Stress Management Tips

School3With school underway and teachers assigning homework left and right, stress continues to overcome so many teenagers! Here are some helpful tips to learn how to deal with stress both before and during overwhelming situations.

Getting Organized

It is important to be conscious of what is most important and should come foremost in your everyday life. Appropriately prioritizing involves being organized. Use sticky notes to your advantage by writing out to-do lists. Take notice on what is actually important and not what seems important.

“I make sure to write down things that need to get down as soon as I remember them because I know that I will forget later on. Even if I think I will remember, I don’t take that chance,” said Bianka, 14, 8th grade.

Planning ahead is also essential to organizing your tasks. This allows you to be able to set aside tasks that are not as important and to avoid consuming time and wasting valuable energy on unproductive labors.

Make the Most of Your Valuable Time! 

Aside from the given— social media, watching TV, over sleeping, etc…—procrastinating, the inability to make up your mind and being heavily involved in perfecting every task in order to meet your high standards, can take up our valuable time!

Procrastinating wastes time and limits productivity. Waiting for the perfect time to finish your homework or finish your chores will just waste more time. There will never be that “perfect” time. Life’s uncertainties should not cause you to procrastinate and become indecisive. There will be many decisions you make that will have it’s own uncertainties, but the most wise and productive thing to do is make the best, most effective choice with the help of your friends and family.

“I like to keep myself busy which keeps me on top of things. I realized that if I avoid lounging around too much, I am more motivated to get things done,” said Rosa Alvarado, 15, 9th grade.

Trying to perfect every task you take on is not good for you! Take it easy sometimes. It is great to have high standards, but it is not wise to allow them to take up unnecessary time. It can cause you to stress out because of being afraid to disappoint yourself. It is okay to make mistakes every once in a while because that is how we learn.

Balancing Responsibilities

While in school, it is good to consider that you can only fully attain two of three priorities in your life: sleep, good grades, or a social life. Therefore, it is important to have a balanced and realistic view of your priorities and how much time and energy you commit to them.

Extracurricular activities can be fun and enjoyable, but when homework must also be accomplished along with meeting extracurricular requirements, it can become overwhelming. It is important to balance these voluntary activities so that homework does not seem as overwhelming— taking away the joy you should be experiencing with these fun activities.

Going hand in hand with balancing responsibilities, sufficient sleep is also necessary. Getting eight hours of sleep can have a positive effect physically, emotionally, and cognitively. So as much as it is important to get homework done and meet extracurricular activity requirements, it is also good to be able to have some free time on your hands as well and enjoy yourself!

“Being involved in extracurricular activities can be fun, but my parents help me out to make sure that I’m also on top of my school work. Bad grades=no extracurricular involvement,” said Emily, 13, 7th grade.

Life can be full of surprises and filled with endless decisions—this can seem and feel overwhelming. Just keep making the most of your time and making the choices that you think are best, and everything will fall into place!

To have a Quince Mass or Not?

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

The religious ceremony has been a constant tradition in the Quinceañera celebration until recently. While some girls choose to continue the religious tradition, others do not.  While planning (or even just thinking of) a Quinceañera celebration, one element of the festivities always comes to mind: the religious ceremony.

According to Quincehelp.com, “the quinceañera mass is a thanksgiving for [the Quinceañera’s] first 14 years of life.” Nowadays, the religious ceremony is seen as an optional part of the quince celebration. Girls having a quince use their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) to determine whether or not to have a religious ceremony.

For April Reza, 19, she had her quince in 2010 and said having a religious ceremony was easy. “It’s something I always wanted since I was little,” she remembers with a smile. Growing up as a Catholic in an all-Catholic household, April saw the religious ceremony pass down as a tradition in her family. “It’s something we always do,” she says.

Since having a religious celebration is a tradition in her family, it was very well received. April recalls, “They really enjoyed it…they wish they could’ve done the whole thing over again.”

