Monthly Archives: May 2012

What to do this summer to prepare for college

Congratulations! Graduating is another step towards being fully independent! 

I know many of you have put a lot more thought into the prom dress than your future.  Now summer is here and you need to get ready for college.  Take a deep breath and know that it is never too late to start working on your dreams of going to college and summer is a great time to get ready. College mostly starts in September and hopefully you have been admitted.  Here are things you can do this summer to prepare.

College is harder than high school.  If you had difficulty in high school know that college is the next level up.  Hundreds of people are not ready for college level work but in just a summer you can learn enough to make the transition easier. This summer find a tutoring center, a prep course, an online course such as in the Khan Academy to prepare you for college especially in the dreaded math and writing, essentials for a great college career.

Start reading lots and lots.  There are great books in your library for free.  If books are too long for you find a couple of magazines that interest you.  You will be assigned tons of reading so get used to it.

Don’t let fear and self-doubt stop you.  Start pretending you can do it, and all of a sudden you are actually doing it.  Like I always say “Fake it till you make it.” Stand up to yourself, shake it off and get a new attitude.

But its summer, it’s time to have fun and I just don’t have the discipline to study?  Try this.  It’s called time boxing.  Get a timer and say ok I will do this for half an hour and then I will take a break and do something I want to do.  Work furiously just for that half hour.  When the buzzer goes off, evaluate, can you finish this is another 15 minutes?  Do I want to dash the momentum I have on the project?  I you just can’t stand it anymore go ahead and take a break.  You will be surprised how much you get accomplished and how many times it’s all you needed is to get started.

Visit your new college! Go to all orientation events at your college and meet your counselors. Summer is a little more relaxed around a college campus and it’s a great time to find our counselor and get to know them.  Take a little token of friendship, a single flower or a cookie will make you stand out.  When there are opportunities like a special scholarship or a great class, you will be the first to know. Check out the Tutoring Center, the Library, the Student Success Center, the Multicultural Affairs Office, and the Student Activities Office. All these people are there to help you but you need to take the first step.  Introduce yourself, ask them what they do, leave your new business card, get on any list serve or email list for their department. 

Ask about student work-study opportunities.  If you qualify for the federal program called work-study, you need to find a job on campus in fall.  Summer is a great time to scope out the jobs that will be available and make some contacts so when the time comes you are set!

Get your tool kit ready.  Order business cards from a free service as Vistaprint, get an email that is professional, and get that resume in the best shape you can.

The door is open, all you have to do is prepare for the challenges, work on it each day by pushing yourself and prepare to have the time of your life in college.  Write to me with questions and comments at

 La College Guru

Ana María Soto




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Filed under Getting into college advise, Opportunities & Events

10 things to know about going to Community College

So you are going to community college!  Good for you.  So many people take this route but it can have its pitfalls. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about your choice. Get all you can from the community college and move on in your college career.

  1. The dropout rate at community colleges is dismal.  Only 1 in 4 students actually graduates from a community college! Don’t be one of the dropouts.  Check out an article here that explains some of the issues with community colleges.
  2. Prepare your move from the first day. Make sure you start preparing your move to a 4 year university and you have your plan in place.
  3. Choose your college for yourself not what your friends are doing. Take charge of your life; it is your responsibility. Friends, Mami and Papi are not in charge of your life, you are!
  4. Be determined to succeed in getting your bachelor’s degree.  Once you decide your target transfer college and your mayor, you need a little planning.  On the college website, look for the transfer guide and print it.  This is your map.  Take the classes that are listed on the transfer guide only.
  5. Register for your classes the first few minutes they come available.  Many of the classes you need fill up quickly. Find out the best way to get in.
  6.  Don’t give up easily.  If you don’t get the class you need, take initiative and ask for an exception from an administrator or teacher.  You will stand out from the crowd if you ask.
  7. Make college the priority.  Clear the decks and take it seriously. Lower grades do not transfer.
  8. Get a job that fits your goals, not the other way around.  Find a job that allows you to study or a boss that is supportive of your mission.
  9. Find the college counselor and make them your friend.  Introduce yourself and leave your résumé with the counselor.
  10. Get into a college success class.  Many colleges offer these courses for you to learn how to make it in college.  This course should offer opportunities to work on your transfer plan.

Buena Suerte!

