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Light Up...and Send a Student to College?

by Carly Gerber

Imagine a place where every time you bought a pack of cigarettes, you would be funding a college student’s education. In the near future, that place could be California: The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would increase tax by $1 for every pack of 20 cigarettes and the money would be deposited into a fund for financial aid.

The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 has a projected revenue of $800 million but there is an estimated loss of $70 million of proceeds that go to existing resources. The taxes on tobacco that already exist go to programs for tobacco education and prevention, tobacco-related disease research, breast cancer screenings for uninsured women and early childhood education. (The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would still receive $730 million from its excise on tobacco.)

The tax on tobacco that the California Residents of College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 wants to initiate has to be reviewed by the Board of Equalization. The Board’s job is to estimates the impact the tax would have on other programs that already use taxation on cigarettes. Cal State Northridge senior and sociology major Debra Hendricks said she would vote for the taxation because she has lost many people to cigarette smoking and she likes the idea that the money would be used to support students who want a college education. Junior biology major Jessica Fuentes, however, isn’t sure if another cigarette tax proposal would pass but she thinks the financial aid aspect of the proposal makes the excise appealing.

Personally, I think taxing cigarette smokers again is unfair because they are always the ones getting taxed for their activity. I don’t promote smoking but smokers shouldn’t be the ones to shoulder the burden of spending more because of a societal view on cigarettes. Maybe the California tax should be on alcohol instead – the state would make more revenue that way! What’s your view about this taxation proposal on cigarettes?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Report: 284,000 College Graduates Held Minimum-Wage Jobs in 2012

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a competitive edge when applying for that minimum-wage barista position at your local coffee shop? Turns out your newly minted bachelor’s degree might just be the edge they’re looking for.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, there were about 284,000 college graduates working minimum-wage jobs in 2012, including 37,000 with advanced degrees. Surprisingly, that’s down from 2010’s peak of 327,000 but up 70 percent from a decade earlier. And with many college graduates saddled with crippling student loan debt, it’s no wonder they’re accepting positions that are low-paying and low-skilled.

Of the 41.7 million working 2010 college graduates, about 48 percent work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need a high school diploma. Why the surge of low-paying jobs? Three-fifths of the jobs lost during the recession that paid middle-income wages have been replaced with the low-wage variety, according to the National Employment Law Project. (For more on this report, click here.)

To our college student readers, does this report alter your perspective on getting a college education? Why or why not?


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Getting a College Education Behind Bars

by Carly Gerber

Did you know Cornell University offers a program for inmates at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correctional Facility to receive college educations?

The Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) began from the ideas and actions of English professor Winthrop “Pete” Wetherbee who, without funding, began teaching in the Auburn prison in the mid-1990s. By 1999, CPEP was offering Cornell credit for completed courses and in 2008, Cornell and Cayuga Community College (CCC) made an agreement which has Cornell waive tuition and fees, CPEP supply instructors and pay for books, school supplies and administration and CCC endow associate degrees. Plus, the CPEP is relatively low in cost – $1,800 per student – and has numerous benefits: Prison education appears to increase the safety of the prisons because the men and women are staying occupied, learning and building self-esteem.

The programs have been getting a positive reaction because other inmates want to join. Retired Cornell professor Richard Polenberg taught a constitutional history course at Auburn Correctional Facility and had said, “These men are extraordinary” and “They are very, very well behaved in the classroom and they ask really good questions.” Government and American Studies professor Mary Katzenstein explains, “Ninety-five percent of men and women in prison are released to society. Do we want people returning who have learned only to hone tricks of the trade, or do we want people coming back to our neighborhoods who have had a chance to learn the kind of analytical skills and be exposed to the ethical values that a liberal arts education is able to impart?”

With the low cost and many benefits of the CPEP, I think all correctional facilities should have a program like it and more colleges should follow Cornell's lead. What are your thoughts about the CPEP?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Maintaining Healthy Relationships in College

by Chelsea Slaughter

Balancing relationships on campus can be a task. For new college students, the freedom can be quite overwhelming: Students are no longer under the microscope of their parents and can come and go and do as they please. As amazing as it sounds, however, it is key to remember the pros and cons of this autonomy.

Without an outside viewpoint, it is much easier to get caught up in detrimental relationships, both romantic and platonic. When you have so much access to another person, it becomes quite easy to take them for granted or vice versa. Sometimes you need a break from friends and groups to regain your own identity. This is ok. Always remember to make choices that are best for YOU. Are you in a parasitic friendship? Are they draining you and giving nothing in return? If the answer is yes, then you need to reevaluate the path of your friendship.

While friendships are important to keep healthy, the most dangerous relationships can be ones of the dating variety, as college-age students are the most at risk for domestic abuse relationships. Consider these statistics:

  • 53% of victims of domestic violence were abused by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner and 32% experienced dating violence by a previous partner.
  • 60% of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships.
  • Nearly one third of college students report having physically assaulted a dating partner in the previous 12 months.
  • Approximately 90% of victims of sexual assault on college campuses know their attacker.

Open your eyes and see the signs of unhealthy relationships. Whether it’s a friend or significant other, know when to separate yourself from situations that are not conducive to your educational experience and your health.

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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A Guide to Surviving the Summer at Your Parents’ House

by Carly Gerber

Being away from home at college can make you feel liberated and independent. Nevertheless, summer break comes and moving back in with your parents is a reminder that you are not as close to independence as you thought: All of a sudden, you’re hit with rules, obligations and expectations that you lived without during the academic year!

Moving back in with your parents doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, deciding to leave school and come home for a semester unintentionally helped me build a better relationship with my parents. Here are a few simple guidelines that will help you have a drama-free relationship with your parents over the summer:

  • Follow the house rules. Washing the dishes right after a meal or making your bed every morning may not make sense to you but when your parents ask you to do a simple chore, don’t fight them on it. Completing small tasks around the house is a lot better than having your mom scream at you for 30 minutes. Eventually, you’ll have zero fights with your parents and you’ll be the golden child, which can come with its own perks.
  • Remember where you are. A midnight Slurpee run on a weekday may be routine for you at school but certain behaviors should stay at college. Your parents may view staying out late on weekdays as irresponsible, especially if you have a summer job or internship. The weekend is the time for you to stay out late and relax, not during the work week.
  • Bond with you parents. Your parents may think your music is a bunch of noise but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other things you have in common. Ask your parents out to movie, to dinner, on a walk to a park or for ice cream. Take time during the summer to hang out with your parents as if they were your friends. They may surprise you with what cool and interesting people they can be as well as great roommates!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

by Suada Kolovic

It’s official: After 18 months of intense analysis and serious opposition (we’re looking at you, students who barricaded themselves in the college last December), Cooper Union will begin charging undergraduate tuition for the first time.

Faced with a $12 million annual budget deficit, the Board of Trustees voted last week to reduce the full-tuition scholarship to 50-percent for all undergraduates admitted to the institution beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2014. “The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” said board chairman Mark Epstein in an announcement to students and faculty members in the college’s Great Hall. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.” None of the 900 current undergraduates would be affected but those considering enrolling in the fall of 2014 and beyond could pay $19,275 a semester.

After the speech, opponents of the decision gathered outside the Great Hall and staged what they called a walkout, arguing that any tuition would alter the essential character of the prestigious school. What do you think of the announcement and the corresponding criticism? Let us know in the comments section.


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The Scoop on Campus Publications

by Katlyn Clark

As a person who writes for her college’s newspaper, I know that there are people who support its mission and those who couldn’t care less. According to a recent Inside Higher Ed article, the latter is becoming more prevalent, as college newspapers are requesting new student media fees to provide printed papers or going digital just to survive.

It's sad that some colleges struggle with getting a paper printed while having to use the students’ money to keep it running. At Campbell, there was one time that we were not able to print our paper because we did not have the necessary funds. The result? The campus did not take much notice when we missed our usual print day and I regularly encounter full paper bins when I go to put new issues in them. Like many colleges, Campbell supplements its print edition with an online presence; though I personally like to thumb through a printed copy, it's neat to be able to read it online anywhere using a tablet or smartphone.

College students may think their school newspapers have no influence but they can. They keep students informed of campus issues ranging from serious topics like tuition increases and crime to more lighthearted subjects. (For example, I cover on-campus events and write reviews for the entertainment section.) You may not believe it but your campus would be much different if student publications ceased to exist! My recommendation would be to pick up your school paper and take a look with fresh eyes – you may be surprised at what you find.

