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President Wants Financial Aid Transferability Provision in GI Bill

June 6, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

After threatening to veto a bill aimed at boosting financial aid to veterans who pursued a postsecondary education, the president is now expected to ask Congress for even more funding. The White House has indicated that should a new provision allowing troops to transfer their education benefits to families be added, President Bush would be more inclined to sign.

The surprising turn of events is not likely to go over well with conservative Democrats, suggested an Associate Press article. Though many supported the idea of awarding sufficient aid to cover a four-year degree at the most expensive state university, some party members are weary about increasing the current proposal by $25 billion.  Worried that the sufficient funding could not be raised by simply cutting back in other areas, they are not expected to concede. When combined with the bill's provisions to increase funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the final request could near or exceed Bush’s initial call for a $108 billion cap.

Referred to as the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights, the veteran benefits portion of the bill also requests unemployment compensation, aid to farmers and highway construction funds, stated the ArmyTimes, all of which could make an agreement more difficult, even if Congress agrees to add Bush's provisions. The bill will next be reevaluated by the House where the new proposal and the Senate version of the bill will be considered.
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Managing a Hectic Schedule: A Sanity Guide for High School, College Students

June 18, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

It’s no secret that the lives of an increasing number of college and high school students are filled with errands, homework assignments, social appointments and work. Managing the stress of infinite responsibilities can be difficult, but it's necessary to keep one's health and stress in check. If you, like so many others, are struggling with your schedule, take a step back. Read the following pointers on how to keep things together, and give your mind and body the healthy break they deserve.

Keep a planner. When your errands get out of control, it’s best to eliminate the head clutter—you need your brain cells for other things. Write down everything, birthdays, projects, groceries etc. Then cross things off one at a time; it will feel great. Having things on paper will free your memory and allow you to see what you’ve already accomplished--not just what’s left to accomplish.

See a Friend. Hmmm…Taking time off may seem counterproductive, but it’s a must. Getting lost in a world of errands is overwhelming, depressing, and stressful. Seeing a friend—even for a short lunch—can give you perspective, a reminder that life outside of work exists. More often than not, your friends are going, or have gone through, similar ordeals. Swap silly stories about your weird instructor, vent and rejuvenate your mind.

Multitask. Some say that working on two projects at once lengthens the time it takes to complete them, but that depends on the projects. If you have some clothes in the wash, get some homework done between loads. Waiting to meet that friend I told you about? Begin your reading assignment.

Stay Near the Nest. Travel adds up, and, unfortunately, it is often accepted as the unavoidable black hole of time. Well, don’t accept it. Keeping things close to home can greatly increase the time you have to get things done. When possible, commute to school. Take your dance and guitar lessons at a nearby studio. Shop and eat at stores and restaurants at arms length. Clock in for longer hours but fewer days. You get the picture.

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College Culture , High School , Tips



Nervous About Rooming with a Friend? Relax

June 20, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

It’s one of the first pieces of advice future college students receive—don’t live with your friends. I beg to differ. Whoever began this vicious rumor—I hate to be the bearer of bad news—was probably a poor roommate to begin with. Yes, living with a friend may lead to sporadic tensions, but so will living with anyone. And the pros of sharing a space with someone you already know generally outweigh the cons. Here are few reasons why living with a friend may actually be a good thing.

You Can Practice Your Social Skills.   College is a great time to practice your communal living habits. Unless you plan to spend the rest of your days on a parents’ couch, you will move out someday—probably with someone you care about. Living with a friend will teach you how to compromise and to respect the space of someone you would like to maintain a relationship with. If you know that you can easily ditch your roommate the following year, putting forth a serious effort may be more difficult.

You Know What You’re Getting Into. Going on a year-long blind date may seem exciting---at first. Sure, things often work, but when they don't, roommate problems can get ugly. Even if you're not completely familiar with your friend’s nonexistent sanitary habits—though you've probably been tipped off at some point—to some extent, you'll know what to expect. Things could be much worse. I've seen a roommate who stayed inside a one-bedroom dorm 24-7 playing videogames, one who left trash bags in their roommate’s bedroom after a party (not to mention the dirty plates that lined the hallway) and a few who decided that their significant others would make the perfect third party.

