Sue Scheff: College Application Tips for Parents and Teens

collegeappCollege applications are a lengthy process that requires time and dedication. If your teen is in their junior year, the time is now to start learning about the college admissions process. Learning about scholarships and financing college is also a priority, especially in today’s economy. If you have a High School Senior, please take the time to also review last minute tips for college applications.

Here are some great college application tips to help you and your teen get started today:

•Start early – Being prepared can help you perfect your College Admissions Application.

•Apply to more than one school. You should apply to 3 to 5 colleges just in case you don’t get accepted to your first couple of choices. Many students have their wish list of colleges, however you need to be prepared with a backup plan such as a community college or one that is easier for you to be accepted in to if your desired schools don’t work out.

•Career and College Counseling – Some teens and parents prefer to meet with a college career counselor to go over any college admissions questions you may have. In many High Schools, your guidance counselor can be of great assistance to you and your child.

•Common Application – Become familiar with the Common Application. This can help you easily apply to more than one school at a time.

•Proofread the Application – Make sure you fill out the Application for Admission completely. Whether you are filling it out online or sending it in, always double check it. It is also beneficial to have a second pair of eyes (whether a parent or friend) read it also for typos or errors.

FAFSA – This is for financial aid. If you will require this, get it in on time.  Take the time to review grants and scholarships. They can help can reduce your tuition costs.

•Deadlines for Admission – Be aware of the deadline for each individual application. There are different deadlines for admission applications, financial aid and transcripts.  Take the time to learn about Early Decision and Early Action.  This may benefit you if you are confident on the school you would like to attend.
•Apply Online – Many colleges give the option of applying for admission online. This is a great way to speed up the college application process. Again, be sure to double check your information before you hit the “send” button.

Admission Application Fees – Remember to include any application fees, if required. Most schools have application fees, some are waived. Check the school you are applying to for their cost and be sure you include it with your application. Online application fees are usually accepted with a credit card.

College Admissions Essay – Write about something you are enthusiastic and passionate about. Proofread many times and revise. Use your own words, rather than picking words out of the thesaurus.

•Letters of Recommendation – Have your best teachers write you letters of recommendation.

Follow Up – Always make copies of your application and follow up with the school to be sure they have received all the necessary documents.

SAT – You can take the SAT as many times as you like. A higher score will increase your chances of getting accepted. To increase your SAT Scores be sure read about SAT test tips.

Stay in contact – If the college admissions department contacts you for more information, respond as soon as possible.

College Evaluation – Thoroughly evaluate the college you would like to apply to. Prepare a list of questions, visit the campus, research articles on the school and talk to other students that have attended or graduated from there.

For more information on college applications and what college may be right for your child, resources and more visit College Board, College View, and Campus Grotto.

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Sue Scheff: Last Minute College Application Tips

It is that time of year again when many High School teens seniors are applying to colleges.  Are you running behind?  Struggling to get through the application process?  Here are some last minute college application tips from Peterson’s Guide

Applications are highly evolved documents, based on numerous admission deans asking themselves if they’re asking you the right questions. For that reason, how you fill out an application is almost as important as the information you include. In other words, follow directions!

Review the requirements
Applying to college typically involves a fair amount of paperwork. So before you hit the post office or hit send, take a long last look at your application.

  • If you’re applying electronically, did you type carefully and check your spelling? If you’re applying on paper, was your application filled out neatly?
  • Did you take shortcuts? A partially completed application is a clear signal that you are not an eager applicant.
  • Did you send too much information? If a two-page essay is requested, did you send in four? Only do so if you’re not sending fluff!
  • Did you send all the information that was asked for — including transcripts, test scores, and recommendations?
  • Did you meet or beat deadlines?

Submit as early as possible
With deadlines in sight, keep in mind that admission offices are inundated with applications for a few months each year. When applying to college, consider getting your application in when the staff doesn’t have hundreds and hundreds of them to read.

Stragglers are accepted of course, but why send yours in at the last minute when you could get it there before the rush hits?

Double-check the writing in your college application
Nothing says “I don’t really care about this college” like inadvertently putting another college’s name somewhere in the application. The same goes with spelling the college’s name incorrectly. Either error signals a major lack of seriousness about really wanting to attend that particular school.

