College planning has become more complex over the past years, with different application portals, requirements and deadlines. Careers and training programs have also changed, however, there is free help available for those who would like to learn more! The following programs are offered online to support students and their families in planning for their future:
Ethan Sawyer is also known as “The Essay Guy”. If you Google him you will find a plethora of free resources. His goal is to create more joy, ease and purpose to the college planning process. Although he began his venture in 2011 as an essay support guy, he has since expanded. He has excellent blogs, videos, webinars and workshops for students and their families. I especially enjoy his podcasts. Topics on his podcasts span from funding college to resources for LGBTQ students and advice for homeschoolers.
The Matchlighters Scholars Program joins high-achieving low-income students with a college counselor who has experience in navigating students through the process of applying to college. Students must apply for and be accepted, but upon acceptance they will receive 10 hours of virtual support from the counselor who is “matched” to them. If you are a United States citizen, a second-semester junior in high school who has an unweighted GPA of 3.0 or higher, and qualify as lower-income you may qualify for this program.
From The Matchlighters website, I found this testimonial:
“If it weren’t for College Essay Guy and the Matchlighters scholarship, the college process would’ve been forever a mystery to me. Taking the initiative and immersing myself in Ethan’s videos and meetings with my Matchlighters volunteer was the best decision I ever made. Along with Ethan’s incredible help, my Matchlighters volunteer guided me along the college process: helping me with my college list, answering my naive questions, and providing me with feedback on my writing. As I’m the first to attend a four-year college here in the U.S, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Ethan and the Matchlighters Scholarship Program.”
Raise.me is a free micro-scholarship site that students can begin as early as 9th grade. Instead of waiting to learn what scholarships you may be able to obtain from your high school or college, you can begin the journey by inputting your current extra-curricular activities. Your good grades, community service, etc., all help you to be better prepared to succeed in college. There are over 300 participating colleges (including University of CA). As the micro-scholarships grow, students can also research the schools and see which ones are a fit for them. Of course, the winning scholarships are awarded upon acceptance at the school, but the average scholarship earned on Raise.me is $5,000 for each year of college. It is well worth the effort!!
Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization that you may be familiar with. Teachers often use the site as a supplement to teaching particular concepts. Short videos are used to assist students with learning everything from geometry to computer programming, art and biology. Did you know, though, they offer a free course on College Admissions? The series of videos and timelines create a comprehensive tutorial that covers the costs and benefits of college, compares college types, as well as how to overcome obstacles and make high school count. It is free, easy to access and an exceptional learning tool for students who would like to learn more about options and the process of preparing and applying to colleges.
The website of The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) is an impressive resource for both parents and students. They host virtual and in-person college fairs throughout the year. The next free virtual college fair will be held on April 23. Students and their families can register online to meet with specific college representatives. Students ask questions of the college representatives and listen to the presentations to learn about 300+ college institutions. Check out the free resources for students and parents. You can learn about fee waivers, how to build a college list, coping with anxiety, writing a college essay and much more.
My final free resource for today is “Career OneStop, Get My Future’s” website. This site provides information on various topics through engaging videos. This site has assessments to discover your interests and strengths and match them to different career options. It includes the level of education needed. There are also links to apprenticeships opportunities, Job Corps, banking and credit and much more!
I hope these resources may be helpful as you navigate your future!