Encourage Who?

Not sure how to even start thinking about your ideal future? Planning for the future is an exercise of willpower. The bells and whistles of the planning process can seem overwhelming, and we know all too well what that can feel like. Thankfully, we’ve designed something pretty cool with you in mind to navigate your way through the process with clarity and ease

What is Encourage though?

To put it simply, we’re a revolutionized app that can help you discover your potential and then help you dive into the important parts of planning for life after high school. This could mean going to college, preparing for trade school, or going straight into the workforce when you graduate!

One thing about us – we’re not here to gatekeep the life hacks that will propel you forward into your 5–10-year goals. Consider us your cheerleader, your confidant, and if we’re being honest, your new bestie.

All of this may lead you to your next question –

Why should I care?

Hey, we can’t force you to care about your future. But since you’re already here, you must be onto something.

We have 50 years of experience in helping high school students plan for college, but when the times call for change, we’re not afraid to oblige. College isn’t for everyone, and most apps don’t recognize that. Encourage is one of the only apps where trade school, the workforce, and even gap years are celebrated and considered. Cool, right?

By visiting our app, website, blogs, or social media accounts, you’ll likely become obsessed with planning and manifesting success and what that looks like for you. No one else. 

We’re just here to keep it real.

So now what?

Still with us? You’re part of the fam now.

First, give us a follow on Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, and Twitter to stay up to date on solid content featuring advice, lifehacks, giveaways, real-life testimonies, application deadlines, study tips, and a whole lot more.

Then, you’ll want to download the Encourage app in the Apple or Google Play store and create a profile so we can get the planning party started. From there, we can cue Lizzie McGuire’s “This is what dreams are made of” and watch you achieve virtually every goal you’ve set for yourself and your future!

Sounds intriguing, right?

So, what are you waiting for? We’ll see you on social media and in the app store.

2022-2023 Common App Essay Prompts

As you begin your college application process, you may decide to apply through the Common Application. The Common Application (also known as the “Common App”) is an advanced college application platform that allows you to apply to multiple colleges at once. The Common App has seven essay prompts for you to choose from.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Some of these topics are broad, allowing a chance for you to showcase your creativity and share a memorable story. This is a chance to make an impression without overloading the details. This is an opportunity to showcase your writing skills!
  • Think about your passions, skills and hobbies when writing your essays. This is a chance to show off how amazing you really are!
  • Some colleges will publish essay examples on their website, so feel free to use those as inspiration! This will help get a feel for the ways each college celebrates and exemplifies good work. PRO TIP: DON’T PLAGIARIZE.
  • Always ask for someone to proofread your content. Be sure to look out for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and tone of voice to ensure you’re conveying the right message.

Below is the full set of essay prompts for 2022-2023.

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Don’t forget to stay true to who you are and bring the best version of yourself into these essays! We’re cheering you on!

Be Ready for College Application Season

Chances are, when you’re starting your college applications, you may feel overwhelmed by the list of tasks required for admission. To relieve this pressure, be sure to take this process one step at a time. Here, we’ll cover some crucial steps to take to avoid burnout and imposter syndrome as you apply.

1. Stay organized

We cannot stress this enough. Some things to keep track of for person information are things like your Social Security Number, high school code, transcripts, important contacts, and logins for websites/applications. From there, you need to gather all the information about the schools you’re applying to. Are they featured on the Common App? Is there a separate link for financial aid? How about FAFSA? All good things to keep in mind when sorting through the details.

2. Create a realistic timeline

Grab a planner, notepad, ipad, or whatever helps you list out priorities and put in all your deadlines for college apps. ACT/SAT test dates, registrations, and letter of recommendation deadlines are good to track as well. By sticking to a dedicated timeline, you’ll ease the anxiety or the unknown, keeping things cool during the admissions process.

3. Character counts!

This is your time to shoot your shot and show them what you’re made of! Colleges care about more than GPAs and test score. You’ll want to jot down a list of your passions, extracurriculars, and accomplishments. These other activities and interests will give admissions a better idea of who you are as a person!

