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Realizing the Truth About a College Education

by Carly Gerber

During my time at college, I found myself unhappy and unfulfilled. I despised my major and I wasn’t a fan of my campus. This being my second college, I figured it must be that college itself wasn’t for me, so I decided to drop out. I took a few months to experiment with careers that didn’t require college degrees but my choice to leave school kept haunting me.

In the midst of my time away from higher education, I came across a Chicago Tribune article which detailed common misconceptions students have about college....and I realized right away that I was one of those students! Here are just a few points the Trib covered:

  • There’s a misconception that a college degree doesn’t hold any value; like any investment, however, a college degree pays off over time. A college graduate’s earnings rise faster and peak later than the earnings of someone with a high school diploma alone. A college degree is not a guarantee of success but grads do have better odds of finding, keeping and excelling at their jobs long term.
  • Another misconception is that it doesn’t matter where you attend college...yet it’s the most important decision regarding your college career! Getting in is half the battle – the other half is deciding where to attend because that could determine if you stay there and get your degree. In real estate, they say the three most important things to consider when buying a house are location, location, location. The same goes for choosing a college: If you hate the location, it’s likely you won’t enjoy your college experience.

After realizing the true importance of a college education, I knew what I had to do. Recognizing that it was the location of my school and the major I had chosen that were bothering me, I spent my time off figuring out a major I want to immerse myself in and finding a university in a location I can’t wait to live. I’ll be returning to school in the fall!

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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What to Expect at a Community College

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!


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Sorry, Kid...You're Starting at the Bottom

by Carly Gerber

I was raised in a neighborhood with a top-notch school system filled with inspiring and caring teachers. I loved hearing their stories about working in inner-city schools and how drastically different their teaching experiences were there compared to teaching in a predominately upper-class suburb. My naïve mind thought that my teachers chose to work in the inner-city schools but that was far from the truth.

At the beginning of their careers, many of my teachers could only find jobs in neighborhoods with poor school systems. They described the struggles of teaching in such areas but believed it made their character stronger because they were able to help students who needed it most. Fast forward to the present, where some of my friends are pursuing careers in education: Many of them are complaining that they can’t find teaching jobs in “safe” middle- or upper-class areas, echoing the same struggles many of my high school teachers encountered.

Does this say anything about my generation? According to a recent Time article entitled "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation," individuals in my generation is known to be narcissistic and refuse to take crap from the older generation. Since we’re known to take jobs that “feel right,” we disregard opportunities that don’t measure up to our standards; as a result, we suggest to others that employment rates are low because we can’t get jobs that people who worked in the field for 10 years have acquired.

Though the Me Generation isn’t all bad (I highly suggest reading the article to find out our positive characteristics), I think it’s time my generation had a reality check. My peers need to understand that we won’t get our ideal jobs when starting out but if we put in the proper time and effort, we will climb the ladder of success just as every generation before us had done. What do 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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Colleges Address Illicit Use of Attention-Deficit Meds

by Carly Gerber

I know a few people (and I'm sure you do, too) who take ADHD medication; however, their names are not the ones on the prescription bottles.

Most people – often college students – who are not prescribed attention-deficit drugs like Adderall or Vyvanse use the pills during times of high stress, like during final exams. Getting a hold of these drugs is so easy that sending one text message to a friend can lead you to the door of a dealer. Usually, the dealers are students who are prescribed ADHD medication and have extra pills to distribute...but not for free. According to a recent New York Times article, a student revealed he is prescribed 60 pills a month from his hometown psychiatrist; he personally uses only 30 or 40 and sells the extra pills to students who want the added push to help them focus.

Universities around the country have become aware of attention-deficit medication abuse and are creating rules to eliminate the misuse. The biggest problem is for university officials to find a system that works. For example, California State University in Fresno requires students to go through two months of testing and paperwork, then sign a formal contract which requires them to submit to random drug testing, to see a mental health professional every month and to not distribute the pills. Other universities, like the University of Vermont, want nothing to do with evaluating and prescribing students ADHD medication and would rather have students go to outside health professionals to get prescriptions, as the school doesn’t want to be liable if students get sick or die from using ADHD medication.

