The College Checklist Podcast

The College Checklist Podcast is the podcast dedicated to guiding you through the complex world of college admissions. Host Lauren Gaggioli interviews experts from all areas of college admissions, college search, financial aid, scholarships, test prep and more to empower you to take control of your family's college admissions process.

Don't forget to subscribe to The College Checklist Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher Radio so that you'll receive the latest episodes right to your smartphone or tablet as soon as they're released!

The Senior Year College Checklist with Ian Fisher (Episode 46)

Senior year. Many students imagine it’s an entire year dedicated enjoying notable lasts – last football game, last school play, last team dinner, last dance – and to saying farewell to dear friends. Not many students envision all of the work that goes into the year that has a lazy syndrome named after it – Senioritis!

In this episode of The College Checklist Podcast, Ian Fisher from College Coach walks us through all of the steps of the senior year college checklist – starting the summer before senior year. This is a comprehensive look at what college-bound families should be considering as they move forward and cross the college admissions finish line.

Ian Fisher on The College Checklist Podcast


Listen Now: The Senior Year College Checklist (Episode 46)

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About Ian Fisher

Ian FisherIan Fisher is a college consultant at College Coach, a division of Bright Horizon Family Solutions. His expertise as a college consultant comes from many years spent in admissions at his alma mater – Reed College. Ian holds his masters in Education Policy from Stanford.

Get in touch with Ian

GetIntoCollege.com
Email Ian: Ian [dot] Fisher [at] getintocollege [dot] com

Quotable Quotes

“You can put yourself in a good position and be ahead of the game if you start working on your college applications over the summer before your senior year.”

“The summer is also the time to start on the essay.  The more personal the student makes his or her easy the more you are able to learn about that student. You want to have your essays done before you begin your senior year.”

“Make sure your grades and performance is just as good as it has always been in the first semester of your senior year.”

“Get letters of recommendation in your academic classes, ideally from teachers from your junior year.”

“After the admission applications are in it is important to make sure you meet the financial aid application deadlines.”

Lightning Round Q&A

Q1: What’s your best piece of advice for families as they begin this journey?
A1: Ask as many questions as you can at the beginning of this journey.

Q2: What is your favorite college admissions book, blog, or tool that no family should be without?
A2: Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope*

Q3: What should a family who is overwhelmed by the college admissions process focus on?
A3: Break the process in to smaller chunks.

Q4: What is your all-time favorite book?
A4: Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon* and All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy*

*These links are affiliate links through Amazon. You will not pay extra; however, we do receive a small reimbursement if you purchase through our links. Thank you for your support of The College Checklist Podcast!

A Warning for the Class of 2017 (Special Edition)

I’m so saddened by some of the tactics that are being taken by many publishers and test prep companies. Equally bad are the volumes of misinformation about the new exams that are floating around out there.

I have seen and heard from many of you listeners about companies capitalizing on the frenzy that the changes coming to the SAT and ACT are causing at many stressed-out families’ expense. There’s lots of bad advice out there: much of which is being given by test prep companies only interested in making a quick buck, some of which is being given with good intention but is – ultimately – equally harmful.

The new SAT is coming. Are you ready?

So here it is – a special edition of The College Checklist Podcast that was triggered by one of those events that was born of bad information. Sometimes a girl’s just got to turn on her microphone and set the record straight.

Click here to learn more about my recommendations for SAT and ACT testing timelines.

Click here to learn an alternative timeline for potential National Merit Scholarship students in the class of 2017.

To stay up to date on all of the changes coming to the SAT and ACT, be sure to check in here from time to time: Special Resources for the Class of 2017.

Learn from Our College Search Mistakes with Bob Verbarg (Episode 45)

This is a very exciting episode for me because I had my father and CFO Bob Verbarg on to talk about what we’ve both learned about the college admissions process from producing The College Checklist together. In addition to taking care of the finances for Higher Scores Test Prep, Pops also helps me edit the podcasts. He takes extensive notes that then become the show notes (like the one you’re reading now).

Part overview of past 44 episodes, part trip down memory lane, this episode is an honest discussion about some of the choices we made when I was applying to college and a helpful overview of the most informative episodes of The College Checklist.

