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My Final Study Abroad Checklist

by Darci Miller

In preparing to study abroad, I’ve been alternately packing and scouring the Internet for lists of important things to pack. When it comes down to it, there are several things that I will not – and cannot – leave the U.S. without!

  • 1. Power adapters. Voltage and wattage are different across the pond and all of my American electronics will be rendered moot if I don’t come prepared – it would be a sad day if I couldn’t charge my computer or straighten my bangs! If you’re going abroad, check to see what adapters you’ll need, as they vary from country to country.
  • 2. Clothes to layer. I’m heading to London and the weather there can be all over the map, so everything I’ve read advises dressing in layers. This would be a smart choice for anyone studying abroad in a country in which temperature varies between seasons. T-shirts and a handful of cardigans will carry you through winter and spring, while long-sleeved shirts are useless as it gets warmer.
  • 3. Familiar, comfort items. Photos of friends and family are obvious but since I’m a sap, this really includes anything that’ll remind me of home or people that love me. Though I may rarely wear my headband made out of a t-shirt hem, seeing it on my desk will remind me of the night my friends and I made them.
  • 4. My GPS. I’ll have limited data on my phone while I’m study abroad and going over my limit isn’t an option. For those days I plan on exploring the city, I’ll throw my trusty TomTom named Peter into my bag and be good to go. I’ll only get lost in the culture, not because I made a wrong turn!
  • 5. An across-the-body bag. A definite necessity, especially for the ladies. They’re much harder for muggers to steal and you have the added bonus of keeping your belongings right next to your hand.
  • 6. Important documents. This may sound like a huge “duh” but I definitely need to remember to print out whatever I’ll need for my first few days – visa, confirmation of enrollment, orientation notes, etc. Anything to make the transition a little less stressful!

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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Get an A in Organization 101

January 10, 2012

Get an A in Organization 101

by Kara Coleman

Is your dorm room or car always a mess? Do you have trouble remembering when assignments are due? If so, here are some ways to start the spring semester with less clutter and a more organized outlook.

Go mobile. I once had a boss who said that if she didn’t put something in her phone, it wasn’t going to get done. That’s true for a lot of college students, too, especially since we always have our phones with us. Put test dates and project due dates in your cellphone and set your phone’s alarm for those days. That way, you’ll have your schedule with you at all times.

Check your schedule every day. Rather than keeping up with dates on their phone, some students prefer flipping the pages of a calendar or planner. If this describes you, make a habit of writing everything down and try to make a habit of checking your planner every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep.

Keep it together. A friend of mine started keeping notes from all of her classes in the same binder, with each class separated by a color-coded divider. Now, none of her notes get mixed up or misplaced and when she heads to campus every morning, she only has to grab one notebook on her way out the door.

Have a routine. It’s a million times easier to keep track of everything if you have a set day to do certain things. For example, Wednesday night is my laundry night. If there’s something specific I want to wear for the weekend, I don’t have to worry about it being clean because I know that all my laundry is washed and folded on Wednesday. Have days or times planned each week to balance your checkbook, go grocery shopping, etc. to make your time more manageable and your college life more organized.

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.


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Apartment Hunting? Follow These Rules

by Kayla Herrera

The start of a new year marks the time to seek an apartment for the fall semester. I know that’s the case at my school: Once the calendar turns to January in Houghton, Mich., students start climbing all over housing advertisements and residences are gone in no time. It really is a race here because in this rural town, affordable quality housing is limited. No matter where you attend college, there are some key things you should keep an eye out for when you tour a place you could potentially call home.

Noise. Ask about street noise or neighbor noise then take a listen for yourself to determine whether it’s too loud or too quiet for you. I lived on a main street once and when I moved to a quieter one, I could not sleep for a week because of the silence!

Mold or water damage. If there is a basement, look/smell for mold and search for wet spots or signs of flooding. Mold can bother allergies or make you sick and flooding could ruin your belongings; basements are prime locations for both to occur.

Pests. Keep your eyes peeled for chewed corners or holes in ceilings or walls. As I noted in a previous post, pests such as mice and squirrels can poop all over the place, eat your food, damage your apartment's structure and scare the daylights out of you. Do not move into a place with these warning signs unless the landlord promises to make repairs before you move in.

Maintenance. Make sure your landlord has a maintenance man or has offered you a phone number to reach him or her in case they handle the repairs. Trust me, no hot water plus hair covered in conditioner at 11 p.m. equals a not-so-fun extracurricular activity.

Be wary of everything from cleanliness to the neighborhood (nearby bars and hot spots mean there WILL be drunken singing at 2 a.m.). The race is on – good luck!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. 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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How to Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s a new year and we are all making resolutions to be healthy, not procrastinate, to do better in school or even get more sleep...but after a month or two, no one pays attention to their resolutions anymore. To really stick with your resolutions, slow lifestyle changes are the way to go. This way, you’re able to fit the resolution into your existing schedule without a great deal of effort. Here are a couple of ways to I plan to make good on my resolutions.

