Tips for Coping With Test-Taking Anxiety

test-taking-anxietyStudents take many tests and exams throughout their school careers, not to mention all the essays, presentations, and group projects that follow. So when students have a lot riding on their performance, is it any wonder that they experience stress? Continue Reading…

8 Great Books for High School Students

books-for-high-school-students“Summer, like youth, is fleeting,” writes NPR. “But the books we read when we’re young can stay with us for a lifetime. Here’s hoping that when the school bell rings in a few short weeks, it will find you engrossed in just such a memorable read.” With summer right around the corner, there’s no better time to relax under the sun with a good book.

Here are eight books for high school student’s summer reading list.

The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins: In the ruins of a dystopian North America, a young girl and young boy are selected to participate in the annual Hunger Games and fight to the death. The worldwide best-selling trilogy is now a also a box-office hit, with each film setting records at the box office.

1984 by George Orwell: A timely classic about the world we were becoming in 1949, and a very appropriate read for the 21st century.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien: With more than 150 million copies sold, the high-fantasy novel needs little advertisement. Follow the War of the Ring through the stories of hobbits, men, dwarves, elves, and wizards, as they seek to defeat the evil Sauron and free Middle Earth.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo Baggins, a well-respected hobbit, lives a simple life, until Gandalf, a traveling wizard, shows up on his doorstep and requests that he take part in a quest from which he may never return.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee: This classic piece of American literature tells the story of a lawyer, Atticus Finch, who defends an African-American male against an undeserved assault charge. The story is told through the eyes of 6-year-old Scout Finch, as she and her friends learn about prejudice in the setting of Alabama.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger: With more than 65 million books sold to date, the controversial novel follows Holden Caulfield as he asks important questions about innocence, identity, belonging, and alienation.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald: The quintessential American tale takes place in the Jazz Age of the 1920s and follows the narration of Nick Carraway, as he becomes acquainted with his mysterious, eccentric neighbor, Jay Gatsby.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: The best-selling novel, which is now also a major motion picture, tells the touching story of life, death, and the people caught in the middle.

Are there other books you can’t wait to read this summer? Share them with us in a comment below.


Tips on Writing an Essay That Will Knock Admission’s Socks Off

tips-on-writing-an-essay-for-college-admissionsIn an article she contributed to The Huffington Post, “4 Tips for Writing the Perfect Personal Statement,” Alexis Reliford of Her Campus writes: “The best personal statements describe a moment of personal growth, difficulty, strength or confidence, all of which people experience in a wide range of ways.” In essence, the personal statement is your chance to make a lasting first impression. Easier said than done, right?

If you’re feeling the pressure of the inevitable college admissions essay, you’re not alone. While it’s often the most feared part of the college application process, it’s also one of the most important components to your application. And as much as a strong academic background is essential, admissions officers look for students who have demonstrated personal growth. Your essay is a great opportunity to highlight how you’ve grown.

Three tips on writing an essay that will impress college admissions

1. Be clear and concise, and focus on engaging your reader.

Even though the Common Application requires a minimum of only 250 words (with no maximum word count), be sure that you use the space you need to illustrate your personality and convey your interest in the college or university to which you’re applying. That said, the college may have predetermined guidelines for your essay. Whether it’s word count or the essay topic, be sure to review all requirements before you begin writing.

Pursuing a college education is your first courageous step in the application process. Now it’s time to create a descriptive, action-oriented essay around what makes you a truly deserving college applicant. Ultimately, pick a topic that differentiates you from other candidates in order to leave a lasting first impression. And remember, your essay will be read among thousands of others, so be sure to engage your reader right from your introduction. Don’t wait until the conclusion to really let your personality and interests shine through. Finally, when you’re crafting your admissions essay, be clear and concise, and never write more than you need to tell your story.

2. Set yourself up for success.

We all know that the quality of the work will likely suffer if it’s rushed, so leave yourself plenty of time to brainstorm different topics, practice the written word, edit your essay, and proofread carefully. If you’re unsure of how to check for grammar mistakes, ask a parent or teacher to help you edit and proofread before you consider your essay final.

Don’t forget to do your research before you write your essay. One of the best ways to stand out from thousands of other applicants is to demonstrate an interest in the college or university to which you’re applying. If you gain knowledge on college-specific programs and what it’s really like on campus, you can potentially leverage that information and prove to admissions that you’re a serious and passionate candidate. Want to go above and beyond? See If you can connect one of the programs you’re interested in to a brief anecdote of your own experience, such as a community-service project you were involved with.

