5 Questions Students Should Answer Before Choosing a College

Press Release Overview

High school juniors are planning what colleges to tour in the Spring, while seniors are beginning to receive their college acceptance letters. Student Launch Pad guides students through the five key questions to ask before making their college choices.

Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) February 18, 2015

Many high school juniors are planning campus tours for this Spring, seeking out the college that is best for them. Meanwhile, seniors are beginning to receive acceptance letters to their dream colleges. The difficult process of getting into college is done. For graduates of the Student Launch Pad program, 86% are accepted to at least one of their top three college choices. Now comes the college decision crunch time when seniors make the decision of which college to attend in the Fall.

The question that both groups of students want answered is how to know which college to attend. With hundreds of colleges to choose from, it is often difficult for students to navigate where they are best suited. Student Launch Pad helps students make the tricky decision of choosing which college is right for them.


Student Launch Pad has found that the following five questions guide students in deciding which college is their best fit:

1. Where do you want to live the next four years?

2. What campus feel do you want?

3. What are you looking for academically?

4. What is the cost?

5. What activities do you want on campus?

On how to best answer these questions, Student Launch Pad’s founder, Stephanie Shackelford, says,

“Understanding where you want to go to college is as much about understanding who you are.”

Student Launch Pad designs its programs around this concept so as students complete assessment tests, exercises, and coaching sessions, they discover what they want out of a college experience. By identifying their strengths, passions, and career interests, students are equipped to apply and gain acceptance to their dream college.


Student Launch Pad is currently accepting enrollments for its 9-week online college application course, which is an excellent way for high school juniors to jumpstart the college application process. For more information on Student Launch Pad’s programs, visit StudentLaunchPad.com or call 866-678-3609.

Student Launch Pad coaches high school and early college students to make the best decisions for their future based on the intersection of their strengths and passions. Through our one-on-one or online coaching programs, students are accepted to their dream colleges, choose their best major, and find their ideal careers. Student Launch Pad’s sister company, Career Flight Plan, offers career coaching for college seniors, recent graduates, and working professionals. Through one-on-one coaching programs, clients develop a flight plan to navigate their best possible career future.

Press Release: Student Launch Pad Rolls out Online Coaching Program for Students

Student Launch Pad’s coaching program for college acceptances, college major selection, and career guidance is now fully online, in addition to its one-on-one coaching programs. The online program offers a convenient and affordable coaching alternative for high school and college students.

Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) January 28, 2015

Student Launch Pad announces the launch of a fully online version of its executive-type coaching program for high school and college students. The online program is now live and available to any student seeking acceptance to their dream colleges, guidance on selecting their best major, and help finding their ideal careers.


Student Launch Pad’s founder, Stephanie Shackelford, says,

“Our online program is not only extremely affordable but also offers flexibility for students’ schedules, while delivering the same high quality results as our one-on-one programs.”

At its founding, Student Launch Pad solely offered one-on-one coaching programs for students seeking guidance on their futures. To expand its reach to students around the country, Student Launch Pad developed an online curriculum and piloted an online version of its coaching programs with schools and organizations this past year. Survey data indicated very positive results, and the online format offered organizations and school systems a platform that was scalable and affordable for large numbers of students. This online coaching program is live as of the first of this year.

The online coaching program includes enrollment in Student Launch Pad’s six-week interactive online learning course. Each student is assigned a personal online coach who provides weekly communication, compiles assessment results, offers feedback, and tracks student progress. Enrollment also includes full access to Student Launch Pad’s online learning system, where all of the curriculum, assessment tests, activities, exercises, videos, and resources are housed.

As a part of the program, students complete five assessment tests to discover their strengths, personality, and career interests, and they participate in small group discussion forums each week with other students and their coach. A Student Launch Pad coach leads weekly webinars to provide further explanation and application of topics, including exposure to various career fields as well as personalized coaching to the students. The program culminates with a digital creation of 50-plus page personalized portfolio comprised of course materials, students’ assessment results, and reflection exercises.


For more information on Student Launch Pad’s program, visit StudentLaunchPad.com or call 866-678-3609.

Student Launch Pad coaches high school and early college students to make the best decisions for their future based on the intersection of their strengths and passions. Through our one-on-one or online coaching programs, students are accepted to their dream colleges, choose their best major, and find their ideal careers. Student Launch Pad’s sister company, Career Flight Plan, offers career coaching for college seniors, recent graduates, and working professionals. Through one-on-one coaching programs, clients develop a flight plan to navigate their best possible career future.


