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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Advice for our sons


1. Having good friends is a blessing. Being a good friend is obligatory. So, become a man who is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, patient, and understanding.


2.  Females have a better sense of smell, need I say more?


3. Covering your tracks reveals a faulty character. Real men own up to their mistakes, apologize, and try to put things right.


4. Do not photograph your private parts. The picture will end up in places you cannot imagine and I promise you, you do not want to go there.


5. You are not what you eat, or what you drive or where you work. You are you. And if that is not working out for you, changing your diet or car or job will not fix the problem.


6. Clean is attractive. Thoughtful is attractive. Being blindingly drunk is a red flag, a moral failure.


7. Video games may not seem to cause you harm, but they certainly do not make you a better son, student, or friend. Play them sparingly.


8. Sleep will not solve all of your problems, but not sleeping will create new ones.


9. Make a reputable news site the home page on all your devices. You will be smarter for it.


10. Junk food is for teenagers, by the time you are twenty you will understand that your body wants real food. Give it what it needs.


11. Playing sports will make you happy and help keep you healthy. Keep games in your life, even if you aren't athletic.


12. Choosing a spouse is the most important decision you will ever make; do not let your heart ignore your head, nor vice versa.


13. If you are shopping for clothes and wondering if you are the kind of guy who can get away with a certain trendy style, then you most certainly are not.


14. Saving a few dollars on a bad haircut is something you will regret instantly.


15. Your girlfriends, the women who befriend you, love you, and will never sleep with you, will be some of the most important people in your life. Treat them beautifully.


16. Never let your siblings down, they are irreplaceable. They will be the longest friendships in your life and, one day, will be the only people who remember your childhood.


17. When you have the nagging feeling that your parents would disapprove of what you are about to do, pause, make sure you are completely sure you have answered for yourself all the questions they would ask. Then proceed, using your own judgment.


18. Your 20's are the time to discover your tolerance for risk, don’t pass up the opportunity. At the same time, don’t be foolhardy.


19. Spend the extra few dollars to buy decent shampoo. And deodorant.


20. Own one perfectly pressed white shirt and a clean tie. You never know when a job interview or your girlfriend or roommate’s parents will arrive.


21. Own lots of underwear; it will ultimately determine your laundry schedule.


22. Wait until marriage. Save this expression of self-gift for your spouse. And help your girlfriend save this gift for their future husband, too.


23. Buy or make gifts for birthdays and any other special occasion that arises. Small offerings, bought or made with care and thought, go a long way to making people feel like they are valued by you. If your budget is tiny, thoughtful notes and gifts of service are great choices, too.


24. When you get the chance, be the kind of boss, teacher, father, and friend that you had, or wish you had.


25. Finish what you start. That goes for tubes of toothpaste, expensive entrées, and commitments you have made to others and yourself.


26. You are only as good as your word, so keep it. Period.


27. Technology will not make you happy. The people it connects you with will. Do not confuse the two.


28. When a girlfriend sets out to change you, head for the hills. If she doesn’t like who you started out as, she won’t like who you end up as any better.


29. Your manners will say everything about you and will reflect on your parents every day. Don’t make them look bad.


30. Life will disappoint you. People will disappoint you. You will disappoint yourself. Your parents are available to ease those blows anytime you need to talk.


31. Piercings and visible tattoos for men will go out of style, if they haven’t already. Don’t be fooled into believing otherwise. And don't forget that future employers, employees, and clients will make judgments about you based on them. This goes for unnatural hair dye and unprofessional hairstyles, too.


32. Aspirin, water, and black coffee solve a multitude of problems. Just sayin'


33. Education is expensive, and not using it is even more expensive. Make the most of the talents you were given and the hard work you have done.


34. If your friends are jerks, you will not be far behind. Choose wisely.


35. Be nice to your parents, it will be a long time before you can afford everything on your own.

36. Answer your mother’s texts promptly, period. And don't make your father wait long either.

37. With shoes, quality always wins over quantity. The same goes for suits, dress shirts, and ties. And take good care of what you have.


38. Toothbrushes do not last forever. Neither do razors.


39. Learn to swing a golf club, cook one great dish, and ride a bike, these skills will come in handy.


40. Never use your physical size to intimidate anyone, male or female, unless it is in an organized game of sport. If you do, you have failed to live up to your potential.


41. Drugs will make you stupid, waste your money, introduce you to people you do not want to know, get you in trouble with the law, and become a habit that is very hard to break. Am I clear?


42. Smile in all photos and don’t look like a jerk; you never know where the picture will end up.


43. If you get a rash or a cut or a burn, photograph and text it. Moms diagnose, even digitally.


44. When you come back for a home cooked meal, your old bed, and laundry service, remember to bring a good attitude and a willingness to help out, too. These things are not your birthright, they are gifts.


45. Calling your parents for no special reason is always, always a good idea.


46. If you only share the good and never reveal the bad, no one will really know you.


47. Never assume anything about another person’s wealth, health, or happiness; all too often we are mistaken.


48. Put the seat down, don’t argue, just do it.


49. If you don’t use a top sheet (why, oh why?) then you have to wash the blanket or duvet cover. It is just the rules.


50. Don't be fooled, what's posted on the internet is written in ink. Remind yourself of that every time you touch a keyboard.


51. If you and your wife think you are ready for children but are not sure, get a dog or mentor someone and learn how to care for another living creature.


52. No one is ever completely ready to be a parent, it is always a bit of a leap. So, trust God and be not afraid!

53. It is best to have children within 50 miles of at least one grandparent. In parenthood, emergencies are the rule rather than the exception. Keep this in mind when the "great job offer" from across the country comes.


54. House gifts will always be remembered and appreciated so never accept a dinner invitation or weekend’s stay without a small token of gratitude.


55. Soon enough you will be in a position to help those younger than you. Offer a hand up quickly and generously - and discreetly.


56. Remember that you are a product of your upbringing and schools. Show gratitude for the teachers and institutions from which you graduated (especially if you were homeschooled!). At the same time, be respectful of others, especially those not afforded the opportunities you had. Their hard won skills and abilities are valuable. Learn from them.


57. Check your mail and email regularly! As old-fashioned as it may seem, there are some letters and emails that must be opened. Letting things pile up only creates nasty past due surprises. Grappling with paperwork is one of adulthood’s biggest but unavoidable headaches. So is filing important papers.


58. Be the kind of person others turn to with their troubles. People in pain seek out those with good hearts and those who can keep a confidence.


59. Learn to pray and lean on the Lord. You may be strong; nonetheless, there are some challenges you can’t manage on your own. Your humility will pay off in countless situations. And many will be blessed when they see a strong man become even stronger by being a man of prayer.


60. Listen to colleagues, especially women. Men usually dominate conversations and miss women’s valuable insights.


61. Ask for help when you need it, for everything from carrying awkward furniture up narrow stairs to professional endeavors. Build strong teams and be more successful. 


With thanks to Lisa Enlich Heffernan, who authored most of these.

Hope on Campus


By Katherine O’Brien, MA CCPS

Founder, Celtic College Consultants


There’s no denying that many of our young people are abandoning Christianity in their teen years, the vast majority opting out of it without ever getting to know Christ or His bride, the Church. In fact, it’s the number one prayer request of parents – they cry out for their children to return to the faith.


While things may look bleak, there is hope. This is guaranteed because, in God, there is ALWAYS hope! Nonetheless, it is encouraging to be able to glimpse actual glimmers of hope. They exist! And they are not as rare as you might think.


Into the wasteland of higher education, a veritable army of young people boldly stride, working in teams, doing various tasks, moving forward, always forward into the masses of students on campus, inviting them to encounter Christ and His Church, and to give themselves fully to God. These bold young people have made beachheads on hundreds of campuses all over the US and the world.


Catholic run colleges, for the most part, have a Catholic history of faith and sacrifice upon which heresy and political correctness have been built, rather than truth, right reason, and critical thinking. Nonetheless, there are some Catholic run colleges which have clung to the Cross of Christ and continue to share the Catholic faith through their courses, student life policies, and campus ministry activities. Often called “Newman Guide schools” these colleges and universities offer an array of immersive Catholic environments for students. These schools are a beachhead amongst Catholic run colleges. They are listed and some information about  them can be found online at


Additionally, there are beachheads at over 300 private and public colleges and universities in the US and abroad as well. Ranging from the strong small groups at Ohio State to schools with Catholic dorms and top Newman Centers (Catholic parishes on non-Catholic campuses) like Texas A&M and Bowling Green State Universities to Arizona State and Northwestern Universities, whose Newman Centers offer courses students can take in addition to or to fulfill humanities requirements.


