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by Emily

U.S. News had an interesting piece in their education section last week about the monetary benefits of a college degree.  Citing government statistics and several recent studies, the author related that students who complete a bachelor's degree can expect to earn $300,000 more in today's dollars over the course of their working lives than students who just complete high school.  Students who earn a professional degree, go to law school, or complete business school can expect to earn even more.

A full-time worker with a bachelor's degree makes about $20,000 more a year than a student with a high school diploma, and a student with, say, an MBA can expect to make about $100,000 more than a high school grad each year.  While such annual income disparities add up to more than $300,000 over a lifetime of work, studies citing that figure also adjusted for inflation, the extra money high school grads earn in those first four or five years, and the average cost of attending college for four years.

Another benefit of a college degree is a better chance of landing and keeping a job: the unemployment rate for college grads is half what it is for those who don't go to college.  Students from low-income backgrounds also reap more benefits from receiving a degree, as they're able to land not only higher-paying, but also more stable jobs and better-benefited jobs, and to have opportunities that would not have been available to them otherwise. Going to college can also provide significant academic advantages for your future children.

So if college costs are daunting and you're considering whether your education is going to be worth the price you pay for school, do some research.  You're statistically more likely to live a better life in a lot of ways if you go ahead and earn that degree.  There are tons of reasons to go to college, and also tons of ways to help with funding your education.  Do a thorough college search to find the best and most affordable fit for your educational goals, and then search for available scholarships and other financial aid to help you pay the bill.


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by Emily

Are you addicted to the History Channel and HGTV? Do you love old buildings and local history? Do you want to learn more about or get involved in preservation efforts in your community? If you're a high school junior or senior and this describes you, be sure to check out this week's Scholarship of the Week, the American Planning Association High School Essay Contest.

Two $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to high school students who come up with the best historic preservation plans for their communities. Your scholarship essay should be between 1200 and 1500 words and should closely follow the instructions provided on the APA scholarship website. Not only can you learn about your community, earn scholarship money, and explore a potential career, but if you win, you will also receive a stipend of up to $1,000 to travel to an APA conference sometime during your college career to learn more about community planning.

Prize: Two $5,000 grand prize scholarship awards

Eligibility: High school students who are U.S. residents and are juniors or seniors during the 2008-2009 school year.

Deadline: January 15, 2009

Required Materials: Completed online scholarship application, following the instructions outlined by the American Planning Association on their contest website.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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by Emily

November has been designated as National Scholarship Month for 2008.  The purpose of National Scholarship Month is to raise awareness of the scholarship opportunities available to high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students, as well as the numerous benefits of winning scholarships.

November is also an ideal month to start finding scholarships, if you haven't done so already.  Many scholarship competitions start or end in November, including our own College Health Scholarship (deadline: November 30) and our College History Scholarship (deadline: December 31).  By applying for scholarships now, you're sure to stay on top of those scholarship application deadlines.

Check out our article on National Scholarship Month, which highlights many of the reasons to apply for scholarships.  You might also want to browse the Scholarships category on our blog, where you'll find tons of information about scholarships and the benefits they provide.  Convinced that scholarships are worthwhile, but not convinced you can win?  Head over to our resources section, where you will find tons of advice on scholarship applications.  We dispel scholarship myths, show you how to detect scholarship scams, and even offer advice on how to write a scholarship-worthy essay--complete with tips from scholarship reviewers.

So, do you believe that you can win a scholarship? (Because you can!) Then celebrate National Scholarship Month with us and start your scholarship search today.  A scholarship search on Scholarships.com is fast, free, and easy, instantly generating a list of scholarship awards that are directly relevant to the information you provide in your profile.  We have scholarships in our database for all sorts of people!  Find out about athletic scholarships, green scholarships, unusual scholarships, corporate scholarships, women's scholarships, scholarships for minorities, and many more.  After all, with 2.7 million scholarships and grants to choose from, we're bound to have something that fits you.  And free money for college is always cause for celebration.


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by Emily

For many high school students, graduation cannot come soon enough.  While admittedly, I was something of a nerd, going off to college was the single most anticipated event of my young life.  I couldn't wait for the academic challenges, the new people, and the more serious learning environment.  If someone came up to me when I was 16 and offered me the chance to start community college then, I would have definitely taken it.  So I am definitely a little jealous of students in New Hampshire who may soon get that chance.

New Hampshire is one of three states that have agreed to implement some of the policies outlined by the National Center on Education and the Economy's New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.  The commission released a report in 2006 calling for sweeping educational reforms to address America's slipping international standing in several measures of educational success and workforce preparation.  Utah and Massachusetts will also implement measures recommended to boost the performance of public schools, including raising teacher pay, giving teachers greater (in some cases, complete) control over schools, implementing more dynamic proficiency tests that provide a more accurate picture of students' abilities, and better monitoring and assisting students at risk of dropping out.  The policy New Hampshire is proposing will allow students the option of taking a test after 10th grade and either entering a community college or a college preparatory track if they pass, letting them prepare for college and gain college credits while still living at home, and keeping them from getting bored or coasting through the last two years of high school.

