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An App for Apps

Matchbox Streamlines Admissions Processes

January 11, 2012

An App for Apps

by Alexis Mattera

As soon as high school students drop their college applications in the mail or send them hurtling through cyberspace, they breathe sighs of relief thinking the hardest part of the application process is over. Not so much for college admissions officers, whose challenges are just beginning: They must review each and every transcript, essay, standardized test score and extracurricular to select the right mix of students to attend their institutions. It can take a lot of resources – there are quite literally thousands of applications to evaluate – so it’s about time an app was created to streamline the process.

Matchbox has developed an iPad app to speed up the review of college applications without compromising the savvy judgment admissions officers are known for. Founder and CEO Stephen Marcus created the first incarnation of the Matchbox app as a member of the admissions committee at the MIT Sloan School of Management. At that time, Marcus said it would take 30 to 60 minutes to read one application but with the Matchbox app, that same process is two to three times faster. "I'm able to save a lot of time when I'm reading applications now," said Jennifer Barba, associate director of admissions at the Sloan School. "Before I would have to write out all of that evidence on the handwritten scorecard. Now I can just tap it with my finger, highlight it, assign a category, and it's done."

Do you think this kind of technology is good or bad for the college application evaluation process? Let us know why in the comments or via Facebook and Twitter!

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Get an A in Organization 101

January 10, 2012

Get an A in Organization 101

by Kara Coleman

Is your dorm room or car always a mess? Do you have trouble remembering when assignments are due? If so, here are some ways to start the spring semester with less clutter and a more organized outlook.

Go mobile. I once had a boss who said that if she didn’t put something in her phone, it wasn’t going to get done. That’s true for a lot of college students, too, especially since we always have our phones with us. Put test dates and project due dates in your cellphone and set your phone’s alarm for those days. That way, you’ll have your schedule with you at all times.

Check your schedule every day. Rather than keeping up with dates on their phone, some students prefer flipping the pages of a calendar or planner. If this describes you, make a habit of writing everything down and try to make a habit of checking your planner every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep.

Keep it together. A friend of mine started keeping notes from all of her classes in the same binder, with each class separated by a color-coded divider. Now, none of her notes get mixed up or misplaced and when she heads to campus every morning, she only has to grab one notebook on her way out the door.

Have a routine. It’s a million times easier to keep track of everything if you have a set day to do certain things. For example, Wednesday night is my laundry night. If there’s something specific I want to wear for the weekend, I don’t have to worry about it being clean because I know that all my laundry is washed and folded on Wednesday. Have days or times planned each week to balance your checkbook, go grocery shopping, etc. to make your time more manageable and your college life more organized.

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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The AP Debate

January 10, 2012

The AP Debate

by Alexis Mattera

Show of hands, students: How many of you have previously taken, are currently enrolled in or are considering signing up for an Advanced Placement course? That's a lot of you...but how many of you chose the AP path because you felt as though you had to in order to remain competitive in the college admissions process? Iiiiiinteresting...

With college hopefuls taking on so many AP classes that they have barely any time for non-academics, some schools in the San Francisco Bay area are pushing for a cap on the number of Advanced Placement courses a student can take or even eliminating them entirely. Though some teachers and administrators feel it would be a welcome change that would allow more freedom in the curriculum, parents and students do not share this mindset: They view any AP limits or bans as disadvantages when college application time rolls around, despite competitive schools like Stanford assuring applicants "We want to be clear that this is not a case of 'whoever has the most APs wins.'" Other educators think the caps are a bad idea, stating that not only will students feel less challenged but that limiting the number of AP classes could result in staffing cuts, as schools offering more APs are able to hire more teachers.

Research does show students who take AP courses do better in college than students who don't but is it worth the stress placed upon students by parents, teachers, colleges and even their peers to take and excel in these courses? Do you think students should be able to decide what their own workload should be if it means the AP credits earned will help them graduate from college early and save thousands on tuition? What side are you on in the AP debate?

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My Final Study Abroad Checklist

January 9, 2012

My Final Study Abroad Checklist

by Darci Miller

In preparing to study abroad, I’ve been alternately packing and scouring the Internet for lists of important things to pack. When it comes down to it, there are several things that I will not – and cannot – leave the U.S. without!

