From High School to College

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Every year students across the nation complete their high school career and prepare to enter into their chosen colleges. College is a symbol of independence, adventure, and individual growth, a stepping stone towards becoming responsible, mature young adults. Whether the college is located in the same hometown or 300 miles away, a transition from high school to college is something that every incoming freshman must face head-on. This transition can come easily for some, while for others it might take a while to adjust. So what exactly is the transition?

For some this might mean adjusting to a new environment, making new friends, developing stronger studying skills, being home away from family, or dealing with culture shock (or a combination of several factors). Since every incoming freshmen will experience college differently due to a variety of different reasons, it is difficult to give a general summary of what college will be like for a student.

Karen Corral, who just finished her first year of college at St. Edward’s University in Texas, reflects back on how her expectations of college changed over the course of the year. “My expectations of college before entering was that it [was] extremely fun as my friends and social media made it seem…[but college] is never what you think it is and you should not go in there with a closed mindset,” explains Corral.

Diving deeper into her own college experience, Corral acknowledges that she had a culture shock even though the university was still within the same state as her hometown. When comparing the two cities, she realized that the “places are complete opposites.” Moving from Austin to El Paso, Texas was the biggest culture shock for Corral.

The culture shock was not the only thing that she experienced at her new college. She had to learn how to manage her time better, become informed about mental health, how to deal with homesickness, and she realized how hard it was to keep up with high school friends. For those that are entering college soon, she advises that “you should not go with an expectation either high or low, but instead with realistic goals, tips, and an open mind to get the best of the college experience.”

Isabella Drogo, who just completed her first year at the University of Rochester , had similar yet different experience to Corral. Drogo recalls thinking that her primary concern was just going to be the academics and nothing else. However, Drogo decided to join the Women’s Rugby team, something that had been her passion since high school. “Joining Rugby was the best thing I did all year since it helped me ease comfortably into college environment, find close friends outside my residential hall, and I got to meet a lot of interesting girls,” laughs Drogo.

With the newfound sense of independence that Drogo felt in the first week of college, she felt ready for the college experience. Although she felt free, she did not forget about her close friends from back home and how “they were always there for [her].” Since Drogo is a native of Buffalo, about an hour away from her university, she was comforted with the knowledge that she was close enough to visit her friends and family.

There is no way to predict what will happen in the following four years to come after high school. Majors might be switched, a class might be too difficult, the pass-fail option might suddenly become reasonable, or an unknown sport to you might perk your interest. Having strict expectations of what a college experience should be like, might prevent one from actually enjoying what the college has to offer. Apart from the academics, college is also about learning how to adapt to new situations, knowing how to navigate with more added responsibilities, effectively manage stress, and learning how to cope with possibly being away from friends and family. College is not just an opportunity to further your education, but it also gears students for the “real world” after graduation. Although the college experience will vary from individual to individual, and there will sometimes be uncertainty of what the future holds, the unexplored possibilities that any college offers should be taken advantage of. What the individual chooses to their experiences to be, that is what will be given.

Creating S.M.A.R.T Goals

Latina Girl Writing - LatinitasFrom school to family and friends, you have goals in every aspect of your life. If you want to reach your goals, it isn’t enough to just say you want to get better grades. You have to come up with S.M.A.R.T. goals to create a plan to reach your goals.

First,  what is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

S.M.A.R.T Goals

First, you need to make sure that you have specific goals. Then, you will start creating a S.M.A.R.T.  goal setting. S.M.A.R.T.  goal setting brings structure and track ability into your goals and objectives. Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality.

Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements by having concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence because it cannot be measured; however,  not eating junk food anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle,where you eat vegetables twice a day and exercise more frequently, is. 

Next, you’ll need to create deadlines. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high. Raising against time to complete a goal will not only make the process more stressful, but it can also weaken the learning path of achieving your goals.


Be realistic with yourself, but don’t beat yourself up if it takes you longer to accomplish a goal. Remember that what you focus on, like viewing something in a negative or positive light, will affect your goals.

Don’t be scared to re-organize or change your goals. Sometimes the ideal opportunity to accomplish a goal will come at a later date/time — it’s not a bad thing! Keeping track of your goals as you accomplish them is a great self-esteem booster. Girl, you better be writing those goals in a place where is easy to remember. Make a check mark to every goal in your list that you have already accomplished. It will make you feel better to know that you are almost done. Don’t forget to smile! It is rewarding to know that you finish something from your list.

