surveying, ecology, robotics, meteorology and economics. For teens who excel in math, there are many excellent career options that might not be immediately obvious.

List other strengths, too. It’s smart to assess other areas of strength that fall outside the confines of the report card. Some teens are great with people and comfortable speaking and presenting their ideas. Others are adventurous and curious. Some love analyzing multifaceted issues, while some are skilled at listening to friends and their fellow students.

Know what doesn’t appeal. Just as it is useful to have a handle on one’s favorite subjects and strengths, teens should also think about what subjects they dislike and why. Similarly, teens must consider their work preferences, such as whether they like working alone or in groups, being a group leader on projects or behind the scenes, solving complex or more straightforward problems, and working with numbers or people.

Research jobs, career paths, education requirements, and more. Taking the above steps will definitely help teens start brainstorming and narrowing down their options. Once they’ve come up with a couple (or several) possibilities, the next to-do is research. Armed with a list of their interests and academic and other strengths, teens can start exploring possible jobs that fit their interests/strengths profile, education requirements for those jobs, earning potential, and how the job market looks for those fields. O*NET and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook are good resources.

Get some firsthand perspective. Once your teen starts zeroing in on a few possible majors, it’s a good idea to talk to people who can offer useful insight. Those might be current college students in the major your teen is considering, recent graduates who are now working, or professionals further along in their careers. Later on, your teen might consider job shadowing, mentorships and internships. Making these kinds of connections now is definitely worthwhile.

As teens grapple with what to major in at college, parents should encourage them to take the decision seriously. That means putting in sincere effort and taking the time for introspection. College is a major investment, after all. Teens should use those four years to set themselves up for success as they begin their professional journeys.

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7 Things High School Students Should Know About College With college around the corner, your teen might feel excited about this big life change. College is indeed a transformative experience and a journey that will change your teen forever, but is she ready for what’s to come?

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Tue, 05 Mar 2019 09:14:06 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/7-things-high-school-students-should-know-about-college https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/7-things-high-school-students-should-know-about-college Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center 7 Things High School Students Need to Know About College

With college around the corner, your teen might feel excited about this big life change. College is indeed a transformative experience and a journey that will change your teen forever, but is she ready for what’s to come? Here are seven things your teen needs to know about college:

  1. Professors expect that their students are independent. There’s no hand-holding in college. Teens need to understand that professors are certainly willing to help them, but they expect their students to take the initiative to ask for help. That means attending study sessions and visiting professors during office hours. It means taking responsibility for staying on top of all assignments and due dates.
  2. Grades really do matter. In college, there are big consequences of bad grades. Any scholarships awarded could be at risk if the recipient’s GPA falls below a certain threshold. The college also could put students with a low GPA on academic probation, and some colleges have an automatic drop policy. College offers a lot of freedom, but it’s essential that students go to class, do their homework and ask for help as soon as they start to struggle.
  3. Good communication is important. Students will write, speak and present frequently in college. They must be adaptable in their communication styles and adjust depending on the purpose, audience and task. Teens who aren’t great writers or speakers in high school should focus on building these skills before they go to college.
  4. Critical thinking is critical. You’ve heard it before, parents, but it bears repeating: critical thinking is absolutely essential for today’s college students. Students must be able to analyze new information and make connections. When reading, professors will expect students to critique every author’s reasoning and assumptions.
  5. Time management is a requirement. College classes require a significant amount of effort. Students who have never mastered the concepts of good time management will run into trouble. Parents should make sure their teens are good at maintaining a planner or other homework-tracking system, prioritizing assignments and planning ahead for big projects or tests.
  6. It can be stressful. Though parents shouldn’t aim to make their teens nervous, it is important to have frank conversations about the challenges that they might face as college students. College is a big life change and there is pressure to do well in school. Teens need to be comfortable seeking help and adaptable in high-pressure or high-stress situations.
  7. Waste too much time exploring, and it’s easy to fall behind. While many go to college without knowing exactly what they want to study, teens who want to graduate in four years should quickly start thinking about possible majors. The college career center is worth a visit early on. There, students can research career possibilities, take career interest surveys, learn more about salaries and demand for different jobs, and much more.