  • 1. Power adapters. Voltage and wattage are different across the pond and all of my American electronics will be rendered moot if I don’t come prepared – it would be a sad day if I couldn’t charge my computer or straighten my bangs! If you’re going abroad, check to see what adapters you’ll need, as they vary from country to country.
  • 2. Clothes to layer. I’m heading to London and the weather there can be all over the map, so everything I’ve read advises dressing in layers. This would be a smart choice for anyone studying abroad in a country in which temperature varies between seasons. T-shirts and a handful of cardigans will carry you through winter and spring, while long-sleeved shirts are useless as it gets warmer.
  • 3. Familiar, comfort items. Photos of friends and family are obvious but since I’m a sap, this really includes anything that’ll remind me of home or people that love me. Though I may rarely wear my headband made out of a t-shirt hem, seeing it on my desk will remind me of the night my friends and I made them.
  • 4. My GPS. I’ll have limited data on my phone while I’m study abroad and going over my limit isn’t an option. For those days I plan on exploring the city, I’ll throw my trusty TomTom named Peter into my bag and be good to go. I’ll only get lost in the culture, not because I made a wrong turn!
  • 5. An across-the-body bag. A definite necessity, especially for the ladies. They’re much harder for muggers to steal and you have the added bonus of keeping your belongings right next to your hand.
  • 6. Important documents. This may sound like a huge “duh” but I definitely need to remember to print out whatever I’ll need for my first few days – visa, confirmation of enrollment, orientation notes, etc. Anything to make the transition a little less stressful!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!

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Creativity Pays Off - Win This Scholarship of the Week and Earn $10,000 for College!

Annual Create-A-Greeting Card Scholarship Contest Deadline is January 14th

January 9, 2012

Creativity Pays Off - Win This Scholarship of the Week and Earn $10,000 for College!

by Alexis Mattera

Have you ever spent time searching for the perfect card for your mom’s birthday, best friend’s first job or cousin’s anniversary but couldn’t find a greeting that conveyed exactly what you wanted to say? If so, this Scholarship of the Week – and its $10,000 prize – has your name all over it.

The Gallery Collection’s Annual Create-A-Greeting Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest asks its applicants – high school, undergraduate and graduate students – to design the front of a greeting card (holiday, birthday, thank you, get well, etc.) using original photographs, artwork and/or computer graphics. The student with the winning design will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship and have his or her creation made into a greeting card to be sold on The Gallery Collection’s website.

Have the perfect idea? Visit the official website and make sure to get your design submitted before the January 14th deadline. As always, to learn more about this award and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Humans and Zombies and College - Oh MY!

This Semester, Try This Undead Extracurricular

January 6, 2012

Humans and Zombies and College - Oh MY!

by Katie Askew

The zombie obsession has exploded! Zombie pub crawls, zombie Halloween costumes, zombie movies and now, even a massive zombie-infused days-long game of tag on your college campus. That's right, can you say best extracurricular ever?

So what is this craze and how does it apply to college students? Well, it’s called Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ for short) and was invented by Brad Sappington and Chris Weed at Goucher College in 2005. The idea of the game spread virally across Facebook and it’s now played at more than 650 college campuses on every continent (except Antarctica, of course). HvZ is basically a massive game of tag that is moderated by the few people who first initiated the game at your school. All players begin as humans except for one Original Zombie chosen that starts to tag human players to turn them into zombies. Players are signified as a human if they carry an index card with an ID number and a bandana around their arm or a zombie if they wear a bandana around their head. The zombies have to tag and “eat” a human every 48 hours by reporting the ID number to the website run by the game admins or they starve and are out of the game. The rules state that the zombies win if there are no human players left or the humans win by starving all the zombies to death.

Usually NERF guns or rolled up socks are sufficient for tagging but since the game has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon, you can purchase specific HvZ gear, “guns” and bandanas online. To find out more about how to start your own game of HvZ at your college or to watch the documentary, click here...then to decide if you’re playing for the living or the undead!

Katie Askew is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, teaching and performing music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.

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White House Announces Summer Youth Employment Initiative

January 6, 2012

White House Announces Summer Youth Employment Initiative

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school student, you’re probably still enjoying winter break. But with that two-week treat shortly coming to a close, I’m sure there are at least a few of you already looking forward to the warm, lazy months of summer. (I know I always did!) Then again, summer may not be the carefree paradise it once was. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain some work experience and this summer, you’re in luck: President Barack Obama is looking to boost summer job prospects for kids.

The White House recently announced that with help from the private sector, it has nearly 180,000 youth employment opportunities for the summer and aims to add tens of thousands more. With unemployment rates still relatively high for adults nationwide, young people are finding it almost impossible to find any employment opportunities. President Obama insisted that with the economy in a rut, the government needs to step in to make sure kids are provided with opportunities to learn skills and a work ethic. One downside of the plan for kids trying to save money for college, cars and other expenses is that many of the positions would be unpaid training opportunities.