4. Pop in to see your school counselor

Your counselor is your biggest fan! Be sure to keep them in the loop about your admissions experience and don’t be afraid to ask questions and feedback on your progress. They may even be the perfect person to serve as a recommendation!

5. Ask questions

There’s a ton to think about when applying to college, and you won’t possibly know ALL the answers! Meet with family members, counselors, your favorite teachers and other support when you’re feeling lost or confused. Share your aspirations and allow them to give you some guidance – they live for that!

6. Take care of yourself!

Self-care is NON-NEGOTIABLE when going through this process. Make time for things that spark joy and boost your serotonin. Just finished an essay? Treat yourself to some coffee! Crushed the ACT? Celebrate with a visit with friends.

Breathe, recharge, and grind. The success is yours!

College Applications: Tips and Tricks

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t drop the ball on in the application process, it’s your admissions essay. Your essays are a raw reflection of your unique abilities to contribute to the institution and allows a space to tell your story. This is an opportunity to display your passions and your writing skills all in one shot.

Some colleges will have specific prompts that they want you to answer, while others will lean toward a more open prompt to tell your personal story. Either way, just be you! This isn’t a word count oriented email, so forget the fluff, ditch the thesaurus, and write from the heart!

Here are some tips for drafting up an undeniably good essay:

1. Start early

Make a map of your essay topics and jot down some ideas and deadlines. We recommend starting this process around spring of junior year or summer prior to senior year. This gives you plenty of time to craft up some good stuff!

2. Create an outline

Next, you’ll want to identify your prompts and start breaking it down into parts. Think about why the admissions team may be asking these questions and what they’re hoping to gain from your response. At this point, you’ll want to pair some personal stories with these ideas and brainstorm all the potential points you’ll want to discuss. One way to organize your thought: write a thesis and make bullet points for a beginning, middle, and end. The rest will easily fall into place.

3. Read some solid examples

Some colleges will publish essay examples on their website, so feel free to use those as inspiration! This will help get a feel for the ways each college celebrates and exemplifies good work. PRO TIP: DON’T PLAGIARIZE.

4. Brainstorm beyond the transcript

When you’re crafting your essay, imagine you’re having dinner with the admissions counselors. They’re holding your transcript and resume, so they have all the nitty gritty details of your application. This is your chance to expand on the topics that are unseen from those documents! No shame in boasting all the amazing things you’ve accomplished!

5. Stick to detailed examples

For your examples, focus on specific details that really tell your story the way you want to convey it. There’s not enough room to write your autobiography, but rather the highlights of your accomplishments. It’s okay if you feel like your topic isn’t anything revolutionary – many schools love taking simple examples and turning them into lessons! Remember, the key isn’t to wow them with your topic, but rather to showcase your writing skills in a way that paints a picture of who you really are.

6. Have people review it

If you’ve taken anything away from this article, it’s to make sure you have some trusted people read your work thoroughly and provide feedback. A good person could be your parent, counselor, or teacher. Be sure to check for grammatical and spelling errors and limit the number of people who review it to around 2 so you don’t get lost in the sauce.

With these tips, there’s no doubt you’ll crush your admissions essays. Feel proud of yourself through this process and take breaks when you’re feeling writer’s block!

Applying to College 101

Applying to college? LOOK AT YOU! So proud. The college application process can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you’ve never been through it before. But have NO fear, as always, we’ve got your back by gathering some common questions that students have about the process. By the end of this article, we’re hoping for solid confidence moving into the application process!

Some Common Questions

1. When should I start applying for college?

The timeline of college applications typically requires planning, due to the nature of how early the portals open for applicants! Most applications open about a year before you attend school.

Here’s a simple example: If you hope to go to college in the fall after your high school graduation, your application will open in the summer before your senior year or in the fall of your senior year. What can you do to best prepare for application season? Decide what schools you want to apply to, take the ACT/SAT, read some stellar examples for college admissions essays, and ask for some letters of recommendation from your favorite teachers and counselors. Oh, and breathe – you’ve got this.

