If any of you lacks wisdom about career or college planning, pray to God. He will answer generously and without reproach (James 1:5).
These college admissions blogs offer expert advice and personal insight from coast to coast. Along with your school counselor or independent educational consultant, you can read these professionals to help you make wise decisions about planning for college.
Great College Advice - Representing the East Coast is former professor and administrator, Mark Montgomery, who shares his insider views about the college admissions process.
The College Solution - Representing the West Coast is Lynn O'Shaughnessy who has a comprehensive blog about all things college.
You may have 2-3 careers in your life. That's great! The first step is discovering your higher calling - and your major. Read these career blogs to learn more about what to study in college. Major. Minor. Double Major. Major. Minor. Double major. How will you get off to the best start in life?
Cracking the Career Code - Tom Henricksen shares insights in to finding a career that fits your personality and passion.
Exploring Engineering - Brown University offers a FREE pre-college course for students interested in a career in various fields of engineering. Look for other career focused blogs and summer programs at your local college or university.
NextStepU - Laura Sestito highlights Major Mondays, Trendy Tuesday, college tours, scholarships, and more. Its a fun look at life in college.
Get expert advice from a variety of professional college counselors.
Get Into College - Steve Schwartz is a professional college admission counselor with over a decade of experience and the instructor of Udemy's most popular course on college admissions, and the moderator of Reddit's college admissions forum.
GPS College Guidance - Susan McCarter, Director of College Guidance shares a high school guidance counselors perspective on college planning.
The Ivy Coach - The IvyCoach offers advice for students wanting to enter a highly competitive college. It's good advice to meet the admissions requirements for the most difficult college on your college list. Then you'll be at or near the top of the class for every other college!
College Admissions Partners - Based in Minnesota, Todd Johnson specializes in the BS/MD admissions process. This is a great resource if you are interested in going to medical school.
Admit One - Hosted by MyCollegeOptions, this is another site with general college planning resources.
These blogs provide details about grants, loans and other ways to cover college costs.
College Financial Aid Advisors - Jodi Okun shares financial aid insights on her blog and #collegecash (Twitter).
Go Financial Aid was founded as a result of the difficulties surrounding the financial aid process. Their blog is current, but their social media posts are not.
Student Aid Matters covers timely news, developments and perspectives relating to scholarships, college savings plans, student loans, financial aid application forms and other aspects of planning and paying for college.
College Search Game Plan shares tips from a CPA's point of view.
Please share the college planning blogs where you gain wisdom.
In part one, I wrote about how easy it is for seniors to get distracted with drum rehearsals, AP classes, and homecoming floats. So hosting college planning seminar at your church, taking informal campus visits, and sharing important information on social media are ways youth workers can keep seniors focused on their college journey. You also need to
Challenge Seniors to Strengthen their Faith in Jesus
David played loud harp music, worked outdoors, took on challenges bigger than himself, made mistakes, failed and succeeded as a leader, sinned, and followed God with all his heart.
So will high school seniors.
So how can youth workers influence the spiritual lives of college-bound David’s?
Challenge them to attend church regularly – especially in the first two months of the school year. Why? It’s biblical (Hebrews 10:25)! Fuller Youth Institute researcher Kara Powell suggests that college students who do not join and begin attending a local church within the first six weeks of the semester, may not attend over the next four years. Seniors who serve will stay. Get them involved!
Challenge them to pray with and for one another. Pray about everything (1 Thessalonians 5:11). You can lead the way.
Challenge them to learn how to avoid (and respond) to temptation. It’s more than just running from temptation like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife. They need to learn how to stand firm, make wise decisions, be mature, and show self-discipline.
Challenge them to know who they are in Christ Jesus. Writing and reading their faith story will develop and strengthen their spiritual growth. Christian students who are not confident in their faith will lose their voice in a noisy college environment. Their faith story has three parts: before knowing Christ, the moment they put their faith in Christ, and after trusting Christ. Review it. Share it. Own it.
Challenge their beliefs. In my “I Believe” class, we discussed six major doctrines and examined the beliefs of our denomination, other denominations, and other religions. Then students wrestled with what they believed. Write it down. Share it out loud.
If our teenagers do not know what they believe when they begin college, there will be plenty of voices sharing theirs. School counselor and former youth worker Jen Lynch, said the best advice she gave her students was “the importance of putting a stake in the ground and deciding that you are going to follow Christ in college.”
Remember that Jesus hung out with people, talked about the future, and ate a lot of fish sandwiches.
Now grab some fish sandwiches and join the conversation!
Perhaps you’ve never stepped foot on a college campus or it’s been two decades since you’ve attended college.
Every youth worker can be a tremendous source of encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and have an eternal impact on college-bound seniors during the fall college admissions process.
We know that Jesus hung out with people (John 1:14), talked about the future, and ate a lot of fish. So as your seniors are excitedly talking about their future independence, grab a fish sandwich, and join the conversation when seniors start talking about college.
Encourage Seniors to Stay Focused on Their Journey
College planning can be confusing and stressful – especially for first-generation students and others who don’t know where to attend. They need a trusted youth worker to share advice.
When you’re at a tennis match, cafeteria table, or in the church parking lot, listen to their story. One Wednesday after worship service, Daniel and I began discussing his grades, his career choices and his college choices. He wanted to study music and shared that his dad wanted him to study something else. It was causing conflict in their relationship. So, I listened and encouraged him to consider God’s calling while respecting his parents. After a lengthy discussion, we prayed before he left.
Host a college planning seminar at your church. Invite college students, educational consultants, school counselors, and college admissions officers to speak.
Connect your students with other seniors who are scheduling official college visits, especially if they are still unsure about where (or if) they want to attend. Visiting a campus is an important step in the process.
Take an informal visit to a college campus. I was driving a group of students back from a leadership camp that was held at a private university campus. As we were nearing a Historically-Black College or University (HBCU), Albert asked if we could stop and visit. He was going to be the first person in his family to attend college and I wanted to encourage his options. So, we stopped for a thirty-minute, informal visit. It was a blast! Hearing his friends get excited about attending college was fun as well. After taking a few pictures near the entrance, we discussed their college future for the remainder of the trip. And yes, he was accepted to that HBCU (not the one pictured)!
Keep your seniors focused by asking career and college based questions. Start with these:
Share information about college planning through announcements or social media. Use this College Application Timeline to get started.
September – write essays, take tests, apply for scholarships (two each week), request recommendation letters
October – finalize college lists and essays, apply for financial aid
November – submit college applications, apply for more scholarships!
It is easy for seniors to get distracted with drum rehearsals, AP classes, and homecoming floats. Youth workers can keep seniors focused on their college journey and strengthen their faith in Jesus.
(Click here to read part two.)
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.