You Can Create a Stronger Bond. Yes, you bond with high school friends, but it’s just not the same as living with them. Even when things get awkward, when you’re mad but don’t want to talk about it, living with each other will bring you closer. You may not realize it until you've moved out, but once things are all said and done, you’ll be able to reminisce about what you went through and hold debates about who was most obnoxious.

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College Culture



Tips on Finding a Campus Apartment

July 9, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Dorms are filled to the brim with students your age, and therein lies their charm. But after finding a group of people you enjoy spending time with, their appeal slowly fades. Dorms are cramped, noisy, and, eventually, old news. But before you can hug your RA goodbye, you need to find an apartment, and that takes some planning. The following tips can help you find the best-suited home at a reasonable price.

Determine Boundaries. Before the apartment hop begins, establish a general search boundary. Off-campus apartments may be cheaper, but, depending on location, the class hike may be substantial. Decide which is the bigger priority, finance or location, and be realistic about how far you are willing to walk—in boots on a rainy, snowy day—to your perfect residence.

Get a Head Start. If you attend a large state school, chances are, you have options. But you can only be as picky as the time allows. Begin your apartment search early, around December or January. If you wait until the summer months to find an apartment for the upcoming year, you may find your options slim. Stake your claim before someone else can.

Look at Reviews. What you don’t see when you visit an apartment—the unreachable repairman, the stinky, bug-ridden basement—may come back to haunt you. One of the best ways to gauge a potential home is by seeking out feedback from previous tenants. Reviews of landlords and apartments can frequently be found in campus newspapers, both on and offline. You may also want to ask around. Satisfied and disgruntled students alike are often willing to let you know what they think.

Budget. When budgeting, you have to consider paying for school, for residence, for food, for leisure, for holiday gifts, for transportation, for emergencies and so on. If you're an apartment penny pincher, it's best to limit surprises. Ask landlords about any city or tenant fees that may be tacked on to the lease, and find out if if gas, water, parking or an internet/cable package are included. If you don’t plan to stay on campus during the summer months, also ask about a 10-month lease option. The need for apartments drops during the summertime, and many students have a hard time finding individuals willing to sublet at full price. By asking the right questions and budgeting accordingly, you can avoid many such problems down the road.

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College Cost Bigger Factor than Quality, Diversity

July 17, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

According to West Virginia’s The State Journal, a recent poll indicates that Americans are prioritizing the affordability of a college education over other factors. Though criteria such as scholastic quality, distance and diversity were also critical, the cost of a school topped the list as most important.

With college costs continuing to outpace inflation and graduates finishing school with growing debt, families are beginning to realize that attending schools within their means may be more important than attending ones of greater prestige. A recent report from the National Center for Education Studies (NCES) stated that during the 2005-2006 school year, 46 percent of first-time, full-time students who sought a degree took out student loans, a few graduating more than $100,000 in debt.

The Chronicle of  Higher Education Gallop Poll indicated that, though there were conflicting views over whether the government or the public should be responsible for much of the cost, most agreed that colleges should contribute to the solution by spending a larger percentage of their endowment funds.

As the media focuses on problems of national debt, controversy has grown over the use of annually increasing endowment funds acquired through donations to colleges. Though endowment contributors frequently create stipulations about who may or may not receive their scholarship money, the public has pointed to the questionable nature of storing funds and increasing tuition, especially during a time when debt has become a growing problem for students.

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Higher Education Commission Dissatisfied with Spelling's Efforts

July 18, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

During a conference held by the Department of Education this week, department commissioners, educators and business leaders alike expressed their disappointment with Education Secretary Margaret Spelling’s inability to improve the current state of postsecondary education. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education created by the secretary herself complained that, after three years of work, students were still unsure about which colleges best fit their needs, and employers were still dissatisfied with graduates’ lack of preparation for the workforce.

