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Are You a Rural or City College Student?

July 5, 2013

Are You a Rural or City College Student?

by Carly Gerber

Let’s travel back in time to the beginning of my senior year of high school when my guidance counselor posed this question: “Do you want to go to a university in a rural area or a university in a city?” The question seemed pretty straightforward to me...until I started visiting colleges. Luckily, I visited many types of schools and the visits gave me an idea of where I would best fit but I soon realized that the answer to my guidance counselor’s question was not as black and white as I thought.

From my experience, I learned that you must be as precise as possible when describing where you want to attend college. Some people believe a city school describes any university near a city, not necessarily in the heart of the city. If you prefer one setting over the other, tell your counselor exactly what you are looking for and they will help you find colleges and universities that match your preferences.

There’s also a difference when thinking about rural schools. The University of Wisconsin - Madison and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are Big Ten schools and can be referred to as colleges in rural areas; after visiting both schools, however, one will realize that they are in two very different locations, as one is in a well-to-do suburb while the other is among the cornfields of southern Illinois. I am not suggesting one location is better than another but make sure understand a college’s location and if its location fits your character.

If you have the funds, you should attempt to visit many different colleges; in fact, I suggest starting as early as your freshman year of high school. I visited a university I had been accepted into, but I would have never applied there if I had visited the school before sending in the application. The simple question my guidance counselor asked me was actually quite broad. If you are met with the same query, take time to research the many universities offered so you can decide the location that’s right for you.

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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Realizing the Truth About a College Education

March 19, 2013

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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Cornell Student Organization Gives Financial Solace to Undocumented Students

March 13, 2013

Cornell Student Organization Gives Financial Solace to Undocumented Students

by Carly Gerber

Undocumented students are ineligible for federal aid or loans and as a result, many of these students have a difficult time paying their way through college. Accruing enough funds to turn a collegiate dream into reality isn’t easy but one appropriately-named student group at Cornell University is certainly doing its part to ease the financial burden.

The DREAM Team is attempting to make the American Dream a reality for Cornell’s undocumented students, thanks to a $5,000 reward from the Perkins Prize. Though the initial plan was to give out $2,500 in scholarships and put the remaining $2,500 to DREAM Team events and trips, the group decided it was more important to allot the entire amount to undocumented students in need. The scholarships will be on the smaller side – the DREAM Team receives a minimum of 10 applicants, meaning that awards will be $500 each – but the funds could help awardees purchase the basic necessities to succeed in college. Every little bit helps!

Cornell President David Skorton is proud of his students for being proactive and has said, “Many of us have lost sight of the important contributions immigrants have made – and are making – to our culture and our economy. Their continued contributions are critical to our country’s success.” Yet, along with encouragement comes negative feedback. Conservatives routinely discourage reform that will give undocumented residents a pathway to citizenship, arguing that allowing illegal immigrants to stay in America will burden taxpayers and increase illegal immigration.

Ultimately, the DREAM Team wants Cornell to expand the financial aid it can offer undocumented students and realize the American Dream for deserving students. Other private organizations are offering similar programs and interested students can find these awards via Scholarships.com. What do you think of the work these groups are doing?

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 Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

How Parents Can (and Should!) Begin the Scholarship Search Long Before Their Kids Reach High School

March 7, 2013

The Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

by Carly Gerber

Though most of my posts have been geared toward college students, this one is for the parental readers out there. Scholarships aren’t only available to high school and college students but to younger students, too: Not many parents know that they can find scholarships for their children who are as young as 10 years old! What’s more, the scholarship programs available to young children aren’t as competitive, since not many parents know to search so early for financial aid.