There are programs like Christendom Colleges’ Christendom@ program, too. Newman centers gather groups of students and accompany them through online courses offered by Christendom College, a small Newman recommended, faithfully Catholic college in Virginia. In addition to learning the faith, by studying together at their Newman Center, these students develop deep relationships with one another as fellow well-educated Catholics. Christendom College works with their home universities to create agreements so the courses will fulfill some of their degree requirements. Courses through the Christendom@ program can be taken by any college student.


There are hidden gems all over the country like the Platteville campus of the University of Wisconsin, located in southwestern Wisconsin’s farm country. St. Augustine’s offers the Latin Mass numerous times each week and has had almost ten men enter the seminary upon graduation from UW in the past few years. There are numerous Bible studies, retreats, and activities at. St. Augustine’s, too.


The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University students are blessed to be served by an Oratory of St. Philip Neri which offers fantastic opportunities for growth in the faith, from numerous daily Masses, ample confession times, perpetual adoration, rich and robust retreats, numerous courses and Bible studies, outreach to Eastern as well as Roman Catholics, and an abundance of spiritual direction opportunities whereby students are challenged to grow as mature, faith-filled Catholics serious about growing in holiness.


FOCUS missionaries on campuses (even online!) all over the country take the net out to the deep, inviting students into relationships and small groups, opportunities to encounter Christ and be discipled, trained as His followers. Working with the Newman Center staff on campus, these missionaries bring students into the various ministries and establish Catholic communities on campus which enrich their members as well as serve as opportunities for them to invite their friends to join and see what Christ is all about, learning more before trying to participate in the oftentimes foreign language of liturgy.


The Thomistic Institute, an academic institute of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, promotes Catholic truth in our world by strengthening the intellectual formation of Christians at universities and elsewhere. They have chapters on more than fifty college campuses. These student run groups bring top-notch, faith-filled intellectuals to speak on their campus, addressing the hot topics of today. They also create events and programs  including lectures, reading groups, and multi-speaker conferences built on the Catholic intellectual tradition. More information can be found online at


In order to make it easier for Catholic families to find colleges with strong Catholic communities on campus, Katherine O’Brien, MA, a certified college planning specialist and the  founder of Celtic College Consultants (, which helps students prepare for, select, successfully apply to, and afford college,  has created a complete college guide. Not only listing all the colleges with strong Catholic communities on campus, the guide includes detailed admissions, costs, aid, campus ministry, and academic information for each college and university. It also includes an extensive index  so students can search for schools that offer the major(s) they are considering and one so they can search the colleges by state. There is also a list of non-US colleges and universities with strong Catholic communities on campus that teach in English. The 2022 edition of this invaluable resource is available in print and kindle editions through here:

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Differentiating Yourself & Lower College Costs: Earn College Credits while in High School

 by Katherine O'Brien, MA CCPS, Founder of Celtic College Consultants

One way to differentiate yourself from other applicants is to earn college credits while in high school. There are a number of ways to do this. Students can take AP or CLEP exams through the College Board. They may also take community or regular college courses or programs. For illustration purposes, I have given detailed information about Notre Dame's Global Scholars program and Holy Apostles College's Take Credit! Program. I have also provided general information about community college dual enrollment programs.

My analysis of these various programs is provided ni order to serve as a guideline for families considering such courses and programs as part of their high school coursework.


1. AP Exams

Every May, the College Board administers AP (Advanced Placement) exams in high schools across the US and the world. Most students taking these exams take College Board approved AP courses although they may prepare for the exams independently. Information about the AP exams is available at


At $95/test, AP exams are a very affordable way to earn college credits.


According to the College Board data, only 18.8% of 2020 AP test scores were a 3 or better. No colleges give credit for a score less than a 3. 

