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12 Tips for Parents and Their Teenage Drivers

Put down the phone  —  Up to 11 percent of drivers age 19 and younger who were involved in fatal accidents were distracted. Talking and texting while driving substantially increases the risk of injuries and fatalities.

Reduce speed  —  Teens often drive over the speed limit or too fast for weather or road conditions, which can be caused by their impulsiveness or poor judgment. Over one-third of male drivers between the ages of 15-20 were speeding immediately before their fatal accident.

Don’t mix drinking with driving  —  Thankfully young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after they have consumed alcohol. However, when they do drink and drive, their risk of a crash is much higher because the effects of alcohol combined with their inexperienced driving skills is a recipe for disaster.

Be prepared  —  Make sure your teen is prepared for an emergency. Pack an emergency kit that includes items such as a flashlight, jumper cables, a first aid kit, water, and non-perishable snacks.

Limit driving at night  —  There is a reason GDL programs restrict teen driving at night. During 2017, 17 percent of teenage fatalities on the road occurred during the hours of 9 pm and midnight, and nearly a quarter occurred between midnight and 6 am.

Be mindful of weather conditions  —  Teen drivers are inexperienced at handling roads impacted by weather conditions. It is imperative to teach them how to drive in poor weather confidently. You might want to look into a driving school that can help them with safety and car control techniques, such as what to do if they are hydroplaning. It is better to get this practice with an experienced driver in the car before going out on their own.

Limit the number of passengers  —  Each passenger adds to the risk of a fatal crash. With three or more passengers, the risk climbs to four times as much compared to the driver being alone. Numerous studies reveal that teens who have passengers in their vehicles are much more likely to partake in risky driving and become distracted. These factors will multiply the dangers.

Select the right vehicle  —  It’s tempting to buy an inexpensive older car for your teen or to provide them with a hand-me-down that has seen its fair share of miles. From a financial standpoint, this might initially make sense. However, these cars are not likely to have advanced safety features like electronic stability control or side-curtain airbags. Keep your teen safer by selecting the right vehicle after doing your research.

Put rules in place  —  Your teen will need to abide by California driving laws and the restrictions of the GDL program, but you should also but your own rules in place. Spell out the penalties if they break the rules and put everything in a contract. If necessary, take their keys away.

Minimize the distractions  —  Drivers on the road today face more distractions than any drivers that have come before. This can make driving challenging for beginners. Older generations may have only needed to worry about changing the radio station or talking with passengers, while today’s teen drivers are also tempted by distractions on their phone, touchscreen and GPS controls in the console, and even DVDs and video games being played by passengers. Teens need to know that their safety and the safety of those around them relies on being a focused driver.

Click your seat belt  —  The NHTSA reports that 60 percent of fatalities of people under the age of 20 from car accidents were unrestrained at the time of their accident. Wearing a seatbelt is a simple way to reduce injuries and fatalities should an accident occur.

Be prepared  —  Like all other drivers, your teen’s driving career will be filled with the unexpected. The best thing you can do is to ensure they are prepared for these events. Make sure they know what to do if their car breaks down or they are in an accident. Pack their vehicle with an emergency supply kit and even an atlas in case they cannot access the GPS on their phone.

In 2017 alone, 2,364 teenagers in America between 16 and 19 years of age were killed in car crashes, while approximately 3,000 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by car accidents. This averages to about six teens between the ages of 16-19 dying every day as a result of motor vehicle crashes in addition to hundreds of daily injuries.

People ages 15-19 accounted for 6.5 percent of the United States population in 2017. However, this same age group caused $13.1 billion or nearly 8 percent of the total cost of motor vehicle injuries in the same year due to fatal and non-fatal accidents. 

Arash Law has put together the Ultimate Teen Driving Safety Guide. Here is a link: https://arashlaw.com/the-ultimate-teen-driving-safety-guide/

Let’s Talk About the New Common App Prompt?

What do you think about the new prompt on the Common App?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

We’ve been getting lots of inquiries about the new prompt – and having great conversations.

I was talking recently with an admissions director at one of the Ivies, who called the multi-pronged prompt a trap. “It will be hard to answer the whole question authentically.”

A senior admissions rep at a prestigious public university told me she loved the prompt because it was so positive. “But I want to read about the student, not someone else or someone who did something for them.”

And a counselor enrolled in our current College Essay Experience training program described this prompt as an invitation to write about Grandma. “It’s problematic. And because of how it’s worded, there are too many things students are supposed to do in one essay.”

What do we think?  We’re still figuring that out.

But, to be honest, I don’t think it matters much what we think of any prompt.

