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Discovering Your Personal Soundtrack for Success

Jul 22, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

Forgive me if this seems a bit nerdy but I listen to soundtracks when I write and one of the most important things I wrote in my high school career was my Common Application essay. Preparing for this essay was overwhelming but it helped me to collect a master soundtrack that triggered all the questions I needed to answer.

Who am I? In the classic musical inspired by Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables, Jean Valjean faces the immense difficulty of revealing his true identity or remaining safe in a lie. While you may not have such dire circumstances as he, this question is the core of what colleges want to know about you.

Why do we fall? I'll be honest, The Dark Knight Trilogy directly influenced my essay as I wrote about overcoming obstacles. This song, featuring the chant that follows Batman through his escape from prison, represents both hardship and triumph. When thinking about your failures, ask yourself what impact they had on you and how your life view changed.

Where is my home? Continuing with my nerdiness, I grew up with The Lord of the Rings books and movies. The shire not only represents innocence and beauty, but home and culture. Your home can teach you a lot of things: where you feel comfortable, where you work best, what means a lot to you. How does your college fit into that?

What is my future? Without considering any obstacles, what is the best thing you want to do with your life? College is an investment in your future and in your time - how are you going to spend it?

I have found that in the twilight with a notebook and pen in hand and music pulsing in your ears, it is easy to think on these questions. More than anything, your Common Application essay should be a piece of you, whether it carries your obsession with Batman or your love of dogs, you should feel proud to send it away.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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College Applications - Start Early and Revise Often

Jul 17, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

To all the seniors...

Take a deep breath. The most common piece of advice for high school seniors is to start your applications early and that's because it's true...but it doesn't have to ruin your summer! The Common Application essay prompts are already out and the 2015-2016 Common App opens on August 1st. Some of you are probably staring at a list of 6 to 12 schools wondering how you'll manage to write all those essays, pay for all those application fees and keep track of those deadlines. It's possible, though: We can do this together.

As someone who applied to 11 schools, my best advice for writing lots of essays is to start them all. Grab a journal and write down the prompts and your initial ideas. Carry that journal with you and keep track of anything that comes to your mind. Try setting the timer for 20 minutes, playing your favorite album and simply writing. If that doesn't give you any ideas, sit down with your parents or another adult that knows you well and just talk about what has shaped you as an individual. Remember that your first drafts are simply drafts; the advantage of starting early is that you can revise and think it through over and over again.

To reduce the anxiety, print out a calendar and map out your deadlines. You can try color coding your schools, scholarship deadlines and other big events. Write in when you are going to send the essays to editors and when you are going to submit them to your colleges. Remember, The Common App and other systems get really busy on the major deadline days so submit early to avoid technical difficulties. It's also a good idea to share this calendar with your parents and estimate how much your applications will cost. In addition to the application fee, your high school might have transcript fees so consider that as well and plan in advance where this money will come from.

Have you started the college application process yet? What has worked for you thus far?

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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The Pros and Cons of Commuting

Jul 15, 2015

by Ashley Grego

Commuting from home is awesome or awful depending on the student. Do the benefits of commuting outweigh the negatives? As a commuter student, I have firsthand experience with the pros as well as the cons.

  1. Boredom: Some colleges are simply limited on the activities students can participate in, which can cause students to become bored easily. As a commuter, however, I know the surrounding areas of my college and never really get bored. If there is nothing on campus, I just hang out friends and do something we would have done in high school like local sporting events or concerts.
  2. Comfort: The hardest thing for many freshmen is adjusting to college life. I didn't have this issue: I get to come home to my family every day, limiting homesickness. My regular schedule has not changed and if I need my parents urgently, they are not far from my reach.
  3. Time Management: Going to college is a big jump from the previous independence most high school students have experienced but the lack of structure can negatively impact your time management. Commuting from home gives you a sample of independence without removing the safety net. Yes, college requires more energy, reading, studying and participation in general; however, living at home means I rely on parents a little bit so I can focus on my studies and not constantly worry about a healthy non-cafeteria meal or laundry. Mom helps me out!
  4. Saving Money: Probably the biggest benefit of commuting from home is saving money. Sure, I pay gas to drive to campus but its total expense does not compare to the cost of room and board. For a family like mine who does not receive any financial aid but still could use it, commuting from home seemed like the best option to save.

Commuting from home is not for everybody but for some, it is really the perfect fit. And if it isn't? Use the money you saved to move onto or closer to campus further into your college years.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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“Sexting” Education Curriculum Implemented in LA Schools

Jul 14, 2015

by Chris Bernardi

For the first time this fall, high school students in the Los Angeles, California area will be participating in a new addition to the curriculum, “Sext” Education. KNX 1070’s Mark Austin Thomas reports the L.A. Unified School District has put together a plan that will educate students on the dangers of sharing sexually-explicit photos via texting and the Internet. Each school in the district will receive lesson plans, supplemented by videos and handouts for the students.

