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Princeton Review Ranks Top Party Schools

August 12, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Each year, the Princeton Review releases its comprehensive list of colleges ranked by the extracurricular and social offerings on their campuses, how happy their students are, and which are the most religious or LGBT-friendly, among countless other categories. But the distinction that gets the most attention year after year is the school the review dubbed as the top "party school" - an honor that may be lauded by students by dreaded by school administrators and parents. Interested in knowing who made the cut? Check out the top 10 below:

  1. Syracuse University
  2. University of Iowa
  3. University of California – Santa Barbara
  4. West Virginia University
  5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  6. Lehigh University
  7. Penn State University
  8. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  9. Bucknell University
  10. University of Florida

Curious as to how the ranking are determined? The Princeton Review collects its data based on survey responses from 130,000 students across more than 370 college campuses. The "party school" ranking comes from responses on alcohol and drug use, hours spent studying and how prevalent Greek life is on each campus. For more on their methodology, click here. And for more information on the schools listed or countless others, use our College Search tool today!

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10 Colleges with the Cheapest Room and Board Fees

December 2, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

How much you end up spending on room and board will vary greatly depending on the school you attend and how flexible you are in terms of your choice of housing. And with the average cost for room and board for the 2014-2015 school year hovering around $10,000, considering schools with more affordable options may be essential to managing your college budget. Check out the list below from U.S. News and World Report for the top 10 schools with the least expensive room and board below:

Did your prospective college make the list? Would you consider a school based on room and board affordability? Share your thoughts in the comments sections. And don’t forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by creating a free profile on Scholarships.com, where you’ll get matched with financial aid that is unique to you!

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Ivy League Students Avoid Student Debt Crisis

September 11, 2013

Ivy League Students Avoid Student Debt Crisis

by Suada Kolovic

Despite the hefty sticker price associated with all Ivy League institutions, estimated yearly costs are actually quite affordable. In fact, Ivy Leaguers graduate with less debt than their peers who attended less prestigious schools. How? Turns out healthy endowment funds play a huge role in aiding low-income, middle-income and even upper-income students with tuition costs. Score!

According to statistics from U.S. News & World Report, many of the best colleges in the county are relative steals for the lucky few who earn admission. For example, Princeton University students graduate with about $5,096 of debt for all four years – the lowest sum for alumni leaving a national university with debt. Amy Laitinen, a former White House education adviser now at the New America Foundation, said, "Folks look at the sticker price and assume that's what everyone is paying. The truth is that the more elite schools have more resources."

But with acceptance rates hovering at less than 10 percent, gaining access to those Ivy League dollars is fiercely competitive. Do you think it’s fair for students who don’t meet the Ivies’ steep admissions standards to be saddled with crippling debt or should the few that do be rewarded with an affordable, brand name education? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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10 Universities Where Most Students Live On Campus

April 29, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior, you’ll be faced with a major decision in the coming months: choosing the right college. And while there are myriad factors to consider when making your decision, campus housing can be a crucial piece of the puzzle. For the most part, students are required to live in campus housing during their freshman year while upperclassmen tend to live off-campus in apartments. The reason: Most larger universities just don’t offer enough on-campus housing to accommodate their entire undergraduate populations. Yet, that’s not always the case because some prominent institutions with large endowments offer housing for all undergraduates.

According to an analysis of student housing data provided by the U.S. News & World Report, students at many of the country’s top ranked schools opt to remain on campus until they graduate. Of the top 10 national universities with the highest percentage of students living on campus, five are Ivy League institutions. Check out the complete list below (schools are ranked by the percentage of their undergraduate student body living on campus).

  1. Harvard University
  2. Princeton University
  3. California Institute of Technology
  4. Columbia University
  5. Stanford University
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  7. St. Mary's University of Minnesota
  8. Yale University
  9. Dartmouth College
  10. Vanderbilt University
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Five Tips for Maximizing Merit Aid

July 11, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely stressful. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid (aid based on a student’s attributes like (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! – so we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

  1. Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed and college aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off; institutions can also make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
  2. Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
  3. Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
  4. Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
  5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have leverage when it comes to negotiating your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact your first choice institution (which one is “that institution”...first or second choice?)! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school for less money!

Can you think of any tips that we might have missed? If so, please add them to our comments section! For more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section.

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Study: Majors Are More Important Than Where You Went to College

September 10, 2013

Study: Majors Are More Important Than Where You Went to College

by Suada Kolovic

With fall semester in full swing, high school seniors are mere months away from deciding where they’ll spend the next four (or more) years. And while there are multiple factors to consider when making such a major decision, most would argue that prestigious universities and high-earning salaries are intrinsically tied...or are they?

According to a recent study by College Measure, students who earn associate degrees and occupational certificates often earn more in their first year out of college than those with traditional four-year college degrees. Examining schools in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, the study found that short-term credentials such as two-year degrees and technical certificates were worth more than bachelor’s degrees in a graduate’s early years. College Measures President Mark Schneider said, “The findings challenge some conventional wisdom, showing for example that what you study matters more than where you study. Higher education is one of the most important investments people make. The right choices can lead to good careers and good wages while the wrong ones can leave graduates with mountains of debt and poor prospects for ever paying off student loans.” (For more on this study, click here.)