Colleges don’t care which prompt a student selects on the Common App. But they do want them to pick a prompt that speaks to them, not one that speaks to me, or to any other adult who loves them. Our job, and yours, is simply to help students understand what the prompts mean and let them choose the prompt that they like (without any judgement over their choice).

Here’s our take on Common App Prompt #4:

This prompt is more complex than some of the others. On the surface, it seems to be asking about a time you felt gratitude. But it’s not quite so simple. This prompt is both reflective and very specific. The key words here are reflect, surprising, gratitude, affected and motivated.

Prompt 4 invites you to reflect on someone else’s kindness, but the story you tell should not be primarily about the other person’s act.  It should be about how this experience affected you. What did you do as a result?

And the prompt doesn’t ask you to share just any act of kindness. Readers want to know about something someone did for you that made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. Maybe the other person surprised you with their kindness, or maybe you were surprised that you felt so grateful or happy. Or maybe the surprise came through in some other way. 

If you can identify a specific story that focuses on you, showcases a characteristic or trait that demonstrates who you are, fits these criteria, and also explains how your gratitude affected or motivated you to do something, this prompt might be for you.  

I hope this gives you some insight. What are your thoughts about this prompt? We’d love to hear them!

Kim Lifton is 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. 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. Kim leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. She can be reached at Kim@wowwritingworkshop.com

Join us next month, April 14, for a free chat about How to run a group workshop.


Sign up for our monthly Pro Chat: How to Run a Group Workshop, with Wow CEO Susan Knoppow on Wednesday, April 14, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. And if you can’t join us live, sign up anyway; we’ll send you the recording.

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. Next up: Wednesday, April 14, Wow Writing Workshop at 7 p.m. ET! You are welcome to sign up, too.

LINK for Counselors 2021/2022 media kit was just released

LINK for Counselors is distributed free to Counselors. We never charge you for any of our content. This is made possible by our advertisers who invest in their advertising to let you know about their school or specific product that may be of interest to you. It has worked for many of them who tell us they get great feedback from Counselors through our Signet Research and Paramount Research studies that are conducted each year.

There are many options available including print advertising, e-newsletter advertising, banner advertising on linkforcounselors.com, sponsorship of our college night handouts and targeted e-blasts.

If you have any Colleges you work with that might be interested in reaching Counselors throughout the country please share this link with them. Our new media kit outlines our print and digital opportunities. Here is a link to it – https://www.linkforcounselors.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021-2021-LINK-for-Counselors-Media-Kit.pdf

Financial Aid Award Letters – 8 Things to Consider

1. Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

After successfully completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will be provided a Student Aid Report (SAR). On the SAR is a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 

The EFC is the number that determines your eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA) from your FAFSA results and many private scholarship organizations also use it to assist in making award decisions. Your EFC will be the same at all the colleges that offer you financial aid.

2. Federal Pell Grant

This is an award of federal funds based on your EFC. It is a grant and grants do not have to be repaid. The Pell Grant offered will be the same at all colleges that offer you financial aid.  Not all students will qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

3. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

By completing the FAFSA you will also be considered for SEOG funding; This grant is given to students with the greatest financial need. To receive this grant, you must be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. It does not have to be repaid.  Applying for financial aid early is recommended to give your application the most consideration. Funding is limited.

4.  Loans – all loans must be repaid. This is the case for Federal and private student loans.

Some colleges heavily rely upon parents borrowing from the Parent PLUS loan and private student loans. This may be the case regardless of a student’s strong academic background. 

5. Institutional Scholarships

A college may offer you a scholarship from institutional funds, which are funds that the college/university controls. Scholarships do not have to be repaid. Institutional Scholarships are not offered by all colleges. Some colleges will only offer most students Federal Student Aid (FSA) based upon your FAFSA results.  

6. Federal Work Study

Federal Work Study (FWS) allows students to work up to 20 hours a week mainly on campus with some limited off campus options. Each school has a different amount of money available for eligible students.

7. Outside Scholarships

Depending upon the timing of your award offer, scholarships you earned from outside sources may not be listed on the college’s award letter. Outside scholarships can impact the college’s current scholarship offer.

8. Requesting More Financial Aid  

Some colleges may be able to award you additional financial aid based upon your specific situation, but it should not be assumed that all schools have the funding to meet your request. Ask the college which office handles scholarships and inquire at those offices. Examples of college offices that may be involved are the Admissions Office, the Financial Aid Office, and the academic department for your major field of study.

By Kenneth McGhee, Director DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG) Kenneth.mcghee@dc.gov

Any of your students planning to be Entrepreneurs? They should apply for these scholarships.

