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by Paulina Mis

As if the application process was not enough, the ACT, SAT, GRE etc. not sufficiently stressful, some students must also worry about acing a college interview. Those who wish to enroll in certain undergraduate or graduate school programs may find that the interview is simply unavoidable. Because interviews cannot be proofread by an older sibling, students can use the following pointers to prepare themselves for the big day. 

Location is Key. Before moving on to the content, finalize the basics. Confirm the address and time of the interview, and plan out the best way to reach your location. If possible, visit the meeting place beforehand. If not, at least arrive early. Realizing that the campus layout is confusing, the buildings ambiguously marked and the office hidden in a building labyrinth is not the optimal start to your interview. You need to arrive (outwardly) calm, (seemingly) confident and obviously on time.

Do Your Homework. Interviewers want to hear the following: you want to attend this school; you have a clear, original reason for wanting to pursue your degree, and you’re mature and ready to benefit their institution (as a current student and accomplished graduate). Be prepared to convince them of the aforementioned. Browse the school website, and be prepared to drop some names, numbers or facts. For example, let the interviewer know how the department’s A to B student teacher ratio was impressive, exactly what you had hoped to find, and how very much you would like to help professors C, D or E with their latest research project—it perfectly aligns with your career interests.

Leave a Lasting Impression. Having worked in an admission’s department and attended a board meeting where professors decided the future of incoming (or not incoming) students, I was surprised to see how seriously the interview process was taken. Yes, the board reviewed and heavily emphasized a student's course experience and GPA—over sub sandwiches—but it also paid attention to a student's presentation. Professors remarked about dress code, about how carefully a student considered his or her career goals and about formality. From this I learned that you should dress to impress; prepare specific, original details about current and future goals, and express how important your interview and goals are to you.

Posted Under:

Graduate School , High School , Tips


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by Paulina Mis

Dorms are filled to the brim with students your age, and therein lies their charm. But after finding a group of people you enjoy spending time with, their appeal slowly fades. Dorms are cramped, noisy, and, eventually, old news. But before you can hug your RA goodbye, you need to find an apartment, and that takes some planning. The following tips can help you find the best-suited home at a reasonable price.

Determine Boundaries. Before the apartment hop begins, establish a general search boundary. Off-campus apartments may be cheaper, but, depending on location, the class hike may be substantial. Decide which is the bigger priority, finance or location, and be realistic about how far you are willing to walk—in boots on a rainy, snowy day—to your perfect residence.

Get a Head Start. If you attend a large state school, chances are, you have options. But you can only be as picky as the time allows. Begin your apartment search early, around December or January. If you wait until the summer months to find an apartment for the upcoming year, you may find your options slim. Stake your claim before someone else can.

Look at Reviews. What you don’t see when you visit an apartment—the unreachable repairman, the stinky, bug-ridden basement—may come back to haunt you. One of the best ways to gauge a potential home is by seeking out feedback from previous tenants. Reviews of landlords and apartments can frequently be found in campus newspapers, both on and offline. You may also want to ask around. Satisfied and disgruntled students alike are often willing to let you know what they think.

Budget. When budgeting, you have to consider paying for school, for residence, for food, for leisure, for holiday gifts, for transportation, for emergencies and so on. If you're an apartment penny pincher, it's best to limit surprises. Ask landlords about any city or tenant fees that may be tacked on to the lease, and find out if if gas, water, parking or an internet/cable package are included. If you don’t plan to stay on campus during the summer months, also ask about a 10-month lease option. The need for apartments drops during the summertime, and many students have a hard time finding individuals willing to sublet at full price. By asking the right questions and budgeting accordingly, you can avoid many such problems down the road.


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by Paulina Mis

Each year, thousands fall victim to scholarship scam artists. With the costs of a college education rising annually, it should come as no surprise that certain individuals choose to take advantage of the situation by establishing fraudulent financial aid organizations and competitions.

Students who visit our site can rest assured knowing that the information provided to them at Scholarships.com is completely free of charge. We will never ask visitors to pay for the college scholarship search, and our financial aid information is completely cost free. Before posting award details on our site, we screen scholarship providers carefully; any scholarships deemed suspicious are immediately removed from the Scholarships.com database.