While some girls like April go the traditional route, others like to be different. Nastassia Artalejo, a self-employed photographer who had her quince in 2006, chose to not have a quinceañera.

Raised in a non-religious household and being agnostic herself, Nastassia says that having a religious ceremony was “not important [for me]. I just wanted to be there to celebrate what my parents thought was an important birthday.”

While Nastassia’s parents were fine with her not having a ceremony, her extended family did not have a similar reaction. “It was confusing for the rest of my family that I wasn’t having a ceremony because they are all Catholic. My cousins all had ceremonies at churches, but I didn’t,” she recalls.

Ultimately, a religious ceremony should be something you “do…for yourself”, says Nataly Monique Montana, a 10th grader who recently had her quince in 2012.

Nataly was raised as a baptist but was not officially baptized in her church. In order for her to have had a religious ceremony at her church, she and her parents would have had to go through a series of religious meetings with the priest of her church and be baptized.  When Nataly and her parents were planning her quince they realized that there wouldn’t be enough time before her quince. Nataly and her parents were not disheartened because they couldn’t have a ceremony, and, instead, Nataly says her dad and her said a prayer during the quinceañera which she remembers being personal and fulfilling.  Despite Nataly coming from a religious upbringing she recalls,  “no one said anything” about her not having had a religious ceremony.

While having a religious ceremony as part of a quince is customary, girls planning their quince shouldn’t feel pressured to follow in tradition’s footsteps for the sake of doing so. According to Quinceanera.com, a girl renews her baptismal vows and promises to honor herself and her religion before God and her community at the ceremony. This carries a lot of religious and cultural significance, so don’t do it if your heart and personal beliefs aren’t in it. Remember, it is your big day, so make it yours in your own special way, with or without a ceremony.

Makeup Hygiene

Photo credit: college fashion.net

Photo credit: college fashion.net

Most chicas do not know how important it is to keep your makeup brushes and application tools clean. Makeup products tend to store bacteria and might cause you to get pimples when you apply them to your face, yuck!

 Here are some important guidelines to keep your makeup and tools clean and bacteria-free:

1. The way you wash your makeup brushes is by rinsing only the bristles of your brush under hot water. You should be careful not to wet the metal part of your makeup brush because it will cause the bristles to come off.

2. Apply a pea size amount of your favorite shampoo to your hand and spread it to your brush in circular motions. You will see the shampoo changing color because of the makeup residue that was stored on the bristles.

3. Rinse the makeup brushes again with hot water until the water runs out clear. Try to shape the bristles into their original shape and place them on a towel. Place the brushes angled so that the bristles are facing down. This will allow the excess water to drain onto the towel. It is better if you let  the brushes air dry during the night. This way, in the morning when you are getting ready for school you apply your makeup with clean and fresh brushes.

You should wash your makeup brushes at least once a week. By doing this your make up application will look more flawless.

Did you know? Makeup CAN expire. 

An important fact that every chica needs to know is that makeup expires just like food. All beauty items have expiration dates and most products are not labeled with them. Expired makeup might cause your skin to breakout because the ingredients are not in the optimum condition. If you notice a change in texture, color and scent you need to toss the product away.

Here is the list of expiration dates for makeup products:

Foundation and concealer- from 6-8 months

Mascara and liquid liner- about 3 months

Any powder (blush,eye shadow or pigments)- one year

Lipstick or lipgloss- one year to 2 years

Also, remember to replace your makeup sponges constantly so you can rock a makeup without impurities.

Winter Fashion

This winter has been one of the coldest the nation has seen in several years according to CNN. With extreme freezing temperatures like those in Chicago and New York, you may feel it’s impossible to keep up with the latest trends while avoiding hypothermia. Fear not all you Latina fashionistas! You’re just a few paragraphs away from learning some new and easy ways to keep warm and, of course, in style this winter season.

