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Adios, First-Day Jitters - Start Preparing for School NOW!

July 24, 2012

Adios, First-Day Jitters - Start Preparing for School NOW!

by Kayla Herrera

Back-to-school season is in the air and whether you’re a transfer student or incoming freshman looking forward to entering a new environment, you don’t want to be without these must-have items for the school year:

  • Planner: I know smartphones have fancy scheduling apps but nothing can compare to writing your to-dos into a paper planner. I actually got reprimanded once for pulling my phone out to schedule a speech as we signed up for it so stay out of trouble by going with the old-fashioned method.
  • Ballpoint pens: Pens are crisp, bold and perfect for taking smudge-free notes. Pick up an economy-sized pack for backup and sharing with classmates or roommates – someone will ALWAYS need one.
  • Mechanical pencils: These are great (and necessary) for Scantron exams and math problems. Bonus? No sharpener needed!
  • Folders: I have found that folders help me keep everything in order by class. Color-coding them will help further organize your college life.
  • Pictures from home: Looking at the faces of those you love will help you get through those lonely off-days.
  • A journal: The best therapy is sometimes writing and when no one is available for you to talk to, a journal can be a great sounding board.
  • Music: Whatever genre that appeases your soul, music has the power to change lives, fix what’s broken and turn any bad day into a slightly better one. I never would have survived my freshman year without music from my iPod or at a campus concert.

All of these items got me through my first year of college...and I didn’t know about the folders until second semester! I hope they will aid you in the best way possible as you tackle your first year at a new school.

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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Taking Advantage of New Opportunities After a Semester Abroad

July 26, 2012

Taking Advantage of New Opportunities After a Semester Abroad

by Darci Miller

So you’re back from your semester abroad and you’re pumped to jump right back into your American life. Of course, you’d rather be gallivanting across Europe like you’ve been doing for the past few months but thinking about returning to your old activities makes you inexplicably happy...until you find that school is as different a place as you are a person.

Unfortunately, time didn’t stop and wait for you to return stateside. Your five months away changed you as much as it changed the place you’re returning to. Suddenly, your previous leadership positions are no longer available and you’re facing a bit of a crisis.

First of all, don’t panic! If you’re worried about what this gap in your resume will look like to an employer, don’t. The fact that you studied abroad has the potential to look just as valuable as any job experience. If marketed correctly, it can display your growth as a person, exposure to new cultures and whatever new skills you may have picked up.

While falling right back into your old routine might’ve been nice, life is always changing and this situation is no different. Now’s the time to reprioritize...and take advantage! I myself lost my editorial position on the school newspaper – kind of unfortunate, yes, but this gives me the chance to go back to being a writer and take on more responsibilities elsewhere. New internships, anyone?

This is, I think, the key: Don’t look at it as a loss but rather as the universe giving you a reminder that a trip abroad isn’t the only way to explore new things. It’s okay to miss your old job just like it’s okay to miss your old haunts and routines from your semester abroad. But if you look at this as an opportunity, it could bring tons of good things your way.

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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Dealing with Negative Feedback

July 31, 2012

Dealing with Negative Feedback

by Radha Jhatakia

We all love to hear good things about ourselves, no matter how humble we are. However, when things take a turn – and they often do – how do we handle it? Even if this (often true) feedback is for our benefit, it is usually not welcome so here are some suggestions on how to handle negative feedback.

More often than not, the person tasked with giving the negative feedback – often euphemistically called “constructive criticism” – will feel some level of discomfort but you should remember that what they are saying is for your benefit. Allow them to say what they need to without interruption so that you show respect and remember that your body language can also represent your emotions: Even if you are upset, keep your composure by sitting or standing straight up, refraining from clenching your fists and teeth, and employing your best poker face. Pay attention, nod at main points and take everything to heart; if you don’t, you will come off as imprudent and these actions could make for a very different kind of feedback next time around.

