Previous Newsletters


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We believe in human potential, opportunity, and the ability to succeed.
We are student-founded, student-led, and dedicated to empowering students to access and afford college.

This is The Opportunity: A College Access Newsletter.

It features tools, tips, and advice from our own experiences and also the best college access tools we've found.

Issue Five: October 31, 2018
Issue Theme: The College Essay Should Not be like Halloween.

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

A Really Solid Approach to Make College Essays Less Terrifying

[This is an abridged excerpt from Chapter 8 of The Guide. It’s on our website, it’s free, and it’s how you slay those college applications.]

 

Hey you! Yeah, you! You can write an amazing college essay (or essays) and it only takes being yourself and a bit of time and thought. In reality, this is one of the most dreaded parts of the college application process, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the writing process can be an intellectually and personally meaningful experience. It is an opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come and on where you would like to go next.

The essay is the first opportunity for the admissions committee to hear from, and not hear about, you. That’s exciting.


Colleges don’t admit a list of accomplishments; they admit human beings. This is your chance to put the ‘human’ into the rest of your application and show admissions officers a bit more about yourself.

 

The college essay is used by admissions departments primarily for three reasons:

 

1. To evaluate students’ writing ability, with a specific focus on developing a logical and coherent essay structure with persuasive and well-written sentences.

2. To learn more about the student through the topic and content of the essay.

3. To see what the student would contribute to the college’s student body.

 

An excellent reference guide on the college essay is provided by Yale. We highly recommend checking it out for further advice.

The Topic

Selecting the essay topic is one of the hardest parts of writing a college essay. Try a few of these things:

1. Start by thinking about topics that you want to write about. These are most likely to represent some important aspect of yourself.

2. Don’t worry too much about what others are writing. There is no one way to write about, let alone to have, a meaningful experience, role, person or reflection.

3. Don’t be afraid to abandon a topic and find something that works even better.

4. Successful essays won’t necessarily add another bullet point demonstrating academic or extracurricular success. Some of the most compelling essays are written as stories, and might describe a relationship, a meaningful time of your life, or an interest that has had an impact on you.

 

The Tone

In addition to the topic, the tone is important to convey your ‘voice.’ Most good college essays do not read like dry, academic papers you might write for an 11th grade English literature class. Instead, the college essay is a chance for students to demonstrate to colleges that they can write, while presenting certain aspects of themselves through the essay. Successful college essays can be witty, clever, touching, or even solemn. In each case, be yourself and present your voice.
Be you!

 

The Process

The process of writing college essays can be unlike that of writing academic essays. See The Guide for more detailed tips from our student writers. In brief, here are some tips our student writers used to go about writing their essays.

1. Brainstorm. Starting the essay can be the hardest part. Brainstorming about your personality traits and the characteristics you’d like the essay to illuminate is a good place to begin.
2. Get words on paper. After you have an idea of what to write about, create an outline to organize your essay and let the words flow. Do this as soon as possible.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Put yourself in the college’s position. Ultimately, colleges want to accept students who are going to graduate and be successful in the world after graduation. It is vital for you to present yourself as someone that can think critically, who loves to learn, and has a passion for something.
5. Show don’t tell.
6. Balance the use of imagery.
7. Use the essay to say what your application can’t.
8. Stay humble.

 

The Review

“There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.” This applies tenfold to the college essay, and is why it is vitally important to start writing early. Once you think you’ve written everything, proofread it and proofread it again. Once you think your essay is ready to submit, work with a teacher, parent, or mentor to go through your essays to seek out the grammatical mistakes that you might have missed. Don’t have a committee write your essay, but do get a couple of trusted voices in the process to ensure that the essays represent you.    

Action Step: In Section Four of
The Guide, we’ve got actual essays that students used in their college applications. “Essays that Worked” begins on page 44. Read through the samples and you’ll see how you can develop the right approach in your own essays.

College Essay Infographic

New Fair Opp Resource! Here’s a special treat (no trick) just for all you newsletter readers: a downloadable poster with our college essay tips. You can download this poster from our website. It looks great on your wall in 8 1/2" x 11" or 11" x 17" sizes.

Fair Opp Faves: Tools We Like

Each issue of this newsletter we’ll highlight one cool tool or resource. Maybe it’s for finding the right college, covering college costs, or staying on top of the application process. We only share tools that we’ve checked out and that are free for students.
 

This newsletter, our Fair Opp Fave is one of our own! We’ve launched a new support button on our website. Got a burning college application question? Lace up, click on that button, and plug it into the pop-up box. You’ll get a response in a jiffy.

Support button on website

 

And now in the financial aid corner….

Financial aid brings the cost of college down but it’s not just one thing. It can be a grant, an offer for work-study funds, a loan, a scholarship. It gets more complicated, because each of these categories include different kinds.

This issue, let’s focus on scholarships.

You want scholarships, right? Lots of them! Because a scholarship is a kind of money gift—that much less that you have to pay. Some scholarships are awarded by your high school or—more often—the college where you commit to attend. These should be the first places you look for scholarships.

