Sophomore Slump? Don’t Let It Happen To You!

by Todd Weaver on June 4, 2014

University in the Fall

College CampusWhile most think of “1984” as a George Orwell book, or a Van Halen album, to me it was my Sophomore year in high school. I was focused on acquiring the points needed for my varsity sports jacket through soccer, hockey, and tennis team.

Music was my hobby, along with amateur HAM radio (call sign N1CBN). I was selected to sing at the All State and All New England Music Festivals. Grades were mediocre except for science and history classes, which I really enjoyed.

I ended up being “sent” to summer school, to learn how to study better, so that I could then apply myself and get into a good college… something every struggling sophomore hears, right?

What I didn’t know was what college was really all about.

College was just an illusion, a dream of the unknown. What are colleges looking for in an applicant (which you will be in about a year and a half!)? For most colleges, it will be a combination of the following:

  • GPA (academic core)
  • Rigor of courses taken (difficulty level)
  • Test Scores (SAT and/or ACT)
  • Class Rank
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • College Application Essays
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Interviews/portfolios

Now that you are wrapping up your Sophomore year, take the time to make sure you are on target to have those bullet points covered by the time you graduate high school.

This is the time to bear down and work hard in school, volunteering, sports, music, etc. – work hard at things you are passionate about. And try to find time to read.

The number one skill that students need is the ability to handle complex reading. Here’s a blog post on that very subject. Most high schools don’t allow a great deal of reading time – that is to say, reading for pleasure.

In order to become well prepared for the rigor of college, students in high school should read, read, and then read some more.

Standardized Testing

Consider taking some diagnostic standardized tests. Yes, you’ll take the PSAT in October of Junior year (which is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test so don’t slack off thinking it’s “just a practice test” for the SAT!).

Perhaps you should consider taking an ACT diagnostic test to see if you might just perform better on that test than on the SAT. Yes, they are different tests, for different types of learners.

All colleges accept either the ACT OR the SAT so don’t worry that you might be taking the “wrong” test for admissions consideration.

Through our relationship with Applerouth Test Prep, students working with Strategies for College can take a free diagnostic ACT test. Just contact them at http://www.applerouth.com/ and let them know you are working with us, and they’ll set you up for the free diagnostic.

For the Fall of 2014, the ACT will be offered in September, October, and December. Consider these potential “practice” dates for the ACT as you do not need to send in any scores during those test dates.

The SAT dates are not yet confirmed, but your focus should be on the PSAT in October, with a plan to take real ACT and SAT exams in the Spring of Junior year.

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Student Loan Interest Rates Set for 2014-2015

by Todd Weaver on May 20, 2014

For students taking on loans during the 2014-15 academic year, please note the information below as it pertains to your loan interest rates.

Direct Loan Interest Rates for 2014-2015

On Tuesday, May 7, 2014, the Treasury Department held a 10-year Treasury note auction that resulted in a high yield of 2.612%.  The chart below displays the resultant interest rates for Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2014 and before July 1, 2015.

Federal Direct Student Loans 2014-2015 Interest Rates
Effective for Loans First Disbursed on or after July 1, 2014 and
prior to July 1, 2015

Loan Type

Borrower Type

Index

Add-On

Fixed Interest Rate

10-Year Treasury Note

Direct Subsidized Loans

Undergraduate Students

2.612%

2.05%

4.66%

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Undergraduate Students

2.612%

2.05%

4.66%

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Graduate/Professional Students

2.612%

3.60%

6.21%

Direct PLUS
Loans

Parents of Dependent Undergraduate Students and Graduate/Professional Students

2.612%

4.60%

7.21%

 

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The Worst College Visit, Ever!

April 29, 2014

Tweet Tweet The Worst College Visit Ever! “I hated that school,” were the first words that came out of my client’s mouth when I enthusiastically asked her about her recent college visit. As an independent college counselor, I spend a lot of time coaching high school students on how to have a fun and productive […]

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