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2014's Most Memorable Commencement Speakers Are...

June 3, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Ah, college graduation. It’s a time filled with incredible hope, fear and potentially a famous commencement speaker. And while notable politicians, celebrities and artists are usually called upon to speak to a crowd full of fresh-faced 20-somethings embarking on the next chapter of adulthood, we couldn't help but wonder who shared some of the most memorable speeches this year. Check out some notable moments below:

Jim Carrey, Maharishi School of Management: "You can fail at something you don't want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love."

Grace Potter, St. Lawrence University: "Honestly, more than anything else, it is love that got me here today… I see now that it's these experiences, large and small and people who give their time in our early lives that truly shape our path. I hope you can all feel my gratitude and share in this experience."

John Legend, University of Pennsylvania: "We’re taught when we’re young that the opposite of love is hate, but it’s not. Hate is a byproduct, hate is a result. Being a hater isn’t cool -- nobody wants that. But hate comes from one thing: fear. Fear is the opposite of love.”

Colin Powell, High Point University: "Go forth and raise strong families remembering that all you can ever leave behind is your reputation, your good works and your children for the next generation."

Rainn Wilson, University of Southern California: "In this me-me-me culture, focus on yourself [and you will] find only misery, depression, emptiness. Focus on helping others [and you will find] joy, contentment, gratitude and buckets and buckets of eudaimonia."

Charlie Day, Merrimack College: "You cannot let a fear of failure or a fear of comparison or a fear of judgment stop you from doing what's going to make you great. You cannot succeed without this risk of failure. You cannot have a voice without this risk of criticism. And you cannot love without the risk of loss."

For the full list of memorable commencement speeches, head over to the Huffington Post. And if you’re feeling anxious or nervous about going out into the world and finding that first job, or simply sticking to a traditional 9-5 schedule, check out some of our resources on what you should expect come life after college. We have everything from sticking to a real world budget to coping with the stress that may come with leaving college. So don’t fret, we’ve got your back!

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Michelle Obama Tells Students “My College Story Can Be Yours”

June 17, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

First Lady Michele Obama has always been a champion of higher education. Whether she's petitioning for more low-income students to attend college or drawing parallels on her own college experience in order to encourage students, promoting a college education has always been among her top priorities. In fact, she recently expanded on her personal college story with a piece in Education Week, where she promoted her latest Reach Higher campaign.

The Reach Higher Initiative is an effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether in a professional training program, community college or four-year college or university. "My message to these young people is that while all of us adults – teachers, administrators and policymakers – have to do a better job of giving them the best schools and opportunities for their future, at the end of the day, they also need to step up and take responsibility for their education themselves," said the first lady on the need for young people to take the future of their education into their own hands. “That means going to class every day, setting their goals high and working like crazy to achieve them. That's been the story of my life and my husband's life, so when I talk to these young people, my hope is that they see that our story can be their story, too – as long as they're willing to dedicate themselves to their education,” she added. To read her full commentary on the importance of completing a college education, head over to edweek.org.

Do you find encouragement in sharing similar struggles with someone so successful? Share your thoughts on Michele Obama's Reach Higher Initiative in the comments section. And for more info on adjusting to college life, check out Scholarships.com: We've come up with some resources to ease you into that transition with information on everything from choosing the right school to deciding whether or not a state university is right for you. Browse through our College Prep section for more info!

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Sleep-Deprived College Students: College to Open Nap Rooms

July 1, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

We've all been there: Going about our day without a care in the world when it dawns on us that (go figure) our term paper on the pros and cons of procrastination in the creative process is due tomorrow. Panicked, we consider emailing our professor an excuse about a death in the family but given we killed off Nana (who's actually alive and well back home) last semester during finals week, we decide it's best to pull an all-nighter. The next day, we're irritable, unmotivated and just plain sluggish and while the simple solution is to overcome procrastination and not leave an assignment until the last minute, the Art Center College of Design has suggested a different approach: a nap room on campus.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based college opened its first nap room last year in an effort to combat exhaustion among its mostly commuter students. "Our Nap Room is available for students four weeks during each 14-week term. We are a year-round program with three terms a year," said spokesperson Teri Bond. "The room is available 24 hours on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during those four weeks each term." And while there isn’t a determined space just yet, Art Center students are hoping to follow in the footsteps of the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Michigan in instituting a permanent nap room on campus. (For more on this story, click here.)

If you’re a fan of napping between classes, do you think it’s your university’s responsibility to provide nap rooms for students? Let us know what you think in the comments section. And for a more detailed look into the Art Center College of Design or hundreds of other universities, check out our College Search.

