These are the questions that students and their families ask most frequently on our Forums. As we get questions in English and in Spanish, we group them separately. You will notice that these two FAQ sections, are not identical because they feature the questions people ask more often in that particular language. If you don't find your answers in these FAQs, please click on the Questions banner on the Latinos in College Home page and search
the forums. And please, feel free to post your own questions anytime to get a direct answer by one of our experts.
What is better, State or Private School?
It is quite difficult to say that one school is “better” than another. Both state and private schools are good options for you to include within your research. You want to focus on a school that is going to offer you the best education within your area of study. Both private and state schools are known for some of the programs they offer. There are so many factors to look at: the different majors/programs, the professors, class sizes, graduation rates, job placement rates, student diversity, extracurricular, costs, financial assistance, living arrangements, and more! Some schools are strong in some areas and challenged in others. What matters is what school is best for YOU!
Which are the best technology colleges?
Here is an article from US News & World Report about the top technology schools around the world: www.usnews.com (http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/worlds-best-universities/2010/09/21/worlds-best-universities-engineering-and-it-.html). You will find a huge number of schools that are from the USA.
Are Ivy League schools hard to get into?
There is no reason why Ivy League school would be out of reach! While most colleges will take your GPA into high consideration, they also like to see how "active" you are within your school and/or community. Especially the more selective schools want to know that you are not only focusing on your grades but managing your time with other activities. Make sure to point out any clubs or sports teams you are a member of and any volunteering that you may do.
What are key things that I need to know about college visits?
When: A good time to start the college visit process is during your junior year, to ensure you have plenty of time to make decisions and apply. You may want to check with the admissions offices of the schools you are interested in to see if they have special visit days coming up. Note that most colleges and universities have special visit days throughout the year. These days are often on weekends and are a very in-depth look at a school. Also, for a productive visit, inform yourself about the college/university you plant to visit such as background, statistics of students/majors/professors, and about their financial help.
Cost: You do not have to pay to visit a college; however, if you plan on visiting a college that is out of your city, then you will need to cover your traveling costs (transportation, food, housing, etc.) If you or your parents do not have the funds to travel to other colleges, you should consider organizing a fundraiser, visiting in groups to minimize the cost, or visiting the college/university “virtual tours” under admission or at www.youniversitytv.com (http://www.youniversitytv.com/colleges). Note that if you are unable to visit a school due to distance, you may want to contact their recruitment/admissions office to see what your other options are.
With who: It is best recommended to go with groups of friends or with parents. If your parents do not speak English, contact the admission office to find out if they have a Spanish-Speaking Representative that could give the tour in Spanish or to translate for your parents in case the tour is in English.
How can I pay for college?
Apply for scholarships and financial aid. You can find lots of these types of resources on our website under “How to pay for college” tab on the right side of the header banner. Here we also list lots of links, books and videos with different ways to get money for documented or undocumented students. However, undocumented students should consider applying to private universities. These private institutions do not receive funding from the government: therefore, they are able to decide where their funds go.
What is the Early College High School Initiative?
The Early College High Schools give students the chance to go through a rigorous program in which they save time and money, while being able to complete high school and the first two years of college (the equivalent of an Associate's Degree). This initiative can be found in schools in 24 states and the District of Columbia. This is tuition free!
To find a campus near you go to the Early College High School Initiative website at www.earlycolleges.org (http://www.earlycolleges.org/schools.html#New%20York)
What are Dual Credits?
Dual Credits are a valuable resource that you can use to your advantage. While in high school, you can take college classes at the community college nearest you for free! You can take classes at night or later in the afternoon, or even online. Dual Credits not only do they help you get ahead, but they also look very good on college application. Ask your counselor for advice on what steps would be best for you.
How can I get rid of student loans?
Please take a look at this page by Stafford Loan Repayment - www.staffordloan.com (http://www.staffordloan.com/repayment/)
What is the difference between FAFSA and TAFSA?
TAFSA is the Texas financial aid application for students without documentation.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a yearly renewable application that plays a central and essential role in supporting postsecondary education by providing money for college to eligible students and families. FAFSA partners with postsecondary schools, financial institutions and others to deliver services that help students and families who are paying for college. It collects family’s financial information and calculates the amount the student can get to pay for his/her education.
What is the PSAT and SAT?
