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by Agnes Jasinski

Few foods have become as big a staple in college students' diets as ramen noodles. They're easy enough to make where even the most kitchen-shy college student can heat up a bag and enjoy them while studying for finals or hanging out with friends and lamenting about how they can't afford to order pizza. They're cheap - if you buy in bulk, you could score yours for 10 cents a pack. And they've become a part of the college culture. (Just ask "Stuff College People Like.")

But that doesn't mean they have to be boring. Sure, you may enjoy the simplicity of the instant noodles' traditional flavors: beef, chicken and shrimp. One New York chef, however, has made a name for himself serving up ramen at his East Village restaurant. The dishes David Chang creates are made with homemade noodles, something we don't expect you to try in your dorm room, but it's the flavors and toppings that make his versions stand out - meat that simmers for hours, dried fish and pork, seasoned in a broth that makes the noodles more like a hearty soup. Chang's new book, "Momofuku," gives away his secrets to making the fancy ramen and other dishes that sound delicious but probably aren't as straightforward to put together, like kimchi stew with rice cakes and shredded pork.

So what can you do to spice up your own campus version? You can play with toppings first. If you're a cheese fiend, try some shredded cheddar next time you're about to dive into that bowl of hot chicken-flavored ramen. Drizzle some hot sauce onto your noodles if you like them with a bit of a kick. Or if you're somewhat ambitious, cook up your own vegetables to supplement the crunchy flakes that come in the packages.

You don't need to be a master chef to make do with the things that are probably already in your room or apartment, or to make those college staples like ramen instant noodles more interesting and appetizing. Brows through our site for ideas on not only college cooking and what should be on your grocery list, but eating on a budget. While you probably have more options at college than anywhere else in terms of finding cheap food options, it could be even less expensive to buy things on your own and prepare them the old-fashioned way. If you have access to a kitchen, stock up on the basics like rice and pasta and frozen vegetables and you could be coming up with your own easy (budget) recipes on a regular basis. If you're living in a dorm but have access to a microwave, by all means pick up that ramen.

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Food/Cooking , Just for Fun

Tags: Cooking , Food , Food/Cooking

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by Agnes Jasinski

More private colleges than ever before are charging $50,000 a year or more in tuition and other fees, according to an analysis of College Board data done by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Last year, only five colleges charged $50,000 a year or more for tuition, fees, room, and board. This year, 58 did.

Most students receive some merit- or need-based scholarship or grant money to help cover some of those costs, but according to the Chronicle, the average scholarship and grant amounts at the highest priced schools was around $13,000 a year, leaving students and their families to fend for themselves when it comes to looking for outside scholarships, grants and student loans. Despite those staggering numbers, many of the most expensive schools haven't suffered in terms of declining enrollment, and have expansion and economic recovery plans in the works where the additional funding will come in handy.

Bucknell University, where tuition, fees, room, and board totaled about $50,300 this year, a 22-percent jump over the last six years, plans to hire more faculty and increase aid. And that school wasn't even in the top five most expensive colleges. Those honors go to Sarah Lawrence College ($55,788), Landmark College ($53,900), Georgetown University ($52,161), New York University ($51,993), and George Washington University ($51,775), in that order.

At the same time, many private colleges and universities are predicting a decrease in revenue and net tuition despite increasing enrollment rates and increasing tuition costs. The Moody's report "New Tuition Challenges at Many U.S. Private Universities" surveyed 100 private schools and found that nearly 30 percent experienced drops in net revenue and fees for the 2010 fiscal year. This suggests those schools are offering more in terms of financial aid. An article in Inside Higher Education today says some schools may have tried to compensate for a weak economy and projections of low enrollment levels (which for many private colleges turned out not to be the case) with more financial aid offered to incoming students. Most of the public institutions surveyed, however, expect increases in revenue, according to Moody's.

So what does this mean for private schools? The Chronicle suggests not much. Enrollments so far have supported high tuition rates (and rising median salaries among presidents at private colleges), and a ceiling hasn't yet been set. Does this suggest that students could be seeing $60,000 in annual costs to attend many of the top private institutions? Possibly. But that would mean financial aid would need to keep up alongside those rising costs. What do you think? How much is too much? If you're facing sticker shock, be sure to evaluate all of your options. If you're set on a school, look outside that college for financial aid assistance. Conduct a free scholarship search to see awards you may qualify for that could make a dent in your cost of attendance, and do your research with a college search so that you know exactly what you could be paying at that dream school.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Returning students have many options available to them when it comes to finding money for college. Soroptimist International is one organization that wants to help women better their job prospects. The group has local clubs across the country that fund Women's Opportunity Awards for women who are the primary providers of their families and wish to return to school for undergraduate degrees or vocational skills training programs. If you fit that category and are someone who wants to not only better your life through additional skills but have come across financial hurdles to do so, consider applying for an award through Soroptimist International, this week's Scholarship of the Week.

