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Five Unique College Majors to Consider

August 5, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you're heading to college in the fall, you'll be faced with a serious decision in the coming months: choosing the right major for you. And while there are myriad factors to consider when making your decision, reviewing the most popular college majors and the majors with the highest earning potential aren't bad places to start. But for those of you interested in something unique, USA Today has complied the list for you:

  1. Puppet Arts, University of Connecticut: If you're interested in an undergraduate degree in puppetry, UConn is your only option in the U.S. Getting in might be tough – enrollment is limited to 22 students – but graduates have gone on to work and perform in theatres, television shows and films.
  2. Bakery Science and Management, Kansas State University: KSU offers the only bakery science undergraduate program in the nation and graduates can pursue several jobs within the business. The school's website says bakery students can prepare themselves for "administrative, research, production, and executive positions."
  3. Viticulture and Enology, Cornell University: Though it only recently became an official major, students in the school’s viticulture program typically go on to work in wineries all over the nation.
  4. Secular Studies, Pitzer College: Phil Zuckerman, the school’s founder of the Secular Studies program, explained the degree’s main focus is about understanding secularity, secularism and secularization and how they relate to religion.
  5. Canadian Studies, Duke University: Duke is one of the few colleges in the nation to offer such a program and it’s operated like most history tracks.

Would you consider any of these far-from-mainstream majors? Do you think said majors would translate into success in the real world? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And for more advice on how to choose a college major and 10 things to consider before finalizing your decision, check out Scholarships.com College Prep section.

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Tech Mistakes to Avoid as an Online Student

August 20, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Say what you will about Generation Y but one thing's for sure, they are one tech savvy group. Armed with smartphones, laptops and tablets, they are plugged in and on the go 24/7. And yet, so many students make the same tech mistakes repeatedly. (I’m looking at you, student who hasn't saved their work once in the past hour!) Luckily, U.S. News and World Report has compiled a list of mistakes to avoid when starting school as an online student, check them out below:

  • Not backing up your data: "If I had a nickel for every time a student came to me crying to me, I wouldn’t have to teach," says Margaret Reneau, an instructor in St. Xavier University's online graduate nursing program. Reneau recommends using the online file storage service Dropbox, which offers free accounts of at least two gigabytes. Other options include regular back-ups to an external hard drive or uploading homework to cloud-based Google Docs.
  • Not asking what browser is recommended for your program and courses: Check if your browser is compatible with the learning management system that your program uses and with the technical features in your courses.
  • Not checking your email: Check your school email regularly for important announcements or forward your school emails to your personal account if that's the account you rely on.
  • Not using apps: If your school offers an app, download it. Other apps such as Evernote can help with managing class work deadlines and projects.
  • Not downloading a free reference manager: Free academic software programs like Zotero and Mendeley help students save, manage and cite research resources. This can save students a lot of time by making it easier to collect, organize and share research.

For the full list of tips, head over to U.S. News and World Report. What do you think of the suggestions? Are there any you'd like to add? Share your thoughts in the comment section. And for more information on preparing for college, head over to our College Prep section!

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Study: Majors Are More Important Than Where You Went to College

September 10, 2013

Study: Majors Are More Important Than Where You Went to College

by Suada Kolovic

With fall semester in full swing, high school seniors are mere months away from deciding where they’ll spend the next four (or more) years. And while there are multiple factors to consider when making such a major decision, most would argue that prestigious universities and high-earning salaries are intrinsically tied...or are they?

According to a recent study by College Measure, students who earn associate degrees and occupational certificates often earn more in their first year out of college than those with traditional four-year college degrees. Examining schools in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, the study found that short-term credentials such as two-year degrees and technical certificates were worth more than bachelor’s degrees in a graduate’s early years. College Measures President Mark Schneider said, “The findings challenge some conventional wisdom, showing for example that what you study matters more than where you study. Higher education is one of the most important investments people make. The right choices can lead to good careers and good wages while the wrong ones can leave graduates with mountains of debt and poor prospects for ever paying off student loans.” (For more on this study, click here.)