When your review is complete, thank the person for giving you the feedback because they took time out of their day to do something that will ultimately benefit you and they cared enough to be honest about it. Ask them questions about how you can improve and what actions you need to take to make the work or internship situation better for all involved. More than likely, your employer will be thrilled that you want to improve and will be impressed with your level of maturity.

Remember one thing: Feedback – whether it’s positive or negative – is for your benefit. Feedback helps you correct yourself so that you can improve your career growth and development. No matter how well you can do something, there is no such thing as perfect: Always allow some room for improvement and you’ll go far at any task at hand.

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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Will You Be a Perpetual Student?

August 1, 2012

Will You Be a Perpetual Student?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

When I first started attending college in 2009, there was nothing I wanted more than to graduate...fast. But now that I’m about to receive my B.A. in English Professional Writing in December, the idea of graduating terrifies me. What if I can’t find a job? What if the so-called “real world” isn’t as glorious as I imagined it? And what if I do find a job but I don’t get to use my writing skills?

But even in my darkest moments, I’ve never considered being a perpetual student like Michael Nicholson, a 71-year-old man from Michigan who is working on his 30th college degree – a master’s in criminal justice. While I admire his extreme dedication and patience, I personally don’t want to spend the rest of my life paying for college or facing the dreaded “Sorry, you’re overqualified for this job.”

With that said, I think that if going to school makes Michael happy, then he should continue to do just that. After working numerous menial jobs, going to college probably makes him feel more productive...and there’s no doubt that he’s more broadly educated than most of us will ever be. His degrees range from home economics to psychology, and an astounding 22 of them are master’s degrees! So, while I can understand why some people feel that perpetual students are determined to avoid responsibility, I think that as a retired septuagenarian who has worked his whole life, Michael has more than earned the right to do as he pleases. And having talked with classmates who are even more terrified of graduating than I am, I think that there are more people who would prefer to remain students than face the “real world” than we’d like to admit.

So, what’s the answer? Like everything in life, I think the key is balance. Most of us (due to financial and time constraints) can’t afford to pursue 30 degrees but we can make the most of our time in college by doing internships, maintaining high GPAs and going to graduate school if our dream job requires it. What path will YOU take?

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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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Veronica Gonzalez

July 8, 2013

Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Veronica Gonzalez

by Veronica Gonzalez

My name is Veronica Yvette Gonzalez. I’m 20 years old and I’m entering my third year at the University of the Incarnate Word this fall. At UIW, I major in English. I’m also a committed member and fellow officer of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society at UIW. In ALD, I was vice president from 2012 to 2013; this fall I will be a returning officer but this time as a junior delegate.

The main reason why I chose to attend UIW was because I found it possible to pursue a career in writing there. The English Department offered all kinds of classes and recommendations to help me pursue my dream career. Another reason why I chose UIW was because of its friendliness and hospitality. When I researched the school, it was totally different from other universities: UIW wasn’t going to hook me up with so many classes and tell me “Good luck” – they stepped up and helped me get through the first day of school. They were very helpful and brilliant at answering every question I had.

Majoring in English was an automatic choice: Ever since I was a kid, I read lots of books and I envisioned writing my own books and signing them for my fans. At UIW, I was placed in special classes where the professors were hands-on and gave every student feedback on their essays and stories. Having an advanced start to a writing career in college is heaven! Although I am quite busy with school, I also make time to read, write, draw, paint and brainstorm ideas on what to write about.

When I heard Scholarships.com was calling for virtual interns, I immediately rose to the challenge. As a writer, I know that I shouldn’t be afraid to put my writing to the test. This internship won’t just look good on my resume – it will advance my dream career because I will gain so much experience as a writer!

