Senior year checklist

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Throckmorton ISD

Senior Guidelines and Scholarship Tips for College or Employment

This Guideline belongs to __________________________________



NOTE: The timeline listed here for senior year activities can vary month to month depending on when the student starts the application process. It is best to start early. Please read the “to-do” list for each month so you will have a general understanding of your senior year expectations.


  • Research different two-year, four-year, and technical colleges.

  • Suggested website is (choose College Match)

  • Suggested website is (choose Career Coach under MyVC)

  • The individual school’s website is an excellent resource.

  • Contact your high school counselor for help with any questions you have about the application and admission process.

  • Complete your “College Comparison Chart”

  • Register for the ACT ( and/or SAT (

  • Throckmorton High School’s code is 447-010

  • If you are not TSI complete, meeting certain scores for admission according to the state of Texas, you will be required to take a THEA, Compass, or Accuplacer. Please check with your counselor for more information

  • Write or update your resume.


  • Finalize college list with deadlines and application requirements and schedule visits.

  • Begin application process.

  • Know application deadlines for each school

  • Choose at least 3 colleges to apply for admission. Always have a back-up plan.

  • Complete applications for your choose of schools. Keep copies of all forms you submit.

  • If your college(s) of choice requires an essay, ask your English teacher to review it with suggestions.

  • If your college(s) of choice requires letter(s) of recommendation, give a copy of your resume to the individual that is writing your recommendation. Allow two weeks for them to complete. Always send a thank you letter to those that have taken the time and effort to send in a letter of recommendation.

  • Remember to pay the application fee ($15-$100).

  • Send official transcripts to the schools where you applied. Request transcripts in the Counseling Office or on-line at

  • Register for the ACT ( and/or SAT (

  • Throckmorton High School’s code is 447-010

  • You can apply to college(s) first and send scores at a later date.

  • Research scholarships and types of financial aid.

  • Information about financial aid can be found in the Counseling Office, on college websites, or on websites provided.

  • Contact college(s) financial aid office.

  • Attend Senior Parent Night: Contact Counselor, Brandi Menard, for date and time.


  • If you have not done so already, complete your admissions applications. (Refer to previous steps.

  • You do not have to have a complete application with all requirements. Letters of recommendation and ACT/SAT scores can be sent later.

  • Take or retake the ACT and/or SAT if you have not done so already.

  • Check your school(s) requirements for immunizations.

  • Keep your grades as high as possible. Even though colleges may tentatively accept you, they can reject you at a later date if your grades do not stay the same.

  • Continue to search and apply for scholarships. Some scholarship applications may not be available until later in the year.


  • Take the ASVAB.

  • Research benefits of each branch of service.

  • Talk to recruiters.

  • Get information about educational opportunities and possible college credit for military service.

  • Talk to people who have served in different branches of the military


  • Begin researching careers you are interested in.

  • Use to help narrow your choices and gain more knowledge about possible careers.

  • Interview people who are working in the career(s) you want to pursue. Ask if you can job shadow them.


  • Take or retake ACT and/or SAT. Make sure scores are reported to the college(s) of your choice.


  • Obtain financial aid forms from the colleges, if different from the FAFSA.

  • MILITARY SERVICE – Narrow your choices and contact recruiters for additional information.

  • WORLD OF WORK – Complete and/or refine your resume.

  • Stay focused! Senior year grades can affect your admittance to the college of your choice.


  • Begin reviewing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at . Do not submit before January 1st.

  • If you have not sent in your application(s) to college, DO SO.

  • Once you have been accepted and decide to attend a school, contact the school’s Financial Aid Office.

  • Apply for student housing if you are going to live on campus.

  • Continue to apply for scholarships and grants.

  • Maintain your grades.

  • Check all deadlines!!

  • Go to: to obtain a PIN for the student and separate PIN for at least one parent if the student is a dependent.

  • Print out a FAFSA worksheet form to begin filling it out.

  • PARENTS: Get your federal income tax returns prepared early.


  • Submit your completed FAFSA financial aid form as soon after January 1st as soon as possible.


  • You can complete the FAFSA before you file tax returns using estimates; however, you will have to update the information once your returns have been filed.

  • Allow 4-5 weeks for processing.

  • REMEMBER! Keep copies of all forms you submit to colleges and agencies.

  • Submit a mid-year official transcript to the colleges requiring it. Complete Transcript Request Form that can be found outside of Counselor’s Office or on our local website

  • Contact the admissions office of your school if you have any questions about your acceptance.

  • Continue your scholarship search.

  • PARENTS: Get your federal income tax returns prepared early. Colleges may request copies to prove eligibility for financial aid.


  • Attend “Financial Aid Night”: TBA

  • Watch the mail for acceptance letters.

  • Complete any documents the college asks of you and return them in a timely manner.

  • Continue to apply for scholarships.

  • Check that colleges have all necessary financial aid papers.


  • Monitor your email or mailbox for the “Student Aid Report” (SAR). This is a report showing the results of the FAFSA.

  • Pay attention to deadlines! March 1st is the most common deadline for scholarships at colleges.

  • If you have made your final college decision, notify the other schools who have accepted you to let them know you will not be attending. It is the polite thing to do.

  • Continue to study and stay focused. Your final grade DO MATTER to your college.


  • Monitor important deadlines at your college (housing, financial aid, etc.) and submit necessary forms.

  • Complete FAFSA if you have not already done so.

  • Review college responses and aid offers with parents and/or counselor.

  • Write thank you notes to individuals who wrote recommendations for you.

  • Begin filling out local scholarship applications. These will be provided to you by your counselor.

  • Make a final decision – send deposit by May 1st.


  • Verify with your college that you have submitted all necessary paperwork (contact the Admission’s Office).

  • Submit all local scholarship applications to the counselor by the provided deadline.


  • Enlist only when you are certain that you want to pursue a career in the military.

  • Ask about basic training and departure dates.


  • Update your resume.

  • Compose a list of references.

  • Fill out applications for employment

  • During the job interview, ask questions about the job responsibilities, work hours, dress code, and other expectations.


  • After the interview, write a thank you note expressing your appreciation for the interview.

  • Request a final transcript to be sent to the college you have been accepted and plan to attend. Transcript Request Forms can be found outside the counselor’s office or online at

Scholarship Web Sites (Career Coach)

Ideas for scholarships:

  • Your family insurance companies (home, auto, land, health, etc.)

  • Your family utility companies (water, gas, electricity, phone, etc.)

  • Credit Cards

  • Military Families

  • Extra-Curricular: 4-H, FFA, Music, etc.

  • Organizations that parents may be members

  • Ethnicity

  • What you plan to major in

  • Remember: The college of your choice is your VERY BEST resource for scholarships!

Types of Financial Aid




  • Need-based

  • Most effective

  • Free money – no repayment

  • Most costly to government

  • Examples: Pell Grant, Texas Grant

  • Less costly

  • State or federal funds are leveraged with earnings students receive through part-time jobs, usually on campus

  • Least costly for government

  • Most costly to student, who must repay money usually with accrued interest

Financial assistance to attend college comes in many forms.

Federal Aid Programs—Federal programs are based on financial need. They are the largest single source of financial aid for college.

State Aid Programs—Most states support various aid programs (both need-based and merit). Generally, eligibility for state need-based programs follows the federal guidelines.

Grants and Scholarships —Awards based on merit or merit plus need. They don't have to be repaid.

Loans—Funds loaned through a lending institution or college. Interest rates vary by program. For federal loans, qualifying students—based on need—will not have to pay interest while in school. Loan programs also are available to eligible parents to help with college expenses of their qualifying children.

Military programs—The military offers several options to help you pay for college.

Work-study programs—Jobs that allow students to earn money toward their education while they are enrolled in school. Students can sometimes get jobs related to their program of study.

Working and Savings—As the cost of a college education rises, more students and parents will need to put money aside. Lots of college students have part-time jobs to help make ends meet.

Most people use a combination of these forms of aid to pay for college.

Managing your Financial Aid Office Relationship
An important note about financial aid offices: your school’s financial aid office is one of

the best, most underutilized resources for finding information about all types of

financial aid. Here are four tips for maximizing your financial aid office’s resources.

Stop by during the “off season”. Financial aid offices are typically very busy during the week before and two weeks after the start of a semester. Offices typically try to serve as many students as possible during these peak times, and you’ll have fewer opportunities for in-depth conversations. Go during the semester or a few weeks before the start of a semester.
Create a relationship. Most financial aid administrators typically have transactional

relationships with students. Students arrive, process paperwork, and leave, or show up

angry about issues with their financial aid. Take the time to create a relationship with

your financial aid office by opening and maintaining communications when you don’t

need their help. If your school assigns you a particular administrator, send them an

occasional “just saying hi” email or a thoughtful message on holidays. Small courtesies

can convert a transactional relationship into a true partnership.
Use prepared resources. Many financial aid offices have compilations of scholarship listings, awards, and other financial aid resources available right in the office, and there may even be obscure scholarships that your institution offers that few people ever apply for. While a great many scholarships are available on the Web and searchable via Google, not all are, and your financial aid office may know of those that are not online. When you visit the financial aid office in person, be sure to look around for resources you can use.
Streamline your experience. Yvonne Gittens, former Director of Financial Aid at MIT, recommends having a photocopy or PDF of every supporting document needed for the FAFSA and other financial aid paperwork with you on campus. In the event your financial aid office needs some supporting paperwork, you’ll be able to send it immediately and reduce or eliminate any delays in processing your financial aid. For a list of suggested documents, see Scholarship Search Secret #1 below.

7 Basic Scholarship Search Tips

Next, let’s get into some basic scholarship tips.

