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by Agnes Jasinski

American University has expanded its “test-optional” application policy, giving all students who apply to the school before Nov. 1 the option of choosing whether or not to submit their ACT or SAT scores as part of their applications. The college had up to this point only allowed early-decision candidates to opt out of providing standardized test scores.

Although the early-decision deadline is later—Nov. 15—being accepted by a college early typically means you need to decide right then and there whether you’ll accept admission to that college or go elsewhere. Opening up the policy to even those regular decision students will give more students the power to decide what they’d like to include in their applications to the school. Those students who do take advantage of the policy and submit their applications early won’t necessarily hear back about whether they’ve been accepted to the school early; they’ll be notified by the regular April 1 deadline.

According to an article yesterday in The Chronicle of Higher Education, a good number of even the early-decision candidates chose not to submit their standardized test scores last fall. Of the 538 early-decision applicants the school received, which in itself was an increase of about 33 percent over the previous year, 191 did not submit test scores, according to The Chronicle. While administrators said it takes longer to review applications that don’t include the test scores, giving students who may not do as well on their standardized tests but who excel elsewhere an opportunity for admission is worth it. Admissions officials now pay more attention to the kinds of courses students took, including AP classes and other college-level work.

Standardized testing has been criticized for years, with the National Association for College Admission Counseling going so far as to say the practice should end altogether in favor of a more holistic application process. American University isn’t the only college to go test-optional in recent years, either. Saint Michael’s College in Vermont no longer requires that potential new students submit SAT scores as part of their application process. The school reasons that some students are better test-takers than others, and that there are other ways to evaluate applicants instead. Students there may still choose to submit either their ACT or SAT scores if they feel it will help their applications.


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Social Media and Your College Life

by Angela Andaloro

As embarrassing as it is to admit, one of the coolest parts of selecting your school is telling everyone you know. A school hoodie used to be announcement enough but now, one of the first questions incoming freshmen ask is how they can find out their new school email – a requirement to add their school on Facebook.

Social media is an excellent outlet for communication between freshmen, students and administration, and even students and peer leaders. Many students who live on campus “meet” their roommates for the first time via Facebook. Students can also follow their schools on Twitter, as well as accounts designated for various clubs and organizations. With so many benefits, why wouldn’t college students look to social media as a way to jumpstart their college social lives?

The answer to that is simple: overexposure. Students forget just how open the Internet is. No matter how iron-clad you believe your privacy settings are, the information is out there to be passed around. Many students are concerned about this when it comes to photos, and rightly so – they are often warned of the dangers of posting sexually suggestive images, pictures of parties with illegal activities going on and other questionable material – but there are other ways social media can get students in trouble. Students have been known to voice their comments and complaints about teachers, classes and administration via social networking sites in recent years. When such complaints turn into rants and get out of hand, the administration takes action.

With such a delicate balance between helpful and harmful, how should a student handle social media? I believe in one rule: use social media for communication, not broadcasting. Social media can be great to communicate, ask questions and answer questions. Broadcasting your feelings and not expecting something to occur as a result, however, is unwise.

How do you keep your social media use safe and enjoyable?

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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To Attend or Not to Attend: That is the ($100,000) Question

by Angela Andaloro

The decision to attend college is one that everyone arrives at differently. For some, not going to school isn’t an option, be it by their own standards or their parents’; for others, taking the next step in their educational career may have required a little more convincing. I have even heard stories of parents who bribe their kids to go to college with promises of apartments or cars.

While a new ride or a place to call your own might sound tempting, there’s an even more tempting offer out there from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel – the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, which, in exchange for a commitment to not attending college for two years and dedicating themselves entirely to their inventions, Thiel offered each fellow $100,000. The response was overwhelming, as are the opinions floating around the controversial award.

One of the lucky 20 fellows, Dale Stephens, wrote an article for CNN discussing his own feelings toward the idea that real world experience could prove to be more beneficial than a formal education. He discusses his disappointment in the values that are promoted by the college system – a disappointment that resounds on college campuses around the country. He goes on to discuss the possibilities out there for our generation beyond a traditional education, which, as Stephens puts it, are beyond the extremes of “Becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or mastering the phrase ‘Would you like fries with that?’”

Stephens’ call to seek opportunities beyond the formal educational system may be influenced by his experience as a Thiel Fellow but is an idea that is considered by many current and soon-to-be college students. I myself have heard students complain about feeling as though they aren’t really getting anything out of college. The phrase “I’m never going to use this in real life” is one that’s uttered frequently, but how much truth is there to that? Do you feel that there’s something to be learned in college or is it a societal expectation we’ve come to accept?

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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Would You Attend One of Film’s Favorite Colleges?

by Angela Andaloro

A few weeks back, I wrote about fictional high schools we all wished we went to. Today, I’m back with part two: the best fictional colleges!