Now it’s no surprise most girls want to be fashion forward at all times. Think about it, when you’ve hung out with some of your amigas, you’ve probably skimmed through some of your favorite magazines looking for inspiration. You may have even exchanged a skirt or a pair of opened toed shoes with a friend in order to achieve that extra touch of glamour in your outfit. But times are cold these days and quite frankly, frostbitten fingers and toes are never in style. So, what’s a girl like you with so much fashion in her heart supposed to do when the first snowflakes start falling, or when you find yourself helping your parents scrape ice off of the car window before going to school?

Photo credit, Claudia Candelas, http://www.loveallthingsfashion.com

Photo credit, Claudia Candelas, http://www.loveallthingsfashion.com

Fashion blogger, Claudia Candelas says winter is the perfect season for any girl to express her sense of style, “You have the option of layers and adding more to each outfit.” Candelas says that though her staple winter fashion must-have are cozy boots, she can never say no to a good scarf.

“I love scarves because they add a whole different look to your outfit. If you are wearing a solid colored sweater you can add a printed or thick scarf to brighten it up.”

Candelas also says she gets her fashion ideas from social media sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest, but ultimately, she is in charge of what she thinks is stylish.

“Fashion is whatever you make it to be…it does not need to be expensive or the trendiest as long as you have the confidence to rock it!”

For others, sporting the latest winter trends can sometimes feel like a drag. Edna Ramirez, a bridal consultant, admits she falls under this category, but she can’t deny she enjoys the comfort of the winter clothes that keep her snug. “Chunky knit sweaters…they give off a vintage meets boho type of vibe that can easily dress up or dress down any outfit. They help keep you warm but don’t feel as constricting as jackets and coats.” Ramirez says she gives credit to the local weather news report for her fashion inspiration look of the day. “I wake up and look at the weather prediction for the day and base my winter outfit on that. If it is going to be a very cold day I’ll go with thicker scarves, layers of jackets, boots, and maybe even a hat.”

For many students though, being fashion forward can seem impossible especially after tuition and books have been paid off.  “I can’t work a lot because I’m in school so there isn’t much money left over, which is why I shop at secondhand stores,” says Katarina Peña, Santa Clara University Law student. She says money may be tight when it comes down to shopping, but what she enjoys the most about thrift shops is knowing she hasn’t broken her bank account for wanting to look and feel good. “You can find unique and inexpensive clothing and most importantly, it’s not what everyone else is wearing so you’re bound to stand out. ”

Although magazines and social media gurus know about the latest trends to look up-to-date and fierce, it’s important that you remember to listen to yourself when it comes to presenting yourself to the world. Feel free to take ideas and fashion looks into consideration but you must always know that no matter what trends you are following, the one thing that will never go out of style is your heart.

Take A Study Break

Stresses of Studying

Stress from studying for finals or the SAT can add up during intense study sessions. Although some find comfort in found in food, it is not healthy to make every study break a food break. So here is a list of five great study breaks that don’t involve eating a fourth meal!

 

Give Yourself a Manicure

Painting your nails is a nice way to switch up your studying routine. It requires moving around, choosing a color and the simple act of painting nails is a thoughtless yet stimulating task. Plus, while you wait for your nails to dry you can close your eyes and meditate.

Estimated Time: 20 min

Take a Walk

 No need to change into workout clothes, just put on some comfortable shoes and take a walk. You can take a solo walk, which is the perfect time to think or invite a friend. Taking a walk may be the best writers-block eliminator, try it!

Estimated Time: 20 min 

Watch 1 Episode of a Sitcom

After completing some deep reading watching some TV that makes you laugh is never a bad idea. Being in a good mood can make you more productive and can help alleviate the stress from hitting the books.

Estimated Time: 30 min 

Phone a Friend

Calling your hometown friend is also a great break, you can catch up on the latest college happenings and recall all those great sleepovers. This quick break will probably make your friend day too!

