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The Importance of Experience

by Liz Coffin-Karlin

I don’t think most students will disagree with me when I say college messes with your head. It’s not a bad thing to become wrapped up in the culture and “crazy” things start to seem “normal” – midnight pancake breakfasts, grown men dressed up as professional wrestlers breaking chairs on each other in the quad, and just dorm food in general all become regular life – yet one of the most confusing parts of college is that the classes that consume so much of your time and energy really only count for so much.

I remember being consumed by my senior honors thesis my last year and vaguely thinking “Huh, I should probably be applying for jobs...” but with the exception of a few research fellowships, I couldn’t imagine taking the time. Objectively, that job hunt was way more important than whether I got a B or an A- on that last Spanish major requirement because one class out of 40 just doesn’t affect your GPA that much. How much time you spend on outside activities and jobs versus academics, however, does affect your employment choices.

Like I’ve said before, employers want to see experience. Life experience, not classroom experience (this statement should obviously be modified for those planning on Ph.D. programs or going straight into non-professional graduate programs), is vital and whether you’re applying for medical school, a paralegal job or want to be in the business world, internships and volunteer work matter. They prove you have practical skills and good professional recommendations show you are easy to work with, which is more important than you think. Many employers calculate your attitude and demeanor into the hiring decision: They can retrain you on skills you’re lacking but it’s hard to reprogram someone who’s annoying the heck out of everyone in the office.

Obviously, your GPA is important (for example, Google won’t hire anyone with under a 3.5) but most employers care about your concrete skills more than they do about your successful memorization of Don Quijote’s final stanzas. So as hard as it may be, I actually counsel putting down those books sometimes and putting extra effort into that job or internship search, even if it may feel counterintuitive. That means completing informational interviews, exploring both externship and (sigh) unpaid internships and really utilizing your alumni network. But those are topics for another week.

Liz Coffin-Karlin grew up in Sarasota, Florida, where the sun is always shining and it’s unbearably hot outside. She went to college at Northwestern University and after studying Spanish and history, she decided to study abroad in Buenos Aires. In college, she worked on the student newspaper (The Daily Northwestern), met people from all over the world at the Global Engagement Summit and, by her senior year, earned the title of 120-hour dancer at NU’s annual Dance Marathon. She just moved to San Francisco and is currently working on a political campaign on ocean pollution but will be teaching middle school or high school Spanish this upcoming fall and working on her teaching certificate.


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Non-Resident Admission Doubles at UC

by Alexis Mattera

When I moved into my freshman dorm at UConn, I was one of the few out-of-state students on my floor. It wasn’t a bad thing by any means – I made a lot of friends through conversations that began with someone asking "Hey, can you say [any word ending in R]?" because they wanted to hear my thick Boston accent in action – but it was certainly foreshadowing for today’s abundance of non-residents at state schools.

According to an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, the number of non-Californians accepted as freshmen to the UC system has nearly doubled in just two years. Twenty-three percent of all students admitted for this fall hail from other states or nations, partly because non-residents pay nearly three times the tuition and fees of in-state students – a huge boon for UC, which has had its budget cut by about $1 billion during the last few years. In-state students’ college costs are heavily subsidized with public funds and the nine undergraduate campuses simply don’t have the money to cover the cost of educating them, though UC officials insist that no eligible Californian is denied admission because of non-resident students.) In addition to funding woes, applicants also had to contend with increasing selectivity: UC admitted just 64 percent of the students who applied...and just 21 percent at Berkeley and UCLA.

There were some positive aspects to UC’s announcement (the Merced campus accepted 75 percent of applicants, more students of color were admitted systemwide and an additional 2,100 California graduates gained admission over last year) but what do you think of the influx of non-residents at state colleges and universities?


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Required Classes, Your Way

by Angela Andaloro

Class registration time is upon us! For many of us, that means looking through course catalogs and trying to find the perfect schedule that gets us closer to our degree and still gives us time to sleep and have a good time. Many of us will be looking to cross some required classes off of our lists this fall but what about the classes you have to take...for yourself? Here are some types of classes you should consider adding to your own personal required list!

Something creative. I do not have an artistically, musically or similarly inclined bone in my body but I ignored that fact and decided to take a painting class during my freshman year. This turned out to be one of the best ideas I had because it forced me to slow things down and focus on what’s in front of me. Classes that make you flex your creative muscles can take you out of your everyday college stresses and force you to have a little fun.

