December College Readiness Tips for All College Readiness Advocates

Happy holidays. December goes by so quickly, so please help kids with their college and scholarship applications. There is still so much we can do to help these amazing kids.

Here are ten college access tips to get you through the rest of 2012.

1. More applications. You have survived many public application deadlines, but there are numerous private college and scholarship deadlines coming up. Please encourage your students to apply for these. Private colleges are desperate for interested under-represented minority and first generation students. Students need the encouragement to find schools that are looking for students with their profiles. I recommend students apply to 4 to 8 other colleges. Students with low test scores should add some test optional colleges. Fair Test lists 850 colleges with test optional possibilities. 

2. Essays. Kids need to keep writing powerful college and scholarship application essays. Remind them, they can use essays more than once. They need to push themselves to write specific, empowering essays for private college. They can keep on revising and adapting for other schools and write powerful supplemental essays targeted to specific colleges.

3. Recommendations. Please, please write as many great, specific letters as you can. Students needs these letters and often ask you rather late. But they need these to get into college and EOP and to receive scholarships. Short letters don’t work. Give specific examples from their assignments, so you may need students to give you their former graded work to remind you. If you don’t have something nice to say, then perhaps refer them to someone else. For schools with overwhelmed counselors, others can write counselor letters. Please help students with getting great counselor letters as well.

4. Free applications. Did you know that there are multiple ways for students to apply for free to private and many public colleges? Students who took the SAT or ACT get four free apps on the Common Application. They can apply for free to lots of out of state public colleges as well for free. NACAC provides fee waivers that most colleges accept. The forms require official stamps. Trio programs can provide these stamps.

5. Educational Opportunity Programs. Please assist and encourage students to complete their EOP applications and applications for other support programs at college. Each college, including CSU, has a separate deadline. Call colleges to see if deadlines have been extended.

6. Scholarships. Scholarships. Scholarships. There are multiple ways for first generation and under-represented students to pay for college. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is due December 15. Many colleges have specific scholarships. Encourage students to find national, state, local, and college specific scholarships. USC for example has the USC Norman Topping Fund that provides scholarships. It is due February 10. Undocumented students: Dated but still working links:

7. Alumni. Remember, your alumni are back in town and eager to help. Ask them to wear their college sweatshirts and to be able to describe how they manage their workloads, social lives, and more. College sophomores are ideal as they have already navigated freshmen year and are not so embedded in upper level experiences yet.

8. Preparing for financial aid. Please get families and students ready to complete financial aid forms. Families need to complete taxes early in 2013, and students need to determine how they will declare income. Sometimes, students need to put an explanation in an additional information paragraph explaining their complex family, living, and financial situations.

9. Test scores. Students need to send their test scores. Make sure they send them as soon as they can. Students with free or reduced lunch get to send scores for free to eight colleges. If they can’t afford to do this, you can contact a college and see if you can fax the scores to the college for the students. Remember, the UCs and Cal States allow scores to be sent only once. Cal States: CSU Mentor for SATs and ACT Score Manager for the ACT.

10. Enjoy your holidays. Please, please help students with any last minute college application questions. Perhaps hold an application party during the break. They shouldn’t wait to the last minute, but they do.


Again, you are the best at what you do. Your students are so lucky. Enjoy this time of year!!! Let me know if I can help in any way.



About rjoseph

I am the creator and visionary behind this site. I want to do everything I can to help students consider college as an option, even when they may be the first in their family to go or may not have the funds at hand. Don't let anyone tell you that you don't have the right or the ability to go to college.

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