How to Use Social Media Like a #KARDASHIAN to Get Into College

#kardashian and social media

#kardashian and social media branding

To be clear, the only Kardashian with a college degree is KOURTNEY #kourtneykardash. This blog post is not how to use social media to take a bunch of selfies and become rich and famous but rather a lesson in how to BRAND YOU, LIKE A BOSS!

Let’s just start off by saying what this blog is NOT suggesting. We are NOT suggesting that you spend all of your time on social media tweeting about what you had for lunch or even about the hair products you use. We ARE suggesting that you use social media to your advantage by crafting your own BRAND/storyline/image that reflects your values in a positive manner using the same tactics that all of the Kardashians use.

First, gather an amazing team of people around you that will promote all that you do. Most celebrities have publicists, managers and assistants that promote them to their loyal followers on social media. Your goal as a college-bound student is to have your TEAM promote all your activities, achievements and accomplishments on social media and share it with others. This does not stop at parents but should also include teachers, counselors, coaches and mentors. For example, create your own website to house all your videos such as WIX (especially if you are an artist and need to showcase your work). Another suggestion would be to take pictures and post them of your community service projects or if you are an athlete, that great score you made in the game (your highlights on YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM)

Second, align yourself with other cool brands and your “star power” instantly increases. All of the Kardashians (Kim, Klohe, Kourtney, Kylie & Kendal) (#kardashianpedia) get paid a lot of money to endorse other brands. Those brands instantly see an increase in their products’ popularity. One way to use this tactic is to get VERY VERY familiar with the college that you are interested in attending by researching all there is to know about the school. Make sure their mission aligns with your career goals. By attending their events (with your pics of their open house, sports games or other activities) it shows your commitment to their community, and they take notice of that.

And finally, contribute to the conversation. Many people want to know what the Kardashians have to say. A single tweet from them can be worth millions to a brand. What do you have to say? Engage in conversation with the college. They want to communicate with you over social media. Comment on their blog posts, retweet their information to your friends, give them your feedback on a relevant topic related to your intended major etc… These are all ways that you begin to express yourself. It is not about being right or wrong. It is all about them getting to know you more and more.


Ep. 79 Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free

College Debt Free

Jeannie Burlowski

I am quite sure most parents wish their child could get through college debt free. The challenge in today’s economy is how to pull it off successfully. Our guest on the podcast, author, speaker and academic strategist Jeannie Burlowski  tells us how to do it. She recently released her latest book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward which is available on AMAZON now.

Jeannie’s writing and speaking helps parents set their kids up  to graduate completely debt free and move directly into career they excel at and love. Her mission is to help students identify extraordinary goals and put together a road map to achieve those goals.

The goal of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward is to guide parents step-by-step, grade-by-grade and provide over 50 strategies that they can use to get through college debt free which means that’s hundreds of hours they won’t have to spend searching for ideas on the internet.

For example, a busy mother of a 10th grader will just fly to the chapter she needs right at that moment, note a few tasks that would be a good idea to do right then and not come back to the book for two months.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Article: “5 Reasons “T-Shaped” is Better  Than Well-Rounded”

“Do What You Are…” by Paul D. Tieger

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dual Enrollment Programs

Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey)

Follow her on Twitter – @JBurlowski

Follow her on FACEBOOK – @jeannieburlowski

Ep. 78 Track & Organize You Way Into College

OrganizeTodd and I have a great conversation with Jordan Schanda of SCHOLAR PREP, a college planning system to organize and document activities, achievements and courses. She starts off talking about her journey into college (University of Arkansas), how she was focused from the beginning and realized early on the benefit of organizing all of her information. When she graduated, she created a “binder” to help her younger brother whom she knew was not like her and needed a way to organize his information as an athlete wanting to go to college. The birth of the SCHOLAR PREP Organizer System.

This system now has an online companion course as well as a curriculum for schools and counselors to follow for students to get on the right track towards college.

If you are a counselor, we are aware of your limited time available to spend with each student.  This curriculum is the perfect compliment to your guidance or you can give this to the student for them to utilize with their parent as a supplement to the other college prep information that you share.

This system is designed to for the student/parent to be self sufficient in the college admission process. It guides you weekly an monthly in terms of what the student should be focusing on and not get overwhelmed. It has a timeline that you follow all four years of high school or pick it up anywhere in between.

Grab your copy of this college planning/tracking/organizing system or course. Click on the image to get your SCHOLAR Prep System.