An interesting history class. If you’re like me, you know plenty of college students who hate history. History classes make everyone reminiscent of high school (seriously, how many times did we learn about the American Revolution?) but college history classes are way different. Find an interesting history class that isn’t on your average topics: I took a class on the history of American women and came out with a lot of interesting info that I’ve actually pulled out in average conversation.

Something to help you get ready for life after college. Many colleges and universities offer classes to seniors on getting into the job market, interview skills, writing résumés and more. There are also classes that can help you figure out what you’d like to major in and help give you direction going forward. These classes can provide you with a wealth of useful information that will help you once your formal education has ended.

What classes are on your required list? Let us know in the comments!

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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Prepare to Attack This Scholarship of the Week

Paul Frank Art Attack Scholarship Deadline is May 15th

April 16, 2012

Prepare to Attack This Scholarship of the Week

by Alexis Mattera

Even if you don’t know Julius, Clancy or Worry Bear by name, you’ve likely seen these characters in one of Paul Frank’s whimsical designs at one point or another. If you think you can create something just as funky, enter the second annual Paul Frank Art Attack Scholarship for a chance to earn $2,500 to put toward your amazing artistic future!

Art Attack participation requires an upload of one piece of original art including some element of the Paul Frank characters/brand, an explanation of how and why the artist incorporated the Paul Frank brand, a description of what kind of art education program the applicant will be supported by the prize money and brief background info about the applicant. The Paul Frank online community will vote on submissions to narrow to the top 10 in each age group (14 – 17 and 18+) on PaulFrank.com and a panel of expert judges will select the first and second place winners in each category. One first prize of $2,500, two second prizes of $1,000, and three third prizes of $500 to be allocated to art supplies or classes will be awarded; in addition to the monetary scholarship, the winning adult artist will also receive a full page ad in Juxtapoz magazine and funding for travel to visit the Paul Frank studios and attend the Academy of Awesome launch party with a feature on PaulFrank.com.

The Art Attack deadline is May 15th so applicants have just about one month left to submit their creations. For more information about this and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Investment Strategies for College Students

by Radha Jhatakia

Most students begin to make decisions about what sort of financial investments they need to make after they graduate while they are still attending college. It’s not an easy decision – rather, it’s one that takes time and some level of research – but this short guide will help you get started.

You may have "made" a lot of money through economics projects where you "invested" in stocks but playing the stock market in real life is much different. With great risk, you can have a great payoff or a great loss and unlike your econ projects, investing requires real funding to make an initial investment, as a single share can be quite expensive depending on the stock. Research the stocks you are interested in and watch the market daily before investing any money. It sounds silly but the best starting point would be reading a book like "Stock Investing for Dummies."

If you’re wary about the stock market, a safer investment would be in a bank or credit union. Many banks do not have annual fees for college accounts but in the current economy, some financial institutions do not offer high interest rates for savings accounts, money markets or certificates of deposits (CDs). Credit unions often have higher interest rates and may charge annual fees but it depends on the institutions' individual policies. Here are the differences between these accounts:

  • Savings accounts: Savings accounts don’t require large balances and offer students the freedom of withdrawing money whenever needed. The downfall is low interest rates.
  • Money markets: Money markets require higher balances since banks use the accounts to make investments but the interest rate is higher since you make money off their investments. The caveat here is not having the money readily available and being charged fees for falling below the minimum balance.
  • CDs: CDs are great for long term use, as they require investments for a certain length of time. This account has a high interest rate and is insured by the FDIC but the drawback is breaking the CD to withdraw money means paying a hefty fee.

Are you currently investing your money? If so, how?

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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Colleges Announce Commencement Speakers

by Suada Kolovic

With college graduation just a hop, skip and jump away, graduates are filled with incredible hope and fear but whatever they’re feeling on graduation day, there’s the possibility that a celebrated commencement speaker could impart some words of wisdom their way. And while notable politicians, celebrities and artists are usually called upon to speak to a crowd full of fresh-faced 20-somethings embarking on the next chapter of adulthood, we couldn’t help but wonder who made the cut this year. Check out the list below, courtesy of the Huffington Post, of who’s speaking where:

Who’s speaking at your school this year?


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The Five-Year Plan: Why It’s Okay To Be a Super Senior

by Kayla Herrera

Everything is blooming and trees are awakening with widening leaves stretching up toward the sky. The birds are chirping and don’t forget the sound of graduation gowns sweeping across the floor! I should be graduating this year but like so many other college students my age, I have been thrown more than a few curveballs in my time in school and I have another year to go before I can enter into the workforce full-time. I want to assure you that this is okay and completely normal!

