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High Schools Seniors: 5 Things to do Before Summer’s Up

by Suada Kolovic

Ah, senior year. It’s a time chock-full with to-dos, from finalizing your college choice and filling out applications to applying for scholarships and getting your financial aid in order. And with summer slowly coming to a close, it’s a good time for rising high school seniors to realize that some deadlines are just around the corner. So rather than let the last weeks of summer slip away, avoid the fall time crunch and consider U.S. News and World’s top suggestions of five simple things you can do now:

  1. Examine school prices: Relying on just the sticker price when making your college selection is a huge mistake. For the most part, sticker prices are often meaningless. Take the time to do some serious research and understand the real cost of the institutions you’re interested in.
  2. Know deadlines: Keeping track of the various deadlines you’ll have to meet is essential for a successful senior year. In order to make things easier, use Scholarships.com’s calendar as a reference!
  3. Get started on your college essay: Writing a college essay is one of the most nerve-wracking chores high school seniors face. To relieve some of the pressure, start early. Think about it: If you start now, you’re more likely to be able to devote the time needed to do a great job.
  4. Consider supplemental materials: If you’re an artist, musician or actor, applying for colleges (and scholarships!) may be more time consuming. In some cases, you’ll have to audition and have an impressive portfolio to standout. Some schools also require SAT Subject Tests so find out and book exam dates now.
  5. Research: If you haven’t begun researching schools, get started now. Check out schools online, take virtual tours and really consider what qualities are most important to you. Think about what you want out of your college experience – whether it’s a school with a strong academic record, impressive athletic teams or diverse social programs and services – and take a hard look at whether you’re applying to schools for the right reasons.

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Coca-Cola’s $20,000 Scholarship

Deadline Quickly Approaching

October 25, 2010

Coca-Cola’s $20,000 Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

Are you in search of a scholarship with a huge dollar amount? Coca-Cola’s Scholars Scholarship may be just what you’re looking for. It's an achievement-based scholarship awarded to 250 high school seniors each year. Fifty of these are four-year, $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year for four years), while 200 are designated as four-year, $10,000 scholarships ($2,500 per year for four years). And with odds like that, it wouldn’t hurt for you to give it your best shot!

In order to be eligible for a Coca-Cola Scholarship, a student must be a current high school or home-school senior planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution and have a minimum 3.00 GPA at the end of your junior year of high school. But you better work fast because high school seniors must apply online through October 31. Good luck!


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From College Dropout to Graduate: Kanye West to Join Fashion School

by Suada Kolovic

Kanye West’s name has become synonymous with controversy, success…and now a degree in fashion?

According to The Sun, the hip-hop superstar applied to study for a master’s degree in fashion at the Central Saint Martins College in London. West arrived in London on Wednesday to discuss his ambitions with the head of the course, Professor Louise Wilson, who has a reputation for making her students cry. A source told The Sun that the rapper has long been an admirer of the school and is serious about studying fashion: “Kanye spends a lot of time with fashion students and often hooks up with Central's arty pupils when he is in London. He already has work experience with Fendi and Louis Vuitton on his CV (curriculum vitae). Now that he has been interviewed the school's board will have to decide whether to allow him to start the MA fashion course later this year."

While he hasn't been accepted yet, this is a major decision for the college because while having Yeezy enrolled would garner major publicity – previous celebrity students have included M.I.A, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen – it could also damage the school’s credibility. Unfortunately, if Central Saint Martins doesn’t grant him admission, the school will likely find itself as the target of Mr. West’s next Twitter tirade…though we’re sure Professor Wilson will have a few choice words of her own. Let the admissions games begin!


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Final Exams - The New Health Risk?

Grandmothers Be Advised

September 28, 2010

Final Exams - The New Health Risk?

by Suada Kolovic

The life of the average college student is riddled with papers, mid-terms, all-nighters and of course the untimely tragic death of beloved family members come finals week. Just days into the fall semester, professors say excuses for missing class have already begun to flow: food-borne illnesses, fender-benders, religious holidays, roommate squabbles, registration snafus.

Then there are the grandparents, those poor souls conveniently killed off by college students whose tuition they might even be paying. One commenter on a Chronicle Forums thread on student excuses suggests sending out warning notices to the old folks: "The midterm exam for [course and number] is scheduled for [date]. This puts your life in danger. We recommend that you get a physical exam before that date and avoid all unnecessary travel until the test is over. Grandmothers are particularly at risk."

