Is the College Net Price Calculator Accurate?

The Net Price Calculator (NPC) is required on every college website. (It’s much like an online mortgage calculator. )

Here’s the thing. The NPC, like many other areas of the website, are not necessarily constantly updated by a paid on staff web designer. Unlike simply changing the dollar amounts of tuition and room costs, the calculator is a little more complicated and requires actual programming “behind” the page.

That said, many NPC’s can be as much as 2 years old. However, the results it spits out shouldn’t be more than a few thousand off (in the college’s favor) from the actual financial aid offer. I always ask my parents to take a screenshot of their input data and the final output (with the college URL at the top.) That way, if there is a huge difference in what is offered you at least have something to discuss in the appeal.

Just remember that colleges that offer few merit scholarships may not include that possibility in the NPC and...

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Less Stress for Success: Self-Care & Study Tips for College Students

Self-Care & Study Tips for College Students

Don’t jump from studying one subject directly into studying another. Students should take breaks between study sessions. The concept of studying in increments is nothing new. The Pomodoro Technique, as it is called, is a time management technique where the student studies for 30-45 minutes and then takes a 10-15 minute break. Even if you need to study or work on one project for a specific class for 2 hours, the Pomodoro study shows it’s still best to break that 2 hours into 3 or 4 segments.

But what should you do with that 10-15 minutes between?

What you should not do is fret over the work that is yet to be done. Worry and anxiety will not help you.

When taking a break, even if it’s just for 10 minutes do something that brings you joy and takes your mind off of your studies. But set a timer and stick to it! Here are a few ideas.:

Have a cup of hot tea. A study conducted by Dr Malcolm Cross and Rita Michaels,...

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Practice and Prep for the ACT

Prepping for the ACT exam doesn't have to be difficult especially if you start early. But all "prep" is not created equal. There are many test prep books available on Amazon and in bookstores. You may even find some at used book sales. But use caution. Both the ACT and SAT (College Board) spent a ton of money getting those test questions just right. There are a lot of copycat test prep books that may not be substantial enough to be used for your prep work. 

Official practice tests are the best way to go. ACT and SAT both retire several exams each year. Those exams are usually placed in their official test prep books and are available for purchase each year. 

ACT offers an official practice test that you can print out and take with a pencil and paper. I highly recommend doing this since your real exam will also be using pencil and paper.  Fo any practice test you'll want to mimic an actual testing situation as closely as possible. with timing, and no distractions,...

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Don’t Skip the ACT!


Don't buy into the "schools are test-optional" mantra and end up missing out on tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

#1 Less than 50% of colleges were test-optional for admissions. (Most still want them for scholarships. or for special groups.) 

#2 Within 3 years 90% will return to test-required. 

Will your teen be late to the party?

These exams are tied to BIG scholarships. My 2 kids won more than $50,000 in college and state scholarships where the ACT scores were a deciding factor. That's REAL money.

Taking the exams can also help your teen place out of introductory college classes in English and Math. That also saves money and time.

If you want comprehensive details on preparing for the ACT exam. Click here!

To Your Success,

P.S. Waiting until the middle of junior year to take these exams is one of the most ridiculous, self-serving pieces of advice that high school counselors give. If you want to why it’s a bad idea to wait, email me!...

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Should My College Kid Get an Allowance?

This topic came up when one parent wanted to fund $1000 per month into their college kid's account.

What is an allowance? An allowance is an amount of money given on a regular basis. It may have rules or stipulations on under what circumstances it is received (for young children it may be for doing certain chores) or "just because we can" with no rules in place for how it must be spent.

Let's start with, Your college kid should not have time to fiddle around (even if it's in NYC) to spend that kind of cash every month. Unless they are getting an Underwater Basketweaving degree, they should be studying. Being a theater arts major shouldn't require attending expensive shows every month either.

If and how much to give your teen will depend on your circumstances. If all of your teen's bills are paid for, then an allowance might cover a tank of gas each month, car expenses such as oil changes and registration, and one decent meal at a restaurant. 


