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by Paulina Mis

A college education is an expensive purchase. It’s certainly an investment, but an expensive one nonetheless. Many students are forced to take out thousands in student loans to afford college, but some are so close to  paying for school that accumulating college debt on account of minor need would be a shame.

For many such students, tuition installment plans may be a good option. Certain colleges and universities allow students to split up their semester or trimester payments into monthly installments. They pair up with one or more tuition installment plan companies which administer the services, and make the option of enrolling available to those who are interested.

Students and parents who receive steady paychecks and those awaiting college scholarship or grant awards may benefit from the tuition installment plan option. Such plans are interest free, but, unfortunately, they are not cost free. Individuals who use tuition installment plans usually have to pay administering companies annual enrollment fees or finance charges, ones that usually average between $30 and $60. Certain participating colleges may also ask that those enrolled pay a large portion of their college tuition and fees up front.

Students considering a tuition installment plan should contact their college financial aid office to find out if the plan is available and, if so, what fees are involved.


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by Paulina Mis

As if the application process was not enough, the ACT, SAT, GRE etc. not sufficiently stressful, some students must also worry about acing a college interview. Those who wish to enroll in certain undergraduate or graduate school programs may find that the interview is simply unavoidable. Because interviews cannot be proofread by an older sibling, students can use the following pointers to prepare themselves for the big day. 

Location is Key. Before moving on to the content, finalize the basics. Confirm the address and time of the interview, and plan out the best way to reach your location. If possible, visit the meeting place beforehand. If not, at least arrive early. Realizing that the campus layout is confusing, the buildings ambiguously marked and the office hidden in a building labyrinth is not the optimal start to your interview. You need to arrive (outwardly) calm, (seemingly) confident and obviously on time.

Do Your Homework. Interviewers want to hear the following: you want to attend this school; you have a clear, original reason for wanting to pursue your degree, and you’re mature and ready to benefit their institution (as a current student and accomplished graduate). Be prepared to convince them of the aforementioned. Browse the school website, and be prepared to drop some names, numbers or facts. For example, let the interviewer know how the department’s A to B student teacher ratio was impressive, exactly what you had hoped to find, and how very much you would like to help professors C, D or E with their latest research project—it perfectly aligns with your career interests.

Leave a Lasting Impression. Having worked in an admission’s department and attended a board meeting where professors decided the future of incoming (or not incoming) students, I was surprised to see how seriously the interview process was taken. Yes, the board reviewed and heavily emphasized a student's course experience and GPA—over sub sandwiches—but it also paid attention to a student's presentation. Professors remarked about dress code, about how carefully a student considered his or her career goals and about formality. From this I learned that you should dress to impress; prepare specific, original details about current and future goals, and express how important your interview and goals are to you.

Posted Under:

Graduate School , High School , Tips


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by Paulina Mis

Dorms are filled to the brim with students your age, and therein lies their charm. But after finding a group of people you enjoy spending time with, their appeal slowly fades. Dorms are cramped, noisy, and, eventually, old news. But before you can hug your RA goodbye, you need to find an apartment, and that takes some planning. The following tips can help you find the best-suited home at a reasonable price.

Determine Boundaries. Before the apartment hop begins, establish a general search boundary. Off-campus apartments may be cheaper, but, depending on location, the class hike may be substantial. Decide which is the bigger priority, finance or location, and be realistic about how far you are willing to walk—in boots on a rainy, snowy day—to your perfect residence.

Get a Head Start. If you attend a large state school, chances are, you have options. But you can only be as picky as the time allows. Begin your apartment search early, around December or January. If you wait until the summer months to find an apartment for the upcoming year, you may find your options slim. Stake your claim before someone else can.

Look at Reviews. What you don’t see when you visit an apartment—the unreachable repairman, the stinky, bug-ridden basement—may come back to haunt you. One of the best ways to gauge a potential home is by seeking out feedback from previous tenants. Reviews of landlords and apartments can frequently be found in campus newspapers, both on and offline. You may also want to ask around. Satisfied and disgruntled students alike are often willing to let you know what they think.

Budget. When budgeting, you have to consider paying for school, for residence, for food, for leisure, for holiday gifts, for transportation, for emergencies and so on. If you're an apartment penny pincher, it's best to limit surprises. Ask landlords about any city or tenant fees that may be tacked on to the lease, and find out if if gas, water, parking or an internet/cable package are included. If you don’t plan to stay on campus during the summer months, also ask about a 10-month lease option. The need for apartments drops during the summertime, and many students have a hard time finding individuals willing to sublet at full price. By asking the right questions and budgeting accordingly, you can avoid many such problems down the road.


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by Paulina Mis

The Voice of Democracy Scholarship is an annual competition administered by the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW’s). Since 1947, the organization has been helping students pay for school, giving away more than 2.5 million in prizes each year. To compete, students will have to write and record a broadcast script that addresses the following theme: “Service and Sacrifice by America’s Veterans Benefit Today’s Youth by...”The applications will be judged on originality, content and delivery.