It happens to the best of us. We’re ill-prepared, panic and give the first excuse our minds can muster. Honesty may be the best policy, but below are a few of the most creative excuses from students who decided to steer away from the classics and put their own special spin on explaining their absence:

  • "My father owns a liquor store and we got a big delivery right before your 11:00 class."
  • "I was absent for yesterday's test because my girlfriend was having a baby."
  • This one is verbatim: "I am really sorry I was not in class today. I some how came down with ammonia and have been really sick for the past 2 days."
  • E-mail just received from student who missed first two classes. Unfortunately it is a once-a-week three-hour block class, so she has missed two weeks of class: "I just found out I am registered for your Wednesday class. I didn't realize I was registered for it. Now that I've found out I'm registered, I would like to attend. Do you think I can still catch up? May I stop by your office and get the syllabus?" I wonder who registered her.

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    College Dropouts Cost Taxpayers Billions

    by Suada Kolovic

    Dropping out of college would surely ruffle a few feathers at home, but it seems mom and dad may not be the only ones affected. While dropping out after a year can translate into lost time and a mountain of debt for the student, now there’s an estimate of what it costs taxpayers: billions.

    According to a report released Monday, states appropriated almost $6.2 billion for four-year colleges and universities between 2003 and 2008 to help pay for the education of students who did not return for year two. The report takes into account spending on average per-student state appropriations, state grants and federal grants – such as Pell grants for low-income students – then reaches its cost conclusions based on students retention rates. It’s worth mentioning though that the report’s conclusions are considered incomplete: Because it’s based on data from the U.S. Education Department, it does not take account of students who attend part time, who leave college in order to transfer to another institution, or who drop out but return later to receive their degrees.

    And with figures in the billions, critics agree that too many students are attending four-year schools – and that pushing them to finish wastes even more taxpayer money. Robert Lerman, an American University economics professor, questions promoting college for all. He said the reports fleshes out the reality of high dropout rates. But it could just as easily be used to argue that less-prepared, less-motivated students are better off not going to college."Getting them to go a second year might waste even more money," Lerman said. "Who knows?"


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    A New Facebook in Town?

    August 31, 2010

    by Kevin Ladd

    Looks like there’s a new facebook in town. Sort of. Apparently trying to recapture what the aforementioned site once offered, namely exclusivity to college students, is the new site CollegeOnly.com. It’s really not a bad idea, either, if you think about it. Sure, facebook really took off and their numbers skyrocketed as a result of their opening-up their site and services to the general public, but at what price? Or, at what price to students, I should say. It worked out pretty well for facebook. I mean, does it really make sense to jettison users of your site once they reach a particular age or social status? With regard to site traffic, less is never more.

    Several years ago, students could go online and post photos from frat parties and, basically, be college students without fear of their parents, employers, etc. seeing them, for example. Sure, facebook allows you to adjust your privacy settings and sure, you don’t have to accept every friend request you get, but it could be a bit awkward to get an invite from an employer, parent, aunt, etc. with whom you really don’t want to be facebook “friends” for the above-mentioned reasons.

    Having only glanced at the site (don’t currently have a “.edu” email address), I can’t go into much more detail, other than to say the clipart on the home page is certainly an interesting choice. Regardless of your gender or preference there’s a plunging neckline there for you. Enjoy.


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    by Kevin Ladd

    Between the realization that virtually every college student roaming their campuses has a cell phone and the rather considerable expense of “blue phone” maintenance, the Contra Costa Community College District has decided to do away with the recently upgraded telephones intended to ensure safety for those wandering the campus after dark.

    Just a couple of years ago, the district spent around $100,000 upgrading the phones from analog to digital and are probably now wishing they had a little more foresight, given the rapid proliferation of cell phones on their campuses. Since that expense, they have been throwing good money after bad, with maintenance costs of about $50,000 each year and even with that, the call boxes are frequently down, sometimes with an actual “Out of Order” sign hanging from them.

    As it has reportedly been several years since a single, verified “real” emergency call has come in from one of these rather expensive fixtures and there is no indication the blue phones act as any sort of deterrent against campus assaults, the prudent thing to do seems to be to just do away with them.

    With the blue phones gone, more emphasis would be put on the college’s neighborhood-watch style program, encouraging students to be vigilant and to look-out for one another, reporting any assaults or conflicts warranting professional intervention to campus security and/or the police.

    This may or may not become a national trend, with some campuses installing new blue phones to this day, but for Contra Costa, the return on their investment in the fixtures just isn’t there. There is a strong belief that, between cell phones so commonly being carried by students and increased awareness and vigilance, their campuses can remain safe while reducing some of their operating expenses. What about you? Does your campus still have blue phones? Do you think it is a waste of resources? Please feel free to comment and let us know what you think!