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Most Expensive Public Schools for Out-of-State Students

July 3, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

For the budget-conscious high school senior, it seems like a no-brainer to apply to the local state school for the best shot at affordable tuition. But with the economy in a slump and funding cuts becoming the norm, public universities across the country are more interested in recruiting out-of-state students. Why? It’s pretty simple: On average, tuition and fees for students crossing state lines is more than double that of their in-state peers. So if you have your sights set on schools beyond your state’s boundaries, check out the 10 most expensive public schools for out-of-state students (figures do not including room and board, books and other miscellaneous costs):

Did your prospective college make the list and does this information alter your interest in the school? Is it fair for colleges facing financial woes to place the burden on the shoulders of incoming out-of-state students? Share your thoughts in the comment section and for more info on how to fund your college education, head over to Scholarships.com.

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Newsflash: University Offers Athletic Scholarship to Gamers

June 24, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

An Illinois university is redefining the traditional notion of what it means to be a college athlete: This fall, Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. Gamers rejoice!

Citing the "large surge in popularity" of video game competitions, the university announced that it "recognizes the value and legitimacy of eSports and is excited to add eSports to its already rich athletic curriculum." Since news of the scholarships broke last week, the school has received hundreds of inquiries from prospective e-athletes. Interested in the details? Robert Morris will fund about 30 renewable scholarships, some of which will be valued at $19,000! Robert Morris’ team will join the Collegiate Star League, made up of 103 universities, including Arizona State, George Washington and Harvard. Kurt Melcher, Robert Morris University’s associate athletic director, said he's happy to see online athletes included in the school's sports program. "League of Legends is a competitive, challenging game which requires a significant amount of teamwork to be successful," he said in a statement. "Robert Morris has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for a diverse student population with different interests and skills." (For more on this story, click here.)

Is Robert Morris’ inclusion of eSports the wave of the future? Should other schools begin offering athletic scholarships to gamers? Let us know your thought in the comments section. For additional information on more traditional athletic scholarships, head over to Scholarships.com’s Sports Scholarships section. Be sure to check out our examples of school-based and sports scholarships from outside organizations and don't rule out academic scholarships when applying for funding either!

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Class of 2008 Grads Doing Fine, Finding Employment

July 9, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Class of 2008 graduated college in the midst of the Great Recession but new government data show that in terms of employment, they're doing just fine.

The National Center for Education Statistics study entitled "First Look at the Employment Experiences and Lives of College Graduates, 4 Years On" surveyed 17,000 people who graduated in the 2007-2008 academic year. They found that of those graduates who were not enrolled in further postsecondary studies in 2012, 82.5 percent were employed; of those individuals, 84.5 percent were in one full-time job, 7.8 percent had one part-time job and 7.7 percent had multiple jobs. Anthony P. Carneval, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, said the 2007-2008 graduates were "basically a step ahead of the storm," in terms of having jobs lined up before the recessions effects were felt. (Unfortunately, students who graduated in 2009 and 2010 were not so lucky.) You'll find several highlights from the study below but for a more in-depth look, click here:

  • Graduates who worked but had never gone on for more postsecondary education had held an average of 2.1 jobs in the years since graduation. Nearly 39 percent had held one job, while 11.4 percent had held four or more jobs.
  • On average, graduates who had not pursued further postsecondary education worked 84 percent of the months since graduating, spent 5.8 percent of those months unemployed and spent 10.2 percent of them out of the labor force.
  • Graduates who were not enrolled in a postsecondary program in 2012 and who had a full- or part-time job worked, on average, 41.2 hours a week in that job. Full-time workers earned an average annual salary of $52,200 and a median salary of $46,000. Part-time workers earned an average of $25,900 and a median of $20,200.

It's important to note that the study doesn't show whether graduates were employed in a field related to their studies, how student loan debt affected graduates' wealth or earning potential, or whether they sought financial support from family members. With that being said, what do you think of the findings? And to the recent college graduates, how is your job search going? Share your thoughts and experiences in our comments section!

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Pay It Forward Plan Draws Serious Criticism

July 21, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to paying for a college education, it seems as though students have two options: deal with impossibly high payments while they're in school or crippling debt for years afterwards. Well, Oregon students were provided a third option last year when legislators approved the Pay it Forward plan that would allow students to attend state colleges without paying tuition or taking out student loans but would instead commit a small percentage of their future incomes to repaying the state. It turns out, however, that said plan isn't the saving grace for college students afterall.

