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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Abby Egan

Jul 1, 2013

by Abby Egan

Hi all! My name is Abby and I’ll be a junior this fall at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). Nice to meet you!

I chose MCLA mainly because it was as far away from the city as possible: I’m from Quincy, MA, right outside Boston, so I’m well acquainted with the city lifestyle but when choosing a college, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone. I major in English Communications with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy but when I’m not busy with schoolwork, I love to read, drink tea and walk around town with my camera. Most of the time, however, I run a very busy lifestyle including working three jobs, participating in two volunteer groups and testing out more clubs than I could possibly count.

I applied to be a virtual intern with Scholarships.com this summer because I saw this as my chance to use my own experiences to help incoming college students get a taste of what college is really all about. When it comes down to it, I’m just a regular girl finding her footing in the college atmosphere...just like you. Hopefully I’ll be able to shine some light on what it’s like to live away from home and start the next chapter of your life but the best advice I can give you would be 1. sleep is the most important thing in the world, and 2. your college experience will be what you make of it. Looking forward to sharing more with you soon!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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What to Expect at a Community College

Jun 27, 2013

by Carly Gerber

During the summer before my sophomore year of college, I knew I wasn't going back to the college I had been attending. It was too late to apply to a four-year university so I decided to attend a community college before entering a new university. From my experience, here's what you can expect while attending a community college:

  • Academics: Many students enter community college thinking it will be academically easier than a four-year college...but that couldn't be further from the truth. Community colleges are academically rigorous and the professors expected to see all your effort in your work. And if you need help, they have the right resources: My community college offered a writing center and a tutoring center, both of which I visited regularly.
  • Personal Life: A few students I met were balancing jobs, school and families. That’s obviously a lot of work but if students attended classes, did their homework and communicated with professors about their circumstances, many instructors were willing to work with the students to help them pass the class.
  • Community: Despite being part of the name, many students don’t think there will be a sense of community at community colleges. But there is! There were a number of sports teams and student organizations with lots of participation at my school. Plus, the college would have events going on during the school day, like a game of Jeopardy! that would bring students together and lighten the mood on a particularly stressful day.

Overall, I enjoyed the community college experience because it helped me grow both as a student and as a person. For those students who have also attended community colleges, how would you rate your experience?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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How to Win a Scholarship: From a Girl Who's Applied for 300+ Awards

Jun 19, 2013

by Diane Melville

Yes, I’ve applied for a LOT of scholarships. It was basically my full-time job throughout college and Scholarships.com was my preferred source for finding the scholarships that I qualified for. You may think that this post will outline how you should do the same thing. False: Me telling you how to apply for 300 scholarships would be like a guy who found a mountain of gold after searching for 30 years telling you to take the same long, exhausting journey. You don’t want to repeat his arduous trek – you just want to buy a one-way ticket to gold mountain! In the same way, I want to teach you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way that will help you to win scholarships...without having to apply for hundreds of them.

Start Small. I started this whole thing by applying to one scholarship. That’s it. I won that scholarship ($1,500 a year for the rest of my education) and that’s what motivated me to apply for more. Some students create massive goals for themselves and set out to win a ton of scholarships, yet they soon find the process to be daunting and give up. The best piece of advice I can give you is to start small. Don’t try to find hundreds or even dozens of scholarships in one shot. Instead, find five scholarships that have deadlines within the next six months and make it a priority to apply for them. First off, it’s a lot easier to find five scholarships that you not only qualify for, but feel you have a solid shot of winning. Second, this will be enough of a taste of the application process to help you determine whether or not you’d like to keep this whole scholarship thing up. If you do end up winning a scholarship, or if you simply enjoyed the process, then you can go to town and apply for many more. Until then, keep it simple.

Select the Right Scholarships. National corporate scholarships draw a lot of applicants so even if you are eligible, the odds of you winning are low in comparison to the smaller ones. The same goes for awards with very limited requirements. What should you do then? I suggest that your five scholarships look something like this:

  • Two national scholarships (examples: Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, etc.)
  • Three small or local/state scholarships (examples: Central Massachusetts Community Foundation, City of Boston Scholarship Fund, The Girl Friends Fund Scholarship, etc.)

This mix still gives you the opportunity to win a national award but increases your chances of success by including smaller, local scholarships that receive fewer applicants.