Tip #1: This is a numbers game!

Numbers matter in the grand scholarship quest. The more awards you apply for (assuming you are eligible for them), the more awards you are likely to receive.

Set your expectations by the rule of 10 – for every scholarship you are awarded, you have to apply for 10. For every scholarship you qualify and apply for, you’ll need to research 10 opportunities.

• 100 opportunities you find

• 10 scholarships you qualify for and apply to

• 1 scholarship award you win

Happily, at last count, there are approximately 2.4 million scholarships available, worth approximately $14 billion in aid. The bottom line: to get more, apply for more.
Tip #2: Small is the new big

Small is the new big, says author Seth Godin. While Godin is referring to the size of a business, his advice is equally applicable to scholarships. If you are awarded 10 scholarships for $1,000 or one scholarship for $10,000, the net effect is the same – you don’t pay that $10,000 out of pocket or in loans. Every scholarship for which you are eligible is worth applying for, because a bunch of small scholarships will add up to a big one. More importantly, smaller scholarships tend to have fewer competitors than larger ones. Most people in their scholarship search try to apply for a few big awards and neglect the smaller ones. Bryan Person, a listener of the Financial Aid Podcast, commented on one episode that his wife applied for a small nursing scholarship and was told she was one of two competitors because the scholarship wasn’t a huge one. A 50% chance of winning is a bet you should definitely take!

Tip #3: Save time with a portfolio

We’ll get to the construction of your scholarship portfolio in a couple of pages, but it’s important to know what one is and why to build one. Each scholarship application asks for information about you. Questionnaires, essays, quizzes, and forms all want generally the same information about you. Rather than re-invent the wheel each time, develop a portfolio of materials that you can draw on, time and time again. Have a standard biographical profile of yourself, plus answers to common questions in typical lengths for essay style questions of 250 words, 500 words, 750 words, and 1,000 words.

Some typical scholarship questions, such as those asked on the Common Application1, may ask you to write about topics such as these:

• Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

• Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

• Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

• Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

• A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience or experiences that illustrate what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

As you write essays for scholarships, you’ll find that some essays perform better than others. Remember to customize answers for each application. Ask judging committees for feedback on your essays and fine tune your answers over time so that the essay which was rejected out of hand for award #1 is a first place winner by the time you get to award #6. Have friends and family review your portfolio and offer insight and advice. If you don’t know anyone who is a strong writer, check with your school or English teacher. Which brings us to the next point...
Tip #4: The devil is in the details

What’s the number one killer of scholarship applications? If you guessed simple, preventable mistakes, you’d be right. Attention to detail is vital for scholarship applications, from when to meet deadlines to the format in which you submit your application.

Some common mistakes:

Missing deadlines. Probably the number one killer mistake of scholarship applications is missing a deadline. This is a great time to invest in a notebook or day planner, whether it’s on a computer or it’s a paper one.

Incorrect information in applications, such as misspelling your name, address, or college/university.

Omitted information, such as leaving required boxes blank on an application form or failing to include required documentation.

Not following directions for essay length requirements. If an essay question specifies 500 words, aim for exactly 500 words, no more, no less.

All of these mistakes are preventable. If you want to win, get organized from the very beginning and stay organized!

Tip #5: Scholarship search is a year round sport

Since scholarship deadlines are scattered throughout the year, scholarship searches should also be performed throughout the year. As you’ll see later on in this guide, there are ways to automate part of the process of scholarship search so that you can have agents working on your behalf – for free - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Be sure to set aside time each day - even if it’s only 5 minutes – to review new scholarship opportunities. Consider scholarship hunting to be a full time job!

Tip #6: There are scholarships for everyone

While it may seem that many scholarships are intended for the very top academic performers or the poorest students, the reality is that there are scholarships for everyone. For example, the Duck Tape Brand Duct Tape Prom Dress Award for students who attend their prom wearing nothing but duct tape isn’t awarded to the valedictorian, merely someone who shows up at the prom in a nice outfit made solely of duct tape. While that sounds absurd, the $3,000 scholarship that comes with it is money to be taken seriously. Other fun or unusual scholarships include a David Letterman Scholarship for communications students who are talented but have mediocre grades, scholarships for left handed students, scholarships for students interested in arson investigation, and so on. These and many more can be found at the free scholarship search site, on the web.

Tip #7: It’s never too early or too late to search!

When is the best time to start searching for scholarships? Right now - and never stop until you’re out of school and debt free. There are even scholarships which will help you pay off school debts, so keep searching. The best time to start is always right now, even if you’re halfway through your last year. Obviously, the earlier you start, the better, but better to be late to the game than not playing. It’s also not too early to start searching for scholarships. There are scholarships available for students as early as grade school, typically in the form of 10-year savings bonds. The earlier you start looking for scholarships, the more you can earn and the less you have to panic when college does finally roll around. Searching for scholarships while in school is vitally important. Dedicate as much time as practical during the school year, even while enrolled in college, to finding scholarships, since every scholarship earned represents money you don’t need to borrow. With as much uncertainty as there is about the economy and availability of some kinds of student loans, finding scholarships is more important than ever.

