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If the College Fits...

How to Find the Right School for You

October 4, 2011

If the College Fits...

by Katie Askew

Finding the right college for you may seem daunting but it’s actually easier than ever before. (Thanks, Internet!) For those new to the process, here are a few tips to get you started on your quest to find your perfect school:

The easiest way to find colleges is to let them find you. A major part of a college admissions counselors’ jobs is to recruit prospective students so keep a close eye on your snail mailbox, your email inbox, your phone and even sites like Scholarships.com because you’ll most likely be contacted by a college via one of those paths. (Side note: Create a more professional email address for college communications – the admissions office WILL laugh at your 2hawt2trot@whatever.com address so keep it simple and classy with some variation of your.name@whatever.com.)

Don’t turn away any one type of school just because you think it’s not for you. Generic college brochures and pamphlets you receive in the mail are just that: generic. It’s impossible to get the big picture from a few glossy pages; it takes some personal research to find the parts of the school that pertain to you.

Just because a school was perfect for your parents, best friend or significant other doesn’t mean it’ll be the right fit for you. College Board and Scholarships.com both have great college search tools that allow you to narrow your search based on location, majors, cost, activities and housing. Just pick from your personal list and you’ll get links to colleges’ admissions pages.

Virtual tours are helpful but try to physically visit the schools you’re most interested in. I can’t stress enough that the campus visit can be the most important factor in a student’s decision. Visiting various kinds of schools can help to narrow your search as well; tech schools, public institutions, private institutions, rural colleges, Big 10 universities, Ivy League universities, community colleges, small schools and even beachfront colleges all have something unique to offer and you may not know what that is until you step foot on campus!

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.

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It’s OK to Just Say No!

October 4, 2011

It’s OK to Just Say No!

by Kara Coleman

Regardless of whether they’re children or adults, Americans are busier now than ever before. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “That’s like saying that the Earth is round. Everyone knows that,” and that may be true but college is the perfect time to learn the power of two little letters: N-O.

Over the course of this semester, I’ve found myself saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t commit to that,” more times than I ever thought I would. I live and work in a town that’s about a 30-minute drive from where I go to school, so I do a lot of driving back and forth for classes, newspaper staff meetings and school events. I spend a few hours each week tutoring eighth grade math and I babysit one night a week, on top of the 25 or so hours I spend at my regular part-time job. This puts a severe time limit on the time I have available to spend with family and friends so I decided that I had to learn to say no.

When a parent called and asked if I could tutor her daughter two nights each week, I asked if we could do it on an assignment-by-assignment basis instead. When I received a text asking if I could help paint sets for an upcoming theater production one night after work, I declined because it was the only night that week that I didn’t have to go anywhere after work.

It’s hard to say no when we are asked to do something because we think we’ll be letting somebody down if we say anything less. But you know what? If you don’t say yes, someone else will. Know your limits and how much you can commit to without going crazy and learn to just say no!

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.

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The Perks of Student Checking Accounts

October 6, 2011

The Perks of Student Checking Accounts

by Jacquelene Bennett

Being a college student is stressful. The demands go beyond the classroom and university but despite all of those stressors, being a student also entitles you to some everyday perks – like being eligible for a student checking account at a bank.

So what do you get for having a student checking account? Here are a few reasons to consider opening one:

Fewer fees. Most of the time, student accounts aren’t charged monthly service fees (penalties banks charge for having insufficient funds in an account) or for making transfers from one account to another. Also the minimum amount of money needed to open the account is lower: Typically, you only need $25 to open an account versus hundreds.

Free necessities. When you open a student checking account, your debit card and first set of checks are gratis. Not bad for two things students use on a regular basis!

Rewards. Banks sometimes reward systems linked with the opening of student checking accounts. One of the reward systems my bank has is called "Keep the Change," where every purchase is rounded to the nearest dollar and the difference is automatically transferred to your savings account. After the first three months of transferring your change, the bank matches your savings and gives you the money in your savings account.

Credit card options. When you enroll in a student checking account, most banks give you the option of obtaining a credit card through the bank. This credit card usually has a low interest rate but a low credit line. This is great for three reasons: It will limit your urge to spend, it will keep your payments manageable and it’s enough to help you start building a great credit score.

So those are the benefits of student checking accounts at most banks. You’re only a student for so long – take advantage of the perks while you can!

Jacquelene Bennett is a 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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Early Decision vs. Early Action - Which is Right for You?

October 6, 2011

Early Decision vs. Early Action - Which is Right for You?

by Alexis Mattera

So you’ve wanted to attend University X for as long as you can remember. You made sure your academic and extracurricular accomplishments exceeded its admissions criteria, took multiple campus tours and even made its .edu your homepage but the time has finally come to submit your application packet. Doing so early seems like a no-brainer...but is it really?

