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How Expensive is "Too Expensive" for a College Education?

Students Willing to Spend More for Academics, Prestige

November 4, 2010

How Expensive is "Too Expensive" for a College Education?

by Alexis Mattera

The true cost of a college education is seldom the number that’s printed in school brochures and on various college comparison lists. When you figure in federal aid, scholarships, grants, room and board, books and supplies, that price fluctuates. One thing remains constant - higher education doesn’t come cheap - but a new poll finds students are willing to stretch their finances for several key factors.

In April, right up until enrollment deadlines, students were still considering “too expensive” schools and were willing to stretch to pay for their education, poll conductors the College Board and the Art & Science Group report. While it would be more financially sound to select the school with the lower tuition and better financial aid package, “too expensive” colleges remained in play if they had strong academics in students’ fields of interest, were places students felt comfortable, had prestigious academic reputations or had excellent records of graduate school acceptance or good job placement after students graduated. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Twenty-six percent of students surveyed said their family would have to stretch a lot, but “I think we’ll make it.”
  • Twenty-two percent chose “I’m not sure how my family will afford to send me to college, but I believe we’ll work something out when the time comes.”
  • Eleven percent said, “I don’t think my family can afford to send me to college, but we are going to try.” Nearly 40 percent of students surveyed did not have a sense of long-term costs, citing “no idea” what their likely monthly payment on student loans would be after graduation.

If you think back to every award show you’ve ever seen, you’ll recall those who do not win always say it is an honor just to be nominated. The same can be said for college admissions: It’s an amazing achievement to be accepted to a prestigious college but is attending worth it if the cost of attendance is going to drive you and your family into debt?


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All GPAs are Created Equal with this Scholarship of the Week

Cappex’s “A GPA Isn’t Everything” Scholarship Ends November 30th

November 15, 2010

All GPAs are Created Equal with this Scholarship of the Week

by Alexis Mattera

Just because your GPA is less than 4.0 doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the same chance at scholarship awards as your higher-ranked classmates.

Cappex’s “A GPA Isn’t Everything” Scholarship proves just that by awarding $1,000 to high school seniors or students planning on attending college within the next 12 months. We know it sounds too good to be true but it’s no scam – none of the scholarships listed on our site are – so complete your scholarship application before the November 30th deadline.

Looking for additional scholarship opportunities? Complete a free scholarship search today!


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From Hogwarts to Harvard

How Would “Potter” Characters Fare in College Admissions?

November 19, 2010

From Hogwarts to Harvard

by Alexis Mattera

After you rub the sleep out of your eyes left over from the midnight “Deathly Hallows” showing, consider this: How well does Hogwarts prepare its students for college? Well, we Muggles would have some definite competition if our applications went head-to-head with Harry Potter's, Hermione Granger's and Ron Weasley's before They Which Shall Not Be Named (aka admissions committees).

First, there’s Harry. From losing many people he loved – parents, godfather, mentor and friends – to having the Dark Lord trying to kill him at every turn, his application essay would tug at the heartstrings but also reveal a young man able to succeed against all odds. He’s as skilled with a quill as he is with a wand and admissions committees would be impressed with his ability to work with others toward a common goal. He’d gain admission because he’d be an asset to any department (I’m thinking his major would be chemistry or political science), study group and, obviously, the Quidditch team.

Next, Hermione obviously has the brains and could dominate the SATs or ACTs just like she owned the O.W.L.s…but what about extracurriculars? In her case, wizarding and witchery definitely count as community service and her compassion for oppressed individuals (mudbloods, ogres, elves, etc.) hints at possible careers in social work, nursing or medicine. Maybe the actress portraying her can put in a good word with the dean at Brown, though Ms. Granger would surely gain admission on her own merit. She wouldn’t have it any other way!

Lastly, we have Ron. As one of seven Weasley kids, Ron knows a thing or two about standing out in a crowd…even if he does so while wearing his older brothers’ hand-me-downs. His athletic skills may garner a scholarship or two but admissions committees will be most impressed with his essay, which would detail his problem solving skills and loyalty demeanor. His innate investigative skills are top notch and could easily translate into aced journalism and criminal justice classes. And don’t worry, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley: Not only will Ron get in but he’s also going to get an excellent financial aid package!

Though Harry, Hermione and Ron won’t be applying for a spot at your dream school, other students possessing equally impressive skills and backgrounds will so it’s important to make your college application memorable. We’ve got plenty of tips on the college application process throughout our site as well as strategies for winning valuable scholarships. Hurry, though: Application deadlines are approaching faster than the Hogwarts Express!


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Where’s the Beef? In This Scholarship of the Week!

National Cattlemen’s Foundation Scholarship Deadline in Two Days

November 29, 2010

Where’s the Beef? In This Scholarship of the Week!

by Alexis Mattera

I know what you’re probably thinking – a college scholarship centered around beef?! – but hear me out…it could put $1,500 in your savings account for your college education!

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation Beef Industry Scholarship awards 10 scholarships of $1,500 to outstanding students pursuing careers in the beef industry. It’s not necessary to own a pair of overalls, have a close four-legged friend named Bessie or even consider meat a diet staple to apply – fields of study may include education, communications, production and research – as long as the panel feels you are talented, thoughtful and will emerge as a leader in the industry (classes, internships and life experiences are big pluses).

To be considered for this scholarship, you must be a graduating high school senior or full-time undergraduate student enrolled at a two or four-year institution for the 2010-2011 school year. Applicants must then write a one-page letter expressing/indicating future career goals related to the beef industry as well as write an essay in 750 words or less describing an issue confronting the beef industry and offer a solution. Two letters of recommendation, proof of full-time enrollment and a cover page are also required. All materials must be postmarked or received by this Wednesday (December 1).

For more information, visit http://www.nationalcattlemensfoundation.org; to find even more scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Popular Culture 101?

TV + Trends + College = Fun and Unusual New Classes

December 1, 2010

Popular Culture 101?

by Alexis Mattera

No, there are still no classes entitled “The Anatomy of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” or “The Hanukkah Snuggie’s Effect on Modern Judaism” but classes with roots in popular culture are popping up on college campuses everywhere. If you’ve yet to select your classes for next semester or have found a few empty blocks in your schedule, consider enrolling in one of these fun, weird and surprisingly informative courses. (Bonus: They could help you earn an equally unusual scholarship!)

  • Consumerism and Social Change in Mad Men America, 1960-1963: Northwestern University history professor Michael Allen teaches this freshman course, which examines the relationship between consumerism and the social and political changes of the 1950s and 1960s. Students attend lectures and read historical texts but are also required to watch several “Mad Men” episodes each week. We’d assume cigarette smoking, scotch swilling and infidelity do not earn extra credit points.
  • South Park and Contemporary Issues: This course at McDaniel College mixes sociology and philosophy while exploring the controversial contemporary social issues featured on the long-running Comedy Central cartoon. The official course description states, “Ultimately, students will gain…new knowledge of the benefits of applying an interdisciplinary approach to contemporary social issues.” No Kennys will be harmed but bring your own Cheesy Poofs.
  • Music, Video Games, and the Nature of Human Cognition: This NYU psychology class already has a waiting list and there’s a good reason for it: Professor Gary Marcus believes video games – specifically “Guitar Hero” – can be used to enhance human cognition. Some parents are upset that this is the type of class their tuition is going toward but Marcus stresses that delving into this understudied area will yield positive results. Rock on, Professor!
  • Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame: The University of South Carolina’s Mathieu Deflem has gone gaga for Gaga and he hopes his students will too with his sociological analysis of selected social issues related to the pop star’s work. Though the course is within the sociology department, the subjects of music, fashion, art, business, marketing, new media, religion and politics will be integrated to dissect Gaga’s rise to fame and impact on society. Unlike the infamous meat dress, this approach is well done.
  • Zombies in Popular Media: Vampires are so last year, people, and Columbia College Chicago has the latest undead trend – zombies – ready to take over your brain, not eat it. Literature, comics and film will “foster thoughtful connections between student disciplines and the figure of the zombie,” states the course description and the history, significance and representation of zombies will be discussed and implemented on a daily basis. Hopefully, this class doesn’t take place after dark.

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Big Changes in the Big Ten

New Logo, Divisions and Trophies Announced; Fans Sound Off

December 14, 2010

Big Changes in the Big Ten

by Alexis Mattera

Sure, the Golden Globe nominations are grabbing most of this morning’s headlines but in the world of college sports, “Mad Men” and “The Social Network” are riding the pine while what’s going on in the Big Ten takes the field.

Among the changes is a new logo. First off, the logo. It’s not a huge departure from the previous design by any means – it’s still blue and white and incorporates numbers as well as letters – and logo co-designer Michael Gericke tells ESPN, “The new Big Ten logo was developed to symbolize the conference’s future, as well as its rich heritage, strong tradition of competition, academic leadership, and passionate alumni. Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral ‘10’ in the word ‘BIG,’ which allows fans to see ‘BIG’ and ‘10’ in a single word. Memorable and distinctive, the new logo evolved from the previous logo’s use of negative space and is built on the conference’s iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions.” Fans aren’t buying it, though: It’s been less than one day since the logo was unveiled but the new design is already receiving some pushback a la Facebook and the Gap.

Next, the new divisions of Legends and Leaders – a change which makes sense in a way since the number of teams in the Big Ten exceeds the conference’s name – and 18 trophies. Now, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern are in the Legends division while Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin represent the Leaders division. As for the trophies, there are 18 new ones, many of which honor past players and coaches. “Our foundation is our history, and so we want to honor that history and tradition. Our goal, if we are to sustain this enterprise, is to continue to focus on the building of future leadership through education and competition,” said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.

It’s my guess these changes won’t impact the players – who should be more concerned with maintaining the grades to keep their athletic scholarships – but sports writers, reporters and fans are certainly making their voices heard. What do you think of the Big Ten’s changes? Are they worth all the ruffled feathers?


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A Deal with the (Sun) Devil

ASU Placed on NCAA Probation for Scholarship Violations

December 17, 2010

A Deal with the (Sun) Devil

by Alexis Mattera

Imagine working hard throughout high school, getting accepted to the college or university of your choice and receiving a scholarship covering all or part of your tuition. Now imagine being asked to give back even a tiny percentage of that award.

Wait...WHAT?! Exactly...but that's what happened at Arizona State University when former baseball coach Pat Murphy requested a number of his players relinquish all or part of their athletic scholarships for the 2006-2007 academic year so that the coaching staff could enroll several transfer students they had been recruiting through a program Murphy called Devil-to-Devil. His actions may not have been discovered unless a parent of a player complained about the process to ASU’s athletics director and after an investigation, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) agreed that this practice was problematic and violated rules. The punishment: ASU has been banned from the college playoffs this coming season and must vacate numerous wins, including the team’s 2007 Pacific-10 Conference title and trip to the College World Series; the school also received three years' probation, scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations. Though ASU has taken responsibility for not monitoring the baseball program more closely, it intends to appeal the NCAA’s decision.

As for Murphy – who echoes the name of his program with several other questionable practices – he’s not coaching anywhere at the moment but will not go unpunished. He was forced to resign last year and the NCAA bestowed a one-year show-cause penalty upon him so that any institution interested in hiring him in the next 12 months must not only defend why it is hiring him but also how it will monitor his behavior to prevent further violations.

This situation is shady any way you slice it but I do feel for the ASU students and coaches who are being penalized for events they had no part in. The beauty of college scholarships is that they don’t have to be repaid, allowing students to graduate with little to no student loan or credit card debt. To be clear, what Murphy did was wrong but by limiting the amount of scholarship awards and financial aid ASU can disperse, he’s not the one being truly punished – it’s the deserving students that are being hurt the most.