Every college has its own policy regarding whether and which AP scores it will give credit for. There is no guarantee that these credits will be able to be applied to the student's undergraduate degree at their particular university.

Many do not think that an AP course and exam is equivalent to a college course. Students pursuing the AP path, then, may well not be as well prepared for upper level work in these subjects as their peers who took the corresponding college courses.

2. CLEP Exams

Offered in 34 subjects, these college equivalency tests are used by some to earn college credits.

CLEP exams are offered by the College Board at testing sites all over the world. They are available year round. Students prepare for them independently. Test information is available at


At $89/test, AP exams are a very affordable way to earn college credits.


Every college has its own policy regarding whether and which CLEP scores it will give credit for. There is no guarantee that these credits will be able to be applied to the student's undergraduate degree at their particular university.

Many do not think that an CLEP exam is equivalent to a college course. Students pursuing the AP path, then, may well not be as well prepared for upper level work in these subjects as their peers who took the corresponding college courses.

3. Notre Dame's Global Scholar Program

The details: 10/16 - 11/20 

Tuition $1375 Application fee $60

Includes: 6 weekly live scheduled online 75 minute classes given by Notre Dame International Faculty teaching from the ND London and Ireland Global Gateways.

Courses offered: Economics of International Trade, Environmental Conservation & Sustainable Thinking, Global Issues & Challenges, Irish Literature: Myths, Legends, & Folklore, and Science Fiction Movies in the 21st Century. 

Application requirements: "strong academic standing with solid extracurricular activities," sophomore or junior standing, at least 14 years old by 10/15, and "a sincere desire to be part of the Notre Dame international community while they are participating in the program." No test scores are required. Transcripts and counselor reports are.

Students will have 2-3 hours of homework each week, with a maximum of 3 hours. Students can miss 2 classes, and still successfully complete the course. Each course will grant one hour of Notre Dame college credit upon completion. (A typical college course is a 3 credit hour course.)

Skills needed: "During our program, you will find you will continue to develop essential skills needed in order to succeed in an undergraduate course setting. Just like in the traditional college setting on campus, you need to be organized, utilize time management, and remain open minded as you learn from Notre Dame faculty and your peers." 


Students will be exposed to college type lectures and discussions.

Students will have to manage their time more effectively than their peers since they will be adding about five hours of academics each week, but only for six weeks.


It's expensive. At $1,375/credit hour, that's more expensive than most, if not all, college courses! 

One credit hour is not very helpful toward a college degree.

The admissions criteria are very general, which is not impressive to colleges.

Based on the testimonials, one of the major results was exposure to other students' ideas and perspectives. This is not acquisition of knowledge.

Every college has its own policy regarding what courses they will accept. There is no guarantee that these credits will be able to be applied to the student's undergraduate degree at their particular university.

4. Holy Apostles College Take Credit! Program

The details: semester long courses fall/spring/summer, open to all HS students who have completed 10th grade

Tuition: $375/3 credit course + $40 fee + $25 application fee

Includes: Ability to take 2 courses per semester with one to two hour long lectures each week and typical college course requirements, including significant reading and writing. Courses taught by Holy Apostles College professors. Students can take courses beginning the summer after their sophomore year. Therefore, it is possible to take 12 college courses while completing high school.

35 Courses offered including: ENG 115 Writing & Composition, ENG 181 Research & Writing, HIS 101 Western Civilization I, PSY 200 Psychology, SAS 101 Sacred Scripture, and SCM 201 Physics, with lab.

Application requirements: application, essay, letter of recommendation, HS transcript, test scores (ACT, AP, CLEP, CLT, or SAT)(waived for 21/22 school year)

Students will have 6-9 hours of reading, studying, and writing each week.  Each course will grant three hours of college credit.  Students must maintain a B average in order to continue taking courses in the program.

Skills needed: Students need excellent note taking, time management, and study skills to be successful. The college does provide writing support for all of its students, including the dual enrolled high school students.


Students will be exposed to college lectures and academic expectations.

Students will develop college level writing skills.

Students can earn up to 38 college credit hours while still in high school, solidly demonstrating their ability to do college level work well.

