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Students Protest College Costs

February 20, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

This week, several groups of students have decided to take a new approach in attempting to reduce their college costs.  Students in Minnesota and South Carolina both held rallies at their state capitols this week to try to influence their state legislature's decisions regarding their schools.  Meanwhile, students at New York University have barricaded themselves inside a building on campus, refusing to come out until the university meets their list of demands.  Each group has different requests, but most come down to money.

More than 200 students from state colleges and universities in Minnesota protested outside the State Capitol Wednesday.  Many held signs stating their anticipated student loan debt (answers included $38,000 and "too much" according to an article in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune), while others gave speeches and encouraged their legislators to reject the governor's proposed budget cuts to higher education.  Several legislators expressed solidarity with the students, and a newly formed student group plans further protests.

Students in South Carolina also urged their state legislature to make college funding a spending priority, though their actions were largely in protest to a proposed state tuition cap.  Students expressed concern that their universities may need to sacrifice educational quality by cutting faculty or course offerings to deal with reduced funding.  Students were concerned they'd wind up getting less for their money and possibly paying more money over time by taking longer to get the classes they needed to graduate.  They urged the legislature to leave the power to set tuition in colleges' hands.

New York University had the most radical student protest and the lengthiest list of demands, with a small group of students taking over a cafeteria and demanding greater accountability and transparency in the university's budgeting process.  The NYU students also wanted a tuition freeze, a union and better benefits for graduate student assistants, and according to one sign, "enough financial aid" for all students, among other things.  The students and the university have been in an ongoing standoff since Wednesday night, with crowds of up to 300 students gathering outside the occupied building at one point yesterday.

Whether student rallies, protests, or sit-ins are the best means of funding your education is debatable.  Students with activist inclinations who seek other routes to paying for college with better odds of immediate success should consider doing a scholarship search.  There are numerous scholarship opportunities for students who are involved in their communities and interested in bringing about change, and they don't require presenting anyone with a list of demands.

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New Book Explores Student's "Domestic Study Abroad"

March 26, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

One much-discussed aspect of the college experience is gaining exposure to new people and perspectives.  Another statement that commonly turns up in the college search process is that different schools serve different groups of students--hence the importance of finding a good fit for you.  Many of the most recognizable and commonly referenced differences are based at least in part on the race, gender, socioeconomic status, or country of origin of a college's student population.  A college's mission and ideological and cultural base also play an important role, and exposure to ideological and religious diversity can also be a major component of the college experience.

One student at Brown University recently turned his experiences with such ideological diversity into a book, entitled "The Unlikely Disciple: a Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University."  The author, Kevin Roose, decided to go on a "domestic study abroad" and enroll at Liberty University, a conservative Christian college, for a semester.  What emerges is, at least according to early reviews, an interesting and balanced look at Liberty from an outsider's perspective, as well as an honest exploration of the author's reactions to his new environment.

If you're in the process of choosing a college, or you're just curious about how wide-ranging the student experience can be in America, this book sounds like an interesting read.  Roose's story is also a reminder for current college students that you don't necessarily need to go to an exotic locale to be exposed to people with a cultural experience markedly different from your own.  Though study abroad occasionally can sound like an expensive and protracted sightseeing trip, Roose's "domestic study abroad" is a reminder of the importance of seeing and experiencing a new culture and place and stepping outside one's own ideological bounds.

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Does Facebook Use Affect College Grades?

May 8, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

More material continues to be added to the debate over whether sites like Facebook help or hurt undergraduate students.  Last month, preliminary research by a graduate student at Ohio State University caused a stir by suggesting that the use of social networking websites was somehow connected to lower college grades. Now, a new study published by researchers at Northwestern University, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania suggests that if anything, Facebook users have higher grades than students who do not use social networking sites.

While both studies are very preliminary, their findings have sparked a great deal of discussion and debate.  Many professors and some students regard sites like Facebook as distractions from coursework and assaults on students' attention spans.  Others see no harm and a great deal of benefit from being able to connect with peers and share ideas and information more easily online.  Some instructors have even incorporated social networking into their curricula and have encouraged students to friend them online.

Social networking sites are becoming an increasingly large part of the lifestyle associated with attending college, and are increasingly being used as tools in college admissions, as well.  Do you use any of these websites?  Have you seen any connection between your internet habits and your grades?

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Colleges Rethinking General Ed Requirements

May 19, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

A large part of attending college is gaining exposure to new ideas outside your area of study and acquiring a broad base of knowledge and critical thinking skills along the way.  Traditionally, colleges have pushed students towards this goal through the use of general education requirements, which are rarely met with uniform enthusiasm.  English majors may dread the mandatory laboratory science class, while future engineers may fail to see the point in spending two semesters learning MLA citation style and how to write an argumentative essay.  Other students complain that general education requirements leave their college experience feeling disjointed and not directly connected to their working life. While they may eventually have the chance to draw on knowledge, experiences, or methods of inquiry from all of their classes, many students fail to see how when staring a list of required introductory courses in the face.

