Category Archives: Getting into college advise

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


One of the things that I know for sure is Latinas need to support each other to make it.  I am so blessed with a great group of mujeres that have always given me their advice and support in all of life’s decisions.  Each of us has wisdom and resources to share across the world, especially using the web to create what I envision as a movement that will transform our life, our community, our country and the world.  Once Latinas get it, we are persistent, talented and ready to change our world!

I am honored to be “la College Guru” at the Latina Smart Facebook Wall!   I will be sharing advice on getting to college and beyond. You will also be able to post questions on education and I will answer on a weekly video blog!    We all have educational aspirations and dreams but there are strategic decisions that you will have to make along the way.  I have spent the last 20 years working in education and 14 of those years in higher education.  This past year I worked at New Futuro  and created  workshops that teach Latinos how to prepare, apply and pay for college.  Over 3000 people in the Chicago region attended the series of workshops!

I know the challenges and the dreams of our community.  I hope to show you step by step the way to a better life with a college education.  I believe that there is an educational option after high school for every person in this country.  It is going to take hard work but that never scared a Latino.

I created this blog for you and this is your opportunity to ask lots of questions, share your life experiences, take part to the fullest so we can together become the smart Latinas that we were meant to be.  So consider me your friend, your advisor and together with the partnership of Latina Smart, we will celebrate your achievements, present super Smart Latinas, and urge you to reach for a better life for you and your family. Together we can do it.  Juntas Salimos Adelante!

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