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The Fight Against Federal Student Aid Fraud

October 21, 2011

The Fight Against Federal Student Aid Fraud

by Alexis Mattera

Firefighters. Police. Ghostbusters. Your mom. There are certain people you instinctively contact when you need assistance and the same holds true for the federal government. When the Department of Education noticed there was something strange in the neighborhood regarding federal student aid, they knew just who to call.

Less than a month after releasing a report detailing how organized fraud rings were exploiting distance education programs, the ED contacted colleges across the country urging them to develop additional ways of identifying threats to federal funding. Schools were encouraged to combat potential fraud rings by monitoring groups of students using the same IP or email addresses to apply and participate in online programs, paying closer attention to students living outside the schools' normal coverage areas and delaying the disbursement of federal funds or releasing said funds in multiple disbursements. In addition to the steps colleges are taking internally, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the department will be working with Congress and schools "to ensure we have all the tools we need to prevent criminal elements from defrauding federal student aid dollars."

Do you think colleges are doing enough to prevent federal student aid fraud?

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Intro to Paranormal Investigation

October 24, 2011

Intro to Paranormal Investigation

by Kayla Herrera

Here at Michigan Tech, ghost hunting and paranormal investigation have become hot trends. It may seem like a strange extracurricular activity at first but my school is located in the perfect place for it: Further north past the busiest towns on this side of the Upper Peninsula, old mining towns sit against the woods. What happened here so many years ago? Over the summer, my friend and I decided to find out. We did extensive research on the area and we finally obtained access into a building that was used as the old hospital. It was an experience neither of us will ever forget, partly because of our findings and partly because we went about our exploration in the right way.

There are rules when it comes to digging around a town’s history that must be followed. First, get permission. I know it may seem like a person would never let you tromp around in a historical location but trust me: It’s much more respectful to get permission rather than trespassing and going home in a cop car. If you have a legitimate reason for your exploration – like photography or paranormal investigation, the latter of which we cited as our objective – the chances of receiving permission are pretty good.

Next, be safe. Wear proper clothing like sneakers, long sleeves and pants – no heels or skirts, girls! Also, don’t conduct your investigation in a big group. It’s noisy and disrespectful to the property owners, surrounding neighbors and those who have passed on or were buried on the site.

Lastly, enjoy the experience! The findings from our investigation were staggering: I was touched twice by a “spirit” – it felt like cold spider webs the first time and like someone covered in spider webs brushed past me in a hurry the second time – and we recorded a few EVPs (disembodied voices). All the eresearch and planning paid off and it will change the way I view the paranormal forever. If you’re interested in giving it a try, see if your school has a paranormal club. Who knows, you might even get course credit for participating!

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., 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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Tackling Test Time

October 25, 2011

Tackling Test Time

by Angela Andaloro

If you’re like many college students out there, midterms are on your mind right about now. It feels like classes just started yesterday and you’re already being tested on what you know! While you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin studying, here are some tips that’ll help you breeze through those exams – whether it’s the first or final time you’ll be taking them.

Recall what your professors said. It’s easy to zone out during class, especially when you think the same points are being repeated over and over again. Those points, however, are the most important and likely to pop up on the exam. Make sure to pay extra attention to that information and indicate its importance in your notes.

Look back at your syllabus. They may seem like they’re full of the same old stuff for each class but if you're looking for an outline of what topics you’re tackling from week to week, your syllabus can serve as a great starting point for studying. Use those topics to build yourself a study guide and fill in specific details based on your class notes.

Ask questions. As much as we may think otherwise, professors are trying to help us learn...not hold us back. Drop in on their office hours and ask questions – you’d be surprised at just how much exam insight your professor is willing to give up! – and realize the more information you have, the less guessing you’ll have to do. Your studying will be that much more productive.

These tips may seem like common sense but you’d be surprised how quickly these skills can escape you when it comes time to study. Just focus, keep a level head and you’ll be sure to get through midterm time in one piece.

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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How to Save Even More Money on College Essentials

October 25, 2011

How to Save Even More Money on College Essentials

by Jessica Seals

Spending $500-plus on books every semester is enough to make any college student dread a new class schedule. After two semesters of spending that much on my books, I became determined to find a way to keep as much money in my bank account as possible. Of course, I made the decision to start buying my books from discount places online such as Amazon and eBay but I also wanted to see if there were other ways to keep from paying anything at all without having to rent books. I started reading blogs started by people who were once in my same position and found a bunch of helpful tips for earning extra money online.