Estimated Time: 15min 

Take a 20 min Nap

You probably already know the importance of sleep, but in your senior year of high school and in college you begin to realize how sleep becomes a luxury. So, for your next study break, take a nap! Experts at The Guardian reported taking a  “short afternoon catnap of 20 minutes yields…enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood, and sharpens motor skills.”

Estimated Time: 20 min

 

What is great about these study breaks is that we also get to practice some self control, since it’s easy to go on a binge and watch the whole season of Friends or take a three hour nap instead of a 20 minute one. So, before the urge hits, keep in mind the satisfying feeling of being able to check off items in your to-do list!

The Evolution of The “Selfie”

411_DS6567214Through the evolution of the internet, the self-portrait became the fixed photo worth taking.  The photographic images change so much on social-networking sites that one photo of you is never enough for new eyes to rate.

An increasing number of posts on social networking ask other girls to “like their status” and get “rated.” To some, the higher the number means being physically beautiful. As intense as that sounds, social networking sites push many young people, namely girls, to post photos that mimic Andy Warhol’s representation of “Monroe.”

It is great to see young people trying the style of a contemporary artist, but when does it begin to cross the line of being obsessed with their looks?

The Self-Portrait and Social Networks: Just Like Marilyn?

The fact that girls mimic Andy Warhol’s representation of “Monroe” is not because that they’ve all become narcissistic, vain young people, but they want to feel like they too have symbolically interpreted their physical features with the same self-worth as Monroe did during her time.

Marisela Lariz, 20, says, “Girls put photos of themselves and their bodies because they see other prettier girls. They may feel insecure, when really they should feel confident to know that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone is different and beautiful in their own way.”

Girl’s photo representations are a form of Monroe’s continued living because she is remembered for loving herself as a full figured woman.

Yasmine Gonzalez, 17, says, “Some girls may think they’re ugly when they’re not. Every girl is beautiful. And I think they just say negative things about themselves because what others have said about them.”

Girls try to attain that same value Monroe achieved as a full figured woman, by creating multiple images of themselves in different poses in an effort to become like the iconic piece. Self-photos are normative. They place their heads, almost like a magazine advertisement does when trying to sell a product. These young girls begin to resemble their clothes, their half short shorts and their hair styles. Long gone are the images to show real life.

The Costs of Getting  ”Likes”

Does seeing so many young girls with the need to show their figure while they talk to, hang with, or even ignore someone else in the photo, make it sociologically corrupt?

Paola Hernandez, 13, exclaims, “Some people judge you on your clothes. The internet is sort of to blame. Some people are cyber bullies!”

For example, a piece created by Melissa Ventura, 15, shows her in colored images using ½ of the screen unlike that of Warhol’s piece, which uses the entire canvas.Ventura, says, “We had to do that for an Art Project.”

Gonzalez adds, “There [are] a lot of creepers on here who be trying to talk to people and say sweet stuff and pretend to be someone else and [eventually] meet up with the girl. Next thing you, know, that girl could be missing since she posted photos of herself. I see a lot of girls do that, I don’t like it. They want attention and are desperate for Facebook likes and that way can comment on how “sexy, hot, cute, pretty, etc.”

Joselin Garcia, 13 agrees. She says, “People on Facebook like or comment on their photos. It could be a reason why girls would be obsessed with their appearance.”

Gonzalez is quick to add, “Well I blame the Internet and the people. The Internet, because they don’t delete anything inappropriate that people post, they leave it there. And people, they shouldn’t even be posting stuff like that in the Internet.”
Still whether you agree or not, girls only become confident if the ability to become educated is instilled at a young age. Lariz says it best, “True confidence leaves no room for jealousy when you know you are great. There is no need to hate [on each other.]”

Thinking Ahead: Investing

Many of us have been taught to save our money from a young age. We are told to put it away for the unexpected and costly incidents life throws at us, or for the foreseeable future ventures, like college that we hope to pursue. However, did you know that there is a way to grow your savings without having to work for it? The process is called investing, and while there are many ways to invest, some far more complicated than others, I will share a few of the basic investing techniques my father taught me.