Tuition is 1/3 college tuition. Not only can students earn a year's worth of credits, they do so quite affordably.


The workload is significant. Students will have to work hard to manage the course demands.

Every college has its own policy regarding what courses they will accept. There is no guarantee that these credits will be able to be applied to the student's undergraduate degree at their particular university.

5. Community College Course/Dual Enrollment

The details: semester long courses fall/spring/summer. HS students are typically limited to one or two courses per semester

Tuition: varies.

Includes: Regular on-campus or online community college courses

Application requirements: vary by college.

Students will have 2-3 hours of reading, studying, and writing each week per credit hour. Students in 3 credit classes should plan on 6-9 hours of work each week while students in 5 hour courses should plan on 10 -15.

Skills needed: Students need excellent note taking, time management, and study skills to be successful. The college does provide writing support for all of its students, including the dual enrolled high school students. 


Students will be exposed to college lectures and academic expectations.

Students will develop college level writing skills.

Students can earn up to 38 college credit hours while still in high school, solidly demonstrating their ability to do college level work well.

Tuition is 1/3 college tuition. Not only can students earn a year's worth of credits, they do so quite affordably.


The workload is significant. Students will have to work hard to manage the course demands.

Students will take courses with the general community college student population, which may include students much older than HS age.

Students need to take care to take college level courses. Many community colleges offer remedial (high school level) courses. These will not transfer to 4 year colleges and universities. Every college has its own policy regarding what courses they will accept. There is no guarantee that these credits will be able to be applied to the student's undergraduate degree at their particular university.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Ways to Explore Academic Interests

 by Katherine O'Brien, MA CCPS, Founder of Celtic College Consultants

High school courses introduce students to a variety of topics. Learning more about those that interest you takes some effort but will be very helpful when comparing potential majors, majors at different colleges, as well as various concentrations within majors, not to mention potential research and internship opportunities.

In some cases, students can take a course at a local college or online in their area of interest. Many universities have numerous courses available through various online platforms like Coursera.

Another option is to attend undergraduate research presentations at colleges you are exploring. Watching student presentations will introduce high school students to the topics as well as expose them to the caliber of research and presentations being done by undergraduates.

A third option is to attend academic conferences. At these, students will be exposed to advanced research topics and techniques, have opportunities to learn from leading scholars and faculty in fields they are interested in, as well as possible networking opportunities. Hopefully, students will also be inspired and will be able to glean ideas for further study and/or activities in their community. Advice and/or exposure to well-done and effectively presented research will also provide valuable input for their own endeavors.

Attend a conference in your areas of interest this Spring! Typically high school students can register at the undergraduate rate. Here are a few; there are many more!

Upcoming Spring 2021 Academic Conferences (ALL Virtual)

  1. American Chemical Society’s Annual Meeting: April 5-10, 2021This STEM conference separates out its “student-focused programming.” These include sessions such as “Enabling environmentally friendly plastics” and “Goals and activities of the Warriors Chemistry Club: COVID-19 edition.”  ($29 online registration fee for all 5 days, just attend the sessions you want to.)
  2. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Soft Robotics hosted by Yale University: April 12-16, 2021  Presenters from Yale, Facebook, UC San Diego, Columbia, and more are planned. Includes optional workshops on topics such as material intelligence and interventional robotics, as well as a robotics competition you can observe and two informative “speed networking” sessions you can partake in. ($25 online registration fee)
  3. Society for Affective Science Annual Conference (co-sponsored by Harvard, Tufts, and the Society for the Improvement for Psychological Science): April 13-16, 2021.Includes faculty presenters from UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, Harvard, U of Michigan, Vanderbilt, and more on topics on psychology, neuropsychology, family dynamics, and speech and brain patterns. ($50 online registration fee)
  4. Society for Military History’s 87th Annual Meeting: May 20-23, 2021Online and in-person in Norfolk, VA. They have not yet posted the virtual registration rate, but will soon and should be similar to these other conferences.
  5. Society for Freshwater Science Annual Meeting: May 23-27, 2021This is their first ever virtual conference. Session topics include: freshwater science ecological changes in arctic lakes and rivers, inequitable waterscapes, environmental justice, “herstory in freshwater sciences,” and more. Also includes e-workshops such as “writing for aquatic scientists”  and “Trash Talk,” on the ecology of trash in freshwater. ($30 online registration fee)

These are 5 low cost options that could make a BIG impact on your spring, and perhaps your summer and eventual college, graduate school and/or research pathway as well. If you've found particular professors interesting, see if any of them are speaking at conferences and see if you can attend. You may even get to do some Q&A with them!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Good, as well as Alarming, Changes to Financial Aid Eligibility for the HS Classes of 2023 and beyond


Recent Changes have BIG Impacts for families with younger children!

