How to Work with Your Student Advisor Effectively

How to Work with Your Student Advisor Effectively

By Corban Sanchez

Working with your college advisor is a lot like working with your high school guidance counselor. A big difference is that, like the rest of the college experience, you’re expected to be more independent and take the initiative to seek the guidance and support you need. Colleges want to graduate competent people who, among other things, can maintain employment…and later donate back to the university! This means that communicating effectively and working well with others, making and keeping appointments, keeping track of requirements, and reading the material you’re given are all an important part of the college experience and your development. Taking ownership of your college experience and degree requirements will help you to develop the level of independence and competence necessary to become a highly sought-after employee. 

Who is my advisor?

Advisor type: Part of developing your general competence also involves learning how to navigate bureaucracy (whom to go to for what). The larger the college, the more complex (and typically siloed) they tend to be with available services. Employees in smaller schools tend to wear multiple hats/perform multiple functions. In larger schools, similar to larger hospitals, federal government offices, etc., employees work specifically within their designated area/specialty. With this in mind, when reaching out to an advisor, pay attention to the advisor’s title and office name. Unlike high school, where you likely only had one “counselor” type title, there are MANY different types of “advisors” in college (financial aid advisor, study abroad advisor, accounts payable advisor, student success counselor/coach, peer advisor, honors program advisor, career advisor, international student services advisor, athletic advisor, college/staff advisor, etc.) If you pay attention to the title and/or advisor’s office/department (undergraduate college office vs financial aid office), you’re more apt to direct the appropriate question to the appropriate advisor. (e.g., financial aid questions go to financial aid advisors, study abroad questions go to study abroad advisors, career questions go to career advisors) You’ll likely feel less frustrated, too, because you’ll avoid the “run around” of being transferred to different offices when you go to the appropriate person the first time.

Advisor role: In addition to noting the type of advisor with whom you are working, research whether you’re working with faculty or staff advisors (or both) and the advising structure at your college. (research: internet search of college name, major/department, advising – e.g., “Duke University biology advising”) Do they assign advisors by major (ideally keeping you with the same advisor all four years), or do they assign advisors by year in college? Is your college advisor faculty or staff? 

  • Faculty advisors are full-time professors and they advise on the side. Their primary role is teaching and research in their discipline. Thus, they’re your go-to for class/curriculum-specific questions. They likely teach or work regularly with the people who teach, the courses in your major that you’ll be taking. You’ll yield more useful responses if you direct class content-related questions to faculty advisors. (e.g., When will ABC 101 next be available? What type of assignments could I expect for ABC 200-level courses in your department? What do we cover in ABC 102?) Advisors with any of the following titles would be a faculty advisor: “Professor,” “Associate Professor,” or “Assistant Professor.”
  • Staff advisors are full-time staff who typically work directly with students every business day (and who may teach a class or two here and there on the side). Their primary role is advising students on their caseload (again, research how this is managed at your school). They are like your primary care physician and serve as generalists. They have a general knowledge of available resources, academic policies, where to find/go for whatever you need, etc. If you don’t know where to begin or what to do, a staff advisor is a great starting point and s/he can point you in the right direction. Advisors without a “professor” title would generally mean s/he is a staff advisor.

Advisor Management Tips

  • You will likely receive a TON of emails from your advisor(s). Create email folders specific to each advisor type you have (e.g., study abroad, financial aid, general advising) so that you may save the emails and stay organized for easy reference.
  • Think through your needs, identify goals, and be prepared with questions. A general, “just making sure I’m on track to graduate” advising appointment may yield just that, but advising can provide you with so much more! The more you help your advisor understand who you are, what you hope to accomplish, and what you hope to experience, the more your advisor can help you achieve those goals and share the type of information that would be useful to you. What you communicate to them prompts what they communicate to you. Sharing very little about yourself with your advisor is like sharing very little with your doctor and expecting him/her to diagnose you without pertinent details (e.g., what hurts, what have you been eating, where have you traveled, how long has this been a problem, etc.) They can be more helpful to you if you help them to better understand you.
  • Have a paper and pen – take notes during an advising appointment. You will be held accountable for your degree requirements and you’re the one who suffers if you don’t keep track of them.
  • Most colleges provide a one-page sheet that outlines all of your degree requirements. Print and tape this to your bedroom wall so that you become more familiar with what you need to complete.

