Setting Goals for the Spring Semester

Whether this is your second semester of high school or your last, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the next five months of classes. Even if you feel like you’ve finally hit your stride after midterm exams and winter break, you can still push yourself and find new ways of expressing yourself and developing your skills. Here’s how to get started:

Underclassmen

Explore
Now that you’ve settled into the rhythm of high school, it’s time to start branching out. Try new clubs, volunteer opportunities, or jobs. Figure out how you want to channel your passions, both in and out of school.

Get ready for summer
How do you want to spend your time once classes are out? If you want to find a job, internship, or long-term volunteering position, start looking sooner rather than later. A good goal is to have your summer plans set by Spring Break.

Build connections
When it comes to the college search, having a mentor to guide you can keep you on track. But you can’t wait until fall of senior year to look for guidance. Reach out to teachers, counselors, or administrators who you feel close to. The better they know you, the more they can help you as you go through the college search and application process.

Juniors

Make a travel plan
Spring break of junior year is a great time to start college visits. But instead of diving in headfirst, make a list of schools you’re interested in, and do some research. Some colleges close during spring break and don’t allow visitors, while others have special spring break programming. Figure out ahead of time where you can visit when, and start connecting the dots.

Lock in your summer plans
While it feels great to relax during the summer, colleges appreciate students who push themselves even when school isn’t in session. Even if you don’t commit too many hours, find a job, internship, or volunteering opportunity that can keep you busy for a few days a week. Volunteer at a food bank. Tutor your neighbors. Work as a lifeguard. Find little  ways to show off your drive without giving up your entire break.

Take stock
Senior year can be a lot of stress. Do you like your extracurricular activities? Are you doing too many things at once? Keep in mind that, on top of classes, clubs, and sports, you’ll need additional time during senior year to fill out applications and find scholarships. Don’t over-commit and burn yourself out.

Seniors

You did it! Applications are in and you just have to wait for decisions to come out. But there are still a few things to keep in mind.

Don’t slack off
Colleges typically ask for a final semester transcript to make sure you didn’t just coast through the end of high school. Keep putting in the effort, especially if you’re taking AP classes. A good score on your AP or IB tests can help you skip core courses in college and save money.

Apply for scholarships
Speaking of money, now is the perfect time to look for scholarships. CollegeFindMe is a great place to start, and many outside organizations have scholarship deadlines throughout the spring.

Enjoy yourself
Regardless of the stress, high school is a great time when you get to see your friends every day and do the things you love. College will be very different, and that’s not a bad thing, but be sure to appreciate the unique opportunities you have in high school.

What I wish I knew when choosing colleges

Jack Kubineck ’23, Cornell University

When I was in high school, I spent countless hours poring over college websites and online forums trying to figure out which colleges would suit me best. After less than a week of college, I realized that most of the research I had done wasn’t helpful, and there was a lot that I didn’t know while going through the college process. Here are a few of the things I wish I had known before applying to college.

Most colleges offer the same opportunities

While being bombarded by college emails during my junior year of high school, I began to notice that every college said the same things about themselves. “Our professors love engaging with students! There are like 57 sports teams here! We have a squirrel watching club! Wow! Quirky!” The truth is, most colleges offer many of the same opportunities. The majority of colleges have the same types of clubs, offer the same types of classes, and create similar career options. So, in a lot of ways, you can’t really go wrong when choosing a college, because all colleges will offer similar opportunities.

The key to finding the right college for you, though, is learning to look past the fluff that colleges put in their admissions brochures and finding what makes a college unique. Does a college offer a less common major that you’re interested in? Are there study abroad options that interest you? Does the college have a really good basketball team? Find out what matters most to you in your college search.

Your environment matters

Colleges all offer similar opportunities, but they don’t all have similar campus atmospheres. It’s easy to only focus on how prestigious a college is or how good its academics are, but your mental health is more important than either of those things, so you should pick a college where you will enjoy yourself and be able to thrive. Love the outdoors? Then look for schools with nature nearby. Vegetarian? Then look for schools with good vegetarian dining options. Hate the cold? Then try to go somewhere warm for college.

