Texas Teen Book Festival Announces 2018 Keynote Authors

Texas Teen Book Festival Welcomes Best-selling, Award-winning Authors for 10th Anniversary.

The Texas Teen Book Festival, now celebrating its 10th anniversary year, announced today the keynote speakers for the 2018 Festival, which takes place Saturday, October 6 at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Bestselling authors Nic Stone and Neal Shusterman, with his son and co-author Jarrod, will keynote this annual, highly anticipated event, which draws thousands of teens to Austin for a day of panels, book signings, workshops and more, all free and open to the public.

 “We are so excited to let everyone know about the amazing authors we have lined up for our keynotes for 2018,” says TTBF Director Shawn Mauser. “Nic Stone and Neal and Jarrod Shusterman masterfully bring complex, timely stories to the page with intense honesty and heart, and we cannot wait to welcome them to our Tenth Anniversary TTBF!”

Nic Stone

Nic Stone

Nic Stone's Odd One Out

Nic Stone’s Odd One Out

Nic Stone is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Dear Martin, which was a William C. Morris Award Finalist. At TTBF, Stone will present her sophomore novel, Odd One Out, a book told from three perspectives that explores the complicated, sometimes confusing dynamics of friendship, love, and identity.

Neal and Jarrod Schusterman.  Photography courtesy of Brendan Shusterman.

Neal and Jarrod Schusterman. Photography courtesy of Brendan Shusterman.

Neal Shusterman's Dry

Neal Shusterman’s Dry

Neal Shusterman is the National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults including The Unwind Dystology, Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award, and Scythe, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book. Joining him in presenting their co-written book, Dry, is Neal’s son, Jarrod, who has also written for television shows such as “Goosebumps.” Dry is set in a dystopian future where the California drought, “the Tap Out,” has spread throughout the country.

Stone and the Shustermans join a long list of memorable keynote speakers over the Festival’s ten year history, including past keynotes Jason Reynolds, Marie Lu, Mindy Kaling, Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor, Sonia Manzano, and many others. The Texas Teen Book Festival, which began as a grassroots labor of love among librarians and booksellers in 2008, is now one of the most highly regarded teen book festivals in the country.

The Texas Teen Book Festival is presented in collaboration with Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, a dedicated team of librarians, and venue sponsor St. Edward’s University. The program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

TTBF remains free and open to the public thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and dozens of committed volunteers. For more information, please visit the Texas Teen Book Festival website and keep up with announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tips To Help Ensure A Successful Transition From College To The Work World

Contributed By Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer of the BeenVerified.com

Graduating from college this year? This can definitely be a daunting time for many, but there are so many ways to prepare for success in the industry you’ve worked so hard to be a part of. From building your personal brand (which is essential in the work world) to knowing how to effectively network, below are must-know tips to help you succeed once you get your diploma and enter the “real world”.

Build Your Personal Brand

We all have a personal brand whether we are aware of it or not. Your personal brand is how the world views you, so it’s important that your personal brand be a strong, capable one that best reflects your true self—especially when it comes to the business world. It is important for you to establish your own brand and cultivate it rather than let it be defined on your behalf. Your personal brand is made up of your beliefs and your strengths. Think of it as your personal core values.

If you do a good job of branding and marketing yourself, people will begin to identify you with a certain area of expertise, subject matter, and the general qualities you want linked to your name. Once you determine the way in which you want your brand to be received, you can start to be more strategic about your personal brand.

Here are some of the areas that are important in building a personal brand and a few tips to help you build yours:

Be true to yourself and your word. Your brand should reflect who you really are—your authentic self. Skip the falsehoods or who you want people to think you are, especially in the digital age. You don’t want there to be a big discrepancy between who you are online and who you are in real life. Today, people want to connect and they want to connect with other genuine people. And remember that actions speak louder than words to the people in your circle of influence, so keep your word and follow through with promises you make.

Know how to introduce yourself. Prepare a 30-second speech to introduce yourself to others. Think through the key things you want people to know about you and practice it so it comes easily. When networking, hit the high points of your story with a concise presentation. You want their take away to be the most important highlights about you and how you want them to remember you.

