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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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The Text Book Game

Aug 24, 2015

by Christina Zhou

You’re starting college, excited to be embarking on the next big adventure, and…is that flimsy textbook really $500? For many students, the prospect of obtaining the course booklist on the typical college allowance may seem daunting at first. However, the following tips on how to be smart when buying textbooks can help you save a lot of tears and money.

  • Wait and see. Some (cruel) professors will put texts on the course booklist and never end up using them, causing students to waste money by rushing out and buying them immediately. It’s a good idea to wait a couple days to see which books you really need. Also, try asking previous students which books they used.
  • Ask upperclassmen. Speaking of previous students, upperclassmen can also be a great source for cheap textbooks. If you’re lucky, they might even give them to you for free!
  • Buy used, and online. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of students who immediately go to the campus bookstore and buy hardcover before looking up the prices of paperback from alternate online sellers. Amazon, eBay, and Chegg are good starting points for your search. However, make sure to check their approval rating before purchasing, as a good price is not worth poor quality.
  • Utilize the library. Schools will sometimes keep a copy or two of popular textbooks in the library. Get there fast before they’re gone, as you are competing with many other students for what is at most a handful of copies.
  • Embrace technology. Print might feel good, but the higher price won’t. Opt for e-books instead, to save on both money and backpack space.
  • Get your money back. Selling your own textbooks after you’re finished with them is a great method to get back some of the initial expense.
  • 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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Mom’s Famous Spaghetti

Aug 17, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

It seems like to get into college these days students have to be involved in nearly everything: sports, debate team, internships, nonprofit volunteering, honor societies, part time jobs…the list of potential activities goes on. But how do you describe yourself adequately without breaking the cardinal rule of the college essay: Do Not Regurgitate Your Resume? Here’s a little metaphor to help break it down.

Imagine that all the different pieces of you are embodied in ingredients to your favorite meal. Your volunteering is the pasta, your creativity is the tomato, your leadership is the salt, that time you lost the championship game is the garlic…and so on. Now imagine that your college essay is the recipe and it has to tell the admissions officer, the cook, how to make your Mom’s famous spaghetti.

To make her sauce it is important to have the right proportions: how many tomatoes, how much salt and how much garlic? A list of ingredients is nothing without the amounts and neither is your application. Did you spend a year on a research project? Have you volunteered since you were in elementary school? Look to the length of your involvement for signs of character growth, project manifestation, and endurance.

Once you put the ingredients in the pot, you have to heat them up. You have to stir it to just the right temperature so that the scent fills the air around you. The circumstances of your involvement are important too. Did you finish the race despite all odds? Did you try something new? How did it change you? In what way did you interact with your environment to accomplish something?

Then there’s the secret ingredient, the one that Mom’s grandmother’s grandmother whispered in her ear years ago. It’s the ingredient that lets the sauce linger on your taste buds just a second longer so you can savor the taste. In your essay, it’s what creates the perfect picture of you. For me, it was sharing my biggest hopes and dreams, for you it might be describing the way your hands shook when you held the trophy, or the feeling of your first paycheck. It is something unchangeable, something only cultivated by a true connection between the reader and the writer.

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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Significance of Joining Clubs and Organizations in College

Aug 14, 2015

by Erica Lewis

Many students find an area of interest outside the classroom to be involved in during high school, but being involved in extracurricular activities at college has a significant impact on your education experience and even future career. It allows you to build your resume, make new friends and provides scholarship opportunities that you might not have otherwise known about.

During the first few weeks of classes, clubs are trying to recruit new members at full force. It’s a great opportunity to discover what programs your school offers that best fit your interests. I would suggest starting out with multiple clubs and then sticking with the ones that interest you the most. Many majors have their own club, but you don’t have to be in a major to be in a club, just a desire to partake in what they offer. One of the best things about being in students organizations is the people you meet. Many organizations bring in professionals to talk about resume building, job applications and of course scholarships.

Another thing that I enjoy about clubs is the opportunity to meet other students taking the same classes as you and get advice from students who have already taken challenging courses. It’s always nice to have someone you can go to when studying for a big exam. My closest friends at college today stemmed from the relationships started in the clubs I joined. Not only do we see each other at club events, but we also enjoy doing fun activities together as well.

My biggest piece of advice with clubs is to seek out the ones that interest you the most and stick with the ones that you feel provide you with the opportunities you desire. Although clubs greatly enhance your college experience, you don’t want to become so involved that your GPA takes a hit. Personalize your college experience and utilize the resources your school offers.

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!

Comments (3)

Clubs and Organizations

Aug 7, 2015

by Erica Lewis

Many students find an area of interest to be involved in during high school, but being involved in college is just as if not more important. It allows you to build your resume, make new friends and provides scholarship opportunities that you might not have otherwise known about.

During the first few weeks of classes, clubs are trying to recruit new members like crazy. It’s a great opportunity to find what interests you. I would suggest starting out with multiple clubs and then sticking with the ones that interest you the most. Many majors have their own club, but you don’t have to be in a major, to be in a club, if it’s an area that interests you. One of the best things about being in students organizations is the people you meet. Many organizations bring in professionals to talk about resume building, job applications and (of course) scholarships.

Another thing I enjoy about clubs is that you can meet other students taking the same classes as you and get advice from students who have already taken challenging courses. It’s always nice to have someone you can go to when studying for a big exam. Many of my best friends have been those that I have met in clubs. Not only do we see each other at club events, but we also enjoy doing fun activities together as well.

My biggest piece of advice with clubs is to search out the ones that interest you the most and stick with the ones that you feel provide you with the opportunities you desire. Although clubs greatly enhance your college experience, you don’t want to become so involved that your GPA takes a hit.

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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Jobs During College

Jul 30, 2015

by Ashley Grego

While some students are fortunate with affluent upbringings, others have had jobs since the day they were legally allowed to join the work force. Even with a heavy course load, some of these students still have to work. Typically, three types of jobs are common during college: work-study, on-campus and off-campus.

Work-study is an on-campus job usually open to students with financial need. According to the U.S. Department of Education, thirty-four-hundred universities in the country actually offer work-study programs. Unlike the other two types of jobs that will be presented later in this article, work-study pay goes toward tuition only. Therefore some students in the work-study program who have financial obligations outside of tuition, must then also pick up a second job.

A second common type of job common amongst college students are on-campus jobs. A student with an on-campus job may hold the same position as a work-study employee, but have the freedom to spend their paycheck on anything they would like. On-campus jobs can range from librarian assistant, postal clerk or even cook. The greatest benefit of these jobs are that students living on-campus do not have to worry about commuting.

Last but surely not least is the off-campus job. All of my jobs and internships, except one, have been off-campus. In terms of benefits, I personally think these positions are the best. From my experience, even though the commute may be inconvenient, off-campus jobs are open to anybody and give students more opportunities to explore outside of school. A wide variety of positions are available to the student, specifically opportunities to hold a position geared toward their major.

Additionally, I find that outside of campus, employers are less focused on the “student” title and more of the “employee” title. Employers can offer more hours than work-studies and on-campus jobs as well as responsibility, providing students with more real world skills that will benefit them as a post-graduate adult in the workforce.

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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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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