Best Apps For Your Education

latina girl on computerDid you know that thirty-eight percent of college students cannot go more than 10 minutes without technology, according to a study conducted by CourseSmart and Wakefield Research. Seventy-three percent said they would not be able to study without any form of technology.

Education has transformed drastically. More students take online courses and a lot of assignments and tasks are now expected to be completed and turned in electronically. Paper and pen have gone out the window, even textbooks are dwindling with the rise of eBooks.

It is a New Year and a new semester of school, so time to shrug off the holiday spirit and put on something a little more… studious. It is time for you to get started on your New Year’s resolution of attaining that golden 4.0 this semester. We are here to help with the best apps for your education. So dust off your iPads, iPhones, and tablets – who are we kidding, they weren’t collecting dust – and start downloading these free tools for success.

Spirals? Folders? Binders? Who needs then now-a-days with Evernote’s app-ly existence. For all those students who use their iPads and tablets for quick note taking in lecture, this app has all you need to stay organized and informed. Along with having the ability to create your own “notebook” for each class, this app contains a text feature for notes and a camera/photos feature that allows you to snap a quick pick – maybe a graph or a table – to put in your notebook. A cool part is that you can share your notebook with someone else to collect ideas and to do some research for the upcoming group project! Evernote, also, doubles as a planner. You can set reminders and create a to-do list to keep you on task. There is a lot going on with this app and it can get a little tricky to figure out, but with some exploration you’ll become an Evernote pro in no time. It is one of the few apps that is multifaceted.
“This app is great for note taking on my tablet,” University of Texas at Austin student, Maria Morales said. “I like how it syncs up with my stuff and has everything at your finger tips.”
Evernote deserves a gold star for its adaptation to the modern-student. Plus, you can sync the app with your phone and tablet — both Android and Apple!

If you find yourself jotting down quick to-do lists on Sticky notes, corners of papers, or yourself, this app is for you. It’s a planner in the disguise of multiple to-do lists. This app allows you to create as many lists as possible, whether it is a grocery list, to-do list, or a bucket list. For each item on your list, you can set a due date or a reminder – which is really helpful for when you’re adding a homework assignment or an assigned reading! It allows you to see what you have due during the week as a whole, so no need to flip through all your lists to see what you having going on. It can sync up with your email and allows you to even share your list with someone in your contacts or publish it.
“I find this app to be so much fun. It’s so easy and it makes me feel so organized,” said Georgie Jasso, University of Texas at San Antonio student. “I find myself making lists for everything just so I can use this app to check it off. I like how it says completed when you do.”
Wunderlist excels in its simplicity and its ability to make yourself feel so accomplished when you check off a completed task – especially with the little ‘ding’ it makes.

We all know that grades mean everything – they do when you’re trying to pass a class and get credit for it – so it is frustrating when you have that one professor who waits until the last minute to average out your grade. The professor will pass back your paper or test, let you see what you earned, and then pick it back up. Of course it won’t be posted and averaged out until a week before grades are due. It’s all on you to keep track and to know if you’re getting that A you need to keep your pristine GPA. So to make your life simpler and a little less stressful, the app Grades+ will be your savior. This app enables you to input your grades for homework, quizzes, tests, papers, and more for each class you take. Its handiest feature is that you can set a “target grade” and it will let you know what you need to make on your assignments to reach your goal. The number of hours is taken into consideration making its GPA calculation – for overall or just that single class – is spot-on. There is even a reminder feature for due dates.
“I was always keeping track of my grades. I like to know how I’m doing at all times,” said Daniella Aguirre, student at Texas A&M. “I like Grades+ because it does all the work for you – a plus for a lazy college student with a lot on their schedule. I like that it even lets me know what I need to score to get the grade I want in class.”
Grades+ is a useful and successful personal grade book.

Are you an auditory learner? Notes help, but what actually gets you to understand is re-listening to a lecture and making sure you got every key point and definition thrown your way.  Recordium is a recording app – and yes, that’s its only feature. But what makes it so effective  is that it allows you to add notes, tags, highlight, and pictures as you record. This makes it simpler to go back and listen to the audio with additional snippets of information. You just set record and tap the whichever button you want to include an additional memo. There is also a search feature that makes sifting through the masses of audio files more user friendly. Also, you can upload your recording to Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive, or email it.
“I got this app because I was testing out if recording a lecture would help me study better. I ended up really liking it! It’s a recording that is tailored to how you want to study. I’ll add some notes or even highlight to make sure I’m getting all that I can from it,” said Gabriela Gonzales, student at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Recordium is another simple and basic app that deserves an applause for meeting the needs of a student.