Have an online presence. Set up a personal website that you can direct people to, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be a simple site with your resume, links to your social platforms, a bio with photo, and some of your college achievements. Having your own site gives you a platform to build your brand from. It will also help rank your name on the search engines. You can always expand the information on the website with time.

Google yourself and setup alerts for your name on a regular basis. Know what is being said about you online. It’s not a bad idea to run a background check on yourself too to make sure your record is exactly what you think it is. Be purposeful and thoughtful on anything you share with others.

Use social media as your platform. Social media is ideal for giving people a platform to share their personal brand, as long as it’s done consciously and consistently. Always reread and proof before you post, use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling, and use discretion when sharing photos. It’s best to steer clear of controversy or emotional topics in general and certainly if it could discredit you personally. This includes reacting to other people’s posts as well as the ones you share. Have your brand identity statement in front of you when posting and ask yourself if the post you are about to publish contributes to that identity. If handled well, social media is a great way to sell yourself!

Once you’ve established your own personal brand, it’s time to share it with the world. Let the world know who you are, what your talents and core values are, and what you have to offer. The road to unfulfilled career dreams and disappointment is littered with lists, dreams, and goals never shared with anyone. So it’s time to get your personal brand out there.

Start Networking & Connecting With Professionals In Your Field Early

It is never too early to start networking and connecting with people who may be able to help or influence your career. So set up professional profiles such as LinkedIn and any other site that is geared toward work and business. Reach out to professionals you know or want to. Also, remember that other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like will be viewable by potential employers so keep that in mind with everything you post. What might be funny or appropriate for college you may regret once you move on. It is never too early to be thinking about your career.

Practice Makes Perfect—Find Opportunities to Refine Your Communicative Skills 

College is the perfect place to hone skills and work on things that scare you. Maybe your public speaking skills are shaky. Maybe you don’t know how to put together a presentation. Heck, maybe you have never been on an interview. College is a great place to learn these things. Join a public speaking group and utilize the services of your career services office. Reach out to your community for services and clubs that can help train you. Trust this–it is much easier to acquire and perfect these skills while in the relative comfort of college than to be under the gun in a real work environment.

Look for seminars and career development lectures. Take all of them because most of them will allow students to attend for free or for a reduced fee. These are great opportunities because they not only teach something but they give valuable opportunities to network with people that are in the work world and contacts are very important indeed.

Learn how to small talk and work a room. Chances are that you will need to attend many lunch and evening functions for companies that you wish to work for or for available internships. The more comfortable you are talking to people and introducing yourself the more success you may have with landing the job of your dreams. If you are a shy person, this can be a particularly daunting task but it will serve you well if you pick up a few tips from books or particularly social friends.

Seek Out & Apply for Internships and Jobs Early

Don’t delay. Things move quickly and there are always people that seem to be ahead of the game. These people are your competition, so don’t wait. Find out about internships early. Apply when the job or internship opens. Make sure that you have all of your documents ready and polished so you can send them when needed and if something just pops up. The documents you should have ready at a minimum are a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and references. You may need a writing sample or other more specific document but at a minimum have these four polished, up to date, and ready to go.

Justin Lavelle
Justin Lavelle is Chief Communications Officer at BeenVerified (the leading source of online background checks and contact information), where he often writes about topics like credit card use and scams, financial fraud, and other personal finance advice. BeenVerified allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses, property records and criminal records in a way that’s fast, easy and affordable. https://www.beenverified.com/.

Florida Memorial University Hosts its First Home Fundraiser Thanks to Aaron and Burnadette Weeks

University fundraisers have never been as enjoyable until now. Florida Memorial University captures the spirit of giving through an exuberant home fundraising initiative.