2. Where do I find application(s)?

Straight up, you’ll want to hit up the website of the college you’re applying to. Great place to start your search. From there, you’ll either be directed to a common application software or apply directly on their website. When you discover this info, you’ll also see the other requirements for getting into the program you want. This typically will highlight essay topics, application fees, test score range requirements, and how many letters of recommendation you may need.

3. Which semester should I apply for?

Typically, you’ll find yourself so excited that you’ll jump into fall semester applications without even thinking. PLOT TWIST: You have some other options! Let’s say you want to take some time to yourself to work before going to save up some cash; Spring may be a more viable option for you. Keep in mind that some colleges require a mandatory summer session so you can kick things off sooner! There are SO many perks to starting during the summer semester so you can have a sneak peek of what campus has to offer before the whole squad unpacks for fall.

4. What do I need to apply, though?

A short, but necessary list of things you’ll need:

  • Essays
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Application Fee/Fee Waiver (Ask your school counselor about these!)
  • High School Transcripts
  • Vibes, Just Vibes

5. I’m done with my application, now what?

Now’s the time to tap into other parts of your to-do list:

  • Have you scheduled a chat with your counselor? Now’s the best time to remind them just how cool they are for giving you their lifehacks.
  • Filling out your FAFSA information sooner than later is the move, so be sure to create a login sooner rather than later.
  • Submit those updated ACT/SAT scores, it’ll only take a quick sec.

Types of Applications

Early Decision

Some pros, some cons. This gives you a chance to apply early (typically around November) to your first-choice school. You’ll receive your admission decision in advance of the regular notification date (usually December).

! Heads up: Be mindful that with early decision, you can only apply to one school under early decision. If you’re accepted, you must agree to attend if you’re given an adequate financial aid package. You can submit regular decision applications but must be withdrawn once accepted.

Early Action

Like Early Decision, Early Action allows you to submit your application earlier than the regular deadline and receive an admission decision early in the admissions cycle. Unlike Early Decision, Early Action is not binding. You still have the opportunity to apply elsewhere and weigh all of your options before making a final choice.

Test-Optional

When colleges are test-optional, they are waiving the requirement of ACT or SAT test scores. This gives you the choice to submit testing scores or not. If you’re not sure if you should apply test-optional, read these tips.

Deferred Admission

When you receive your admission letter, there’s a possibility you will see the word “deferred.” The word “defer” means to delay. You’ll usually see this if you apply early to a school. If you’re deferred, your application will be deferred into the regular decision pool. As an applicant, you can be deferred for many reasons, so don’t be discouraged.

Rolling Admission

Colleges with rolling admission keep applications open for a large window of time. They also process applications as they are received, rather than after a hard deadline. This usually means the earlier you submit, the earlier you know your admission decision.

How to Pick a Career (That Makes Sense For YOU)

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re trying to figure out how to pick a career that makes sense for you. Sometimes it’s easy to listen to the noise everyone in your life has been telling you… “Be this”, “Do that”, and everything between. The only way you can truly know is by asking the right questions, getting your hands dirty, and trying some career options through a part time role, internships, shadowing, and more. Consider asking these questions when deciding which career makes sense for you!

What are the pros & cons about this career choice?

Like anything, you’re likely to face some positives and negatives regarding your decision. Above all, you career should reflect your core values. Positives will seem like “wins” to you, while negatives may seem as though you may be sacrificing something in order to work there. Be sure to evaluate the pros and cons from your perspective, and if the positives outweigh the negatives, you’re likely going to find more joy in the career you choose.

Is there a work/life balance?

Sure, we spend a HUGE chunk of our week at work, but you can’t forget – it’s not your whole life. Know how much personal time you need when looking into a career and take note of this when you are experiencing the work/life balance in the job.

What does your schedule look like?

This goes hand in hand with the aspect of work/life balance because many careers go beyond your typical 9-5 workday. This makes total sense because you’re not a workhorse and you deserve some time to relax every day! A great example of a demanding workflow is that of a nurse or firefighter; an 8-hour shift is simply not in their description! When you make a career choice, consider the hours you’ll need to work. Does this align with the lifestyle you’re hoping to achieve?