It’s important to remember that the study focuses on short-term gains as opposed to long-term/lifelong earnings. It’d be interesting for College Measure to reexamine their findings over the next few years but what do you think of its current report? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

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Top 10 Highest Paying College Majors

January 10, 2014

Top 10 Highest Paying College Majors

by Suada Kolovic

An important consideration when choosing a major is the possibility of gaining lucrative employment following graduation. In a perfect world, the best college major would simply be the one that interests you the most, period. Naturally, your level of interest in the field should be weighed more heavily than any other, as this is something of which you intend to make a career. If you’re really passionate about a certain field that won’t necessarily have you retiring early (social workers, for example, make an average of $39,400 per year), don’t let a potential salary sway you. Helping others or entering a career you love is priceless, and many of the careers below will require some study beyond undergraduate school for you to advance in those fields. But if you have a particular knack for math or science and aren't necessarily sure where those skills would translate best, consider the kinds of careers that could offer a generous return for your investment.

Listed below are the 10 highest-paying college majors as of 2013. The list comes courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which conducts surveys of college graduates’ job offers.Data for the NACE survey are reported by employers, represent accepted starting salaries (not salary offers), and are produced through a compilation of data derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and a master set of data developed by Job Search Intelligence.

  1. Petroleum Engineering ($93,500 average starting salary)
  2. Computer Engineering ($71,700 average starting salary)
  3. Chemical Engineering ($67,600 average starting salary
  4. Computer Science ($64,800 average starting salary)
  5. Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering ($64,400 average starting salary)
  6. Mechanical Engineering ($64,000 average starting salary)
  7. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering ($63,400 average starting salary)
  8. Management Information Systems/Business ($63,100 average starting salary)
  9. Engineering Technology ($62,200 average starting salary)
  10. Finance ($57,400 average starting salary)

While in the process of conducting your scholarship search at Scholarships.com, you might want to consider one or more of the following majors, just to keep your options open. Our free college search can also help you find colleges and universities that offer programs in any of the top 10 highest-paying college majors.

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Colleges With the Highest Graduation Rates

January 30, 2014

Colleges With the Highest Graduation Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Acceptance letters should be rolling in for the majority of high school seniors and the pressure of deciding where to go is definitely on. A lot goes into deciding what school is the right fit for you, but if you’re interested in what schools have the highest graduation rates...then boy do we have the list for you. And sure, these institutions do have quite impressive graduations rates but keep in mind that high graduation rates don’t necessarily translate into a surefire path to success. It’s also important to note that the majority of schools that made the cut are prestigious and students accepted to the likes of Harvard aren’t likely to dropout.

The study, conducted by College Results Online, a website which uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, ranked U.S. colleges in terms of 6-year graduation rates. Check out the top colleges and universities with the highest national graduation rates below and click here for the full list as well as profiles of each school.

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Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

Colleges with the Highest Return on Your Investment

March 28, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With all this talk about possible Pell Grant cuts, acceptance rates plummeting and universities facing serious tuition hikes, which schools are worth the outrageous sticker price of about $200,000? According to PayScale.com’s annual survey of colleges with the highest return on investment rates, Harvey Mudd College tops the list with a 8.8% annual return. PayScale.com’s data is pulled from 1.4 million pay reports from persons who obtained bachelor's degrees in the last 20 years, for more on their methodology click here. Check out who made the cut below:

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MIT Becomes Dopest College Yet, Offers “Credit for Reddit” Course

August 29, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The average college student can easily spend the better part of their day on Reddit...where just one more link quickly turns into another sleepless night. Hey, we've all been stuck in this inescapable web before (no one’s judging!) but if you're one of the lucky students attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), you'll have the option to receive credit for your Reddit addiction starting next spring.

MIT researcher and admissions officer Chris Peterson, along with his co-instructor and the head of MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Ed Schiappa, built the course's curriculum in part with help from other Reddit users. (The post received 121 comments from users eager to contribute to the class material.) The class invites students to explore why the site works and compare it to other social media networks. According to Motherboard, Peterson explained the importance of Reddit to MIT faculty during his efforts to create the course. "Nobody disputes that something's important if it's on the front page of the New York Times," he said. "If something is on the front page of Reddit, now it matters. It tells you something about that community and what they find important." (For more on this story, click here.)

While classes rooted in popular culture are not new phenomena, what's your stance on the educational value of offering such courses? Do you think colleges are pandering to students' wants verses needs? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to fund your own college education the right way – free! Create a profile on Scholarships.com today to find financial aid that's personalized to you!

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Department of Defense Supplying College Campuses with Military-Grade Equipment

September 11, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Grenade Launcher? Check. M-16s? Check. Armored Vehicles? Check. No, this isn’t an artillery checklist for a high-ranking general but rather the stockpile that could be located on a college campus near you.

