Bay College Planning Specialists

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California Scholarships: Frauds and Scams

Recently a disturbing trend has emerged.  As the cost of college continues to spiral out of control, more and more parents are being targeted by con artists who are trying to fleece them by holding out the hope that they can get their student a scholarship.

In fact, last year parents lost more than $100 million to these swindlers…over $250,000 a day…and that’s just what gets reported! Most authorities estimate that the real amount is four or five times more than  what is listed. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has had to form a special task force just to combat this, and their complaints were up an astonishing 586% from 2005 to 2006.

So, here are seven tips to help you protect yourself:

1. Beware of people who call you to tell you that you’ve won a scholarship (especially one that you didn’t apply for) and then want to ‘confirm’ your identity by getting your name, address, bank account numbers, social security information and stuff like that. All they’re trying to do is get enough information to steal your identity.

2. Watch out for high pressure. A friend with a teenage daughter told me the story of a company that called her relentlessly trying to get their checking account information so they could deposit her funds that she had ‘won’. The reality was that company was later charged with fraud for cleaning out people’s bank accounts. A real scholarship will usually notify you by mail or at an awards ceremony.

3. Also, don’t apply for any scholarship that requires you to pay an application fee. Many of these are simply lotteries. They charge thousands of parents fees that range from $10 to $249 to enter. Then, they give away ONE token scholarship to supposedly make everything legitimate, and pocket the rest.

4. Along the same lines, don’t get suckered into paying a ‘processing fee’ for a scholarship that
you’ve won. Like I mentioned in items number one and two, they’re often just trying to get your information to steal your identity.

5. Watch out for any company that ‘guarantees’ that you will win a scholarship. No one guarantee a scholarship except the organization that is offering it. So, most of these companies are simply giving you a book full of scholarships that everyone can apply for, and taking your money. By the time that you go to file a complaint, they are out of business.

6. Most scammers try to go out of their way to use official sounding names like ‘Federal’, ‘National’, ‘Education’, or ‘Foundation’ to try and fool you. And, don’t ask me why, but many of these companies tend to be headquartered in Florida.

7. Last, if you are the victim of a scholarship scam, be sure to notify the FTC immediately. They will put you in touch with their education fraud division to assist you and remember, many of these companies will be out of business if you wait to complain.

Well, hopefully you’ll follow these tips to protect yourself. In a few days, I’ll tell you the other side of the coin: how to land a
legitimate scholarship.

Hope these tips keep you safe. More in a few days…..

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Filed under: AP Courses, College Financing, Consultants, Graduate School, Graduation, Major, Scholarship, Students, Tuition, Universities, , , , , , , , , , , ,

California College Planners – Back to School Suggestions

Yup, it’s that time of year.  Summer is pretty much behind you and you are getting ready for

" BE PREPARED "school to start.  You’re out shopping with your child & getting the necessary supplies for school.  You’re looking through the weekly Bay Area circulars to make sure you’re getting the best deals on clothes and everything else your child will need to get through this next school year.  If you’ve got an incoming freshman, you may be doing some extra coaxing and counseling as s/he nervously enters the first year of high school.  There are schedules to synchronize and activities to sign up for.  You are busy.  For many, Northern California schools started right after Labor Day.  Yes, the lazy San Francisco days of summer are gone and it’s time to look forward to the Fall and get ready for the upcoming school year. 

There are so many things that you will need to do in order to prepare your child for the upcoming year.  However, now is also the time to look beyond the immediate upcoming year and think of preparing for your child’s college plans.  There are a lot of things to accomplish in that regard during the school year.  The earlier you get a jump on things, the easier things will be for you (and your child) down the road.  We would like to be a part of the process with you.

We have divided this up so you can go directly to the section that pertains to your child.  You will also receive extra bonus points for going through the entire newsletter!  Well, not exactly, but it will definitely be useful for you to peruse through all of the sections, as they will either pertain to your child in the future, or to other children on the college path.  Getting your child through high school, let alone college, is no easy task.  Regardless of which year your child is in, there are always things that can be done to help your child along his/her path to college attendance.  We, at Bay Area College Planning, would like to help you along that path.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have.  We know how difficult and time consuming this process can be and would like to provide the necessary guidance that can make things just a little bit easier.

FRESHMAN YEAR

If your child is starting the first year of high school, this is a great time to get a jump start on the plans for college.  Your early efforts will definitely pay off in the years to come.  It’s never really too early to start and you will want to provide the best foundation for your child that will support him/her in the years to come.

Plan to meet with your child’s guidance counselor. This is the start of your child’s high school career.  Make sure you start it off on the right foot.  Make an appointment with your child’s guidance counselor to go over academic plans for the next 4 years.

Increase your child’s vocabulary. There are several ways to do this.  One of the best methods is through reading books.  Find interesting but challenging books for your child that will expand his/her mind and vocabulary.  You can also have your child write down the words that s/he is not familiar with and afterwards you can go through the words together.

