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Is the Four-Year Plan Making Us Feel Guilty?

by Carly Gerber

According to the Buffalo News, there has been a decrease in the amount of students who receive their undergraduate degree in four years. Fewer than half of the University at Buffalo graduates graduated in four years and many other universities have seen the same decrease in their students graduating in that once-traditional timeframe. For example, Niagara University had only 60 percent of its students graduate in four years, while Alfred University only had 43 percent of its graduates graduate in four years. These statistics aren’t just exclusive to New York State, either: I personally know students from all over who have taken an extra semester or two to graduate.

My circumstances of being a transfer student and a student who has changed her major more times than she can count have caused me to extend my stay at college by a few semesters. Initially, I felt guilt, regret, sadness and self-loathing for needing to spend extra time at college; however, I wanted to feel excited for the future and those negative emotions were only going to hold me back from my full potential. Now, I’m feeling excitement, urgency and passion to take my college career seriously and to become a proud and successful graduate. I feel more mature and wiser because of my setbacks and changes during my time at college.

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!


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Taking a Gap Year May Enhance Your College Experience

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!


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Getting a College Education Behind Bars

by Carly Gerber

Did you know Cornell University offers a program for inmates at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correctional Facility to receive college educations?

The Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) began from the ideas and actions of English professor Winthrop “Pete” Wetherbee who, without funding, began teaching in the Auburn prison in the mid-1990s. By 1999, CPEP was offering Cornell credit for completed courses and in 2008, Cornell and Cayuga Community College (CCC) made an agreement which has Cornell waive tuition and fees, CPEP supply instructors and pay for books, school supplies and administration and CCC endow associate degrees. Plus, the CPEP is relatively low in cost – $1,800 per student – and has numerous benefits: Prison education appears to increase the safety of the prisons because the men and women are staying occupied, learning and building self-esteem.

The programs have been getting a positive reaction because other inmates want to join. Retired Cornell professor Richard Polenberg taught a constitutional history course at Auburn Correctional Facility and had said, “These men are extraordinary” and “They are very, very well behaved in the classroom and they ask really good questions.” Government and American Studies professor Mary Katzenstein explains, “Ninety-five percent of men and women in prison are released to society. Do we want people returning who have learned only to hone tricks of the trade, or do we want people coming back to our neighborhoods who have had a chance to learn the kind of analytical skills and be exposed to the ethical values that a liberal arts education is able to impart?”

With the low cost and many benefits of the CPEP, I think all correctional facilities should have a program like it and more colleges should follow Cornell's lead. What are your thoughts about the CPEP?

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!


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How Work-Study Can Help You Pay for School

by Carly Gerber

The student librarian or the math tutor in the tutoring center at your university may be one of the thousands of students involved in the Federal Work Study program.

The U.S. Department of Education explains that the Federal Work Study program involves universities assigning college students part-time jobs in their institutions or through private employers. The income may be minimum wage or higher (it depends on the work the student is doing) and the income goes toward the students’ college expenses. For example, the recipient can have the funds go directly toward tuition or books.

Students can apply for the Federal Work Study program (or FWS or Work-Study) annually by filing a FAFSA. The FAFSA asks an array of questions, the answers of which determine the amount of federal financial aid the applicant can receive. Within the application, it asks the applicant if they would like to be considered for the Work-Study program.

Students may apply for work-study annually. Also, students who are in high school should ask colleges they are interested in if they have a work-study program. Work-study program is a big time commitment but it’s a great way to defray the ever-growing cost of college.

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!


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How to Land a Job After Graduation

by Carly Gerber

Trying to find a job after graduation may seem grim but there are ways to better your chances. Here are a few helpful tips that any student (even you grads!) can use to get a job.

All in all, there are many ways to increase your chances of landing a job after graduation. If you are driven and use all the resources that are available to you, you’ll be employed sooner than you think!

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!


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Interested in Volunteering This Summer? Here’s How!

by Carly Gerber

Summer break is a time when college students intern, work and enjoy the warm weather. This summer, however, try building your resume with volunteer work! Many employers want applicants who have volunteer experience. Volunteering shows selflessness and dedication – two characteristics most employers look for in potential employees.

One organization is called The Hands On Network. This organization will match you with volunteer opportunities based on the location you want to volunteer in and the type of experience you want. Another option is Volunteer Match, a site that finds an array of volunteer work in your area and that complement your major or interests. Lastly, there’s Idealist, which asks you for information such as the type of volunteer work, time commitment, the duration you want to volunteer and your location to find volunteer opportunities.

There are many more sites, services and organizations (including Scholarships.com) that can link you with volunteer opportunities so starting your search is easy! Volunteering can be a small commitment with an immense effect on the ones you’re helping. Plus, a prospective employer will be delighted to see an applicant who dedicates their time to helping others in need.

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!


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The Perks of Public Ivies

by Carly Gerber

Some of you may be striving to gain acceptance to an Ivy League school and that’s very admirable – they are some of the best schools in the world! – but there’s another group of universities that may interest you as well: the public ivies!

The Public Ivy League consists of the College of William & Mary, Miami University, the University of California (campuses as of 1985), the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UT Austin, the University of Vermont and UVa. These schools rival the eight Ivy League schools in academic excellence, attraction of superstar faculty, competition for the best and brightest students, appearance and rich history but with lower sticker prices. (If you live in a state where there is a public ivy, then the tuition price goes down even further.) Many of the public ivies are regularly ranked among the top schools by U.S. News & World Report; their graduate programs in business, education, engineering, law and medicine are also highly ranked.