Burnadette Weeks, Esq.; Dr. Castell V. Bryant, Florida Memorial University (FMU) Interim President; JoLinda Herring  Esq., FMU Trustee Chair

Burnadette Weeks, Esq.; Dr. Castell V. Bryant, Florida Memorial University (FMU) Interim President; JoLinda Herring Esq., FMU Trustee Chair

The gracious home of Aaron and Bernadette Weeks. Esq. was the setting for Florida Memorial University’s (FMU) first of a series of home fundraisers on April 22nd. The North Broward Chapter of the Links rallied to socialize and be entertained by the melodic saxophone of Randy Corinthian while doing a great service to South Florida’s only Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

JoAnn Fletcher, President of The North Broward Chapter of the Links’ opening remarks welcomed the group of over 40 guests, “The National Links initiative this year is to adopt a Historically Black College and University and nurture it.” FMU is was delighted to be adopted by the prestigious group.

FMU celebrates 50 years in Miami this Fall and 139 years since its beginnings as an institution for higher- learning in Live Oaks, Florida. FMUs Interim President, Dr. Castell Bryant words resonated with the

North Broward Chapter of the Links, many who attended HBCUs, “Let us work together to help the next generation of HBCU students become successful!”

FMU Trustee JoLinda Herring added, “The students at FMU inspire me. FMU has a wonderful school of aviation, and our alumni are now doctors, lawyers, and professionals in all walks of life.”

The FMU fundraising program ended on a high note, as The North Broward County Chapter of The Links reached its fundraising goal.

Host Aaron Weeks closed the event by reciting the prolific Renaissance poetry of John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself. Each piece is a continent, a part of the main. If clod be washed away by sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thine own or of thine friends were. Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am

involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know or whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

Mr. Weeks reminding us of a time when attending HBCUs were the only choice for Blacks. But the tradition and legacy live on with our support. For more information on becoming an FMU Home Fundraising host, contact Vice President Cory Witherspoon at 305 623 1443.

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. is Hosting the 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. is hosting the 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball. Please add the following information to your Events on your website and radio stations.


The 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball culminates an intensive, seven-month program that provides mentoring, education, and social enrichment for college bound African-American males from the Greater Austin area.The purpose of the Beautillion Ball is to showcase the achievements of these young men and to reward them with scholarships and a technology package. These distinguished “Beaux” pay tribute to the community and to their mothers with a breathtaking waltz. The night is made even more enchanting by the lovely “Belle” who escorts each “Beaux”.

The entire Greater Austin community is invited to support these young men and their families! Proceeds from the Beautillion Ball support local and national 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in the Greater Austin community.

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. was chartered in June 1953. Throughout its fifty plus years, the Austin Chapter has worked to fulfill its service mission to the community through group activities as well as chapter projects. The Beautillion Ball, begun in 1972 and presented biennially, has become our signature event in the Austin community. It is also our main fundraiser that has, over the past 35 years, raised funds for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the George Washington Carver Library & Museum, the Austin Children’s Museum, and the Jack & Jill Foundation.

You can support the Beautillion by purchasing tickets to the event and/or by purchasing advertising in the program book.

Ball tickets cost $85.00 each. Ball tickets cost $85.00 each. Tickets can be purchased from this page ($6.79 processing fee will be added) or may be purchased by check or money order, payable to “Austin Chapter, Jack and Jill of America, Inc.” and mailed to P. O. Box 6059, Austin, TX 78762-6059. Tickets purchased by check do not include a processing fee. All ball tickets must be purchased by May 31, 2018.

To learn more about the Beautillion or to become a corporate sponsor go to our website at https://jackandjillofaustin.org/.​​

Saturday, June 16, 2018
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM CDT

​​Austin Hilton, Governor’s Ballroom, Fourth Floor

500 E 4th Street

Austin, TX 78701​​


Eventbrite Link:


4 Ways Parents, Teachers and Students Can Reduce Standardized-Test Stress

 Written and Contributed By Dr. Raj Gupta

Dr. Raj Gupta

Dr. Raj Gupta

Standardized testing has drawn its share of criticism from teachers, students and parents. One of the most common complaints is the stress that all three groups feel – from preparation through performance.