Prize: 1. Up to $30,000 in scholarship money 2. An expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

Eligibility: 1. Applicant must be a student in grades 9-12 2. Applicant must be enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home school in the U.S., its territories and possessions, or in an overseas U.S. military/civilian dependent school. 3. Foreign exchange students, those over 20 and previous first place Voice of Democracy winners are not eligible to compete.

Deadline:November 1, 2008

Required Material: 1. A 3-5 minute essay recorded on a neatly labeled cassette tape or CD. The reading must address this year’s theme and must be recorded in the student’s voice. 2. A typed version of the essay. 3. A completed entry form.

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


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by Paulina Mis

All entries have been cast, all information verified, and yes, a winner has been chosen. Matt D. of Newport, KY has been randomly selected as latest winner of the Scholarships.com $1,000 Tell A Friend Sweepstakes. By referring his friends to Scholarships.com, Matt was able to secure $1,000 towards a college education.

"Winning the sweepstakes was really exciting! It was the first scholarship I applied for and … I won,” he told us. Once again proving that financial aid is available to those who search, Matt was able to join the growing list of Scholarships.com Success Stories.  By giving them free access to our scholarship search, providing them with valuable college-funding resources and personally sponsoring numerous sweepstakes and scholarships, Scholarships.com has assisted myriad students in affording a postsecondary education.

Every three months a new Scholarships.com user is selected as the Scholarships.com Tell A Friend Sweepstakes winner. Applying couldn’t be easier—no essays and no recommendations required. For the chance to win $1,000, just visit our Tell A Friend Sweepstakes page. You can enter the names and email addresses of up to ten friends, and, if they join the site, you will both be eligible to win $1,000. The more friends you refer, the more entries you’ll receive. Submit now for the chance to win!


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by Paulina Mis

The National Peace Essay Contest, a scholarship sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace, gives students the chance to voice their opinions on matters regarding international peace and conflict. By administering this award, the institute hopes to promote thoughtful discussion between youth, educators and national leaders alike.

Students interested in this year’s scholarships will have to write a 1500-word essay discussing the steps international entities such as the UN, governments and government or non-government organizations can take to protect individuals from crimes against humanity during times of warfare. An example of two foreign conflicts and possible measures that could be taken to promote their peace will have to be identified.

Applicants should also designate a coordinator such as a teacher, parent or youth leader to act as a contact between them and the US Institute of Peace. Coordinators will be responsible for reviewing the entries and ensuring that scholarship essays are the original work of the applicant.

Prize: 1. National first place award $10,000 (includes state awards) 2. National second place award $5,000 3. National third place award $2,500 4. Fifty-three state awards $1,000

Eligibility: 1. Students must be in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia or, if they are U.S. citizens, abroad. 2. Applicants may not have been previous first-place state winners or immediate family members of the institute. 3. Students may participate with the sponsorship of an essay coordinator.

Deadline: February 1, 2009

Required Material: 1. Two registration forms, one filled out by the student and one by the teacher 2. A 1500-word essay addressing this year’s topic

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


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by Paulina Mis

Students who sign up for classes don’t always know what they’re getting into. Boring teachers aside, the work may be both overwhelming and useless. If that's the case, it may be time to get out before it’s too late. Here are some things to remember before making the final decision.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst Dropping classes may be the best way to avoid unnecessary work or burnout, but it sure is a pain. It takes time, sometimes money, and it nearly always causes stress. That’s why it’s best to ask around before choosing classes. Find out if any of your friends have taken the class. Is it difficult? Is it interesting? Is the teacher effective in helping students develop critical skills?

Most importantly, figure out if the class coincides with your future goals and current interests. During high school, I signed up for an accounting class thinking it would provide me with practical insight into the business world. Though business was not in my future, I thought that everyone could benefit from some business basics. After a few weeks of scribbling numbers into a never-ending stream of credit and debit columns, I raised my hand and asked the teacher if this class would prepare me for something other than accounting. Turns out, it wouldn’t. It’s too bad I didn’t know that sooner.

Give Yourself a Reality Check Difficulty is a commonly cited reason for dropping classes, and it's a perfectly good reason. It’s important to be realistic about your abilities and your schedule. When a class is just adding to your already full workload, rethink it. Being able to drop a class doesn’t make you a quitter; it makes you a realistic and mature decision maker, one that values their sanity and health.

Consider Class Importance Before dropping a class, be sure that you can afford to do so. If you’re in college, dropping a class may put you below full-time status subsequently decreasing your eligibility for a full financial aid package (both scholarships and federal student aid).

Dropping required college classes may also be troublesome. When students decide to get rid of a requisite, they may be forced to take on a heavier workload in future semesters. A heavier workload may in turn lead to scheduling difficulties caused by core courses that overlap in time.

Sometimes, a class may simply be unavoidable. Once again, be realistic when you judge. If you think you can do without the class, let it go. If you know that dropping the class will only lead to future troubles, just grin and bear it for a while.

