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Document to use for College Week

Does your school have a College Week? Many schools do and Ashley Wick, a Counselor at Royal Valley ISD in Kansas has created a document she uses in her school that you can adapt and share at your school. This can be shared with teachers, students and parents/guardians. Her goal is for the teachers to start discussions during their seminars and that those discussions continue later at home.

Here is a link to the document:

Suicide: Signs to Look Out for

Suicide continues to be a problem in society. I was reminded of this recently when I saw a post on Facebook from a mother who’s daughter had committed suicide in her room several years prior. She made a post on the date two years later as a warning to other parents on some of the signs she missed. Her daughter was a great student with many friends, but some of the signs were there and she wanted to make sure all parents recognized them in their own children.

The American Association of Suicidology advocates asking a person directly if they exhibit warning signs of suicide. The following is a list of behaviors that may necessitate this action, whether or not communicated directly or outwardly:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves, or talking or wanting to hurt or kill themselves
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves by seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary
  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Giving away prized possessions or seeking long-term care for pets

Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business

“Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business” is this year’s campaign by the American Association of Suicidology in observance of National Suicide Prevention Month.  

Know the signs, be aware, ask questions, be kind, and seek professional help for you or for others. Learn more and get involved in advocating by checking out resources from groups like the American Association of Suicidology and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741 741

Counseling Schools has put together a National Suicide Prevention Month Advocacy Guide. Here is a link to it for more information:

6 Steps to Help Your Students Create a Final College List

The following steps will help your students learn more about the colleges on their initial list so they can eliminate those that don’t fit and hone down to a balanced, strategic selection of approximately 8 to 12 schools that if admitted, they would be delighted to attend. Here are the steps they should take:

  1. Get Organized:

Start by creating a spreadsheet or Google doc (or both!) to organize all the information about the colleges on your list. We love the idea of shareable files so your parents or college counselors can also add notes.

What goes in these files? Some suggestions would be school size, location, majors of interest to you, SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, social life, cost, and anything you can think of that’s important to you in your decision-making process. Later, once you’ve finalized your list, you’ll create a more detailed spreadsheet with each school’s requirements and deadlines. For now, it’s about compiling your information in one place so you can compare and contrast each school.

Make sure to leave yourself plenty of room for notes. As you begin the next steps of investigating and touring, the information can begin to overlap and blur. Record memorable details as you go!

2. Dig Deeper in Your Research:

You’ve done some general research to get to this point. Now it’s time to dig in. The best place to begin, of course, is the college’s website. Spend some time there exploring more than the home page. Watch the videos, scroll through their clubs and organizations, read the online news articles. Then visit the school’s social media sites to get a feel for the issues and activities the school focuses on. Beyond that, these additional sites can shed light on more aspects of the college:

3. Visit Campuses:

These days you can visit most universities without leaving home. Thanks to 2020’s events, “virtual visits” became a necessity and schools have upped their games in this department. Take advantage of every online opportunity you can, including student panels, faculty panels, info sessions, and campus tours.

Still, we think there is no substitute for an in-person visit (information session, campus tour, on-campus meal, and perhaps even attending a class) if your schedule and budget allow for it. Many students tell a similar story about visits: “When I stepped foot on that campus, I just knew it was where I belonged.” It’s the best way to really feel the campus “vibe” and know for sure if it’s for you or not.

Whether you visit virtually or in person, don’t forget to log your notes during or immediately afterward. Did you love the special pizza party nights they discussed? Were you turned off by the seriousness of the students? Could you imagine yourself hanging out with friends in the quad? Write down all of your thoughts. Those notes will come in handy later, too, when you’re writing your “Why this college?” essays.

4. Talk to Students:

Current or recently graduated students are some of your best resources for honest, relatable feedback that can help you determine if a college is right for you or not. On in-person campus tours, you’ll likely get a chance to interact with current students. Don’t be shy. This is a big decision for you so think of everything you’d want to know and ask away. Then listen to the answers objectively, understanding that everyone has a unique experience and this student may have different pros and cons than you. Talking to students can help you get the real-life picture of day-to-day campus life, including how difficult or easy classes are and how much interaction you can expect with faculty.

Again, talking with students is something you can do from home. Maybe a family member, friend, or neighbor knows a student you can connect with. Or you may find opportunities to speak with students through the website or by emailing your admissions officer at the college. You’d be surprised how many students are willing to FaceTime or Zoom with you and answer your questions. Or check out CollegeT, a website that facilitates (for a small fee) private conversations between current students and potential students.