One day—maybe in the near future—your teen will embark on the college journey. Make sure he or she is mentally prepared! Armed with as much information as possible, your teen is likely to make the most of the experience and learn a lot. If you need support along the way, contact Huntington Learning Center. We’ll help your teen prepare for college and make sure he or she is ready to do well.

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How to Pay for College Whether you’ve been saving a lot or a little, the cost of college is a source of stress for all parents of college-bound students.

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Tue, 05 Mar 2019 09:14:45 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-pay-for-college https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-to-pay-for-college Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Whether you’ve been saving a lot or a little, the cost of college is a source of stress for all parents of college-bound students. Here’s the good news: there is financial assistance available—and there are many resources to make the process of securing that aid easier.

Huntington Learning Center recommends the following to go about paying for your teen’s college education:

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Every single year, billions of dollars are awarded to college students in the form of grants, federal student loans and work-study awards. Your teen should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 prior to the school year that your teen will attend college. (So, for the 2019-2020 school year, students/parents have between October 1, 2018 and June 30, 2020 to complete the FAFSA). Remember:

  • Grants are free money and do not have to be repaid. These are often awarded based on student need.
  • Loans are borrowed money that you or your teen must repay with interest. There are Direct Subsidized Loans (need based), Direct Unsubsidized Loans (not need based), Direct PLUS Loans (for graduate/professional students) and Direct Consolidation Loans (letting borrowers combine all federal student loans into a single loan).
  • The Federal Work-Study Program provides students with financial need part-time jobs so they can earn money and pay for education expenses.

Apply for scholarships. Never assume that your teen isn’t likely to be eligible for scholarships. There are of course national scholarship programs for students who excel in academics, make a difference in their communities, demonstrate leadership or have financial need. There are scholarships for students with certain skills or talents (e.g. sports or music). But there are many other possibilities out there, including local scholarships awarded by your town’s businesses, community associations, nonprofits and more. At a minimum, your teen should explore/contact these resources to learn about possible college scholarships:

  • The high school guidance counselor, who will have a checklist to keep your teen on track and information about all possible sources of aid.
  • Online resources like com and scholarships.com.
  • The colleges to which they are applying (by contacting their office of financial aid and visiting the website).

Communicate with colleges’ financial aid offices. The colleges to which your teen is applying are invaluable resources of help and information regarding paying for college. They will use the FAFSA to assess your teen’s eligibility for student aid (other than federal aid) and to create your family’s financial award package, but it can’t hurt to contact them, especially if…

  • The gap between the financial aid package your teen has been offered and the actual costs is too wide for you and your teen to cover.
  • Your circumstances have changed since you submitted the FAFSA and you want to make sure they’re aware of how these changes impact your ability to fund college.
  • You want to make absolutely certain you’re exploring every possible avenue for financial aid help.

Do your homework. Bottom line: do the research and check out every option. Take the time to get familiar with the Federal Student Aid website and make sure your teen is on a first-name basis with the high school guidance counselor. If you have a financial advisor, get their insight as well. There might be financial planning opportunities, tax benefits or other loopholes of which you’re unaware that can help.

College is expensive, but it’s an important investment in your teen’s future—and yes, it is within reach. Talk with the professionals at your teen’s high school and the colleges your teen is considering and leave no option unexplored. The earlier in high school you and your teen start doing your research, the better!

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How Much Do SAT/ACT Scores Matter? For the most selective colleges, the SAT and ACT support the overall story of how academically prepared a candidate is for college. For example, consider Dartmouth College, which has an acceptance rate of just 8.7%. Dartmouth’s required application components include SAT or ACT scores, but the admissions website states that while testing is required, it isn’t the ultimate factor in evaluating an application. Test scores are considered in conjunction with students’ academic record/transcripts and recommendations.

