• Should You Attend Community College For 2 Years Then Transfer?

    Posted by Alicia Soper on 12/10/2019 8:00:00 AM

    It’s a common game plan for this area: get an associate’s degree from a local community college and transfer to another school. Is that the right plan for you? Go through our pros and cons list below and decide for yourself. Are there any Pros or Cons we’ve missed?


    Community Colleges are much less expensive than many other schools. In addition to which, if you continue to live at home you will cut the cost of room and board out of the tuition bill; this can amount to huge savings. If you are having trouble securing financial aid and scholarships this will make college much more attainable.

    If you’re unsure of what you want to study, community colleges are an excellent place to explore your options without wasting time or money. No matter where you go you will have to take general education classes; at community colleges you can take them and sample other classes to get a feel for what interests you. In addition to which the general education classes may be easier there.

    If you’ve taken College Now courses while at ODY, then when you start at a community college you will be well on your way to finishing your associate’s before you’re even started your first semester.

    If your high school grades weren’t what many colleges would hope for 2 years at a community college can put you in better standing for a more prestigious university. For this to work you have to be dedicated to your classes and do well. Other universities will still look at your high school transcript but combined with your college transcript, they will see a steady increase in your work and education.


    If you try to transfer early before your associate’s degree is complete you may lose many of your credits. No matter where you start, transferring is a risk; colleges don’t trust the standards of other institutions and will have limitations on which credits transfer and which don’t

    If you know exactly what you want to study and have a degree in, you may be better going straight to your dream school. Community colleges may not have the area of study you want to pursue and getting an associate’s degree in something else could mean you have to start from the beginning when you go for your bachelor’s or master’s.

    If you think of yourself as a high achiever you may not find community college a challenge. You want to get the most out of your college experience, after all you are paying for it. If you’re not being challenged, will it really set you up for success later when you’re looking to start a career?

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  • Job Hunting and Interview Skills

    Posted by Alicia Soper on 10/30/2019 3:00:00 PM

    So, what do you do when you want to apply for a job? Whether it’s a part time job on weekends or starting your career, here are some tips for job hunting and interviewing.


    Have an appropriate email address: Make it your name, if you need to include middle initials, or numbers at the end to get it, that’s fine. Slayer666@email.com is not. I<3jonasbrothers3@email.com is also not. Make. It. Your. Name.


    Have a voicemail that works: Set it up if you haven’t, if it’s full, delete any messages that aren’t important. You can’t always answer the phone: if you don’t have service, if the battery died, or if you’re in the middle of another interview. Then make sure to check it. If the person tries to call you back but can’t leave a message they will give up very quickly.


    Send the application/resume in the manner they request: If they ask for an application, don’t hand in a resume and assume they will read it. If they ask for it to be handed in personally, don’t email it, they might not check email very often and will miss it. If it says email it, don’t hand it in personally, the person who collects it may lose it, forget to pass it on, or maybe even the person you’re replacing and they didn’t know they were going to be fired...AWKWARD!


    Don’t assume you have the job just because you handed in an application/resume: Plan to hand out dozens of applications/resumes. The company may already have someone in mind they want to hire, but they have to post the position anyway. Some places run the applications/resumes they receive through a program that searches for specific words; if you’ve used “outshines” instead of “excels” it may be placed straight into the reject pile. There are a lot of reasons you may not get a call back about an application, some for no reason at all. Keep trying, the right job is out there for you.


    Use the key words placed in the job posting: If the posting says they need someone who excels at this skill, use the words “excels at this skill.” If they ask for a random skill like being able to use Bic pens, don’t just say “I can use pens,” say “Proficient with the use of Bic pens.” For whatever reason, that skill matters to them... therefore it matters to you.


    Now you’ve gotten a call back and set up an interview. No pressure...but start getting nervous, it can be helpful!


    Learn about the company: Find out as much as you can about the company beforehand, knowing what they do or what they value will help you be prepared when they start asking questions. Come up with questions for the person interviewing you. This shows you are engaged and it may show you know what you’re talking about. Say you’re interviewing for a welding position, you could ask about the specific equipment they use, why that and not another comparable method? If their website says they value their customers’ satisfaction above all else, ask what their customers are looking for or if they’ve done any customer satisfaction surveys. What were the results? Don’t go in and ask “so what is it you do here?” or “You sell some sort of scissors?”