We’re going to talk about the scholarships that you can find on scholarship websites. These may be offered by businesses, or corporations, or foundations, or clubs. You can use them wherever you attend college unless their rules say otherwise. Is there a
scholarship for tall people? No tall tale here—yes! Why would someone award an Asparagus Club scholarship? Maybe to be first on the alphabetical list?
 

The point is that there are way more scholarships than you have time to apply for. Make a plan and a list BEFORE you start plugging away at the application form and you’ll save yourself A LOT of time and repeat effort. Many scholarships ask for the same things.

Here are common items you’ll need.

  • Save every essay you write in your own file where you can find it quickly. You can reuse all or parts for different applications. That college essay we talked about above? Save it for scholarship applications!
  • A copy of your high school transcript
  • Letters of recommendation (from teachers or non-relative adults)
  • A copy of your ACT or SAT scores.
 

Scholarships take time to apply for. You won’t win all of them. Make a plan and you’ll knock some applications out. That’ll feel like a win! Schedule time in your week, every week, to find a few and apply for them. Because they take time and some effort, the competition for some scholarships isn’t as big as you’d think.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” --Wayne Gretzky

 

Action Step: Take a look at Chapters 12 and 13 in The Guide, where we lay out more details on financial aid and on finding scholarships. Are you a Tweeter ? Search #scholarship for new announcements and upcoming deadlines.  In our next newsletter, we’ll dig deep with one of our favorite scholarship search tools, Going Merry.

What’s Your Question?

Send us your questions and we’ll respond to them here!
 

“What if I want to go to an art school?”-Lucia P.


Hi Lucia! Art must be your favorite class, right? You’re not thinking art school because it sounds fluffy and easy, right?

Art school is hard work. But it can be an amazing experience.

This isn’t the choice you make if you don’t like the idea of spending long hours outside of class time on art projects. Being an art school student is really like a way of life and not just some casual hobby.  What we group together as “Art school” are many different kinds of institutions and with many different kinds of environments, students, and expectations.

Art school is a more specialized path after high school so it’s important to reach out to schools that you’re interested in to find out what they offer and what you need to apply. In most cases, you will need a portfolio and this takes time to build. Do some research on costs and aid, because art supplies and materials can become expensive. Find out how many students graduate, and what kinds of professions graduates enter. You might find graphic designers, digital animators, costume or even fashion design as well as painters and art gallery directors. An art school education can offer preparation for these kinds of careers and more. 

Remember that you can also study art at two year and four year colleges. Again, do your website research and then talk to these different programs to be sure you understand what they offer. 

College Knowledge Quiz!
Calendar dates for 2018

Upcoming Dates to Know


Oct. : The FAFSA 2019-20 application is now open. Here’s a great checklist.

Nov. 1-15: Early Action and/or Early Decision deadlines; confirm with colleges.

Nov. 2: Regular registration deadline for ACT test on 12/8/18.

Nov. 3: SAT test date

Nov. 12-16: Virginia College Application Week

Nov. 19: Late registration deadline for ACT test on 12/8/18.

Dec. 8: ACT test date

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion workshops throughout Illinois.

Ongoing: College fairs offered in cities nationwide; dates and locations here.

 

Have a date you want us to include? Let us know!

In Your Region

 

Here’s a good way that you can reduce your college costs, based on your region:

 

Most states participate in regional discount programs. And that means? If you live in the south, a neighboring state may offer you the “in state” tuition at their public colleges instead of charging you the out-of-state tuition.

There’s also a midwestern, a western, and a New England region. Sometimes it’s called a “reciprocity program” or a “tuition exchange program.” It can mean that you pay A LOT less for tuition. Out-of-state tuition is often two or three times the cost of the in-state tuition, so the discount from one of these programs adds up to a lot of savings!

The best way to learn about what options you have in your region is to look at this detailed list on the NASFAA website. (NASFAA is the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and they have good, trustworthy information.)
 

If you’ve got regional tips or tools, share the wealth! Send your items to newsletter@fairopportunityproject.org and we’ll include them here.

Three high school students guide themselves--and their classmates--through the college admissions process. It's a powerful film worth watching!
Your donation to Fair Opportunity Project will allow us to reach more students with free resources about college admissions and financial aid.
Donate

That’s it for this issue! Thanks for reading. More tips and tools in our November issue. You’d make us even happier by sharing this newsletter. It’s all about giving and getting a Fair Opportunity.

 

Did someone forward this email to you? Want to offer this newsletter to your students & families? Be sure to subscribe!

Copyright © 2018 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
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You are receiving this newsletter because of your interest in Fair Opportunity Project.
We’re pumped that you’ve subscribed and so sad if you decide to unsubscribe from this list.
 






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We believe in human potential, opportunity, and the ability to succeed.
We are student-founded, student-led, and dedicated to empowering students to access and afford college.

This is The Opportunity: A College Access Newsletter.

It features tools, tips, and advice from our own experiences and also the best college access tools we've found.

Issue Four: October 17, 2018
Issue Theme: Finding the Right College (Part Two). How to make a college list and then understanding the true cost of college.

