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College App Prompts Become Quicker, Quirkier

Schools Encourage More "Tweet Speak" and Video Essays

December 13, 2011

College App Prompts Become Quicker, Quirkier

by Alexis Mattera

As regular admissions deadlines draw closer, high school students are putting the finishing touches on their college application packets and preparing to send their materials off to their schools of choice. As they sit down to write their admissions essays, however, they are increasingly surprised: Traditional essay questions like “Why this school?” and “What is your greatest achievement?” are disappearing in favor of quirkier prompts and quicker responses.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article, both students and educators weighed in on the increased emphasis on brevity (we’re talking responses of 25 words or fewer) and creativity (schools like the University of Dayton, George Mason and Tufts now accept video essays). While some are definitely in favor – "It allows colleges to learn things they may not get from a transcript and a resume," said Katherine Cohen, a college consultant and founder of IvyWise.com – others, like Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, are less than pleased: "It just reinforces that there's some secret code that needs to be cracked to gain admission," he said. Here are just a few of the more interesting prompts seen on college applications during this admissions cycle:

What do you think of this admissions shift? Would you rather write 250 words or 25? What has been the strangest essay prompt you’ve encountered on college application thus far?

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Get Off the Couch with These Alternative Winter Break Plans

December 12, 2011

Get Off the Couch with These Alternative Winter Break Plans

by Angela Andaloro

We powered past midterms, made it through Thanksgiving and are in the home stretch toward finals. That’s right, it’s the end of the semester and before you know it, winter break will be upon us. Many people go home to spend time with their family and friends, eager to veg and enjoy doing nothing.

Not everyone looks to do this with their break, however: If you’re feeling doing something radically different, here are just two awesome ideas...far, far away from your couch and/or reality television.

It’s usually during the coldest months of the year that we’re looking for a little bit of escape. While these options might not be how you were thinking of getting away, they can actually be better than what you had imagined. Spending the holiday season on a path to a better you could be the best gift you give yourself (not to mention those in need) this year!

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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This Scholarship of the Week from Dr Pepper is Refreshing Indeed!

Hurry - Dr Pepper Million Dollar Tuition Giveaway Deadline is 12/31

December 12, 2011

This Scholarship of the Week from Dr Pepper is Refreshing Indeed!

by Alexis Mattera

If you need to find money for college and know how to create and upload a video file, have we got a scholarship opportunity for you.

The Dr Pepper Million Dollar Tuition Giveaway gives students age 18 and older the chance to earn up to $100,000 to fund their college educations. Thirsty for more details? We bet you are! To enter, all you have to do is submit an original video explaining why you deserve tuition through the Dr Pepper website by December 31st. Hey, it’s easier – not to mention less dangerous – than describing what Dr Pepper tastes like!

Full guidelines for submission and answers to FAQs can be found on Dr Pepper’s website. To learn more about this award as well as additional scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Meningitis and the College Student

December 9, 2011

Meningitis and the College Student

by Lisa Lowdermilk

With the holidays just around the corner, the last thing you want to think about is getting sick. But with kissletoe (err...I mean mistletoe) in the hallways of the dorms and the impending threat of cold season, it's important that you do everything you can to stay healthy. Specifically, let's talk about meningitis – one of the biggest threats to college students' health today – and what you can to prevent it.

Meningitis is a serious illness which can cause headaches, fever, vomiting, sensitivity to light and more and if not properly treated, meningitis can lead to seizures, amputation, coma and even death. The way meningitis is spread varies depending on the type of meningitis (i.e. bacterial, viral, fungal, non-infectious, etc.). While not as contagious as the flu, bacterial meningitis is spread by coughing, sharing drinks or kissing.

Several things you can do to prevent meningitis include washing your hands properly, getting plenty of rest, not sharing drinks and getting vaccinated, though bacterial meningitis is the only type of meningitis which can be prevented with a vaccine. Because it's the most common type to afflict college students (as well as the most deadly), it's extremely important to get vaccinated before attending college. With that said, if you're already in college and haven't been vaccinated, now is the time to do so! In fact, beginning January 1st, Texas is requiring all incoming college students to get vaccinated prior to attending.

If you think you or someone you know might have symptoms of meningitis, see a doctor right away. Meningitis is treatable with antibiotics but only if you act in time!

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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Scholarship Displacement Explained

December 9, 2011

Scholarship Displacement Explained

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we make a point to advocate the importance of funding your college education the right way – for free! – and while financing your higher education solely from scholarships is an amazing feat, there is a factor to consider: scholarship displacement.

If you don’t know what scholarship displacement is, you’re not alone. Believe it or not, winning a scholarship may not be the end-all be-all when it comes to paying for school because they can complicate the financial aid package offered by your intended university. Why? When a student wins a scholarship, the college may reduce the student’s need-based financial aid package to compensate. For example, say a university offers a student a $15,000 grant and an additional $15,000 loan to cover the cost of attending. If the student were then to win a scholarship for $15,000, the college could retract its $15,000 grant. Colleges call this an over-award and the scholarship providers call it displacement.

Although this may seem discouraging, it shouldn’t dissuade you from applying to scholarships altogether. Instead, do your homework, speak with your admissions counselor and know where your intended college stands when it comes to their scholarship policies. If you’re brining a lot of scholarship dollars to the table, you have options. Every college is different and has their own guidelines when it comes to outside scholarships. If one university doesn’t allow you to put those scholarship dollars to other costs – loans, books, room and board, etc. – enroll at one that does. You could also enlist the help of the scholarship sponsor: Some scholarship providers may have a lot of clout with the college, especially if their scholars make up millions of dollars of funding to the college.

If you have any additional questions about scholarship displacement, don’t hesitate to ask us!

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Is an Independent Study Right for You?

