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Challenging Yourself in High School Has Vast Future Rewards

by Julius Clayborn

I began my high school career at EXCEL-Orr High School but quickly realized the school was not doing enough to prepare me for post-secondary success. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I transferred to Urban Prep Academy and though my collegiate dreams were now within reach, the transition was not easy. I was met with much opposition and had multiple run-ins with many of the students. I was torn: Here I had this great opportunity but these external factors were taking an academic and emotional toll on me. I began to regret transferring and eventually regret school altogether.

Luckily, I found solace in my extracurricular activities such as debate and youth activism club. These things helped me realize my full potential and made me believe that there was something greater in store for me. Transferring quickly went from the worst decision I had ever made to the best, especially when it came time to start applying to colleges. Initially, I saw more challenges – Will I get in? Can I afford tuition? – but my worries were put to rest just as fast: We had an entire class period dedicated to college preparation and the application process, which is where I found out about the site you’re reading right now. Not only did I get accepted to a fantastic school, I also received enough scholarships and grants to pay for it.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with your high school’s curriculum, don’t sit idly by: Challenge yourself by taking harder courses or transfer, like I did. It may be difficult at first but any struggle will be well worth it in the future.

Julius Claybron was born on Chicago’s South Side in the Harold Ickes public housing projects. At the age of five, he lost his father to diabetes and was raised by his mother and grandmother, who helped him to enroll in Urban Prep Academy, a public all-male college-preparatory high school, during his sophomore year. Julius started to read at the age of two and still enjoys escaping in books during his spare time. He will begin his freshman year at Cornell University this fall, where he plans to double major in psychology and English literature.


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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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Keeping in Touch with Friends from High School

by Jessica Seals

The day before I started my freshman year of college, the thought of having to start over and meet new people from all over the country left me feeling very overwhelmed and anxious but I quickly realized that this was actually one of the main perks of attending college! While I enjoy meeting new people, I have also made it a priority to stay connected with my high school friends.

Since I no longer go to school with my closest friends from high school, I don’t get to see them as often as I did before we started college. To make sure that we all stay connected, we all get together on social media websites like Facebook and send out mass messages before holiday and summer breaks. Each person puts what day and time for a gathering works best for them and we finalize our meeting time before we head home. When we meet up, we discuss how our classes have been going and what new activities or hobbies we’ve picked up. By having these gatherings, we are able to stay in touch even though we are spread out across the country.

Remaining close to high school friends has allowed me to make connections with their friends that have proven to be helpful in my college career and has also made me feel comfortable in having someone to talk to when the stress of college brings me down. I also think that it’s interesting to see how everyone has changed since their high school days and how everyone is getting ready for life after college.

College is an excellent time to meet new people but your old friends helped to make you who you are today. Don’t forget them!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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College and the City

June 9, 2011

College and the City

by Anna Meskishvili

I knew well before I sent in my first Common App that I would find myself in a city for college. I needed the noise and commotion of a world much different than suburban Connecticut. As you know, I found my niche in Boston but there are some key things you need to know about city-school life:

Money. From museums to vintage boutiques to restaurants, there are limitless activities in a city but everything requires a pretty penny. Be sure to scope out all college discounts (ex., any BU student can go to the Museum of Fine Arts for free) and review sites like Groupon, Living Social and Privy before dishing out the dough.

Transportation. Get used to the fact that you won’t see the inside of a car for the time that you are attending school. In Boston, we use the subway system called the T. There’s even a T line that runs right through BU, making it simple to hop on on campus and hop off at any point in town. I recommend getting a semester pass – they seem pricy at first but they cost the same as 20 rides – and you’ll have more opportunities to explore the city with this unlimited option.

Security. You are in a city, not in Bumsville, MiddleOfNowhere. There are real threats, especially after dark and especially for girls. I would invest in pepper spray, or at least enough common sense to not walk alone past midnight. City or country, all campuses have Emergency Blue Light systems so find out where they are just in case.

Living in a city - on campus or off - has been fantastic! There is a never a dull evening – you even run into your fair share of celebrities like David Beckham, who was in town recently! – and with the proper precautions, a city can be as safe and accessible as you want it to be.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Where to Work on Campus

by Kara Coleman

While many students have been working part-time jobs since they were in high school, others are juggling work and school for the first time. On-campus jobs make this transition easy, since your boss will be willing to work around your class schedule. Whether you live at home and commute to your college or you live in a dorm 3,000 miles from home, on-campus employment is available. Here’s just a sampling:

Bookstore Associate: Your school’s bookstore needs people to run cash registers, answer phones, stock shelves and help students locate books they need. This might be a good job for you year-round if your school offers summer courses.