Take Your Time. Now that you’ve got your scholarships selected, you should put maximum effort into completing the applications to the best of your abilities. Don’t procrastinate until the night before the essay is due and just slap a few things together with the hope that it’s good enough – really research and consider what each scholarship organization values and try to highlight the areas of your life that reflect these values.

Push Through It! You are going to feel unsure. Maybe you hate your essay. Maybe your resume feels lacking. You get stuck, then procrastinate, then neglect and before you know it, the deadline has passed and you didn’t apply for the scholarship. Don’t let this happen! If you don’t apply, you will never have a chance of winning. Push through those feelings of frustration, ask for help if you need it and just submit your scholarship application. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.

Diane Melville is the author of The Community College Advantage and president of the community college planning website, Transfer Bootcamp. Diane has applied for more than 300 scholarships (using Scholarships.com, of course!) and paid for her entire college education using private scholarships. She hopes to use this blog to share everything she has learned about paying for college.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Thinking of Transferring? You May Want To Hang In There

Jun 12, 2013

by Carly Gerber

Are you thinking of transferring because your freshman year didn’t go as planned? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side: As a transfer student, I urge you to think long and hard about leaving your current school. I hope these tips from USA Today College and my personal experience will help you realize that your university may be exactly where you belong.

  • Branch out. I wanted to be best friends with my roommate and to have that “perfect roommate” story. I met her through Facebook so I thought I knew what to expect but our match wasn’t compatible no matter how hard I tried to make it work. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate – the hardest part for me was accepting that we wouldn’t be friends but it forced me to meet new people.
  • Make a note each day about what makes your school special. During the first quarter of my freshman year, I was so happy about my college choice. I was grateful for the friends I met and thought my campus was in a great location but eventually, I began to dislike everything about the school....even the things I was initially fond of! These emotions are normal for freshman but instead of bailing right away, make a note about what you like about your school each day. There are reasons you picked your college, even when the plans you created don’t go as you expected.
  • Remember the past but look to the future. I had a great time in high school and didn’t realize how much I would miss it until I was at college. It’s okay to miss those high school days: Look back and appreciate those times but look forward to even better times during this new chapter of your life.
  • Take control of your experience. Do you and your roommate have a rocky relationship? Try switching to a new room or plan a new living situation next year. College is about experimenting and changing aspects of it that don’t work for you.

Hang in there and remember that the grass can be greener where you water it!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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You’re Accepted...for Next Semester

New Admissions Addresses Retention Concerns, Confuses Students

Jun 3, 2013

by Mike Sheffey

Congratulations! Well...sort of. Many incoming college freshmen feel this bittersweet sensation when they read they’ve been accepted to college but not until a semester or two after their intended start date.

Colleges are adopting this practice more and more and it’s no surprise why: Retention rates drop after the first year and this decrease combine with the junior year “I want to study abroad” rush leaves colleges with gaps and vacancies in classes, resulting in less money for schools. This admissions approach is economically better for colleges and universities but is it better for students? Not when they want to take classes somewhere else before that requires full-time student status and not when the students need to get jobs in the semester before they start. This could also potentially disconnect them with the incoming freshman class in the fall and put them in awkward social positions once they arrive.

I personally don’t know anyone that this has happened to – the most I’ve encountered with friends is wait lists – but I know a few that applied to transfer to other colleges and weren’t accepted for the following semester, but the next one. It’s great news that the student gained admission but there’s the question of “Why then and not now?” In an almost B-list manor, colleges are glad to have you but not now – only after the first wave of freshmen.

I know the bottom line is money but in my opinion, this approach devalues all of one’s efforts and projects a message of self-doubt and questioning. If colleges plan to keep doing this, they need to figure a way to build the students up during that semester before entry and provide program options and support so that these kids don’t feel that sense of bittersweet victory and defeat. Deals with other colleges for transfer credits, extracurricular activities, ways for these students to get ahead and job options on or off campus would be an awesome start. What else do you think schools could (and should) do to bridge this gap?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Habits to Keep, Kick in College

May 30, 2013

by Carly Gerber

Freshman year of college is right around the corner and I’m sure many of you are happy to be leaving those high school days behind you...but don’t leave behind EVERYTHING you’ve learned in high school! As a college student, I learned the hard way which characteristics to keep and kick but you don’t have to: USA Today recently shared some but I’ve included a few of my own tips as well.