Laundry Tips for the Laundry Room

Laundry Tips for the Laundry Room

College is a time of gaining more independence, and for some, that may mean doing their own laundry for the first time in a shared laundry room.  So if you need help with your course load, this blog isn’t for you, but it will help you with some tips on your laundry loads and if all else fails, call home, but let’s try these tips first!

Fast forward to the first semester of freshman year, you are sitting in your dorm room when you see your laundry piled over its basket, the moment you’ve been putting off has arrived.  You have to venture down to the laundry room and do your laundry so don’t forget to strip your bed, pack up a pile of quarters and follow these steps. 

Step one: Find an open washer, or two. Start to separate your laundry.  As you separate your clothes into a light pile and a dark pile, check the pockets.  

Step two: Fill the washer with one of your piles, but don’t overload it! Fill it about 3/4 of the way full. 

Step three: Add your detergent.  Measure the amount of the detergent using the convenient lines on the cap depending on how much clothes you have in the washer. Push start!

Step four: Grab some homework, study material or a book! It’s going to be about 45 minutes to an hour!

Step five: When the buzzer goes off, it is time to transfer to the dryer! As you put the wet clothes in the dryer, shake them out a bit to decrease wrinkles! Add some quarters and push start.

Step six: Continue homework or studying.

Step seven: When the dryer is finished, check your clothes, fold them and you’re done!

Now that you know the basic steps to do your laundry, let’s dive in a little more about some tips when sharing a laundry room.  Whether you’ve done laundry before you left for college or not, sharing a laundry room with the rest of your dorm is a bit different than sharing it with your siblings so follow these steps to conquer Freshman Laundry 101:

  1. Start to learn the busy times in the laundry room (like Sundays) and try to do your laundry when it isn’t going to be as busy. 
  2. Either set a timer on your phone to come back down before your load is done or stay near the laundry room doing homework.  Others will take your clothes out of the washer or dryer if the machine is done.
  3. Don’t leave your detergent or dryer sheets in the laundry room.  People will use them, so when you’re at Target buying a shower caddy, buy two, and use one to transport your laundry necessities. 
  4. Have laundry etiquette. Be on time for your clothes and be respectful on the amount of washers or dryers you are using! 
  5. Double check the machines before and after use, you never know if a loose sock got stuck to the side! 

Hope some of these tips have been helpful as you tackle learning new things inside and outside of the classroom! Do your laundry and do it often, don’t wait until you run out of clean clothes!

Healthy Snack Recipes For Students On The Go

Healthy Snack Recipes For Students On The Go

by Brooke Nowak

We’ve all heard it before: the dreaded “freshman 15” but the reality is not all college students  gain weight during their first year at school.  In fact, The Journal of American College of Health reports only 50% of students gain weight.  There are quite a few factors that could play in to the unwanted weight gain: stress, not enough exercise, limited fresh produce, fast food and new eating habits, so put down the Costco-sized box of Ramen and read through some quick healthy snack recipes and some tips for a healthier diet at college. 

First, let’s head to the grocery store and bring this list to stock your mini fridge:

Rice cakes
Trail mix
Fruits and Vegetables

  • apples, bananas, grapes and oranges 
  • carrot sticks, celery sticks and cucumber slices


  • peanut butter or almond butter
  • hummus
  • guacamole 


  • low fat cheese sticks, shredded or cubes 

Need a quick breakfast? No problem. You can make eggs in a mug.  Just crack an egg into a microwave-safe mug, pour in a little milk and mix.  Put the mug in the microwave for about 90 seconds and your breakfast is ready. Don’t want eggs?  Mix it up and make oatmeal in a mug!

Have a full day of classes? Grab these snack and go:

Apple slices and peanut butter 

Toast with peanut butter and sliced banana

Celery sticks with almond butter

Now that your fridge is stocked, and you have a couple snack ideas, follow some of these tips to stay healthy! 

  1. Eat breakfast! Give yourself enough time before rushing to your first class to eat a healthy breakfast.  Eggs in a mug, anyone?
  2. Snack, snack, snack. Be prepared for your busy day and bring with some of the recipes provided in this blog.  Small healthy snacks throughout the day can help you feel full and not grab for fast food on the go!
  3. Stay active. Whether it’s going to the gym or walking to class, just keep moving!
  4. Sleep! Managing your time and responsibilities during the day can allow you to get a full night sleep! But when you have to pull an all nighter, instead of ordering pizza or fast food, reach for some of your healthier snacks to curb your appetite! 