Colleges are aware of these concerns and many are beginning to rethink general education requirements, according to survey results highlighted recently in Inside Higher Ed. A number of colleges are studying general education requirements and desired learning outcomes, starting by identifying goals and asking students what they're taking from their courses.  Others are implementing new course requirements to expose students to a variety of disciplines beyond what they would normally get from introductory courses in their first two years of college.  More focus is also being placed on integrating a student's courses into the focus of their degree and career goals with the hope that students will be able to tie these lessons together and bring a more well-rounded approach to their major.

With renewed focus on college costs, the time it takes students to earn a degree, and the value of a college degree in the working world, the attention being paid to these courses seems timely. As many schools begin reevaluating or restructuring general educuation requirements, it's likely that the college experience of today's high school students will be different from not only that of their parents, but also that of today's undergraduate students.  What do you think of required general classes? Does the system need to be changed?  Don't just limit yourself to blog comments! If you're attending college right now, check out this year's Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship for a chance to win $1,000 by weighing in on this topic.

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Students Choosing Internships off the Beaten Path

May 28, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

College students and recent graduates across the country are currently starting summer internships. Whether paid or unpaid, the internship can be an integral part of the college experience, as well as a chance to earn college credit for doing something you hopefully want to do. Internships are one of the best ways to hone major-specific job skills and gain valuable experience in a potential career.  For some students, though, summer internships are also a way to gain exposure to an entirely new line of work as well as hands-on experience with movements or industries they support.

The New York Times reports a growing summer internship trend is organic farming, with many students from disparate backgrounds signing up to grow crops or raise livestock on small farms across the country. While farming internships are traditionally seen as the province of agriculture students from rural state universities, students on both coasts, including many at small private colleges, have begun to take interest in these programs as well, thanks largely to a growing interest in sustainable agriculture.  Students who support organic farming and want to learn more about the industry first-hand can spend a summer working with plants and animals, as can students who just want a change of pace from their usual college lifestyle.  An agriculture internship could bring students with urban or suburban backgrounds a change of perspective, and also some fodder for green scholarship applications.

If farming isn't your thing but you're intrigued by the idea of taking an internship in a field outside your major, options abound.  While some internship programs may require a relevant major or course experience, others may just want students with a genuine interest in the job.  Think about the things you'd like to do and jobs you'd like to try out and see if any internship opportunities exist in those areas.  While these experiences may not directly lead to a job placement at that business (although this is no guarantee with traditional internships, either), they could lead to new experiences and a more diverse résumé, which could in turn lead to job offers down the road.

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Three Universities Subpoenaed in Admissions Investigation

June 19, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Want to get into college but don't have the best grades?  Consider making friends with some prominent politicians, then apply in Illinois.

Earlier this month, The Chicago Tribune revealed the existence of a special admissions list at the University of Illinois main campus that consisted of politically connected applicants.  Now, records from University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University have been subpoenaed in the ongoing federal investigation of corruption charges against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Investigators want to determine whether Blagojevich recommended candidates for admission into state colleges in exchange for money or favors.

While going for the wow factor of a big name is an understandable strategy when it comes to letters of recommendation, it looks like more may have been going on with some applications in Illinois. There are concerns that some well-connected applicants received extreme advantages in admissions, in some cases getting in seemingly solely based on who they knew, even over the objections of the admissions officials reviewing their college applications.  The University of Illinois has suspended its special admission list and claimed to have not followed practices out of line with what other colleges do in considering applications.

The practice of relying on political connections in the college application process is not unique to Illinois, but in light of recent scandals in the state, it is garnering a lot of attention.  Using clout to get into college is still a  highly contentious practice in any case, whether the applicant is connected to university officials or state government figures.  Hopefully, this scandal will influence colleges to think twice before overlooking merit in favor of connections in future admissions decisions.

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Cuomo Subpeonas Lenders Over Marketing Tactics

October 12, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

The battle to offer students the best chance of getting out of college with both a diploma and a fighting chance at earning a living wage while paying off their student loans continues. Even those who have already reached an agreement with the New York attorney general are being subpeonad for what Cuomo terms "deceptive corporate marketing practices".

It is difficult to say whether students deserve special consideration with respect to corporate marketing practices, which, it seems to me, have been deceptive by definition for at least the last four or five decades without being placed under this kind of scrutiny. Shouldn't everyone be entitled to marketing that is not deceptive? Or should we all just continue to accept that marketers are not your friends and they tell you what they need to in order to get you to buy what they want to sell?

Of course, the initial scope of the investigation was and remains critical, as every student should be able to assume that their advisor, regardless of the institution they attend, is not a marketer. It is vital that those in the financial aid offices in all of our schools give only objective information to students that will get them through school with as little debt as possible.

