list colleges

Why the Name of the College You Go To Is Less Important than What You Do There

When you review colleges, do you put down the name of a prestigious institution just because it is deemed a “good school” by many? Did you know that getting an education from an Ivy League institution or any other prestigious school is not a guarantee of success? When you list colleges you have to take into account and realize that there is more to just being a graduate of a certain educational institution.


You may have a desire to get into a “good school” and rely on “rankings” of schools to determine which one is the best. But that shouldn’t be the way to go about things when you list colleges:


  • Not all graduates of prestigious institutions will find good jobs. It may be shocking to hear that a graduate from a so-called “good school” will have difficulty finding employment, but that much is true. Just because you graduated from a “good school” doesn’t always guarantee you a job – employers are looking for something more than just the name of your school.
  • Not all rankings consider the overall picture. Factors are considered in ranking an institution, but it doesn’t paint a complete picture. First-hand experience is different from merely looking at numbers.
  • Not all employers look at where you finished your college education. Yes, it’s great to get a degree from a prestigious university but that won’t help much if you have nothing else to offer. Some employers also look at character, skill, and fit during the hiring process. So graduating from a top-ranking school isn’t a guarantee of employment.


It’s important, when you list colleges, that you go over what your aspirations are and what kind of job you might be interested in after your four years. However, here are some things you can work on no matter what college you go to that might boost your chances of getting hired:


  1. Personal development

While it’s important to work on this while in school through participating in community events and getting involved in networking, it shouldn’t stop once you finish college. The desire to improve yourself should be a lifelong goal.


The path to personal development involves being open to try new things that could end up a success or a complete failure. It involves reflecting on those experiences to become increasingly aware of oneself.


  1. Becoming a team player

An office is filled with many different personalities and opinions, and you have to work together with these people to meet the goals of a company. A good test bed for interacting with different people is the school campus. Participating in student government, being an executive for a student organization, hosting or planning events, and participating in sports clubs are just a few things you can do to improve working with different personalities.


  1. Improve project management skills

Project management isn’t just useful in the office, but in life as well. This skill can be improved through participating in internships, being involved with student organizations, and leading new initiatives on campus.


Other things that you can work on include communication, productivity, and creativity – just to name a few.


What you do on campus should speak louder than the name of the school you went to. As you work on your education, keep trying to improve on critical skills that employers look for. Learning and improving those skills will be more valuable than where you graduated.


college applications process

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Your College Applications Process

While it helps to have a balance of good grades and volunteer work to get a spot at selective colleges, it’s not always a guarantee. Admissions counselors look for more than just accomplishments during the college applications process; they also want students to clearly state their interests and show their potential.


To avoid rejection, here are some common mistakes to avoid during the college applications process:


  1. Submitting an incomplete application

You’re not doing yourself any favors by submitting an application that is missing many required items. While some colleges might follow-up on those missing materials, an incomplete submission just delays the review process.


If you’re really interested in getting into a particular college, make sure to check their list of requirements then work on getting those completed and submitted before the submission deadline. Doing so ensures that your application will get reviewed during the college applications process.



  1. Applying to a school that clashes with plans

The plan you laid out for your studies and career is bound to change. It’s for that very reason you should really understand the mission of the college you want to apply to and how they can help you meet your goals.


What this means is that you should do research on the institution to make sure it’s the one you really want to go to. It would make little sense for you to attend a school that doesn’t offer the major you want.


Make a list of possible colleges that cater to your interests, then do in-depth research on them so you can better decide for your future.


  1. Sending an error-ridden application

Yes, some admissions officers are willing to overlook minor mistakes, but an application that is just filled with a range of errors isn’t a good look for you. That sends a signal to admissions that you aren’t serious or don’t possess the necessary skill set to succeed at their institution.


You can go over your application multiple times during the application process to ensure that it is free from errors. An even better solution is to have different sets of eyes look into your application for any glaring mistakes.


  1. Having a history of bad behavior

Character is a trait many colleges and universities scrutinize and a history with suspensions and similar matters raise red flags. It’s true that some institutions are willing to accept students with minor issues like tardiness, a history of being disruptive in class might have a more negative impact.


What students with suspension records can do on their application is explain what happened during those incidents.


  1. Missing the mark

You really have to submit the best applications possible for a chance at admission into your preferred college or university. Keep in mind that some selective institutions only accept a certain number of students, and your application will get rejected if it doesn’t contain the elements for their institution.


In short, you really have to come up with a narrative that clearly states your aspirations and academic interests; one that complements the test scores in a specific subject area.


top colleges

What Do the Top Colleges Have In Common?

If you do an annual search for the top colleges each year or keep close attention to “the best” lists, you will notice a familiar pattern. Many of the names at the top of the lists are elite institutions with a population that is mostly comprised of affluent students.


