May 21, 2013
Large classes or small? As colleges look to save money per student, this has become a key discussion topic. Recent studies are now showing that redesigning the typical lecture-type lesson has proved successful in large class settings, boasting higher exam results than those on the old model...but I think it really depends on the institution.
I can only speak from experience about Wofford College: The largest class I’ve ever had had about 50 people in it (and the average class size here is 15), though I will soon find out how large classes work when I take a summer course at UNCG to fulfill a gen ed requirement in statistics. I can guarantee that in terms of building professor connections and having instructors as resources outside the classroom, small classes have the advantage but I could definitely see how this setting could be intimidating and that there could be students that flourish more in large-scale lectures.
Attendance policies also seem to be stricter at smaller schools and in smaller classrooms. In a class of 300, nobody bats an eye if somebody’s missing; in a class of 12, however, every absence is noticed. Those who are engaged and active in class will probably benefit more from smaller courses, with more direct contact with the professors. But these assumptions seem to be changing. Like I said, the lecture-style of teaching is being altered at bigger schools and being replaced by interactive and virtual courses supervised by professors or teachers. The computers seem to keep the larger classes focused and have directly contributed to better grades in the sciences and visual arts.
When determining what class size is best for you, the best thing to do is to talk to people that attend your prospective schools. How do they like the large classes? Would they recommend them? Do they take any small classes? Are their learning styles similar to yours? Results don’t lie but you know yourself better than a statistic. For me, the small classes at WoCo are where it’s at. What about you?
Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.
June 3, 2013
Congratulations! Well...sort of. Many incoming college freshmen feel this bittersweet sensation when they read they’ve been accepted to college but not until a semester or two after their intended start date.
Colleges are adopting this practice more and more and it’s no surprise why: Retention rates drop after the first year and this decrease combine with the junior year “I want to study abroad” rush leaves colleges with gaps and vacancies in classes, resulting in less money for schools. This admissions approach is economically better for colleges and universities but is it better for students? Not when they want to take classes somewhere else before that requires full-time student status and not when the students need to get jobs in the semester before they start. This could also potentially disconnect them with the incoming freshman class in the fall and put them in awkward social positions once they arrive.
I personally don’t know anyone that this has happened to – the most I’ve encountered with friends is wait lists – but I know a few that applied to transfer to other colleges and weren’t accepted for the following semester, but the next one. It’s great news that the student gained admission but there’s the question of “Why then and not now?” In an almost B-list manor, colleges are glad to have you but not now – only after the first wave of freshmen.
I know the bottom line is money but in my opinion, this approach devalues all of one’s efforts and projects a message of self-doubt and questioning. If colleges plan to keep doing this, they need to figure a way to build the students up during that semester before entry and provide program options and support so that these kids don’t feel that sense of bittersweet victory and defeat. Deals with other colleges for transfer credits, extracurricular activities, ways for these students to get ahead and job options on or off campus would be an awesome start. What else do you think schools could (and should) do to bridge this gap?
September 7, 2007
We all know how expensive college can be, and how the hidden fees get you just when you thought you had enough. Performing a free scholarship and grant search at Scholarships.com can save students a bundle, but the little changes can also make ends meet. You don’t have to be a miser to save a bit, and every bit can make a difference. Ok, that’s trite. What I meant to say was that saving has a lot to do with mentality. When you’re proud for having saved $15 with your grocery coupons, you may think twice about spending that money on a new CD. You’ve gone this far, no point in throwing your labor away. Here are small things that can motivate you to keep going.
BYOB. That’s right. Bring your own bottle. If you can’t stay away from expensive coffee shops, you should at least get a discount on their expensive drinks. Many coffee shops will take 15 or 30 cents off when customers bring their own—albeit adorned with a company logo—mug or bottle (request these for your birthday.) So maybe a few cents won’t make for huge savings, but they make for little ones. Plus, your coffee will stay warmer, and you’ll be saving the environment.
Look for punch cards. While we’re talking coffee shops, check to see if they have punch cards. Many fast food shops, clothing stores and even car washes offer punch cards. If you shop at these places on a regular basis, you can earn free store dollars, a meal or a shiny car (wash).
Sign up for free membership cards. Signing up for a free grocery store card can save you a lot of money, but other memberships are also helpful. Bookstore chains frequently offer free membership cards (I'm not talking about store credit cards). Member rewards may include a free drink at the food corner, points towards a book purchase and email reminders about upcoming sales. Use sale days to buy Christmas and birthday gifts in advance—books never go out of season.
