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Your College Application Guide

by Radha Jhatakia

For seniors in high school, it’s about that time to dive into your college applications. The process is rather involved and has the potential to become very stressful but here’s how you can go about it while retaining your sanity.

First, you likely already have a list of colleges you are considering but start narrowing down your top contenders. Look at the majors they offer and see if they have the programs you’re interested in. Check the cost – financial aid may play a key role in what college you attend – and also see if they have activities that interest you (a sport you want to play, a specific student organization, a Greek system, an honors program, etc.). What’s the on-campus housing situation and could you see yourself living in the dorms? Consider these questions and more when deciding whether or not to apply to a college.

Second, check all the application deadlines. Remember, besides the actual application, you must submit test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters and personal statements and you need adequate time to procure all of these items. Also, review the fees associated with each application; some schools let you apply for free or a discounted rate online but you should also consider requesting application fee waivers if money is tight.

Third, the personal statement is the biggest part of the college application because it represents your personality. You may have a high GPA, AP classes and extracurricular activities but so do many other students – what will set you apart from the rest of the application pool is how you present yourself in the personal statement. Have a teacher or parent review your personal statement and edit it for you before submitting it to your college of choice.

Fourth – and although this is fourth on this list, you still want to get it done early – request recommendation letters. Ask teachers you’ve worked with and trust well in advance if they can write on your behalf. Have two or three for each college that requires one. Along with your personal information/resume/school involvement list, give the teacher an envelope that is stamped and addressed to the college(s) to which you’re applying so they can submit their letters directly.

Last but not least, take all your tests on time. If you haven’t taken the ACT, SAT or SAT II tests, register for the next available date; check which tests your colleges require and sign up for those ASAP!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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UChicago’s New Financial Aid Initiative Targets Local Students

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Chicago has recently announced the launch of UChicago Promise, an initiative aimed at helping high school students in the city of Chicago gain admission, pay for and succeed in college. The cornerstone of the program is the commitment from the university to eliminate loans from financial aid packages of students from Chicago who are admitted.

“Chicago, from our pre-schools to our world-renowned universities, is committed to ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The step taken today by the University of Chicago is a creative step that will help many of Chicago’s own achieve their goals and graduate without a financial burden.”

In addition to replacing loans with grants and other nonrepayable student aid, UChicago Promise includes an automatic waiver of the University’s application fee and offers a wide array of support and mentoring programs for aspiring college students. The initiative will take effect for those applying this year and will not be available to students with existing loans or who have already matriculated.


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Rick Perry Pushes $10,000 College Degree

Texas Governor’s Initiative Just One Way to Keep College Costs in Check

November 27, 2012

Rick Perry Pushes $10,000 College Degree

by Suada Kolovic

Under a plan unveiled in 2011, Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged institutions in his state to develop options for low-cost undergraduate degrees. Limiting the cost of a bachelor’s degree to no more than $10,000, 10 Texas colleges – which educate more than 50,000 students, or roughly 10-percent of the undergraduates at public universities in the state – have answered the call so far. "A $10,000 degree provides an opportunity for students to earn a low-cost, high-quality degree that will get them where they want to go in their careers and their lives," Perry said in a statement.

Most of the proposed inexpensive degree programs take advantage of community college and dual-enrollment high school credit options and are not available to student in most disciplines. When Perry issued his challenge last year, he wanted the state's universities to "leverage Web-based instruction, innovative teaching techniques and aggressive efficiency measures" to drive down the cost of a degree.

Although not affiliated with Perry’s initiative, Scholarships.com also gives students the opportunity to lower the cost of a college educaiton by obtaining scholarships and grants. As a leading scholarship search service and financial aid information resource, Scholarships.com plays a primary role in helping students make the decisions that shape their lives. On Scholarships.com, students are connected with tools to aid in researching and finding financial aid for college, as well as choosing a campus that's right for them. Our regularly updated proprietary database allows students to search 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion and quickly arrive at a list of awards for which they qualify. And it's all free. If you are interested in learning more about Rick Perry’s initiative or other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today.