I believe there’s another problem here. Students shouldn’t feel stressed to the point of committing a federal offense by taking unprescribed attention-deficit medication. What do you think about students abusing ADHD medication and how can we eliminate this issue?

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 Quarter-Life Crisis Epidemic

by Carly Gerber

“When I graduate, where will I work?”
“What if I can’t find a job?”
“What if no one will hire me because I lack experience?”
“Did I pick the wrong major?”
“Should I attend graduate school?”
“Is graduate school a waste of time and money?”

I apologize if I gave you a minor panic attack but these are questions that weigh on most students as they contemplate their lives after college. If you find these concerns are on your mind on a daily basis, you could be having a quarter-life crisis, which, according to a recent USA Today article, is when 20-somethings have anxiety because they question the direction and quality of their lives. Frankly, however, this anxiety is a waste of valuable time and energy so let’s do some crisis management, shall we?

Firstly, recognize that you have only lived one quarter of your life – you still (hopefully) have three quarters to go, which means that some decisions you make now will not affect your future as much as you think they will. We are ever changing and the interests we have now may not hold true in a few years.

Secondly, let go of how others measure success and measure success on your own terms. Joining new clubs and organizations or becoming involved in an alternative spring break are ways you can find contentment and purpose.

Lastly, talk to someone! If the anxiety is constantly weighing on you, you may want to consult a parent or teacher who has more life experience than you. Remembering that you’re not alone and finding someone who has been in your shoes and has moved past the anxiety you’re feeling will help you get through your rough patch.

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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Finding the Best Scholarship for YOU

by Chelsea Slaughter

The search for good scholarships can be a task, but it doesn’t have to be hard work! When I was exploring the wide world of scholarships, I tried my best to look into ones I knew I could succeed at winning. Here are a few tips for finding your best scholarship opportunities:

  • Search for institutional scholarships. This is always a great starting point: Go to your college or university and check out what scholarships they are offering current or accepted students. Most schools have scholarships for different majors and GPAs – all you have to do is find the one that fits you and apply!
  • Use Scholarships.com and other scholarship search sites. Doing a search on Scholarships.com and other similar sites would put in in the right place to find scholarships that perfectly fit you. Each site contains their own scholarships, plus corporate, private and local scholarships that fit your needs. Doing this weekly will help you find the right scholarships as soon as they are posted.
  • Check with your counselor. Stopping by your counselor’s office frequently can help you get a leg up on other students and find the scholarships that some organizations don’t post online and instead send directly to high schools. If you’re currently in college, make sure you go past your financial aid office to see what’s posted.
  • Consider employers, not-for-profit organizations and religious institutions. Check with your employer, organizations you’re involved in and the religious institutions you attend to see if they are offering any scholarship opportunities. You’d be surprised at what is available to those in the inner circle!

Don’t let your scholarship search become a stress-filled situation; instead, put the most energy in completing the applications, writing essays and meeting deadlines. Have any scholarship search tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

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.


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Building a Resume While in School

by Chelsea Slaughter

We all know that school is hard sometimes but life after graduation can be much harder if you do not do what’s necessary to stand apart from the crowd. When graduating high school and entering college, you will find many opportunities to enter academic and social organizations, most of which will require application processes that ask about your involvement and leadership skills. Realizing you don’t have much on your resume? No worries: You still have time.

First, find a club that interests you and join it. And don’t just be a member – run for a position, ANY position. This shows leadership and adds an extra line on your resume while showing you have ambition and drive different from students who are just members. Another good way to build a resume is through volunteer work. Spending extra time doing community service is a great way to gain experience AND give back.

When it comes to building a resume in college, the small minimum wage jobs really do not count. After graduation, companies want to see what you have done to gain hands-on skills. Most degrees require students to do at least one internship; this usually takes place during junior year but don't be afraid to get a head start in your freshman or sophomore years...or both! Also, try joining academic and community service-based organizations – this will help to encounter great opportunities that you might not find on your own.

Remember that employers look beyond just good grades: They want to be able to see that you have put yourself out in other activities and can handle multiple responsibilities. If you spend your free time wisely and productively, you will definitely thank yourself later.

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.