Is location important?

Short answer: probably. You want to have a real moment with yourself and consider your geographic preferences when talking about location and what it means to you. Some careers are more widely available in larger cities, while others can be found anywhere! This is the best time to be real with yourself on the kind of lifestyle you’re wanting to achieve so you can enjoy your environment.

What are the educational requirements?

Most careers are going to require some extent of training and educational background in order to qualify for the role. Consider your time and money as an investment. Will this investment help pay the bills AND make you happy? If considering a formal education for the role, keep in mind of the options to pay back any debt you take on while earning the necessary credentials.

When you’re exploring your options, it’s important to gain multiple perspectives and really take into consideration what’s important to you. It’s normalized these days to change careers throughout a lifetime, so never forget to keep an open mind and stay true to YOU!

Match Your Career Goals to Your College Major

As a college student, it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after you graduate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the options before you, we get it. You’ve got so many choices, and no idea where to start.

Work Backwards

You’re not alone. In fact, we recommend figuring out which career you want, and then shaping your education based on those dreams. That way, when you’re ready to go out into the world and start looking for a job or internship, you can focus on refining the skills that will help get you there—not just finding something that sounds good on paper.

If you want to be an astrophysicist but didn’t take physics in high school, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your dream! Just take the classes that will help give you the skills you need.

Consider Time and Money

Let’s be real, education isn’t cheap! If you’re hoping to save some money while earning a potential degree, consider saving some cash by kicking off at a community college and transferring later. If you’re interested in attending graduate or medical school, we love that for you! Just consider the cost and be sure to really research some options for financial aid.

Visit Your School’s Career Center

Meet with advisors who will help identify skills and interests that are related to specific fields of study; discuss ways in which those skills can be translated into job opportunities; learn how different majors prepare students for certain careers; determine what educational or professional requirements exist before entering a particular field of study; explore options available within each major; and explore options outside of each major that may lead toward career goals.

Find your fit and focus!

If the first step of choosing a career doesn’t work for you, then focus on the fit of your major. Take note of how you feel during different classes. Do you see yourself doing this type of work in the future? Trust your intuition; do you have an overall sense of ease or belonging when it comes to your major? Reflect, and adjust accordingly!

Matching your major to your future career is all about setting yourself up to achieve your dreams and aspirations. No matter where you are in this process, keep these steps in the back of your mind. Though we encourage you to contemplate these big questions about your future, don’t let it stress you out. You will figure it out, we promise!

Display Your Awesome with a College Brag Sheet

College applications are a lot like dating. You have to make a good first impression, and you have to do it fast. That’s why you need to create a brag sheet! It’s basically like a resume, but it includes all of your achievements in one spot.

What is a College Brag Sheet?

A brag sheet is basically like a resume. It’s an easy way to put all your achievements in one spot and make them easy for admissions officers to see. A brag sheet is a great way to organize all the parts of your application that tell the college what makes you awesome.

Why Create a College Brag Sheet?

Why create one? Putting all your achievements in one spot is key when you have a short time to make a first impression. Your teachers writing letters of recommendation will also appreciate your brag sheet. Oftentimes, teachers will have numerous letters to write. In passing along your resume, you’re giving an outline of all your cool qualities with specific examples. This makes the writing process easier on your teachers and boosts the quality of your letter of recommendation. When your teachers have a better idea of who you are, it’s easier to praise you for all your achievements!

What to Include

Your brag sheet should be concise and professional, and no more than one page long. Also, avoid fonts that are difficult to read. You should include the following information: 

  • Your name and contact information
  • Expected graduation date
  • GPA and standardized test scores
  • Extracurricular activity participation
  • Volunteer work
  • Work experience
  • Any awards or recognitions
  • Any leadership roles 
  • Goals for the future related to college

College brag sheets are useful during the college application process and should be the “IG Feed” of your academic and professional experience! (Only the best stuff gets put on the feed) Don’t forget to include goals that you’re working toward in the future, too. You want this document to reflect who YOU are, so don’t be afraid to be creative!