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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 Sixteen: April 30, 2019
Issue Theme: Making College Accessible to You 

Know How to Make College Accessible



Check out this guest post from Annie Tulkin,  
Director of Accessible College.



 

For most students, the process of transitioning to college is straightforward.

However, if you are a student with disabilities - including physical disabilities, chronic health conditions, mental health conditions, learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD - you have some additional considerations leading up to move-in day. 

As a student with disabilities in grade or high school, your school provided accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Once you reach college, this changes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) goes into effect.


Here's what that difference means: 

 
  • In high school, the school is responsible for identifying and evaluating students with disabilities. 
  • In college, students have to self-identify and request specific accommodations. 

What do students with disabilities need to consider to support their transition?  I've put together a Student “To Do” List for Requesting Accommodations.

Once you're accepted to college, if you want to receive accommodations for a disability, you will need to do the following:
  1. Contact the college’s Disability Support Office (DSO). It may have a different name, such as “Access Services,” “Learning Services,” or “Student Disability Services”. 
  2. Identify what type of documentation is required. All colleges will require documentation of a disability. However, colleges may require different types of documentation. To be sure, check the DSO website. 
  3. For students with learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia, the college will typically require a neuro-pyschological evaluation that was completed in the last 3-5 years. 
  4. For students with physical disabilities, health conditions, or mental health conditions, the college will typically require documentation from the student’s healthcare provider that outlines the diagnosis and functional limitations (how the student’s condition affects them in the academic setting).
  5. Request specific accommodations. If you received accommodations in high school, ask the high school counselor to specify which accommodations.

Here are some examples:

A student with ADD might request extra time for exams and a private testing room.

A student with Crohn’s disease might request breaks during class and exams.

A student who uses a wheelchair might request an ADA accessible dorm room, accessible classroom desks, preferential seating, or a  modified classroom location.

All requests must be supported by the documentation. To request accommodations, you will need to: 
  • Submit documentation to the college and set up an appointment to meet with a counselor in the DSO. 
  • Prepare a list of the accommodations requested and be prepared to talk about each accommodation.
  • Meet with the DSO counselor to discuss accommodations and complete the accommodations process. 
You've worked hard to get to college--now make sure you're set up for success!
 

More about Annie: Annie Tulkin is the Director of Accessible College, where she provides college transition support for students with physical disabilities and health conditions nationally. Annie was the Associate Director of the Academic Resource Center at Georgetown University for nearly 6 years. Annie has worked in the field of disability for over 10 years. You can read more about her HERE. Website: www.accessiblecollege.com Facebook: @AccessibleCollege Twitter: @AcssCollege

 

DisabilityRightsEducationActivismMentoring
DREAM is dedicated to advancing the interests of college students with disabilities.

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 like these resources because they walk you through the steps you should take and the supports you can look for as a student with disabilities. They're websites, so go ahead and bookmark them--we bet you'll be checking back often. 

 

Going to College: A Resource Guide for Teens with Disabilities

 

Types of College Accommodations and Services

WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION?

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

What's the difference between room and board versus living off campus? — Luna D.

Hi Luna! Getting ready to pack some bags? The transition from home to college is a big one and one of the biggest changes is where you'll live. 

As a first year or freshman student, many four year colleges require you or strongly prefer that you live in campus housing. You are likely to have a roommate and you will have to choose a meal plan. This is the "board" part of room and board. Living and eating on campus has lots of advantages. You're usually very close to your classes and don't need a car. You don't have to futz with buying groceries and preparing meals. Your roommate is someone you can go to the dining hall with and sort out those confusing new routines.

Living on campus can be a solid start to connecting with college and feeling like you belong.

Many students get the itch to live off campus after their first year. Be sure you know your college's policies --many liberal arts or smaller colleges require students to live in college housing for two or more years.

Living off-campus in a rented house or apartment with your college pals sounds like a blast but it also comes with some adulting. While the rent might seem cheaper than campus housing, be sure to add in the utilities, wifi, and transportation costs to campus. The costs may start to pile up. Like that garbage that someone has to take out.

Either way, Luna, your campus housing office is a great resource of information. Be sure to check in with them on this decision!

Comprehensive, nationwide information on resources and supports for college students with any type of disability, chronic health condition, or mental or emotional illness.
A college admissions mentor can make all the difference in college success.
That's why Fair Opportunity Project is launching the Mentor Network. 
Learn about The Mentor Network
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 May 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 © 2019 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200
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 Fifteen: April 17, 2019
Issue Theme: Know What Your College Choice Will Cost

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Affording College

The advice we’re sharing below is a video from Fair Opportunity Project's co-founder, Cole Scanlon. You can find it on the website, along with The Guide and many other comprehensive resources, written by students for students. 



College is expensive, but there are ways to make it affordable. As the cost to attend college has skyrocketed, being able to afford it has become paramount in the application process. Find out how to use a mix of institutional, outside, and federal aid, and learn about applying for scholarships. College will rarely cost what schools advertise.
Affording CollegeColeScanlon
You can find this video and many others on the Fair Opportunity Project website

Keep These Points in Mind About Financial Aid:


1. You don't need to accept the full amount of a loan that's offered.

2. Financial Aid offices are there to help you, the student. There is no dumb question when it comes to fully understanding what costs you're committing to. Be in touch.

3. Know what your next steps are. When is the deadline to respond? How much of the offer are you accepting, and what parts? Be sure to communicate with the financial aid office.

4. Not all scholarships and grants will renew for each year of college. Know which ones are renewable so you can budget for your four-year plan. And, you can get a headstart finding new scholarship opportunities!

5. You can appeal the offer if your family's financial situation has changed or you have special circumstances such as medical costs or unemployment. Be polite, specific, and have your information organized and ready to share. 
 
It's Quiz Time!

 

We know you like quizzes! These are terms that you really need to know when looking at your financial aid award letter. Answers at the bottom of the newsletter. 

1.  What's in a financial aid award letter?
a. Grants
b. Scholarships
c. Loans
d. Work Study
e. All of the above 

2. The cost of attendance is tuition, room and board. T/F

3. What is a subsidized loan?

4. Grants and loans are basically the same thing. T/F

5. Getting a financial aid award letter with a big dollar figure is like hitting the jackpot--full steam ahead! T/F

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've said this before: financial aid offer letters are not the same

In fact, letters can look so different that it's hard to compare apples-to-apples. The same loan might have a different name on each letter you look at!

Give the letter a close look, like with the campus.

We like this tool from College Board's Big Future with its simple categories to fill in, like "gift aid" or "work study." You can compare up to four schools at a time and it will calculate what percentage of overall funding is coming from what source--grants, gifts, loans--and then the family share of costs.

If you plug in all the numbers, it's a good way to know which college is truly offering the most generous support. 

WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION?

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

How much financial aid can you get from a college? — Will T.

Hey, Will! We know, student debt stories are all over the news. That's probably why you're thinking about the antidote: aid. This is a tricky question to answer, since colleges charge different amounts for tuition, fees, room and board. Similarly, colleges offer different amounts of aid. The colleges that appear to be most expensive are often the most affordable because they provide such generous aid!

Here’s some general advice. Federal financial aid can be some of the easiest to receive—IF you file your FAFSA. So get that done. Second, colleges themselves are often the biggest source of support with merit and need-based aid. Look for scholarships and grants from the college—these often have early deadlines. Third, don’t be misled with a big financial aid letter that is mostly loans. You can avoid that. Finally, scholarships from clubs, foundations, and your high school can really add up!

