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Your College Application Guide

October 9, 2012

Your College Application Guide

by Radha Jhatakia

For seniors in high school, it’s about that time to dive into your college applications. The process is rather involved and has the potential to become very stressful but here’s how you can go about it while retaining your sanity.

First, you likely already have a list of colleges you are considering but start narrowing down your top contenders. Look at the majors they offer and see if they have the programs you’re interested in. Check the cost – financial aid may play a key role in what college you attend – and also see if they have activities that interest you (a sport you want to play, a specific student organization, a Greek system, an honors program, etc.). What’s the on-campus housing situation and could you see yourself living in the dorms? Consider these questions and more when deciding whether or not to apply to a college.

Second, check all the application deadlines. Remember, besides the actual application, you must submit test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters and personal statements and you need adequate time to procure all of these items. Also, review the fees associated with each application; some schools let you apply for free or a discounted rate online but you should also consider requesting application fee waivers if money is tight.

Third, the personal statement is the biggest part of the college application because it represents your personality. You may have a high GPA, AP classes and extracurricular activities but so do many other students – what will set you apart from the rest of the application pool is how you present yourself in the personal statement. Have a teacher or parent review your personal statement and edit it for you before submitting it to your college of choice.

Fourth – and although this is fourth on this list, you still want to get it done early – request recommendation letters. Ask teachers you’ve worked with and trust well in advance if they can write on your behalf. Have two or three for each college that requires one. Along with your personal information/resume/school involvement list, give the teacher an envelope that is stamped and addressed to the college(s) to which you’re applying so they can submit their letters directly.

Last but not least, take all your tests on time. If you haven’t taken the ACT, SAT or SAT II tests, register for the next available date; check which tests your colleges require and sign up for those ASAP!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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Not Enough Financial Aid? You Still Have Options!

May 25, 2011

Not Enough Financial Aid? You Still Have Options!

by Radha Jhatakia

There are many factors that affect where, when and if students attend college, the most important being financial aid. So what can a student do when he or she hasn’t received enough funding?

If you need financial aid to make college a reality, contact the financial aid offices at the schools you’re considering before applying. Find out the costs of tuition, room and board, and other college living expenses and defray these costs by applying for as many scholarships and grants as you can. The college will be more likely to help fill any financial gaps if you’ve shown initiative and determination.

Another method is writing formal letters to financial aid administrators. Describe your financial aid situation (including hard numbers), your home life, factors affecting your ability to pay for college and things that you could not put on the FAFSA such as a home mortgage or other payments that your parents need to make. Fax this letter, mail it by certified mail and email a copy to each school as well. If the school cannot offer you free money, they can sometimes offer an additional loan of some sort.

If all else fails, call the colleges and schedule appointments with the deans or heads of the financial aid offices. Some colleges have tuition waivers which allow students with special conditions to be exempt from paying tuition. If the school does not offer this option, you can still seek out non-school loans through banks or private companies. These loans often have higher interest rates, require co-signers or do not have grace period to pay off loans after graduating; in my opinion, however, the cost of not getting a college education is much higher than amount of these loans.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Radha Jhatakia

May 20, 2011

Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Radha Jhatakia

by Radha Jhatakia

Hi all! My name is Radha and I’m one of Scholarships.com’s newest virtual interns!

In high school, I was a well-rounded student – high GPA, honors classes, extracurricular activities and volunteer work...you name it, I did it – but after getting accepted by both the University of the Pacific and the University of San Francisco, limited finances and financial aid prevented me from attending either school. To save money to put toward transferring, I instead enrolled in De Anza College and Evergreen Valley College to complete my gen eds. It wasn’t easy (De Anza was a distant commute and made it difficult for me to take the classes I needed to transfer) but I amassed enough credits to transfer after two years. I didn’t get into my first choice (UCLA) and my second choice (Berkeley) did not have my intended major so I enrolled at UCSB, where I was accepted into the Honors Program and received plenty of financial aid. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned when my transfer status affected my major so I am back at EVC but transferring to San Jose State University in the fall. Whew!

I’ve always enjoyed writing (I hope to write a book someday) and I believe my interest in working with others – plus my excellent persuasion abilities – will lend itself to a career in public relations. Being a Scholarships.com virtual interns complements my goals perfectly: It’s an excellent opportunity to gain experience in something I enjoy doing and since I’m always looking for scholarships to pay for school, writing for a website that helps students do just that seemed ideal. Hope you’ll all enjoy reading my opinions and advice just as much as I enjoy sharing them!