Avoid sending gifts
Gimmicks don’t impress application readers, either. No matter how tempting it may be when you really, really want to get into a particular school, sending cookies or balloon bouquets doesn’t make a good impression. It’s better to get noticed for the right things, like academic excellence and leadership qualities.

For more information visit College Board, Peterson’s Guide

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Sue Scheff: School Violence and Bully Must STOP

MichaelBrewerLast week in Florida is another tragedy involving teens and school violence. BULLYING is a major issue and needs to be taken seriously. The recent incident in Deerfield Beach of the young boy that was bullied and burned by his classmates is nothing short of despicable. It was only a month ago we were all brought to tears by the death of the teen in a Coral Gables stabbing at school.

As a Parent Advocate, I cannot express enough that parents need to be educated on bullying and how dangerous this behavior is.

What happened to 15 year old Michael Brewer should be a wake-up call to all parents, educators, and everyone that works with children today. Do we really need these wake-up calls? We read about these horrific acts almost daily with kids, whether it is in Chicago or South Florida, these stories are in the news.

Help STOP BULLYING today! Be an educated parent, you will have a safer teen.

What is bullying?

Bullying is an aggressive behavior that is intentional and malicious. Bullying can be physical contact as well as verbal abuse. Many have heard the adage “Sticks and stone can break your bones, but word can never hurt.” That has been proven a wrong statement over and over, as words can devastate a young child and scar them emotionally for a long time.

To learn more about bullying visit the following websites and take the time to become familiar with the warning signs, tips, articles, as well as how you can be proactive in your community.

Stop Bullying Now – All about bullying, prevention, intervention and more. Take a stand, lend a hand.

STOMP OUT BULLYING – What you can do. PSA’s and more, take the pledge to stop bullying today.

Kids Health Today – Educational articles, tips and more about bullying and your children.

Love Our Children USA – Report bullying, child abuse and neglect; learn how to protect children today. Bullying Series – Everything you need to know about bullying and more.

Isn’t it time we, as a community, we work together to put an end to bullying and school violence? Let it start at home, talk to your kids about these serious issues. Communication is the pathway to understanding the problem and working together to stop it!

For more info: Miami Herald, Associated Press, NBC Miami, LA Times, National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, Parents Universal Resource Experts

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Sue Scheff: Teen Substance Abuse and Sibling Influence

Teen substance abuse is an issue many parents deal with, however are they aware of how it is effecting the other children in their family?  Is your at risk teen influencing their siblings?  Peer pressure, whether at home or at school, can lead to trouble and as a parent, we need to be aware of the warning signs and open up those lines of communications.  Is your oldest child a good model for the younger ones?  Is a younger one trying drugs and is your older one encouraging or discouraging them?  Stop, listen, read and learn. Be an educated parent.


Source: Connect with Kids

Sibling Influence

“I don’t want [my sister] to be mad at me, and I don’t want her to be disappointed in me.”

– Laura, 14 years old

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America says parents are the “anti-drug,” but there is another anti-drug: siblings. When it comes to making risky decisions an older sibling can play a crucial role too.

Teens experience many forms of stress, including the pressure to experiment with drugs and alcohol, on a regular basis.

Laura, 14, says she has been in situations where drugs and alcohol were present.

“It’s just there. So you can either choose to get some or just stay away,” she says.

For years, Laura and her older sister Amanda, 17, have had conversations with their parents about the importance of staying drug free.

“They just always talk to us about how it’s not good, that it’s bad, so don’t do it,” Laura says.

But part of what keeps Laura on the straight and narrow is a desire to please her older sister.

“I don’t want her to be mad at me, and I don’t want her to be disappointed in me. [W]e’ll always get along, but if she’s disappointed in me, maybe our relationship could grow apart,” she says.

When it comes to making decisions many kids will listen to their older brother or sister- good or bad.

In fact, researchers at the University of California-David found that teens are more likely to drink, use drugs, and have unprotected sex if they have a brother or sister who take those same risks.

