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What to Expect at a Community College

by Carly Gerber

During the summer before my sophomore year of college, I knew I wasn't going back to the college I had been attending. It was too late to apply to a four-year university so I decided to attend a community college before entering a new university. From my experience, here's what you can expect while attending a community college:

  • Academics: Many students enter community college thinking it will be academically easier than a four-year college...but that couldn't be further from the truth. Community colleges are academically rigorous and the professors expected to see all your effort in your work. And if you need help, they have the right resources: My community college offered a writing center and a tutoring center, both of which I visited regularly.
  • Personal Life: A few students I met were balancing jobs, school and families. That’s obviously a lot of work but if students attended classes, did their homework and communicated with professors about their circumstances, many instructors were willing to work with the students to help them pass the class.
  • Community: Despite being part of the name, many students don’t think there will be a sense of community at community colleges. But there is! There were a number of sports teams and student organizations with lots of participation at my school. Plus, the college would have events going on during the school day, like a game of Jeopardy! that would bring students together and lighten the mood on a particularly stressful day.

Overall, I enjoyed the community college experience because it helped me grow both as a student and as a person. For those students who have also attended community colleges, how would you rate your experience?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Sorry, Kid...You're Starting at the Bottom

by Carly Gerber

I was raised in a neighborhood with a top-notch school system filled with inspiring and caring teachers. I loved hearing their stories about working in inner-city schools and how drastically different their teaching experiences were there compared to teaching in a predominately upper-class suburb. My naïve mind thought that my teachers chose to work in the inner-city schools but that was far from the truth.

At the beginning of their careers, many of my teachers could only find jobs in neighborhoods with poor school systems. They described the struggles of teaching in such areas but believed it made their character stronger because they were able to help students who needed it most. Fast forward to the present, where some of my friends are pursuing careers in education: Many of them are complaining that they can’t find teaching jobs in “safe” middle- or upper-class areas, echoing the same struggles many of my high school teachers encountered.

Does this say anything about my generation? According to a recent Time article entitled "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation," individuals in my generation is known to be narcissistic and refuse to take crap from the older generation. Since we’re known to take jobs that “feel right,” we disregard opportunities that don’t measure up to our standards; as a result, we suggest to others that employment rates are low because we can’t get jobs that people who worked in the field for 10 years have acquired.

Though the Me Generation isn’t all bad (I highly suggest reading the article to find out our positive characteristics), I think it’s time my generation had a reality check. My peers need to understand that we won’t get our ideal jobs when starting out but if we put in the proper time and effort, we will climb the ladder of success just as every generation before us had done. What do you think?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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The Perks of Joining the Military After High School

by Carly Gerber

Are you stressing out because you don’t know how you are going to pay for a college education? Joining the military is one way to help you pay for college and build your resume.

After high school, Richard Coughlin decided to join the U.S. Coast Guard because they would pay for his college education and provide many benefits such as health care. Coughlin was enlisted from September 2006 until September 2012 but he chose to extend his service for two years and thinks of his time in the military as a very positive experience. Coughlin spent most of his service in Hawaii, where he trained and took classes that were transferred to his current university. According to Coughlin, military members who complete their service feel lost and confused because they weren’t proactive about their next step; however, the Veterans Affairs office at one university was extremely helpful at transferring college credit hours and guiding Coughlin through the process of attending a university, which is why he chose to attend the school he will one day call his alma mater.

Also, since Coughlin was enlisted with the Coast Guard, he was able to get a job as a dolphin trainer as soon as his service was completed. Normally, a dolphin trainer needs either a bachelor’s degree or a certificate but the process was quicker for Coughlin because he had experience from the Coast Guard. The G.I. Bill requires the military to pay for veterans’ college tuition, books, and room and board, but Coughlin has money from dolphin training that can be used towards personal expenses.