Canvas is a platform that more than 800 colleges, universities, and school districts are using now. It’s how you get your grades, syllabus, assignments, readings, contact your professor and classmates, and much much more. But did you know that there is an app for that? Well there is! And if you find yourself living, breathing, and eating (well not exactly) Canvas, then download it and always have it at your fingertips.

SuperNotes is a lot like Evernote just without all the bells and whistles. It is a simple note taking app that is divided by notes, lectures, and memos. It has a recording feature that allows you to record lectures, a camera feature, and even a reminder feature! It’s worth a look, if you want to try other note-taking options.

Cyber bullying is real. And with the growth of technology and social media, it has grown too. But here’s a great new app that’ll help you put a stop to that. Censogram links with your Instagram and allows you to scan your account for any negativity that doesn’t belong amongst your glorious pictures of beautiful scenery, candid moments with your friends, and your cat Fluffy. You can set up keywords for it to detect and it can even help you block those associated with those comments. It’s a breath of comment control. This app is new and growing and unquestionably worth the $3.

Technology is on the rise and taking over educational institutions, so keep a look out for more apps that can help you down your path of success.

Choosing the Right College


College Chica 2013

With so many different colleges out there to choose from, it can be a big task trying to determine which one is the best pick. Many times,the  popularity of a college or its placement on the annual U.S. News & Ranking can make a college seem like a great choice, but there are a lot of different factors about a college that, based on your own interests and personal preferences, can make it a great or bad choice for you. Finding out what you want in a college can help you decide on one that best suits YOU!

Academic Programs that Spark Your Interest

Taking time to think about what you want to study can help guide you in the college selection process.  Gladys, 16, shared that “the one important thing for me is that they have my major, that’s the deal breaker,” and is looking specifically for programs in political communications or broadcast journalism.  Cristina, 16, says she looks for “Programs with something having to do with medicine, because there are a lot of colleges that don’t have that.” Finding a college that has programs for what interests you is a great way to start finding stand-out colleges to apply to. It is normal to change majors or interests during college, too, so looking for colleges that fit a range of your interests is also a smart move.



We hear so many stories about how expensive college is, but this doesn’t have to discourage you. When looking at cost, Joella, 14, says she looks at “price, and if I can get scholarships there.” Many times, colleges themselves have a wide range of scholarships to offer their students. Financial aid from the school themselves, in addition to aid given by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), can also make a college more affordable. Looking into the specific financial aid programs at each school can be helpful, since some colleges even have no-loan policies in their financial aid and offer work-study and grants to cover the cost of attending.


Location and Setting

Looking at the environment of the college is important; this is the place you will be spending 4+ years of your time, so finding an environment that suits you will make being there a happier experience.  This can include location, like what part of the country it is in, and setting, like urban, rural or suburban areas. Cristina, 16, says she “would like the college to be in a small area,” and is currently looking at a school in Colorado, while Justine, 15, has her eye on a more urban setting of California for the Fashion Institute of Design & Marketing. Based on personal preference, you might find yourself comfortable at a school in a quiet or small area, or might be more attracted to one in a busier, city setting.

School Size and Student Population

Schools can range from having a few thousand to tens of thousands of students, depending on the school’s size. The size of the school can affect things like student diversity and student-teacher ratio. Cristina,16, says she “would like a big one, because usually when at a big one there’s a lot more things offered to you,” saying she is interested in the wider range of people and clubs she will find at a big school. On the other hand, a smaller school can offer smaller class sizes, more personalized professor attention, and a more inclusive campus setting.


Preparation for the Future

Many colleges offer help to get you started on your career or find a job after you graduate. Justine, 15, is interested in studying fashion design, and says the most important thing she looks for in a college is “how it will help you in the future, after you graduate”. If this is something you look for, finding colleges with strong career service programs may be something to look into. Some colleges even offer special Co-op or internship opportunities available to students with different companies or alumni.