Secret #8: Set up email alerts

We will assume from the previous steps that you’ve now got a list, a solid list, of about

25 - 30 scholarship searches which return results that are relevant to your personal details. Maybe by this point you’ve even started to apply for some of the awards you’ve found. However, it can’t be said enough: scholarship search is a year-round sport. You can’t afford to take time off from your search if you want to maximize your chances of earning free money for college. What if there was a tool that could search for you everyday, every minute, keeping an eye on everything, and alerting you when new scholarships based on your needs became available? Wouldn’t that be an incredibly powerful asset to help you in your quest? There is such a tool. And believe it or not, it’s free, too. It’s called Google Alerts, and they’re about to become your next best friend. Head over to and grab your list of searches from the previous steps handy. Start entering them into the interface, adding an alert for each search, as shown in the box to the right. What you’ll get in your email inbox every day is a list of Web pages, news items, and other digital notes from around the Web that Google has found which match your search terms. If Google can’t find anything, it won’t send you an email that day. One recommendation - use your most specific, narrow searches with this service, the ones that returned only a few results. If your search is too broad, you’ll end up with gigantic emails every day that will take forever to read.
Secret #9: Read all about it

Email isn’t the only way to get scholarship information delivered to you every day.

Imagine for a moment that there was a scholarships column in every newspaper in

America. It would take you forever to clip out that column from each paper and put them all in a scrapbook, not to mention the tremendous expense of buying all those papers each day. That’s kind of what it’s like to try keeping up with all the news and blogs about scholarships all over the Web. Happily, services like Google Reader do all the clipping and scrapbooking for you, delivering them in one easy to read window, like your own personal newspaper delivered daily, for free. If you’ve gotten this far into the book, you’ve already got a Google Reader account set up. Here’s how to start “digitally scrapbooking” scholarship information. Go to Google News ( and enter one of your scholarship searches there. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll find a series of links, including one for Google Reader. Click on it.

You’ll be asked in Google Reader if you want to subscribe to that news feed. Click the subscribe button. Once subscribed, every time there’s a news story about that scholarship term, you’ll get articles about it that you can read, review, and determine if it’s relevant to your scholarship search or not. Search for all your other major scholarship searches and add them to Google Reader as well, and you will have your very own scholarships newspaper, delivered to your digital doorstep whenever you want to read it.
Secret #10: Form a Guild

You’ve heard the expression two heads are better than one; this is doubly true with scholarship hunting. In your personal brand assessment, you got a sense of what kind of person you are - creative, analytical, organized, etc. You have certain skills, certain “superpowers” that you excel at, but may not be as strong in other areas. Gather a small group of friends together and mutually agree to meet once a week or so to scholarship hunt together. When you put together your team, you’ll want to look for a

set of skills that different people can bring to the team.

Creative: Find someone who’s a good writer and storyteller. Everyone will take responsibility for writing their own scholarship essays, but having someone who can think very creatively will only boost the group’s power.

Detail-oriented: Know someone who is so organized, it’s a little intimidating?

This is the person you want in charge of the group calendar!

Technical: Who’s the most technology-oriented person you know? Add them to the team and they can help you set up personal Web pages, get software and Web apps set up, and make all of your processes more efficient.

Literate: The ability to use the English language fluently, find grammar and syntax errors, and make words flow is essential for any kind of scholarship or admissions essay. Having someone on the team who can correctly distinguish when to use your vs. you’re or who vs. whom will be a huge benefit to the team’s work.

It’s important to note that while these characteristics effectively establish areas of expertise and specialty among team members, everyone is still responsible for pulling their own weight, and setting ground rules to ensure fairness will be essential to making the team as a whole succeed.

Some basic suggested rules might include:

Everyone shares the work equally. Even though there are specialties, you’ll read each other’s essays and applications.

Everyone works to help each other. It’s likely there will be some scholarships that everyone will be eligible for. Make a commitment to help your teammates as much as you help yourself.

Everyone shares the knowledge. Individual team members will come up with different opportunities during research. No one holds anything back.

Everyone shares the rewards. Assuming the team is highly motivated and focused, it’s likely you’ll net more scholarships than you can use. If that becomes the case, refer other team-mates to the awarding agency for consideration.

How would a scholarship search team work together? Let’s say you had 3 months set aside for your team, meeting each week for 16 weeks. Here’s a possible schedule for your team, assuming a team of 4 others besides yourself.

Week 1: Introductions. Establish your team, get to know each other, including what specialties each team member has and what colleges and scholarships they’re applying for. For the technical person, this is also the week to set up a group Web site (like a private forum or social networking group, etc.) and calendar.

