Doorway to College Blog

Why You Should Start the College Prep Process ASAP

Posted by Allison Wignall

Dec 28, 2016 2:06:22 PM

Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem

There is a common myth floating around that serious college prep starts junior or even senior year—but this is a dangerous mindset that could make you late to the game. In truth, there’s no year “too early” to start preparing for a college education, and we’re here to prove that!

Crunch Time

One of the biggest benefits of starting the prep process early is that you don’t leave everything to the last minute. It can be a major pain to scramble around researching different colleges, compiling applications, writing essays, filing financial aid forms, studying for the ACT or SAT/PSAT (not to mention taking them), and keeping up with regular schoolwork while application deadlines approach.

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Topics: college application, financial aid, scholarships, college visits,, college application essay, PSAT, sat, ACT, College Essay

College Costs: Sticker Price vs. Net Price

Posted by Allison Wignall

Dec 1, 2016 1:22:02 PM

When looking at potential colleges, families often look first to the price-tag associated with the institution—and it makes sense, considering tuition prices have gone up in the last few decades. Some students don’t bother applying to colleges that are “out of their price range,” because even if they got in, they wouldn’t be able to pay for it ... right?

Sticker vs. Net Price

People oftentimes look at what’s called the sticker price, or the published price, of attending a college. The sticker price can frighten off potential students with its high amount. For example, Stanford’s published annual sticker price (as of 2016) is nearly $65,000. That number alone would cause many great students to cross Stanford off of their college list. But hold on, because there’s another, more important price to consider—net price.

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Topics: financial aid, scholarships, college costs, tuition

Advanced Placement 101

Posted by Julia Wasson

Nov 17, 2016 12:36:30 AM


If you are considering advanced placement courses, you undoubtedly have a lot of questions. You don't want to set yourself up for failure if the challenge is too great, but you don't want to ignore invaluable learning opportunities, either.

Let us answer some of the questions that are likely plaguing you. We want to make the decision about whether to pursue advanced placement easier on you.

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Topics: study skills, college prep, AP classes, advanced placement,, AP exam

10 Tips for Seniors Preparing for College

Posted by Julia Wasson

Nov 2, 2016 3:02:00 PM

Shutterstock/Tyler Olson

It’s your senior year, and your career as a high school student is coming to a close. Your life is full of exciting and trying times: college visits, entrance exams, admissions applications, and graduation preparations, not to mention your usual coursework and extracurricular activities. You’ll also be experiencing a lot of “lasts” — last homecoming, last prom, last game — all of which remind you that there are emotional preparations to make before moving on to college. It is a good idea to take some time during these final few months of high school to prepare your mind for leaving the nest.

We've compiled a list of 10 ways to wisely get your affairs in order. Organizing and simplifying will make the whole process easier. Don't stress about doing them all at once — prioritize and do the ones that matter most, first.

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Topics: college transition,, college prep

Why Volunteering Matters for the College Admissions Process

Posted by Julia Wasson

Oct 26, 2016 3:56:47 PM


The competition for admission to many four-year colleges is fierce and getting tougher each year. High school students feel intense pressure to make their applications stand out among all the others on the desks of college admissions officers. 
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Topics: college admissions process, college admissions, volunteering

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

Improving the Success of First-Generation College Students

Posted by Christian A. Latino

Aug 15, 2016 5:04:03 PM

Over the past several decades, considerable research attention has been given to first-generation college students in order to help improve their graduation rates. This is clearly an important issue, as 62% of first-generation college students fall short of their educational aspirations within eight years of high school graduation (1) and because first-generation college students composed nearly 16% of the nation’s incoming freshman class in 2005 (2). Fortunately, recent research has identified some of the ways that first-generation college students are different from their non-first-generation peers and how those differences can actually be leveraged into strengths and greater success (such as improved GPA).

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Topics: college success, First-generation college students

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

What Is Your Purpose?

Posted by Stacey Jackson

Apr 19, 2016 7:00:00 AM

First in a two-part series

What is your purpose in life, and how does your college education fit into that purpose? College admissions exams and the college application process may seem overwhelming right now. Your regular coursework and extracurricular activities may have you so busy that college is the furthest thing from your mind. Or perhaps your parents have their eye on sending you to their alma mater, an Ivy League school, or a certain state university, and you’re feeling double pressure from your social circle to decide what you want to do and where you should apply — as if being a teenager isn’t hard enough! Or maybe, like me when I was your age, you just don’t know what you want to do when you “grow up,” and the thought is nearly paralyzing you from making any decisions at all. 

This blog post will help you wade a little deeper into college and career planning with a few ideas for demystifying the process of finding your purpose. 

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Topics: career

Do I Need a Cover Letter? Check!

Posted by Stacey Jackson

Mar 3, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Err on the side of professionalism when applying for an internship or your first “real” job.

By Stacey Jackson

I recently agreed to provide a job referral for a friend. The opportunity to receive a referral — to have somebody on “the inside” vouch for you to a somebody who is in a position to hire you — is a true gift and is often key to getting your foot in the door for an exciting job or internship opportunity in a competitive market. My friend is terrifically talented, and I had absolutely no reservations about speaking on his behalf. On top of that, he has a positive attitude and a great work ethic. Why wouldn't I refer him?

Over the weekend, we exchanged information. I gave him the address and the contact person, and I offered to put in a good word after he had mailed his official application. We were both feeling warm and fuzzy when he dropped the bomb:

“Do I have to write a cover letter?”

YES! Yes, yes, yes! You absolutely, positively, always need to write a cover letter — especially if the recipient of your résumé has never met you. When I looked at him with my are-you-kidding face, he confessed that he didn’t know what to write.

I am always taken aback when bright minds are confused by standard business practices, but I shouldn’t be so surprised. Most colleges aren’t structured to teach students the business aspect of securing a job in their chosen career field. Wouldn’t it be great if colleges implemented mock interviews and offered classes in negotiation across the board? Until then, it’s up to you to cultivate best-practice techniques when applying for a job or internship.  

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Topics: cover letter, job search, career, employment, internship

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