According to the Questbridge program’s website, other things to consider when choosing a college are, “your learning style, non-academic opportunities, social life considerations, distance from home, and opportunities to engage in things you personally enjoy,” and note that beyond just academics, “there are also considerations of personality and lifestyle.” Doing your research and outlining the things you are looking for in a college will help you to decide on a good fit for you. Finding a place that will help you achieve your academic and career goals, while also providing a happy and healthy environment for you can make your college experience much more enjoyable, and help you achieve the success you’re aiming for!

The Importance of an Internship


Latinitas El Paso

As a college student looking forward to a career in competitive fields, we hear about the invaluable experience and opportunity of internships. In order to prepare for a future in your post-grad life, you need to know some things about the work pertaining to your field. Internships give you hands-on experience as well as unique insight when it comes to figuring out your career plans. For this reason, it is important to begin considering what you should look for in an internship as a high school student. Think of an internship as opening a small window into the world of your interests which will help in deciding what to pursue for the future.

As a Communications Major and Film Studies Minor, Bria Woods surrounds herself with methods of exploring media. Woods is a development and outreach intern with the non-commercial Jazz radio station, KRTU 91.7 FM, located in San Antonio, Texas and housed at Trinity University.  Her position at the KRTU 91.7 FM as the development and outreach intern has brought her countless opportunities for personal growth.

“I have the opportunity to work very closely with our members, since we are a non commercial radio station, we are listener supported. Parts of the development aspect involves processing new memberships, to collecting gifts, to sending premiums to new members. With the outreach aspect, [which is] probably my favorite, I get to help plan and set up Jazz events around the city. I have the opportunity to meet celebrities in Jazz locally and elsewhere,” said Woods.

“Working at KRTU has helped me realize the type of work environment I flourish in, which are smaller offices, with close-knit coworkers,” adds Woods.

She worked with a close-knit community in which, “it is common to help each other with tasks,” and she delves in tasks across the board from collaborating with others, to helping out in the recording studio. One of her favorite things about the internship is that she gets to help with things outside of her job description. The position has also helped her network, a great and valuable asset to have in one’s arsenal when seeking a job. Through her boss alone, she has met countless business people, musicians and artists. The worst, she explained was having her boss resign because it felt like losing a friend in the sense that “she was like a big sister,” to Bria. The best was her starting a new trend in the office. In her dorm at Trinity, she has a quote board in which she likes to place memorable quotes that she hears in her daily life. She proposed that one was made at work, and what began as her pinning quotes to the board alone, soon grew to an office habit in which everyone was involved.

 “Working at KRTU is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s shown me what I’m capable of, which has boosted my confidence significantly, and I’ve met a lot of influential and important people that have changed my life for the better,” adds Woods.

Check your school’s website, career service center, or volunteer driven websites to see what internship is best suited for you. The opportunities are endless if you’re willing to look for them!

Latina Professionals in STEM

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The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields exist all around us, from the gravity that keeps our feet on the ground, to the way our cells are working inside our bodies. STEM fields contribute to all sorts of inventions that help in everyday life, and bring about new discoveries in our knowledge of our environment, medicine, space, and much more! According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce, Hispanics in total make up 7% of the STEM workforce in the United States, and only 3% of Latinas are represented in the STEM fields. Here are some Latinas who have made their career by making discoveries, conducting important research in STEM, and are paving the way for future Latinitas to go after their STEM dreams!

Lydia Villa-Komaroff - Cellular Biologist

Lydia Villa-Komaroff is a biologist of Mexican descent, earning her Bachelor’s degree at Goucher College and Doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the time, she was the third Mexican-American woman to earn a doctorate degree in the United States! At first, she wanted to study chemistry, and was faced with an academic advisor who told her, “Women didn’t belong in chemistry!” Despite these set-backs, she discovered her love for biology, and followed her passion. She went on to contribute to the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells, and now works a company that develops cell processing systems.

Elba Serrano - Biophysicist

Elba Serrano was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but spent many years growing up living in different parts around the world because her father was in the U.S. military. She recalls that growing up, she received a lot of bullying at school from her peers because of her brown skin and Spanish accent. As she became older, she discovered a passion for the sciences, and felt they transcended the barriers of ethnic divide. She received her PhD at Stanford University, and remembers throughout her entire education being one of the very few females in science programs, and part of even a smaller group of minority students. She is now an established Biophysicist studying the nervous system, focusing her research at the University of New Mexico on discovering ways to restore hearing loss.

