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Are Online Classes Right for You?

by Mike Sheffey

Hey everyone! Thought I’d talk about online classes this week. People typically opt for online classes to free up some space in their schedules during the academic year. You can take them during the summer or simultaneously with your regular classes to knock out some credits. You can also seek out courses not typically offered at your college or university. The benefits of online courses, in my opinion, greatly outweigh the negatives...but I’ll let you readers sort it out.

Benefits

Negatives

  • Being independent, there is less of a chance of study groups and working with others.
  • Sometimes people do not take online classes with the same seriousness as regular classes when they should be treated as such.
  • There’s a lot of time spent on the computer – to those with Facebook addiction and problems focusing, it could be a challenge.
  • There is much more distance and more hoops people have to jump through to get help in these classes. That’s not an issue for more independent students but those who frequent help sessions or their professor’s office hours with questions might find it difficult.
  • Online courses are much more objective in nature. If you rely on the participation portion of grades and partial credit on tests, these courses might prove difficult.

I personally believe that if you have the chance to get ahead through online classes, you should take it. College can be tough and anything to ease your workload in the future is a plus.

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

September 12, 2007

by Paulina Mis

The terms "weighted" and "unweighted" get thrown around a lot when students reach their senior year of high school. Scholarship providers, grant providers, employees and colleges are frequently unified in their interest in a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). They are not as unified in the GPA format they would like to see.

This is what is they mean when they ask for your weighted or unweighted GPA.

Weighted GPA

Many schools offer accelerated and Advanced Placement (AP) classes to students who show academic merit. To distinguish an “A” in the advanced geometry class from that in the regular one, schools often assign a different point system to harder classes. They may, for example, bump up a student’s grade by .5 points if the class they took was accelerated.  Therefore, a student with three “Bs” in a regular class may have a 3.0 GPA while one with three “Bs” in advanced classes may have a 3.5 GPA. If a student takes only accelerated classes and their school bumps up each accelerated grade by one point, they may potentially earn a 5.0 GPA. The weight a school assigns to each class varies, and straight “A” students can graduate with different weighted GPAs depending on the school they attended.

Unweighted GPA

The unweighted GPA is the average of all class grades based on a 4.0 scale. If the student earned an “A” in an advanced English class, the unweighted grade would still be a 4.0-- the corresponding number on standard grade conversion charts--instead of, for example, a 4.5. Regardless of class level, each class is graded on the same point system. Things can get a bit confusing when schools have an unweighted scale but still offer and “A+” that is worth 4.3 points. While still unweighted, this GPA is higher than a 4.0.

Generally, however, an unweighted GPA peaks at 4.0.  Students who have taken accelerated classes may have lower GPAs on this scale, but those who have a regular schedule may fare better in class rank once everyone is on the same playing field. Because the weight a school attaches to each accelerated class varies, an unweighted GPA allows schools and award providers to see a student’s performance on the same scale, regardless of the school they attended. Unfortunately, additional efforts exerted in advanced classes may not be as visible.

At Scholarships.com, students are asked to state their GPAs on a 4.0 scale. Students who received anything above a 4.0 should record their GPA as 4.0. If a scholarship provider asks the student for GPA information, they may then offer in-depth information.

Posted Under:

College Culture , GPA , High School


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by Paulina Mis

The debate on whether ACT and SAT scores are an accurate tool for assessing student abilities has been going on for years. Even though recent studies found SAT scores to be less effective in predicting long-term college success than was previously thought, dealing with these tests is still pretty much unavoidable. Until standardized tests are out of sight and out of mind, students should do their best to get acquainted with them. Below is a sampling of average college SAT and ACT scores as reported by the Department of Education. To find more college ACT and SAT scores, information about estimated costs of attendance, and the number of applicants at schools across the U.S., check out our college search.

