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Is College Right for You?

April 30, 2012

Is College Right for You?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

If you had to guess, what percentage of students start college and actually finish it? According to a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only 46 percent of students who started college earned degrees in 2010. Hefty student loans and interest rates, stress and being academically unprepared are amongst the many reasons college drop-outs cite; some students report being as much as $50,000 in debt before graduation with no viable means of paying it off.

Given this info, it’s really important that you consider if college is right for you before applying, especially if the field you’re thinking about going into doesn’t require a degree. There are still plenty of great job opportunities for people who think college may not be for them, including air traffic control and locomotive engineering. That’s not to say, however, that a college degree is overrated. According to a study conducted by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, bachelor’s degree holders earn 84 percent more than high school graduates during their lifetimes. And while there are still plenty of jobs that don’t require a degree, virtually every employer will prefer a college graduate over a high school graduate.

My goal here is not to discourage anyone from attending college; instead, I want to present both sides of the argument so that you can commit 100 percent to furthering your education or, alternatively, seek out a job that doesn’t require a degree. It’s better to recognize now that you won’t be able to commit to college than be forced to drop out and pay back $50,000 in student loans later. No matter which path you choose, one thing’s for sure: You’ll have to work hard if you want to succeed!

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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Internships That Pay (and Pay Well!)

May 4, 2012

Internships That Pay (and Pay Well!)

by Suada Kolovic

For college students, internships are viewed as a rite of passage, a box that has to be checked and a prerequisite for future ambitions. While attaining an internship is a success in its own right, finding one where you’ll be compensated in something other than experience is a challenge…but not necessarily impossible. A new report from Glassdoor lists the highest-rated companies that not only pay their interns but pay them insanely well. Check out some companies that made the cut below (for the full list, click here):

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SOTW: $2,000 No Essay College Scholarship

College Prowler is Accepting Entries Through May 31st

May 14, 2012

SOTW: $2,000 No Essay College Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

Winning money for college is great but doing so without having to meet astronomical word counts and double-digit page requirements is even better. Lucky for you, the folks at College Prowler couldn’t agree more and have launched the $2,000 No Essay Scholarship.

The scholarship is open to all students and those planning on enrolling within 12 months. The monthly winner will be determined by random drawing and then contacted directly and announced on their Facebook page. One entry per person, but you can come back each month to try again. To apply, please visit College Prowler or complete a free scholarship search to find additional opportunities.

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Want More Financial Aid Info? Help is On the Way!

Ten Schools Commit to More Financial Aid Disclosure

June 6, 2012

Want More Financial Aid Info? Help is On the Way!

by Alexis Mattera

With student loan debt now totaling more than $1 trillion, current and would-be college students need access to financial aid information more than ever before. The good news is that universities across the country are doing their best to make the facts as clear and available as possible in the near future.

Ten schools – Arizona State, Miami Dade College, North Carolina A&T State University, Syracuse, UNC Chapel Hill, Vassar and the state university systems in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas – have committed to providing key funding information to all incoming students as part of their financial aid packages starting in the 2013-14 school year. The details will include the cost of one year of college, financial aid options such as grants and scholarships, estimated monthly payments after graduation on federal student loans and comparative data about graduation and loan repayment rates. According to the White House, this disclosure will play a vital role in making college more affordable for all students: "Too often, students and families face confusion when comparing financial aid packages, some of which do not clearly differentiate loans from grants, nor distinguish private vs. federal loans, making it difficult to compare aid offers side-by-side. Clarity and accessibility of information is necessary so that students and families can make informed decisions about where to attend college, so they can choose a school that is best suited to their financial and educational goals."

What do you think of this plan? Do you think it will help students better understand financial aid or is the effort too little and too late?

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UConn Announces Faculty Hiring Spree, Goals for the Future

June 7, 2012

UConn Announces Faculty Hiring Spree, Goals for the Future

by Alexis Mattera

While many colleges and universities – specifically public ones – are cutting back on faculty, the University of Connecticut is putting its shears in storage: President Susan Herbst has announced plans to add 275 new faculty members to the university’s flagship campus in Storrs over the next four years.

According to Gwendolyn Bradley, senior program officer for the American Association of University Professors, UConn’s hiring strategy runs counter to the approach many schools are taking, as they are still reeling from the recession and looking to limit costs wherever possible but to Herbst, expanding the faculty is vital to the university’s future success. "The goal is to improve the quality of education by reducing class sizes and enabling professors to spend more time with our students. We also want to increase the number of courses offered so that our students never have to wait to take a course. We want our students graduating on time," she said. Research is also important to UConn but the focus will be on hiring faculty who both teach and conduct research, depending on the field of study.

The hiring of 65 faculty members – with particular emphasis in the fields of genomics, education, health insurance and finance – will begin this fall, followed by another 90 by the fall of 2013; as a result, the student-to-faculty ratio is expected to decline from the current 18-to-1 to 15-to-1 in four years. You can read the rest of the details here – thoughts from any current or future Huskies?

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Employment Rates for Law School Graduates Lowest Since 1994

June 12, 2012

Employment Rates for Law School Graduates Lowest Since 1994

by Suada Kolovic

The notion that those who are well-educated are safeguarded from bleak employment rates doesn’t seem to hold true anymore: According to the National Association for Law Placement, recent law graduates face employment rates that have fallen to the lowest level since 1994.

Only 85.6 percent of 2011 law school graduates (whose employment status was known) had jobs nine months after leaving school – two percentage points lower than the employment levels of the 2010 graduates. Now that may not be reason to sound the alarm, but only 65.4 percent of 2011 graduates had jobs that required passing the bar exam. Ding! Ding!