A 2011 national Pew survey found that, while only 3 percent of teens with cellphones sent naked or near-naked photos or videos of themselves, 21 percent of teens ages 14-17 claimed they had received them. District Police Chief Steven Zipperman says the campaign will teach students about violations of child pornography and obscenity laws that can come with sexting, along with the personal consequences. The primary focus of the effort is to get students to really think before they hit “send”.

Holly Priebe-Diaz, the District’s intervention coordinator, believes “We don’t have the exact number on how big or how widespread the problem is specific to our district, but we do know that I’s a growing trend. So we want to try to get ahead of it and raise awareness for all of our students.”

Texas Professor, Jeff Temple who has co-authored a sexting study, hopes the curriculum gives facts without exaggerating the risks of sexting, and emphasized the importance of consent.

Do you think "Sext" education classes are inappropriate to implement in a high school curriculum? Have you been a part of, or witnessed a scenario where "sexting" became a problem?

Your opinion matters, let it be heard on a college campus where you can impact thousands of your peers. Begin your college search and allow the experts to determine which college best suits your needs by filling out a quick profile at Scholarships.com.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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The Many Benefits of Honors Programs

Jul 13, 2015

by Erica Lewis

There are many opportunities that come from being a good student in high school...and I don't just mean scholarships. Many colleges have honors programs, which give students the chance to meet other high-achieving students and challenge themselves even more academically. There are many advantages to being in an honors program, such as opportunities to meet with professors one-on-one, take classes with other honors students and build your resume.

Honors program members have the chance to get to know their professors more personally and meet faculty that many students may not have to opportunity to meet. I'm in the honors program at UNL and I enjoy getting to know my professors more than just seeing them at the front of the room during lectures.

You may also be eligible for priority registration or special classes offered only to honors program students. These classes are specifically designed for honors students and are smaller in size compared to the typical class. You can get to know your professor and classmates really well in this setting. In fact, I have met some of my best friends have through the honors courses at UNL!

Being in an honors program is a great resume builder as well. Once you start college, your high school resume is essentially null and void so you pretty much have to start over. An honors program looks good on a resume because it shows that you have put in extra effort for those classes and aren't afraid of a challenge.

If you have the opportunity to join the honors program at your school, I strongly recommend it. It is an excellent way to meet professors, students and build your resume. It may require a little extra work, but trust me: It's worth it!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Enrolling at a Branch Campus vs. a Main Campus

Jul 1, 2015

by Ashley Grego

When most people hear Penn State, they think of the college town located in State College famous for Beaver Stadium and football. It's less likely that people think of the other Penn States - the branch campuses. Technically, they are the same university...but perception is different.

Although main campuses may offer more activities, different classes and a completely different lifestyle than branch campuses, it doesn't necessarily mean one is better than the other. In fact, there are benefits of branch campuses that students should consider before attending the main campus.

First, branches are smaller and offer students a closer experience with professors and students. If students prefer one-on-one connections with their professors and classmates where everybody knows each other's names, branches can offer this. This can also make for an easier transition for students coming from smaller high schools.

Second, some branches are completely different from the main. Some branches specialize in specific majors – a benefit for students in those majors. (For example, UConn's Avery Point campus in Groton offers specialization for marine sciences.) Another example of this is branch campuses outside of the country. Unlike study abroad, the student will not be attending a different college and earning transfer credits toward their university: They will be attending their school branched overseas, like Carnegie Mellon's branch in Qatar. Another benefit? Experiencing college abroad can be cheaper than study abroad!

Third, regardless of attending a branch or main, all of the diplomas (at least at most schools) will say the same thing. Even though I attend UPJ, my diploma will read "graduate of the University of Pittsburgh." This can provide an automatic boost to students who may think attending the branch will negate the rest of their resume.

The last benefit of attending a branch campus is even if students do not plan to attend the branch campus for all four years, transferring credits will be easier. By staying within the same university system, students are less likely lose any credits because most classes at a branch campus are at the main campus.

Although branch campuses are not for every student, they are certainly something to consider!

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Top 5 Lessons of a Part-Time Job

Jun 24, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

The summer before my senior year, most of my peers interned at prestigious companies, traveled the world, or spent hours writing college essays and studying for the SAT. I, on the other hand, got a part time position earning $8.25 an hour at Old Navy.

