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Proper Planning Breeds College Success

by Radha Jhatakia

In life, keeping things in order, having a set schedule and planning ahead will truly save you time and keep you on track. In college, staying organized is even more important.

When making your shopping list for college, put a planner at the top. I have been using one since I was in elementary school and it has always helped me stay on top of my stuff. It came in handy most in college, though, and helped me to stay organized from the very beginning. The best kind to buy is one that has slots for individual days as well as a monthly calendar. This will allow you to keep track of all your classes, assignments, meetings, work schedules, extracurriculars and will prevent you from forgetting about something important. As soon as you get an assignment, write it down and remember to check your planner every day. You will have far fewer scheduling conflicts and will become adept at managing your time and keeping a healthy balance between work and play. You can also incorporate Post-its to keep track of tentative times and dates while keeping your schedule looking neat.

There are also other tools you can use like Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar, which help sync media from different sources to keep track of all appointments. If you have a cell phone – and these days, who doesn’t? – use its alarm feature and tack a calendar up on your bulletin board as a backup (maybe even share it with your roommate and color coordinate your to-dos). Whatever your choice, make sure it’s something you are comfortable using and will remember to continuously check so that you don’t forget anything.

By staying organized all throughout college, you’ll be well-prepared to enter graduate school or the job market. College professors and potential employers appreciate organization: You will be a perfect TA candidate or employee if your superiors know they can depend on you. Be smart, be organized, be successful. It’s as simple as that!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Samuel Favela

by Samual Favela

Hey guys! My name is Samuel Favela (you can call me Samwell) and I’m currently a journalism major at Long Beach City College. Nice to meet you all!

What’s my story? I used to attend Cal Poly Pomona but left because, like most college students, I had no idea what direction I was going in. After a year off, I decided to move back home and try out a community college; I had my doubts at first but by mid-term, I LOVED my new school! The environment was fresh, there was so much diversity and the people there were actually willing to carry a conversation with me. I quickly realized I had a better connection there than I did at Cal Poly with both local students and ones from all over the nation.

My interest in journalism transpired from me always writing on my own time, taking pictures of cool random things and my people skills. To be honest, it was a lucky guess: I only took the classes because they were open and I needed four more units to get financial aid but two classes into my first journalism class (public relations), I was hooked. I even received an award for being at the top of my class. Good guess, huh? As of right now, I am interested in transferring to Cal State Long Beach after I take all the classes I need at LBCC, but who knows? I didn't expect to be going to LBCC and given how much I like change, I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up in New York!

What do I hope to get out of this virtual internship? I love the thought of being the voice for a community or generation. I have a voice I know how to use and if I can speak for someone who can't say the words themself, it would be my honor. I hope this is the start of a beautiful virtual relationship! :)


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Building Friendships Based on Honesty

by Samual Favela

Coming from two different campuses, I've encountered students who are reserved for the whole term and at the end, they finally open up and have amazing personalities. (Hey, where were you when I needed to pick someone for a group project?!) Yes, I know it may be hard for some people to open up because their insecurities may get the best of them but when you let go of that fear of being judged and not being accepted, you'll realize that is what is holding you back from having an amazing college experience! Trust me, I used to be the most awkward person and it wasn't until I started being honest with myself and everyone around me that I realized the personality I gave out was exactly what I was going to get back.

See, some college students assume that just because they don't click well with one person that they won't click well with all people. Reality check: It is impossible for everyone to be your friend – it would be so draining to be friends with everyone! Just be honest. Say what music you like (or don’t like), say what shows you're into, say what your hobbies are...just don't lie so someone will like you. It's better to feel comfortable talking about one of the "weird" things you like than pretend you enjoy something that annoys you or you just don't agree with.

But don't get it twisted: When I say be honest and say what you feel, I'm not saying to be a complete punk. Just because people aren't your friends does not mean you can completely disregard them as human beings!

Samuel “Samwell” Favela is a journalism major at Long Beach City College. He’s interested in all things media – he enjoys blogging, Instagramming and hosting his own campus radio show – and is always excited to meet new people. Samwell’s educational journey has already taken him from Pomona to Long Beach and shows no sign of slowing down...which is exactly the way he likes it!