Tutor: At the community college I attended, free tutoring is available to students through the Student Support Services office. Tutors are paid by the school and set their own schedules during the hours the office is open. This guarantees that tutors’ work schedules do not conflict with their class schedules. If your college doesn’t offer a tutoring program, consider starting a private tutoring business.

Ambassador/Tour Guide: My school offers scholarships to students who participate in the ambassador program. Ambassadors are expected to be present at career fairs and charity functions and give campus tours to prospective students. Find out if your college offers scholarships or other types of financial aid for ambassador or tour guide positions.

Campus Security: Some colleges let students work for the university police department. Duties may include directing traffic, inspecting grounds and buildings for safety, and assistance during emergency situations. This is a great opportunity for criminal justice and law enforcement majors...or anyone looking to keep their campus safe!

Student job opportunities vary from school to school – at some universities, the editor of the school newspaper is a paid position! – so visit your college’s website or ask your advisor about potential on-campus jobs for you.

Kara Coleman lives in Gadsden, Alabama, where she attends Gadsden State Community College. She received the school’s Outstanding English Student Award two years in a row and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to transfer to Jacksonville State University in August 2011 to study communications with concentration in print journalism. Kara’s writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children’s book author through Big Dif Books. In her spare time, Kara enjoys reading, painting, participating in community theater and pretty much any other form of art.


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New at School? Find a Mentor to Show You the Ropes!

by Cameron Pybus

I didn’t receive my acceptance letter to Texas A&M until May 7th, I had no idea where I was going to live because dorm rooms had already been filled and on top of that, I was working 40 hours a week that summer. I was in a not-so-ideal situation for a soon-to be-freshman in college and knew I was going to need some advice to have a successful year. I was going to need a mentor.

Having a mentor or someone who can show you the ropes is an incredible advantage at the beginning of your college career. It’s what helped me through my first semester and really launched my success at A&M. Seeking out somebody with experience to answer your questions may seem a little awkward at first but I bet they’ll be more than willing to help you out. Lots of new students decide to go it alone; that’s fine if that’s your personality but in my own personal experience, college is about the people you meet and create unforgettable memories with.

Here are some tips for finding a mentor or someone older to show you the collegiate ropes:

  • Put yourself out there. You can’t expect someone to find you, show you around campus and tell you which social club to join. Make the effort!
  • Figure out who can help you. For me, it was someone who had gone to my high school but for you, it may be someone you meet at orientation or someone older than you in your major.
  • Get involved. Being part of niche organizations and extracurricular activities are great ways to meet older students at your university and find advice for surviving college.
  • Keep in touch. Sure, it’s nice if they show you around the week before school starts but it really helps to utilize your mentor’s expertise throughout the semester.

Cameron Pybus is a rising senior at Texas A&M University, where he’s majoring in environmental design. He plans to attend graduate school in the fall of 2012 and eventually pursue a career as an architect. Cameron has been involved in various activities at A&M including student government organizations and a service organization called A.M.C. He just returned from studying abroad in Italy and is looking forward to his last year as an Aggie.


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How to Not Kill Your Roommate

by Darci Miller

Before college, the only time I’d ever shared a room with someone was at sleep-away camp. Living in a bunk with a dozen other girls was certainly an experience but I was still nervous about moving in with my freshman roommate. We’d talked on Facebook but never met in person and all of a sudden we were supposed to live together harmoniously.

Not only did we survive that first year without killing each other but we successfully lived together sophomore year and will be moving back in together in August for year number three. Pretty good for a first roommate experience! While I lucked out in finding someone I’m totally compatible with, I think our trick was abiding by several unwritten rules.

First and foremost is respect. We never touch each other’s things (including food) unless we get permission to. At the same time, there are certain things we share: Her printer is mine to use as I need it (as long as I help pay for ink), she has full privileges with my television and then there was the time we bought a jar of Nutella together. Respect also involves being quiet when you come in at 3 a.m. and keeping sexiling to a bare minimum (no pun intended).