5. Be Open to Suggestions:

Yes, your goal is to narrow down your choices. But as you fine tune, you may also come across some colleges you hadn’t considered in your initial searches. In fact, as you find schools that you like, it’s a great idea to ask students there what other schools they applied to or considered. Or perhaps do a Google search for “schools similar to” that college. In addition, as you discover more about what you want in a college, teachers, counselors, and peers may have additional suggestions that are worth investigating. Keep asking questions, listening, and being open to new ideas that might arise.

6. Whittle it Down:

As you research, you’ll undoubtedly eliminate some schools from your initial list. Your aim is to get down to about 8 to 12 schools at the most, with most being in your target range, meaning you fall somewhere in the middle of a college’s mid-50% GPA and SAT/ACT ranges for admitted students. You should also have several “likely” schools and a few of those “reach” schools you’d love to attend. If you’re struggling to weed out colleges, review your notes, prioritize your favorites, and when you’ve reached 8 to 10 put the rest on an overflow list that you can come back to if you want.

What we know from over 30 years of experience is that every college application and its accompanying admission essays take time and effort. With an effective list that you’ve created by finding your best-fit schools, researching, and touring, you’ll have less time stressing and more time to enjoy your senior year.

This post is from a blog posted at Judi Robinovitz Associates Educational Consulting. For over 30 years, they have provided an integrated array of academic support and guidance services to students of all ages. Check them out here:

Scholarship Specifically for your Students that are Planning to be Doctors

Do you have any high school students that have told you their ultimate plans are to become Doctors and attend Medical School after College? If yes, there is a scholarship available they should apply for.

Future Medical Doctors of America can apply to the Dr. Philip Sobash Scholarship for $1,000 to a single university or high school student that plans to attend medical school in route to become a doctor.

Scholarship Overview

Dr. Sobash has spent years in the medical field and wants to give back to the future medical doctors of America.

The Dr. Philip Sobash Scholarship is an annual scholarship geared to university or high school students in the United States with an interest in becoming a medical doctor.


In order to apply, be a current undergraduate student at a university or high school student  that will attend university in the United States on the path to a medical degree.

One winner will be chosen based on an essay competition.  A winner will be selected based on an essay of 1000 words or under giving an answer to the following:

“Describe a problem in the world that needs drastic improvement and how you would use your medical degree to help solve this problem”

Scholarship Amount

 A one time award of $1,000

Deadline To Apply

The deadline to apply for the scholarship is December 16, 2021.

Winner Announcement

The Dr. Philip Sobash Scholarship winner will be announced on January 16, 2022.

How Do They Apply?

The prospective student should email their response to the essay question “Describe a problem in the world that needs drastic improvement and how you would use your medical degree to help solve this problem” in Word Doc format to

Please also provide the following information along with the essay:

  • Full Name
  • Phone Number
  • Bio
  • Address
  • Email Address
  • Projected Graduation Date
  • The School That You Currently Attend.
  • Cumulative GPA

Senior Bulletin for Your Students

Have you ever considered putting together one document for your seniors that includes all post-secondary information they will need for their college planning as well as a list of available scholarships? If yes, where do you start to go and find a template you can use to compile this information? Search no farther! A Counselor at Hannibal High School in Missouri, JoAnn Mumma McCollum, has put together a PDF for her students which contains this information and she has agreed to share with you.

It includes:

  • Information on their school, who to contact and links to their social media and website with college planning information.
  • Information regarding career and job services in their area.
  • Military options and information for those students that might be interested in that career path.
  • Information on Colleges, Two-Year Schools and Technical Colleges in their area
  • College Admissions Test Information (SAT & ACT)
  • Information for college athletes looking to play sports in college
  • Financial Aid Information
  • Recommendation Letters with Template
  • Links to college resource websites
  • Scholarship Information (with local scholarships)

It’s very comprehensive and a great template to use to craft something customized for your students. Here is a link to it:

How to Help Your Students Get to the Finish Line

By now, many of your students have probably written multiple drafts of at least one application essay.

But how do you get to the finish line with minimal stress?

Step away from that proverbial red pen.  

At Wow, we don’t edit. Rather, we review. We respond to first drafts with detailed questions, not marked-up essays. We don’t look for perfect grammar and spelling after first drafts because we don’t know if the words from the first draft will even make it into the final product.

A first draft is not supposed to be ready to submit. Your job is to guide and ask questions.  

Throughout the process, think review, rather than edit! Keep this in mind: the best way to move the essay along is to read with a few questions in mind:

  • Is anything missing?
  • Is the essay’s purpose clear?
  • Does the essay answer the prompt?

When you and your students understand that revision involves “re-seeing” an essay, it feels less like fixing something that is broken and more like a process of discovery.  

And when that happens, it’s not so daunting. Sounds good, right?!