Ana María Soto

La College Guru

Write to me at


Filed under Getting into college advise, Latino Leadership, Opportunities & Events

Share Power by Marlene Gonzalez


1.-Model Success. Look around your organization; study the leadership methods of great leaders and how they share power to empower other.

2.-Determine Competency Level. Focus on a few critical competencies or behavior. It allows you to invest the right amount of time and energy.

3.-Set Clear Expectations. It is critical to set expectation and direction; as well as mutually agreed to goals, date lines and desired outcomes.

4.-Communicate Boundaries. It helps the person understand his or her limits and restrictions when accountable for the project.

5.-Allow Cross-Cultural Pollination. Share ideas, options and discrete feedback as often as possible to increase awareness, creativity and flexibility for different ways of thinking and doing things.

6.-Give them a Chance. Give employees opportunities to grow in their areas of expertise, and in general business knowledge that enables them to act in the best interest of the organization and its customers.

7.-Get Out of the Way. Give people room to maneuver; but be vigilant, being too hands off may have negative effects. You need to strike for a good balance.

8.-Encourage Risk Taking. Giving power to people also means risks. Help them get out of their conform zone and take educated risks. Make a conscientious effort to have employees gain experience, recognition and validation for their contributions.

9.-Be a Match Maker. Help them make the right connections by introducing them to people, networks, or contacts that may help them along the way.

10.-Create a “Power Sharing Environment”. The right environment supports people achieve their highest potential and be capable of acting on their own initiative.

Marlene González, is founder and president of Life Coaching Group LLC. She is a leader in the cutting edge industry of executive coaching, consulting and training. Her organization is dedicated to “developing leaders as a catalyst for corporate growth and a source of intellectual capital”™. Educate Latina is so proud to have her as a contributor.


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Filed under Contributors, Latino Leadership, Uncategorized

Mothers can help her kids get to college

May is my favorite month since I get to go to many graduations and I celebrate mothers all month-long.  This week, I was proud to attend my brother’s graduation from law school and I wondered what a mother can do to help a kid excel in school and see them graduate from college.  Mothers are so influential in our lives. Many credit their mothers for making it all the way. I know my mother has always been so supportive of each of my steps to college.

Here are some tips on how to encourage your kids if you are a mother.

Start early. Parents who set expectations high for their kids on the very first day of  pre-school do better. Everyone believes in education but saying the words is simply not enough. Take action by setting up a college fund when they are born, even $25 a month sends the message that this is something you expect!  If possible, start them in school as early as you can. Pre-school sets children on a path to learning.  As they grow start telling them that you believe in them, that you will help them get to college and you expect them to excel in school, demand good grades, dream big and stay on top of them.

Be involved.  Being involved in your kid’s school will give you a first row seat to the great programs and scholarships that are available. Know your kids teachers, join parent programs and help around school.  Even when you are tired from a long day at work, going to the parent meeting will set you and your kids on path to success by getting information others never hear about.

Be a role model.  Take a class yourself, read a book, go to a museum, teach them as you run errands. This all send the message that learning is important and you care about it.   More than hearing what you say, they follow what you do.

READ READ READ.  Get the reading bug and set up  reading time in your house.  Turn off the novela and do some reading out loud!  How many books do you have in your house?  We are so blessed to have a free library system so there is no excuse not to have books around.

Watch your words. Words you say might bring self-doubt. You might think that you are protecting your kids my giving them a dose of reality but kids receive them as negative messages that will create barriers as kids grow. Never tell them they are dumb or lazy, they will believe you.

Wishing you a wonderful journey as a mother and a student to reach your best life!  Feliz Día de las Madres.

Ana María Soto

La College Guru

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Ten tips to rock it at work




  1.    Follow your bliss. It is not the path to becoming rich. However, that does not mean that you must spend your life doing a job you hate in order to earn a good wage.
  2.  Acknowledge tradeoffs. There are some sacrifices you would have to make such as relocating, traveling or working the night shifts.
  3.  Produce more. Those who produce more results are paid more.
  4.   Combine the best of two worlds. At work males are more practical, take more risks and complete more projects; women look for approval, support and connection.
  5.  Ask for a promotion, project or special assignments. Men feel more comfortable asking for promotions and have higher job aspirations. By and large, they are still the family breadwinners. Women don’t receive more promotions because they don’t ask for them.
  6. Take on bigger responsibilities. Those who assume more responsibility earn more than those who have a more limited perception of their roles.
  7. Travel extensively on the job. Traveling for work is unappealing to many people because it takes them away from their families, so companies pay more to those who are willing to hit the road.
  8. Tenure matters. Continuous years of service in a company make a difference in organizational pay scale.
  9.  A line of work makes a difference. To earn more, choose your line of work carefully. Women in male-dominated fields advance more quickly and earn as much or more. Women who are in supporting roles, manufacturing or services earn less.
  10.  Be self-assured. Self-respect comes from your strength, not from your fears or weakness. Self-esteem comes from believing and trusting yourself. And self-worth comes from knowing what you are worth.

