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by Agnes Jasinski

More study abroad participants outside the kinds of majors that typically spend time overseas are going to places like Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to recent data from the Institute of International Education, with less growth in European countries that have traditionally been considered study abroad staples.

While Britain is still the most popular study abroad destination, the number of program participants there grew by only 2 percent over the last year, compared to 19 percent in China, nearly 20 percent in India, and 18 percent to countries in Africa, such as Ghana. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education this week describes possible reasons for the trend. College students could be looking toward the future and are intrigued by technological advances in countries like India, as many of the new study abroad participants come from majors outside the usual liberal arts programs. (The number of math and science majors studying abroad increased by about 17 percent.) And signing up for a program in a developing country will cost a lot less than spending a semester in Western Europe.

Last year was a record year for study abroad programs, with more than 260,000 American students participating in programs across the world, an increase of about 8.5 percent over the year before. Why the increase? Looking at the kinds of programs that have seen increases could lead to some explanation. Study abroad programs in the health sciences increased by about 19 percent. At home, more undergraduates are interested in focusing on public health issues, which lends itself easily to study abroad programs. And economic problems in the United States have affected the global economies, making it less expensive to travel to many destinations.

The number of foreign students coming to study in the United States has also increased by about 8 percent over the last year, according to the Institute. The number of first-time international students rose even more, by about 16 percent. The increases were most apparent among undergraduate students, which is somewhat surprising as international students have traditionally come to study here for graduate programs.

If you're interested in studying abroad, don't assume you'll need to pay for a program out of pocket or increase your student loan debt. There are study abroad scholarships available to help you cover those expenses, especially if you’ve shown that you have significant financial need.


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by Agnes Jasinski

There are a number of scholarship for women out there, and as a response to a weak economy, scholarship providers have also taken notice of mothers going back to school to improve their financial opportunities and provide for their families. If you're a mom returning to college (whether you're single or not), consider that when you're looking for scholarships, because there are awards out there based on almost any characteristic.

This week's Scholarship of the Week, the $1,000 Mommy Goes to College award through MyUSearch, targets moms who wish to go to college to not only broaden their own horizons, but inspire their children to do the same. The award will be given to one mom who is up to the challenges of balancing the duties of both college and motherhood, and applicants will asked to write an essay on that theme. If you're a mommy looking for ways to fund your college dreams, you could be eligible for this award, or others like it.

Prize: $1,000

Eligibility: All applicants must be mothers who have an annual combined household income of $100,000 or less. Eligible women must be planning to pursue an undergraduate degree at an accredited U.S. college or university, and have not yet enrolled in at their intended college. This scholarship is for first year and transfer students only who will begin their first semesters on or before October of 2010.

Deadline: December 31, 2009

Required Material: Applicants must complete an application through the scholarship provider, which includes a written or video essay component on the following topic: "What is your biggest challenge as a mother trying to get a degree? What can colleges and universities do to help you overcome this challenge and encourage other mothers to further their education?"

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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by Agnes Jasinski

One thing has dominated the news and the world of politics for weeks - the health care-reform bill.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, which would cover about 96 percent of Americans, last weekend. It now awaits a vote from the Senate side, with a good amount of compromising expected if the bill has a chance to pass at all.

But what does this mean for education? A focus on health care recently has highlighted the need for more primary care doctors, and any legislation that would expand access to health care would obviously lead to an increase in the number of medical professionals to care for that influx of patients. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week describes discussions that were being had among medical professionals at this week's Association of American Medical Colleges annual meeting. According to most, the equation is simple: more patients require more doctors, and more doctors require more residency programs to accommodate the kind of growth that would be needed with any expansions in health care access.

Despite the call for more doctors, medical school applications increased by just 0.1 percent this year according to that same association, even though four new medical schools opened at Florida International University, Texas Tech University, the University of Central Florida, and the Commonwealth Medical College. Another at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will open next year. Many other schools added massive expansions to their medical school campuses. It also isn't just the possibility of expanded health care access that could spread doctors thin. The association worries about the impending wave of retiring baby boomer-physicians, and claims there would be shortage of as many as 159,000 doctors by 2025.