As a parent, you may think financial aid isn’t a topic to discuss until your child is in high school but you’re not doing your child or yourself any favors by waiting – financial services are available right now! There are just a few easy steps parents can take to receive scholarships for their child. First, see what interests your child and have them join clubs and organizations that will expand on those interests. (For example, if your child loves to recycle and has a natural interest in learning about the environment, have him or her join an environmental group.) Next, add this information to your scholarship search and see where it takes you. Take Avalon Theisen: She began an environmental group at 10 years of age and with her mother Deborah’s help, she’s already won numerous scholarships. Avalon gets to do something she’s passionate about and earn money toward her college education – talk about a win-win!

Like Deborah, search for scholarships using your child’s interests and experiences – you may be surprised at what you find! If your child has already entered high school, however, it’s not too late to find money for college: There are still PLENTY of scholarship opportunities out there that they can compete for. Work with your son or daughter to complete a Scholarships.com profile, build a resume and start funding their college education today!

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

March 1, 2013

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: Casandra Pagni

May 17, 2011

Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Casandra Pagni

by Casandra Pagn

At 18, I was going to be a lawyer. I had the next four years of my life planned out well. I was to attend the University of Michigan, double major in political science and economics, take the LSAT, attend law school, pass the bar and go from there. I even got into arguments with my older brothers when they told me to be open-minded as I left for school. But life took a few turns — some of them sharp — between then and now.

I chose Michigan for its large campus, student diversity, and rigor in academic disciplines. Okay...I confess. At 18, I chose Michigan because of the Big Ten sports. I was ready to see national championships first hand. But as my sports expectations came crashing down, the other things that Michigan offered began to shine. I joined a sorority. I played intramural sports. I went to concerts, saw the Dalai Lama and wrote for the campus newspaper. I followed the hockey team to the Frozen Four. Oh yeah, and I studied, too! I took and enjoyed classes with incredibly passionate professors.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment I knew I was going to become a teacher, but the person I became at Michigan is a more relaxed and open-minded version of the 18-year old aspiring lawyer I once was. I am now the ecstatic recipient of a degree in English and a high school teaching certificate. I am also committed to writing whenever and wherever I can and to making real changes in the way writing is taught today.

As a recent college graduate smack-dab in the middle of a job search, I plan to combine my passion for writing with my absolute love for the college years to bring you weekly posts with tried and true advice, honest perspective and a little bit of humor along the way. As a Scholarships.com virtual intern, I'll be looking back while looking ahead.

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Pre-Semester Planning and Preparation

August 14, 2013

Pre-Semester Planning and Preparation

by Chelsea Slaughter

It’s almost time to start a new semester and getting a good head start on planning will make for a great and successful one. The more you prepare yourself, the smoother the transition will be so here are a few tips on how to prep before the fall semester begins:

  • Buying Your Books: Look up what books you will need for your classes and find out the most cost-effective way to acquire them. There's always the option to rent books or you can borrow them from someone who already took the class. (The books at your on-campus bookstore are most likely the most expensive so let that be your last option.) Also, books listed are sometimes not even used by your professor; in order to avoid wasting money, email your professors and ask if all books are necessary.
  • Choosing the Right Professors: If you are having difficulty making your fall schedule, remember the importance of choosing the right professors. I always recommend that my freshman residents look up prospective instructors on RateMyProfessors.com to decide which ones are best for them. Students leave real ratings and comments and inform others how the professors teach and grade their classes. Taking this extra step in your research can help you chose the professor that's best for your learning style.
  • Knowing the Needed Supplies: Most college supplies aren’t like the ones we needed in high school but you know the basics like paper, pens, binders and Scantron sheets will be on the list. Stock up just prior to the start of the academic year while the sales are hot – this way, you will be able to keep up with necessary tasks throughout the semester.

Always remember that failing to plan is planning to fail. If you start off on the right foot, a good semester will follow!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications major (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, serves as treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

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Who Am I Really?

Creating Your Own Identity on Campus

August 29, 2013

Who Am I Really?

by Chelsea Slaughter

Starting off in a new place with new people can be scary. As young people, we tend to flock together in “cliques” or groups we feel most comfortable with and the majority of the time, the members of our groups share many of the same qualities. It's perfectly fine to have friends but it’s important not to lose your own identity.

