Category Archives: Getting into college advise

New Futuro

So proud of what New Futuro has done! This is a great website!  Check it out.






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Julian Castro address the nation and mentions Cafe College

Last night Julian Castro,  the Mayor of San Antonio addressed the Democratic National Convention  praises President Obama’s support for Pell grants, DREAM Act. He also mentioned Cafe College,  a great idea  working in San Antonio, Texas.  As you enter the website find Julian encouraging you to go to college.  Check it out!

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New website to help with Financial Aid!


I just saw the new website the United States government has reformatted just for you!  I find it is  easy to navigate and gives you so much information on way to get yourself to college.

It covers the three main steps to make your dreams come true.

  1. Prepare in high school and in life
  2. Apply to college
  3.  Pay for college

“We want to give students and parents the information they need to make smart and affordable education choices. A big part of that is educating people on the most affordable way to finance a college education: federal student aid,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This new, easy-to-understand website will help families better navigate the process of planning and paying for college. And it will help students manage their loan payments after they graduate so they avoid falling into default.”

It is a great improvement on the past confusing sites.  Tell me what you think!

Student Aid

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Start paying your Student Loan

This is a great discussion on  Student Loan debt.  Remember that it is the best investment you are going to make.  Most people have to finance their education in order to pay the high costs of a college.  Take the time to learn how your student loan works. Great discussion on the student loan crisis with Robert Reich.

Student Loan

Check out Rebecca Jarvis from CBS who covers this topic with practical advise.  Take notes!

Practical advise about your student loans

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Common Core Standards are here and you need to know what they are!

There is a revolution in education and students, parents and teachers need to get with it! Have you heard of the Common Core Standards? The Common Core Standards set up a single set of clear educational standards for English language arts and mathematics for each grade level. Teachers are getting ready to implement these standards in the classroom in the coming years. As a parent and a student you need to know what they are and how they affect you. The most exciting piece of this is that these new standards are designed to make sure that students graduating from high school are prepared for college, work and success in the global economy. More on this in the NCLR report “Raising the Bar: Implementing Common Core State Standards for Latino Success. The mission of this movement involves having clear, understandable and consistent Standards students need to master in each grade so that teachers and parents know what they need to help them. As a student or as a parent you need to take a look at the expectations for the coming year. Click here for the official Common Core standards Initiative, an awesome website with all the information you need to know.

Yesterday I attended a really interesting lecture from the Latino Policy Forum called “Supporting the Success of Latino Students: the New Standards” by Dr. Aida Walqui. One of her main points is parents and students need to understand the economic need to attend college. Without at least some college, students will not be able to compete in the global economy. At the meeting the Latino Policy Forum released a new report: Shaping Our Future, Building a collective Latino K-12 Education Agenda. It is the roadmap and the research that we need to move ahead.

We all need to make education an obsession for our Latino community.

Advise of the week:

• Make a copy of the Common Core Standards for each grade you are going to study.

• Parents, students and teachers together have a step by step plan to make your goals

• Knowing what teachers expect to cover in the coming years will give you the guidelines to help your student or yourself.

• Knowing the standards will help you when you talk to a teacher about how you are progressing.

• The new standards are geared to make sure that you are prepared for your dream of college and to be successful not only locally but globally.

The more you know, the better you are so take a look at the Common Core Standards.


Filed under Getting into college advise, Latino Leadership, Latino News & Stats

New rules for undocumented students announced

Last Friday the news started to trickle out that President Obama had an executive order to defer action on the deportation of young undocumented students.  It was with joy that many of us received this news.  It has been 10 years since the Dream Act was proposed in the United States Senate by Senator Durbin. It is about time something be done on such a travesty.  It is a stop band-aid measure and what we need is comprehensive immigration reform pero algo es algo.

Through the years we have followed the twists and turns of this proposal and long awaited reform.  As educators we have long faced the injustice of the systems that excludes people.  It’s tough to be undocumented and to keep the faith in a country that wants to deport you if they find you. I have seen so many young people losing hope because they are undocumented and this gives us some hope. Some of the most outstanding driven students I know are undocumented. I have held hands and cried with people desperate to go to school and contribute to the United States but can’t because of a number.  I remember a couple of students that discover to their shock that they are undocumented when they applied to college.   Imagine living in a world that you can be caught and torn from your family at any moment.  It still bothers me that the Obama administration stepped up the deportation of one million people in the last 3 years. I am not naïve to understand that the November election played into this decision.  The Latino vote is critical in many swing states  so let’s continue flexing our muscle for the things we want.

Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:

1) Came to the United States under the age of 16;

2) Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;

3) Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

4) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

5) Are not above the age of 30. (From government website)

If you are undocumented student or know someone, pass this advice along.