These are only a few of the suggestions found in the commission's report.  While there is some skepticism over how much change will actually take place, many states and schools are showing an eagerness for change. It's hoped that innovations in education will help make more students better prepared for attending college and entering the workforce.


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by Emily

Are you looking for something to do with the rest of your summer?  While scientific research might not be everyone's idea of a good time, putting together a research project could pay off for high school students through this week's Scholarship of the Week.

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology recognizes remarkable talent early on, fostering individual growth for high school students who are willing to challenge themselves through science research. The Competition promotes excellence by encouraging students to undertake individual or team research projects in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology, or a combination of these disciplines. Through this competition, students have an opportunity to achieve national recognition for science research projects that they complete in high school. It is administered by The College Board and funded by the Siemens Foundation.

Students may enter as individuals or as part of a team. Entries are "blind read" by a panel of judges assembled by The College Board and its partner Educational Testing Service. The judges have related expertise to the project being reviewed. They do not know anything about the student; papers are judged solely on the merits of the abstract and supporting documentation.

Prize: In the initial review up to 300 projects are selected as semi-finalists.  Of these, up to 30 individual students and 30 teams go on to compete in regional finals.  Regional finalists receive scholarships of $1,000 apiece and regional winners receive $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for teams.  Regional champions progress to the national competition, where they compete for scholarship opportunities up to $100,000.

Eligibility: All current U. S. high school students are eligible to enter the competition.

Deadline: Applications are due by 5 p.m. Eastern Time October 1, 2008.

Required Materials: Please review the Siemens Foundation Competition scholarship information for complete submission guidelines and required materials.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship search results.


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by Emily

Whether it’s preparing students for college or providing vocational education, one of the purposes of high school is to help students transition from depending on their parents to living in the real world. Recently, more high schools have begun incorporating personal finance into their core curricula, hoping to prepare students to manage the money they make once they move out on their own.

Money management courses have been offered by high schools for decades, but they were often included in family and consumer sciences classes, often with vague and unappealing names like “independent living.” Many college-bound students would regard these as blow-off classes that couldn't possibly relate to their lives, while other students might avoid them out of fear of having their GPA torpedoed by demonstrating inadequate ability to sew, cook, or care for a baby doll.

However, widespread financial difficulties of the last few years have prompted an increased interest financial literacy among high school and college students who are hoping to avoid the mistakes they see their family and friends making. Financial literacy classes have also changed, focusing on a wider range of skills required for modern life, including taking out a mortgage and starting a retirement fund, rather than the checkbook-balancing and grocery shopping skills students may have found themselves learning just a few years ago.

As the value of personal finance education has become more apparent, states and school districts have begun incorporating it into their core curricula. According to the Council for Economic Education, 13 states require personal finance courses for high school graduation, up from seven in 2007, and a total of 34 states now require schools to implement content standards for personal finance education.

Taking personal finance classes in high school can prepare students to make smart financial choices right out of the gate, rather than learning the hard way in college or after. Students with a strong personal finance education may be able to avoid the financial pitfalls that trapped their parents, potentially helping to break the cycle of poverty for some, and helping others minimize suffering from credit cards or student loans acquired in college. Some school districts believe so strongly in playing a greater role in financial education that they’ve started guiding students toward healthier financial habits as early as kindergarten, according to an article in USA Today.

Colleges have also begun putting more emphasis on financial literacy. In the last few years, a number of colleges have added financial literacy courses, while others are offering or better publicizing financial counseling and advising services. One school, Syracuse University, has even tied financial aid to financial literacy for some students, offering grants to a selected group of students if they agree to participate in a financial education program.

Even if your high school or college doesn’t offer financial literacy training, it’s important to educate yourself about personal finance and build money management skills. Learning how to budget, pay bills on time and build your credit score can help you live a better and less stressful life before, during and after college.


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by Emily

Aspiring artists, break out your pens for this week's Scholarship of the Week, the Christophers' Poster Contest for High School Students.  The art scholarship competition, which carries a grand prize of $1000, encourages high school students to create an original poster featuring the text "you can make a difference."  Just by using your artistic talent in two-dimensional or computer-generated art to create a poster, you could be $1000 closer to funding your education, without having to worry about GPA, test score, or financial need requirements.

The Christophers is a non-profit organization founded in 1945 for the purpose of using media to encourage people to make positive changes in their community.  2008-2009 is the 19th year they've helped students pay for school through this poster competition.

Prize: 1st prize is $1000, 2nd prize is $500, 3rd prize is $250, and five honorable mentions receive $100 each.

Eligibility: High school students currently enrolled in grades 9-12.