Keep that aid in mind when thinking about your college choice, Will. 

Quiz Answers!

1.  What's in a financial aid award letter? e. All of the above. This is why you need to analyze the letter closely. You want an offer of mostly grants and scholarships and not so many loans, because you have to pay those back. 
 

2. False. The cost of attendance is tuition, room and board, but also fees, transportation, books, supplies, and living expenses. Be sure to take all of it into account when you're calculating a budget.

3. A subsidized loan is the best kind of loan you can get and it's through the federal government, who pays the interest on your loan while you're in college. So get that FAFSA done!

4. False. You might see both on your letter but a grant is aid that does not need to be paid back. A loan always needs to be paid back.

5. False. Make sure you know what the bottom-line cost is for you. Is the big dollar figure mostly loans? How does it compare to the cost of attendance? Don't make a quick decision before you know your final costs. 

A college admissions mentor can make all the difference in college success.
That's why Fair Opportunity Project is launching the Mentor Network. 
Learn about The Mentor Network
Here's some inspiration from Khan Academy founder Sal Khan. Don't get discouraged from following your dreams!
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 April 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 © 2019 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200
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 Fourteen: April 5, 2019
Issue Theme: Decision Time

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Hearing Back from Colleges? How to Decide.




This advice we’re sharing below is adapted from The Guide. Our Guide is free, written by students for students. You can download it from our website for free and gain step-by-step tips on every step of the college application process. 

 

Choosing the college you’ll attend can no doubt be difficult when given multiple acceptances. But it’s a good problem to have!

Make sure you have an idea of what each school will cost you. [See our Fair Opp Fave Tool below for help on that. Our next April issue of The Opportunity will offer more tips and advice on understanding financial aid and college costs.]


Refer back to the original list of values you created before your application began in order to reevaluate your options. Think about the reasons you have for pursuing a college education, what you plan to do with your degree, and which institution would prepare you the best to achieve your goals.

With this information on hand, many find it helpful to think about where you would regret not going most, as that may give you insight on where you’d like to go most.

For many, however, the “correct” choice can’t be found on a spreadsheet or list. It is often, at its core, a gut decision. Where you’d most want to spend the next four years of your life is often a very personal decision, one only you can make for yourself. There is no right or wrong set of criteria for choosing the college that is best for you; pay attention to the advice of those closest to you (but don’t be afraid to disregard it!). Through your hard work, you’ve earned your right to a decision only you can make.

One of the best ways to tease out what “feels right” is attending the admitted students days at the schools to which you were admitted. A number of colleges and universities host multi-day programs on campus with the purpose of selling admitted students (you) on the experience they have to offer.

You should definitely attend these programs if you can.

Call the school to see if it offers financial aid for the travel cost. It’s important to keep in mind that these programs are primarily focused on selling you on the school. Be sure to enjoy yourself as you collect information by visiting classes, speaking with professors, and talking to students about their experiences. Even if you already visited as a prospective student/applicant, often being on campus as an admitted student has an entirely different feel to it. Your experiences at admitted students weekends will likely aid in your search for the right college.

 

One somewhat odd yet extremely effective method of choosing the school that feels right is listening to your gut when people whom you don’t know well give you advice on where to go. When we receive advice from those whom we respect and who know us well (e.g. parents, teachers, mentors and friends), they tend to have inherent biases and ideas of what’s best for us that may not line up with our true feelings.

It’s often easy to agree with these people in the moment, even though they may not know what’s best for us. Listening to your gut when you hear the advice of total strangers (the people you meet touring schools, friends of friends who hear about your decision) can often be a good way of assessing your deep-seated feelings about where you would be happiest. Often, your off-the-cuff reaction to the advice you’ve been given is a good indicator of where you at your gut level feel you belong.

Know that any decision you make might feel right in the moment, and wrong the next day or over the summer after senior year. Accept this as an inevitability. Every institution has its pros and cons; you’re bound to feel unhappy about some things at the institution you do choose, and miss out on some of the great offerings at the one you don’t. However, as many students report, if you go with your gut decision, you’ll almost certainly feel you made the right decision in the end.

Reflecting on the College Application Process

Now that you’re finished with your college applications and decisions, don’t forget to take a moment to reflect and appreciate all that this process has given you.

You were a very different person when you first began looking at colleges!

Though the process is often thought of as a chore thrust upon stressed-out 17- and 18-year-olds, it’s important to recognize how much of a learning and growing experience it can be. You should feel a sense of accomplishment for all that you’ve achieved and all that you’ve learned about yourself along the way.


 

Key Things to Know about College Waitlists:
 
  1. Timing. A college that waitlists you will not decide whether to update your status to 'accepted' until after May 1, and sometimes much later than that. 

  2. Move ahead with other options. Visit colleges where you're accepted and place an enrollment deposit at your top choice by May 1.

  3. Reflect. How much do you really want to attend this waitlisted school? Think back to your college list and how well it fits into those priorities. Are you comfortable with the uncertainty for one or more months? Is it better to move onto other options?

  4. Reality Check. Many colleges will readily share how many students are on the waitlist, and how many are likely to move off the list and be accepted. You might find this on their website, or by contacting the admissions office. For some colleges, you may learn that few or no waitlisted students receive an acceptance offer.

  5. Respond. You will need to notify the college of your interest in staying on the waitlist. The college may request additional steps, such as a statement about your interest, or an activities or awards update. Don’t rehash your application or gush if you’re not feeling it. Be honest with the college about how strongly you want to attend, and why.

  6. Opportunity Cost. If you eventually are accepted at a waitlisted college and choose to attend, you must notify the college where you already made a deposit,(usually $200-$400 as set by the college). Enrollment deposits are not refundable.

Time for a Quiz! 

There's a lot of convoluted jargon out there in admissions land. Do you know how to navigate the landscape? Answers at the bottom of the newsletter. 

1. Being put on the waitlist is the same thing as getting a deferred decision. T/F 

2. What does the term "Yield" mean in college admissions? 

3. Demonstrated interest is:
a. A campus visit
b. Attending an admission presentation by a college
c. An interview
d. All of the above

4. 'Rolling admissions' means that the college does not have one set deadline for all applications. T/F

5. When is the college enrollment deposit deadline?

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.
 

USED Fin Aid Comparison Sheet
Financial aid offer letters are not the same.

We like this comparison tool from the U.S. Department of Education because it helps you pull out the important pieces of the package to know what is a strong offer of aid vs. a lot of loans and costs you'll need to cover.

Plug in the numbers on this worksheet from each of the colleges you're considering!

WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION?

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

How do you know what the students are like at a college? — Maeve C.

Hi Maeve! We all want a chill campus, and the students are key. To start, you can check out the student clubs and organizations---they might be listed on the college website, or have a Facebook group. Take a campus tour if you can. Look around for the students and see what they're doing, how they dress, what they eat, and where they are. 

If you have the chance to do a campus visit--and an overnight visit is even better--ask students about the social scene. What do they do on weekends or at night? How do they connect and meet new people?

We shared CampusReel in our March newsletter because you'll find thousands of free, short videos from current college students. Look up the videos on the colleges you're interested in and see what they tell you!

