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High Stakes Testing

Aug 24, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

Chances are if you’re on scholarships.com, you probably care about boosting your application to scholarships or colleges. The standardized test can be a huge plus for good test takers or a major stressor for others. Here are some general guidelines to help you make your testing plan and decisions easier.

  • Timing. There are many rumors about what dates have a better curve but essentially for the SAT or the ACT, it’s all about making the most of your studying. For instance, remember that if you schedule a test for January or June, you might also be studying for midterm and final exams. The May exams are also infamous because that’s when the Advanced Placement tests occur. However, many students take the subject tests that correspond with their AP classes during the May exam. It’s important to remember that not all subject tests are offered every exam date, so you’ll want to plan those accordingly. If you’re planning on taking the SAT, remember that the last date for the current version is January 2016. Finally, don’t wait too long to take the test. Many students do better their second or third time around, and you want to give yourself the chance to learn from your mistakes.
  • Studying. The ACT and the SAT are two distinctly different tests as some students will see greater variation between test scores than others. The general word of caution is to take a full practice exam before you take the real test. Try waking up early one weekend and replicating the exam scenario as completely as possible; this will give you the best estimate of your score. Remember that simple things like reading the newspaper or a challenging book can improve your score as well.
  • Stay Positive. Your score is not everything in your college or scholarship application. More and more schools are disregarding test scores in favor of essays, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation. The worst thing you could do for your application is put all of your bets into your SAT or ACT score. So if you find yourself a terrible test taker, that’s okay. Find something else that you’re fantastic at, and make it noticeable. One of the best pieces of advice I got was that if a school turns you down because of your test scores, you probably don’t want to be there to begin with.
  • You are not a test score. Always remember that.

    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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“Dorm”-estic Bliss

Aug 12, 2015

by Christina Zhou

Unless you’re rooming with someone you already know, a college roommate can be a wild card. For many, this is the first time that they are sharing their living space for an extended period of time. As a result, tensions can run high if you aren’t careful, dragging down both your mood and possibly even your GPA. In order to maintain a good relationship with your roommate and avoid explosions in your dorm room, try some of the following tips.

  • Make rules early on. Chances are, you and your roommate will have some different habits. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but drawing up some general guidelines at the start of the school year will let you both know what to expect. (Defining what “neat” entails is a great start.)
  • Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Passive aggressiveness gets you nowhere. Try to address problems when they are small, and in an open, non-confrontational manner. In addition, a little occasional compromising goes a long way.
  • Have a fun shared activity. It can be something short and sweet. Some simple ideas would include going out to eat, participating in a club or even just going to the gym.
  • Take breaks from each other. Even the best of friends need to separate occasionally. It’s healthy for both of you to have other friends and interests. The last thing you want is to give off the impression of being an impenetrable duo.
  • Don’t try to force it. Sometimes your roommate may end up being your best friend. On the other hand, clicking on a higher level than "roommate", may just not be in the deck of cards. Maybe you two don't have similar interests or personalities that qualify each other as friendship material. Just because you were randomly paired up, doesn't mean you have to like each other to the point of friendship. If that’s the case, don’t worry! Being courteous is a must, but friendship is not something that can be forced. If you let resentments fester and don't really speak into how you feel, you plant the seed to a toxic relationship, that will one day blow up. Nothing is more awkward than living with someone you're not speaking with!
  • 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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ACT Report: African American Students Unprepared for College

Aug 10, 2015

by Scholarships.com Staff

Amid concerns our educational system is failing a large percentage of our students, particularly African American students, a national report released by American College Testing (ACT) shows many African American students lack college readiness. While these students were able to fulfill the requirements and pass all recommended high school courses, they lagged behind their peers in terms of higher education preparedness. This according to a new report from ACT and United Negro College Fund.

"Even when they are doing what they are supposed to do in terms of taking the recommended college preparatory curriculum and earning a high school diploma, too many lack sufficient preparation for first-year college courses", said Jim Larimore, ACT’s chief officer for advancement of underserved learners.

ACT suggests that schools start monitoring students' progress in earlier grades, develop tougher high school core courses, and ensure support and attention for off-target students.

We certainly hope that your elementary, middle and high schools are providing you with the education and support you need to pursue a college education. Visit Scholarships.com to start your free college scholarship search and find free money to go towards your college education.

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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Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Decision?

Aug 10, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

There are three common options for submitting your application to college. Early decision is a binding agreement stating that if you are accepted you will attend that school regardless of the cost or which program you are accepted to. Early action is simply submitting you application early and receiving your decision earlier. Regular decision is when you submit your application on the normal deadline and hear back in the spring.

There’s a lot of debate over which type of decision process is easier to get into. Generally, the caveat with Early Decision is that you are in a smaller pool of applicants, all of whom are as attached to that school as you are. This might mean that the acceptance rate is lower in fact for early decision applications. However, some people argue that applying early decision shows a school you are dedicated. That was the argument my parents used. It was an alluring one, you could know your college by Winter Break.

If you’re like me though, the thought of committing to a school without knowing all of your options terrifies you. That’s okay. There are many reasons why you might be wary of early decision even if your parents are ready to jump the gun.

Both of my parents went to their safety school; they did not have the option of a dream school. They wanted me to have every possible chance of acceptance at the best school. What I had to help them understand was that I did not know which school was my dream school. I applied to 12 schools, many of them reach schools that all had stellar reputations. The idea of turning down one school for another without even knowing the financial aid, honors, or other options I might have, did not make sense to me.

Eventually I convinced my parents that there was not a significant enough advantage to early decision to make committing worth it for me. I told them I wanted to see all of my financial aid options, compare career programs, and look into the fine details of where I was going to be for the next four years. Now that I am committed to my school, I can honestly say I do not regret doing regular decision. In fact, filling out the dozen applications helped me see which schools I liked better, and the long wait illuminated which school I was desperate to know about. In the end, by the time I got my acceptance to NYU, I had already decided I would go there in the fall.

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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Suicide on Campus

Aug 5, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

“Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students, claiming the lives of 1,100 students each year.” (From activeminds.org)

Whether you’re packing to go off to college this year, or preparing to leave next year, your mental health is important during this stressful period of your life. Listed below are important resources to prepare you or someone you know that may be in need of mental health services on campus.

Active Minds (http://www.activeminds.org/) is a mental health organization that focuses on college students. They probably have a chapter at your university that can provide support, resources, and peers for you to connect with.

ULifeline (http://www.ulifeline.org/static/must_select_a_school) is an online center that connects you with resources specific to your school as well as information about different conditions and solutions.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (http://www.nami.org/) is an organization focused on helping individuals with all mental illness. They have great resources for breaking the stigma, finding counselors and getting help.

Your university website—If you have a pre-existing condition such as anxiety, depression, or high stress, check out the health services page. Look into the details of the services. Do you need insurance? Where are the counselors? Are they available 7 days a week? Make sure that both you and your parents feel comfortable with the protocol your school has set up to deal with mental illness. While you’re on this website, it’s a good idea to put the phone numbers of the wellness center in your phone. You might also want these emergency numbers as well:

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Life Line. It can also be accessed online here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Remember, if you or someone you know is in danger, please call 911.

Chances are you will encounter mental illness during your time in school. The good thing is that by reading this, you are already informed about resources online and on campus. There are people who care about you and your safety is important. Speak up, reach out, get help.

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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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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