Applying to college ahead of traditional deadlines has become quite popular in recent years; with that increased interest, however, comes some confusion. Should you apply early decision or early action? Can you apply early to multiple schools? Can you apply early to one college and regular decision to another? Here’s some much-needed clarification from Examiner.com.

Early Decision: Generally, ED programs are binding and require applicants to relinquish all rights to consider offers from other colleges. If you are surer than sure of your college choice and would go to this school beyond a shadow of a doubt if you were accepted, this is a great route to take. If you’re concerned you will not get in, you should consider another application method that allows you more options.

Early Action: EA, on the other hand, is non-binding in that it allows applicants to choose from other colleges they’ve been admitted to instead of being locked into one. While most early action programs say it’s ok to apply early action and regular decision to other institutions, some can be restrictive (check out Yale’s policy compared to Harvard’s) so be sure to check the requirements before sending in your materials.

College students, did you apply early? If so, what did you think of the process? High school seniors, do you plan to apply early – either ED or EA – and did these explanations help you?

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Interviewing as a College Student

October 6, 2011

Interviewing as a College Student

by Radha Jhatakia

Having a job offer before you graduate is ideal but doesn’t always happen. The truth is it’s slightly easier to get a job in college than after because you are on a different playing field than recent grads. When applying for a job in college, you go through university relations but after you swing your tassel from right to left, you become a candidate for human resources like everyone else applying for the position.

Applying starts with the resume. An impressive college resume doesn’t mean multiple pages of volunteer experiences and jobs – it’s about quality, not quantity. Highlight your most important jobs, internships and community service organizations and focus on how the skills you’ve gained would add to the job you’re interested in. Be prepared to talk about these attributes in more detail in your cover letter and during your interview.

If you get an interview, remember to relax. Employers look for students who are confident and collected during the interview – if you can’t handle the pressure of the interview, how will you handle the responsibilities of the job? Bring extra copies of your resume and be sure to dress appropriately: Employers already have certain standards in mind for college applicants and arriving prepared and dressing professionally will show them you are mature and willing to take on responsibilities and tasks that graduates can. In the days leading up to your interview, practice answers to basic questions. Remember, you’ll be having a conversation so try not to sound too rehearsed.

After interviewing, take it upon yourself to follow up with a thank you note to your interviewer, preferably a handwritten one and never one sent from your cell phone. This seemingly small gesture will go a long way in employers’ books; you’ll stand out from the crowd in a positive way and land the job – or at least some interview experience – as a result!

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 Go Out With Us?

Couple Dating in College

October 7, 2011

Will You Go Out With Us?

by Kayla Herrera

When college students couple up, they sometimes become hermits and for couples that live together, this behavior is even more prevalent. It doesn’t have to be your way of life, though! Break free from the monotony and try this rising trend among students here at Michigan Tech: couple dating.

Girls need girl time and boys need boy time so in addition to spending time with the friends you had before you were in a relationship, find another couple you’d like to get to know better and plan a night out. Go bowling, go out to eat or see a movie. Any time I’ve been on a couple date, the other girl and I kind of have our own conversation going while the guys talk about their things. This is a great way to have that girl time or boy time without having to completely move around a jam-packed schedule.

I know you’re thinking couple dating sounds like something only people in their 30s and older do but it really isn’t. I speak from experience: Couple dating made my own relationship more exciting and resilient! After a successful couple date, all parties are generally happy and refreshed. You can hang out with your loved one – which can be hard if you have opposite class and work schedules – and socialize with others at the same time. Don’t ever feel like you are becoming “that old couple” – you’re just making new friends and having fun in a more convenient way!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. 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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The Death of the Library As We Know It

October 10, 2011

The Death of the Library As We Know It

by Jessica Seals

Years ago, most college students did not have personal computers and they had to go to the library if they wanted to access information in an old periodical or journal. That’s not the case today: The majority of students own computers that allow them to write papers, put presentations together and do research on the Internet. All of this can be done in the comfort of one’s own dorm room, apartment or home, making the library a less utilized resource on campuses.

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to the library every month so that I could check out new books to read. Now that I am in college, I am ashamed to say that when I enter my school’s library, I am sometimes unaware of where I need to go. I am in my senior year and I have only visited the library a handful of times; however, I have encountered students who have been here longer than I have but have never been to the library or can count on one hand the number of times they have been there. I’ve had several professors encourage us to do our research in the library but most of us still prefer to research periodicals and journals in the databases that have been set up when and where it is convenient for us.

Whenever I do go to the library, I notice just how much the availability of personal computers has changed the usage of the facility. Very few students are in the library and I rarely see many looking through hard copies of books or periodicals. Most of the students in the library are using the computers to type papers that are due that day or using the computers because they do not have one or do not have Internet access at home. The library does have areas where people can form study groups and meet but this does not entice more people to stop in – after all, dorms have common areas that serve the same purpose.