We hope you enjoy it!

What we would've done different with our college search.

 


Listen Now: Learn from Our College Admissions Mistakes (Episode 45)

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About Bob Verbarg

Bob retired in 2008 after 33 years in senior management positions with a national payroll processing firm.  The family moved 7 times during that period and he is ever grateful to Francine and his children for their willingness to cheerfully relocate so often.  He always enjoyed sports, particularly golf and tennis, but after a 2010 MS diagnosis he has been sidelined.  He is very proud of Lauren for her dedication to her students’ success and for her entrepreneurial spirit in starting Higher Scores Test Prep.  He is proud to be a part of the team.


Show Notes

Past Podcast Rundown

Other Resources

Quotable Quotes

“Knowing now what I’ve learned from the guests in your podcasts, we would have done things very differently in the college search process.”

“One thing that jumps out at me, and I’ve heard it from several of your guest, is start early. I wish that we had started earlier, particularly with college visits.”

“Networking is important for a high school student.  Talk to people in the field you are interested in studying.”

Regarding taking a gap year: “You can work as an intern in the field you’re interested in and see if it is a good fit.”

Lightning Round Q&A

Q1: What’s your best piece of advice for families as they begin this journey?
A1: Start early and get help.

Q2: What is your favorite college admissions book, blog, or tool that no family should be without?
A2: The College Checklist Podcast

Q3: What should a family who is overwhelmed by the college admissions process focus on?
A3: If you didn’t start early, sit down as a family and agree on your priorities given the time you have remaining.

Q4: What is your all-time favorite book?
A4: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand*

*These links are affiliate links through Amazon. You will not pay extra; however, we do receive a small reimbursement if you purchase through our links. Thank you for your support of The College Checklist Podcast!

Test Optional Colleges: What Are You Risking By Opting Out with Paul Hemphill (Episode 44)

You may have heard a lot about test optional colleges and, at first glance, applying to test optional schools may seem to be a good deal for parents and students alike. One less (big) box to check off your college checklist, one less worry, one less fee – sounds great, right?

Not so fast! In today’s interview with college planning advisor Paul Hemphill of Planning-For-College.com, we discuss some of the hidden costs of applying test optional.

To be fair, this is a controversial topic and there are many differing opinions on it. That said, there is sound logic in the stance that Paul and I both take. It is worth hearing all of the facts before you make the testing decision for your student and this is the side of the argument that tends to get lost in the conversation.

Paul Hemphill on The College Checklist Podcast


NOW OPEN!

The College Checklist Q&A Hotline

Do you have questions about the college admissions process? Not sure how to approach the SAT & ACT or how to pay for college?

No worries! Leave your voicemail on the hotline and I or one of our guests will answer it for you live on air!

Call now! (760) 913-7737


Test Optional Colleges: What Are You Risking By Opting Out?

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About Paul Hemphill

Paul Hemphill is an independent educational consultant at Planning-For-College.com. With a background in marketing, Paul takes a very unique approach to the college admissions process by helping students craft their brand. He is a recognized expert in the field and has appeared on numerous television shows to share his wealth of knowledge about the college admissions process.


Show Notes

Resources

Quotable Quotes

“When students opt not to send their SAT or ACT scores they are signaling to the college that they have something to hide.  Not to submit them is really risking rejection”.

“If I can’t get a son or daughter in to at least one of their first 5 college choices I give the parents the money back that they paid me.”

“Colleges are going to do whatever it takes to get a student to go to their school.”

Lightning Round Q&A

Q1: What’s your best piece of advice for families as they begin this journey?
A1:  Parents need to decide the exact dollar figure they can spend on college.  For help use CollegeData.com and click on the “Net Price Calculator” tab.

Q2: What is your favorite college admissions book, blog, or tool that no family should be without?
A2:  CollegeData.com, Planning for College by Paul Hemphill*, ParentsCountdownToCollegeCoach.com

Q3: What should a family who is overwhelmed by the college admissions process focus on?
A3: Attend one of Paul’s on-going webinars.  Find it at Planning-For-College.com

Q4: What is your all-time favorite book?
A4: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and his 2nd Inaugural Speech*, Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonheoffer*, The Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis*

*These links are affiliate links through Amazon. You will not pay extra; however, we do receive a small reimbursement if you purchase through our links. Thank you for your support of The College Checklist Podcast!