It’s important when you’re trying to eat healthy at college, to understand what you’re eating. These healthy snacks are as simple as it gets to keep your energy (and your grades) up! 

Why students should get involved in college…

1. It allows students to become connected to their school: Colleges are full of resources, but the responsibility is on the student to seek them out. Being involved helps them to do that.  Students should find the on-line resource or office building that is in charge of school activities.  Most schools even have questionnaires that will help students figure out what clubs and/or organizations they would like to join.  

2. It helps build community: Since students are leaving their family and sometimes their friends behind, getting involved helps them discover new friends with similar interests.  Getting involved in college allows students to meet like-minded people and fosters a sense of community.  Achieving a sense of belonging fosters social and emotional health and leads to many rewarding experiences. 

3. It allows students to discover their passions and strengths: These will follow them all through life. It allows them to discover what they don’t like, too.  One of the best things about college is having the opportunity to try new things.  Students who go outside of their comfort zone and try new things will discover interests they didn’t know they had. 

4. It’s a résumé builder: Freshman year is not too soon to begin thinking about positioning yourself for future employment.  Not all involvement has to be ongoing or long-term.  Consider temporary activities as well, such as, campus event planning or service projects.  There will most likely be a community newsletter students can subscribe to in order to stay up-to-date on campus events and activities. 

5. Sometimes, busier kids do better in all areas: This will vary a lot by the student, of course, but more free time does not always equal better grades. Being involved will require some organization and time management on the part of the student—and that’s a good thing.

It is up to the student to make the most out of their college experience and be they’re own advocate.  All students should get out there and be involved!!!

All about the Greek life

All about the Greek life

By:  Lauren Benters, School Counselor

You’ve seen the college sorority and fraternity houses in movies and on TV, students partying, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and scantily clad people.  Is it really accurate? Just like anything else in movies or on TV, all of that is usually quite a stretch. Let’s explore Greek life, so you can decide if it is right for you.  

Greek life was designed to bond students together in “brotherhood” or “sisterhood”, and that really is a great foundation.  You go off to college, knowing no one, and it can be one way to make the campus so much smaller. You have people taking the same classes as you to form study groups, and you have older brothers and sisters that can mentor you on this academic and personal journey of learning to be a successful student and adult.  

Greek communities house many connections.  Under each fraternity and sorority house roof, you have a group of diverse people from many different backgrounds.  People with connections in their hometowns you may need. People with family members that work in ________ industry you can score an internship with.  Brothers and sisters representing all sorts of majors, in case you are thinking about exploring a new major. While there are fees associated with joining a sorority and fraternity, those endless connections may be worth any dues paid.  Heck, you may even be interviewed by someone in the same house as you were in: instant connection.

We need to still be cognizant of the negatives about Greek life (lots of partying, older students asserting power on underclassmen, etc.) however if you think it sounds like something you are interested in, feel free to give it a try.  If it doesn’t work, you can always deactivate and stop paying any fees altogether. If it does work, you could end up with some of the best friends you’ve ever met, and land a job you’ve always wanted.

Ramen Recipes

Ramen Recipes - Lighthouse College Planing

Preparing Ramen Noodles for a Recipe

Boil the noodles according to the directions on the package and drain. If raw noodles are called for, then just break the noodles into bite-sized pieces before opening the package. Fried ramen noodles add crunch and a unique flavor to a recipe. For a recipe calling for fried noodles, heat 1/3 cup of canola oil in a frying pan and break the noodles into small pieces. Add them to the hot oil, and stir constantly until they are nicely browned.

Boiled Ramen Noodle Salads

  • To make a basic ramen cabbage salad, shred a cup of Napa cabbage and a cup each of red cabbage and carrot. Add cup dry roasted peanuts and toss with boiled noodles and a dressing of 1 tablespoon each vinegar and sesame oil, a splash of lime juice, and a teaspoon sugar.
  • For a chicken ramen cabbage salad, follow the directions for recipe 1 above and stir in 1 cups diced cooked chicken and cup each chopped bell pepper and snap peas.
  • For a spicier ramen cabbage salad, add 1 cup shredded cabbage and some chopped scallions to the boiled noodles. Make a dressing of 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, teaspoon chili sauce (or to taste), and a pinch of sugar and salt. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
  • Greek salad with ramen is another great bet. Over boiled noodles, place 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1 cup feta cheese crumbled, and cup each chopped onions, tomatoes, green olives, and black olives. Mix cup canola oil and cup lemon juice to pour over the salad.
  • Make an antipasto salad by adding cup each sliced pepperoni and black olives plus 1/8 cup sliced Bermuda onion to a package of cooled boiled ramen. Add Italian dressing to taste.
  • For a more traditional pasta salad, you can also add cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons mustard, tablespoon honey, 1 chopped celery stalk, 2 chopped hard boiled eggs and cup cubed cheddar cheese a package of boiled noodles.

