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AP Courses In Demand in Boston ‘Burbs

by Alexis Mattera

High school students are well aware of the competition they’ll face when they apply to college so they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make their transcripts and resumes stand out to admissions committees. One great way to do this is by taking Advanced Placement classes and as the demand for these courses increases, high schools are doing their part to accommodate all interested students.

Though a Boston Globe review of state data found students at area high schools take AP exams at widely different rates, schools in the city’s northern suburbs have recorded higher rates of AP participation. In Malden, for example, 40 percent of seniors in the class of 2010 took at least one AP exam during their high school careers and the city has even added AP courses in psychology, U.S. government and environmental science to meet the increasing demand. Why? Because administrators are removing barriers. “For lack of a better word, we go after the kids. Teachers, guidance counselors and administrators make sure kids know they have this opportunity,” Malden’s director of guidance, testing and academic support Manjula Karamcheti said.

Are all students succeeding? No, but educators feel the overall benefits of the AP experience can be more important than a student’s score on the test. “When you open up the access, you run the risk of allowing students in that maybe were on the cusp, and I think that’s a good thing,” said Jon Bernard, principal of North Reading High School, where 60 percent of students scored a 3 or higher on their AP exams last year. “Even if the student gets a 2 or a 1 on the exam, I still think they have gained a benefit that will allow them to be successful in their postsecondary pursuits.”

What do you think of this AP for all philosophy?


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Ready. Set. Apply!

Common App Now Live, Students Already Registering for Accounts

August 3, 2012

Ready. Set. Apply!

by Alexis Mattera

Sure, most high schools won’t be back in session for another month but some rising seniors aren’t wasting any time getting back into the academic swing of things: As of Tuesday evening, admissions season officially began with the launch of this year’s Common Application. According to the not-for-profit’s website, 300 individuals registered for Common Application accounts within the initial 30 minutes they were available this admissions cycle, with the first one coming in less than 60 seconds after the launch!

So should you use the Common Application? Seeing as though some of the most selective schools in the country (think UChicago and Columbia) have adopted it, we think it’s definitely worth it if you are applying to more than one school. The online system makes it very easy to complete and submit applications to multiple schools but some colleges and programs do require Common Appers to complete supplemental questions to gauge applicants’ knowledge of and interest in that specific school; these are NOT optional and neglecting to submit supplements means your application will be viewed as incomplete and will not be considered for admission.

Ready to get the application process started? Register for your own Common Application account today!


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Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

One Million and Counting Sign Up for Free Virtual Courses

August 13, 2012

Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

by Alexis Mattera

Since its launch earlier this year, Coursera has attracted its fair share of attention in the higher ed sector: Not only has the company formed partnerships with high-profile schools such as Stanford, Michigan, Princeton and UPenn, roughly one million students in 196 countries have registered for the startup’s free online courses.

Though the numbers reported by Coursera (and also its competitor Udacity, which has more than 739,000 registered users in 203 countries) are impressive, they don’t represent the amount of learning actually taking place. Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng explained in an email interview that the number of active students is significantly lower because many registrations are for courses that have not yet begun and many sign up but don’t end up following through with the coursework. So are students interested in free online classes? Yes, but time will tell whether or not the registered students actually stick with the program.

Have you considered enrolling in the online classes offered by Coursera, Udacity and others or do you prefer the traditional classroom experience?


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Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

by Alexis Mattera

An Olympic gold medal is the ultimate goal for many athletes but when you’ve managed to achieve this feat before even turning 18, what do you set as your next accomplishment? There are usually two options – attend college and perfect your craft or go pro and rack up endorsement deals – but figuring out the "right" choice is becoming more difficult for many up-and-coming student-athletes.

A perfect example is Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom who scored five medals at the London Olympics. She has made it clear that she wants to swim in college but if she does so, she will not be able to take advantage of the potentially millions of dollars in endorsements her Olympic success has afforded her. (The NCAA strictly prohibits athletes from accepting sponsorship and advertising money if they want to maintain their eligibility, though many athletes have petitioned this rule).