From a young age, students take these timed tests that measure academic competency and, ultimately, whether they’re college material. Countless articles on standardized testing in the U.S. point out the pressure on students to score well; that teachers are often evaluated by how their students fare on the tests; and that parents get anxiety hoping their children score high.

Amid all this stress comes the basic but difficult-to-answer question: How to deal with it?

“There is a tremendous amount of controversy about standardized testing, and no matter which side of the argument you are on, teachers have no choice,” says Dr. Raj Gupta (www.drrajgupta.com), founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center and author of Wellness Center Solution: How Physicians Can Transform Their Practices, Their Income and Their Lives.

“So teachers, students and parents must deal with it the best way they can. And finding consistently healthy habits to counter these stress inducers is so important. In fact, taking the stress out of the test process can carry over to every aspect of their life. The scores aren’t as important as the quality of life they give themselves in what is a results-oriented world, often to a fault.”

Gupta offers four tips that teachers, students and parents can use to better deal with test-related stress:

•    Diet. Poor eating habits contribute to stress. “I see this every day with my three girls,” Gupta says. “Grandma will feed them tons of sugar, and then I come home to find the girls either bouncing off the walls or miserably cranky after crashing from their sugar high. Good wholesome foods that are not processed or refined and are free from trans fats prevent our energy levels from peaking and crashing throughout the day.”

•    Rest. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. “Most of your healing and repair takes place when you are sleeping,” Dr. Gupta says. “This is when the body recharges the battery. If you continue to deprive your body of sleep, your immune system breaks down and you get sick.”

•    Exercise. A study conducted by California State University found that a 10-minute walk is enough to increase energy, alter mood, and provide a positive outlook for up to two hours. Exercise also assists in quality sleep. “Exercise is the greatest stress buster,” Gupta says. “Regular exercise can change your life.”

•    Mental attitude. “Stress is like a snowball: If you let it roll, it will gain speed, momentum and weight, and you are over-reacting, making even small difficulties seem like major crises,” Gupta says. He suggests countering a stressful situation with a calming action. Example: when rush-hour traffic is irritating, listen to a self-improvement audio. “Some things we can’t control, but we can control our response to them,” Gupta says.

“Stress can cause all sorts of health problems,” Gupta says. “It affects all ages, as seen with the implementation of standardized testing. But it can be dealt with on a daily basis, and by doing so consistently, it can help us pass any and all stress tests in the future..”

About Dr. Raj Gupta

Dr. Raj Gupta (www.drrajgupta.com), who has more than 20 years experience as a chiropractor, is the founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center. He also is author of Wellness Center Solution: How Physicians Can Transform Their Practices, Their Income and Their Lives. He has been featured in US News and World Report Health, Woman’s World Magazine and New York Daily News. He has a doctorate in chiropractic from Life University.

St. Gabriel’s Catholic School Hosts Annual Fundraising Gala

Parents and Austin community leaders gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, for St. Gabriel’s Catholic School’s 19th annual fundraising gala. The gala celebrates the school’s continuing advancement of educational and spiritual programs.

Beth and Frank Stabile (St. Gabriel's Catholic School Board Vice Chair, retired from Dell)

Beth and Frank Stabile (St. Gabriel’s Catholic School Board Vice Chair, retired from Dell)

Danette and Steve Koebele (founder of TexCounsel)

Danette and Steve Koebele (Founder of TexCounsel)

“We are extremely thankful for the support and generosity of our St. Gabriel’s families, as well as our exceptional staff and educators,” Dan McKenna, head of school at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School, said. “In addition to allowing us to recognize the school’s achievements, this gala enables us to continue to provide the most advanced curriculum for our students.”

Jannell and Scott Brown (President and Chief Creative Officer at Texas Monthly)

Jannell and Scott Brown (President and Chief Creative Officer at Texas Monthly)

Kathy and Dan Roy (St. Gabriel's Catholic School Board Chair)

Kathy and Dan Roy (St. Gabriel’s Catholic School Board Chair)

The “Roaring Twenties” themed gala included a sit-down dinner, as well as a silent and live auction. Entertainment was provided by DJ Dave Garza, and the after-party included a “Speakeasy” and a “Casino.” Auction prizes included an African safari, tickets to Super Bowl LII, and passes to a backstage meet-and-greet with country music star Kenny Chesney in Chicago.

