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Discovering Your Personal Soundtrack for Success

Jul 22, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

Forgive me if this seems a bit nerdy but I listen to soundtracks when I write and one of the most important things I wrote in my high school career was my Common Application essay. Preparing for this essay was overwhelming but it helped me to collect a master soundtrack that triggered all the questions I needed to answer.

Who am I? In the classic musical inspired by Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables, Jean Valjean faces the immense difficulty of revealing his true identity or remaining safe in a lie. While you may not have such dire circumstances as he, this question is the core of what colleges want to know about you.

Why do we fall? I'll be honest, The Dark Knight Trilogy directly influenced my essay as I wrote about overcoming obstacles. This song, featuring the chant that follows Batman through his escape from prison, represents both hardship and triumph. When thinking about your failures, ask yourself what impact they had on you and how your life view changed.

Where is my home? Continuing with my nerdiness, I grew up with The Lord of the Rings books and movies. The shire not only represents innocence and beauty, but home and culture. Your home can teach you a lot of things: where you feel comfortable, where you work best, what means a lot to you. How does your college fit into that?

What is my future? Without considering any obstacles, what is the best thing you want to do with your life? College is an investment in your future and in your time - how are you going to spend it?

I have found that in the twilight with a notebook and pen in hand and music pulsing in your ears, it is easy to think on these questions. More than anything, your Common Application essay should be a piece of you, whether it carries your obsession with Batman or your love of dogs, you should feel proud to send it away.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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College Applications - Start Early and Revise Often

Jul 17, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

To all the seniors...

Take a deep breath. The most common piece of advice for high school seniors is to start your applications early and that's because it's true...but it doesn't have to ruin your summer! The Common Application essay prompts are already out and the 2015-2016 Common App opens on August 1st. Some of you are probably staring at a list of 6 to 12 schools wondering how you'll manage to write all those essays, pay for all those application fees and keep track of those deadlines. It's possible, though: We can do this together.

As someone who applied to 11 schools, my best advice for writing lots of essays is to start them all. Grab a journal and write down the prompts and your initial ideas. Carry that journal with you and keep track of anything that comes to your mind. Try setting the timer for 20 minutes, playing your favorite album and simply writing. If that doesn't give you any ideas, sit down with your parents or another adult that knows you well and just talk about what has shaped you as an individual. Remember that your first drafts are simply drafts; the advantage of starting early is that you can revise and think it through over and over again.

To reduce the anxiety, print out a calendar and map out your deadlines. You can try color coding your schools, scholarship deadlines and other big events. Write in when you are going to send the essays to editors and when you are going to submit them to your colleges. Remember, The Common App and other systems get really busy on the major deadline days so submit early to avoid technical difficulties. It's also a good idea to share this calendar with your parents and estimate how much your applications will cost. In addition to the application fee, your high school might have transcript fees so consider that as well and plan in advance where this money will come from.

Have you started the college application process yet? What has worked for you thus far?

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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Posing Racial Identities May Increase Chances in College Admission?

Jul 16, 2015

by Susan Dutca

In a progressive society where it is becoming increasingly common to live out the way you feel rather than based on your biological, genetic composition, there has been an increase in the cases of trans-identities that are not only related to gender. As in Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caitlin Jenner, those who wish to better suit their desired identity have pursued physical alterations. A little left of the spotlight, the case of civil rights activist and teacher Rachel Dolezal’s physical, transracial transformation went unnoticed until her parents revealed that their daughter is of European descent. As Dolezal daringly redefines ethnic identity, she is bringing momentum to issues of transracial identities. This raises question as to which identity should be used when it comes to grey areas in the world of education- where there are educational awards, scholarships, and incentives specifically for born-African Americans.

Dolezal feared, on multiple occasions, people would “blow her cover.” How secure then, is Dolezal in her identity of a black female? With a quick hair change to long, blonde dreadlocks and blackface- a process in darkening the skin to make it appear blacker, Dolezal metamorphosed into a convincing African American woman. Dolezal insists she has identified as African American since she was five years old. If Dolezal had applied to Howard University as a Caucasian female, would she have been accepted as easily? According to her father, most likely not. Dolezal’s father asserts, "You've got a white woman coming in that got a full-ride scholarship to the black Harvard.” It seems in this case, a student can earn scholarships of choice by simply reassigning their demographics.

In your opinion, how should colleges approach issues of transracial identities when it comes to admissions and scholarships? Should traditional, race-based scholarships be exclusive to one's biological race?

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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Why Students Should Use Scholarship Websites

Jul 15, 2015

by Genevieve Grant

Why should you use scholarship websites? How should you use them? And what are the chances of you actually getting scholarships off of these sites? I had the opportunity to interview Scholarships.com VP Kevin Ladd and here's what I found.