But is wealth all that connects all the best universities across the US? Here are some of the factors that go into picking a top educational institution:


Quality academics

Every student wants to get the best education possible. Although there are top schools that have brilliant academic staff who can impart their knowledge to students, it’s not a secret that a number of prestigious institutions are able to easily attract the best minds in the world.


Forbes’ list of the top colleges in America released in August 2017 also showed a rise in ranking for STEM and research-oriented institutions. Educational institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology have always ranked high, but a number of other institutions that also specialize in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have jumped higher in the list.


While elite educational institutions will clearly rank high in “best of” lists, there are still non-Ivy League schools that provide quality academics.


Academic reputation

A job-seeking graduate’s chances of getting hired will be higher when they finished their education from a top-ranking institution. Top leaders in America, both in business and politics, went to elite private institutions.


But just because a very public figure graduated from a notable institution doesn’t paint a complete picture of their capabilities or the school’s quality.


Research citations are also a factor in boosting a school’s reputation. There’s an advantage when research work is cited by other researchers. But this also limits the field to colleges that are research intensive, have lots of international cooperation, and have impressive science departments.


Then again, there are schools that are known within their local community for offering quality education when it comes to a particular program, be it in the arts or the sciences.


A certain level of freedom

Colleges that allow students to unleash their creativity, promote critical thinking, and drive scientific inquiry can produce graduates who can make positive contributions to society. And this kind of environment doesn’t have to be within the confines of prestigious institutions.


Diverse community

A number of the best educational institutions have students from different parts of the world as members of their population. Positives can be gained from having a diverse community: learners are opening themselves up to new ideas and approaches.


A diverse community gives students a chance to meet people from different cultures, which give them a better understanding of the world beyond their own country.


Many students want to go to an educational institution that can not only provide them a good education, but also be instrumental in their development as a person. Many top colleges are able to do this thanks to being able to hire an impressive academic staff and attract talented students from all over the world.


compare colleges

Things to Look for When You Compare Colleges

Picking a college to attend counts as one of the major life decisions you have to make. Making a choice involves more than just listing down a possible list of destinations; a good deal of research should be done to find the best fit. To help you out, here are some factors to consider when you compare colleges:


  1. Location

Do you want to go to school in a college located in the same state or are you eyeing one that is located far away?


A school that is located within a few hours from home allows you to see your family or have them visit you on a more frequent basis.


Opting for the latter means making sure you’re comfortable living far away from home and ensuring you can adapt to surroundings that you aren’t used to.


  1. Student Body Size

Colleges are usually classified as small, medium, or large. A small college typically has around 5,000 students. Colleges that fall under the medium have between 5,000 to 15,000 students – a number of colleges fall within this category. A college that is classified as large has more than 15,000 students.


When you compare colleges, your decision rests on the social environment you prefer. A big college offers lots of opportunities for socialization like cheering for any number of school sports teams. But a smaller college can offer something more intimate.


  1. Available Scholarships

You can check with the school you wish to attend regarding any available scholarships. This information can also be checked in a public library or accessed online.


Be aware about scholarship scams and make sure to check the deadline so you can apply for them between your junior or senior years.


  1. Dorm Options

Freshmen students are usually put in student housing inside the campus in most colleges. But if you are not comfortable with living with lots of other students and value privacy, consider looking into other available housing options, preferably located nearby.


  1. Clubs & Activities

Different school groups catered to specific interests exist in many colleges. You can check the school’s website for a student organization list to see if there is one that lines with your interests.


Extracurricular activities form a large part of the college experience so make sure to check of there are options within the school – or even outside of it – for a bit of fun. For instance, you can check if there are bookstores, shopping centers, cinemas, or coffee shops located nearby.


  1. Food Options

Yes, food can be a major consideration when you compare colleges, especially if you choose to live off campus. Buying and cooking your own food can be cheaper and it would be nice to live nearby a grocery or market to get fresh produce and other supplies.


Sometimes, you might also want to try different food options or cuisines. As such, it’s nice to check the variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops located nearby.


  1. Transportation

Be it a bookstore or a shopping mall, it’s nice to know that anything you might want is just a short distance away. Check the area to see if shops and other amenities are within walking distance, just a few minutes’ drive, or a short travel by bus or train.


College may be mainly about getting an education in a field of your interest. But there is more to college than just studying; it helps to have a balance of work and play. Take these factors into account and your college of choice will slowly reveal itself to you.


college application

Completing a College Application

The purpose of a college application is to give admission officers an idea of who you are. While there are several requirements needed, not every college will ask for every single item. The application process can definitely be daunting, but this guide on how to complete a college application can help you out.


  1. Make a list of colleges you want to go to

There are different factors to consider when choosing a college to go to. Final choices can be boiled down to cost and distance, but it’s best to start listing colleges that cater to your interest.


