🌞Before you head to the lake to ski, beach to picnic, or forest to hike, it is wise to prepare yourself for some fun in the sun. While some of us rarely burn, it is important for everyone to apply sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to protect our skin against sunburn.
Likewise, you should plan how you will apply for college, so you do not get burned.
Some students do not like to make plans for the summer, they just want to live in the moment. Be spontaneous.
Executive Function Coach Seth Perler shares that planning is a part of your executive function. Some students have to work harder to apply themselves and plan.
Seniors, here are four decisions you need to make before you apply to college.
🧴 Decide What Career You Want to Pursue
Making this decision will make it easier to finalize your college list. You should:
🧴 Decide Which Colleges You Want to Pursue
You are pursuing them, just as they are pursing you. Of the colleges you have researched and visited, each should:
🧴 Decide When You Want to Apply
Deciding now will help you schedule your essays and applications. For each college, you should:
🧴 Decide How You Want to Apply
While application deadlines vary, applications may be available as early as July 1.
😎 Yes, these are four big decisions! Take the time to plan, apply yourself, apply for college, and avoid getting burned.
The College Board “will no longer offer SAT Subject Tests or the SAT with essay.”
It is true.
The SAT Subject Tests Are Ending
In an effort to reduce the demands on students, the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and Advanced Placement (AP) Exams, announced that they are phasing out the SAT Subject Tests
This decision was initiated because the college admissions process is changing and accelerated because of the pandemic.
As of early 2020, several universities recommended taking two or three subject tests for admission consideration while seven required the tests.
The AP Tests Are Expanding
The Washington Post reported that “the expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know.”
The transition from SAT Subject Tests to AP Exam should be easily accepted since over 1.24 million students took at least one AP test in 2019.
Many colleges already use AP Courses and AP Exams to assess their ability and interest.
Spring AP Exam Timeline
During the early spring, you should begin the process of choosing your AP Courses for next year. There are 38 courses to consider. Some courses have prerequisites and some help you earn college credit.
If you are currently enrolled in an AP Course, you should be working with your instructor and taking advantage of the AP Classroom resources.
The digital testing application becomes available in early April.
While the SAT Subject Tests were offered year round, the AP Exams are only administered in May or June. There are a few options to consider.
First, you need to choose your format: traditional (paper) or digital. Second, you need to choose your location: during school or at home.
Third, once you select the date, you need to confirm that your format and location preferences are offered.
Fourth, if you are taking more than one AP Exam, schedule them so they don’t interfere with other AP Exams and end of year testing.
Portfolios and research performances are due during the end of May.
AP scores will be released in July.
The SAT Essay Has Been Eliminated
The College Board will also “discontinue the optional SAT Essay after the June 2021 administration.” Instead, they will measure writing and editing skills throughout the test.
In addition, the SAT is being revised to allow students to take the test online instead of a high school cafeteria.
The college admission landscape is constantly changing. Connecting with your school counselor or an educational consultant will help you make the best decisions for your family.
🌞It's time to start planning for the summer!
Yes, you read that correctly!
Although we are a few months from the end of the spring semester, summer will be here before you know it. How are you going to take advantage of the summer break?
Many college-bound students like yourself are going to attend camps or take classes. Summer programs will help you gain experience in your field of interest, build your resume, and network with professionals.
While some areas of the country have limited mobility because of the COVID-19 restrictions, others are open for business. Do your research and proceed if you and your parents feel that it’s safe to travel and participate.
Here are a few options to consider:
🏛An eight-week paid internship to Washington DC…
💼Free day-camp for upperclassmen wanting to learn about becoming entrepreneurs…
💪🏻Two-week military leadership academy…
🍲Earn certificates in coding or cooking…
⛺Along with scout camps and church camps, there are many, many educational camps to attend: law, fashion, aerospace, journalism, robotics, fine arts, ROTC, girls only, nursing, healthcare, band, engineering, sports, architecture, veterinary medicine, interior design, leadership, medicine, national security, creative writing, music…
To search for summer programs, type in “summer programs for high school students” and one of the options above or the name of a local college.
Save your programs on a spreadsheet to sort by subject, location, time, length, description, and cost.