A recent article in The Atlantic details that going pro makes more sense for athletes in certain sports – for example, since the level of competition in collegiate gymnastics is lower, gold medalist Gabby Douglas didn’t hesitate to give up her amateur status...and sign a deal with Kellogg’s – but for Franklin, attending college would give her not only a chance to improve upon her already impressive swimming skills but earn a degree and have somewhat of a normal life after her time in the Olympic spotlight. Her choice? She hasn't announced it yet but it's her decision to make. "If Missy Franklin wants to go to school, bravo for her, and nobody who doesn't live inside her heart and mind should criticize it," said sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has worked with athletes ranging from Olympians Brian Boitano and Kerri Strug to pros Troy Aikman and Steve Young.

What path do you think Franklin will follow? If you shared her situation, what would your choice be and why?


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Smile – Scholarships.com's Awkward Back-to-School Photo Contest Has Returned!

by Alexis Mattera

Ah, the first day of school. You meticulously selected your outfit, you styled your hair just right but when you smiled for the camera, all that awesomeness translated into...complete and total awkwardness. It may be tempting to dispose of the evidence but don’t burn those negatives or delete those jpegs just yet: Those images could earn you $1,000 or a Kindle for college through Scholarships.com’s Awkward Back-to-School Photo Contest!

We had such a good time with this contest last year that we decided to continue the fun in 2012. And not only is the Awkward Back-to-School Photo Contest entertaining, it’s easy to enter as well: Simply like Scholarships.com on Facebook and upload your amateur, school-related photo (first day, class, prom, graduation, etc.) to Scholarships.com’s Facebook wall, making sure to tag yourself and Scholarships.com in the image. Following the October 5th deadline, the Scholarships.com Team will post our top finalists and users will have one week to vote for their favorite photo via comments and likes. The person who submits the photo receiving the most votes will win $1,000 and the individuals who submit the second and third highest-scoring images will receive one Kindle each.

Starts: August 27th

Ends: October 5th

Number of Awards: 3

Amount: $1,000 for one first-prize winner; one second- and one third-prize winner will be awarded one Kindle each.

  • Step 1: Like Scholarships.com on Facebook.
  • Step 2: Post your school-related to Scholarships.com’s Facebook wall, making sure to tag yourself and Scholarships.com in the image. These photos must be amateur (i.e., not professionally taken), can be current or from years past and must feature the person submitting the photo.
  • Step 3: The Scholarships.com Team will select the top images submitted and let our fans choose a winner via their comments and likes.
  • Step 4: You may enter as many times as you want but please limit your photos to one per day. Those who do not observe this step or who do not tag themselves and Scholarships.com in their photos will be disqualified. You must also adjust your Facebook privacy preferences to allow Scholarships.com to message you. (This is how we'll notify finalists and winners.)

This scholarship competition is offered by Scholarships.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

For more information and official rules, please click here.


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Despite Its Name, Earning This Scholarship of the Week is NOT Impossible!

The Impossible Ones Movement is Now Accepting Applications

September 10, 2012

Despite Its Name, Earning This Scholarship of the Week is NOT Impossible!

by Alexis Mattera

Application forms. Transcripts. Essays. Letters of recommendation. With so many components that go into an average scholarship application packet, it may seem like earning money for college is impossible...but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a scholarship out there for everyone and our latest Scholarship of the Week – Pencils of Promise’s The Impossible Ones – could be the one for you!

Pencils of Promise is awarding scholarships to The Impossible Ones – the dreamers audacious enough to believe they can change the world and hungry enough to actually do it. Pencils of Promise will award $5,000 in scholarships to students that join The Impossible Ones movement by spreading awareness about the global education crisis and fundraising to build schools in the developing world. Students who fundraise over $100 will be entered to win scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000 weekly until October 31st. Additionally, each student who fund-raises more than $1,000 will be entered to sail around the world on Semester at Sea and receive 12-15 college credits.