Furthermore, while steps to alleviate the burden of school expenses have been taken—most prominent of which was perhaps the increase in Pell Grant caps—the rising costs of a college education have made paying for school a struggle. During the 2005-2006 school year, more than 40 percent of first-time college students were forced to take out student loans. These factors, combined with the  declining value of a college degree, have made securing a sufficiently lucrative job difficult for those with debt, especially when searching for positions within the nonprofit sector.  

With only six months left in office, the secretary has little time to apply the suggestions of her peers. Complaining that colleges are not doing enough to prepare students for the business world, previous advertising executive Richard Holland stated, “We just talk about this all the time, and we don’t do anything about it.”  Added Education Department’s senior adviser Vickie Schray, “There’s still a lot that needs to be done.”

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Report Encourages Early Access to Course Info

August 6, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

For those of you attending college, this situation is probably very familiar:  new courses get posted, and something with a vague and obtuse title but a promising course number is listed in your major.  You may want to take the course, but you know that if you register without doing further research, your chances at having a stellar schedule will likely go out the window as you're stuck with a class you never meant to choose. I learned this lesson when I wound up in a course called "Language, Society, and Culture" that was listed as an American literature and culture elective but turned out to be an introductory linguistics course--something I had no interest in taking.

At various points in my college career, I often found myself cramming detective work into my already busy schedule as I tried to find out just what a course with an intriguing title was actually going to cover.  As I waited impatiently for e-mails from professors and ran all over campus looking for a mythical department secretary who once saw an early draft of a course description, I often wondered "why couldn't they just post this information online?"

A recent report issued by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in North Carolina echoes this sentiment.  The report recommends that professors publish syllabi online and do so early, preferably right around when courses open up for registration, so that students get a better idea of the courses they're taking, the work expected of them, and the material they will need to cover, and thus will be more likely to succeed and less likely to drop the class.  Additionally, it also will allow students, departments, and other groups to make comparisons between professors easier, will aid in determining transfer credits (if your new school can see the number of papers you wrote for your half-completed English major, maybe you won't get stuck retaking Composition I), and will aid in the sharing of information among professors.  In other words, online syllabus sharing is a good thing for everyone and more professors should do it.

For those of you still working on the college search, this makes a great question to add to your list to ask during your campus visit.  Ask whether professors have resources available to post syllabi online and how many of them actually take advantage of the option. Little details can make a big difference when it comes to choosing the right college.

As colleges continue to add online courses and to encourage online components in traditional courses, expect more professors to post syllabi online.  In the meantime, a little encouragement couldn't hurt.  Next time you find yourself in unfamiliar parts of campus trying to find out the reading list for a class that could potentially help you fulfill all your college goals, consider printing a copy of this report and giving it to the instructor in question.
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Consider Bringing a Bike to College

August 7, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Earlier this week, I blogged about two community colleges whose students could save money by attending college full-time on Fridays.  One of the most significant savings of this program will be gas costs for commuter students. Full time Fridays are by no means the only way for students to save money on gas and car maintenance this fall, though.  According to a recent article in USA Today, several colleges are getting on the bandwagon of encouraging students not to drive to campus, including several colleges that are instituting a bike sharing program, one that's moving a bike shop into its student union, and one that's giving free bikes to students who opt not to bring cars with them to college.

So now more than ever, leaving the car at home may be a great way to save money in college, and use that hard-earned scholarship money for other expenses besides gas.  While policies to discourage driving have existed for years at some campuses, such as high parking permit prices ($300 is a number I've heard from students at more than one state college) and limiting access to on-campus parking through means such as parking permit lotteries and limiting parking to upperclassmen, many colleges and universities seem to be showing a far greater commitment to making it possible for students to easily get around without a vehicle.

So, freshmen, as you're starting to pack for school this fall, ask yourselves, "Do I really need a car on campus?"  Furthermore, look to see what your new college might be doing to help students get around town.  Is there good public transportation?  Are there bike racks outside campus buildings and bike lanes on campus or around town?  Does your school have a bike sharing program or a bike club or repair shop that will help you with maintenance and repairs?  High school seniors, these might be good questions to ask in your college search.