Owning their own business is the dream of many students. From Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk there are examples of many entrepreneurs that are now the richest of the rich. Finimpact has published a list of scholarships available for students that are planning to go down the entrepreneurial career path. Here are 14 of them that might be of interest to your students:

1. Business Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship

The Scholarship for the Business Leaders of Tomorrow is provided annually by the Business Broker Network. Business Broker Network is dedicated to connecting business buyers and sellers through its online database of over 28,000 businesses and franchises. One winner will be selected and notified by the end of the year. Selection will be based primarily on the quality of submitted essays. The Scholarship for the Business Leaders of Tomorrow is available for U.S. college freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who are between the ages of 17 and 24.

Prize Amount: $2,000
Eligibility Requirements: Aged between 17 – 24, US student.
Application Process: 800-word essay, proof of enrollment.
Application Deadline: 30th October.

2. Cancer for College Leonard Family Entrepreneurial Spirit Scholarship

Cancer for College

Cancer For College is a charity that specializes in giving scholarships and financial aid to those in need of it (mainly due to adverse health conditions). Awards are around $5,000 each. Scholarship recipients must maintain full-time enrollment at his/her stated university. Failure to maintain full-time enrollment or transfer from a 4-year university to a community college may result in loss of scholarship funds. Graduate students receiving scholarships do not need to maintain full-time student status. Scholarship recipients experiencing health-related issues that force them to leave school may request a one-time extension of their scholarship, not to exceed one school year. Recipients exceeding this time will forgo their scholarship but may reapply when ready to return to school.

The Cancer for College scholarship application is completed completely online. It offers several scholarships for students suffering from a variety of serious ailments. For the Leonard Family Entrepreneurial Spirit Scholarship, the award is $5,000 and applicants must be a business major or related field with a desire to pursue a career in the food-service industry, and potentially own and operate a restaurant.

Prize Amount: $5,000
Eligibility Requirements: Diagnosed with cancer, planning to attend university full time, total parents income is not more than $150,000.
Application Process: Parents or personal tax statement, two years of previous college transcripts, confirmation of illness from a doctor, and a letter of recommendation from one person outside of the family.
Application Deadline: The application period opens on November 1 and closes on January 31 each year. The application requires some detailed information that you can find here.

3. The FormSwift Startup Scholarship Program

Formswift

This is one of the more fun and creative scholarship programs out there. Applicants may select from a total of 5 industries – startup, restaurant, non-profit, transportation, and clothing. They then make an infographic on one of these industries for a chance to win $1,000. The program runs 3 times a year with the deadlines of January 15, March 15, and September 15 for entry. So there are multiple opportunities to win this scholarship.

The only hard condition is that applicants must be graduating high school or enrolled in college. After this, you simply send the infographic and some details to a designated email address. International students are also welcome to apply. The idea behind the scholarship is that new entrepreneurs can hone some of the skills they will need after college.

Prize Amount: $1,000
Eligibility Requirements: US student attending or going to attend university. Cannot have friends/family who work at FormSwift.
Application Process: Send infographic to a designated email address.

Application Deadline: The program runs 3 times a year with the deadlines of January 15, March 15, and September 15 for entry.

4. Kitchen Cabinet Kings Entrepreneur Scholarship

Scholarship Kitchen Cabinet Kings logo

This is a construction industry scholarship started by two entrepreneurs in the kitchen cabinet industry. Kitchen Cabinet Kings will award one $5,000 scholarship for the best-submitted entry determined by the Kitchen Cabinet Kings team. The scholarship will be awarded in check form, made payable directly to the winner. The deadline is June 30th, 2021. The winner to be announced on August 31st.

Prize Amount: $5,000
Eligibility Requirements: Any current college student or incoming freshman enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program in a 2021 semester. The student must be enrolled at an accredited American college, university, or trade school.
Application Process: Submit an essay with an online form through the site. The 2021 essay relates to how companies can take advantage of ways to make a profit while the population is mainly indoors.
Application Deadline: June 30th.

5. Grasshopper Entrepreneur Scholarship

Grasshopper Entrepreneur Scholarship

Founded by two entrepreneurs, Grasshopper has been making it easier to start and grow a small business since 2003. It was started as just two guys with a dream and to date have served over 300,000 entrepreneurs. The Grasshopper scholarship is worth $5,000 for the winners. The eligibility criteria are that the candidate is enrolled in a US college or trade school with a current GPA of 3.0. The deadline is August 30th and the essay topics vary each year but are based around a current or future business model. Basically, if you are a current undergraduate with an idea to start a business, this could be the perfect start.