Weeks 2 - 6: Research. During the week, each team member researches and locates a scholarship a day for themselves and one for each team member. For example, in week two, you might find 7 scholarships for yourself and one for each of your 4 teammates, if you have 4 other teammates. Contribute the scholarships to a group forum and add deadlines to the group calendar.

Weeks 7 - 12: Writing. In weeks 2 - 6 you should have accrued 35 scholarship opportunities for yourself and each of your teammates should have contributed 5 towards your goals. Now comes the writing part. Everyone should bring at least one essay to the group each week and take an essay from each teammate home, make constructive suggestions, and return them the next week. In this way, you’ll get at least 4 other perspectives reading your essays and refining them.

Weeks 13 - 16: Application prep. While everyone will be responsible for their own letters of recommendation, transcripts, and other materials, bring your applications to the group and have everyone double-check the contents, making sure that everything requested for a scholarship is included. At the end of week 16, have an envelope sealing and mailing party, and send out your scholarship applications!

Bear in mind, this is just a rough outline of one possible group method. You and your group will find the things that work best for you and the things that don’t, so by no means is this a rigid recipe for success. Work with your team for mutual success, figure out a schedule and process that works for you, and multiply your scholarship search efforts!

Secret #11: Create your own

Finding scholarships can be difficult, time consuming work, particularly if you have exotic hobbies (for example, you may practice a little known form of yoga) or other characteristics that are distinctive, but that are not well-funded by more popular scholarship programs. If you find that existing scholarships can’t fit the bill, and you don’t want to rely exclusively on student loans to pay for college, then why not start your own scholarship? The basics of getting a scholarship fund up and running are relatively easy to do, relatively cheap to do, and can yield tremendous results. Here’s how.

Step 1. Create a Web site for yourself. You’ll need a place to call home, somewhere on the Web that you can present your case for why individuals and corporations should help you get through college. We mentioned this in the tools of the trade section.

Step 2. Create your content. When it comes to creation, think of your personal site like a generic scholarship application. Put up an essay about yourself. Provide as much relevant information as you can to help a potential contributor understand why you’re worth sponsoring. If you have rich media content, such as videos, audio, an art portfolio or a music CD, be sure to feature them as well (if appropriate). Remember, what sets you apart and above the crowd is what should be center stage on your personal scholarship Web site. One important thing to do is disclose as much as you feel comfortable about your financials, about your personal financial situation. Obviously, omit things like account numbers or financial institution names to minimize the risk of identity theft. Asking for help paying for college is easier when you can demonstrate financial need to the people you’re making an appeal to. It may also be easier to ask for help if you can clearly detail what your plans are and how completing a college education with as little debt as possible will work to further your plans.

Step 3. Set up a contribution mechanism. Accepting contributions is the most important aspect of your personal scholarship Web site. Give donors as many avenues for helping as possible, such as PayPal or Google Checkout, a mailing address for paper checks, and so forth. Be sure that the avenues for donation are explicit and obvious for visitors to find. Make it as easy as possible for people to donate to your education. You’ll also want to tie your contribution mechanism of choice to a bank account, but be sure that it’s set to deposit only - meaning you can transfer money from PayPal or Google Checkout to your bank account, but not the reverse. In the unlikely event that your contribution system is ever hacked, your savings won’t be taken as well.

Step 4. Locate potential sponsors. Once you’ve got the groundwork in place for your campaign, it’s time to find people to ask for help. Craft an appropriate cover letter, and then get a hold of a business directory for your area (such as the Boston Business Journal). Inside these types of publications you’ll find lists of the area’s noteworthy companies - big and small, new and old. Start locating companies that are relevant to your field of study - if you’re looking to major in advertising, then look for advertising firms in your area.

Step 5. Ask for help. The appeal for help is going to be one of the most difficult things to do initially. However, after a few letters, emails, and phone calls, asking for help gets increasingly easier. Writing your appeal should cover a few points - think of it like a cover letter for a job, in the sense that it should be concise, powerful, and clear. Some key points include:

• Cover why you’re asking for money (financial need, etc.)

• Cover what you’re studying in college and how you’ll use your education

• Cover what value you can bring to your donors

The last point is the most critical. There are those individuals and companies who will make a contribution simply because they wish to help students advance their education, and for that, we’re grateful. However, there are also those who would be motivated to donate if they received something, even something small, in exchange for their contribution. Some ideas for this include:

• Links on your Web site

• Mentions in your podcast, blog, video blog, or YouTube videos

• Wearing a t-shirt promoting your donors

What creative things can you offer of value to prospective donors? The more you can come up with, the more compelling your appeal for help will be.
Secret #12: Reduce the Cost of College