Arizona State University

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 480 Reading: 600 English: 19 English: 26
Math: 490 Math: 620 Math: 20 Math: 27
Writing: Writing: ----- -----

College of William and Mary

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 620 Reading: 730 English: 29 English: 33
Math: 620 Math: 710 Math: 24 Math: 30

Columbia University

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 670 Reading: 760 English: 28 English: 34
Math: 670 Math: 780 Math: 27 Math: 33

Harvard University

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 690 Reading: 800 English: 31 English: 35
Math: 700 Math: 790 Math: 30 Math: 35
Writing: 690 Writing: 780 ----- -----

Michigan State University

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 500 Reading: 630 English: 21 English: 27
Math: 530 Math: 660 Math: 22 Math: 27
Writing: 490 Writing: 610 ----- -----

New York University

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 600 Reading: 700 English: ----- English: -----
Math: 610 Math: 710 Math: ----- Math: -----
Writing: 600 Writing: 700 Composite: 27 Composite: 31

Ohio State University

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 530 Reading: 640 English: 23 English: 29
Math: 560 Math: 670 Math: 24 Math: 29

Texas A&M University

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 520 Reading: 630 English: 22 English: 28
Math: 560 Math: 660 Math: 23 Math: 28
Writing: 500 Writing: 610 ----- -----

The University of Texas at Austin

SAT 25th
Percentile
SAT 75th
Percentile
ACT 25th
Percentile
ACT 75th
Percentile
Reading: 530 Reading: 660 English: 21 English: 29
Math: 570 Math: 690 Math: 24 Math: 30
Writing: 520 Writing: 640 ----- -----

Posted Under:

College Costs , GPA , High School


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Tour de Scholarships.com

December 19, 2007

by Paulina Mis

The whole “college graduates earn $1 million more than non graduates over their lifetime” stat is getting a bit trite. I’ll give you a few more if you’re not convinced that college is a worthwhile investment.

College graduates enjoy greater career security

College graduates can offer their children a more secure financial future

College graduates are healthier

College graduates are more likely to contribute to society

Anyway, you get the picture. The problem isn’t that the whole “follow your dreams” thing makes no sense. The problem is affording those dreams and affording the time and preparation it takes to follow them. Most of us don’t make enough money to loll around devoting our days to perfecting our sculpting skills and sharpening our 3 point shots. Even those with less risky dreams can’t always afford to test the waters, especially if the schooling required to get those jobs is too expensive and time consuming. That’s why so many students find themselves having to compromise their initial career goals after realizing their dream jobs won’t allow them to pay off student loans. Let’s just say that the need for qualified teachers isn’t caused by a disinterested public.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be gloomy. I swear there’s a silver lining. Financial aid in the form of government grants and outside scholarships is readily available to students in difficult situations. Without a cloud of college debt hanging over your head, “The Road Not Taken” may suddenly become an option. The financial aid information found at Scholarships.com will help you familiarize yourself with the FAFSA, government grants, corporate scholarships, private scholarships, the ins and outs of student loans and myriad other financial aid opportunities. Whether you’re interested in preliminary information or ready to get down to business by finding scholarships, we can help you do it.

If you’re not convinced, you can take a tour of our site. Visit our homepage, and take a sort of “Tour de Scholarships.com” if you will. We can help you see how conducting a free college scholarship search will help you find scholarships and grants that, based on the information you provide, you're eligible to receive. Find New York scholarships, scholarships for graduate students, scholarships for minorities, poetry scholarships, music scholarships—you name it, we’ve got it. With information about more than 2.7 million scholarships and grants, Scholarships.com offers more than you’ll know what to do with. If you’re not convinced yet, just take the tour. Like the search, it’s free. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a world of financial aid opportunities to gain.


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by Paulina Mis

Close your eyes and imagine it. You’re sitting in math class, struggling to keep your eyes open, calculating how many minutes are left in the day. Then you do some mental math to figure out what percentage of the day has already passed, the only math you plan to do that day.

