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High Stakes Testing

Aug 24, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

Chances are if you’re on scholarships.com, you probably care about boosting your application to scholarships or colleges. The standardized test can be a huge plus for good test takers or a major stressor for others. Here are some general guidelines to help you make your testing plan and decisions easier.

  • Timing. There are many rumors about what dates have a better curve but essentially for the SAT or the ACT, it’s all about making the most of your studying. For instance, remember that if you schedule a test for January or June, you might also be studying for midterm and final exams. The May exams are also infamous because that’s when the Advanced Placement tests occur. However, many students take the subject tests that correspond with their AP classes during the May exam. It’s important to remember that not all subject tests are offered every exam date, so you’ll want to plan those accordingly. If you’re planning on taking the SAT, remember that the last date for the current version is January 2016. Finally, don’t wait too long to take the test. Many students do better their second or third time around, and you want to give yourself the chance to learn from your mistakes.
  • Studying. The ACT and the SAT are two distinctly different tests as some students will see greater variation between test scores than others. The general word of caution is to take a full practice exam before you take the real test. Try waking up early one weekend and replicating the exam scenario as completely as possible; this will give you the best estimate of your score. Remember that simple things like reading the newspaper or a challenging book can improve your score as well.
  • Stay Positive. Your score is not everything in your college or scholarship application. More and more schools are disregarding test scores in favor of essays, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation. The worst thing you could do for your application is put all of your bets into your SAT or ACT score. So if you find yourself a terrible test taker, that’s okay. Find something else that you’re fantastic at, and make it noticeable. One of the best pieces of advice I got was that if a school turns you down because of your test scores, you probably don’t want to be there to begin with.
  • You are not a test score. Always remember that.

    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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Mom’s Famous Spaghetti

Aug 17, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

It seems like to get into college these days students have to be involved in nearly everything: sports, debate team, internships, nonprofit volunteering, honor societies, part time jobs…the list of potential activities goes on. But how do you describe yourself adequately without breaking the cardinal rule of the college essay: Do Not Regurgitate Your Resume? Here’s a little metaphor to help break it down.

Imagine that all the different pieces of you are embodied in ingredients to your favorite meal. Your volunteering is the pasta, your creativity is the tomato, your leadership is the salt, that time you lost the championship game is the garlic…and so on. Now imagine that your college essay is the recipe and it has to tell the admissions officer, the cook, how to make your Mom’s famous spaghetti.

To make her sauce it is important to have the right proportions: how many tomatoes, how much salt and how much garlic? A list of ingredients is nothing without the amounts and neither is your application. Did you spend a year on a research project? Have you volunteered since you were in elementary school? Look to the length of your involvement for signs of character growth, project manifestation, and endurance.

Once you put the ingredients in the pot, you have to heat them up. You have to stir it to just the right temperature so that the scent fills the air around you. The circumstances of your involvement are important too. Did you finish the race despite all odds? Did you try something new? How did it change you? In what way did you interact with your environment to accomplish something?

Then there’s the secret ingredient, the one that Mom’s grandmother’s grandmother whispered in her ear years ago. It’s the ingredient that lets the sauce linger on your taste buds just a second longer so you can savor the taste. In your essay, it’s what creates the perfect picture of you. For me, it was sharing my biggest hopes and dreams, for you it might be describing the way your hands shook when you held the trophy, or the feeling of your first paycheck. It is something unchangeable, something only cultivated by a true connection between the reader and the writer.

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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ACT Report: African American Students Unprepared for College

Aug 10, 2015

by Scholarships.com Staff

Amid concerns our educational system is failing a large percentage of our students, particularly African American students, a national report released by American College Testing (ACT) shows many African American students lack college readiness. While these students were able to fulfill the requirements and pass all recommended high school courses, they lagged behind their peers in terms of higher education preparedness. This according to a new report from ACT and United Negro College Fund.

"Even when they are doing what they are supposed to do in terms of taking the recommended college preparatory curriculum and earning a high school diploma, too many lack sufficient preparation for first-year college courses", said Jim Larimore, ACT’s chief officer for advancement of underserved learners.

ACT suggests that schools start monitoring students' progress in earlier grades, develop tougher high school core courses, and ensure support and attention for off-target students.

We certainly hope that your elementary, middle and high schools are providing you with the education and support you need to pursue a college education. Visit Scholarships.com to start your free college scholarship search and find free money to go towards your college education.

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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Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Decision?

