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Apartment Hunting? Follow These Rules

by Kayla Herrera

The start of a new year marks the time to seek an apartment for the fall semester. I know that’s the case at my school: Once the calendar turns to January in Houghton, Mich., students start climbing all over housing advertisements and residences are gone in no time. It really is a race here because in this rural town, affordable quality housing is limited. No matter where you attend college, there are some key things you should keep an eye out for when you tour a place you could potentially call home.

Noise. Ask about street noise or neighbor noise then take a listen for yourself to determine whether it’s too loud or too quiet for you. I lived on a main street once and when I moved to a quieter one, I could not sleep for a week because of the silence!

Mold or water damage. If there is a basement, look/smell for mold and search for wet spots or signs of flooding. Mold can bother allergies or make you sick and flooding could ruin your belongings; basements are prime locations for both to occur.

Pests. Keep your eyes peeled for chewed corners or holes in ceilings or walls. As I noted in a previous post, pests such as mice and squirrels can poop all over the place, eat your food, damage your apartment's structure and scare the daylights out of you. Do not move into a place with these warning signs unless the landlord promises to make repairs before you move in.

Maintenance. Make sure your landlord has a maintenance man or has offered you a phone number to reach him or her in case they handle the repairs. Trust me, no hot water plus hair covered in conditioner at 11 p.m. equals a not-so-fun extracurricular activity.

Be wary of everything from cleanliness to the neighborhood (nearby bars and hot spots mean there WILL be drunken singing at 2 a.m.). The race is on – good luck!

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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University System of Georgia to Consolidate Campuses

by Alexis Mattera

When quality and quantity go head to head, it’s the former that usually prevails. Given the University System of Georgia’s latest announcement, it appears such is the case in higher education as well.

The system’s board of regents recently approved a plan to consolidate eight of the 35 state colleges and universitiesGainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University; Middle Georgia College and Macon State College; Waycross College and South Georgia College; and Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University – into four schools. Spokesman John Millsaps revealed that though the consolidations were brought about by the fledgling economy, the plan was devised with the students in mind: Combining the schools will provide greater access to more classes, degree programs, educators and resources and remove bureaucratic hurdles like transferring credits between institutions.

Are you attending or considering attending one of the institutions to be consolidated? If so, how does this news impact your college career?


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by Suada Kolovic

With the economy still in a slump, debt-ridden college students aren't alone in their financial struggles. Colleges and universities nationwide – who've had a fair share in creating insurmountable amounts of debt for the majority of students – have struggled to attract potential donors as concerns about unstable markets remain. Harvard University, however, may be the exception: An alumnus who started trading stock options from his dorm room almost 25 years ago recently donated $150 million to his alma mater for financial aid.

Hedge fund manager and Citadel Investment Group founder Kenneth Griffin’s donation (Harvard’s largest-ever gift specifically devoted to financial aid) is expected to help as many as 800 undergraduates annually. With tuition, room and board at Harvard University hovering at about $56,000, you'd assume that only students from affluent families could afford the outstanding price tag. The reality: Sixty percent of undergraduates receive financial aid from the school and pay on average just $12,000 a year. Families making up to $65,000 a year pay nothing, while those with incomes up to $150,000 pay between zero and 10 percent of their income. Griffin said he hopes to donate more to Harvard in the coming years and called for his peers to consider doing the same. "At Harvard, we've had not decades of commitment for our alumni, but centuries. It's time for my generation to step up," he said.

What do you think of Griffin's donation to Harvard – a school that already has an endowment of $32.3 billion – and not those in need directly? Is this a step in the right direction or not?


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Good Samaritan Pays Student’s Tuition

by Alexis Mattera

It’s Friday the 13th and instead of posting some bad, unlucky or just plain weird news, we thought we’d share a story that’s downright feel-good.

Like many college students today, John Jay College criminology major Angy Rivera was having a difficult time making her tuition payments. While she was eligible for in-state tuition rates as an undocumented student, Rivera could not qualify for state and federal aid so she began selling what she called handmade education bracelets on Chipin.com to bridge the financial gap. When her tale was recently featured in the New York Daily News, retired MTA conductor Luis Hernandez took note – and action: He donated $2,500 to cover the remainder of Rivera’s tuition, even though she was a complete stranger. “I’m retired and I’ve got a little money to spend,” said Hernandez. “I like helping out kids...especially if it’s somebody trying to get an education.” Naturally, Rivera shed tears of joy and told Hernandez, “This just made my next six months – you don’t know how big this is!” She also said she will use the money generated from her bracelets sales to pay for books and fees.

Times may be tough but if you’re willing to work hard and aren’t too proud to ask for help, good things can happen.


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Should You Drop That Class?

January 17, 2012

Should You Drop That Class?

by Angela Andaloro

Welcome to the start of a new semester! Right about now, college students around the country are settling back into their campus lives and many are wondering if the classes they picked are right for them. Many students drop classes at the beginning of the semester if they aren’t what they thought they would be. If you’re considering dropping a class this semester, here are some things to keep in mind:

Can you handle the workload? Be honest with yourself: If you think a class is going to be too much to handle with the rest of your school/work/life schedule, it may be best for you to drop it. If you aren’t sure, try sticking it out for a short period before making your decision.

