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Should You Take a Semester Off?

Dec 2, 2011

by Kayla Herrera

I have been attending college for about four years now and have never taken a semester off. The thought used to make me shudder – how could someone even think of taking time off from school?! – but after this semester, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Some of my friends took semesters off to travel and learn more about themselves, while others were lost and not sure what they wanted to do in life. Some have experienced the loss of a family member or friend and others fell so ill that it interfered with their everyday lives. But me? My situation has been a combination of flying squirrels, bad landlords, health issues and money problems. Stress from school has skyrocketed to its worst level ever and I am planning to take the summer off, since I cannot afford to withdraw from spring classes if I want to stay on track. (I did consider attending part-time but found it could create problems with financial aid.)

If you’re considering taking a semester off, do NOT just drop off the face of the Earth. Let your adviser know your plans and keep the lines of communication open so that the process of coming back to school is easier when you are ready to do so. You may be taking time off from school to destress but I’d also recommend doing something related to your major – picking up an internship/job, volunteering or studying for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT or GRE – to stay somewhat involved in your field.

Lots of college students take time off for one reason or another; if external factors are competing with school to the point where your grades are suffering, take a break – you’ll return to school more motivated to succeed.

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.

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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Is Your Dream School Affordable, Too?

Dec 2, 2011

by Scholarships.com Staff

When an acceptance letter arrives from your dream college, your first instinct may be to scream, cry and jump on your couch with Tom Cruise-caliber flair. Feel free to give in to those urges – hey, you earned it! – but realize you will soon have to figure out how to pay for your education. Can you really afford this school, not only while you’re attending but after you graduate as well? A new list from Kiplinger says your dream school could be a reality after all.

The list, which rates how well colleges actually do in making themselves affordable, includes schools with students who graduate with less than $20,000 in student loan debt on average. The Washington Post’s Daniel de Vise also weighed in, supplementing Kiplinger’s findings with data from the Institute for College Access and Success. Here’s what he found were the most affordable institutions based on the average amount of debt graduates carry:

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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Students Alter Online Identities During Admissions Season

Nov 30, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

Students applying to college have a lot on their plates. There are applications and essays to complete, campus visits to schedule and FAFSAs to navigate of course but college hopefuls are taking an additional step to up their admissions chances by participating in serious social media scrub downs.

With admissions officers looking beyond traditional application materials to select their students – the latest survey from Kaplan Test Prep found that 24 percent had visited applicants’ Facebook pages while 20 percent used Google searches – college applicants are creating alternate identities to disguise less-than-savory photos or comments on a number of social media sites. "Ask any senior in high school what his or her Facebook name is and you will find that they have morphed their FB identity into something slightly peculiar and mysterious that only their ‘friends’ can figure out," says Naomi Steinberg, owner of Apply Yourself Educational Consulting. And though students’ original online identities often reappear after admissions decisions have been made, Steinberg says the trend of social media expurgation will continue into the next phase of students’ lives as well, like when they begin applying for jobs.

College applicants, do you plan to tweak your social media persona as soon as your applications go out? Current college students, do you think online editing played a role in your acceptance?

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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Want That Job/Internship/Scholarship? Speak Up!

Nov 29, 2011

by Darci Miller

In a perfect world, getting a job or internship would be as easy as sending your cover letter and resume to an employer. The perfect job opportunities would just fall into your lap and hiring managers would be fighting over you. Well, if you’ve ever applied for a job, internship or even scholarship, you’re well aware this isn’t the case.

If you simply send in a cover letter and resume, you’re lucky if they get more than a passing glance...and that’s AFTER the endless search for opportunities. Rejection notices are rare and actually getting hired is even more so. I don’t pretend to be an expert on getting jobs, internships or scholarships – far from it, in fact – but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my quest is that you can’t do it on your own. It’s the lucky few that get their dream job or internship on a lark; the rest of us have to do some legwork, which includes networking and making some contacts.

My personal dream is to work for the Olympics in some capacity and I’m studying abroad in London next semester to be there in the lead-up to the Summer Games in 2012. So, I thought, why not try for an internship? The website of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) was utterly unhelpful, so my mom and I started spreading the word that I was on the hunt.

It turns out that one of my mom’s friends has a cousin who works in LOCOG’s technology department! We’ve emailed and spoken on the phone and he’s been nothing but helpful. I told him that, as a journalism major, I’d like to do something in that area and it just so happens that one of his friends heads the press team; he’s going to send over my resume, cover letter and clips.

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee anything and I still have to worry about my student visa application being accepted. But because I got the word out and asked for help, I got to pass Go and collect $200. Your mom may know a guy who knows a guy, too, so in your internship, job or scholarship search, don’t forget the crucial step of being vocal about what you want.