That is until you're snapped out of you boredom-induced coma by a teacher who tells you that effort pays off, literally. Well it’s not a dream. Some students have been getting paid for good test scores, and the trend is slowly spreading. In a number of Texas schools, students have been receiving money for good scores on A.P. exams, and students in Baltimore will soon be expecting the same rewards.

Through the Advancement Placement Incentive Program (APIP), students can earn a few hundred dollars for scoring well on A.P. exams, between $100 and $500 for scores above a 3. One student earned $700 for the tests he took during his junior and senior years of high school.

According to a study put together by Cornell University’s C. Kirabo Jackson, 41 schools have taken part in the APIP program so far, and 61 schools plan to adopt it by 2008. The report shows that financial incentives have been an effective tool in getting students to work harder in their A.P. classes. Improvements of about 30% on ACT and SAT scores have also been attributed to APIP. 

According to The Baltimore Sun, some Baltimore schools will soon take a similar approach to raising test scores. The Baltimore program will concentrate on improving graduate exams rather than A.P. tests, but the idea is the same; if you do well, you can earn money, up to $110. Like the APIP, the program will focus on assisting and rewarding students who attend low-income, inner-city schools.

Despite positive results and hopes for continued improvements, both programs have been criticized for their approach. Many feel that bribing students into doing well will take away from the purpose of learning and only teach them to expect payoffs for future efforts. More than the Texas program, the Baltimore version has also been criticized for using public funding to pay students. Unlike the Baltimore version, Texas will mostly use money collected from private donations.

Posted Under:

GPA , High School , High School News


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by Paulina Mis

The meaning of that embarrassingly scarlet F on your math test used to be pretty clear; you messed up—big time. While a failing grade still represents a lack of understanding, some schools argue that awarding scores below the 50 percent mark may do more harm than good. Worried that changing their GPA could become an impossible feat for students with particularly low grades, some districts have been controversially attaching a minimum score of 50 to all Fs. Because all other grades are based on a ten-point system, giving students at least 50 points is reasonable, they argue.

According to USA Today, opponents are concerned that schools awarding additional points were unfairly grouping all failing students together.  ED Fields, the founder of HotChalk.com, a websites for educators and students, stated that, “Handing out more credit than a student has earned is grade inflation…I certainly don’t want to teach my children that no effort is going to get them half of the way there.”

Still, numerous schools have gone forward with their plans. The district of Hillsboro, Oregon hopes to ease into their change in grading policies, while a school in Port Byron, New York has already implemented a system wherein computers round up scores below an F. With some assistance, teachers hope that failing students can find sufficient incentive to improve their grades

Posted Under:

College News , GPA , High School News


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by Paulina Mis

Senior year is a breeze right? Yeah right. Between homework, standardized testing, applications and internships, things couldn’t be further from the truth. And for those of you who decide to enroll in advanced placement classes, things could get hectic. But you will get through it, and you can do so successfully. The tips below may help you manage the schedule you have and obtain the grades you want.

Don’t ignore the second semester. After all applications are sent out, once the preliminary acceptance letters are received, it’s easy to breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, AP classes are still in session during the second semester, and pushing through these final months can make or break your scores. Advanced Placement classes require serious effort; obtain the rewards that accompany them.

Prioritize test material. Most teachers will, to some extent, emphasize test material during class discussions. They know that AP classes are difficult, and they want you to succeed on final exams. Take note when you hear that something may show up on the test. Ultimately, you only have so much time in your schedule, and, if you can’t learn everything, at least learn what you need to know to earn a passing score.

AP first.  All classes are important, but AP ones offer college credit potential.  Therefore, when possible, address assignments dealing with these classes first. Once you have applied to schools, your overall GPA won’t be a major issue—assuming it does not drop drastically—but AP scores will. If you can’t give all classes full attention, at least address the ones that can lessen your college workload.