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Fri, 22 Feb 2019 11:59:19 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-much-do-sat-and-act-scores-matter https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/how-much-do-sat-and-act-scores-matter Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Does my SAT/ACT score really matter that much?

That’s a question we get a lot when working with exam prep students who are early in their journeys to apply to college.

The answer isn’t totally simple, however. Let’s explore it from a few different perspectives:

  • For the most selective colleges, the SAT and ACT support the overall story of how academically prepared a candidate is for college. For example, consider Dartmouth College, which has an acceptance rate of just 8.7%. Dartmouth’s required application components include SAT or ACT scores, but the admissions website states that while testing is required, it isn’t the ultimate factor in evaluating an application. Test scores are considered in conjunction with students’ academic record/transcripts and recommendations.
  • For colleges that are less selective, SAT and ACT scores matter, but they’re taken into account alongside other criteria such as class rank, recommendations and perhaps a personal essay. At these schools, it’s safe to assume that students’ GPAs and rigorous high school curriculum are at the top of the list of things considered.
  • For colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT, students have greater control over how they present themselves as candidates for admission. Take the University of Puget Sound for example, which leaves the choice of whether to submit standardized test scores up to each applicant. Their stance is that students might have the academic preparation and commitment to excel in college, even if their SAT or ACT scores indicate otherwise. That said, if a student feels that their SAT or ACT score would bolster their application, it might be wise to include it in their application materials.

Generally, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding SAT and ACT scores and their importance:

  1. It’s a good idea to visit a college’s website for details about their admissions requirements. Each college has their own methods for evaluating applicants. When in doubt, visit the admissions website to get an understanding of how they assess students’ application packages.
  2. Check out the class academic profile, if available. Many colleges provide a snapshot of their most-recently admitted students. This is by no means a list of requirements, but can give your teen a sense of the “typical” student who attends that college. Here, you should be able to find the mean SAT and ACT score as well as other information about the individuals who make up the student body.
  3. A holistic admissions process means other factors are weighed. Poke around a college’s admissions website, and you might find a section titled “What We’re Looking For” or something similar. Many colleges explain that admission is a holistic process, which means that all documentation a student submits is reviewed and considered when the college makes its decision. That could include standard criteria like high school curriculum (and rigor) and GPA as well as things like the essay, demonstrated leadership and recommendations.

Your teen’s SAT or ACT scores do matter if he is trying to get into college, but their weight might be impacted by the other factors a college considers in the admission process as well as each college’s selectivity. Bottom line: earning strong scores on the SAT or ACT can only help your teen. It pays to prepare!

Questions about the SAT or ACT and how to prepare your teen for success on either exam? Contact Huntington today.

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What Parents and Teens Need to Know About the Common Application The process of researching, applying to and deciding on a college can be overwhelming for teens. But if there’s one aspect of the process that’s much easier than it was years ago, it is filling out the application—or more specifically, the Common Application.

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Fri, 22 Feb 2019 12:00:23 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/what-parents-and-teens-need-to-know-about-the-common-application https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/what-parents-and-teens-need-to-know-about-the-common-application Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center The process of researching, applying to and deciding on a college can be overwhelming for teens. But if there’s one aspect of the process that’s much easier than it was years ago, it is filling out the application—or more specifically, the Common Application.

The Common Application lets students complete a single application that shares the details of their background, education and activities with multiple colleges on their list. It’s a great way for college-bound students to save themselves valuable time and stay organized with the various college-related deadlines.