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Credit Cards Are Not Magic and Other Money Management Tips

June 23, 2011

Credit Cards Are Not Magic and Other Money Management Tips

by Radha Jhatakia

Managing money is difficult for many people, not just college students! I’ve been taught to save every penny and paying for school myself has been the biggest reason but friends of mine who haven’t struggled as much don’t have the same outlook. For them, credit cards are magic and their parents are instant money taps.

My best friend is the reason I’m writing this article. She struggles with money but I don’t understand why. She’s been working since she was 16, her parents pay for school and bought her a car yet she doesn’t have a single dime saved! Ever hear the phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned?” I’m guessing she hasn’t but it’s true. Gaining a dollar doesn’t mean you have to spend it because in the future, you may not have that dollar. Here are a few more tips:

Having bad credit now may not matter to you but it will affect you in the future when you apply for home loans and car insurance. Be wise, spend wise and look up the rule of 72.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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Repaying Student Loans

July 28, 2011

Repaying Student Loans

by Radha Jhatakia

Even before college applications are due, many students are worried about how they will afford their postsecondary educations. Once the enrollment deposit is in and the initial stress of finding funding has passed, however, it’s easy to forget about how some forms of financial aid – namely, student loans – require repayment starting about six months after graduation. Here are a few tips to follow so you’re prepared when this time comes.

When applying for loans, there are three standard loans you can receive. There is the Direct Subsidized Stafford loan (which doesn’t charge interest while you are in school), the Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan (which does charges interest while you are in school) and the PLUS loan (which requires a parent or co-signer. Repayments for both Stafford loans begin six months after graduation but PLUS loan repayments begin as soon as the last disbursement is made unless you submit a deferment form.

The next step is choosing a repayment plan. There are quite a few plans to choose from and, depending on how much you borrowed, they differ in the amount you will have to pay per month and how many years you will be paying it off. Choose a plan that best suits your needs, and remember you can always change the plan if your financial situation changes.

The most important tip of all, in my opinion is to create an account with a site like myfedloan.org. This is the website used by the loan service for repayments. Sign up for it while you are still in school so you can keep track of your balance and interest. Pay off part of the interest whenever you can to avoid capitalizing on it and sign up for quarterly statements to stay informed.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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Obtaining Media the Legal Way

August 16, 2011

Obtaining Media the Legal Way

by Radha Jhatakia

So you’re listening to the radio and hear a song you like. What do you do? If you’re a college student, you probably turn on your computer and download the song sans payment. Not only is this method illegal (think: fines and jail time) but it can be even more detrimental if done from a campus Internet connection. Since a personal login is usually required when you use campus Internet, your online activity is easily tracked and documented. On top of stealing copyrighted material, you could also face consequences from your university such as expulsion.

So you’re probably wondering what to do about your music/movie situation now. Well, there are legal ways to obtain them while still managing your money! First, websites like Crackle and Hulu allow you to watch movies and television shows for free. You can also try e-Rewards, a site that lets you earn dollar points for taking surveys; for example, earn 10 points and you can redeem 10 promo codes for Blockbuster Express for free new movies.

Music lovers don’t have to look far for deals, either. Though the files won’t save to your computer, you can use YouTube, Pandora or Slacker Radio to listen to music whenever you want for free. Amazon has downloadable songs for as low as $0.69 during their deals as well as a feature that allows you to preview albums and download only the songs you like. There’s also iTunes, but that tends to be a bit more expensive. If you can’t afford to buy music, make deals with your friends to buy separate albums and share with one another. That way you can get the music you want legally...and maybe even expand your musical tastes!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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Campus Transportation Solutions

August 23, 2011

Campus Transportation Solutions

by Radha Jhatakia

Many of you believe that having a car on campus is necessary. The truth is, it’s just more convenient. Since many schools implement parking restrictions for students unless they are resident assistants or until they earn a certain number of credits, many of you won’t even have the option to bring a car to campus. Thankfully, there are other ways to get around.

If you have a car and meet your school’s requirements, go ahead and bring it to campus if you want but keep in mind that it’s another cost you must endure on top of tuition, books and living expenses. Consider if parking permits, gas, maintenance, insurance and potential tickets are worth the expense.

If you don’t have a car or if you can’t afford to bring yours to campus, you’ll still be able to get around just fine. Most schools have bus services – either a private service or public transit – that students can utilize for little to no money. Schools will typically issue an ID card sticker, denoting the student's fee bill has been paid.

Buses are not the only way to go, though. Depending on where you go to school, there’s light rail, cable cars or the subway. These options are not usually free but students can get tickets and monthly passes as discounted prices.