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    Daytona State Employing E-Book Program

    Students Could Save Hundreds of Dollars Each Semester

    September 3, 2010

    by Kevin Ladd

    Daytona State is going to do it beginning in January 2011; they will actually purchase a license from publishers to allow their students access to electronic versions of the texts they would otherwise go out and try to locate in print form at the best price they can find. For this service, the student s will be charged a “digital materials” fee. For it’s part the college will require publishers to make the e-books readable in multiple types of e-reader, regular computers included. After all, not everybody has a Kindle or an iPad.

    Since they can pretty much guarantee one e-book sale per student per class per semester, Dayton State will be able to get a pretty sizeable discount from the publishers. When you consider there are no printing costs, etc. for the publishers, you would think it would be even less, but the estimated fee as it stands is about $30 per e-book. That said, this is still a huge savings off regular e-book pricing and only about a quarter of what they would be paying for standard, new, print textbooks.

    Funnily enough, this practice actually originated with one of the oft-maligned “for-profit” institutions, University of Phoenix, where e-books have been in use for some time. At many schools the cost of books, while considerable, is not much in comparison to tuition, room and board at around $1,100 per student at a four year school. However, at Daytona State, a former community college that now offers some four-year degrees, textbooks can make up nearly a third of a student’s total cost of attendance. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why such a school might give this approach a try. And it’s not like the students won’t still have a choice, either. If a student prefers a printed book they can either print the book themselves or purchase a regular print textbook and apply the digital materials fee to the purchase. Would you rather save up to $1,100 or have traditional, print textbooks? Do you think/hope your school will try a similar program? Let us know what you think about Daytona’s upcoming e-book program.


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    by Kevin Ladd

    Each year at about this time, I see students, desperate for financial aid of any kind, begin to despair juuuust a bit. “This scholarship is due in two days… I can’t put together a application/winning essay that quickly!” or something along those lines.  Others complain that the deadlines have passed for many of the scholarships for which they might have applied. There is only really one solution for this and that is for you to begin searching for scholarships earlier in the year."


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    by Administrator

    by CampusCompare 5/21/2009

    Every year, high school students across the country rip open the fat admissions envelope from their first-choice only to be thrown a curve ball. Their dream school may have let them in, but they got bubkiss, zero, and zilch in financial aid. Then, just when they thought they were out of luck, they get a hefty scholarship from one of their safeties. Now they are forced to decide between the school of their dreams, and the scholarship of their dreams.

    Unfortunately, this is an all-too common scenario. Students often receive more aid from their safety schools than from their first choices. This is because they are generally overqualified, and thus more desirable, to the admissions committee at the less prestigious school. Admissions counselors aren’t foolish. Stats like class rank and SATs are reported by the school, and help make up their reputation. They want to boost their school’s stats by having students at the top of their high school class attend. To lure those top students, they often offer large merit scholarships and grants. And the first-choice schools? They are often much more competitive, so it can be hard to stand out from the crowd and win an award.

    So what can you do if you’re stuck between your dream-school and being debt-free? Is it better to attend your 2nd (or 3rd) choice school and not have to take out loans, or to hold out for your no. 1? There’s really no one answer. In general, it’s wise to not borrow more money than you will be making your first-year out of college—this means (for most people) no more than 30-40 thousand dollars for all four years of college. This can easily be done in low interest federal loans. If going to your dream school means taking out $100,000 in private loans, you’ll probably be better off going to a less prestigious school and staying out of debt. Try to compare costs of both colleges side-by-side to see if the difference in aid really tips the scales. Maybe after seeing what both schools have to offer, you’ll decide second-best is actually pretty good. Most colleges offer a good education, and even if it’s not their first choice, most students grow to love their school once they’ve moved in and made friends.

    Don’t give up just yet. If you really believe that you’ll be better off at your dream-school, you can make it happen. Try and make up for the lack of financial aid with some private scholarships. Search for corporations, non-profits, and local scholarships designed for students like you. Even if it’s just $500 here and there, in the end it will all add up to the difference between going to your 1st choice and settling for second-best.

    CampusCompare is a free website that helps college-bound students find the right school for them by offering free college search tools, like the Financial Aid Calculator, information on 15 categories of college life for over 3,000 colleges, and expert, hype-free college admissions advice.  Check us out at http://www.campuscompare.com


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