As I prepare for college this year, I can safely say that my job experience is one of my biggest assets. Here's what I learned:

  • Responsibility. One of my first shifts was the infamous One Dollar Flip Flop Day. With constant lines and eight-hour shifts, I learned responsibility. When on the sales floor, I could not lapse into rudeness even when I had a difficult customer, check my phone even when my friends texted me, and I most definitely could not disobey my superiors.
  • Social Issues. Over the course of the past year, I worked every major holiday from Black Friday to New Year’s Eve, allowing me to understand that the world does not stop because school went on vacation. I started to realize how many parents might have to sacrifice Christmas morning with their children in order to put dinner on the table.
  • Spending. My favorite meal at Chipotle costs about $12 - that is over an hour of work! This came as a shock to me and triggered me to begin tracking my spending and even opening a savings account to lock away future funds.
  • Experience. Having a year in retail, let alone employment, made me marketable. I was able to secure a second job within a month of applying. My job will also transfer with me to college.
  • Respect. In a workplace environment, everyone is your equal. In learning to respect my colleagues, I have gained insight from people in dozens of walks of life.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Head vs. Heart: Which Should You Follow When Choosing a College?

Jun 22, 2015

by Ashley Grego

Choosing my school wasn't a heart-driven decision. My heart eyed up Pitt Main and the possibilities of finally living in the city I've loved my entire childhood. I so badly wanted to go there; however, it was illogical in more than one way: My hometown actually is Johnstown - where one of Pitt's branch campuses is located - and not only does Pitt-Johnstown supply me with the identical diploma as a Pitt Main student, it also saves me roughly $10,000 a year because I commute. Putting aside my dream of life in the city was difficult, but I knew going to Pitt-Johnstown made more sense.

Once starting at Pitt-Johnstown (UPJ, as we call it), selecting my major was more heart-driven. Even though I got high honors in high school, I knew the science world wasn't in my direct future, maybe unless I wrote about it and talked about it - two things I am very confident in and enjoy doing - which led me to the journalism major. I realized early on, however, that it wasn't my exact fit; I wanted to explore other forms of writing and speaking instead so I became a double major in communication and writing. I now plan to do something within the sports industry or get my master's degree from Carnegie Mellon...I hope! Outside of school, I run a sports blog, work, am a NAHL ice girl and play D2 college club hockey at a nearby university. I also intern at my school's sports center and love shopping.

The reason I was interested in this internship is because of my own personal goals and the company itself. I am constantly looking to build my resume and found this as an amazing opportunity. I know that the real career world is a competitive market and I want to have the experience to stand myself out. Looking forward, I look to blogging about anything that comes to mind, from my own experiences to addressing bigger issues in higher education.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Unique Programs + Strong Community + Terrified Excitement = My Ideal College

Jun 19, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

Why did I choose NYU? As a recent high school graduate, this is a question I get a lot, especially with NYU's expense and daunting inner city location. The best way to describe the way I feel about NYU is terrified excitement. Unlike any of the other 18 schools I visited, NYU scared me in a way that was challenging and empowering. I saw endless opportunities in their massive travel abroad program, thousands of community service partnerships and dozens of research facilities.

In addition, I was strongly attracted to NYU's unique applied psychology and global public health dual degree; after talking to faculty about this major, I discovered that it is one of the only degrees of its kind in the nation! Made of a tight community and sponsoring the integration of health and psychology, NYU gave me a way to stand out from typical psychology majors and kick start my career.

As a virtual intern, I'm excited to have the opportunity to share advice and engage in meaningful discussion. Writing has always been a passion of mine (National Novel Writing Month, anyone?) and I look forward to using it to inspire my peers on Scholarships.com.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Want to Earn an Extra Million Dollars? Choose Your Major Wisely

May 12, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

When choosing a major, most would agree that it's important to consider gaining lucrative employment following graduation. In a perfect world, the best college major would simply be the one that interests you most, period. But if you have a particular knack for math or science and aren't necessarily sure where those skills would translate best, consider the kinds of careers that could offer a generous return on your investment.

According to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, going to college pays off but by how much depends greatly on the area of study. For example, students who complete undergraduate degrees in petroleum engineering earn a median $4.8 million throughout their careers (or $136,000 a year) – more than triple the $1.4 million in median earnings (or $39,000 a year) for someone who majored in early childhood education, the report says. "The surprises are in the details," said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce. Just choosing a major in a STEM field doesn't secure a hefty paycheck, either: Carnevale's team found that biology majors have median annual wages of $56,000 over their careers from age 25 to 59, or about one-third less than physicists. There are also wide ranges in salaries for specific majors. The top 25 percent of earners who majored in finance can expect annual earnings of more than $100,000, while the bottom quartile may bring in just about $50,000 a year. (For more on this report, head over to the Wall Street Journal.)

Do you agree with the sentiment that majors that aren't in high demand should be avoided or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion regardless of potentially high unemployment rates? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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