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!

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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Cyber Monday Could Be a College Student’s Best Friend

Nov 28, 2011

by Jessica Seals

Waking up at 2 a.m. to stand outside in the freezing cold waiting for a store to open is a holiday tradition for some people. On the other hand, there are thousands of others who refuse to give up sleep to stand in a long line for an item that will sell out before they even get inside the store. That’s right: I’m talking about Black Friday and for those of you who are on tight budgets – aka almost all college students! – it may seem like this day is your only chance to get holiday presents at affordable prices...but it’s not.

After experiencing the fights over the most-sought after items every year on Black Friday, I decided to stop giving in to this “holiday” in favor of participating in Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving). Retailers have noticed that the number of online purchases is steadily increasing; therefore, they put some of the same sale prices that can be found in stores online. This is great for college students because they can spend the day after Thanksgiving with their families instead of arguing with strangers. Win-win!

I have become a Cyber Monday proponent because I prefer to do all of my shopping from the comforts of my own home – far away from angry shoppers who try to snatch items from my cart while I am not looking. As store lines continue to grow longer and the televisions and game systems sell out even faster, Cyber Monday is becoming a more attractive option. I can almost hear sighs of relief from college students everywhere who are trying to juggle countless end-of-semester commitments!

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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Making Thanksgiving Dinner in Your Dorm

Nov 23, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

Not all college students are able to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. If this sounds like you, don’t worry: You can still get into the holiday spirit in your dorm. Many of you are probably wondering how to pull off a Thanksgiving feast when you don’t have a kitchen and/or cooking skills but here’s a little guide to help you:

  • You can find ready-made mashed potatoes in the refrigerated section of your grocery store or buy raw potatoes and cook them in the microwave (some even have a button for this). For gravy, buy a powdered packet and add the requirement of heated water. Voilà!
  • If you don’t want canned cranberry sauce, heat fresh cranberries in the microwave until the juices are released. Add sugar to taste and mix while slightly mashing them with a spoon.
  • Candied yams would be difficult to make from scratch in a dorm so buy canned pre-cut and peeled ones. Heat the yams in the microwave with butter then add some cinnamon and sugar (granulated white and brown). When the sugar melts, you’re done!
  • Boxed stuffing can taste just as good as the homemade kind. Get the Stove Top brand – all you need to do is mix it with hot water.
  • For the bird, most grocery stores have cooked rotisserie turkey and chicken. You can add your own seasoning or eat it as is.
  • Get a bottle of sparkling apple cider or grape juice for delicious mocktails.
  • Pick up a ready-made pecan or pumpkin pie from your grocery store for a treat...or maybe even some seasonal cupcakes.

Bon appétit, everyone!

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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This Thursday, Be Thankful for Your Options

Nov 22, 2011

by Angela Andaloro

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and many college students are planning to head home to celebrate. It’s no easy feat, either: With the cost of travel and the chaos attached to traveling during one of the busiest weeks of the year, it’s not always possible for students to get home for the break. That doesn’t mean that Thanksgiving has to go out the window; in fact, there are tons of alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving for college students staying on campus.

See what’s going on at your campus. You’re not alone if you’re staying at school for Thanksgiving. Many students find themselves too far from home to return for a few short days so find out what your campus is doing for students sticking around. Some schools offer a Thanksgiving-style meal in their cafeterias or nearby eateries.

Volunteer your time. While not being able to be with your family might be upsetting, there are many others who have it worse. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. Doing so can really strengthen your gratitude and teach you to show your appreciation for what you do have.

Skype with your family. It might not be the same as being there in the flesh but you can still partake in your family’s holiday thanks to technology. It could very well be your Thanksgiving tradition for four years!

Whatever you decide to do for Thanksgiving, make sure you stop and give thanks for all the great things in your life. And remember, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are just a few short weeks away! Have you ever spent your Thanksgiving on campus? How did you celebrate? Let us know in the comments.

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.

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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What Really Matters to College Admissions Officers?

Nov 21, 2011

by Kara Coleman

The National Association for College Admission Counseling recently released a list of the top 10 things college admissions officers consider to be most important in an applicant. When I read it, I was surprised to find that extracurricular activities didn't make the cut! There have been many times when I have said or heard someone else say, “That will look good on a college application.” After all, there is something impressive about being SGA president or being actively involved in a service organization like Key Club. Unfortunately, the data say otherwise.

So if you are a high school junior or senior thinking about college, what should you do? Developing good study habits is extremely important – learning IS the point of attending school! – but don’t sacrifice your extracurriculars. College admissions officers may not consider them to be important but involvement in your school, church and community is oftentimes a big factor when dealing with scholarship applications. When I was in high school, I was a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and writing an essay about that experience garnered me a $1,000 scholarship from Coca-Cola during my second semester in college. Even if you don’t end up with scholarship bucks, there is no price to be placed on the leadership skills and character development that can result from getting involved.

