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Taking Classes with Friends or Roommates

Aug 5, 2011

by Jacquelene Bennett

One of the greatest things about college is making new friends; however, the main goal of going to a university is to do well in your classes and obtain that degree. So what happens when those two college aspects collide? Well, the outcome can definitely vary, as taking a class with a friend or roommate can either be fun or stressful. Let me explain.

Freshman year, one of my roommates and I took an introductory anthropology class together. It was fun to walk to class and gossip about the teacher and the other students later on in our dorm room...but that was where the fun ended. My roommate would often miss class and expect me to get her assignments and take notes for her. We would plan to study for tests together but she would bail at the last minute – and then complain when she was unprepared! In the end, the class became more work and stress than was necessary because I had taken it with my roommate. While it was nice to have a familiar face in the class, her habits interfered with mine and created a bad experience.

Now, I know this is an isolated event and that it is possible to take classes with friends or roommates and have it be a good experience – students do it all the time – but I would advise you all to think carefully before enrolling together. If you do want to give it a try, set guidelines right away, much like a roommate contract but for class. Make it clear that each person is responsible for their own notes and assignments, and define your study habits are and whether or not you want to study together or separately. If you set these standards from the beginning, you should have a fun and productive class experience with your friend.

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.

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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Should You Be an RA?

Aug 4, 2011

by Shari Williams

If you have lived on campus, hung out in the dorms or simply attended classes, you have encountered a resident assistant or resident advisor, perhaps better known as an RA. I was an RA during my junior year while I was participating in the National Student Exchange at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and loved it! It was a great opportunity to save money, meet people and gain personal knowledge.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the perks of being an RA – free housing, a single room, etc. – but not everyone will meet the qualifications. RAs must be very responsible; for example, if someone decides to trash the hallway or throw a noisy party, it’s the RA's responsibility to report the incident and think of ways to prevent it from happening again, even if some decisions they make are unpopular with their advisees. I enjoyed my time as an RA but this position isn’t for everyone. It’s not about the money or free housing – your heart really has to be in it!

During my time at CSUN, I found the housing staff and all RAs to be very supportive, family-oriented, and genuinely care about the students. If that sounds like you, you could be a great RA candidate but here are a few more things you should know before applying:

The Pros

The Cons

RA positions vary from school to school, as do their responsibilities. If you want to be an RA, do your research at your college by asking some current or past RAs about their experiences. To be or not to be an RA depends on you and, if you do decide to take on this role, your advisees will depend on you, too!

Shari Williams is a junior at Towson University with a double major in deaf studies and broadcast journalism and a minor in entertainment, media and film. With experience in public relations, a love for music and a passion for acting, she longs to be a jack of all trades. A Baltimore native, Shari is an avid traveler and opportunity seeker. She hopes to become the next face seen on the morning news or the voice heard over the radio.

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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And Forbes’ Top American Schools Are…

Aug 4, 2011

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, do you know where you want to spend the next four years? Sure, it may still be summer and you’re nowhere near crunch time when it comes to making that decision, but go ahead and get a head start and check out some of the top schools in the country, according to Forbes Magazine.

Every year Forbes puts together a list of the best undergraduate institutions in the country, focusing on areas that matter most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, graduation rates and low levels of debt. Here’s the numerical breakdown: Post-Graduate Success (30%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; Student Satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates; Debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; and Four Year Graduation Rate (17.5%) and Competitive Awards (7.5%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes and the Fulbright. Here are the top 10:

  1. Williams College
  2. Princeton University
  3. United States Military Academy
  4. Amherst College
  5. Stanford University
  6. Harvard University
  7. Haverford College
  8. University of Chicago
  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  10. United States Air Force Academy

For the second year in a row, Williams College has been named as the best undergraduate institution in America. And with total annual costs adding up to nearly $55,000, it’s certainly not cheap but the 2,000 undergraduates here have among the highest four-year graduation rates in the country, win loads of prestigious national awards like Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, and are often rewarded with high-paying careers. Does this information have you rethinking where you’ll apply?

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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Pell Grants, the Debt Ceiling and You

Aug 4, 2011

by Kara Coleman

If you’re one of the more than nine million undergrads who depend on Pell Grants to pay for school, you have probably been pretty anxious over the past few weeks.

This past February, the United States House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution which would slice the federal budget drastically. One of the programs to be affected by the cut is the Pell Grant program. The maximum amount of funds available to college students would be lowered from $5,550 to $4,705 and the changes were set to take effect for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Students were able to breathe a sigh of relief when the Pell Grant program, which has long received bipartisan support from the Senate, was able to avoid major cuts after all. The debt-ceiling bill passed earlier this week will limit overall discretionary spending to $1.043 trillion in the 2012 fiscal year. Since that’s about $7 billion below the current level of spending, how will students be able to receive their maximum Pell Grants? Grad students will be the ones taking the hit. At the moment, graduate students with federally subsidized student loans don’t have to be concerned with interest until after graduation but under the new plan, interest on these loans will begin to accrue while they are still working towards their degrees.