Obviously, not everyone can go to medical school and become a doctor. And not everyone can stomach the costs of going to medical school. According to the association, most medical students graduate medical school with about $156,000 in student loans, and primary care doctors make less money after they leave school with all that debt than other medical specialties.

If you're set on becoming a doctor, you do have options in reducing your student loan debt. Apply for scholarships. There are medical scholarships out there, including our own Scholarships.com Health Scholarship. The deadline for that one isn't until Nov. 30, so you still have time to fill out a profile and conduct a free scholarship search. If you qualify for that or other medical scholarships, those results will appear in your scholarship search results. Know your options, because even though there might be a job waiting for you once you graduate, you may be looking at quite a bit of debt post-college.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Scholarships.com is pleased to announce its 2009 Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship winners!

The five winners of the 2009 Scholarships.com Resolve to Evolve Scholarship tackled college costs, achievement gaps, energy policy, and post-graduation struggles in essays that provided not only their criticism and opinions, but workable solutions to problems facing the country.

College students have been creatively addressing current events and issues through the Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship since 2006. This year, the contest asked applicants to explore the efficacy of general education requirements or create their own “calls for change” in response to the current administration’s tasks for the future. The five winners each received $1,000 scholarship awards, and will have their essays posted online and forwarded to officials who may be able to act on their suggestions.

This year’s winners were Jennifer C., who argued that general education requirements should include life skills to help students get and keep jobs after graduation; Andrew K., who suggested legalizing and taxing marijuana to pay for two years of free tuition for every college-bound American; Tara M., who proposed investing in early childhood education to close achievement gaps and support lifelong learning; Yvonne V., who suggested more flexible general education requirements with a firm foundation that left room for greater freedom after the first year of school; and Tai W., who offered a strategy for energy reform in the United States.

"For me, winning the Resolve to Evolve scholarship has a special meaning. I am a returning student, and it took a lot of motivation to return to school after a seven-year hiatus. ... Winning this scholarship helped me prove to myself that I can succeed and accomplish my goals," Tai W. said about the scholarship application process.

Jennifer C. compared winning the award to "having my own cheering squad encouraging me to go on with my education and helping me succeed."To learn more about this year's winners and winners from previous years, visit our Resolve to Evolve award winners page. We also have a Success Stories page for scholarship searchers who have landed some generous scholarship funding by applying for awards early and seeking out scholarships often. Check those out to give you a confidence boost for your own search, as it's a great time to be looking for scholarships. And remember, essay scholarships aren't the only awards out there. Conduct a free scholarship search to see the kinds of awards you may qualify for, because many won't require an impressive academic record or essay-writing ability. Good luck!


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by Agnes Jasinski

It seems that student veterans will finally be getting the assistance they need this Veterans Day. A new website from the American Council on Education will improve access to education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for military veterans who have faced a number of delays in the processing of their financial aid.

The site, which was unveiled earlier this week, will also help the student veterans choose colleges and future careers, with tips and advice on why college is an important investment and preparing for the transition from the military to a college campus.  The site intends to make it easier for student veterans to navigate not only the college and financial aid application process, but to give those students frustrated with backlogs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs a place to go for guidance.  The Post-9/11 GI Bill has faced a number of obstacles since its creation in August. A backlog of applications caused delays as long as eight weeks for some eligible military recipients, with emergency $3,000 checks eventually issued to student veterans whose financial aid packages were pending. The new law—similar to the WWII GI Bill— was created to bring more financial aid to troops who had served since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (Scholarships are also available to the children and families of the victims of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.) The bill will provide up to 36 months of financial assistance, payable for 15 years following the student veterans' releases from active duty. The bill covers maximum in-state tuition and fees at public institutions, including many military-friendly schools, and covers a monthly housing allowance, and an annual $1,000 books and supplies stipend. (Student veterans enrolled in online degree universities will not receive housing allowances.)