    Dress appropriately: Whatever your everyday wear for the job will be, dress better for the interview. If you’re likely to wear jeans and a t-shirt for the job, wear kakis and a polo shirt to the interview. If you expect to wear “business casual” on the job, dress in a more professional style for the interview. If you don’t know what those are, find out. NEVER, under any circumstances, show up for a job in something that has holes, a stain on it, a t-shirt, jeans or flip-flops, no matter what the job is. Don’t roll your eyes, this really does matter. The interview is where you put your best foot forward. In most cases you’re meeting the person interviewing you for the first time. As shallow as it is, they will make a judgement of you based on how you look. If you look like you just rolled out of bed, or came to the interview from a party, that tells the interviewer you aren’t prepared, and possibly don’t care very much.


    Be early: There is nothing wrong with being early, there is everything wrong with being late. Being an hour early may be a bit much, but give yourself extra time in case of bad traffic, getting lost, showing up and realizing you’re in the wrong spot. Plan for something to go wrong, then if everything goes right it will be a relief.


    Have a firm hand shake: Weak handshakes make people uncomfortable. There’s no way around it. Find the line between breaking someone’s knuckles and feeling like a dead fish. Don’t be afraid to practice.


    Make eye contact: It’s one of the most uncomfortable things for a lot of people, but it’s important. Looking someone in the eye makes you memorable to them, it tells them you have confidence, that you have nothing to hide, and it gives the impression of intelligence.


    Don’t slouch: Slouching says you’re lazy and not interested. Leaning forward means you’re excited to be there.


    Keep your answers to the point: Don’t give long winded answers that have details that aren’t relevant to the question. Don’t use 20 words when 10 will do. Avoid using filler words such as “um” or “like.” Practice changing them out for words like “hmm” or “That’s an interesting question,” which will make you seem thoughtful. Another option is to replace the “um” or “like” with a silent breath. This technique takes practice, but it’s very affective in making a person sound more intelligent.


    Dealing with nerves: Being nervous is part of the interview process. Most people interviewing will understand this and forgive some amount of nervous behavior. There are a lot of ways to make yourself calmer, or at least appear calmer. Wear something like a watch (you can get a $5-$15 watch at Walmart) or ring and anytime you feel nervous give it a turn. Bring a water bottle and take a sip, or just hold it in your hands so they aren’t fidgeting.


    If you would like help with a resume or application, feel free to bring it into the guidance office. Practicing for an interview ahead of time will help a lot, interviewing is a skill and like any skill you have to practice to get better. Set up an appointment in the guidance office and we will treat it just like a job interview!

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  • The College Essay

    Posted by Alicia Soper on 9/20/2019 8:00:00 AM

    The dreaded college essay! Why do colleges even ask you to write them? How are you supposed to know what to write about? What if you mess it up completely? Take a deep breath because we are here to help!

    The purpose of the college essay is for you to set yourself apart from the crowd. It allows you to shine and tell the college about yourself. Colleges want students who will enhance their community and bring their own passions and personality to the mix. They want students who will make their campus come alive. When you walk onto a college campus for a visit, you’ll notice an atmosphere which is created by all of those students pursuing that which excites them about life. The college wants to know if they have a way for you to pursue your passion, if you’ll be happy there and if you’ll have room to grow into an adult. The college essay is a way for you to tell them who you are and what you want from life, not just the next 4 years of education.


    In addition to displaying your personality, you can demonstrate your education. Grammar, vocabulary, and spelling DO COUNT, so be diligent. Once you finish the essay, put it away for a day or so, then come back and re-read it. Often this will reveal typos and sentences that don’t make sense. Be sure to do this a few times. We all know those grammar police, the friends or older siblings that constantly correct what you’ve written or said, right now that is their best quality. Ask them to proof read your essay for you, ask a few different people to do so. Ask anyone else you trust on this matter, even a teacher or advisor. Remember: you can never proofread something too many times. This is your essay and you are displaying your personality, so don’t let them change the message or tell you what to write, just the technical aspects of it. There are also apps and programs now that are far more advanced than the software that comes built into your Word program. Try some of these extensions:





    You may have a college tell you what they want you to write about, or they may leave it entirely up to you. If the college gives you a topic most will deal with a handful of topics which leave enough ambiguity for you to still make them individualized (see the link for Essay Writing Prompts below). These will likely be about obstacles you’ve had to overcome, people who inspire you, or dreams and goals for the future. The biggest key is to choose something you are passionate about. College is a time in your life where you should be pursuing your passion and that’s what universities want, so show them that side of you.