We're glad you're thinking about the students, Maeve. College is about the whole experience--classes, professors, activities, students! It's so worth the time to check out all these aspects when you're choosing a college. 

Quiz Answers!

1. False. A 'waitlist' decision from the college means that the college has not accepted the student for admission and may offer acceptance after May 1, while a deferred decision is for those students who applied in an early action or early decision cycle and are deferred to a decision in the regular admissions cycle. Both waitlist and deferred decisions are not acceptance decisions.  

2. Yield in college admissions is the percent of accepted students who enroll in that college or university. Colleges with high yield rates will not have room to take many--or any--students from their waitlists.

3. Demonstrated interest is d. all of the above. If you are interested in a college, be sure they know it! 

4. True. Many--if not most--colleges begin reviewing applications in the fall and continue to accept applications until they meet their enrollment number. This means that you can still find colleges in May where you can apply. More on that in our May issue!

5. The college enrollment deadline is May 1! Be sure to make your deposit by May 1 to a college you intend to attend or you may lose your financial aid offer and your spot. 
A college admissions mentor can make all the difference in college success.
That's why Fair Opportunity Project is launching the Mentor Network. 
Learn about The Mentor Network

Upcoming Dates to Know


Ongoing. : FAFSA state deadlines may be earlier than you think! Here’s a PDF state-by-state list of deadlines from studentaid.gov. Use this FAFSA checklist to get it done right. 

April: Accepted student visit programs--important opportunities to make the right college choice.

April 13: ACT test date

April 15: Delaware FAFSA deadline

May 1: College enrollment deposit deadline;  Massachusetts, Maine FAFSA deadline

May 15: Florida FAFSA deadline

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion and college info 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!
 
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 April 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 © 2019 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200
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 Thirteen: March 19, 2019
Issue Theme: Planning for summer

Seven Awesome Ways to Spend Your Summer

Who doesn’t love thinking about summer? We’ve got some tips about how to make those long summer days count as you gear up towards college. This advice we’re sharing below is from The Guide. Our Guide is free, written by students for students. You can download it from our website for free and gain step-by-step tips on every step of the college application process. 


Summer Experiences. 🏻‍♀️🛹🏾‍♂️🏸

The summer is an excellent time to pursue your interests. Deliberately choosing how you spend your several-month summer break can demonstrate to colleges a lot about who you are and what you like. Summers rock! Be a kid, have fun, hang out with friends and family, but also think about how you can continue learning during your summers. There are endless ways you can spend the high school summers, but here are some common ones.

1. Working. Working is an awesome opportunity to demonstrate character and responsibility. Most of our authors held summer jobs, including as a mover and a Wendy’s fry cook. Don’t be afraid to list your work experience on your application. It shows commitment, responsibility, and perseverance.

2. Shadowing. Shadowing at the vets, doctor offices, or any profession allows an excellent opportunity to explore your possibilities, is accessible for many, and again is looked favorably upon. Email or call professionals of interest in your area and many would be happy to offer a shadowing experience – whether half a day, a full day, or longer – to a proactive and interested student.

3. Summer school. As mentioned before, summer school can be a wonderful opportunity to engage with subjects in a relaxed environment while also raising your GPA.

4. Volunteering. Volunteering at an organization of interest is a great way to give back to your community, demonstrate interest, and productively spend a summer break.

5. Volunteering abroad. You’ve probably seen it: pictures of a high school student building a house in a rural village in a developing country. There is a lot of merit here, but the experience — and especially those experiences achieved through more formal programs — may be a lot less valuable than they appear to be. College admissions officers know that many of these programs are expensive and only accessible to those with the resources. Students won’t be at a disadvantage for not taking part in a program like this, but will be if they don’t find another way to grow from their summers. That said, some programs offer financial aid and many do offer great opportunities for students to travel and do something meaningful.

6. College programs. Like volunteering abroad, college programs are typically expensive and many students can’t afford them. However , taking/auditing college classes or getting involved with a professor’s research over the summer (email professors) is a fantastic way to get in research experience, find out more about yourself, and distinguish your application.

7. Research. Demonstrate academic interest by pursuing research at a local college or research institute. This can be a good way to learn about a topic of interest or a potential career path.
 
 

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.
 

When you’re trying to decide between different colleges, we think that College Navigator offers useful information. It includes detailed information on every two and four year college. You can compare up to four collleges at a time on important details like what percentage of their students graduate and what an average cost of attendance is for families with different levels of income. Make sure your dream college is affordable and effective!

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Post-Submission: What to Do and How to Decide After You Apply

WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION?

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

 

Is it a good idea to take college classes during summer? —Marcus T.

 

Looks like the prospect of summer fun isn’t distracting you from the big college goal, Marcus! That’s some impressive drive. Let’s be sure you’re addressing the right questions before you dig in.

 

First, are you a high school student or a college student? In either case, you should talk to your advisor first to know how the credits from the class will be received. Learning new things is always valuable but if you intend to have the credits count towards a specific graduation requirement or major requirement, get that nailed down first. Credits may “count” for the purpose of appearing on your transcript and factoring into your grade point average. Don’t assume that this also means that they also will count as the math, or science, or language credit that you need.

 

Second, what are your reasons for taking a summer class? It may sound tempting to knock a semester-long class out of the way in four or eight weeks. Are you also pumped about daily classes of sometimes three or more hours? Tackling hefty assignments in a matter of days? What we’re getting at is: be sure you can commit to the time and focus that you need to crank out the work you’re capable of. A summer class may be a lot shorter than a fall or spring semester class but the grade will weigh the same on your college record.

 

Third, do you know how the class will be paid for? If you’re in high school, your school district may pay for your college classes during the regular academic year (in programs sometimes called dual enrollment or early college) but you may be responsible for the tuition for a summer classes. If you’re enrolled in college and you’ve got a Pell Grant or a financial aid package from the college, be sure it also covers summer session or you will be looking at the tuition bill yourself. Talk to your financial aid office if you have any questions—that’s what they’re there for.

 

It all boils down to having a plan and confirming it with the right people. Summer classes can be great ways to stay on track for graduation in four years or even sooner. Alternatively, summer experiences outside the classroom also can be equally valuable for learning and building key experiences. Whatever you choose, Marcus, make it rich!

  
Shout-out to our friends at College Greenlight for putting together this incredible list of programs for high school students. There are programs at colleges all over the country listed here. Some offer a specialty focus, such as engineering or science. You’ll find scholarships and financial aid opportunities as well. This can be a great way to spend your summer—take a look and explore the list!
Learn about The Mentor Network


Upcoming Dates to Know


Ongoing. : FAFSA state deadlines may be earlier than you think! Here’s a PDF state-by-state list of deadlines from studentaid.gov. Use this FAFSA checklist to get it done right. 

April 13: ACT test date

April 15: Delaware FAFSA deadline

May 1: College enrollment deposit deadline;  Massachusetts, Maine FAFSA deadline

May 15: Florida FAFSA deadline

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion and college info 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!
 

Got a question for us? We've got an app for that!….

 



On the Fair Opportunity Project website, you'll find a blue "Ask Us a Question" in the bottom right corner. Submit your college question and we'll send your answer in a jiffy!

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 April 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 © 2019 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200
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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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 Twelve: March 6, 2019
Issue Theme: Why campus visits are so important

How do you really get to know a college?