When I was a freshman, I had a circle of friends that were “one for all and all for one.” When schedules got hectic later in the year, we had less and less time to do things together but it seemed like every time I went somewhere alone, someone asked “Where are the others?” At the moment, it did not occur to me that I was not known as my own person but instead as a member of “that group.”

As an RA in a freshman residence hall, I was able to witness the same cycle constantly repeating. I am not saying to not have friends or a circle to can call upon but I AM saying that you must remember who you are and what’s important to you. If you want to join a club and your friends are uninterested, you should still go for it! This gives you a chance to meet others who share interests the friends you already have may not.

As the years progress, you will see the importance of having a personal identity on your campus. You will see the difference between “Oh look, it’s that group” and “Oh look, it’s Chelsea and her friends.” This is your chance to transition from fitting in to standing out – it's time to find who you are, not lose who you are!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications major (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, serves as treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

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Finding the Best Scholarship for YOU

June 25, 2013

Finding the Best Scholarship for YOU

by Chelsea Slaughter

The search for good scholarships can be a task, but it doesn’t have to be hard work! When I was exploring the wide world of scholarships, I tried my best to look into ones I knew I could succeed at winning. Here are a few tips for finding your best scholarship opportunities:

  • Search for institutional scholarships. This is always a great starting point: Go to your college or university and check out what scholarships they are offering current or accepted students. Most schools have scholarships for different majors and GPAs – all you have to do is find the one that fits you and apply!
  • Use Scholarships.com and other scholarship search sites. Doing a search on Scholarships.com and other similar sites would put in in the right place to find scholarships that perfectly fit you. Each site contains their own scholarships, plus corporate, private and local scholarships that fit your needs. Doing this weekly will help you find the right scholarships as soon as they are posted.
  • Check with your counselor. Stopping by your counselor’s office frequently can help you get a leg up on other students and find the scholarships that some organizations don’t post online and instead send directly to high schools. If you’re currently in college, make sure you go past your financial aid office to see what’s posted.
  • Consider employers, not-for-profit organizations and religious institutions. Check with your employer, organizations you’re involved in and the religious institutions you attend to see if they are offering any scholarship opportunities. You’d be surprised at what is available to those in the inner circle!

Don’t let your scholarship search become a stress-filled situation; instead, put the most energy in completing the applications, writing essays and meeting deadlines. Have any scholarship search tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

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Is Facebook Ruining Your College Experience?

March 22, 2013

Is Facebook Ruining Your College Experience?

by Chelsea Slaughter

Recently, I read an article about whether or not Facebook was ruining the college experience. A huge benefit to going to college is having the chance to interact and socialize with people from diverse backgrounds but are students letting Facebook keep them from these advantages?

The article states that there is an increased level of “homophily” on campuses. Homophily equates to “birds of a feather flock together” – students are using Facebook to find roommates more like themselves rather than learning about someone with a different background and set of interests. It also allows people to keep so much more in touch with childhood friends and family that they cling to old ties instead of taking the risk to create new ones.

I agree that the problem isn’t mainly Facebook but the students using it! When I graduated high school, I was so excited for my new college experience that I started a group on Facebook called “Jacksonville State University Class of 2014.” At first, it was just me adding people I knew who were going but I also added my JSU recruiter; she added all of her recruits, they added people they knew and the group continued to grow. For the entire summer, I socialized with incoming freshmen about dorm placements, orientation dates and class schedules. By the time school started, I knew a VARIETY of amazing people on campus!

Facebook and other social sites are what you make them – do not allow them to keep you in the same place and hinder your chance to learn diversity and growth! Yes, it’s smart to take caution when meeting new people but don’t shy away from new experiences. Be open, get involved and don’t be afraid of getting to know someone different...WITHOUT computer screens between you!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

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