Many of the colleges participating in the program have been accepting late payments from the students to make up for the lag in financial aid application processing. Assuming all goes well with the disbursement of funds from the VA, and the department gets a handle on the backlog—the department hired additional staff when the number of applications continued to grow and overwhelmed regional offices—most student veterans should be getting to the point where they will be receiving regular checks to cover the costs of their new lives on college campuses across the country.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Scholarships.com has a guest blog on CampusCompare today on the start of the scholarship application season, in honor of November being National Scholarship Month. Whether you’re just beginning to apply early decision to colleges on your list or are already on the campus of your choice, November is the perfect time to begin seeking out and applying for scholarships for the following year.

To read more and to check out the site, visit http://www.campuscompare.com. CampusCompare is a free website that helps college-bound students find the right school for them by offering free college search tools, like information on 15 categories of college life for over 3,000 colleges, and college admissions advice.


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by Agnes Jasinski

If you haven't already been seeking out and applying for scholarships, what better time to start than National Scholarship Month? November was designated as National Scholarship Month by the National Scholarship Providers Association to bring more awareness of scholarship opportunities to the college-bound or those already pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees. The organization works with scholarship providers to make them more effective in providing you with scholarship opportunities and exposing college students to the number of awards out there.

National Scholarship Month was switched from May to November in 2008 for a reason. Now is a great time to start applying for awards, as by next spring, many scholarship deadlines have passed and funding has already been disbursed. And even if you have several months to get ready for a scholarship application deadline, apply early. Scholarships are constantly being added and created, and in a tough economy, best practice will always be to apply early and apply often to get the most out of your scholarship search.

Browse through our site for tips on applying for scholarships to improve your chances of padding your financial aid package with scholarship money. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that your chances of winning a scholarship award are slim to none. But someone wins each award, right? Why shouldn't it be you? For an idea of the kinds of awards you could win if you put the time and effort into your scholarship search, see our Success Stories page. Many of those students applied to a lot of scholarships before winning one, or had the same apprehensions you might have about your chances to win an award. Now they're enjoying life on campus with less of a reliance on student loans and a new confidence that they were chosen to win these awards from large pools of applicants.

Celebrate National Scholarship Month by starting with a free college scholarship search, where we'll come up with a list of awards that you're specifically eligible for and have a good shot at landing. Make your search as specific as possible, as there are awards available to students based on almost any characteristic you can think of. Play up your academic strengths if that's where they are. If you have a unique hobby, use that to your advantage, as there are awards out there that could reward you for your interests. And be sure to keep your profile up to date. If you improve on your GPA, for example, you could be eligible for a number of new scholarship opportunities you weren't eligible for before.

Most important of all, go into the scholarship search with confidence. There are awards out there for you, so start looking and apply for scholarships before the school year gets away from you. Happy National Scholarship Month!


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by Agnes Jasinski

If you're inspired to consider a study abroad program after seeing all the news on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, chances are you're twice as likely to follow through on the idea if you're female than if you're male. A recent study conducted by three University of Iowa researchers suggests that women, especially women at liberal arts colleges, are more likely to study abroad because of factors like their academic pursuits and backgrounds.

Explaining the difference exactly seemed difficult for the researchers, as they tried to dispel common wisdom that more women studied abroad because more women than men were interested in fields of study like the arts and foreign languages that more easily lent themselves to overseas programs. The research suggests it's more complicated than that. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that examines the study suggests that the women interested in foreign study were also more easily influenced by liberal arts programs, especially those exploring diversity issues, than men, and that women were also more influenced by outside sources such as professors and their parents when determining whether to study abroad.

The study's results also found that:

  • Men who interacted with their peers were less likely to study abroad than those who interacted little with their peers.
  • Women at regional and community colleges were less likely to study abroad than women at liberal arts schools.
  • Men who reported undecided majors were more likely to study abroad than men with set fields of study, although that characteristic had little effect on women.
  • Asian-American men were less likely than white students to study abroad, but this was not the case for Asian-American women. Hispanic and white men were equally likely to study abroad, but Hispanic women were much more likely tostudy abroad than white women.

So should you study abroad? Apart from the obvious of being able to get out of your comfort zone and learn more about a new country, the experience is a good way to pick up skills you may not have picked up otherwise. If you're somewhat proficient in a foreign language already, consider visiting a country where that language dominates so that you're able to come back home and boast that you're bilingual. Studying abroad could also be a good resume booster in a difficult economy if you go overseas with the intention to pursue a particular field of study that you're interested in, or be a part of a volunteer project, as community service looks good not only to employers, but to scholarship providers as well.