Nick Freud

We’ve got some helpful suggestions from Nick Freud, co-founder of CampusReel, a free resource for students featuring thousands of real campus videos.                                                                                                                                        

 


Imagine a conversation between Student A, a current high school senior, and Student B, a current college freshman:
 

“What’s college like?!” asks an eager Student A, to which Student B replies, “The student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1; we offer 34 different majors; and we have 3 million volumes in our library.”  
 



Does that conversation seem completely unrealistic?


Yes. Yes it does. And yet, every year, millions of students make the single biggest decision of their young adult lives based on this type of indecipherable data.

While rankings, statistics, and data points certainly have their place in the college search and selection process, they shouldn’t be the defining factor in a student’s enrollment decision.  Once on campus, you quickly realize that what defines the college experience is simply not about the data.

 

College is about community – it’s about the lifelong friendships; your connections with inspiring professors; that late-night scarfing of borderline inedible cafeteria food; the all-nighters in the library before midterms. It’s all about the experiences and memories that make college so profoundly life-changing.

This is exactly why campus visits are so important when you're thinking about college.  

 

Campus visits exude the campus’ “vibe” to prospective students.  Just what is a campus vibe? Hard to describe exactly, but the “vibe” will impact your daily relationship with your campus far more than the canned blurbs you hear about student-to-faculty ratio or freshman dorm room dimensions.  

 

So, how do you capture a college’s vibe as a prospective student without actually visiting every college that you’re interested in? That can be so expensive, time-consuming, and just doesn’t work with school days, sports schedules, and jobs.

 

My suggestion?


Turn the college students into storytellers. Empower those real, living college students—the ones who live in the dorms that you’re curious about and who trek through the dining halls everyday. When actual college students turn on their phone video, you get to see the real deal. The authentic experience, unfiltered through a college’s admissions or marketing department.

That’s what we wanted CampusReel to capture—seeing a campus the way you, the student, are going to experience it. Let’s face it, a college decision based on data, statistics, rankings, and stock photos just isn’t going to cut it.

Thousands of college students have filmed their campus lives and shared them on CampusReel. They’re freely available—yes, you can watch all 11,000+ videos if you really want to, and not spend a dime. We want you to see real students sharing real experiences.

Because what ultimately matters most in the college experience is —community.

 

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 like CampusReel because we can watch short videos on campus life from real college students at thousands of different colleges. These videos show the real deal on campus-not some marketing spin from the admissions office. You can search on the CampusReel website for what you're interested in: by college name or state or school size, for instance.

We've included a video example. Click on the image below & happy viewing!

 

TenThingsIWishIKnewUCSB
Ten Things I Wish I Knew About UC Santa Barbara Before I Came

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Our website offers all kinds of free information and resources from students for students to help you navigate the college application process. You can download our Guide--it’s available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Are you wondering what to do after submitting your college applications?

Here’s some advice from Chapter 10 of The Guide:
 

---------

The Update Letter

 

If something worthwhile occurs between when you submit your application and when they notify you of your admissions results, we suggest writing a letter to the colleges to which you’re applying to update them and let them know that you’re still seriously considering attending the school if accepted. We recommend doing this after application submission, and of course before decision day. It is useful to send the colleges that you applied to an update letter during early November for Early Admissions and during mid-February for regular admissions.

 

What to update them on

1. Extracurriculars

2. New projects

3. Awards

4. Acceptances at other schools – let them know you’re wanted!

(You can find a sample Update Letter in The Guide.)

 
TIP: Colleges run social media channels and [probably] so do you. These can be fun to explore, but keep them in perspective. Most admissions officers believe that your own social media is fair game in the review process, though most say they don't review student accounts. 

WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION?

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

Question: This nasty cold has me knocked flat out. Ugh. What do I do when this happens in college??-- Isabella T.  
 

Isabella, sounds like you’re feeling pretty miserable but we’re glad you’re asking this question. Illness happens, for sure. Trust us, there are steps you can take at college way before you’re ratchet.

 

Contact your professor. Do you have a project or a paper due soon? Are you flat on your back on the day scheduled for the midterm or a major exam? Keep the professor in the loop. Communication is always better than silence.

 

Keep basic medications on hand. You don’t want to be trudging to the drug store for relief when sleep is calling.

 

Pay attention to your symptoms. If you’re spiking a fever or really taking a nosedive, it’s time to check in with the campus health center. It’s not common, but the close living quarters of dorms and college life can breed nasty, contagious viruses.

 

Keep your campus community informed. Your college has staff who want you to succeed. If you are missing a lot of class because of illness, work with your advisor and contact the dean of students office. Don’t suffer in silence because the added stress isn’t going to improve your health one bit.

 

Take class attendance seriously. Mom isn’t around to get you out of bed and maybe your professor doesn’t take attendance at class, but guess what?  Each class you skip piles that much more on your catch-up plate because you’re still responsible for the class material. Save those absences for when you have a legitimate excuse, like being sick in bed. We know, the independence is tempting. #thestruggleisreal.

 

As a general recommendation, schedule those health checkups when you’re at home, especially if your college is a distance.

 

OK, Isabella, everybody gets sick, including college students. Limit that screen time and get some rest.

  
Learn about The Mentor Network


Upcoming Dates to Know


Ongoing. : FAFSA state deadlines may be earlier than you think! Here’s a PDF state-by-state list of deadlines from studentaid.gov. Use this FAFSA checklist to get it done right. 

March 8: Regular registration deadline for April 13 ACT

March 9: SAT test date

April 13: ACT test date

April 15: Delaware FAFSA deadline

May 1: College enrollment deposit deadline;  Massachusetts, Maine FAFSA deadline

May 15: Florida FAFSA deadline

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion and college info 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!
 
WhyWeStartedCampusReel
Campus Reel co-founders Nick Freud and Rob Carroll share their story.

Got a question for us? We've got an app for that!….

 



On the Fair Opportunity Project website, you'll find a blue "Ask Us a Question" in the bottom right corner. Submit your college question and we'll send your answer in a jiffy!

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 March 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 © 2019 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200
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 Eleven: February 20, 2019
Issue Theme: Financial Aid February! #FinAidFeb

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

What do you know about financial aid? Test yourself with this short quiz: (Answers at bottom of this section. We know you won't cheat. :)

1. What’s the annual family income limit for being eligible for federal financial aid?

A. $20,000
B $80,000
C. $100,000
D. $250,000

2. The amount of federal financial aid available every year is about:


A. $300 million
B. $750 million
C. $150 billion
D. $300 billion

3. What percentage of full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions received financial aid in 2016-2017?

A. 25%
B. 46%
C. 72%
D. 83%

4. How much federal financial aid money went unclaimed by eligible students in 2018?
A. None
B. $300 million
C. $1.5 billion
D. $2.6 billion

You can find more quiz questions on our website!

Answers: 1.D; 2: C; 3. D; 4. D

How’d you do?

We’re driving home a point here: federal financial aid for college is readily available; there’s a lot of it; and yet gobs of students pass up on the opportunity. An estimated 661,000 eligible students last year did not file their FAFSAs. Truth.

College can be expensive. Don’t let it be any more expensive than it needs to be. In fact, if you follow the tips in our Guide, you’ll have a real plan for making college affordable. That’s why we started Fair Opportunity Project—it’s info by students and for students to make college happen. Our Guide is free and downloadable on our website. In Chapter 12, you’ll find key tips on financial aid--check it out!

