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Coming Home and Moving On from a Study Abroad Experience

Sep 15, 2011

by Mariah Proctor

I arrived back in the U.S. on a Friday and the following Monday was the first day of a whole new semester of classes. One second, I was walking around Paris and soaking up the romance of the city. The next? I’m back with the same pack of people as always, as though the summer never happened. I love my friends in college and I love the life I’ve created for myself, but studying abroad is a life apart and coming back to a reality that seems unchanged when you feel transformed can be taxing.

What’s worse than feeling ever single one of the 5,000 miles between the place you just fell in love with and the place you’ve come back to is that the general public (even good friends) tend to turn off when you start a sentence with “When I was in Europe...” As memories that now boast an additional silver lining spill from your lips, you will undoubtedly be met with rolled eyes and pantomimed hair flipping. It does sound pretty snooty to talk about your summer in [fill in the exotic blank] but conversation and connection with people is built up on sharing ideas and experiences. Just because your experiences involved gelato and fine art doesn’t mean their jealousy or discouraged expressions should get you down on yourself!

At points through the many months of studying abroad, you feel acutely homesick for all things familiar and for people who love you. But that old adage that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone is true and the second you’re home, you’ll want to be back. My advice? Don’t let yourself live in a constant state of yearning for what you can’t have, don’t resent your friends for not understanding and be so grateful for all the experiences you’ve had and make that new, stronger, more cultured you the driving force for the exciting next step – whatever it may be.

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.

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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Volunteering is More Than Just a School Requirement

Sep 14, 2011

by Jessica Seals

Some students only see volunteer work as a requirement for a class or a scholarship while others embrace it and enjoy helping others without being required to. My fellow virtual intern Thomas recently suggested a variety of community service and volunteer options; in that same vein, here are my personal experiences with community service and why it’s essential to your college experience even if it’s not required.

I started doing volunteer work after my freshman year in high school. I did this every summer at the local hospital until I graduated from high school as well as participated in various other volunteer projects the community through my school. I always liked doing volunteer work because it made me feel good to know that I was actually helping people instead of sitting at home with nothing to do.

Seeing other people smile and finally have something good happen to them is enough satisfaction in itself for those who volunteer but it wasn’t until I graduated from high school that I learned why this work was so important: On my first job interview after high school, the interviewer was so impressed with the number of hours that I had volunteered with no cash incentive that I was hired on the spot.

Volunteer work is not just a school requirement – it’s a way to give back to the community and show potential employers just how well you can dedicate yourself to any task at hand.

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.

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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To Charge or Not to Charge?

Sep 13, 2011

by Lisa Lowdermilk

“Just charge it.”

I'm willing to bet that you’ve been in a store and heard that phrase. Even if you haven't, you’ve probably been bombarded with letters asking you if you'd like to lower your interest rates, encountered representatives hawking credit cards (and complimentary t-shirts!) on the quad or heard of people who have racked up thousands of dollars in debt from recklessly swiping their plastic.

While handling a credit card involves a lot of responsibility, the good news is that it comes with plenty of perks as well. Citibank, for example, offers a Visa card just for college students and has a system of reward points to boot. Depending on your GPA, you can earn anywhere from 250 to 2,000 ThankYou Points just for doing well in your classes. You also get points for making your payments on time, which is a great incentive not to skip payments or only pay the minimum and accrue unnecessary interest penalties. You even earn five times as many points at restaurants, bookstores and more. So, while textbooks aren't exactly cheap, just remember that you're being partially reimbursed every time you use your credit card to buy them.

In a larger sense, using a credit card responsibly also helps students to establishing a good credit score. The higher this number is, the better your chances are of being accepted for a loan on your dream car or house. Lenders will see that you are not a liability and will be more likely to provide you with the funds needed to reach your goals.

If you're still not sold on getting a credit card, that's okay. There's plenty of time to establish credit after college. For those of you considering a credit card, though, just remember to spend responsibly and make your payments as promptly as possible.

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.

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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Fighting the Freshman 15

Sep 12, 2011

by Anna Meskishvili

As freshmen, we were all made aware of the “Freshman 15” as an inevitable rite of passage rather than a warning. Since the academic year just began, this is the best time to firmly take a stand against the stereotype.

Staying fit and healthy at school can be a challenge. Hours of classes, homework, extracurricular activities and socializing may leave a very small window of opportunity for a good workout but I have a solution for you: Incorporate all these things into your fitness routine!

Classes vs. Working Out: Many schools offer exercise classes for free with your activity fees – take them! They’re a great way to have a disciplined and complete workout while getting to meet new people.

Homework vs. Working Out: Having trouble concentrating on your notecards in the study lounge? Take them to the treadmill! Nothing makes a five-mile run or countless flights on the StairMaster go by faster than getting your mind off of the burn with some academia.

Extracurriculars vs. Working Out: Don’t know how to get involved? Join an intramural team! They are the perfect way to keep busy and moving while socializing. The skill level is basic and most people do it for the pleasure of the sport, not the thrill of competition.

