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Investment Strategies for College Students

April 13, 2012

Investment Strategies for College Students

by Radha Jhatakia

Most students begin to make decisions about what sort of financial investments they need to make after they graduate while they are still attending college. It’s not an easy decision – rather, it’s one that takes time and some level of research – but this short guide will help you get started.

You may have "made" a lot of money through economics projects where you "invested" in stocks but playing the stock market in real life is much different. With great risk, you can have a great payoff or a great loss and unlike your econ projects, investing requires real funding to make an initial investment, as a single share can be quite expensive depending on the stock. Research the stocks you are interested in and watch the market daily before investing any money. It sounds silly but the best starting point would be reading a book like "Stock Investing for Dummies."

If you’re wary about the stock market, a safer investment would be in a bank or credit union. Many banks do not have annual fees for college accounts but in the current economy, some financial institutions do not offer high interest rates for savings accounts, money markets or certificates of deposits (CDs). Credit unions often have higher interest rates and may charge annual fees but it depends on the institutions' individual policies. Here are the differences between these accounts:

  • Savings accounts: Savings accounts don’t require large balances and offer students the freedom of withdrawing money whenever needed. The downfall is low interest rates.
  • Money markets: Money markets require higher balances since banks use the accounts to make investments but the interest rate is higher since you make money off their investments. The caveat here is not having the money readily available and being charged fees for falling below the minimum balance.
  • CDs: CDs are great for long term use, as they require investments for a certain length of time. This account has a high interest rate and is insured by the FDIC but the drawback is breaking the CD to withdraw money means paying a hefty fee.

Are you currently investing your money? If so, how?

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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The Importance of Experience

April 18, 2012

The Importance of Experience

by Liz Coffin-Karlin

I don’t think most students will disagree with me when I say college messes with your head. It’s not a bad thing to become wrapped up in the culture and “crazy” things start to seem “normal” – midnight pancake breakfasts, grown men dressed up as professional wrestlers breaking chairs on each other in the quad, and just dorm food in general all become regular life – yet one of the most confusing parts of college is that the classes that consume so much of your time and energy really only count for so much.

I remember being consumed by my senior honors thesis my last year and vaguely thinking “Huh, I should probably be applying for jobs...” but with the exception of a few research fellowships, I couldn’t imagine taking the time. Objectively, that job hunt was way more important than whether I got a B or an A- on that last Spanish major requirement because one class out of 40 just doesn’t affect your GPA that much. How much time you spend on outside activities and jobs versus academics, however, does affect your employment choices.

Like I’ve said before, employers want to see experience. Life experience, not classroom experience (this statement should obviously be modified for those planning on Ph.D. programs or going straight into non-professional graduate programs), is vital and whether you’re applying for medical school, a paralegal job or want to be in the business world, internships and volunteer work matter. They prove you have practical skills and good professional recommendations show you are easy to work with, which is more important than you think. Many employers calculate your attitude and demeanor into the hiring decision: They can retrain you on skills you’re lacking but it’s hard to reprogram someone who’s annoying the heck out of everyone in the office.

Obviously, your GPA is important (for example, Google won’t hire anyone with under a 3.5) but most employers care about your concrete skills more than they do about your successful memorization of Don Quijote’s final stanzas. So as hard as it may be, I actually counsel putting down those books sometimes and putting extra effort into that job or internship search, even if it may feel counterintuitive. That means completing informational interviews, exploring both externship and (sigh) unpaid internships and really utilizing your alumni network. But those are topics for another week.

Liz Coffin-Karlin grew up in Sarasota, Florida, where the sun is always shining and it’s unbearably hot outside. She went to college at Northwestern University and after studying Spanish and history, she decided to study abroad in Buenos Aires. In college, she worked on the student newspaper (The Daily Northwestern), met people from all over the world at the Global Engagement Summit and, by her senior year, earned the title of 120-hour dancer at NU’s annual Dance Marathon. She just moved to San Francisco and is currently working on a political campaign on ocean pollution but will be teaching middle school or high school Spanish this upcoming fall and working on her teaching certificate.

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What Makes a Professor Great?

April 19, 2012

What Makes a Professor Great?

by Kara Coleman

Earlier this month, The Princeton Review released its annual list of the best 300 professors in the nation. The teachers were chosen because of the impact they have made on the lives of their students and that got me thinking: What exactly makes a professor good...and, conversely, what makes you not want to go to certain professors' classes?