Fried Ramen Noodle Salads

  • Make bok choy ramen with a package of fried ramen noodles, a head of thinly sliced bok choy, a few green onions sliced and a half cup of sliced almonds. Toss with a dressing made of 1/3 cup olive oil, cup vinegar, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and cup sugar. Serve immediately.
  • Substitute Napa cabbage for the bok choy in recipe 7 above and then add 1 tablespoons soy sauce to the dressing for a Napa cabbage salad.
  • An Oriental Chicken salad can be made with a package of fried noodles, 4 cups cooked chicken breast, 6 green onions sliced, 1 cup toasted slivered almonds, cup sesame seeds, cup vinegar, cup canola oil, 2 teaspoons seasoned salt, teaspoon black pepper, 3 tablespoons sugar. Toss with half a head of shredded lettuce, garnish with mandarin oranges if desired and serve immediately.

Uncooked Ramen Noodle Salads

  • A tasty broccoli and ramen noodle salad requires two packages of raw broken ramen noodles, a 16-ounce package of broccoli slaw mix, a bunch of green onions chopped, and a cup each of unsalted peanuts and sunflower seeds. Mix these ingredients and pour over a dressing of cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, cup white sugar, and 1 seasoning packet. A squirt of lime juice and some chopped cilantro can also be added.
  • For a light ramen salad, toss 4 cups shredded lettuce, 1 grated carrot, 4 green onions sliced and cup slivered almonds, with a package of uncooked ramen noodles. Pour over a dressing made of 2 tablespoons each of canola oil and honey, the seasoning packet (chicken or beef are recommended) and cup each rice vinegar and apple juice. Toss and serve.

Ramen Noodle Soups

  • The easiest ramen soup recipe is to simply cook 2 cups of frozen vegetables of your choice (chopped broccoli or California blend works well) about half way and then add the ramen noodles and seasoning packet and cook according to package directions.
  • Shrimp ramen soup can be made by heating frozen cooked shrimp (as much as you like) while bringing the water for the soup to a boil. Then just cook soup according to package directions.
  • Japanese vegetable ramen is made with cup each chopped scallions, chopped green pepper, and bamboo shoots simmered in 2 cups of Shiitake mushroom broth. Add cooked ramen noodles and garnish with dried kelp and a hard-boiled egg, cut in half lengthwise.
  • For Shiitake chicken ramen soup, prepare the soup as in recipe 14 above but add 1-2 poached chicken breasts diced.
  • Cook ramen according to package directions, adding 1-2 cups chopped broccoli to the boiling water at the same time as the noodles. Pour into serving bowl and top with four slices of fried Spam and a poached egg.
  • Ramen tomato soup is super simple. Cook ramen noodles in 2 cups of water and then add a can of condensed cream of tomato soup. Stir occasionally as you heat just to boiling. Add a squirt of hot sauce if desired.

Beef Ramen Dishes

  • Make Tex Mex ramen by browning pound of ground beef. Stir in package of taco seasoning mix and boiled ramen noodles. Place on serving dish and top with cup each diced tomato, chopped onion and shredded cheese, a bit of chopped cilantro and some crushed nacho-cheese flavored tortilla chips.
  • Ramen beef pie is a new twist on shepherd’s pie. Brown 1 pound ground beef with cup onion. Place in a glass casserole dish, sprinkle with about half a bag of frozen peas and carrots and then for the top layer, use two packages of boiled ramen noodles. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir fry 1 pound beef steak strips. Stir in 2 cups chopped broccoli and 1 cup chopped onion along with a seasoning packet. Stir fry for an additional 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Continue cooking until vegetables reach desired tenderness.