National Economic Council director Gene Spurling says of the bill, “This is a compromise budget, but one that we believe makes the necessary room for the most important investments in winning the future in innovation and research and education.”

How do you feel about these changes? For those with dreams of advanced degrees, are you already researching alternate funding options for graduate school?

Kara Coleman lives in Gadsden, Alabama, where she attends Gadsden State Community College. She received the school’s Outstanding English Student Award two years in a row and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to transfer to Jacksonville State University in August 2011 to study communications with concentration in print journalism. Kara’s writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children’s book author through Big Dif Books. In her spare time, Kara enjoys reading, painting, participating in community theater and pretty much any other form of art.

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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The Individualized Major: Is It For You?

Aug 3, 2011

by Anna Meskishvili

There’s this really awesome frozen yogurt at BU called Mixx. It’s self-serve with a variety of different flavored yogurts (pomegranate, cheesecake, mango) and toppings (sprinkles, gummy bears, freshly-cut apples). As I made my latest frozen yogurt concoction, I couldn’t help but wonder what if my career plan was as exciting as this? Well, no I’m kidding, I didn’t think that...but I did learn that there are several colleges that offer a “mix and match” for college majors.

My best friend at the University of Connecticut began as a psychology major...then realized her interest in women’s studies...and then this past year discovered her passion for creative writing. Luckily, UConn is one of the many schools that offer this individualized major option. My friend, Dana, is now dabbling is all three fields with her own custom-made course of education.

The ability to specify a major that caters directly to your interest and passions will only be able to help you become an ideal candidate for your dream job. To play devil’s advocate, you will be perfect for a selection of your target positions, but as stated in Sue Shellenbarger’s WSJ article, “Can’t Pick a Major? Create One,” it doesn’t allow you to choose from as large a pool of careers.

This individualized approach to one’s curriculum is much like an exciting and original frozen yogurt swirl: You have to realize that although you may enjoy cheesecake-gummy bear-kiwi swirl, not everyone will be equality thrilled with your secret sauce.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.

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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Illinois DREAM Act Signed by Governor Quinn

Aug 3, 2011

by Suada Kolovic

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a law Monday that provides undocumented immigrants access to private scholarships. The Illinois DREAM Act, which passed the state Senate by a wide margin in May, will create a “DREAM Fund” – a scholarship account funded entirely by private dollars that will provide scholarships to undocumented students seeking higher education.

Quinn called the new law “landmark” legislation. The DREAM Act – which borrows its name from a similar piece of federal legislation – will also encourage counselors to receive training on educational opportunities for undocumented students, as well as open up college savings programs and prepaid tuition programs to all Illinois residents. Unlike the federal bill, however, it will not provide a path to citizenship for those students.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also attended the Monday signing. “Immigrants are a driving force in our city’s cultural and economic life, and opening the way for all Chicago students to earn an excellent higher education will make our city even stronger," Emanuel said in a statement. “I am proud that families and students across Illinois will now have a better shot at the American Dream — which starts with a great education.”

What do you think of the legislation? Should other states follow in Illinois’ footsteps or do you think passing the DREAM Act will only encourage more illegal immigration?

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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What Are My Career Options?

Aug 3, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

When we begin college, we all have ideal jobs we want after graduating. We explore the majors which will allow us to go into these fields and choose schools based on which ones have the best programs for our intended futures. Then we graduate, ready to achieve those goals, but how many of us actually get our dream jobs right away?

While some students are offered jobs in their fields quickly, others aren’t as fortunate. Many recent grads spend months interviewing before settling on something – anything – to pay the bills or realize they can’t do what they wanted with their degree and must gain additional certification or experience. Nothing can guarantee you will be able to do what you’ve always dreamed right out of school but there are ways to prepare yourself for either situation.

Use your college resources from the beginning. All colleges have career centers and counselors who can assist you with internships, jobs and post-college options. Meet with them and create a career plan first semester freshman year instead of last semester senior year. By doing so, you could obtain a job freshman year to help you gain some work experience, serve as a TA during your sophomore year and gain an excellent recommendation letter, score an internship in your field of study during your junior year and continue it in your senior year, then either get a job offer from that internship or at least have a resume or portfolio to present to potential employers who will be amazed with your dedication. Not bad!

If you haven’t found your dream job after you graduate, don’t give up your hope. Everyone has to start somewhere and for most people, it isn’t what they would consider ideal. If you are persistent, work efficiently without complaint and show that you are capable of doing much more, your employers won’t waste your potential.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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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Transitioning from High School to College

Aug 2, 2011

by Jacquelene Bennett

There’s no denying that going to college is a life-changing event but the adjustment from high school life to college life can be a tough one. All of a sudden, you are thrust into a world with no parents and no supervision while surrounded by new people, new responsibilities and new pressures. This can all be very overwhelming but fret not, I am here with some advice to help ease this transition.

