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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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A Winning Recipe for College Dining

Jul 20, 2015

by Erica Lewis

Food is important to any college student. Who doesn't love food? When college begins, it's important to think about all of the dining options that are available. Many campuses offer dining halls on campus, with smaller schools having one or two options and larger universities boasting more choices. There are many advantages to eating on campus, the biggest one being convenience: Not only are your options close by but payment is often as easy as swiping your student ID. Many students may be tempted to eat off campus but that can mean going through a lot of money in a hurry.

Whether on or off campus, it is important to think about the amount of money being spent on food; however, this is especially important if living off campus where you can't necessarily eat at the dining halls for every meal. Buying fast food can seem like a cheaper option but it will add up over time. Money can be saved by buying food at the grocery store; your meals will usually be healthier, too. This could be the nudge you need to learn how to cook!

Finally, I recommend taking advantage of any opportunities to get free food! This varies from campus to campus but there are usually plenty of chances to get free food if you look for them. (At UNL, for example, many of the less-popular sports offer free food to students for attending.) Other opportunities could be handouts from your campus rec center or from your RA at dorm floor meetings. As a college student, you'll quickly learn to take advantage of anything that's free!

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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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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Why Students Should Use Scholarship Websites

Jul 15, 2015

by Genevieve Grant

Why should you use scholarship websites? How should you use them? And what are the chances of you actually getting scholarships off of these sites? I had the opportunity to interview Scholarships.com VP Kevin Ladd and here's what I found.

Scholarships.com is a space for scholarship providers to manage their own submissions, so what you see is what you get. The scholarships offered on this site are then more up to date than some of the other sites out there. Some tips for using this site included using it frequently, constantly looking for new postings and maintaining your profile so your information is current. Also a pro tip from Kevin: "If you can use a single essay for more than one scholarship application, DO IT. Just make sure that you are still following the instructions and not cutting corners."

Timing and organization are also important. Sort your scholarship results based on the time of year with larger dollar amounts at the top of the list in the fall and by deadline date in the spring so you don't miss applying for anything. Though this is not to say that there is any one "good" time to apply for scholarships; rather, you should continuously apply for as many as you can throughout the year, regardless if you're in your junior year of high school or your senior year of college.

I also asked about the kinks. What are people put off by when using the site? The two biggest drawbacks are users having too many results and not knowing where to start, and also the profile to some, is asking for too much detail. In response to that, Kevin stated that users "will get even better results by spending a bit more time and providing a bit more information." That being said, it's okay to brag about what you do! Give them the entire list of all the activities, sports and clubs you participate in, all the details about awards you've received, internships, research you've done, even where you've worked. It'll pay off!

If it isn't easy enough, I'll make it easier. You're already at the leading site for scholarships so just click Scholarhips.com to fill out your free profile now. Don't waste another second and let someone take away the money you deserve.

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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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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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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Political/Civic Engagement: Why and How to Get Involved

Jul 2, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

It's July and we all know what that means: an abundance of red, white, and blue, fireworks bursting in the sky, parades lining the streets, patriotic anthems filling the air. In the thrill of such a classic celebration, it is easy for us to forget that which we are celebrating: freedom. This year, after the fireworks stop ringing in your ears, try participating in one of these volunteer ideas.

Support Your Troops. One of the best ways to give back to your nation is to support the troops. The Veterans Association offers easy ways to get involved, like programs for volunteers at local veterans' homes and opportunities to welcome home the troops at your airport. Your local veterans' organizations may also need volunteers to decorate graves, host parades and events, and support disabled veterans. If you are part of a community service group such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, consider the many campaigns you can participate in from donating cell phones to sending care packages.

Participate in Politics. We are lucky to be preparing for an election year, which means that national, state and local campaigns are in need of volunteers to help with America's long-standing democratic traditions. The best way to get involved is to add your name to the email list; you will be invited to phone banks, rallies and events, and social media campaigns. (Find your congressmen here.) Even campaigning for local governors or state senators can be a great opportunity: I once received free tickets to see the First Lady speak at a campaign I was volunteering for!

Find a Cause. If you are not interested in supporting politicians, consider the local and national causes that might need your help. Organizations ranging from the Sierra Club (which focuses on environmental protection) to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention all engage in lobbying campaigns to enact legislation. Whether it’s nationally or locally, you can directly contribute to the laws you care about.

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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Internships , Tips , Virtual Intern

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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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The Perfect College: It Exists...But It's Different for Everyone

Jun 29, 2015

by Erica Lewis

My name is Erica Lewis and I attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I am majoring in food science and technology. I chose UNL because it was the right fit for me: It was close to home but far enough away that I didn't feel like my parents were right there! UNL also offered many great scholarship opportunities, which made it more affordable than many of the other schools that I looked at. Finally, I'm a huge sports fan and the Huskers are so much fun to watch!

I chose to major in food science and technology because it combines my love of food with my love for science...that may sound a bit cliché, but it's true! I already knew how to cook but now I get to learn about the components of food and how they are affected by various cooking methods and so much more. Like UNL as a whole, the food science and technology department also offers many scholarship opportunities, which was really nice to know when comparing my options.

In my spare time, you can typically find me at club meetings, Husker games of any kind or watching TV while working on homework with my friends – the great part about college is you can choose to create the schedule you want and do what you want with your free time! I was interested in becoming a Scholarships.com virtual intern because I knew it would give me the chance to tell other students about my college experience and help them make their decision on which college to attend. I know that choosing a college can seem a bit daunting at times so I want to help readers make the choice that's best for them!

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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