Here are some of the most important things you need to know about the Common Application:

  • More than 800 public and private colleges and universities accept the Common Application. To find out whether a college uses it, search the Common App’s database or view the latest (as of August 2018) listing.
  • Applicants may submit applications to up to 20 colleges. A student’s dashboard inside the Common Application database lets them keep track of up to 20 colleges.
  • Deadlines are made easier. The Common Application dashboard shows application deadlines of each college a teen is tracking. A date becomes red and displays a clock symbol next to it when a deadline is within two weeks. Teens can also download the mobile app: Common App on Track on their mobile device.
  • To make the application process efficient, teens should have certain information on hand. Parents, have your teens assemble their high school transcript, extracurricular activities list, test scores and test dates (SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests), and parent/legal guardian information (including educational background, occupational information and employer information).
  • There may be other items to submit. Keep in mind that colleges usually want supplemental information in addition to the Common Application. They might request answers to specific questions, letters of recommendation and writing supplements.
  • Each college has specific writing requirements. As mentioned, first-year (freshman) applicants are usually required or encouraged to submit samples of their writing. Those might include the Common App Personal Essay (for which writing prompts will be provided), answers to college-specific questions (e.g. details on a work experience or meaningful extracurricular activity) or an additional writing supplement. Check out the Common Application’s Writing Requirements resource for details on what each college seeks.
  • Early Decision applications are binding. When students apply Early Decision to a school and are accepted, they must agree to withdraw all other applications they have submitted. For this reason, students can only apply to one school this way using the Common App.

The Common Application is a major timesaver for students who plan to apply to several colleges. It’s easy to get started: just start an application, add colleges to your list, review their requirements and start gathering the materials you need. Have your teen visit www.commonapp.org to learn more and begin searching colleges.

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21st Century Skills Every High School Graduate Needs for Life Success We all want our children to graduate high school ready to take on the world and succeed in college and beyond. But success in the 21st century demands much more than mastery of the fundamental academic skills like math, reading and writing. The world today is highly complex and fast moving. Teens need to be prepared.

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Mon, 10 Jun 2019 09:44:56 -0400 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/21st-century-skills-every-high-school-graduate-needs-for-life-success https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/21st-century-skills-every-high-school-graduate-needs-for-life-success Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center We all want our children to graduate high school ready to take on the world and succeed in college and beyond. But success in the 21st century demands much more than mastery of the fundamental academic skills like math, reading and writing. The world today is highly complex and fast moving. Teens need to be prepared.

Here are a few of the most essential skills high school graduates need:

Collaboration and teamwork – Technology has changed the way students learn and engage with one another and has certainly changed the way all organizations operate. In college, students will be expected to communicate and collaborate with each other in a multitude of ways. Just like in high school, teamwork is integrated into the college classroom. Teens who are able to work effectively with a range of personality types, take responsibility on school work and be flexible in how they approach course goals will be equipped for success.

Critical thinking – You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again and again: critical thinking is an invaluable skill for students. In college and the working world, people are faced with a wide range of multifaceted challenges and problems, but not always provided much direction to deal with them. The ability to analyze, discuss and question situations in a logical, systematic way is essential.

Creativity – There’s critical thinking, then there’s creative thinking. Students who are able to think critically and also exhibit creativity when needed are a step above the rest. They’re able to come up with outside-the-box ideas and refine and improve those ideas. They recognize that some problems require unique solutions and they understand that working with others might be the best way to cultivate solutions to those problems. At a time when new technologies and tools are constantly being created, creativity is more important than ever.

Problem solving – Ever heard the stance that the problems that will face the global workforce tomorrow aren’t even on our radar today? It’s true! And in the college environment, teens will be encouraged to approach problems in a variety of ways. It will be expected that they thoroughly analyze problems, come up with potential solutions and develop and execute action plans. It’s also important that they are able to learn from missteps in their solutions. That way, they can go back and try to solve problems a different way if their first attempts didn’t work as intended.