Soroptimist International is a volunteer service organization for business and professional women. Those who win their local chapters' awards are then eligible to compete in regional and international competitions. The $2,000 award can be earmarked for not only tuition and fees, but any costs associated with returning to school, including childcare and transportation.

Prize: $2,000

Eligibility: Eligible women are the primary providers for their families, have financial need, and are looking for funding to pay for an undergraduate degree program or vocational skills training program. Applicants must be residents of one of Soroptimist International of the Americas’ member countries/territories: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guam, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, United States of America, or Venezuela. Applicants must not have been a previous recipient of a Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award, and are not a Soroptimist member, employee or immediate family of either.

Deadline: December 31, 2009

Required Material: An online application which will include a personal statement about why you would be a deserving recipient, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants will be asked questions about their financial need.

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 alternative to the traditional job search has seen a marked increase in applicants over the last year, as recent graduates look for ways to bide their time in a struggling economy that has made the job market even more competitive. According to an article in Inside Higher Education today, the Institute for International Education (IIE), which awards fellowships through the Fulbright Program, received more than 8,500 applications for student Fulbrights for 2010-11. That's an increase of more than 1,000 applications since last year.

The Fulbright Program looks to strengthen relations between Americans and other countries, and gets its funding from an annual appropriation from Congress. There are about 1,500 of the student awards to go around, and those awarded the State Department-sponsored fellowships are able to study, conduct research or teach English in 140 countries. Grants are awarded in all fields and disciplines. While the IIE has been working harder to get the word out on the program, many college administrators think marketing tactics alone wouldn't explain such a significant jump in applicants, especially because the application process for the awards is fairly involved. "Some are putting applying for fellowships into the mix in a way they might not have if the job market were stronger," said Michael Pippenger, Columbia University’s associate dean of fellowship programs, in Inside Higher Ed.

The Fulbright Program isn't the only alternative to employment that's seen an increase in applicants. Teach for America also saw applications rise about 42 percent last year, a record for the program that trains students to teach in low-income communities, and those numbers are only expected to increase this year. The group does say they increased their recruiting efforts, but the current state of the economy may have something to do with more graduates postponing the traditional job search.

Programs that emphasize cultural experiences, volunteerism, or service can also be good resume builders for when the job market picks up and you're ready to venture back out into to search for that perfect position. If you're able to, consider your options, whether you're looking at programs while you're still in school or for post-graduation. And don't forget that there's plenty of funding and free scholarship money out there for you to pursue such opportunities.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Do you think you could get tricked into eating more healthy foods on campus? A recent article in the Boston Globe describes the strategies being taken by some schools in Massachusetts to get their students eating more nutritious meals and smaller portions, and it has required some sneakiness.

Most of you have probably heard of the "freshman 15," the 15 (or more) pounds that you're at risk of putting on that first year away in college when you're making your own decisions on what to eat. According to the Globe and the Nutrition Journal, recent studies have shown that at least 1 in 4 college freshmen gain an average of 10 pounds in their first semester alone. (That'd make it more like the "freshman 20.") Data like that and an increased awareness of obesity among young people has led schools like Wellesley College, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to take matters into their own hands by shrinking plate sizes and sneaking veggies onto students' plates. And they're not publicizing their methods, as anecdotal evidence has shown that if students are given a choice in whether to eat healthy or not, they'll usually go for the burger and fries.

Elsewhere, schools are doing things like offering miniatures of popular food items (sliders vs. burgers) and substituting fattening ingredients for more low-calories options. Getting students to eat healthy and exercise portion control is made even tougher in cafeterias, where they can often make return trips for second and third helpings with no one there to stop them. “Whatever restraining influences parents might have had when the teenagers were at home are unshackled when kids go off to college,’’ Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children’s Hospital Boston said in the Boston Globe article.

If you're particularly worried about the choices you've been making when eating (or drinking), consider burning off some of those calories. Try to make time for a club sport or a couple hours a week at your schools' gym. Your tuition fees are already paying for your privileges to use their facilities, so you may as well visit them once in a while. And check out our site for options on healthy eating and eating on a budget, another difficult hurdle when you're looking not to order pizza for the third night in a row.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Most presidents at colleges across the country believe that they won't be able to sustain the high costs of their athletic programs, according to a survey from the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics published earlier this week. The survey polled 95 college presidents whose schools compete in the 119-member Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly Division I-A) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The presidents also admitted they had few ideas on how to fix the problem.