If your camp offers “college credit” for attending, know that the credit will be redeemable at the college that hosts the camp. As an example, you would not be able to transfer your college credit from George Mason University to, let's say, Georgetown University.
If you don’t want to attend a camp, you can volunteer in your community or get a part-time job.
Another option is to apply for an internship through your states’ Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The SYEPs provide work experience for high school students typically between June and August. Students are matched with local organizations to earn income, job skills, and work experience.
Unless you are joining an eSports team or planning to study game design in college, tending to your virtual farm or gaining experience points may not prepare you for your future career.
Completing a career assessment will help you determine which summer programs are in your best interest.
Take advantage of your summer break!
This week's guest post was written A. Larry Ross Communications. Kristin Cole, President, was very gracious to allow me to share their blog that was originally posted on their website on October 29, 2020.
ALR Communications is a public relations firm located in Carrollton, Texas, whose clients clients include LeTourneau University, Biola University, I Am Second, Compassion International, YouVersion Bible App, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and movie premiers, ministries, and many others.
Their purpose is not to manufacture an image for clients, but rather to establish and project their existing identity to a broadened group of target audiences.
I'm sharing this blog for students who might feel called to public relations, defined as "the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person" (Dictionary.com).
Edward Bernays is widely regarded as the founder of Public Relations, having pioneered the field in the 1920s. However, long before Bernays codified modern-day concepts that continue to define the profession, the Bible described many PR principles that remain valuable today. Just as the disciple Timothy described God’s Word as being “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness,” it is also proven to be beneficial for guiding one’s PR approach and providing an understanding of its importance.
Sometimes, PR gets a bad rep due to often poorly handled PR scandals. But in many ways, PR is a biblical concept that no ministry leaders or influencers should have shame in seeking.
Here are a few ways we see aspects of public relations throughout the Bible.
Managing a Reputation
"A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1).
One of the most important aspects of PR is reputation management. Some may believe that merely doing a good job and maintaining a good work ethic is enough of an effort to avoid public scrutiny, and while it should be, that isn’t always the case. Many organizations and individuals with outstanding images have found themselves in situations of trying to prove their integrity. In this Digital Age, where information can spread to millions online in a matter of minutes, unfortunately, all it takes is one person with an ill motive for a good reputation to go bad overnight without effective reputation management.
In the Scriptures, we see caution for Christians to only do good but to carefully avoid having even an “appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). It seems that even thousands of years ago, the writers of the Bible understood how critical it is to be above reproach both in deed and appearance.
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15).
Just as it is not necessarily enough to have a good reputation without managing it, knowing why we do what we do may hold little value if we are not prepared to defend our actions should a crisis come. We have all seen debates or interviews on TV where those being questioned were not ready to defend their stance or succinctly answer a question and the public scrutiny that followed. Once again, the Bible provided wisdom for avoiding these situations long before PR became a lucrative career.
This is one of the many reasons why seeking help from PR professionals, even when not experiencing a crisis or executing a campaign, is wise. An effective PR team can provide wisdom in helping you to understand the key message points about your organization, ministry, product or brand that should be communicated to the public and how to do so effectively. Additionally, they can help identify potential weak or problematic points that could be called into question and the best tactics for defending each one with honesty and poise.
Scripture tells us that a wise man builds his house upon a rock, which can weather storms, while the foolish man seeks a quick fix, building his house on sand that disintegrates during a crisis (Matthew 7:24-27). In the same way, PR professionals can provide the wisdom needed to present a message or navigate a problem before the time of testing comes so that you are prepared like the man who built his house on the rock.
Being an Ambassador
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
As public relations professionals, our job is to serve as a middleman between our clients and the public. Similarly, as Christians, our job is to be the intermediary between Christ and those who do not know Him. Consider Moses, who was appointed by God to be his spokesperson to the Israelites, and Jesus, who is the ultimate spokesman between God and His people.
Whether we realize it or not, every individual acts as an ambassador for what they believe in or represent. It is not a question of if you are sending a message, but what that message is. PR professionals are equipped to act as a communications ambassador for those who may lack skill or expertise in being an effective ambassador on their own.
