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Choosing a College Major

October 16, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

When it’s time to starting making solid decisions about enrolling in college, many people have questions about how to choose a college major. Selecting a college major is a personal decision that involves you to spend time reflecting on your goals, likes, dislikes, skills, and aptitudes.

Selecting a college major is an important decision, and it is not one that should be made lightly. It is important to remember, however, that declaring a major is not an irreversible decision. It is not uncommon for college students to change majors one or more times after they enroll in college.

Some factors to consider when selecting a college major include:

  • What type of career can you see yourself in?
  • What type of work do you enjoy?
  • What are your interests?
  • Which subjects did you enjoy studying the most in high school?
  • If you completed a career assessment in high school, what did the results indicate? (If you have never taken such an assessment, consider taking a college major test before selecting a program of study.)
  • What type of skills do you have?
  • Do you have any hobbies that you would like to pursue as a career?
  • What did you learn about what you like and dislike from your past work experience?
  • Are there in-demand career fields in the geographic areas where you would like to live following graduation?

The answers to these questions can help guide your selection of a college major. For example, if you held part time positions in retail while in high school and you absolutely hated the work, you can immediately scratch retail management off your list. However, if you enjoyed the part of the job that involved setting up product displays, you might seriously want to consider a major in visual merchandising. Of course, once you have all the answers to the "What" to study and "Where" to go to school, you should go to Scholarships.com for the answer to "How" am I going to pay for all of this?!?!

Posted Under:

College Culture , Tips


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by Scholarships.com Staff

The battle to offer students the best chance of getting out of college with both a diploma and a fighting chance at earning a living wage while paying off their student loans continues. Even those who have already reached an agreement with the New York attorney general are being subpeonad for what Cuomo terms "deceptive corporate marketing practices".

It is difficult to say whether students deserve special consideration with respect to corporate marketing practices, which, it seems to me, have been deceptive by definition for at least the last four or five decades without being placed under this kind of scrutiny. Shouldn't everyone be entitled to marketing that is not deceptive? Or should we all just continue to accept that marketers are not your friends and they tell you what they need to in order to get you to buy what they want to sell?

Of course, the initial scope of the investigation was and remains critical, as every student should be able to assume that their advisor, regardless of the institution they attend, is not a marketer. It is vital that those in the financial aid offices in all of our schools give only objective information to students that will get them through school with as little debt as possible.

Of course, there are those who claim Cuomo's crusade will ultimately harm students by causing them to distrust their advisors when the majority of them have been giving, and continue to give, good, objective advice. While I believe this to be true, I also believe it is never a bad idea to do independent research on something so important and that this statement is condescending, to say the least. Apparently students across the board, if forced to research loans for themselves, will fare poorly and pay more in loans than if they listened to those at their college or university financial aid office. In this argument it is never considered a possibility that, given the opportunity, a student and his parent might find the best possible solution to funding their education. If I were an aspiring college student or a parent of such a student, I would find this very insulting.


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Coca-Cola Scholars Program

October 1, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

Check out the Coca-Cola Scholars Program for a chance to win big bucks. Coca-Cola's famed four-year scholarship is one of two awards offered by the company. It is one of the most sought after and lucrative scholarships around.

There are two rounds to this competition, and students who make it past the first will be asked to submit additional materials to scholarship administrators. Winners will be invited to Atlanta to receive their prizes and to complete an interview.  

Prizes:

1. 50 scholarships worth $20,000 each 2. 200 scholarships worth $10,000 each

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a full-time high school senior attending a U.S. high school (or be home schooled in the U.S.) 2. Applicant must plan to attend an accredited college or university 3. Applicant must be a U.S citizen, U.S. national, permanent resident, temporary resident (legalization program), refugee, asylee, Cuban-Haitian entrant, or humanitarian parolee 4. Applicant must have a 3.0 GPA 5. Applicants cannot be a child or grandchild of a Coca-Cola employee, an officer or owner of a Coca-Cola bottling company, or any bottler or company divisions or subsidiaries

Deadline:

October 31, 2007

Required Material:

1. A completed, admittedly lengthy, application. Students will have to submit information that includes school involvement, GPA, work experience etc. 2. Students who are selected to compete in the second round will be asked to submit additional materials.

For additional award opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search.