Other Links mentioned in this episode:

Virginia Tech #HokieVisit

Kean University #KeanUniversity

University of New Haven #UNewHaven

Rowan University #RowanPROUD

10 Ways (that REALLY WORK) to find Scholarships for HS Seniors: The College Money Maze Guide

Find Scholarships There are many high school seniors across this country that are very excited around April and May when they make their final decision about what college they are going to in the fall. The weather is getting nicer, spring flowers are in bloom but parents are now secretly freaking out! Parents have just come to the realization that their child has NOT received enough money in Merit Aid, grants or even student loans to cover the cost of college. The EFC (expected family contribution) is an amount that will be a challenge for them to come up with. They need to find scholarships NOW!

The College Money Maze to the rescue.

Scholarships are the way to bridge the gap. Here are 10 ways to find scholarships that you can implement immediately.

  1. Talk with the High School Guidance Counselor. All seniors (even as early as junior year) should make an appoint and get to know their counselor. He or She is the keeper of the information about how to find scholarships from local organizations. They utilize that person as their point of contact and the person to recommend a particular student for the scholarship.
  2. Contact your individual place of worship (church, mosque, synagogue etc…). There may be opportunities within the larger denomination, diocese or regionally that provides scholarships or gifts to graduating seniors. JUST ASK.
  3. Contact neighboring high school counselors. If your student has a friend that attends another high school in the same town can put you in contact with them for information about scholarships that they may be aware of.
  4. Professional Associations. This may vary depending on your child’s intended college major. For example, the National Association of Civil Engineers may have a junior membership level that your child can be a part of. If so, they usually award scholarships to their members.
  5. National Health Organization. If you or your child is diagnosed with a chronic illness or disease, the national advocacy organization associated with that disease often provides scholarships for children of those diagnosed, those students that may be caregivers for their parents or the children themselves.
  6. Scholarship Search Databases. There are a number of websites that you can access and search their database to find scholarships. My top 3 recommendations are, Cappex and Unigo. They are the largest sites on the internet. All of them require you to register and create a profile the first time. It is a pain but very important to help filter through all of their lists. Don’t just limit yourself to one site. Contact at least two. You are able to see a summary or preview of each scholarship before you click on the link to apply.
  7. This is the world’s largest search engine so, OF COURSE, I would suggest this. You have to be strategic when you do a search for scholarships on google. For example, decide exactly what you are looking for (i.e. scholarships for high school seniors in Memphis, Tennessee) or (science scholarships for minority high school seniors). Be as descriptive as you can so that you don’t get ones that don’t apply to you.
  8. Social Media is YOUR FRIEND. Understanding how to utilize social media to your advantage is key. Other than NOT posting inappropriate comments or pictures, how else can you use social media to find scholarships? Glad you asked. The popular social media channels such as FACEBOOK, Twitter or Instagram can be used to communicate with the nonprofit foundations that give out scholarships. It gives them an opportunity to put your name (and possible a face) on their radar so when you apply to their scholarship, they can research back and realize you were the one that commented on their picture or video and liked their page. LinkedIn is more powerful because you can connect directly with influencers in their organizations, put your resume in their (virtual) hand and network with industry groups to find out more about scholarships.
  9. Contact Local and International Fraternal Organizations. I am speaking specifically about greek letter organizations (minority and non-minority). For example, if you were part of a sorority when you were in college but have not had any contact since then, reach out. They will likely be offering scholarships to youth in the communities they serve. Many of the fraternities and sorority have youth affiliate or youth groups that they mentor. Becoming a part of that gives you a first look into their organizations and advance knowledge of when they will be offering their annual scholarships.
  10. Contact current or former employers. If you are a student and work for companies like STARBUCKS, they offer scholarships for their employees. If your parent works for (or retired from) large global companies (AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft etc…) they will likely offer scholarships to the children of their employees or retirees. JUST ASK.

These are not difficult or absurd suggestive ways to find scholarships. Ultimately it takes time and commitment to the process.  The College Money Maze can do the leg work and shopping around for you. FIND OUT HOW! This is not a one and done. Keep looking. When you actually get into college, DON’T STOP LOOKING. Tap into some of these same resources as I mentioned. There is money for you too.


Lack of Community Service May Be Keeping Your Child From Getting Scholarships

community serviceWe can all agree that participating  in community service is a good thing, for everyone. Does your child understand how vital it is to getting scholaships? Most foundations or non-profit organizations that administer scholarships are looking for students who are service-minded, who care about others and put the time toward charitable causes.

The other benefits of community service are character building traits such as compassion, empathy and leadership. These traits help shape your child into a responsible, caring global citizen.

