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Find a College (for me)

October 24, 2007

by Paulina Mis

It’s tough being a senior. You have to do homework (at least during the first semester), study for standardized tests, apply to colleges and, oh yes, select them. Counselors do counsel, but let’s get serious; you’re the one stuck with the heavy-duty work. Plus, consulting with them is just one more thing to add to your to-do list.

College information is not that hard to come by if you browse the web like a maniac, but having a source that allows you to compare all data sure makes things easier. The Scholarships.com College Search allows you to do just that. Students searching for college information can visit the site and compare myriad stats on one 17” computer screen. (Adjust size for people who think they're too cool for standard screens---you know who you are.)   Whether you’re interested in a community college, a state university or a private school, we have the information you’re looking for. Start out by searching for a school by area of study, state, name, college type (two or four year) or any combination of the four.

From there, your will be directed to a list of schools that match your criteria. You can sort them by whatever information you’re most interested in: name, location, tuition or school type—from top up or top down. Pick out the ones that are still of interest to you, and find the information you need.

Check out the school’s tuition and fees, its incoming freshman profile, the financial aid offered, graduation rates, contact information and more.  After you’ve narrowed things down a bit, you can conduct a free scholarship search to find financial aid information that can help you pay for your college of choice. 

Your senior-year workload can't be  eliminated completely, but we can do plenty to ease the pain. You could really use the extra time for more important business---like doing nothing at all. Just call us your free personal college finder; we’ll smugly accept the title.

Posted Under:

College Culture , High School


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by Paulina Mis

Stress-free high school, does that sound like an oxymoron to you? Unfortunately it does to many high school students. Teachers are noticing it too, and one has made it a point to publicize his efforts to initiate change. Principal Paul Richards of Needham High School has created a Stress Reduction Committee to do something about these caffeine-wired, sleep-deprived, on-edge teens. 

He has been hard at work teaching students how to relax. He has even invited stress-relief experts to the school—it’s just that students couldn’t fit them into their schedules. That’s why yoga classes are now required for seniors (and hopefully not graded).

But for some unfathomable reason, Mr. Richards has received countless criticism. (For the record, I support you Mr.Richards.) According to an article, the principal received hate mail from across the country after taking the honor roll list out of his school newspaper. That sounds uncomfortably reminiscent of the honor roll list published in my grade school newspaper. We even got to strut bright yellow student-of-the-month pins.

Those who know that Mr. Richards is now working on his doctorate at Boston College may be compelled to say that he’s not exactly leading by example. But he sees things in a different light. Based on the New York Times article, his intent was to assist students in  managing stress and in finding the college that fits them best, whether it be prestigious or not. He encouraged students to be ambitious but reasonable when signing up for A.P. classes. “It’s very important to protect the part of the culture that leads to all the achievement,” he stated. “It’s more about bringing the culture to a healthier place.”

A stress-free high school environment is a start, but changes at the top are imperative for this to really work. If schools continue to be rated and employers continue to value them, it won’t be too easy to change things. A sort of trickle down relaxonomics is in order. And I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but sleep and finals are not much easier to manage in college (assuming that you plan to graduate). Take tips from Mr. Richards now, and the future may look brighter.

Posted Under:

College Culture , High School


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by Paulina Mis

Legislators are often willing to rearrange the budget in favor of students, but the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) may be an exception. President Bush’s plan for improving school standards through regular standardized testing has not received positive feedback from a large portion of teachers across the country. The bill signed into law in 2002 is expiring and will need to be reenacted, or done away with, in the near future.

As far as Minnesota legislators are concerned, the second option is better than the first. Both Republicans and Democrats in the state have been loudly voicing their concerns about the effectiveness of the bill, so much so that they are considering pulling out altogether.

The NCLB mandates that students partake in standardized testing to demonstrate their ability to meet established academic standards, ones that differ from state to state. Teachers whose students don’t meet the grade are held accountable, and schools with poor results may be forced to reassign students to other schools. This is a problem for many educators who feel they can only do so much to whip their students into shape, especially teachers who work in low-income urban areas. The problem has become so great that some schools have been accused of fishing for reasons to expel students whose scores contribute to lowered averages, and in doing so, completely leave students behind.