  • Handwrite notes in class. Warning: Keep all technology in your dorm room or, if you must have it with you, make sure it’s switched off. Even those with great self-restraint will eventually take a peek at Facebook...which will turn into a 30-minute session. Using a good ol’ pen and paper will help you to avoid distractions during class.
  • Don’t do homework for one class in another class. In college, finishing an assignment for one class while in another class should be avoided. It will be harder to succeed in college classes – especially those within your major – if you aren’t paying attention in class.
  • Stay in Monday through Friday. This advice may seem unrealistic and just plain crazy but stay in Monday through Friday. There may be great deals on drinks and food off campus on Tuesdays but save your money and energy for the weekend. You will feel like you earned the night out instead of regretting your headache and exhaustion in your morning classes.
  • Get sleep. It’s been proven that getting seven to nine hours of sleep will do wonders for the body and anything less than those recommended hours will make you irritable, less able to concentrate, hungrier and (no surprise here) sleepier. Avoid all-nighters and staying up late like the plague because you’ll pay for it the next day.

Do you have any high school habits you’ve kept or kicked in college? Let us know in the comments!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Conquering Your Summer Reading List

May 29, 2013

by Chelsea Slaughter

Summer reading is something we just cannot get away from...even after high school: Most colleges and universities require incoming freshman to complete summer reading and test new students on this material during freshman orientation or in English classes. Here are a few tips to make completing your summer reading a breeze:

  • Block out your summer. Think about the period where you will have the fewest activities and try fitting your reading in there. Plan early so you know the best time to focus on reading, as a busy summer is never an acceptable excuse to professors.
  • Traveling? Take your reading along. There’s nothing that makes a long flight or road trip fly by like a good book. If you know you will have downtime on your trip, take your book(s) with you to pass by the time.
  • Take notes. If you choose to knock your reading out early, jot down notes to refresh your memory at the end of the summer. You’ll be surprised how helpful reviewing a few details about the main characters and a summary of the plot can be right before the start of orientation or classes.
  • Finish related assignments immediately. If you have questions to answer or a paper to write about the book, complete this work as soon as you finish reading. This is best because your memories are the freshest and you will be able to complete your assignments to the best of your ability.

Summer reading is only a drag if you wait until the last minute – the sooner you get it done, the sooner you will be able to enjoy your summer without it nagging the back of your mind!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Lights, Camera, College!

What Hollywood Gets Wrong About the College Experience

May 23, 2013

by Katlyn Clark

You have probably fantasized about your college experience being just like the movies...WRONG! If you watched movies or shows like “Glee,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and “17 Again” and thought “That is nothing like high school,” the same goes for college when it’s portrayed on screen: I remember watching “Pitch Perfect” after my first month of college and thought, “College is NOT like that!” Here are some examples from TV and the movies that showcase what supposedly happens in college but doesn’t.

  • Going to school with your friends a la “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” isn’t the best idea. Zack, Slater and Screech all went to the same college but this can cause students to rely too heavily on old friendships instead of building new ones. You shouldn’t be afraid to meet new people so introduce yourself to your classmates and join a few clubs.
  • College isn’t all toga parties and food fights like “Animal House.” You will definitely find ways to have fun in college but there are certain things that aren’t cool...like failing classes, drinking too much and wasting your (or your parents’) tuition money. Find a balance between work and play.
  • You can’t bring the outdoors inside like Finn and Puck did on “Glee.” You would get in big trouble for setting up a Slip ‘n Slide or grilling hot dogs in your dorm hall – you might even lose your on-campus housing privileges! Things that are meant to be outside should stay there.
  • You will not have Beca’s “Pitch Perfect” dorm room. We all WISH our dorms look like hers but don’t get your hopes up. The good news is that you can decorate your room to reflect your own personal style!

Do not take college advice from the movies and TV shows you watch except for the fact that it will be an experience you will never forget. For a more accurate picture of what to expect in college, just ask your friends who are already attending college about what campus life is really like!

Katlyn Clark is a freshman at Campbell University majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing. She hopes to become a broadcast journalist for entertainment or write for a magazine such as People or Seventeen. In her spare time, Katlyn loves to hang out with friends and family and watch sports; she is a Christian who is so thankful for God’s many blessings in her life. Katlyn is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and loves Tim Tebow, Pinterest, the WWE and cats.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Becoming a Better Communicator

May 22, 2013

by Carly Gerber

You may be thinking that the day you head off to college, you will be freed from listening to your parents’ opinions. Slow that ship before it hits the bridge: While it’s true you will become more independent at college, your parents (and their ideologies) still exist.