As professional communicators and Christians, we can recognize the benefits of public relations and its principles as they relate to being better ministry leaders and influencers. We continue to learn through the evolution of PR today but can look to the Bible for guidance as well.
Could a career in public relations be your higher calling?
The pandemic that swept your community and all corners of the Earth created a lifetime of stressors in just a few short months.
Families had to quickly pivot their lives into virtual classrooms, virtual celebrations, and virtual communities.
The CDC instituted public health actions to mitigate the spread of the virus and reduce stress and anxiety. On their health page, they said that “coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America posted that an “estimated thirty-two percent of adolescents had an anxiety disorder.” ADAA also estimates that forty-four percent of college students experience depression.
When you consider the stress that high school upperclassmen and parents may feel when planning for college, this adds another level of anxiety to those families.
Take these three deep breaths to reduce the stress of college planning.
💨Deep breath 1: Know that what you are feeling is normal.
You are preparing to leave home for the first time in eighteen years.
You will be gone for at least four years.
You will return with a degree and a plan for the future.
You are becoming independent.
All of those feelings are normal, even without a pandemic.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the journey.
💨Deep breath 2: Know that you are not alone.
You are not required or encouraged to do this alone.
There are many free school district, state, and federal resources for you to use.
There are many fee-based consultants (or websites) ready to support your family like Higher Calling or other locally based consultant.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the journey.
💨Deep breath 3: Know that you will find a college to attend.
Niche.com surveyed 31,000 students in the fall of 2020. “Ninety-two percent said that they had some fear or anxiety associated with attending college.” They were worried about affording college and were afraid of making the wrong decision.
If you are not one of the sixty-six percent of students accepted to a four-year college, you can enroll in a community college or a technical school.
Remember the goal is to graduate with a degree, not graduate with deep debt.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the journey.
I am sharing a series of seven thoughts from the Making Caring Common (MCC) report, “Turning the Tide II” that addresses character in college admissions. This is specifically for parents.
As a recap here are the first five points:
 Keep the focus on your teen.
 Follow your ethical GPS.
 Use the admissions process as an opportunity for ethical education.
 Be authentic.
 Encourage your teen to contribute to others in meaningful ways.
 Advocate for elevating ethical character and reducing achievement related distress.
Before you read any further, answer the following: who is responsible for raising ethical students? Here are three possible responses.
🤷🏿♀️Why do think parents are responsible?
The bible says that “children are a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). As parents, we are instructed to discipline our children (Proverbs 29:17), “impress” God’s commandments on them (Deuteronomy 6:6-7), train them up because they don’t know the way to go (Proverbs 22:6), and not provoke them to anger (Ephesians 6:4).
🤷🏼♂️Why do you think the local education system is responsible?
We know that Moses was “educated in all the learning of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22).
Remember the response of a certain teenager when Superintendent Asphenaz was directed by his boss to teach the young Israelites “the language and literature of the Babylonians” for three years (Daniel 1:3-5)?
Without overlooking Christians who are called to serve God through the public education system, this is one reason why parents are deciding to homeschool their children.
🏫What about the community or the church?
Theodore Roosevelt said, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”
If parents are ultimately responsible for influencing the classroom and community to reinforce those values, what could they do?
👉🏼Parents could enroll their children in a character-driven charter school or classical Christian private school.
👉🏼Parents could advocate and support character-based education by getting involved in the PTA/PTO, All Pro Dads, and other mentorship programs in the local school district.
👉🏼Parents could encourage educators to emphasize “collaboration rather than competition among students.” This also includes how college information is shared with students.
Equal access to college means that we are sharing and exposing all students to the types of colleges and the pathways to graduation to reduce college planning stress.
👉🏼Parents could question how colleges admit students. While academic entrance exams are the norm, they should ask if they are admitting students that have a “concern for others and the common good.”
The authors write that “parents need to step up—respectfully but firmly—to advance a very different vision of high schools and the college admissions process. They can press for prioritizing not just academic achievement but ethical character, take a zero-tolerance stance on achievement-related distress, and advocate for greater equity and fairness.”