Posted Under:

Scholarship of the Week


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by Scholarships.com Staff

Teaching is a reward in itself right? Maybe so, but not making enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle can sure taint that theory. Qualified primary and secondary school teachers are, and have been for a while, in high demand, especially in the Math and Sciences. They play a crucial role in educating the next generation, and they help to instill in students a sense of confidence and a love of learning. Plus, school is mandatory, and someone has to teach the classes.

The government has been trying to make teaching attractive for years, but it’s pretty hard to do without adequate financial bait. Teachers may not strike it big, but students who are still interested may be able to take advantage of certain funding incentives, especially if they choose to spend some time in low-income districts. Here are some options for current and future educators:

1. TEACH Grant: Now that President Bush has [finally] signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, a new teaching grant will be made available to students. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH) will allow students who plan to teach in-demand subjects and those who teach at low-income schools to receive $4,000 grants each college year (up to $16,000). High-demand subjects include math, science, foreign language, and special education among others. Smaller grants may also be offered to graduate school students who plan to teach.

2. Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation: Students who became teachers, counselors or librarians in primary or secondary schools may be able to cancel their Perkins loans after working in low-income areas. To be eligible, educators should teach subjects that are in high demand.

3. Educator Expense IRS Deduction:  Teachers who dig into personal pockets to buy classroom equipment may be partially repaid. According to IRS regulations, teachers and educators who buy books, supplies, equipment and software used in the classroom can deduct these costs from their income. The law may expire at the end of this year so keep your fingers crossed for an extension.

4. Teach for America: Teach for America offers financial assistance to graduates who agree to teach in low-income communities for at least two years. The program is not restricted to those who plan to teach subjects that are in high-demand, and teacher certification is not required. Those who are selected will be paid by the school district, but they will also be eligible for additional AmeriCorps grants as well as temporary student loan deferments. The program is competitive so students with high GPAs and leadership experience have an edge over other applicants. Aside from the grant incentive and the feel-good factor, Teach for America experience looks great on a resume.

Like everyone else, aspiring teachers may be able to decrease college costs by applying for scholarships and grants. Awards are not restricted to teachers nor are they restricted to the select few with exceptional GPAs. As a last-case scenario, students may also take out loans to pay for a college education.


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Students Serve Grant

September 24, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

This week's “Scholarship of the Week” is the Students Serve Grant. By providing students with grants, Student Serve, a not-for-profit organization managed entirely by students, hopes to encourage the application of knowledge in conducting community service.

Students who apply will have to come up with a service-learning project (one that applies class knowledge to service) that will be helpful in solving a community problem. The project should be unique and have the potential to make a significant community impact.

Prize:

Up to $3,000

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a high school senior or an undergraduate attending a U.S college or university 2. Winners will have to complete a self-created project that aids a U.S. community

Deadline:

November 15, 2007

Required Materials:

1. A description of 1,000 words or less that outlines a service-learning project 2. Two letters of recommendation from professors who can advise applicant on project 3. A completed application

To find additional awards, conduct a free scholarship search.

Posted Under:

Scholarship of the Week


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by Scholarships.com Staff

The “Scholarship of the Week” for this week, the first week, is the Blade Your Ride Video Scholarship award. This award creates an outlet for students who are eager to make a positive environmental change.

And the outlet is fun. Those who wish to apply will get to create a 1-2 minute broadcast video expressing their feelings and concerns about the environment. They must do their best to sound convincing about the urgency of changes and the ability of the public to make a significant difference—a topic of bitter debate.

Prize:

1. One $10,000 scholarship prize 2. Four $5,000 scholarship prizes

Eligibility

1. College Freshman, Sophomore, Junior or Senior. 2. Students enrolled full time in a Bachelor’s degree program 3. Attendance at an accredited U.S postsecondary institution 4. GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 or a 4.0 out of 5.0 5. No U.S. citizenship requirements 6. Passionate about the global climate crisis

Deadline:

November 15, 2007

Required Material:

1. Resume 2. Transcript 3. Letter of referral 4. Video

To find additional awards, conduct a free scholarship search.

Posted Under:

Scholarship of the Week


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by Scholarships.com Staff

There are so many things to think about when entering college. Financial aid for tuition, room & board and book expenses initially come to mind, but many forget another important expense—medical insurance. Before students head off to college, they need to seriously consider future medical aid options. Those with a history of ailments are likely to explore their options, but so should the poster children for health. Unfortunately, a large portion of health-related issues surface during adolescence. The fact that college students are frequently stressed out and sleep-deprived sure doesn’t make things better.