First, the good stuff. Teachers who seem to genuinely care about their students always get high marks in my book. The teacher I had for English 101 and 102 seemed every bit as interested in what I wrote outside of the classroom as the essays I wrote for class. He even invited me to read some of my poetry at his community poetry club meeting (an event not affiliated with the school) and he even met my family at the bookstore one night, saying he always enjoys getting to meet the families of his students.

Next are the teachers who have a passion for and connection with their work. My Spanish teacher was not Hispanic but she and her husband had served as missionaries in Buenos Aires for 20-something years. She would often share her personal stories with us about living in a different culture with a different language than what she had grown up with. That experience proved just as valuable as being a native speaker.

Now what causes students to give their teachers bad reviews to their peers and on sites like RateMyProfessors.com? The bottom line is respect. It’s not about how difficult their tests are or whether they’ll let you cite online sources in your research papers – how professors treat their students makes all the difference. Teachers who talk down to or argue with their students or the ones who seem indifferent and treat their work like it’s just a job are ineffective.

What do you think? On your personal list of the best professors you’ve ever had, who makes the grade and why? Comment below and let us know!

This past summer, 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 also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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To Pin or Not to Pin?

Colleges Weigh the Pros and Cons of Pinterest

April 25, 2012

To Pin or Not to Pin?

by Alexis Mattera

Does your college have a Facebook page? Has your university retweeted one of your Twitter posts? At this stage in the social media game, both scenarios are pretty common so it’s not too surprising that many institutions are also turning to Pinterest to interact with and engage their students as much as possible. Is it the best move for every school? An answer has yet to be pinned down.

Pinterest’s growth over the last year is hard to ignore(Modea reports the number of users jumped from less than 500,000 last May to 11.7 million in January) and while some schools (Drake, the University of Minnesota, UPenn, Oberlin) have already started building their Pinterest presences, others aren’t as gung-ho about the concept. Drake’s digital media specialist Aaron Jaco was an early Pinterest proponent, tasking his student interns with creating multiple boards (17, according to this Inside Higher Ed article) that were whimsical, human and fostered engagement. Jaco’s goal for Drake on Pinterest seems pretty simple – “The more we can engage in a friendly, non-sales way, the better,” he said – but other schools are still on the virtual fence. Bill Keller, a new media specialist at Muhlenberg College, would rather wait until an effective marketing strategy is more clearly defined. “When we do jump in [to Pinterest], I want to make sure it’s a strong footprint with solid intent behind it,” he said.

What do you think of colleges using Pinterest to connect with students? Is their presence on the site necessary or do you think their messages would be better received via other social media platforms?

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Five Things to Do Before You Graduate

April 26, 2012

Five Things to Do Before You Graduate

by Kayla Herrera

As a soon-to-be college graduate, you are probably stoked to get the heck out of school but also a little scared to enter the sneering, looming workforce that will launch you into the rest of your life. This is it - the final draw before your life is dictated by 40-hour work weeks and mortgage payments - and there are some things I highly recommend you do before leaving your campus life behind:

What are some other experiences you think you should have before you graduate from college?

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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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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How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Into Your Dream School

May 2, 2012

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Into Your Dream School

by Kara Coleman

You probably saw the title of this blog post and thought, “Oh, I know what this is going to say. Take AP classes, get involved in extracurriculars, etc.” But there are a few other not-so-obvious things that you can do to increase the chances of getting into your dream school:

Update your resume. Each time you win an award, get elected to an office in a club/organization or get any sort of recognition, let your potential college(s) know about it. That way, they have a full list of your accomplishments when you graduate from high school.

Hook up with the college community online. Take advantage of Facebook and Twitter. Like or follow your dream school(s), their sports teams, drama department or anything else that might interest you to keep up with what goes on there during the school year.

Send a handwritten thank you note. After you go for your official campus visit, send a handwritten (not typed!) thank you note to your tour guide or, if you had an interview, your admissions counselor. Let them know how much you appreciate them and the attention they showed you that day.

Show them that you’re genuinely interested. College admissions can sort of be like dating: Admissions officers want to make sure that you are interested in them before they commit to you. Imagine yourself as a student at that school and express a sincere interest in the goings-on there: If you don’t have a 100-percent interest in a particular school, take it off your list of potential colleges.