Laura and Tim Keyes (Past Chair of St. Gabriel's Board)

Laura and Tim Keyes (Past Chair of St. Gabriel’s Board)

Maureen Staloch (of RedBird) and Ted Staloch (Co-Founder of Aspyr Media)

Maureen Staloch (of RedBird) and Ted Staloch (Co-Founder of Aspyr Media)

Proceeds raised from the gala will go toward furthering the school’s efforts to employ the best practices in teaching and learning, empowering students to reach their full potential.

Melissa Cason (Sales Exec. at Texas National Title) and Brandon Cason (Founder, Waterloo Sparkling water)

Melissa Cason (Sales Exec. at Texas National Title) and Brandon Cason (Founder, Waterloo Sparkling water)

St. Gabriel’s Catholic School

St. Gabriel’s Catholic School is a private Catholic PreK-8 institution in Austin that emphasizes excellence in leadership, service and community among its students and families. The school is committed to providing a faith-based education through its innovative curriculum that includes STEAM programs, small classes, and a faculty focused on inspiring young hearts and minds of all faiths. St. Gabriel’s has been recognized as the Favorite Private School by the Austin Family Magazine Reader’s Poll in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. For more information, please visit sgs-austin.org.


More Students are Going to Grad School: How are They Paying for It?

Graduate School

Photography courtesy of (c) nd3000/stock.Adobe.com.

Career aspirations are driving more students to graduate school these days, and nearly two thirds believe an advanced degree is the new minimum standard level of education for any professional occupation.

According to “How America Pays for Graduate School,” the new national study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, an independent global market research company, nearly all grad students (95 percent) said an advanced degree is necessary to enter, advance, accelerate or remain competitive in their chosen career.

Cost is less of a factor in the enrollment decision than it is at the undergraduate level, as more than eight in 10 surveyed based their enrollment decision on a school’s academic offerings, prestige, location, campus culture, or other personal consideration. However, eight in 10 grad students said they took more responsibility for paying-for-school decisions than they had for their undergraduate studies.

“It is human nature to plan for what you value, and that includes graduate school. Today’s students see graduate school as their ticket to a successful and prosperous career, and most have a plan to pay for their advanced degree before they enroll,” says Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “That planning pays off: the overwhelming majority are confident in the financial decisions they’ve made about how to pay for their graduate education.”

How much did they pay? Students spent an average of $24,812 on grad school in academic year 2016-17, and more than three-fourths of them (77 percent) paid for it, at least in part, by borrowing. Funds borrowed by students covered more than half of the cost (53 percent), while money students earned, including income and savings, paid for 24 percent. Grants, fellowships, scholarships, and tuition waivers accounted for 15 percent, while eight percent of grad school costs came from funds borrowed or contributed by parents or others.

The study also reveals that scholarships and grants are less available for grad students than for undergrads, accounting for just 15 percent of grad school costs. In response, Sallie Mae announced a new Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students that will award four $20,000 scholarships in 2018. Students may apply by Feb. 14 by visiting SallieMae.com/BridgingtheDreamGrad.

To view the complete report, visit SallieMae.com/HowAmericaPaysGrad and join the conversation using #HowGradsPay.

As a graduate degree continues to become the educational norm, students will continue to plan and find creative ways to meet the cost. (StatePoint)

Texas Book Festival Presents Kids on Congress

November 4 and 5 Event Features Family Fun Activities with Children’s Authors, Games, and More

The Texas Book Festival is excited to announce Kids on Congress, an avenue at the annual Festival on November 4 and 5 packed with some of the nation’s most beloved children’s authors and picture book illustrators, family-friendly activities, and live music. Children’s book and author highlights include: Matt de la Peña, Margarita Engle, and Sarah Dessen. This year’s children’s author lineup also includes Mac Barnett, Lemony Snicket, Javaka Steptoe, Stuart Gibbs, and Ellen Oh.

