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Demand for College Degrees Grows, Study Finds

September 30, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Reality check: For some students, heading off to college for four years isn't ideal. And while college isn't for everyone, an education should be. In order to stay competitive in the workforce, it's important to realize that there are opportunities in the form of both trade and vocational schools for students who don't see themselves attending classes on traditional college campuses...or are there?

According to a report by Boston-based labor analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, more employers are demanding college degrees for positions that historically didn't require one. The shift is most significant for occupations traditionally dominated by workers without college degrees: For example, fewer than 20 percent of currently employed executive secretaries and executive assistants have bachelor's degree but now 65 percent of postings for such roles require the degree. Why? One reason may be that employers are requiring a bachelor's degree to narrow the applicant pool to a more manageable size. "For an individual employer, that may be an understandable step," said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, in a statement. "When everybody does it, however, this becomes a trend that could shut millions of Americans out of middle-skill, middle-class jobs." (For more on this study, click here.)

What are your thoughts on upcredentialing in the workforce? What problems do you see arising? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don’t forget to fund your college education the right way – free! Create a Scholarships.com profile today and get matched with funding opportunities that are unique to you.

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How to Effectively Network While Still in College

October 8, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you're in college, chances are you've been reminded – on a daily basis, no less – about the importance of networking in the adult world. Why wait until then? Get a head start on building your network and you might connect with someone who could potentially help you find a job after you graduate. Need some help getting started? Check out U.S. News & World Report's six tips to network while still in college:

  • Play the student card: Take advantage of the fact that you’re still a student. Alumni are more likely to help you while you’re still in school because you’re just asking for advice and not looking for a job, says Heather Krasna, director of career services at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. Ask questions, request an informational interview and grow those relationships while there’s no pressure.
  • Use your friends’ parents as resources: Believe it or not, your friends’ parents are great contacts. Not only do they offer decades of experience but since there’s already a relationship established, you’re more likely to be comfortable asking for advice and possibly their contacts!
  • Get out of the bubble: Some campuses offer that country-like feel, a pastoral paradise if you will. And while it’s great not having big city distractions, it can hinder your networking opportunities. Emily Bennington, who helps college graduates transition into careers through her company, Professional Studio 365, suggests, “Rather than using your savings for a spring break in Daytona...go to a conference that's within your industry.”
  • Use LinkedIn: So you’re a whiz when it comes to Twitter and Facebook but if LinkedIn isn’t on your radar, you’re going to fall behind professionally. The sooner you familiarize yourself with LinkedIn, the better. Boasting more than 300 million members, it’s a great way to engage with professionals in your desired field.
  • Use Twitter strategically: Sure, Twitter keeps you posted on what’s most important to you (be that Kim Kardashian or Scholarships.com) but it can also provide an avenue for you to connect with professionals in your field. Make a list of people in your industry who you look up to and use the network to connect with them.
  • Get an internship: This tip is an oldie but a goodie. The value of an internship is undeniable – not only will you walk away with real-life experience to put on your resume, an internship puts you in eyesight of people who work in your field and positions you conveniently ahead of other job seekers.

Do you find these tips helpful? Do you have any that you’d like to add? If so, please mention them in the comments section. And for more tips on preparing for life after college, visit our Resources section. Plus, for more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section and conduct a free scholarship search today!

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18 Year Old Makes History in This Year’s Election

November 7, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With this year’s midterm elections behind us, have you ever wonder: “Man, I could do a better job than [insert disappointing political official’s name here]”? Only to realize almost immediately that crushing sense of defeat given the fact that you’re too young and inexperienced to run… or are you?

Saira Blair, an 18-year-old West Virginia University freshman, won a seat on the West Virginia House of Delegates after defeating her Democratic opponent 63 percent to 30 percent. Doing the majority of her campaigning out of her dorm room, Saira will be the youngest state lawmaker in the nation. She campaigned on a pledge to work to reduce certain taxes on businesses and holds anti-abortion and pro-gun positions. "When I made the decision to run for public office, I did so because I firmly believe that my generation's voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of our state's most challenging issues," she said. Studying economics and Spanish, Blair will defer her next semester so that she can attend the legislature’s 60-day session in the spring and will resume her coursework in the fall. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of an 18 year old becoming the youngest state lawmaker in the country? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And as always, don’t forget to create a free profile Scholarships.com to get matched with awards that reflect your interests and attributes.