Though he initially joined the Coast Guard to help pay for college, Coughlin believes that his service has helped him land a job and taught him respect and independence he will carry with him for the rest of his life. Have you considered joining the military before attending college?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Advice for Incoming Freshman

by Carly Gerber

No matter who you were or what you were known for in high school, college is a fresh start for all students. With a new academic year upon us (already?!), here are some tips for incoming freshmen on how to make their first year a great one:

  • Be a self-advocate. Your university has all the resources you need to help find internships, jobs, organizations and clubs to get involved with. For example, there are writing centers and tutors that want to help students but it’s up to the students to find the resources they need.
  • Be a student first. It’s important to attend class as much as possible and to create healthy relationships with your professors. If you’re applying for jobs or internships that need letters of recommendation, your professors will be happy to vouch for you if they know you and your work ethic. For students going to universities with large lecture-style classes, it’s still possible to create a relationship with your professors by sitting in the front and asking questions or going to office hours.
  • Start interning as soon as possible. Many students take classes while they have an internship so talk to a career counselor on your campus to learn how you can find an internship. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed during the school year, apply for an internship for holiday break or over the summer. Internship experience on your resume will show employers that you’re a hard worker and have dedication, which are qualities they want in future employees.
  • Pick your posse carefully. During my college orientation, one faculty member uttered that exact sentence. Once I got over the fact he used the word “posse”, I realized his advice is true: Surround yourself with people that make you a better person – you never know how meeting one person can positively impact your entire life so always be friendly and welcoming.

Do you have any advice for incoming college freshmen?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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The Quarter-Life Crisis Epidemic

by Carly Gerber

“When I graduate, where will I work?”
“What if I can’t find a job?”
“What if no one will hire me because I lack experience?”
“Did I pick the wrong major?”
“Should I attend graduate school?”
“Is graduate school a waste of time and money?”

I apologize if I gave you a minor panic attack but these are questions that weigh on most students as they contemplate their lives after college. If you find these concerns are on your mind on a daily basis, you could be having a quarter-life crisis, which, according to a recent USA Today article, is when 20-somethings have anxiety because they question the direction and quality of their lives. Frankly, however, this anxiety is a waste of valuable time and energy so let’s do some crisis management, shall we?

Firstly, recognize that you have only lived one quarter of your life – you still (hopefully) have three quarters to go, which means that some decisions you make now will not affect your future as much as you think they will. We are ever changing and the interests we have now may not hold true in a few years.

Secondly, let go of how others measure success and measure success on your own terms. Joining new clubs and organizations or becoming involved in an alternative spring break are ways you can find contentment and purpose.

Lastly, talk to someone! If the anxiety is constantly weighing on you, you may want to consult a parent or teacher who has more life experience than you. Remembering that you’re not alone and finding someone who has been in your shoes and has moved past the anxiety you’re feeling will help you get through your rough patch.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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How to Switch Your Major

February 19, 2013

How to Switch Your Major

by Carly Gerber

Choosing a major is quite possibly one of the hardest decisions to make in college. We all have our different stories of how we chose our major – many of my friends chose their major because it was the easiest college to get into at the university while others selected their major because their parents thought the field would yield the most opportunities after college – but what happens when you want to switch majors?

I’ve switched majors three times so I know the situation can be stressful. If you’re no longer enjoying your original major, the idea of attending another class in that field may feel like it’s going to send you over the edge but keep calm. First things first: What’s your new dream major? Only you know what interests you so don’t let others influence your decision. Once you’ve answered this question, do all the research you can to learn how to get into the program. Some universities make you apply to each college while others let you freely move from college to college. Each university is different so be sure to meet with an adviser if you have any questions.

Next, start the transfer process. Hopefully you do get into the college of you dreams but if you don’t, I promise the world won’t end! Life’s setbacks can open many new doors but I would highly suggest not continuing to major in something that doesn’t interest you – you’re the one who will have to attend those classes...not your friend, your aunt or your mom. This may also be your time to reconsider college in general...maybe you don’t just want to switch majors but transfer universities entirely!

Finding the right major is about knowing what you will enjoy and knowing what you can use later on. That leaves every major known to mankind as a possibly!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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The Perks of Public Ivies

by Carly Gerber

Some of you may be striving to gain acceptance to an Ivy League school and that’s very admirable – they are some of the best schools in the world! – but there’s another group of universities that may interest you as well: the public ivies!

The Public Ivy League consists of the College of William & Mary, Miami University, the University of California (campuses as of 1985), the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UT Austin, the University of Vermont and UVa. These schools rival the eight Ivy League schools in academic excellence, attraction of superstar faculty, competition for the best and brightest students, appearance and rich history but with lower sticker prices. (If you live in a state where there is a public ivy, then the tuition price goes down even further.) Many of the public ivies are regularly ranked among the top schools by U.S. News & World Report; their graduate programs in business, education, engineering, law and medicine are also highly ranked.