Marlene González, is founder and president of Life Coaching Group LLC. She is a leader in the cutting edge industry of executive coaching, consulting and training. Her organization is dedicated to “developing leaders as a catalyst for corporate growth and a source of intellectual capital”™. Educate Latina is so proud to have her as a contributor.

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Filed under Contributors, Latino Leadership

Get yourself a PLAN!

How many times have you heard planning is essential to success?  It is so much easier to go by the fly and just tackle each task at the last minute when you have time to focus on your plan to go to college.  We have all been there; procrastination gets the best of us. I have tried desperately to finish my college essay the night before or even worse, letting deadlines pass without sending the paperwork!

I am here to tell you that you need a plan to make this dream come true.  The plan is going to be your guide, step by step, on how to prepare, apply and pay for college.  It’s a long road ahead. I will tell you the truth; it’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Create a plan for yourself.  This plan will help you to set your dream, to organize the path to your dream and then implement each step.  It’s always so daunting sees all the steps you need to take to get to college!  The tip I can share is that one step at a time, will get you there.

Set time aside say every Sunday night to work on your plan.

Get organized with a binder with sections for applications, letters of recommendation, financial aid section, scholarships to apply and other sections you might need.

Deadlines are key.  One of the easiest mistakes students make is missing deadlines.  In college, deadlines are very important. As most opportunities are competitive, the easiest way to narrow the field of applicants is to enforce a deadline.  I guess that is why the call them deadlines, if you miss it you are dead!  Send applications in a month before they are due, so you are sure to be in the running to get into college or receive a scholarship.

Follow Up.  One of the most valued habits that you need to develop is following through.  It is incredible that you would do all the necessary steps and forget to send the application in!  Or when you need a recommendation or an official transcript, and you just sit and wait for a teacher to answer an email.  Know that sending an email is just the first step, you need to call the person, get confirmation that what you need has been done, check that it was received, all before the deadline.  This is the kind of persistence that will pay off.

I am here for you.  I will answer any questions about your journey to college.


Ana María Soto

La College Guru


Filed under Getting into college advise

DREAMS WILL COME TRUE if you work on them!

                 We all have dreams.  Some have dreams that they dare put into action, others dream quietly and never do anything about it.  We need to learn how to dream BIG, and wholeheartedly! Often, we create our own roadblocks because we believed somebody else’s opinion rather than our own, or because we were so tied up in our own problems and challenges we didn’t realize that we can achieve far more than we ever thought possible.  True leaders rise above their own problems to become role models for others.

Going to college is a dream that so many of us dare to dream. In the famous Pothole study,   researchers at the University of Chicago found  that Latinos systematically lower their expectations!  Many Latino students went to a community college instead of a four-year university because they didn’t know how to dream big and take risks.  Don’t be one of them, dream big and make a plan to make it happen!

Here are some tips to get you going:

Visualize yourself going to college.  Ok, take a deep breath and know in your heart that this is for you! World-class athletes and anyone that has to perform under pressure use this technique.  Take a few minutes every day to see yourself in college, sitting at a desk, carrying your books, and making new friends! And you’ll meet some cute guys, too!

Write down your goals and plans.  Date and review your goals at least twice a month to see how you are doing.

Get a club started. Working with a group of chicas who share your goal of going to college will give you strength and partners.  You know how sometimes we won’t even go to the bathroom without our BFFs; well, this is a chance to form a solid bond and help each other to achieve your goals.  Choose your college chicas club carefully.  Pick chicas that have good grades, are serious about the future and hold each other accountable.

Find a mentor that will help you DREAM big.  Find a tia, a prima or a teacher, that can help you and inspire you.

So next week I will talk about EL PLAN.  This is the strategic plan that will get you to where you want to go. Set the PLAN in motion for you: Yes! You can go to college, and get a better life for yourself!

Con mucho cariño,

La College GURU


Filed under Getting into college advise, Uncategorized