According to reports, at least 117 colleges have acquired equipment from the Department of Defense through a federal program that transfers military surplus to law enforcement agencies across the country. Through the 1033 program, participating colleges don’t have to buy the equipment but are responsible for the cost of delivery and maintenance. They are prohibited from reselling or leasing the gear and are required to provide updates on the location of tactical gear, like armored vehicles and weaponry. To date, at least 60 institutions have acquired M-16s through the program: Arizona State University has the most with 70 in its arsenal, followed by Florida International University and the University of Maryland with 50 M-16s each. (The University of Central Florida received a grenade launcher in 2008.) “What was once the unthinkable has become the inevitable,” said UCF’s chief of police Richard Beary. “These bad guys have plans and are heavily armed, and law enforcement needs to be able to keep up with them. In order to do that, police officers need to be highly trained, well equipped, and ready to respond to any scenario.” (For more on this story, click here.)

Participants in the program argue that it provides departments – particularly those with limited budgets like campus police forces – with necessary gear at very little cost. Meanwhile, detractors contend that the procurement of tactical gear doesn’t help with the types of crimes that occur more frequently on college campus, like alcohol-related incidents and sexual assault. What are your thoughts on having military-grade artillery on campus? Let us know in the comments section.

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Demand for College Degrees Grows, Study Finds

September 30, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Reality check: For some students, heading off to college for four years isn't ideal. And while college isn't for everyone, an education should be. In order to stay competitive in the workforce, it's important to realize that there are opportunities in the form of both trade and vocational schools for students who don't see themselves attending classes on traditional college campuses...or are there?

According to a report by Boston-based labor analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, more employers are demanding college degrees for positions that historically didn't require one. The shift is most significant for occupations traditionally dominated by workers without college degrees: For example, fewer than 20 percent of currently employed executive secretaries and executive assistants have bachelor's degree but now 65 percent of postings for such roles require the degree. Why? One reason may be that employers are requiring a bachelor's degree to narrow the applicant pool to a more manageable size. "For an individual employer, that may be an understandable step," said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, in a statement. "When everybody does it, however, this becomes a trend that could shut millions of Americans out of middle-skill, middle-class jobs." (For more on this study, click here.)

What are your thoughts on upcredentialing in the workforce? What problems do you see arising? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don’t forget to fund your college education the right way – free! Create a Scholarships.com profile today and get matched with funding opportunities that are unique to you.

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Five Questions to Consider When Visiting Prospective Colleges

October 21, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Show of hands, students: How many of you have known where you wanted to go to college for years? That’s a lot of you...but how many of you have visited said dream school and had a serious change of heart? Iiiiiinteresting.

Visiting colleges is an important part of the college selection process. It provides students the unique opportunity to experience the campus firsthand because while a college may look good on paper, seeing it for yourself will go a long way in determining if it’s right for you. Now before you start scheduling campus visits, the Huffington Post has compiled a list of questions to keep in mind once you’re there:

  • Which colleges should you visit? Research college websites to learn about curriculum, areas of specialty, activities and even arrange to attend upcoming events taking place at that school. Consider the campus setting/environment, size of the student body and what they’re offering in terms of financial aid and prioritize schools based on your wants and needs.
  • When should a student start visiting colleges? Starting the college visitation process as early as 9th grade is essential given the stakes and array of choices. Since admissions requirements and deadlines vary a great deal among colleges, getting an early start is a must. A student needs to see colleges and prepare early to increase their chances of being competitive.
  • What to do when you visit colleges? Get an overall view of the college through a campus tour and information session. Explore the college on your own for a better picture of what it has to offer. Sit in on classes related to your major, talk to current students about the school and campus life (and ask if they would attend the same college again), spend time in high-traffic areas to help envision yourself as part of the community and visit key areas/organizations of personal interest.
  • How do you make a great college fit as affordable as possible? It is important to be aware that there can be a huge tuition difference among colleges that are private, in state and out of state so be sure to research and apply for financial aid.
  • Examine job prospects of recent graduates. Get the statistics on how recent graduates are fairing in the current job market; consider what the average return on investment for certain majors, too.

Are there any tips you’d like to add? If so, please share them in the comments section. For more information on campus visits, visit our Resources section. And don't forget to try and fund your college education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by creating a free profile on Scholarships.com. (Our scholarship search allows you to search more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth more than $1.9 billion!)

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