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My Kid is Average. How to Stand Out in College and Scholarship Essays

I hear it often. Parents and teens believe they have to have something extraordinary to gain college acceptance or to win private scholarships.

We live in a small town.”

”Nothing significant has ever happened for a “story” that is good or bad.”

” I have read my teen’s essays and they seem good but nothing like the students that have life changing events.”

They don’t have anything special. They didn’t start a non profit foundation. They’re average. Couldn’t be farther from the truth. (Most of the time)

"My kid's essays don't stand out! What can I do?"

First, chill. Not everyone is going to have some earth-shattering global impact project or has survived a deadly disease. Yet a large percentage of teens get accepted to colleges and win scholarships every year .

Colleges and scholarship committees aren’t looking for spectacular. They’re looking for the “real you.” (Your teen).

What are...

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How to Pay Off Your Student Debt

Ok, so I may ruffle a few feathers here because I'm about to NOT be "Politically Correct." 

You've got college debt? PAY IT OFF! You signed on the dotted line. You were/are an adult. It's your responsibility. Period. You will never hear me say that anyone else should pay it, or that the federal government should "forgive" your loan. Man-up!

Now that that's out of the way, you didn't have a plan to pay it off, or life got in the way as it often does. Life happens to everyone. So how CAN you get that monkey off your back? Here are a few suggestions.:

Sacrifice some time for money. Instead of going home after work, get another part-time job or side gig. If you're having trouble coming up with ideas, a side gig can be anything.  Anything you do well you can teach others how to do for pay. Teach an educational subject, tutor, or teach guitar or piano lessons. Pet sitting is an easy gig for before and after your 8 to 5 job. Mow lawns, rake leaves or pull weeds....

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What if your employer offered the benefit of free college tuition?

What if your employer offered the benefit of free college tuition? (Good Idea or Bad Idea? What to look out for!)

I was recently asked to comment as a news source on this topic. 

From the employee, your adult child’s, perspective.:

Each year a few more employers join the ranks of others that offer tuition benefits to their employees.

Is it a good deal? 

-It could be a great idea! You’d have to live on another planet to not have heard of the rising cost of college tuition, so the thought of having someone else pay for it should make your ears perk up. For many this can be a great alternative to paying for college out of pocket.

What things should they know or ask? 

(A) Nothing in life is free, except your mother's love. Any company offering tuition incentives is going to want something in return. Usually, that means a commitment to working at the company for a certain number of years, or you’ll have to repay the cost that they incurred for your...

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Your Teen has a Brand: Social Media Can Kill Your Teens Future


Your Teen has a Brand: Social Media Can Kill Your Teen’s Career & Future!

To parents of teens & college students, & those that teach & counsel them. If you haven’t had this discussion, & if you have, remind them again & again.

Every employer, scholarship agency & college is monitoring perspective student/intern's social media content. This before they hire you, and during employment as an adult! Creepy, I know. But hear me out.

Companies don’t want to be seen in a negative light. On your own time, you are still an employee: What you do, who you are, reflects on them.

Potential illegal activity should go without saying. But the following can and has been cause for dismissal.

Alcohol, holding a glass of wine, being drunk, get tagged in a post or photo you’re NOT EVEN IN, but now you are associated with the behavior.

Personal Faith
Gun rights

When your faith is strong, it’s likely you’ll post or...

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Kim asked, "Is the NSHSS (National Society of High School Scholars) Legitimate?"

Kim: "What about the National Society of High School Scholars? I was a part of the National Honor Society in public school, so I was super excited to get the invitation for NSHSS for my homeschooled daughter. My husband is unsure of it (its legitimacy and value) since it requires a $75 membership fee. I love the idea of her having a cord/stole to wear when she graduates, but don’t want to waste money and time on something not worth it."

My answer: 

There are a lot of people who swear it’s not a real organization or that it’s a scam. They would be wrong.
It is real. They do have scholarships. It’s a one-time fee. It’s been around for decades AND there is a collegiate component that has chapters on hundreds of college campuses.
(Remember the decades of disinformation around chiropractic that said it was quackery? That was started by the AMA and it was deliberate. It was only stopped by a court order.)
The NHS, The National Honor Society,...
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