Archive for the ‘College & Career’ Category

Service learning for students subject of next College Knowledge lunch workshop

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Join us for the next College Knowledge lunch break on Thursday, April 24 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm. PEF Volunteer Coordinator Kate Skonberg will help participants learn how strategic volunteering can help students set themselves apart from the crowd.  It’s a competitive world, but through volunteering, students can gain valuable job skills, become eligible for scholarships, build career networks, and grow as a person.  Attendees will learn specific ways to find service learning and volunteer opportunities in Chattanooga and techniques toward maximizing each opportunity.

Register online today; a buffet lunch is available for $5 with advance registration only.

Applications open for Camp College 2014

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

There’s nothing quite like spending time on a college campus to jump start your plans for life after high school. For rising seniors, our Camp College initiative provides insight, guidance, support, and information for students and their families.

Camp College starts with a planning retreat on the beautiful Sewanee: The University of the South campus from July 17-19, 2014.  Admissions officers and college advisors from across the southeast work with students in small groups and one-on-one to cover all aspects of the college application and financial aid processes. Sessions include scholarship essay writing, college searches, and a mini-college fair, as well as opportunities to meet other students and preview campus life. Parents/guardians are invited to attend a financial aid workshop during the weekend – transportation is available for those planning to attend.

Students and volunteer group leaders will be housed in a dorm on Sewanee’s campus, just 45 minutes from Chattanooga. Transportation, rooms, meals, and materials are all paid by PEF, Sewanee, and other generous sponsors. For accepted students, there will be a $25 non-refundable enrollment fee.

Camp College will host up to 40 rising seniors who meet the following criteria:

  • Be on track to graduate in 2015;
  • Have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; and
  • Have financial need and/or be the first in your family to attend college.

Applications are due by April 4 and participants will be selected by a committee of PEF staff members, community volunteers, and business leaders. Email us for more information – and apply today!

- Janice Neal, Program Associate

Spring College Knowledge series continues

Friday, January 31st, 2014

For many, the road to college seems confusing, intimidating, overwhelming and costly. Have no fear! PEF is here to help with our College Knowledge Lunch Breaks.

These FREE monthly sessions from noon to 1 pm offer knowledge about college to adults who work with or advise students on their journey to post-secondary education (parents, guardians, mentors, coaches, counselors, etc.).

Topics include:

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - Resume Writing & Interviewing Skills
  • Thursday, March 13, 2014 - ACT/SAT: That is the Question
  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 - The Importance of Volunteering
  • Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - Support Students with Disabilities
  • Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - Parents, You Are Now A Passenger

Register online for these sessions – we can provide lunch for $5 or you may bring your own.  For more information, contact Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President of College & Career Success by email or 423-648-4443.

We’d love your help advertising these events; download a copy of the College Knowledge Flyer to distribute. 

College Knowledge workshop series continues with Financial Aid 101

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

A new year means new opportunities to learn! Our FREE College Knowledge lunch breaks resume at noon on Thursday, January 16 with Financial Aid 101.

Applying for financial aid is a very important step for many students. There is no escaping the fact that college costs are rising. Financial aid is intended to make up the difference between what your family can afford to pay and what college costs. More than half of the students currently enrolled in college receive some sort of financial aid to help pay college costs.

At this hour-long workshop, you’ll learn how the financial aid system works and how it can bridge the gap between what families can afford and the rising costs of college.

Rebecca Smith from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga is the guest presenter and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this session for parents, advisors, counselors, and anyone wishing to support students as they plan for post-secondary education.

As always, you can reserve a lunch for $5 or bring your own.  Register online today to reserve your space!

- Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President of College and Career Success

Free conference on Jan 25: College Goal Tennessee 2014

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Join us for a FREE conference - “College Goal Tennessee 2014: Engineering Your Success

January 25th from 9:00am-1:00pm (registration opens at 8:30)
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga - University Center
E. 5th Street    Chattanooga, TN 37403

Register at

College Goal Tennessee 2014: Engineering Your Success is a free half-day conference (lunch provided), providing beneficial topics on financial literacy, choosing the right major, managing anxiety in college, social and emotional barriers to academic success, trends in college admissions and others. This conference is geared for high school students, college students, parents and educators (teachers, school counselors and advisors) and will confront real topics that affect the persistence of students in college.

At this conference, as part of College Goal Tennessee, free on-site assistance to file the Free Application For Student Aid (or FAFSA, required for all federal and state aid recipients) for high school seniors and current college students will be available (conference attendance is not required for FAFSA assistance).