The federal government is also working to crack down on scholarship crime, regularly monitoring scholarship abuse. The Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000 has made more severe the punishments for scammers, and it has called for a mandatory report of scholarship scams to be prepared annually by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Secretary of Education. This report, including the names of current defendants in scholarship scam allegations, may be found on the FTC website.

Be on the lookout for the signs of scholarship scams listed below and report any suspicious behavior to the provided contacts.

Scholarship Scam Warning Signs

o Organizations promise scholarships for an upfront fee.

o Organizations ask students for a scholarship application fee.

o Organizations promise to complete applications and obtain scholarships for the student.

o Organizations say their scholarship information cannot be found anywhere else (most reputable awards are listed publicly; providers want you to apply!)

Report Suspicious Scholarship Behavior to: US Department of Education Office of the Inspector General 1-800-MIS-USED; Better Business Bureau (BBB) 1-703-525-8277; Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 1-202-FTC-HELP

Posted Under:

Financial Aid , Scholarships , Tips


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Setting-Up a Scholarship 101

September 5, 2007

by Paulina Mis

Many students are in desperate need of financial aid, and setting up a scholarship is a wonderful way to help them. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of a college education in 2006-2007 was $10,454 at public colleges and $26,889 at private ones. With Pell Grants capping at $4,310 this year, government money hardly cuts it. Here are a few things providers should think about when creating a scholarship.

One-Time Scholarship or Endowment?

An easy way to create a one-time or annual scholarship is to submit award information to a local scholarship foundation. It should be noted that annual scholarships (endowments) may require the provider to come up with more than $20,000. Ongoing scholarships are similar to bank accounts in that interest accrues on the initial deposit. The earned money then becomes an award. If winners are to receive a significant amount of money, a large initial donation may be required.

IRS watch

As long as scholarships are used for college expenses, they are usually tax-exempt. However, there are some IRS regulations, and they are particularly strict when it comes to corporate scholarship providers.

Who is eligible?

Scholarships are a great source of support to students who face difficult circumstances or enter underrepresented fields. Regardless of targeted recipients, providers should be clear on who they are looking for. There is no point in reading applications from students who won’t be considered. Criteria such as GPA, field of study, year in school etc. should be specific, but lax enough to give students a shot.

Advertising

With the help of Scholarships.com, advertising can be a cinch. Once a provider submits scholarship information, it will be made available to students who visit our site. To prevent providers from being inundated with applications from ineligible students, Scholarships.com will only show the scholarship to students who meet its eligibility criteria.

Posted Under:

Federal Aid , Scholarships , Tips


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by Paulina Mis

It’s difficult to read a national newspaper–your choice–for longer than a week without coming across at least one article dealing with the environment. Why should a blog be any different? Jokes and polar bears aside, the environment is in need of some true student TLC, and students have plenty of it to give. Here are some things each of us can do to help.

1. Get educated Change starts with education. When searching for potential colleges, take into consideration the variety of classes offered. The more options schools have, the more you can dabble in various interests, especially the environment. By educating yourself about environmental issues, you can learn about ways to improve the situation, and what’s more, inspire others with your newfound knowledge. When you let people see how the environment affects them personally, you are more likely to convince them that their efforts and time are worth the investment.

2. Turn off the lights Saving money and energy is a click away, or a clap clap. Remember to turn off lights and appliances when you are through with them. Pay extra attention to air conditioners—open windows and running air conditioners make mother earth cry.  

3. Live by the triple R’s Many of us already reduce, reuse and recycle to some extent, but most of us don’t really crack down on bad habits.  By making the three R’s your mantra, you can reduce emissions, save some tree lives and fatten your piggybank.

4. Write to Congress  This one is for the ambitious. Begin a petition in support of the Kyoto Protocol to be sent to Congress; or at least sign the one you make your friend create. So far, 172 countries and governmental entities have signed the pact limiting emissions. Somehow the U.S. is not one of them.

5. Take public transportation  A great benefit to most on-campus travel is the abundance of public transportation. Taking the bus or train to school can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and it can also free up some time to chat or study. It may not be the most convenient way of getting around, but improvement isn’t always convenient. For those who live close by, riding a bike, rollerblading or walking is also a good option.

6. Bring your own bags and mugs  Try stuffing your groceries into a backpack, and bring mugs to coffee shops. (Or visit ones that offer in-house cups.) Some stores and coffee shops will even give you discounts for doing so. 

