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Tools, Tips, and Resources for the New Year

By: TxCAN   |   August 2022

School is in Session, and it is time to get to work! In this blog, TxCAN shares some tech tools, tricks, and resources that can make the lives of practitioners a little bit easier this year.

School is in Session. The school bells are ringing. Students are back and it is time to get to work. We know it will not be long before everything starts coming at practitioners full speed ahead if it hasn’t already. At TxCAN, we want to share some resources that we believe can help make practitioners’ lives easier this year by saving you a few minutes here and there! 

We have divided these resources into three categories- Student Engagement, Financial Aid, and Tech Tips. Under each category, you will find tools, tricks, and resources we highly recommend giving a try this school year.  

Student Engagement 


Do you need help scheduling student check-ins and appointments this year? Calendly’s free version is super helpful for this! You can sync Calendly to your email and calendar. Once it is synced to your email calendar, students can only book appointments when you are free on your calendar. You will also be given a link to share with students that allows them to schedule appointments rather quickly.  

We’ve seen counselors keep their Calendly link in their email signatures. It is an easy and convenient way for students to find their meeting links. Calendly even has an option to sync with your Zoom, Google Meets, or Teams account for virtual meeting purposes.  Watch this short 2-minute video to learn more about all Calendly has to offer, or visit their YouTube page for additional tutorials.  

Check Lists 

If making checklists for your students when they ask, “What do I need to apply to college?” or, “What do I need to apply for FAFSA?” has become too repetitive. Fear no more. Big Future is here to save the day. Big Future on the College Board website has a Checklist for both of these questions. These checklists can be easily printed with just a click of a button or downloaded and shared virtually.  Bonus features—it includes checklist items for 9th grade through 12th grade.  

Google Forms 

Letters of recommendation, transcript requests, fee waiver requests—are these all requests that come to you directly? If you answered yes, we have a recommendation for you. Consider making a Google Form like this one that allows students to submit requests virtually. You are then able to see their responses at a frequency of your choice. You can check off or highlight requests as you fulfill them to help you stay on top of requests promptly. Responses can also be shared with registrars or other administrators who assist with these types of requests. Google forms are a quick easy way to collect student data, but always ensure people with access to responses are authorized individuals. 


College Essay and Resume reviews can take up a lot of time in the college access practitioner’s workload. But GetSchooled has some tools that can help alleviate this workload! Did you know that GetSchooled’s FREE College Application Essay Review and FREE Resume Review allow students to upload resumes, personal statements, supplemental college application essays, scholarship essays, and then provides actionable suggestions and feedback within one week! They also provide free and easy-to-use resume templates on google docs for students. 


Canva is a free-to-use online graphic design tool. You can use it to create engagement tools such as social media posts, presentations, posters, newsletters, logos and so much more. Canva is easy to use and comes with thousands of easy-to-edit templates! Canva now lets you embed hyperlinks to your graphics too. This is super helpful if you are sharing a flier or newsletter with students virtually via email. Here is an example of a Canva template you could use to design a school newsletter.  

To access more of Canva’s templates and graphics you can upgrade to a Canva Pro account. Non-profit organizations qualify for FREE pro accounts! It is super easy to apply and it takes about a week to get approved. We would recommend asking your school administrator if you can apply for a pro account to have access to more easy-to-use templates. The non-profit application can be found here at Canva for Non-Profits.  

Career Exploration  

Coordinating career presentations and career fairs can seem like a daunting task for some college access practitioners due to the many logistical details that they entail. But did you know you can request assistance for planning a career fair or even a career presentation from the  Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)? The TWC can send an Education Outreach/Workforce Specialist to your school to help with your career exploration programming. 

Financial Aid 

Financial Literacy Tools 

College access practitioners try to have financial literacy conversations with their students any chance they can, but it is difficult to spend a large amount of time on the topic due to the constant pull they face. Sharing fun and interactive tools like these can alleviate some of the burden on practitioners as these financial literacy tools allow students to gain insight and understanding about financial aid and personal finances.  

  • Payback - Allows students to practice making decisions on how to spend their money as they attend college
  • Financial Football - NFL-themed game and series of lessons that teach students about budgeting, saving and spending, and how to use credit wisely 
  • Hit the Road: A Financial Adventure - In the game, students simulate taking a cross-country trip with three friends. Along the way, they must have enough money for food, gas, and any obstacles that arise
  • The Uber Game - Allows students to explore the dynamics of the gig economy. In the game, the player is an Uber driver with a family and must work and manage the family budget. 

Swift Student 

Swift Student will help students write financial aid appeal letters for free. They offer a variety of templates for student needs ranging from financial situation changes to support with supplies, food, housing, child care and more. We know you’re probably thinking... it is way too early to even begin thinking about financial aid appeal letters. FAFSA hasn’t even opened yet! Correct, but we strongly recommend bookmarking Swift Student for future use. Speaking of FAFSA, have you heard of Going Merry? See the next section for more details. 

Going Merry 

Going Merry is completely free for students and counselors. Going Merry is a free scholarship search and application platform with personalized matching and thousands of scholarships and grants available. It has an extensive profile section, but the more fields students complete, the more likely they are to be matched with scholarships. 

The true gem for counselors is their FAFSA Made Easier section. Think Turbo Tax for FAFSA! If a student completes their FAFSA information on Going Merry’s user-friendly website, their information will be transferred directly to the FAFSA website. If you are interested in learning more or obtaining an account, email Bethany Huberty at She is our Texas contact person. She would be happy to create accounts for you and your students and/or host a 1:1 demo. 

uAspire College Cost Calculator 

uAspire’s College Cost Calculator is a free online tool that helps students decipher and compare financial aid offers. This tool empowers students to figure out how much they will have to pay, including estimates for indirect expenses and loan repayment, and compare costs between colleges easily. Students just need to create an account and they will be able to access the information they enter anytime. Get started below! 

Tech Tips 

Phone Scanning 

Did you know students can scan documents and send them with just their phones? Scanning from your phone has never been easier. No extra apps needed.  Below you will find instructions for Iphones and Androids. If you wish to see a quick tutorial with pictures, visit Lifewire for this and so many more technology tips! 


  1. Open Notes and create a new note.  
  2. Open Camera and tap “Scan Documents”.  
  3. Position the camera over a document to automatically scan. 


  1. Tap Google Drive > plus sign (+)  
  2.  Create New > Scan.  
  3. Position the camera over the document, tap shutter, tap check mark. 

Sharing this tech tip with students can facilitate document uploads for things such as scholarships and verification! 

Screen Recording 

Have you ever needed to show a student exactly where to go to find something and wanted to provide a visual to help them understand what you are saying? Well screen recording can help you do this and it is just a few clicks away on your laptop! 

From a Windows laptop 

  1. Select the Windows + G key  
  2. Select Record 


  1. Open PowerPoint > Click on the Insert Menu  
  2. Scroll to the right and press on “Screen Recording” 
  3. Hit Record 
To see a quick 2-minute video of how to do this on PowerPoint- Click here 

From an Apple laptop 

  1. Press Shift + Command + 5 to open the Screenshot Toolbar 
  2. Select Record 


  1. Open QuickTime Player from the Applications folder
  2. ​Select File > New Screen Recording 

For a visual of these instructions see here.  

We hope these tools, tricks, and resources will come in handy this school year. Try one or try them all. The goal is to save you even just a few minutes a day. Bookmark this blog, and you can always come back to these useful links when you need them. We would love to hear from you. What did you try and what did you love? Wishing you a productive and excellent school year! 

The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.