Download a copy of the conference schedule

Sponsored by PEF, UTC, Young and Wiser, Inc., & SACAC

Download a PDF copy of the flyer below to share

College Going Saturday 2014 flyer

Meet Erin Jones, College Bound! at Lee University

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Editor’s note: this post is part of our College Bound! students series.  Throughout the year, you’ll hear about their experiences and catch a glimpse of college life through their updates.

Erin is in the striped dress, standing with girls from her dorm.

I have to say that there is far too much to just pick one thing that I like the best about Lee University. However, I think one of my top answers would be the community. I live in a dorm with community-style bathrooms, which means I have to walk down the hallway to shower or go to the bathroom that I share with about 20 other girls. I thought I was going to absolutely hate that, but in fact living in a dorm where you share everything with a group of girls is the best part! We have such a good community on our hall, our doors are always open, we are always sharing clothes, and it’s like having a sleep over every single night. I highly recommend staying in a community-style dorm as a freshman. But it’s not only in the dorms, everywhere on campus there is this feeling of community and home. There is always some event going on or even just studying in the Student Union, that allows you to interact with more and more people. I met so many people just sitting and studying out on the lawn. Even the professors are welcoming and encourage us to build relationships with them. I stop by my adviser’s office quite a bit, just to chat and talk about how I like things here at Lee.

However, my least favorite things would have to be the curfew and the cost of laundry. As a freshman here at Lee, I have a curfew of 12 am on weekdays and 1 am on the weekends that I stay in the dorm. I understand why it is necessary, but sometimes time can slip away from you when you’re out having fun with friends and you find yourself sprinting back to the dorm to make curfew check. Also, having to pay for my laundry is something that I do not enjoy at all. I mean, I’m a broke college student after all!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss home at all, because after your fourth cafeteria meal during the week I really start to miss a nice home-cooked meal! However, I don’t miss home as much as I thought I would. I enjoy the freedoms that I have living on my own. It is an invigorating feeling, knowing that everything that you do is entirely left up to you! I decide if I want to go out one night or stay in, I no longer need to ask permission.

I am pretty much in love with everything here at Lee University. I love the community. I absolutely adore my roommate, she is practically my best friend now. However, I do have lots of friends where that is not the case and they still love it here as well. I have made so many friends and gotten so close to people in the span of about 3 months, that I feel like I have known these people my whole life. I also love the opportunities that we have here at Lee. There is literally a club for everything here from service, to one of the many choirs, or even to the film society, where all they do is put on movie showings with free food and discuss them afterwards. There is a graduation requirement here of having completed 80 hours of community service and it is truly amazing how fast you can get that done. There are always service projects going on, I myself have already been on 3 and have a total of 25 hours already. I traveled to Nashville one weekend to work with Feed the Children and we helped send out over 2,000 packages of food, toiletries, and emergency supplies to families in the South in need of these things. I also joined an intramural doubles tennis team and took second place in the tournament. I’m sure it’s true with any campus that there are always activities going on, but here at Lee there seems to be something to do every night.

The classes are also incredible. I am part of the Kairos Honors program here at Lee and so I have the opportunity to be in small, discussion based classes with around 12 other students. However, my regular classes don’t usually exceed around 50 students and I always feel like my professors have a good idea of who everyone is and they are always willing to answer your questions and let you voice your opinions.

I guess if there was one piece of advice that I would give to high school seniors, it’s that don’t slack off that last year. I feel like I didn’t study as much as I could have senior year and so it was hard for me to get into a good study routine in the first few weeks of college. It only took one bad test grade though for me to realize that unlike high school, whether or not I get an education is entirely up to me. I had to remember that one of the most important parts of college was the education and knowledge I would gain from class. So while it is easy to get carried away with all the social activities that are out there on campus every night, I have to make the tough choice to stay in and study on some nights.

- Erin Jones

Meet Taylor Lewis, College Bound! at The New School

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Editor’s note: this post is part of our College Bound! students series.  Throughout the year, you’ll hear about their experiences and catch a glimpse of college life through their updates.


Choosing The New School was a surprise to me. I applied to many schools and was accepted to over half of them. It was a tough decision. At the time I was determined to pursue journalism. I figured I would either go to New York City or a world renowned school of journalism. When the time came to decide location won over reputation. Now I go to a school whose name I have to explain every time I utter the words.