It probably sounds crazy to say that I spend a great deal of time taking online surveys...but I do. After doing my research, I discovered sites such as Swagbucks, MyPoints, E-Poll surveys and Valued Opinions, which have users search the web and complete other activities in return for virtual currency and gift cards. I’ll admit I was skeptical until my first gift cards started arriving – and they actually worked when I went to redeem them! It took me a while but once I got the hang of it, I was able to redeem my points for Amazon cards that I use to pay for all of my books. I no longer dread the beginning of the semester because no money comes out of my pockets for school-related costs and beyond: I’ve also earned gift cards to restaurants and retail stores so I can eat and shop for free as well!

Interested? Give it a try...but understand that you’ll need to put forth some effort to reap the benefits. At times, I have spent all day on these sites (days when I don’t have class, of course!) and because of this extra effort, I’ve had more success. You may not have the same results but I still think it’s worth it to pass along this information and help other college students save money.

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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College Class Trips: Are They Worth It?

October 26, 2011

College Class Trips: Are They Worth It?

by Darci Miller

When I got to college, I assumed that class trips were a thing of the past. And for two years, I was right. So when I found out there was an opportunity to travel to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming with my travel writing class, I was pretty blown away.

My professor told us that the school would pay for hotel expenses, our admission into the park and dinner on two nights, while student participants had to shell out money for flights (several hundred dollars!) and lunch for several days. Like my fellow virtual intern Kara Coleman said, experience is often more valuable than education but would this be worth it? My parents seemed excited about this opportunity for me and offered to pay, so it was settled: I was going to Wyoming.

We left at the crack of dawn on a Thursday morning and returned at almost midnight on Sunday. Luckily, The U's fall break fell on that Friday and travel writing is one of my two classes on Thursday. Getting out of my one other class was relatively simple – it was a school-approved absence – but I still had to figure out how to deal with the time I now wouldn’t be able to spend doing homework. In the time leading up to the trip, I was also scrambling to get ahead on my newspaper duties: I’m the opinion section editor and had to work double time so I wouldn’t leave the rest of the staff in trouble during my absence.

The trip itself was such a great experience! Grand Teton is absolutely gorgeous and it was really cool to get to know some of my classmates (and my professor!) better. I don’t know when else I’d ever get the chance to go to Wyoming, let alone write about it. And guess what? The newspaper got along mostly fine without me. (When I turned my phone on after a full day of travel, I saw a frantic text from the managing editor. Can’t win ‘em all!)

In trying to gain experience, don’t just do what looks good on your resume. Taking opportunities like these give you the chance to expand your horizons, see and do new things, and handle a different kind of stress.

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Pick Your Classes Wisely

October 27, 2011

Pick Your Classes Wisely

by Jacquelene Bennett

Sometimes the most difficult part of a university class is not the homework or the tests but the process of picking out and registering for the class itself! Seeing as though this will be my last time registering for classes, I thought I would pass along some tips and tricks of the trade.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want to overload your schedule with gen ed requirements early on in your college career; rather, you should aim for a nice balance between your gen eds and the classes you need to take for your major and/or minor. My rule has always been “half and half” – half of the classes I take are gen eds, while the other half is for my major or minor. This method not only keeps you from hating a semester because you were taking nothing but uninteresting classes but helps you in the long run by allowing you start on your degree requirements sooner.

Begin mapping out your course schedule with your adviser well before registration time. They can help you plan your classes semester by semester, give you insight on professors and create a list of back-up courses in case your first-choice classes are already filled by your registration date. You should also talk to friends or people who have taken the classes you’re interested in to get a feel for the material and workload.

Once you’ve registered for your next semester, make a list of classes that you want and need to take the following semesters as well. You’ll be able to see if you'll have time to pick up an internship, job or fun elective.

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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Dealing with an Uncooperative Group Member

October 27, 2011

Dealing with an Uncooperative Group Member

by Radha Jhatakia

Group projects are inevitable in college and at some point, you’ve probably been stuck with a group member who is uncooperative. This person doesn’t do their fair share of work, doesn’t show up to meetings or argues and causes tension in the group. While it’s not fun to deal with, here’s how to make the situation bearable for all members. After all, your grades depend on it!

Set up guidelines when you form the group. Create requirements and state the consequences of not completing the tasks assigned. Also, make sure to state at what point you will drop a member from the group; this is important to avoid carrying dead weight for the whole length of the course.

Approach the problematic member in a friendly manner: They may not realize that they’re being uncooperative and it will prevent him or her from getting defensive. Ask them if they need help getting their assignments done or if the work is too much for them. In subtle manner, let them know that they need to participate more in the group to be fair to all the group members. People will be more willing to cooperate if they don’t feel like they’re being attacked.

If the person is still uncooperative, speak to your professor to avoid jeopardizing your grade and dealing with the stress of a hostile environment. Just be sure it’s a group consensus and you’ve exhausted the other options because your professor will ask you about both before deciding on a course of action.

We’ll encounter uncooperative individuals in college and beyond but instead of stressing out about it, remain calm and try to work the situation out. There is a solution out there – you may just need to come together as a group to find it!

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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Why Can’t High School Be More Like College?

October 28, 2011

Why Can’t High School Be More Like College?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Did you ever wish you had more freedom to choose what classes you could take in high school? Students in Georgia share your pain and the Board of Education is considering implementing a plan which will allow students to take only the classes which are relevant to their future careers. Students will be required to take general courses before choosing their “career cluster” at the end of their sophomore year but depending on the “career cluster” they choose, some students may be able to get their dream jobs right out of high school!

While I know I would have liked more choices regarding the classes I took in high school, I'm still not sure I'm onboard with this idea. For one thing, not everyone knows what career they want when they're in high school – some students have trouble deciding what they want to do well into their college careers! – even me: When I was in high school, I was convinced I wanted to become a pharmacist before I realized my true calling as a writer.

The fact is that college is expensive and the idea of cutting down on the rising cost of college by taking some of the necessary courses in high school is very enticing indeed. Along those same lines, if this program is implemented and a student decides they don’t really like their course of study, they can switch between clusters until they find one that better suits their goals.

So, will Georgia become the first state to implement a more individualized high school experience? We'll have to wait and see next fall.

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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Go Out With a Bang This Semester

October 31, 2011

Go Out With a Bang This Semester

by Jessica Seals

By now, you’ve probably taken your midterms and realized that the semester is halfway over. The excitement from the thought of being even closer to a break from school and the holiday season can make any student decrease their work ethic. I have seen several instances where fellow classmates started off making near perfect scores on every assignment only to hit the halfway mark and watch their grades slip. It’s very common for a college student to let stress and other factors affect their performance during the second half of the semester; however, there are ways for students to end the semester just as strong as they started it.

The best piece of advice that I can give any college student is to relax. As simple as it may sound, taking a few minutes for yourself can be difficult with the fast-paced lives we live today but I noticed that when I did not overbook myself and set aside time to do something that put my mind at ease, I felt more relaxed when it came time to do my assignments.

Another way to end the semester strongly is to take my fellow virtual intern Radha Jhatakia’s advice and invest in a planner to use on a daily basis. Planners help you keep track of when everything is due and by knowing how much time you have left for each assignment, you can spend the rest of the semester planning out what days you will work on certain assignments. You’ll allow yourself time to make sure your assignment is perfect and avoid the stress and headaches that come from writing a 10-page paper the night before it is due.

The adrenaline rush that comes with beginning a new semester does taper off but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to slack off! Finding ways to ease your mind and giving yourself plenty of time to complete assignments can help you end the semester on a good note and keep your grades from dropping in the end.

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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Tuition at Cooper Union?

November 1, 2011

Tuition at Cooper Union?

by Alexis Mattera

If you’re a prospective college student considering a career in engineering, architecture or art, Cooper Union is probably on your radar. Not only is the school among the most selective in the nation but the tuition – zero – has been the best deal in higher ed for more than a century...or it was.

Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha recently announced that the weak economy has prompted the school to reevaluate its scholarship policy and possibly begin charging tuition for the first time since 1902. Bharucha stressed that lower-income students and many middle-income ones would continue to attend for free and that none of the 900 current undergraduates would be charged but the mere mention of tuition for degree-seeking students marks a serious cultural shift for the institution: Though a final decision has yet to be made, alumni are furious – “It’s a contradiction to everything we’ve learned about Cooper. It’s the last opportunity for free education on that level in the entire country,” said graphic designer, New York magazine co-founder and Cooper Union graduate Milton Glaser – and students are planning to walk out of classes in protest tomorrow.

Bharucha did say that implementing tuition would be a last resort but what do you think of his announcement and its corresponding reaction? What avenues should be explored to preserve free tuition and are there any ways students and alumni can support or contribute to the cause? Lastly, does a potential tuition bill have you reconsidering applying to Cooper Union?

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