Prize Amount: $5,000
Eligibility Requirements: Enrolled in a US university or trade school.
Application Process: Online submission of essay and details.
Application Deadline: 30th August.

6. Insureon Small Business Scholarship

Insureon Small Business Scholarship

Insureon is an insurance company that offers 2 prizes of $2,500 for winners of its scholarship. To qualify, candidates must be currently attending a 4-year undergraduate. The deadline is 30th April 2021. No GPA average is required for this small business scholarship. The candidate simply needs to have a business idea and pitch it via online submission.

Prize Amount: $2,500 for 2 winners.
Eligibility Requirements: Current US undergraduate.
Application Process: Submissions via email. A short essay between 500 -750 words.
Application Deadline: 30th April

7. GreenPal Scholarship for Tomorrow’s Entrepreneur

Greenpal Scholarship For Tomorrows Entrepreneur

The purpose of The GreenPal Small Business Scholarship is to assist a motivated, driven student and future business leader. The program believes that the generation of today’s students is the future employers of tomorrow.

If you currently run a small business while attending college or have a small business idea to start while you plan to attend college, you are invited to attend. The winner is announced in December of each year.

However, the standard for this scholarship is a little higher than most. Applicants must show a lot of ambition and maintain a GPA above 3.5. Further, they have to major in business, economics, or finance. To apply for the scholarship, current or future students must email a short submission essay (500 – 1000 words) along with a photo to a designated email address.

Prize Amount: $2,000
Eligibility Requirements: 3.5 average GPA. Business, economics, or finance major in a US university.
Application Process: Online essay submission via email.
Application Deadline: The deadline to apply is Nov 15th of each running year.

8. National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Scholarships

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Scholarships

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation provides multiple merit-based scholarships to students pursuing degrees related to the restaurant industry (to include majors within the culinary, hospitality, and food-service fields). Scholarship award amounts range between $2,500 and $10,000. Deadlines are March 31st, 2021

In addition to the general NRAEF scholarships, several named leadership scholarships are also available through the application portal. Requirements may vary but all applicants must be pursuing a degree related to the restaurant industry. There are some niche scholarships here for those pursuing business majors that are heavily associated with restaurants. Many of these scholarships are run in conjunction with other organizations, such as Choose Restaurants, where you can find a definitive list of culinary scholarships on offer.

Prize Amount: $2,500 – $10,000
Eligibility Requirements: US Students in restaurant-related majors.
Application Process: Varies depending on the particular scholarship in question.
Application Deadline: 31st March.

9. BlueVine Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship

BlueVine Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship

BlueVine, which helps small businesses address their working capital needs with access to fast funding, is offering two $5,000 scholarships to college or graduate students interested in pursuing careers as entrepreneurs. The BlueVine Young Entrepreneurs scholarship program aims to motivate and support aspiring business owners in undergraduate and graduate programs related to entrepreneurship. The scholarships will be offered in the spring and fall semesters.
BlueVine is launching the scholarship program to recognize the contributions of small businesses to their communities, employees, and communities.

Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 to be considered. One scholarship will be awarded in the spring, and another in the fall. Each applicant must submit a 600 to 800-word essay on what drives his or her passion to start a business. The essay must include details on how the scholarship can help the applicant succeed in school and later as an entrepreneur.

Prize Amount: Two $5,000 amounts to be awarded.
Eligibility Requirements: Current US student with a minimum of 3.3 GPA.
Application Process: Online submissions with an essay.
Application Deadline: Unknown.

10. Triadex Services Scholarship

Triadex Services Scholarship

The Triadex Services Scholarship Program supports college students each year with scholarships for recipients who excel academically and in service to others. Most Triadex Services Scholarship recipients share a passion for marketing, entrepreneurship, technology, and helping to make their communities better places to live, work, and grow.

This scholarship is available to those currently enrolled in a US college or their last year of high school with enrollment awaiting. Students must be attending a course in marketing, business, entrepreneurship, or technology to qualify. The minimum average GPA is 3.3 and the scholarship is not available to temporary residents or international students. Besides, applicants cannot have friends/family who work at Triadex. Up to 5 awards are given every year. Individual awards range from $250-$750.

Prize Amount: $250 – $750, 5 times a year.
Eligibility Requirements: Current or future US student in marketing, business, entrepreneurship, or technology.
Application Process: Email the application form online.
Application Deadline: Anytime. Awards granted quarterly.

11. Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship

Triadex Services Scholarship

The Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship is funded by entrepreneurs Grace and Ranier Pabilona. The Scholarship recognizes Asian American high school, graduate, and post-graduate students pursuing a career in entrepreneurship. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents.

Applicants must also be either a high school senior or a college student currently enrolled full-time at an accredited U.S. vocational, junior college or four-year college/university and must be a full-time, associate/bachelor/master degree-seeking student by the upcoming academic calendar year. The minimum GPA is 3.0 and the applicant must be at least 25% Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity. Applicants must demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit and the applicant must also be a small business owner.

Prize Amount: $1,000 – $5,000 depending on the quality of the application.
Eligibility Requirements: Students with at least 25% Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity. Must also be a small business owner.
Application Process: Online essay submission, along with letters of recommendation and phone/video interview.
Application Deadline: 31st May 2021

12. Al Schuman Ecolab Entrepreneurial Scholarship

Ranging in value from $3,000 to $5,500 annually, the Al Schuman Ecolab Entrepreneurial Scholarship is granted through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to highly ambitious, dedicated, innovative, and creative undergraduate students who clearly demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit. Eligible candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be enrolled in a partnering accredited university in a food service management-related program, carry at least nine credits per term, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students will present a 750-word describing their future innovative entrepreneurial goals and how they’ll impact the restaurant or food-service industry.

Prize Amount: $3,000 – $5,000 annually.
Eligibility Requirements: US students in a food service management field, average GPA of 3.0 or above.
Application Process: 750-word essay describing their vision. Two recommendation letters with the application form.
Application Deadline: March 14th.

13. Media Fellows Scholarship

Washington Media Scholars Foundation (WMSF)

The Washington Media Scholars Foundation (WMSF) provides the opportunity for college students to gain firsthand knowledge of the public policy advertising world through scholarship and networking opportunities. The primary majors would include Advertising, Marketing, Communications, Business, Political Science, and Strategic Media. The financial details of the scholarship are unknown, but the WMSF also runs media case competitions with prizes of $5,000, $2,500 given out to the winners.

The Media Fellows program is the Foundation’s essay-based scholarship program, striving to provide financial assistance to undergraduate college students with interests at the intersection of advertising and public policy. Successful Media Fellows Scholarship submissions include an essay that includes the student’s personal financial need statement as well as a description of their academic achievements and career aspirations. Only current students may apply, not future students.

Prize Amount: Not specified.
Eligibility Requirements: US major student in related area (mainly Advertising, Marketing, Communications, Business, Political Science, and Strategic Media).
Application Process: Online form with attached essay.
Application Deadline: July 16 & November 16, 2021.

14. Hostgator Website Scholarship

Hostgator Website Scholarship

Hostgator are a well-known provider of web services, particularly web hosting and design. HostGator’s annual scholarship program aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs pay for their education while sharing their thoughts and visions for a world shaped by the internet. HostGator itself was founded in a college dorm room back in 2002 and the founders are eager to help out undergraduates. A $1,500 prize is given to 3 winners after answering an essay question. Students of all majors are welcome to apply.

Prize Amount: $1,500 for 3 winners.
Eligibility Requirements: Current US undergraduate student.
Application Process: Submit a 500-word essay along with your personal details.
Application Deadline: 30th November.

Top 50 Companies that Allow Their Employees to Work from Home

The pandemic has really accelerated the work at home movement to where it is expected to become the norm for some companies even when the pandemic has ended. A recent survey found that 83% of employers say the shift to remote work has been successful for them. It is expected that this trend will continue and in 2021 there are a number of companies that are specifically hiring employees willing to work remote.

FlexJobs created a list of 50 of the top companies hiring remote jobs this year. Here is their list to with links to a summary of each company and job postings on their site:

  1. Robert Half International
  2. Kelly
  3. Randstad
  4. Kforce
  5. UnitedHealth Group
  6. Supporting Strategies
  7. Ajilon
  8. Twilio
  9. CVS Health
  10. K12
  11. Aerotek
  12. Thermo Fisher Scientific
  13. Adecco
  14. Accounting Principals
  15. Aquent
  16. Anthem, Inc.
  17. Beacon Hill Staffing Group
  18. NTT Group
  19. Pearson
  20. eXp Realty
  21. HubSpot
  22. Toast
  23. Alight Solutions
  24. SPECTRAFORCE
  25. Citizens Bank
  26. GitHub
  27. Wells Fargo
  28. Parexel
  29. Vistaprint
  30. PRA Health Sciences
  31. CSI Companies
  32. Capital Group Companies
  33. Tava Health
  34. Bilingual Therapies
  35. Solomon Page
  36. Profit Factory
  37. Lincoln Financial Group
  38. Chime Financial, Inc.
  39. LanguageLine Solutions
  40. GoHealth LLC
  41. Welocalize
  42. American Express
  43. Cerebral Care
  44. Alorica
  45. Coalition Technologies
  46. Paylocity
  47. Russell Tobin
  48. Chainlink Labs
  49. Doctor On Demand
  50. SAP

Using clichés in College Essays – Should your students use them?