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Chris Poshek

by Scholarships.com Staff

Hello everyone! I am really excited to be a virtual intern at Scholarships.com and look forward to writing for you and, in turn, hearing from all of you in the next few months. Here’s my story:

I began my college career at Alexandria Technical College and received my associate degree in applied science degree in computer voice networking. Unfortunately, I was laid off twice in the last three years in that field so I returned to school at Bemidji State University and am currently working toward a degree in early childhood education. Deciding on my major was easy: I have epilepsy and so does my daughter and in addition to working and attending college, I’ve been able to work with several non-profit foundations on some very rewarding projects. When I am not taking classes, I’m an outdoorsy person who loves to fish and hunt. I also am an avid sports fan, especially when it comes to my Minnesota teams. I also enjoy reading, listening to music, dancing and spending time with my family.

So, what will I write about on this blog? Well, the future of education seems to be taking learning online. I have some very useful experience in that area and this kind of education is far different than taking classes in a classroom. As a virtual intern for Scholarships.com, I look forward to helping college students seek out everything they need to make their time in school and their lives after college successful. Can’t wait to get started!


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by Scholarships.com Staff

It's the day before Thanksgiving. As the day progresses, your college campus will increasingly take on the look and feel of a ghost town-it may already be one if you're one of those lucky students whose school didn't even hold classes today.

However, gorging themselves on home cooking is not the only thing college students are anticipating this weekend. Right on the heels of Thanksgiving comes finals week for most college students in the country. So while you're packing for the weekend with your family and rushing to join the mass exodus from the dorm, you may find yourself throwing in some homework along with the laundry you plan to do at home and you may find yourself hurrying to finish a paper before you run out the door.

Balancing school and the rest of your life is hard enough, and it becomes even harder when holidays with the folks are involved. Here's this four-day stretch of no classes, and unless you're stuck working retail or food service, no work, and a sense that you can do anything you want with it. It can be tempting to put off your homework in the preceding days, telling yourself that you've got all weekend to get caught up-and even ahead-on what's been assigned before finals are due. Equally tempting, however, is the impulse to take the weekend as a vacation you've earned, focusing on football and catching up with friends and family, and spending most of the weekend in a food coma.

So how do you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend and get your homework done?

Know your environment.

When I started college, I didn't yet have a laptop and the family computer was in the living room, right next to where my relatives would congregate for Thanksgiving. We still had dial-up and ancient word-processing software that effectively made completing a paper at home impossible. Yet I'd still schedule not only writing but research for Thanksgiving weekend. If your home environment is difficult to work in, don't plan on working at home. If there are things you absolutely need to get done, think of a place you can go to do them, and a time you can make that trip (the coffee shop next to the mall on Black Friday? Not a good work environment, either).

Know your schedule.

Will you spend Thursday at a relative's house hours from home? Does your mom insist on dragging you along for the 4 AM stampede at stores on Friday? Do you have high school friends clamoring for a piece of your time on Saturday or Sunday? If you have other scheduling obligations to contend with, planning to pencil in a 10-page paper or an intensive cramming session might not be a good idea. If your homework needs to be done, and needs to be done now, you may need to see who you can put on hold. An unfortunate part of the college lifestyle is the realization that you may need to disappoint someone to make time to pass your classes. Accept this reality, but be smart about it and don't burn bridges.

Look ahead.

So you have all this homework to do and not a lot of time to do it in. What do you do? Look at the due dates for your assignments you'd scheduled for the weekend, as well as your school obligations when you return next week. Is there time to work this stuff in before it's due and still enjoy your holiday weekend? Are there other, less important tasks you can potentially rearrange? I won't advocate neglecting homework or skipping class to spend quality time with friends and family, but I won't be so naïve as to say it doesn't happen. Be smart about your decisions and be aware of their long-range impact. If the class you plan to skip on Tuesday to write your paper is one more than you're allowed to skip without dropping a letter grade or failing the class, then it might be wiser to attend it, and get your paper done this weekend--even if it means pulling an all-nighter or two.

Finally, if you're nervous about all the work you have to do, take some time today and make a plan, possibly while you're stuck in a car, a train, or the airport. Having a plan of action can keep you from freaking out about your homework while you should be enjoying a meal with your family and a well-deserved break from school.


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by Scholarships.com Staff

Last week, we blogged about the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), an annual report on students at four-year colleges and universities. The survey provided information about everything from academic advising to study habits at participating schools. This week, its community college counterpart was released, and for students deciding whether to save money by starting at a two-year school, that data might be useful, as well.