We already know schools' athletic programs haven't been immune to the effects of the economy. Schools that had continued to expand their facilities despite weak economic projections could be in trouble down the line. But college presidents hadn't asked for sweeping reform to schools' athletic programs until now.

An article in the Chronicle for Higher Education this week said presidents felt they had "limited power to control the rising expenses of sports on their own campuses and at the national and conference levels." Making changes to athletic programs is a touchy subject. Administrators could be at risk of losing alumni support if they rock the boat too much. According to the survey, more than 80 percent of college presidents said more transparency is needed when it comes to spending on athletics, especially during an economic crunch that has affected many academic programs. About 85 percent responded that college football and basketball coaches are paid too much, and that those salaries are exceedingly difficult to control.

So if college presidents, the leaders of the schools, feel powerless to change what appears to be an increasingly difficult situation, what can be done about the problem? At a meeting this week that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Knight Commission’s founding, athletics directors and college administrators had competing ideas. Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany said it was dangerous to cut costs, especially when athletic programs brought funding in to schools. Dutch Baughman, executive director of the Division IA Athletic Directors Association, said he had already proposed ways to cut costs: less travel and changes to hiring practices.

Perhaps presidents should have more faith in their actions and authority. Many responded that athletic programs have become too political or bureaucratic. Nathan Tublitz, co-chair of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, said presidents were being too "wimpy." It can get difficult, though, to criticize spending money to improve programs that bring so much money into a school, especially at schools with high-profile athletic teams. But what if spending money on sports programs hurts the academic programs at a school? What do you think?

If you're an athlete, don't rule out sports scholarships to pad your financial aid package, because if you're good enough, you could find yourself looking at some generous scholarship money. For more information on athletic scholarships and scholarships based on other criteria, conduct a free scholarship search.


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by Agnes Jasinski

It may not be more difficult to get into the college of your choice these days. In fact, at least half of the nation's colleges are actually less competitive than they were over the last 50 years, according to an expansive research project published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The effort, conducted by Caroline M. Hoxby, an economist at Stanford University, shows that only a small number of private colleges have become more competitive over the last several decades, and that a more substantial number are actually less competitive. The study looked at data from 1955 through today and focused on information on SAT scores rather than the anecdotal evidence we've come to accept on whether it's tougher to get into college. Hoxby claims that students' choices about where they go to college today are based more on the specific characteristics of that college, such as the study body or the resources available to them at a particular school, rather than its location and distance from home. That means some schools saw more applications - often smaller, private schools - while others - often larger, public institutions - have seen a decrease in applicants.

It also means students are spending more to go to college, or requiring more financial aid to do so, since they're going out of state for their educations. An article in Inside Higher Education today suggests that the typical student shouldn't be concerned about rising admissions selectivity, but rather another finding of the study - falling standards of achievement. Students are less prepared than ever to go to college, despite much attention on getting high school students thinking about higher education earlier and earlier.

So how do you explain recent data from reputable organizations like the National Association for College Admission Counseling that show declining acceptance rates at four-year colleges? Hoxby says her data looks at the big picture, which shows that traditionally selective private schools have and will remain selective as more students leave their hometowns for more elite institutions. But most students shouldn't focus on the idea that college is impossible to get into. Simply put, it isn't - according to this round of data, of course.

Check out our college search tool to find schools that fit your specific interests, whether you're hoping to attend school in a particular state or look for colleges with the programming you're interested in.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Would you consider yourself professional? Out of all the things you're worried about when it comes to landing a job after college in a difficult economy, worrying about how you come off to employers may not be at the top of your list. But a recent study by York College in Pennsylvania may have you thinking otherwise.

The purpose of the study from the school's Center for Professional Excellence was to find a measure of how professionalism factors into the hiring process, to define "professionalism" when it comes to recent college graduates, and to determine the role colleges should play in developing professionalism among students. The study's findings? Students aren't behaving as professionally as their employers would like them to.

The study surveyed more than 500 human resources professionals and business leaders, and suggests that students need more guidance in college before going out on job interviews. An Inside Higher Education article last week describes the findings as a "gap between employer expectations and student realities." But the article also looks at whether the findings could be partially explained by the trouble an older generation has of defining appropriate behaviors of a younger generation.

