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Four Tips to Financially Prepare Your Student for College

August 19, 2011

Four Tips to Financially Prepare Your Student for College

by Suada Kolovic

It seems like just yesterday that your kid was, well, just a kid, asking for a ride to the movies and throwing a tantrum on the floor. Now your child has walked across their high school stage, tossed that mortarboard in the air and is heading for college in the fall. If this is the first child you’re sending off, it’s normal to be apprehensive about letting go but remember, this is their moment. College is a time for them to discover who they are and figure things out for themselves. That being said, you can help financially prepare your student for college. Check out the four tips from U.S. World and News Report on finding the balance between supplying enough funds and when letting your child struggle is okay:

  • Don’t deposit and dash: Some parents might opt to supply their student with extra spending money for the upcoming school year but it has the potential of backfiring almost instantaneously. If you’re doling out a year’s worth of funds without a framework about budgeting, they’ll be calling for pizza money by October. Take the time to discuss the importance of month-to-month budgeting and understanding the reality of unexpected expenses.
  • Embrace – and limit – financial slip-ups: Once you’ve discussed a budget, step out of the process and leave it up to your child to make it work, recommends clinical psychologist Jerry Weichman. "One of the best things parents can do is to allow your kids to struggle financially for a little bit if they mismanage their money, because the consequences are so much easier for them now versus what that would equate to when they're adults. You learn so much more from your mistakes than your successes."
  • Encourage financial freedom: Having your child work in college is a great way to lower the potential of student loan debt as well as understanding the responsibilities that come with being an adult. Allow your child to allocate earnings, providing them the opportunity to make a connection between money earned and money spent.
  • Utilize web resources: Letting go might be easier said than done, but neither you nor your student need to tackle the upcoming challenges alone. A bevy of financial aid resources is just a click away. Check out Scholarships.com for tips on everything from balancing work and college and where to work on campus to money management skills and tips for going on a budget diet.
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Off-Campus Housing Advice for College Freshmen

August 22, 2011

Off-Campus Housing Advice for College Freshmen

by Jessica Seals

College freshmen have several things to be excited about. They have finally gotten out of high school and now have the chance to go off to college where they will feel more independent. One of the most exciting things about going off to college is getting to live in the dorms. Living in the dorms is somewhat similar to having your own apartment but most dorms still have rules that you must live by. Although dorm life excludes parental supervision, some freshmen still opt for an off-campus apartment. They feel as though they cannot share a tiny space with a stranger or that a dorm still has just as many restrictions as living at home. While there can be perks to having your own apartment (more personal space and not having to worry about sharing your belongings, for example), there are still issues you may encounter.

While living on campus, it’s much easier to be on time to class because the only travelling you have to do is walking. When living off campus, you will have to wake up and leave your apartment much earlier in order to beat traffic, find a parking space and walk to class. This can be overwhelming to someone who is not used to going to college classes and has limited time management experience.

Another problem that freshmen who have to pay their own rent run into is working obsessively to pay for their apartments. If you do this, your grades will begin to slip and you run the risk of being too tired to go to class because you have to work long hours – not a great way to begin your college career!

Although living off campus can help you become more independent, some freshmen enter the situation without a good plan. If you’ll be living off campus as a freshman, make sure your plan includes ways to manage time so that you are not constantly late to or absent from class, and can balance your work and school schedules. You can be successful in having your own apartment during your freshman year if you are mentally prepared for the challenge!

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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Comparing and Saving on Textbooks Just Got Easier

August 22, 2011

Comparing and Saving on Textbooks Just Got Easier

by Alexis Mattera

If you think college textbooks have been in the news more than usual lately, you’re right: Classes are starting up again at many college campuses and students are looking for any ways they can to keep their college costs in check. When it comes to books, there are plenty of options to do so without skimping...but between work, interning and moving in, do you have the time to research each individual option to find the best deal? Yes, actually, you do.

The amount of textbook options available to students today is staggering – new, used, rent, digital, rent digital – but students trying to get the most bang for their educational buck now have some much-needed assistance, the Chronicle reports. For example, Amazon (which recently launched its own digital textbook rental service) has created Amazon Student, a free iPhone application designed to help students compare book prices on Amazon as a whole via barcode snapshots. There’s also BookSavr.com, a site formed by two Yalies in the vein of Kayak and Orbitz: The site shows prices from a variety of retailers – online, the campus bookstore and other physical booksellers close to the school's New Haven campus – all in one place.

Not to be outdone, nearly 100 campus bookstores have added research features to their sites through the Harvard graduate-created Verba. Similar to BookSavr.com, Verba displays prices for books at the store, on Amazon, on Half.com, through rental programs, etc. Some campus stores even include signs on each shelf reminding smartphone-wielding customers about the online comparison tool.

Have you had the opportunity to try any of these options when buying your textbooks? We’d love to hear firsthand feedback!