With the declining popularity of libraries, I have to wonder how many of them we will start to see close their doors because people are not visiting them like they used to. Do you think this is a possibility as well or will libraries withstand the test of time...and technology?

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.

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Recognizing Your Responsibilities

October 11, 2011

Recognizing Your Responsibilities

by Darci Miller

I grew up with parents who were very involved in my life. I don’t mean that in a bad way – they were as involved as any good parents should be – and was grateful they always made sure I finished my homework, was on top of my deadlines and didn’t forget an appointment.

I didn’t realize any of this on a conscious level until I began attending college. Suddenly, I had somewhere to be on a certain day and only I was responsible for staying organized and reminding myself about it. If any of you have applied for study abroad, I’m sure you know what I’m going through: During the last week of September, I realized that the October 1st deadline had crept up on me. This set off a week and a half of printing documents, scheduling appointments with the study abroad office as well as my academic advisor, getting my transcript, writing essays, etc.

It’s a little overwhelming figuring out what I needed and trying to schedule around classes and work and life. Luckily, I quickly learned that I need to write things down. I’ve become dependent on my planner, whiteboard and Post-it notes to help me manage my time and tasks. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve made dozens of lists of things I need to remember to do. This method works for me but if it doesn’t work for you, figure out what does before something falls through the cracks.

Sometimes I still wish I woke up to notes on the table scribbled by my dad – “get form signed” or “talk to your advisor” – but now I know I can handle life’s responsibilities by myself. To this day, sometimes keeping track of everything feels like a full-time job but I’m proud to report that my study abroad application was submitted (in full!) on time. I’d call that a success.

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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How Social Media Savvy is Your School?

October 11, 2011

How Social Media Savvy is Your School?

by Angela Andaloro

As 21st century college students, we understand the importance of social media. How else can we get up-to-the-minute updates on what’s going on in our friends’ and family’s lives? Social media has gone far beyond individuals, however, and these days, there’s a Facebook page for almost everything. Colleges are getting in on the action, too, because they’ve realized the importance of connecting with their students through social media. Here are three schools that are doing particularly awesome jobs.

Notre Dame: Earlier this year, USA Today praised Notre Dame for its belief that social media is “important to professional development.” With the emergence of social networks such as LinkedIn and the use of social media in hiring processes, they’re definitely on to something! Some highlights of their social media use include separate Twitter accounts for the school’s many sports teams, more than 32,000 fans on Facebook and a great alumni network through both.

Boston College: The #1 college in social media according to Klout, Boston College has 35,000+ fans on Facebook. BC employs social media to announce events, timely reminders, information on important alumni and more. Twitter is its real strength, though, with more than 15,000 followers and separate accounts for pretty much everything you can think of! An impressive fact: BC’s average tweet has a reach of 6,000 people (40% of their followers) at any given time!

University of Texas: The University of Texas is definitely a leader in higher education social media. The school has an extensive network of blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts for its various their colleges and schools, administrative offices, libraries and museums. A directory of all these accounts can be found on the school website, making it extremely easy for students to interact with exactly whom they wish.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s necessary for colleges and universities everywhere to embrace what their audiences loves and learn to connect through these avenues. How do you think your school stacks up in terms of social media? Get in the spirit - leave comments and discuss!

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.

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Emotional Guidance in College

October 13, 2011

Emotional Guidance in College

by Radha Jhatakia

There are many factors that influence your stress levels in college and all throughout life. In college, stress comes from your classes, meeting graduation requirements and securing enough financial aid, plus outside stressors like family and work. It can be hard to handle everything at once, especially when new issues arise and challenge us. The key to maintaining a healthy balance is to find a positive outlet to deal with these stressors.

It’s always nice having one friend that you can talk to about everything but sometimes a subject may feel too personal. I just transferred to a new school and the transition was taking its toll on me. All the while, there were problems going on at home and it was very difficult for me to deal with all of it. I had my sisters to talk to and an academic counselor from my old school to confide in but it would have been nice to speak to someone in a professional manner.

College administrators understand the stress we go through as students and how difficult it can be for us to handle everything. Therefore, many colleges have wellness and health centers that you can visit in your time of need. They offer workshops on everything from managing time to health education and there are also professional psychologists and counselors there to speak with you. All you need to do is make an appointment and someone will be there to help you out.

Unfortunately, many students don’t realize someone is always there to listen to them and in some cases, the consequences of not seeking help can be quite serious – even fatal. If you’re finding it hard to deal with any aspect of college life, don’t hesitate to take advantage of these resources. They exist for your benefit.

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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