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Story Up! The College Essay Blog

Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter

[fa icon="calendar'] May 1, 2015 3:00:00 PM / by Elizabeth Chereskin posted in financial aid, college decisions, paying for college

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Guest Post by Liz Chereskin, Content Manager, College Greenlight

Congratulations on choosing a college! Now comes the more challenging part-- coming up with a plan for how to pay for college. A helpful tool for figuring out what you and your family need to contribute financially is your Financial Aid Award Letter. If you're accepted, have completed your FAFSA and listed the school on it, you should have now received an award letter from the college.  The FAFSA helps to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which, in turn, helps to determine how much aid you'll need, or if you'll need to seek out other ways to fund your education.

While each school's letter may look a little different, they each will have information about the Cost of Attendance (COA), how much your family is expected to contribute (based on your FAFSA), how much financial aid you'll receive from the school, and how much is left over that you will be expected to cover. While that sounds simple enough, it might be a little more difficult to decipher which parts of the letter are scholarships, loans, or other types of aid such as work study and this information is extremely important--you'll have to pay back those loans (with interest!)

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The Storyteller’s Guide to Acing A Summer Internship Interview

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 29, 2015 11:04:00 AM / by Michelle Sheu posted in storytelling, internships, summer internships, interviews

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by Michelle Sheu, Collegiate Content Contributor, Story2
© 2015 Story2. All rights reserved.

The air smells different around this time of year, and it’s not just because the city is beginning to warm up. Rather, it signals the distinguished season that makes students rampant with anxiety, hitting up their networks and searching ever so fervently. What could it be?

Internship season.

The awaited summer session kicks in soon, and high school and college students will emerge from their educational institutions, sharpening their claws and ready to pounce on opportunities to amp up their resumes.

When you are invited to the next step of the recruiting process from application to an interview, that means that they see you as a potential candidate, someone who possess the qualities and aptitude that the organization is looking for. The interview determines your fit with the company culture. How can you be sure to stand out in a competitive applicant pool during the interview process?

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3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started the College Process

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 23, 2015 8:13:00 AM / by Lily Herman posted in college admissions, sophomores, freshmen, college process, getting started, getting into college, college admission strategy, underclassmen

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by Lily Herman, co-founder of The Prospect

The college process really does sneak up on you in high school—one moment you’re worried about if you know where all of your classes are in the big, scary high school building, and the next moment you’re sitting in a room taking your SAT and filling out college applications with your parents. Seriously, where does the time go?

From my own experience and having talked to hundreds of high school and college students about their experiences, I’ve found that there are a couple of key things that many high school juniors and seniors wish they’d known as freshman and sophomores about tackling the college admissions journey.

1. Understand How the College Process Works

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High Reward Scholarships for High School Seniors

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 20, 2015 8:11:00 AM / by Diane Thomas posted in financial aid, scholarships, seniors, college tuition, paying for college, Guest Post

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Guest post by Diane Thomas, editor of Student Advisor, Scholarship Advisor, and Learning Advisor 

With the excitement of receiving your first college acceptance notice comes the realization that you are going to have a tuition bill to pay. The good news is that in addition to any financial aid package a college awards you, there are also many private college scholarships available to students of all different abilities and backgrounds. Whether you have excellent grades, a passionate interest, a record for community involvement, or a creative touch, there is likely a number of scholarships for which you qualify

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5 Building Blocks to a Balanced College List

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 15, 2015 8:32:00 AM / by Michelle Sheu posted in juniors, college list, college process, research, applying to college

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by Michelle Sheu, Collegiate Content Contributor, Story2
© 2015 Story2. All rights reserved.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are over 6,000 colleges and universities in America alone. For the wanderlust students, there are even more options when you include international universities. With the masses of schools awaiting your application, how can you be sure to select the right ones that best suit your interests, growth and development?

Don’t let the options intimidate you! In regards to selecting colleges, you are in charge of your own fate. As you begin your research and actualize all sorts of ideas and hopes you’d envision for prospective colleges, you gradually narrow down your list. This could be an incredibly daunting and tedious process. But, if you keep the following criteria in mind (which you can adjust to fit your unique priorities), you will simplify the process by tenfold.