One of the best kept secrets for an affordable college education is the opportunity to take exams for course credit at a drastically reduced cost. This process, called the CLEP, or College Level Examination Program, is administered by the College Board and credits earned from taking tests are accepted at over 2,900 colleges around the country. The cost per CLEP exam is $70, pass or fail. When you look at the courses you can test out of, many are between 3-6 credits, with some foreign language courses available for 12 credits. Take into account the cost per credit hour at many colleges, ranging from $75/credit hour to $600/credit hour, and suddenly paying $70 for 3 or 6 credits seems like a huge bargain. CLEP exams are given free of charge for any qualifying US military personnel. All branches of service are considered eligible including: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Navy Reserve, Coast Guard Reserve, Army and Air National Guard. For more information on CLEP programs, visit: In addition to the CLEP exams, distance learning or online degree programs may also offer potential cost savings and convenience, especially if you’re a non-traditional student trying to balance coursework and a career or family. With online degree programs and distance learning programs, the cost per credit hour may be less than a traditional degree, plus you’ll save on commuting, moving, room and board, and other ancillary expenses that sometimes can be more than the tuition. For more information on online degree programs, visit:
Secret #13: Parental Motivation

In the year since the Fourth Edition of the book came out, a number of people have come forward with success stories about finding scholarships and things that have worked well for them. One of the most powerful tips we’ve received was from Scott Helfer in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. This is the deal I made with my daughter and my son who is 13. Every scholarship you can attain I will give them 10% cash upfront as an incentive. My daughter received 2000.0 in scholarships and 200.00 in cash. This is a brilliant motivational idea for parents to use. Students see an immediate benefit in addition to the longer term benefit of looking for scholarships, and parents end up paying significantly less for college; what money they do pay goes to their children. Creating incentives for scholarship hunting helps to bring scholarships out of the realm of the abstract (“money for college”) and creates immediate gratification for time invested in looking for scholarships.

Secret #14: Search with Twitter

Twitter, social media’s newest shiny object, provides real-time updates and information from its millions of members. Surprisingly, there’s a large quantity of scholarship information on Twitter, especially time-sensitive scholarships.

Take your keyword list from Secret 5 and go to Start typing the keywords in to see what you get. Here’s an example:

Use the same magic keywords as well - pdf, deadline, etc. to find more scholarships.

One of the most useful features of Twitter search is the ability to save its searches, just like Google searches, as an RSS feed. Do a search for your a scholarship term you want to look for, then copy the search result as an RSS feed.

Now go to Google Reader which you set up in Secret #9 and subscribe to these Twitter searches to make sure you’re not missing any scholarship opportunities that people are talking about!

Secret #15: Use Facebook Causes for your DIY scholarship

We looked at the details of setting up your own scholarship fund in Secret #11. Taking the work that you’ve already done in Secret #11, let’s put it in one of the largest, fastest growing social networks: Facebook. Built into Facebook is a fundraising application for all kinds of charities, organizations, non-profits, and other causes, including individuals and small groups. The application is unsurprisingly called Causes, and can be found here: Get started by installing the application in your Facebook profile and then finding your way to the Find Causes menu. Next, start by setting up the cause. Name it something obvious and appropriate, like Support John Smith’s Fall Semester College Education, along with the equally obvious details and information you came up with in Secret #11. In the second half of this page, you’ll find Extended Information. This is where you provide a link to your web site that you set up in Secret #11. After you go through the basic setup, the application will want you to specify a beneficiary, a designated non-profit. Skip this step, as you are personally not a nonprofit organization. Once your Cause is set up, you’ll want to post the Description you wrote above (with your web site’s link) to the Announcements section so that everyone visiting your Cause can see it. Finally and most importantly, you need to get eyeballs on your Cause. Lots and lots of them. Use the Invite link on your Cause and start inviting friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to your Cause. Remember, at every point in communicating with your Cause members, point them to your web site that you set up in Secret #11, as this has the mechanism (PayPal or Google Checkout) for you to collect money. Eyeballs on your Cause are a start, but money for college is the final goal, so frequently remind people where and how to donate.

Avoiding Scholarship Scams
Before we dive into search techniques, it’s super important to cover this important topic. There is no shortage of con artists and scams when it comes to paying for college, and spotting them early can save you money and heartbreak. Here’s the golden rule of scholarships:
Money flows to the student, never the other way around.

Any scholarship, grant, foundation, or organization that’s legitimate won’t ask you for a penny out of your pocket. Scholarship scams also exist in the form of identity theft - taking valuable information such as date of birth and social security numbers and selling them outright to identity theft groups around the world. Any one of these signs should be a red flag that you may be dealing with a scholarship scam:

Asking for money. Reputable scholarships are free to apply for and free to receive. Scams typically charge for the application, or use deceptive language such as “reserve your scholarship with your credit card number”.

Reputable scholarships never need to charge money!

Asking for lots of non-relevant personal information. Scams that pay off for criminals using identity theft ask for lots of personal information typically not relevant to a scholarship application such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, and other financially-related information.

Claims of exclusivity. A fair number of scams make the claim that their information cannot be found anywhere else, and therefore you should pay for their services. In the age of Google, information exclusivity is a thing of the past. Don’t pay.

