Enriched Family's Guide to College Application Planning and Resources - Part 2
In my work as an education consultant, I help families explore the best educational options for their unique children. This includes researching and comparing a wide-variety of educational selections at all life stages — from preschools, daycares, private and public schools, and enrichment activities, to college comparisons. I love helping families clarify their preferences and providing them with the specific information they need to inform and simplify their decision-making process.
As we move into fall, many families are pondering college planning and college applications. In part two of the Enriched Family Guide to College Application Planning and Resources, I focus on resources for letters of recommendation, college essays, financial aid planning, and scholarship planning. In case you missed the first installment of this guide, which focuses on establishing your family team and setting expectations; college application planning tools; deciding where to apply (college search and comparison tools); resources for the application process and requirements for selected colleges; and planning to take the SAT or ACT; you can check it out here.
Letters of Recommendation
How many recommendation letters do I need? Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation and when should I make the ask? What information should I provide to help my recommenders write me a great letter of recommendation? How do I submit my letters of recommendation?
For answers to these questions, take a look at this U.S. News & World Report article, “How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for College,” in which “admission experts offer advice on how to secure the strongest recommendations from the best sources.”
And don’t forget to send your recommenders a sincere thank you note for taking the time to write your letters of recommendation!
Resources for Writing College Essays, Personal Statements, & Supplemental Essays
A note: While some of the sites included below may offer a variety of fee-based services, they also provide a good deal of free, informational resources.
“19 College Application Essay Resources,” an article by the IvyWise College Admissions Blog, includes a variety of informational resources to help you with your college essay writing, including writing timelines, do’s and don’ts, mistakes to avoid, the best and worst topics to select, brainstorming tips, how to respond to specific essay questions, like “why this college?”, and more!
College Board also has a page of resources to help you successfully approach and complete the college application writing process.
The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology provides a list of “15 Online Resources That Help Improve Essay-Writing Skills.”
College Essay Advisors provides a helpful guide to the Common Application Essay Prompts for 2018-19, as well as a 2018-2019 Guide to the Supplemental Essay prompts for specific colleges.
Enriched Family Tip: I encourage you to have multiple readers give you feedback on your essays once you have a solid draft(s). Readers should be people you respect who are known for their writing skills (e.g., teachers, parents’ friends, parents, writing counselors, etc.)
Enriched Family Tip: Always remember to read your essay aloud - this process helps alert you to clunky passages that might need to be improved. If you are stumbling over sections of your writing, your admissions officer will definitely have the same problem.
Financial Aid Planning and Resources
The key step in the financial aid planning process is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for financial aid for college. By filling out this single, free form online, you will be considered for federal, state, and school-specific financial aid. The 2019-2020 FAFSA is available for filing now. The earlier one files, the better. The deadline for the 2019-2020 FAFSA at the federal level is midnight, Central Time, June 30, 2019. Please note that state deadlines vary - click here for the full listing of 2019-2020 FAFSA state deadlines.
By filling out the FAFSA, you will be considered for a variety of types of financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study. Click here for more information on the types of student financial aid.
There are a wide variety of free scholarship databases that you can investigate to find potential scholarship opportunities. Given the wealth of free resources available to you, it seems unnecessary to use fee-based scholarship databases. The following articles list and review scholarship databases:
U.S. News & World Report, “10 Sites to Kick Off Your Scholarship Search.”
U.S. News & World Report, “Compare 5 Top Scholarship Search Engines.”
USA Today’s “The 10 best sites to search for scholarships.”
College Scholarships’ “A Comprehensive Review of the Leading Scholarship Search Services.”
Reviews.com’s “The Best Scholarship Search Platforms.”
If you would like to compare private student loan options, check out LendEDU. You can compare interest rates, repayment terms, and eligibility requirements for various private student loan lenders.
Here’s to simplifying college application season as much as possible! Please reach out if you need help sorting through this process. I can help facilitate family discussions, research colleges and scholarship opportunities, and help your family create and manage your college application to-do list!
Enriched Family is a unique, custom research and consulting business dedicated to providing families with the information, tools, and systems they need to live more organized and joyful lives. Services include: Custom family-focused research (child care, education, health and wellness resources, camps, and enrichment activities), family organization solutions (stuff and systems), and productivity consulting for busy, professional parents (planning and prioritizing, scheduling, productivity coaching, and time management coaching). I offer a free, 20-minute initial phone consultation to all new clients to discuss matching your needs and priorities with my services. I invite you to check out my services and click the "Let's Get Started!" button below to contact me with any questions.
(Please note, the above post is provided for informational purposes only; the information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes, and no guarantees are made.)