If you are an athlete, you may want to consider the public ivies because, unlike Ivy League schools, they award athletic-based scholarships. (Ivy League athletes may receive scholarships and financial aid, but not towards their athletic merit.) Plus, they participate in major athletic conferences – think the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC or Pac-12 – that put athletes’ skills on display at the national level and attract interest from professional teams, if that is your ultimate goal.

Public ivies are also great options for students who want the challenging academic environment of an Ivy League school but would prefer a larger campus. By choosing a public ivy, students have access to a more diverse student body, bigger course catalog and wider range of campus groups.

What are your thoughts on public ivies? High schoolers, will you be considering one or more of these schools in your college search? College students, if you attend one of these schools, we'd love to hear how you made your decision!

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!


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Going Green on Campus

February 26, 2013

Going Green on Campus

by Carly Gerber

Making the decision to go green is not only environmentally sound but cost effective and healthier. Here are a few tips you can take to go green on your campus!

  • Choose CFLs (a.k.a. compact fluorescent lamps): They use 75 percent less energy to produce the same amount of illumination and last eight to 15 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
  • Start recycling! Once you start recycling, you’ll notice how much can be recycled – your recycling bin may be fuller than your trash can!
  • Buy used textbooks. Buying or renting used books is much cheaper than buying new books, plus it eliminates trash in the landfills. You can buy and sell used books at your campus book store, as well as rent them from sites like Bookrenter or Chegg.
  • Many of you have already signed leases for next year but that may mean filling your new space with couches, TVs, kitchenware, etc. Instead of going to retail stores to buy these items, you can go to websites like Craigslist, Gigoit, Freecycle and eBay. Remember, every time you buy something new, you’re adding to your carbon footprint so buy used when possible!
  • Use recycled printing paper. Recycled paper may cost slightly more but it saves tress, energy, water, is a pollution reducer and the use of harmful chemicals and bleaching are much less than that of virgin paper production.
  • Don’t drive to class – walk, bike or use the campus/public bus system instead. When you drive to class, you waste time trying to find a parking spot, increase the pollution in the air and spend unnecessary money when you pay for parking.
  • Use a reusable water bottle. Not only will you be saving cheddar by not buying packs of water bottles but you’ll be decreasing the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills.

Have any other tips for going green on campus? Leave a comment with your suggestions!

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!


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Light Up...and Send a Student to College?

by Carly Gerber

Imagine a place where every time you bought a pack of cigarettes, you would be funding a college student’s education. In the near future, that place could be California: The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would increase tax by $1 for every pack of 20 cigarettes and the money would be deposited into a fund for financial aid.

The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 has a projected revenue of $800 million but there is an estimated loss of $70 million of proceeds that go to existing resources. The taxes on tobacco that already exist go to programs for tobacco education and prevention, tobacco-related disease research, breast cancer screenings for uninsured women and early childhood education. (The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would still receive $730 million from its excise on tobacco.)

The tax on tobacco that the California Residents of College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 wants to initiate has to be reviewed by the Board of Equalization. The Board’s job is to estimates the impact the tax would have on other programs that already use taxation on cigarettes. Cal State Northridge senior and sociology major Debra Hendricks said she would vote for the taxation because she has lost many people to cigarette smoking and she likes the idea that the money would be used to support students who want a college education. Junior biology major Jessica Fuentes, however, isn’t sure if another cigarette tax proposal would pass but she thinks the financial aid aspect of the proposal makes the excise appealing.

Personally, I think taxing cigarette smokers again is unfair because they are always the ones getting taxed for their activity. I don’t promote smoking but smokers shouldn’t be the ones to shoulder the burden of spending more because of a societal view on cigarettes. Maybe the California tax should be on alcohol instead – the state would make more revenue that way! What’s your view about this taxation proposal on cigarettes?

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!


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The Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

How Parents Can (and Should!) Begin the Scholarship Search Long Before Their Kids Reach High School

March 7, 2013

The Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

by Carly Gerber

Though most of my posts have been geared toward college students, this one is for the parental readers out there. Scholarships aren’t only available to high school and college students but to younger students, too: Not many parents know that they can find scholarships for their children who are as young as 10 years old! What’s more, the scholarship programs available to young children aren’t as competitive, since not many parents know to search so early for financial aid.

As a parent, you may think financial aid isn’t a topic to discuss until your child is in high school but you’re not doing your child or yourself any favors by waiting – financial services are available right now! There are just a few easy steps parents can take to receive scholarships for their child. First, see what interests your child and have them join clubs and organizations that will expand on those interests. (For example, if your child loves to recycle and has a natural interest in learning about the environment, have him or her join an environmental group.) Next, add this information to your scholarship search and see where it takes you. Take Avalon Theisen: She began an environmental group at 10 years of age and with her mother Deborah’s help, she’s already won numerous scholarships. Avalon gets to do something she’s passionate about and earn money toward her college education – talk about a win-win!

Like Deborah, search for scholarships using your child’s interests and experiences – you may be surprised at what you find! If your child has already entered high school, however, it’s not too late to find money for college: There are still PLENTY of scholarship opportunities out there that they can compete for. Work with your son or daughter to complete a Scholarships.com profile, build a resume and start funding their college education today!

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!


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