College Essay Tips

You have researched colleges and now it is time to write a personal essay. It’s time to construct a thesis that will help you stand out from the masses. It’s up to you to show the admissions committee what sets you apart from others in ways that test scores, grades and extracurricular pursuits cannot. Here are some tips to help you craft your best composition.

You have researched colleges and now it is time to write a personal essay. It’s time to construct a thesis that will help you stand out from the masses. It’s up to you to show the admissions committee what sets you apart from others in ways that test scores, grades and extracurricular pursuits cannot. Here are some tips to help you craft your best composition.

Pick your Topic.

When you are ready to write an admissions essay, pick something that you can easily discuss and a subject that it is truthful. You will never want to force an answer or lie. Tap into your passions, different experiences, or anything that makes you seem original, but make sure you answer the question they provided. If you do not, your essay will likely be overlooked.

Outline Your Essay and Start Writing.

Whenever you start writing your first draft, it is best to just let your thoughts flow freely, but also to approach it with some structure. Create an outline. Structure your essay so that it includes an introduction paragraph that states what you will be talking about, a body section with several paragraphs that relate to the introduction, and a conclusion paragraph that leaves an impression. Be original and creative to help show the admissions board a clearer picture of who you are and added reasons why you would be a great addition to the college.

Edits and Feedback.

Review your paper several times and make sure that your essay is concise and reads easily. Reading the draft out loud will help you find anything that does not sound conversational. Most importantly, after reviewing your own work, hand it over to family, friends or even teachers for their feedback. Make sure that the essay “sounds like you” by keeping everything in your own voice.  Remember to proofread your essay several times to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors.


  • Use imagery and clear vivid prose by appealing to the five senses. It helps keep the reader engaged.
  • Spend most of your time perfecting the introduction to help entice the reader to continue reading. Admissions officers usually only give 1-2 minutes per essay. Make sure you hook them in.
  • Conclusions are crucial and leave a critical last impression. Try to link it back to the introduction to create a balance to the essay without the need to summarize everything into a paragraph.
  • Take breaks! This essay is important, but do not make it your whole focus. Taking a break from the writing or editing is healthy. Just make sure you meet the deadline!

Best of luck and fingers crossed for the acceptance letters to come in the mail.


4 Tips to Help You Score a Scholarship

If college is in your future, consider applying for a scholarship to help reduce your tuition costs. Here are some tips to help improve your chance of being selected anytime you apply.

Find A Scholarship.

There are thousands of scholarships available so check out websites like the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, and Consider all of your options and to not discount smaller scholarships or organizations. Usually, small organizations who offer scholarships have less people apply which creates less competition. Plus, multiple small scholarships can add up quickly.

Prepare to Apply.

Create a skill resume. This valuable self-summary will allow you to talk about your abilities and what you can provide in the college environment. Be sure to tailor your skillset to the specific scholarship or organization where you’re applying. Read and follow all of the directions that are provided to you. If you cannot follow instructions you won’t likely be selected. When it comes to your references, be sure to give your teacher, counselor, instructors and supervisors time to write their recommendation letters. People are eager to help out, especially if you give them a reasonable deadline so they are not rushed.

Write an Awesome Essay.

Create outlines for each of your scholarship essays to keep all of your thoughts organized and concise. If you find that you have a hard time sitting and writing an essay, audio record your response and then transcribe the information. It is usually easier to write about something you are passionate about so try to keep that in mind when picking your subject matter for the essay. Also, be sure to give examples to strengthen your story and make it more believable. The most important thing whenever it comes to the essay is to proofread it…several times. Try reading the essay out loud to make sure it sounds right and have a few (trusted) people to review it as well.

Watch Out for Scams.

Unfortunately, there are some fraudsters out there who want to take advantage of students searching for scholarships. Take caution with any site that you review. If there is a site that is guaranteeing something or asking for you to pay money to get a scholarship, do not trust them. Also, do not trust anyone who is asking for your bank account, credit card, or social security number.

Good luck with finding the right scholarship for you. The Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation awards 30 deserving students’ $4,000 scholarships each year.  Find out if you’re eligible and apply by January 31, 2015.

4 Ways to Ace an Interview

Research shows that on average, an interviewer makes a FINAL decision on someone within the first four minutes of meeting an applicant. This just goes to show you that the first impression you make is key. That lasting impression includes your body language, presence in a room, how you dress and how you answer questions. Here are 4 ways to make a positive first impression.

Be Confident.