If it chooses to pull out of the program, Minnesota would be forced to give up some of its funds. According to estimates, Minnesota schools could lose as much as $250 million per year if they choose not to participate. However, legislators claim the state can make up for much of the losses with the money it saves on test preparation. The choice is not an easy one, and more research is needed to clarify the possible repercussions of leaving the program.

Like legislators, Scholarships.com recognizes the influx of passionate responses, both positive and negative, to the No Child Left Behind Act. In an effort to raise awareness and assist students in their search for college scholarships and grants, we have set up the 2008 Scholarships.com Resolve to Evolve $10,000 scholarship. By responding to the question, “Has the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 been successful in fulfilling its purpose,” seven high school seniors will have the chance to win money for college. Another option is to write about the affect rising costs of a postsecondary education have had on students and families and to propose possible solutions for offsetting adverse results. For additional information about this and other scholarships, students can conduct a free college scholarship search.

Posted Under:

High School , Scholarships


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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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Lottery Scholarships

January 25, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Your shot at winning the lottery is not particularly high, but playing is so easy that it’s simply irresistible. Though students should not hinge their entire financial futures on luck alone, lottery scholarships are a fun and easy way to supplement one's scholarship search. Plus, someone has to win. Maybe it'll be you. But before you go lottery crazy, familiarize yourself with the options, and get the facts on lottery scholarships and lottery-funded scholarships (there is a difference).

Lottery Scholarships: There are two kinds of lottery scholarships, ones that are state-sponsored and ones that are sponsored by outside providers, usually businesses. Company-funded lottery scholarships, also known as sweepstakes, pretty much embody what comes to mind when one hears the word “lottery”. Most people are eligible, and the application process is pretty easy; sometimes contact information is the only requirement. Unlike regular lotteries, you don’t have to pay to play. If paying is a requirement, don’t apply; more than enough charge-free awards are available. 

Once the entries are in and the lottery deadline passes, the sponsoring company will choose an applicant at random—think computer generations rather than spinning spheres with name ballots. If you’re wearing your lucky socks on selection day, you just might win.

Lottery-Funded Scholarships: Another type of lottery scholarship is the state-sponsored, lottery-funded one. These scholarship prizes are paid for by the big, jackpot of $50 million, kinds of lotteries. A number of states have adopted programs wherein a portion of the revenues received from lottery tickets are used for education programs (both scholarships and school contributions).  Not all states participate yet, but it’s quite possible that more will jump on the bandwagon. Tennessee, New Mexico, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, New York, South Carolina, Missouri and West Virginia are among those sponsoring lottery-funded scholarship programs.

State eligibility requirements for lottery-funded scholarships vary greatly from state to state, with some states having stricter regulations than others. Usually, students who apply for lottery-funded state scholarships must at the very least attend a high school and college within the state of the program.

Students who apply for certain lottery-funded scholarships must also meet or exceed a particular GPA or standardized test score before applying. For example, only students with a GPA of at least 2.75 may apply for the merit-based Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. 

Other states make financial need a requirement. This may partially ease the minds of people who have voiced concerns about lottery-funded scholarships taking from the poor and giving to the middle classes. According to professor of economics Mary O. Borg, a disproportionately large portion of lottery tickets are purchased by low-income customers. These winning are then redistributed largely to middle class students at the expense of the poor.

To find lottery and sweepstake scholarships you may be eligible to receive, conduct a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.  You can also check out our Scholarships.com "Tell A Friend" $1,000 Sweepstakes contest for a chance to win $1,000 towards your college education!


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by Paulina Mis

The government funds a number of financial aid and mentoring programs, and you are probably—no offense—unaware of most. It’s not your fault. Most students are not well-versed in matters of federal aid because they have not been informed about their options.  Aside from the best-known federal grant, the Pell Grant, most students know little about available federal aid.