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Making that College List


Remember Goldilocks? I know, it’s probably been a few years since you’ve gotten away with those picture books in school. She’s the one who kept looking for the chairs, the porridge, the bed that was “just right.” You see, Goldilocks was faced with options. These options were fine options for the three bears in the cute house she wandered into, but Goldilocks had to think about the option that was right for her.
 

 

Yes, you’re looking at more than three college options out there. In the last newsletter we walked you through thinking about what matters to you—that’s what should be on your college list. The fancy college word for this is “fit.” You’re going to spend a lot of hours at this campus so it’s got to feel “just right.”

So, picture this profile of a college, and try to be specific about what is important. Maybe it’s about 5,000 students in a warm part of the country with amazing outdoor activities and environmental science study options.

Or something completely different.

Take that list of college characteristics and now match that up with what kind of student that college is looking for. What kind of SAT/ACT scores or Grade Point Average does an accepted student typically have at that college? What is the college’s acceptance rate?

Here’s a good way to find that information: on the college home page or even from Google, search “class profile,” or “admitted student profile.” Don’t let this list of numbers scare you off! These profiles don’t mean that you need to fit within every single range of numbers. Most colleges look at many different qualities or factors when they make their admissions decisions.

We’ve found that
College Board’s College Search tool is pretty helpful for plugging in your priorities and getting the colleges that meet those priorities.

The college profile will help you figure out what is a “safety, match, or reach” school. Your college list should include at least a few of each, and don’t include a college on that list that you wouldn’t be satisfied to attend.

Chapters 4 and 5 in The Guide offer some great tips on building and then managing that college list. You’re going to have a lot of deadlines! Now’s the time to get that adulting going. Spreadsheets and checklists are your friend.

 

Action step: We know you know how to use Google sheets. Or Excel. List your colleges in the left-hand column and then make columns for every deadline from their application webpage. Here’s our not-so-pretty but really practical example from our Guide.

Fair Opp Faves: Tools We Like

Each issue of this newsletter we’ll highlight one cool tool or resource. Maybe it’s for finding the right college, covering college costs, or staying on top of the application process. We only share tools that we’ve checked out and that are free for students.


We checked out Edmit. It’s a website where you can get good information about what colleges are likely to cost based on your particular academic background and financial situation. It’s quick and it’s free.

And now in the financial aid corner….

 

When Comparing Colleges, Understand Their True Cost

 From our guest contributor,  Sabrina Manville.

Think back to the last big purchase you made. Maybe it was a PS4 (or you’ve started putting money away for the soon-to-launch PS5). Or perhaps it was a new pair of sneakers, a goose down jacket, or a set of custom-color headphones. Whatever you purchased, we’re guessing you didn’t just run out and buy it: If you’re like us, you did some research into who had the best price for the best quality item you wanted to get. You looked both online and in store, and compared offers to choose which place would best serve you and your budget.
 

When it comes to choosing a college, the process isn’t so different from other big purchases.

Think about it: You’ll want to compare offers (e.g., academics and advising, campus culture and extracurriculars, internship opportunities) and price (e.g., cost to attend) across multiple colleges to determine which school will best serve you. You’ll want to take a longer view (a four- or five-year view, to be exact) and anticipate how the college will continue to serve your needs—and how costs will go up—over that time. But by approaching the college decision like an informed consumer, you’ll be in good shape to select a school that will fit you, both academically and financially.

 

Unlike other big purchases, however, determining the true cost of college has a lot of factors to consider—and those factors aren’t always easy to understand.

That’s where we come in!
Let’s go over three key areas that can help you figure out what a college really costs.

 

1. Understand Affordability

 

What makes a college affordable? The answer will be different for every family, based on your income, savings, and financial aid awards, but essentially an affordable college is one that will enable you to comfortably make payments both short- and long-term: It’ll be covered by what you’ve budgeted and received in financial aid now and will have manageable monthly student loan payments post-graduation.

 

When crunching the numbers, look at the college’s sticker price (its published cost to attend) compared to a college’s net price (the college’s sticker price minus your financial aid award). Consider the net price over all four years of college, not just during your freshman year, and anticipate that the cost will go up slightly every year you’re enrolled.

 

The goal is to find a school that your savings will cover and/or will give you ample “free money” (e.g., scholarships and grants) and minimize the total amount of student loans you have to take out.

 

Of course, many of us have student loan debt—but how can you determine what’s reasonable and what might be too much? To keep student loans in check, it’s good to keep the following three rules in mind:

 
  • Don’t borrow more than your anticipated salary your first year out of college. If you think your first job will pay $55,000, don’t take out more than $55,000 total in student loans.

  • Stay on top of your monthly student loan payments after graduation by capping your payment at 8% of your gross monthly income. So if your monthly income is $4,500, your student loan payment should be no more than $360.

  • Aim to pay off your loans in a reasonable time frame: the portion of your discretionary income that goes toward student loans should be limited to 20%.

 

Use these guidelines when comparing college costs to narrow down the schools that will be affordable for you.