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Tips for Returning Students

August 8, 2012

Tips for Returning Students

by Kayla Herrera

As a returning college student myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about what tips every one of us should heed as we head into a new academic year. I’ve learned so much as an undergrad and grown in ways I never thought I could, but I’ve also come to realize that I am learning more every day. With that said, here are my thoughts on what returning students need for the upcoming year:

  • A budget plan. You may think you can keep all your spending straight in your head or that budgets are a waste of time (like I did), but I hooked myself on a Microsoft Excel document I found online that adjusts the numbers for me. There are tons of them online – just search “college budget worksheet excel” or something similar on Google.
  • A recreational reading book. I know this may seem silly considering you probably have so much other reading to do for class but while textbooks work your mind in one way, recreational books exercise it in another. Reading recreationally is a good way to get lost in another world for a while. It’s okay to take a break every now and then!
  • Camera. Whether it’s your iPhone, a small digital camera or a beefy Canon SLR, don’t forget to capture these years and the moments that count because you’ll want something to look back on when you’re getting ready to graduate and move on in your life. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have another means of memory.
  • A video game. Video games are scientifically shown to improve the brain’s critical thinking skills and reaction time...and even something as simple as The Sims Social or Farmville on Facebook counts. Pencil in a video game hour every day (or Facebook hour...if you aren’t already on it 24/7) and take the time to enjoy life – sans school work – for a moment.

As you enter this next school year, remember to make every moment count. Work hard and play hard, learn to better control your spending or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Study long nights but reward yourself with time with friends. Balancing your life benefits you in so many ways and will make your year a great (and manageable) one!

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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LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

August 9, 2012

LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

by Radha Jhatakia

From Twitter and Tumblr to Facebook and Google+, there are a variety of social media sites that one can use these days. Although these websites serve different purposes, there is one that everyone should have: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social media site specifically created for professional networking. You create a profile, upload a picture and enter some information about yourself and then you can search for others who work in your desired field. You can also be searched for based on any number of criteria and the connections you make here could lead to recruitment and employment opportunities. If you think you can use LinkedIn the same way you use other sites, however, you’ve got another thing coming. Here are a few tips for LinkedIn success.

Since you are essentially selling yourself to potential employers on LinkedIn, put the very best version of yourself out there. Start with a decent and professional picture – you don’t have to be in a suit or tie but no snapshots of you at a party or dressed provocatively should EVER be used. Also, be mindful of how you describe yourself: For example, in the hobbies and interest section, don’t list “partying” – try “socializing” or “networking” instead. LinkedIn is very different from Facebook and to be taken seriously, you must promote yourself as such. Keep in mind that if you are questioning whether or not to include something on your profile, it probably doesn’t belong there!

You can also upload a resume to LinkedIn so make sure it’s top-notch and that the information in your resume matches your profile information. (No embellishing!) Another benefit of LinkedIn is that you can upload recommendation letters from your professors or employers to give those viewing your profile a bit more insight into who you are and what you’re capable of; you can ask your LinkedIn contacts to recommend you as well...just be ready to return the favor when asked. Professionals are increasingly putting their LinkedIn URLs on their business cards; it’s certainly a creative way to get exposure – is YOUR LinkedIn page worthy of such publicity?

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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See the World in the Summertime!

Exploring the Many Benefits of Summer Abroad Programs

August 10, 2012

See the World in the Summertime!

by Kara Coleman

Many universities across the country offer study abroad programs for students who wish to spend a semester in another country. Every student that I know of who has ever participated in one of these programs hails it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience...but what if you can’t afford to spend an entire semester overseas or you don’t want to interfere with your planned graduation date or schoolwork? Consider seeing the world on shorter-term trips during the summer! You’ll still get the experience of traveling and seeing what life is like in other countries without taking a lot of time off from work or school.

This past May, my university sent 10 students from its honors program to China for two weeks. Though they did do a few touristy things, they spent most of their time learning at Taizhou University. Because the Chinese academic year is different than ours in the U.S., the Chinese students were still in classes and the American students were able to jump in and study alongside them after their final exams had been completed at home. The best part? The trip was completely paid for by JSU!