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College Decision Advice for the First-Generation College Student

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 13, 2015 11:56:00 AM / by Elizabeth Chereskin posted in college acceptance, college decision, Guest Post, first generation college students

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Guest post written by Elizabeth Chereskin, Content Manager at College Greenlight

 

You've been spending countless hours on your college search and applications and all your work has paid off: you've got acceptance letters from multiple schools, and you’re going to be the first person in your family to go to college!  Now, you're faced with a pretty big life decision about which one is the right one. As Decision Day grows closer and closer, here's a guide for first-generation students to pick a school that will be the best fit: where you'll spend the next few years excelling academically, where you'll be the most happy, and where you'll find the school that makes the most financial sense for you.

Prioritize

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Common App Essay Prompts: 5 Do’s and Don'ts for Mastering the 2015-16 Prompts

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 10, 2015 10:25:00 AM / by Carol Barash posted in common application, what admissions officers are looking for, how to write a common app essay, common app prompts

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by Carol Barash, PhD, founder and CEO, Story2, and author of Write Out Loud
© 2015 Story2. All rights reserved.

On the same day that the final Class of 2015 admissions decisions were released, the Common Application publicized its new essay questions for the Class of 2016. For a detailed dissection of the new essay topics, check out Story2 admissions coach, Josh Stephens’s, blog in Huffington Post.

Here I want to give juniors some specific guideposts for the part of the college journey that revolves around college essays. Although the essays come last (most students don’t start writing them until fall of their senior year), there are a few key steps you can take now to avoid a lot of hassle later.

3 things you need to know and do to conquer your Common App essays:

1.  Focus the essay on your character, not your achievements

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What We Can Learn from The Princeton Review’s 2015 “Dream College” Survey

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 3, 2015 1:03:00 PM / by Jocelyn Johnson posted in what we can learn, students, parents, college process, college prep, college planning, standardized testing

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by Jocelyn Johnson, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator, Story2,
© 2015 Story2. All rights reserved.

“What’s your dream college?” According to a recent Princeton Review survey, if you ask a college bound senior or their parent, chances are the answer you’ll hear is Stanford or Harvard. Every year The Princeton Review conducts a survey of college applicants and their parents to assess the hopes and worries of applying to college. Beyond the top 10 Dream Colleges list, there is much to learn from the 2015 survey results. Let’s take a closer look at some of the questions, their results, and what college bound families can learn.

Q: How many colleges will you (your child) apply to?

Survey result: 69% of respondents planned to apply to 5 or more colleges. 25% of parents and students planned to apply to 9 or more.

What we can learn: Fearing low admission rates, students are applying to more colleges than ever before, which further drives down acceptance rates. The statistic students should pay attention to is 80% of top students get into elite colleges. Build your college list strategically, but only apply to schools you would actually attend. Also, the average application fee was $41 in 2014, so if you’re planning to apply to over 10 schools, make sure you budget accordingly.

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A Student’s Guide to Choosing the Right College

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 1, 2015 8:01:00 AM / by Lily Herman posted in college visits, college decision, choosing the right college, getting into college, preparing for college

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by Lily Herman, co-founder of The Prospect

Since the founding my organization The Prospect over two years ago, I’ve heard all sorts of advice from admissions officers, college consultants, and college counselors as to what students should look for when they’re trying to decide which college is right for them.

And while all of this sage wisdom from older people can be awesome, there’s one problem: many of these people haven’t been college students in years (even decades)!

So, from the perspective of a current college student (as well as someone who runs one of the largest college access organizations in the world), what should you really be thinking about when determining which college is right for you? Here are a few things other people might not tell you to look for.

1. Student Voice and Participation

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Seniors: How To Decide Which College Is Right for You

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 27, 2015 10:07:00 AM / by Carol Barash posted in financial aid, seniors, parents, college acceptance, college decision, choosing the right college

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by Carol Barash, PhD, founder and CEO, Story2, and author of Write Out Loud
© 2015 Story2. All rights reserved.

It’s happening! Emails trickle in. Friends have big smiles. Or not. By the end of March you will pretty much know your choices. And you will have a month to decide which college to go to. Maybe you were admitted to your top choices; maybe not. Maybe with scholarships; maybe not. Maybe a couple wait lists. Now what?

How do you sort through and make the right decision for you and your family? Try these three steps to help you decide which college is right for you:

1. Consider all your choices

Consider the strengths of all your choices. Also, be honest about any deal-breakers at those places. Revisit as many of the colleges as possible and talk to students you know who go there. Ask tough questions:

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