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by Katie Askew

It’s the last few weeks of high school and you’re already feeling nostalgic. Your final band concert has been performed, your final basketball game has been played, your last student council meeting has been attended and you may be feeling sentimental because your intended major doesn’t fit the things you were passionate about in high school. Fear not: You don’t need to leave your extracurricular activities behind just because you’re heading to college!

I was in the same place you were last year. My final decision to major in journalism and English felt like an abrupt end to my music career...but boy, was I wrong. It’s important to keep involved in your passions through extracurriculars while also pursuing your major, especially if your passions span a wide range of interests. For example, I attended the Society of Professional Journalists meetings through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication while also performing with the University Concert Band (a performance group for non-music majors) and working as a drumline instructor at a suburban high school. I made time for the things I love outside of my major and I can honestly say that my music groups kept me sane during stressful school times.

The most important lesson is to not feel defined by your major. Simply because you are a biomedical engineering major doesn’t mean you can’t be an ambitious thespian or star volleyball player. Student groups are just the place to meet your needs – the University of Minnesota has over 700 student groups to choose from! – and if you can’t find a group that matches your passions, you can join another interesting one (like the Campus People Watchers) or create your own!

So in terms of extracurricular activities in college, the sky is the limit...unless you join the skydiving club.

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.

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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by Casandra Pagn

While a summer home from college should be relaxing, fun and regenerative, the three or so months away from school can also be the perfect time to bulk up the ever-elusive skills section of a resume or job application.

I totally understand that many college students need to take any ol’ job during the summer to save some cash for the school months. Whether you are waitressing, painting houses or mowing lawns, there are still a multitude of ways to continue to make yourself (and your resume) marketable during the summer.

First and foremost, internships (paid or unpaid) can often be tailored to the hours and schedule that you’d like to work. But, if an internship seems too time consuming, have no fear. Here are some other ways to make your summer count:

  • Contact local professionals to set up appointments to shadow them. This will give you some insight into that career and it’s something that you can bring up during future interviews to show you’re being proactive in that field.
  • Browse through your local park district or community college catalog and see what affordable, useful classes they offer. An introductory language course is a low time commitment and is a great asset to any resume, as are computer courses in a program that you’re not familiar with. At the end of the class, you will have learned the keys to a program that employers find valuable, such as Microsoft Excel or InDesign.
  • Borrow some how-to books from the library and teach yourself something! There are a ton of books on building websites and using graphic design programs, so why not take check one out and give it a try? It can’t hurt to learn those skills and the library membership is usually free.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.

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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by Alexis Mattera

For the past two years, I have attended college entirely online. For some people, the idea of going to school online is like wading into a swamp – terrifying even to contemplate – but for me, online learning has been a dream.

This doesn't mean, however, that online classes are for everyone. Quite frankly, those of us who are not self-starters are not suited for online schooling. E-learning has deadlines, exams and papers just like traditional learning but teachers don't always remind students when assignments are due as they would in a traditional classroom, since they assume students who choose to take classes online are responsible enough to keep up with the coursework. In addition, e-learning is difficult for students who learn by listening to lectures; for online classes, lectures are provided in a visual format and some people find the fairly lengthy notes difficult to read through. Finally, although most teachers are willing and able to address any concerns online students have, students are largely expected to overcome obstacles themselves. Consequently, online students are encouraged to be much more independent than traditional students.

For me, this sense of independence is both liberating and empowering. I have been forced to adapt to an environment where I have minimal supervision and am required to make my own decisions. My achievements as a self-motivated individual have transcended to other areas of my life, such as my interpersonal relationships. I have grown as a person and as a thinker as a result of being an online student and I am proud to say I have completed my entire associate degree online. Although online learning may not be for everyone, the rewards of being a self-motivated individual have far exceeded the costs of online learning for me.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a soon-to-be published author, an avid video gamer and an artist. Her first novel is a murder mystery for young adults set in the future. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa completed her Associate of Arts degree entirely online and is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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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by Jessica Seals

Starting college is nerve racking enough without all of the added pressure from the newfound freedom that college freshmen receive every year. Besides getting used to the college atmosphere, students also have to make their own decisions about how they will conduct themselves because technically their behavior no longer requires parental approval.

Some students let the excitement of staying out all night and partying ruin their chances of having any academic success. They abuse their newfound freedom by not being responsible enough to limit the amount of socializing that they do. Excessive partying can lead to flunking out of school or a poor transcript/resume to pass on to future employers or grad school admission committees. Personally, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to explain to my parents that I flunked out of school because I got caught up in the party life that affects hundreds of students every year.

On the other end of the spectrum, some students use their newfound freedom to improve their lives. They gain their own independence and choose to discipline themselves by going to class each day, turning in all assignments and immersing themselves in positive college activities. These students make meaningful connections and use their networking skills to meet their future employers and others who will help them become successful.