7. Be laptop savvy in class  You won’t look like you’re too cool for school by bringing your laptop to lectures—really. Students can save much paper by appending and saving posted online notes on laptops.  By bringing a laptop to class, you can save trees and increase the likelihood of future legibility. Plus, editing is easier on a computer, and most students can type more quickly than they can write. If you’re not one of them, it’s about time you practiced.

There are plenty of things students can do to make a difference, and many are already hard at work. This year, Scholarship.com’s annual Resolve to Evolve scholarship prizes were awarded to students who wrote the best essays on problems dealing with standardized testing and the environment. See what the winners had to say on the topic, and check out Scholarships.com's new Resolve to Evolve $10,000 essay scholarship. You can also search our database for college scholarships and grants; begin finding money for college today!

Posted Under:

College Culture , College News , Tips


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by Paulina Mis

Who wants to waste their senior year analyzing the deeper message behind The Scarlet Letter, differentiating between cations and anions (cations are “paw”sitive), or charting calculus equations? Obviously, few of us want to make high school more difficult than it already is. That being said, the advantages of enrolling oneself—when possible—in challenging Advanced Placement (AP) courses can extend beyond the twelfth grade. Below are just a few reasons why you should consider college-level classes.

Sooner of later, you will have to take them. Unpleasant core subject requirements won’t go away when you get to college. Sure, more classes will be relevant to your major, but some headaches will still exist. Instead of taking the standard versions now and the advanced versions later, knock out two birds with one stone.

Save money. On average, college prices are rising at rates that outpace inflation. If you want to save money, don’t stay in school longer than you have to. Within reason, challenge yourself by completing extra credits, and finish school on time.

Make your college years a bit easier. Many students are taken aback by the increased expectations of college instructors. According to the St. Petersburg Times, about a quarter of first-year college students do not return the following year. By taking AP classes, students can become acquainted with the increasingly difficult college curriculum and nip workload problems before they arise.

Impress College Admissions Officials. Most of us are aware of the advantages, both social and financial, of college graduates. But before you reach for that diploma, you must first be accepted. Advanced Placement classes will show admissions officials that you are taking initiative and working hard. In other words, you are the kind of candidates who deserves the chance (and possibly the scholarship) needed to attend their school.

Posted Under:

Tips

Tags: Advanced Placement , Study Skills

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by Paulina Mis

Why should I care about voting?

Whether you're new to it or not, you’ve got to make like “Diddy” and “Rock the Vote”. Even if you’re not a huge fan, he’s got it right this time. There is something at stake for student voters: financial aid. This year has been a tumultuous one as far as college financial aid is concerned, and a collective student voice is needed to convince candidates that students mean business.

It all began when an investigation headed by New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed that some, actually many, financial aid officials were receiving money from student lenders in exchange for promotions. Findings showed that certain lenders were paying schools to place them on preferred lender lists, offering gifts and money to financial aid officials in exchange for loan promotion, conducting seemingly unbiased loan exit sessions, and giving athletic departments money for each lead sold.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that third-party lender advertisers were using tactics such as imitating government websites to make students feel as if they were getting unbiased information or that some study abroad advisors were receiving money and free trips from study abroad companies for every student they convinced to travel with them. Sigh… I’m a bit out of breath.

Some, not many, successful efforts have been made to fix the financial aid system. The recently passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act has increased Pell Grants and decreased student lender subsidies. Unfortunately, these changes don't apply to all students. Those who are still in need of college funding should conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com.  And to convince politicians that they need to hold up their end of the deal, students need to vote.

How do I register?

Votes won’t cast themselves. (Florida votes are a rare exception; they do what they want.) To participate in next year’s elections held on November 4, 2008, you have to be a registered voter. Under the Motor Voter law, states need to make registration available in numerous public agencies. Local departments of motor vehicles are common ones. Many cities also set up voting facilities in state buildings, libraries and schools.

Check your city hall or their online site for voting areas in your city. Most states also allow citizens to register by filling out a mail-in form available online at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) . States have different deadlines for registration (usually about 30 days prior to Election Day), so don’t wait too long.  When you're ready to register, bring proof of state residency e.g., driver’s license, ID or utility bill. If you are sending your registration via mail, you will need to photo copy these items.

