How to select the best college for your child?



When people say “time flies by quickly” they are not exaggerating. It seems like only yesterday our sweet big eyed daughter was running around here with her Barney stuffed doll and her hair in pigtails. She’s almost 17 years old now and instead of Teletubbies and Dora the Explorer she’s into boys and trying to convince us to let her go to Florida on Spring Break with an 18 year old friend (no way!).

Sigh… if only they could stay young for a longer time.

We’re not prepared for a lot of things that come with having an older teenager. It’s enough just trying to help her find a job so she can afford a car, which is another thing we are not ready for. We also have to think about college. She’s going to be a senior in the fall. NOW is the time to think about where she wants to go, what she wants to study and spend our weekends making college visits.

When I was in high school and I was planning on going to college I wanted to go to a college that my friends were going to – or one that was known as a “party school”. I was young and foolish then. I didn’t think about college curriculums, entrance exams and essays, financial aid, student loans or what college majors have the strongest job prospects. I just wanted to go and hang out with my friends. What a big mistake that was.

I’m NOT letting our daughter make the same mistakes that I made. I want her to know everything there is to know about selecting a college, applying for college and how to afford college.

You CAN find this information online, but you’ll go crazy researching it. There are so many websites and so much different information to be found online. I prefer to have it all in one place by a trusted resource. That is why I am going to get a copy of the book by U.S. News & World Report called Best Colleges 2014. This guide book is filled with the latest, up to date, information and includes all important information you’ll need to consider when selecting a college.

Best Colleges 2014 cover for B&N Better Paper Project promo

I like that the book starts off with something that is very important for all college bound students – WHY are you going to college? How do you learn best? What activities matter most? Can you handle the pressure?

Our daughter wants to go to a college on the west coast (we’re in NY). I can understand that she wants to “spread her wings and fly” and be independent, we also don’t think she’s “equipped” to handle something like that… yet. We’d like for her to go to a college locally for a couple of years to see how she does then she can transfer any where she wants to go.

I love that the book points out which schools offers the best internships, which schools foster a sense of community with incoming freshmen and which schools are best for certain degrees.

Throughout the book you’ll also find informative articles/essays written by professionals that also help you and your student prepare for life beyond high school.

Here is just one of the articles you’ll find in the book (shared with permission).

Admissions Officers Speak Out: Application Mistakes To Avoid

Some types of mistakes on college applications drive admissions staffers crazy (and sometimes send the applicant straight to the rejection pile). U.S. News asked pros from around the country to weigh in on what they’d strongly rather you not do. Here’s a sampling from the 13 goofs they identified:

Let parents take the lead

“It doesn’t tell us that a student is interested if we get 15 phone calls from Mom,” says Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management at Butler University. “We want families involved. But the student needs to take the lead.” 

Submit a lengthy résumé

“At my stage in my career, I shouldn’t have a three-page résumé. So no 17-year-old should be submitting a three-page résumé,” advises Leigh A. Weisenburger, dean of admission and financial aid at Bates College . “I know many college counselors encourage students to write one as a process to help the kid recognize all she’s accomplished, but we don’t need to see it if you’ve filled out the application properly.” 

Hit submit without proofreading

“Using spell-check isn’t enough – you have to proofread,” warns Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid at Oberlin College. Admissions officers tell of one applicant who described having an “international bachelorette” degree and another who wrote a passionate essay about the musical “Lion King.” 

Wait until the last minute

“Many students who submit on the date of the deadline assume that everything transmitted and was received. But sometimes things are lost in cyberspace,” says Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions at Washington University in St. Louis. “We try to give a few days’ grace period, but colleges and universities expect you to confirm that your application has been received and that it is complete. Check your status through the college’s or university’s website first to see if everything is there.”

Write a one-size-fits-all essay

“If you write an essay for a university, and then you write that essay again and it’s just a matter of changing the name of the university, then it’s probably going to be a poor essay. And yes, we have gotten students who forget to change ‘Northwestern’ to “Rice,’” reports Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice University. “Why, specifically, have you chosen us? Demonstrating true interest and care can make a difference on the margin.”

