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Helping Your Child Choose a College

November 11, 2013

By Kevin Rutter

Helping Your Child Choose a College

Every year I work to support my students in finding the right college or university for their future studies. The most important thing I try to emphasize is that it is a process. It requires a great deal of planning, determination, and adult encouragement. In other words, we need you!

There are three areas in the college application process that cause the most trouble for students and provide the greatest opportunity for parents to assist.

Personal Statements 
A personal statement is a short and focused essay where a student writes about who he or she is and where he or she wants to be. These statements are often required as part of the application to a college or scholarship to help the selection committee "see" whom the student is. It is a great chance for the student to showcase who he or she is beyond what is shown in his or her transcripts. Writing a good personal statement is also a process that needs plenty of time for thinking, writing, editing, peer review, teacher feedback, more writing, and more revision.

Parents, get your student to write a personal statement when he or she is a junior in high school. Writing about yourself can be very difficult and I often have students who have no idea what to write about. As a parent, you are uniquely qualified to help define your child’s best qualities and provide a story or two where you have seen your child using his or her positive characteristics.

FAFSA 
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the most important part of the college process because it will determine how much grant money will be available to your child. A grant is the amount of money a child can receive toward their educational expenses without having to pay it back. There is a limited amount of government grant money and it operates on a first come, first serve basis. If you submit the application too late, the money will be gone.

Parents, you have a critical role in completing the FAFSA. The forms will require you to provide evidence of your family’s income by using your tax documents, W-2 and 1040 forms. You will be able to submit the FAFSA sooner if you have this information available. All schools offer free services to parents to help prepare these documents, so take advantage of them.

Comparison Shop
Students have no idea about how much things cost and often fall in love with a school or program without regard to the price tag. Shop around! For example, community colleges sometimes offer the same certifications at a very discounted price.

Parents, I need you to help your child look at every option before deciding which school to attend and have a serious discussion with your parenting partner and child about costs. Taking these first steps should help get your child on the right path to choosing a college and financing his or her education.

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Author of YOU: Your Child's First Teacher Sunny P. Chico

November 5, 2013

Sunny P. Chico’s life has been shaped by two passions: family and education. A daughter and granddaughter of school teachers, she was born in Cuba, but immigrated to the United States with her family at a young age. Throughout her career, from special education teacher to federal director, Chico has worked to empower parents to be active partners in the education of their children. This commitment, along with her experience, expertise, and passion for helping families, culminated in creating the series YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher, an unprecedented parent empowerment program that guides parents as they lay a foundation for their child’s success in school and in life.

Prior to writing the YOU series, Chico served as the Assistant to the Lieutenant Governor for Education for the State of Illinois, where she led the state’s School-to-Work effort. She was later appointed the Regional Secretary of Education in the Midwest for the U.S. Department of Education before launching SPC Educational Solutions.

Chico continues to be an active member of the community, serving as a commissioner on the State of Illinois Executive Ethics Commission, and as a board member of many organizations including the DePaul University School of Education Dean’s Advisory Council, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, and the Illinois Literacy Foundation.

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2010 Illinois Teacher of the Year Kevin Rutter

November 5, 2013

Kevin Rutter has been teaching for 15 years, currently serving as the department chair for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Carl Schurz High School, where he teaches economics and business courses.

In 2010, the Illinois State Board of Education named Rutter the Illinois Teacher of the Year and the Chicago Public Schools named him the Exemplary CTE Teacher. He was also honored as the Chicago Bears/Symetra Financial Hero of the Classroom in 2011.

As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Rutter acts an ambassador for the teaching profession and plays an active role in shaping educational policy in Illinois.

Rutter is currently pursuing an Ed.D in Instructional Technology from Northern Illinois University. His previous education includes an M.A. in Teacher Leadership from the University of Illinois at Springfield, an M.A. in Chicago Studies from Loyola University, and a B.A. in Social Science from Eastern Illinois University.

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Education Research and Policy Expert Dr. Bruce Marchiafava

November 4, 2013

Dr. Bruce Marchiafava brings over 40 years of experience in education to YOUParent.com, with positions ranging from adjunct professor at National-Louis University to assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago, Dalhousie University, and The Ohio State University.

In addition to his university positions, Dr. Marchiafava spent 30 years in various administrative positions within Chicago Public Schools, where he authored desegregation plans and many school reform plans. He also participated in special projects in the areas of bilingual education, early childhood education, special education, student testing and assessment, and more.

Dr. Marchiafava earned his Ph.D. from Northwestern University, his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Minnesota, a teaching certificate from Northeastern Illinois University, and his Type 75 Administrative Certificate from Loyola University Chicago.

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Early Childhood Specialist Noralba Martinez

October 21, 2013

Noralba Martinez

Noralba Martinez is currently an early childhood intervention counselor with nearly 15 years of experience in intervention. She has been a licensed professional counselor, a certified anger resolution therapist, and a certified early intervention specialist.

In her current role, she provides counseling services to children from birth to three years old who have developmental delays, disabilities, or a qualifying diagnosis. Her eclectic theoretical approaches, behavior management techniques, and parent education and training result in family friendly outcomes. Martinez also has extensive experience teaching parents, teachers, and providers to prepare children for school success through a variety of strategies and training tools.

Martinez earned her M.A. in Counseling and her B.A. in Psychology from University of Texas at San Antonio.

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