The TRIO program (no, this is not an acronym) is one of the lesser-known federal financial aid and counseling programs. It was created to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as those facing circumstances that hinder their academic pursuits. The TRIO program is made up of six different student programs and a training program for TRIO program staff. It not only addresses financial obstacles caused by affording an undergraduate education but also those caused by affording graduate school.

To be considered disadvantaged, students must have an maximum annual income of $15,315 for a one-person family unit, $20,530 for a two-person family unit, $25,750 for a three-person family unit and $5,220 for each additional person. (The income cutoff is higher in Hawaii and Alaska.)

The student programs offered through TRIO include:

Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program- This program was created to increase the number of underrepresented students who obtain graduate and doctorate degrees.  Eligible students who demonstrate strong academic potential are assisted in their preparation for graduate studies with counselor support, financial aid, research and internship opportunities as well as tutoring programs.

Student Support Services (SSS) Program- The SSS program assists students in meeting their basic college requirements. The goal of the program is to increase student graduation rates and the number of students who continue their education. Eligible students will receive help in securing admission and financial aid to four-year colleges and universities, personal counseling, tutoring assistance, career planning and college scholarship information.

Talent Search- Students eligible for the talent search aid are assisted in completing their high school education and attending a college or university. Eligible disadvantaged students will be offered tutoring, career search aid, college information, counseling and mentoring services.

Upward Bound- The Upward Bound program assists high school students in preparing for college.  It awards aid to financially disadvantaged students, students whose parents did not obtain a bachelor’s education and low-income first-generation veterans pursing a college education. Upward Bound projects include tutoring in math, science, composition, literature and foreign languages. Students are also offering counseling, cultural enrichment programs and work-study programs.

The Upward Bound Math-Science Program- This program was created to improve the math and science skills of students and to encourage them to pursue a degree in the math and sciences. Participating students will receive aid with the help of summer programs, counseling, computer lessons and the opportunity to work with college faculty and graduate students on science research projects.

The Educational Opportunity Centers Program- The Educational Opportunity Centers Program is an assistance service for adults who need help in their pursuit of a postsecondary education. Eligible adults will receive personal counseling, information on college financial aid and tutoring aid.


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by Paulina Mis

If you can name a city in the U.S. with no McDonald's, you deserve a scholarship. McDonald’s fast food restaurants are everywhere, and they offer more than three minute french fries. Since its founding in 1985, the Ronald McDonald House Charities has given away $29 million in scholarship money. Their financial aid program offers four different scholarship opportunities. There is one open to students of all races, one for Hispanic Americans, one for Asian Americans and one for African Americans. It's time to set aside the creepy feeling you get when looking at McDonald's odd characters. If the clown is offering scholarships, it's best to take him up on the offer. For more information about this and other scholarships please visit Scholarships.com and conduct a free scholarship search.

Prize:

Most local McDonald's chapters award a minimum of $1,000

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a high school senior 2. Applicant must be under the age of 21 3. Applicant must be a full-time student attending a two-or four-year college or university the fall following the scholarship receipt 4. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or resident 5. Applicant must live in a participating RMHC Chapter geographic area

Deadline:

February 15, 2008

Required Material:

1. A completed scholarship application to be submitted online or by mail 2. Transcript 3. Personal Statement 4. Letter of Recommendation 5. Parent or Guardian IRS Form 1040 (financial need will be considered)

Further details, including information about the application form, can be found by conducting a free scholarship search or by visiting this page.


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by Paulina Mis

The No Child Left Behind act seemed like a great idea at first. The House and the Senate both agreed that the law would help schools pull themselves up by their bootstraps. In a you’ve got to see it to believe it moment, more Democrats than Republicans voted in support of President Bush’s proposal.

Rules mandated by the No Child Left Behind act were set up to pressure schools into living up to scholastic standards.  By 2014, students were to meet stated reading and math expectations, and gaps between students of different ethnicities and economic backgrounds were expected to close. These goals would be achieved by administering regular tests and by holding educators accountable for their students' performance. 

It has been five years since the bill’s passage, and feelings about the law’s success are more divided than ever. President Bush, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and supporting legislators believe the law to be near perfect, but many representatives side with educators in saying that an overhaul is in order. 