First, let’s explore investing a little further. According to Investopedia.com, investing is the process of “putting your money to work for you.” When you put your money (i.e. invest it) towards something with the expectation of making a profit in return, this is investing.  There are many things a person can invest in such as a company, real estate, a project, a car, or the stock market, etc.

Unlike a job, investing does not require your physical presence and labor to produce profits. All that is required is some research to make sure your investments are secure. In other words, it’s like making any other purchase. Let’s say I want to buy an HD TV that will last me for 10 years. I will have to do research to find out which TVs are the most durable, while still providing the quality I desire. It’s the same with investing. You should research a potential investment to make sure that its prospects are good. Without doing research, I may buy a TV that doesn’t deliver the HD quality I seek, or the 10 year longevity I hope for, which would make it a bad investment for me. Research, research, research!

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER.
Investing is a way to earn money, however, the income made by investing is not a substitute for a job but a supplement. Despite the research involved, no investment is a guarantee. There is always a risk that comes with investing, but the more research you do, the more certainty you have that something with produce a positive outcome. For instance, the TV I ultimately choose to buy has a 95% approval rating, an exceptionally good rate with much promise. However, it leaves a 5% margin of error in which my TV has the potential to fail, and I have to keep this in mind as I invest money into this new TV.

As the expression goes, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” When investing, you don’t want to put all of you money in one place. This reason is simple: because there is risk involved in every investment, it is possible that you will lose the money you have invested. The solution is to diversify. Put a little of your money into one thing, a little into another, etc. and always make sure to have enough savings on hand.

There are many ways to invest your money. I will list two simple ways below.

Certificate of Deposit (CD)
Putting your money in a Certificate of Deposit is a way to earn interest greater than that of a traditional savings account. A CD functions much in the same way as a savings account, however, it comes with restrictions that a traditional savings account does not, because it is not an account where you can make transactions (withdrawals, transfers, etc). For example, you must agree to put your money in a CD for a set period of time. During this time you may not withdraw your money, or you will incur a penalty. Also important, the interest rate on a CD remains set, regardless of the market changes throughout the year. Typical time periods for a CD are anywhere between 1 month to 5 years. To illustrate how a CD works, let’s use this example from Investopedia.com:
Let’s say you purchase a $1,000 dollar, year-long CD with an interest rate of 5%. At the end of the year you will have earned ($1,000 x 1.05) $50 for a total of $1,050. This may not seems like much, but here is the trick to investing, though you could withdraw the $50, you may also choose to reinvest it. This process of reinvestment is called compounding and will help your money grow even more. Now, you reinvest the $1,050 in another CD at a 5% interest rate. At the end of the year you will have earned ($1,050 x 1.05) or $52.5 for a total of $1,102.5.

Money Market

A money market functions essentially the same way as a certificate of deposit. However, different restrictions apply. With a money market, the rules are much more flexible. Unlike a CD, a money market allows you to withdraw money at any time, but only so many times in a set period. For instance, your bank may only allow you to withdraw money 6 times in 3 months. Additionally, you may withdraw as much money as you want, but you have to maintain a minimum balance at all times. Just say you put $1,000 into a money market, but your bank requires a minimum balance of $100. You may withdraw as much money as you want and up to 6 times in 3 months, but you cannot let your money market balance go below the $100 limit. Though the interest rate in a money market is greater than a traditional savings account, unlike a CD the rate is not set. For instance, if the market takes an upturn or a downturn, the interest rate may fluctuate to accommodate the market changes. With a money market, time commitments are also more flexible, allowing you to determine their longevity. The same rules apply in terms of earning interest, but remember that if you withdraw certain amounts of money, your interest earnings will be lower, and also more difficult to calculate, just as the changing interest rate makes determining your earnings difficult.
These are only two, of many different ways to invest your money. If you’re interested in learning more ways to manage and grow your money, consider doing more research, or taking a class. Talk to your parents and a banker about opening a CD or Money Market account. Happy saving!
GLOSSARY

Investing: To put (money) to use… in something offering potential profitable returns

Profit: Gain (In this case monetary) derived from a successful investment

Prospects: An apparent probability, future outlook

Supplement: An addition made to reinforce, or complete something

Interest: A sum paid or charged for the use of money or for borrowing money, usually expressed as a percentage of money to be paid over a given period.