Trump up your extracurricular activities

“We want to know where a student’s passions lie, and genuine interests tend not to appear suddenly in senior year,” states Sarah Richardson, director of admissions and scholarships for Creighton University. I’d rather see quality over quantity. Include as much detail as you can so that we can understand what kind of a fit you’ll be for our institution.” 

Fail to check our requirements

“There’s nothing more disappointing than to review an application of a student who might otherwise be competitive for admission and realize she is ineligible because she didn’t take the required courses, says Kelly A. Walter , associate vice president and executive director of admissions for Boston University. “For very focused and specific programs and majors like business, you’re required to have specific quantitative skills. Or for physical therapy and athletic training, a very strong foundation in both science and math is a critical factor in the admissions process. So look at all the curriculum requirements for things you may be interested in.”

Excerpted from “Oops! These Goofs May Ruin Your Chances” in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2014.

Thankfully this article will help us to avoid these mistakes.

I made A LOT of mistakes when it came to college. I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t think things through. As a result I dropped out after one year and had to wait several years before I was able to return to college with a better head on my shoulders.

I am getting a copy of this book not only for me and my husband but also for our daughter. She needs to start taking things more seriously and start narrowing down her choice of schools that are not entirely based on location (she’s only looking at where is a school is located – not at what it has to offer or how much it costs). She also needs to narrow down her major and find out if it’s a major that will help her to land a job when she graduates or does she need to reconsider and come up with alternative options just in case?

You can find the book at retail locations like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. You can also purchase the guidebook HERE. Use the discount code SCHOOL25 to save 25%.

If you have a child heading off the college soon or you have already survived sending a child off to college, would you care to share any words of advice and tips? Not only will it help me but others who are reading this post. I value your feedback.



*I have partnered with U.S. News and World Reports to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.

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4 Techniques That Will Help You Teach Your Teen to Drive


Teen Driver

You taught your kid how to walk with no problems. When it came time to go to school, you showed him how to add and subtract with ease. But now that your child is approaching the magic age that suddenly allows him to drive, it’s time for you to teach him something that’s not quite as simple. Operating a vehicle is multi-tasking at its finest, and even old-timers can’t always do it effectively. So how are you supposed to instruct your teenager, that won’t even clean up his room when asked, how to do it?

1. It’s What You Do, Not What You Say

With teenagers, it doesn’t really matter what words are coming out of your mouth unless you back them up with actions. This is especially true when it comes to driving. You can preach all of the rules of the road to your teen until you lose your voice, but he will still pay more attention to what you do when you are behind the wheel. After all, if you break one of the rules, it must be okay for him, right?

2. Answer the “Why?”

Just like when your kid was a toddler, the all-important answer to the question “Why?” really matters. It’s not enough to tell your teen that he needs to keep both hands on the steering wheel: You need to explain that if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to control the car successfully in an emergency situation. Once your teen actually understands the reasoning behind all of the driving rules you give him, he is more apt to follow them.

3. Be a Pollyanna

Sometimes it seems like all you ever say is, “Don’t do that!” and “No, that’s not right!” Instead, try to focus on the positive. Even though your teen seems like he doesn’t care about what you think of him, deep down, he thrives on your pride for him. So let him know how awesome he is when he follows the speed limit, even in the school zone. Tell him good job when he uses his blinker before switching lanes. He will crave your positive words and try to earn them every chance he gets. Plus, teaching him to drive will be much more pleasant experience for both of you.

4. Use Scare Tactics

It may be a cheap shot, but it is an effective one. And when it comes to your teen’s safety, you need to take advantage of everything at your disposal. In order to really stress to your teen the importance of what you are telling him, you need to put a little fear in his bones. Let him know that out of every five teenage deaths, one of them is from a car crash, making it the leading cause of death for his age group (15-19 years). Inform him that over 5,000 teenagers die while driving (or riding with a teen driver) each year, and 56% of these teens were not wearing seatbelts.

To top it all off, really ingrain the importance of safe driving into his head by showing him graphic images of car crashes caused by teen drivers. If that doesn’t scare him into driving safely, you might want to withhold the licensing process until it does.


Guest post by Drivers Ed by Improv.