When you were applying for college (or if you are about to!), you might’ve had one of these schools in mind as a model. From great parties to great camaraderie, it seems like attending these schools would be all good times but every school has its downside.

Adams College

The pros: Score one for the underdog! Who doesn’t love a school where nerds can take back their territory – the educational facility? An awesome computer science program is one of many selling points for the home of the "Revenge of the Nerds" gang.

The cons: If you’re a girl, especially a girl in a sorority, I would skip this one...unless you want to spend most of your time fighting off herds of jocks.

Faber College

The pros: Best frats ever! Oh, the stories you could tell your friends back home after one party with the Delta Tau Chi guys from "Animal House"!

The cons: Two words: Dean Wormer. Can you say killjoy?

South Harmon Institute of Technology

The pros: South Harmon has the most unique learning methods of any college to date: Think physics classes that help you build a half pipe or a class about de-structuring your life? "Accepted" had the right idea with allowing creativity to blossom!

The cons: Your parents might be a little upset when they find out you’re attending a college founded and attended by kids who didn’t get into other colleges.

You might never get the satisfaction of hanging a diploma from one of these institutions on your wall but would you really want to? The little things the movies forget to mention will definitely help you better appreciate your own college or university, wherever you go.

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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How Social Media Savvy is Your School?

by Angela Andaloro

As 21st century college students, we understand the importance of social media. How else can we get up-to-the-minute updates on what’s going on in our friends’ and family’s lives? Social media has gone far beyond individuals, however, and these days, there’s a Facebook page for almost everything. Colleges are getting in on the action, too, because they’ve realized the importance of connecting with their students through social media. Here are three schools that are doing particularly awesome jobs.

Notre Dame: Earlier this year, USA Today praised Notre Dame for its belief that social media is “important to professional development.” With the emergence of social networks such as LinkedIn and the use of social media in hiring processes, they’re definitely on to something! Some highlights of their social media use include separate Twitter accounts for the school’s many sports teams, more than 32,000 fans on Facebook and a great alumni network through both.

Boston College: The #1 college in social media according to Klout, Boston College has 35,000+ fans on Facebook. BC employs social media to announce events, timely reminders, information on important alumni and more. Twitter is its real strength, though, with more than 15,000 followers and separate accounts for pretty much everything you can think of! An impressive fact: BC’s average tweet has a reach of 6,000 people (40% of their followers) at any given time!

University of Texas: The University of Texas is definitely a leader in higher education social media. The school has an extensive network of blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts for its various their colleges and schools, administrative offices, libraries and museums. A directory of all these accounts can be found on the school website, making it extremely easy for students to interact with exactly whom they wish.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s necessary for colleges and universities everywhere to embrace what their audiences loves and learn to connect through these avenues. How do you think your school stacks up in terms of social media? Get in the spirit - leave comments and discuss!

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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From Hollywood to Harvard: Celebrities and College

by Angela Andaloro

When we think of celebrities, we think of polished perfection on the red carpet, wild escapades and overall lives of luxury. What we don’t really think of are celebrities sitting in lecture halls, doing lab work or writing research papers but the mentions of celebrities enrolling in college have increased greatly within the last 10 years. While it’s always positive for someone to continue their education and improve themselves, are celebrities really doing that?

Recently, many young actors and actresses have begun attending college. It seems, however, that their college careers aren’t being taken very seriously – by themselves or others. One such celebrity is Emma Roberts. Roberts began attending Sarah Lawrence College this past fall but after just one semester, she has deferred her studies due to work commitments. Even while she was in school, Roberts was known to miss class, once admitting at a fashion show, “I ditched class to come to this show, and that's probably bad.” How easy would withdrawing from school mid-semester be for a regular college student? What would the limitations be? It’s unlikely these factors existed for Roberts.

Do the Hollywood elite get special treatment in the world of higher education? It certainly seems like it. Perhaps the most interesting case of celebrity favoritism is that involving James Franco and his NYU attendance. A professor at the university claims he was fired, in part because he gave Franco a D in his class after missing 12 of the 14 sessions. The professor’s accusations were shocking, with claims including Franco bribing professors by hiring them to write, direct and even appear in his films. He told the New York Post that “The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco” despite his ridiculous superstar behavior.

Not all celebrities treat their college careers as cavalierly. Natalie Portman is one celebrity who put has always put her education first, not attending the premiere of "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" to study for her high school finals and, later, pausing her career to attend Harvard. She once said, “I don’t care if it ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.” Perhaps young Hollywood should follow her example and do the same: She has a college degree AND an Oscar, after all.

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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College and the City

June 9, 2011

College and the City

by Anna Meskishvili

I knew well before I sent in my first Common App that I would find myself in a city for college. I needed the noise and commotion of a world much different than suburban Connecticut. As you know, I found my niche in Boston but there are some key things you need to know about city-school life:

Money. From museums to vintage boutiques to restaurants, there are limitless activities in a city but everything requires a pretty penny. Be sure to scope out all college discounts (ex., any BU student can go to the Museum of Fine Arts for free) and review sites like Groupon, Living Social and Privy before dishing out the dough.