Water please! College students can’t help it. Eating out is just a part of their lifestyle. The habit is expensive, but sometimes it has to be done. When it does, opt for water instead of another drink. It’s refreshing, it’s good for your skin, and it’s free.
There are many ways for students to save money. Surviving on free Starbucks’ honey packets doesn’t have to be one of them—see Mena Suvari in Loser. You can still head to Starbucks with coffee in mind, just bring your mug with you.
September 21, 2007
Filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is kind of like filling out a super complicated Christmas wish list. You write it, you hand it over and you cross your fingers when the time to open approaches. A lot of times you’re disappointed with the results. Students should never dismiss the prospect of government aid. Even if they are not eligible to receive need-based grants, they will still have unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS Loans options. Receiving award letters with little or no aid options is frustrating, and it’s all because of that stupid Expected Family Contribution (EFC) formula.
How much government aid a student receives is largely dependent on how much the government thinks a family can contribute to the education of their child. This is what is known as the Expected Family Contribution. Based on the income and asset information students provide on their FAFSA, the government determines a student’s EFC number. The number is then sent to the student’s school of choice which subtracts it from their estimated Cost of Attendance (COA). What’s left over is used to determine if a student is eligible to receive federal or nonfederal aid.
The problem with the EFC is that it often overestimates how much a family is really able to contribute to a child’s education. Although factors such as a (dependent) student family size and the number of family members attending college are considered, the expectations can still seem high. According to a 2004 Department of Education report, a family making between $45,000-49,000 per year was expected to contribute $6,000 to their child’s education. One making between $50,000-54,000 was expected to contribute $7,000 and one that made between $95,000-99,000 was expected to contribute $18,900. It is doubtful that the average family can afford to contribute that much after paying all bills. Those with particular need, families with an EFC lower than $4,110, are eligible for free Pell Grant money this year, but only up to $4,310. That is not the average grant aid a student receives.
Recently released government data shows that, based on the average cost of an education at a public college, a family who sends one student to school is expected to contribute about 25% of their median household income. Those families who send their child to a private school are expected to contribute about 57% of their median household income. Even if students receive the maximum Pell Grant award, $4,310, the family may be nowhere near meeting the costs associated with a college education. If students are lucky, the new Congress-approved Pell Grant increase outlined in the College Cost Reduction and Access Act will be signed by President Bush. Based on White House reports, the president is expected to sign the legislation, but some doubts are still present.
Students who have been offered little or no financial assistance from the government can always look to scholarships and grants for financial assistance. Conducting a free scholarship search will allow students to find myriad awards they are eligible to receive. By using Scholarships.com’s resources, students can find the scholarship and financial aid information they need to fund their education.
September 25, 2007
The debate on whether ACT and SAT scores are an accurate tool for assessing student abilities has been going on for years. Even though recent studies found SAT scores to be less effective in predicting long-term college success than was previously thought, dealing with these tests is still pretty much unavoidable. Until standardized tests are out of sight and out of mind, students should do their best to get acquainted with them. Below is a sampling of average college SAT and ACT scores as reported by the Department of Education. To find more college ACT and SAT scores, information about estimated costs of attendance, and the number of applicants at schools across the U.S., check out our college search.
August 21, 2007
Depending on the hands it falls into, a credit card may serve as an ultra-convenient
money stack, or it can—if I may be overly dramatic—lead to financial suicide. For
those who can manage their expenses and pay their monthly balances in full, owning
a credit card is a great idea. Walking around with large amounts of cash is dangerous,
and buying online is quite a hassle a without a credit card. Emergencies that necessitate
fast funding also come up, and when they do, a bit of debt pales in importance. As
you probably know, building up a credit report is one of the biggest incentives
for taking advantage of credit cards. Credit card companies know that many parents
will take care of student debt, and they’re not shy about making application offers
to students. Booths with pizza and t-shirt giveaways fill up campus corners and
busy sidewalks on sunny days. According to CBS, the average student is offered eight
credit cards during their first college semester—no job required. Once
students graduate, they are less likely to receive financial backing from their
parents. With new expenses and student loans kicking in, graduate fledglings are
considered to be bigger liabilities to credit card companies. Ironically, just when
credit cards become most important, they become most difficult to come by. Renting
an apartment involves a credit check, as does taking out a car loan and a home mortgage.
