Ep. 54 College Diversity & Fly-In Programs: Have You Considered Attending One?

DiversityOn this episode of The College Money Maze, we talk all about college diversity and fly-in programs.

The programs are often called various things at various colleges: (INSERT SCHOOL NAME) College Diversity Day, Leadership Weekend,  Future Achiever’s, Overnight Program, Multi-Cultural Weekend, Explore Weekend, Discovery Weekend etc…

The list of names goes on and on.

This concept of college diversity & fly-in programs was first introduced to us by a friend of the show – Ms. Tamara Jones (you can listen to her episode here).  She found out about them when researching different schools for her daughter. They took advantage of this opportunity to visit a school, stay for the weekend to get more of an up close and personal feel for the campus to see if it was a good fit. AND IT WAS!

The College Greenlight blog publishes a list of the programs each year.  I am sure it is not an all-inclusive list because new ones are always added.  Also in the comments section of that blogpost, several people mention additional schools.

The other interesting fact is that they will often reimburse you for visiting the school (especially if you are accepted as a student). All you have to do is ASK.

After reviewing the list of college diversity programs, something was glaringly obvious.  These schools are mainly PRIVATE ELITE/IVY COLLEGES.  That tells me that they have created these programs to deal with their “lack of diversity” on their campuses and attract high achieving multicultural students who may not have them on their radar.

If you think that your local state University would have this type of program – THINK AGAIN. Your state University probably does not have a diversity problem.  They probably attract a wide variety of students. You be the judge and let us know what you think.

Links mentioned in this episode:

(Related Episode) Ep. 16. How To Start Planning for College…

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Ep. 53 The College Money Puzzle Part 2: Financial Aid & Scholarships

The College Money Puzz;e-2

This is the second and final part of our series on The College Money Puzzle.  In this episode, we focus on the fundamentals of financial aid and scholarships.

Mostly, this will give you the last two pieces of the puzzle to gain a thorough baseline understanding of all of the money factors with getting into and paying for college.

Financial aid can be awarded in the form of State Aid or Federal Aid. The most important first step is understanding that completing the FAFSA is the only way to find out if you qualify for any type of financial aid and even some institutional scholarships. Here are our best suggestions about money, financial aid and scholarships:

  1. Complete the FAFSA entirely, correctly and timely (or early starting in October 2016).
  2. Be consistent with your information from year to year.  Your money situation may change for any number of reasons.  If so, be honest and clear and provide supplemental documentation if necessary.
  3. Find out if the school(s) you are interested in are also requiring you to complete the CSS PROFILE.  This is an additional financial form which asks more specific questions about assets, investments and household income or resources.
  4. The Common Application is a great way to say money by avoiding the additional application fees when applying to multiple schools. You pay one fee and apply up to about 10 schools at the same time (saves money) with only one or two essays to complete. Now high school juniors can create an account, save their data and update it when they are ready.
  5. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success application has more than 90 member colleges (most elite, private schools).  Double check your colleges for which application they accept.
  6. The Common Black College Application is available for those that want to apply to HBCU (Historically Black College and University).
  7. For Scholarships, start early and local.  There are many private foundation, local clubs and organizations that offer scholarships. Search where you live first.
  8. Have your student develop a close relationship with their guidance counselor who is often the gatekeeper in the high school when it comes to scholarships.  They often recommend students for local scholarships for various reasons.
  9. Check with your employer, especially if you work in corporate that may offer scholarship money to the community and to the children of their employees.
  10. If you are not a member of a fraternal organization, I am sure you know someone who is.  Minority Greek-letter organizations focus on education and offer scholarships to youth.
  11. Do a general search on the internet by topic (Math, Biology, English, etc…). Use a major search engine to narrow down the focus.
  12. Try not to disqualify your scholarship application by not filling it out completely, answer all of the questions.
  13. Do not go over the word count. Have someone else review the essay.
  14. Finally, commit to at least 1 hour each day or time on the weekend to search and complete scholarship applications. Act like it’s a PT JOB!

Links mentioned in this episode:

Brown School Senior Wins $1 Million in Scholarships (Check out the video)

Ep. 50 Unique Summer Scholarships

Ep. 45 Gap Year, Alumni, What If I Lose My Financial Aid?

Ep. 41 Why Millennials can’t get State Financial Aid

Ep. 39 Winning $1 Million in Scholarships (Without being the cream of the crop)

Ep. 31 How to Win College Scholarships

Also listen to our 4-Part FAFSA Series (Ep. 25- Ep. 28)

Program Partners & Affiliates

Ink Cartridges (Back to School Sale)

Dr. Eric Thomas, Motivational Speaker (check out this YOU TUBE video)

The Secret to Success Podcast (w/Eric Thomas & CJ)

Ep. 52 The College Money Puzzle Part 1: EFC & Net Price Calculator

The College Money Puzz;e 1The College Money “PUZZLE” consists of four pieces – EFC (expected family contribution), Net Price Calculator, Financial Aid and Scholarships that when used “strategically” can help you figure out how to pay for college. This begins our two-part series to talk in depth about these pieces of the puzzle that are uniquely intertwined and interconnected. We will begin with Expected Family Contribution and Net Price Calculator.