Posted Under:

GPA , High School


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College: The Ultimate Life Lesson

by Radha Jhatakia

There are many things I wish I knew before I started college...or even a year or two in! Tips about what professors are difficult, what dining halls serve the best food and where to find the dorms with the most square footage are quite often available but the biggest tip – which you won’t realize until you’re done with school – is that college itself teaches you how to get by in life.

The process begins before college with the prep work you do. You take six classes a semester in high school when during college you take three to five classes depending on the semester or quarter system. You take the SAT or ACT, which test your ability to take a test itself, not your intellectual abilities. You participate in every extracurricular possible to make your transcripts appealing, only to realize that those activities won’t really matter on campus. All of these tasks are tests: In college, you’ll spread yourself thin between a job, challenging classes, clubs and your social life but thanks to your prep work, you’ll know how to balance it all.

Once you’re on campus, college prepares you for the obstacles and struggles that await everyone after graduation. You’ll take engineering courses, biology labs and communications lectures and complete projects and papers to gauge how well you can apply the material you’ve learned and tight deadlines to help you to think on your feet. Whether you’re finding a way to pay off student loans or trying to secure a job in your field, those seemingly small assignments you completed in college will have prepared you to deal with the real world.

You’ll gain a lot from your college experience – friends, memories, knowledge – but most importantly is your degree, a testimony that you will be able to make it in life beyond those hallowed halls.

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.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Radha Jhatakia

by Radha Jhatakia

Hi all! My name is Radha and I’m one of Scholarships.com’s newest virtual interns!

In high school, I was a well-rounded student – high GPA, honors classes, extracurricular activities and volunteer work...you name it, I did it – but after getting accepted by both the University of the Pacific and the University of San Francisco, limited finances and financial aid prevented me from attending either school. To save money to put toward transferring, I instead enrolled in De Anza College and Evergreen Valley College to complete my gen eds. It wasn’t easy (De Anza was a distant commute and made it difficult for me to take the classes I needed to transfer) but I amassed enough credits to transfer after two years. I didn’t get into my first choice (UCLA) and my second choice (Berkeley) did not have my intended major so I enrolled at UCSB, where I was accepted into the Honors Program and received plenty of financial aid. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned when my transfer status affected my major so I am back at EVC but transferring to San Jose State University in the fall. Whew!

I’ve always enjoyed writing (I hope to write a book someday) and I believe my interest in working with others – plus my excellent persuasion abilities – will lend itself to a career in public relations. Being a Scholarships.com virtual interns complements my goals perfectly: It’s an excellent opportunity to gain experience in something I enjoy doing and since I’m always looking for scholarships to pay for school, writing for a website that helps students do just that seemed ideal. Hope you’ll all enjoy reading my opinions and advice just as much as I enjoy sharing them!


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Dealing with an Uncooperative Group Member

by Radha Jhatakia

Group projects are inevitable in college and at some point, you’ve probably been stuck with a group member who is uncooperative. This person doesn’t do their fair share of work, doesn’t show up to meetings or argues and causes tension in the group. While it’s not fun to deal with, here’s how to make the situation bearable for all members. After all, your grades depend on it!

Set up guidelines when you form the group. Create requirements and state the consequences of not completing the tasks assigned. Also, make sure to state at what point you will drop a member from the group; this is important to avoid carrying dead weight for the whole length of the course.

Approach the problematic member in a friendly manner: They may not realize that they’re being uncooperative and it will prevent him or her from getting defensive. Ask them if they need help getting their assignments done or if the work is too much for them. In subtle manner, let them know that they need to participate more in the group to be fair to all the group members. People will be more willing to cooperate if they don’t feel like they’re being attacked.

If the person is still uncooperative, speak to your professor to avoid jeopardizing your grade and dealing with the stress of a hostile environment. Just be sure it’s a group consensus and you’ve exhausted the other options because your professor will ask you about both before deciding on a course of action.

We’ll encounter uncooperative individuals in college and beyond but instead of stressing out about it, remain calm and try to work the situation out. There is a solution out there – you may just need to come together as a group to find it!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who 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.


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