Besides the school’s physical environment, though, colleges also have different social atmospheres. Some schools have big fraternity/sorority party scenes, while other colleges have social scenes consisting more of hanging out in smaller groups or at school-sponsored events. At some colleges, many of the students leave to go home on weekends. And, more broadly, your college experience will play a part in shaping the person you become. The juniors and seniors at different colleges will be you in a few years, so ask yourself if you want to be more like the students at any particular college.

Visiting colleges is a great way to answer many of these questions. If you aren’t able to visit the colleges you’re interested in, CollegeFindMe provides virtual campus tours from students at colleges across the country.

Sometimes you just have a feeling

Looking for colleges is stressful, and it’s okay to not have all the answers to which college suits you best. At the end of the day, I ended up picking the college that felt right to me. Do your research and think hard about what you want to get out of your college experience, but know that at the end of the day, you won’t know everything about your college until you become a student there. Trust your gut, and you can’t go wrong.

Dealing with Application Stress

Jaadyyah Shearrion ’20, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Hi again, I’m pretty sure we are all over school at this point. We’re all stressed out and just counting down the days until winter break. Luckily, I’ve got a few ways that can help you ditch stress and try to ride out the rest of the week. 

Watch a movie

To avoid stress about school and college apps, I love watching feel-good movies. My current faves are:

  • Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse
  • The Princess and The Frog
  • The original Marry Popins

Listen to music

I’m a bit of a music connoisseur so when I’m stressed out, I like to listen to some dope tunes. I made a little playlist to help get your mind and instead put some pep in your step, you can find it here.

Go for a walk

Another way that I relieve my stress is by taking walks. I know you may think that’s crazy based on how cold it is, but sometimes the cold helps. Breathing in that cold crisp icy air for me is a bit cathartic. It frees my mind of all negative thoughts and brings me a sense of clarity. Just be sure to bundle up so you don’t get sick!

Hang with friends

Your friends are probably just as stressed as you are. If you make some sort of group activities –  whether it’s having a snowball fight or just chilling in your jammies – having fun with those you care about will definitely help lower your stress levels. One time before midterms, my friends and I watched this Studio Ghibli film called Ponyo, and got our minds completely off school. It was bliss, even if it was for a short time. 

I hope that you will be able to take some of these suggestions and utilize them. They work for any situation. Even if you are waiting to hear back from colleges, have a major test, or just have a ton of school work, taking the time for your mental health comes before anything else. De-stress before vacation and then continue forward in that relaxed state. Have a wonderful winter break!

Self Care in College

Amaya White ‘22, Montclair State University

After completing a busy week of classes, finishing homework, attending rehearsals, and having a social life, it’s important to find time to unwind and focus on yourself. At times, college can be stressful when dealing with so many tasks at once but it’s good to plan a moment at least one day a week or once a day for yourself. Personally I use my Monday mornings as my time to decompose and organize the rest of my week. Here are some of my favorite things to do to decompose!

Listen to a podcast

Lately, I’ve found it really nice to tune into podcast while cleaning my room or getting ready for the day. It’s as if someone’s having a dialogue with me in my room about something I’m interested in learning about or discussing. For instance, I’ve been listening to The Daily by the New York Times lately. They’ve been addressing everything having to do with the impeachment hearings and informing people about exactly what this investigation is supposed to solve. I’m really interested in listening to podcasts that are informative about my passions. Some of my favorite podcasts include The Ensemblist, The BE Way, and A Balancing Act which are all centered around being in the performing arts. 

Journal

I’m very interested in being crafty and organizing things so journaling has always been a fun task for me. I like getting artsy by drawing doodles and pasting pictures into my notebook. I’ll write about what inspires me, my growth in my classes, and my goals. I think it’s important to keep yourself accountable for all your dreams and aspirations and writing them all down in one place is a simple way of doing that. 