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Season’s Greeting, Happy Birthday, Congratulations and More from this Scholarship of the Week!

Earn $10K via the Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest

December 3, 2012

Season’s Greeting, Happy Birthday, Congratulations and More from this Scholarship of the Week!

by Alexis Mattera

In this digital age, it’s not uncommon to receive emails, texts or Facebook wall posts in celebration of birthdays, holidays and other important life events. Sure, virtual contact can be easier but if you yearn for the days of handwritten correspondence (and are searching for money for college), our latest Scholarship of the Week is for you!

The Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest asks applicants to design the front of a greeting card (holiday, birthday, thank you, get well soon, congratulations, etc.) consisting of original photographs, artwork and/or computer graphics. The student with the winning design will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship and his or her design will be made into a greeting card to be sold on The Gallery Collection website.

This scholarship is open to all high school, undergraduate and graduate students. To download the entry form and to read the official rules, please visit The Gallery Collection’s website and to review additional scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Cooper Union Students Protest Tuition Change

by Suada Kolovic

After more than 110 years of tuition-free education, Cooper Union will no longer grant each admitted student a full-tuition scholarship. The response? Eleven students have barricaded themselves inside the college for the past 24 hours to protest the school’s decision.

According to the New York blog Gothamist, 11 Cooper Union students and one student journalist from The New School have barricaded themselves inside Cooper Union’s Foundation Building. They unfurled a red banner from the eighth floor which read “Free Education To All” and released a list of demands that included the resignation of Cooper Union president Jamshed Bharucha, a public affirmation of “the college’s commitment to free education” and more transparency for the Board of Trustees. The school released a statement that while a decision has yet to be made on whether or not they would charge tuition, it was being considered in light of a waning endowment and rising costs. We should note that no matter what the trustees vote, all current students are grandfathered in so they won’t be retroactively charged tuition or be asked to pay for the rest of their time at Cooper.

Since 1902, each of Cooper Union’s 1,000 undergraduates have received a full scholarship, valued at approximately $150,000 as of 2012. As a result, it is one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate generally below 10 percent, with both the art and architecture school’s acceptance rates often below 5 percent. What do you think of the efforts made by these 11 students? Do you agree with their sit-in form of protest?


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Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in what seems like an endless slump, many have come to question the validity of a college education in disciplines that don’t guarantee definite career paths for students once they’ve graduated. Majors on the chopping block include those in the humanities and social sciences and universities across the country aren’t turning a deaf ear to the issue: Officials in Florida are considering reducing tuition in order to steer students towards majors that are in demand in the job market.

Governor Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers are urging Florida’s 12 state universities to nudge students toward job-friendly degrees and suggesting that universities freeze tuition rates for three years for majors in “strategic areas.” In theory, an undergraduate student would pay less for a degree in engineering or biotechnology – whose classes are among the most expensive – than for a degree in history or psychology. Financing from the state would be expected to make up for the tuition gap. Now while the initiative is popular among state officials, liberal arts devotees at the University of Florida have organized a protest petition which has gained signatures from across the state. They argue that the move would inevitably reduce the number of students who take humanities classes, further diminishing financing for those departments.

What do you think of Florida’s attempt to encourage students into certain majors with financial initiatives? Do you think steering students into fields that they have little interest or aptitude in just to save money could lead to discontent in their futures? Let us know what you think in the comments section.


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College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

by Suada Kolovic

College board members have released a statement – “It’s not me, it’s you.” Okay, those might not have been their exact words but that was the overall message: According to a survey on higher education, most board members believe that higher education costs too much...but a majority also say their own institutions’ prices aren’t the problem. Society responded with a cynical, “Riiiiiiiight.”