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Having Fun on a Budget

February 20, 2013

Having Fun on a Budget

by Chelsea Slaughter

Being on your own at school really makes you appreciate the little things in life. There are so many things we took for granted because we never had to pay for them and being in college teaches you how to prioritize your time and money. It’s good to remember that having fun doesn’t have to kill your pockets – be wise and learn how to have fun on a budget!

Have you checked your school activity calendar? Find the different events your school is holding, grab some friends and GO! The majority of on-campus events provide free food, music and a chance to get to know your fellow students. Don’t pass up the chance to interact with campus leaders; you could wind up planning the next event!

Constructive fun is sometimes the best fun to have. Have you considered volunteering? Why many may think there is no way to have fun while volunteering baffles me. Like to build? Find a local Habitat for Humanity project and help create a home for the less fortunate. Love working with children? Volunteer at your local YMCA and help out with after-school programs. There are many opportunities out there so turn your extra time in to amazing fun that can even build your resume.

Get active! While Netflix and Redbox movie nights with friends are always enjoyable, don’t be afraid to get out and move around a little. Create an intramural team with some friends for your favorite sport. Don’t feel athletic enough? Hit the park with some friends and a Frisbee, volleyball or tennis raquets. Pack a lunch and spend the day outside enjoying the weather!

While movies, malls and parties are the “norm” in terms of college fun, consider the cheaper alternatives. The more you save every weekend, the more funds you will have for important matters!

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.


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The Biggest Career Mistakes of 20-Somethings

by Chelsea Slaughter

I read recently this article on the Huffington Post that I would like to share with you all: the eight biggest mistakes that we “20-somethings” make in careers. I chose four out of the eight that college students should really be mindful of because these tips could possibly prevent you from making the same mistakes!

  • You Think You Can't Make Money While Pursuing Your Passion. You do not have to choose between being financially stable and doing what you love – it’s possible to have both!
  • You Stay On a Path You Know is Not Right for Too Long. As SOON as you realize that the academic road you are taking is not for you, reverse and get out. I had to do this when I changed my major: When I realized that it wasn’t making me happy, I got right out.
  • You Compare Yourself to Your Peers. As easy as this is to do while attending college, it will not be as simple after college so get out the habit now. Seeing someone else achieve more than you should just be used as motivation. Do not beat yourself up, as this habit can lead to depression later in life.
  • You Aren't Mindful of Social Media Use. I recently did an article about proper social media etiquette. Think before you post, people! It is very important considering employees are losing their jobs over simple social media mistakes these days.

To see all eight of the mistakes, check out the full article here. Can you think of anything to add to this list? If so, let us know in the comments!

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.


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The How and Why of Interning and Volunteering Abroad

by Darci Miller

In this day and age, the world is an increasingly small place, as one only has to foray into the world of blogs and forums to make contact with people thousands of miles away. We may not exactly live in the “global village” that Marshall McLuhan predicted back in the day but we’re certainly closer than society has ever been to that point. What does that mean for us college students? Well, I think it goes without saying that the job market is a changing place. It is far from uncommon for a company to be multinational and deal with clients from around the world so this makes a basic knowledge of international relations – as well as knowledge of another language...or two – a definite plus.

Experience abroad can be turned into a marketable quality when you’re on the job or internship search. Most interviewers are more concerned with experience than they are with grades so if you’re abroad, don’t be afraid to skip the occasional class if it means getting out there and immersing yourself in the culture of your new home. Some events only come around once in a lifetime and can often be much more valuable than a perfect attendance record.

Even better? Get work experience abroad! In an international job market, this experience is invaluable and will be looked upon extremely favorably by employers but be sure to do your research ahead of time. For example, college students get “work placement” in England rather than internships, so opportunities are few and far between. Before you leave your home university, email companies in your study abroad destination and tell them you’re interested in working for them...even if they aren’t advertising any positions – that’s what a friend of mine did and she nabbed herself an internship in London for the summer!

Another crucial tip is ensuring that you have the proper work clearance. If your visa is incorrect, you could end up being deported or banned from ever returning to the country. Each country’s border agency or immigration office should have details on its website; the process is a pain (trust me, I’ve been there) but it’s definitely worth it: My Tier 4 student visa has allowed me to volunteer with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and I couldn’t be happier!

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. This semester, Darci is studying abroad in London and will share her international experiences here.


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