First proposed by students at Portland State University, Pay It Forward has drawn serious criticism since Oregon passed a law to study the idea. According to a report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, analysis shows that the plan would leave most graduates deeper in debt than if they had taken out loans and would throw colleges’ balance sheets into uncertainty. Here are some of the more prevalent points in the association’s report but for a more detailed look, click here:

  • Pay It Forward does not account for non-tuition costs like room and board.
  • Students who generally rack up the most debt – those at for-profit and private nonprofit institutions — would not be eligible for the program.
  • The program would have “enormous” start-up costs.

Early estimates suggest that Oregon would have to take about 3 percent of a former student’s earnings for 20 years for it to work. With that being said, what are your thoughts on Pay It Forward? Do you think it’s too soon to tell if this is a viable option for other states to adapt?

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College Students, Grab Those Scanner Guns: College Registries Are Becoming a Thing!

August 1, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

To my understanding, the general rule of thumb for a creating registry is as follows: any event marking a significant life change (marriage, baby, new home, etc.) warrants one. And while no one would argue that heading off to college would fit that description, only recently have college-bound students been encouraged to register for items that would smooth their transitions to college life.

Once reserved for brides and moms-to-be, big box retailers are opening up their gift registries to college students. Target rolled out a college registry in June and already thousands have signed up. "Our college-bound guests were looking for an easy way to manage lists and share them with friends and family online," said Jenna Reck, public relations manager for Target. "When we looked at the registry experience we already offered through the Target Wedding and Target Baby registries, we quickly realized that it was the right solution." The registry will be accessible year-round and is geared toward students in every stage of their campus lives. Other retailers including Bed Bath and Beyond, The Container Store and Walmart also have registries that cater to college students. (For more on this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on college registries? Do you think they’re practical or tacky? Share your thoughts in the comments section. For more information on preparing for college and what to expect once you get there, look over our College Prep section.

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Tech Mistakes to Avoid as an Online Student

August 20, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Say what you will about Generation Y but one thing's for sure, they are one tech savvy group. Armed with smartphones, laptops and tablets, they are plugged in and on the go 24/7. And yet, so many students make the same tech mistakes repeatedly. (I’m looking at you, student who hasn't saved their work once in the past hour!) Luckily, U.S. News and World Report has compiled a list of mistakes to avoid when starting school as an online student, check them out below:

  • Not backing up your data: "If I had a nickel for every time a student came to me crying to me, I wouldn’t have to teach," says Margaret Reneau, an instructor in St. Xavier University's online graduate nursing program. Reneau recommends using the online file storage service Dropbox, which offers free accounts of at least two gigabytes. Other options include regular back-ups to an external hard drive or uploading homework to cloud-based Google Docs.
  • Not asking what browser is recommended for your program and courses: Check if your browser is compatible with the learning management system that your program uses and with the technical features in your courses.
  • Not checking your email: Check your school email regularly for important announcements or forward your school emails to your personal account if that's the account you rely on.
  • Not using apps: If your school offers an app, download it. Other apps such as Evernote can help with managing class work deadlines and projects.
  • Not downloading a free reference manager: Free academic software programs like Zotero and Mendeley help students save, manage and cite research resources. This can save students a lot of time by making it easier to collect, organize and share research.

For the full list of tips, head over to U.S. News and World Report. What do you think of the suggestions? Are there any you'd like to add? Share your thoughts in the comment section. And for more information on preparing for college, head over to our College Prep section!

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Professor Shoots Himself in the Foot...Literally

September 5, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The ongoing debate to allow guns on college campuses took an awkward turn on Tuesday when a professor at Idaho State University accidentally shot himself in the foot.

The incident comes just two months after a bill was signed by Governor Butch Otter (R) allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry guns on state and college campuses. The bill – which made Idaho the seventh state to allow concealed guns on campuses – prohibits guns in dorms, arenas, stadiums or theaters. And while it is still unclear what cause the firearm to discharge, Lt. Paul Manning of the Pocatello Police Department told the Daily Beast the unnamed professor’s handgun was in the professor’s pants pocket and was not visible during class. The professor (who possesses an enhanced concealed carry permit) was treated for non-life threatening injuries and an investigation is currently underway to determine if he will be charged with a misdemeanor for discharging a firearm within city limits. “When they passed this law, it was bound to happen," ISU President Arthur Vailas told the Idaho State Journal; an opponent of the bill, he described the incident as "scary and embarrassing.” (For more on this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on having concealed weapons on campus? Do you agree with gun advocates and the stance that more firearms would increase campus safety or do you think it would do the exact opposite? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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