 

2. Understand Return on Investment (ROI)

 

Let’s say you’ve been offered a full ride to small regional college—a mid-ranked school in a rural area. You’ve also been accepted to a well-ranked city college, near several employers that offer internships, but you’ll have to take out some student loan debt in order to attend. Both colleges have excellent academic programs in your anticipated major, but access to networking and career opportunities are distinctly different.

 

In this scenario, you don’t want to just consider a college’s affordability, but also return on investment (ROI). Will a more expensive college that has better career prospects be a better choice? Only you can make this call, but take a critical look at each school’s academic advisors and career services, relationships with local and national employers, internship opportunities, and professional alumni networks when comparing colleges. You may find, in this case, that a less affordable college may result in higher earnings down the line—offsetting that initial expense.

 

3. Understand Value

 

Did you know there are more than 5,000 colleges across the United States? Chances are you’ve only heard of a couple hundred, if that. With so many choices, odds are you’ll be able to find multiple colleges that will provide a quality education and be a good fit for you—even if you’ve never heard of them prior to your research. Many schools can provide a good value, so the consumer research is less about getting into that name-brand school, but instead finding those schools that match your academic and career goals and your financial profile.

 

Look for schools that want students like you and are willing to pay scholarships and grants to get you on campus. As you delve in, keep your assumptions at bay: You may find that a private college will be more affordable than a public institution (especially if you’re out of state). You may discover a new-to-you college that offers generous scholarships to students just like you. And you may learn that some colleges are open to financial aid appeals—which could turn a previously unaffordable college into an affordable one.

 

So as you start your college research and application process, remember affordability, ROI, and value. By placing an importance on college cost in the decision-making process—and by understanding how you can determine a college’s true cost—you’ll be well prepared to select a college that’s both a good financial and academic fit.

 

Action Step: Now that you have these practical tips, make your list of affordable and high value colleges. Edmit is an easy-to-use, free tool that helps you get a complete understanding of the true cost and value of different colleges.  → Let’s Go!

 

What’s Your Question?

Send us your questions and we’ll respond to them here!
 

“Just what is a liberal arts college?”-Jacob R.

Here’s a question back at 'ya, Jacob: is chemistry part of the liberal arts? Maybe you’ve heard about STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Are these subjects part of the liberal arts? And all you wanted was a straight answer. “Liberal arts” is a name that comes from Latin (yes, it’s that old) and includes subjects like literature or philosophy or history. It also includes sciences—like chemistry—and math, because these are subjects that have been valued going back centuries for understanding the world and civic life.


Liberal arts colleges are usually for undergraduates only and they are on the smaller side: around 2,000 students or less. They don’t usually offer subjects like business or engineering. They are more likely to be private and not public colleges. As a student at a liberal arts college, you will most likely be expected to take classes in all those different subject areas and not just in the subject that you want to major in. This goes back to that idea that a student needs a broad education before specializing in one subject. The liberal arts college is a kind of college you’re most likely to find in the United States and are mostly in the northeast. You’re seeing a lot of “mostly” and “usually” because liberal arts colleges have changed in different ways over the years and may offer subjects or learning opportunities that look very different.

 

Some people think that liberal arts colleges don’t offer a practical education or something that will get you a job. Google your favorite actor or even the CEO of a company you really admire and you might be surprised at what they studied in college. The most important thing you can do to set yourself up for a job is to go to a college where you can really plug in, do your best, and GRADUATE!

College Knowledge Quiz!

In Your Region 


 

Did you know that there are 238 College Promise programs across the nation? These are programs that offer tuition aid to state residents that may cover up to two or four years of college. This searchable database provides the most current and complete list of programs in each state along with each program's details and website.   

Calendar dates for 2018

Upcoming Dates to Know

Oct. 1: The FAFSA 2019-20 application opens. Here’s a great checklist.

Oct. 15-19: North Carolina college application fees waived; complete list here.

Oct. 24: Online late registration deadline for SAT test on 11/03/18.

Oct. 27: ACT test date

Nov. 1-15: Early Action and/or Early Decision deadlines; confirm with colleges.

Nov. 2: Regular registration deadline for ACT test on 12/8/18.

Nov. 3: SAT test date

Nov. 12-16: Virginia College Application Week

Nov. 19: Late registration deadline for ACT test on 12/8/18.

Dec. 8: ACT test date

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion workshops throughout Illinois.

Ongoing: College fairs offered in cities nationwide; dates and locations here.

 

Have a date you want us to include? Let us know!

Fair Opportunity Project official music video
Your donation to Fair Opportunity Project will allow us to reach more students with free resources about college admissions and financial aid.
Donate

That’s it for this issue! Thanks for reading. More tips and tools in our next October issue. You’d make us even happier by sharing this newsletter. It’s all about giving and getting a Fair Opportunity.

 

Did someone forward this email to you? Want to offer this newsletter to your students & families? Be sure to subscribe!

Copyright © 2018 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
Sidney Street, Madison, WI 53703

You are receiving this newsletter because of your interest in Fair Opportunity Project.
We’re pumped that you’ve subscribed and so sad if you decide to unsubscribe from this list.
 
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View this email in your browser
We believe in human potential, opportunity, and the ability to succeed.
We are student-founded, student-led, and dedicated to empowering students to access and afford college.