Claims of guarantees. The truth of scholarship hunting is that there are no guarantees.

No one can guarantee that you will be awarded a scholarship, and any company advertising a paid service making such a claim is likely a scam.

Receiving letters of potential awards you never applied for. Scholarships are in such demand that no awarding agency needs to make unsolicited awards to recipients. This includes, by the way, email notifications of any kind about scholarships that you never applied for.

Free” seminars with an upsell. The latest trick that some companies and individuals are using is the free financial aid seminar offer. These seminars typically promise great financial aid information, but end with a hard sales pitch to attend a future paid seminar, buy books, DVDs, or other materials (usually at high prices). There are plenty of free financial aid seminars offered by high schools and colleges that are worth attending instead. Check with your guidance office or financial aid office for details on those.

The most important thing you can do when it comes to scholarship scams is to trust your instincts.

If something feels, sounds, or seems fishy, it probably is. With the

Internet and other freely available resources, there is no shortage of legitimate scholarships to apply for. Remember again the golden rule of scholarships:

Money flows to the student, never the other way around.

Beware of any scholarship claim to the contrary.

Thank-you letter Guidelines and Tips

Thank you letters are a mandatory condition of accepting most scholarships at TISD. A thank-you letter should be sincere, expressing appreciation without excessive flattery. The tone should be pleasant. Donors appreciate receiving a thank-you letter. Your thank-you letter assists in persuading a donor to renew their contribution to a scholarship.

As a guide to help you write your thank-you letter, we have provided you with some tips on what to include in your letter. While we would like you to follow these guidelines, they are not restrictions on how to write your letter.

Things to be included in your letter

  • Educational Background (your year in school and major)

  • Accomplishments/Achievements (obstacles you have overcome to attend college)

  • Extracurricular Activities (stories about a relevant extra curricular or community service project that impacted your life)

  • Goals and Aspirations (your future plans-both immediate and long term; include career you wish to pursue)

  • Mention your appreciation for the scholarship that you received, and your plans for utilizing the funds. ("Thank you for making this scholarship possible" or "Your scholarship makes it possible for me to concentrate more fully on my courses.")

  • Remember that the donor did not select you as the recipient, but provided the funds for the scholarship, i.e. "Thanks for making the Oak Hills Rotary Scholarship possible......"

Tips on writing your letter

  • Address your letter to: (Donor contact name, given to you by the Scholarship Office or Department/College )

  • Your thank you letter can be handwritten or typed. Either is acceptable, however if handwritten it must be neat and legible.

  • The use of a thank you card, personal stationary or plain stationary is acceptable.

  • Be concise in your letter, but sincere.

  • State what the thank-you is for by using the full and correct scholarship name and donor contact name provided in your award letter.

  • Make sure that you sign your letter.

  • Make sure that, upon final inspection, your letter has a neat appearance.

  • Check all spelling and grammar after you have completed your letter. (Have a counselor or English teacher proof read your letter)

Sample Letter

Please DO NOT put a date on your letter!

Sam Edwards
Edwards Family Scholarship
C/O UTSA Scholarships
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, Tx 78249-0687

Dear Mr. Edwards:

As a recipient of the Edwards Family Scholarship, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your support of TISD and its students.

I plan to attend the University of Texas and pursue a degree in hotel management. During my free time, I volunteer at the University Medical Center's Cancer Center where I tutor children, who because of their illnesses, can not attend school regularly. After graduation I hope to work with the tourism industry in the city of San Antonio.

Once again, thank you for helping me achieve my educational and career goals.


Sally Smith

Sample Resume

Jane E. Doe

1111 Something Drive

Anytown, TX 77777


Objective: To be a candidate for college admission to the University of Anywhere. (If you know what degree you are pursuing then include more information.)
Education: 2011 Throckmorton High School (List all high schools and years that you attended.)
Extracurricular Activities: 2007-2008 Freshman Class President

2010-2011 Annual Staff

2007-2011 Future Farmers of America (spell out clubs)

2007-2011 Basketball

Special Projects: This category is optional and gives you a way to include one-time activities that you participated in during high school.
Volunteer Experiences: 2009 Anytown Humane Society: 150 hours

2010 Community Clean-up: 20 hours

2010 Vacation Bible School: 15 hours

(If you don’t have anything to put in this category, you need to get on board in the volunteering area. Colleges look at this and want to know what you are willing to contribute to their college community.)

Awards: 2008 University Interscholastic League:

2nd place Public Speaking

Work Experience: 2007-2011 Babysitter: 3 years old – 10 years old

2007-2011 Ranch Hand

Talents and Skills: CPR certified

Fundraising experience

Driven to succeed

(This is an opportunity to acknowledge any skills that may not come through in one of the other categories.)
Other: (Feel free to mention any trips, interests, or hobbies that are important to you.)