Whether or not your college career takes a good or bad turn depends on how you decide to use your freedom. You can use it as a way to make yourself more independent from your parents and prepare yourself for the future...or you can treat life like one big party, neglect your studies and end up either on academic probation or not having things go the way you planned. It takes self-discipline to balance your schoolwork and social life so that it will benefit you in the future.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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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by Radha Jhatakia

Hi all! My name is Radha and I’m one of Scholarships.com’s newest virtual interns!

In high school, I was a well-rounded student – high GPA, honors classes, extracurricular activities and volunteer work...you name it, I did it – but after getting accepted by both the University of the Pacific and the University of San Francisco, limited finances and financial aid prevented me from attending either school. To save money to put toward transferring, I instead enrolled in De Anza College and Evergreen Valley College to complete my gen eds. It wasn’t easy (De Anza was a distant commute and made it difficult for me to take the classes I needed to transfer) but I amassed enough credits to transfer after two years. I didn’t get into my first choice (UCLA) and my second choice (Berkeley) did not have my intended major so I enrolled at UCSB, where I was accepted into the Honors Program and received plenty of financial aid. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned when my transfer status affected my major so I am back at EVC but transferring to San Jose State University in the fall. Whew!

I’ve always enjoyed writing (I hope to write a book someday) and I believe my interest in working with others – plus my excellent persuasion abilities – will lend itself to a career in public relations. Being a Scholarships.com virtual interns complements my goals perfectly: It’s an excellent opportunity to gain experience in something I enjoy doing and since I’m always looking for scholarships to pay for school, writing for a website that helps students do just that seemed ideal. Hope you’ll all enjoy reading my opinions and advice just as much as I enjoy sharing them!

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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A Major Decision

Choosing Your Field of Study in Three Easy Steps

May 20, 2011

by Mariah Proctor

So I’m sitting there, my entire head engulfed in paste so that they can make a plaster replica of my face for use in molding masks even when I’m not on campus for the summer. It was while sitting there – staving off bouts of panic and claustrophobia and completely unable to move – that I had another “what am I doing with my college career?” moment. These moments happen fairly often (like when a teacher requires us to roll down a grassy hill or play scream tag) that I take a step back and realize what unusual learning experiences my tuition money gets me.

Majoring in theatre was a no-brainer for me because in no other field have I ever felt more alive, more myself or more enthused by the idea of attending classes. I know, however, that the choice isn’t quite so obvious for others, so have a couple of pieces of advice to help in the choosing:

  • If you’re starting from scratch, get a copy of your university’s course catalog and just let your eyes scroll down the list and see where they naturally linger. There are probably a few areas of study that already appeal to you; get the course requirement sheets for those majors and when you’re getting an idea of the shape of your college career, be sensitive to what gets you excited.
  • Even majors that have glamorous-sounding names can be made up of classes that are awful fillers and not at all what you thought they’d be. Ask students in those majors how they like them and what they really think they’re learning.
  • Take note of what you think about when you aren’t thinking about anything. Chances are, there’s a major for whatever it is that occupies your unsupervised thoughts and that’s the one you should go for.

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.

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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by Jacquelene Bennett

It’s that time of the year again – summertime...and moving time for many college students. Here are a few simple tips for moving out of your doom or apartment:

  • Donate your stuff rather than throw it away. It’s the end of the year and you are realizing how much stuff you have accumulated over the last nine months. Rather than throwing away those jeans that don’t fit or that lamp you never use, donate them. At the end of every school year, Goodwill sets up a donation center on my campus where they will take everything from used clothing to electronics. See if your school does the same!
  • Utilize your school’s on-campus storage spaces. If your residence hall offers temporary summer storage for students, take advantage of it! Space is usually limited but this is a great option for storing things that you won't need during the summer months (think: mini-fridge and cooking utensils). If your school doesn’t have storage on campus, get some friends to split the cost of renting a storage locker somewhere near campus. Bonus: Many facilities offer discounts to college students.
  • Make sure to clean. It might be a hassle to vacuum the floors and take out the trash but it will cost you less in the long run. Schools often charge fees for unclean rooms (at my school, it’s $25 for every bag they fill with trash from a room) so if you don’t want to be billed, make sure it’s clean!
  • Keep it organized. Don’t just throw items in random boxes and suitcases; take the time to label them and make sure everything is secure. This will help when physically moving all your stuff and when you unpack later on at home.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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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by Angela Andaloro

Although students quickly adopt the Dollar Menu lifestyle that pricey college living sentences them to, they are always looking for ways to make few extra bucks and live a little more comfortably. Many students totally rule out the idea of working for free because of this but what they don’t realize is they are missing out on great opportunities! Here are some reasons why unpaid internships are actually well worth your time:

  • It’s great experience. Interning in the industry you’re interested in working in after college will provide you with invaluable skills – skills that can give you an edge when going for your first job. You’ll also get a first-hand idea of what a job in the industry of your choice is like; you may realize it’s not for you after all.
  • It allows you to network. As an intern, you'll meet tons of new people, from other interns to CEOs. The connections you make here are important, as these are the first people who are getting to know you in a professional setting. Down the line, one of these connections may be able to clue you in on a job opening or serve as a professional reference.
  • It shows dedication. By taking an unpaid internship, you’re showing an employer that money isn’t your top priority. Dedication to the work rather than the benefits may give you a better chance at getting your foot in the door after graduation.