Leadership – Guess what? All of the above are skills exhibited by leaders. Even when teens don’t identify their future college and career plans as those of a leader, leadership development can only benefit them. By the time they graduate high school, teens should be comfortable setting goals and working diligently toward achieving them, no matter how difficult. They should feel comfortable taking chances to go after the things they want and recognizing that risk-taking sometimes involves failing. That’s actually a great thing—and an opportunity to learn and grow.

A new year offers a clean slate. If you want to make sure your teen is on track to develop the skills he needs for success in the modern college environment and global economy, contact Huntington. We’re happy to support your child in every stage of his educational journey!

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2019 Checklist for the College-Bound High School Student The last year and a half of high school is pivotal when it comes to the college application process. If you have a high school junior, it’s halfway through the school year—is she staying on top of the important college tasks and deadlines? 

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Fri, 22 Feb 2019 11:56:32 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/2019-checklist-for-the-college-bound-high-school-student https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/2019-checklist-for-the-college-bound-high-school-student Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center The last year and a half of high school is pivotal when it comes to the college application process. If you have a high school junior, it’s halfway through the school year—is she staying on top of the important college tasks and deadlines? 

Help your teen stay on track with this 2019 college checklist: 

  • January – Make an appointment with the guidance counselor to get up to speed on exam dates and discuss college plans.
  • February – Register to take the SAT or ACT this spring/summer for the first time: 

SAT date                          Registration deadline

March 9, 2019                   February 8, 2019

May 4, 2019                      April 5, 2019

June 1, 2019                      May 3, 2019

 

ACT date                         Registration deadline

April 13, 2019                   March 8, 2019

June 8, 2019                      May 3, 2019

July 13, 2019*                   June 14, 2019

*Not in California

 March – Talk with teachers and the Advanced Placement (AP) Coordinator about AP exam dates (in May) to ensure you have the dates on the calendar.

  • April – Your teen should start researching scholarships and keeping a spreadsheet of those that interest her. Most scholarships have deadlines between October and March, but it’s not too early to start exploring options and getting ideas from the guidance counselor on what scholarships would be worth pursuing.
  • May – Summer break is coming up, which is a good time to visit colleges. Have your teen do some online research on tours for prospective students at the colleges she’s considering. She should also prepare for and take those AP exams.
  • June – Your junior should narrow that college list (if she hasn’t done so already) so that she can look into things like admissions requirements, cost, possible majors and more this summer.
  • July/August – Goodbye, junior year; hello, senior year! Summer is the time for your teen to really focus on all things college. Here’s a summer to-do list:
    • Visit colleges.
    • Research admissions requirements and deadlines for her top several college picks.
    • Do something meaningful—a volunteer or travel experience or a philanthropic endeavor—that would expand your teen’s horizons and boost the resume.
    • Work on creating a resume to use for college and scholarship applications.
    • Start drafting the college application essay (if any colleges on your teen’s list require one). There’s plenty of time to keep fine-tuning, but it can’t hurt for your teen to begin thinking about the experiences that have shaped her. Maybe something your teen does this summer will be a worthy essay topic!
    • Sign up for an exam prep course at Huntington. Summer is a great time to focus on studying for the SAT or ACT, especially if your teen took either exam in spring/early summer and wants to raise her score. Both the Sat and ACT offer a mid-summer exam: 

SAT dates:                                          ACT dates:

June 1, 2019                                        June 8, 2019

August 24, 2019                                 July 13, 2019

October 5, 2019                                 September 8, 2019 

  • Sign up for SAT Subject Tests if desired. SAT Subject Tests are offered in August, October, November, December, May and June. Visit the College Board website for more information.
  • September – This is it: senior year! If your teen is considering applying early decision/early action for any college, encourage her to start getting the application package together. Deadlines could be as early as November.
  • October – Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after October 1 as possible. Also, pay attention to any scholarship application deadlines and fall SAT/ACT test dates (if your teen is taking the SAT/ACT one last time):

 SAT dates           

November 2, 2019

December 7, 2019

ACT date            

October 26, 2019

December 14, 2019          

  • November/December – College application time! This is when your teen should get those college applications together, assuming she isn’t doing early decision/early action. Many colleges have regular application deadlines around January 1. Also, you should have received the Student Aid Report by now if you submitted the FAFSA in early October. The colleges your teen listed on the FAFSA also receive it (and use it to create their financial aid award package).

