Thursday, January 26, 2017

Options to Delay College

The term gap year came into America's mainstream vocabulary last year with Malia Obama's announcement that she will delay her entrance into Harvard until Fall 2017. An Australian and European mainstay, the gap year means an academic year spent between high school and the start of college to pursue enrichment opportunities.


  • Work
    • Intern at a company of your academic interest
    • Teach English in South America 
    • Au pair in Europe. 
  • Volunteer
    • Start at your local food pantry
    • Join City Year to help rebuild America
  • Travel
    • Gain invaluable life experience by backpacking through Europe
    • Driving a camper across Australia
    • Go to South America like Malia Obama 
  • Learning
    • Develop those entrepreneurial skills and intern at a startup company
    • Learn a new language in a foreign country
    • Research a passion in its actual setting.


  • A gap year allows students to take a step back and 'recharge' from working hard to create a spectacular high school resume (link to old blog post) 
  • The life experiences gained can make students better prepared not only academically, but socially as well for college.
  • Working can not only begin a professional resume, but can help earn money for college, taking the pressure of tuition or other college costs. 
  • Students get the chance to experience life away from home before starting university through travel, experiencing a new culture(s) or being immersed in a new language. 


  • Taking part of an organized gap year program, traveling across countries or living in a new city can be expensive.
  • College financial aid packages may be changed as families will have to once again complete the FAFSA.
  • Do students just want to travel? Perhaps they can consider cheaper alternatives while accruing college credits through college study abroad programs.
  • For students who fail to develop important organizational habits, it might be easy to lose focus and fall out of the academic routine.
  • A poorly planned gap year may mean a year spent binge watching Netflix.

While a gap year between high school may not be for everyone, neither is immediately attending college. Perhaps some of these options can be used as an extended summer break while in college, explored during a study abroad semester, or done prior to entering the workforce/graduate school. If you would like to further explore Gap Year options, here is a recommended website.

If you would like to find out more about Gap Years, or anything college related, contact us.

Monday, January 9, 2017

4 College Scholarship Questions

The most frequently asked question I receive as an Independent College Counselor is, "Do you help with scholarships?" While 85% of all scholarships will be awarded from the colleges themselves, this does not mean students should not seek to win the estimated  $3.3 billion awarded from private sources. With all that potential money available, along with $100 million in scholarships unclaimed,  the answer  is, "yes."

What Is a Scholarship?

A scholarship is an award based upon student merit, or the accomplishments of the student. This may include high school academics, standardized test score (ACT/SAT), or unique talent (athletic, performing or visual arts). Scholarships are awarded for various lengths. Make sure to investigate their stipulations. Regardless of length, scholarships do not need to be repaid.

When is the Best Time To Look?

Another question I receive about scholarships is "when is the best time to look?" The answer: "all the time!"  Students should set aside an hour a month to search for scholarships. This means an hour to just research. Create a spreadsheet to track due dates. Make sure to budget additional time to craft an essay and complete the application. You do not have to be obsessed with this, but take the proper amount of time needed to win. Think of this as a job. In the end, hopefully you will be 'paid.'

Are Scholarships Only for Seniors?

Keep in mind, not all scholarships can be only won by seniors. Many times any student can apply for the scholarship, with the money either being held and sent to the future school of choice, or paid to the family with the expectation it be used for college. Check the 'rules' of every application.

When to Stop Looking?

The easiest answer is never! Why stop when most colleges allow for 'stackable' scholarships? This means any outside scholarship brought to the college will be 'stacked' on top of the financial aid package awarded. Keep in mind, smaller scholarships may have a smaller applicant pool because students do not feel these are worth their time. A few of these smaller scholarships will add up to a larger scholarship! Remember, you cannot win unless you try.

If you interested in learning more securing college scholarships or anything college, contact us.