The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSE) is conducted annually by the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. This year, more than 400,000 student from 663 institutions participated. Engagement is regarded as serious concern at community colleges, as they tend to have a less clearly-developed sense of campus community as four-year schools and also have a far greater portion of part-time students and faculty.

Part-Timers and Engagement

The survey found that 60% of students were attending community college part-time, and that significant portions of students were taking night classes and online courses. Coming to campus less often, coming to campus at night, and having primary learning experiences take place off-campus can all result in less engagement among community college students. As a result, part-time students and students who work more than 30 hours a week are some of the least-engaged students on campus. Male students and traditional-age students were also among the least engaged students.

Study skill courses, orientation, learning communities, and developmental courses can all boost engagement. Interaction with students and faculty outside of class are also signs of a more engaged student body. Just under half of students currently engage in group activities in class, and just under two-thirds ask questions or contribute to class discussions, yet a small minority engage with instructors or peers outside of class. More faculty engagement and more programs to encourage student interaction may help.

Student Services and College Goals

Community college students and faculty recognize the role of student services, such as tutoring and advising, in promoting college success, but the numbers of each who participate in such activities are much lower than the numbers who view them as important. Few faculty members, especially part-timers, meet with students outside the classroom at least once a week, and few students regularly take advantage of advising or other services. This could partially explain the continued disparity between students' college goals and actual degree attainment.

A full 73 percent of students listed transferring to a four-year college or university as a goal they had when choosing to attend a community college, and 80 percent of students listed obtaining an associate degree as a primary or secondary reason for attending. Yet actual rates for both are much below the goals.

If you're considering attending a community college, the key seems to be to get involved and actively seek out help. Form study groups and talk to your instructors outside of class. Set and attend academic advising appointments to keep yourself on track for graduation and keep you informed of the next steps you'll need to take in your education. Also, consider applying for financial aid to reduce your need to work and allow you to more fully appreciate what your college has to offer.


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by Scholarships.com Staff

Everyone knows not to say "fire" in a crowded theater or "bomb" on an airplane. But what about saying "bomb" in a classroom? As a graduate teaching assistant at University of California-Davis learned last week, that might not be such a good idea either.

James Marchbanks, the teaching assistant in question, was arrested last week for making a terrorist threat, false imprisonment, and making a false bomb threat. Why? The graduate student referred to the course evaluations he was distributing to his introductory drama class as a bomb.

According to The Sacramento Bee, Marchbanks reportedly walked into class on the last day with his backpack on one shoulder and told the class, "I have a bomb, this is the last time I am ever going to see you. I am going to leave class before the bomb goes off but you are all going to stay here until it's done," then tossed a packet of course evaluations and pencils on the desk at the front of the class and ran out

The move was widely interpreted as a dramatic and lighthearted delivery of evaluation forms that he felt could potentially destroy his career. In fact, 13 students signed a letter to this effect. Unorthodox teaching methods, relaxed and informal attitudes, and extreme nervousness about their effectiveness as teachers are all pretty standard for graduate students, especially in the arts and humanities, so for many students in Marchbanks' Drama 10 class, his delivery of course evaluations probably seemed on the quirky end of ordinary.

However, a few students took his remarks seriously and decided to file a complaint, even when it became clear that he was alluding to the destructive power of negative evaluations, and not to a homemade explosive device. Campus police obtained a warrant for his arrest and a judge set bail at $150,000, a figure substantially higher than the Sacramento Bee calculated the charges should carry, and a price certainly well out of the reach of what a student receiving a graduate fellowship or assistantship could afford. It was eventually decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a crime and he was released, but only after he had spent four days in jail.

While few people are likely to argue that Marchbanks deserved jail time for his comments, it does raise questions about what's appropriate to say in a classroom. With multiple incidents of on-campus violence, including a graduate student's recent murder of a professor at the State University of New York-Binghamton, appearing in the media, many already stressed-out students may be more on edge than normal right now. Did students overreact?  Do graduate students need to be more aware of their actions in the classroom as new teachers?  What do you think?


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Shari Williams

by Shari Williams

Hi everyone! Just a few days ago, I landed back in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland after a long, adventurous school year in Los Angeles. I was at California State University, Northridge as a participant in the National Student Exchange program and now that the program is over, I will be returning to my school, Towson University.