Cited faults include shortage of funding, lack of sliding scales and teacher compensation. Many educators were frustrated that score improvements rather than scores were not stressed. They argued that the government spends hundreds less per student each year in poor districts and that poorly-funded schools should not be expected to meet the same standards as better-funded ones. On the other end of the spectrum were those who argued that teachers with exceptional results should be financially rewarded, a thorny issue disputed during a recent Democratic presidential debate.

The No Child Left Behind act is a controversial topic, and Scholarships.com recognizes that. In an effort to assist students with their college funding efforts, Scholarships.com has announced its Resolve to Evolve $10,000 Scholarship for 2008. High school seniors can apply for the scholarship by writing about one of two topics, the No Child Left Behind act or the rising costs of a college education.

Posted Under:

College News , High School


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by Paulina Mis

U.S. News may be a news source by name, but it’s the company’s annual college report that’s responsible for its celebrity status. According to a U.S. News representative, the 2007 College Ranking Report drew 8.9 million website viewers within the first three days of the date of release. The company also guarantees prospect advertisers that at least 2 million readers will read their in-print magazine. It is an undeniably attractive deal which, of course, costs an arm and a leg. The best ad position can cost a company as much as $232,992. (What ever happened to rounding?) For the price of one ad, a family can make a 100% down payment on their home.

The college rankings have become so popular that it only made sense for U.S. News to take things to the next level. Students who want to get a good education after high school can get a head start by doing well in one of the nation’s highest-ranked high schools. Right or wrong, the demand for this information is there, and U.S. News is jumping at the chance to capitalize on it.

The list is a great business for U.S. News and a boon for communities lucky enough to be in presence of these regal high schools. When searching for my first post-college apartment, I came upon a tattered place with a surprisingly high price, at least for me.  It was already above my optimal range, but I was curious—until I toured the residence.  I was both amazed and irritated with the owner for thinking he could get away with such consumer gouging. His excuse, as you may have guessed, was a good school district.  That was my cue to leave, but other families would have been more than happy to compromise. If I had kids, I may have been one of them.

There has been no lack of controversy surrounding the U.S. News college reports, and controversy about the high school reports is probably forthcoming. A number of schools, including Reed College and Dickinson University, have refused to participate in the college reports by not providing information, and time will tell how unranked high schools will react to the reports. Whether it’s for the highest paying career options, the joy of an excellent education or for membership in what Stephen Colbert referred to as a brie cheese elite, students and parents across the nation are drawn to prestigious schools. Until this is no longer the case, you can be sure that inside college scoop will be warmly received and heatedly debated.


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by Paulina Mis

The QuestBridge organization has been turning heads lately for its ability to match talented, underprivileged students with excellent schools across the country. It's something of a dating service for students and colleges. QuestBridge has sought after and found numerous exceptional high school students and paired them with some of the nation’s most prestigious, and expensive, colleges and universities. By participating, schools can diversify their campus, and eventually, the demographic of the nation's leading scholars. QuestBridge makes finding gifted and oftentimes overlooked teens look easy.

High school seniors who are nominated, or who nominate themselves, fill out one application that can then be sent to all participating schools. Their fee is waived, and an essay about the student's ability to overcome obstacles is also included. When selecting finalists, QuestBridge considers academics, finances, eligibility requirements and personal circumstances.

From there, applications are sent to schools which make the final decision. Accepted students are offered full four-year scholarships to attend one of the twenty participating colleges and universities. Among these are Notre Dame University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago and Amherst College. There were 103 QuestBridge students who received scholarships to leading schools last year, and the number is expected to increase this year.

Students who may not have otherwise considered expensive schools suddenly find opportunity within reach. A featured QuestBridge student who won a scholarship to Stanford stated, “I didn’t feel like I could get in to a top college. I filled out my application and lost my nerve to hit the ‘submit’ button. I will never forget receiving a call at my home from a Quest counselor, encouraging me to go ahead and apply.”

For more information about the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship, you can conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com.


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