You’ll know your students have made it to the final draft once the content is in place, the structure has emerged organically, the essay clearly responds to the prompt, and the writing flows from beginning to end.  

That’s your cue that it’s time to polish, which does not mean aiming for perfection. Just check to see if they crossed every t and dotted every i. Don’t try to fix all of the spelling and grammar either. Rather, circle errors and make a note for the students to fix them.

Here is our checklist to evaluate a traditional personal statement, such as the Common Application essay, the Coalition application, the University of California personal insight questions, ApplyTexas or any primary prompt from schools that use their own applications.  

We hope it helps!

Content Review (after the first draft)

  • Does the essay answer the prompt?
  • Can you tell why the writer chose this topic?
  • Is the essay about the student, or is it really about the place, person or experience featured in the essay?
  • Does it illustrate a trait or traits the student wants to share with colleges?
  • Does it tell colleges something meaningful about the writer that is not clear from the rest of the application package?
  • Does the essay sound like the person who wrote it?

Structure Review (after the second draft)

  • Does the first paragraph make you want to keep reading?
  • Does the essay move smoothly from beginning to end?

Polish Review (after the final draft)

  • Does the essay use the same verb tense throughout? 
  • Has the writer avoided sentence fragments and run-on sentences?
  • Is the punctuation correct and consistent?
  • Is every word spelled correctly?
  • Does the student feel confident and proud of the work?

That’s it. No magic. No special tricks. If you give your students time and space to write, then recognize that your role is to coach as much as time and resources allow, you will be able to step back.  

When that happens, your students will be well on their way to writing effective essays that represent them well.


Kim Lifton is a MACAC Board Member and President and Co-founder of Wow Writing Workshop, which teaches students and educational professionals a simple, step-by-step process for writing effective college essays, so students can stand out and tell their stories. Kim leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Since 2009, Wow has been leading the college admissions industry with our unique approach to communicating messages effectively through application essays, including personal statements, activity and short answer essays and supplements.  We teach students – and we train professionals.

Coming Up 

We cover a new topic in our Pro Chats each month – Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern! Click here to register!

September      9/15/21 (3rd week)    Everyone’s an expert: Helping students manage unwelcome advice

October           10/13/21         University of California Personal Insight Questions

November       11/10/21         Manage student procrastination without stressing out

December       12/8/21           2021 wrap-up: Take a deep breath! What we can do at the end of the season, and what we need to let go of

Let your students know we have a free class for them, too!

If you wants to help students with the basics, encourage them to sign up for our monthly free student class, or listen to the recording.

Guide to Educational Acronyms and Abbreviations

Bothered by pesky acronyms and other abbreviations? Here’s a list to help you out!

  • ELA (English & Language Arts):  Refers to reading, literature, writing, speaking and listening in the world of English coursework.
  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): This is  form completed yearly by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid, including the amount of scholarships, grants, loans, and out of pocket expenses needed to pay for college.
  • IEP (Individualized Education Plan):  A written statement (for a student with a disability) developed by a team of knowledgeable professionals with input from parents.  The IEP describes student strengths as well as how the student will be served and what goals she/he should be meeting.
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics):  A STEM curriculum attempts to integrate these four subjects by cultivating creativity and developing skills that drive innovation.

Here are some brief explanations regarding testing abbreviations:

  • SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test):  A test that assesses a student’s verbal, mathematical and writing skills for college
  • PSAT (Pre-Scholastic Assessment Test):  A practice test for the SAT, usually taken by juniors in the fall.  High scorers can qualify for scholarships.
  • ACT (American College Test):  An assessment test that covers English, Math, Reading and Science
  • Pre-ACT (Pre American College Test): A practice test for the ACT, usually taken junior year in the fall. High scorers can qualify for scholarships. 
  • ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery):  That assessment is administered by the U.S. Military.  It includes 8 individual tests covering verbal and math skills, science, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and electronics, auto/shop and mechanical familiarity.  It is designed to help students learn more about potentially satisfying occupations and predict future academic and occupational success in the military.  All sophomores are welcome to explore their aptitude for various skills to help assist in career exploration.

Compiled by the Long Lake Central School District in NY from their Counseling Page

Top 60 Blogs for Counselors

Feedspot has just updated its list of the top blogs available for Counselors. We are happy to say that LINK for Counselors was ranked as the #4 blog for Counselors(we are #1 specifically for High School Counselors). There are some other great blogs out there so we wanted to spotlight a few from their list and provide a link to the entire list:

1. The Corner On Character

The Corner On Character Friendswood, Texas, US

I’m a school counselor, character coach, and author in Friendswood, Texas who hopes that you’ll find something that will positively inspire, intrigue or influence you while you’re here.