Other ways of getting around on campus are bicycles and scooters. They are very popular modes of transportation in less populous areas but if your campus is a more urban one, take the time to familiarize yourself with the city’s hustle, bustle and traffic rules before taking to the streets on two wheels. Walking, jogging and running are also reliable...and always free!

However you decide to get around campus, do so carefully. You may be running late for class or exam but there’s always time for safety!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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How (and Why) to Rock the Vote

August 8, 2011

How (and Why) to Rock the Vote

by Radha Jhatakia

Debt. Destruction. Terrorism. The economy. Social security. Foreclosure. Poverty. Famine. Do any of these words sound familiar? Well, they should because they are all over the news lately. Reality television may be more entertaining but by limiting yourself to watching only these kinds of shows, you’re missing out on what’s really going in the world. You’re also losing valuable time in learning more about the candidates running for office in upcoming elections.

Voting isn’t simply limited to presidential elections – there are also state and county elections where you select senators, congressmen and city council members. I truly can’t stress how important it is to vote, and that who you vote for affects many issues. Don’t vote randomly, either: That’s worse than not voting because now you could be voting for things you don’t believe in. Be educated in your choices by researching the parties and representatives, their policies and proposed plans. Read the pamphlets you receive in the mail, as well as the voting books that have information about the candidates and their platforms.

Don’t feel as though you must vote along party lines; instead, vote for the principles you believe in. It’s ok to like certain policies proposed by one candidate and some supported by another. If you’re facing that conundrum, research the minor policies that might affect you. Students at public schools are especially affected by this as they tend to vote for candidates who claim they will help education. Just be aware that no single candidate can fix the education system, it also depends on the people they're surrounded by, people who you should be voting for. If you believe in an issue before you vote and know the benefits and consequences of that decision, your vote will truly count.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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Decorating Your Dorm Room or Apartment Without Getting Charged

September 1, 2011

Decorating Your Dorm Room or Apartment Without Getting Charged

by Radha Jhatakia

Decorations make new places feel more like home and for college students living away at school, decorating is practically a necessity to adapting to this new environment. However, dorm and apartment restrictions like no holes in the walls or no tape to avoid chipping paint, you may think you’re doomed to bare cinderblock walls...but you’re not! These tips will help you create an amazing room without losing your security deposit or incurring any fees.

I think the best products out there right now are those from 3M. They make Post-its, Command Hooks and reusable tape. Command Hooks can be easily removed and will not peel any paint off the wall – I can personally attest to this! – and the reusable tape is double sided and excellent for hanging up posters. You can also use both products them to put up white boards, cork boards and pictures.

Perhaps you have broken blinds or a closet with no door. Want to hang a curtain up somewhere? Adjustable pressure rods don’t damage the wall and you will have some privacy, too!

If you want to put up stickers or wall decorations of some sort, make sure they’re made of silicone. The rubber material will prevent the sticker from peeling paint and will allow you to adjust the decorations as much as you want. I know thumbtacks are cheaper but you have to consider what you will benefit from in the long run. Would you rather use thumbtacks and lose your security deposit or would you rather spend a bit for the above products and get your deposit back. Just remember your new abode will only be as homey as you are willing to make it!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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Create a College-Friendly Holiday Budget...and Stick to It!

December 14, 2011

Create a College-Friendly Holiday Budget...and Stick to It!

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s that time of the year again where we see festive decorations, cheerful people...and empty wallets. The holiday season can definitely take a toll on our bank accounts – not only do you have to buy gifts but you have to get formal wear for fun holiday events! Can it be done on a college budget? Hard to believe but it can!

First, know where and when to shop. Stores will sometimes offer seemingly large discounts on Black Friday but drop prices even more as the holidays draw closer. How do you know which sales you will save the most on? Well take a look at retailers’ websites to determine the prices and sales they usually have. If you see the percentage of the sales on "special shopping days" are the same as their usual Saturday sales, it’s not a deal! I know what stores I need to go to by doing a little research ahead of time, targeting what items I want and finding additional discounts online and in catalogs: Last year, I found a $99 jacket on sale for $19!

Also, think about making gifts – it’s the thought that counts after all! This year, I’m on a tighter budget so I’m going to make customized stockings. People love gifts that are handmade over something store-bought that might be exchanged. You can even fill the stockings will homemade treats; there are so many recipes for easy-to-make desserts online!

Just remember that the holidays are not about how much you spend. Shop only for what you need and give the rest from the heart. Enjoy the season, amazing food and great friends without going broke!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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