We’re on a #JourneyToCollege!




I’ve got a confession: I am probably the most disorganized organized person you will ever meet. Many days, I feel like the skies will open and every ball I’m juggling will rain down on me. Every day, I rely on a planner to keep me sane.

Over the years, I’ve tried many different organization tools, but when I find something that works I stick with it. If you know about my penchant for planners, you can probably guess I would covet a tool that helps organize the insanity of our homeschooling life. Standing on the cusp of A’s senior year, I’m feeling the crunch to prepare her for the next step and, truthfully, I was feeling panicked until I found the KapMap College Planner.

Preparing a child for college requires careful planning and hard work, by both the parent and the student. Having graduated one daughter 3 years ago, I was already familiar with Kaplan’s test prep site and various study tools. We relied on them heavily as C rounded the bend to graduation. The KapMap College Planner, however, was new to me.

Initially, I (wrongly) assumed the planner was solely intended for high school seniors, so when I first opened the free download I was a bit overwhelmed. My eyes not yet focused on the details, I scrolled up and down pages as my heart sank. Convinced I had already derailed my high school senior’s plans for college, I knew I needed a closer look and clicked print. Instantly, 4 pages of text and a cover page shot out from the printer, taking aim at every insecurity within my disorganized-organized heart. I gathered my resolve and breathed a sigh of relief when I realized I was literally looking at a 4-year road map. (I also secretly mourned not having this earlier.)

It’s never too late to make a plan!

The KapMap walks you through every year, ensuring both parents and students stay on track for college admissions. With its easy to follow monthly action items, Kaplan Test Prep takes the guess-work out of the planning process. From recommendations on timing the PSAT, SAT  and/or ACT to suggestions about club involvement and summer planning, the KapMap sets the stage to best position your student for the competitive admissions environments.

A challenge often unique to homeschoolers is the limited access to high school/college planning guidance services. Additionally, with the many changes that have taken place in the admissions process over the last 30 years, my high school and college experiences have offered lots of humor but little practical value in preparing my girls for theirs.  Making my way through each class-level calendar I, once again, wished I had had this resource sooner. I circled tips and highlighted hyperlinks to help us prepare for A’s next step. Especially helpful to us are the pointers for narrowing down her college choices such as “Research social forums where alumni and students post about your college” and “Make a College Fact Chart” for comparison purposes. And, without coming from Mom or Dad’s mouth, the KapMap offers relevant and timely information about the role of social media in the application process (Did you know, “Facebook profiles are reviewed by 31% of admissions officers”?), key admissions factors, and the importance of extracurricular activities.

Whether your child is just starting high school or rounding their way to graduation, there is much to value in this tool. I’ve printed a copy for my daughter, keep a copy at the front of my lesson book, and have it downloaded on my computer. From the action items to the hyperlinks, the KapMap will keep us on the right track as we #JourneyToCollege !

For additional information, please visit: http://www.kaptest.com/college-prep/

Also, be sure to follow Kaplan Test Prep on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaplanSAT and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaplanSATACT

Plan for success with this special offer for my readers from Kaplan:  Save $100 when you enroll in a SAT or ACT course from 8/11-8/28.* Use code: SHESPEAKS100

Are you new to the college planning road or have you already taken your last exit? Please, share your best tips!

 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Kaplan Test Prep. I received compensation to write this post, and any opinions expressed are my own, and reflect my actual experience.



Posted in Transitional Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

We must keep the dialog going.

I made my own card, because, sometimes, even Hallmark can't capture my feelings.

My heart goes out to those that suffer.

A dialog was started the day Robin Williams took his life. A dialog about depression and mental illness and suicide. In the last few days, Facebook and Twitter feeds have exploded with compassion and comments about the realities of mental illness, that it is a medical illness and requires treatment just as any illness does. People are openly sharing their stories of personal pain.  This is a dialog far past due and one that is too important to let die down. Mental illness should carry no shame, only offers of support for the sufferer and their loved ones. When one suffers, all hurt.

Sadly, our society rarely views it that way, labeling those that are ill as weak or broken. Weak, they often are, broken down from an illness that the sufferers neither chose nor is “fixable” with a simplistic, “Get over it.” Far too often, they suffer silently and alone.

Mental illness is insidious. It hides in the dark corners, eventually consuming the mind if there is no treatment. There is no known “cure” for mental illness, only treatment. However, the right treatment can be hard to pinpoint, time consuming, and quite expensive, limiting those who have access. Additionally, much like cancer, mental illness spreads through the body. Physical symptoms are very real, further complicating a correct diagnosis and treatment. Often, the sufferers will try to self medicate through drugs or alcohol. Perhaps, it’s the only treatment plan they can afford or have access to. Perhaps, it is the only one they feel works.

Regardless of the treatment, sometimes it is not enough. Robin Williams clearly tried to get help, and he wasn’t weak. He hurt. Deeply. Far deeper than many of us will ever know. But, if not us, it is likely we know or will know someone who hurts that deeply, someone who is waiting for a hand to reach into the darkness and not let go.

Robin Williams death was a terrible, terrible loss for the world. His comedic genius brought laughter into an often gray world. However, just as I thank him for the laughs he gave me so often, I thank him for starting a dialog, one that must not end.

(4 years ago last February I lost my brother to suicide. I wrote this post to put a “real face” to those who suffer from mental illness. Please, if you or someone you know needs help, reach out. Yours may be the hand that saves a life.)

Know the signs….

From the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website:

The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.

  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

  • Talking about being a burden to others.

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

  • Sleeping too little or too much.

  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you or someone you care about is in a crisis and need help right away:

Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

Posted in Transitional Parenting, Transitional Woman | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments