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Are You a Rural or City College Student?

by Carly Gerber

Let’s travel back in time to the beginning of my senior year of high school when my guidance counselor posed this question: “Do you want to go to a university in a rural area or a university in a city?” The question seemed pretty straightforward to me...until I started visiting colleges. Luckily, I visited many types of schools and the visits gave me an idea of where I would best fit but I soon realized that the answer to my guidance counselor’s question was not as black and white as I thought.

From my experience, I learned that you must be as precise as possible when describing where you want to attend college. Some people believe a city school describes any university near a city, not necessarily in the heart of the city. If you prefer one setting over the other, tell your counselor exactly what you are looking for and they will help you find colleges and universities that match your preferences.

There’s also a difference when thinking about rural schools. The University of Wisconsin - Madison and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are Big Ten schools and can be referred to as colleges in rural areas; after visiting both schools, however, one will realize that they are in two very different locations, as one is in a well-to-do suburb while the other is among the cornfields of southern Illinois. I am not suggesting one location is better than another but make sure understand a college’s location and if its location fits your character.

If you have the funds, you should attempt to visit many different colleges; in fact, I suggest starting as early as your freshman year of high school. I visited a university I had been accepted into, but I would have never applied there if I had visited the school before sending in the application. The simple question my guidance counselor asked me was actually quite broad. If you are met with the same query, take time to research the many universities offered so you can decide the location that’s right for you.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Face It: In-Person Communication is Important

by Casandra Pagn

So many of us (myself included) feel safe behind the veil of technology. Whether it's a Facebook profile, ultra-organized email or Twitter, let’s face it: It’s much easier to be the person you want to be when you carefully craft it out and spell check it twice. You can appear any way you want to...as long as you don’t have to think on the spot. I'm not trying to say that having a solid grasp on social media isn't beneficial (it certainly is!) but even in a technology-driven world, face-to-face conversational skills are still important.

The majority of interviews – especially selective or final ones – are still conducted in person. For a successful in-person interview, communicating well with a prospective employer while still showing some of your personality is critical. That's the benefit of face-to-face communication: You can show that you are unique, relatable and ready to be hired all through the way you talk. It’s important to convey confidence in your abilities at an interview and much of that confidence can be exuded through clear, thoughtful speech. Even phone interviews require these skills, as employers won't be as responsive to someone who has a robotic voice or is reading from a script.

Strong conversational skills are key in networking, too. Your ability to schmooze with someone in your field of interest may be the way to meet someone else who can put in a good word for you for a job or recommend another contact who can help. When it comes to getting a job, any connections could lead to potential employment.

Don't think you're a skilled conversationalist? Don't worry...just put your down your BlackBerry and talk! Practice makes perfect so instead of texting today, try making a phone call. I know it sounds crazy, but a confident, articulate voice might help land you a job down the road.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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You Are What You Tweet

How to Make 140 Characters Count

June 8, 2011

You Are What You Tweet

by Casandra Pagn

Twitter can be a great resource for checking the most up-to-the-date information in a conveniently streamed, easy-to-read manner. It can be your all-access pass to breaking news, celebrity gossip or a great tool for social networking.

Because of the character restrictions on tweets (140, to be exact), Twitter is meant to broadcast short, important information in a concise manner. There isn’t time to get bogged down with useless information because there simply isn’t space in the Twittersphere.

But how can Twitter help you market yourself, network and possibly land you a job? Here are some tips:

Be careful what you tweet. Even though you’ve only got 140 characters, it’s plenty of space for words or ideas that can cast a negative image of yourself. Don’t tell your tweeps (Twitter followers, for those not versed in social networking lingo) that you’re partying hard tonight or that you hate your economics professor. Instead, try retweeting a cool news story or writing about an awesome event happening on your campus.

Follow smart people. While no one is going to criticize you for following Perez, make sure you’re also following credible news sources, local leaders and people related to organizations on campus or affiliates from your school. This way, once you find out what the Kardashians are up to on Friday night, you can get back to reality quickly.

Use Twitter to spread the word. Twitter can be a great tool to get the word out because if you’re following the right people and they’re following you, you can broadcast your message to the masses. Try tweeting about a campus charity event or something that you’re involved in and passionate about. Use Twitter to promote your student organization or club’s events. Tell your tweeps where and when to be, and why they should help support!

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Casandra Pagni

by Casandra Pagn

At 18, I was going to be a lawyer. I had the next four years of my life planned out well. I was to attend the University of Michigan, double major in political science and economics, take the LSAT, attend law school, pass the bar and go from there. I even got into arguments with my older brothers when they told me to be open-minded as I left for school. But life took a few turns — some of them sharp — between then and now.

I chose Michigan for its large campus, student diversity, and rigor in academic disciplines. Okay...I confess. At 18, I chose Michigan because of the Big Ten sports. I was ready to see national championships first hand. But as my sports expectations came crashing down, the other things that Michigan offered began to shine. I joined a sorority. I played intramural sports. I went to concerts, saw the Dalai Lama and wrote for the campus newspaper. I followed the hockey team to the Frozen Four. Oh yeah, and I studied, too! I took and enjoyed classes with incredibly passionate professors.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment I knew I was going to become a teacher, but the person I became at Michigan is a more relaxed and open-minded version of the 18-year old aspiring lawyer I once was. I am now the ecstatic recipient of a degree in English and a high school teaching certificate. I am also committed to writing whenever and wherever I can and to making real changes in the way writing is taught today.

As a recent college graduate smack-dab in the middle of a job search, I plan to combine my passion for writing with my absolute love for the college years to bring you weekly posts with tried and true advice, honest perspective and a little bit of humor along the way. As a Scholarships.com virtual intern, I'll be looking back while looking ahead.


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Make Yourself Marketable This Summer

by Casandra Pagn

While a summer home from college should be relaxing, fun and regenerative, the three or so months away from school can also be the perfect time to bulk up the ever-elusive skills section of a resume or job application.

I totally understand that many college students need to take any ol’ job during the summer to save some cash for the school months. Whether you are waitressing, painting houses or mowing lawns, there are still a multitude of ways to continue to make yourself (and your resume) marketable during the summer.

First and foremost, internships (paid or unpaid) can often be tailored to the hours and schedule that you’d like to work. But, if an internship seems too time consuming, have no fear. Here are some other ways to make your summer count:

  • Contact local professionals to set up appointments to shadow them. This will give you some insight into that career and it’s something that you can bring up during future interviews to show you’re being proactive in that field.
  • Browse through your local park district or community college catalog and see what affordable, useful classes they offer. An introductory language course is a low time commitment and is a great asset to any resume, as are computer courses in a program that you’re not familiar with. At the end of the class, you will have learned the keys to a program that employers find valuable, such as Microsoft Excel or InDesign.
  • Borrow some how-to books from the library and teach yourself something! There are a ton of books on building websites and using graphic design programs, so why not take check one out and give it a try? It can’t hurt to learn those skills and the library membership is usually free.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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The Good and the Bad of Job Search Sites

by Casandra Pagn

It's hard to look for a job on any search engine without coming across a result from CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed or another employment website. As a recent graduate and someone who has browsed and used these websites extensively over the past few months, I'd like to help you get the most out of posting your resume and other credentials on the Internet.

The good: Career-centric sites can be great tools in helping you browse available jobs in desired industries and particular areas. Since these websites have a large and credible following, many employers will post opportunities because they know there will be lots of traffic from potential applicants. You can also post your resume directly to the sites so that employers can search by criteria and contact you if they are interested; another benefit of these websites is that you can have your resume reviewed by professionals – for free! – and receive valuable feedback.

The bad: If you post your resume to one or more of these websites, it’s likely that you’ll be contacted by companies that send out mass emails expressing their interest in hiring new employees. They are usually sales or insurance agent positions and if that's not your forte or field of interest, the emails can get annoying quite quickly. Also, spam emails or weekly updates can cloud potentially important emails in your inbox.

The lowdown: If you are looking for part-time or full-time work, use these websites but with some savvy. It can be extremely helpful to browse these career posting websites to find job opening but I recommend using them as a resource and then contacting the employer directly. Doing this allows you to submit the correct formats of your resume and any other documents you might need (i.e. letters of recommendations, certifications or awards) and personalize your email and cover letter to the appropriate hiring manager.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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Who Am I Really?

Creating Your Own Identity on Campus

August 29, 2013

Who Am I Really?

by Chelsea Slaughter

Starting off in a new place with new people can be scary. As young people, we tend to flock together in “cliques” or groups we feel most comfortable with and the majority of the time, the members of our groups share many of the same qualities. It's perfectly fine to have friends but it’s important not to lose your own identity.

When I was a freshman, I had a circle of friends that were “one for all and all for one.” When schedules got hectic later in the year, we had less and less time to do things together but it seemed like every time I went somewhere alone, someone asked “Where are the others?” At the moment, it did not occur to me that I was not known as my own person but instead as a member of “that group.”

As an RA in a freshman residence hall, I was able to witness the same cycle constantly repeating. I am not saying to not have friends or a circle to can call upon but I AM saying that you must remember who you are and what’s important to you. If you want to join a club and your friends are uninterested, you should still go for it! This gives you a chance to meet others who share interests the friends you already have may not.

As the years progress, you will see the importance of having a personal identity on your campus. You will see the difference between “Oh look, it’s that group” and “Oh look, it’s Chelsea and her friends.” This is your chance to transition from fitting in to standing out – it's time to find who you are, not lose who you are!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications major (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, serves as treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Pre-Semester Planning and Preparation

by Chelsea Slaughter

It’s almost time to start a new semester and getting a good head start on planning will make for a great and successful one. The more you prepare yourself, the smoother the transition will be so here are a few tips on how to prep before the fall semester begins:

  • Buying Your Books: Look up what books you will need for your classes and find out the most cost-effective way to acquire them. There's always the option to rent books or you can borrow them from someone who already took the class. (The books at your on-campus bookstore are most likely the most expensive so let that be your last option.) Also, books listed are sometimes not even used by your professor; in order to avoid wasting money, email your professors and ask if all books are necessary.
  • Choosing the Right Professors: If you are having difficulty making your fall schedule, remember the importance of choosing the right professors. I always recommend that my freshman residents look up prospective instructors on RateMyProfessors.com to decide which ones are best for them. Students leave real ratings and comments and inform others how the professors teach and grade their classes. Taking this extra step in your research can help you chose the professor that's best for your learning style.
  • Knowing the Needed Supplies: Most college supplies aren’t like the ones we needed in high school but you know the basics like paper, pens, binders and Scantron sheets will be on the list. Stock up just prior to the start of the academic year while the sales are hot – this way, you will be able to keep up with necessary tasks throughout the semester.

Always remember that failing to plan is planning to fail. If you start off on the right foot, a good semester will follow!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications major (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, serves as treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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How Housing Placement Can Affect Study Habits

by Chelsea Slaughter

Choosing where you want to live for a full year can be a big decision! Whether you realize it or not, where you live can really impact you and how you study – so much so that it can make or break your academic success. Here are ways to amplify your opportunity with the best housing options during your first year at school:

  • Know the Purpose of the Building You Choose: Many dorm buildings have different purposes or themes. On my campus, there are dorms where the majority of sorority girls live, dorms where most of the band lives and dorms where most athletes live. As I freshman, I chose a “Cocky Experience” dorm, which was just a dorm aimed at introducing freshmen into the college experience. We had study sessions and group meetings every month and my dorm upheld “quiet hours” more than the sorority dorm that my friend resided in. It was also within walking distance of the library so as you can imagine, it was way easier for me to get my studying done than it was for my friend to do the same.
  • Stray Away from Off-Campus Options: Your first year of college is all about learning the ways of your new school and yourself. When living off campus, you are pretty much disconnected from the school both academically and socially. When my sister stayed at an off-campus apartment, she was always disturbed by the amount of noise from outside forces. Off-campus options have less rules and more tolerance for disturbance; you are also no longer close to a peaceful area like the library or academic center.

You want everything in your favor during your first year so make sure to choose the best option for YOU. Your housing choice will have an impact and it’s up to you whether it will be for better or worse.

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Staying Grounded Amidst Campus Chaos

by Chelsea Slaughter

Campus life can get hectic, especially if it is your first time experiencing it. With new opportunities, new people, new rules and new atmosphere all coming together for one big whirlpool of “NEW,” it’s easy to lose your head and lose focus of the true reason you decided to attend college...and that is higher education!

The most important way to stay grounded is keeping the right company. Friends have way more influence on us than we care to admit. Keeping a circle who can give you a good balance work and fun is key. It is also important to BE a good friend. Sometimes we care more for the well-being of others than our own. Learn to take your own advice!

Setting goals and/or a daily/weekly/monthly schedule will also make life easier. When things get crazy, it is always nice to have something to refer back to. Goal setting can help you determine when you have time to have fun and when it’s time to get down to business.

Make sure to balance your extracurriculars as well. Don’t JUST join all social or all academic clubs and don’t JUST play sports – try a nice medley of everything! This way, you will always have a group to depend on when one aspect of your life is lacking.

College is all about new lessons and experiences but also about getting an education. Don’t let all the “NEW” overwhelm you. Be spontaneous, try new things and have fun...but be SMART! Stay grounded and remember the lessons you learned growing up. (Your gut feeling will never let you down!) Keep your future first at all times and you’ll navigate the “NEW” like a pro!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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