At the very end of 2020, as part of the COVID 19 relief bill, a number of changes to the FAFSA form and the formula used to calculate need based financial aid eligibility were made. These will go into effect in 2022, when families start to file the FAFSA for the 2023/2024 school year. All current sophomores/10th grade students and younger will be affected.

Some of these are quite beneficial. The number of questions was cut from 108 to 40. A smaller amount of both parent and student income will be assessed as part of the family's resources to pay for college. The COA or cost of attendance for one year of college will be required to be posted on each college's website. That has not been the case so finding the total costs at most colleges has been quite difficult if not impossible.Veterans' education benefits and workers' compensation will no longer be counted as income.

Additionally, the elusive and confusing EFC (expected family contribution) will be renamed and called the Student Aid Index (SAI). Since the actual out of pocket cost of college is typically more than the EFC, changing this misleading name should help end that confusion. Unfortunately, because of the many factors each college considers when creating aid packages, the SAI will not give a family clarity about their expected out of pocket costs any more than the EFC did.

The portion of a student's income which will not be assessed will be increased to $9,410 for dependent students and $14,630 for independent students. This significant increase is designed to encourage students to work both during the school year as well as the summer and semester breaks. The qualification to be considered an independent student is also being slightly expanded to include students who are legitimately unable to contact a parent and/or those for whom contacting a parent would pose a risk.

Financial aid officers, starting with the 2023/2024 school year will be able to make adjustments related to costs incurred because of natural disasters, national emergencies, recession, economic downturn, and significant business losses. This should bring some extra assistance to families who need it. They are also going to be unable to have a policy of denying all aid appeals.

Unfortunately, not all the changes are good. At the moment, and until these changes take effect, the parent portion of a family's EFC is divided between the college student children in the family (parents in college aren't included). That means that a family with two kids in college would have the parent contribution split 50/50 between the two children. If the parent contribution is $20,000, $10,000 would be included for student one and $10,000 for student two. The student contribution of each student would make up the rest of their EFC. Once the changes are implemented in 2022, that will no longer happen. The parent portion will NOT be divided. In this example, it would look like this:

NOW: Parent contribution $20,000

Student 1's EFC = 1/2($20,000) + student 1's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

Student 2's EFC = 1/2($20,000) + student 2's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

AFTER October 1, 2022: Parent contribution $20,000

Student 1's EFC = $20,000 + student 1's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

Student 2's EFC = $20,000 + student 2's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

This means that the family's out of pocket costs will literally double and the eligibility for need based aid will not be increased, despite the fact that two of the children will be concurrently in college.

This is a HUGE problem that seriously adversely impacts families with multiple children in college. PLEASE reach out to your senators and representative and ASK FOR A CORRECTION! 

While you're at it, as that the APA, the Asset Protection Allowance be restored. In 2011, a two parent family with the older parent at age 50 would have had $48,800 of their assessed assets not considered in the EFC calculation. This allowance has been steadily decreasing. At the moment, this same couple only has a $7,000 allowance. 

Barring a legislative change, this change will make college financially out of reach for many families, forcing them to choose which of their children to send to college. Strategically, students will need to use AP and CLEP and dual enrollment strategies to lower their college costs and apply to colleges where they will receive massive scholarships. Students should also plan to work, since their income allowance was increased. Those three strategies, well applied, will help families make college educations possible for multiple children.

For more information on Katherine's College Success Program, please visit Celtic College Consultants' website. To schedule a consultation with Katherine to explore how to best implement her College Success Program strategies in your family, click here. Her 2015 - 2020 College Success Program graduates were offered, on average, over $235,000 each in merit scholarships and were accepted by multiple great fit colleges and universities.