Student Insurance Under a Parent Policy

In more ways than one, students who enter college are better off than those who finish school at 18. Those who are considered dependents under the health insurance plans of parents are frequently given the boot on their eighteenth birthday - a not-so-nice way to be welcomed into the adult world. Those who head off to college, however, continue to be dependents under their parents’ plan for a few more years (usually until they turn 23 or 25). This typically applies to full-time students only. Those who are enrolled part-time may be ineligible or forced to hand over additional cash.

Student Insurance Under a College Policy

Schools typically offer their own college insurance plans for those who choose to take advantage of them. Oftentimes, students are automatically charged for this service unless they let schools know they are uninterested. Some states require entering students to be medically ensured. If that is the case, students who choose to reject school offers must show proof of alternative coverage. The costs of college insurance vary greatly, but they are frequently less expensive than private options. This tends to come at the expense of quality.

Graduate Student Insurance

You may have noticed that full-time students can retain a parent plan until they turn a certain age—a few states extended the eligibility age to 30. More often, however, students may be cast aside during their low and mid twenties. According to a Commonwealth Fund report, about 30 percent of the nation's estimated 44.4 million people without health insurance are 19-29 years old. This makes them the largest group of newly uninsured. Graduates students with no income and plenty of expenditures are not pleased. Schools do take graduate school students into consideration, but they do so at a cost. For example, the University of Illinois Champaign insurance policy for the 2007-2008 year is $180 for undergraduates; graduates have to pay $256. College students do have options, but they need to be prepared.

When putting aside college funds, expect the unexpected. Scrapping together additional 529 plan money and applying for a few more scholarships may be in order.

Posted Under:

College Costs , College Life


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by Scholarships.com Staff

Ever been told to finish what you started? That’s not bad advice. Students are being taught the value of a good education, and the counsel is working. College entrance rates have been going up for years. Classrooms are filling up, and dormitories are busting at the seams. Whether or not students are graduating is a different story.

According to a study conducted by ACT, a not-for-profit organization providing research services, only 74.5% of first-year students attending public four-year colleges return the following year. Those attending private four-year colleges fared a bit better, but barely. Graduation rates at private colleges were only .7% better than those at public ones, down from 5.8% in 1988. Sending a student to a more expensive private college is unlikely to solve the problem.

And arguing that these students are simply transferring doesn’t cut it either. According to an article released by the Associated Press, only 54% of students who entered a four-year university in 1997 had a degree six years later. Unless you’re Van Wilder, you should have something to show after six years.

Despite a spike in the number of students who attend college and obtain degrees, a high dropout percentage continues to be a problem. As a matter of fact, the rate is the same as it was in 1988. So many more ambitious students are vying for each college spot, but about one in four still quits after the first year. What’s the problem?

According to the ACT survey, the top two factors contributing to student failure were lack of motivation and inadequate financial resources. These two problems can be solved, but students need to take matters into their own hands.

Lack of student motivation was ranked as the biggest determinant of college failure—even more than a student’s academic fit for a particular school. This means that a student who can get their act together need not be discouraged by campus nerds. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Students should also keep their future in mind during stressful college times. Those who have yet to pinpoint a career may have a hard time identifying goals, but obtaining a degree is a great goal in itself. A degree gives students options. Those who change their minds about future plans may always return to school. In the mean time, a degree gives students something to fall back on.

As you surely know, more jobs than before require degrees. In fact, degrees are just the beginning. It is not uncommon for an employer to look your resume up and down and declare that your impressive background would make you a perfect fit for the company: no one would match your paper-filing skills.

The second biggest obstacle standing between a student and their degree was financial need. Students who spend a bundle on their education may suffer financially after dropping out. No education and no money is not a good combo. There are plenty of financial aid options, and students should take advantage of them.

The best money is, of course, free money. By filing a FASFA and searching Scholarships.com for grant and scholarship opportunities, students have the chance to find free college funding, no strings attached. Those who can save ahead of time should look into setting up a college savings account. Some good choices may be the 529 and the Coverdell as they allow students to accumulate money, tax-free. For more savings account options, visit the Scholarships.com Resources Section. Loans, as a last resort, can generally be obtained at lower rates when borrowed from the government. Take advantage of any aid offered. Don’t leave your purchase at the door: get the degree and the education you paid for.

Posted Under:

College and the Economy


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