Once you have a list, you can narrow the choices down further after carefully reading each college’s requirements and doing more research. Look into housing opportunities as well as leisure activities. If possible, a visit to the campus itself to get a feel of the place. We’ve visited many colleges ourselves and you can review our findings to go along with your own research.


  1. Keep deadlines in mind

Knowing the application deadline of your chosen college helps you gather and fulfill the needed requirements on time. Colleges also have different options for applying: regular decision, early action, early decision, and rolling admissions. The first three rely on deadlines while the last covers a period of time.


Regular Decision is the most common and starts around January with results expected around March or April. You can submit and be notified earlier under Early Action. Under Early Decision, you are agreeing to enroll in the chosen college if accepted. Rolling Admissions provide a window under which you can submit an application.


  1. Provide all the items required

These are the common requirements, but not every college will need each one, and others may require more.


  • Application Forms – can either be a paper or online application.
  • Application Fees – ranges from $35 to $50 and is not refundable but waivers are available if you can’t afford the fee.
  • High School Transcript – will be sent to the colleges you are applying to by your high school but you need to verify all the information first.
  • Final Transcript – will be sent by your high school to the colleges you’ve applied to at the end of your senior year.
  • Admission Test Scores – these are scores from tests such as ACT or SAT which some colleges require. Plan a study schedule and testing date so scores can be sent on time.
  • Letters of Recommendation – these can be from teachers or people who know you well. Ask your references to write a recommendation well in advance of the deadline.
  • Essays – this helps admission officers gain a better insight into your character and strengths.
  • Auditions and portfolios – needed when you want to get into art, music, or theater programs.
  • Interviews – even when not required, you can ask for one to connect with someone from the admission office and show you’re serious. You can interview with an alumnus from the local area in case the college is located far away.


  1. Keep a copy of every material needed in the application process

It’s always a good idea to keep copies of everything you’re including in your college application. You just never know if an item will get lost or misplaced, so it’s a good idea to have copies!


  1. Confirm that your application materials have arrived

You can apply to many schools, but keep in mind that you also have to get in touch with each of them to confirm they’ve received your college application. It’s also a good time to verify if every item requested is present. That way you can quickly supply any material that is missing.


Planning is crucial and this short guide on how to complete your college application highlights some of the important aspects to make the application experience less daunting.


college financial aid

Tips To Completing Your FAFSA

College can be costly and many students will likely need financial aid. When you apply for college financial aid, there are two options to go after:

  • federal student loans – funded by the federal government
  • private student loans – made by a bank, credit union, school, or state agency


What are the differences?

In general, a private loan tends to be more expensive while a federal loan offers more benefits. Here’s a look at other differences:

  • Federal student loans will be paid after you graduate, leave school, or change enrollment status.
  • Private loans have a variable interest rate, meaning the repay amount could be much more.
  • A federal loan doesn’t always require a co-signer.
  • A private student loan may require a credit check as the cost will depend on your credit score, among others.
  • Portion of a federal loan can be forgiven if you work in public service.


How to get a federal student loan?

You have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get a federal student loan. Comprised of more than 100 questions, completing the form can be confusing and quite daunting. But mistakes can be avoided by being prepared.


Our Tips on Completing the FAFSA


  1. Know the deadlines

States and institutions that award aid usually have limited funds so it’s best to file an application as early as possible. This way, you can hit “priority filing deadlines” to increase chances of getting college financial aid.


  1. Create an FSA ID

It’s recommended you get a Federal Student Aid ID so you can fill out your FAFSA form online. An FSA ID consists of a username and password and should be acquired days before filling out the FAFSA.


  1. Secure all needed documents

Questions asked in the FAFSA form concern personal and financial information. The actual information you will provide depends on certain factors, but these are usually the documents or information needed:

  • Social Security number
  • Social Security numbers of parents (if you are a dependent student)
  • Driver’s License number
  • Alien Registration number (if you are not a citizen of the US)
  • Federal tax information (including your spouse’s if married and your parents’ if you are a dependent student)
  • Records of untaxed income (including for your parents if you are a dependent student)
  • Information on cash, savings and checking accounts, investments, business and farm assets (including for your parents if you are a dependent student) but not including primary residence or retirement accounts


  1. List down all the schools you wish to attend

Doing this ensures that your information is sent there. This is important so that the school knows that you are looking for financial aid. You can also add more schools to your FAFSA free of charge.


  1. Sign the FAFSA form

You will use your FSA ID to sign the form. If you are a dependent, you will need one of your parents to sign the application as well.


Seeing a confirmation page is proof of successful submission. You will also receive the page in an email if you provided an address. Since both are different, it helps to print the one you see on screen.