Treat yourself

Sometimes the dining hall just doesn’t cut it in college and you yearn to have something new for your taste buds. I recommend doing uber eats  or grubhub and ordering food that fuels your soul. My roommate purchases a smoothie bowl once a week because she loves fruit and there aren’t always many fruit options on campus. I enjoy spending a few dollars to get food that I don’t always have access to on campus because it’s something to look forward to when you’ve finished all of your work. 

Meditate

I learned in a summer intensive that if you feel very low in energy it’s beneficial to do a guided meditation for ten minutes rather than nap. Napping can confuse your body and cause you to get less sleep when one goes to sleep at night. However, meditation almost always rejuvenates the body. So if you have a hectic schedule that only allows for a short amount of time for self care, I highly recommend doing a five to ten minute guided meditation

Cook

I’m fortunate enough to have a stove and an oven in the common area in my school and I love taking advantage of that. I love baking and cooking food! One of my favorite things to do with my friends is bake cookies and brownies. They’re so tasty!

Overall, find things that bring you joy and designate a specific time to do that at least once a week. It’s important that you remain a good student but it’s more important that you take time for yourself so that you don’t overwork yourself. Remember, you matter!

Getting paid for your passions

Julie Lee ‘20, Boston Latin School 

You just finished applying to all of your colleges. Congrats! Acceptance letters will come rolling in soon, and you’ll be comparing the financial aid packages from the different universities. But what if your top school doesn’t provide a lot of financial aid? What can you do right now to pay for these costs? Apply for scholarships! 

Right now is a great time to start searching for scholarships. There are scholarships available for just about anything, ranging from sports and academics to family background and field of interest. We recommend searching for scholarships based on what you are most passionate about. 

What are the passion-based scholarships?

Passion-based scholarships look past academic achievements and athletic ability. Instead, these scholarships are based on your hobbies and personal interests, no matter how niche they may be. Some examples include art scholarships, scholarships for students with a particular major, scholarships for charity work, and even scholarships involving social media participation.

How do you apply? 

The submission process varies depending on the scholarship. For example, if you’re creative and enjoy graphic design, painting, or anything art-related, they might have you submit your portfolio or create a design specifically for this scholarship. For the Doodle for Google scholarship, you can submit a drawing related to their theme before the deadline on March 13, 2020. Other scholarships are as simple as writing a short essay on your interests. 

How to search

You can start by searching “[insert your interests here] scholarships” into Google. You can also check out the scholarships we have with our partners on our website (www.collegefindme.com/student/scholarships). 

Tips for applying for scholarships: 

  1. Start your search early on. It’s never too early to apply for scholarships. Make sure you meet the scholarship requirements.
  2. Sit down and write. Make sure to allocate the time needed for the essay. Spend some time after school or during the weekends to work on your scholarship. Don’t put off writing the scholarship supplements until the day before. (Trust me. I’ve been there and it’s stressful!). Have someone read it over and give you feedback. 
  3. Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines! When applying for scholarships, keep in mind how much time you need for it. Allow time for your teachers or guidance counselor to write recommendations, if needed. Set reminders or mark the date on your calendar so that you won’t accidentally miss the deadline either. 
  4. Have a positive mindset. Remember, there’s no harm in earning some extra cash for your education. Even if you didn’t win, you can always apply for more scholarships. 

Good luck with your scholarship search!

Slide into Spring Sports

Jaadyyah Shearrion ’20, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Calling all sports fans, athletes, and everyone who goes to their high school football game just for the experience! As the winter sports season ends, spring sports take center stage. Baseball, lacrosse, outdoor track, crew, rugby, sailing, softball, tennis, and boy’s volleyball are just a few springtime favorites. But how can you make the most of your high school sports experience this spring? Read below to find out!

