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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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Becoming a Better Communicator

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!


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Thinking of Transferring? You May Want To Hang In There

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!


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Are You a Rural or City College Student?

by Carly Gerber

Let’s travel back in time to the beginning of my senior year of high school when my guidance counselor posed this question: “Do you want to go to a university in a rural area or a university in a city?” The question seemed pretty straightforward to me...until I started visiting colleges. Luckily, I visited many types of schools and the visits gave me an idea of where I would best fit but I soon realized that the answer to my guidance counselor’s question was not as black and white as I thought.

From my experience, I learned that you must be as precise as possible when describing where you want to attend college. Some people believe a city school describes any university near a city, not necessarily in the heart of the city. If you prefer one setting over the other, tell your counselor exactly what you are looking for and they will help you find colleges and universities that match your preferences.

There’s also a difference when thinking about rural schools. The University of Wisconsin - Madison and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are Big Ten schools and can be referred to as colleges in rural areas; after visiting both schools, however, one will realize that they are in two very different locations, as one is in a well-to-do suburb while the other is among the cornfields of southern Illinois. I am not suggesting one location is better than another but make sure understand a college’s location and if its location fits your character.

If you have the funds, you should attempt to visit many different colleges; in fact, I suggest starting as early as your freshman year of high school. I visited a university I had been accepted into, but I would have never applied there if I had visited the school before sending in the application. The simple question my guidance counselor asked me was actually quite broad. If you are met with the same query, take time to research the many universities offered so you can decide the location that’s right for you.

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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How Housing Placement Can Affect Study Habits

by Chelsea Slaughter

Choosing where you want to live for a full year can be a big decision! Whether you realize it or not, where you live can really impact you and how you study – so much so that it can make or break your academic success. Here are ways to amplify your opportunity with the best housing options during your first year at school:

  • Know the Purpose of the Building You Choose: Many dorm buildings have different purposes or themes. On my campus, there are dorms where the majority of sorority girls live, dorms where most of the band lives and dorms where most athletes live. As I freshman, I chose a “Cocky Experience” dorm, which was just a dorm aimed at introducing freshmen into the college experience. We had study sessions and group meetings every month and my dorm upheld “quiet hours” more than the sorority dorm that my friend resided in. It was also within walking distance of the library so as you can imagine, it was way easier for me to get my studying done than it was for my friend to do the same.
  • Stray Away from Off-Campus Options: Your first year of college is all about learning the ways of your new school and yourself. When living off campus, you are pretty much disconnected from the school both academically and socially. When my sister stayed at an off-campus apartment, she was always disturbed by the amount of noise from outside forces. Off-campus options have less rules and more tolerance for disturbance; you are also no longer close to a peaceful area like the library or academic center.

You want everything in your favor during your first year so make sure to choose the best option for YOU. Your housing choice will have an impact and it’s up to you whether it will be for better or worse.

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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In College, Attitude is Everything

by Darci Miller

In most every high school movie, the main character has a dream school. Most of the time, he or she has dreamed of attending said dream school since before he or she knew what college was. He or she goes through the trials and tribulations of applying to the dream school, but in the end, he or she goes skipping merrily off to Dream U. and lives happily ever after.

Hate to break it to you, folks, but life isn’t Hollywood.

Having a dream school isn’t necessary. I didn’t have one; actually, if someone had told me three years ago that I’d end up at the University of Miami, I would’ve laughed in their face. But keeping your options open is a great thing, and I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up.

If you did have a dream school and did get in, awesome! But don’t get complacent. Just because your school is your idea of perfect doesn’t mean that life there is charmed. You’ll still have to study hard, get involved and even then things may not go as planned. You could end up hating it. Who knows?

If you had a dream school and didn’t get in, DON’T WORRY! I know you’re probably crushed...and rightfully so. But don’t let your disappointment take away from what could still be an amazing time at college. Attitude is everything. EVERYTHING. If you go in assuming you’re going to be miserable, you will be. If you slap a smile on your face and dive into everything, you’ll have a good time, no matter if it’s Dream U. or not.