It’s worth it though. I’ve been at The New School for almost three months now, and I can honestly say they are some of the best three months I’ve ever spent anywhere. Starting out, I didn’t expect to like all my classes, and I didn’t. I dropped the one class I didn’t like and switched to one I am still currently enjoying. Now I am extremely happy with my schedule. The one thing that stood out to me was the ease of switching classes, and the guidance I received from the school’s staff. The level of freedom I feel like I have really helps make me feel independent in a positive manner, especially when I am in a situation where I am not taken care of by someone when I get home.

I’m glad that I’m here, and I don’t regret my decision at all. I did expect to get homesick after a while, but it still hasn’t hit me. I miss my family and my dogs and my friends, but I’ve accepted NYC as my new home. I’ve accepted the friends I’ve made here as my new family. I think that’s why I don’t miss Chattanooga as much as I thought I would. One thing I do miss though is being able to look outside of a window and see mountains, nature, and even the sky (it’s sometimes blocked by the buildings). I have gotten a little used to it though, and I even like it. I pay much more attention to architecture here just because it is everywhere and you run out of things to look at.

Furthermore, New York City isn’t exactly as I pictured it. My family and friends were worried I would be overwhelmed seeing as I had never been to the city before, but they were wrong. My dorm is in the East Village and it’s a nice, quaint area. There aren’t people bustling to get to school or work everywhere (however, if you go uptown to Times Square it’s a completely different story). I have already adapted to this new environment and it wasn’t hard at all.

My dorm feels like home now. I wake up every morning and go to sleep every night with a clear view of the Empire State Building. I am constantly reminded of where I am, but it still feels like home. Both my roommates and suitemates are great. I don’t necessarily see us all as a family, but we are able to live together in relative peace. I prefer that way too. It’s hard to live with your friends (I know this because I’ve become close friends with one of my roommates). Either way though, you work it out. You communicate.

I’d tell high school seniors now, no matter your plans, work on your communication skills with people. Not just peers or adults, but everyone. I know it’s cliché but the universe isn’t going to hand you everything you want. If you know how to talk to people, and present yourself in accordance with the situation then that’s what will get you places. That’s how you get the things you want; build relationships with people. You don’t have to know their life story, but at the very least know their name.

- Taylor Lewis

Meet Emily Horton, College Bound! at Boston University

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Editor’s note: this post is part of our College Bound! students series.  Throughout the year, you’ll hear about their experiences and catch a glimpse of college life through their updates.

Boston University is everything that I have expected it to be. After telling most people in Chattanooga that I decided to go out of state for school, they answered with “Wow! Congratulations, but isn’t that far away?” My answer, after being in Boston for 8 weeks, is yes. I have friends who can decide spontaneously to go home for an afternoon, who run into friends from high school at Urban Outfitters or the North Face store, and who don’t understand that I need figure out Thanksgiving plans since I am not going home. My school is around 1,000 miles away from Chattanooga. I can’t just come home for a weekend to do laundry and give my parents a long hug, but I get to constantly be in a place where every moment is an adventure.

I can get up in the mornings and run through a bustling city, finding new routes and explore quaint side streets. I can spend my hours studying out on a public dock overlooking the Charles River and Harvard’s campus. I can take the T (Boston’s subway system) to Government Center, walk the Freedom Trail, and discover the most authentic Italian baguettes in a sketchy alleyway in the North End (Boston’s Little Italy).

I have found that I needed to leave Chattanooga to truly find myself. Being in a place where every street corner is a new one, I have learned to find security not in my surroundings, but in my friendships. From exploring the city into the early morning to 11pm chemistry study sessions to TV show marathons to 1 am texts about nothing, I have found people that I can count on in any situation. Starting with no friends gave me the incentive to dedicate myself to these brand new relationships, not merely hiding within the preexisting constrains and comforts of those from high school.

Going this far away from home isn’t for everyone though. There are definite benefits to staying close to family, friends, and Chattanooga. But, while looking for a school, don’t discount it because it lies outside the range you were expecting to go. Often the most unexpected places yield experiences, friendships, and even majors that you can’t get anywhere else. So take a chance, go out on a limb, visit a school, find where you fit, and then decide how close really is close to home. Maybe the opportunity to create a new home somewhere you once considered exotic is just as comforting as staying close to Chattanooga. It isn’t distance that matters, but how much your heart soars when you step onto a campus. Because isn’t home where the heart is, anyway?

- Emily Horton

College Knowledge recap: Financial Planning Mistakes

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Do you know how much it currently costs to go to college?  Here is the in-state tuition rate for just ONE YEAR of college at a handful of Tennessee schools from Full-time student fees and room and board (if applicable) are included.