Chicken Ramen Dishes

  • For chicken lo mein, place 1 tablespoon each canola oil and soy sauce in a frying pan. Heat, add 1 pound of chicken breast strips and brown. Add cup each chopped onion, green pepper and zucchini. Cook until vegetables are tender, stir in one package of boiled ramen noodles and serve.
  • Chicken Diablo begins by sautéing 1 diced chicken breast in 2 tablespoons butter. When chicken is cooked, stir in cup chopped onion and 2 tablespoons flour. Cook until deep brown. Add 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon snipped parsley and teaspoon each tarragon and thyme. Bring to a boil, simmer for one minute and serve over hot boiled ramen.
  • For a Caesar-flavored meal, stir 2 diced cooked chicken breasts, cup crumbled bacon, and cup each croutons and Caesar salad dressing into 2 packages of boiled ramen noodles.
  • To make chicken Parmesan, bread and fry 2 chicken breasts in olive oil. Cook chicken until golden brown. Add two cups of spaghetti sauce to the pan and heat through. Add cup grated Parmesan cheese to the top of the chicken. Cook until cheese is melted. Serve over 2 packages hot boiled ramen.
  • Make a Thai-inspired dish with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce mixed with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, teaspoon each garlic powder and teaspoon chili powder. Stir into hot boiled noodles along with 1 cup diced cooked chicken and about 4 sliced green onions.

Ham Ramen Dishes

  • Fry 1 cup diced ham in 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Add cup green peas and cook until tender. Stir in package of ramen seasoning packet, teaspoon garlic powder, boiled ramen noodles and three chopped green onions.
  • Make a ham ramen frittata by melting a tablespoon of butter in a large ovenproof skillet and adding 3 sliced scallions and 4 slices of deli ham diced. Cook three minutes and then pour over 6 beaten eggs that have been mixed with 2 packages boiled ramen noodles and one chicken-flavored ramen packet. Shake pan to evenly distribute and top with cup shredded cheddar cheese. Place skillet in preheated 350-degree oven and bake until egg is set, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  • For ham and cheese ramen, boil a package of noodles with the seasoning packet. Drain noodles and stir in cup each diced ham and cheese. Cover the sauce pan and allow to sit for 5 minutes so the cheese melts.

Super Quick Ramen Dishes

  • Pour heated marinara sauce over hot boiled ramen noodles for a meal reminiscent of spaghetti in half the time.
  • Heat your favorite Alfredo sauce and pour over hot boiled ramen. Stir in diced ham or cooked chicken if you have any on hand.
  • To one package of boiled ramen noodles, stir in a can of tuna drained, a can of cream of mushroom soup and a handful of crushed potato chips, if you wish.
  • Parmesan ramen is as quick as cooking a package of ramen and sprinkling on cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir in a bit of fresh parsley if you’ve got it.
  • Stir-fry a package of frozen vegetables with 4 ounces cubed firm tofu. Stir in boiled ramen noodles and season with 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and lime juice. Add Tabasco to taste.
  • Sauté a clove of chopped garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil. Stir in boiled noodles, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Stir your favorite pesto sauce into hot boiled ramen noodles.
  • Heat up a can of chili and serve over hot boiled ramen noodles.
  • Mix cooled boiled ramen noodles with three-bean salad and some additional Italian dressing.
  • Add of a chicken flavored seasoning packet, 1 tablespoon butter, and 2-3 tablespoons milk to a package of boiled drained ramen for a creamy side dish.
  • To one package of boiled noodles, stir in cup of salsa, cup sliced pepperoni or ham strips, 1 tablespoon pickle relish, and 1 teaspoon mustard for jail break ramen.

Ramen for Breakfast

  • Break an egg in with the ramen noodles while boiling. Add seasoning packet as directed and enjoy a filling breakfast soup.
  • In a medium saucepan, boil just enough water to cover a block of ramen. When water comes to a boil, add block of ramen and then a layer of onion and tomato slices. Top with a whole raw egg. Put the over on and cook until the egg reaches desired doneness.
  • Boil ramen noodles and one beaten egg for three minutes. Drain all but 1 tablespoon water. Stir in seasoning packet, cup shredded cheese and a dash or two of hot sauce. Wrap flavored noodles in warm tortillas for breakfast burritos.