On Saturday, November 4, and Sunday, November 5, at 1 p.m., there will be a live performance of the new H-E-B Buddy League Training Academy, a high-energy show with song and animation, at the H-E-B Children’s Tent on Congress Avenue. Kids can travel the Festival with their own Passport guiding them through Kids on Congress. When they collect four or more stickers at each Passport session, kids will receive a coupon for a free scoop of Amy’s Ice Cream.

Art activities, crafts, and live entertainment can be found at the Children’s Activity Tent and Entertainment Tent. Kids on Congress Tents will include the following:

The Read Me a Story Tent will feature stories read aloud every half hour by top authors, with illustrators creating picture books for younger readers. Highlighted authors include Matt de la Peña, Lesléa Newman, and Dan Santat.

The ¡Ahora Si! Tent! will feature bilingual storytimes in English and Spanish by authors Juana Martinez-Neal, Monica Brown, Cynthia Leonor Garza, and Jorge Argueta. The tent will also host a special presentation by this year’s winners of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award: Francisco X. Stork, F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López.

The Next Chapter Tent, brand new this year, will feature middle grade chapter book authors Andrew Clements, Margarita Engle, Gene Luen Yang, Ellen Oh, and many more talking on panels about everything from being funny on the page to dealing with family drama to being an inclusive friend, reader, and citizen.

The YA HQ Tent will include two days of panels featuring young adult authors Sarah Dessen, Erika L. Sanchez, Jeff Zentner, Tochi Onyebuchi, Maggie Stiefvater, and more discussing fantasy, real life, writing mega-bestsellers, and brand new, buzz-worthy debuts.

In addition to the tents on Congress Avenue, the Festival will welcome many other great kids’ authors at venues around the Festival grounds. The full schedule and details on each session can be found here.

  • Saturday 11-11:45 a.m. We Love You, Mac Barnett!
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
  • Saturday 1:15-2 p.m. Raid of No Return: Nathan Hale and His Hazardous Tale!
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
  • Saturday 12:30-1:15 p.m. Katherine Paterson and Peter Sís In Conversation
    • Location: First United Methodist Church
  • Saturday 1-1:45 p.m. The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid with Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
    • Location: Omni Hotel Ballroom
  • Saturday 2:30-3:15 p.m. Illustrating American History with Kadir Nelson and Don Tate
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
  • Sunday 11-11:45 a.m. Bad Moods, Be Gone! with Lemony Snicket
    • Location: House Chamber
  • Sunday 12:30-1:15 p.m. The Wonderful World of William Joyce
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
All events at Kids on Congress are free and open to the public. The complete Texas Book Festival schedule is available at http://www.texasbookfestival.org/festival-schedule/.

The 2017 Texas Book Festival is co-presented by H-E-B and AT&T. Other major sponsors include Kirkus Reviews, Brigid Cockrum and Family, Tocker Foundation, Buena Vista Foundation, C-SPAN 2/Book TV, St. David’s HealthCare, Texas Capital Bank, Texas Monthly, Austin American-Statesman, and Pentagram.

Paving the Way to College: 4 Things Parents Need to Know

Senior year: It’s a time to finish college applications, solidify friendships and look forward to the freedom and the responsibility that come once that final bell rings. A lot of feelings surface during that final year, especially for parents. While your son or daughter might be overjoyed to finally fly the coop and live independently, you’ll probably be dealing with your own mix of emotions, and you’ll want to be sure they’re ready to begin college in the fall.

For families with a child headed to college, senior year is best thought of as a transition year. Plan ahead to make sure your family stays on track.

To help you and your child with a successful transition, here’s the essential list of landmarks on the road that will take your child from a senior in high school to a freshman in college.

1. Apply yourself in the fall

The journey to college begins early, and by the fall of senior year in high school, your child should be in full transition mode. They should be finishing campus visits and finalizing the list of colleges where they want to apply. Make sure they’ve spoken with admission counselors, thoroughly researched schools they’re interested in and have everything they need to complete their college applications.