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5 Parenting Tips Every Parent Can Do To Make a Difference in Their Teen’s Life


Talking to teen

As a parent, you want to equip your teen with the skills necessary to navigate through the world with a minimal amount of pain and hurt. However, adolescence is typically when teens break away emotionally from their parents as they try to find their own identity. Even though you and your teen are entering a new phase in your relationship, there are still some parenting techniques and tips you can employ to make a difference in how your teen transitions into a healthy, capable adult.

Tip #1. Set Rules and Consequences Up Together

As your teen gains more independence, now is a good time to discuss the house rules and the consequences of breaking them. Often, your teen will come up with some meaningful contributions to the discussion. Hold the conversation when you are both calm and relaxed rather than immediately after an infraction. Establishing expectations on both sides will give you both an idea of what happens and what punishments are fair.

Tip #2. Communicate About Dangers

Your teen may feel like he or she knows everything there is to know about life, but you can make them better prepared when you have open and honest discussions about things like sex, drugs, drinking, bullying and even social media responsibilities. Make sure they are educated on the facts of each topic rather than rely on what they hear through their friends. Brainstorm ways that your teen can handle various situations, from being offered alcohol at a party to dealing with a bully. Planning, preparation and information also leaves the door wide open for your teen to come talk to you about any of these issues in the future.


Tip #3. Know When to Step In and When to Back Off

Your teen needs opportunities for independence now, so give them a chance to do things on their own, within reason. Step in when your teen is thinking about doing something harmful or permanent, but in general, let them have some leeway when it comes to day to day decisions. Realizing the consequences of their choices are some of the most powerful life lessons, and sheltered or smothered teens may not develop a healthy sense of self awareness. Pick your battles when it comes to your teenager and don’t nitpick over small matters, yet step in when it is something that is significant or potentially serious.

Tip #4. Get to Know Their Friends

You may not like your teen’s friends, but when you get to know them better, it gives you insight into the type of people your teen identifies with, for good or bad. It also gives your teen a chance to see how his or her friends react around others, adults specifically. If your teen’s friends are not respectful, responsible or otherwise appropriate, your teen will see that quickly. Knowing about your teen’s friends also gives you another avenue for communication—you can ask about the happenings in the friend’s lives and gain insight into your own teen’s thoughts, concerns or achievements.

Tip #5. Set the Example

Your teenager may act like he or she doesn’t want much to do with you but in reality, your actions and behaviors still have a big influence on how your teen views the world. Make sure your actions in dealing with others, handling stress and challenges and expressing yourself reflect what you want your teen to see you do. You can be a good role model and help your teen develop appropriate ethical and moral standards that will help guide them through their later teen and adult years.


Tyler Jacobson is a freelance writer with expertise in marriage and family development and adolescent issues. For more parenting tips, visit HelpYourTeenNow.com.

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Teens’ New Year’s Resolution


New Year Resolutions

This is a guest post written by Folasade Lapite. I know a lot of readers have teenagers (or teenaged grandchildren). I thought this article could be helpful for them. A lot of this information could apply toward adults too.

New Year’s Resolution. Whenever hearing those three simple words everyone starts to write lists. Not just the ordinary daily to-do list, but lists that seem will take an eternity to conquer. These “New Year’s Resolutions” then morph into a nagging duty rather than a goal people set for themselves. Why? Because there are so many changes one wants to see, but who has time! Well for teenagers, it is no different. However, this simple little tradition can cause havoc in the mind of teens or can be the perfect remedy to improve their life!

Well, anyone can create a few resolutions. Everyone begins full force to achieve those resolutions. However, only a few will get legitimate results. Why? It is all in the execution people take. Some teenagers might want to improve their grades, while others might want to commit more to their extracurricular to build up their resumes. However, a lot of teenagers have tight schedules already without these goals. The average high school day has its toll on the average student—learning for about eight hours and then having to commit two or more (mostly more) to a random array of assignments. After finishing the “student life,” there are extracurricular, then where is the time to execute one’s New Year’s resolutions? Well, teens might think it was easy the first week; however, during that first week there was a major difference: NO SCHOOL.


