October 2016 Newsletter

Seniors: The FAFSA comes early!
For the first time ever, your earliest opportunity to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is October 1!  The previous date of January 1 considered the most recent year’s income information, but they are now using the previous full year; in this case, 2015 tax returns will be the main source of your FAFSA information.  While this change adds another task to an already demanding season for seniors and their families, it changes the college admissions conversation.  Because schools will potentially be getting your financial information at the same time as your child’s application, colleges will be able to provide admission awards and financial aid packages at the same time, giving families up to four full months to choose the best college situation for their child.

Sophomores and Juniors: How to maximize this month’s PSAT
For sophomores and juniors, few tools are more helpful for preparing for standardized testing than the PSAT, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test for juniors.  (If thinking about the SAT gives you hives, check out the next item!)  This year’s October 19 test offers students a chance to demonstrate what they know while simulating the exam experience.  Of even greater benefit is the feedback that College Board provides with the PSAT results.  My College QuickStart allows students to review their answers to the PSAT and even retake the test, separating the questions into level of difficulty and providing the explanation for both the correct and incorrect answers.  College Board correlates the student’s aptitudes with potential careers and gives access to a robust personality inventory, which further offers career suggestions and prospective college majors.

Wait, I don’t need the SAT?
For seniors applying to schools this year and those who are looking at college in the next few years, the weight of the SAT or ACT score may be a big factor in determining which schools to apply to and how to predict your acceptance.  However, many schools are deciding not to require a standardized test, which is great news if you’re not a strong test taker.  FairTest.org lists the over 800 schools that are “test-optional,” so check it out to see which schools will take you without a strong SAT score.

College spotlight: The University of Pittsburgh (from the MyCollegeLifeCoach podcast)
As many college students and alumni will tell you, the perfect college sometimes sneaks up on you.  That’s what happened to today’s guest, Adrienne, when she visited Pitt as a high school junior.  She went to placate her parents, but when you step onto the campus of a school with vast resources in a great city, you often find yourself attending as a freshman a year later.  What is it about Pitt that makes it so appealing to many of the highest performing students I know?  Let’s find out in this interview!

Perfect College Strategy: How your values can impact your college selection (from the blog)
One of the key beliefs that informs our approach to career development and college selection is that the answers are usually found within the individual; put another way, if you want to know how to get the best performance out of your car, read the manual.  Most people likely recognize the importance of knowing their values and could list a number of things or people that they value, but could they quickly recite the five values that serve as the hallmarks of their life? This is vital if you want to choose the best college and get the most value out of the experience…

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