Transaction: a negotiation carried out to its conclusion (Ex: the withdrawal, deposit, or transfer of money)

Compound Interest: Interest earned and calculated based on the previous interest gained.

Definitions provided by Dictionary.com

Mind the Gap

For the past one hundred plus years, equality has become an increasingly important issue. Between the Women’s Suffrage movement of the late 19th century and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, one can comfortably say that things have indeed gotten better for most underprivileged groups. Unfortunately, the work of our great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and mothers is not yet finished. It is up to the women of our generation to keep the momentum going and continue to change the country in hopes of a better life. While there are several women’s issues at hand today, one of the most significant concerns is that of unequal pay.

“In the 21st century, there is just no excuse for this kind of gender inequality,” said Alana Ramirez, 23.

The infamous gender wage gap directly affects women of all ages, racial groups, and backgrounds. In 1963, when women were being paid 55 cents to every dollar a man earned, John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act, aiming to abolish wage disparity based on sex. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time, on average, still earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. When broken down into racial and ethnic groups, Black women earn 69 cents and Latinas earn 60 cents to the dollar.

Leigh Villahermosa, 24, thinks that “the gender wage gap is an extremely big issue that has plagued this country’s history. America is supposed to be a country of equal opportunity and yet we still continuously apply new ideas to old habits. Women are working harder and persevering more than ever before and yet the glass ceiling still patronizes us from above.”

Although Ramirez has never experienced wage discrimination herself, she believes that it is still present today. “If the U.S. Census Bureau continues to show statistics of women being paid an unequal amount to men for the same types of jobs, it means that the government needs to be taking more action to close this gap,” she said.

The persistent wage gap affects not only women, but entire families. Inequalities in pay mean that women have more trouble paying bills. The problem initially blamed the career choices that women are inclined to pick. Female occupational preferences tend to include the non-profit sector, healthcare, and education, which are lower paid jobs. Despite this tendency, women get paid less than their male counterparts even in industries where they make up the majority of employees.

A study conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in 2012, Graduating to a Pay Gap, shows that when men and women attend the same kind of college, pick the same major and accept the same type of job, women will still, on average, earn only 82 cents to every dollar a man makes. The authors of the study purposefully tried to make their subjects as similar as possible, tracking graduates with identical collegiate experiences, limited familiarity with the work world, and without spouses or children. Their results showed wage disparities between men and women in the vast majority of occupations.

There are all kinds of studies conducted by economists, experts, and the Government Accountability Office. They all come to the same conclusion: women are being paid less than men for the same jobs. While education was once a determining factor for this gap, women are now outpacing men in acquiring college degrees but still fall behind in wages. Additionally, the pay gap is much worse for some women than others. As mentioned, Black and Latina women get paid significantly less than their White counterparts. As women age, the wage gap also grows, with younger women more closely approaching pay equity. And although working mothers and wives demand more money to pay the bills, they are more likely to be low earners and have fewer hours in the labor market, with the opposite being true for men. They are seen as less reliable and more likely to take time off for childcare or possible pregnancies. On top of this being a problem in itself, it gets worse for women of color who are statistically more likely to be single mothers and the primary breadwinners.