If you are an athlete, you may want to consider the public ivies because, unlike Ivy League schools, they award athletic-based scholarships. (Ivy League athletes may receive scholarships and financial aid, but not towards their athletic merit.) Plus, they participate in major athletic conferences – think the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC or Pac-12 – that put athletes’ skills on display at the national level and attract interest from professional teams, if that is your ultimate goal.

Public ivies are also great options for students who want the challenging academic environment of an Ivy League school but would prefer a larger campus. By choosing a public ivy, students have access to a more diverse student body, bigger course catalog and wider range of campus groups.

What are your thoughts on public ivies? High schoolers, will you be considering one or more of these schools in your college search? College students, if you attend one of these schools, we'd love to hear how you made your decision!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Carly Gerber

by Carly Gerber

Hello readers! My name is Carly Gerber and I’m the newest member of Scholarships.com's virtual intern team!

I was born and raised in Highland Park, Ill., which is a suburb 30 minutes north of Chicago. I knew I wanted to find my future employment in Chicago and that is why I picked the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for my undergrad education; I am, however, in the middle of transferring universities so I’ll keep you all posted on where this adventure takes me and why I picked my new school!

I am currently studying elementary education at U of I but my new goal is to pursue journalism because I love learning and sharing new information. In my spare time, I enjoy being with my family and friends, watching anything on HBO or Showtime and blogging about fashion. I joined the Scholarships.com virtual intern team so that I could help make life less stressful for college students because, let’s be honest, college is a stressful time! My goal as a virtual intern is to help someone in some way and to be honest – be sure to let me know how I’m doing in the comments section!


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Realizing the Truth About a College Education

by Carly Gerber

During my time at college, I found myself unhappy and unfulfilled. I despised my major and I wasn’t a fan of my campus. This being my second college, I figured it must be that college itself wasn’t for me, so I decided to drop out. I took a few months to experiment with careers that didn’t require college degrees but my choice to leave school kept haunting me.

In the midst of my time away from higher education, I came across a Chicago Tribune article which detailed common misconceptions students have about college....and I realized right away that I was one of those students! Here are just a few points the Trib covered:

  • There’s a misconception that a college degree doesn’t hold any value; like any investment, however, a college degree pays off over time. A college graduate’s earnings rise faster and peak later than the earnings of someone with a high school diploma alone. A college degree is not a guarantee of success but grads do have better odds of finding, keeping and excelling at their jobs long term.
  • Another misconception is that it doesn’t matter where you attend college...yet it’s the most important decision regarding your college career! Getting in is half the battle – the other half is deciding where to attend because that could determine if you stay there and get your degree. In real estate, they say the three most important things to consider when buying a house are location, location, location. The same goes for choosing a college: If you hate the location, it’s likely you won’t enjoy your college experience.

After realizing the true importance of a college education, I knew what I had to do. Recognizing that it was the location of my school and the major I had chosen that were bothering me, I spent my time off figuring out a major I want to immerse myself in and finding a university in a location I can’t wait to live. I’ll be returning to school in the fall!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Light Up...and Send a Student to College?

by Carly Gerber

Imagine a place where every time you bought a pack of cigarettes, you would be funding a college student’s education. In the near future, that place could be California: The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would increase tax by $1 for every pack of 20 cigarettes and the money would be deposited into a fund for financial aid.

The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 has a projected revenue of $800 million but there is an estimated loss of $70 million of proceeds that go to existing resources. The taxes on tobacco that already exist go to programs for tobacco education and prevention, tobacco-related disease research, breast cancer screenings for uninsured women and early childhood education. (The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would still receive $730 million from its excise on tobacco.)

The tax on tobacco that the California Residents of College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 wants to initiate has to be reviewed by the Board of Equalization. The Board’s job is to estimates the impact the tax would have on other programs that already use taxation on cigarettes. Cal State Northridge senior and sociology major Debra Hendricks said she would vote for the taxation because she has lost many people to cigarette smoking and she likes the idea that the money would be used to support students who want a college education. Junior biology major Jessica Fuentes, however, isn’t sure if another cigarette tax proposal would pass but she thinks the financial aid aspect of the proposal makes the excise appealing.

Personally, I think taxing cigarette smokers again is unfair because they are always the ones getting taxed for their activity. I don’t promote smoking but smokers shouldn’t be the ones to shoulder the burden of spending more because of a societal view on cigarettes. Maybe the California tax should be on alcohol instead – the state would make more revenue that way! What’s your view about this taxation proposal on cigarettes?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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