I’d like to have a healthier lifestyle this year which means changing my diet and my exercise plan. I will start by evaluating items in my diet like junk foods; I won't eliminate them completely but I will begin incorporating healthier foods into my meals as sides. I’ll also start with 15 minutes of exercise per day and increase that time by five minutes every other week. This will help me get into a good routine without going overboard.

Moderation will also help me with another resolution of mine: to do better in school. For example, I hardly ever watch T.V. as it is but I will make sure that I tune in only when I’ve finished all my studying and assignments. Take that, procrastination!

Lastly, I plan to set more deadlines for myself this year. By better managing my schedule, I’ll be able to finish my schoolwork in an appropriate amount of time instead of waiting until the last minute to complete assignments. There are always unexpected circumstances popping up and my deadlines will allow time in my schedule to deal with them without sacrificing my studies.

Here’s to a new year filled with positive, continuous change and even some college funding: Be sure to share your resolution with Scholarships.com through the latest Short & Tweet Scholarship!

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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Additional Tips for Spring Semester Success

by Jessica Seals

Thousands of college students are currently preparing to return to school for the spring semester. While some head back confident with a positive attitude, others will set foot on campus feeling down because their grades were not where they wanted them during the fall. My fellow intern Lisa came up with some great tips to start the semester off on the right foot so I’ve provided a few more:

Don’t go into the new semester feeling defeated. Going into a new semester feeling depressed is not the way to go. Even if your grades were not as good as you wanted them to be in the fall, spring semester gives you the chance to start fresh and turn things around. Remember, no one is perfect and every student is prone to having at least one bad semester due to unforeseen circumstances. Let last fall be your only one.

Find out what works for you. If you noticed that you got low grades on your papers when you waited until the last minute to do them, you should work on making time to work on bits of your paper in advance. You’ll have more time to perfect it and get a better grade. Also, if you find making flashcards or studying with music helps you retain information better, stick with these study habits to continue past success.

Realize this is a new semester with new teachers and different standards. Unless you take another class with a teacher that you’ve already had, this semester will be filled with new teachers, different rules and unfamiliar teaching styles. If you were able to do certain things and get by with one teacher, do not automatically assume the same will apply this semester. Each teacher is different and you’ll have to make slight adjustments to your behavior depending on the professor.

With these tips, you can eliminate a defeated attitude and go into the spring semester with a more optimistic outlook. Every college student has the potential to make a complete turnaround and boost their GPA this semester with these tips!

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was 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. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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Admissions Decisions: What to Do While You Wait to Hear

by Katie Askew

By now, most of the priority deadlines for college applications have passed. You have filled out your last application, written your final essay and everything is under review...so what’s left for you to do?

During the period between submitting your application and getting an admissions decision, there is a lot you can do besides just sitting around waiting. Although patience is a virtue, why don’t you take a look at what I did and see if you can keep busy!

Visit or revisit. If you haven’t already visited your choice colleges, now is the time. Take a tour, meet with an admissions counselor and talk to students you see about campus life. If you have already visited, go again because the second visit is almost always more informative than the first: Now that you have seen a few different types of schools, you can go back to your top choices and get more pertinent information because you’ll know exactly what types of questions to ask.

Volunteer. If you are deferred or waitlisted to your top college (knock on wood!), volunteer hours are great additions to your application and make you a more promising candidate. It shows that you are really doing everything you can to be a well-rounded student. If you were accepted to your top college, those volunteer hours didn’t go to waste – it’s humbling to give your time and maybe volunteering at the local hospital has given you a potential new career path as a doctor or nurse!

Job shadow. Shadowing someone working a job you’re interested in is a great way to acquire lots of information directly from those in the industry. After the job shadow, maybe you’ll realize becoming an orthopedic surgeon isn’t right for someone as squeamish as you are or maybe you’ll realize how much you love healing others. You won’t know until you job shadow!

Sure, the couch is comfortable but get up and get out – there is a lot more you can do to prepare for those admissions decision letters!

Katie Askew is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, teaching and performing music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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Should You Drop That Class?

January 17, 2012

Should You Drop That Class?

by Angela Andaloro

Welcome to the start of a new semester! Right about now, college students around the country are settling back into their campus lives and many are wondering if the classes they picked are right for them. Many students drop classes at the beginning of the semester if they aren’t what they thought they would be. If you’re considering dropping a class this semester, here are some things to keep in mind:

Can you handle the workload? Be honest with yourself: If you think a class is going to be too much to handle with the rest of your school/work/life schedule, it may be best for you to drop it. If you aren’t sure, try sticking it out for a short period before making your decision.

What does your adviser say? Your adviser will be able to tell you whether or not you need the class to graduate. If dropping the class will alter your progress toward graduation, they will let you know and suggest another course of action, like an independent study.