(Remember that there’s also a cost of NOT going to college, and that’s the cost of missing out on higher-income jobs that require a college degree.)

In The Guide, you’ll find explanations about how colleges determine financial “need”; what merit aid is; where to find scholarships, and an explanation of student loans. (Here’s a short guide from the federal government that explains how student loans work.)



Bonus: A few sections from The Guide:

Finding a College’s Price

As you won’t usually pay the price that a university costs, understanding the types of institutional financial aid will help decode a college’s actual price. Every school is required to offer a net price calculator with which students can input their family’s assets and get a rough approximation of what they’ll pay. We strongly advise that you do this as it may surprise you what you’ll owe! If a school offers need-based aid, also assess whether the school offers merit aid that you can apply to receive. Oftentimes merit aid applications have different deadlines from regular applications, so make sure to confirm those ahead of time. To double check what you’ll approximately be paying, the US Department of Education has set up college cost calculators that allow students to see the mean price of cost, debt, and graduation indexed per school. Our recommendation is to use both the colleges’ calculators and the government’s assessment for a good, although not perfect, estimate.

Get Away from Bad Aid Information

There’s a lot of poor information out there on college expenses, most notably with the Ivy League, which has some of the best financial aid in the nation. For one of our writers, it was less expensive to go to Harvard than the University of Minnesota – as it would be for 90% of Americans. Other private schools are known for strong financial aid programs; here’s a list of 18 schools that ranges from Rice University to Mount Holyoke College, all of whom meet full financial need.

If these schools don’t align with your interests, here’s another list of 50 schools ranked according to ability to serve applicants whose families earn less than $48,000. Generally, public universities have much lower tuition fees for in-state students, making a higher education possible and affordable. In addition, many states have in-state tuition reciprocity with neighboring states, and some even have international reciprocity: for example between Minnesota and Manitoba. You should think a bit about the return on investment in education via tools like Edmit. The point is to seek out the facts yourself using tools like the college cost calculator and the annual “Best Bang for the Buck” college list from Washington Monthly.

Cute Doggy Helps with FAFSA
This cute puppy wants to help. FAFSA got you confused? Use the hotline!

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.


(Also available in Spanish.)

We like the FAFSA4caster because it provides a quick and early snapshot of what federal aid you can probably expect and what your net cost might be for colleges that you're interested in. You can fill it out as a sophomore or junior--before you're actually ready to apply for college. It asks fewer questions and you can use estimates for things like scholarships that you hope to win.

Don’t forget that you still need to complete the FAFSA itself!

Also, remember that the largest source of grant aid comes from colleges and universities themselves. Don’t freak out or give up the college dream just based on the FAFSA4Caster—it’s only a starting point for understanding costs and aid.

What’s Your Question?

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

Question: Does where you go to college matter when it comes to finding a job?--Elliot M.

Elliot! You’ve got the long-term view in mind! That’s good. This is also a really good question. Let’s tackle it a few different ways.

One. Where you go to college matters a lot for how likely you are to finish your degree. You need to earn the degree before you can land those jobs that require a college degree. This might seem obvious, but about 40% of students who start college haven’t graduated six years later. Some colleges are much better at graduating their students than others; you can get this information and some useful comparisons from College Results Online.

Two. Some jobs require specific majors, such as engineering or nursing or teaching. If you have one of these specific kinds of jobs in mind, make sure the college you choose offers that kind of major. Not sure? Ask the admissions office or the career advising office how they prepare students for these jobs.

Three. Choose the college where you’ll have lots of opportunities to connect with professors, take on a research project or internship, lead a club, and push your learning beyond the classroom. Seriously. These are the things you’ll put on a resume and talk about in a job interview.

Thanks, Elliot, for shooting this our way. There’s a lot more we could write here, but we think these are pretty good guidelines to use. And don’t forget to dig into college life first!

Resource: Scholarships & Information for Undocumented Students

Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid, but may be eligible for state or college financial aid. Click on the map above and you'll find an interactive tool that shows each state's policies on undocumented students and eligibility for in-state tuition. Map is based on these sources. Scholarships and other college resources for immigrants are at TheDream.us.

Learn about The Mentor Network


Upcoming Dates to Know

FAFSA state deadlines may be earlier than you think! Here’s a PDF state-by-state listing from studentaid.gov.

Oct. : The FAFSA 2019-20 application is now open. Here’s a great checklist. FAFSA completion is really important! You can check your school and state’s completion rates on this amazing webpage from ed.gov.

March 1: FAFSA deadline in Michigan

March 2: FAFSA deadline in California for many programs.

March 8: Regular registration deadline for April 13 ACT

March 9: SAT test date

April 13: ACT test date

May 1: College enrollment deposit deadline

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion and college info 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!

Got a question for us? We've got an app for that!….



On the Fair Opportunity Project website, you'll find a blue "Ask Us a Question" in the bottom right corner. Submit your college question and we'll send your answer in a jiffy!

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 March 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!


*|MC:SUBJECT|*
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 Ten: February 6, 2019
Issue Theme: It's National School Counseling Week! #NSCW19

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Six Ways Your School Counselor Helps with College Admissions


It’s National School Counseling Week! We think this deserves a quick reminder of just how key our counselors are in the college application process. We know—school counselors do WAY more than what fits in a listicle. (But we all love a good list, even if it’s a slightly off-number, like six.) Counselors are an incredible resource for you. They can help you figure out your academic plans, your career path, and how to build a socially and emotionally solid you.

When you start thinking about college, your school counselor can really help. If you’ve got all these things already lined up, awesome! Here are some of the ways they help:

1. Planning a college-ready schedule. As soon as you hit ninth grade, let your counselor know that you’re interested in college. Your counselor can help you map out a four-year class plan that is challenging and meets what colleges expect for math, science or foreign language preparation. Remember that what your high school requires for graduation may be less than what colleges require for admission.

2. College fairs and school visits from college reps. Do you know when these are happening in your area? Your school counselor can share the calendar and help you plan to attend. These events are great ways to get answers to your specific college questions. They might help your chance for admission or merit aid, since many colleges track your interest in them.

3. FAFSA and financial aid presentations. The FAFSA acronym stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (which we've reviewed in a previous newsletter). School counselors often host financial aid presentations during the day or evening because they are committed to helping you make college affordable. These presentations are key in getting that FAFSA done—THE first step in getting aid for college—so mark them on your calendar! They also help out with “College Goal” events that happen in multiple states to help you complete the FAFSA. That’s pretty cool.

4. Scholarship nominations. What scholarships do many students have the highest odds of getting? Local scholarships! Rotary, Kiwanis, community business clubs—they are proud of their high schools and want you to succeed. Your school counselor works with these groups every year and knows the applications. Pay attention to your school notices of application requirements and deadlines.

5. Letters of recommendation. For college, scholarships, sometimes internships….school counselors faithfully churn out more letters than we can count. Be sure you give them plenty of heads up, a resume of interests and accomplishments, and a real, handwritten thank you. For real, it means a lot.

6. SAT/ACT registration and prep. Raise your hands, all you who registered for your first SAT/ACT at school and took the exam during the school day. It’s a big, complex production to make sure that fee waivers, testing accommodations, and registration help gets out to everyone on time. Thank you again, school counselors.



Hey counselors! What did we forget? We just know that we’re big fans.