Of course, there are those who claim Cuomo's crusade will ultimately harm students by causing them to distrust their advisors when the majority of them have been giving, and continue to give, good, objective advice. While I believe this to be true, I also believe it is never a bad idea to do independent research on something so important and that this statement is condescending, to say the least. Apparently students across the board, if forced to research loans for themselves, will fare poorly and pay more in loans than if they listened to those at their college or university financial aid office. In this argument it is never considered a possibility that, given the opportunity, a student and his parent might find the best possible solution to funding their education. If I were an aspiring college student or a parent of such a student, I would find this very insulting.

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Choosing a College Major

October 16, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

When it’s time to starting making solid decisions about enrolling in college, many people have questions about how to choose a college major. Selecting a college major is a personal decision that involves you to spend time reflecting on your goals, likes, dislikes, skills, and aptitudes.

Selecting a college major is an important decision, and it is not one that should be made lightly. It is important to remember, however, that declaring a major is not an irreversible decision. It is not uncommon for college students to change majors one or more times after they enroll in college.

Some factors to consider when selecting a college major include:

  • What type of career can you see yourself in?
  • What type of work do you enjoy?
  • What are your interests?
  • Which subjects did you enjoy studying the most in high school?
  • If you completed a career assessment in high school, what did the results indicate? (If you have never taken such an assessment, consider taking a college major test before selecting a program of study.)
  • What type of skills do you have?
  • Do you have any hobbies that you would like to pursue as a career?
  • What did you learn about what you like and dislike from your past work experience?
  • Are there in-demand career fields in the geographic areas where you would like to live following graduation?

The answers to these questions can help guide your selection of a college major. For example, if you held part time positions in retail while in high school and you absolutely hated the work, you can immediately scratch retail management off your list. However, if you enjoyed the part of the job that involved setting up product displays, you might seriously want to consider a major in visual merchandising. Of course, once you have all the answers to the "What" to study and "Where" to go to school, you should go to Scholarships.com for the answer to "How" am I going to pay for all of this?!?!

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Posted Under:

College Culture , Tips



Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Major

October 17, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

There are many factors to consider when choosing a college. Part of a successful college search process involves thinking about your school preferences and career plans, and identifying colleges that meet your needs.

Questions to ask yourself that can help with choosing the right college include:

  • What do I want to major in?
  • Am I 100% certain about my major, or is there a possibility that I might change majors?
  • Will I be benefit from starting out in a 2-year college?
  • Will I be comfortable at a large university?
  • Is a faith-based college a good choice for me?
  • Is a private college a good choice for me?
  • How much can I afford to spend on college?
  • What are my options for paying for college?
  • Do I plan to work while attending college?
  • What geographic area do I prefer?
  • Will I live on campus, with my parents, or in an off-campus apartment?
  • Will I be happier at a co-ed or a single gender campus?
  • What are my primary reasons for attending college?
  • What type of work would I like to do after college?
  • Is it likely that I will pursue graduate study after completing my undergraduate program?

The Scholarships.com free college search can help you locate colleges that meet your needs. The answers to these questions can help you narrow down your list of potential colleges. For example, if you find the idea of attending a very large university overwhelming, you can narrow your college search to smaller schools. If you want to live with your parents while attending college, you can narrow the list to include only schools within an easy commuting distance of your home.

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Posted Under:

College Culture , Tips



Lack of Sleep Sets Back Student Cognitive Levels

October 17, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

Students aren’t getting enough sleep—nothing new here. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of high school students reported extreme daytime sleepiness. And how can you blame them? Anyone with high ambitions knows what it takes to get into a good college. Balancing extracurriculars with school and a social life can seem like a juggling act, but many feel that it’s the only way to reach goals. 

Regardless of what teachers say, many students are certain that staying up to study will get them better test scores than extra zzzs would—myself included. Students are just too busy to study earlier. Okay, okay, maybe putting things off and surfing the net has something to do with it as well. But procrastination makes today’s students no different from those of generations past. Unfortunately, current generations feel that not studying must be followed by intense late-night sessions.  According to an article in New York magazine, kids today sleep one hour less than they did 30 years ago.

As you may imagine, nothing good can come of that. Lack of sleep has been linked to depression, weight gain, an increase in cases of ADHD  and, of course, poor school performance—even if we beg to differ. According to the article, studies of sleep-deprived students have consistently shown they don't perform as well as do student who get sufficient sleep. In a recent trial, a group of sixth-graders intentionally deprived of sleep performed as well on exams as average fourth-graders. That’s a two year decrease in cognitive ability. By one estimate, sleeping problems can hurt a child’s IQ as much as lead exposure! If that doesn't send us back to bed... well, let's just hope it does.

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Posted Under:

College Culture , High School



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