And if you're worried about how you're going to pay for your time abroad, or whether you'll need to take out more student loans to do so, there are study abroad scholarships available to help you cover those expenses, especially if you've shown that you have significant financial need.


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by Agnes Jasinski

You don't need to work retail or deliver pizzas to make money in college. Many on-campus opportunities have the potential to act as good resume-builders and keep you interested in the task at hand while providing you with a (modest) wage. They don't all have to be federal work study positions, either, although it does work in your favor if you have some financial need when applying for campus jobs, and some will bump up your hourly wage if you can boast some experience in that field.

And now the not so good news. A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at student pay at the more unique campus jobs across the country. Not to scare you away from working through college at an on-campus job, but according to one example in that article, a student office assistant making $7.25/hour in the chemistry department at the University of Notre Dame would have to work 135 hours a week and 50 weeks of the year to cover tuition, room, and board. These wages will probably compare to most off-campus jobs you find near your college as well, however, so you may as well investigate all of your job options. Even if you'd be making more elsewhere, it may be worth the convenience and experience to work on campus.

Some examples of hourly wages at on-campus jobs:

It probably won't allow you to retire early, but an on-campus job could help you make ends meet and pay for some of those expenses that seem to crop up out of nowhere while you're pursuing that college degree. Balancing work and college certainly has its advantages - you're able to potentially lessen that student loan debt, build up your resume and learn the value of time management and responsibility - but it can be difficult, especially if you're a freshman being bombarded by all your campus has to offer. Browse through our site for tips on how to land and keep a job and keep your academics in line if your financial need means working your way through college.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Your opinions on how tech-savvy your professors are differ quite a bit from the instructors' opinions of their own technological effectiveness in the classroom, according to a survey released this week by CDW-G, an education technology provider.

According to the survey, which was collected via a nationally representative samples of students and faculty members at two- and four-year public and private colleges, students consider themselves much more technologically adept than their instructors, which may not be all that surprising:

  • About 75 percent of professors said that their school "understands how they use or want to use technology," while 32 percent of students said that their college was not preparing them well enough in the field of technology to give them useful skills for the job market.
  • About 67 percent of professors are comfortable with their own professional development in the field of technology, while only 38 percent of students said they felt their instructors were sufficiently tech-savvy.
  • About 74 percent of professors said that they incorporate technology into most classes, while only 38 percent of students agreed.

Students' perceptions of the technology gap isn't a new idea. Instructors are often viewed as being behind on the trends, even when they're actually quite technologically adept and can prove as much in the classroom. The problem comes in when the students actually are outpacing their instructors, especially in courses where technology could vastly improve a student's educational experience.

The survey, described in Inside Higher Education today, also polled IT staffers, and compared their answers with those of college professors'. In general, IT staffers expect more out of "smart" classrooms and instructors' capabilities. Both groups were asked what constitutes a smart classroom, and only about 40 percent of professors responded that an interactive whiteboard and distance learning capabilities to connect students from multiple locations constituted a smart classroom, compared to about 70 percent of IT staffers. Both groups were more on the same page when it came to general and wireless Internet access in the classroom.

The point is, technology isn't going anywhere, and it's only going to get more complex as time goes on. Professors, especially in fields where technology is going to be an important tool post-graduation, which is in most disciplines these days, should keep on top of new advances that will help make their students more effective learners.

Another article in Inside Higher Education today looks at Twitter and whether the social networking tool will become commonplace in the classroom. In that article, instructors and administrators seem wary of using Twitter in any educational way - although some are already using Twitter as the basis of their coursework - because it's seen as more of a fun diversion than a live resource or way to gather data. (Although you should obviously always fact-check anything you read on the site.) Professors may also worry that inviting Twitter into the classroom may distract students more than help them, while others argue that the site will become difficult to ignore by any institution, including colleges and universities.

What do you think about the technological capabilities at your college? Do you think your professors need a primer in new advances in technology? Let us know what you think, and whether you have ideas on how to bridge that technology gap, or whether you think it's as wide as this survey suggests.


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