Ramen Desserts

  • Place three sponge cake dessert cups on a plate. Top with sliced banana, 1/3 cup maraschino cherries, package of fried ramen noodles and cup hot fudge sauce.
  • Chocolate ramen is for when you need a serious sugar fix. Boil ramen in 2 cups of water with cup of brown sugar added. Pour off most of the water and then stir in teaspoon of vanilla and cup chocolate syrup. Pour onto serving plate and sprinkle powdered sugar over it. Garnish with whipped cream if you wish. Wash down with a tall glass of milk.
  • Mix up one 3-ounce package of fruit-flavored gelatin according to package directions. Stir in a package of fried ramen and chill until set.
  • Place three scopes of ice cream in a bowl. Top with 1/3 cup hot fried ramen noodles and your favorite ice cream sauce. (Carmel works well.)

Ramen Snacks

  • Open up a package of ramen noodles, break off a chunk and dip into your favorite salsa.
  • For a trail-mix, combine a package of fried ramen noodles with cup dried cranberries, and cup each sliced almonds and dried apricots.
  • Mix together 2 packages of uncooked broken ramen noodles, 2 cups Chex cereal, and 1 cup each pretzels and peanuts. Melt cup butter and stir in 1 teaspoon season salt and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the noodle and cereal mixture, stirring well. Bake in 250 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool and serve.
  • A grilled ramen snack can be made by marinating an intact ramen cake in a mixture of 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the ramen seasoning packet, a squirt of your favorite hot sauce, cup hot water and teaspoon each of lemon juice, sesame oil, and sugar. Allow the ramen cake to sit in the marinade until tender but still cohesive, about 10 minutes on each side. Place on the grill and cook for about three minutes on each side. Watch closely. The goal is golden brown not charred noodles.

How to Choose a College Major

By Erin Harrigan-Schober

How to Choose a College Major - Lighthouse College Planning

Someone once told me that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.  The other day I read a quote that said “In order to figure out what to do with your life, pick something you’re interested in and combine that with something you’re good at.” The advice is endless. 

According to’s 10 point checklist, you must first pick a major based on:

  • Your abilities
  • Your interests
  • Your values
  • Your passions
  • You must then ask yourself the following questions:
  • Will I still enjoy this for years to come?
  • Is it employable?” (Or Hobby worthy)
  • Will this job be around for a long time?” What is the projected growth in this industry?
  • Does this job pay well? Is there opportunity for advancement in this industry? 

If you still don’t arrive at an answer after asking all of these questions, you may wish to consult a personality profile quiz or interest inventory to match up your strengths and aptitudes with careers.  I have found these quizzes to be very helpful and fun when you might not know where to begin. Many schools now allow students to choose a “meta-major,” which groups traditional majors under an umbrella that spans whole fields, such as business or STEM.

If you’re still struggling with what to pursue as a major, it always helps to consult with someone who is paid to help you make decisions on a college campus: your advisor.  If he/she isn’t helpful, then you may wish to meet with a career advisor, who can determine what sort of intervention you may need to get you closer to a clear cut path. If that doesn’t bring you some clarity, the tried and true practice of discussing with friends, is probably the most natural conversation to gain some insight and connection from.  When all else fails, and if this wasn’t your first option, talk to your family member; mom, dad, brothers, sisters… the people who know you best; who know what you’re good at and may have some experience of their own to impart for you to determine your path. Again, the choice is yours but it can be as arbitrary or focused as you choose.  Dig deep and ask yourself “What is going to make me happy and make me some money”? And if you can answer those questions, then you’re already on your way.

How Work-Study Works.


Lighthouse College Planning Student Work Program

Do you want to get paid to sit at a desk and do your homework?  How about giving tours on a campus that you love? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then work-study is for you!

In order to understand how work-study works, let’s first identify what work-study is.  According to here is a quick overview of federal work-study:

  • provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school to help pay your educational expenses
  • it’s available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students with financial need
  • the program emphasizes employment related to your course of study whenever possible; however, students are typically responsible for getting their own work-study jobs
  • it’s administered by schools participating in the Federal Work-Study Program, check with your schools financial aid office to see if your school participates

Sounds like a no brainer right, here’s how to apply:

When you fill out the FAFSA form select the box on the application that you are interested in being considered for the program; however, this does not guarantee that a work-study option will be included in your financial aid award nor do you have to accept work-study aid.  Colleges award work-study funds based on the following so apply early:

  • availability of funds
  • other financial aid a student is eligible for
  • student financial need

How Work Study Works -Lighthouse College Planning

Money, money, money…

At this point, you might be wondering how you get paid or how much?