Here at Michigan Tech, we have a five-year plan. In order to graduate from Michigan Tech in four years, one must take 18 credits every semester, not including summer semesters. Not a fan of killing yourself with books, papers, exams, labs and a part-time job and would prefer to enjoy your time in college? That mentality is adopted by most students at Michigan Tech, making those who graduate in four years or fewer the minority.

Let’s face it – things happen: You change your major and have some serious catching up to do in prerequisite classes, you have a death in the family, you become seriously ill and take a semester off, or you just want to study abroad for a while. And that’s all more than fine, people! Yes, money is a huge issue (you can combat this by finding as many scholarships and grants as possible!) but at least we didn’t develop serious illnesses because of stress in an overworked educational environment!

My advice? Take it easy and give yourself time to soak in all of the new information you are learning. Remember, don’t let anyone make you feel inferior for needing to stay in school for an extra year or two. There are colleges out there, just like mine, where the majority of students are on five-year plans – you just have to find them.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Out-of-Work Professor Turns to Essay Mills for a Paycheck

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in a continuous slump, recent college graduates have come to somewhat expect a struggle when it comes to landing a job. But they’re not alone – even those with years of experience are having a hard time and turning to professions they aren’t exactly proud of: After nearly three years of unemployment and no health insurance, a former assistant professor has turned to writing for essay mills in order to earn a paycheck.

Jennifer Sunseri was an assistant professor at Texas Tech University before she was let go in 2009. With two master’s degrees in technical communications and Slavic linguistic and a Ph.D., Sunseri admits that early on that she wasn’t worried. "I thought for sure my skills as an educator and writer would see me through," Sunseri said. "I am still in shock at how many applications for writing instructor at the local community college, for GED tester, for office manager, for adjunct this and that at the local university, even for substitute teacher resulted in naught.” But after not seeing a doctor for almost three years and being behind on her rent, Sunseri decided enough was enough. Since February she’s worked for the essay mill and while she’s not proud of her new found career, Sunseri says there are some perks. She decides what projects she works on and admits writing on deadline keeps her in tip-top writing shape. "Ironically, the paper mill seems to be the only company that understands the value of my extensive education, and, really, two masters and a doctorate, well, I guess I've been training for a job like this all my life." (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think about Sunseri’s new profession? Is it unethical or is she just doing what she needs to in order to get by?


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Win $3K in this Scholarship of the Week!

Big Dig Scholarship Deadline is June 1st

April 9, 2012

Win $3K in this Scholarship of the Week!

by Suada Kolovic

In 200 years, one of your relatives is going to be digging in what is now your backyard. They are going to find something that you buried in 2012 and it is going to put any financial woes they have to rest. The Big Dig Scholarship asks you to select that item! Keep in mind that the item you choose must be currently available for purchase today and is under $500. You must then write an essay that is between 500 – 1000 words explaining why you chose the item you did. Be sure to also include:

  • Where you could purchase the item today?
  • How much does this item cost?
  • What made you choose the item?
  • Why do you believe that the item will have immense value in 200 years from now?

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Getting Creative is Easier Than You Think

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Even if you’re not a creative writing or visual arts major, you can still benefit from being creative. Employers and teachers alike value creativity and it’s a great way to build your self-esteem. Plus, without creative people, we’d never have kooky inventions like the carpet alarm clock!

So, what are some things you can do to enhance creativity? First off, work on improving your puzzle-solving skills, as solving puzzles can activate previously dormant neural pathways, which in turn can improve creativity. Besides crosswords, Sudoku, riddles and mazes, there are also grid puzzles, lock puzzles and tessellations.

A simpler way to enhance creativity is to change your surroundings. After all, if you’re constantly surrounded by the same drab wallpaper every day, it can be hard to think outside the box. Even if moving to another dorm isn’t an option, you could always take a walk along a route you don’t normally take. It may seem clichéd but you’ll have a much easier time enhancing creativity if you keep an open mind.

The way I’ve found to be most beneficial, though, is to just setting aside time each day to come up with as many outlandish ideas as I can think of. The key is to not reject any ideas no matter how bizarre they may seem, as I can sometimes find ways these ideas could work. And even if I ultimately decide my ideas make no sense whatsoever, just going through the process helps me come up with ideas that do make sense.

Regardless of how uncreative you may think you are, you can always take steps to improve your creativity. Creativity is not something that only a select few of us are gifted with – with enough effort, anyone can be creative!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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