College is entirely what you make of it. Even if you’re not going where you really wanted to, you can make it great. Either way, keeping an open mind is key; college can (and will) surprise you!

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!


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Attending College Away vs. In-State

by Darci Miller

When I first began looking at colleges, I knew right away that I didn’t want to attend school locally. I wanted to forge my own way away from home and none of New York’s state schools really interested me. I did apply to one in-state school (Syracuse) that’s a multiple hour drive away from home but ended up not going there.

Starting at Miami was a bit of a culture shock. I went from seeing familiar faces everywhere in high school to being the one solitary Baldwinite at college. There are several others from my high school at Miami but they’re older than me and we’ve never interacted before. I was entirely on my own. My friends, on the other hand, moved on from high school in a very different way: Almost everybody I know attends college with at least one other person from high school and SUNY Binghamton is now the home of more than 20 members of my graduating class, many of whom now live together.

Sometimes, I’m a little bit jealous. If vacation days don’t line up, I’ll be sitting in my dorm room reading Facebook updates about how everyone’s getting together back at home – people can’t afford to fly down to Miami to visit one friend but they can afford to drive to Binghamton to visit dozens of them – but embarking on a college journey miles away from home does have its positives.

By going to school away, you’ll get to miss out on all the stupid high school drama inherent in high school friendships. You’ll be able to make an entirely new group of friends without worrying about what your old friends think of you or of them. You can reinvent yourself entirely if you want to, become your own person and return home new, improved and blissfully unaware of who kissed who and who now hates who. Trust me, you won’t miss it!

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!


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Adventures in Visa Acquisition

by Darci Miller

You may think your study abroad experience is going to be all fun and games but in its early stages, I’ve found that it’s anything but. While I know it’ll be more than worth it in the end, it’s a lot to handle: Not only is there paperwork for your home university but sometimes there’s also the added benefit (note the sarcasm) of applying for a visa. Here are some things I’ve learned about the process so far:

Most importantly, though, remember the stress will pay off. In a few months, you’ll be abroad and having the time of your life!

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!


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How to Maximize Your Experience When You Have Minimal Time

by Darci Miller

It’s that time again, folks: Summer is ending and we’re all lugging all our stuff back to our dorm rooms for another year of school. After reuniting with your friends, everyone asks how your summer was and how that internship went. Wait...what internship? While others swap stories about impossible assignments, "constructive criticism" and weird bosses, you sit there awkwardly and silently swear to yourself that you’re going to put your nose to the grindstone this semester. No opportunity will be passed up and your resume will look absolutely glorious.

Hang on. Between classes, clubs, a job, potential internships and – oh yeah! – a social life and maybe some sleep, you’re left with less than five hours in the day. Oops...but don’t fret: It's possible if you know how to work the system. And, luckily for you, some of us already do.

Internships are a must to add to your resume before you leave college but if you’re attending school/living in a small city with few opportunities, don’t have a car and have to rely on unreliable public transit, etc., this can be a super difficult task. Solution? Go virtual! Virtual (or remote) internships are THE best way to get experience in a time-efficient way. You can work from anywhere there’s a computer with Internet access and you often get to make your own schedule. Take it from someone who’s had four remote positions already – you’re going to want to look into virtual internships as an option.

While internships are great, you’re obviously going to want a job to pad your bank account a bit, right? Nothing fancy is necessary so your first stops should absolutely be on campus. Places like the library, gym and all academic departments all need students to work for them and they’re in walking distance from your dorm and/or classes. Less travel time means more time spent doing something productive, so take advantage. Another HUGE plus? On-campus jobs are often really good about letting you do homework while on shift. Multitasking at its finest and yet another way to free up more of your day!

The key here is to be as efficient as possible with your time. Use it as productively as you can, overlap tasks and travel, and you’re good to go. Now stop procrastinating and get to work!

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.


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