Last year, a counselor from Atlanta asked me what advice to give a student who wanted to use his personal statement to show colleges that he “gives 110% to everything he does.” 

She knew it was a cliché.

But is that bad?

Nope. Not really. I told her it was okay and explained why.

Phrases like I give 110% and I’m a hard worker are clichés, but it’s perfectly fine for students to start with familiar phrases when they want to demonstrate that they persevere or face challenges with grace.

Students have a lot of the same experiences: working as camp counselors, making pizzas, bagging groceries, holding leadership positions in school organizations, sports teams and youth groups.

They face similar tragedies, too: someone they love dies, their parents’ divorce, someone close to them struggles with mental illness.

Colleges want to know who the student is, beyond accomplishments and experiences. As long as they answer the prompt and demonstrate positive characteristics, any topic can work.

I don’t know where my students’ stories will end up when they start writing. I know what they want to convey, so I trust the process, and I listen. I pay attention. I follow the student’s lead. Even if they start with a cliché.

We can edit out cliché statements later. The topics themselves still shine through.

Embrace the cliché. You never know where it might lead you.

Kim Lifton is 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. 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. Kim leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out.

Join us next week for a free chat about cliches with pros

Sign up for our monthly free Pro Chat: Managing College Essay Cliches with Wow CEO Susan Knoppow on Wednesday, March 10 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. And if you can’t join us live, sign up anyway; we’ll send you the recording.

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. Next up: Wednesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. ET! You are welcome to sign up, too.

Anxiety Self-Assessment Test

Directions: Read each statement and circle the answer that best applies to you; leave blank any questions you do not want to answer. 

 NeverSometimesOftenAlmost Always
1. I worry excessively about the future or bad things happening (for example, earthquakes, a loved one getting hurt or sick, failing a test).0123
2. I often feel restless or on edge.0123
3. I have trouble sleeping because my mind is racing with thoughts.0123
4. I stress a lot about my grades.0123
5. I experience a lot of headaches or stomach aches.0123
6. I spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about me.0123
7. Social media causes me a lot of stress.0123
8. I have sudden rushes of intense fear or anxiety.0123
9. My health stresses me out.0123
10. I am afraid of being alone or doing things on my own.0123
11. I often avoid going places or doing things because I feel anxious.0123
12. I stress about my looks a lot.0123
13. I worry about a lot of things.0123
Add up the numbers you circled for 1-13, and see back of sheet for more details.Total:   
14.  I can identify when I am feeling overly stressed and/or anxious.0123
15. I use tools/techniques that help me calm down/relax.0123
16. I have a good understanding about what anxiety is.Yes                       No  
17.  I can clearly identify the specific factors that cause me stress/anxiety.Yes                       No  
18. I can identify areas of my body where I physically feel anxiety.Yes                       No  
19.  The gender I identify with is:    
20.  I would describe my race/ethnicity as:    
21:  I would describe my sexual orientation as:    

*This assessment is not meant to diagnose anxiety, but to see if anxiety could be a problem for you.

Assessment:

0 – 12: You may have a normal amount of stress/anxiety, or it may be a lot, depending on the items you checked.  If it is a lot to handle, you may want to try talking with someone.

13 -26: You are feeling quite a bit of anxiety in your life.  It may be normal, or it may be a lot to handle.  You may want to try talking with someone to help you deal with it all.

27 – 39: You are experiencing a lot of anxiety in your life.  It might be wise to talk to someone to help you deal with it all.

This test was provided in the High Schools Counselors Group on FB by Tara Roddy. She tweaked the form into a Google Doc and added a place for teens that took the test anonymously to include their cell number if they would like to be contacted by the school counselor.

Example of a Parent Welcome Letter

Do you have a letter template written to send to parents this Fall? The Counselors at Normal Community High School have created a template that they use that you may be able to craft for your needs. They shared their letter in the High School Counselors Group on FB. Here is the template:

Dear Parents,

Welcome to (School Name)! We are looking forward to working with you and your student during their high school career! As your school counselors, we have a lot of great things planned for families and students. We are here to help your student gain success in high school and beyond!