For example, deciding the major you want to pursue is exciting but just as you have picked it, your parents intercept your joyous mood by interrogating your reasons and drowning you with their viewpoints. Don’t get discouraged because this opportunity will help you to become an excellent listener and communicator. Here are a few tips from USA Today to help you become an excellent communicator with your parents:

  • Think. Thinking like your parents will prepare you to come back with solid arguments to questions you know they will ask. Also, your decisions or goals may change because your parents’ concerns are justifiable.
  • Research. Finding information on the Internet can be helpful as well as asking those without any stake in the game. For example, approach professors, advisers, the study abroad office, internship coordinators and anyone that can answer your and your parents’ questions. The more information you come into an argument with, the more clarity your parents will have about your endeavor.
  • Outline. Create a well-thought out, even written argument. Writing an argument will help you organize your points and stay on task instead of drifting into emotionally charged, unprepared arguments.
  • Pitch. Maybe you want to email your parents your written argument or discuss matters over the phone. During every discussion with your parents, remain calm as they speak their minds then go find the answers to their questions.

Becoming a good communicator - especially with your parents - is vital. Many of your parents are financially supporting your college careers and that makes their opinions the most important to acknowledge.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Taking a Gap Year May Enhance Your College Experience

May 17, 2013

by Carly Gerber

So you’re a high school senior who has worked hard to maintain the impressive grades and variety of extracurriculars that earned you multiple college offers. But before you purchase those extra-long twin sheets and start choosing fall classes, consider how a gap year could positively impact your future.

According to the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, more than 50 percent of students in Norway, Denmark and Turkey take a gap year (also known as a bridge year) before college. In the U.S., however, the practice is far from the norm. A USA Today article recently explored some misconceptions about gap years – it’s believed that taking a year off is only for affluent students and students fear that they will be at a disadvantage because they will be a year behind their age group – but in reality, students who take a year off from formal education before entering college find “a focused sense of purpose, independence, self-confidence, grit and resilience,” says Abby Falik, who founded Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit that supports gap year choices. And to further debunk the myths listed above, Global Citizen Year even provides financial aid to students who would not be able to afford a gap year otherwise.

Looking back, I believe completing a gap year would have helped me a lot. I enjoyed my time at my first university but I wasn’t striving for a specific future. I felt lost and unsure if I was going down the right path...even after switching my major three times and transferring to a new university. Following three high-anxiety years, I took a six-month sabbatical from college – time that allowed me to explore and reflect on my goals. I am happy I made the decision to take a break from college because I was able to determine who I want to be and how I want to get there. I only wish I had done so sooner!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Choosing the Right Classes in High School

May 16, 2013

by Katlyn Clark

I recently wrote about the right way to register for college classes but for those of you still in high school, let’s talk about your course selection strategy. The classes you take in high school play a big role in the college admissions process so here are some tips to help you choose the right ones.

  • Consult your counselor. When deciding what classes to take, get your counselor’s opinion. I talked to mine and she helped me pick the right ones to achieve my goals.
  • Consider what your college choices require. Certain colleges may require that you take specific classes in order to be considered for admission. (For example, I had a friend who had to take physics to go to a certain college.) It may sound crazy but it’s good to determine what colleges want early on so you aren’t scrambling at the end.
  • Challenge yourself with honors and AP classes. I suggest looking into what subjects you are good in and registering for related honors or AP courses. I did not take honors classes until my junior year and I wish I had taken them all my four years in high school – in fact, some of my favorite classes were the honors classes! In honors or AP classes, students care about doing their work and teachers think highly of them. Colleges will, too!
  • Find your calling early. Students can discover what they like and what they want to pursue in college while still in high school. I took two marketing classes, did awesome in those courses and am now minoring in marketing at Campbell.
  • Avoid easy As. Just because you receive all As doesn’t mean you are guaranteed admission to the institution of your choice: Colleges review your grades AND the strength of your curriculum when they review your application.

High school students, be smart when registering for classes – your choices here could determine your college fate!

Katlyn Clark is a freshman at Campbell University majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing. She hopes to become a broadcast journalist for entertainment or write for a magazine such as People or Seventeen. In her spare time, Katlyn loves to hang out with friends and family and watch sports; she is a Christian who is so thankful for God’s many blessings in her life. Katlyn is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and loves Tim Tebow, Pinterest, the WWE and cats.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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