“Adolescence is a time of deciding who you are and what you’re about. You decide that based on modeling. So the role of the older sibling as a modeling influence – somebody that the younger kid is gonna follow – is enormously important.” explains Dr. Robert Perez, a clinical psychologist.

Still, parents play the most important role in the prevention of childhood substance abuse. Experts say parents need to make it clear how they feel about using drugs. It’s also important that they start the conversation early and revisit the issue often.

The advice from Amanda and Laura’s mother: “Talk to your kids, have dinner with your kids. I think that’s the most important thing,” Mary Lou Waide says.


And it seems the Waides’ message about drugs and alcohol has stuck with their daughters.

“We don’t want to disappoint them,” Amanda says. “We know what we can and can’t do, and we know that if we do anything we’re gonna pay the consequences.”

Previous studies have shown that parents can influence their children to make positive decisions regarding drug use. Research conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University shows that siblings also play an important role in keeping children drug free.

The survey of 1,000 teens aged 12 to 17 (half boys and half girls) focused on whether a siblings’ negative attitude toward drugs would deter a child from trying drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. The study found that teens who believed their older sibling would disapprove or would be “very angry” to find out they were using marijuana were less likely to use drugs or alcohol. Researchers also found that parents may underestimate their role in their children’s decisions to use drugs. In fact, more than one-third of the surveyed parents said they believe drug use is a fact of life in schools and that they are powerless to stop it.

Despite these findings, CASA says that many families still have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to discussing drug abuse. Nearly half of the surveyed teens said that their parents never talked to them about the dangers of drug use.

Tips for Parents

It is important that family members feel as though they can talk to each other about tough issues, such as drug use. Part of this early, open communication includes being a good listener. Whether you’re a parent or an older sibling, consider these listening techniques provided by the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE):

  • Give your child an opportunity to talk. Stop talking and give your child sufficient time to complete his or her thoughts and process what has been said.
  • Demonstrate interest by asking appropriate questions. Questions can help you clarify your child’s thoughts and suggestions. Be sure that you are interpreting what has been said correctly.
  • Listen to the complete message. Listen to the total message before forming a response.
  • Encourage your child to talk. Use door-opening statements (“You seem distracted today” or “Tell me what is going on”) that invite a response.
  • Focus on content, not delivery. Avoid being distracted by your child’s poor grammar or manners. It is what is being said that is important.
  • Listen for main ideas. Try to pick out the central theme of the conversation.
  • Deal effectively with emotionally charged language. Be aware of words or phrases that produce anxiety and trigger emotions.
  • Identify areas of common experience and agreement. Note similar experiences of your own or offer a shared point of view to communicate acceptance and understanding.
  • Deal effectively with whatever blocks you from listening. Be aware of personal blocks that may prevent you from hearing what your child is saying.

Substance abuse can be an overwhelming issue with which to deal, but it doesn’t have to be. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers the following strategies to put into practice so that your child can reap the rewards of a healthy, drug-free life:

  • Be your child’s greatest fan. Compliment him or her on all of his or her efforts, strength of character and individuality.
  • Involve your child in adult-supervised after-school activities. Ask him or her what types of activities he or she is interested in and contact the school principal or guidance counselor to find out what activities are available. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to find out which activities your child is best suited for, but it’s worth the effort – feeling competent makes children much less likely to use drugs.
  • Help your child develop tools he can use to get out of alcohol- or drug-related situations. Let him or her know he or she can use you as an excuse: “My mom would kill me if I smoked marijuana!”
  • Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Set appointments for yourself to call them and check-in to make sure they share your views on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Steer your child away from any friends who use drugs.
  • Call teens’ parents if their home is to be used for a party. Make sure that the party will be alcohol-free and supervised by adults.
  • Set curfews and enforce them. Let your child know the consequences of breaking curfew.
  • Set a no-use rule for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
  • Sit down for dinner with your child at least once a week. Use the time to talk – don’t eat in front of the television.
  • Get – and stay – involved in your child’s life.


  • American Council for Drug Education
  • National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
  • Partnership for a Drug-Free America
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy

Also read on Examiner about Stop Medicine Abuse and Inhalant Use.