How important is campus media to you? Inside Higher Ed reports that in most cases, students have agreed to small fee increases to help their publications survive. Would you do the same? What else can campus publications do to fund their operations?

Katlyn Clark is a freshman at Campbell University majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing. She hopes to become a broadcast journalist for entertainment or write for a magazine such as People or Seventeen. In her spare time, Katlyn loves to hang out with friends and family and watch sports; she is a Christian who is so thankful for God’s many blessings in her life. Katlyn is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and loves Tim Tebow, Pinterest, the WWE and cats.


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Practical Majors, Passion Projects and Getting the Best of Both Worlds

by Mike Sheffey

Today I’d like to discuss something that I’m positive is constantly on the minds of underclassmen: “What should I major in?” There’s pressure from all ends to do something that makes money but your heart wants to do something you are passionate about. What's a college student to do? Aim for something that has potential to do both. For example, I love music, I love promoting bands, I love going to shows and I love being a part of the music scene in any way that I can. My majors, however, are computer science and Spanish. Those majors paired with my interests may not make sense at first but here’s how I came to this decision:

  • I determined what skills are considered valuable across the board. Spanish is practical in this time period for many reasons. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Chile and got to use my Spanish skills to interview leading punk bands for a research project. In this case, I was able to combine what I was studying with what I was passionate about.
  • I thought outside the box. I am learning computer science so that I may one day combine it with my passion for music. After all, technology, music sharing, music streaming services and apps are the way of the future....so why not use my skills and love for tech towards my passion?

There is no right answer to choosing a major and the idea of a “practical” major (as discussed by Haverford College's dean of academic affairs Phillip Bean in his recent post for The Choice) is subjective, based on personal passion, skills and desires. You just need to be able to say, “Even though I love this, I could still study that,” and get the best of both worlds. This is also a good reason to do thorough research beforehand on what majors your college offers, though most people change their majors a few times or wait a bit to declare.

How have you decided what to major in and did you take your personal passions into consideration?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Planning a Successful Summer

by Chelsea Slaughter

As summer approaches, we begin to see the bright light of freedom on the horizon. What are your plans for break? If you do not have any, no worries: It’s not too late to plan! Do not spend the next few months lounging on the sofa watching reruns – get out and make the best of your break! Here are some tips to make your summer a great one:

  • Summer Jobs: While getting a part-time job at a local fast food place is always an option, try something new this summer. Find a job that will give you new experiences and allow you to meet new people. Ever thought about being a counselor at a sleep-away summer camp? Check out GreatCampJobs.com to find some of the best counselor jobs available. Some even offer college credit! Imagine getting paid AND earning school credit while working at a totally new place and helping kids have an amazing summer.
  • Summer Classes: Summer classes are always a great option if you feel up to the challenge of focusing during the summer months. Don’t know if it’s for you? Check out my previous post to find out!
  • Study Abroad:Take your educational pursuits to new levels or even new countries! Check your admissions office and see what study abroad programs they offer of the summer. You’ll continue to learn while experiencing a new culture, people and surroundings.
  • Summer Internship: Many great places are looking for determined young minds to fill internship positions. Most degrees require students to participate in at least one internship in their major field of study. Even if it’s not a requirement for you, do it to build your resume: The more experience you have in your desired work field when you graduate, the better your chances are for being considered for employment. Some internships even lead to paid full-time jobs so work hard because you never know where an internship opportunity could lead!

While summer is considered a break, you can always take advantage of amazing opportunities waiting to be discovered. Tell us what you have in store once school gets out!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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FAFSA to Recognize Same-Sex and Unmarried Parents by 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Department of Education has recently announced that the FAFSA will soon undergo a few changes to accommodate students with same-sex or unmarried parents who cohabit in order to more accurately ascertain an applicant’s financial situation.

The forms, which will be introduced for the 2014-15 school year, will allow students to designate their parents as “Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)” rather than just mother and father. “All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student's whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families."

The department has said that the changes will not impact a vast majority of applicants but it could potentially (read: very likely) translate into reduced aid for students with same-sex or unmarried parents. Why? Those parents who do not benefit from filing joint tax returns will likely disqualify their children from financial aid if it’s found that jointly they are above the income threshold. So while the changes are considered progressive, they’re just slightly off the mark when it comes to helping “unique family dynamics.”


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