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10 Universities Where Most Classes Are Small

December 16, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The transition from high school to college is most evident to students when they realize they’ll no longer be coddled in cozy classes of 20 students or fewer. Lecture halls with 300-plus students are the norm at most major universities, where classes tend to be impersonal, relationships with professors are typically nonexistent and students feel more like numbers than people. So for those who prefer a learning environment that provides back-and-forth discussion amongst students and professors, U.S. News and World Report has compiled a list of universities with the highest percentage of small classes.

According to the data, several universities with undergraduate enrollments below 3,000, as well as a few top ranked universities with larger undergraduate populations, reported that a vast majority of their classes have fewer than 20 students. Check out the top 10 universities with the smallest class sizes below. (For more information on this survey, click here.)

How important is class size to you? Are large lectures deal breakers in your book? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile for a list of scholarships that are personalized to you! Whether you’re studying at a university or community college, we’ll help you find the financial aid you need to pay for school. Start your search today!

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Is Earning a College Degree Worth It? Study Finds Modest Return for Some

February 10, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

It wasn't too long ago that the majority of Americans agreed that one had to pursue a college degree in order to succeed in the workforce. Unfortunately for millennials, the rate of success after obtaining said degree is no longer so intrinsically tied: According to reports, millions of college students don't graduate, suffer a mismatch between education and employment and are left with massive amounts of debt.

New research suggests that earning a college degree is no longer the surest ticket to the middle class. "'Ticket' implies a college degree is something you can just cash in," said Alan Benson, assistant business professor at the University of Minnesota. "But it doesn’t work that way. A college degree is more of a stepping stone, one ingredient to consider when you’re cooking up your career...It’s not always the best investment for everyone." Benson, along with MIT’s Frank Levy and business analyst Raimudo Esteva, co-authored a new paper examining the value of public university options in California. They found that factors like how long it takes to complete a degree and whether students even make it to graduation can significantly diminish the value of pursuing higher education. Unsurprisingly, the study also found that students who take out loans and don’t graduate on time incur much more debt. All in all, Benson concluded that the investment of a college education is generally better for those who graduate – on time – from a school with healthier resources. (For more on their research, click here.)

Do you think that a college degree is necessary for gainful employment and upward mobility? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don’t forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search where you'll get match with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

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What Colleges Can Expect from Congress in 2015

January 21, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

With a new year comes a new Congress under new-ish management. Republicans will control the Senate for the first time in eight years, while the House of Representative will have its largest Republican majority in since 1928. But what does any of that have to do with higher education? Here are five predictions, courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education:

  1. Gridlock will continue. The gridlock and partisan warfare that we've seen in recent years will continue...and is likely to worsen as the 2016 election approaches. By the fall, the prospects for compromise on major legislation – education or otherwise – will be dim.
  2. Funding will remain tight. Budgets won’t change much, especially once the latest round of across-the-board spending cuts (known as the sequester) is applied. In that context, the most colleges will be able to hope for are modest increases for research and student aid; most programs will have to fight just to keep level funding. The Perkins student loan program, which is set to expire in September, will be particularly vulnerable. If government accountants conclude that continuing the program would cost taxpayers, lawmakers may abolish it.
  3. Colleges will have to compete for attention. Republicans have laid out several priorities for 2015, including overhauling President Obama's new healthcare system and approving the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline. Renewal of the Higher Education Act – the main law governing federal student aid – is not among those priorities.
  4. Simplification will rule the day. In the Senate, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has drafted legislation to shrink the FAFSA to the size of a postcard and to reduce the number of grant and loan programs. Meanwhile, House Republicans have offered a road map for reauthorization that calls for "one grant, one loan, and one work-study program" and just two loan-repayment programs.
  5. For-profit colleges will breathe a little easier. Republicans aren’t likely to single out the sector in the way Democrats have. Rather, they will seek to apply any accountability regimes to all colleges.

For more on their predictions, click here. Any you'd like to add? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile for a list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

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Top 10 Least Expensive Colleges to Earn Your Degree

February 6, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

It seems as though students are willing to do just about anything to save money while in college, from working multiple low-paying jobs to sticking to an Ramen-noodle-only diet to applying early and often for college scholarships. But what if there was a more direct route to affordable education...like selecting a school that won't cost you $200,000 to attend.