Scholarships.com is a space for scholarship providers to manage their own submissions, so what you see is what you get. The scholarships offered on this site are then more up to date than some of the other sites out there. Some tips for using this site included using it frequently, constantly looking for new postings and maintaining your profile so your information is current. Also a pro tip from Kevin: "If you can use a single essay for more than one scholarship application, DO IT. Just make sure that you are still following the instructions and not cutting corners."

Timing and organization are also important. Sort your scholarship results based on the time of year with larger dollar amounts at the top of the list in the fall and by deadline date in the spring so you don't miss applying for anything. Though this is not to say that there is any one "good" time to apply for scholarships; rather, you should continuously apply for as many as you can throughout the year, regardless if you're in your junior year of high school or your senior year of college.

I also asked about the kinks. What are people put off by when using the site? The two biggest drawbacks are users having too many results and not knowing where to start, and also the profile to some, is asking for too much detail. In response to that, Kevin stated that users "will get even better results by spending a bit more time and providing a bit more information." That being said, it's okay to brag about what you do! Give them the entire list of all the activities, sports and clubs you participate in, all the details about awards you've received, internships, research you've done, even where you've worked. It'll pay off!

If it isn't easy enough, I'll make it easier. You're already at the leading site for scholarships so just click Scholarhips.com to fill out your free profile now. Don't waste another second and let someone take away the money you deserve.

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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The Many Benefits of Honors Programs

Jul 13, 2015

by Erica Lewis

There are many opportunities that come from being a good student in high school...and I don't just mean scholarships. Many colleges have honors programs, which give students the chance to meet other high-achieving students and challenge themselves even more academically. There are many advantages to being in an honors program, such as opportunities to meet with professors one-on-one, take classes with other honors students and build your resume.

Honors program members have the chance to get to know their professors more personally and meet faculty that many students may not have to opportunity to meet. I'm in the honors program at UNL and I enjoy getting to know my professors more than just seeing them at the front of the room during lectures.

You may also be eligible for priority registration or special classes offered only to honors program students. These classes are specifically designed for honors students and are smaller in size compared to the typical class. You can get to know your professor and classmates really well in this setting. In fact, I have met some of my best friends have through the honors courses at UNL!

Being in an honors program is a great resume builder as well. Once you start college, your high school resume is essentially null and void so you pretty much have to start over. An honors program looks good on a resume because it shows that you have put in extra effort for those classes and aren't afraid of a challenge.

If you have the opportunity to join the honors program at your school, I strongly recommend it. It is an excellent way to meet professors, students and build your resume. It may require a little extra work, but trust me: It's worth it!

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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“Queer Sphere” Gains Visibility and Recognition in Higher Education

Jul 7, 2015

by Chris Bernardi

Whether it’s Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer outlining his journey from the world’s greatest athlete, to a surgery which induced womanhood, or actress Laverne Cox breaking the trans glass ceiling in the Netflix’s hit series, Orange Is the New Black, where a trans woman is actually played by a trans woman, the transgender community continues to break the boundaries of social acceptance. The transgender push for equality has now shattered the Higher Education glass ceiling. According to the Washington Post, starting next fall, University of California applicants will be the first wave of students given the option to signal their sexual orientation and any number of gender identities on their application.

This change is one of several new accommodations the university has made in effort to make the campus as inclusive as possible. “I think it introduces the kind of welcoming environment we want to have just by introducing the question on the first thing students will see, which is the application they’re filling out. We think it’s very important,” said Pamela Brown, vice president for institutional research and academic planning, who serves on the system-wide-advisory council on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.

UC undergraduate program applicants will now have the option to answer the following questions:

How do you describe yourself?(Mark one answer)

  • Male
  • Female
  • Trans Male/Trans Man
  • Trans Female/Trans Woman
  • Genderqueer/Gender Non-Conforming
  • Different Identity

What sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate?

  • Male
  • Female

Do you consider yourself to be (Mark one answer):

  • Heterosexual or straight
  • Gay or lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Not listed above (please specify)

The university hopes to one day implement these options in graduate study and employment applications. The information will enable them to track such students in order to monitor graduation rates and determine if the support available is sufficient.

President Janet Napolitano, who pushed for these changes with the creation of a task force last summer said “it doesn’t stop [here] – we must continue to look at where we can improve so everyone at UC feels respected and supported.”

University officials note that an applicant’s answer to any of the questions holds no bearing on chances for admission.

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!

Comments (79)

As More States Legalize Marijuana, “Cannabis College” Aims to Educate Students

Jun 30, 2015

by Chris Bernardi

If you walked into a seminar hall and were met with visions of tie-dyed t-shirts advertising High Times and marijuana-leaf tie clips as far as the eye could see, you may think you had stumbled onto the set of the classic movie Dazed and Confused. In actuality, you may have been in Washington, D.C. for a presentation by Oaksterdam University – the self-described “Cannabis College” – where more than 100 students recently took part in a 10-session seminar focusing on education in regions with recently loosened marijuana laws.