The MCC Team offers four action points for parents:
1. Encourage your child to take action against problems that affect them, such as cyberbullying or an unsafe street corner.
2. Provide opportunities for your child to join causes that interest them.
3. Encourage your child not just to “do for” others but to "do with" others, working with diverse groups of students to respond to community problems.
4. Think out loud with your child. For example, start a conversation about ethical dilemmas that arise on TV shows.
Last week, I wrote about the anticipation of receiving a college admission decision.
Once your applications (college, scholarship, financial aid) are submitted, you are now waiting for the college to make its decision.
With over 4,000 college options, there are about eight possible admissions outcomes.
👉🏻Here are the first six possible college application outcomes.
These are specifically from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech is in Atlanta, Georgia) based on their email to students. The terms are universal among universities.
🍂Fall Admit: Admitted first-years for fall have until May to choose whether or not to attend Tech. Last year, 21 percent of students were accepted through Early Admission.
🏖Summer Admit: Each year a limited number of students are admitted to the summer term. Students admitted to the fall class may opt-in to the summer term if they choose. About 20 percent choose this route.
✋🏽Defer: Students who apply for Early Action may have their application deferred to our Regular Decision round. Now you have to wait until March for a decision!
📃Waitlist: A limited number of students will be offered a place on Tech's waitlist. If waitlisted, look on the college website for data that explains your chances. For example, 3,800 students were offered a place on the GT waitlist and 2,623 accepted their place on the waitlist.
🚫Deny: First-year applicants who receive this decision are denied admission to Georgia Tech. If a student is denied in Early Action, they may not reapply in Regular Decision.
🔁Transfer Pathway: Some students will be offered a transfer pathway, which provides an opportunity to transfer to Tech after a year in college elsewhere.
👉🏻Another possible college application outcome could include being admitted to the university but not your intended major.
💉Impacted majors (like nursing) at the California State University system schools mean they accept more eligible applicants that the major can handle. By design.
Applying to an impacted major means local students receive priority, you could be referred to an alternate campus, or, if accepted to the university, you’ll have to compete even harder to get one of the coveted seats after your freshman year. If you don’t get accepted to that major, you have to switch majors or switch colleges.
👉🏻Another possible college application outcome could include a condition to attend a community college before being admitted to the university.
👍🏻Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) teamed up with Blinn College (a 19,000 student community college) to admit hundreds of additional qualified students into the Texas A&M freshman class than would have otherwise been possible due to enrollment limitations.
It is a two-year program that allows students to take academic courses on the TAMU campus while completing basic courses with an admission guarantee as a junior.
No matter how the college notifies you or what the college decides, there is a seat for you in college.
During the application process, you need to learn how to remain hopeful, wait patiently, and be flexible.
💵 Money! 💵
That is what I hear when students (even my own) are discussing future career options.
Yes, even as I preach about “solving problems” and “finding your purpose” as the career driver, a high paying job is what is desired.
Okay, I get it.
So lets look at the median salary’s for the fastest growing careers.
There are three paths to good jobs: high school diplomas, middle skills, and postsecondary degrees.
The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University defines “good jobs as ones that pay at least $35,000; average $56,000 for workers with less than a bachelor’s degree; and average $65,000 for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree.
Let’s look at a few of the fastest growing occupations based on the entry-level education required.
🎓HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
With a high school diploma, you can become a solar photovoltaic installer and earn above the national average. SP installers assemble, install, or maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on roofs or other structures in compliance with site assessment and schematics. May include measuring, cutting, assembling, and bolting structural framing and solar modules. May perform minor electrical work such as current checks. At fifty percent growth, this is projected to be the fastest growing occupation over the next decade among the over 300 jobs available for high school graduates.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Solar Photovoltaic Installer
Median Salary: $46,850
Highest Paying Occupation: Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
Median Salary: $103,320
There are 45 occupations that require a certificate (also called a postsecondary nondegree award). If you want to enter the fastest growing career in all categories (sixty-one percent) for a few years, consider becoming a wind turbine service technician. WTS technicians inspect, diagnose, adjust, or repair wind turbines. They perform maintenance on wind turbine equipment including resolving electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic malfunctions.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Wind Turbine Service Technician
Median Salary: $56,700
Highest Paying Occupation: First-line Supervisors of Firefighting and Prevention Workers
Median Salary: $82,010
There are 46 occupations that require an associate’s degree for employment. Occupational therapy assistants are the fastest growing career for those earning a 2-year degree at a community college. OTAs assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, direct activity programs, and document the progress of treatments.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Occupational Therapy Assistants
Median Salary: $61,880
Highest Paying Occupation: Air Traffic Controllers
Median Salary: $122,990
With 169 occupations that require a bachelor’s degree (a 4-year degree), you have a wide range of career clusters to choose from including health science, information technology, STEM, and business management.