This past summer, 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 also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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Handy Phone Apps for College Students

May 8, 2012

Handy Phone Apps for College Students

by Radha Jhatakia

The majority of college students today own smartphones and use these devices more for apps, browsing the web, checking email and texting than actually making phone calls. Here are a few that will benefit most students...and most are available for both Android devices and iPhones.

My top most recommended apps are Amazon Student and Kindle for iPhone or Android. Amazon Student has deals for students on books, electronics and much more and if you are a member of Amazon Student, you only have to pay half price ($39) for Prime membership, which gives you access to movies, TV shows and music online plus free two-day shipping anytime. The Kindle app allows you to access e-textbooks on your phone for those few minutes before class when you remember you had a reading assignment to do.

Students also have schedules filled with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, jobs and more. How do they keep it all straight? Some apps to make things convenient include The Weather Channel, Wells Fargo, Discover and Evernote. A weather app allows you to check the weather outside so you can dress accordingly, a bank or credit card app will make it convenient for you to pay your bills on the go (some even have ways for you to make check deposits without setting a foot in the bank) and note apps allow you make to-do lists and take notes which you can sync with your calendar.

Other convenient apps include translators, dictionaries and games for stress relieving. As long as you don’t mind some ads, these apps are available for free (but you can purchase ad-free versions for about $.99). What are your favorite apps?

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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Five Years, Two Degrees...Is It the Right Path for You?

May 10, 2012

Five Years, Two Degrees...Is It the Right Path for You?

by Angela Andaloro

As college students, we make tons of important decisions every day. Our futures are constantly at the forefront of our minds and for some students, continuing their schooling after completing their undergraduate degree is a very serious option. Luckily, many schools recognize this and offer five-year programs that allow students to begin graduate work as an undergrad and have their credits apply to both degrees. So how can you tell if such a program is right for a student like you? Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you positive you want to pursue a graduate degree? If so, then these programs can be great for you! You can finish both degrees in less time than it would take to pursue them separately. Financially speaking, this is also a good move because you'll be spending less money on school.
  • Are you looking for a challenge? By senior year of college, some students start to question how much they’ve learned and how challenging their course loads are. If you feel like you need more of a challenge, beginning graduate classes as a senior could provide you with just that. You’ll also have the opportunity to warm up to a graduate course load.
  • How much of a difference does it make? In some instances, a master’s degree does not make much of a difference in the type of job you get or how much you will ultimately make after college. It IS very important and almost necessary in some fields – yours just may not be one of them. It’s best to do research on your intended field and see what the pros and cons of getting a master’s degree are for what you want to do when you have your diploma in hand.

I hope these tips help you out but the truth is no one can decide for you whether or not a five-year combined undergrad and grad program is the right fit – it takes your willingness to research, consult with people in the right departments and get all the facts straight before making your final decision.

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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Not Ready for London 2012? Try the College Olympics First

May 17, 2012

Not Ready for London 2012? Try the College Olympics First

by Radha Jhatakia

Recently, the College of Business clubs at San Jose State University held a Business Olympics. In this mini-Olympics, students from the various CoB clubs participated in many different athletic games and fun activities where students had the opportunity to get good workouts, blow off some steam and socialize with others.

According to the club board members who united to host the CoB Olympics, there was a great deal of planning involved. They had to ensure a date, time and space on campus where the games could be held, as well as find faculty members who would be willing to oversee the event since it was an on-campus activity. They also needed enough of the clubs in the College of Business to join so that there would be enough participants for a competition and needed to plan which games to play (touch football and volleyball tournaments, a five-legged race, a balloon stomp game, tug-of-war and business trivia). This being the bare minimum, the board members of the clubs went above and beyond for the event: They even found sponsors for the OlympicsMonster (energy drinks), State Farm Insurance and WiLD 94.9 (a local radio station) – that provided supplies, t-shirts, snacks, water and food for a barbeque after the event. After the eight-hour competition filled with bumps and bruises, we all left having made new connections with students from other clubs and the successful nature of the event will be continued in a now semi-annual College Olympics.

Depending on the department or major you are in, you can tailor the Olympics to fit your criteria and the great part is that this kind of event can be held by any organization on campus. Does your school have any Olympic-like event like SJSU's? If not, will this article help you in planning your own?

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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