First, don’t change your sleeping or eating habits. I know this will be extremely challenging because everyone will be up late talking, hanging out and eating junk food but it’s important to maintain a schedule. If you don’t, you will start to lose focus and gain weight; trust me you do not want either to happen.

Next, communicate with your family as often as you can. My biggest struggle during freshman year was learning how to handle the disconnect I felt from being away from home and my family. Calling, emailing or Skyping to share what’s going on in your lives and telling them about your day can really help ease the homesickness. It worked for me!

The last and probably most crucial piece of advice I would like to give is to make time for yourself. If you are living in a dorm, you will be surrounded by people all the time...seriously, 24/7. While this can be fun and exciting, it can also wear you down and drive you crazy. Even if you just take a walk or eat dinner by yourself one night a week, having that alone time will allow you to not feel so overwhelmed by your friends and roommates.

While I tried to give you the best advice about starting college, the truth is there’s no magic formula. Everyone deals with college life in their own way and once you start, you will figure out what works for you. It may take some time but it will be so worth it in the end. Good luck!

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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Debt Deal Not So for Graduate Students

Aug 2, 2011

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a graduate student or considering graduate school, listen up: The debt deal reached by Congressional leaders and President Obama would make graduate school much more expensive.

According to the agreement, Congress would scrap subsidized federal loans for graduate students in an effort to trim the deficits. These loans don’t charge students any interest on the principal of student loans until six months after students have graduated; if they’re eliminated, some students will have to start paying back loans while they’re still in school. And if that isn’t bad enough, Congress will also ax a special credit for all students who make 12 months of on-time loan payments. The changes would take place July 1, 2012 and would save the government $21.6 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

For graduate students who do qualify for the maximum amount of subsidized loans, this new agreement could tack on thousands of dollars to the already staggering cost of going to school. The reason behind the changes is the theory that the money saved by the student loan cuts would help pay to keep Pell Grants, which so far are maintained at a maximum grant of $5,550 a year for some 8 million poor students. “Full funding for Pell Grants is absolutely essential to fulfilling the president's goal of the U.S. once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020," said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success.

Those considering graduate school, will these changes affect your decision to attend?

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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Making Yourself Feel at Home at a Big School

Aug 2, 2011

by Angela Andaloro

Going to a big school can be intimidating. It’s essentially uncharted territory and most of the time you have no idea what to expect. At Pace University, I share my NYC campus with over 7,000 other undergraduate students — talk about big! Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Many people ask me if I feel like I’m missing out on the college experience by going to a big school in the city. My answer is always a firm “Absolutely not.” While your college experience is undoubtedly influenced by where you go to school and the environment you’re in, there’s one more important factor: what you decide to make of it. So how can you make your big campus feel smaller? It’s simple!

Get to know your surroundings. You’ll learn where your classes are and where to grab a bite to eat as the year goes on but get to know your surroundings beyond those staples. Where can you go if you need a minute of peace and quiet? What’s going on during common hour? Are there any activities that go on every week? When you’re in the know, you’ll feel comfortable.

Get to know people. Don’t be afraid to meet new people! The best way to make your big campus feel smaller is to fill it with familiar faces. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone in one of your classes or to join an organization. There’s so many ways to make new friends and all they require is your willingness!

College is your home away from home for two, four or more years. It’s important to feel as comfortable as possible during this time and there’s no better way to control your school experience than by taking all the steps to making your big campus feel just like home.

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.

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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What’s In Your Suitcase?

Aug 1, 2011

by Jessica Seals

It’s August and most college students realize that summer vacation is coming to an end. This means that we must say adios to sleeping in and hello to 8:00 a.m. classes and afternoon club meetings. Many students are preparing to go back to school now by either buying items for their dorm for the first time or by packing up the things they have taken to college in the past. With three years of collegiate experience under my belt, I have definitely learned the dos and don’ts of packing for college and have witnessed the mistakes students continue to make. Here are a few:

Do not pack your entire wardrobe (especially if you are not going to a school that is far away from home). I made the mistake of bringing all of my clothes even though I already knew that my side of the dorm room could barely hold half of them. Instead of having a closet stuffed with items you’ll seldom wear, switch out your summer and fall clothes for your winter clothes when you go home for a break.

Make sure to have some organization to your packing strategy. Another mistake that I have made is throwing things in boxes without labeling them. My logic was that it’s all going to the same place so why bother organizing? Packing items neatly will help you in the long run because you will know where everything is and you’ll waste less time searching for items you need once you’re on campus.

Start packing early. Don’t wait until the night before move-in day to fill your suitcases and load them up in the car...it’s too stressful! Getting a little bit done at a time will not only leave you more relaxed but will also help ensure you bring only what you need and keep your stuff better organized.

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.

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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