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 like video help for the CSS Profile

About 400 colleges and scholarships require the CSS Profile— in addition to the FAFSA— from students who are applying for financial aid. The application deadline is set by the college and it varies—usually in January to March—so be sure to check on the college website or with the financial aid office for their specific deadline.

Cornell University’s video is short—about 3 minutes. They tell you how long it will take, what materials you need on hand, what steps you need to take, and in what order.

Khan Academy’s CSS Profile Walkthrough is actually a series of seven short videos for each section of the Profile. You can read step-by-step, short instruction, watch a related video, and move through each CSS section at your own pace.


The CSS Profile is longer than the FAFSA and asks more in-depth questions about financial resources in the family. Here’s a short article that highlights some of the common mistakes that families make when completing the Profile and how to avoid them.

What’s Your Question?

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

Question: It seems like you’re hardly in class when you’re in college. Isn’t college supposed to be harder than high school? — Anaya P.

We agree, those college class schedules seem pretty sweet, Anaya!

Let’s lay this comparison out. A year of high school is about 180 days of school or 1,000 hours. You might have six or seven different classes on your schedule, each one held at the same time and the same length every weekday. The school year is probably divided into two semesters, and most classes run for both semesters. You’re in high school, so you know the routine.

A full-time college class schedule is usually 4 or 5 classes. Your class will typically run for just a 15 or 16 week semester rather than from September to June. Classes usually meet twice or three times a week. Of course, there’s variety out there: trimesters, quarters or even accelerated summer or January terms.

There’s a lot of flexibility for you in this model: No morning classes! No Friday classes! Four-day weekends! You can pick classes to have the schedule you want.

But the freedom is where it can get truly harder. You’ll have a lot more reading, writing, and assignments between each class. Your course grade may be based on just a few tests or assignments and it’ll be up to you to devote the needed independent study time, take advantage of learning resources on your campus like tutoring or peer mentoring, and reach out to the professor with questions on course material.

Anaya, we hope this explains how you’re both in class LESS in college but also working HARDER. The work falls much more on you in college, so block out study time every day and take advantage of study groups, office hours, and tutoring sessions. That’s how you succeed in college!

Three Specific Things You Can Do To Find Scholarships

This may be a time when your college applications are in and you’re waiting for acceptance notifications. Put this time to good use—look for those scholarships that are going to bring down those college costs. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Plan for the long-term. Many scholarships are one-time, one-year awards. Now is a good time to develop a list of what is available to take the place of these first-year scholarships. Many colleges have scholarship website pages for their continuing students and students within specific programs such as engineering or nursing. Having trouble finding it? A quick call or email to the financial aid office can point you in the right direction. Another approach is to use a scholarship search site such as Cappex, where you can narrow your search to scholarships for undergraduates. You’ll thank yourself this time next year!

  2. Look at local organizations and businesses. Beyond the scholarships that are coordinated through your school (thanks again, counselors!) are many other opportunities. What are the big employers in town? Is there a community foundation, a Rotary, 4-H, or Kiwanis club? Where do your parents work? Do you have a part-time job? It’s worth checking with these groups for scholarships that may not be well known and are for a very specific community—yours.

  3. Make it a daily habit. Scholarship search sites like Niche, Cappex and Fastweb can send you email notifications or suggestions based on the profile you set up. Swap out 15 minutes a day of Netflix or Instagram time for a quick scan of these scholarship opportunities. Flag a few and knock them out over the weekend. Think of it like a new year’s resolution—you’ll feel good knowing you’re doing more to make college affordable.

Learn about The Mentor Network


Upcoming Dates to Know

Oct. : The FAFSA 2019-20 application is now open. Here’s a great checklist. FAFSA completion is really important! You can check your school and state’s completion rates on this amazing webpage from ed.gov.

Feb. 8: Regular registration deadline for March 9 SAT

Feb. 9: ACT test date

March 8: Regular registration deadline for April 13 ACT

March 9: SAT test date

April 13: ACT test date

May 1: College enrollment deposit deadline

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion and college info 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!

Got a question for us? We've got an app for that!….



On the Fair Opportunity Project website, you'll find a blue "Ask Us a Question" in the bottom right corner. Submit your college question and we'll send your answer in a jiffy!

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 February 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 © 2019 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200
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.
*|MC:SUBJECT|*

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 Nine: January 23, 2019
Issue Theme: It's #NationalMentoringMonth!

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

An Interview With the Mentor Network's Co-Director
January is National Mentoring Month! We wanted to share a team member's story on what draws him to be a mentor.

Spencer Wilson
Spencer is a neuroscientist working at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, University College of London, whose work deals with understanding the neural circuits underlying volitional control. He attended MIT for an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering followed by an MA from the University of Cambridge in Engineering and an MSc in Applied Mathematics from Imperial College London.

What was so hard to figure out about college when you were in high school?

In high school I struggled with understanding the differences between schools. I borrowed a neighbor’s Princeton Review college book, a doorstop offering with a single page on almost every college in the country. I read it for weeks, bookmarking schools that sounded interesting, becoming overwhelmed with the similarities between the schools. I wish I had had someone to talk me through what I wanted out of college in the larger scope of my life rather than viewing college as the endpoint. Had I had access to a mentor, I could have made a much more informed choice and seen college as a means to larger goals. That said, finances were the biggest "black box" to me. I can’t imagine not having parents willing to puzzle through the forms with me. This type of logistical help, both with finances as well as college choice, is a big reason why mentoring is crucial to providing a fair playing field for college admissions.

What in high school did you wish you had more of as a high school student?

I wish I had access to more interview preparation in high school. Some of my college interviews were just plain awful, as I had no idea how to prepare. I interview students now for MIT and so many of them come with a mental checklist. Often they end up overdoing this rather than having a natural conversation, but even that’s better than showing up with nothing but what’s in your pockets. Like I said, this sort of thing is part of a larger practice of goal-setting and meditation on your personal values, interests, and biases. These things are incredibly hard to sort out on your own, and a simple conversation allows you to reflect and hear your own feedback to shape your decision making. With interviews in particular, answering a simple question like “What do you want your interviewer to know about you?” can help immensely. Having another person, a mentor, there to ask you these questions and follow up on your answers helps shape your understanding of yourself such that you can discover your goals and make steps to work towards them.

A national mentor network sounds pretty ambitious! Why do you want to take this on?

I think it’s pretty clear from what I’ve said so far that I’m very passionate about mentoring. I owe so much to the mentors I have in my life now, most of whom I met after going to university. I think if we can inspire a generation to start giving and receiving mentorship before that time, we can do a lot of good. I tell everybody: mentoring is a huge lever arm— with an hour here or there you can change a person’s entire life. That’s how I feel about my mentors, some of whom I see less than once a month, and even then only over Skype. Our project is one that’s ambitious, but important enough to imagine on a large scale. That said, we’re starting with small steps! “Small steps” is one of the most important lessons my closest mentor has taught me.

What’s one tip you’d like to give to your 16 year-old self?

Read more books! My life has been changed in many ways from the books I’ve read, and I’ve calculated how much time I can feasibly read every week, month, year, and for the rest of my life. It’s less than you think, something like a few thousand books if you’re lucky. I wish I had started earlier. Pick up a book, set a reading goal, read widely, and always read with a pencil— buy your books if you can so you can underline and take notes. Borrow books from the library, and use a notepad or take photos with your phone. But most importantly, just read! And challenge yourself with tough books. I think of reading like sleeping— without sleep your brain can’t function. Without books I’m not getting that quiet, focused, long-term intellectual input that I need to progress. Not blogs, not tweets— BOOKS! Read ‘em.