There are few reasons cited for the gender wage gap. In the 2003 book Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever state that “many women are so grateful to be offered a job…they accept what they are offered and don’t negotiate their salaries” (Babcock and Laschever). The AAUW study also observed this phenomenon, adding that it “may reflect women’s awareness that employers are likely to view negotiations by men more favorably than negotiations by women” (AAUW). Another factor is the assumption that women are more likely than men to have interrupted careers or to work part-time. The most debated reason is that of gender discrimination.

Women have become fed up after decades of being “worth” less than equally educated men. In order to fight this disparity, the Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced to the U.S. Congress in November of 2010 and again in June 2012. It was rejected both times. The act would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act, closing loopholes that have made the law less effective over the years. It would also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss salary information with co-workers. In January of 2013, the act was again reintroduced and an action is being awaited. Although the scope of the situation may seem too big, there is something every woman can do: speak up.

Both Ramirez and Villahermosa believe in the power of asserting oneself.

“Don’t continue to let these injustices pave the way for future generations,” Villahermosa said. “We may suffer defeats along the way, but our voice is what will stand the test of time and what will eventually give us our true equal opportunity.”

Ramirez said it is “crucial for women to inform the public of their experience with discrimination so that others can realize that it is real and not just a distant statistic.”

Although it may be hard to believe, people are listening.

FAFSA: Myth VS Reality

Every new year along with holiday celebrations and family gatherings, students getting ready to go to college set aside time to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal Student Aid consists of government loans and grants (free money) that are given to students who decided to pursue higher education. Yet many students fail to complete their FAFSA application because they often have misleading information or misconceptions about the process. Here are five myths that often keep students from filing for federal student aid:

1. Myth: My parents make too much money!

Reality: According to the FAFSA website, there is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. Your parents may make “too much” money for you to qualify for grants (free money based on need, or specialty), but federal aid also provides students (and parents) with low interest and long-term loans.

 

2. Myth: I/My parents haven’t filed my/their tax returns.

Reality: If your parents haven’t filed their tax returns don’t worry or stress about it! While filling out your FAFSA you can enter estimates of your tax amounts. Once your parents (or you) have filed that year’s tax returns, you can log back in, change the amount, and resubmit your application. But remember, this has to be done no later than your school’s filing deadline.

 

3. Myth: I haven’t decided what college I’m attending this fall.

Reality: You don’t have to rush into making a decision! According to the Federal Financial Aid website ,”You can use the Federal School Code Search to search for colleges you’re interested in including on your FAFSA. You can also find detailed college information, like tuition and fee amounts and graduation rates, and compare that information for up to 10 colleges at a time.”

4. Myth: My parents don’t have a social security number.

Reality: If your parents do not have a Social Security Number, do not worry! As long as you are eligible to receive aid there should be no reason to worry. When asked to provide a Social Security Number for one or more parents that do not have one  enter 000-00-0000 as an alternative.

5. Myth: I’m attending a technical/vocational school not a community college/university.

Reality: Federal student aide is available for most trade, vocational schools as well as community colleges and universities. Jennifer Camacho, a student at Portland Community College (PCC), remembers, “I didn’t know that student loans could pay for a community college. I put off school for a year because I thought I didn’t have enough money to pay for college. Once I found out I could get government loans to pay for some classes here at PCC I started school right away.”

While the application is available starting January 1st, deadlines for completing and submitting the FAFSA application vary by date depending on the prospective college or university. It is important that no matter what path you take to pursue an education, that you remember there are ways to pay for college and FAFSA is one of them. Filing a FAFSA also provides financial information that your school uses to determine what student aid from the University/College is available to you.

Scholarship Tips

Looking into the future can be daunting, but not knowing how to pay for that future is even more disheartening. Don’t stress after you realize you probably won’t be able to pay for college out of your own pocket, or if you need extra money to study abroad while in college. There are scholarships for everyone, even if your academics aren’t impressive. Scholarship money is waiting for you all over the internet; all you have to do is apply to a few and be grateful. Here are some steps you can take that will help you OBTAIN a prosperous future.