Are you already thinking about where you’ll be working this summer? Are you more interested in a paying position or one that would be a killer reference on your resume?

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New Semester, New Goals

January 5, 2012

New Semester, New Goals

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Now that you've had some time to spend some time with your family, eat all those holiday delicacies or just unwind, it's just about time for another semester! Since starting a new semester can be daunting, here are several tips you can follow:

First, make sure you order your books at least a week before the semester starts, preferably sooner if you're ordering them online. While Amazon's two-day shipping for college students is great for procrastinators, your books may not be in stock if you wait too long.

Next, make sure you're not taking too many credits. While taking 18 credits a semester may seem like a great idea when you think about how quickly you'll finish your degree, you’ll burn out fast (especially if you have a job...or two). As we've heard a million times, slow and steady wins the race and your GPA will almost certainly be a lot stronger and college will be more enjoyable if you adopt a more moderate pace.

Finally, take advantage of campus resources. As overwhelming as college can feel at times, it's easy to forget that there are all kinds of people who are more than willing to help. From math lab to writing lab to academic counselors, there's no shortage of people who understand what you're going through and can offer great advice. Besides, you're paying top dollar for your tuition so you might as well get your money's worth and use these resources!

If you still feel crazed after reading these tips, remember that you won't be in college for the rest of your life. Sometimes we forget about the eventual rewards of hard work. It may take more time than we'd like but hard work will pay off in the end.

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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Study: E-Textbooks Saved Majority of Students Only $1

January 5, 2012

Study: E-Textbooks Saved Majority of Students Only $1

by Suada Kolovic

Despite students’ early enthusiasm toward e-books as a cheaper alternative to traditional textbooks, a new study finds that for the most part, the total savings was just $1. With publishers saving a great deal of money by not having to print textbooks and ship them out, why aren’t those savings being passed on to students?

The study, conducted over four semesters at Daytona State College, compared four different means of textbook distribution: traditional print purchase, print rental, e-textbook rental and e-textbook rental with an e-reader device. According to the study’s authors, the $1-dollar difference was attributed to “publisher pricing decisions” and the fact that students who opted to rent e-textbooks could not sell their materials back once the semester ended. But pricing wasn’t the only hiccup: E-books have proven to be unreliable in some classroom settings. For instance, wireless networks in classrooms where several students were using e-textbooks at once sometimes became overwhelmed and translated into no e-book access for the entire class. (For more on the study, click here.)

Even with these glitches, do you think e-textbooks in every classroom in the near future are inevitable? What steps can colleges and universities take in order to ensure publishers set up fair pricing for e-textbooks and that the students using them will have better in-class access to the materials?

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The Short and Tweet Twitter Scholarship is Back!

Your School-Related Resolution for 2012 Could Earn You $1,000

January 4, 2012

The Short and Tweet Twitter Scholarship is Back!

by Suada Kolovic

Every January, we all make resolutions for the year ahead – resolutions that are, unfortunately, usually forgotten by February. Want to make a vow you’ll actually keep and earn money for college at the same time this year? Then enter our newest Short & Tweet Scholarship!

What’s on your educational to-do list in 2012? Whether it’s getting into your dream school, decoding the FAFSA or simply setting two alarms so you don’t miss your morning classes, we want to know! Follow us on Twitter and mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in a tweet detailing your school-related resolution and how you plan to keep it. Here’s how to enter:

Step 1: Follow @Scholarshipscom on Twitter.

Step 2: Mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in a tweet answering the question “What’s your school-related resolution for 2012 *AND* how will you stick to it?” Once you do this, you are entered to win a $1,000 scholarship or one of two Kindles.

Step 3: You may enter as many times as you want from January 4th through February 10th but please limit your tweets to five per day. Each tweet will be a stand-alone entry and tweets that are submitted by non-followers, exceed 140 characters, do not include @Scholarshipscom, do not answer the entire question or are submitted after the February 10th deadline will not be considered. From there, the Scholarships.com Team will determine which comments are most deserving of the awards.

  • Starts: January 4th
  • Ends: February 10th
  • Number Available: 3
  • Amount: $1,000 for one first-place winner; one Kindle each for second- and third-place winners

This scholarship competition is offered by Scholarships.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter.

For official rules, please click here.

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