Keep tabs on important deadlines and stay organized to avoid missing any critical due dates. For example, will they want to apply early decision or early action? If so, make sure you have weighed how this could impact your financial plan for college.

2. Focus on financial aid from the start

For many parents, one of the biggest anxieties around college is the cost. Don’t forget that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on Oct. 1, and some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure you submit the form as soon as it’s available.

Because everyone has different needs, figuring out how to finance your child’s education requires some research.

At College Ave Student Loans, you can find private loan options for parents and students. Even if you’re not ready to take a loan out yet, parents and students can try out the fast and easy pre-qualification tools to find out if their credit pre-qualifies for a loan, and what interest rates they could expect, all without impacting their credit scores. Calculators are also available to help you explore your options and see how you can customize the loan payments to fit your budget.

3. Spring time is decision time

Early in the spring, your child will start to receive their first acceptance letters. Once they’ve heard from all of the schools where they applied, they’ll have a big decision to make.

They need to do more than just decide which school to attend; they’ll also need to send in a deposit, complete their housing form and accept financial aid packages.

A crucial step in this process is comparing award letters from the colleges where your child has been accepted. In reading these letters, pay close attention to how schools list the total costs. For instance, some schools will subtract the awarded loan amount from the total cost of attendance, while others will not. This could make the net cost of some schools appear less than others when in reality they are not, so take your time reading the documents.

4. Tie up everything in the summer

Before they head to campus, you and your children should create a budget to keep tabs on college bills. This will help you to stay on track financially and set the right expectations about how they need to manage their money.

You can help your soon-to-be freshman by working with them to outline a monthly budget that will take into account expected and unexpected expenses. Take a look at their financial aid packages and any income they might be earning and block out the monthly mandatory expenses. Then decide how much money they can spend on things like entertainment.

If you find that scholarships, grants and federal aid don’t cover everything, private loans could be one solution for some college-bound students.

For parents and students, senior year is an exciting period. Knowing what steps to take and staying ahead of financial matters with useful tools like the ones at College Ave Student Loans can help make the transition easier for everyone. (BPT)

Texas Teen Book Festival Announces 2017 Schedule

Young Adult Book Festival to Feature All-Star Author Sessions, Panels, Workshops, Book Signings, Interactive Space, Costume Contest, and More
The Texas Teen Book Festival announced recently the full schedule for the 2017 edition, taking place on Saturday, October 7 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at St. Edward’s University. This year’s Festival features an exciting program with opening keynote speaker Marie Lu and closing keynote speaker Jason Reynolds; panels and sessions by award-winning authors, including Lizzie Velásquez, Tillie Walden, Jennifer Mathieu, I. W. Gregorio, Mackenzi Lee, and Julie Murphy; plus book signings, educational workshops, a costume contest sponsored by Epic Reads, and the first-ever iTent.“It is finally time to announce the 2017 Texas Teen Book Festival schedule and we can stop struggling to keep secrets!” says TTBF Festival Director Shawn Mauser. “We are so excited to announce this program that has been in the works since January. We hope to see everyone out for a celebration of reading, authors, and the teens who love them!”The jam-packed festival day will begin at 8 a.m. and features panels, keynotes, and events, including:

  • 8 a.m. – TTBF Bookstore Opens, Alumni Gym
  • 8:30 a.m. – Early Bird Signings
    • Featuring: Marie Lu, Jason Reynolds, E. Lockhart, and Stephanie Perkins
  • 10 a.m. – Official Welcome and Opening Keynote at RCC Gym
    • Featuring: Marie Lu
  • 11:15 a.m. – Panel: To Thine Own Self Be True, at RCC Gym
    • Featuring Jason Reynolds, Zac Brewer, Tillie Walden, Renée Watson, and Corrie Wang
  • 11:15 a.m. – Panel: Me + You = Fate at Mabee Ballroom
    • Featuring Kathryn Ormsbee, Mackenzi Lee, Julie Murphy, Adam Silvera, and Jenna Evans Welch
  • 11:15 a.m. – Panel: The Ties That Blind at Jones Auditorium
    • Featuring Sandhya Menon, Amy Tintera, Jessica Taylor, Peter Bognanni, and Andrew Shvarts
  • 11:15 a.m. – Badgerdog Poetry Workshop 1 at Fleck Hall, Room 314
  • 11:15 a.m. – Barrio Writers Workshop at the Library, Room 141
  • 11:15 a. m. – Book Signings
  • 12:30 p.m. – Panel: Where I Belong: Stories of Immigration, Resilience, and Hope at RCC Gym
    • Featuring Mitali Perkins, Adi Alsaid, Francisco X. Stork, and Diana J. Noble
  • 1:30 p.m. – Special Speaker at RCC Gym
    • Featuring Lizzie Velásquez
  • 2:30 p.m. – Panel: Smart is the New Black at Mabee
    • Featuring Marie Lu, Ashley Poston, Kerri Maniscalco, and Ryan Graudin
  • 2:30 p.m. – Panel: Fierce Reads at Jones Auditorium
    • Featuring Mitali Perkins, Caleb Roehrig, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Jennifer Mathieu
  • 2:30 p.m. – WNDB Educator Workshop at Library, Room 142
  • 2:30 p.m. – Book Signings
  • 3:15 p.m. – Epic Reads Costume Contest Judging at RCC Gym
  • 3:30 p.m. – Panel: Of Myth & Mystery at Mabee Ballroom
    • Featuring E. Lockhart, Stephanie Perkins, Julie Buxbaum, David Bowles, and Cory Putman Oakes
  • 3:30 p.m. – Panel: It’s Time to Save the World… Again at Jones Auditorium
    • Featuring Cindy Pon, Aditi Khorana, Erin Bowman, Lisa Maxwell, and S.J. Kincaid
  • 3:30 p.m. – Badgerdog Workshop 2 at Fleck Hall, Room 314
  • 3:30 p.m. – Educator Workshop 2: AISD Educator Book Club with Adi Alsaid at the Library, Room 142
  • 3:30 p.m. – Book Signings
  • 4:15 p.m. – Opening to Closing Note: Essay Presentation at RCC Gym
  • 4:30 p.m. – Closing Note Speaker Jason Reynolds at RCC Gym
  • 5:30 p. m. – Final Group Signing
In addition to panels and workshops throughout the day, the Festival will feature:
  • Writing workshops hosted by Badgerdog and Barrio Writers at 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Badgerdog is a writing program of the Austin Public Library Foundation for writers of all ages and skill levels, and Barrio Writers is a creative writing program that provides free college level writing workshops to teenagers in underserved communities.
  • A We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) workshop led by Dhonielle Clayton, COO of WNDB, to discuss using diverse books in the classroom at 2:30pm. This workshop is specifically programmed for educators, who will also hear about WNDB’s new app, “Our Story,” a useful book-finding tool for teachers, librarians, and students. “Our Story” offers cool content from authors as well as WNDB-themed curriculum and material perks. This event is for pre-registered attendees only, and reservations are available via the Texas Teen Book Festival website.
  • An Austin ISD Adult Book Club and an Educator Book Club Discussion with Adi Alsaid at 3:30pm. This kick-off meeting will give adult readers the opportunity to meet Alsaid and discuss his latest novel, North of Happy.
  • Additionally, this will be the first year for the iTent. This interactive space is designed to bring YA fans closer to their favorite authors and will offer opportunities to learn, create, and share. Book Talks, Zine Making, and Ask Me Anything sessions will all take place in the iTent. Full iTent schedule to be announced closer to the Festival.
TTBF is presented in collaboration with the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, a dedicated team of librarians, and venue sponsor St. Edward’s University. The program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.TTBF remains free and open to the public thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and dozens of committed volunteers. For more information, please visit www.texasteenbookfestival.org and keep up with announcements at Facebook.com/TexasTeenBookFestival, and on Twitter and Instagram @TXTeenBookFest.