This is The Opportunity: A College Access Newsletter.

It features tools, tips, and advice from our own experiences and also the best college access tools we've found.

Issue Three: October 2, 2018
Issue Theme: Finding the Right College (Part One). It's all about you.  

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT
Fair Opportunity Project's Co-Founder Luke Heine talks about Finding the Right College.

Is it a Pizza Kind of Day?

 

Or salad. Or tacos. Sometimes that all-you-can-eat-buffet sounds amazing but maybe the single dish of ice cream does the trick.

 

We’re really sorry if you’re reading this right before lunch hour. Besides getting your stomach’s attention, what we’d like to like to point out is that colleges are like a kind of smorgasbord. A smorgasbord of some 5,300 different dishes and it’s not very likely that you’ll need to sample all of them. (Even if we did happen to make you really hungry just now.) You’ve got one plate, one appetite, so you’re going to think about what you want on that plate. What’s going to really hit the spot and not break the budget?

 

The point is, there are A LOT of colleges and universities in the U.S. — yes, really like 5,300 of them — and they’re not all the same. If you’re a junior or a senior in high school, you’re probably hearing from a lot of them right now.

Quick! How many different KINDS can you name?

 

"Two-year-four-year-technical-community-agricultural-military-engineering-art-music-liberal-arts-engineering-nursing-public-private-beauty-aeronautical-for-profit-nonprofit-residential-commuter…"

 

How many did you name? What did we leave out?


We could write through next Monday’s dinner hour about all the majors, the programs, the certificates, the degrees. [Promise, we won’t do that, but here’s the official list if you want to go down that rabbit hole.]

OK, we couldn’t resist a little trivia, but let’s move on.

 

Yep, there is absolutely this monster variety of colleges out there. Luckily, the best way to find the right college doesn’t start with that list, it starts with YOU. Shiny brochures aside, not every college is going to be equally amazing for you. So the first step in creating a college list is making a list of your interests and your priorities for life after high school.

 

Are you determined to live at home during college or are you itching to experience an entirely new area of the country? Those packed college football games can be loads of fun, but that might mean 100+ students in your Intro Bio class. What sports, clubs, work opportunities matter to you outside the classroom?

 

The point is to start the college search with your priority list in mind. Colleges come in different sizes, locations, and with different vibes and strengths. And you should know that some colleges do a much better job than others of connecting with their students and getting them to graduation. Don’t let some college ranking tell YOU what your dream college is.


College costs and your budget absolutely have to be part of this process. We’ll unpack what you need to know in an upcoming newsletter.



Action step: Take a look at chapter two in The Guide, where we outline some really good ways to think about what you want to find in a college. Watch our short video above and you’ll nail it.

Fair Opp Faves: Tools We Like

Each issue of this newsletter we’ll highlight one cool tool or resource. Maybe it’s for finding the right college, covering college costs, or staying on top of the application process. We only share tools that we’ve checked out and that are free for students.

 

For this issue, we’re going low-tech on our Fair Opp Fave. Take out the ol' pen and paper and write your personal responses to the college checklist that we outlined on pages 8-9 in the latest edition of The Guide. [Hint: this checklist asks what you care about. Think and write about the Academics; the Location; the College Size; Public/Private; Housing; Social Life; Food; Athletics; Extracurriculars; Finances.]

Hang onto this sheet because you’re going to need it to build that college list! [Stay tuned for our next issue, when we walk you through how to build that list.]

And now in the financial aid corner….


 

 

Who knows what the FAFSA is? [Bonus points if you know what all the letters stand for.]

 

Who loves the FAFSA? [crickets]

 

The FAFSA is an application for aid. It’s THE single most important thing you can do if you want to receive financial aid for college. And yet, two million students who could have—and should have—tackled the FAFSA just didn’t do it last year. $24 BILLION unclaimed college dollars. That’s crazy when you think about it.

 

We’re not asking you to love the FAFSA. We ARE asking you not to leave college money on the table.

 

The FAFSA had a special occasion this week, because it opened up on October 1st for students who are looking for financial aid for next school year: 2019-20. [That’s your cue.] Help FAFSA celebrate this special occasion and knock this one off your college to-do list right now. Seriously, all that college money goes to students who are first in line for it. Why would you miss out?

 

Here are some things that you CAN love about the FAFSA:

  • It’s the first step for getting a Pell Grant (doesn’t need to be repaid), and this can be a good chunk of money: the annual maximum award for a Pell Grant in the 2018-19 school year= $6,095
  • It’s free to complete [DON’T pay to submit the application.]
  • There’s a nifty mobile app now that you can use (see our Sept. 4 newsletter)
  • Dodge the most common mistakes with this list.
  • In many states, you can find free workshops with knowledgeable volunteers who can help you fill out the form. Ask your counselor or try searching “College Goal [your state]”
 

Action step: Set up your FSA ID on the FAFSA website and then keep it in a safe (and memorable) place—you will need this ID every year that you fill out the FAFSA. You can watch this video with really rousing music on how to create the FSA ID, or you can quietly read this tip sheet.