3. Ask yourself: “Is this the best representation of me?”

Ultimately, your essay is your opportunity to highlight your accomplishments without showing off. And when it comes time to write your essay, be meticulous and honest. While it may be tempting to embellish, colleges want to meet the real you, so be honest instead of writing what you think admissions committees want to hear. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to deliver an essay that reflects the person you are. Good luck!

High School Students Access College Courses through Vermont’s Dual Enrollment Program

By Cynthia Belliveau, EdD
Dean, UVM Continuing and Distance Education

choosing-a-majorGovernor Peter Shumlin has said that one of the top challenges Vermont faces is producing graduates that have the skills to participate in the 21st-cenutry workforce. Vermont’s Dual Enrollment program, which the state Legislature agreed last month to fund for the next two years, can help bridge the gap.

It’s been well reported in the media that despite having one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country — 86 percent — only 53 percent of Vermont high school graduates go straight from high school to college. We clearly have some work to do.

What is the Dual Enrollment program?

Dual Enrollment – and precollege programs offered at many Vermont colleges, including the University of Vermont and Community College of Vermont – can help open the door for Vermont high school students who might not otherwise consider college as an option.

Under the $1.2 million Dual Enrollment program, high school students can enroll in classes at Vermont colleges. Students can take up to two, 4-credit courses free as a junior or senior, usually at night or over the summer, and they receive credit from their high school and the college.

Student participation in the Dual Enrollment program has been going up since the Legislature established the program as part of the Flexible Pathways Bill in 2013, and nearly 1,300 Vermont students participated in 2014.

Overseen by the Vermont Agency of Education, Vermont’s Dual Enrollment Program introduces college-level work to high school students and gives them a head start on college. The Dual Enrollment program is open to Vermont high school students who attend public schools.

Dual Enrollment at The University of Vermont

For the past 11 years, UVM Continuing and Distance Education has offered an outstanding precollege program to high school juniors and seniors who can explore career fields with professors who are leading experts, enroll in classes with other high school college students, experience the challenge of a college-level course, and earn transferable college credit.

Since 2004, 2,586 students have enrolled in UVM’s precollege program, of which 558 have matriculated to UVM. Of the 558 students, more than 85 have graduated. The number of students who have matriculated has been slowly but steadily climbing – from seven in 2005, to 38 in 2009, to 149 in 2014.

UVM’s precollege offerings include entry-level courses and a four-week Summer Academy residential program.

Without a post-secondary education, one’s future earning potential is lower, which we all know Vermont’s economy can’t afford. With the renewal of Vermont’s Dual Enrollment, I hope more high school students will be taking advantage of precollege courses at UVM and investing in their future. At no cost to the student, the payback is well worth the effort.

High School Summer Programs for Students Interested in Healthcare

high-school-summer-programsAre you considering a career in health, or have you already been accepted to a health sciences program? If this is the case, you may be wondering how you can better prepare yourself for the years ahead. Because of the academic investment the medical field is notorious for requiring, we want you to feel confident and fully prepared to excel in this career path. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to do so. Let’s take a closer look at your options.

Four high-school summer programs that can prepare you for your degree in healthcare:

National Student Leadership Program


The NSLC on Medicine & Health Care “uses an interactive approach to learning that gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the challneging complexities of the medical profession.” This program is geared toward incoming first-year students looking to experience the medical field first-hand. Over the duration of the conference, participants will perform clinical rounds, learn useful techniques, explore different career paths, and even earn the opportunity to diagnose and treat patients.

Discovery Internships


The experience you can gain from an internship is immeasurable, and through Discovery Internships, you can find that opportunity. Interns experience not only a hospital’s fast-paced environment, but also shadow doctors on rounds and learn valuable skills with support from internship coordinators. During your internship you’ll assist doctors and nurses with hands-on procedures, learn about medical administration, network with healthcare professionals, and meet like-minded students.

Medical Summer Camps

Envision’s National Youth Leadership Forums is famous for cultivating the skills that set students apart in the medical field. Over approximately 10 days, high school students train as rigorously as a medical students. With two programs to choose from, NYLF Medicine or NYLF Advanced Medicine & Health Care, students participate in hands-on activities that help them build specific skills needed to thrive in their degree program. Students gain experience in providing patient care and in developing treatment plans.

College Courses

Many colleges and universities, including The University of Vermont, offer motivated students an academically challenging experience designed to bring out their best. Every year, UVM places students in the country’s top graduate and professional programs and helps them launch their careers. If you’re a high-school student looking for a head start on a healthcare degree program, a variety of health programs are available to help you hone your skills before you start college.


Use Summer-Enrichment Programs to Try Out a Major

summer-enrichment-programsWhile most students have to wait until their first year of college to experience program-specific material and the campus community, high-school students enrolled in a summer-enrichment program can gain that experience much earlier. In fact, every year colleges and universities across the US place students in a number of different summer programs that are unique to their academic interests.