Get in touch with Paul


 

Need help planning your testing timeline?

I’m happy to help! Fill in the form below and I will be in touch!

A Parent’s Role in College Prep with Suzanne Shaffer (Episode 43)

This week on The College Checklist Podcast, Suzanne Shaffer joins us to discuss the parent’s role in college prep. Suzanne provides her insight as to how much parental involvement in the college selection and admission process is ideal. With great candor, she shares stories from her own experience helping her daughter with the college admissions process.

A Parent's Role in College Prep


NOW OPEN!

The College Checklist Q&A Hotline

Do you have questions about the college admissions process? Not sure how to approach the SAT & ACT or how to pay for college?

No worries! Leave your voicemail on the hotline and I or one of our guests will answer it for you live on air!

Call now! (760) 913-7737


The College Checklist – A Parent’s Role in College Prep

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About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer - Parents Countdown to College CoachSuzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parents Countdown to College Coach blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze. She is a regular contributor as a college expert on Gal time and Zinch. She provides expert college content for University Parent and TeenLife Magazine; Suzanne is also a top college advisor for Student Advisor and the Unigo Expert Network.

 


Show Notes

Quotable Quotes

“Get a huge wall calendar and put it in a prominent place so everyone can see deadlines, or get an app so everyone can sync calendars.”

“You must plan ahead and let your student know what the family can afford for college.”

“The best way parents can reduce stress for their student is to not apply pressure themselves.”

Lightning Round Q&A

Q1: What’s your best piece of advice for families as they begin this journey?
A1: Pace yourself and stay organized.

Q2: What is your favorite college admissions book, blog, or tool that no family should be without?
A2:  Fiske Guide to Colleges*

Q3: What should a family who is overwhelmed by the college admissions process focus on?
A3: Tackle one task at a time, and break it in to small, doable segments.

Q4: What is your all-time favorite book?
A4: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott*

*These links are affiliate links through Amazon. You will not pay extra; however, we do receive a small reimbursement if you purchase through our links. Thank you for your support of The College Checklist Podcast!

Get in touch with Suzanne

Happy Holidays + Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

Happy Holidays from Higher Scores Test Prep!

While you’re enjoying the break, don’t forget that there are some deadlines looming in the not-so-distant future!

Monday, December 29th is the last day to register for the January SAT.

Thursday, January 8th is the last day to sign up for our SAT prep course for the March exam. If you’re interested in finding out if our course is right for you, please be sure to visit www.higherscorestestprep.com/preview

Want a little more guidance? I’m happy to help! Visit www.higherscorestestprep.com/help and let’s set up a time to chat!

Thank you so much for making this year such a memorable one! I’m so happy you came along for the ride and I look forward to delivering even more great content to you in 2015!

However you celebrate the season, I wish you peace and joy! Happy holidays!

Lauren Gaggioli

6 Steps to Create the Perfect SAT & ACT Testing Timeline (Episode 42)

SAT & ACT Prep Expert Lauren GaggioliAs you may know, I am passionate about test prep. Sick as that sounds, it’s quite true. I don’t know why I’m wired this way, but c’est la vie! I might as well embrace it, right?

Well, in the past 7 years as I’ve worked to crack the SAT and ACT codes, I’ve also acquired a lot of really helpful knowledge in the areas around the tests. I’ve learned not just how to work through given questions, but also how to set a student up for success before ever opening a book to study. And today I get to share a little bit of that know-how with you!

I am so excited to share this episode of The College Checklist Podcast because I know firsthand the power of a well-planned testing timeline.

I see a lot of families make “rookie” mistakes when trying to go it alone because – well – parents only go through this process once per student. That’s not very much practice.

Also, a lot of the cookie-cutter advice that floats around the internet may not apply to your student for a wide array of different considerations.

Without proper guidance, you can cause your student unnecessary stress and waste their time and your money.