  • Proceed with caution. It is still very early in the process so ask a lot of questions before you proceed.  This is a temporary measure for only two years. Official information from government click here.
  • Document your presence in the US. Take a class, take some photos etc.
  • Check with a lawyer.  Many people take the advice of friends and family members that might not know what they are talking about.  It is money well spent to consult a lawyer, a real lawyer, not a notario or others.
  • Keep going to school.  If you think about it, this is a reward for staying in school.  Get your GED if you don’t have a high school diploma.  There are programs in your area that can help you.
  • Find at least a class and enroll.  This will look very favorable in your application and you can prove that you were here.  Great time to perfect your English to thrive in the US.

Buena suerte and know that continuing in school will mark the difference in your life no matter what happens.

Ana Maria Soto

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Girls Rock the Mall in Washington DC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I have to share with you an incredible experience I had this past week.  I was in Washington DC to take part in the largest gathering of Girl Scouts in history  in Washington DC.  250,000, yes, quarter of a million, Girl Scouts gathered for Girls Rock the Mall on Saturday June 9th at the sacred grounds of the Washington Monument!  My own sister, Lidia Soto-Harmon, CEO of the Girl Scouts Council in the Nation’s Capital created and presented the event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts!  I was privileged to shadow my sister for the entire day of activities.  Imagine the responsibility of such a large event and she was the woman in charge. During Girls Rock the Mall, Lidia addressed the crowd 3 times, gave interviews to major national and international media outlets, and monitored the safety of the crowd with grace and enthusiasm. WOW! What an amazing leader! I was so proud to have my daughter and my nieces to see her in action. She truly is inspiring!

The Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of service to the world.  Women could not even vote 100 years ago!  It took one woman, Juliette Gordon Low to stand up and begin an organization that has given so much to the world.  I share the Girl Scout Law because it has summaries what we all need to do. Find a way to take part with the Girl Scouts by volunteering, running your own troop and having your girls participate. You and your young girls will learn values and leadership skills on a path to success.

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,

friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,

respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

As my sister Lidia reflected on leadership her words and actions resonated with me.  Leadership is about others, not you. It’s about pointing to a vision, a better place, and inspiring others to give of themselves. If everyone would bring out the best in others, in making others great, imagine the world we could have. My see my sister Lidia as such a leader.

Congratulation to the Girl Scouts on 100 year anniversary and especially to the favorite Girl Scout of all, Lidia Soto-Harmon!

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I don’t know what I want to do with my life!

One of the first steps in setting a goal for yourself is to know what your purpose in life is.  Many students I talk to have not really thought this out and it’s really hard to figure out without doing some of the work of knowing yourself and taking the challenge of dreaming big. Do not delay figuring out a field or area you want to focus on.  In the past, the first couple years of college give you the opportunity to try different fields and give you time to figure your focus.  But many people will not have that luxury and having a focus or field now will give you an edge over other students.

Some tips for students

  • Hey Students, it is your life!   You are responsible for your own life and your own future.  Parents can help and support but they can’t study for you.  In the long run, you are going to have to pay your own rent, buy your car and pay for own phone.
  •  Set a goal for yourself.  It’s really hard to get anywhere if you don’t know where you are going!  Set a goal and start working towards that goal.
  • Setting a goal is challenging.  Take these simple steps to figure out what you want to do.
  1. Take 30 minutes and write everything you love doing and things you are really good at.  Don’t over think it.  Anything that comes into your mind goes on the paper.
  2.  Examine your brainstorm.  See if there is a pattern to your ideas.  There might be a couple of areas you might want to consider.
  3.  Answer this question with the information you have on the paper: 5 years from now, what does your life look like?  What is the purpose to my life?
  • Start collecting experiences in the area you are interested in. Take every opportunity to find out more about your field.  Go on the internet and look up your field, how much people make in this field, what kind of schooling am I going to need.  Volunteer in the field. Try finding a job related to what you want to do. Find a professional association; go to events, lectures around this field.  Meet people in the field and ask questions.  As you gain experience, you will start to see things that you enjoy and things to hate doing.  Your experience will  inform your decisions.
  • Find your purpose. Everyone born on this earth has a purpose, a contribution to society and humankind.  Write down that purpose.
  • Check it out with friends and parents. Don’t be shy and tell the people who know you best what is your purpose.  Take their advice but be true to your own heart.
  • Find the best school to get the training you need, once you know what you want to do.

Knowing where you are going and taking action for your own life is the first step to a fulfilling life filled with exciting experiences, challenging goals and so much fun!

Con cariño,

Ana Maria Soto

La College Guru

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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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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


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