Medical and health services managers plan, direct, or coordinate medical and health services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations. This managerial position is the fastest growing career that requires a bachelor’s degree and could grow amid the demands of the pandemic.
In college you could major in Community Health, Emergency Services Management, Health Services Administration/Management, or Health Studies.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Medical and Health Services Managers
Median Salary: $115,160
Highest Paying Occupation: Petroleum Engineers
Median Salary: $156,780
As you can see, there are a lot of occupational options. When you level up your education, you level up your opportunity to earn more money.
To help you narrow down your options, you should begin by answering the following question: what problems do you want to solve?
As you discover that answer, you can research careers that will help you solve that problem.
Then you can enjoy the process of finding the right college for you.
If you need help, work with your high school guidance counselor or consider hiring me as your educational consultant.
The anticipation of receiving a college admission decision might have a similar feel to you.
🤞🏽Remember when you were waiting for that “I like you, too” response from that (fingers crossed) special someone.
You expressed interest in each other.
You talked with your friends.
You talked with their friends.
You swiped through their social media accounts.
You may have even explored other options.
Then you waited. ⌚
Waited for that mutual connection.
When it comes to college admissions, waiting to open your online admission portal to find out if they “like you” (and want to admit you) can be stressful.
On the CollegeVine blog, they shared that some colleges (like the Ivy League) might send a likely letter.
“A likely letter is a message sent to select students before an institution makes its official admissions decisions. In the letter, a school will indicate its intent to admit the student; in other words, they are ‘likely’ to be accepted.”
🎉Even though you feel confident, you are still hoping to see or hear the word, “Congratulations!”
🚁Aside from the typical college portal, students have received their decision news by letter, by drone (Lewis University), by tube (MIT), and in a box (College of the Ozarks). Some received a personal visit at their high school (Thomas More) and at home (Wheaton College).
No matter how the college notifies you or what the college decides, there is a seat for you in college.
You may have to wait for the right one.
🤷🏼♀️Which colleges are you anxiously awaiting to hear from this year?
Parents of Sophomores and Juniors:
💰Along with earning merit aid and being awarded scholarships to pay for college, there are two ways to apply for college financial aid: the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile).
There are about 400 colleges, universities, and scholarship programs that require families to complete the CSS Profile to award institutional aid.
Knowing what to expect will help you avoid scary surprises if your student is interested in Baylor, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Hillsdale College, Patrick Henry College, Michigan, Notre Dame, or hundreds of others.
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Firstly, know that the CSS Profile is a more detailed look at your family’s finances.
Among the larger differences between the FAFSA and CSS Profile are how they treat your assets (ex. FAFSA ignores home equity), your income (ex. CSS expects students to contribute up to $6,000 per year), and your family (ex. FAFSA considers income and assets of custodial/non-custodial parents/stepparents).
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Secondly, know that you will need a lot of your financial documents and information.
These include your tax returns, W-2 forms, untaxed income and benefits, assets, and bank statements (cash on hand). A complete list will be given after you register.
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Finally, know that the CSS Profile is not free like the FAFSA.
Along with the college application fees, the College Board charges an initial $25 registration fee with one free school report. Beyond that, you will be charged $16 for each additional report required.
Visit https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org for more information.
All of this to say…
🏫You and your college-bound teenager need to start considering potential colleges today. For a sophomore and junior, an ideal list would have 4-10 options. For the colleges that require the CSS Profile, you can plan ahead and be prepared.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.