(School Name) has 6 professional school counselors and 1 College and Career Counselor.

Our Duties: School counselors take on many different roles within a school. Our duties include classroom guidance lessons (during homerooms), small group and individual counseling, as well as consultation with parents, teachers, and administrators. While counselors do not discipline students, we can assist with positive behavior strategies. Our goal is for each student to develop socially, emotionally, and academically, and we strive to create a safe and positive environment in which each child can accomplish this.

School counselors work with students for a variety of reasons, including: academic concerns, college/post-secondary planning, career preparation, personal struggles, mental health concerns, and peer issues. We can also assist our families in times of hardship, as we have access to many community resources. As counselors, we are dedicated to helping each child succeed in school and life.

Please contact us if we can ever be of assistance. Please visit our website to learn more and to connect with us on social media. (URL link here) We are active on Twitter, Facebook, and Remind text messaging.

We look forward to serving you and your student(s)!

(Counselor Names, Phone Numbers and E-mail addresses listed here)

Sincerely, NCHS Counselors

Here is a link to their actual letter if you want to see an example: file:///C:/Users/JASONB~1/AppData/Local/Temp/parent%20welcome%20letter%20on%20letterhead.pdf

Have you considered earning extra money with a side hustle?

Many people, Counselors included have started freelancing to earn a little extra money, enjoy their side passions and to even create a side business that can eventually turn into a full time gig. It is estimated that 36% of all American workers have some type of freelance gig.

Thimble published a list of 19 sites that you can use to promote your freelance skills. Here are the sites and quick summary of each:

1. Freelancer

Freelancer is an online network where anyone can post a project of any duration. Freelancers have a chance to bid proposals which will include a brief description of themselves, their profile and skill set, previous ratings, a project rate quote and timeline. A rating system keeps freelancers and clients accountable and increases the potential for future work.

Who it’s for: Freelancers in technical, professional and creative fields. 

2. Upwork

As an Upwork freelancer you’ll create a profile with your relevant skills and experience. Its algorithm will suggest jobs based on your profile to connect you with relevant opportunities, which are regularly updated. 

Upwork works best for freelancers who use the platform often — the more successful jobs you complete, the more visible you’ll be to those hiring (and the lower your service fees will be). 

Who it’s for: Any freelancer with talent for tasks that can be done on the computer.

3. Fiverr

Fiverr get’s its name by offering services that start as low as $5. As a freelancer, you’ll create a profile with the custom services you offer. Similar to Upwork, the more jobs you complete, the higher your rating potential and ability to charge more and land more gigs. 

Who it’s for: Freelancers who sell digital services.

4. Toptal

Toptal has made a name for itself in the freelance job site market by rigorously screening its candidates through an application process. It boasts the top 3% of all freelance talent by evaluating thousands of applicants every month and selecting the best candidates. Those selected have the opportunity to work with huge brand names like Airbnb, HP and Gucci. 

Who it’s for: Front and back-end developers, quality assurance, designers, finance experts, project managers and product managers.

5. SimplyHired

This job search engine functions by allowing job seekers to search by keyword, category, title or company. For example, use the search bar and type “freelance + [insert your skillset]” to find the best results on both contract and freelance gigs for your specific industry. What makes SimplyHired different from other freelance job sites is that it provides a salary calculator, in addition to local job opportunities. Freelancers can use this tool to see how their rates stack up to other freelancers in the area/industry. 

Who it’s for: Jobs vary by availability and location, anyone can apply.

6. 99Designs

There are two ways to win business as a freelancer on 99Designs: through contests or per project work. Freelancers can browse existing contests and create a mockup to submit to the client. The client then chooses their favorites. The finalists will get feedback and have the opportunity to submit a final design. If your design is selected, you’ll receive a percentage of the contest fee. 

Alternatively, you can work more traditionally with a client in a one-on-one capacity. Once you’ve negotiated a price, you’ll be paid per project. 

Who it’s for: Graphic designers.

7. Skyword

Skyword is a platform for individual content creators and full-service production teams. As a freelancer, you create a profile and an editor will select you from a database based on keywords and skills listed. If the database doesn’t have a contributor with the skills needed for the project, Skyword editors will custom-recruit. 

Each writer is vetted individually through the platform and the client has the final say on hiring. Payments are processed via PayPal instead of an invoice system.

Who it’s for: Freelancing needs are primarily for writers but the platform also hires graphic designers, videographers, photographers and other creatives.

8. DesignHill

This freelance job site gives design professionals the opportunity to score work in six different ways. Freelancers can enter design contests, take on one-to-one projects, sell designs in the ready-made logo store or print shop, be hired to create custom logos, or other graphic design services. 