What’s Your Question?

Send us your questions and we’ll respond to them here!
 

“I’m just feeling overwhelmed by how many colleges there are. Where do I start?”-Zoe Y.

 

Yes, go ahead and start with an UGH. Seriously. This college application process seems WAY too complicated and stressful. Your news feed is probably highlighting all kinds of ominous tales of what can go wrong.

The good news?

The more you plan, the better this is going to go. You’re reading this newsletter, you’ve got all kinds of information and resources on our website: solid approach for a solid plan. Take a deep breath and read our article above on how to tackle this. You don’t roll out of bed and just run a marathon, right?  That would be crazy overwhelming. Not a healthy approach. We’ve got examples in our Guide of a much saner approach. A written, detailed, reasonable timeline with specific steps. You can do this!

In Your Region 

  

Here’s a very handy U.S. map of links to college aid programs in each state.

Yes, most of this aid goes to students who are attending a college or university in the state where they live, but you’ll find exceptions. These state-by-state websites are a great resource for finding state-based scholarships and grants for specific fields (like education, medicine, or dentistry).
You may find that you can qualify as a resident after just 12 months of living and working in that state but be sure to understand the requirements beforehand. Don’t forget about the tuition exchanges that we shared in our last newsletter!



If you’ve got regional tips or tools, share the wealth! Send your items to newsletter@fairopportunityproject.org and we’ll include them here.
Calendar dates for 2018

Upcoming Dates to Know

 

Oct. 1: The FAFSA application for the 2019-2020 academic year opens

Oct. 1: Begin requesting Letters of Recommendation, esp for Early Action or Early Decision applications.

Oct. 6: SAT test date

Oct. 10: PSAT/NMSQT test date in most locations

Oct. 13: Alternate PSAT/NMSQT test date.

Oct. 27: ACT test date

Nov. 1-15: Early Action and/or Early Decision deadlines; confirm with colleges.

Ongoing: College fairs offered in cities nationwide; dates and locations here.

 

Have a date you want us to include? Let us know!

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That’s it for this issue! Thanks for reading. More tips and tools in our next October issue. You’d make us even happier by sharing this newsletter. It’s all about giving and getting a Fair Opportunity.

 

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Fair Opportunity Project is a nonprofit that empowers student to access and afford college

We believe in human potential, opportunity, and the ability to succeed.

We are student-founded, student-led, and dedicated to changing the face of college application for every student in America.

ISSUE TWO: September 19, 2018

ISSUE THEME: MAKING THE MOST OF HIGH SCHOOL

This is The Opportunity: A College Access Newsletter. It features tools, tips, and advice from our own experiences and also the best college access tools we've found. We've got one goal in mind: empowering students to access and afford college.

 

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Making the Most of High School

Are you Round or Pointy?

 

We’re not trying to be rude. We also don’t believe students fit only one of these dimensions.

 

This is about the way you fill your days and how you might share that with a college. There’s that round side of you —as in well-rounded—doing all kinds of different things outside of classes. Basketball? Marching band? 4-H? Volunteering at your church? Bagging groceries on the weekend? Don’t hold back from sharing these things if they’re a key part of your hours outside of school. Colleges know that you have a lot of responsibilities and interests that don’t show up on your transcript. Let them know who you are and what’s important.

 

Then there’s that pointy approach. Maybe that kindergarten visit to the Humane Society is where it all started, and now you volunteer, coordinate a Dog Jog, break the Internet with your advocacy stories and shots. You’ve got a passion and it fires you up everyday.

 

“We just want students who live and die for homework” said no college admissions officer ever. Focus. Passion. Enthusiasm. Colleges want and need both the round and the pointy students—and students all along that amazing spectrum. We think you’ll like this framework for thinking about who you are and how you share that story.

 
 

About those hours in school….

 

No amount of roundness or pointiness will make up for a squishy class schedule or mediocre grades. Coasting through high school isn’t how you can coast into college. Challenge yourself (but don’t overwhelm yourself) and remember that what classes you need to graduate from high school may not be enough for getting into college.

 

Action step: Read The Guide’s detailed tips on how your extracurricular activities and academic performance play a role in the college admissions process. You need just a few minutes for our short student-to-student video modules that walk you through Making the Most of High School.

Screenshot of myStudentAid FAFSA app

Fair Opp Faves: Tools We Like

Each issue of this newsletter we’ll highlight one cool tool or resource. Maybe it’s for finding the right college, covering college costs, or staying on top of the application process. We share only tools that we’ve checked out.

 

Lights, Camera, Action!

Don’t you wish you could get beyond the glossy college campus photos? What is the campus vibe really like when you’re living the student life there? Campus visits are really important for knowing whether you fit in.

 

We think that CampusReel offers one affordable alternative. Students film short pieces on their dorm rooms, campus food, study spaces and so forth. You can see students other than the walking-backwards tour guide. Not every college is featured [yet].

And now in the financial aid corner….