How to decide what to do after college

The New Year is usually the time to make new plans and look at the year ahead. But if you’re a senior in college, now is the time to be thinking of post-graduation plans. Don’t believe me? See tip #2. If you’re wondering, How am I supposed to know what to do after college, I offer the following 3 steps:
  what to do after college  
1. Explore all of the available opportunities.
Even if a job opportunity does not seem to fit into exactly what you’re looking for, it’s important to not rule anything out from the beginning. Students are often surprised when they interview at an organization that was not originally on their radar how much they liked the culture or the people. Students who use their network and set up informal meetings to explore a variety of career options are able to make the best decisions because they have widened their options, as the Heath brothers in Decisive say.
2. Set a plan.
By the end of the semester, where do you want to be in your job search or post-graduate plans? Often students put off planning because it is overwhelming, but then they miss viable options that other students scoop up early. You should instead look ahead and envision what plans you would like to set in motion. Then act on that plan.
3. Decide.
Ultimately it all comes down to a decision, which is where students most often get tripped up. They are afraid that they might make the wrong choice and be stuck in a job or post-graduate plan that they hate. This thinking, however, prevents students from making a good decision. Instead, students who recognize that this decision is just one of many in their career path are freed to make what choice seems the best for right now.
You will never fully understand what work that you love to do until you put your talents into practice. The best choice for now will likely be the one that most seems to engage your strengths and tap into your passions.

How to answer the essay "Why are you applying to our college?"

Almost every college application asks some form of the question, “Why are you applying to our college?” In this video, you’ll learn how to write this essay so that it doesn’t sound the same for every college that you’re applying to. Watch the video here or on YouTube. …Like these essay tips?
Then download our FREE 10 Tips To Writing Your College Application Essay!

How adaptability and authenticity should impact your career choice

As I pursue my Doctor of Education, I am researching how students make decisions to find meaningful careers. I’ve noticed two themes that have emerged in the research on finding meaningful careers: adaptability and authenticity. What do these two seemingly different topics mean for you as you consider what career path to take?   adapt and authentic   First, let’s cover adaptability. Adaptability is highly connected to career development and success. A Journal of Vocational Behavior article defines it as “the readiness to cope with the predictable tasks of preparing for and participating in the work role and with the unpredictable adjustments prompted by changes in work and working conditions.”
In other words, you need to be ready to prepare to make career decisions while also staying open to things changing.
The main process of career adaptability includes:
  1. exploring (looking the available opportunities)
  2. planning (looking ahead to the future)
  3. deciding (making practical choices)
  4. managing the changing interpersonal and environmental factors that influence career goals.
There’s some good news in that the number one StrengthsFinder strength in the students that I coach is adaptability. According to the StrengthsFinder definition: “People exceptionally talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to go with the flow. They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.”
However, what’s interesting to me is that in order to have all of the career adaptability components – to explore, plan, decide, and manage – you need to know who you are and why you’re making these career decisions in the first place. In sum, you need to develop authenticity.
How authenticity comes into play… I’m currently reading researcher Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, and I really like how she’s defined authenticity from her research: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means… exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle…”  
      In coaching high schoolers, college students and recent graduates, I see a common theme among those who struggle to make decisions for their future: They are afraid of this struggle. They want to know who they are, but they oftentimes haven’t had opportunities to figure this out.
  A recent New Republic article went viral on social media called “Ivy League Schools Are Overrated.” Although I don’t agree with everything in the article, one line in particular stood out, “So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success.” I think this statement is true even for non-Ivy league bound students. Many of the students that I have coached are afraid to fail. They are afraid of the struggle that ironically would help reveal their strengths. Even their StrengthsFinder results confirm this trend. 27% of my students have Deliberative as a top 5 strength, which is “best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate obstacles” (StrengthsFinder definition).   As Brene Brown sums up, “Life-paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect. It’s also all of the dreams that we don’t follow because of our deep fear of failing, making mistakes, and disappointing others.”
How can we practice authenticity if we’re afraid to test our limits and find out who we are?
  I sometimes see students relying on their adaptability too much because it’s easier to just morph into whatever the situation requires of them. This quality can be good on the job when you need to be willing and ready to take on new projects. And it can be good when finding a job because you have to be ready for change. However, in figuring out what career direction to head in, you also need to know who you are.
So it’s really not an adaptability versus authenticity debate. As in most of life, it’s a both/and solution.
  We need adaptability to be open to career opportunities and to be willing to try new things, even if we find out they’re not for us. While we exercise this adaptability, we are shaping who we are and developing authenticity.  