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Campus Transportation Solutions

August 23, 2011

Campus Transportation Solutions

by Radha Jhatakia

Many of you believe that having a car on campus is necessary. The truth is, it’s just more convenient. Since many schools implement parking restrictions for students unless they are resident assistants or until they earn a certain number of credits, many of you won’t even have the option to bring a car to campus. Thankfully, there are other ways to get around.

If you have a car and meet your school’s requirements, go ahead and bring it to campus if you want but keep in mind that it’s another cost you must endure on top of tuition, books and living expenses. Consider if parking permits, gas, maintenance, insurance and potential tickets are worth the expense.

If you don’t have a car or if you can’t afford to bring yours to campus, you’ll still be able to get around just fine. Most schools have bus services – either a private service or public transit – that students can utilize for little to no money. Schools will typically issue an ID card sticker, denoting the student's fee bill has been paid.

Buses are not the only way to go, though. Depending on where you go to school, there’s light rail, cable cars or the subway. These options are not usually free but students can get tickets and monthly passes as discounted prices.

Other ways of getting around on campus are bicycles and scooters. They are very popular modes of transportation in less populous areas but if your campus is a more urban one, take the time to familiarize yourself with the city’s hustle, bustle and traffic rules before taking to the streets on two wheels. Walking, jogging and running are also reliable...and always free!

However you decide to get around campus, do so carefully. You may be running late for class or exam but there’s always time for safety!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s 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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College Costs Continue to Outpace Savings

August 24, 2011

College Costs Continue to Outpace Savings

by Alexis Mattera

There are lots of ways students and their parents can pay for college – at Scholarships.com, we’re familiar with nearly 3 million options – and many begin socking away funds early on. As admirable as this timely planning is, a new study shows it won’t come close to covering the ever-rising cost of higher education.

Boston-based Fidelity Investments has revealed that while 67 percent of parents surveyed have put money into some sort of college fund this year, current and expected savings project the typical American family will only be able to pay for 16 percent of college costs when the time comes. Why? Many factors contribute, like the less-than-stellar economy and existing student loan payments (more than half of parents with children under five still have outstanding balances) but perhaps the hardest-hitting element is the colleges' steep price tags: Over the past five years alone, college costs have jumped 26 percent.

This news may sound bleak but families are still finding ways to afford school without going into debt...or having their children graduate with a mountain of it. More parents are asking their kids to work part-time, commute to save on room and board, opt for state schools over private ones and take additional credits - all to keep costs in check. These are all excellent options to defray ballooning education costs but don’t forget scholarships and grants – aka free money for college! Just like saving, it’s important to start searching for scholarships early and often. No time’s better than the present – complete a free scholarship search today!

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Alternative Ways to Get Traditional Textbooks

No Internet Connection Required!

August 25, 2011

Alternative Ways to Get Traditional Textbooks

by Anna Meskishvili

When I began college three very short years ago, I only had one option for my class materials: the heavy, wildly expensive hardcover books from my school’s bookstore. Now entering my senior year at BU, it’s incredible to see all the different alternatives students have to textbooks. While the classrooms across the country are now flooded with downloadable e-books on Kindles and Nooks, there are several other ways to attain traditional versions of your required class materials.

A great way to get your books without using the Internet or bookstore is to just ask around. That’s right – talk to your fellow students! Networking through clubs or organizations that you are a part of is a surprisingly simple way to check books off your list. For example, my sorority sisters set up a book swap at the end of every semester. We have a database of all the sisters’ classes and required material and use the information to match up who needs what.

If you aren’t directly involved in Greek life, try networking with student organizations pertaining to your major. Because these organizations have a varied grade level and age range, someone is bound to have taken the class you are embarking on. If no dedicated organization exists, buddy up with other students in your major classes. Say you’re a biology major: Your lab partner may have a book you need or know someone willing to part with it for a nominal fee. An added bonus of interacting with these students is that you can also gain study materials and inside information on the course in general.

So as the academic year approaches, don’t limit your scholastic shopping to the campus bookstore or Amazon because it’s very likely someone close to you will be able to lend you the book you need.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.

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Apple’s Impact on Higher Ed

Will It Flourish or Falter Without Steve Jobs?

August 26, 2011

Apple’s Impact on Higher Ed

by Alexis Mattera

You may be pro-PC or a Linux lover but you have to give Steve Jobs some credit for not only the projects he’s helped spearhead during his time at Apple but also the personal emphasis he’s put on higher education initiatives. Now that Jobs has resigned as Apple’s CEO, many are wondering if and how the company will keep its collegiate focus.

Apple has been involved in higher education since the company’s early days with what’s now called the University Executive Forum, an advisory panel of top college officials who get early looks at products and a chance to influence design. For example, prior to the iPod’s debut, several schools experimented with the devices and their feedback prompted Apple to create iTunesU, a free service designed to store and stream audio and video files for university courses. The company also offers many incentives to college students, like sizeable discounts on computers and bonus iTunes gift cards...but will it all continue?