 

Ten Things to Know about the PSAT/NMSQT

 
  • You don’t really need to know what all of those letters stand for.
  • It’s a test you take in your junior year/11th grade, but 10th graders may be able to take it as a practice round. Check with your school.
  • Taking this standardized test is the only way to be eligible for 8,600 college scholarships offered through the National Merit Scholarship Program and other special scholarships. (Special exceptions for illness or emergencies.)
  • It’s offered one time a year, in October: this year, it’s October 10 for most schools but the alternate date is October 13. Confirm the date with your school.
  • It’s only offered through your high school and you will need to register before the test date. Check with your counselor (soon!) on how to register.
  • Registering includes questions about your academic and college interests. You will be asked whether you want this information to be shared with the “Student Search Service.” This is how colleges and scholarships may find you—and contact you.
  • It’s a standardized test, and that means that not every student’s strengths are going to come shining through. Do not despair if this is you—there are many other ways to do that.
  • Taking the test doesn’t affect your school grades and is good practice for the SAT, a standardized test that many colleges require for admission.
  • The competition is stiff for becoming a finalist but it’s a pretty amazing thing to be able to call yourself a National Merit Scholar.
  • If you want to dig into the nitty gritty details, you can find them on the National Merit website at www.nationalmerit.org.
 

Action step: You can only take the official PSAT once as a qualifying test for the competition, but you can get lots of practice and tips at no charge on the Khan Academy website. Answer a few questions and see how you do!

What’s Your Question?

 
 

Send us your questions and we’ll respond to them here!

 

“How do I apply for a scholarship?”-Clio M.


Hi Clio! This may sound like bad voting advice, but here’s what you need to do for scholarships: apply EARLY and OFTEN. You may not get every scholarship you apply for, but you definitely won’t get a scholarship that you DON’T apply for.
 
Here’s what we recommend. First, make a resume: focus on the details, not the fancy layout.
 
Next, your high school and the colleges you’re applying to will offer some of your best options for scholarships. Get the lists and the deadlines BEFORE your senior year, if possible. Deadlines for the most generous college scholarships may be earlier than college application deadlines!
 
Stay organized. Set a realistic and steady goal—how many can you apply for every week? If you write an essay, save it and reuse it where you can.
 
Be sure to check out the complete steps that we recommend in The Guide and catch some advice in this short video module on our website.
Upcoming Dates to Know
 

Sept. 28: Registration Deadline for the Oct. 27 ACT test

Oct. 1: The FAFSA application opens for the 2019-2020 academic year

Oct. 6: SAT test date

Oct. 10: PSAT/NMSQT test date in most locations

Oct. 13: Alternate PSAT/NMSQT test date.

Oct. 27: ACT test date

Ongoing: College fairs offered in cities nationwide; dates and locations on the NACAC website here.

 

Have a date you want us to include? Let us know!

 
Official music video for Fair Opportunity Project
FOP Music Video

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In Your Region

 

Colleges want your state’s students. The list of discounts and grants that are offered in one state to attract students in another state continues to grow. This means that public universities may offer out-of-state students the same, lower tuition as set for in-state residents. Private colleges don’t have in-state or out-of-state tuition pricing but some of them have started to match the tuition cost at their state’s public colleges.

 

Here is a detailed listing from NASFAA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) of some of the main tuition exchange and reciprocity discount programs offered by region. If you have a specific college in mind, contact their financial aid office for the most specific information.

 
 
If you’ve got regional tips or tools, share the wealth! Send your items to newsletter@fairopportunityproject.org and we’ll include them here.
That’s it for this issue! Thanks for reading. More tips and tools in our October issue. You’d make us even happier by sharing this newsletter. It’s all about giving and getting a Fair Opportunity.

Your donation helps us bring resources and information to more students.

 
Donate
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Fair Opportunity Project is a nonprofit that empowers student to access and afford college

We believe in human potential, opportunity, and the ability to succeed.

We are student-founded, student-led, and dedicated to changing the face of college application for every student in America.

ISSUE ONE: September 4, 2018

ISSUE THEME: THINKING ABOUT COLLEGE & HOW TO PAY FOR IT

Labor Day 2018 is past. How did summer fly by so fast? We can’t help you with that one. But we can help you with what lies ahead in thinking about, planning, and applying to college. It’s a lot to think about.

 

It's like having a huge term paper due and no clear instructions. Your friend tells you to do it one way. You've seen chats with other advice. Meanwhile the days are ticking by.

 

When we were high school students, there was just so much we didn't know about college. Not a good feeling. So this is our response: Fair Opportunity Project⟶or FOP, or Fair Opp.

 

Pulling in as much as we find out there that's solid and straightforward. A to Z.

 

We’re a nonprofit organization, started by students, so that everyone gets the detailed and comprehensive information about college that offers a fair opportunity.

 

Our resources are free and we’ve sent them to every public high school in America. This newsletter will feature our tools, tips and advice and also from the best resources and organizations with one goal in mind: changing the face of college application.

 

Please share this newsletter with your friends, your colleagues, and parents—you can subscribe here. We will never sell your name or try to sell you anything.

 

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Getting Started on your college options

This issue, the focus from our website is Thinking About College:

 

"If you're thinking about whether college is for you, this is the place to start. We go through the benefits of college, why it matters for your future, and the wide range of students who have chosen to attend. If you're thinking about whether college is for you, this is the place to start."