Socializing vs. Working Out: Find a gym buddy! Go with your roommate or classmate and chat while you’re on the elliptical. It makes the workout fly by and you’re growing a friendship at the same time.

As you can see, there is always time to exercise and I cannot emphasize the benefits of staying fit at college enough: With unlimited dining plans and late nights out, it’s really quite simple to come home on Thanksgiving a pant size larger. Plus, exercising calms you down, gives you energy and makes you feel accomplished. There’s a right regimen for everyone – go ahead and find yours. See you on the track!

Anna Meskishvili is a 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.

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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New School Year, New School Activities

Easy Ways to Get Involved on Campus

Sep 9, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s the first day of school and you go to your classes. You look around at the unfamiliar faces and wish you knew someone. After class, you use a map to navigate your way back to your dorm, where you sit by yourself. College life doesn’t have to be this lonely - it’s time to get involved on your campus and here’s how:

Don’t be anti-social. The only way you will make friends is if you are social. How do you meet people? Go to campus fairs – anything from a career fair to a student organization fair. There are multicultural clubs, academic clubs, clubs focused on a single activity, and sororities and fraternities to name a few.

Use your dorm as a resource. Prop your dorm door open when you’re not studying. People will stop by and say hello. Don’t trust leaving your door open? Talk to your RA: He or she will know of many campus activities going on such as socials and mixers where you can meet more people.

Make time. If you make the time, there is no reason for you to not be involved or not meet people. Colleges understand that you are away from the familiar and have many organizations, offices and people who are there to make your campus a home away from home.

Most of all, don’t be afraid – just put your best foot forward and you’ll be having fun in no time. And if you’re not interested in campus life, go to the website of the city you are now living in and see what there is to do around town. There’s always a way to get involved!

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.

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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Bradley Adds Interactive App to Customize Campus Tour Experience

Sep 9, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

It can be difficult for prospective college students and their parents to visit the campuses they’re interested in when classes are in session so instead, tours are often scheduled on weekends or between semesters. Though this may be more convenient, it’s harder for the tour takers to get a true feel for the school they may one day call their alma mater...unless their tour is taking place at Bradley University.

Though colleges have long employed virtual tours, Bradley could be the first to provide a complementary iPad application during in-person campus tours. Jim Ferolo, an associate professor and chair of Bradley’s interactive media department who helped come up with the idea, said the app is meant to give students a fuller sense of what campus life is like if they visit during off-peak hours. In addition to supplementary videos, the app suggests particular spots on campus to see depending on the data (intended majors, extracurricular interests, etc.) users input at the beginning of the tour, all of which are routed to the tour guides’ iPads to best customize each tour. Ferolo said the app is not meant to replace the traditional campus tours at Bradley but his department will track how prospective students use the application so it can be improved – possibly with on-the-fly likes and ratings – down the line.

Sounds pretty cool to us but what do you think? Would you be interested in using an app like Bradley's on a campus tour or would you rather get a feel for a school sans technology?

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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Dealing with Helicopter Parents in College

Sep 8, 2011

by Kayla Herrera

When I first left for college, my mother called me every single day for the entire fall semester and half of spring semester. I understood why (I was the first child to ever leave) but when I had issues with the campus newspaper, my parents tried to butt in and fight my arguments for me...from six hours away. Now, as a fourth-year college student, I’m still hearing that I need to get my life together, to stop living day to day and plan the future, to date someone else, to move to a different apartment, et cetera. In the course of four years, nothing has changed.

How do you even begin to deal with helicopter parents like these? The first thing I would recommend is sit them down and talk to them in person. If you can’t find a time over break, do it over Skype. It’s the next best thing to a phone call – even better, actually, because they will be able to see the seriousness in your eyes and body language.

You want to ease into this discussion gently, so start with the positives. Tell them how much you appreciate everything they’ve done for you and how great it is to have them as parents before telling them some changes need to be made. Explain your concerns using clear examples and ask that they do not interrupt you until you’ve stated your case. Then, a discussion can be had. Just stay calm and positive...and don’t get lippy! If your parents are unwilling to bend, then settle for a compromise. Surprise them by suggesting a mature settlement – even then they can't ignore that maybe you have grown up a little.

Unfortunately, I am still trying to make my parents realize I am 21 years old with two jobs, a 15-credit load and a life of my own. The progress is slow but hopefully these tips will help you make your parents realize their little boy or girl is all grown up and they no longer need to hover overhead.

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.

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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In College? Get Tuned In!

Sep 8, 2011

by Kara Coleman

Last week, my Intro to Mass Communications teacher told my class that if we want to make a good grade, we need to fully submerge ourselves in the media over the course of the semester. I nodded in agreement but secretly wondered how our generation could possibly be more submerged in the media than we already are!