    If the college doesn’t give you an essay question, you can choose any topic you like, just remember to make it reflective of who you are and the education you’ve had. You can still write about someone who has inspired you, or an obstacle, or you could also write about the dedication and effort you put into learning about that one hobby you love. The thing to keep in mind in this case is not to ramble on. You are telling them a story about who you are, but they are also judging that story to see how well you will do at their school.


    Whatever topic you pick, remember to stay away from anything would imply a negative attitude. Negativity is never an appealing trait in any applicant (remember that when you’re applying for jobs too), and admissions officers don’t want to read about what annoys you or makes you angry. If you write about an obstacle incorporate/end on a positive aspect: how much you’ve learned and grown from it, how you’re better for it, or how even though it was difficult, you’re really glad it happened because of this reason.


    You also want to remember boundaries, don’t write about overly personal experiences like your love life or broken heart. You want to stay away from the grosser details of an illness. Talking about overcoming the illness is fine, but the admissions officer doesn’t need to know every detail of what it’s like to be sick.


    Another no-no is to sound like you’re bragging, you want to sound confident without being conceited or smug. Presumably you’re applying there to learn, and if you sound like you already know it all or think you’re too good for everything, this sends the message that there really isn’t a place for you at that college.


    Don’t forget, admissions officers read thousands of these essays every year. Have you ever experienced someone who thinks they are being original or funny but they are being cliché (for example, the tall person who repeatedly gets asked “how’s the weather up there”)? College essays also tend to be repetitive, which heightens the need to be original or stand out from the crowd. The subjects that are used most often are about being on a sports team (what percentage of your classmates were also on a sports team?), or writing about parents getting divorced (while upsetting and no doubt formative it is also true for at least half of all applicants) or the death of a grandparent (again this was a very sad event, but it’s a very common experience). If you feel strongly about something that many people have experienced, you need to make it outstanding, that way the person reading it doesn’t roll their eyes and think “not another one.”


    Here are a few examples of commonly over used phrases and themes:

    “As I sit writing this essay...”

    Starting with an already famous quote

    Making a metaphor out of objects and life (“Mamma always said life is like a box of chocolates” became famous because it was funny not profound.)

    Suggesting how to fix the world


    The college essay is a big step in the admissions process, there’s no getting around that, but you don’t have to do it alone. Every teacher here at ODY had to write their own college essay at one point. You may still be in touch with former students who just recently applied to and were accepted into universities. Reach out and ask for help, that’s what we’re here for!


    Lastly, here are a few examples of things you should NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES include in your college essay:

    Referencing crimes you have committed

    Emojis/emoticons/text talk/slang

    Talk about a friend who also wants to attend

    Write your essay in the form of a poem


    Common App Writing Prompts


    Essays that worked from Johns Hopkins:



    Essays that worked from Conneticut College:



    Essay examples from C2educate:




    Essays that need a revision but have promise from collegebasics:





    Mistakes seen by College Admissions from CollegeVine:



    Types of essays that don’t work from Koppel:




    Very very bad essays:



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  • Early Admission

    Posted by Alicia Soper on 7/22/2019 8:00:00 AM

    Early Admission (or Early Action) is the practice of colleges to accept applications by early November and giving students a decision by December 1st.

    Why would you want to do that though?

    • If you're a real go-getter, you may not like leaving things until the last minute. Applying early relieves the stress of wondering where you will go and what you will do.
    • It also shows the college you are applying to that you are very interested in going there. Colleges want students who are enthusiastic to fill their classes, applying early demonstrates this.
    • Additionally the pool of applicants is smaller, giving you less competition than if you waited and applied at the January deadline. According to Rebecca Joseph, Executive Director and Founder of getmetocollege.org; many colleges accept 40-50% of their student body from the early admission pool, and since few students are applying at that time you stand a greater statistical chance of being accepted. 