Time Management: Time is a major factor in planning and doing a resolution. Teens have to remember that when beginning school again that maybe they can’t commit 4 hours at the gym to get those “washboard abs”. Time is a crucial factor that can bring anyone to reality that they won’t get any resolutions accomplished. Therefore, one has to “play by the rules” and do things that a practical and feasible to his or hers high school schedule.

Deadline: One flaw to the “New Year’s Resolution” is that no one ever thinks of how long his or her “time frame” is. Let’s say one wants to save up about $1,000 from their part-time job. However, how long is one saving for: the whole year or a set deadline? The deadline can be a great way to help push one’s determination in the right direction. Deadlines practically force one to complete his or her resolution because they cannot keep pushing it off.

Life Changers: Resolutions don’t have to be something drastic either. The best kinds are the ones easy to enact and can lead to “healthy habits.” For example: trying to eat five servings of fruit a day. Why not have a few easy resolutions that are not only beneficial but also can raise one’s spirits since one is actually completing his/her resolutions!

Teens are not the only ones victimized by New Year’s Resolutions. However, with their busy schedules, it becomes hectic to keep up with these goals. Having in mind what is feasible/practical in one’s personal schedule it leads to more resolutions that will actually be achieved. This can also help people create new habits they would like to see in themselves. Who knows, maybe reading fifteen minutes a night! However it plays out, new year’s resolutions are suppose to be goals one sets ahead of themselves to achieve. Rather than creating something that seems will be factitious later on, these new years resolutions are for fun. Therefore, this year when jumping back into the swing of school don’t let it be the things that makes one high stress.

This article was written by Folasade Lapite.


*The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect my own.

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P&G Honors Olympians and their Moms with the new Raising An Olympian film series


*I have partnered with P&G for sponsored content surrounding this campaign. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

Composite Shot lo-res

There are less than 100 days until the start of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. It’s hard to believe that two years have already passed since the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia. I have never even heard of Sochi until now.

Do you plan on watching the Olympics? Do you have a favorite sport you enjoy watching? Is there a particular athlete you’ll be anxious to see in the upcoming Olympics?

I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to have a child competing in the Olympics. I’m overjoyed and proud of my kids when they bring home a good grade, let alone become a world class athlete. That much be an incredible feeling.

What does it take to raise an Olympic hopeful?

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a Worldwide Olympic Partner. They are highlighting what it takes to raise an Olympian with a new series of films called Raising An Olympian. These films celebrate the journeys of the athletes and their moms and their journey to the Olympics.

Several world-class U.S. athletes, including their mothers, have joined its global family of athletes & moms. Athletes like Lindsey Vonn, Evan Lysacek, Julie Chu and Taylor Lipsett are amoung them. These athletes are supported by P&G brands such as Olay®, Cover Girl®, Pantene®, Crest® and Bounty®.

I think its wonderful that these moms get to join their children on their quest for the Olympic dream.

P&G Kicks-Off The 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games 'Thank You, Mom' Campaign With A Screening Of Their 'Raising An Olympian' Films


Starting in January (2014) you’ll start to see new packaging and advertising with P&G Olympic Games. I’m sure my kids will be looking for Olympic souvenirs of some sort. Maybe I’ll try and find them Olympic shirts or hoodies. I’m sure they will like something like that.

I mentioned earlier in the post about the Raising An Olympian films. There will be 28 films globally and 10 U.S. films.

Each of the films help bring to life the daily lessons that all moms teach their kids (not just future Olympians) from their first steps to their first failures. The films focus on the unconditional love that moms give to their children, no matter what. Olympic Winter hopefuls Lindsey Vonn, Evan Lysacek, Julie Chu and Taylor Lipsett each have their own film. You can check out their films at RaisingAnOlympianFilms.com.

The first four films feature;

  • Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Ski Racer) and mom Lindy Lund
  • Evan Lysacek (Figure Skater) and mom Tanya Lysacek
  • Julie Chu (Ice Hockey) and mom Miriam Chu
  • Taylor Lipsett (Sled Hockey) and mom Cheryl Lipsett

Here is one of the films that features Olympic hopeful Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Ski Racer) and her mom Lindy Lund. To see the other three films please visit the YouTube channel listed above.