According to USA Today, your best bet is Berea College in Kentucky. With the average annual price tag clocking in at $2,382, students pay $10,257 total for four years. We should mention that 100 percent of the student population receives financial aid and that students also participate in a labor program in order to keep costs low. In order to determine the figures, they multiplied the average net cost most students pay (including average amounts of financial aid) by the average length of time to graduate. The resulting number is the average price most students will end up paying. Interested in other affordable higher education options? Check out USA Today's top 10 least expensive colleges to earn your degree below:

Did any of your top choices make the list? If not, would you consider a college based on its affordability? Let us know in the comments section. And don’t forget that even affordable college tuition can still be expensive! Try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search where you'll get match with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

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This Year’s Quirkiest College Admissions Essay Prompts

More Colleges Posing Offbeat Essay Questions

March 3, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

When you envisioned your college application process, I'm sure you thought you were more than prepared. This was the moment you were told to draw on your strengths and articulate every achievement – countless community service hours, a stellar GPA and the fact that you were senior class president – and every sentence would be so perfectly and meticulously thought out that who you are would just leap right off the page. You prepared your answer on why you belonged at your dream college and pinpointed what you had to offer...until you reviewed the actual application and found a serious curveball: I doubt you expected celebrating your nerdy side could get you in!

In addition to traditional essay prompts, more and more institutions are jumping on the unconventional question bandwagon and are interested in knowing not only why students want to gain admission but just how creative they can be when challenged. Here are some far-from-average questions schools are asking this year:

Tufts University

Celebrate your nerdy side.

University of Chicago

What's so odd about odd numbers?

Lehigh University

You’ve just reached your one millionth hit on your YouTube video. What is the video about?

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

You were just invited to speak at the White House. Write your speech.

University of Notre Dame

A good story starts with a good beginning. Get us hooked in the first 150 words.

University of Richmond

Tell us about spiders.

Soon-to-be college applicants, what do you think of this approach to the admissions essay? Are you a fan of the challenge or frustrated by the fact that you are expected to impress them with your achievements and extracurricular activities and be witty, too? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you're interested in learning more about applying for college and the application essay, check out our College Prep 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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Fraternity Shut Down Over Racist Chant

March 10, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity shut down its University of Oklahoma chapter after a video surfaced of members singing a racist chant. The video in question, sent anonymously to The Oklahoma Daily, shows members of the fraternity singing a song that includes a racial slur for African-Americans and a reference to lynching.

In response, students rallied on the campus Monday morning to protest the video. University President David L. Boren condemned their actions and closed the fraternity house on Monday, ordering members to remove their belongings by midnight Tuesday. He mentioned that the university was also considering whether those “most responsible” could be expelled, adding that he hoped they would voluntarily leave the university. Boren also posted a statement on his Twitter account in which he said of the men in the video: “You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves ‘Sooners.’ Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots.” (For more on this story, head over to The Oklahoma Daily.)

While there are plenty of upstanding Greek organizations, the stereotypical fraternity lifestyle is one endorsing excess in booze and exclusion under the guise of promoting brotherhood and academic excellence. What do you think of the latest scandal to rock a nationally-recognized fraternity? Do you think the university's actions were enough? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you’re interested in learning more about campus life, check out our College Prep 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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Fired Administrator Pressured to File False Sexual Harassment Charge

March 24, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

A former administrator at Chicago State University has accused its president and other officials of firing her because she refused to file a false sexual harassment charge against an outspoken faculty member critical of the university's leadership.

According to former Chicago State interim vice president for enrollment and student affairs LaShondra Peebles, administrators that included CSU president Wayne D. Watson pressured her to file a sexual harassment charge against associate professor of political science Phillip A. Beverly in hopes of terminating him and shutting down his blog, CSU Faculty Voice. (Contributors routinely published criticism of Watson and other top officials at Chicago State.) Peebles claims administrator pressured her at several meeting to file the false charge and accused her of "not being a 'team player'" when she refused. She was fired on June 2, 2014 but on February 18, 2015, she sued Watson and the Chicago State Board of Trustees for wrongful termination under Illinois’s State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, alleging in part that she was fired for refusing to file the false sexual harassment complaint against Beverly. That same month, Watson announced that he would retire next year when his contract expires.

What do you think of CSU's actions? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And for information on CSU or countless other universities, use our College Search tool today! And don't forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

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