If you are the parent of a junior or senior you might be thinking that it is too late for them to make a difference. It is not too late to have them involved in community service. There are various ways to incorporate service into their busy schedules. They can become a member of an established club such as boy/girl scouts or something more simple such as participating in a neighborhood clean-up or community garden.  There are endless volunteer opportunities in most cities that can accommodate youth who want to serve. They can select one or two activities per month and have the organization keep track of their service hours and prepare a letter  to submit with their scholarship application.

Community service or volunteer experience is one of the most effective ways to differentiate your child from the other applicants. It helps them shine above the rest along with great test scores, challenging coursework and great communication skills.


WARNING! Can Senioritis Ruin Your Child’s Chance of Scholarships?



Yes. It. Can.





Senioritis is a colloquial term mainly used in the United States and Canada to describe the decreased motivation toward studies displayed by students who are nearing the end of their high school, college, and graduate school careers.

Senioritis is really an affliction that only (allegedly) affects students in their senior year. Many of you parents might see it creeping up sooner. The evidence might be disinterest in sports or extra curricula activities, apathy or even reckless behavior. They believe that since they know where they want to go (after high school), may have already earned a scholarship or financial aid that they don’t have to keep up their grades. THAT IS THE WRONG ATTITUDE.

Let me tell you why. THIS is the time of the year when most parents and students begin to realize that although they are excited about college, they really can’t pay for it. IF they can, they probably only have enough for the first year. This is where scholarships are vital to most students STAYING in college all four years.

The nonprofit organizations that govern and dispense scholarships look very closely at your child’s GPA and class rank from high school.  They want to see that the student has been disciplined about maintaining their grades throughout a stressful senior year. This is an indicator to them that he/she is ready to handle college level courses and they want to reward them for that.  If they see that the first 2.75 years of high school were great and then there is this steep decline, they will think something is physically wrong with your child or it shows a lack of focus all the way to the end. Senioritis can cause a dramatic downward turn in their grades and performance. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO THEM!

There are a lot of additional scholarships that are based solely on MERIT from the college and universities themselves. They have discretion whether or not to award MERIT aid to you.  Your child’s grades are not the only deciding factor but it is ranked high on the checklist.

Use the last semester in senior year and all summer long after graduation (we know there will be some parties along the way) to look and apply for as many scholarships as possible. If you as the parent make this a priority and condition to continue in college, your child will take it seriously.  Part of their apathy is that there may be a disconnect between them and being aware of what COLLEGE REALLY COSTS TO ATTEND and WHAT YOU AS THE PARENT CAN AFFORD.

Don’t let SENIORITIS ruin their opportunity to shine bright and qualify for scholarships. They can start to apply as early as junior year and continue all throughout the college years. We at The College Money Maze discuss and post scholarships regularly on our podcast as well as on our FACEBOOK GROUP. 

Need assistance finding scholarships? We have the experience finding scholarships for incoming freshman, current undergrads and graduate students. CONTACT US NOW!

5 Critical Things You and Your Child Need to Know About Applying for Scholarships

The idea of applying for scholarships can be overwhelming for students and parents alike. Many people have a range of misconceptions about how the scholarship process works, when to apply, where the money goes, and even if it will ever get easier. Luckily, there are answers to all of those concerns!

So, before you let the scholarship process turn into a giant black hole in your mind, our friends at The Scholarship System shared five things you and your child need to know.

  1. It Takes Work (but the Work Can Be Reduced)

We all know the adage, “If it was easy then everyone would do it.” Well, the truth is that the scholarship process isn’t always easy. In fact, it takes hard work and dedication. But this is a fact that actually works in your child’s favor.

By being willing to put in the time and the effort, your child is functionally in the minority. Many college students don’t try for many scholarships because of the work required, so they are facing less competition. And less competition means better odds of winning!

If you take the time to look for lesser known scholarships, you may find yourself with even more notable odds of winning if you are able to seize the opportunities.

The Scholarship System holds a free 45-minute online live training that shows you the exact steps your child needs to take to find hidden scholarships that have less competition and makes applying for scholarships less stressful. They’ve helped students secure over $624,000 in scholarships, which is kind of crazy. So we thought we’d share the training with you. Click here to see when their next one is being held!

As for how to reduce the work, keep reading!

  1. Your Child Can Apply for Scholarships Up to Their Senior Year (IN COLLEGE)

This point was no surprise to me but the founder of The Scholarship System, Jocelyn Paonita, said she kept applying long after high school.

She explained that another common point of confusion is based on the idea that scholarships are for incoming freshmen. And, while it is true that there are many opportunities for those looking to start their college adventure, it is also true that your child can apply to many scholarships up to their senior year IN COLLEGE (and beyond if they continue.)