Aug 10, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

There are three common options for submitting your application to college. Early decision is a binding agreement stating that if you are accepted you will attend that school regardless of the cost or which program you are accepted to. Early action is simply submitting you application early and receiving your decision earlier. Regular decision is when you submit your application on the normal deadline and hear back in the spring.

There’s a lot of debate over which type of decision process is easier to get into. Generally, the caveat with Early Decision is that you are in a smaller pool of applicants, all of whom are as attached to that school as you are. This might mean that the acceptance rate is lower in fact for early decision applications. However, some people argue that applying early decision shows a school you are dedicated. That was the argument my parents used. It was an alluring one, you could know your college by Winter Break.

If you’re like me though, the thought of committing to a school without knowing all of your options terrifies you. That’s okay. There are many reasons why you might be wary of early decision even if your parents are ready to jump the gun.

Both of my parents went to their safety school; they did not have the option of a dream school. They wanted me to have every possible chance of acceptance at the best school. What I had to help them understand was that I did not know which school was my dream school. I applied to 12 schools, many of them reach schools that all had stellar reputations. The idea of turning down one school for another without even knowing the financial aid, honors, or other options I might have, did not make sense to me.

Eventually I convinced my parents that there was not a significant enough advantage to early decision to make committing worth it for me. I told them I wanted to see all of my financial aid options, compare career programs, and look into the fine details of where I was going to be for the next four years. Now that I am committed to my school, I can honestly say I do not regret doing regular decision. In fact, filling out the dozen applications helped me see which schools I liked better, and the long wait illuminated which school I was desperate to know about. In the end, by the time I got my acceptance to NYU, I had already decided I would go there in the fall.

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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Strategy for Picking a Major

Jul 30, 2015

by Erica Lewis

Picking a college is hard enough on its own, but deciding what to major in can be even more challenging. Your major helps you find your future career, which is daunting, but don’t worry too much. Many students will end up changing their mind on what major to pursue at one point or another. The back and forth decision beings it’s in high school while trying to decide what school to go to and even carries into a student’s college career.

When picking a major, I would suggest thinking about what areas interest you. I was the type that always enjoyed math and science classes throughout all my years of school. This led me to look down the career path of engineering. Throughout high school, I was always looking at what schools were good for engineering, and there are many options out there. However, I ended up choosing Food Science and Technology because I found out that it was a better fit for me.

If you still feel confused about what major you want to choose or even if you have a major but don’t know what career path you want to follow, don’t worry. Go talk to your academic advisor or career services. Those people are there to help you make the right decision for your interests.

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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Discovering Your Personal Soundtrack for Success

Jul 22, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

Forgive me if this seems a bit nerdy but I listen to soundtracks when I write and one of the most important things I wrote in my high school career was my Common Application essay. Preparing for this essay was overwhelming but it helped me to collect a master soundtrack that triggered all the questions I needed to answer.

Who am I? In the classic musical inspired by Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables, Jean Valjean faces the immense difficulty of revealing his true identity or remaining safe in a lie. While you may not have such dire circumstances as he, this question is the core of what colleges want to know about you.

Why do we fall? I'll be honest, The Dark Knight Trilogy directly influenced my essay as I wrote about overcoming obstacles. This song, featuring the chant that follows Batman through his escape from prison, represents both hardship and triumph. When thinking about your failures, ask yourself what impact they had on you and how your life view changed.

Where is my home? Continuing with my nerdiness, I grew up with The Lord of the Rings books and movies. The shire not only represents innocence and beauty, but home and culture. Your home can teach you a lot of things: where you feel comfortable, where you work best, what means a lot to you. How does your college fit into that?

What is my future? Without considering any obstacles, what is the best thing you want to do with your life? College is an investment in your future and in your time - how are you going to spend it?

I have found that in the twilight with a notebook and pen in hand and music pulsing in your ears, it is easy to think on these questions. More than anything, your Common Application essay should be a piece of you, whether it carries your obsession with Batman or your love of dogs, you should feel proud to send it away.

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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College Applications - Start Early and Revise Often

Jul 17, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

To all the seniors...

Take a deep breath. The most common piece of advice for high school seniors is to start your applications early and that's because it's true...but it doesn't have to ruin your summer! The Common Application essay prompts are already out and the 2015-2016 Common App opens on August 1st. Some of you are probably staring at a list of 6 to 12 schools wondering how you'll manage to write all those essays, pay for all those application fees and keep track of those deadlines. It's possible, though: We can do this together.