So should you worry? It shouldn't come as a surprise that it's tough out there right now. A recent opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education describes the additional obstacles of students entering the job world today - high unemployment rates and the tough decision whether a lower paying job outside of a graduate's interest area is better than no job at all. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is about 15 percent. The National Association of Colleges and Employers claims that just 20 percent of those who graduated this year did so knowing they had a job waiting for them once they received their diplomas. So it probably wouldn't hurt for you to do what you can to stand out at that job interview, and wow those employers who apparently feel that many of the candidates they see exhibit unprofessional behavior.

The study's findings included the following:

  • Personal interaction skills, the ability to communicate and a work ethic that includes being motivated and working on a task until it is complete were included as the top characteristics of the professional employee by employers.
  • The most frequently cited unprofessional traits or behaviors were appearance, which includes attire, tattoos, and piercings, poor communication skills, including poor grammar, and a poor work ethic.
  • More than 37 percent of the respondents reported that less than half of the recent graduates they have hired exhibit professionalism in their first year.
  • Nearly all of the respondents (97.7%) stated that their assessment of how professional an applicant will be on the job has an effect on their hiring decision. Of these respondents, almost three-fourths (71.8 percent) indicated that 50 percent or more of the hiring decision is based on an assessment of the applicant’s professionalism.
  • About 33 percent feel the prevalence of professionalism has eroded over the past five years.


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by Agnes Jasinski

As tuition and fees continue to rise and students need more financial aid to complete their college educations, ideas on how to both keep costs for students low and bring schools' budgets under control continue to crop up among lawmakers.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a former president at the University of Tennessee turned Republican lawmaker, has an editorial on the topic in Newsweek this week, where he compares the three-year degree track to a fuel-efficient car. It would save students money, ease the dependence on federal and campus-based financial aid, and allow students  to move into the working world or to pursue an advanced degree in less time. And it would be up to the students to decide whether to complete their degrees in three years.

Many schools allow students to complete their degrees in three years, but few have official programs set up where students enter college knowing they'll be done in three years. Hartwick College has allowed students to complete their studies in three years for a while, but announced earlier this year a more official academic program for high-performing students that could be completed in three years. Students in that program will save about $43,000 in tuition and fees by forgoing a fourth year. This fall, 16 first-year students and four second-year students entered into the three-year program at Hartwick. Lipscomb University also unveiled a three-year option this year to students willing to attend classes in the summer. The state of Rhode Island has legislation on the table this month that would require all schools in the state to offer a three-year option.

On the other side, Waldorf College will stop offering the three-year programs it had set up as most students and staff preferred a traditional four-year track. Many students want the full four (or however many) years on campus. I still often wish I was back there. Students who have compressed a four-year program into three years have less time for what often makes the college experience memorable - time for friends, social outings and extracurricular activities that make you more well-rounded and able to juggle many aspects of your life at once. Alexander acknowledges possible obstacles in his piece, but maintains that something needs to be done to stay competitive and address an economic fallout that could affect schools for years to come.

Why not leave the choice to the students? What do you think of the opportunity to complete a college degree in three years? It could make sense for students looking at completing advanced degrees in addition to their master's. And the cost-saving aspect of the idea would turn many students on to the idea, especially returning adult students. Let us know whether you're planning on completing a degree in three years, and whether you think all schools should offer a three-year program as an option.


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by Agnes Jasinski

For those of you who know you want to be educators and have a strong opinion on unions, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has an award that you could be eligible for, whether you're an undergraduate or pursuing an advanced degree. The institute's $1,000 Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship and this week's Scholarship of the Week is available to any undergraduate or graduate pursuing a degree in education at any school in the United States. The award is named after three Michigan public school teachers who were fired for their refusal to pay union dues.

Much of the weight for this prize will be placed on the no more than 500-word essay you come up with demonstrating an interest in and knowledge of the Right to Work principle as it applies to educators. As with many career-specific scholarship opportunities, applicants must also show the potential to successfully complete a college-level program in education, as the award will be helping you become a future teacher, after all.

Prize: $1,000

Eligibility: Undergraduate and graduate pursuing a degree in education at a college in the United States. Officers, directors, and employees of the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, the National Right to Work Committee, Members of the Selection Review Committee, and their families are not eligible.

Deadline: Applications will be accepted now through Dec. 31. Requests for applications will be sent via regular mail until December 15 and cannot be requested after that date.

Required Material: An online application, which includes an essay, and current transcript. The scholarship will be paid to the institution of higher learning which the recipient plans to attend, and the recipient will be required to provide a copy of his/her transcript from that institution at the end of the academic year.

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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