Compromising is important as well. You’ll have to learn to go to sleep with the lights on now and then (I did) or plug in your headphones if your roommate wants to turn in early. If you both go in knowing that you’ll have to give a little, you’ll make each other’s transition much easier.

In my opinion, the most important aspect of living together is liking each other! You don’t have to be BFFs but spend some time together and find something to bond over. Do you both hate the Yankees? Are you both huge OneRepublic fans? Heck, do you both like Nutella? It can be the littlest things that form a great relationship and make living together a pleasure.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Prepping for a Study Abroad: Social Edition

by Mariah Proctor

When I was preparing for my first study abroad to Jerusalem, I envisioned myself walking though the cobblestone streets and trying exotic foods and seeing wonderful sights. The one thing that my pre-departure vision never included was other people. I always imagined myself alone and having the time of my life. It wasn’t until we got together, all in one room, that I realized that girl who asked that silly question was going to be there and that guy who looked too cool for school was going to be there and that this trip was going to be full of people and not just places.

I ended up falling in love with my Jerusalem group. Those bad first impressions resolved themselves over time and we found ourselves attached to one another in a way that is much more than the “false intimacy of fellow travelers.” Study abroad rules often dictate that you travel everywhere in groups, meaning that these people are going to punctuate every experience you have in your destination of choice. Don’t let that punctuation be big ol' question marks or – worse – frustrated exclamation points.

As you start your journey looking into the faces of strangers that you will ultimately get to know better than you can currently imagine, remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him." Everyone in your study abroad group will have something unique and wonderful to offer your experience, so be open to accepting that contribution. When you discover some great and respectable trait in a travel buddy, be confident enough to tell them so. Everyone will be feeling a little out of whack in a new place and that kind of lift will connect you and improve the adventure for you both.

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.


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To Stay Informed on Campus, Develop a Nose for News

by Jacquelene Bennett

One of the most striking differences between high school and college is how everyone pays attention to the news. Most students are up to date with their current events and world happenings and they love to talk about it in and out of class. So how can you become news savvy?

Whether they are reading online newspapers, blog or user-generated content on social media sites, college students get their news primarily through the Internet. I first learned about Bin Laden's death through Facebook after someone had posted it as their status and I know people who get Twitter updates from online publications sent directly to their phones so they can stay on top of major news events.

Another way to gather news is by watching television. CNN or MSNBC is always on in the cafeteria or coffeehouse area at my school. My friends and I tune in to those channels but we prefer to watch “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.” These shows keep you informed without beating you over the head with hours of unimportant opinions and reports and they make you laugh in the process.

Of course, there is always the traditional method of gathering news: newspapers and other print media. When I’m on campus, I never have to look very far to find copies of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal or a number of local publications. Not only are these print publications widely available to students every day but they are also free. Thanks, U of R!

So for all you incoming college freshmen, I would recommend you brushing up on your current events and for all you fellow college goers, how do you stay informed?

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.


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Finding a Summer Job Late in the Game

by Kayla Herrera

Spring semester ends and summer rolls in with its blossoming heat and sunny days. Summer classes are starting up, birds are gathering in trees to sing their summery tunes and some students are starting their job search...late.

I tend to start looking for a summer job in the early spring in order to secure a position but if you have a particularly demanding spring semester class schedule, you’re not going to get this kind of head start. In an injured economy, it’s difficult to find a job, especially in smaller college towns that are not located near metropolitan areas. Many businesses are often family-owned – there are lots in my college town – which usually eliminates anyone outside of the family for employment.

The best thing to initiate late in the job hunt is to check with your school. Ask around to see if there are any openings for summer help. The admissions office is a good place to start but dining services is also a great hidden opportunity. With the lack of summer students, your school will probably be looking for help. I joined up with a catering service through my school where I work weddings and class reunions and – get this – set my own hours.

The most important advice about any type of job hunting is that you cannot be picky. I cannot stress this enough. If you've got rent and bills to pay, you've got to make money somehow. Apply everywhere – gas stations, gift shops, restaurants, department stores – and if you’ve still got nothing, fast-food might have to be an option. At least fill out an application; you can always decline the offer if you find something else. With today's economy, cash-strapped college students can’t afford to cherry pick. The race is on, time is ticking and money is waiting to be made.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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