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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Lisa Lowdermilk

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Hi everyone! My name is Lisa Lowdermilk and I live in Colorado. I just completed my Associate of Arts degree and I am transferring to the University of Colorado Denver this summer. I have completed my degree entirely online and I am transferring to UC Denver because of its online writing program. I prefer online schooling to traditional schooling because I feel it’s easier to stay organized and is more flexible. And hey, who doesn’t want to attend class in their pajamas?

I am majoring in English, specifically professional writing. I love being able to express myself through words – it is such a great way of connecting with other people – so much so that I have written a book, which I am getting published next year. It has always been my dream to be a published author and, though it’s been a lot of work, the end result will be worth it. If I had to describe my book, I would say it’s a young adult murder mystery set in the future and I’m so excited that other people will be able to read it! In addition to writing, I love to play video games, especially those for Nintendo and PlayStation. My favorite TV show is “Castle” (how many other TV shows have both murder and humor?); I also loved “Ugly Betty” and was pretty upset when it was taken off the air.

I was interested in becoming a virtual intern for Scholarships.com because I know that in today’s competitive job market, employers want workers with experience. I also like the idea of being able to help other students overcome the many obstacles of attending college...sometimes I think all the forms colleges require are more tedious than college classes!

Anyway, it’s great to “e-meet” everyone. Here’s to a great semester!


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Where to Buy and Sell Textbooks

by Kara Coleman

It’s important to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your money as far as it will go when putting yourself through college and one way to do this is by exploring your options for buying and selling textbooks.

Your campus bookstore is the most obvious option but it's also the most expensive. One good thing about campus bookstores is that some will allow books and other school-related items like notebooks and calculators to be covered by grants and scholarships. Some bookstores sell both new and used textbooks and allow students to sell their books back to the store for cash at the end of each semester...but you only get back a fraction of the amount you actually paid.

Since your fellow students are in the same boat you’re in, ask around for a specific book that you need. One guy sold his $200 Spanish book to me for $100 and a girl I know let me have her $70 math book for $30. It’s also a good idea to swap books with friends if they are taking a class that you took last semester and vice versa. That way, everyone saves money.

The Internet is your friend so check around online to see what sites have the best prices on what you need. I have friends who routinely order their textbooks from Amazon.com, Half.com and Betterworld.com. (These are great places to sell your used textbooks as well.)

If you don’t want to buy, consider renting your textbooks for a semester from Chegg.com. I did this last year and I think it’s a great idea. At the end of the semester, Chegg emailed return address labels to me and there was no charge to ship my books back to them.

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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Books on the House!

National Academies Press Puts All 4,000 Books Online for Free

June 3, 2011

Books on the House!

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a college student on a budget, everything’s coming up roses for you today. Not only is it National Doughnut Day, where you can snag a complimentary tasty treat at Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme (I did!) but the National Academies Press announced it will offer its entire PDF catalog of books for free. You read that right! The press, which is the publishing arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, will offer files that can be downloaded by anyone absolutely free of charge.

Barbara Kline Pope, executive director for the press, said it had previously offered 65 percent of its titles – ones that were narrow in scope – for free. “The 35 percent that we are adding today will reach a wider audience, and we are doing it because it’s central to our mission to get this information to everyone,” she said. What can students, educators or anyone for that matter look forward to? A wide array of titles including “Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards,” which costs $99.95 in hardcover. (Woah!)

“Eight years ago, if we did this, we would have lost substantial amounts of money,” Pope said. “But our costs have come down a lot, and our institution says they will stand behind us even if we do lose money.” Let’s hope this trend catches on and others jump on the freebie bandwagon!


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Graduation Gift Ideas

June 10, 2011

Graduation Gift Ideas

by Katie Askew

Are you still looking for that special graduation gift for a future college student? Here are some foolproof gifts I wish I was given as a graduating senior and they will set you apart from the standard gift of money or towels. (Really, who needs 20 quick-drying towels?!) Your future freshman friend will thank you for it!

Amazon.com and Target gift cards. Sure, buying your books at the student bookstore is easy and convenient but if you know your class schedule and required books before the first day of class, you will save enormous amounts of money buying from Amazon. They even offer free shipping and handling for students! As for Target, it really is a one-stop shop for college students. Can you say economy-sized shampoo and conditioner?

Light-blocking sleep mask. Okay, so maybe the guys won’t enjoy this one as much but once any student has an 8 a.m. exam, he or she will be thanking you – the great gift-giver – for the eye mask that allows them to sleep in a brightly-lit, small room shared with a roommate that likes to stay up until the wee hours of the night with all the lights on. Throw in some earplugs as a cute (and inexpensive) companion gift!

Bicycle lights. Is your friend bringing a bike to school? Bike laws are a concept a lot of students forget about, especially when they aren’t used to riding a bike every day. Let me tell you, bike police are real and they WILL issue you an expensive ticket if you are riding a bike at night with no lights. In addition, a bicycle U-lock is also a great gift and necessary no matter how safe you think your college campus is!

Good luck gift-givers!

Katie Askew is a freshman 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, performing or teaching 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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Fed Law Requires College Net Price Calculators, Experts Question Accuracy

by Alexis Mattera

How much will it cost to attend the school of your dreams? The federal government hopes its new law will make that question easier to answer but higher education experts have their doubts where accuracy is concerned.