The most important thing to remember about any internship is that it’s your first step into the professional world. Making a positive impression is vital and there’s no better way to do so than by giving 100 percent every minute you’re on the job. A paycheck may not be on the line but your reputation is!

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.

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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by Brittni Fitzgerald

I began my college career at Kentucky State University but after visiting Chicago State University and meeting the friendly, helpful faculty and students, I elected to transfer. Once I was settled in, I set out to find a major that actually attracted me and quickly found that in accounting. It’s a numbers game with a lot of statistics and critical thinking and I am supplementing the knowledge I’m gaining through these classes with a minor in entrepreneurship.

When I am not in class, I’m an outdoorsy person who loves to run or swim because it refreshes the body and the mind. I go the beach and barbeque a lot (well, weather-permitting in Chicago!) and enjoy reading, listening to new music, dancing, singing and – because I am such a girly girl – shopping. I am also an active member in the Student Government Association at Chicago State and spend a lot time planning campus events and activities for students. Students come to me and the organization every day with ideas, comments and questions and a major complaint that I get from many students is that they are not receiving information.

How can I get them the news they need? Glad you asked! As a virtual intern for Scholarships.com, I want to help students get more involved and aware of their campus activities. As someone who’s already a voice for students attending Chicago State, I’m excited about the opportunity to help students at other schools get the most out of their college experiences!

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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by Allison Rowe

My name is Allison and I am addicted to public libraries. Call me a nerd, call me a geek, but my beloved King County Library System is ranked among the best in the nation and I plan to take full advantage of that.

According to the Seattle Times, the average citizen in King County pays about $84 in taxes each year to support library resources. That tax money is only spent in vain if you fail to cash in! Public libraries offer so many incredible resources for college students, making it possible to double or even triple your tax dollar investment.

There is the diverse array of items available for checkout. At my library (and most others), that includes books, music, movies, magazine and newspapers – and not just old dusty ones! Not everything will be physically at your library all at once, so you’ll need to place some holds but some libraries allow you to do this online. It’s like a public Netflix! Another bonus: According to an expert at KCLS, the government permits reproduction of library materials for PERSONAL USE ONLY. Nice.

Here are some more public library benefits:

  • Log on to computers with high-speed Internet, in case your apartment has shoddy wireless or your parents won’t upgrade from dial-up.
  • Classes provided to community members to develop valuable skills (speed typing, financial planning, tech basics, academic tutoring, etc.) are usually free or inexpensive. You can also offer to teach/assist and put it on your resume!
  • Use it as a quiet, comfortable place to study, read or get work done away from the distractions of your home (or Facebook).

So next time you need to feel like you’ve accomplished something productive this summer, check in to your local library and check out what services they offer!

Allison Rowe is a senior at Washington State University majoring in English and psychology. For the last two years, she has worked for her student newspaper, achieved the status of President’s honor roll every semester and academically excelled to acquire a handful of scholarships and writing awards. She dreams of moving to New York after her May 2012 graduation to dive head first into the publishing industry. In her free time, Allison enjoys cooking, game nights and psychologically thrilling movies. As a Scholarship.com virtual intern, Allison hopes to assist students in maximizing the gains of the college experience.

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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by Darci Miller

If you’re of the age to need the services offered by Scholarships.com, you’re also most likely of the age where summer is no longer the carefree, lazy paradise it once was. Back then, it was filled with summer camp, ice cream, beach days and late nights. But now? Now it’s all about gaining work experience.

If you’ve yet to hit this point, enjoy this summer. The real world of job-hunting is coming up fast. Hours spent working on your resume and cover letter, days spent emailing companies with internship listings, weeks spent waiting (and waiting...and waiting), potentially all for naught. And then there’s all the time spent pounding the pavement for a minimum wage job, only to get turned away from all of those as well. It’s not fun. Trust me, I’ve been there.

If you’re in this situation (and if you’re anything like me), you’re tearing your hair out at the prospect of doing nothing for three months. But look at the bright side: A recent study conducted by Australian National University found that, income notwithstanding, having a bad job is worse than having no job for your mental health. So you’ll be happier doing nothing than you would be at that lame job anyway!

But that still leaves you with approximately 90 empty days to fill, right? It really is important to get experience, so don’t let the summer go to waste. Try to volunteer somewhere to keep busy and keep your spirits up – and it’ll be something great to add to your resume if you do find something related to your major!

You can also take this time to do something you don’t have time for while attending school. Read that book you’ve been eyeing, rekindle an old hobby, start a blog. But no matter your plans, be sure to make this summer a good one!

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!

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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