Being strategic is critical. I’ve advised hundreds of families regarding the very best testing timeline and the amazing thing is that no 2 plans look alike. Every student gets his or her own personal road map – and that is the key to success.

Because I’m so passionate about this topic, I’m thrilled to share that – starting today – I will be offering phone consultations to help all college-bound families that want help determining the very best testing timeline for their student. These are 100% free, no obligation phone calls with me – a test prep expert with over 7 years of experience! :)

I’m here for you and – if you’re interested – I’d love to chat. Fill in the form below, and I’ll be in touch!

Lauren Gaggioli


The College Checklist – How to Create a Stress-Free Testing Timeline

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Show Notes

The College Admissions Exams

3. The SAT Subject Exams

3 Considerations

1. What grade is your student in?
Juniors should have at least 1 test score on either the SAT or ACT before the end of junior year.
Sophomores can take the SAT and ACT if they are ready (see consideration #2).
See below for special considerations for the class of 2017.
2. What level math is your student taking?
SAT – covers up to Algebra 2 (does not include trigonometry)
ACT – covers trigonometry, conics, coordinate geometry, etc.
3. When are your student’s extracurricular activities held?
There are 13 test dates each year – 7 SAT test dates and 6 ACT test dates – so don’t feel like you are locked into any 1 particular test date. Choose your exam dates strategically to avoid conflicts.

How To Set Your Testing Timeline

1. Determine which test you want to take (first or perhaps only). 
2. Look at all of the dates side-by-side. 
3. Consider your busy seasons and determine the ideal test dates for you to take.
Don’t forget to think about sibling’s activities and family vacations too!
4. Block out when you’ll be taking SAT Subject Exams.

- Subject exams are content based so they feel like a final.
- You can take up to 3 subjects in one day.
- I recommend May & June exam dates for subject tests.
- Always try to double up where you can with any APs you’re taking.
- Some colleges or majors require specific tests, while others are opting out of requiring the SAT Subject exams. Do your research first because you might not have to take them. If you’re unsure, be sure to cover your bases with 2 scores you’re proud of.
5. Determine how you’ll prepare.
This is a very personal decision, of course. If you’d like any help weighing the options, feel free to give me a call! I’m happy to help!
6. Lock in your dates.
I recommend scheduling 2 back-to-back test dates. Listen to the episode to find out why!

Sample Timeline

I used my high school self as the template for this timeline. In my junior year, I was enrolled in Precalculus while participating in Mock Trial and the fall play in October and November and the Spring Musical from March to May. I also had AP and IB exams in May.

Knowing what I know now, I would recommend the following timeline for my high school self:
Junior Year
  • Prepare and take the SATs in either October and November OR January and March SAT
  • Take 3 SAT Subject Exams in May & June
Senior Year
  • Prepare and take the ACT in September & October
**If I needed another chance to take SAT Subject Exams, I would probably take them in November of Senior Year to free up time earlier in first semester to focus on my college applications.

Special Considerations for the Class of 2017

For the Class of 2017, I have it directly from the admissions office of 2 different universities that they will accept either the current SAT (2400 scale), new SAT (1600 scale), or the ACT. (Click here to learn more about the new SAT.)
The good news is that you have options. The bad news is that families that don’t have good information and guidance run the risk of doing too much work.
My goal is to reduce stress for your class as much as possible. If you want some personalized guidance, click here to get in touch with me.
To reduce the risk of having to do extra work, here are 2 potential testing timelines I would recommend:
Option 1 – The Early Bird
Sophomore Year – May & June 2400 SAT, maybe you take it a 3rd time in Fall of Junior Year
Junior Year – Focusing on your grades, GPA, Spring SAT Subject Exams (May & June)
Senior Year – ACT in Sept/October
Option 2 – Slow & Steady
Junior Year – Focusing on your grades, GPA, Spring ACT (February/April) SAT Subject Exams (May & June)
Senior Year – SAT (October/November)
Neither option is right or wrong. It all depends on what works best for your family!

I’m Here For You

If you need help, please let me know! There’s no need for you to go it alone!

www.higherscorestestprep.com/help

Let’s Get Social!

