Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Using the Internet, Social Media, and Podcasts in College Counseling

For this week’s blog post, I would like to discuss how the use of the internet can be utilized for college counseling in the private and school-based sector.  In the private sector, having a professional website can attract customers to your practice. 
In addition to a website, having a twitter and Facebook account are great ways to advertise for free.  As mentioned in a previous blogpost,  Ellen DeGeneres tweeted a selfie on Twitter during the Academy Awards this year causing the site to crash. This is proof of the power of social media as a way to promote yourself for free. Entertainers, musicians, news organizations, athletes, and universities or college counselors have Twitter accounts. In addition to this, most have "official pages" on Facebook and a number of unofficial fan pages. Social media is a powerful tool to promote universities.    Having followers are a great way to attract potential parents and students.    
In both the school-based and private sector, knowing how to navigate the internet is important.  Learning how to Podcast is also important as many students and parents are follow podcasts as a way to get information. 
Through this course, I was able to find and save several websites that I will use when I become a college counselor.    Finding links to scholarship and college test prep are important to know in order to assist students and parents.
Blogging was helpful as well.  There is money to be made by blogging alone.  I have a friend with a successful“mommy blog.”  She supports herself this way and was on Good Morning America.    Having a successful college counseling blog is yet another way to possibly supplement my income once I become a college counselor.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

College Test Prep

For this week’s discussion, I chose http://www.majortests.com/sat/.    This is free website that students will find easy to navigate.  You do not have to register or create a user name or password.  This site has many links on the main page where students will find test prep for the SAT, GRE, and GMAT.  It is organized by categories easy to follow.  For example, math, critical reading, vocabulary, and writing.  This website claims that the test was taken over 200,000 times last month with more than 2 million page views.   I would recommend this site for my students.

This site offers private in person and on line tutoring as well as in person or on line small group class instruction.  The private in person tutor promises the freedom to meet when and where you want and assign a tutor with skills and style to meet your needs.  The on line tutor promises to offer frequent adjustments to match your progress along with 4 core practice SAT tests and 17 additional exams.  Both offer a plan to help you get into your top-choice school.  The small group class instruction promises to improve scores by 200 points guaranteed.

As Jillian mentions in this week’s podcast, college test prep is a billion dollar industry with studies indicating a 6-8 increase in verbal and 14-18 point increase in math results for the SAT.  For my future students, I would recommend the free major tests site.  Taking practice tests will help determine what areas they need to work.  Also taking a practice test will build confidence in terms of what to expect.  If I find a student is struggling and could benefit from a tutor, I would suggest the Princeton Review test site if the family could afford it.  

At my charter school, we have students offering paid tutoring services in subject areas to improve grades for our students struggling.  I would also suggest this as it is far less expensive.   We also have a study hall, student hours offered by our faculty, and an after school study buddies club for free.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Financial Aid and Scholarships for College

For this week’s discussion, I looked at several websites for financial aid and scholarship information; 2 were articles from magazines.  I am pasting the links for those interested;
I found the Finaid website to be easy to navigate.  For example, I clicked on a scholarship link and was given information about several scholarships.  I clicked on the Robert C. Byrd scholarship and found information any student would need to apply.  Moreover, there was a link that directed you to the actual site with deadline information for that federally funded scholarship.  This is a great website for scholarship information.  It lists several.  I researched other scholarship websites and found them difficult to navigate and without important information needed to apply.  In addition to this, some of these scholarship websites required you to sign up.
I set up a meeting with the college counselor at my charter school for this week’s assignment.  She recommended the Forbes article and the Student College Board website.  I found the Forbes article most helpful.  I believe this is a great article for parents as it explains Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  Students will also find the article interesting as it provides information about FAFSA and CSS.   The college counselor at my school informed me that the CSS Profile looks at previous year’s earnings which is helpful for students applying early to colleges.  The CSS Profile is also designed to see if future students are eligible for the colleges own institutional aid dollars.  “Profiles” are selective private colleges, including the Ivies.  The CSS Profile is not free to send.  FAFSA is free.

Lastly, I looked at the Pell Grant website:
I found that the Pell Grant is offering approximately up to $5700 per year, depending on the cost of tuition at the college.  The Pell Grant will never exceed the cost of college tuition.  Pell Grant eligibility is also readily available on the site.  For example, low income students.  If a student qualifies, the grant will help with tuition cost and if not a loan that has to be paid back. 
Through the course of the past seven weeks, I have been shocked to see how much tuition is at universities now.  When I attended UCLA it was less than $3000 per year.  It is now more than $12,000 per year for in state and more than $30,000 for out of state tuition.  I hope to become on expert on financial aid as I would like to help my future students and parents find ways to pay for college without having to be strapped with debt that may follow them for most of their working lives.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

College Virtual Tours

For this week’s discussion,  I visited www.youvisit.com, www.campustours.com, and Wesleyan University’s actual website for their virtual tour.  You Visit and Campus Tours are websites recommended in this week’s reading resources.   You Visit and Campus Tours websites offers a wealth of information for future students.  However, You Visit’s virtual tour has a person inserted via green screen into a still photo of different areas of university campuses.  For example, dorms, libraries, quads, and dining halls.   Campus Tours has actual moving images with different students narrating the information given.

I found You Visit to be user friendly in terms of not having to maneuver through a number of filters before getting to the university you requested.  Campus Tours also is user friendly.  You simply type in the university you would like to tour virtually and you are directed to the site.

Lastly, I visited Weslayan University’s virtual tour link.  The main page includes 6 categories of YouTube videos.  These categories include a quick tour that includes students discussing Wesleyan.   This video is a short 1:14.  Other categories include academics, arts, athletics, residential life, and a mesmerizing starlight tour.  I found this virtual tour well done with the ability to attract future students.

I found virtual tours to be a great way to get a feel for a campus and student life for students who are unable to travel to the university in person.  The way the videos were shot for Weslayan gave the viewer a glimpse into the beauty of the campus and residential life.  Having students narrate was also a clever way to attract students.  I would recommend Weslayan’s virtual tour as well as You Visit and Campus Tours.  You Visit if a great site to look into several universities virtually without having to leave the site.  This is also true for Campus Tours.  I believe universities know that having a great virtual tour on their website is crucial for recruiting future students.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

College Search

I choose College View for this week’s discussion.  I reviewed several and found this to be the most user friendly with information useful to students.  Other websites I reviewed had “sign up” requirements to the site.  College View does not have this requirement.  You simply type in a college name, state, or any other preferences you are searching for and you will find short blurbs or a link to “expand” for more information.   
I found this site organized and thorough.  I did not find any disadvantages in maneuvering through this site.   The information was up-to-date and accurate.  While researching this website, I put in the search box “UCLA.”  The information popped up in organized columns and covered all the information needed.   At the top of the website are tabs listing college search, financial aid, application process, campus life, careers and majors, and student lounge.  Other categories listed are “party scenes” and athletics as these are important determining factors for some student.
College search sites are a great way for students to get information other than what is offered at the university website.   I found some college search websites difficult to maneuver through.  For example, you were required to follow a step-by-step procedure to get to the specific information you want.  This type of website I found tedious and annoying.  As mentioned above, I also did not like the websites that required you to sign up. 
Here is the link to College View for anyone interested:

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