Keep this 2019 college checklist on hand for your juniors-going-on-seniors. Your teens should also visit their school guidance counselor office regularly throughout junior and senior year. Good luck with this exciting process, and if you ever have questions about preparing your teen for college and SAT and ACT prep, contact Huntington.

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6 Things Your Teen’s High School GPA Tells Colleges When teens get to junior year and start getting their college applications together, it becomes especially clear that grades are at the top of the list of factors that just about every college and university considers when evaluating applicants. Colleges want to know that the students they accept into their school are well-prepared to succeed. Yes, those SAT and ACT scores are important to colleges, but when evaluated alongside the GPA. Still, on its own, the GPA speaks loud and clear about your teen as a student.

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Fri, 22 Feb 2019 11:57:32 -0500 https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/6-things-your-teens-high-school-gpa-tells-colleges https://huntingtonhelps.com/resources/college-bound-blog/6-things-your-teens-high-school-gpa-tells-colleges Huntington Learning Center Huntington Learning Center Ask any teacher how much grades really matter in high school and you’re certain to get the same answer: a lot. 

When teens get to junior year and start getting their college applications together, it becomes especially clear that grades are at the top of the list of factors that just about every college and university considers when evaluating applicants. Colleges want to know that the students they accept into their school are well-prepared to succeed. Yes, those SAT and ACT scores are important to colleges, but when evaluated alongside the GPA. Still, on its own, the GPA speaks loud and clear about your teen as a student. 

Here are six things your teen’s high school GPA says to the colleges and universities to which he applies: 

  1. How much your teen cares about school – Whether completely true or not, your teen’s grades make an impression that lasts. Low grades across the board could send the message that your teen was apathetic in high school, whereas high grades imply that school is something that your teen gave a lot of attention.
  2. Grasp on the subject matter – Obviously, grades are an indicator of how well students understand each subject. To the college admissions officer, high grades show that your teen met teachers’ expectations throughout the duration of those classes and acquired the knowledge needed to master the material.
  3. Your teen’s effort – While there will be times that your teen tries hard in a class and the grade doesn’t reflect that, generally, good grades don’t come without sincere effort. If your teen has a strong GPA, that tells colleges he tried and persevered even through challenging classes.
  4. Long-term potential – Visit any college’s admissions website and you’re sure to find some statement about its goal of admitting highly qualified students with the ability to succeed in their academic environment. Your teen’s grades are a big consideration for colleges for the simple reason that they want to admit students with high potential.
  5. Preparation for school and life success – The next time your teen claims that grades are just a letter/number, remind him of this fact: to colleges, grades are an indicator of future success. That certainly doesn’t mean your teen will fail in college if his grades aren’t the greatest today, but an admissions officer could be concerned that he isn’t prepared for the rigors of college academics.
  6. Commitment to putting in the work – Getting good grades is the result of several things: effort, knowledge of the subject matter and dedication to demonstrating that knowledge to a teacher. When your teen earns a high GPA, that tells colleges that he was committed to going to school, studying and doing homework. 

Urge your teen not to make the mistake of assuming that colleges value SAT and ACT scores more than grades—it simply isn’t true. Both are important, of course, but high scores on the SAT or ACT will not compensate for a low GPA. 

Encourage your teen to work hard in school by taking AP or honors classes (that is appropriate for your teen’s skill, of course). If your teen recently received a less-than-stellar report card, don’t wait to correct the problem, as every report card counts toward the GPA. Huntington can help. Contact us to learn more about how we can develop a customized program of instruction to help your teen address any academic challenges and raise those grades before the next report card.

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