With our society becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, now could be a great time to propose a fuel-saving plan at your high school or college, as well.  More and more scholarships and grants are being awarded to students who create eco-friendly projects, so if you're sick of having to drive to school and you can propose a solution to the problem, start searching for available scholarships and grants to see if anyone's interested in funding your education, or at least your project.  Saving on gas, looking good for college admissions, and possibly getting some money out of the deal--what's to lose?
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Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

August 14, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

For everyone currently slogging their way through scholarship applications and college placement tests, as well as all of you gearing up for Composition, Creative Writing, or other English-related classes, here's a bit of fun.  Take a break from writing your own bids for essay scholarships and enjoy some really bad writing.  San Jose State University just announced the 2008 winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, an annual challenge to craft the worst opening line for a novel.  Named after the man who penned the famous opening line "It was a dark and stormy night," the competition seeks to give proper recognition to terrible prose.

This year's winner was penned by Garrison Spik of Washington, DC: 

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."
 Submissions are open year-round and people of any age or circumstance in life can enter, but be advised: most of the award in winning this contest is the joy of having your truly awful words in print. The contest is sponsored by an English department, so the official monetary prize is "a pittance" (for those not familiar with what a pittance is, just ask your composition instructor--they can most likely produce a pay stub).  As fun as this contest would be to enter, it's not going to take you very far towards funding your education.

Even if you decide not to try your hand at fiction, perusing the Bulwer-Lytton contest winners could enrich your life in other ways beyond simple entertainment.  See all of those flowery, adjective-rich lines that seem to go on forever with their archaic and polysyllabic prose that looks like what would happen if someone cut the thesaurus apart and taped it back together to form a sentence?  That would be writing to avoid submitting to scholarship essay contests ( poetry contests, too).  While flexing your writing to its full extent is always tempting, there are limits.  When a sentence becomes difficult to read and a metaphor, image, anecdote, or quote is stretched further than it can reasonably go, or plopped down with no clear context provided, an otherwise brilliant attempt at winning scholarships can fall flat.  Even though School House Rock tells you to unpack your adjectives, the Bulwer-Lytton contest reminds us that in some instances it may be wise to leave a few of them put away.

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Social Networking, Your Professors, the Generation Gap, and You

August 19, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Maybe it's just the release of Beloit College's "Mind-Set List," a list of news items, pop culture references, and technological advances that happened 18 years ago and thus have always existed for incoming college freshmen, but the generation gap between the big desk and the little desks in the college classroom seems to be on everyone's minds this week.  As usual, social networking applications seem to be both a tool universities attempt to use to bridge the gap, and a reminder to students just how wide the gap is.

First off, Inside Higher Ed informs us that a new Facebook application called "Schools" is being marketed to universities as a way to allow their students to connect in a safe environment where their identity and school enrollment have been verified.  Included in the application are tools that professors can use in the classroom, such as a name game that allows students to learn their classmates' names.  Unlike other Facebook applications, the university has to purchase and implement "Schools," rather than allowing individual students to adopt it.

If this application takes off, and even if it doesn't, more undergraduate students (and probably some graduate students, too) are likely to experience Facebook and other social networking sites as a "creepy treehouse," a term the Chronicle of Higher Education shared with academia in its news blog yesterday.  That crawly feeling you get when your professor friends you on a social networking site, even though you don't have any incriminating photos or information on your profile?  That's the creepy treehouse, built to look like a place for kids to play, but really used by adults.

So, remember when you're attending college this fall that your professors come from a different world, a world where: 

     
  • Seinfeld was a new idea in television and The Simpsons was considered pretty daring, too. Referencing these shows might still seem like a good idea to appear hip.
  •  
  • The Harry Potter books might still be on their "to read" list and it feels like they only added them yesterday.
  •  
  • News that the SAT now has three sections hasn't quite made the rounds.
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  • They can still remember when their school first got computers, when those computers first were connected to the Internet, and many can also remember school being the only place they could get online.
  •  
  • Online courses are a novel approach to distance learning, and social networking tools (like opening a campus in SecondLife) are a novel approach to virtual learing.
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  • Socal networking is for work, not for play, and they have no idea why networking with people you work with is so creepy.
  •  

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