Observe and Learn

The internet is the mecca of scholarship opportunities; you just need to know where to find them. First, you want to keep your talents and strong points in mind. If you write like Shakespeare and are not as up to par with math, applying for an engineering scholarship might not be the best idea. Make a list of what makes you unique, your strong points, accomplishments and know your grade point average (GPA). Note: this information will also come in handy while writing an application essay if one is required. Now you’re ready to search; you can find many links to other links on some websites.

You might have to register for some of the websites but they will help you hone in on what suits you best, these include:

Scholarships.com

Fastweb.com

collegeprowler.com

Women scholarship programs

Hispanic Scholarships

Hispanic Scholarship fund

and more

 

Brainstorm and Research

Most deadlines to apply fall between February and May, so if you’re one of the many procrastinators out there take a night off to get things done. Try to have your information ready ahead of time, possibly during or before winter break. Before applying, know everything there is to know about the scholarship. Sometimes you’ll find programs that offer scholarships online or through participation. While April Davila applied for a scholarship she kept her spirits up by thinking, “I prepared for them by liking the fact that I was preparing myself for a ‘brighter future.’” Research the organization or company, and know what they’re offering. Read the directions, fine print, and qualifications thoroughly. Learn every date, requirement, regulation, and rule. It’s also good to ask questions, it sounds like a lot of work but most of the information is given to you on the first page. It might also be good to research those who have won the scholarships in the past.

 

Talley your data

Make a list of the scholarships you’re applying for by amount, deadline, and requirements, that way you can decide which is more attainable. Pay attention to detail, make a list of your accomplishments, community service hours, and any other extra curricular activities that hold merit. By knowing these accomplishments you can apply the right information to the right place. This would be a great start to begin an outline for your cover letter and possibly your resume. It’s also good to get help from your school counselor or college recruiter because they know who you are, what you’ve done, and they usually have different ways to apply for college each year. Davila states, “I was told of them (scholarships) through Davis High School, they really prepared me for getting money.”

Achieve Your Goals

Start applying! Apply yourself while applying for those scholarships. Make sure you always check back to everything you’ve accomplished and use it to your advantage. Start an outline or make bullet points on what you want to put in your essay and application. Tell them about yourself, let them know why you deserve the scholarship (because you do), and be specific. Remember to look over the application before you turn it in. For the short paragraphs and essays, make sure you don’t have any misspelled words or grammatical mistakes; be sure everything is perfect.

 

Inform Yourself

You don’t have to apply to all of your scholarships at once, but remember deadlines, you don’t want to miss one. Make sure you stay up to date with your application status and keep an eye out for any feedback after you’ve turned it in. Find out how long it usually takes the organization to get back to their applicants. If you have any questions make sure to contact the organization via email, phone, letter, or however they want to be contacted. Also remember that some colleges offer their own scholarship based on your high school GPA or community service work. Janette Mendoza directly received a scholarship from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and explains, “I didn’t do anything but check something off saying that I wanted to be eligible for a UTEP scholarship.”

 

Note-take, and Send

If you didn’t get a scholarship, find out why. Take notes on what you might have missed and learn from those mistakes. Always remember to be thankful for the opportunity. If you don’t win a scholarship and you’ve been contacting someone connected with the organization, send them a thank you email or letter just to stay on good terms; you never know when a good connection might come in handy. Never decline a scholarship, if you happen to win more than you thought, embrace it and use it for rent, food, books, gas money or save it for caffeine money (the rumors are true, coffee is essential in college). Take notes on the necessities of your next years and learn how to budget your money. When you are awarded with scholarship money remember to give thanks, send the organization a thank- you card. After a year or so, let them know that their money was given to someone who deserved it. Update the organization on how you’re doing and your accomplishments, and again be thankful.

Also remember that there are other Ways to pay for college but scholarships are free money, why not apply and see where they take you. Follow these tips to obtain a better future and always ask questions if you are unsure. Good luck on your journey and hopefully these few tips help.

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