83 Ways to Save Money While in College

Some college costs are fixed, like tuition. In other areas, however, there's a lot of room to save quite a bit of money. Here are 83 ways you and your college student can save. 


1. Shop around for books.

2. Rent books for non-major courses.

3. Return rented books on time!

4. Use the library's resources.

5. Do NOT buy your supplies at the college bookstore where the prices are high!

6. Get what you need ahead of time.

7. Re-use whatever you can.

8. Use a 3 ring binder, rather than spiral notebooks. Avoid throwing away half used spirals. Only use the notebook paper you actually need.

9. Use campus printers to save on buying one and expensive ink.

10. Take care of your supplies to make them last as long as possible.

11. Sell your notes at the end of the semester.


11. Live at home, rather than on campus.

12. Buy a rental property and have your student be the property manager.

13. If renting, have one or more roommates. Share the rent, utilities, and the chores.

14. Turn off unneeded lights and appliances, etc. to keep the utility bills down.

15. Limit eating out and ordering in!

16. Batch cook. Make dinner for four or eight then store individual portions for grab and go or quick microwavable meals.

17. Buy in bulk when possible.

18. Eat what is on sale.

19. Consider being an RA to cover your room and board expenses.

20. Get used furniture for your space. Only acquire what you can't live without.

21. Check yard and garage sales as well as swap meets for good furniture for pennies on the dollar.

22. Check Freecycle and Craigslists' free section regularly.

23. Use student discounts every chance you can.


24. Don't have a car. Save the expense, insurance, gas, parking fees.

25. Use public transportation as your first choice. Uber, etc. is much more expensive.

26. Get a bike and a good lock.

27. Walk wherever you can. Good shoes and a good backpack is much cheaper than a car.

28. Carpool to and from the airport or train station for term breaks.

29. Organize carpools for a small fee.

30. Consider carpooling or taking the bus or train home for break. Use what's cheapest.

31. Ask for and use student discounts every trip.

32. Volunteer rather than go to the beach for Spring break.

33. Use air bnb and youth hostels rather than hotels when traveling.


34. Take advantage of on campus entertainment covered by your activities fee.

35. Have a movie night with friends rather than heading to the cinema.

36. Use a prepaid phone plan.

37. Avoid overage fees. Set alerts to help you stay under your plan limits.  

38. Use the college's wifi as much as possible.

39. Use Amazon Prime for students to get free shipping and free entertainment!

40. Ask for and use student discounts everywhere you go. 

41. Don't buy drinks with dinner; the mark up is huge, especially for alcohol.

42. Sign up for local library and parks department event notices and attend the excellent free programs they offer.


43. Write a thoughtful letter (not email) rather than giving a gift. These are even more rare than homemade gifts.

44. Make homemade gifts. Knit or crochet something. Draw a picture. Write a poem. Build something.

45. Give gifts of service. Offer to paint your old bedroom, vacuum your parents' cars, fix, build, or assemble something.

46. Suggest a system that limits how many people you are expected to give gifts to.

47. Bake a cake, muffins, or other special dessert. It is cheaper and tastier than buying one. 

48. Have potluck meal gatherings. Everyone brings something, rather than the host providing everything.

49. Ask for practical items for birthday, Christmas, and holiday gifts.


50. Upcycle! Buy good quality used clothing. Wear it as is or modify it a little to breathe new life into it.

51. Hang your clothes, rather than drying them. Save on utilities as well as wear and tear on your clothing.

52. Shop clearance. Watch for seasonal sales and take advantage of them. Buy off season.

53. Have a core wardrobe of classic, durable items. 

54. Organize periodic clothing swaps with your friends.


55. Find a free checking account. If taking student loans, see if that bank or credit union will give you one.

56. Take the free checks offered with new accounts - even if you do "everything" online.

57. Track spending. Stay within your budget AND avoid expensive overdraft fees. is a free budgeting and spending tracking program.

58. Avoid credit cards with annual fees. (Your bank or credit union may offer credit cards with favorable terms since you bank with them.)

59. Pay credit card balances on time and in full every month. Interest and late charges quickly make purchase prices double.