As a mom I do give my children 100% unconditional love. My kids have no interest in sports. If they did I would support them.

We have friends whose children are very active in sports. I know how much work it is for their parents to get them to all the games, even away games. Not to mention dropping them off and picking them up from practices and paying a lot of money for supplies and equipment. Parents have to be as dedicated to the sports as their child is. If either of my children had interest in sports I would do all I could to support them.

Of course you don’t have to have a future Olympian on your hands in order to support their hopes and dreams.

Take for example our daughter, who has wanted to attend FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) since she was six years old. She’s always been into fashion and she’s good at art. She wants to be a fashion designer. Although I know that is a “dog eat dog” type career, I don’t want to discourage her from reaching for her dream. You never know. She could be the next Vera Wang or Carolina Herrera. Over the years we have given her a sewing machine and fabrics (to create designs for her dolls), fashion books. subscribed to fashion magazines, even talking about taking her on a trip to the Fashion District in NYC and maybe one day attending NY Fashion Week.

P&G Kicks-Off The 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games 'Thank You, Mom' Campaign With A Screening Of Their 'Raising An Olympian' Films

Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Ski Racer) and mom Lindy Lund

Now that our daughter is older she is now leaning towards maybe being a teacher or going into psychology. Whatever she decides she wants to do we’ll be there to support her 100%.

We have always encouraged our children to “reach for the stars” and encouraged them to be themselves – never a follower.

Being a parent can be hard in this day and age. There are so many things that can undermine or take away from what we teach our children.

I commend all the wonderful moms (and dads) who helped their daughters and sons make it to the Olympics.

As a parent, how do you help encourage and support your child’s hopes and dreams? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

P&G Worldwide Partner 2014 Olympics



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10 tips to help prepare kids for kindergarten


**This is a guest post **

Kindergarten can be a wonderful and exciting experience. However, for many working parents, preparing young children for school can be daunting, especially considering that the average US child spends 33 hours each week being looked after by a grandparent, friend or parent.

That is why nearly 40 YMCAs across the country have launched the FREE Early Learning Readiness Program for Informal Family, Friend and Neighbor Caregivers to provide those who care for young children a stimulating, preschool-like experience through learning centers that foster development, improve school readiness, support the skills and confidence of caregivers, and make the transition to school easier for children.

Parents, please feel free to share these tips with your caregivers to ensure your child is ready for Kindergarten:

  1. Play games that encourage alphabet recognition – like alphabet go-fish, or play with the letter refrigerator magnets.
  2. Help your child with number recognition and count items throughout the day like crackers, grapes, or carrots out loud together.
  3. Help children recognize their colors and talk about the colors in their cookies, toys or clothes.
  4. Develop shape recognition and motor skills when you practice writing, drawing or cutting out (child-safe scissors please) shapes like rectangles, squares or stars.
  5. Talk about sounds that letters make and how they sound so they can begin to recognize words. Overemphasize the first sound in words to help your child hear the individual sounds.
  6. Practice writing and drawing with colored pencils, crayons or markers for improved motor skills.
  7. Read lots of stories and work up to longer books to develop good focus and attention skills.
  8. Give children the opportunity to interact with other children in diverse settings and groups such as preschool, church, social groups, or play dates.
  9. Teach children how to express their feelings if she/he doesn’t like something and role-play different situations she/he might expect.
  10. Teach children to write his/her name. You can make it fun with finger paint, sugar or salt in a pan, shaving cream or frosting.

Preparing children for kindergarten should be fun and not stressful. The Early Learning Readiness Program uses an innovative approach to provide informal caregivers with the tools and support to provide children in their care better learning and development experiences for low-income, new or immigrant families.

The Early Learning Readiness Program offers high-quality physical, emotional and cognitive experiences for kids. Caregivers and children attend bi-weekly meetings together at neighborhood locations such as local Ys, community centers, libraries, schools and places of worship.

For more information about enrolling in the Early Learning Readiness Program or general information about the Y’s commitment to families, please visit ymca.net.

Kindergarten Bus

 *This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own.

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