Frequency 1 post / week Since Jun 2011 Follow

2. FHS Counseling Information Blog

FHS Counseling Information Blog Dearborn, Michigan, US The goal of the counseling department at Dearborn Public Schools is to help students develop to their fullest potential intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Counselors help students gain the self-knowledge necessary to become independent & responsible decision-makers by assisting them in the areas like personal & crisis issues, career planning, college & financial aid guidance, academic planning & course selection, and much more.

Frequency 1 post / quarter Follow

3. For High School Counselors

For High School Counselors Atlanta, Georgia, US I am a licensed professional counselor, mediator, conflict coach, Youth Mental Health lst Aid trainer, & peer educator who has a passion for educating others!

Frequency 1 post / week

4. Counselor Up!

Counselor Up! North Carolina, US Hi, I’m Rebecca Atkins! I’m a school counselor & central office administrator. On my blog, Counselor Up, I share tips on organizing your comprehensive school counseling program, lesson plans, group ideas, and individual counseling tips. Counselor Up! is a place to share some of the ideas, organizing tools, and planning for a comprehensive school counselor program!

Frequency 1 post / month Since Jun 2014

5. The School Counselor Life

The School Counselor Life As a school counselor, I understand how difficult it can be to find new, innovative, and fun ideas to implement with your students, so I’ve decided to compile my favorite classroom lessons, session ideas, and organization tips for all of you to use with the children at your schools, as well as style ideas and self care practices to encompass every aspect of The School Counselor Life.

Frequency 2 posts / quarter Since Oct 2015

6. Confident Counselors

Confident CounselorsNew York, US We are a group of school counselors, psychologists, and social workers working together to bring resources to our colleagues. This was made for you. Confident Counselors is a monthly round up of resources, products, best practices, articles, comic relief, blog posts, give aways and ideas in action. Frequency 10 posts / year Since May 2016

7. Counselors’ Corner

Counselors' Corner A Blog of views and opinions from school counselors about the counseling profession. Frequency 1 post / quarter Since Jan 2011 hscw-counselorscorner.blogsp..

8. School Counselor Stephanie

School Counselor StephanieTexas, US With over 20 years of teaching and counseling experience, I am currently a bilingual school counselor in a Central Texas public school system. This website addresses current issues in the school counseling world! In my monthly posts, I will provide helpful tips and links to enhance your counseling. Frequency 1 post / year Since May 2015

9. Exploring School Counseling

Exploring School Counseling I love to learn and I love to share! Much of what I know about school counseling has been learned through trial and error in the everyday experiences of working with students, teachers, and families. I am forever grateful to my mentors and colleagues who have shared advice and their best practices with me. It is my desire to ‘pay it forward’ to offer ideas, resources, and encouragement to others Frequency 8 posts / year Since Jun 2014

10. College Counselor Traci | Counselor Resources for College & Career

STEM Scholarships Available for Minorities

Pursuing a STEM career can be very expensive for students. Scholarships can really help close the gap on paying for that education. Here is a list of scholarships available specifically for minorities planning to pursue a STEM education:

STEM Scholarships for All Minorities

STEM Scholarships for Asian American & Pacific Islander Students

STEM Scholarships for Black Students

  • The NAACP offers several different, including a $12,500 award for STEM students.
  • Microsoft will award 27 scholarships for the upcoming academic year to students studying technology, ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
  • The Financial Aid & Scholarship Guide for Black Students can provide you even more information on scholarships and financial aid that is available to you.

STEM Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Students

STEM Scholarships for Alaskan Natives and Native Americans

  • The American Indian Education Fund has over 200 scholarships that are awarded each year to Native American and Alaskan Native students.
  • Ford Motors hosts STEAM programs and offers $50,000 in scholarships to some participants who have tribal affiliations.
  • AISES Oracle Academy has scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 are available to students pursuing computer science degrees.

This list of Scholarships was compiled by Check out their complete Guide to College and Careers for Minorities in STEM.

Key URL Links for the SAT, PSAT, and ACT

Here are some quick links if you are looking for information on the SAT, PSAT or ACT:

PSAT and Scholarship Information

This site gives extensive information on the PSAT and the National Merit Scholarship.

SAT Prep.

This site is helpful in preparing and registering for the S.A.T. exam.

SAT Link – Services for Students with Disabilities

Helpful S.A.T. and college information on services for students with disabilities.

ACT Prep.

This site is full of information on preparing and registering for the A.C.T. exam.

ACT Link – Services for Students with Disabilities

Helpful A.C.T. information on services for students with disabilities.

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