Want to make your college dreams possible? Visit The Impossible Ones’ website to learn more and apply. As always, you can find additional scholarship information by conducting a free Scholarships.com scholarship search today!


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College to Offer Course Credit to Gap Year Takers

by Alexis Mattera

Though taking a gap year has yet to win mass societal approval, it is getting a pretty big endorsement from one NYC school: Admitted students who opt to take time off between high school and college will now earn a full year of academic credit.

Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts and Global Citizen Year have partnered to offer incoming students who have been admitted to both programs the opportunity to earn 30 college credits as they support development projects in other countries. Participating students will spend their seven-month "bridge year" living with local families and bettering their host communities by teaching English and working as peer mentors; instead of being one year behind students who started traditional classes the previous fall, they’ll enter Lang as full-fledged sophomores. "There are a lot of worthy learning experiences in life but we don’t give academic credit for them," said Stephanie Browner, the Lang dean overseeing participating students. "I think this is the right way to launch yourself into college."

Lang is the first school to join forces with Global Citizen Year but founder Abby Falik is eagerly anticipating the impact her program will have on college campuses across the country. Would you take advantage of this opportunity at your school? Why or why not?


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The Common App Announces Big Changes

by Alexis Mattera

Show of hands, people: Who has ever applied to college or is considering applying to college by using the Common Application? As the list of schools accepting this document grows (there are currently 488 members), so will the number of college hopefuls opting to use it. It’s incredibly convenient for students looking to apply to multiple schools but future applicants should know that big changes are afoot for the next admissions cycle.

According to representatives from the Common Application, changes – which will take effect on August 1, 2013 – include web-only submission and the removal of the popular "topic of your choice" essay option. Rules regarding the essays will also become more rigid: Students will be required to write at least 250 words but those who exceed the 500-word maximum will face an error message. Lastly, the ability to upload resumes will be eliminated unless specifically requested by a particular college.

What do you think of the Common App’s new approach? Will you welcome the changes or will they deter you from using this application method altogether?


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Free Speech + Free Money for College = Scholarship of the Week!

by Alexis Mattera

Do you think free speech is important at our nation’s colleges and universities? Are censorship of student speech and higher education incompatible? If you answered yes to both questions and are a high school junior or senior, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a scholarship opportunity for you in its annual Freedom in Academia Essay Contest!

FIRE's mission is to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty and sanctity of conscience – the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. At FIRE's core is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them. If you share these beliefs, fire up your keyboard and enter now: Students must submit an essay between 800 and 1,000 words on this year’s topic (provided on FIRE’s website) to be eligible to receive one of nine awards: $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, $1,000 for three runners-up or $500 for four randomly-selected participants.

FIRE is accepting essay contest entries through November 25th. If you are interested in learning more about this or other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Affording College While Avoiding Debt

Schools Eliminate Loans, Educate Students To Be Fiscally Responsible

November 14, 2012

Affording College While Avoiding Debt

by Alexis Mattera

A college education is far from cheap but some students are able to graduate with far less debt than others. How? Scholarships and grants play a huge role in keeping expenses low but some institutions are lending a helping hand by revising their financial aid packages and educating their students on the importance of fiscal responsibility.

Davidson College, for example, instituted a “no loans” financial aid policy in 2007 and now addresses need through grants and student employment. Others, like St. John's College, Elizabeth City State University and the SUNY schools, are doing their part by providing tailored support services to students through graduation - the latter, in fact, have launched a system-wide effort to prevent student borrowers from defaulting on their loans by offering net price calculators and communicating early and often with borrowers.

You can read more about what’s being done to combat student debt here but we want to know if your college (or intended school) has similar initiatives in place. If not, what kind of services and information should they be providing regarding student debt?


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