By this October, the federal government will require all U.S. higher education institutions to offer net price calculators on their websites so prospective college students can easily compare attendance costs earlier in their college searches. Users will be asked questions about their financial and academic backgrounds and their answers – and the calculator’s tallies of tuition, fees, books, housing and food, minus scholarships and grants – will reveal the net price to attend that particular school. Though many experts are glad students will have access to this information, accuracy is a concern. Certain factors won’t be taken into consideration because direct student-to-school contact has been eliminated; for example, Washington University is willing to adjust financial aid packages if a parent loses their job and this might not be reflected in the calculators’ answers.

It’s likely the law will be revised to make side-by-side comparison more accurate before the calculators are implemented - read more about the net price calculators in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch - but would you use this new technology or do you think it’s still too early to glean accurate information?


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Three Books Every Student Should Read Before College

by Jacquelene Bennett

Soon-to-be college students, be warned: You’ll be doing a lot of reading and writing during your postsecondary education. From the moment you start to the moment you finish, you will read until your eyes bulge out and write until your fingers are numb. That being said, I can see how the thought of reading during your summer vacation may be unpleasant but you’ll soon realize the most successful and active college students share one thing in common: They are all well-read.

Now it is not necessary for you to read the entire Library of Congress before school starts but I’ve gone and listed three books that I think are important for all students to read before starting college.

These aren’t the only books you should read but they are definitely among the most important ones. Grab copies at your local library or bookstore and enjoy!

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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The Benefits of Digital Textbooks

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Does your back ache from carrying heavy textbooks from class to class? Do you hate paying extra money for priority shipping to ensure you get your textbooks in time for the new semester? If you answered yes to either one of these questions, you may be interested to know many websites now offer textbooks digitally.

Sites like Chegg.com, Textbooks.com and Cengagebrain.com offer dozens of e-books to accommodate your e-reading needs. You don't need to go out and buy an e-reading device such as Amazon's Kindle or Sony's Reader (you can read e-books right on your computer screen) and you never have to worry about losing your e-books because if your computer or e-reader is misplaced or stolen, all you need to do is download the e-text again.

Even with all these benefits, I know some of you may still be reluctant to go digital because you think you won't be able to highlight pages or navigate a digital text easily. Well, put those fears to rest: Many e-books allow you to highlight specific words or phrases, make notes in the margins and even search the entire e-book for a specific word or phrase.

Finally, you can rent e-books just like you can rent traditional books. Normally when you rent textbooks, you have to worry about water damage, torn pages and shipping your books back on time but not so with e-books! When your rental period is up, the e-text simply expires with no fines for damages or shipping incurred. If after using all these features, you decide you still prefer having your text on paper after all, you can print out whichever pages you specify.

So consider going digital, if only just for one class. I guarantee you (and your back and your wallet) won't regret it!

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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The Great eReader Debate

July 13, 2011

The Great eReader Debate

by Jacquelene Bennett

Kindles, eBooks and Nooks are all electronic alternatives to traditional paper bound books that are slowly becoming more and more popular. Though I prefer paper bound books, I must admit that I really want a Kindle but this gadget and others like it don’t really have a place in college classrooms (yet) for several reasons.

As anyone who has taken a college course can attest, the books and texts assigned to the class are the middle ground for students, professors and the course subject that is being taught. Professors often select certain editions of books for the class for a number of reasons and while the selection of books available for electronic download grows daily, these editions are oftentimes not available. For those courses that have lengthy book lists, another issue is that sometimes only a few books are available electronically while the rest aren’t (I’ve seen this while book shopping for classes on Amazon); this may not be an issue for one individual’s personal reading process but I can’t imagine being a professor and trying to conduct a class with that disruption of different media formats.

I think that one of the main reasons why these devices will have a hard time catching on in the classroom is the distraction they provide. Some devices just don’t store books but they allow people to surf the Internet as well. Professors already hate students bringing their laptops to class for this reason so I doubt they will approve of a Kindle or Nook that has the same capabilities.

The reality is that we do live in a technological world where even books aren’t safe from the oblivion caused by electronic innovations so I think it is just a matter of time before these electronic books become a staple in the classroom.

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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Amazon Launches Digital-Textbook Rental Service

by Suada Kolovic

Broke college students across the country have reason to rejoice: Amazon has unveiled an e-textbook-rental program which has the potential to save students up to 80 percent on textbooks!

The program will provide students with the opportunity to download temporary copies of textbooks from Amazon’s website for reading on a Kindle e-book reader, computer, tablet or smartphone running free Kindle software. The system allows customers to specify rental periods lasting anywhere from a month to a year. Students will have the option to purchase the e-book during or after a rental period, or extend a rental period in daily increments. Still not sold? Let’s use a real-life example: Intermediate Accounting retails at $197 in print and $109 as an e-book but with Amazon’s program, a student can rent the e-book for three months at the low price of $57!

And what about the students who scribble notes in the margins and saturate textbooks with fluorescent ink? Well, Amazon’s got that covered, too! Not only can students highlight and take notes in their digital textbooks but they’ll be able to refer to any margin notes and highlights made after the rental period is over. And with the cost of traditional print textbooks ranging in the thousands over the course of a college career, odds are rental programs like these will undoubtedly take off.


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Discounts to Take Advantage of While in College

by Aaron Lin

Being a college student has a lot of perks in terms of accessible facilities, discounts and resources. Here are a few tips on what to take advantage of while you’re a student:

I hope some of you have ideas to add, too. Feel free to comment!

Aaron Lin is a chemistry major at Louisiana State University but has plans to transfer to LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to pursue a medical laboratory science degree and further feed his interest in the application of scientific and medical knowledge. In his free time, Aaron likes to eat food, read and write about food, exercise to work off that food and play the occasional computer game. He also enjoys footbiking, running and Frisbee.


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