The college application process can be pretty complicated. What’s one suggestion you have for our readers?

I’ll cheat and give two suggestions. First of all, download a copy of the Fair Opportunity Guide, it’s truly fantastic. Next, think about the people in your life you can go to and ask to be your mentor. Be honest with them about the time commitment you would need from them in a mentoring role for you. They might say “No," and that’s perfectly fine. Mentoring could come in any form: in person, online, over the phone. Some of the best college advice came from peers or people a few years ahead of me in school. You can find mentorship anywhere you look. Good luck, have fun, and don’t forget, no matter what, to listen— not just to others but also to yourself.

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.




If you're a high school junior, you might be looking at taking the SAT or ACT for the first time. We like Khan Academy's test prep resources for a few reasons. First, they're free. Second, they share videos, actual test questions, and complete sample tests. You can drill down on the questions you're struggling with and get more focused help on those. Finally, we like the Test Tips Share Space. Students can post challenges and other students offer advice. You're not facing this beast alone!

One other quick tip: The optional writing essay is just that: optional. Very few colleges require it. Here's an
explanation of why it's probably not worth the cost and effort. Check to see if your college choices are on that required list before signing up.

What’s Your Question?

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

“I have a disability but I never see any information on how colleges deal with that. Is college for me?” —Mateo C.

Thanks for writing, Mateo! You’re right: the glossy photos of smiling students on a campus lawn don’t really tell you anything about who goes to college. College can definitely be for you! More and more students with disabilities are in college: around 11 percent of undergraduates report having a disability.

You probably have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan that guides your learning accommodations as a high school student. These plans don’t automatically transfer over to college. In fact, colleges won’t know about your disability unless you choose to share it with them. Here are some quick tips for making college work for you:

  1. Get in touch with the the college accessibility office. Colleges are required to have an office to coordinate resources for students with disabilities. Find out how these offices work at the colleges you’re interested in and what kinds of services they can provide.

  2. Start discussions early. College semesters fly by—make sure the accessibility office knows what you need well before that first day of class.

  3. It’s on you. Once you turn 18, your parent or guardian isn’t the point of contact—you are. You have a right to an accessible college education, so learn how to advocate for what you need.

  4. Learn from the experts. You’ll find great strategies and supportive communities from DREAM, the National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD) and Accessible College.


Go for it, Mateo! College can work for you.

Some Mentoring Programs To Check Out


ScholarMatch: An online platform through which low-income high school students can be matched with a virtual advisor/mentor for the college admissions process.

College Mentoring Experience: Based in Chicago and works with schools and community-based organizations to provide guidance and support for the path to college.

College Mentors for Kids. College campus-based chapters in nine states pair with college students with elementary school-aged youth through campus-based activities.

Eye to Eye Mentoring. A national school-based mentoring program that pairs college students who have learning and attention challenges with middle school students who face similar challenges.

And, of course, Fair Opportunity Project’s Mentor Network!

Learn about The Mentor Network


Upcoming Dates to Know

Oct. : The FAFSA 2019-20 application is now open. Here’s a great checklist. FAFSA completion is really important! You can check your school and state’s completion rates on this amazing webpage from ed.gov.

Feb. 8: Regular registration deadline for March 9 SAT

Feb. 9: ACT test date

March 8: Regular registration deadline for April 13 ACT

March 9: SAT test date

April 13: ACT test date

May 1: College enrollment deposit deadline

Ongoing: Free FAFSA completion and college info 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!

Got a question for us? We've got an app for that!….



On the Fair Opportunity Project website, you'll find a blue "Ask Us a Question" in the bottom right corner. Submit your college question and we'll send your answer in a jiffy!

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 February 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 © 2019 Fair Opportunity Project. All rights reserved.
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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 Seven: December 18, 2018
Issue Theme: Been There, Done That!

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

A December to Dread? Not So Fast.

Remember when December meant looking forward to winter break and holiday cookies? If you’re gearing up for college next fall, this December is probably looking very different.

Many colleges have January application deadlines. Instead of watching Frosty the Snowman, you might find yourself scrambling to pull it all together: transcripts, test scores, recommendations, essays, high school achievements and so forth.

Been there, done that. We’re students who started Fair Opportunity Project to help you make sense of this whole process. Here’s what we learned that we think will bring some sanity to this time.

A good college list. If you’ve got a good mix of colleges--safety, match, and reach schools--you can feel confident that you will have some good options come next fall. See p. 12 of our Guide for more on this topic.

Not every college has a January 1 application deadline. Knock out these early ones first and then you can get to the ones with later deadlines. Here’s a good list of colleges with later deadlines.

Many colleges--especially large public universities-- have “rolling” admissions. This means there is no set date for a deadline, although it also means that their fall 2019 class may be filled if you wait too long. Here’s a good reference list.

Where you start college is not necessarily where you’ll finish college. Don’t heap more pressure on yourself than you need to! More than a third of all college students transfer at least once. Make your best effort on these applications, but know that you’ve got options.

Most colleges accept most applicants. It’s true. You may want to include at least a few of the many, many colleges with more generous acceptance rates.

Get organized first, and the rest will fall into place much more easily. Don’t get so stressed out that you leap over this part. We’ve got some good tips on this starting on page 13 of our Guide.

Give that essay time to ripen. Write, review, reflect, rewrite, repeat. Don’t try to knock this out in one sitting, like on December 31. Our step-by-step advice in this short video is a good way to go.

It’s not you; it’s them. Meaning the colleges. The most selective colleges receive many times more applications from high-achieving students than they can possibly admit. Bring forth your most distinctive strengths in your application and know that the admission process is more art than science.

When you hit that submit button, give yourself a high five! And an extra holiday cookie. You’ve accomplished a lot right there.


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.




Niche offers every kind of ranking for every kind of category for colleges. Who can resist scrolling through a ranking? Best college dorms! Best college food! Best college athletics! And so on. Niche uses multiple sources of reliable data and surveys to develop these rankings and you can see what they are.

What we especially like about this free college search website are all of the student reviews that it includes about every college. Not just the great reviews; the reviews from students who weren't such fans. This reminds us all that rankings have their limits: the more you learn about a college, the better you'll know what is the best-ranked college for YOU.

What’s Your Question?

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

“How do I choose the college that I want and not where everybody else thinks I should go?"-Mia Z.

Hi Mia! Sorry to hear that you’re getting a little clobbered with excessive advice. We find that people like talking about college and they know that this is a big decision for you. With 5,300 colleges in the United States, you can bet that most people are familiar with just a fraction of the colleges out there. Here’s what we’d do:


Listen. When someone suggests a college to you, ask them for their reasons why. You may learn something that you didn’t know about that college, or it may help you reflect on what you value.

Learn. With college search sites like Niche or the video campus tours on CampusReel, you can find some great insights on colleges.

Write. Try making a list of specific features or offerings that you like--this will help you respond to those helpful folks who might have different colleges in mind.

Accept. You’re going to hear a lot of questions and comments about your plans after high school. If you choose a college that’s far away, you’ll probably get a lot of blank stares too. After all the senior year frenzy of thinking about rankings and who got into where, the questions and advice will quiet down. Build your college list thoughtfully (our Guide is really handy for that!) and you can be confident in your own college decision.