Adriana C. Ocampo - Planetary Geologist

Adriana C. Ocampo was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the age of 14, she and her family came to live in the United States. She began her interest in science and space exploration early in her youth, and by her junior year in high school, was working a summer job at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Geology at California State University with a specialization in planetary science. She worked at JPL as a research scientist, became a program executive at NASA in Washington DC, and is currently working at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands as a research scientist. She contributed to various space missions, has studied planets, moons, and many other celestial bodies, and was even a part of the discover of the Yucatan Peninsula crater, believed to be the impact site of an asteroid responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs and other ancient creatures of the Earth.

Marcela Carena – Physicist

Marcela Carena was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received her degree in Physics at theInstituto of Balseiro in Argentina. She specializes in particle physics, and studies the origins of matter, and the matter and antimatter in the universe. Carena currently works as the senior theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She is a professor of physics at the University of Chicago, and advises the U.S. Department of Energy. Aside from scientific work, she has worked to establish a visitor program at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for Latin American students to come and conduct research there during their graduate education.

France A. Córdova - Astrophysicist 

France A. Córdova is of Mexican and Irish descent, getting her Hispanic roots from her father. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Stanford, thinking she would pursue a career in writing or journalism. After seeing the 1969 walk on the moon on television, a passion for science was ignited, and she went on to receive a PhD in Physics from the California Institute of Technology.  She became the second woman and youngest person to be chief scientist at NASA, and has become an award-wining astrophysicist. Throughout her career, she developed experiments to analyze space and help answer the questions of how the universe was created. She is currently the director of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. government agency that promotes STEM education and the advancement of scientific discovery.

If you’re interested in STEM, it’s never too early to start looking for related programs at your school or in your area, joining clubs at your school, or talking to teachers at school about your interests! To learn more about Latinas in STEM and how you can get started on pursuing your interests in these fields, here are a few sites to check out:

For Girls in Science:

Latinas in STEM:

Latino STEM Alliance:

Packing for College

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Ah, the dorm life! A new room, a new roommate and, most importantly, a place to call your own. Whehter it’s your first time moving out or returning back to campus for the second year, prepping and decorating your dorm room is a pretty big deal — especially if the dorm is in another city away from home.

Here are some tips about essential and definitely non-essential items to pack in order to make that suitcase (or u-haul) a little lighter this upcoming semester.

1) Learn to downsize:

“But what about my 80 pairs of shoes?!” said almost every girl ever. In college, especially if your campus is a large one, you’ll be doing a lot of walking in great distances in not the perfect air conditioned weather. So having 50+ pairs of heels in all colors and hues of the rainbow won’t be necessary, and it’ll be especially difficult to fit into that small dorm room! The same goes for plain t-shirts. Generally, five is a solid maximum number — unless you’re into band tees or something unique like that. Otherwise bring only a few as there will be free t-shirts galore at college. When packing clothes, don’t bring your entire wardrobe. Select your favorite piece and include one or two business-casual outfits for  job interviews, meet and greets, career fairs, etc. Love the nightlife? Pack a dressy outfit or two if you plan to join a sorority. Keep in mind that the less you pack the more room you’ll have in your room. Most college students agree that their suitcase grows while in college because of all the new trendy shops they discover.

2) Pack the essentials:

First-aid is important. Be sure to bring a first-aid kit in case anything happens unless you’re prepared to become bests with your neighbors.  Plus, it’s good to have in case of emergencies. Speaking from personal experience, I’ll never forget the time my friend recalled her first day of move-in after her parents left when she accidentally cut her finger and then had no first-aid kit. Yikes! It’s also very awkward to feel independent one second to completely dependent the next simply because you literally do not have the basic supplies to take care of yourself. A first-aid kit is a must but so is stocking up on your flu remedies/medication. No matter how immune you are to getting the flu or a stomach virus, living in a new city/environment will eventually catch up to you, like realizing you have allergies after moving from your home in the desert to the humid climate of the east coast. Avoid the hassle of leaving the comfort of your bed when you’re sick and stock up on ck-day(s) essentials like decongestant, stomach medicine, ginger ale, saltines and other medicine-like or edible essentials to help with your sickness.

Don’t forget to pack stationery! If you’re planning on sending handwritten letters to friends and family or want to submit formal letters to organizations, purchase a few standard sized envelopes, large manila folders, stamps, and paper.