Action step: Check out the Fair Opp website and see what’s there. You can download The Guide, watch any of the learning modules, enjoy the student music video. There’s a lot to explore.  
Screenshot of myStudentAid FAFSA app

Fair Opp Faves: Tools We Like

Each issue of this newsletter we’ll highlight one cool tool or resource. Maybe it’s for finding the right college, covering college costs, or staying on top of the application process. We only share tools that we’ve checked out.

 

College aid? It starts with FAFSA—Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Yes, it is free & you can find it at https://FAFSA.ed.gov. Living life on your mobile? Now FAFSA works there too. New this fall is the FAFSA mobile app—accessible via a quick download of the myStudentAid app.

 

Action step: Download the myStudentAid app for your mobile phone.  Set up your profile. Don’t have all the answers? Hit save and come back to it later when you have the financial details it asks for. You don’t need to suffer through it alone⟶we’ll be sharing free resources that can help with that.

When “Aid” Isn’t So Helpful

 

College costs are on everyone’s minds and all over the media. That doesn’t mean that everything you hear is the whole story.

 

So with college in the future, how will you pay for it? Here’s some adulting advice. Think and plan now, before that tuition bill comes due.

 

Not all ways to pay for college are the same. Colleges where you’re accepted will get you all excited and THEN give you their “financial aid award” letters. It’s called a “package” and it will most likely include several different kinds of pots of money—funds. Understand what they're offering. You’ll need to cover the cost of tuition, room, board, books and transportation.

 

Make sure you know the difference between the different kinds of funds. First, go for the ones you don’t need to repay. You might find more aid than you think! Here’s a list what you're likely to see in that aid package.

 

Grants: Good to get! This is money for college costs that you don’t need to repay.

Scholarships: Good to get! This is also money for college costs that you don’t need to repay. Look for our scholarship tips in our Guide.

Work Study: Good to get, but remember that you need to work the hours in order to receive the money, so you may not actually receive the full amount that has been awarded to you.

Subsidized loans: This is money that you will need to pay back, so only borrow what you really need. A subsidized loan means that you don’t have to repay any of it while you’re at least a half-time college student. That takes some pressure off you.

Unsubsidized loans: This is money that you will need to start paying back as soon as you take out the loan. This should be your last choice for paying for college.

 

Action step: Do you already have a college in mind? Find their financial aid office webpage and search there for “grants” and “scholarships.” Read up and make a list of the ones that might work for you.

 

2018 College Rankings

Top Ten Reasons We Love Lists

 

OK, we don’t really have ten. But you’re still reading and that’s because lists hook all of us on the Internet. Colleges love to be on [most] lists. Best Campus Food. Prettiest Campus. Biggest Sport School….U.S. News and World Report. But are these lists more FOMO than what you’re really about? The most important college list is the one you create for yourself. What really matters to YOU in a college? We’ve made a short video about what to consider when you create your own, personal list.

 

We know, lists are still really tempting. One list we like comes from Washington Monthly. Want to know what colleges give the Best Bang for the Buck? You’ll find that list here, along with other ways to think about what colleges do the most for you, the student, instead of what college is fanciest or most prestigious.

ASK FOP

Send us your questions and we’ll respond to them here!

 

How do I know which college is going to be what I need for my career?” —Lizzie J.

 

Good question! A good way to approach this is by first thinking about what things you like to do or learn about, and why. There isn’t just one path to a career, but there is just one, unique you. [Insert warm fuzzies here.]

 

Here are some quick tips that can help guide you.

 

One. If you already have a strong interest in a particular career or profession, find out what kinds of specific preparation it requires. For example, if you want to be a nurse, you will want to look for a college that has a nursing program.

 

Two. More often, you don’t know exactly what you want to do for a career. This is OK! Start with finding a college where you think you fit in—this might be the location, or the size, or the people there. Cue up that “college list” tip that we just shared above. The path for many careers can include many different majors and experiences. Colleges have career centers, and they can help you find an internship or work experience in a career that you want to learn more about.
Upcoming Dates to Know

Sept. 7: Registration deadline for the Oct. 6 SAT test

Sept. 28: Registration Deadline for the Oct. 27 ACT test

Oct. 1: The FAFSA application for the 2019-2020 academic year opens

Oct. 6: SAT test date

Oct. 27: ACT test date

 

Have a date you want us to include? Let us know!

Official music video for Fair Opportunity Project
FOP Music Video

Did someone forward this email to you? Want to offer this newsletter to your students & families? Be sure to subscribe!

Subscribe
In Your Region

Are you in the Midwest? How about the Northeast? You can request the newsletter for your region on our website. If you’ve got regional tips or tools, share the wealth! Send your items to newsletter@fairopportunityproject.org and we’ll include them here.

 

 

That’s it for this issue! Thanks for reading. You’d make us even happier by sharing this newsletter. More tips and tools in our next issue later this month. It’s all about giving and getting a Fair Opportunity.

Your donation helps us bring resources and information to more students. 
Donate
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