Filling out a FAFSA form can be confusing and daunting but being prepared and having all the needed information makes the process a lot easier. Apply for a subscription at for more information on college financial aid.


college planning

Useful College Planning Tips to Finding the Right Educational Institution

If you are almost done with your senior year of high school and preparing to go off to college, choosing the right university is a significant factor to fulfilling your dreams of a bright future. However, the task of college planning can be quite a daunting task.


To ensure that you become a part of a reliable educational institution to equip you with the knowledge and skills as well as find the right school, include these guidelines in your college planning.



Know Your Options

Getting a higher education can be expensive and quite a number of college hopefuls have to deal with paying their student loans after getting a degree. But if you know the available options, you can find the right school that will fit your budget. You can go to a private college or opt for a public one, if you think this is better for you.


Private colleges may demand higher tuition fees because unlike public colleges which are subsidized by the local or state governments where they are located, privately-owned colleges and universities are sustained by the tuition fees of students and donations from private entities.


While they can be more expensive, you can ask for available scholarships and financial aid you might be qualified for. Conversely, state colleges, being more affordable, can be a better choice for you if you have financial concerns.



College Planning

There are colleges which offer two-year and four-year programs for students. If part of your college planning includes obtaining an associate degree or getting certification in two years, enrolling in a community college might be the right move for you.


If you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree, the community college you are interested in should have two-year degree programs. These can help to prepare you in transferring to a four-year degree program.


Conversely, if you are intending to pursue a master’s degree or graduate studies, consider entering a university. Universities often have different colleges, such as Engineering, Science, Architecture and Liberal Arts that can prepare you in planning your career.


If you have concrete future plans and you want to acquire specific skills for particular fields, try applying to universities.



Choose a College Fit for Your Personality and Preference

Colleges can either be open for male and female students, all males or female students only. If you want a college that accepts both men and women, you can apply to public colleges or private universities. But if you feel more comfortable studying in an all-male or all-female college, you can apply to a private exclusive school.


Additionally, the population of the school can also affect your decision in finding the right college. Community colleges having lower tuition fees which can attract many students to, so expect for larger student populations.


If this does not bother you and you care more about your capability to pay for your higher education, then being a part of a state or community college can be an option. The campus atmosphere can also have a great effect on your studies. Therefore, it pays to consider this factor in your college planning.



The key to finding the right college for you is by knowing what really matters to you. Decide on the career path you plan to take and who you want to become. Let the above-mentioned guidelines make the process easier.

understanding college

Getting a Head Start on Understanding the College Application Process and Where to Begin

Investing in higher education is both challenging and rewarding. This is why understanding college is crucial in picking the right school and building your future. While high school graduates can find jobs, people who have earned college degrees have better chances to land better and higher-paying positions when they seek employment.


However, applying for college can be stressful if you do not have an idea on where to begin. There is a myriad of educational institutions and degrees to choose from, not to discard the fact that your peers can add to the pressure. Our goal is to assist college applicants in understanding college, and the various steps to college admissions. We want to ultimately make finding and getting into the right university a smooth and simple transition.


  1. Get the Right Information

It’s important to know that doing well on the SAT or ACT is important but acing these tests should not be your priority. Colleges will also look at who you really are, in terms of your goals, how you were in high school and your strong points, among other things. The essay you will be asked to write is where you can get your message across. Use this medium to show your real character and not as a tool you can use to impress.


Remember that admission officers have dealt with all kinds of college applicants and will know if you are being honest with your work. Same goes with the college interview. Take this opportunity to show who you are and what you are made of. If you have this information, you increase your chances of enrolling in a university best equipped to help you build your future.


  1. Talk to the Right People

College life is unique and quite different from secondary education. This being the case, understanding the college application process is easier if you get feedback. This can come from your friends, family and most importantly, your guidance counselor regarding the degree you plan on majoring in and your college of choice. They can advise you so you can reach the right decision and eliminate unnecessary stress.


  1. Make the Right Preparations

Before applying to colleges, be prepared for the application process. This includes listing down the classes you have attended in high school which are most interesting for you. Also, write down your achievements in school, including extra-curricular activities you engaged in. All of these will come in handy in your essays and interviews.


  1. Have the Right Organizational Skills

Reduce the stress of college admission applications by organizing your documents and tracking your progress for each college you have applied to. Ensure these by creating separate folders for each university. Gather the information and documents you need so it will be easier to access them whenever the need arises.


Ensure that you have the required documents, such as your high school code, school transcript and social security number. Also, have a checklist with deadlines and check the requirements you have submitted and accomplished to determine which requirements you still have to forward and process. Doing so well ahead of time can prevent possible problems like not meeting the deadlines for submission.


Understanding college and the application process can help you go a long way as you enter a new chapter in your student life. Know the steps you need to take and use these tips as your guide to help you manage the stress and hurdles of applying to an educational institution for higher education.