Originally, I didn't want to go to Towson. My choice school was Temple University but after acceptance, I was discouraged to go because of the costly out-of-state expenses. Thankfully, I came across the National Student Exchange program, which gave me the chance to venture out-of-state for a year while still paying in-state tuition.

Choosing my major was a challenge for me because I never wanted to be placed in one box or one category. Choosing only one field to pursue was extremely hard for me. I also had to take into consideration my future finances versus my passion. My freshman year, I was a combined major in speech pathology and deaf studies but after that year, I realized that my heart was in broadcast journalism. Venturing to California sealed the deal and I am now double majoring in broadcast journalism and deaf studies with a minor in entertainment, media and film. Why? Because communicating with people is what I love to do, whether it is through speech, writing or body movement.

Now that it is summer break, I can finally relax! I look forward to hanging with friends, looking for new artists to add to my iTunes, tweeting, randomly dancing (much like the girl in the Sun Drop commercial) and, of course, writing. As a Scholarships.com virtual intern, I plan to share the “secrets” of college life that I truly wish someone would have shared with me during my years of college.


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Escape from In-State Through the National Student Exchange Program

by Shari Williams

When applying to colleges, I had an “out-of-state” mentality: I wanted to go anywhere besides the very state I lived in. After applying and being accepted to several schools, the cost of out-of-state tuition caused my plans of leaving Maryland to come to a screeching halt. It wasn't until my second year of college that I found my escape when a friend of mine told me about a program called the National Student Exchange (NSE).

The NSE is a program that allows college students to go to another four-year university within North America for a semester up to an entire academic year. My friend went to Florida but I chose to go to California State University – Northridge and had one of the best years of my college life. It was a great opportunity for me to experience another part of the country (I’ve lived on the East Coast all my life) and it was also a very beneficial area for both of my majors, deaf studies and broadcast journalism. To top it all off, I could still pay my in-state tuition to attend the school!

If you are a college student who would like to explore, see more of the world or know what it would be like to live in another state, the NSE is for you. For me, it wasn't only a learning experience but also a life changing one. I would highly encourage anyone who attends a college involved with the NSE to participate in it. If you are interested in the program and would like more information about it, go to www.nse.org and see if your school is one of the nearly 200 member universities.

Shari Williams is a junior at Towson University with a double major in deaf studies and broadcast journalism and a minor in entertainment, media and film. With experience in public relations, a love for music and a passion for acting, she longs to be a jack of all trades. A Baltimore native, Shari is an avid traveler and opportunity seeker. She hopes to become the next face seen on the morning news or the voice heard over the radio.


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Graduating On Time: It CAN Be Done!

by Shari Williams

Before starting school, I didn’t know very much about college life but now that I will be in school a year beyond my expected graduation date, I know what I could have done to enter the real world sooner.

At Towson, all freshmen receive class schedules assembled by the school. I didn't think to change the times of the classes (which were all at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday), nor did I research the professors. This turned out to be a huge mistake – I never was a morning person and I got stuck with some of the worst professors at Towsonmy school – as was the number of credits (12). I figured my university that I pay thousands of dollars in tuition to attend would know best, so I stuck with only 12 credits from then on. It was another oversight: Even though 12 credits is considered as full time, 12 credits is not enough to take every semester in order to graduate in four years without taking winter or summer classes. I had to figure this out myself and adjusted my class schedule accordingly.

I’m not saying you need to overload yourself with academics and never leave your dorm room – that’s not a college experience to remember! – but I am saying take as many classes as you can comfortably manage. If you have the means or have grants and scholarships, you can always take some classes over the summer or the next semester as long as it falls accordingly to your academic plan. Simply do what is best for you.

Graduating a four-year program in five years is not the end of the world but it is not something that you should shoot for, either. If you can handle five or more classes each semester, take them; you can also consider enrolling in a few online courses or opting to take a few classes pass/fail. Take what you can handle so that you can succeed.

Shari Williams is a junior at Towson University with a double major in deaf studies and broadcast journalism and a minor in entertainment, media and film. With experience in public relations, a love for music and a passion for acting, she longs to be a jack of all trades. A Baltimore native, Shari is an avid traveler and opportunity seeker. She hopes to become the next face seen on the morning news or the voice heard over the radio.


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