4) Declutter your dorm, leave these things behind:

Now to things that should be forgotten, a good golden rule for this is if you only need it to go camping then you probably don’t need it at all (unless you plan on frequently camping). Leave things like mosquito-repellent and fly swatters at home. Being in a cement-surrounded room deep inside a building, you won’t be seeing much flies. Some exceptions to this rule are raid and a sleeping bag. In college, one learns and experiences the “all-nighter,” which in some cases, may involve needing to sleep someplace other than their bed. These also come in handy when needing to stay at a friend’s place last minute, or basically anywhere else that’s not your dorm.

Regardless of how far you are going, these tips can be useful when preparing to live in a dorm room for the first time. It’s important to remember the essentials and to plan ahead for what you will need a lot of, versus what you will need a little bit of. Lastly, one of the biggest things you can learn before moving out on your own for the first time is that you cannot learn EVERYTHING you need to know before actually moving out.  One of the biggest lessons you’ll learn is that mistakes are inevitable and some can only be learned after experiencing first. Pack a few keepsakes, but don’t overpack and bring your entire bedroom, childhood toys and all, with you.

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:

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.

Beyond High School Years

School, besides being a place to make new friends, helps develop worthwhile habits that are useful for your future plans. To know what you want to be later in life, you may have to analyze who you are now, your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and interests. Someone very wise once said, “If you love your job, you would never have to work a day in your life.” This means if you love what you do, you would never see it as work. This should always be the number one priority when choosing a career.

The best advice anyone could ever give you is: “Stop worrying about tomorrow and start living today.” This could be applied in many different ways, but when it comes to life after High School this means: be INVOLVED now so that you can live a stress-free life later with a more clear future.


These helpful tips will prepare you for your life beyond high school years. Follow these instructions now in order to avoid feeling anxiety later. 

1. Be open-minded: Try something new, don’t be afraid, you may never know if you like something or not until you try it. Have you been wondering about the debate club, but feel that is not for you? Why not check it out before you make assumptions! Stop wondering about the what if… and start living the why not!  It is all in the attitude! It’s how you see it and what you make of it!

“I did not know this is what I wanted to be.  I did not even know what a healthcare recruiter was, that every hospital had one, or that was even qualified to be one.  I graduated from college, put tons of applications into various jobs. I was lucky that my boss fell across me, interviewed me, and saw something he believed in enough to offer the job to me knowing I did not have any experience,” states Kimberly Rodriguez, 25, a Healthcare Recruiter for Mainland Medical Center.

2. Volunteer: Believe it or not, but giving without asking for something in return builds confidence and character. Find some free time in your weekly schedule and find an organization, club or even just someone that you care about and contribute some of your free time to them. Volunteering has great rewards, helps make long-term friendships and let’s people know that you exist. This is very helpful when filling out college and scholarship applications. Remember that just because you are not getting paid it does not mean that you should not be serious about it. Organizations and non-profits should be treated with the same respect as you would a regular job.

3. Find a Mentor: Counselors, parents and other professionals are more than just older people with jobs. They are professionals who have been in your shoes before and will be more than happy to walk you down the road. How do you find a worthy mentor? Always be on the look out! Organization speakers, family friends with careers that might be of your interest; anyone that you know or might have met recently could become your mentor. Don’t be shy, be interested in what they do and ask a lot of questions.

“In high school I was a part of National Hispanic Institute where I learned the rules of Mock trial and was surrounding by many attorneys. Some became my mentors and guided me to where I am now in law school,” says Tanya Fernandez, 23, student at Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

4.Internships, Job Shadowing, Clubs: Be out there! Ask your counselor how you can get more involved with school or your city. If you have a rough idea of what you would like to study in college, mention this to them so they can find you fitted opportunities. By being involved you will find different interests/talents and might just help polish the talents that you already have. Remember not to overload yourself with different activities, so you can give 100% to the people that believe in you. Be responsible! Or you will be wasting your time and their time.

5. Be positive! The more you enjoy what you do the better the results.

6. Research: Find someone with a name that may have the job that you might see yourself doing in some years. Read about them, their biography and experiences. This is more likely to help you get in the right path and choose your goals wisely.

Once you have figured out what and where you may want to be in the future years, write it down with BIG letters and put it where you can see it. This is to remind you of your goals and keep you focused.

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