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The Ultimate College Prep List

February 16, 2016

By Jessica Vician

You have been practicing parent engagement techniques for a long time and your teenager is doing well in school. Great job! The next step is college and career readiness. To help you and your teen prepare, read through this list of articles from YOU Parent experts that detail what to do next.

ExamsHelp Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams | High school students take an exam in the classroom.

Before your child can be admitted to a community college, 4-year college, or university, he or she must meet minimum grade point average (G.P.A.) and college entry exam requirements. Read the below article for study tips that will help your teen succeed on the exam(s).

Help Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams

Choosing a SchoolHelp Your Child Choose a College | A student raises his hand in a lecture hall and the professor calls on him.

Once your child has taken the appropriate college entry exam(s), he or she can start researching and narrowing down schools to attend. Read through these tips that will guide you and your student as you choose a school.

Helping Your Child Choose a College

College Tours: Parent Engagement Activity

Choosing College: Where Your Friends Don’t Attend

AdmissionHow to write an outstanding college admissions essay.

After narrowing down his or her choices, your teen will need to apply to school. These articles explain how to succeed in the most important admission steps.

Writing an Outstanding College Admissions Essay

Finish These 4 College Application Steps

Tuition and ScholarshipsTuition costs: in-state, public, and private. | The graph illustrates the difference in cost between in-state public schools, out-of-state public schools, and private schools.

How will you or your child pay for school once he or she is admitted? These articles explain how to prepare for those costs, from choosing a lower-priced school to applying for scholarships and financial aid.

Tuition Costs: In-State, Public, and Private

5 Must-Read FAFSA Facts

Scholarship Hunting: 3 Places to Find Them

What tips have been most helpful for you and your child in preparing to go to college? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  collegehigh schoolacademic
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3 Easy Exercises for Kids

January 26, 2016

By Jessica Vician

3 Easy Exercises for Kids | Did you know that kids need at least an hour a day of physical activity]? While they might get some of that at recess, try these three exercises with your kids at home to help strengthen their muscles. | A group of kids stretch on colorful mats.

While many New Year’s resolutions focus on adults losing weight, a health focus is just as important for kids. Did you know that kids need at least an hour a day of physical activity? While they might get some of that at recess, try these three exercises with your kids at home to help strengthen their muscles.

1. Plank for core strength
If you’ve ever taken a yoga or core strength class, you probably know how to do a plank. Have your child lie on his or her stomach and then push up with the forearms and toes on the floor. Keep the body straight, sucking in the belly and tightening the glutes (butt muscles). Start by holding the pose for 30 seconds, resting for 30 seconds, and then holding again. Try it three times.

After practicing for a few weeks, work up to holding the plank for 45 seconds and eventually a minute. Make it a competition for more fun—who can hold it the longest while still keeping their body straight?

2. Push-ups for arm and core strength
If your child is younger or overweight, start these push-ups with knees on the floor. Keep the arms just wider than shoulder-width apart, and keep the knees in line with the hips. Suck in the belly and push up and down, bending the elbows. See if your child can do 12-15 push-ups in a row. Try three sets of these 12-15 reps during each session.

When 15 reps become too easy, have your child do push-ups with toes on the floor (no knees), and eventually increase the number of push-ups he or she does each time.

3. Walking lunges for leg strength 
First, start with a regular lunge. Stand straight with feet together and step forward with your right foot, bending both knees to about 90-degree angles. Your back knee will be closest to the ground but won’t touch, and the front knee should be lined up with your ankle.

To move into the walking lunge, step forward with your left foot, moving into a lunge with the left leg (same as the instructions for the right leg lunge above). Keep moving down the hall for 20 total steps (10 with each leg). Do this exercise of 20 steps three times.

Once this exercise becomes easier for you and your child, add small hand weights of one to three pounds for an additional challenge.

Regular exercise helps your child regulate stress, feel happier, and be healthier. Take the challenge and do these three easy exercises with your child every day for a month and see how much better both of you feel.

Do you have a favorite exercise to do with your child? Tell us in the comments below.

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Help Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams

January 19, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Help Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams | Help your high school junior prepare for the exams with these three tips. | High school students take exams.

If your high school junior is planning to apply to college, he or she should take the first college entry exam this spring. While colleges consider many factors during the admissions process, grade point average (GPA) and entry exam scores are very important, as they indicate how well the student may do in school.

Help your high school junior prepare for the exams with these tips.

Create a game plan.
Depending on the college, your student may need to take an SAT and/or ACT test. Ask your child to create a list of schools he or she wants to attend (including back-up choices) and find out which admission tests those schools require.

Then decide on exam dates. For example, the College Board recommends that students take the exam in the spring of junior year and then again in the fall of senior year. Students often take the exams more than once to try to improve their scores.

Once you have decided on exam dates, register for the exams to secure your child’s spot.

Study smart.
Make the most of studying for the exam. Many of the questions should cover topics that your student has already learned, but it’s important that he or she has a good grasp of these topics and concepts going into the exam.

The SAT website has several free practice options available, from a question of the day to sample questions and tests. You can also purchase a study guide or take an online course through the site for a fee. The ACT website also features a question of the day and sample questions for free, and you can purchase a study guide for more help.