As someone who applied to 11 schools, my best advice for writing lots of essays is to start them all. Grab a journal and write down the prompts and your initial ideas. Carry that journal with you and keep track of anything that comes to your mind. Try setting the timer for 20 minutes, playing your favorite album and simply writing. If that doesn't give you any ideas, sit down with your parents or another adult that knows you well and just talk about what has shaped you as an individual. Remember that your first drafts are simply drafts; the advantage of starting early is that you can revise and think it through over and over again.

To reduce the anxiety, print out a calendar and map out your deadlines. You can try color coding your schools, scholarship deadlines and other big events. Write in when you are going to send the essays to editors and when you are going to submit them to your colleges. Remember, The Common App and other systems get really busy on the major deadline days so submit early to avoid technical difficulties. It's also a good idea to share this calendar with your parents and estimate how much your applications will cost. In addition to the application fee, your high school might have transcript fees so consider that as well and plan in advance where this money will come from.

Have you started the college application process yet? What has worked for you thus far?

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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Enrolling at a Branch Campus vs. a Main Campus

Jul 1, 2015

by Ashley Grego

When most people hear Penn State, they think of the college town located in State College famous for Beaver Stadium and football. It's less likely that people think of the other Penn States - the branch campuses. Technically, they are the same university...but perception is different.

Although main campuses may offer more activities, different classes and a completely different lifestyle than branch campuses, it doesn't necessarily mean one is better than the other. In fact, there are benefits of branch campuses that students should consider before attending the main campus.

First, branches are smaller and offer students a closer experience with professors and students. If students prefer one-on-one connections with their professors and classmates where everybody knows each other's names, branches can offer this. This can also make for an easier transition for students coming from smaller high schools.

Second, some branches are completely different from the main. Some branches specialize in specific majors – a benefit for students in those majors. (For example, UConn's Avery Point campus in Groton offers specialization for marine sciences.) Another example of this is branch campuses outside of the country. Unlike study abroad, the student will not be attending a different college and earning transfer credits toward their university: They will be attending their school branched overseas, like Carnegie Mellon's branch in Qatar. Another benefit? Experiencing college abroad can be cheaper than study abroad!

Third, regardless of attending a branch or main, all of the diplomas (at least at most schools) will say the same thing. Even though I attend UPJ, my diploma will read "graduate of the University of Pittsburgh." This can provide an automatic boost to students who may think attending the branch will negate the rest of their resume.

The last benefit of attending a branch campus is even if students do not plan to attend the branch campus for all four years, transferring credits will be easier. By staying within the same university system, students are less likely lose any credits because most classes at a branch campus are at the main campus.

Although branch campuses are not for every student, they are certainly something to consider!

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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Hundreds of Colleges Still Accepting Applications

May 26, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, are you down about not getting a fat envelope from any of the colleges you applied to? College students, are you looking to transfer from your existing institution? Don't freak out: There are hundreds of colleges that are still accepting applications.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling's (NACAC) annual College Openings Update, hundreds of schools are still accepting applications for freshmen and transfers as of May 26th. The list is comprised of schools that didn't fill all open spots for next year's freshman class, are seeking transfer students or have enrollment deposit deadlines later than the May 1st norm. While the majority of schools on the list are small, private colleges with enrollment between 1,000 and 5,000 students, there are a few large, public institutions on the list, too. Check out a sampling below:

For the full list of colleges still accepting applications, click here. Will you be taking advantage of this helpful resource?

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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Is Harvard Biased Against Asian American Applicants?

Complaint Alleges University Sets Higher Bar to Limit Asian Enrollment

May 19, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top universities in the country is undoubtedly unnerving given the quality of the applicants and the impossibly low acceptance rates. But what if because you were an Asian-American student seeking admission, you were held to an even higher standard? Well, that is what a coalition of 64 organizations is claiming.

According to the compliant, which was filed with the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, Harvard University set quotas to keep the numbers of Asian-American students significantly lower than the quality of their application merits. It cites third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission. "Many studies have indicated that Harvard University has been engaged in systemic and continuous discrimination against Asian-Americans during its very subjective 'holistic' college admissions process," the complaint alleges. The coalition is seeking a federal investigation and is requesting Harvard “immediately cease and desist from using stereotypes, racial biases and other discriminatory means in evaluating Asian-American applicants.” (For updates on this story, check out the Wall Street Journal.)

What are your thoughts on Harvard’s admission process? Share your opinions in the comments section.

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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