"For members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession...the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal," the association's executive director James G. Leipold said in a written statement. "When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school, there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing and yet by the time they graduated, they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal-employment market in more than 30 years."

Future law students in the audience, what do you think of the news? With a law degree no longer translating into instant financial security, are you reconsidering your educational path?

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Five In-Demand Careers for College Grads

March 18, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish professionally after graduation? While there isn't one direct route that translates into success, the recent “Hot Careers for College Grads and Returning Students 2013” report by UC San Diego Extension revealed a list of in-demand careers based on job growth, salary and work environment:

  • Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software: According to the report, the integration of technology into our daily lives “has created an ongoing critical shortage of qualified software developers to design, develop, test, document and maintain the complex programs that run on these hardware platforms.”
  • Market Research Analyst: Market research analyst jobs have exploded in every sector of the economy. This has created a high demand for those who can access, analyze and extract meaningful, actionable and tactical implications from a sea of data.
  • Accountant and Auditor: Accountants and auditors earned their spot on the hot careers list because of the sheer demand for accounting jobs. In 2010, more than 1 million people were employed as accountants and auditors and that number is expected to grow at a healthy rate of 16 percent by 2020.
  • Elementary School Teacher: Elementary school teachers outnumber any other single occupation nationally and a teaching career tends to offer a form of stability that is relatively rare in other fields of pursuit.
  • Computer Systems Analyst: From growth to salary, computer systems analysts scored strongly in every category of hot careers evaluation. This career is projected to grow in demand by 22 percent by 2020 and with a mean annual salary of $83,800, it is one of the most lucrative jobs on the list.

Did a career you’re considering make the list? If not, would you considering switching majors based on the likelihood of gaining employment after graduation? Let us know in the comments section.

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Questions to Ask Your Student Loan Servicer

June 13, 2012

Questions to Ask Your Student Loan Servicer

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a recent high school graduate, chances are you’re looking forward to the surge of independence that comes with becoming a college freshman. And while anticipating all the excitement that comes with entering college – meeting new people, establishing a home away from home, sleeping in until noon, etc. – establishing how you’re going to pay for it is an entirely different story. Here at Scholarships.com, we encourage students to apply for scholarships early and often but taking out student loans might be inevitable. With that being said, knowing what questions you should ask your student loan servicer might ease the transition and U.S. News and World Report has done some of the legwork for you by compiling a list of helpful questions that financial aid officers, student loan counselors and former lenders recommend you ask:

  • When exactly will my payments begin?
  • Do you have my current contact information on file?
  • What is my interest rate?
  • Is my interest rate competitive?
  • Is there any way to get an interest rate reduction?
  • Is consolidating my loans a good option for me?
  • How do I qualify for Interest-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment?
  • Do I qualify for an economic hardship deferment?
  • What happens if I lose my job?
  • If I go back to graduate school, what are my loan options?

Can you think of any other questions you’d like answers to? If so, feel free to let us know in the comments section.

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Recent Grads, Pack Your Bags!

Towns Lure Young Professionals with Debt Repayment, Tax Waivers

June 14, 2012

Recent Grads, Pack Your Bags!

by Alexis Mattera

Armed with degrees in their fields of choice, newly-minted college grads have the world at their fingertips...and, often, student loan payments lurking right around the corner. The job market isn’t what it used to be so what’s a recent grad to do to keep collectors at bay? A change of address may be in order.

Communities across the country are attempting to attract young professionals by offering incentives like paying down college loans and income tax waivers if they become full-time residents of specific cities or counties. Niagara Falls is putting an initial $200,000 behind the idea to, according to director of community development Seth Piccirillo, bring back the talent and brain power the city has lost over the last 50 years. (Here, graduates who have earned a two- or four-year degree or a graduate degree in the past two years can apply for up to $3,500 a year for two years towards repayment of their student loans.) Farther west in Kansas, 50 counties have established Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZs) authorized to offer the following financial incentives to new full-time residents: income tax waivers for up to five years and/or student loan repayments up to $15,000. To date, program manager Chris Harris has received 338 applications – 75 percent of which have qualified for one or both incentives.

Read more about the current incentive plans here - would you relocate to one of these areas in exchange for the incentives listed?

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Why Do I Need a College Degree Again?

June 19, 2012

Why Do I Need a College Degree Again?

by Jessica Seals

I recently came across several articles published in journals and magazines that all stated that fewer college graduates are working in field related to their college majors; instead, more students are working retail jobs or other jobs that only require them to have high school diplomas. Naturally, these stats may have you wondering why having a college degree so important if you will have the same job that you could get as a high school graduate. I'm with you there: Personally, my current job is completely unrelated to my college major and what I want to establish my career in so this position allows me to see the situation from two different perspectives.

I continue to work at my job because it is allowing me to save up money that will be used to help further my education – I want to attend graduate school and law school in the future, which will burn a huge hole in my pocket! Like many other graduates, I just wanted any job that would allow me to save for the future. I do not plan on keeping this job forever but it is nice to have so that I am not always stressed out over money as I prepare for grad school. On the other hand, there are some students who accept jobs unrelated to their fields because they need the money in order to survive. Having a college degree may make them overqualified for some jobs while they are still underqualified for other jobs because they only have a bachelor’s or associate degree. Accepting an unrelated job is the college graduate’s crutch to rely on until they can find a job that relates to what they want to do.

After reading those articles on the employment statistics of college graduates, I can honestly say that I am not surprised with the findings. The economy is not perfect and sometimes you have to take what you can get so that you can either save up to further your education or until you find your dream job. What do you think and what would you do?

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 this fall; she ultimately hopes to attend law school.

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