What does your adviser say? Your adviser will be able to tell you whether or not you need the class to graduate. If dropping the class will alter your progress toward graduation, they will let you know and suggest another course of action, like an independent study.

What’s it going to cost you? Most schools have an add/drop date so if you decide against your class after that point, you can’t be refunded what you paid for the class. Also, consider your financial aid package: If you’re required to be a full-time student, make sure dropping a class won’t affect that status or your financial aid may shift.

Can you pick up another class? This can be difficult at a time when classes are usually filled to capacity but you may be able to overenroll by speaking to the professor or department head.

Ultimately, the decision is yours but it’s important to consult professors and advisers to get a real idea of what the impact of dropping a class will be. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and make sure that you’re comfortable with the classes you are taking – the more comfortable you are, the less there will be standing in the way of your spring semester success.

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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Could This Be the Future of Higher Ed?

Tenured Prof Leaves Stanford to Offer Low-Cost Online Courses

January 24, 2012

Could This Be the Future of Higher Ed?

by Alexis Mattera

Schools like MIT, Berkeley, Tufts and Michigan have been in the news recently for their support of online certificate programs. These courses are often low-cost or free alternatives to traditional college courses and one professor is so confident in this method of education that he has left a prominent position at a prestigious university to provide just that to the masses.

As reported by Reuters, The Chronicle and other outlets, Sebastian Thrun has left his post as a tenured computer science professor at Stanford to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. Thrun is no stranger to this kind of education – he taught an artificial intelligence course to more than 160,000 students around the world that had students taking the in-person lecture at Stanford flocking to its online counterpart – and will now focus on crafting online courses that recreate the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring through Udacity. One of the start-up’s first offerings will be a course called “Building a Search Engine” that will teach students with no prior programming experience how to build a search engine like Google.

What do you think of Thrun’s new operation? Is this the direction higher education is headed in or will traditional classes still have a place in the future?


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The Pros and Cons of Graduating Early

by Radha Jhatakia

Much of the time, college students who are able to get the classes they need and have an education plan are able to graduate early. Graduating early can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it; it worked for my fellow virtual intern Jessica but how do you know if it's right for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you have job offers lined up after graduation?

2. Did you go to college close to home?

  • If you said yes, then graduating early wouldn’t be a tough transition but if you attended college further away, graduating early may be more difficult. Many if not all of your friends were will still be in school and you’ll also miss out on the senior graduation programs.

3. Did you take out loans to pay for college?

After you answer these questions, you should be able to determine if you should graduate early or not. Just remember there are pros and cons to both and you should choose the path that’s right for you.

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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Top Universities Experience Drop in Applications

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior considering applying to some of the top schools in the country – MIT, Harvard, Howard, etc. – you may have a better chance of getting in than your peers did last year: According to Bloomberg reports, elite schools across the country are experiencing a slowdown or drop in applications for freshman admission after years of record increases.

Has attending the Ivies become passé? Not likely but there are a number of factors that probably played a role in the decrease, like the adoption of the Common Application, which made it easier for students to apply to multiple schools. Both Harvard and Princeton reinstated early admission policies and then there’s the stagnant economy. So while your chances of getting behind those ivy gates are slightly better, paying back huge tuition bills is a major aspect to consider. Take for instance Columbia’s $59,208 tuition; in this economic climate, students may feel that just too expensive and are opting for more reasonable choices. (For more on this story, click here.)

Does this information have you reevaluating where you’ll apply? Let us know in the comments section.


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This Scholarship of the Week? You're Lovin’ It

Ronald McDonald House Charities U.S. Scholarship Program Deadline is This Friday

January 23, 2012

This Scholarship of the Week? You're Lovin’ It

by Alexis Mattera

Next time you pass a McDonald’s restaurant and begin playing one of the chain’s many jingles in your head, remember this: Behind the all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and sesame seed buns is some serious scholarship money.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities U.S. Scholarship Program offers offer aid to students in financial need who have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership and community involvement. Scholarships are for students in the United States living in areas where there are participating local RMHC Chapters. (To view a complete list of participating RMHC Chapters, their respective counties and the scholarships they offer, please click here.) Graduating high school seniors may only apply for one of the four scholarships available and applicants will be notified of scholarship award status in May or June.

The deadline for the current academic year is January 27th – that’s this Friday so hurry and get those application materials together! For more information on this award and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today.


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The President on Education

Obama Talks Higher Ed in State of the Union Address

January 25, 2012

The President on Education

by Alexis Mattera

In addition to talk of the economy and spilled milk, President Obama shared his thoughts on higher education during his third State of the Union address last night. On his to-do list: reduce student loan interest rates, extend a tax credit and continue supporting community colleges.

Ideally, the president would prevent the interest rate increase on federal student loans currently set for July, double the amount of federal work-study jobs in the next five years (moves that would cost $5 billion and $1 billion per year, respectively) and make the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent. Obama praised community colleges as he has in the past for their links to job training and their contributions to keeping college affordable but had some harsher words for other institutions: Colleges that continued to hike tuition were put "on notice" and a document accompanying the speech said the president would propose to shift some federal aid away from colleges that don’t provide good value. "It’s not enough for us to increase student aid," Obama said. "We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down."

Did you watch the State of the Union? What did you think of what President Obama had to say?


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