About Lauren Gaggioli

Lauren Gaggioli is the founder of Higher Scores Test Prep and the host of The College Checklist Podcast. After graduating from New York University with her B.F.A. in Theater, Lauren moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. To make time for auditions during the day, she called upon her academic roots from her high school days and began tutoring the SAT and ACT. She quickly fell in love – not with the exams, but with the feeling that she was helping students put their feet on a firm path towards a big, bright future.

After 7 years working as an in-home tutor with a large test prep firm and then in her own independent tutoring company, Lauren distilled her experiences into the personalized SAT test prep course that is now available through Higher Scores Test Prep. Lauren’s love of teaching and compassion for what students are facing in today’s complex, competitive college admissions landscape allows her to bring a little bit of calm to her corner of the college admissions process.

Saving for College Without Sacrificing Your Retirement with Roger Whitney (Episode 41)

"For college savings, start early. Start a 529 plan, work on your cash flow, and talk to your children about the purpose of college." - Roger WhitneyIn this episode of The College Checklist Podcast, I talk to my good friend Roger Whitney about his thoughts on saving for college.

Roger is the Retirement Answer Man and the host of the Plan Well, Invest Wisely podcast. Not only is Roger a retirement savings expert, he’s a father of two who just sent his eldest child off to his freshman year of college.

In this interview, Roger shares some great tips and strategies to help college-bound families ensure that they are covering the cost of college by planning well while making sure that they are not sacrificing their retirement in the process.

 


NOW OPEN!

The College Checklist Q&A Hotline

Do you have questions about the college admissions process? Not sure how to approach the SAT & ACT or how to pay for college?

No worries! Leave your voicemail on the hotline and I or one of our guests will answer it for you live on air!

Call now! (760) 913-7737


The College Checklist – Saving for College Without Sacrificing Your Retirement

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About Roger Whitney

Roger Whitney Roger Whitney is the Retirement Answer Man. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Investment Management Analyst, Certified Private Wealth Advisor, and Accredited Investment Fiduciary with 24 years of experience in the financial planning field. Roger has a passion for helping people make smart financial decisions and achieve that balance between living well today without sacrificing their tomorrow. He truly has the heart of a teacher and hosts the Plan Well, Invest Wisely podcast as a resource to those looking to learn more about how to save for their retirement.


Show Notes

Quotable Quotes

“What you need to start thinking about for retirement is to re-think what retirement is.”

“You want to run you financial life like a business.  You want to increase free cash flow.”

“For college savings, start early.  Start a 529 plan, work on your cash flow, and talk to you children about the purpose of college.”

Lightning Round Q&A

Q1: What’s your best piece of advice for families as they begin this journey?
A1: Involve your kids early in understanding the economic realities of paying for college and why they are going to college.

Q2: What is your favorite college admissions book, blog, or tool that no family should be without?
A2:  How To Pay For College HQ Podcast and Debt Free U by Zac Bissonnette*

Q3: What should a family who is overwhelmed by the college admissions process focus on?
A3: Take control, do what you can, and don’t think you have to do it all.

Q4: What is your all-time favorite book?
A4: The Bible and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand*

*These links are affiliate links through Amazon. You will not pay extra; however, we do receive a small reimbursement if you purchase through our links. Thank you for your support of The College Checklist Podcast!

Get in touch with Roger

Click here to hear Roger interview me about the SAT and paying for college!

Ways to Pay for College with Jay Benanav (Episode 40)

GPA and SAT or ACT scores are the 2 most important factors in determining merit aid." -Jay Benanav

In this episode of The College Checklist Podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jay Benanav. Jay is an independent college counselor who believes in a holistic approach to choosing a college. Jay recommends considering 3 key factors as you whittle down your college choices: academic fit, social fit, and cost.

First, Jay shares an overview of how he helps students choose good fit schools. We then do a deeper dive regarding the cost of college. Jay shares his expertise as we explore different ways to pay for college, including the various types of financial aid and loans available to families today.

 


NOW OPEN!

The College Checklist Q&A Hotline

Do you have questions about the college admissions process? Not sure how to approach the SAT & ACT or how to pay for college?