Sticking to a Schedule

Spring season often marks the beginning of the countdown for summer vacation. Some classes start to pick up speed as the school year comes to an end, so make sure to set up a solid schedule. For seniors, this is going to be the last three or so months of high school and we all have to make them count. Even for those who aren’t graduating, you should work hard to finish the semester strong! As you choose your springtime sport, ensure that the required time commitment is compatible with your course load. If you are taking a class that is very time-consuming, you should also consider how much time you’ll have to dedicate to games and practices.

The Benefits of Sports 

Everyone knows that sports help you stay physically healthy, but what else do they do? Sports can also help you improve mentally by challenging you to problem solve, strategize and work towards a common goal. Sports also tend to bring people together. During the springtime especially, the weather is amazing and it’s easy to make plans with teammates after practice. Even if you don’t play a team sport, you can still connect with others who enjoy your sport and help teach your friends who don’t participate.    

Hitting a Homerun on Your College Apps

If you’ve been playing a spring sport in high school, include it in your college applications! Colleges love to see which activities you’re passionate about, and your commitment to a springtime sport can be a great way to stand out. Plus, what you’ve learned from your athletic experiences can also help you come up with material for your college essay, supplemental writing, and college interviews.  

Continuing in College 

For those who want to keep playing sports in college, the opportunities are endless! Collegiate sports have three levels of play: Division 1, 2, or 3. D1 and D2 schools offer scholarships for students whose skills are high level. Usually, D1 and D2 schools tend to be large public universities and D3 schools tend to be private colleges. Though D3 schools won’t offer you an athletic scholarship, you can always get an academic scholarship. If you plan on going pro, talk to your coach about the recruitment process. You should also be aware that almost every college has a variety of sports at the club and intramural levels, which means you can continue playing what you love on your college campus, without the intensive time commitment of collegiate sports. 

Hopefully, you feel prepared to start up the season with these tips. Get ready for a spring full of self-discovery, dedication and fun with friends. I can’t wait to see you at tryouts! 

5 Scholarships for Latino Students

There are resources for everyone – here are some suggestions for scholarships available to Latin students who want to study in the US!

Anhelo Project Dream Scholarship Application

Deadline: Friday, January 31, 2020

Requirements:

  • Be an Illinois resident attending a high school, college, university or vocational training program located within the State of Illinois.
  • Must be enrolled full-time for the Spring 2020/Fall 2020 semester at an accredited college, university or vocational training program located in the State of Illinois.
  • Be in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA minimum of 2.50 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Should demonstrate leadership through community involvement either on and/or off campus.
  • The Anhelo Project Dream Scholarship recipients must commit 20 hours of volunteer time to The Anhelo Project events during the following academic year.
  • Holders of F-1 student visas and international students are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.
  • DACA recipients are eligible to apply due to ineligibility for federal financial assistance.
  • High School Seniors graduating in June of 2020 are eligible to apply with proof of college, university or vocational training program for enrollment in Fall 2020

McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship

Deadline: February 5, 2020

Requirements:

  • Must be a current high school senior who is eligible to attend a two- or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school.
  • Must be a legal U.S. resident.
  • Must be less than 21 years of age.
  • Must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Must be of Hispanic/Latino heritage.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Deadline: February 15, 2020

Requirements:

  • Must be of Hispanic heritage
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) for high school students
  • Minimum of 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Plan to enroll full-time in an accredited, not-for-profit, four-year university, or graduate school, in the US, for the 2020-2021 academic year
  • US Citizen, Permanent Legal Resident, DACA or Eligible Non-Citizen (as defined by FAFSA)
  • Complete FAFSA or state-based financial aid application (if applicable)

META Foundation Scholarships

Scholarship Application for the 2020-21 School Year will open in late February 2020.