Plan to have your child take a challenging course load that also fulfills college requirements. It’s important that your child chooses classes that will fit the requirements for college acceptance.  Be aware that most colleges have “core requirements.”  Your child’s acceptance may literally depend on how well s/he did in these core classes. They are usually as follows:

Math: 

Three to four years (including algebra, geometry, and calculus)

English: 

Four years (composition, literature, speech)

Social Sciences: 

Three years (history, sociology, psychology, political science, geography, economics)

Science: 

Three years (earth science, biology, chemistry, physics)

Depending on the college your child would like to attend, there may be additional requirements.  These courses are, however, what most colleges use when considering students for acceptance.

Have a heart-to-heart with your childFreshman year is notoriously difficult for many students.  Your child is officially with the “big kids” now and that is a daunting idea for many teenagers.  Take the time to go over what is to be expected when starting high school and let them know it’s all right to feel overwhelmed.  If your child knows s/he can depend on you, things will go a lot smoother throughout the year. 

SOPHOMORE YEAR

Your child is now officially NOT a freshman.  This often is followed by a huge sigh of relief from many incoming sophomores!  Your child is no longer “learning the ropes” but is, by now, used to high school and what is expected.  If freshman year was a rocky start, then take the time to help your child feel comfortable and confident going into this next academic year. 

Plan to take “The PLAN,” if your child’s school requires it. There are some schools that require 10th graders to take the PLAN in order to prepare for the ACT.  Check with your child’s school to see if this is a requirement.  If so, schedule a time to have your child take the test. 

Have your child sign up to meet with his/her guidance counselor regarding the PSAT. The PSAT is administered in October.  The PSAT is a preliminary test that provides students with practice for the SAT.  Your child can also enroll in the PSAT/NMSQT.  This stands for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit ScholarshipQualifying Test.  It gives students a chance to enter the National Merit Scholarship Corporation scholarship programs. 

JUNIOR YEAR

If your child is a junior, high school could now be more of a piece of cake.  S/he has maneuvered through the freshman and sophomore years and is now ready to tackle the junior year.  S/he has now officially joined the ranks of the “Upperclassmen.”  Things will start to heat up this year.  You will want to start thinking seriously about which colleges your child is interested in.  

Register for the October PSAT. It’s September and we’re several weeks away from the PSAT that is administered in October.  Make sure your child is registered this month so s/he is ready to take the test in October. 

Have your child plan to save samples of his/her work throughout the year. It’s a good idea to keep an academic portfolio.  This should include all of your child’s best work throughout the academic year.  Keep samples of your child’s best papers or projects in this portfolio. 

Have your child attend an ACT/SAT preparation workshop. If there is a workshop in your area that offers a preparation course for the ACT/SAT, then it would be a good idea for your child to register for this workshop.  If not, there are practice books or software that you can purchase that will also help to prepare. 

Have your child consider running for leadership positions. Junior Class President.  It has a nice ring to it, yes?  Well, not only does it have a nice ring to it, it looks great on high school transcripts and college applications.  Colleges love to see students who have participated in leadership positions.  If your child feels up to it, have him/her consider running for office!

SENIOR YEAR

You’ve got an incoming senior.  Wow!  Your child has successfully completed three years of high school in order to get to this stage.  That is no small task.  This will be a busy year.  You will have a lot on your plate and staying organized and on top of things will certainly benefit you in the long run.  Here are some tips that will help your high school senior along the way.

Have your child request all of the applications from the colleges s/he is interested in. The application process can be long and tedious.  The sooner your child gets a jump on things the better.  Have your child write, call or request online all of the applications needed for admission and financial aid. 

Keep a chart of all of the application deadlines. It’s not easy to keep track of all the deadlines for each school.  Make a chart that has all of the colleges and their deadlines in one spot so you and your child are always aware of what is coming up next. 

Register for the October/November SAT Reasoning Test and/or SAT Subject Tests or the September/October ACT. September will be gone before you know it.  Make sure to register for the tests that you and your child decide are best for the institutions where s/he plans to apply.  The deadlines are fast approaching so make sure you register as soon as possible.

Plan to have your child meet with his/her guidance counselor. Start the year off right by meeting with the guidance counselor at the beginning of the school year.  Your child and the guidance counselor can go over his/her academic and co-curricular record to make sure that everything is accurate and appropriate for the schools your child would like to attend. 

Soon there will be a crisp breeze in the air to remind us that Fall is officially here.  Let us help you start off this school year right.  Call on us with any questions you might have about getting your child ready to attend college.  We would be more than happy to help! 

Until next month…

Your Friends at San Francisco Bay Area College Planners

Filed under: AP Courses, College Financing, Consultants, Graduation, Students, Tuition, Universities, , , , , , , ,

San Francisco Bay Area College Planning Specialists Tips

Should I Apply Under One of These Plans?

You should apply under an early decision or early action plan only if you are very sure of the college you want to attend. Do not apply under an early decision or early action plan if you plan to weigh offers and financial aid packages from several colleges later in the spring. Also, you shouldn’t apply early if it is advantageous to have more of your senior year work to show a college.

Hope you found our “Tip of the Week” to be informative and helpful. Until next week…

Your Friends At Bay Area College Planning Specialists

Filed under: Admissions, Applications, College Financing, Consultants, Students, Tuition, Universities, , , ,

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