How to move past worry and stress

Do you struggle with worry and stress? If you’re like the students that I coached last week, you have at least some stress in your life, whether over school, family, friends, extracurricular activities etc. During the Dale Carnegie Generation Next 3-day workshop that I helped lead last week, the middle, high school, and college students all had one thing in common: a desire to stress less. worry and stress I’ve talked in a previous post about How To Stop Stressing and Start Acting by analyzing what you’re worrying about, what you can do about it, and then doing it. Students in the workshop found this process helpful as they realized that they often wasted a lot of time by stressing over something without actually doing anything about it. They also found a second, similar principle beneficial from the book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
  1. “Ask yourself, ‘What is the worst that can possibly happen?’
  2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
  3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.”
Although this process sounds very negative, let me demonstrate how it can help you see your stressful situation in a more positive light. Many of the students commented that a very recent stressful situation that they encountered was needing to make a certain grade on the final exam in order to pass the class. What happened most often was that the students were so worried about the grade that they couldn’t focus on studying for the exam. They realized that by applying the above principle the next time this happened would help them focus on studying. For instance, most the students had calculated the exact grade that they needed to make in order to pass the class. They then let this number intimidate and distract them from studying. Instead, if they mentally prepared for the worst (i.e. not making that passing grade), they could mentally accept that the worst that could happen would be them taking summer school. Although this wouldn’t be desirable, the future now doesn’t seem quite as unknown, scary, and stressful. This mental processing would now free them up to focus on the task at hand: studying. In the words of Dale Carnegie:
“Psychologically, it means a new release of energy! When we have accepted the worst, we have nothing more to lose. And that automatically means – we have everything to gain!”
Just as clearly defining your stress takes away some of its power, stating aloud what exactly is the worst that could happen, makes it less overwhelming. Oftentimes the worst isn’t as bad as we make it out to be in our minds.  
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How to set goals that actually motivate you

What area of your life do you want to improve? Perhaps it’s becoming more organized or developing better study habits. These are great goals to aspire to but there’s often two problems in the way people set goals: They’re either too vague or too specific. goal setting
  • Too Vague
If you leave the goal at “get more organized,” this is too vague. This doesn’t give you enough clarity to set you up for taking action on your goal. Just stating a goal won’t make things fall into place.
  • Too Specific 
On the other side are very specific goals that lack inspiration. By now many people have heard of how to set SMART goals, ones that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely. For instance, a SMART goal for getting organized could be: “I will file all of my schools papers into their appropriate class binder at the end of every week.” This goal would be great if you are already motivated to be organized. In Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath explain that goals like SMART goals “presume emotion; they don’t generate it,” which means that if you aren’t already in a place where you’re motivated and starting to organize your life then this type of goal won’t work. If you’re a mostly disorganized person and taking this type of action will be completely new for you, then a SMART goal isn’t all of the sudden going to change you. Instead, goals FIRST need a clear, near-term picture of success and SECOND need specific steps on how to get there.
“We want what we might call a destination postcard– a vivid picture from the near-term future that shows what could be possible.” -Chip and Dan Heath, Switch
  • Destination Postcard
For the organization example, what would your life look like in three months if you were organized? Describe the scenario and write it down. Perhaps you are no longer losing important notes to study from and turn in homework assignments on time. You aren’t stressed every morning trying to find everything before you head out the door. The point of painting this picture for yourself is to get to the motivation behind your goal. Why is this goal important? How will achieving this goal affect my life in positive ways? After you answer these questions, then you can begin to think about how you are going to get there.
“What is essential, though, is to marry your long-term goal with short-term critical moves.” -Chip and Dan Heath, Switch
  • Short-term critical moves
When we have a big goal that we want to achieve or a big problem that we want to solve, it’s easy to get bogged down. We want just as big of a solution. However, change happens most often in a series of small solutions. So for the getting organized example, instead of trying to organize everything in your life at once, pick one thing at a time. What action are you going to take this week to organize your life? Focus on just organizing your school binders at first. Once that becomes a habit then start organizing your desk, then your room, and so on. Setting smaller actions allows you to experience success early on, building momentum toward your goal.
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Where's your focus: Proving or Developing Yourself?

Do you focus on proving your abilities or developing them? There’s a big difference between proving and developing. One is all about striving, which will soon exhaust you. The other is based on growth, which is energizing. proveordevelop Take Charlotte, a college sophomore who is majoring in biology because she wanted to prove her ability to become a doctor. However, her striving caught up to her when she realized that although she may be capable of going into medicine, she lacked the passion for the field. Through Student Launch Pad, she learned how to approach her talents from a development mindset. Instead of proving her capabilities, she is now applying her talent for science to another area. Developing in the strengths she already has enables Charlotte to expand her skills and apply them in new ways, rather than sticking to the status quo as when she was trying to prove herself. This example is a representation of what Heidi Halvorson calls “focusing on getting better, rather than being good” in the 99U Maximize Your Potential book. She explains that a “Be Good Mindset” is about proving that you have abilities and know what you’re doing. You compare yourself to others to try to outperform them, and you believe your talents are stable. Ironically, worrying about your capabilities makes you more likely to fail and kills creativity. It’s also exhausting. Conversely, the “Get Better Mindset” focuses on developing your abilities and learning new skills. Rather than comparing yourself to others, you compare your own progress against how well you did yesterday, a month ago, or last year. You want to make sure your talents are developing over time and not stagnating. This mindset leads to creativity and is energizing. As you look at the ways you work or study every day, what is driving you? Is it the motivation to “be good” and prove your worth? Or is it a desire to “get better” and to learn, grow, and develop?