The PSAT is a standardized test that helps prepare you to take the SATs to get into college. The PSAT is not required, but it can be helpful for many reasons:
1. The test mirrors the SAT so you can get a "feeling" for the SAT and use the PSAT as a practice round to get familiar with the type of questions and subjects on the test.
2. The PSAT will provide you with feedback on your strengths and areas for improvement after you receive your scores. You can use this information to know where you should focus your studying.
3. PSAT test takers can apply to receive special scholarships from National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), the company who administers the test.
For more information on the PSAT, you can visit www.collegeboard.com
How do I apply to college?
You need to begin researching schools that you are interested in attending. You have the option of going to a community college (2-year institution), or a private or public university (4-year institution). This is very important because you want to make sure that you pick the school that is right for you. Use the internet to research some schools of interest and take a look at their student population, their professors, their programs, etc. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
1.) Do I want to stay close to home or go to an out-of-state college?
2.) Do I want to go to a big school or a smaller school?
3.) What are the graduation rates of Latino students?
4.) Does the school have a diverse population of students?
5.) Do I want to go to a public or private university?
Once you have your list complete, you will need to go onto the website of each school and go under their "Undergraduate Admission" section. You will either be able download an application or apply directly online. Make sure to read the requirements and organize any documents that you will need to send along with your application.
As part of the application process, you will need to write an essay. Some universities have specific questions they want their applicants to answer and other colleges will let you choose a topic to write about. Try to find a teacher at your school who would be willing to proof read your essay to make sure that you have correct grammar and content.
Find a mentor who can help you advise you on your education. You can either go to a teacher who you trust or a professional who works in an area that may be of interest to you (a doctor, a vet, an artist, etc.). There are also some organizations that provide mentors to students.
Under our website, go to our “Resources” page, which has a lot of information about college. Scroll down to the following topics: “Scholarships and Financial Aid”, “Mentoring Programs”, “College Selection”, and “Community Colleges”. While I encourage you to read all the topics on that page, these four may be of extra help.
What are the requirements for foreign students trying to go to college in the U.S.?
If you will be attending a university in the United States as a foreign student then you will need to have completed your high school diploma or the equivalent of that in your country. There are also other documents that you will need to submit along with your application which you can find on the website of each university of interest. Visit the websites and look at their application process for "International Students" or "Foreign Students". As part of the application process, the university will ask you for your transcripts from the last school you attended. You will also be required to take some tests. You can find more details on the website of each university. (Here is an example from the University of California, Los Angeles - [www.admissions.ucla.edu].)
How can I manage time while in college?
If you don't already have one, get a calendar/day planner. Whether it's the pen and paper variety, electronic PDA, or a calendar on your computer (iCal, Outlook), this will definitely help keep you organized. Write down class times, meetings, your work schedule, assignments due, and other important events. Always knowing what is ahead keeps your stress down and helps you stay organized.
Concentrate on one or two extracurricular activities only. Spreading yourself too thin leads to stress and does not allow you to devote as much time or effort to these clubs as you could. Find one (or maybe two clubs) you really enjoy, are passionate about, and/or will help you after you graduate and focus on those.
Eat and sleep well. You will perform better when you eat regularly and choose healthier foods. I know this can be hard in college, so keep a stash of healthy snacks like nuts, whole grain crackers, and fiber-rich granola bars. This will help you stay alert. Getting on a regular sleep schedule will help with stress and focus as well. It sounds simple, but it will really help!
Remember that academics come first! You are in college to get an education and that is your number one priority. Once you get used to college life, you can add more extracurricular activities, nights out with friends, or more hours at your part-time job. A little investment now will pay off big time!
Get a tutor. Schools usually offer tutors to students for free or very low cost. When you're crunched for time or having difficulty in a certain subject, a tutor is a great resource. They can help you maximize your study time and give you tips for studying/learning. You can also go to your professors and ask for help from them. Don't be shy! :)
How do I manage time between family and my studies during Holidays?
It can be very difficult balancing your school work with family and friends. Here are a few suggestions:
Communication is Key: Talk to your parents and siblings if any. Explain to them that you made an effort to come visit them because you care and at the same time explain to them that although you wish to spend the entire break with them you have work that needs to be done.
Create a Schedule: This should not take you that long and would be a great way to balance your time between your social life & school work. Perhaps you may decide that you can dedicate a few hours a week for school & weekends to socialize with your friends and family.