No worries! Leave your voicemail on the hotline and I or one of our guests will answer it for you live on air!

Leave your Questions Here – (760) 913-7737


The College Checklist Podcast – Ways to Pay for College

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Jay Benanav About Jay Benanav

Jay Benanav is an independent college counselor and the co-founder of the College Advisors Network. A self-professed “recovering lawyer”, Jay has practiced law and helped run successful businesses for over 30 years. He has a law degree from St. John’s Law School and has attended Harvard School of Government and Columbia University School of Business. He believes in helping families find the right academic, social, and financial fit.

 


Show Notes

Quotable Quotes

“Our strategy includes figuring out what people will pay for college and, more importantly, how not get into debt.”

“One of the most common reasons kids drop out of college is cost.”

“GPA and SAT/ACT score are the 2 most important factors in determining merit aid.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the colleges you are interested in.  You are buying a very expensive product.”

Lightning Round Q&A

Q1: What’s your best piece of advice for families as they begin this journey?
A1: Take a deep breath. Treat this like you would any major purchase. Take your time.

Q2: What is your favorite college admissions book, blog, or tool that no family should be without?
A2:  DIY College RankingsCollege Solutions, and a Google search of  “Common Data Set” + Name of the College

Q3: What should a family who is overwhelmed by the college admissions process focus on?
A3: Use all of the resources available to you.

Q4: What is your all-time favorite book?
A4: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin* and Joshua and Isadora by Michael Benanav*

*These links are affiliate links through Amazon. You will not pay extra; however, we do receive a small reimbursement if you purchase through our links. Thank you for your support of The College Checklist Podcast!

Get in touch with Jay


Are you enjoying The College Checklist Podcast? Let us know by leaving us a review on iTunes! Click here to review The College Checklist Podcast.

Health Tips for College Bound Students with Steve de la Torre (Episode 39)

Fitness pro Steve de la TorreFor this episode of The College Checklist Podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, fitness expert Steve de la Torre. Steve’s been a personal trainer in Orange County for years, but – due to a change in routine – he recently started working out in the mornings. When he told me the effect that this change up had in his level of focus throughout the day, I just knew I had to have him on the show.

Steve has a really great philosophy of balance that anyone can easily incorporate into his or her life. In this episode, Steve shares his advice about how high school students can boost their energy, focus, and academic performance with just a few simple, effective health tips, tips they can carry with them into college. We cover a lot of ground and will touch on the importance of exercise, nutrition, and sleep for today’s busy, college bound students.


NOW OPEN!

The College Checklist Q&A Hotline

Do you have questions about the college admissions process? Not sure how to approach the SAT & ACT or how to pay for college?

No worries! Leave your voicemail on the hotline and I or one of our guests will answer it for you live on air!

Leave your Questions Here – (760) 913-7737


The College Checklist Podcast – Health Tips for College Bound Students

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About Steve de la Torre

Steve de la Torre of Personal Training RevolutionSteve de la Torre is a fitness professional, entrepreneur, and podcaster. Steve is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to fitness and nutrition, mostly because he’s experienced being not healthy first hand. As he says on his website, he’s gone from fit to fat and back again. Steve has been a personal trainer in Orange County for over 12 years. He is also the founder of Personal Training Revolution and the host of the Fit Pro Inferno podcast.


Show Notes

In this episode, Steve and I discuss:

  • the importance of balanced nutrition
  • the importance of exercise
  • the benefits of morning workouts
  • the power of good sleep
  • tips to help you stick to your routine

Quotable Quotes

On Morning Workouts: “My mood shifted so dramatically by working out in the morning.  I was just on cloud 9.  I had incredible creativity and I was able to think fast.  I felt just amazing.”

On the Freshman Fifteen: “When kids go to college you can see the stress cycle in plain sight.”

Tip to help you follow through: “Recruit a friend that can keep you committed.”

Tip to keep you going: “Having enough water can boost your performance by 25%.”

Get in touch with StevE


Are you enjoying The College Checklist Podcast? Let us know by leaving us a review on iTunes! Click here to review The College Checklist Podcast.