Sue Scheff: Parent Teacher Conferences – Questions to Ask

School Family is a fantastic website with a wealth of information. Here is a great list of questions you need to be ready for as parent teacher conferences are being scheduled.



• How is the school working to keep students on track
and/or raise achievement?
• How can I stay aware of what my child’s assignments
are and how my child is doing in class?
• [In the fall:] What are students expected to master by
the end of the year? How will you be gauging my
child’s progress toward these goals?
• If my child is falling behind, how will I be notified?


• Any changes in the home or family situation that
might affect your child (behavior, achievement,
or other)
• Whether your child is experiencing difficulties
(academic, social, or other) at school


• What are my child’s academic strengths? What
areas need improvement?
• What is my child’s current achievement level and
how does it compare with other students in the
same age group?
• What specific things can I do to support my child
and reinforce classroom lessons at home?
• How do you view my child’s emotional and
social skills?
• With whom does my child socialize? How does my
child relate to peers and adults?
• How does my child do with working in groups and
working independently?
• Does my child exhibit a good attitude toward
learning? Does my child make a good effort on
assignments and turn in completed assignments?
• Does my child stay on task well or need frequent
reminders? Has my child been developing good
work habits?
• Does my child participate in class? Does my child
behave in class?
• How much time should my child be spending on
homework each night?
• Have you noticed any issues that need to be
addressed or interests to be encouraged?

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Sue Scheff: High School Diploma vs GED

Speaking with parents regularly, I hear this story frequently. Teenagers are dropping out of High School and getting a GED.  This has become more and more acceptable, however is it recommendable?  Personally, I believe there are some cases that it is the only way a person can finish school, but I think parents need to encourage the teen to stay in school. 

Years ago, we would never even consider dropping out of High School and gettting a GED.  As a matter of fact in my generation, it was frowned upon.  Today is a whole new generation. 

Here is a timely article with some parenting tips. 

teensextalkSource: Connect with Kids

How Valuable is a GED?

“If you get your high school diploma, you’re going to be better off.  If you get some college, you’re going to be better off.  If you get a bachelors degree, you’re going to be better off.”

– Martin Segura, Education Counselor.

The number of Americans taking the GED test is climbing, up 7 percent last year over the year before.  But compared to a high school degree, how valuable is a GED?  It’s an old and controversial question.

Tanya dropped out of high school after her sophomore year.  “That was my dream, to walk across that stage, but because I got pregnant, they told me I couldn’t go back,” recounts 18-year-old Tanya Sado.

By the time she was ready to go back, she was too old, so she decided to try another route.  Tanya decided to get her GED, or General Educational Development certificate.

“Well, you can’t find a good job without education,” Tanya says.  “What can you do with your life?”

The problem is, because of the recession and because so many more young people are attending college today, some educators argue that a GED has never been less valuable.

It’s not worthless, they say, but more today than ever, “If you get your high school diploma, you’re going to be better off.  If you get some college, you’re going to be better off.  If you get a bachelors degree, you’re going to be better off,” says education counselor, Martin Segura.

Today, unemployment rate for people without their high school diploma is over 15 percent.

“To the extent that students do not develop, um, those skills, don’t have those trainings, don’t have those degrees or credentials.  They’re headed for a very difficult, a brutal collision path where they’re going to end up with leftover jobs, jobs that nobody else wants,” explains Hector Madrigal, Director of Pupil Services in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The GED just doesn’t have the value it once did.  Even the military agrees.  “The job market in general in today’s society is extremely difficult to get into.  Any job that you go to, you know most of them want you to have at least high school, some college,” explains Staff Sergeant Matthew Jacobs of the U.S. Marine Corps.  “Well Marines, we’re just another job like everybody else.  We’re looking for the same qualifications.”

Tanya’s advice to other kids?  “I would say don’t leave, don’t give it up for anything.”