Deadline: January 19, 2009.

Required Materials: One 15" by 20" poster and a completed application form, which is available on The Christophers' website.  Posters must include the words "you can make a difference" and be the original work of one student.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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by Emily

As many as 29 percent of state university students and 43 percent of community college students require some amount of remedial education upon enrolling in college, according to the results of a study by the group Strong American Schools.  The report, entitled "Diploma to Nowhere" was released Monday, and addresses the financial costs of remedial education (as high as $2000-2500 per student), as well as the psychological impact on students.

The study stresses the necessity of appropriate college preparation for students, which includes taking challenging courses and learning study skills in high school.  The results clearly indicate that good grades and the basic college preparatory high school curriculum are not always an indicator that students are ready to tackle the challenges of attending college.  As many as four out of five students in remedial courses maintained a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, showing that even those who did well in high school weren't prepared for the kind of work students should expect in college.

While the report encourages educational reform and high school curricula that more closely match college standards, change can be slow in coming.  High school students beginning the college search should be aware of the possibility of struggling in school or even having their stay in college prolonged by extra course requirements.  The earlier you start the college planning process, the better, so start pushing yourself as early as your freshman year.  Enroll in the most challenging courses possible, such as Advanced Placement or dual-credit classes, especially in areas like English and math, and avoid just coasting through your last year or two of high school.

More challenging coursework can lead to a lower GPA, but your impressive resume, your reputation as a hard worker, and your improved reading, writing, math, and study skills will likely make up for any difference in the long run.  Being more adept at math, science, and writing can also increase your chances of winning scholarships, as your skills outshine those of your competitors who took the easy way out.


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by Emily

The National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC) plans to address questions of early decision admission and the role of standardized testing in the admission process in panels during their annual conference this week.  In preparation, they have released the results of a survey showing that early decision admissions had begun to fall, as well as commentary on the state of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) in college admissions.

A special panel convened by NACAC released a statement suggesting that standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT may play too prominent a role in college admissions.  While the report emphasizes that standardized tests can play an important role in the admissions process, especially in helping students choose which schools may be a good fit for them, it also declared the importance of avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach to testing.  This position represents a shift from previous NACAC commissions' stances on standardized testing.

Another survey released this week by NACAC highlighted other shifts in college admissions, namely a slowing of the increase in early decision admissions as compared to previous years.  Many schools are giving students going through the college application process the option to make a binding committment to attend that college if accepted in a process known as early decision.  Critics argue that this puts poorer students who are unwilling to commit to attending a college without receiving their financial aid package at a distinct disadvantage in being considered for admission.  While many colleges still are embracing the idea, this shift in figures could show some hesitation on the part of admission offices or students regarding the still-controversial issue.

Additionally, the survey illustrated some doubt regarding a new practice of priority applications, which are sent to students based on a variety of criteria and are already partially completed.  Priority admission applications are sent by the school, rather than requested by the student, and are typically sent out based on prior contact with the admissions office, test scores, or geographic location.  Only 4% of these forms, which occasionally come with an application fee waiver, are sent to students based on economic status.

Other survey results showed that more students seem concerned with ensuring they make the right college choice, and that most students who apply to schools are given the opportunity to go to college.  An increasing number of students are applying to more than seven colleges, and that about the same number of students as the previous year applied to more than three schools.  Nationally, 68 percent of students who apply to colleges are admitted.  Online applications also continue to gain popularity.


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by Emily

High school seniors in a school district in Texas will receive $1 million in scholarships after their district was named the winner of this year's Broad Prize for Urban Education. The award is offered annually by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and is designed to reward notable gains in student achievement and in narrowing the achievement gap for poor and minority students. Aldine Independent School District, which serves the Houston area, won the top prize this year, after having previously been a runner up for the prize three times.

The Broad Foundation names five finalists each year and from them, chooses a winner for the $1 million Broad Prize. This year, the other finalists were Broward County, Florida (a two-time finalist); Long Beach, California (a former winner and three-time finalist); Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas; and Gwinnet County Public Schools in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Aldine won the prize based on a number of factors. The Broad Foundation cited the district's gains in breaking "the predictive power of poverty," as the district's predominately low-income students outperformed peers of similar backgrounds on state standardized tests. The achievement gap for both low-income and minority students has been closing at Aldine, with a 14-point reduction in the achievement gap for African-American middle schoolers in math over the last four years. Other successes included Aldine's recruitment of highly qualified teachers, engagement with students, and districtwide standardization of education practices and curriculum (many poor families move around within the district, so making what is taught in each grade more uniform across the district helps them keep from falling behind).

The scholarship awards will help further the success of graduates from Aldine, with $20,000 over four years going to students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities and up to $5,000 over two years going to students who enroll in community colleges. Students at other finalist schools will also receive scholarship money: each of the prize's four finalist districts will receive $250,000 to award to their high school students.


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