People with bare credit reports are big question marks to sellers, landlords and
credit card companies. If there is little or no credit history on your report, you
may find yourself staring at bigger bills or doorknockers. I’m not saying
it’s impossible to make it without a credit card, but having one sure does help.
Good track records with a national credit card such as Master Card, Visa, and Discover
(lesser-known store cards may not contribute to credit ratings) give lenders some
evidence of dependability. Unfortunately, many students have a hard time creating
a positive track record, and therein lays the problem. Students frequently
look to credit cards for tempting pick-me-ups and tuition aid. Don’t get me wrong,
not all indebted students are shopoholics, but those who look to credit cards for
financial aid might want to look elsewhere.
Scholarships, grants, jobs and less expensive student loans are a student’s best
bet because late payments may hurt in more ways than one. They will show up on credit
reports, result in $20-$25 late bank fees, and lead to increases in credit card
penalty charges. If you handle your credit card wisely, you won’t need
to worry much about penalties and annual percentage fees, but you should definitely
shop around before applying. Search for a card with the lowest fixed annual
percentage rate (APR). Numerous cards will start you off with a low APR but raise
the rate after 6 months. Also, be on the lookout for standard annual fees. There
are cards that charge standard usage fees, regardless of payment history. Look for
those that don’t. Once you build a good payment history, you may receive
credit card offers galore. Little cards with your school logos may arrive in your
mailbox. Yes. That’s cute. Chase knows that you go to the University of Illinois,
but you already have a card. Refrain from getting another one. According to the
United Marketing Service (UCMS), the average Joe carries 2.8 credit cards in his
wallet: don’t be Joe. When you apply for a new card or loan, a credit inquiry will
be recorded on your report. The more inquiries are made, the lower your credit score.
I know, just because you want a discount on American Eagle jeans does not mean that
you will not pay your bill in full. Unfortunately, lenders may assume that credit
inquiries suggest financial need—even if they don’t. If you can stay
on top of your expenses and limit the number of credit cards you own, you should
take advantage of college application offers. As long as you can control the card
before it takes control of you, using a credit card can bring you one step closer
to a secure financial future.
March 14, 2008
Many talented high school athletes dream of playing at the college level, hopefully beyond it. When the select few receive a call about a team spot and a scholarship opportunity, most are ecstatic to find that their hard work and lengthy dedication has paid off.
Unfortunately, what initially appears to be a dream come true is not always the golden ticket families initially imagined. According to a recent article published in The New York Times, most athletic awards aren’t even close to covering the full costs of a college education. Excluding marketable sports such as basketball and football, athletic scholarships may total as little as $2,000.
Students who are invited to play at private colleges or universities which often cost as much or more than $30,000 per year will hardly be salvaged by such an award. Considering that such students have to juggle long practice hours with travel, classes and homework, they may be better off passing up low-paid team spots for additional study hours and outside scholarship opportunities.
Particularly troubling for families of college athletes is the fact that not all awards are renewable for four years. Eligibility for N.C.A.A. scholarships is reevaluated annually, and college athletes are not guaranteed continued assistance. When this is the case, students may find themselves with little or no time for a job while attending a college they can no longer afford.
Fortunately for students who are not about to turn down an athletic offer due to funding shortages, N.C.A.A. scholarships are not the only available athletic scholarships. To find college scholarships and grants based on athletic abilities or additional criteria, students can conduct a free college scholarship search. One does not have to be an athletic star or class valedictorian to find award opportunities. Numerous scholarships, grants, fellowships and internships are available to students willing to conduct the search and put forth the application effort.
March 18, 2008
Speaking before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings told representatives what they wanted to believe, but didn’t: the college aid crisis was under control. After months of financial struggles, a number of student lenders have decided to discontinue their participation in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL), leaving students to look elsewhere for college funding.
A troublesome lending market and a new law limiting government subsidies to student lenders have many lenders rethinking their participation in the FFEL. With less government backing and greater default rates, some student lenders are finding it necessary to cut back on student benefits, increase borrowing criteria, and sometimes, leave the government program completely.
These changes have left families worried about finding sufficient student loan assistance from the government, concerns Spellings has tried to diminish. During her testimony, the education secretary stated that so far, “No institutions have notified us that any eligible student has been denied access to federal loans.”
If true, students and parents would be relieved to know that they can still take advantage of low interest government loan rates rather than relying on private, more expensive, student lenders. According to Spellings, the government would step in before students were forced to rely solely on private lenders.