It’s important to remember that the study focuses on short-term gains as opposed to long-term/lifelong earnings. It’d be interesting for College Measure to reexamine their findings over the next few years but what do you think of its current report? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

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California Gov Signs Bill Allowing Higher Fees for Popular Community College Classes

October 11, 2013

California Gov Signs Bill Allowing Higher Fees for Popular Community College Classes

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior and you don’t think a traditional four-year university is for you, attending a community college does have its perks. Whether you’re interested in completing your general courses or testing the waters with a major that you're not absolutely set on, community colleges offer students the luxury of figuring out their educational path for a fraction of the cost...or at least they used to: California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow a handful of community colleges to charge inflated prices for in-demand courses. Let’s say it all together now: Booooooo!

The higher costs – $200 per unit instead of $46 – would only affect the shorter summer and winter sessions. Supporters insist that the pilot program would prevent more students from being shut out of courses they need to graduate but critics said that lower-income students would be denied the opportunity to obtain course credits essential to their educational success. "The state would be shifting the burden for funding access from the state general fund to the backs of students," said Vincent Stewart, the community college system's vice chancellor for governmental relations, after the California Legislature approved the measure. "Creating a pay-to-play fee structure, where students who have greater wealth and means can get on a fast track, is patently unfair."

Even with the rate per unit almost quintupled, the overall cost of studying at a community college is still considerably less when compared to traditional options but is it fair to charge more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Dartmouth to Ban Hard Alcohol and Pledging Process on Campus

February 20, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Long gone are the days when pledging to a fraternity was about a bond and brotherhood that lasts a lifetime. More recently they have become synonymous with hard-partying, high-risk drinking and despicable hazing rituals. Well, Dartmouth's president is taking a stand: Last month, Philip J. Hanlon announced sweeping changes aimed at curbing dangerous behavior on campus, saying the school will ban hard liquor, forbid pledging at fraternities and sororities, and require all students to undergo a four-year sexual violence prevention program.

The major overhaul, called "Moving Dartmouth Forward," came from recommendations of a special committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni. The new alcohol restrictions, which will begin this spring semester, ban the possession or consumption of alcohol that is 30 proof or stronger and increase penalties for students caught with hard liquor. The changes will also tackle how fraternities induct new members: Moving forward, they will be prohibited from pledging. And in addition to the required assault-prevention training, the college will create an online "consent manual" that will include information designed to reduce ambiguity about what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to sexual behavior. "If in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit its continuation on our campus," Hanlon said. (For more on this story, head over to the Chronicle.)

What are your thoughts on the changes Dartmouth is imposing on Greek Life? Do you think it will sway dangerous behavior? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you're interested in learning more about adjusting to campus life and the college lifestyle, check out our Resources section. While you're there, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com for a complete list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

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Colleges that Produced the Most Current Members of Congress

February 20, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With college on the horizon for high school seniors, students with political aspirations should understand that it's never too early to start making the right connections. And what better place is there to start than by attending the college that boasts 47 elected officials currently on Capitol Hill? (Curious as to which school I’m referring? None other than Harvard University, of course.)

With twice as many members of Congress counted as alumni, Harvard just might be the college for those with governmental ambitions. Georgetown University scores a distant second with 20 current members of Congress, followed by Yale University with 18. Check out the list below to see what other colleges might better your chances at making your political dream a reality:

For the complete list, head over to FindTheBest.

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Avoid These Top Five College Admissions Interview Mistakes

January 7, 2014

Avoid These Top Five College Admissions Interview Mistakes

by Suada Kolovic

When discussing the art of nailing your college admissions interview, it’s important to talk strategy. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will stress the importance of dressing professionally and the value of asking questions but did you know that over rehearsing your responses is a big no-no, too? Well, it is! If you’re starting to prepare for your college admissions interviews, check out U.S. News & World Report’s top five mistakes to avoid below:

  • Showing immaturity: College is about learning to live independently and your admissions interview is partially about proving that you are prepared to do just that. They suggest not having your parents drop you off or, worse yet, bringing them along.
  • Acting disrespectful or rude: While this should be obvious, do not check your cellphone during the interview for any reason. Just don’t. They suggest turning if off completely or switching it to silent (not vibrate) before even walking into your interview.
  • Skipping school research: Before your interview, research the school and prepare a few questions to ask at the end. Remember, they shouldn’t be questions that can be easily answered by perusing the school's website for a few minutes. Asking a question that's too simple can be just as bad as giving a blank stare.
  • Being shy: It's difficult for an interviewer to get to know you if you don't share enough information. And if you appear timid, it can leave the impression that you might have difficulty adjusting to new social settings in college and actively participating in class discussions.
  • Bragging too much: While you shouldn't be so humble that you don't say anything positive about yourself when asked about your accomplishments, be careful not to go overboard. Going on for too long about how great you are and how many amazing things you've done can be off-putting. It's okay to let some of what you've done speak for itself.

For those who have been through the interview process before, do you have any other helpful hints? If so, please share them in the comments section!

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