December College Readiness Tips for Teachers and Lay College Counselor

Dear Teachers and Lay College 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.

Note: I spoke at LA Cash for College December 7 and 8. You can access presentations from dozens of presenters at

Find similar events in your cities or regions.

Here are ten college access tips to get you through the rest of 2011.

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. Center for Student Opportunity has a great guide of colleges friendly to these students and has an Opportunity Scholarship for them.

2.  Free applications. Did you know that there are multiple ways for students to apply for free to private and many public colleges?

  • Free or reduced lunch gets kids four free apps on the Common Application. They can apply for free to lots of out of state public colleges.
  • NACAC provides fee waivers that most colleges accept. The forms require official stamps. Trio programs can provide these stamps.

3. Educational Opportunity Program. 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.

4.  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:

5.  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 ACT. UCs: Just send to one campus and the scores will be distributed.

  • January SAT: The next SAT, which can be used for Cal States and UCs, is January 28. Registration is December 30.
  • February ACT: Next ACT is February 11. Kids must register by January 13.

6.  Essays. Kids need to keep write 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.

7.  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.

8.  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. Sophomores are ideal as they have already navigated freshmen year and are not so embedded in upper level experiences yet.

9.  Application Crunch Game. With your younger students, begin to do college access work with your younger grades. USC just released a game. It’s relatively cheap. Perhaps someone can get you this game for a holiday present.

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.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Rebecca Joseph

FB: getmetocollege freeadvice

Twitter: getmetocollege


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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