Transportation. Get used to the fact that you won’t see the inside of a car for the time that you are attending school. In Boston, we use the subway system called the T. There’s even a T line that runs right through BU, making it simple to hop on on campus and hop off at any point in town. I recommend getting a semester pass – they seem pricy at first but they cost the same as 20 rides – and you’ll have more opportunities to explore the city with this unlimited option.

Security. You are in a city, not in Bumsville, MiddleOfNowhere. There are real threats, especially after dark and especially for girls. I would invest in pepper spray, or at least enough common sense to not walk alone past midnight. City or country, all campuses have Emergency Blue Light systems so find out where they are just in case.

Living in a city - on campus or off - has been fantastic! There is a never a dull evening – you even run into your fair share of celebrities like David Beckham, who was in town recently! – and with the proper precautions, a city can be as safe and accessible as you want it to be.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Anna Meskishvili

by Anna Meskishvili

I received my online acceptance to Boston University on March 28, 2008. I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, what I was wearing. BU has always been my number one choice and I could never imagine myself anywhere else. Unfortunately, upon receiving my initial deferral to my Early Decision application earlier that year, I began to reevaluate what I wanted from college. I knew I wanted a city, I wanted this city to be fairly far from home (but not “plane-ride” far) and I knew I wanted four seasons. BU fit all those criteria perfectly, and finally, months after my deferral, BU loved me back.

As a freshman, I came to BU as “Undecided.” I knew what my strong suits were (writing and speaking) but I didn’t know how and where to use them. I dabbled in English, business and journalism but finally found myself at a combination of all three: public relations. BU’s PR program is much like going to Disney World each day; the professors are astonishingly cool and cartoon-esque and the assignments are fun and frightening...like a roller coaster. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my sorority sisters of Kappa Delta, walking through the majestic and historic Boston neighborhoods, running along the Charles River and trying new restaurants in Brookline.

I knew Scholarships.com’s virtual intern position was perfect for me because I believe that college is the best and most important time in your life. As an only child and a daughter of a beautiful, intelligent woman who did not attend college in America, I did not have much guidance before or at the beginning of my college career. There is a lot I wish someone told me...and I would love to be that “college whisperer” for you!


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Brittni Fitzgerald

by Brittni Fitzgerald

I began my college career at Kentucky State University but after visiting Chicago State University and meeting the friendly, helpful faculty and students, I elected to transfer. Once I was settled in, I set out to find a major that actually attracted me and quickly found that in accounting. It’s a numbers game with a lot of statistics and critical thinking and I am supplementing the knowledge I’m gaining through these classes with a minor in entrepreneurship.

When I am not in class, I’m an outdoorsy person who loves to run or swim because it refreshes the body and the mind. I go the beach and barbeque a lot (well, weather-permitting in Chicago!) and enjoy reading, listening to new music, dancing, singing and – because I am such a girly girl – shopping. I am also an active member in the Student Government Association at Chicago State and spend a lot time planning campus events and activities for students. Students come to me and the organization every day with ideas, comments and questions and a major complaint that I get from many students is that they are not receiving information.

How can I get them the news they need? Glad you asked! As a virtual intern for Scholarships.com, I want to help students get more involved and aware of their campus activities. As someone who’s already a voice for students attending Chicago State, I’m excited about the opportunity to help students at other schools get the most out of their college experiences!


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The Perks of Joining the Military After High School

by Carly Gerber

Are you stressing out because you don’t know how you are going to pay for a college education? Joining the military is one way to help you pay for college and build your resume.

After high school, Richard Coughlin decided to join the U.S. Coast Guard because they would pay for his college education and provide many benefits such as health care. Coughlin was enlisted from September 2006 until September 2012 but he chose to extend his service for two years and thinks of his time in the military as a very positive experience. Coughlin spent most of his service in Hawaii, where he trained and took classes that were transferred to his current university. According to Coughlin, military members who complete their service feel lost and confused because they weren’t proactive about their next step; however, the Veterans Affairs office at one university was extremely helpful at transferring college credit hours and guiding Coughlin through the process of attending a university, which is why he chose to attend the school he will one day call his alma mater.

Also, since Coughlin was enlisted with the Coast Guard, he was able to get a job as a dolphin trainer as soon as his service was completed. Normally, a dolphin trainer needs either a bachelor’s degree or a certificate but the process was quicker for Coughlin because he had experience from the Coast Guard. The G.I. Bill requires the military to pay for veterans’ college tuition, books, and room and board, but Coughlin has money from dolphin training that can be used towards personal expenses.

Though he initially joined the Coast Guard to help pay for college, Coughlin believes that his service has helped him land a job and taught him respect and independence he will carry with him for the rest of his life. Have you considered joining the military before attending 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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