You’ve got this, Mia!


Some Cool Scholarships To Check Out
Going Merry, Chegg, and Fastweb are comprehensive, free scholarship search websites. Avoid the scam scholarship sites!


GE Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program
Amazing opportunity & in the “huge” scholarship category.

Deadline: January 4, 2019

Award: up to $40,000 over four college years.

Operation Prevention Video Challenge
On the dangers of prescription opioid misuse.

Deadline: March 6, 2019

Award: $10,000

MIT THINK Scholars Program
For current high school students, who submit a project proposal on a science, technology, or engineering idea.

Award: $1,000 budget, chance to win $500 scholarship, mentorship, and a trip to MIT

Deadline: January 1, 2019

Washington Crossing Foundation Scholarship
For high school seniors intending careers in government service.

Award: Up to $5,000

Deadline: January 15, 2019

Watch our video: Affording College

Upcoming Dates to Know


The FAFSA 2019-20 application opened on October 1, so don't delay! Here’s a great checklist.

Jan. 1: Regular decision application deadline at some colleges

Jan. 11: Regular registration deadline for Feb. 9 ACT

Jan. 15: Regular decision application deadline at some colleges.

Feb. 8: Regular registration deadline for March 9 SAT

Feb. 9: 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!

Got a question for us? We've got an app for that!….

Support button on website


On the Fair Opportunity Project website, you'll find a blue "Ask Us a Question" in the bottom right corner. Submit your college question and we'll send your answer in a jiffy!

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 January 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:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200G
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.
*|MC:SUBJECT|*
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 Seven: November 29, 2018
Issue Theme: Great Organizations that Help Students Succeed.

RESOURCE HIGHLIGHT FROM FAIR OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

A Shout-Out to our Partner Orgs


We create resources for students, but we also look for and collaborate with groups that also offer great student opportunities. It's all about giving and getting a fair opportunity! Here are two worth checking out:



How do you find a college that’s perfect for you? What scholarships should you go for?

College Greenlight helps you build a solid college list. They use information that you provide about your school record and interests to plug into over $11 billion scholarship possibilities. You’ll get a list of the ones you qualify for.

Plus, you can apply to multiple colleges as a Greenlight Scholar with one application and no fee—that’s a great option for saving time and cost. College Greenlight is focused on serving first-generation and underrepresented students, while every student can use Cappex, the comprehensive college and scholarship website that runs College Greenlight.

College Greenlight also compiles the most detailed list you'll find of "fly-in programs"—colleges that will pay for most or all of the costs of a campus visit. Campus visits are powerful ways to get a feel for the college! These fly-in programs should be on your radar, before your senior year.
.

The Coalition for College provides a new way for you to plan your path to college.

What’s new?

You can set up a digital “Locker” to stash the essays, visual art, or quick notes on the clubs and activities you do, starting in ninth grade. This could actually mean that senior year looks slightly less frantic as you pull together these things for college applications!

It also helps you find the colleges that keep your debt low and your odds high for getting that college degree. Every college that accepts the Coalition application has committed to these very important goals, and they're located all over the country:




You can find the complete list of those colleges hereand the list keeps growing.

There are a lot of different features you can explore on the Coalition website, like
application fee waivers and a virtual collaboration space, along with the application that more than 150 colleges accept. Curious about how it all works? A lot of those questions are answered right on the website.

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.



Where can you find detailed, illustrated instructions on the FAFSA in English, Spanish, and 8 other languages? On the understandingFAFSA.org website! The FAFSA is the form you need for federal financial aid and this manual answers all kinds of questions about the documents you need, your parents' role in this, and more. Free paper copies also are available through the websitewhile supplies last.

What’s Your Question?

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

“Why would I want to go on a study abroad program in college?"-Jacob L.

Hey, Jacob! Great question. Because you'll get some really awesome Instagram pics! Seriously, sometimes you learn the mostabout yourself and otherswhen you go beyond your comfort zone. Living and learning in another country can be a really powerful way to do that. You often end up learning more about yourself and your culture as you experience other cultures.

Most four-year colleges offer study abroad programs to their students, and 16% of all college students took advantage this year. You can find programs as short as a few weeks and as long as an entire year.

There are programs in almost every continent (sorry, Antarctica), and in hundreds of countries. Study abroad can be one of those experiences that shape what you want to do in life!

Here are some practical details that are important to consider:

  1. Ask how your financial aid will apply to the study abroad experience. The college may have grants or other ways to cover additional costs like airfare or passport and visa requirements.

  2. Understand how the classes and the credits you take abroad will count towards your college major and degree. Plan early with your advisorlike in your freshman yearand you’ll stay on track to graduate in four years.

  3. Don’t rule out this experience if you have a disability. More and more students with disabilities are participating each year, and there are helpful guides to make it a great experience.


Bon voyage, Jacob!

Introducing our new Mentor Network

How will students communicate with their mentors?

Our program is focused on facilitating mentorship via face-to-face meetings, video, and email. Students can decide which method works best with their needs, logistics permitting.

Who are the mentors?

Fair Opportunity Project will pair students with recent college admits from the community, using our data and the help of local counselors. The idea is that the best mentor is not someone from the other side of the country who has just heard your school name ten minutes ago – it’s someone who knows your community, and all the difficulties of applying to college it entails, who’s been trained with college advising resources of the highest quality.

How often will mentors communicate with students?

We aim to provide a minimum of 2 hours of mentorship per month with students for as long as their college applications require – often significantly more. At the six month mark, we assess the relationship based on student needs.

What are the requirements for students to participate?

The only requirement for students is dedicated participation. Fair Opportunity Project’s goal is to provide free college advising to any student with an interest in applying to college.

What do you offer students during mentoring?

Our model centers on a coaching-mentoring approach. Our mentors are trained to advise students using information from our curriculum, with all the resources Fair Opportunity Project has to offer, and to coach students towards their self-generated goals regarding college admissions.

Do you work independently or through school counselors or parents and guardians?

We work closely with school counselors to facilitate mentorship. With the help of Fair Opportunity Project, the counselor acts as a facilitator “on the ground” for the student-mentor relationship.

How long is the program?

The mentorship program is set up for one year in the first instance, working towards college application submissions. As the program develops, students will receive mentoring for as long as their college applications require.

What are your goals for the program and for students?

Our goal is to help level the playing field of college admissions in the US. We want everyone to be able to have good college advising, no matter their zip code or background. Our goals for students lie along a spectrum from assisting students in their journey towards submitting a college application to helping students develop goals and plan towards their achievement. We expect all of our mentees to submit a college application to a school of their choice at the end of the mentorship cycle.

What’s the catch?

There is none. We do this to help students from all backgrounds succeed.

Learn More about the Mentor Network

Upcoming Dates to Know


The FAFSA 2019-20 application opened on October 1, so don't delay! Here’s a great checklist.

Dec. 1: SAT test date

Dec. 8: ACT test date


Jan. 11: Regular registration deadline for Feb. 9 ACT

Feb. 8: Regular registration deadline for March 9 SAT

Feb. 9: 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!

Got a question for us? We've got an app for that!….

Support button on website


On the Fair Opportunity Project website, you'll find a blue "Ask Us a Question" in the bottom right corner. Submit your college question and we'll send your answer in a jiffy!

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 December 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:
821 E. Washington Ave., Suite 200G
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.
*|MC:SUBJECT|*