Stop Stressing, Start Acting

For seniors in high school, getting the mail during the months of January through May is particularly stressful as any day could deliver a college acceptance or rejection letter. For college freshman, right now you’re beginning to wonder how to spend your first college summer. And college sophomores better declare a major soon. All of these scenarios and decisions can cause stress and worry. stopstress In the classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie outlines a process to help you stop worrying about the future and decisions you must make. To summarize, his process is to answer the following questions:
  1. What are you worrying about?
  2. What can you do about the problem?
  3. What are you going to do about it?
  4. When are you going to start doing it?
Part of the magic of this process is bringing objectivity and logical thinking into an emotional response. Worry clouds thinking and dramatizes the situation. Stress makes situations fuzzy and difficult to navigate.
  • Instead, first clearly state what exactly you are worrying about. Sometimes worry can make situations so vague that the worry bleeds into every aspect of your life. When you can put definite words around your worry, it minimizes its influence. Also, once you see the exact definition of your worry written down, it oftentimes does not seem so overwhelming and all powerful.
So for example, you could write: “I am worried that I will not do well in my advanced math course this semester.”
  • Then ask yourself, “What can I do about this worry?” Don’t let the worry take control. List out the concrete steps you can take or decisions you can make.
To continue with the example, possible steps you could list include: -Go to my professor’s office hours each week to ask questions on my homework -Get a math tutor -Don’t do anything and see how I do -Find a study partner in the class -Drop the course if I start doing poorly
  • From your list of options, decide what you are going to do. Then DO it.  Worry gets its power through inaction. It tricks us into thinking we’re doing something when we really aren’t. Instead it’s wasting energy, mental capacity, and time that could be productively used toward solving the issue you’re worrying about. So as soon as you list out your options for action, decide on one or two, and take action. Determine exactly when, where, and how you’re going to take action. Usually when you start proactively working toward your decision, your worry begins to disappear.
Write down your commitment: “I am going to go to my professor’s office hours every Monday from 11am-12pm. I am going to study a week before every test with a study partner. If my grade isn’t improving by three weeks before midterms, I will get a tutor.” Then take action on these commitments.  

How to turn your goals into action and see results

In last week’s post, I asked, What is your theme for 2014? I then discussed how to turn that theme into actionable habits. By focusing on one daily action for 10 weeks, you can turn that action into a habit.  Once something is a habit, a lot less willpower and determination are required for you to see results. But how do you actually make yourself complete that one action toward your goal every day? Calendar reminders
  1. Schedule it. If something is in your calendar, you already have that time blocked off and are much more likely to follow through. Is your goal to improve your grades this semester? One daily action could be to complete homework assignments every day (instead of waiting until the last minute). Then schedule this in your calendar. Write in when and where you will work on homework every day. Don’t keep a calendar? Now is the perfect time to start as it’s a lifelong skill you’ll need, especially in the real world of work.
  2. Set reminders. By seeing “Work on writing my thesis in the library from 10am-12pm” pop up on your phone, you’ll think twice before going out for coffee instead. Set reminders on your phone, write sticky notes, set alarms… whatever it takes for you to remember to look at what is scheduled in your calendar.
  3. Remember the why. Along with setting reminders on what you need to do, also remind yourself of the why. Make your goal the background to your computer or put an inspirational quote on your mirror. By remembering the purpose behind your daily action, you will be more likely to follow through.
  4. Keep track of your progress. Since we can often trick ourselves into thinking we’re making progress when we really aren’t, it’s important to track yourself. For instance, you can use what’s dubbed as the Seinfeld technique. Print out a blank calendar and put an X across every day that you complete your daily action. Jerry Seinfeld soon became motivated to “not break the chain.” Michael Hyatt also offers a list of his top 7 apps for building new habits.
  5. Be held accountable. We can often be lax on ourselves and give ourselves permission to take a break from our goals. However, if you have someone asking you every week how you’re progressing on your goals, it’s often added incentive to follow through on your commitments.
What other ways have you found to be helpful in turning your goals into habits?