For contests, Designhill offers an onboarding process that clients can submit a brief to. From there, designers submit their work and the client assesses it using star ratings. Once a winner is selected, the designer has two weeks to submit all of the required file formats to receive the prize money.

Who it’s for: Graphic, web, and other types of design professionals.

9. SolidGigs

SolidGigs is a freelance job site that requires a monthly membership fee to outsource the task of getting clients. This platform includes different courses and tools members can access. The differentiator SolidGigs claims is the ability to handpick the top 1% of leads and send them to you in a neat little package a few times a week. It boasts that it saves you time searching for clients so you have more time for billable gigs.

Who it’s for: Any type of freelancer.

10. PeoplePerHour

The PeoplePerHour online platform consists of freelancer profiles and client projects. Once a project is created, the platform uses an AI program to analyze the details and match the client with relevant freelancers. As a freelancer, you can submit proposals to projects that fit your skillset. When a client accepts, the money is transferred to escrow until the project is complete. 

Who it’s for: Experts in anything.

11. Aquent

Instead of creating proposals and finding clients yourself, Aquent recruits temporary creative talent for legitimate employers. This freelance recruitment service appeals to clients for its previously vetted candidates. As a freelancer, you’ll take proprietary tests and other assessments to connect you with relevant jobs. 

Who it’s for: Freelancers and gig workers of all types.

12. Nexxt

Nexxt is a career network that connects freelancers and contingent workers to companies and recruitment agencies. Freelancing is free through the platform, while corporations pay a fee to list their positions. Submit your resume and apply to the available jobs directly on the site. The platform is not involved after you submit your resume, and the contract is the responsibility of the freelancer and employer beyond the application. 

Who it’s for: All job seekers.

13. FreeUp

FreeUp is a mobile app and online platform that allows freelancers to offer their services at an hourly or fixed rate. The service costs a monthly fee to participate and freelancers must be approved through an application process that includes an interview to talk about past experiences and skills. Once a contract has been accepted, it’s up to the company and freelancer to decide the work specs. After the project is completed, payment is released by the platform which acts as an escrow account.

Who it’s for: Freelancers can offer any number of 85 skills listed on the platform.

14. The Creative Group

The Creative Group is part of the larger full-service recruiting agency, Robert Half. TCG recruiters offer guidance on resumes, cover letters and portfolios, along with training for interviews. Additionally, freelancers have access to online training and on-the-job support. Oftentimes, the short-term opportunities lead to longer-term opportunities. 

Who it’s for: Creative pros seeking a job.

15. WriterAccess

There are no fees to apply to jobs on WriterAccess. Initially, you’ll create a profile with your experience, writing samples and a test score. Writers are assigned a star rating between three and six, determined by their qualifications. Opportunities are either pay-per-word or pay-per-order. Freelancers are typically urged to complete at least one client revision and once accepted, payment is released.

Who it’s for: Freelance writers.

16. FlexJobs

FlexJobs is advertised as a job search service for freelancers and flexible job seekers via a subscription. All openings are screened and verified for quality prior to posting. Similar to a recruiting service, the platform offers career advice, resume reviews and skill tests. Unlike a recruiting service, the platform does not place job seekers into their positions. 

Who it’s for: Freelancers, telecommuters, part-timers and remoters of any skill set. 

17. TaskRabbit

The TaskRabbit platform is a task-based platform that pays “taskers” an hourly rate. Taskers set up a profile with skills, pay rates and level of experience. The application then connects local freelancers to everyday people who need help with odd jobs. When a hirer posts a gig, taskers can respond with a quick pitch prior to selection. 

Who it’s for: Freelancers who prefer odd jobs like moving, cleaning and handiwork.

18. Guru

Guru is a free, membership-based freelancing site that pays workers hourly rates. The more jobs you successfully complete on the platform, the higher your chance to charge a higher rate. The platform charges a service fee on the lower end of its competitors, at 8.95%. Similar to other freelance job sites, Guru has an escrow model called SafePay where clients submit payment prior to the project start date that is not released to the freelancer until project completion. 

Who it’s for: Freelancers with web-based talents like programming and development, writing, design, administration, marketing and finance.

19. Hireable

Hireable is an online job posting site that’s free for job seekers to use. Its platform functions with a keyword-driven search bar that freelancers can search for jobs with. The main differentiator is the ability for job seekers to set alerts for specific companies and positions they are interested in and get alerts when availability arises.

Who it’s for: Freelancers and full-time job seekers.

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Link for Counselors