“Summer programs often give teens a taste of the most attractive aspects of college life: dorm housing, challenging classes and a parent-free environment,” writes Delece Smith-Barrow in U.S. News. “While advisers and program directors help students navigate their new surroundings, there are ways parents can help high school students prepare for the experience before they ever set foot on campus.”

What major is right for you? Explore your academic options with summer-enrichment programs

It’s not uncommon for first- and second-year college students to find out that the career path or major they’ve selected isn’t for them. This can result in additional courses, extra semesters, and a larger sum of student debt. By taking a summer pre-college program, high school students can start exploring different majors and career paths much earlier, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their future. Here’s a breakdown of how students can benefit from a summer-enrichment program:

  • Explore and study topics of interest at an in-depth level.
  • Continue the learning momentum they gained during the academic school year.
  • Evaluate their performance using the same academic standards and procedures that undergraduate college students use.
  • Experience the college environment first-hand, and make new connections with peers and professors.

When it comes time to select a summer-enrichment program, approach it like you would a major. “Not only does your major determine what you’ll be studying during your time as an undergrad, but it also influences your future career. Instead of focusing on immediate pay-off, look for something you’ll enjoy in the long run,” says Casey Lewis of Teen Vogue.

The same rings true for your pre-college program. From community and non-profit programs, to university and statewide programs, you have plenty of options. So be sure to enroll in a program that will set you up for long-term success, just like a major would. For students who are concerned about maintaining an enjoyable balance between academics and leisure, fear not. Students typically have the option to participate in academic extracurricular activities and residential program activities.

Ready to see what a pre-college program can do for you? Check out our guide: 7 Benefits of a Pre-College Program to learn more today.

5 Tips for Finding Scholarships That Match Your Skills

shutterstock_50570824-740906-editedThere’s no denying that a college education is a huge investment, but there are ways to alleviate your sticker-shock. Fortunately for most students who don’t hold the title of class president or captain of the football team, there’s still hope for a scholarship. “Being a high school football or basketball legend certainly helps, but many students don’t fall under those categories,” says the staff at Peterson’s. “Perseverance, researching what’s available, filling out endless forms, and getting those forms to the right place at the right time can all lead to scholarships, too.” Read on for help with your scholarship search.

Struggling to find scholarships that are right for you? Here are five tips:

#1 Start as early as possible.

While deadlines depend on the scholarship and its source, it’s important that you start your search as soon as possible. Keep in mind that the ideal time for your scholarship is the window between your junior and senior year of high school. If your academics, college search, SAT prep, or extracurricular activities are packing your schedule, fear not. There’s still time to find scholarships that pertain to your interests and financial needs. U.S. News writes: “A few dozen charities and nonprofits hold open their scholarship contests for procrastinators. Some of these competitions are more fun than the standard essay contests. And a few offer comparatively good odds.”

#2 Do your research.

Searching for scholarships isn’t the hard part—just type “scholarships” into your search bar and you’ll see why—but finding the right scholarship may take some time. The staff at Scholarship Experts by Unigo writes: “In today’s world, if you are willing to spend some time looking for scholarships that match your unique background and qualities, it is likely that you will find programs matched to your personal information.” Take your search over to Fastweb, where you can find scholarships based on your interests, skills, and more.

#3 Be specific.

Now that you know when and where to begin your search, narrow your search based on the field of study of your undergraduate program, as well as the city and state where you live. Many scholarships are awarded to those who have undergone hardships, live with a disability, or prove themselves to be non-traditional students, which just goes to show that when you specify what diversifies you, you may discover new scholarship opportunities.

#4 Use your resources.

When you’re looking for the best fit, nobody knows you better than your family and friends. If you have an older sibling or a relative who’s been through the scholarship process, ask for some advice. In addition, schedule an appointment with your school counselor to discuss scholarship options that are right for you.

#5 Check with the colleges where you’re applying.

Contact your preferred colleges or universities about their scholarships opportunities. Many schools offer scholarships for incoming students, and some even offer a search tool that enables students to search for scholarships by major and interests. For more on finding scholarships and preparing for college, stay tuned for our next article…

The Top High School Paid Internships

high-school-paid-internshipsThe experience you gain through an internship will help you establish credibility on your resume and can help you qualify for a higher-ranking position when it comes time to advance your career. So it comes as no surprise that college students and recent grads aren’t the only candidates applying for internships. High school students are also looking to become the next superstar interns.

