6 Steps to Finding the Right College Fit

Written by Diana Simeon, Your Teen Magazine
Deciding where to apply to college can feel stressful and confusing. With so many great options, how can students find the right one?
1. Getting Started
Martha O’Connell, Executive Director of Colleges That Change Lives, says, “Students should begin their search by examining themselves and their reasons for going to college.” O’Connell suggests students honestly assess themselves to determine what their strengths, weaknesses and abilities are and what kind of learning community they want to be a part of.
Aaron Greene, founder of College Liftoff, says there are four main criteria that students need to examine when assessing a college: academic reputation, career development reputation, financial considerations and whether the school is a good fit.
Greene cautions students not to let one component overshadow the other three. “Sometimes students fall immediately in love with a school, and the fit is good.
But, if it does not meet a student’s financial needs, it is probably not the right choice.”
2. Evaluating Schools
Students and parents should approach a college search the same way they would approach buying a home.
Greene says, “Students need to do their research and not be afraid to ask tough questions, such as ‘What kind of internships are offered?’ and ‘What are the job placement statistics?’ Don’t rely on a school’s reputation alone. A school may offer many majors but only really excel in some of them.”
The school’s location, size and student life are also important factors to consider.
3. Keeping Options Open
College admissions can seem random, and sometimes, even an ideal candidate for a particular school will not get accepted.
Maureen Tillman, psychotherapist and founder of College with Confidence, advises parents, “Never talk about one school as perfect during this process. Look at each school your child is applying to and explore all the positives (as well as negatives), helping them to see that there is not just one school for them.”
4. Visiting Colleges
College visits are a key part of determining whether a school is a good match. School-sponsored tours are good, but only as a starting point.
“Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path and walk around on your own, unsupervised and unchaperoned. It’s important to take the time to get a feel for the campus and its culture or personality,” says Robin Mamet, co-author of College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.
Keep an open mind on college visits. Ally Weissenberg, a high school senior, initially thought she wanted to attend a very big university. But on her tour, the school felt impersonal, and she felt lost. She discussed her feelings with her counselor, who suggested a smaller school.
“When I visited Tulane University, I liked the smaller size,” Weissenberg says. “The students looked happy, and the campus seemed friendly and welcoming. Walking around, I could picture myself being friends with the students I saw.”
5. Keeping the Rankings in Check
Many students and parents feel pressured to pick a school based on prestige and rankings. Rebecca Bergman, a high school senior, says, “College rankings definitely played a role in my decision making. I applied early decision to an Ivy League school because I felt I should reach a little higher. But, that school was more of a city school and not what I really wanted. Luckily, I was not accepted and will be attending my true first choice school in the fall.”
Bergman’s feelings are not uncommon. O’Connell, says, “We live in a brand-name society. Many parents want to ride around town with a certain college bumper sticker. But, choosing a college because of where it ranks on a list does not take into account who you are and who you want to become.”
6. Making it Work
“I wish that students would approach the college search with a greater appreciation for the long view of education,” O’Connell says. “It is not about the race to the end, but instead what you learn from each step in the journey to get there.”
Regardless of what school a student winds up attending, it is up to them to make their college experience the best it can be. Tillman says, “As with all things in life, in the end, it is what you make of the opportunity.”
To read the entire article and check out more great articles for parents raising teens, visit Your Teen Magazine.

Who Knew Roku?

Roku-3-with-Headphones.jpgIf you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, you’ve probably figured out two things about me. I’m always dieting and I’m a couch potato. Which means even though I truly want to be fit and thin, it’s pretty hard to do when your ultimate goal at the end of the night is to curl up on the couch with your husband and kids so you can watch a movie that everyone will love (or maybe my daughter and I will love). And that brings me dear readers, to Roku.
Recently, I was asked if I’d be interested in giving Roku 3 a try. If you’ve never heard of Roku, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Roku is a video streaming device that enables you to choose the movies and TV shows that you want to see when you want to see them. And trust me, while I am a cable subscriber and we frequently hit channel 500 to find a movie we can play on demand, the selection pales in comparison to the offerings you can get on Roku. Over 150,000 titles are available at any given time. Which means in most instances, any movie that you have loved in your life (“Steel Magnolias,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “St. Elmo’s Fire”…yes I am trapped in the 80’s and 90’s) can potentially all be found on Roku.
But wait, there’s more. Now I feel like a game show host. Not only are there movies, TV shows and sporting events to be watched, there’s also games too like Angry Birds Space, Downhill Bowling, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and Suduko. And, if you are a stalker obsessed with your friend’s Facebook photos and videos, you can see them right through your Roku too. Here’s the best part — a Roku 3 box is $99 and it gives you access to over 1000 channels. Can anyone say Couch Potato Heaven??? While Roku doesn’t charge a monthly fee for their services, you can choose from a host of services like Redbox Instant from Verizon where you can instantly stream great movies 24/7…although I wouldn’t recommend watching that much television unless you land a job where you’re paid to watch and write about the shows and movies you love all the time.
So how do you get your hands on a Roku 3 box? Simple – just visit their website for additional details. Just as the leaves are changing and that all too familiar fall chill is in the air, get ready to grab that cozy blanket, curl up on the couch and watch what you want all the time!
Disclosure: I was given a Roku 3 to try out for this review. However, all opinions (especially my love of classic 80’s and 90’s movies) are strictly my own.