So what do you think? Should college admissions officers place a higher value on what you do outside the classroom or should academics be all that matters?

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 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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Graduation...Then What?

Nov 15, 2011

by Katie Askew

So maybe you’re the type of person that had their entire life planned by 7th grade, so you already know what you’ll be doing after college graduation. But if you’re like most busy college students, you might only start thinking about post-grad plans by your second or third year of school. And that is perfectly okay because there are many different options and opportunities available depending on your major, personality or life goals! Here are just a few:

Grad school, law school and medical school: Post-graduate study may be your next step if you want access to jobs that have higher starting salaries or jobs that require more than four years of schooling. Law school prepares you to pass the bar exam before becoming a lawyer and medical school allows you to obtain your MD before becoming a practicing doctor – two things you just can’t do with an undergraduate degree alone. Many majors encourage their students to go to grad school after undergrad as well because they’ll be better educated and prepared before entering the work force. Grad school is a much more specialized course of study in comparison to undergraduate education so be sure you know what you want before you begin!

Peace Corps: Maybe you finished your undergraduate education and don’t feel ready for more schooling or a job just yet. But what’s another option? Join the Peace Corps or some other volunteer or missionary opportunity! It’s a great way to help out those less fortunate than you, see the world (and get paid while doing so!) and you can even add it to your resume to impress future employers. Once you volunteer in the Peace Corps, however, you are committed to a 27-month job – if more than two years out of the country is ok with you, so is this opportunity!

Workforce: Maybe you feel prepared enough after your undergraduate years to transition into the work force. If so, go for it! Be aware that you’ll be paid an entry-level salary (which isn’t glamorous) and while you most likely won’t land your dream job right out of the gate, you’ll gain the career experience necessary to do so in the near future.

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

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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Electronics in the Classroom: Supplementing Studies or Sidetracking Students?

Nov 10, 2011

by Angela Andaloro

I always have about 150 things on my mind and like any other college student, I’d kill for some extra time in the day so that I could get things done the way I’d like to. Unfortunately, that can’t really happen but some students are improvising by bringing tablets and laptops with them to class. While it might work for some people to take notes, search the web and tweet at the same time, it doesn’t work for me.

Despite my best intentions, I get easily distracted. If I really want to focus on something, I try to isolate myself as much as possible. This is the reason why I don’t bring my laptop to class because I’d end up using that time to write papers, go on Facebook or check my email. I consider myself an excellent multitasker but I know for a fact that once I have my laptop in front of me, I’ll start trying to tackle my to-do list instead of paying attention to what my professors have to say. If the person sitting in front of me has a laptop and I see them watching a video or playing a game, I get so mesmerized that I stop paying attention!

That’s not to say there isn’t a benefit to having electronics in the classroom. Technology has been wonderful to college students over the past decade: It makes it easier to take notes, look up information regarding what the professor is discussing, remember assignments and manage time. It really comes in handy regarding the hustle and bustle of college life but I’m just not sure of its presence in the classroom.

As I see it, using electronics in the classroom should be a personal decision, not one a professor mandates in their syllabus. Some people genuinely function better with their laptops in tow while others (like me) might not be able to handle the sensory overload. Part of being a responsible college student is making those decisions for yourself – what’s your choice?

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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Facial Piercings, Visible Tattoos and Your Future

Nov 9, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

Tattoos and facial piercings have become part of modern day society and college culture. There is nothing wrong with this – I myself have seven piercings (three in each ear and one in my nose) and a tattoo – but with these artistic choices can come consequences that we may not think of when we are younger and attempting to fit in.

Many members of older generations do not view tattoos and piercings the same way we do. To them, they are forms of rebellion, disrespect and, most importantly, decisions that make it increasingly difficult to build favorable professional reputations. If you have a facial piercing, interviewing with a professional organization is risky: Unless you have an exceptional resume and amazing skills, most employers won't take you seriously.

Visible tattoos are deal breakers for many employers as well, especially for those who work alongside customers and are constantly representing the company. Professional workplaces will not tolerate visible tattoos; if you have any but also have your heart set on a career with this kind of organization, you should cover them up. Though many offices have adopted more casual dress codes, visible tattoos are still a long way from being accepted and could hurt your chances of getting hired: If there’s one position available and the other applicant has a cleaner cut appearance, you could lose out.

If you just have to get a tattoo or piercing, I am not going to try to stop you. Just remember that the choices you make now will affect you in the future.

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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