University of Tennessee – Knoxville            $20,364
University of Tennessee – Chattanooga      $16,883
Vanderbilt University                                       $57,072
Belmont University                                            $38,550
Chattanooga State                                               $3,870

Surprised?  That’s why PEF is hosting monthly College Knowledge Lunch & Learn sessions so parents can be better informed.  The November session was titled “Top 10 Financial Mistakes Parents make when planning for College”.  Liz Marr, with Chattanooga’s UBS Financial Services, Inc. led the session. Here are Ms. Marr’s top 10 tips on how to avoid the mistakes most parents make when planning for their children’s college tuition:

1)  Failure to set specific goals for college expenses

This is the most common mistake.  College planning must be specific with a date and an amount.  Here is a goal to set.  “I will accumulate  ____ in a college savings account by _____ when my child graduates from high school.”

2)  Failure to set a specific plan to reach those goals

Work backward from your goal and precisely assess how much money should be saved and invested each year to reach your goal.

3) Failure to seek professional advice

Work with a professional financial planner, certified public accountant or investment advisor to reach your goals.

4)  Failure to make time your ally

Start early and take advantage of the power of compounding.  Use the Rule of 72.  How long does it take your money to double?  Divide 72 by the growth rate.  For example if your money earns 7% interest it will take 10.2 years to double.

5)  Failure to use tax-advantaged investments

Here are some examples of college savings plans and the contribution limits for the year 2013.  There are income limits for some of these plans.  Talk to an investment advisor to determine the right plan for you.

  • Coverdell Education Savings Account – Up to $2,000 per year in after tax contributions can be made in a child’s name until they reach the age of 18.
  • 529 College Savings Plans – An individual can gift up to $14,000 per year into this account for the benefit of a child ($28,000 for married couples) without triggering the federal gift tax.  Accelerated gifting is an option.
  • Prepaid Tuition Plans – An individual can gift up to $14,000 per year into this account for the benefit of a child ($28,000 for married couples) without triggering the federal gift tax.  Accelerated gifting is an option.
  • Custodial Accounts UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) & UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) – An individual can gift up to $14,000 per year into this account ($28,000 for married couples) without triggering the federal gift tax.
  • EE Savings Bonds – purchase at 1/2 their maturity rate and slowly increase toward that amount.

6) Deviating from the plan

Make saving for your children’s college tuition a priority.  Have the money taken out of your check automatically each month, so you won’t miss it.

7)  Failure to realistically consider inflation

Ibbotson Associates data from 1926 to 2012 shows inflation rates to be about 3% per year.  $15,000 at a 3% inflation rate in 15 years would be $23,369.   But educational expenses can go up much higher than the inflation rate, so be sure to plan for that.

8) Failure to judge the economic cost/benefit choice of college

Help your children choose a college that matches your family’s lifestyle:  the price of college = the economic profile of your family.  Also be sure to plan for graduate school costs if your child plans to get a master’s degree.

Talk with college counselors about school choices.   Consider your child’s major.  Would a private school with higher tuition make sense with your child’s future job plans?  Would two years at a community college be more reasonable?

9)  Assuming too much debt to pay for college

It is not uncommon for college students to leave school with $100,000 in debt. What does that do to their quality of life?  Can they get a good start with that debt burden?

If you are planning to help your child pay off their college debt, recognize it may be at the same time you are planning to retire and consider what your retirement income will be.

Just because you can borrow money doesn’t mean it makes sense to do it.

10)  Failure to share the challenges of paying for college with your student and family

Make sure your children know paying for college has an economic impact on your family, that it will be a team effort and that your child will be part of the solution.

  • Children can help out by:
  • Saving money for college
  • Getting good grades to try to get a scholarship
  • Applying for financial aid
  • ŸWorking a job while attending college

Here are several more helpful hints when planning for your child’s college tuition.

  • Talk with your high school’s college counselor and PEF College Advisor.
  • Talk to the admission and financial aid offices of the colleges your child is interested in attending.
  • ALWAYS apply for financial aid.  Don’t assume you won’t be eligible.
  • When filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) use the guide available online to help you know what assets you should and should not include and ask for help if needed.
  • Encourage your child  to apply for scholarships.
  • Submit everything ON TIME! Missing deadlines can be a costly mistake.

Help your student get into college by attending the next FREE PEF College Knowledge Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, December 10.  The session is titled “Postsecondary Options”.

