50 Colleges and Universities with the Happiest Freshmen (Collegechoice.net)

Going to college is one of the most significant experiences of your life. In fact, college is as much an experience as it is an education. Your freshman year is pivotal in determining the kind of experience you will have in college. A positive first year will greatly increase your likelihood of staying at your school and earning your degree. Not such a good year? You might find yourself looking to transfer to a new school. While transferring isn’t the end of the world, it is a headache: you have to start everything from scratch, make new friends, get to know a new place, and reestablish yourself all over again. In order to avoid the headache of a transfer, it’s important that you find a school at which you’ll be happy your freshman year. To help with that, we have ranked the top 50 schools with the happiest freshmen.

The primary criteria for our ranking are freshman retention rates. But you will notice that many of these schools have the same percentage of freshman that return for their second year. In order to delineate schools within a given percentage of freshman retention, we ranked them based upon overall graduation rate. We figure that you will want to find a school that not only offers a great first year experience, but excels in making sure its students graduate with a degree.

Read Katie Brownell Amondson’s article for the 50 colleges with the happiest freshmen!

14 Crucial College Prep Topics for 2014 – #11 Ten Things Every College Applicant Must Know (SiaKnight.com)

During a  visit to a major university, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the application processing center and speak with the employees who handle the thousands and thousands of pieces of information sent in by college hopefuls.  I gained valuable insight about how applicants can increase the chance that their applications are kept intact and how they can minimize the opportunity for their packet to get lost.

A very helpful university representative gave me a handout that I recognized as pure gold – The Top Ten Things We Wish Applicants Knew.

Read Sia Knight’s article for the top things college applicants should know!

Help for the 6 Most Confusing Parts of the New 2014-15 CommonApp (Huffington Post)

Everyone — students, parents, high school counselors, teachers and college admissions officers — were all in agreement last year that the Common Application offered many challenges. As a result, I wrote three HuffPost blogs about the Common App, trying to help users work through many of the confusing parts, lack of directions and out-and-out glitches.

Things seem to be much better this year; but here and there, directions are left out, and there are areas that are not explained as thoroughly as they might be. So let’s run through some of the most confusing parts of the new Common App.

But, first things first: before you can do anything on the new Common Application, you need to create an account, generating the usual, all-important Username and Password. After you do that, write down your username and password, put it in your smart phone notes and/or text it to your mother, father or someone you trust to keep it safe and handy.

Once you log in, follow the instructions on the pages, and come back to this blog for how to make your CA (Common Application, not to be confused with the abbreviation for the great state of California) experience smooth and applications complete.

Read Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz’s article for tips and explanations for the most confusing parts of this year’s Common Application

How College Applicants Can Go Beyond ‘Show Don’t Tell’ (Huffington Post)

One of the most unavoidable pieces of advice about college-essay writing is, “show, don’t tell.” This slogan appears, in various forms, on English-class blackboards, on college counselors’ blogs, and in some of the most august writing manuals ever written. With due respect to E.B. White, your English teacher, and many colleges (like this one), this adage can be woefully limiting.

“Show Don’t Tell” has become less a piece of advice and more of a slogan. Students who haven’t been taught to think deeply about writing might have heard it and still not know what it means.

Read Josh Stephens’ article for examples of “show, don’t tell” and tips to help strengthen your college essays.

5 Things to Know When Deciding Between a Private School and a State University (College Candy)

With college applications hitting mailboxes nationwide, many high school seniors panic when deciding which type of university is the right fit for them. As a transfer student, I have had the opportunity to experience two, polar opposite colleges. While I started my education at Saint Joseph’s University — a medium sized, private, Jesuit university — I decided to make a transition to Rutgers University — a large, state university.

Having attended both types of schools, I feel that I am in a position to give advice to those struggling to find the perfect fit for their own needs. There are many aspects of a collegiate experience that seem to get brushed under the rug, but they should be considered while making your decision.

Read Jaclyn Finger’s article for 5 aspects to consider when deciding between a private or public college or university


The Scary World of Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams (Cheapscholars.org)

Families that are paying for college are facing one of life’s biggest expenses. To make college affordable, students often search for scholarships to help themselves pay for school. Unfortunately, although many legitimate and generous scholarship opportunities exist, there are also scammers that prey on vulnerable students and their families.

Online financial scams are getting more and more common. In fact, people who earn a Certificate in Financial Crime Investigation often spend their careers rooting out online fraud. To read more about using due diligence before paying someone who approaches you over the Internet, visit this page. Then, before you commit to a school, familiarize yourself with some of the most common scholarship and financial aid scams.

Read Doug Schantz’s article for examples of common scholarship scams

So Your Academic Credentials Suck!?

If you are a college-bound high school student with grades and test scores that aren’t so good, or if you have a kid or two in such a predicament, don’t panic!

Check out this Daily Caller article for 16 good schools with high acceptance rates