Each scholarship is in control of the qualifications that determine a student’s eligibility, and many are available to undergraduates during any year of their education. So, even if your child doesn’t get selected for a scholarship as an incoming freshman, they certainly get another shot to apply during their sophomore, junior, and senior years. In fact, some are even available to graduate students, so they may be able to go on to that Masters or doctoral degree without having to pay the full cost out of pocket.

So, don’t stop looking just because the first round of deadlines passed, and don’t let your child give up if they don’t win the first time. Instead, have your child save those websites and schedule a calendar reminder to check back when it reopens next year. Then they won’t miss out on the opportunity to get more scholarship money the next time around.

  1. Winning Scholarships Gets Easier Once You and Your Child Know What to Do

Here’s another point where an old adage really says it best, “Practice makes perfect.” While the phrase is certainly cliché, it is incredibly relevant when it comes to applying for scholarships.

In the beginning, the scholarship process is unfamiliar, and even a bit scary. However, as more applications are completed, the easier it is to give the next one a try. And repeating the process this year also provides experience to build in next year, and the one after that, and so on.

So, don’t be afraid that the first ones aren’t perfect. It does get easier as your child moves forward.

  1. Some Scholarships Funds are Sent Directly to Your Child

Most students and parents assume scholarship awards are sent directly to the college or university that will be attended. While some scholarships do work that way (especially institutional scholarships), a significant portion actually sends the money directly to the student who won.

But, why would a scholarship choose to send the money to the student in the first place? Because it provides the winner some flexibility. And that flexibility applies directly to our next point.

  1. Scholarships Can Be Used for More than College Tuition

While most people associate scholarships with paying tuition, that isn’t necessarily the only thing for which the funds can be used. Sure, some scholarships are restricted to tuition only, but many can be used for other school-related expenses.

One of the most common secondary uses is other mandatory costs. Things like textbooks and required software can be incredibly expensive, but they are necessary to get through the classes. Scholarships that allow some spending flexibility are designed to make these costs more manageable as well. And, if your child ends up with enough in scholarship awards, they might be able to eliminate these costs entirely.

But that isn’t where it ends either! Costs associated with room and board can be covered with certain scholarship monies. That means no out of pocket expenses for dorm room, meal plan, or both. This means students can have their classes covered, books and software needs met, a roof over their head, and food on the table, all without spending a dime of your money.

That has to be the end, right? Actually, no, it doesn’t. Some scholarship money is paid directly to the student so they can use it in any way that supports their education. Need a bus pass to get around? Use scholarship money. Need to replace a subpar laptop? Use scholarship money. How about a haircut before they start their internship? Yep, scholarship money to the rescue.

And it’s this potential for flexibility that makes getting as much as they can in scholarship awards really worth the effort. So, what do you think? Still not worth the time and effort? Something tells me it is.

If you thought these tips were helpful, check out The Scholarship System’s free webinar for parents, “6 Steps to Quickly Secure Scholarships for College .” In her training, Jocelyn will talk about the process she used to secure over $126,000 in scholarships, graduate debt free, and now help thousands of families around the country secure money for college. Some of things she will talk about include:

  1. How your child can get paid to go to college, even if they aren’t Einstein, nor the next Tom Brady
  2. How millions of students miss out on thousands of dollars in funding every day without realizing it (and how to avoid that happening to your child.)
  3. How the click of a button could cost you over $27k extra for college
  4. The most powerful search trick that the founder of The Scholarship System used to bypass all the scams out there, saving hundreds of hours, and having a list of scholarships (they are actually eligible for) nearly handed to your student.

Click here to see when they are having their next free online training.

Ep. 76 Lead the Way: How to Build Character & Get Into College (PLUS: Charlie’s Test Scores)

CharacterIn today’s episode, we talk in detail about how to build good character in a student throughout their high school years. Character is one of the four core principles of getting into college. The other three are communication skills, coursework and community.

Character is not something we are generally born with. It is molded and developed over a period of time and shaped based on environment and life experience. A student can build upon their character through participation in programs that give them an opportunity for leadership, community service and extra-curricular activities in school.

If your child participates in a club such as boy scouts, girl scouts, 4H club, any youth auxiliary of a church, sorority or fraternity (such as Kappa League or Zeta Archonettes #ZPHIB1920) provides them with an opportunity to hone their leadership skills though projects and working with other youth.

