Doorway to College Blog

Karen Nichols

Recent Posts

Does Test Anxiety Have You Worried Sick?

Posted by Karen Nichols

Aug 23, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Between 10 percent and 40 percent of students experience some level of test anxiety. For some, such anxiety amounts to a mild case of jittery nerves; for others, it can be debilitating. Symptoms can include sweaty palms, racing heart, tight chest, and nausea. Of course, such extreme reactions can negatively affect the student’s performance on an exam.

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Topics: ACT test, SAT test, test prep, test anxiety, PSAT, act prep, sat prep


Finding Your Career Niche: Journal Prompts for the Undecided

Posted by Karen Nichols

Jun 16, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Shutterstock/Dragon Images 

This article is second in a two-part series. Read the first installment here.

Do you have no earthly idea what you want to be "when you grow up”? Choosing a career field or college major can be a daunting task. Often career exploration begins with looking at your grades and standardized test scores to see where your academic strengths and weaknesses lie. Interest inventories and personality tests also can help.

While these are fine approaches, you will want to dig deeper to find the career path that is right for you. Some call this process finding your calling, passion, vocation, purpose, or bliss. Whatever the name, a little navel gazing is okay when trying to figure out want to do with your life.  

Set aside some time in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Take out a journal or notebook, and write in response to some or all of the following prompts. You can do this in one sitting, but it might be better to tackle one writing prompt a day over several days. Come back and review your responses from time to time to see if they still fit. Then add, subtract, or tweak as needed. 

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Topics: career, career planning, college major


It's FAFSA Time!

Posted by Karen Nichols

Jan 1, 2016 7:00:00 AM

It’s a new year — time for high school seniors and college students to submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for 2016–17. The mother of all Financial Aid forms, the FAFSA is required to access aid from federal, state, and college sources, both need- and merit-based. It is to your advantage to apply, whether or not you think you will qualify. Most college students receive some form of need- or merit-based aid — if they apply.

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Topics: financial aid, FAFSA


Word Power: Five Tips for Building a Commanding College Vocabulary

Posted by Karen Nichols

Dec 14, 2015 7:16:57 AM

Without question, a strong vocabulary is a great asset. An expansive vocabulary improves reading, speaking, writing, and reasoning skills, and research has linked it to long-term educational and career success. Entrepreneur and best-selling author Seth Godin makes this point in his blog post, "Does Vocabulary Matter?":

The typical native speaker knows 20,000 words, and there's your opportunity:

If you know 40,000 words, if you learn five words a day for a decade, the world changes. Your ability to see, to explain and to influence flies off the charts.

In the short term, a strong vocabulary can also help you do your best on college entrance exams and college application essays. Read on to learn a few tips for growing your vocabulary during your high school years and beyond.

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Topics: ACT test, SAT test, study skills, Vocabulary Building, PSAT


Want to Improve Your ACT and SAT Test Scores? Get Better Sleep

Posted by Karen Nichols

Nov 10, 2015 10:34:33 AM

Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Did you know that, as a teenager, you need eight to ten hours of sleep a night in order to function at your mental and physical best? Yet, according to the National Sleep Foundation, only 15% of teens get at least 8.5 hours of sleep on school nights. Read on to learn how you can get some more solid shut-eye.

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Topics: ACT test, SAT test, test prep, study habits


Managing Spring Fever: Productivity Strategies to Keep You on Track

Posted by Karen Nichols

Apr 20, 2015 2:04:00 PM

After a long winter of being cooped up inside, hibernating, you may feel a bit of “spring fever” in the air — that burst of new energy and activity that comes with brighter days and warmer weather. Spring is finally here, but it isn’t summer yet, folks. You still have classes to attend, homework assignments to complete, exams to study for, and all the other extracurricular, community, and work activities on your schedule. How do you maintain your focus when what you really want to do is break free and have some fun?

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Topics: study skills, study habits, time management


College Campus Visits: Deciding What You Want Before You Go

Posted by Karen Nichols

Mar 10, 2015 2:25:00 PM

Previously, we’ve offered several tips on how to make the most of your college visits. We’ve even published an ebook on the topic. In this blog post, we want to help you with “the vision thing” — defining more specifically what you are looking for in a college and what features will matter most to you once you get there.

As you’ve inched closer to your senior year and graduation, your mailbox has likely been inundated with marketing materials from a variety of colleges and universities. Piles of brochures and “view books” have shown idealized portraits of college life. Your expectations about the college experience may also be informed by fictionalized stories in books and film, past visits to campuses for sporting events and other happenings, and the college experiences of your parents, older siblings, and friends.

Now comes the time to figure out what you really want in a college. This is more than just what the marketing brochures say you should want — really, is a game room in the dorm all that important? — or what your friends or even parents and counselors say you should look for. This is about deciding what really matters to you for the next four years of your life — and beyond.

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Topics: collect visits,, college selection process


Social Media Spring Cleaning: Polishing Your Online Persona

Posted by Karen Nichols

Feb 26, 2015 12:36:00 PM

Fotolia/M_Sabphoto

College admissions officers look at more than just applications, transcripts, and test scores when deciding who will get a thumbs up in the college admissions process. They also increasingly look at applicants’ online presence. It is not uncommon for promising applicants to be rejected based on a negative impression from their online activity alone. As you prepare your college applications, be sure to set aside time to clean and polish your online persona. Here are a few guidelines to help you spruce up.

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Topics: college admissions process, college application, social media


11 Things You Need to Know About the FAFSA

Posted by Karen Nichols

Jan 8, 2015 1:54:00 PM

Has your high school senior filed for college financial aid?

The time for high school seniors to apply for college financial aid is now, if you haven't done so already. Most students will receive at least some financial aid — either need- or merit-based — so it’s to your benefit to apply, even if you don’t think you qualify.

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Topics: college tuition, student loans, financial aid, work study, scholarships, grants


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