Tips for Parents

While it’s easy to place the blame on a child when he or she drops out of school, it doesn’t address the most important problem:  What can be done to educate this student?  The National Mental Health and Education Center offers the following hints to help parents on the road to problem-solving:

  • Focus on student goals: Instead of focusing on why your child is unsuccessful in school, have your child identify what he or she wants to get from the school experience.  Have him or her list school, home and personal barriers to reaching that goal.  Sometimes talking about getting past the barriers to reaching a goal helps focus efforts more productively than just complaining or quitting.
  • Encourage school involvement:  Encourage your child to attend school regularly and to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity at school or with groups of students who are currently in school.  These activities make your child feel like part of the group, important to the school and more motivated to perform in order to participate.  If your child’s lack of academic success restricts him or her from every activity except academics, your child often sees no value in continuing to try.  He or she must have something positive to look forward to that will meet the kinship/companionship needs of being a teen.  If your child isn’t able to meet these needs in the school setting, he or she often finds ways to meet these needs in less desirable settings and groups.
  • Consider alternative school settings:  Speak with the school counselor and/or school psychologist to see if your child’s goals can be reached in the current school environment.  If not, have the school identify ideas for alternative settings for your child’s learning.  Include your child in all discussions with school personnel.  If you investigate alternative education settings, have your child make the contacts and visits, complete forms and ask questions.  He or she must see that personal responsibility is a must when being asked to be treated as an adult.
  • Consider realistic postsecondary goals:  Don’t get hung up on the issue of your child going to college. The more important question is “What does my child find interesting, and what is he or she good at?” and “Which of these skill areas is marketable?”  If attending college is the way to reach the vocational goal, set steps in place to get there.  In many cases, a postsecondary technical training or two-year community college program is more appropriate to meet your child’s goals and get him or her employable.
  • Consider the GED:  This equivalency examination is very well-respected among employers and higher education institutions.  Students can study for this examination through community education programs, alternative education programs or independently.  The point is to stress to your child that the diploma or GED is only the first step to finishing his or her education.  The workforce of tomorrow will require postsecondary education for even entry-level jobs.
  • Identify special needs:Consult with school personnel to determine if your child might have a specific learning or behavior problem interfering with learning.  Low achievement, retention in grade and behavioral difficulties are highly predictive of dropping out of school.  Assessment of possible learning and behavior problems might help identify special services to help your child find school more successful.


  • American Council on Education
  • GED Testing Service
  • National Mental Health and Education Center

Sue Scheff: Cyber Gossip

gossip1Internet fiction vs Internet fact….

National Cyber Safety Awareness month is a reason for you to take a closer look at who you are virtually.

Many people believe that if they are not online; don’t use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or other social media that you are immune to what lurks in cyberspace.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. There may come a day when you need employment (or new employment), or want to apply to college (even adults), or simply want to join your local community center. Will someone be reviewing your application? Is your resume perfect for a certain position but you are not getting a call? Do you own a small business and your phones have stopped ringing? What does Google say about you?

Let’s look at another angle. Your child is in competitive sports, or your spouse is a member of a prestigious club, or your parents own the local dry cleaners (or any small business), or you are the president of the PTA, etc. Then there is one upset and/or jealous person that feels you are getting too much attention. Or your child gets the lead in a school play while their child was eliminated?

It only takes a few keystrokes and a click of the mouse before your world in your small little town can become virtually incorrect as you are now accused of malicious acts, even harming your child, being an unfaithful spouse or worse. I have received many emails that this is not unheard of, and people’s lives are devastated from others with intent to ruin your life. Afterall the Internet is a extra-large city with limited regulations and no jails.

Be proactive with your online profile. Take the time to insure your reputation. Whether you are a housewife, a parent, a career professional, a student and others – you are not immune to Internet gossip. Years ago gossip was limited to your own geographically area, now it can go worldwide very quickly. A 20 year reputation can be ruined in 20 minutes with a few vicious keystrokes.

Many Internet readers do not take the time to figure out Internet fact verses Internet fiction. Internet gossip can go viral in a matter of minutes, days, weeks and suddenly you have become someone that has the plague and no one wants to be around you or hire you.

During National Cyber Safety Awareness Month take an hour to build your online image. I posted some tips in an earlier article, Internet image: Tips to maintain your virtual profile and image.
For more info: Read my new book, Google Bomb! The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict that Changed the Way We Use the Internet.  You may also want to consider an online reputation management service, ReputationDefender.

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