A report on the recent “College Prices, Costs, and Outcomes: Who’s Minding the Gap Between Higher Education and the Public?” survey revealed a whopping 55 percent of respondents said higher education in general is too expensive relative to its value but 62 percent said that their institution costs weren’t the problem and were, in fact, appropriate. Susan Whealler Johnston, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Association of Governing Boards, said the survey is important because it provides insight into how board members perceive public concerns about higher education and how they then act in the boardroom. "What we have noticed is there's a major gap between the two,” said Johnston. The survey drew 2,539 responses from among the nearly 14,000 board members from the public and private colleges invited to participate in the survey about perceptions of college prices, costs and outcomes, with a response rate of 18.3 percent.

For more on this survey, click here...then tell us what you think!


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The FAFSA: New Year Means New Application

by Scholarships.com Staff

Though it’s a day off from school and work, New Year’s Day is also a day to get down to business. While you’re starting in on your New Year’s resolutions, opening up a new calendar, and packing up the holiday decorations, there’s one more thing that college students and college-bound high school students should do each January. The Department of Education starts accepting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as "FAFSA") on January 1 each year. State application deadlines fall soon after—as early as February in some cases. So while you might not start classes until August or September, you want to start applying for financial aid as soon as the FAFSA is available each year.

In order to complete a FAFSA, you will need the following:

  • your social security number
  • a driver’s license if you have one
  • bank statements and records of investments (if you have any)
  • records of untaxed income (again, if you have any)
  • your most recent tax return and W2s (2011 for the 2012-2013 FAFSA)
  • all of the above for your parents if you are considered a dependent
  • a PIN to sign electronically (go to pin.ed.gov to get one)

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California Legislation Proposes a $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree

by Suada Kolovic

In what seems to be a growing trend across the country, a California state legislator is the latest elected official to push for a bachelor’s degree that costs no more than $10,000 total (yes, total!). And while last year’s college graduates left school with an average of $25,000 in debt, the possibility of a $10,000 degree to incoming college freshman is encouraging.

Assemblyman Dan Logue (R) introduced the bill following similar initiatives in Florida and Texas: In the proposed California legislation, students would start to earn college credit in high school through Advanced Placement courses and would then enroll full-time at a community college. The state university would in turn accept up to 60 credits for transfer. The problem? There’s the possibility that the state itself could be responsible for much of the cost since the bill requires that schools and colleges be reimbursed for any mandated expenses. As of right now, the legislation has only one sponsor while the speaker of the California Assembly, a democrat, reportedly has alternative plans for higher education reform.

Given California’s current budget woes, do you think the proposed legislation is the right option for the state? Let us know what you think.


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College Student Tweets Oil Tycoon for Tuition Assistance…and Gets a Response!

by Suada Kolovic

Chances are if you’re a college student, you have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and/or Reddit account and with all that social media at your fingertips, you have a few options: 1. Repost a someecard that your friends have seen no less than 20 times (it’s still hilarious to you!) 2. Spend some time analyzing Taylor Swift’s latest breakup 3. Catch up on Grumpy Cat memes or 4. Tweet billionaire oil tycoons for some financial assistance. Well, you wouldn’t be the first to partake in the latter pastime.

Seth Samuelson, a current freshman at Oklahoma State University, had been hounding billionaire T. Boone Pickens on Twitter since September asking for help in paying for his college education. Last week, he finally got a response...though not one that he was hoping for. The social media-savvy billionaire tweeted back, “Give me 10 good reasons why I should do it,” following up a day later with, “Admire your guts but unless your [grade point average] is 3.0 or better, don’t worry about the 10 reasons.” Although getting a response at all was quite a shock, we should mention that Samuelson had tweeted Pickens a total of 68 times. “He’s a generous man, so why not ask?” Samuelson, an 18-year-old sports media major, told FORBES on Monday. Alas, Samuelson did not reply because he does not meet the GPA requirements. Jay Rosser, a spokesman for Pickens, wrote in an email that the billionaire “appreciated Samuelson’s persistence and wished him the best.”

Do you agree with Samuelson’s attempt to coax a billionaire into paying for his college education? Let us know in the comments section. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a different route in financing your college degree, Scholarships.com is a great place to start!


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