Seek low-cost prep programs.
Your child’s high school may offer free or low-cost study sessions to prepare for the tests. Take advantage of these classes, as they teach your child how to maximize time on the tests and strategically answer questions.

You can also search community centers in your area to see if they offer free or reduced-cost prep sessions. Many companies offer online prep courses, which are less expensive than in-person courses, and some may offer free trials of their products.

A strong score on these admission tests can greatly increase your child’s chances for college admission and scholarships, especially at highly selective schools. Your child has already been preparing in his or her daily coursework, but it’s important that he or she makes an extra effort to prepare for these tests to ensure the best outcome.

Do you have any tips for college admission testing success? Share in the comments below.

Tags :  academiccollegehigh school
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Teach Your Child Conflict Resolution to Create Positive Change

January 14, 2016

By Amelia Orozco

Teach Your Child Conflict Resolution to Create Positive Change | "The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically...intelligence and character—that is the goal of true education." | Image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with that quote.

Celebrating the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great way to create change for good in our homes and communities. His insistence on nonviolence in the face of hatred and racial discrimination shows us that even the toughest fights can be fought without one flying fist.

“I have decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems...hate is too great a burden to bear,” Dr. King said at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August 1967.

Even today, both in the mundane and in the monumental, we must make the conscious choice to decide to follow the path of love and peace.

As parents, our actions dictate the manner in which our children interact with others. In a world saturated with news of riots in the streets stemming from racial discrimination, our demeanor matters more than ever. After all, your home is your child’s first school and you are his or her first teacher.

In high school, where adolescents experience both physical and emotional maturity, it is just as important to address these issues. This is the day and age when the skewed images of perfection are dictated by social media. Bullying abounds behind the mask of a phone or computer as people lash out and insult each other with abandon, never fearing the consequences. At this formative stage, a young person can still be swayed to one side or the other. Will your children be the peacemakers or the fighters?

To be peacemakers, it starts with a plan to agree to resolve conflict intelligently. Conflict resolution is taught in many schools and organizations around the country, but you can also practice at home with your teenager.

Unpack ideas such as:

  • How to de-escalate an argument
  • Dealing with anger
  • What our body language communicates to others
  • Training our tempers
  • Acknowledging our feelings and others’

We are all entitled to be angry, but what we do with that anger can have significant consequences in our lives, whether they are good or bad.

Ask your teen’s school if they currently offer a conflict resolution program for students. If they do not, ask if they can offer one in the near future. Your opinion is very important in your child’s education and most schools are open to new ideas that affect positive change.

At home, encourage your child to stand up for him or herself and others to affect positive social change. It starts with your child’s world and can grow larger as his or her peers are affected. What change will your child make to honor Dr. King’s legacy?



Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago and Extra Newspaper. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.
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5 Must-Read FAFSA Facts

January 7, 2016

By Jessica Vician

5 Must-Read FAFSA Facts | If your child is planning to go to college in the fall, complete the FAFSA as soon as possible to see what kind of funding he or she qualifies for. Once you know, your family can decide whether or not to accept the aid.  While time is of the essence, it’s also important to ask questions so you know what your child needs to do. | A piggy bank with a graduation cap sits on top of a pile of cash.

On January 1, 2016, students planning to attend college during the 2016-2017 school year became eligible to complete the FAFSA. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If your child is planning to go to college in the fall, complete the FAFSA as soon as possible to see what kind of funding he or she qualifies for. Once you know, your family can decide whether or not to accept the aid.

While time is of the essence, it’s also important to ask questions so you know what your child needs to do.

What is Federal Student Aid?
Federal Student Aid is a part of the U.S. Department of Education and serves as the largest provider of student financial aid in the U.S. They distribute over $150 billion annually in federal funds for college, career school, and work-study programs.

What kind of funding do they provide?
Federal Student Aid provides three types of funding:

  1. Grants, which are funds that don’t need to be repaid if your student remains in class
  2. Loans, which are borrowed for school and must be repaid with interest once the student is out of school (regardless of earning a degree)
  3. Work-study, which is a work program that helps your student earn money to pay for school

Is my child eligible for aid?
Students must meet at least eight eligibility requirements, including:

  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Be enrolled or accepted as a regular student in an eligible program
  • Sign the FAFSA certification statement
  • Demonstrate qualification to obtain college or career school education
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in college or career school
  • Be registered with the Selective Service if your child is male

See the full list and details to these requirements on the Student Aid website.

When does my child need to apply?
Today!

The sooner your child applies for the FAFSA, the more likely he or she is to receive grants (if eligible) and other funding. Technically, the federal deadline is on June 30. However, many state and college deadlines are sooner.

For instance, many states have deadlines in early March. Illinois students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1, as the awards are available on a first-come, first-served basis in the state.

When does my child need to repay the loans?
It’s equally important that you and your student understand when and how to repay the loans.

After leaving school (with or without a degree), a student must start making payments on some loans immediately (like PLUS loans), while other lenders allow a six-month grace period before payments begin. Visit this page to learn more about repayment options.

Do you have other questions about Financial Aid? Ask in the comments below.

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