With nearly two dozen states having already legalized marijuana, Oaksterdam officials are trying to educate marijuana users, growers and purveyors. “It’s really important that you spread education because there’s way too much that people don’t realize,” said Oaksterdam provost and dean of faculty Aseem Sappal. “You’re going to continue to pass laws, and all of a sudden you’re going to start a dispensary, which is great. But who’s going to teach you how to open that dispensary? Who’s going to teach you how to cultivate?”

Since its founding in 2007 as a mix of trade school and advocacy group, Oaksterdam University has been thriving as students are eager to pay $800 to attend these weekend sessions. Seminars are so popular that they sell out two months in advance; fourteen-week semesters at Oaksterdam’s flagship campus in Oakland, Calif. are booked six months ahead of time. Plans to potentially expand by opening campuses in New York, Los Angeles and Colorado have already been discussed. Sappal argued that “it’s just a matter of time before the entire nation legalizes.”

What are your thoughts on Oaksterdam University, aka Cannabis College? Would you attend one of the school’s in-demand seminars or do you think the administration is just blowing smoke?

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!

Comments (74)

Hundreds of Colleges Still Accepting Applications

May 26, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, are you down about not getting a fat envelope from any of the colleges you applied to? College students, are you looking to transfer from your existing institution? Don't freak out: There are hundreds of colleges that are still accepting applications.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling's (NACAC) annual College Openings Update, hundreds of schools are still accepting applications for freshmen and transfers as of May 26th. The list is comprised of schools that didn't fill all open spots for next year's freshman class, are seeking transfer students or have enrollment deposit deadlines later than the May 1st norm. While the majority of schools on the list are small, private colleges with enrollment between 1,000 and 5,000 students, there are a few large, public institutions on the list, too. Check out a sampling below:

For the full list of colleges still accepting applications, click here. Will you be taking advantage of this helpful resource?

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

Comments (11)

What to Consider Before Opting Out of Standardized Tests

May 1, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Standardized testing is as much – if not more – a part of the college process as tweeting your acceptance, Snapchatting your new roomies and buying a shower caddy...or at least it used to be: According to reports, there is a growing trend toward test-optional admissions. What does that mean? If a student decided to apply to a test-optional institution, they can choose whether or not to submit ACT/SAT scores as part of their application. Thinking about signing up? Don’t shred your test prep materials into confetti just yet; here are some things to consider, courtesy of Time Magazine:

  • Your academic record: When admissions counselors evaluates a test-optional application, they pay particular attention to grades and the difficulty of the completed curriculum. Students who excel in AP, dual-enrollment, honors and IB courses – and who have the high marks to prove it – may find that test-optional admissions is particularly well suited to them.
  • Your exam history: If your exam results do not reflect your marks on most other academic tasks, test-optional admissions may be right for you.
  • Your prospective schools: Consider the colleges and universities to which you plan on applying. How many of these schools offer test-optional admissions? If even one school requires a standardized exam, it may be worth submitting your scores to every prospective college on your list.
  • Your financial aid prospects: Some academic institutions and outside organizations require ACT/SAT results as part of their decision-making process. Before you commit yourself to test-optional admissions, research the criteria for any grants or scholarships that appeal to you. If test-optional admissions will limit any needed financial aid, it may be best to follow a more traditional admissions path.

Do you think the test-optional admissions practice is the way of the future? What do you think is a better barometer of qualified applicants: test scores or essays? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

Comments (2)

10 Elite Schools Where Middle-Class Students Don’t Pay Tuition

Apr 3, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Despite the hefty sticker price associated with all elite institutions, estimated costs are actually quite affordable. In fact, Ivy Leaguers graduate with less debt than their peers who attended less prestigious schools. But how? It turns out that healthy endowment funds play a huge role in aiding low-income, middle-income and even upper-income students with tuition (and sometimes also room and board) costs. Check out 10 schools where some students pay little to nothing to attend:

  • Princeton University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $43,450
    Policy: Families making less than $54,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board, and families making less than $120,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • Brown University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,272
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Cornell University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,880
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Columbia University

    Tuition for 2014-15: $51,108
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Duke University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $47,650
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Harvard University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $45,278
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Yale University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $47,600
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Stanford University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $45,729
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board, and families making between $65,000 and $125,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • MIT University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $46,704 (includes mandatory fees)
    Policy: Families making less than $75,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • Dartmouth College

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,120
    Policy: Families making less than $100,000 don't pay tuition.
  • With acceptance rates hovering at less than 10 percent at many of these schools, gaining access to the funding above is fiercely competitive. Do you think it's fair for students who don’t meet the Ivies' steep admissions standards to be saddled with crippling debt or should the ones that do be rewarded with an affordable, brand-name education? Let us know what you think in the comments section. And don’t forget that even affordable college tuition can still be expensive! Try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search, where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

    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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