Requirements:

  • Must be applying, accepted or enrolled at an accredited institution of higher education as a full-time undergraduate student pursuing an academic discipline.
  • Students enrolled in community or junior colleges are also eligible to apply provided they intend to enroll in a four-year accredited institution in Fall 2019 and plan to complete a bachelor’s degree.
  • Must have a 3.00 GPA and be in good academic standing.
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident of Hispanic origin
  • Must be graduating (or have graduated) from a high school in Southern California

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Scholarships

Available scholarships will be announced in the spring and open for application in April 2020.

Requirements:

  • Graduating high school seniors beginning a STEM undergraduate career at a community college or 4-year university.
  • Undergraduate students pursuing a degree in STEM at any stage of their undergraduate career. Students must be enrolled full-time at a community college or 4-year university.
  • Students or professionals pursuing technical certificates or graduate-level professional education that increase their professional competencies with select institutions.
  • Graduate students pursuing a master’s or doctoral STEM degree program at an accredited university.

Next Steps after Rejection

Sometimes, in the college application process, you aren’t going to get the answer you want. It can feel awful, especially after all the work you put into your essay, supplemental writing, and classes in general. But you can and will move forward. You just need to take the time to breathe, think, and take the next step in the process.

Take care of yourself

Whether you want to admit it or not, you’re probably dealing with some pretty negative emotions after getting rejected. That is totally, 100%, absolutely normal and valid. Let yourself process those emotions, however works best for you. Watch a movie. Eat ice cream. Go for a run. Scream into a pillow. Pause and let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. Then, once you feel better, you can move on.

Take stock

Where else did you apply? Are there still schools accepting applications? Are there colleges you applied for that want to interview you? Lay out all of your options, because you still have plenty. 

Reflect

What did you like best about the school you applied to ED or EA? Was it the environment, the academic programs, or the location? You can use this information to decide which of the other colleges on your list might still be a great fit for you. Many colleges offer similar programs and opportunities, so while you might have loved certain qualities in the one school you didn’t get into, don’t think you can’t find a comparable experience somewhere else. 

Be positive

The one thing you can control in this process is your outlook. If you interview with other schools but make it very clear that they weren’t your first choice, they might not take that very well. There is still so much to look forward to no matter what school you end up at. Look for the bright side and focus on that.

Be yourself

Any school you get into is lucky to have you. You are a uniquely individual person and student that has a lot to offer. Figure out how your interests and passions can be displayed at the schools you get into, and own up to it. Will you be the best player on their team? The star of the show? An incredible artist or Dean’s List student? At the end of the day, college is what you make of it. Even if you aren’t at your dream school, you can still find outlets to be yourself and do something incredible at any college or university.

Rejection is hard, and this likely isn’t the last time you’ll have to deal with it in your life. But you can learn and grow from it, just like everything else. Don’t rush into the next opportunity without letting yourself feel sad or mad or disenchanted, but know that there are so many amazing chances just beyond this. 

Financial Aid Twitter Chat

On December 11, we hosted a Twitter chat to discuss all the ins and outs of financial aid with non-profit organizations, counselors, and colleges. Our contributors shared some great tips to help you understand how to get ahead when applying for grants, scholarships, and loans. Check out our questions and some of the best answers below:

Question 1:

When it comes to college financing, many students and their families are unsure where to begin. What are the initial steps in creating a financial plan?

Question 2:

With so many different types of financial aid available (grants, scholarships, work study, federal and private loans), what do borrowers need to know about these options and how are they different?

Question 3:

As they begin learning about financial planning, students need access to reliable resources. Where can they best find straightforward, comprehensive information about financial aid?

Question 4:

How do you suggest students figure out which financial aid option (or combination of options) will work best for them?

Question 5:

Financial aid planning goes hand in hand with the college admissions process. As students apply to colleges, what is the timeline to learn and apply for each type of aid?

Question 6:

What factors should students and their families consider as they compare each college’s school aid offer?

Question 7:

After securing financial aid, the work is not over. What advice would you give students to stay on top of their plans and payments throughout college?