Be Cost Conscious If you’re in high school, dropping a class will probably save you money (unless you're paying for AP classes ). Once you graduate high school, it’s a different story. Most colleges and universities fine students who drop their classes too late into the semester. That’s why it’s important for students to be aware of the costs involved in taking on classes and dropping them. If you plan to drop a class, do so before the fee deadline. If you’re worried about the costs of taking on additional classes, stick with the basics and take enrichment courses once you can afford them.

Posted Under:

College Culture , High School , Tips


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by Paulina Mis

After being sued by College Board, the makers of the SAT, Karen Dillard’s College Prep LP, a student test-prep company, announced its intent to file a countersuit. Last week, College Board filed charges against the Texas-based company accusing it of illegally obtaining, circulating and selling their PSAT and SAT materials.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the company was said to have acquired the unreleased PSAT tests from a high school principal whose brother worked for Karen Dillard, the owner of the test-prep company  After conducting a four-month investigation, College Board decided to take the case to court. In addition to filing charges, College Board threatened to cancel the scores of students who had access to official test material prior to the SAT test day.

Soon after the College Board lawsuit was filed, Karen Dillard, the owner of the test-prep company, filed a suit of her own. She claimed that College Board had unlawfully obtained private information from a previous, disgruntled employee and that such information could not be legally used against her. She also complained that College Board was trying to drive her company out of business.

In past years, College Board had sold previously used SAT exam material to private companies, and Ms. Dillard stated that she had paid for such material. College Board eventually stopped this practice and began to offer tutoring services. According to Ms. Dillard, the lawsuit was an attempt by the company to monopolize the tutoring market and to eliminate small companies such as her own.

Though Ms. Dillard did not deny having acquired some test material without College Board’s authorization, she maintained that the information was obtained after tests had been taken.

Posted Under:

High School , High School News


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by Paulina Mis

Got milk? Well if you do, you may be eligible for a hefty scholarship. For ten years, milk providers have been awarding scholarships to young athletes across the country. The awards are promising, so if you quality, it’s worth a shot. Twenty-five high school seniors will have the opportunity to win $7,500 in scholarship money as well as a trip to the award ceremony. In addition to the money, winners will be commemorated with a spot in the Disney World Milk House Hall of Fame.  Some may even appear in a Milk Mustache advertisement. To apply, students will have to write an essay of no more than 250 words about how milk has helped them in their academics and/or athletics.

Prize:

1. Twenty-five $7,500 scholarships and paid trips to the award ceremony 2. A spot in the Disney World Milk House Hall of Fame 3. The chance to appear in a Milk Mustache advertisement

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a high school senior in good standing. 2. Applicant must be a legal resident of the 48 contiguous U.S. states or the District of Columbia as of November 25, 2007. 3. Applicant must have participated in a high school sport or club sport in the 2007-2008 school year. 4. Applicant may not be on suspension nor can they have a record of an arrest, charge or conviction for any crime. 5. Applicant must enroll, full time, in a state-accredited college or university during the 2008 fall semester. 6. The person nominating the applicant must be a legal resident of the 48 contiguous U.S. states or the District of Columbia and must be at least 18 years of age. The applicant cannot nominate himself/herself. 7. National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board members, workers or their immediate family cannot nominate a student.

Deadline:

March 7, 2008 (by 11:59:59 p.m.)

Required Material:

1. An essay of no more than 250 words describing how milk has helped the applicant in his/her academics and/or athletics 2. A completed nomination form

Further details about the application process and about contacting the scholarship provider can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list.


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by Paulina Mis

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, students across the nation celebrated the eleventh annual Read Across America day on March 3rd. Though most festivities were aimed at the elementary and middle school crowd, plenty of high school students joined in to encourage the young and old to read on a regular basis.

Their support was both appreciated and needed. In 2005, a report published by the National Education Association (NEA) revealed that reading frequency dropped significantly for people of all ages. Those who struggled the most, individuals between the ages of 18 and 24, experienced a reading drop of 28 percent. To stop this trend from continuing, students are being taught that reading can be fun--really.  

A list compiled by the NEA offers a few interesting examples of things students and educators have tried in an effort to encourage reading. They include:

o High school cheerleaders and athletes from Hamler, Ohio who challenged students to become active readers by leading them in reading spirit cheers.

o A Dr. Seuss Party thrown by the Central Lafourche High School Performing Arts Club. The event included a Dr. Seuss show, an appearance by the cat and a cake.

o The school-wide Braxton County High reading celebration in which all students, faculty and staff had to drop everything to read during first period.

o A Washington County event in which all elementary, middle and high school students read every day for a week. In addition to a skit performed by students from a high school drama class, prizes were awarded to the 100th person who entered the library.

o The foreign language event in which students from Edmond Santa Fe High School translated and read “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham” in three different languages—English, Spanish and Latin.

But the award for the most interesting (and least appetizing) example goes to the Washington Elementary district which served its students a breakfast of—yuck—green eggs and ham.

Posted Under:

High School , High School News


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