December 8, 2011

Is an Independent Study Right for You?

by Jacquelene Bennett

Going to college means that you have the freedom to study whatever you want. Universities offer a variety of classes for students to take in a multitude of different subjects but what they will rarely tell you is that you can create your own class – it’s called independent study.

Independent studies allow college students to work one-on-one with professors and basically create their own classes for the semester. You decide what you study, what books to read and what sort of projects and papers you will do. I have a friend who created an independent study course around her study abroad experience. She wrote poems about the places she visited while abroad using pictures she took and the journal she kept while traveling. Her independent study course was not only four credits but it was applied towards her creative writing degree as well. I have another friend who created an independent study course that was basically just one big research project: She picked a topic in conference with a professor and spent the entire semester researching and writing a paper.

One huge positive about independent study courses is that if you have the right faculty support, you can create a class that will satisfy certain requirements and go towards your degree. The best part about an independent study course, though, is the fact that you get to choose what you study and how you spend your time – you don’t have to go to class every other day but instead you meet with a professor every other week. This is an excellent option for students taking more than the average course load to graduate early, satisfy double major requirements or work toward an individualized major.

Of course. there are down sides to independent study courses. You have to be able to manage your time and the projects you do for the course, as your final project will often determine your grade. If you can handle this responsibility, I would definitely recommend looking into designing an independent study course.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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No Access to Social Media at Work is Non-Negotiable for College Students, Recent Grads

December 8, 2011

No Access to Social Media at Work is Non-Negotiable for College Students, Recent Grads

by Suada Kolovic

There are a few key moments in life when you step back and say, “That is non-negotiable in my book.” For the most part, they’re usually pivotal moments that deal with relationships, faith and, at times, your job. When it comes to the latter, they are definitely a few factors to consider – How far are you willing to travel for prospective employment? Will you work for minimum wage and no benefits? (I hope not!) – but what if your future employer tells you that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are off-limits? Well, for some college students and recent grads, that is the absolute definition of non-negotiable…even if the unemployment rate is around nine percent.

According to a recent study by Cisco which surveyed 1,400 college student and 1,400 young professionals between the ages of 21 and 29 in 14 countries, some students would be willing to accept a lower salary in return for technology freedom. The survey also notes that 56 percent of college students said they would either not accept a job offer from a company that blocked access to social media in the workplace or would attempt to sidestep company polices. (For more on the study, click here.)

For those of you with full-time employment, was access to social media a deciding factor? Would you be willing to forgo a higher salary in order to “tweet” and “like” during the workday? Let us know what you think of the study in the comments section.

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Show Your Finals Who’s Boss!

December 7, 2011

Show Your Finals Who’s Boss!

by Darci Miller

It’s basically a fact that finals week is terrible for everyone. Even I, with only one final (and a take-home at that!), am stressed with last-minute story edits, hours upon hours of shifts at work and thoughts of moving home for a month. But the end of the semester doesn’t have to mean all-nighters and misery if you play your cards right. Here are some of my favorite ways to destress when it all starts feeling like too much.

This time of year may be stressful but just remind yourself that no matter what happens, these tests and papers are not the end-all, be-all. Life will go on - I promise!

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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Volunteering During the Holidays - Do It!

December 6, 2011

Volunteering During the Holidays - Do It!

by Radha Jhatakia

The holiday season has arrived. We see decorations up everywhere and sales for the things we’ve coveted all year. We go to parties, have feasts of delicious holiday food and exchange gifts. It’s all very beautiful and spirited but there is a very realistic part of the holiday season that often gets overlooked.

When you pass by those beautiful decorations, how many of you notice there are people sitting on the sidewalk, not because they’re tired of shopping but because that is where they live? When you are at the register spending hundreds on gifts, how many think about those who barely have money to eat? I think ‘tis the season we college students start thinking of others!

With the current state of the economy, many people are unable to celebrate the holidays the way they would like so let’s spread our good fortune to those who don’t have as much. Most college students have an entire month off from school between semesters so do some good during that time! Here are a few ideas:

  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. These organizations are often short staffed during the holidays because of the amount of people that go in so they will be grateful for any time you can spare.
  • Organize a food drive and then help deliver the goods. You can also look into working with a charity that distributes food baskets for those who aren’t homeless but can’t afford holiday meals.
  • Give a gift to someone less fortunate if you can. Community centers set up toy drives during the holidays and some schools even have “Letters to Santa” programs where needy students share their holiday wish lists.

Making someone’s holiday even a little bit happier is easier than you think. All it takes is a bit of time and effort to give someone else the joy you are blessed to have.

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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Study Reveals College Graduates Are Ill-Prepared for the Workforce

December 6, 2011

Study Reveals College Graduates Are Ill-Prepared for the Workforce

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re like most college students, you might revel in the fact that you are now the authority when it comes to course selection. Students tend to take advantage of this new found freedom and pick classes they’ll enjoy like “Philosophy and Existential Themes” or “Psychology: Sensation vs. Perception” instead of something as uninspiring as “Introduction to Professional Writing” but employers warn that they may not adequately prepare them for the workforce.

According to a recent study conducted by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, less than 10 percent of employers thought colleges did an “excellent” job preparing students for work. The group surveyed more than 1,000 employers in various industries and found that more than half said finding qualified applicants was difficult and agreed that students should receive specific workplace training rather than broad-based education.

Following the announcement of the study’s finding, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives higher education subcommittee, urged institutions to heed employers’ calls. "Colleges and universities are pandering to the students and giving them what they want, instead of what the employers want," she said. "I don't think you have to make a distinction between getting skills and getting an education. We need to do both."

Do you agree with the Rep. Virginia Foxx? Are colleges and universities pandering to students wants verses needs?

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