What’s it going to cost you? Most schools have an add/drop date so if you decide against your class after that point, you can’t be refunded what you paid for the class. Also, consider your financial aid package: If you’re required to be a full-time student, make sure dropping a class won’t affect that status or your financial aid may shift.

Can you pick up another class? This can be difficult at a time when classes are usually filled to capacity but you may be able to overenroll by speaking to the professor or department head.

Ultimately, the decision is yours but it’s important to consult professors and advisers to get a real idea of what the impact of dropping a class will be. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and make sure that you’re comfortable with the classes you are taking – the more comfortable you are, the less there will be standing in the way of your spring semester success.

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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Want to Stand Out to Employers? Follow These Three Techy Tips

by Suada Kolovic

Despite our name, we’re more than just scholarships here at Scholarships.com: We strive to keep students in the know on pretty much anything and everything college related, from figuring where you’ll spend the next four years and how you’ll pay for it to picking the major that’s right for you and finding employment once you’ve finished. And when it comes to the latter, recent college graduates are faced with one of the toughest job markets in recent years. What can you do to place yourself in the best position for employment after you graduate? Consider taking courses that will help you stand out from the crowd like those that deal with coding, design and analytics. Here are three tips U.S. News and World Report compiled to help you entice employers:

  • Get your code on: Regardless of your background, understanding even basic coding is a huge differentiator for job seekers in nearly every field, says Keith Cline, founder of the recruiting firm Dissero. Before you graduate, squeeze in a basic computer science class or, if you just don’t have room in your schedule, join New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and pledge to learn computer code by the end of 2012 via Codeacademy, a free tutorial website.
  • Socialize, virtually: If you think knowing your way around Facebook will suffice, you’re in for a rude awakening. Instead, Cline suggests students build and maintain blogs focused on target fields and use Twitter to engage with industry influencers. "Out of 10 applicants … that one person who has a personal blog and a social media presence, that's the person they'll hire," Cline says.
  • Take stats...STAT: Companies need people who can break down data and interpret the information with a business mindset, says Vijay Subramanian, chief analytics officer for Rent the Runway, a website where customers rent high-end designer fashions. Taking statistical analysis is a great way to get an understanding of programming language and getting into the weeds of Google Analytics and the power of what it can tell you, advises Cline.

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Planning Your Final Semester

January 18, 2012

Planning Your Final Semester

by Jacquelene Bennett

It is a new year, which means new classes, new professors, new people and new adventures but for some of us, this January marks the beginning of the end: It is our last semester of college before we go out into the real world.

That day isn’t here quite yet, though, and we soon-to-be graduates still have classes, homework and the responsibilities of extracurricular activities on top of applying for jobs or grad schools and taking care of last minute graduation stuff. In addition to all the work, we still want to spend time with our friends, go on spring break, relax and just have fun. So how do you do it all without going crazy?

I'm not an expert but I am quickly learning that the key is to prioritize. Make a list of all the things that you need to do – think: class assignments, preparing for tests, etc.) – and schedule when to do those things. With this method, you will know when you have to be serious about your school work and when you have time to kick back a little.

I personally have come to adopt a "work hard, play hard" strategy: I work hard by getting all my school work and studying done before and after classes, applying for jobs and taking care of any administrative stuff during the week and then I have the weekend to hang out with friends and have fun.

Just because this method works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you - we all have different goals and there really is no “right way” to handle your last semester. Take the first few weeks to determine your path but I recommend organizing, prioritizing and scheduling your commitments and leisure activities. You may not have time to do every single thing you want to do exactly when you want to do it but you’ll come pretty close!

Jacquelene Bennett is a 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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Meet New Friends, Share Interests Beyond Campus Offerings

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Even though there are all kinds of clubs and extracurriculars to get involved with in college (just take a look at all the unusual ones available), sometimes your school may not have the one you're looking for. When this happens, sites like MeetUp, MEETin and Twitter are perfect for meeting people in your area who share your interests.

MeetUp is extremely user-friendly: Simply type in an activity you're interested in along with your city or zip code and watch as all the clubs near you come up! There are clubs for people who want to learn foreign languages, go rock climbing, try new restaurants, learn martial arts, combat social anxiety and much more. Most clubs do not require membership fees, but the ones that do will let you know right up front.

MEETin is similar to MeetUp and is well-known for being the "largest friends social group [site] in the world." MEETin is specifically designed for people who want to meet others without the stress of business networking, so rest assured that you'll be in good company if you just want to make new friends. Just like MeetUp, there's no membership fee and anyone is free to suggest an event.

For all you Twitter fans out there, "tweetups" are an option as well. Due to Twitter's 140-character limit (disregarding the Stories function), the microblogging service may seem like the least formal and structured option of the three but tweetups are great for those times when you just want to meet up at the spur of the moment.

Regardless of what option you choose, know that there are people out there who like the same things you do and want to meet others that share those interests. I know firsthand how scary it can be going to a meetup with people you've never met but once you do it a few times, it gets easier – I promise. And who knows? You may end up making new friends you never would have met otherwise!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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