One safeguard proposed by Spellings was the option for schools participating in the FFEL program to switch to the government's Direct Loan program, one in which students bypass government-subsidized lenders and borrow straight from the government.
Ms. Spellings also pointed out that Pell Grants, federal need-based awards that do not need to be repaid, have been increasing and will likely continue to do so. Students who receive free grant money will have fewer loan needs---to an extent. Currently, those eligible for Pell Grants may only receive $4,310 per year, and not all are eligible for this form of federal student aid.
Still, the Secretary of Education maintained a positive outlook and expressed confidence that most student lenders are not in critical positions stating, “More than 2,000 originating lenders participate in FFEL...a small number of these lenders have reduced their participation or stopped origination new loans.”
March 20, 2008
For many disabled individuals, completing school can be a struggle. Such students may have to consider not only their scholastic aspirations but also their health and wellbeing when making important college decisions. Whether additional efforts must be applied to maintaining a proper diet, lowering stress, completing assignments in a timely matter or any number of other priorities, dealing with both disabilities and classes can prove to be a challenge.
Insufficient college funds are a common setback for many disabled students, for any students. To help with this aspect of college, numerous disability scholarships have been created for those with financial needs. Take a look at the disability scholarships listed below for awards you may be eligible to receive. For additional information about scholarships, grants, internships and fellowships, try conducting a free college scholarship search.
The Association of Blind Citizens Reggie Johnson Scholarship
The Association of Blind Citizens (ABC) will be awarding this disability scholarship to a number of legally blind students. One $2,000 scholarship and eight $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to winners. Applicants will have to submit a 300 to 500 word autobiographical essay explaining how the award could assist them in achieving their college or vocational program goals.
Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired
Each year, the Travelers Protection Agency (TPA) provides students who are deaf or near deaf with scholarship awards. The number of recipients and award sizes may vary based on Trust Executive Committee recommendations.
disABLEdperson Inc. College Scholarship Competition
Students eligible for this disability scholarship will have the chance to earn $750 to be used towards their college education. Applicants will have to answer the annual essay question and fully complete an online scholarship form. Students must be attending a 2 or 4 year US college or university and must have a disadvantage or deficiency that interferes or prevents normal achievement in a certain area.
Scholarship for People with Disabilities
The Scholarship for People with Disabilities annually provides students with scholarships of up to $1,000. To be eligible applicants must have a physical or sensory disability and must demonstrate scholarship need. This award is limited to students who are Minnesota residents or who have received Courage Center services.
1-800-Wheelchair Scholarship Fund
High school and undergraduate college students who apply for the 1-800-Wheelchair Scholarship will have the opportunity to win $500 for college. Students must be at least 16 years old and must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. Preference will be given to applicants with a mobility disability, but disability is not a requirement.
Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation Scholarship
With the help of the Ethel Louse Armstrong Foundation (ELA), female graduate students with physical disabilities may win up to $2,000. Applicants must be active in a disability organization and must be willing to provide ELA with scholastic and career updates. To apply, students must submit an essay of 1,000 words or less explaining, “How I will change the face of disability on the Planet”.
March 27, 2008
The Republican candidates may have settled down, but there is no ceasefire in sight for Hillary and Barack. Both candidates have been campaigning around the clock, scribbling in their calendars, visiting every nook and cranny. When they couldn’t make an appearance, their families did. On Tuesday, Chelsea Clinton took her turn at the podium when she spoke to a group of students at Indiana’s Ball State University.
According to the Ball State Daily News, Chelsea took time to describe her mother’s plans for decreasing the costs of a college education. “My mother plans to double the Pell Grant to $10,800, expand the eligibility for a tax credit and develop Americare, and organization developed by my father to help college be more affordable,” she told the crowd.
For about an hour, Chelsea answered questions about Hillary’s plans for the presidency. She covered health care, the No Child Left Behind Act, the strengthening of hate crime laws and the war in Iraq. With the exception of a few poster-carrying Obama backers, most of the estimated 1,000 attendees appeared supportive.
If, as Chelsea suggested, Hillary were to increase Pell Grant awards, dangerous college lending habits could decrease dramatically. Currently, only $4,310 in Pell Grant money is available to eligible students each year. Even after Pell Grants reach their peak during the 2012-2013 school year (as mandated by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act), only $5,400 will be made available.
Students who do not receive sufficient money in the form of Pell Grants can still turn to scholarships for college funding assistance. For additional information about college scholarships and grants, students may conduct a free scholarship search.
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