Despite new CEO Tim Cook’s responsiveness to and interest in higher ed, some college officials are concerned about what a Jobs-less Apple may mean. (Perhaps they're remembering when Apple forced Jobs out in 1985 and the company paid less attention to colleges.) Do you share in these concerns or do you think the culture Jobs has fostered will withstand the test of time?

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No Need to Wait - Start Your Scholarship Search NOW!

August 29, 2011

No Need to Wait - Start Your Scholarship Search NOW!

by Shari Williams

I am your average student. I got decent grades in high school, applied to college, got accepted to college, and paid for my education with multiple student loans. I have taken classes I loved (and didn’t love), been involved in extracurricular activities and clubs, and have truly grown as a person during my time in college. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive prestigious grants or scholarships to limit the debt I’ll surely incur after graduation.

There are many college students who are in the same boat...so what can we do? How can we afford the education we deserve? How can we make sure we have enough funds for books and food? How can we buy those super trendy shoes Kim Kardashian was just spotted wearing when we have loan payments looming? Okay, maybe the last question isn't as important but if you want to avoid student loan debt, start searching for scholarships.

And don’t just search – search early! There are plenty of scholarships out there and the more you apply to, the better your chances are of winning one. All awards are different but many scholarship providers begin their application processes at the beginning of the fall semester so start looking now to avoid missing important deadlines. I learned this the hard way: I found lots of perfect scholarships...after the deadlines had passed.

Whether you’re still in high school or a super senior in college, do me – and yourself! – a huge favor: Make scholarships a priority. You can do this easily by creating a Scholarships.com account; not only will you have access to an entire database of awards but you’ll also receive regular email reminders about new awards and due dates. With the college costs showing no signs of decreasing, every penny counts – just make sure they come without interest if you can!

Shari Williams is a junior at Towson University with a double major in deaf studies and broadcast journalism and a minor in entertainment, media and film. With experience in public relations, a love for music and a passion for acting, she longs to be a jack of all trades. A Baltimore native, Shari is an avid traveler and opportunity seeker. She hopes to become the next face seen on the morning news or the voice heard over the radio.

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Cool (and Helpful) Study Gadgets

August 29, 2011

Cool (and Helpful) Study Gadgets

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Now that summer is coming to an end and the fall semester is underway, you might be wondering if there's anything you can do to make studying for your classes easier. While money can't buy everything, it can buy you a couple of cool study-related gadgets.

First off are smartpens like the Livescribe Echo. These babies let you record entire lectures and go straight to a specific portion just by tapping a word from your notes! Just think how much easier your life would be if you could actually focus on listening to the lecture the first time around instead of frantically scribbling notes to make sure you don't miss anything.

If you're like me and find music helps you concentrate while studying, consider buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. How many times have you been forced to study in a crowded room and don't have access to somewhere quieter? If the answer is “Too many,” invest in a pair immediately. Even if you don't listen to music while studying, you can use the device to replay a lecture or listen to a study aid you found online.

Finally, if you've ever copied a passage from a book word-for-word into your notes and ended up with a cramped hand, the portable wand scanner is for you. Not only does this snazzy gadget prevent you from having to lug a scanner to class, it's pretty easy to use: All you do is wave it over the page you want and hook it up to your computer using a USB cable. Just like magic, everything you scanned is now on your computer! The VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand is even compatible with SD cards – ta da!

So, while the Studybot has yet to be invented to do all your studying for you, these gadgets can make studying a lot less painful.

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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Get Some School Spirit, Would You?

August 30, 2011

Get Some School Spirit, Would You?

by Darci Miller

Here at the University of Miami, there’s an odd sort of lack of spirit. We all claim to bleed orange and green but when it comes down to it, few of us actually do. We bail on even our most well-known sports teams if they have a losing record. Getting people to go to campus events is like pulling teeth. A miniscule percentage of our student body votes in student government elections. Many students are content to forgo participation on campus for nights of partying on South Beach.

It kind of boggles my mind that such a passionate university could be so apathetic.

But then the NCAA scandal hit. In case you haven’t been reading the news or watching ESPN, Miami is currently embroiled in some serious stuff: Based on testimony and reports, one of our athletic department’s boosters was illegally paying off athletes for almost 10 years. Not only does it sully Miami’s name and reputation but it drags dozens of athletes (past, present and pro) through the mud.

Even though we ‘Canes often feel like a fairly fractured community, there was an impressive amount of unity in the aftermath. “IStandWithTheU” is perpetually trending on Twitter in Miami and there was recently a spirit day on campus. Hundreds of people wore orange in support of our school. It was truly amazing walking across campus and seeing waves of orange as far as the eye could see.

This event showed me that spirit can be shown in lots of different ways. Maybe joining a thousand different clubs is your thing...or maybe it’s not. For me, I like having some free time and it’s enough to throw myself into what I do and bleed orange and green all over my wardrobe.

No matter what your personality is, whether you’re loud and proud or more reserved, I sincerely hope you’re spirited about your school. It’s just more fun that way!

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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