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The Internet Guide for Families

   by Lisa Jo Rudy

    Swordsmith Productions
    01 October, 2002


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Editorial description(s):

From the Author
There are already several parents' guides to the Internet out there--most of them guides to help you keep your kids safe. I take a different perspective: how to use the Internet to help improve your family life.

Excerpted from Internet Guide for Families by Lisa Jo Rudy. Copyright © 2002. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
College Prep: Get Ready on the Internet

High school students and parents alike dread the seemingly overwhelming task of visiting colleges, poring over financial aid forms and signing up for those perennial SAT or ACT tests. The Web can help.

All in One Education Sites

Two large and well-established institutions, Peterson's and the Princeton Review, have established comprehensive Web sites to help you prepare for college admissions, learn about and select colleges, and apply online for admission and financial aid. They also offer advice and insights on exactly how to fill in those all-important forms. is the home of the Princeton Review. Among other tools it offers is the "Counselor-o-Matic" which asks you about 18 different questions about your scores, interests and courses and generates a list of "reach," "appropriate" and "safety" schools for your consideration. The site also offers free and paid SAT/ACT and other testing support, information and support for financial aid, help with selecting a major and much, much more. is another all-in-one educational site that includes a "CollegeQuest" tool. "CollegeQuest" helps you to identify the college of your choice based upon a number of criteria (sports? Tuition? Majors?). Find a college that interests you, then click to go directly to its Web site. You can also find a load of other helpful tools and information ranging from career guidance to test preparation to information about scholarships and financial aid. is a nicely organized site that includes a live set of experts to answer your questions, useful information and tools for college selection, admissions, financing and tests, and several sections dedicated to international educational options. Check out this site for a huge selection of links to scholarship organizations including and the United Negro College Fund (

For a fun and interesting way to get a general overview of the college admissions process, click on www.howstuff Howstuffworks is a site that collects information about everything from light bulbs to SATs--and shares it. The article was written by an admissions officer at Duke University, so it comes from a reliable source.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

With the cost of college continually skyrocketing, most American families will be looking for some form of financial support through financial aid or scholarships. There are a surprising number of resources available, but working through the paperwork and complex rules can be daunting. A number of Web sites have been set up to help you through this process, and some are quite helpful.

It's nice to know that the folks at Howstuffworks have put together a nice package of information to give you an overview of the process. You can find it at www.howstuff The site also includes a very useful links page. is the official US government site for students. It provides a wealth of information about student loans from state and government, military work-study options, grants, internships, fellowships and much, much more. is the US Department of Education's online site for free financial aid application and related information.

You can also take a look at any of the all-in-one educational sites for links to financial aid options, or use Yahoo's directory to find more sources. Alternatively, if you've selected a college and want to know more about their financial aid and scholarship policies, find that school's Web site to learn more.

The Standardized Tests

Most colleges and universities in the United States require students to take the SAT or ACT standardized tests. These tests allow admiss ions departments to compare student qualifications without worrying about the quality of their high school, the level of their classes, or any other unique issues.

While the makers of these tests claim that there's no good way to prepare for them--either you "get" them or you don't--millions of students every year take courses and practice tests to make them better competitors. is the official site of the Educational Testing Service, the organization that creates those tests you love to hate. They have a large Web presence, and their site may give you some insight into their process and product. . . .

Book Description
Most books and newspaper accounts treat the Internet as a terrifying wasteland filled with predators and child pornography. In reality, the Internet is a dramatic resource for parents and children--a tool for learning, teaching, saving time and money, and bonding as a family. The Internet Guide for Families, by longtime technology expert and children's writer Lisa Jo Rudy, is a friendly, step-by-step guide to exploring this world.

The Internet Guide for Families includes material on the home front--when a child should start using a computer, how parents can promote safe and healthy computer usage and protect their children online, and great sites for kids of all ages to visit--and the school front, including how schools introduce students to the Web and how teachers and libraries use Web sites. In addition, useful information on parenting and the Internet (including where to find resources, online communities of parents, and special needs groups) is gathered in one place for the busy parent.

As Lisa says, "the Net is part of our lives and our kids' lives. Let's use it!"

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