Students who move to college must update their address before registering. Contact your local city hall to find out how this works for students living in college dorms. Once you’ve done that, you will have to pay a $750 voting fee. Just kidding, you're registering to vote, not for college classes.

Posted Under:

College Culture , College News , Tips


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Staying Safe Online

June 7, 2011

Staying Safe Online

by Radha Jhatakia

We’ve all heard that we should be careful of the information we put on the Internet but how many of us actually listen to this advice? There are news stories and movies made about what can happen when we put our personal information online, yet many people believe that nothing bad will happen. The truth is that it can be quite dangerous to share private information in any setting; the Internet just makes it easier.

Social networking sites have changed the modern generation. We put up tweets and Facebook statuses about every minute thing we do. Every picture taken at a party goes up on the web (whether the subjects are mentally stable or not) and every gripe about a job or professor is tweeted or turned into a status message. These things can affect you in many ways...if not now, then in the future: They can prevent you from getting a job or getting into school and people who post their addresses, phone numbers and emails are not only at risk of identity theft but could be stalked...or worse.

If you have not adjusted the privacy settings on your personal profiles, change them immediately. When someone friends you and you’re not sure you know them, decline the request or message them to get more information. Don’t volunteer private information about where you live or work to anyone, including using “check in” applications like those on Facebook and foursquare. Sure, it’s fun to let your friends know you’re using your hard-earned work-study dollars to treat yourself to a meal outside the dining hall but if your privacy settings are too low, everyone with access to your pages will know where you are at any given time. You could return to your dorm to find your laptop missing.

In the most basic of terms, when it comes to sharing information online, be cautious and trust your gut.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Emotional Guidance in College

by Radha Jhatakia

There are many factors that influence your stress levels in college and all throughout life. In college, stress comes from your classes, meeting graduation requirements and securing enough financial aid, plus outside stressors like family and work. It can be hard to handle everything at once, especially when new issues arise and challenge us. The key to maintaining a healthy balance is to find a positive outlet to deal with these stressors.

It’s always nice having one friend that you can talk to about everything but sometimes a subject may feel too personal. I just transferred to a new school and the transition was taking its toll on me. All the while, there were problems going on at home and it was very difficult for me to deal with all of it. I had my sisters to talk to and an academic counselor from my old school to confide in but it would have been nice to speak to someone in a professional manner.

College administrators understand the stress we go through as students and how difficult it can be for us to handle everything. Therefore, many colleges have wellness and health centers that you can visit in your time of need. They offer workshops on everything from managing time to health education and there are also professional psychologists and counselors there to speak with you. All you need to do is make an appointment and someone will be there to help you out.

Unfortunately, many students don’t realize someone is always there to listen to them and in some cases, the consequences of not seeking help can be quite serious – even fatal. If you’re finding it hard to deal with any aspect of college life, don’t hesitate to take advantage of these resources. They exist for your benefit.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Interviewing as a College Student

by Radha Jhatakia

Having a job offer before you graduate is ideal but doesn’t always happen. The truth is it’s slightly easier to get a job in college than after because you are on a different playing field than recent grads. When applying for a job in college, you go through university relations but after you swing your tassel from right to left, you become a candidate for human resources like everyone else applying for the position.

Applying starts with the resume. An impressive college resume doesn’t mean multiple pages of volunteer experiences and jobs – it’s about quality, not quantity. Highlight your most important jobs, internships and community service organizations and focus on how the skills you’ve gained would add to the job you’re interested in. Be prepared to talk about these attributes in more detail in your cover letter and during your interview.

If you get an interview, remember to relax. Employers look for students who are confident and collected during the interview – if you can’t handle the pressure of the interview, how will you handle the responsibilities of the job? Bring extra copies of your resume and be sure to dress appropriately: Employers already have certain standards in mind for college applicants and arriving prepared and dressing professionally will show them you are mature and willing to take on responsibilities and tasks that graduates can. In the days leading up to your interview, practice answers to basic questions. Remember, you’ll be having a conversation so try not to sound too rehearsed.

After interviewing, take it upon yourself to follow up with a thank you note to your interviewer, preferably a handwritten one and never one sent from your cell phone. This seemingly small gesture will go a long way in employers’ books; you’ll stand out from the crowd in a positive way and land the job – or at least some interview experience – as a result!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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