60. Start a change jar. Dump your lose change in every night. At the end of the term, cash it in an buy something special.


61. Ask about student discounts when buying a computer.

62. Ask about student discounts on software, too.

63. Get antivirus software to protect your computer and phone.

64. Keep your laptop secure.  Only used closed beverage cups near your computer.

65. Buy a computer that meets your needs. Unneeded features are quite costly. 

66. If you can't use the campus printers and must get your own. Get a basic printer that prints slowly. You don't need glossy photo capabilities for term papers...

67. Upgrade offers on your phone are just enticements to get you to spend more. Don't upgrade your phone until you need to.

68. In states charging sales tax, take advantage of tax free shopping weeks.

69. Comparison shop whenever possible. 

70. Yard and garage sales are great opportunities to socialize with friends and pick up clothing, supplies, and decor very inexpensively.

Check freecyle and the free section of Craigslist regularly. 


71. Use the student clinic for basic medical needs.

72. Use the college's gym for exercise classes and equipment.

73. Run or walk in the neighborhood or campus gym. Skip the pricey gym membership fees.

74. Don't forget to ask for student discounts for all services.

75. Choose hairstyles that grow out well in order to avoid many upkeep haricuts.

76. Use the local beauty school for discounted haircuts and services.

77. Use groupon for discounted services around campus.

78. Do at-home mani-pedis and skip the expensive salon.

79. Consider a low cost shave club for cheaper razors. 


80. Form study groups with your classmates. Go over each other's lecture and text notes. Meet to go through problem sets for STEM classes, too. Tutor each other on the ones you miss.

81. Use the writing center on campus.

82. Use campus provided tutors, as well as TA and professor office hours.

83. If you need to hire a tutor, hire an upperclassman. S/he has a limited budget, too! Barter, if possible. They tutor, you cook, cut hair, help them move, or decorate or clean their apartment, etc.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The College Prep Landscape is Changing, Again!

by Katherine O'Brien, MA CCPS, Founder Celtic College Consultants

Years in the making, today's announcement by the College Board that they are discontinuing the SAT Subject Tests effective immediately, dropping the SAT optional essay after June, and preparing a digital testing modality for the SAT are more signs that the college prep and college admissions worlds are in a phase of metamorphosis. Coming just a couple years before the HS graduation classes start to shrink, today's changes continue to reveal the need for an overhaul of the system.

The College Board will lean on its AP courses and exams more heavily for revenues, alongside the SAT exam. SAT revenues have been shrinking with fewer than half as many test takers in 2020 than previous years, largely due to test site closures due to public health measures effected in response to the pandemic. 

Top students will need to explore and develop additional ways to differentiate themselves from their peers and the long held advantage of the wealthy is not likely to diminish. Summer camps, courses, and programs will likely grow, since they provide many diverse avenues for students to develop and demonstrate various competencies and academic interests, as well as to make connections with well placed recommenders.

Admissions offices will need to continue to revise their evaluative methodologies and processes as more and more applicants turn to these varied methods to demonstrate their worthiness of a place in the next freshman class. The days of calculating an academic score based on GPA, types of courses taken, and a test score or two are clearly numbered. With many colleges and universities adopting test optional or test blind policies this year, an increase in the number making that change permanently has already started to be seen.'s data tells that tale quite clearly.

Students, already experienced in adapting to change because of the pandemic, will again have new options to consider while the old begin to fade. For many, these opportunities will enable them to articulate their gifts far more effectively than the very game-able SAT test ever could facilitate. Their creativity, ability to problem solve, lead others, conduct research, give presentations, etc. will be much more easily showcased - and have those demonstrations be given the increased attention they always deserved. While this process is not as cut and dry as a mathematical formula, it is more honest. After all, people are much more complex than a test score could ever show them to be.

Since many colleges have used test scores to validate homeschooled students' courses, the continued shift away from the SAT and ACT raises some questions about how admissions policies for these students will change. The five year old Classic Learning Test (CLT) exam can take up some of the slack but, with the tide going out on all test scores, one wonders how well the CLT will survive, despite its amazing growth in 2020. This part of the shift in admissions policies and practices is yet to be determined and announced.