With a work-study job, you are typically at least guaranteed minimum wage that you can use towards your tuition, fees, room, and board or day-to-day living. If you’re still not sure, gaining work experience of any kind while in college is very important so take advantage of the work-study opportunities available at your college.

*information obtained from and

Is Community College Right for Me?


Well…. That depends.  There are many variables that go into making the all-important college decision.  But most of all, the question at the heart of the answer lies in your academic, social and financial reality, along with your aspirations.  Are you a student that might not have it all figured out right now but know that you want to do something grand with your life?  Are you being realistic with what you may be striving for or are you shooting for someone else’s dream?  Because 9 times out of 10, you may be wasting your time if your heart isn’t 100% committed to it.  Do you just know in your heart that you are going to be a doctor or lawyer or some other profession that is going to require 6 or more years of schooling? Do you have financial hardship that may make it impossible for you to pursue that reality? If so, then community college could be a good fit for you to get some of your general education requirements out of the way for less money and then you could move on to a College or University once you get into your more specialized classes.  The great thing is nowadays, attending community college doesn’t have to mean staying at home and missing out on the “college experience”. For every college student out there, there are just as many maturation, financial, geographical reasons for pursuing your degree at a community college or far from home.  And if you do decide to go far from home, you may also find yourself taking classes at both the community college and university.  One student of mine is doing just that at the University of Hawaii at Hilo until she gains residency status, in order to offset the out of state tuition price tag. Another student was just shy of getting into the program she wished to enter at the University of Illinois at Champaign.  So the university had a program that allowed her to take classes at Parkland, the community college in the neighboring town for her first year, and then segue with all of her credits intact, into the program of her choice… again with a lower price tag than if she attended U of I for her Freshman term.

And finally, another student of mine whom I found a bit challenging because it was as if trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  The schools and majors of her mother’s wishes were not her own and every meeting with both of them, brought about frustration and dead-end planning. It was finally when I got to meet with the student alone that the truth came out and what was revealed was enlightening.  She didn’t want to pursue any of the paths that her mother was pointing her towards… and her grades and interests didn’t fit with those paths either. It was only when we spoke separately that she revealed creative, varied interests of her own that could be pursued at the community college or at design or fashion institutes rather than a traditional 4-year college.

Whatever the case is for you? Listen to your gut.  Yes. Sometimes you need to be pushed and No at 18 you are not expected to have all the answers … but know yourself.  Be confident in your voice that can guide your way and don’t feel as if you must compete on a stage that isn’t truly yours.  Why make it harder on yourself doing something or going somewhere when it doesn’t feel 100% right? Because even when it is the right path for you, it is going to be a long, sometimes difficult road, until you feel completely confident and successful in your chosen field. Know thyself! And good luck!

Common Student Loan Mistakes

College Financial Planning

Taking out student loans tends to be a “given” for many students, and a given you feel you don’t need to think about until after college.  While that is partially true, do not make these mistakes:

  1.  Using a student loan to go to a college that expensive.  A good way to think about it is this:  the amount of money you are going to making in your desired profession is going to be quite similar.  What is not always similar?  The cost of college.  Once you know the average salary you are going to be making once you graduate, you should calculate your average monthly loan payments.  Choosing a less expensive college can mean the difference of paying off your loans years before a more expensive school.  Hello nicer house, nicer car, nicer vacations!
  2. Using a student loan to pay for unnecessary things.  Student loans should be used for tuition, room & board, fees, and books.  Anything else you’re thinking about spending it on?  Really reconsider.  The late-night pizza trips to the mall and alcohol has a heavy interest rate you are going to have to pay back.  Also, once your loan money runs out, what are you going to do to earn your degree?  Any money you have leftover is a major bonus to paying your loans off, in a shorter amount of time.
  3. Not knowing how much money you are taking out and if your career will be able to pay back those loans.  Is any of this worth it? You have to research. Here is a great resource to help determine what your monthly loan payment will be, after graduation:  Remember, when you calculate your monthly payment, you also should be looking at the low average salary you will be making (after all you will just be starting your career), and also calculate how much it will cost you to live (rent, bills, insurance, groceries, etc.).  I know what you’re thinking, ‘my whole salary will be going to bills!’ Not if you take out and use only what you need, and please remember to see item #1.