The most coveted high school paid internships in the world

When it comes to applying for an internship, high school students may have to put in a little extra work to prove their readiness to employers. “For students on the internship circuit, you know that to get a great internship is wonderful,” writes Elizabeth Hoyt, the editor, contributing writer, and social media manager at Fastweb. “To get a paid internship is to [be] considerably lucky. And, taking it further still, to get one of the following internships, is to hit the jackpot.” Hoyt is referring to some of the most coveted internships in the world, including those for Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Sounds like a dream, right?

Not only are these internships among the most coveted in the world, but these organizations pay as much, or even more, than most employers for entry- and mid-level positions. In fact, an Apple intern could earn close to $6,000 a month, along with free housing and eligibility for benefits, meals, and more.

How to find an internship you’ll value

Simply put, Apple and Google aren’t for everyone, and these opportunities aren’t the only ones out there that can provide value or support your college fund. To find an internship that you can value, begin by thinking of the careers that interest you the most. While you don’t have to be 100 percent sure of the career you want to pursue in 10 years, you may have a handful you’re curious about, so start there.

Once you have a list of potential organizations, turn to their websites to see if they offer internships. Better yet, see if any are offered strictly to high school students—trust us, they exist. Remember that the goal of any internship is to explore potential career paths, acquire lifelong skills, and set yourself up for success by the time you graduate from college. Plus, working as an intern will help you to meet a variety of professionals you may not have met otherwise.

For more information on the top internships, check out Hoyt’s article and get started on your cover letter and resume. Good luck!

What Are Colleges Looking for in Extracurriculars?

what-are-colleges-looking-forIt’s no secret that extracurriculars serve as a foundation for growth among high school students. As the race for college acceptance becomes more competitive, high school students are looking for ways to distinguish themselves on their college application. One way this can happen is through what they’ve done outside the classroom.

Extracurricular activities—what are colleges looking for in today’s students?

While it’s been rumored that some very specific extracurricular activities and the title you’ve earned—such as captain of the football team—may be more favorable to admissions officers, that’s not necessarily true. According to Peterson’s, “[c]olleges aren’t terribly picky about how you spend your down time, as long as you’re doing something meaningful. They won’t know if you spend hours upon hours playing video games; they will certainly notice a lack of notable activities on your college application.” So if you weren’t elected class president, but you’re still focusing on building your skills through other activities, don’t be so hard on yourself. A college or university doesn’t add up every activity in which you participate. In fact, admissions officers would rather see you demonstrate a commitment to just a couple of activities, rather than dabble superficially in many. What’s important is that your involvement aligns with your interests and the program to which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying to college with a focus in environmental studies and you’re a dedicated member of the environmental club, the admissions office is likely to notice that connection.

While an extracurricular activity alone isn’t enough earn a college acceptance letter, it will help if you have a strong GPA and can demonstrate other self-starting initiatives. Admissions officers are often asking these questions when reviewing applicants: Can you demonstrate growth and potential? How can you contribute to the campus community? Involvement in an extracurricular activity can help shape a strong applicant—one admissions officers are looking to add to their list of accepted students.

Be sure to demonstrate your commitment to whatever you do, from extracurricular activities to your academics. Doing so will not only help shape your personal statement, it will also help you shape who you are now and who you’ll become in the future.

Helping Your Child Find High School Summer Internships

high-school-summer-internshipsInternships serve as a stepping stone to the career world for college students, but did you know that they may be just as valuable for high school students? There are a variety of internships aimed toward high school students across a wide range of career fields.

Preparing Your Child for Success: The Rise of High School Summer Internships

Before you dive into the options at hand, ask your children to start considering their interests and goals. Doing so will help them think about their skills, as well as the skills they’d like to build through the internship experience. An internship is truly about acquiring new knowledge, acclimating to the working world, and networking with professionals in a field of interest.

Once you’ve put your children’s goals at the forefront, encourage them to start their research. According to Forbes, you can’t truly “trust” whether an internship is the right fit until you complete your research.”You’ll need to research the firms, and look at size, industry, reputation, and history, among many other things to decide which ones best suits [your child].” Once your children have a list of companies that offer a good internship fit, see if any of your personal connections, such as your colleagues or friends, are employed there. While you want your student to take most of the initiative, there’s no harm in leveraging your personal connections to give your child a leg up.

Encourage your child to speak with a high school counselor or check the local paper to see if there are any internship fairs coming to town. Before attending, your child should plan for success, which can include researching the company thoroughly and dressing to impress. Keep in mind, however, that “It’s easy to overdo helping your child and turn into a helicopter parent,” says Carolyn C. Wise in a contribution to MomSpace. “Be sure to share your job search experience with your child, but remember that there’s a difference between encouraging and nagging.”

To begin research on internships, high school students can look on the “careers” page of the organizations they are considering or check out Internship Programs to explore some options.