Every city or town has plenty of community service opportunities for our youth. They have to pick one that interests them. It also helps if parents model this behavior by participating themselves in either a nursing home, soup kitchen, canned food drives, recue animal shelter etc…

I talk about a friend of mine whose child is a graduating senior with very good grades but absolutely no  school or outside activities in the past four years. This sends the wrong message to colleges. They appreciate a well-rounded student that is able to manage their time between activities. It shows them you have mastered discipline, commitment, dedication, time management and character development. My friend even mentioned that they could have gotten more merit aid if her son had more to offer (in terms of his profile or resume). DON”T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE.

Foundations that give out scholarships look for the same stellar character as colleges do. It tells them that you have not just focused on grades (which are important) but can also represent their organization by how you show up in the world.


We also have a bonus appearance from Charles Lovett. He talks about his leadership skills, extra-curricula activities and volunteer service. He also talks about  his recent test scores from the ACT & SAT. We end our conversation talking about the importance of improving his grammar and writing skills as it relates to test taking. The best way to do this is through READING MORE BOOKS! (womp womp womp…)

Ep. 75 Taxes and Scholarships, Kappa League (#WhyKappasMentor)& Charlie’s Journey

Taxes and ScholarshipsThis episode is a mashup of current activities for The College Money Maze. We started the weekend off by participating in the Kappa League Conference, sponsored by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (bear with us as we debrief our experience giving a presentation to 250 young African-American young men). The Kappa League is the mentor program (#WhyKappasMentor) sponsored by this fraternity and this was their regional conference of all the individual mentor programs from several states.

Students are able to gain valuable experience in community service, opportunities for leadership and are able to bond with others similarly situated. Most Minority Greek Letter Organizations (Pan-Hell) have youth auxiliary (for girls as well) that students can join and participate in.

We then get into the main topic which is about the relationship between taxes and scholarships, meaning whether or not you should be claiming scholarship funds on your tax return. Many parents are probably not aware of how they can be affected by taxes and scholarships when they apply for these awards or receive financial aid from schools. We dive into this topic and explain the difference between the educational deductions and credits that the IRS allows on an individuals tax return.

In summary, the portion of your child’s scholarship that covers tuition, fees and those expenses required for the courses (i.e. books, supplies and equipment) are not taxable. Other costs (room & board, travel etc…) if included in the scholarship ARE TAXABLE and must be reported. The institution will likely send you a statement that details the costs.

WE ARE NOT TAX PROFESSIONALS. Refer to IRS Publication #970 for tax benefits for education, FORM 8917 and the IRS website for complete information.

We end the podcast talking about Charlie Lovett and what is the plan or roadmap as he completes the second half of his junior year in high school. They have some decisions to make as a family (I am sure many of you can relate) if they are going to pursue merit aid, football scholarship or tennis scholarship monies.

Related links:

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. – National Kappa League Program @NtlKappaLeague


Ep. 32 How to Deal with the High Cost of College

Ep. 74 Website Review: The College Board

The College BoardThe College Board website may be frequently used by some of you but I would venture to guess that a large part of you have no idea how vast and comprehensive this site is. This episode of The College Money Maze Podcast does a review of The College Board website.

Some would argue that although The College Board is a nonprofit organization, in terms of its’ overall structure, it has some tools, resources and services that is marketed to others at a cost.  Some might even say that it has a dual identity: one side is for educators, colleges, school counselors and the other side is for students and parents.

Let’s look at each side. First the professional services side for educators provides instructional programs, curriculum development services, materials, lesson plans etc… for educators. They also have content to help guidance professionals assist students with the application process and prepping for college. These would be best used by teachers of 6-12 grade students or high school counselors.

The higher education services is provided to help college admissions, financial aid administrators and those that are into recruiting to plan, coordinate and track all of their information in one software application.  They also provide data reports about PSAT/SAT trending to help direct marketing.

One of the final sections of the website is for the CSS Profile. This an additional form that is required by a number of universities in addition to the FAFSA for consideration of not only financial aid, but institutional aid (or non-federal aid) awards. This form asks additional asset and resource questions so that the admissions and financial aid administrators can make better decisions based on the resources available.

The other side of The College Board is a “sub-site” called BIG FUTURE. This is the section that is directed toward college planning, career exploration, career development and organizes information for students that are applying for colleges. First and foremost, you can access the PSAT/SAT/CLEP practice tests as well as register for the actual tests from this section. This is very user friendly for students and parents to access.

A little known feature is their college search database which guides you step by step to compile your college list. You can search for colleges and universities by acceptable test score, which ones give out merit scholarship, those that are ranked nationally by division (and filter by sport) etc…  There are several videos of students who have used the site and provide testimonials.

Connect with them:

Twitter – @CollegeBoard @OfficialSAT

Facebook – @TheCollegeBoard

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