Compromise: It most likely that there will be time conflicts when planning your schedule but you should know that it is okay to make a few adjustments after all you are on your break and should relax not stress!!! Also if you know that studying at your house is impossible (like I do) try visiting you local public library or coffee shop (as suggested by Amber) or even try making a study party with your former high school friends you get to study & at the same time catch up with some old friends).
How important is volunteer work?
It is very important because it shows that you can balance your time and that you are active outside of school. Most colleges and universities do not have hour requirements for volunteer work. Many do not have a volunteer requirement at all. But, they do like to see volunteer work on applications, not so much in the form of hours per week or hours per month, but that you do participate in some volunteer activity(ies). Just remember that volunteering should not be so stressful. Schools want to see consistency and leadership skills through community service. Find something convenient for you and something that you enjoy helping with. It may seem small but you are making a difference!
How can I finance my studies?
Search on Google or Yahoo for scholarships in your field of interest (ex. “Scholarships for __”). You can also check PAYING FOR SCHOOL page at Latinos in College website where you will find lots of resources on this topic, for documented and undocumented students. You can also apply for financial aid by filing out FAFSA for federal aid.
What is an internship?
An internship is similar to a job. The difference is that an internship trains you in a certain area and gives you a learning experience in a specific field of interest. A benefit to an internship is that your boss understands that you are learning. Internships can be paid or unpaid. An internship is usually part-time during the semester and full-time in the summer. It is a great way for you to start gaining experience. Take advantage of internship opportunities while you are in college! The following websites offer a variety of internships: www.hispanicheritage.org, www.inroads.org, www.hacu.net .
You can also search on Google or Yahoo for “internship in __” You can go to the Career Services office at your college to see if they can assist you with any internship. They may have partnerships with some of the organizations in the area. Begin networking with professors, professionals, family, friends, classmates, etc. to see if they can direct you to an internship that is right for you. If possible, go directly to some of the companies you are applying to so that you can speak to the manager.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is an individual who guides you in your path towards your education and/or your career goals. It is usually a person who you respect and who you can trust to help you with your goals. For example, a mentor could be a teacher who you have a good relationship with. He or she may help you decide on what college schools to look at or may be there to edit your college application and essay. Another example is in the case of an undergraduate college student who has plans to study to become a lawyer. He or she has a lawyer who mentors and provides information on the best law schools the student should look at and what steps he/she needs to take to be a better applicant. You can have more than one mentor and they can be found anywhere.
How do I ask someone to be my mentor?
Asking someone to be your mentor can be a bit intimidating. However, what you're really saying by asking someone to be your mentor is that you really admire that person and hope they will share their wisdom and advice with you. So it's a big compliment!
I would first ask a prospective mentor if they would be willing to set up a short informational interview with you, perhaps a 30 minute discussion over a cup of coffee. You can ask them about their education, career, triumphs/struggles, community involvement, etc. Basically whatever you respect about them or want to achieve yourself. People love to talk about themselves so I'm sure you'll get a lot of useful information here.
At the end of the interview, if you feel they would be a good mentor for you, tell them that you really admire them and their accomplishments and would be honored if they would be your mentor. Let them know why you want a mentor and what you hope to learn from them.
Can undocumented student apply to college?
Yes they can. Here are some important things to take into account when applying to a university as an undocumented student.
1) There are nine states who allow in-state tuition for undocumented students; however, you must check their requirements. Most require that you attend high school in that state. These states are the following: California, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Washington.
2) Public universities or state colleges should not ask for proof of your citizenship or immigration status. They are not required to report undocumented students. You are allowed to leave the SSN space on the application blank.
3) Private colleges DO NOT receive federal funding, therefore, they are able to accept and give financial aid to undocumented students (depending on the school’s policy). Students interested in private universities should speak to the Admissions Office about their status.
Is my foreign degree valid in the U.S.?
You can send your degree to an organization that will give you a degree evaluation to show the equivalence of your degree to a degree in the United States. You can send this evaluation to each job that you are applying to so that they have proof that you are qualified. You can visit www.wes.org . Be aware they will charge you a fee.
What is the difference between doing community service and volunteering?
Community service and volunteering are two different ways of saying the same thing. Each school may have different requirements for the number of hours you must complete or the type(s) of organizations to which you volunteer your time, but most just like to see that applicants are actively involved with charitable work and can balance school and outside activities.