 According to this January 31, 2014 Forbes article by Tony Onink, you
can have a household income up to $425,000 and still qualify for some financial aid.
  It is just a matter of the number of dependents and type of school that you apply to, either public/private as well as two-year vs four-year college or university.

In this episode, we discuss why you should know your EFC (expected family contribution) and use the Net Price Calculator to find out the “true cost” of the college that you are looking at.  Every college and university has some sort of calculator on their website, you just have to find it.  They don’t really want you to know what it will cost.  The “real cost” consists of tuition + room & board+ fees – EFC- Merit Aid/scholarships= balance or gap.  This gap is what you have to be worried about.

Your EFC will usually not change from year to year.  If you have more than one child in college, your EFC is split between the children.  That is a good thing because you will likely receive more financial aid as a result.  Stay tuned for Part 2 next week: Scholarships & Financial Aid.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Ep. 25 FAFSA Pt. 1: Getting Organized

Ep. 26 FAFSA Pt. 2: EFC & CSS

Net Price Calculator

SAT Registration

ACT Registration

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Ep. 51 Top 5 Tips for the Student Athlete

This episode of the podcast is a conversation with an experienced high school counselor, Student Athletestudent athlete consultant and business owner, Sonya Duval of Achievement Matters Consulting. She talks in detail about her experience working with students, her passion of helping them become “student loan/college debt free”, scholarships and gives tips for the student athlete.


Top 5 Tips for the Student Athlete

  1. Recruitment starts in the 9th grade for a student athlete (and even in middle school in some areas).  Do well all four years of high school as well as on your SAT & ACT tests. Grades are very important in the college admission process. There is a difference in being looked at by coaches versus getting accepted into college.
  2. Work on your athletic skills at the same time. Go beyond the everyday practice with the coach, put in the extra work to become stronger, better at the sport which shows your self-discipline.
  3. Ask your student athlete what they want to do in terms of their career before the junior year (major).
  4. Learn to NOT be a “REACTIVE” student athlete player. Instead, be PROACTIVE and seek out the schools and coaches that interest you. Don’t sit around waiting for someone to notice you.
  5. Develop an EXPOSURE PLAN. This is a plan to get YOU in front of people who could potentially offer you an athletic scholarships. Put together a PACKAGE which contains your athletic profile, your letter of interest for that school and highlight film.  This PACKAGE should be sent out in spring of their junior year (she gives an example of a email blitz of a student’s package to 70 coaches).

“Leadership and Character Does Count!”

Links mentioned in this episode:

Achievement Matters College Admissions Consulting

Follow Sonya Duval: Twitter, Facebook


TCMM Podcast Episode 15 – What it takes to be a Gates Millennium Scholar

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards – For Outstanding Volunteer Community Service

NCAA Guide for Collegebound Student Athlete




Ep. 50 Unique Summer Scholarship Bonanza – I Bet You Never Heard of THESE…

Summer SchWe are very excited to have made it to Episode #50 Unique Summer Scholarships.  We thank you for sticking around with us as we figure this stuff out and give you all the good stuff we find!

This episode is jam packed with unique scholarships. We talk briefly about each one and the links are included below.  Many have deadlines in July or August so don’t waste time this summer!


Flavor of the Month Essay Contest – If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be? Deadline 7/31/16 $1500

Make Me Laugh – Something you want to share with the world that is funny in 250 words or less. Deadline 8/31/16 $1500

Shout it Out – Any important message to tell the world in 250 words or less. Deadline 9/30/16 $1500

Fashion Institute for Design & Merchandising – Submit a project or design in one of the categories on their website. Deadline varies 100% of tuition is the award

I Scream, You Scream – Submit an essay about your favorite ice cream flavor. Deadline 7/31/16 $1000

Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship – write an essay about your survival plan if your town was overrun with zombies. Deadline 10/31/16 $2000

Education Matters – Write an essay about what you would say to someone who thinks education is a waste of time. How would you convince them? Deadline 11/30/16 $5000

Top 10 List – In 250 words or less, list 10 reasons why you should receive this scholarship. Deadline 12/31/16 $1500

American Assembly for Men in Nursing – 5 different scholarships $1000- $5000 Deadline 7/1/16 (CLOSED)

Use your phone to unlock a donation. This is another texting game in which you earn a chance to when the scholarship and earn donations for local libraries.

Adelante-Miller Coors National Scholarship – Open only to residents of NY, NM, TX, AK, CA & FL. You must demonstrate a financial need . Deadline varies $31,000

I Have A Dream Scholarship – (No, nothing to do with MLK at all) 250 words or less, tell them n detailed story about a recent or past dream that you have had. Deadline 1/31/17 $1500

Read more

Ep. 49 SAT Subject Tests, Are they Worth It?

This is a conversation about the SAT and why you should consider studying and taking the SAT Subject Tests. There is a link HERE to the dates (Oct. 1st, Nov 5th & Dec 3rd) for the upcoming subject tests (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, french, german, spanish, modern hebrew, italian, & chinese).

