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Students Plan "Gap Years" for More Than Break from College


Aug 25, 2010

While you’re unpacking a semester’s worth of your belongings in your shared dorm room, there are other recent high school graduates packing up for different adventures—volunteer experiences abroad, internships across the country, or backpacking trips through Europe. These students are taking a “gap year,” or time off from the traditional college experience. [...]

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There hasn’t been much to laugh about at many schools across the country, what with budget cuts and creative cost-saving measures affecting course offerings and faculty positions. At one North Carolina community college, however, a new course is teaching students how to chuckle, giggle and guffaw, no matter how they feel about the state of affairs outside of the classroom. [...]

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With most fall semesters just beginning or yet to begin, now may be the perfect time to spend some time applying for scholarships that may require a bit more effort on your part. If you’re a stellar writer, spending some of your extra time on an essay scholarship may lead to a decent prize to help cover some of those college costs. This week’s Scholarship of the Week asks applicants to reflect on topics based on the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged. If you’ve already read the book, the Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest may be a no-brainer for you. If you haven’t read it yet but have impressive speed-reading skills, you may still have enough time to submit an essay before the deadline. [...]

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Community colleges have gotten quite a bit of attention lately as legislators and even President Obama himself have billed the schools as an important bridge in improving higher education across the country. The traditionally two-year schools have also seen an influx of students as both a result of those efforts and the economy, with more adult students returning to college to pick up new skills and make themselves more competitive on the job market. [...]

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What better way to kick off the school year than an additional $10,000 to help cover your college costs? This week’s Scholarship of the Week will do just that, and all you need to do is enter a drawing. The ScholarshipPoints.com $10,000 Scholarship offers registered users the opportunity to collect points by completing simple activities on the site; each point a registered user receives equals one entry into any of the site’s scholarship contests. This also isn’t the only time ScholarshipPoints will be awarding this particular scholarship, either. The site hopes to give away $100,000 in 2010. [...]

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It’s always scholarship season around here, and as a scholarship provider ourselves, we thought the weeks before high school and college students return to their respective schools and campuses would be an appropriate time to go over what to do—and not to do—when submitting a recommendation letter in support of your application for an award. [...]

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What motivates you to study for your exams? Is it the potential for a good grade or high GPA? Is it the guilt of paying thousands of dollars for that college education? What if you could score some cash—and not in the form of scholarships and grants, as we hope you’re doing already—for doing well in your courses? [...]

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It’s a well-known fact that disparities exist when you look at the college graduation rates of black and Hispanic students versus white and Asian students. Two reports released yesterday, however, included data on colleges where those disparities aren’t as wide, suggesting that there are schools that are doing much better than others when it comes to graduating minority students. [...]

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With an increase in programs to keep students in school and a renewed focus on improving college preparedness and high school graduation rates, it’s no surprise that there are scholarships out there that want to help students achieve those goals. This week’s Scholarship of the Week is one such award, and targets college-bound high school students in Oregon who “beat the odds” to get to where they are and onto the path to higher education. [...]

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A report released yesterday shows that college students today study about 10 hours less on average than college students in the 1960s. The report explains further that technology isn’t the cause of less time hitting the books or the library, as has been traditionally believed. The researchers say it’s up to the colleges to give students more work and to enforce academic standards and requirements to boost study times. [...]

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A financial aid officer at a for-profit college that closed this week has been charged with felony theft of more than $7,600 in students’ tuition payments. The school, Ascension College in Louisiana, closed quite suddenly to the surprise of the students there, and has been under investigation for what officials say is a misuse of federal aid. [...]

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Each year the Princeton Review releases its comprehensive list of colleges ranked by the extracurricular and social offerings on their campuses, how happy their students are, and which schools are the most religious or LGBT-friendly, among a number of other categories. The distinction that gets the most attention year after year, however, is the school the review dubs as the top “party school,” an honor that may be lauded by students but dreaded by the chosen school’s administrators. [...]

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The field of culinary arts isn’t easy to break into. Those students who do excel in the kitchen or are interested in paying their dues to work in the food service industry are then eligible for a number of scholarship opportunities to reward them for their talents and hard work. [...]

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California has had it particularly bad during the economic crisis. The public school system there has tried to address millions of dollars in cuts using wait lists and more selective admissions processes in the state’s community colleges to avoid adding to the budget shortfalls. One California community college district, however, is taking a different approach. Several two-year schools in San Diego will be adding about 1,150 classes this fall, rather than following the example of other community colleges and their own district in the recent past, where cuts to course catalogs have become the norm. [...]

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If you’re an incoming freshman new to the idea of communal living, there’s something you should know. You may not be instant best friends with your new roommate. Random pairings are just that: random. And a recent article in The New York Times describes just how bad new undergraduates have gotten at managing even the minutest problems.  [...]

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Law school is by no means inexpensive. If you’ve taken the leap to ace that LSAT and get yourself into a law school program, you should know there are scholarships out there for you future lawyers. If you plan on using that law degree to better your community or for humanitarian purposes, there may be even more funding available. This week’s Scholarship of the Week from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) targets law school students interested in the civil rights of Latinos. [...]

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In response to recent criticisms of for-profit colleges, the U.S. Department of Education announced a rule today that will cut off federal aid to those schools that leave students with loan debts they are unable to handle once they receive their degrees and certificates. The new “gainful employment” rule would also penalize those programs with the lowest loan-repayment rates, meaning for-profit colleges will be more on the hook to make sure those enrolled in their programs are being prepared for the job search and for entering the workforce. [...]

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As more high schools across the country begin offering students alternatives to Advanced Placement like dual enrollment partnerships with local community colleges, the College Board, which offers the exams, has been forced to take a look at the AP program in order to make it more relevant to the college-bound. [...]

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A big selling point of attending a community college is the money you’ll save when compared to the tuition and fees at a public or private four-year college or university. If you’re one of the many students out there with plans to transfer to a four-year institution once your two years are up at the local community college, there are a few things you should know when you’re looking to transfer. The credits you collected at your two-year college may not all transfer to your intended four-year school. [...]

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