We were children during the Internet boom of the 1990’s and now, the technology that we grew up with in our homes fits in our pockets. For the majority of our waking hours, we are bombarded with media messages. We have news updates pop up on our computer screens and phones as soon as they happen. We wear t-shirts advertising our favorite brands of clothing. We sing along with song lyrics that are blasted at us over radio airwaves. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election reached out to us through MySpace and Facebook and rebels in Egypt and Libya used Twitter as their primary means of communication earlier this year.

College can be a confusing time, especially for students straight out of high school. Of the thousands of messages we receive each day, how do we decide which ones are worth listening to? I’ve heard people say that college is a time for you to explore all of your options and find yourself but it’s also true that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Head into college knowing what you believe and what’s important to you. As one writer put it, “By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”

Be receptive to the messages that come your way. Know whether or not you agree with them and why. Perhaps the most important lesson you will learn in college is how to think for yourself!

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.

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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Dorm Etiquette

Sep 6, 2011

by Darci Miller

A big deal is always made about being a good roommate in college. I’ve seen many a list on how not to drive the person you’re forced to live with up a wall but what about proper etiquette for living in a dorm? Being a good neighbor involves an entirely different set of rules than being a good roommate.

For example, try to keep your music down in a dorm room. It’s all well and good if both you and your roommate love heavy bass but unless you’ve cleared it with your entire floor – and sometimes your upstairs and downstairs neighbors as well – it’s good to be courteous and NOT turn it up to 11. I’ve been known to glare mutinously at the wall between my room and my neighbor's as their music is thumping away at 2 a.m.

You’ll also want to respect personal boundaries. Really, don’t use the toilet when your suitemate is using the sink, unless it’s previously agreed upon. It happens. I have personal experience on my side.

Don’t rip down decorations in the halls; someone (like your RA) worked really hard to put them up. Along the same lines, garbage belongs in a garbage can. As much as I love seeing a rotten apple smushed on the floor outside my room (sarcasm, of course), it shouldn’t be there. The same goes for hairballs: Throw yours in your trashcan instead of kicking them into the hall.

Don’t touch other people’s underwear – aka be courteous in the laundry room. It’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll have to move someone’s laundry so you can use their machine but only do so in desperate times. I hate knowing that a stranger was rooting around in my clothes.

It all comes down to being respectful. You don’t have to be Dorm Resident Extraordinaire but thinking about the people living around you is much appreciated by your neighbors and floormates. Unless, of course, you want the girl living next door to you groaning about how obnoxious your music is.

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!

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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Expecting the Unexpected in College

Sep 2, 2011

by Angela Andaloro

We’re always reminded that we don’t know what will happen next in life. College is no exception; in fact, I’ve found that in college, I’ve probably dealt with more unexpected happenings than ever before. There are problems that arise without warning that will directly affect your education so here are a few unexpected issues I’ve found many college students have dealt with.

Financial aid snafus: If your school is anything like mine, you might find that many of those working in the financial aid office are students doing work-study. While I don’t doubt they've had training and know what they’re talking about on some level, they don’t have all the answers. Financial aid is super important so if you’ve received some information you’re unsure of, be sure to follow up with someone higher up in the ranks.

Technical meltdowns: Technology is as important as air to a college student and the security blankets of yesterday have been replaced with equally precious laptops and other gadgets. Still, we have to remember that they are machines and they do malfunction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a frantic call from a friend (or been frantic myself) about a computer breakdown. They usually occur at the worst possible times, like during midterms or finals week. My advice? Back up everything. Save that 10-page paper you’re writing every 10 words. Really. I’ve been there. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

While there are some issues that we can anticipate, others really do come from out of nowhere. It’s ok to freak out for a minute when one pops up – it’s only natural! – but then relax and use that level head of yours (and maybe that “emergencies only” credit card) to remedy the problem.

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.

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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Decorating Your Dorm Room or Apartment Without Getting Charged

Sep 1, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

Decorations make new places feel more like home and for college students living away at school, decorating is practically a necessity to adapting to this new environment. However, dorm and apartment restrictions like no holes in the walls or no tape to avoid chipping paint, you may think you’re doomed to bare cinderblock walls...but you’re not! These tips will help you create an amazing room without losing your security deposit or incurring any fees.

I think the best products out there right now are those from 3M. They make Post-its, Command Hooks and reusable tape. Command Hooks can be easily removed and will not peel any paint off the wall – I can personally attest to this! – and the reusable tape is double sided and excellent for hanging up posters. You can also use both products them to put up white boards, cork boards and pictures.

Perhaps you have broken blinds or a closet with no door. Want to hang a curtain up somewhere? Adjustable pressure rods don’t damage the wall and you will have some privacy, too!

If you want to put up stickers or wall decorations of some sort, make sure they’re made of silicone. The rubber material will prevent the sticker from peeling paint and will allow you to adjust the decorations as much as you want. I know thumbtacks are cheaper but you have to consider what you will benefit from in the long run. Would you rather use thumbtacks and lose your security deposit or would you rather spend a bit for the above products and get your deposit back. Just remember your new abode will only be as homey as you are willing to make it!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. 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.

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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