You can also use the summer months to explore the world on a trip not associated with your college. Last month, I spent a week in Honduras on a mission trip, where I volunteered in a shelter for homeless children. I was able to experience firsthand what life is like in a third-world country and have plenty to tell my friends about when school starts back up later this month.

So where will you be at this time next year? Studying kung fu in a Chinese university? Playing soccer with kids in Central America? Or maybe something completely different? A whole world of opportunities awaits you – literally!

Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and 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; she is also the editor-in-chief of JSU's student newspaper, The Chanticleer.

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Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

Why Taking a Technology Time-Out Isn’t the Worst Idea

August 14, 2012

Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

by Jessica Seals

How many of you have ever sent a six-page text message when it would have been easier (and less time consuming) to just call the person or speak to them face-to-face? I’ll admit I have...and I’ll also own up to the fact that I’ve sent a text to someone who was in the same building that I was in. Guilty as charged, thanks to technology!

One might say that rapid advances in technology are bringing us closer because it allows us to communicate with people all over the world at any time. Of course, this argument does prove to be true because technology has permitted us to share memorable information with loved ones and friends that we had lost touch with; however, having the power to get in touch with people at any time right at our fingertips can cause more harm than good if you become too obsessed with technology.

When I walk around my college campus, it’s rare for me to encounter a person who is not either talking on their phone, texting, listening to music on an iPod or surfing the Internet on their laptop or tablet. I can remember several days where I walked right past a friend without speaking because technology distracted us and instead of meeting back up later, we had a long conversation via text message. I have heard people say they would rather text someone than have a phone conversation or visit someone’s home – the situation has even gotten so bad that I’ve seen people go ballistic when something prohibits them from getting on the Internet or texting their friends!

Although new technology does allow us to keep in touch, it does have several downfalls. When you post something on the Internet or send a text message, you are jeopardizing your privacy and inviting friends, family and even strangers into your life. Some people post all of their activities online, which allows anyone to invade their privacy. Also, the era of the post office is fading away due to the fact that we can now send and receive emails whenever we need to. My recommendation? As a precaution, I think we should all take regular breaks from technology and spend time doing other activities that do not involve computers or phones before we end up completely withdrawn from one another.

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. Jessica will be back at Memphis this fall to begin working toward her master’s degree in political science; she ultimately hopes to attend law school.

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Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

August 15, 2012

Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

by Alexis Mattera

An Olympic gold medal is the ultimate goal for many athletes but when you’ve managed to achieve this feat before even turning 18, what do you set as your next accomplishment? There are usually two options – attend college and perfect your craft or go pro and rack up endorsement deals – but figuring out the "right" choice is becoming more difficult for many up-and-coming student-athletes.

A perfect example is Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom who scored five medals at the London Olympics. She has made it clear that she wants to swim in college but if she does so, she will not be able to take advantage of the potentially millions of dollars in endorsements her Olympic success has afforded her. (The NCAA strictly prohibits athletes from accepting sponsorship and advertising money if they want to maintain their eligibility, though many athletes have petitioned this rule).

A recent article in The Atlantic details that going pro makes more sense for athletes in certain sports – for example, since the level of competition in collegiate gymnastics is lower, gold medalist Gabby Douglas didn’t hesitate to give up her amateur status...and sign a deal with Kellogg’s – but for Franklin, attending college would give her not only a chance to improve upon her already impressive swimming skills but earn a degree and have somewhat of a normal life after her time in the Olympic spotlight. Her choice? She hasn't announced it yet but it's her decision to make. "If Missy Franklin wants to go to school, bravo for her, and nobody who doesn't live inside her heart and mind should criticize it," said sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has worked with athletes ranging from Olympians Brian Boitano and Kerri Strug to pros Troy Aikman and Steve Young.

What path do you think Franklin will follow? If you shared her situation, what would your choice be and why?

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