Test Prep: Choosing the ACT or SAT

Are you ready for test prep and facing the registration deadlines, feeling pressured to choose, and wondering whether the ACT or SAT is better? Relax! The reality is that neither test is superior to the other.


The decision of which one to take may be determined simply by whatever admission criteria is laid out by your school of choice. However, if the school doesn't specify which test they want, making the "best" choice doesn't have to be difficult. Although there is no hard science that proves that the ACT or SAT is easier, you probably want to determine which test format is better suited to your strengths. Each test has different emphases and familiarity with their individual structures may help you sort out which is better suited to you. Take a look at the following comparison of the ACT and SAT to help you decide.

Test preparation for the ACT

The ACT sports four trademark multiple-choice subject tests covering English, Math, Reading, and Science. These are designed to evaluate your overall educational development and your ability to complete college-level work. You'll have 2 hours and 55 minutes of dedicated test time to complete the subject tests, not including breaks. As far as scoring goes, your subject test scores (ranging from 1 to 36) are determined after throwing out any incorrect answers — only correct responses count! The four areas are then averaged together to come up with your overall, or composite, score. The ACT also includes an optional 30-minute writing test designed to measure your skill in planning and writing a short essay. This segment is your chance to highlight your writing skills! If you opt to take it, the additional scores will be reported, along with comments about your essay. These scores are reported separately. So, if writing is a weak area, you might want to take the ACT and skip the writing section, since it's currently optional (although some schools require it). If writing is your strength, having extra kudos passed on to your choice schools may benefit you.

Test preparation for the SAT

When looking at the SAT in comparison to the ACT, a clear difference is that the SAT is designed to evaluate your general thinking and problem-solving abilities. It kicks things off with a required 25-minute essay. This is the start to the Writing section, which you'll complete in addition to the Critical Reading and Math sections. The SAT differs from the ACT in terms of the amount of time you'll have to complete it (3 hours and 5 minutes) and the format in which you provide your answers. Similar to the ACT, the SAT has multiple-choice areas, but it also has a part in the Math section where you'll be required produce your answers — no chance of guessing from a set of choices here! And unlike the ACT, the SAT doles out a slight penalty for wrong answers on the multiple choice questions (but not on the student-produced ones).

When considering the ACT vs. the SAT, keep in mind that both tests allot ample time for completion, but the SAT has fewer questions — 140 compared to the 215 on the ACT. The SAT also focuses heavily on vocabulary, while the ACT hones in on grammar and punctuation.

SAT Subject Tests

The SAT also provides you with the chance to take Subject Tests. A few schools may require you to take some of these tests as additional requirements to your admission application. It's possible you won't need to take any, but you may want to consider it if you have strengths in particular areas. All of your scores from these additional tests will be reported, whether they were required or not. If you're concerned that your scores on the required SAT sections may be less than stellar, consider registering for — and getting test prep in — additional Subject Tests in areas that can demonstrate your skills in specific subjects like English, history, mathematics, science, and various languages.

ACT or SAT: It all depends on you

In spite of their differences, neither test is more likely than the other to produce a great score. In fact, when viewing a comparison of the ACT and SAT, the vast majority of students perform comparably on both tests.

You may not even need to think in terms of ACT vs. SAT. If the colleges you're interested in accept scores from either test, you may want to consider taking both admissions tests. Each one tests you in a different way, so you might opt to take both to see which one you perform better on.

However, if you're short on time and money and want to put your efforts towards test prep for only one of the tests, your best bet is to take a few practice exams. There are free and low-cost practice exams available electronically and in-print. If you are starting early and considering the tests as a sophomore, you may still have time to take the PLAN, which is similar to a practice ACT, or the PSAT, which is similar to a practice SAT.

If you're undecided about taking the ACT or SAT, you may feel more strongly about one or the other once you become familiar with the format of both. You can then evaluate your test performance before heading off for the real thing.

College Comparison Worksheet

School Characteristics

School 1

School 2

School 3


Public or Private (2 or 4 year)

Size (student enrollment)

City/State (distance from home)

Setting: Urban or Rural/Co-Ed


Student-to-faculty ration %

% Classes under 20 students

% Classes with 50+ students

% Graduation

Programs of Study


Application Fee

Amount of Deposit (after acceptance)

Annual Private Tuition and Fees

Annual Public In-State Tuition and Fees

Annual Public Out-of-State Tuition and Fees

Annual Room/Board

Financial Aid

Type Financial Aid Package

$ Average Financial Aid Package

$ Scholarship Package

$ Work Study Package

$ Other Financial Aid Package

Scholastic Strength

Average High School GPA

Average Entrance Test Scores

National Ranking

Entrance Requirements

Minimum GPA

Minimum ACT

Minimum SAT


# Essays

# Letters of Recommendation

Special Requirements


Application Filing Deadline

Scholarship Deadline

Financial Aid Deadline

Notes/Usernames and Passwords:

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