“With increasing demands of the 21st-century workforce, there is little question that all students should be prepared for college, careers and life. College is starting to be defined as any post-secondary institution where a student can get a high quality degree, certificate, or other credential to help them pursuit of a career. Now, nearly every good job requires some post-secondary education and/or training – such as an associates or bachelor’s degree, certificate, license, or completion of an apprenticeship or significant on-the-job training. Come learn about the opportunities that are available in Chattanooga through Wacker, Volkswagen and other programs that can lead your student to a successful career.”

Join PEF from noon to 1:00 p.m. at CHATTANOOGA STATE.  Go to for more details.  You can reserve lunch for just $5 or bring your own.  PEF will host more of these FREE College Knowledge sessions in the spring of 2014.

- Scottie Goodman Summerlin

Cross-posted with permission from Tennessee Valley Parents

Meet Antinea Jones, College Bound! at Sewanee

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Editor’s note: this post is part of our College Bound! students series.  Throughout the year, you’ll hear about their experiences and catch a glimpse of college life through their updates.

Hi, I’m Antinea Jones and I’m a freshman at The University of the South: Sewanee. For me, college was never merely a choice of yes or no. In middle school my mom made it pretty clear that education was always my first priority. I went to Hixson High School for the first three years of high school and switched to Brainerd High School my senior year.  It was a huge difference for me, but I pulled through with the help of a handful or friends and teachers. I decided what college I wanted to attend the summer before senior year. I came to Sewanee for an all-expense-paid summer program and from then on, I knew I had to come here. With the help of Anne Choyce (Brainerd’s College Advisor), Rachel Kelly (Girls Inc. Program Coordinator) and Hannah Vann (Girls Inc. Program Manager), I got into Sewanee with a full ride. I also had tons of help from Jessica Hardy and Lisa Burns during my admissions process, and to all of them, I am truly grateful.

I knew Sewanee wouldn’t be the easiest college, but I told myself I could handle it. I went from being a straight “A” student in high school to a “C” student in college. I got my very first politics paper back with a “C” and I cried for 5 minutes listening to sad Demi Lovato music. I picked myself up and decided to talk to my teacher about why I had a “C” and it did make a lot more sense. I didn’t get my grade changed, but I know what to do in a college-level essay as opposed to a high school essay.

I love absolutely everything about Sewanee; there’s nothing I don’t like.  Even when the weather is really rainy or snowy I love it. Since Sewanee was my first choice, I am grateful to be here. I love the friendliness of the people and the help from professors.  Even the dining hall workers are friendly and helpful. Recently for lunch there was bacon-wrapped filet mignon. I’m living the life up here! I am not the least bit homesick.  All I miss is a nearby shopping mall but people up here are always excited about taking road trips to Chattanooga or Nashville to shop, so I’m not really missing anything.

Being here is all around amazing. My roomie is from Memphis and her name is Alexis and we’re perfect together. When we see each other from far away we yell each others name enthusiastically then we run to each other for hugs. I love her so much. Sewanee is generally pretty good about roommate matches. My dorm is amazing.  It was just renovated a couple years back so everything in it is new and it is so nice.  Freshman generally get the best dorms that are located in central campus. I’m a pre-medicine major in biology with a minor in Spanish and I’ll be declaring that my sophomore year.  We have classes like Science of Cooking which is like chemistry but with food you get to eat, and it counts as a science credit.

I’m currently working at The Globe Cafe, A Mexican restaurant, because I don’t have work study.  I’m a Arcadian (a person who gives tours of the campus), MOBster (a member of the Multicultural Outreach Board to reel in new students of all races), APO member (a community frat that actually has more girls than guys and we volunteer on and off campus), and thinking about a sorority and sport for next year.  On September 28, I participated in the Nashville 30 Abes Feeding Haiti event with 14 others from APO to break the world record: with about 2,000 other people we packaged up over 500,000  meals to feed Haitians in 40 minutes. I feel like I’m already making a difference.  Sewanee has so many other things to join and if there’s something we don’t have, we’re encouraged to start new clubs.

If there’s one piece of advice I could tell a high school senior, it would be when you see a school you like, go for it. Research it, visit it, ask about it, talk to the admissions counselors about scholarships and classes. Don’t waste time trying to go to a school because your parents want you to. If you think you won’t get enough money for a certain school you want, call them and ask about plans they can make. Small colleges like Sewanee are really good about making payment plans or even helping to find other scholarships. Don’t give up on going to a college you feel is out of reach because if you work hard enough and you use all the resources available, then no school is out of your reach.

- Antinea Jones