SAT Subject Tests...


You may be asking yourself, WHY SHOULD I TAKE THE SUBJECT TESTS? Is it worth it? These are valid questions especially since there are additional fees with the subjects tests that range from $46-$72 dollars.

Here are several reasons why you should consider taking the subjects tests:

  • Colleges may require these test scores for specific majors.  This will differentiate you from other applicants.
  • Shows that you have an accomplishment beyond the basic high school curriculum and can add this to your college admission profile.
  • Shows to colleges your interest and commitment to that college and major.
  • Can fulfill a requirement for extra college credit
  • For those students in which English is not their first language, it shows an additional strength on their part.
  • For international students as well, it shows that they are disciplined to do the extra studying in that subject


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Editing Service Made Easy – College and Scholarship Essay Experts


Other links mentioned in this episode:
The SAT vs. The ACT


College Board

Summer Guide for Juniors

Summer Guide for Seniors

South Plainfield High School Class of 2016

Ep. 48 The Summer Guide for Seniors


Ultimate Summer Guide for Seniors


HELLO SENIORS! SUMMER IS HERE!  What are you and your friends doing this summer? Are you maximizing your time to get ahead of the other seniors at the beach and prepare for the college admission madness? THIS IS THE ULTIMATE SUMMER GUIDE FOR SENIORS. Here is a general list of activities that we suggest your or your high school senior consider this summer:

  1. Narrow down the college lists
  2. Conduct your final college visits
  3. Search for and secure that internship
  4. Take another SAT/ACT practice test
  5. Begin your college applications and essays
  6. Are you considering early decision? THEN YOU MUST complete your applications NOW!
  7. Consider observing someone you admire or that is a mentor in their job
  8. Study all things college finances: FASFA, EFC, NET PRICE CALCULATOR, Compare costs of schools to see what your budget will allow
  10. Volunteer for more community service experience and opportunities to add to your “profile”

Tell us in the comments below what YOUR SENIOR is doing this summer!

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Ep. 47 The Summer Guide for Juniors




How will your child and the other High School Juniors spend their summer? Will they be laying around playing video games? Will the juniors be working at a summer job at the beach? Will they be reading a book a week to or preparing for the SAT’s? Using the summer months wisely is the name of the game to improve your profile and be a more attractive applicant to colleges and scholarship committees next year.


Here is a suggested list of activities for Juniors that is discussed in this episode:

  1. Find a mentor/Internship/Conduct a Job Observation.
  2. Begin to assess your college priorities: small school vs. large school/ private vs. public/ instate vs. out-of-state etc…
  3. Conduct College visits for the summer, make a vacation out of it.
  4. Take this time to get some volunteering done and on that resume!
  5. READ! READ! READ! 30 minutes of reading will improve their writing/speaking skills
  6. Find a summer job and get that MONEY and EXPERIENCE you are looking for.
  7. Take a test-prep course or a practice SAT/ACT test during the summer.

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Ep. 46 What Does It Take to Become a Citizen Scholar?

Are you a citizen scholar?

Are you a citizen scholar?

It is graduation time, school is finishing up and are you wondering if your child has demonstrated leadership and excellence to become the schools newest citizen scholar? Does your child have the magic formula or profile?

I came across a pull-out section – “Citizen Scholar 2016“from my local newspaper – The Intelligencer­. This really caught my attention in that this newspaper, along with the Bucks County Courier Times gives out these awards to the best and brightest students in the county.

The criteria is that the guidance counselors from each high school would nominate three students and the judges on the panel would make the final selections. The judges selected one person from each high school in Bucks County.  There are about 34 students that are profiled in this insert section, each with a picture and summary of their background, accomplishments and future academic endeavors.

What we talk about in this podcast are the qualities, characteristics, behaviors that all (or most) of these students have that is noteworthy for students beginning their journey onward and upward.  For example, many of the students:

  • Play one or more musical instruments
  • Participate in one or more school clubs or organizations
  • Have made community service a priority with consistent participation
  • Many are athletes that compete in different sports
  • All of excelled academically with a minimum GPA of 3.8+
  • And one student is in the JROTC program

High School can be really hard for some students.  Those that excel find a way to get it all done.  They are organized, passionate about what they do and focused on their goals of higher education.  This is their time to explore different interests, showcase their talents & skills and find ways to give back to others.  This is what makes for a great “profile” to college admissions and scholarship committees who are looking for well-rounded students that can handle challenges and have something to offer.

Ep. 45 Gap Year, Alumni & What If I Lose My Financial Aid?

gap yearHave you considered taking a gap year? Today’s episode is a Q & A session with Mr. Thomas Holmes, a retired college financial aid administrator.  We ask him several questions related to a student taking a gap year, how do alumni advocate for their students and what happens if a student loses their financial aid?

His responses to our questions provide insight into the mindset of college admission and financial aid administrators.  He explains it from their perspective and gives you, the listener food for thought.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Malia Obama & A Gap Year

Gap Year & Financial Aid

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Harvard & their alumni power

Work Study

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