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This Scholarship of the Week is SWEET!

Zinch Sweet-Diggity-Dawg Scholarship Deadline Approaching

December 27, 2010

This Scholarship of the Week is SWEET!

by Alexis Mattera

Finding the necessary amount of financial aid to fund your education can be difficult. Requirements often include complicated forms and applications, lengthy essays and rigid guidelines…some, but not all: Certain providers, like Zinch, are making it much easier to score some super sweet scholarship opportunities. Like this week’s Scholarship of the Week, the Zinch Sweet-Diggity-Dawg Scholarship: It's worth $20,000. Let's learn some more about it, shall we?

To enter, you must be a high school student with a minimum 2.0 GPA and an 80-percent complete Zinch profile. Semi-finalists are selected for this scholarship based on their profiles then they compete, "March Madnezz" style, in a bracket of 64 students. Students go head-to-head, with the best Zinch profile advancing until only one student remains and claims the $20,000 scholarship.

The application deadline is in just under three weeks (January 15th) so you still have time to spruce up your Zinch profile (or create one if you don’t already have one). With $20,000 at stake, it’s best to bring your A-game! To get more info about this scholarship, visit Zinch's site and to find additional scholarship awards, try our free scholarship search today!


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eBay Item 160522990911: Academic Dishonesty

Georgetown Alum Peddles Essays, Term Papers Online

December 28, 2010

eBay Item 160522990911: Academic Dishonesty

by Alexis Mattera

Once you’ve graduated from college, what do you do with the pages upon pages of writing assignments you completed during your tenure? You could go green and recycle them, I suppose…or you could try to make some green off of them, like the subject of our next story.

Having been there and done that once himself (or herself), one Georgetown alum knows that writing essays for admissions, scholarships and college classes takes a lot of time – time frazzled students just don’t have – and is attempting to profit from that burden by selling their own admissions essay, multiple class papers and a graduate school scholarship essay on eBay via the handle and alzheimers_caregiver. Georgetown’s own Vox Populi reported that while there are currently no bids on the items, the eventual winner (and I use that term very loosely here) will be e-mailed the materials and is free to edit the pieces as they see fit before turning them in.

Yes, we know the writing that goes into getting admitted to and succeeding in college is no small amount (just ask Harvard grad Natalie Portman) but if you’re truly committed to making the most of your college experience, crafting a few thousand words into an original essay isn’t going to kill you. Passing someone else’s work off as your own won’t either…but it could make your time at Big State U or Fancy Private College a lot shorter than you anticipated. An equally terrible but less-academically-poisonous bet? Buying alzheimers_caregiver’s other offering, a VHS copy of Look Who’s Talking Now.


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Mind the Gap

Should You Take a Year Off?

December 30, 2010

Mind the Gap

by Alexis Mattera

The road to college – once thought to be straight and narrow – is detouring into uncharted territory. It was once expected for all high school seniors to matriculate to an institute of higher education the semester after they graduate but today, many students (and their parents) are considering the notion of taking a year off from formal schooling first.

But what do students do during this time, often called a gap year? Not catching up on “Extreme Couponing” or trying out online dating: Students use this time to volunteer abroad or build their resumes and schools are adopting formal programs allowing incoming freshmen to defer admission for a year to do so. According to the Wall Street Journal, "gap fairs" are becoming just as common as campus job expos. The results? Mixed. While most students end their gap years better prepared to attend college, some get so waylaid that they abandon a collegiate education all together.

It may sound tempting to take a year off to explore the unknown but there are a few confounding variables. First, the price tag is far from alluring – unless you feel $35,000 is a reasonable figure. (The upside is that costs can be defrayed by stipends, grants, research fellowships and scholarships or the agreement to work in a very remote area.) Next, the hazy direction of your future. I won't deny that your late teens and early 20s are the best times to gain life experience but if said experience is going to leave you in debt or questioning once-important educational goals, is taking the time off worth it?


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