The way you feel about yourself can reflect on how others see you. Display confidence even if you’re feeling a bit unsure of yourself. Your presence in a room is more important than the interview itself. Remember to have a good strong handshake, not to fidget and to maintain a good posture. Practice your posture right before the interview. It affects the chemicals in the brain to make you actually feel self-assured and impact your chances of achievement.

Match Interviewers Body Language.

By matching the interviewers tone, posture, eye contact and gestures, you appear to be more in sync with the person who is interviewing you. This mirroring effect makes you immediately more likeable to the person and strengthens your chances to make it to the next level.

Whether you’re looking for employment over the summer or hoping to start your career, you need to be prepared for the job interview. Sure, you may have a stunning resume, but when you present yourself in person, will an employer take you seriously? According to, 33% of employers claim that they know if they are willing to extend a job offer within the first 90 seconds of meeting an applicant.

Make the most of your first 90 seconds with interview tips that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Know the company.

Research and learn about the companies where you are interviewing. Understand their mission and, when possible, what may be expected of you if you are selected. If you are applying at several locations, keep a notebook to track details that may help during the interview.

Dress for the job you want.

Whenever you are thinking about what to wear, know that your clothing says a lot about you. Resist the urge to stand out by wearing something ultra-trendy, short, tight or too casual. Depending on where you are applying, this can backfire. A classic black suit, shirt and tie or skirt-suit/dress with a light color top it still a top choice. Use caution and best judgment when picking out an outfit.

Remember Names.

It is good to repeat the interviewer’s name (when appropriate) to create a lasting impression on the person you are speaking to. In Dale Carnegie’s timeless book How to Win Friends and Influence People, he wrote, “If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.” Remembering someone’s name will help you stand out from the crowd in both personal and business relationships.

Repeat Your Interview Questions.

It’s a good practice to paraphrase your interview questions. It not only buys you some time to think about how you want to answer, it also shows that you are listening to the interviewer. This makes the interviewer feel like they have been heard and that you comprehend the question – boosting your credibility.

Try practicing the above skills a few times before the big day. Practice creates a habit which makes the actions seem more natural or second nature.

We wish you all of the best with your interview. Remember, getting the interview in the first place is the hardest part. Try that on for confidence!


  • Martin, Carole. “Nonverbal Communications: Escape the Pitfalls.” Nonverbal Communications: Escape the Pitfalls. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.
  • Kolowich, L. (2014, August 29). 6 Psychological Tricks to Help You Nail Your Next Interview. Retrieved September 10, 2014.

Quick Tips for Buying your First Car

Buying a car is typically an inevitable purchase many of us have to make at some point in our life. New car excitement; unfortunately, is often balanced with the dread and stress of loans and dealerships.

There’s good news.

With a little prep work you can nearly eliminate the uncertainty you feel. Here are a few tips to help you lessen your stress, pay what you can afford, get the best deal and fall in love with your new set of wheels.

Find out what you can pay each month.

Take a look at your cost-of-living. Calculate what you spend on rent, food, insurance and what you would like to have in the way of “fun money.” What can you afford to pay for a car each month? This will include not only the car payment, but the insurance cost as well. Next, determine how long you want to make payments. Loan terms can be spread out from 36 to 72-months depending on how much money you put on the down payment, how much you are financing and what you can afford.

Figure out your cost of ownership.

Loan payments, insurance costs, gas, oil changes, maintenance costs and taxes should all be considered when calculating your monthly cost commitment. When you have better knowledge of where your money is going, you keep from being surprised in the long run.

Get pre-approved for your loan.

Don’t waste your time looking at cars you can’t afford. With a pre-approval you can focus on options within your price range.
Research your options. Keep an open mind. You may have your heart set on a $35,000 vehicle, but you can only afford to spend $10,000. Consider new and pre-owned options within your price range. Test drive several vehicles before you buy. You and your car will have a long relationship, you want to make sure it’s the right fit.

Get the negotiations out of the way.

You may hear conversations about how sitting through your first car deal can be daunting. Well, buying a car just got easier. There are free car buying services that allow you to shop online and avoid all the dealership negotiations and haggling ? often saving you money in the process. Simply, choose your make and model, pick the color, options/specifications and view all of the available incentives. The process is similar for used cars too. After you have decided on the car you are interested in, you get a certificate showing you the guaranteed price from a certified dealer. This includes the TrueCar® Price Curve which shows others have paid for the same vehicle. This information will help ensure you are getting a great deal.

Go finalize the deal.

At the dealership always review your contract details. Before signing, make sure you are comfortable with the terms. Ask the dealer to remove any add-on fees that you did not agree to.

Follow these steps and you will feel an overwhelming sense of pride knowing that you made smart choices, got the deal you deserve and did it completely on your own. Good luck.