Well, my younger daughter, Sawyer, is a high school senior. And it's November. Which means that we're in the midst of the college application process. It's exciting. It's also very stressful. So, I thought I'd share a few tips that I've recently learned in the hope you'll find them useful. But first a disclaimer!


I'm definitely not a college admissions expert and it's been decades since I applied to college. (I used a typewriter to complete my applications!) And even though this list isn't definitive, I think these items alone could make a big difference.

  • LEAVE AMPLE TIME – Even if you can write an award-winning essay the night before it's due, you can't expect others to do the same.
  • BE STRATEGIC – This critical first step is often overlooked. Decide what you want to highlight (experience, skills, personal traits, etc.), write them down, and then identify people who can talk about that side of you.
  • SELECT PEOPLE WHO KNOW YOU WELL –The wider the range of people, the better. You're looking for people who know you so well, they can talk about your qualities in a way that brings you and your personal story (we all have one) "to life."
  • REVIEW THE REQUIREMENTS – Letters of recommendation usually fall into two categories – Teachers and Other. However, different schools have different parameters, so check the instructions carefully.
  • MAKE THE "ASK" – Let them know why you picked them, why you value their insight, what you'd love for them to focus on (most people appreciate some guidance vs. staring at a blank sheet of paper) and last, but not least, make sure you properly thank them!
  • TRACK AND, IF NECESSARY, FOLLOW UP (nicely, of course) – Ok, please tell me this is self-explanatory.
  • YOU'RE ACCEPTED INTO COLLEGE! – Send a thank you to everyone who took the time to write a letter for you. It can be a short note, but let them know they were an important part of the admissions process. Trust me, it will only take you a few minutes but it will be remembered by them for a very long time.

I wondered what Black thought about Letters of Recommendation, so I asked her. As always, she had a different perspective and provided insight as the person either writing or reviewing recommendation letters. She then commented that her thoughts might help you create a better "ask."

  • It should be clear that the author of the letter knows the student and WHY they were selected to provide a recommendation.
  • Academic achievements and technical skills are important, but emphasis should also be placed on soft skills (things like communication skills, leadership, problem solving, teamwork).
  • Visually, the letter should be easy to skim and still identity key points.

Design by Sawyer Pennington

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters". Stay tuned as we'll be introducing new topics on a regular basis!


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I have to tell you, the last eight months have definitely been challenging. On just about every front. You've probably read how the coronavirus is putting a strain on relationships – and that's without anyone in the same household or family being diagnosed with it! I know there's a list of major life events that cause stress, things like marriage, buying a new home, and getting fired, but that list never before included pandemics!

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Relationships – whether significant others, family, friends, or even the workplace – take effort even when things are going well. A pandemic (or any major life event) impacts all aspects of our lives, so we just have to work even harder – especially in terms of communications. Obviously, living with others creates its own challenges. Which may explain why I live alone …

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • What makes a relationship successful when "life is good"?
  • When life is "not as good" does the relationship change? Or, does the situation or circumstances change?
  • Why do common everyday problems seem magnified during uncommon times? Why do financial matters and topics seem so daunting?
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Design by Sawyer Pennington

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters". Stay tuned as we'll be introducing new topics on a regular basis!


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


I'll never forget how scared I was when I was forced to deal with our financial mess. And that was before I knew where we stood financially! It was a perfect storm. I was afraid of the unknown – both in terms of I didn't know where we stood financially plus I didn't know anything about personal finance. Yes, I was a 40+ year old woman with a college degree from a great university. But that didn't stop me from feeling stupid.


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As I told you at the time, there is a huge difference between being stupid – and being sheltered. You went from living with our parents to living with your husband, and had always let other people handle the money. The reality is that even people who should know better make careless mistakes when it comes to money. I have an undergraduate degree in Economics and a M.B.A. and still managed to get in debt over my head. The key is you are never too young – or too old – to take responsibility for your financial life.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS
  • Why do financial matters and topics seem so daunting?
  • What do you think is the best way to learn about personal finance?
  • What do you think is the most important skill to have in order to successfully handle your money?
Design by Sawyer Pennington

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters". Stay tuned as we'll be introducing new topics on a regular basis!


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


I need to vent! Between work and family, I'm constantly busy. And I feel like I'm always needed by someone for something! Which normally is ok as that's my life. But now add everything related to COVID-19, and I feel totally stressed. I just need some time alone!


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No, you need time away.


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Same thing.


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No! It is not. "Time alone" means without anyone with you. It does not mean that you are doing nothing. So, running errands or working alone in your office, wherever that might be, would be time alone. But, that is not what you need. "Time away" means time with no other objective than doing something for yourself. Even if that is doing nothing.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS
  • When was the last time you did something by yourself that was just for yourself?
  • Is taking "time away" selfish?
  • Can knowing you have blocked off "time away" in the near future help with managing stress today?