    Then why doesn't everyone apply early?

    • First, not all schools offer it. There is debate among schools as to whether the practice gives an unfair advantage to wealthy applicants. Harvard and Princeton for example, ended their early application program citing that reason, only to reinstate it a few years later [1].
    • There is also an aspect to the process called "early decision". Some schools only offer early decision which means that if accepted, you are obligated to go to that school. This means if you apply to your dream school for early action and a back up school that is early decision, then if both schools accept you, you must accept the spot from your back up school. Because of this, students can only apply to one school for early decision. On the other hand, you may apply to as many schools as you like for early action then wait until the spring to make your final decision.
    • Applying early, often means you can't compare the financial aid packages offered through other schools. If you are accepted under early decision you must take their financial aid package even though it may end up being far more expensive in the long run.
    • Finally, you may have a better application if you take the time to study hard and bring your grades up before you apply.


    So what do I decide?

    • If you know without a shadow of a doubt that that is the school you want to go to, then apply for early decision. It is a commitment, but if you've already made the decision, asking them to make theirs will let you know and make plans months ahead of your peers.
    • I you aren't sure that is the school for you, but you do know your record is as good as it's going to get, the applying for early action can only help. In this case you can apply to as many schools as you like and then take your time to make your decision.
    • It's important to remember that showing enthusiasm and tilting the statistics in your favor will not help with a weak application. If you don't have the grades, or the well written essay, or the extra curricular activies, it won't matter how early you apply. None of that will replace hard work and studying, and colleges can tell the difference.

    If you would like to do your own research, the following links would be a good place to start:

    • https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/applying-101/the-facts-about-applying-early-is-it-right-for-you
    • https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/early-action-vs-early-decision
    • https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/01/05/early-college-admissions-by-numbers/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.95c922b93a7c



    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_decision


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  • Starting the College Search

    Posted by Alicia Soper on 6/26/2019 8:00:00 AM

    Starting to look for colleges can be overwhelming. It's a big decision; one that will effect your life for years after you get your degree. You're going to have A LOT of questions, and there will be as many answers as people you talk to. Each step in the process is personal and you are the only one to ultimately make the decision. The guidance office is here to help you know what questions to ask, what answers to be on the look out for, and what decisions to be careful of.

    To start you off here is a list of questions. If you don't know the answers yet don't panic; these are just designed to get your mind on track.

    What do you want to be when you grow up? It's a classic, and you've probably been asked this one hundred million times by now. How many times over the years have you changed that answer? Chances are this isn't the final time you make that decision. Ask the adults in your life how many times they've changed that answer after graduating. How many of them have made a career change? Just like them, making this decision doesn't lock you in for the rest of your life, it just gives you somewhere to start.

    How much money does that make? We all know money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy a roof, food and heat. Many graduating seniors don't know how much is costs to run their own homes. Ask your parents how much it cost to buy their house, how much they spend on groceries a week, electricity every month, internet etc. Even if you're not looking to be a millionaire, get an idea of what you need to live a life after graduation; chances are it's more expensive than you think. And if you do want to be a millionaire: work hard and remember jet ski's make wonderful thank you gifts.

    Where are the best schools to learn that? There are thousands of schools that will teach any given major, finding the right one for you is about more than what's close, and where the best parties are. Finding the right school for you may be about the size of the school, or it may be about the networking experiences the school provides, or the internships. Will they let you have a major and a minor so you can have a back up career? What kind of scholarships and financial aid do they offer.

    Can you do this for the next 50 years of your life? The sad fact is that many careers are disappearing around the country, while many more are popping up. Make sure you look into what the trend on that career has been; is it a growing industry or a shrinking one? The other thing to consider is if the job is very physical, can you still be doing that level of labor when you're 62? Is there room for promotion or will you gain an entry level job and not have anywhere to go?


    You aren't expected to have all the answers right now. Do research, ask all those questions you have, visit different colleges. This is your life and these are your decisions to make. If you give it your all you will end up being exactly where you want.

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