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Food-bot Keeps Stomachs and Wallets Full

Carnegie Mellon Grad’s Program a Hit with Budget-Conscious College Students

April 29, 2011

Food-bot Keeps Stomachs and Wallets Full

by Alexis Mattera

The academic year is winding down at many colleges and so are many students’ meal plans and bank account balances. Instead of reaching for the ramen noodles (AGAIN), grab your computer instead. That’s what Greg Woloschyn did last year and it paid off: He created Food-bot and didn’t pay for food for five months.

The then-senior and computer science major at Carnegie Mellon grew tired of scouring his campus for free dining options so he created an email account that screened messages from every mailing list on campus for food-related terms. Once that method proved successful, Woloschyn spent his winter break writing a more advanced computer program called Food-bot which used the information to populate a food calendar online. His findings weren’t just doughnuts or pizza either: Woloschyn trained the program to rate the food mentioned in event listings (for example, steak earned a 10) and assigned “awkwardness” ratings for no-cost noshies at ethnic or religious-affiliated events.

One year later, Woloschyn’s plate is pretty full: He’s expanded Food-bot beyond Carnegie Mellon to serve empty-pocketed students at Berkeley, the University of Maryland at College Park, Duke, Case Western and MIT and has plans to develop mobile applications for Android phones and iPhones this summer when he’s not at work as a software engineer for Qualcomm. If you’ve tried Food-bot, has it kept your belly and wallet satisfied?


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Darci Miller

by Darci Miller

Hey there! My name’s Darci and I’m one of Scholarships.com’s new virtual interns!

I’m a native New Yorker about to finish my sophomore year at the University of Miami, aka “The U.” Yes, there’s a great party scene, warm weather almost all year round and the beach.

But that’s not why I’m here! Actually, I don’t party much at all, I’m pale, think the hot and humid weather is brutal, and have yet to hit the beach. Crazy, right? I came to UM because it’s a top 50 school (and on its way up in the rankings), has awesome programs in the areas I’m interested in, is located near a great city with lots of opportunities and offered me great financial aid. What can I say? Breaking stereotypes is fun!

I’m double majoring in journalism and sport administration. I’ve always loved to write and the Olympics are my passion (let’s not talk about my chief rooting interest, the Mets), so my majors are a really cool way to combine the two. I write for UM’s newspaper, The Miami Hurricane; I’m currently the assistant sports editor but will be leaving the sports desk next semester to be the opinion section editor. I also work at the campus’s wellness center and volunteer for the athletic department from time to time.

In my spare time – wait, spare time? What’s that? I’ve never heard of that concept before! Well, if this “spare time” you speak of actually existed, I’d spend it listening to Bon Jovi, watching "Castle," reading Harry Potter, baking and drawing.

I’m really excited to share my knowledge and experiences with the readers of Scholarships.com. Not only will it be a great learning experience for me, I hope I can be informative/helpful/entertaining/all of the above to other people.

I think this’ll be a fun ride! Join me, won’t you?


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The Plagiarist’s Weapon of Choice

Plagiarism Flagged at Social and User-Generated Websites Most Often

May 2, 2011

The Plagiarist’s Weapon of Choice

by Suada Kolovic

Looking over your peer’s shoulder during a test or copying from the encyclopedia are out but plagiarizing off user-generated sites – ones that your peers had a hand in publishing – is in, according to a recent study.

The findings were released by iParadigms, the creator of Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection service that checks for possible plagiarism by comparing submitted papers to several databases using a proprietary algorithm. The study consisted of analyzing 40 million papers submitted by high school and college students over a 10-month period. Chris Harrick, vice president of marketing at Turnitin says the findings show, “that plagiarism in sourcing work is going the way that everything else in the world is going. People are relying more on their peers than on experts.”

It’s important to note that the study does have its faults. Turninit specifically detects “matched content” and not outright plagiarism. So, while the software will flag material from a paper mill, it will also flag material that has been properly attributed and cited. That aside, here’s the breakdown of study:


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Anna Meskishvili

by Anna Meskishvili

I received my online acceptance to Boston University on March 28, 2008. I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, what I was wearing. BU has always been my number one choice and I could never imagine myself anywhere else. Unfortunately, upon receiving my initial deferral to my Early Decision application earlier that year, I began to reevaluate what I wanted from college. I knew I wanted a city, I wanted this city to be fairly far from home (but not “plane-ride” far) and I knew I wanted four seasons. BU fit all those criteria perfectly, and finally, months after my deferral, BU loved me back.

As a freshman, I came to BU as “Undecided.” I knew what my strong suits were (writing and speaking) but I didn’t know how and where to use them. I dabbled in English, business and journalism but finally found myself at a combination of all three: public relations. BU’s PR program is much like going to Disney World each day; the professors are astonishingly cool and cartoon-esque and the assignments are fun and frightening...like a roller coaster. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my sorority sisters of Kappa Delta, walking through the majestic and historic Boston neighborhoods, running along the Charles River and trying new restaurants in Brookline.

I knew Scholarships.com’s virtual intern position was perfect for me because I believe that college is the best and most important time in your life. As an only child and a daughter of a beautiful, intelligent woman who did not attend college in America, I did not have much guidance before or at the beginning of my college career. There is a lot I wish someone told me...and I would love to be that “college whisperer” for you!


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Kayla Herrera

by Kayla Herrera

My name is Kayla Herrera and I am a third-year English major at Michigan Technological University. I grew up in Houghton, Michigan (where Michigan Tech is located) and my parents attended Michigan Tech as non-traditional students. When I moved away, it made quite an impact on me and I decided to attend school in the place I loved so much. There is something charming about the area and students I knew who transferred missed it as well.

I chose English as my major because it was the closest I could get to a journalism or writing major, which is why I chose to minor in journalism. Being an English major here is challenging because the school is mostly tech-based and the English classes aren't always what they should be. But outside of the classroom, I have become involved in numerous activities that have propelled my learning in writing and journalism.

I am an avid video gamer. It started when I was young, watching my father play his PlayStation and Sega Genesis games, and before long I picked up a controller for myself. It's one of my other passions and I have combined it with writing and found it to be absolutely satisfying. I am a bit of a nerd in the video game aspect but also in the English aspect. And I am proud of it.

I have always been told to write what I know and right now, all I know is college so seeing the advertisement for the virtual intern for Scholarships.com caught my eye. I was an opinion writer for the campus newspaper so I wrote on campus issues all the time. I saw it as another golden opportunity, a life lesson, or maybe an opening door to a whole other lifestyle. One can never know where an opportunity can really take them until they try!


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Mariah Proctor

by Mariah Proctor

In my senior year of high school with the decision of where to go to university pressing, I informed my musical theatre teacher that I had been accepted to Brigham Young University. He smirked at me and said “I hope you’re not going there just for religion.” My religious affiliation is certainly not the only reason that I choose BYU, but the element of the experience – being in an environment with people that share your values and standards – cannot be ignored.

Jibing with your university’s culture and atmosphere are underestimated parts of the choose-the-location-for-the-next-chapter-of-your-life process and though moving to Provo, Utah from Washington, D.C. came with no shortage of culture shock, I think I’ve found a place for myself here.

That place includes a study of theatre and German, both of which make me laugh every time I tell someone about them because neither will provide me with any guarantees after college. But life has no guarantees so why not embrace passion over practicality? The business of creation (and I believe that’s what theatre is) puts you constantly in a position of vulnerability, but the emotional growth and most of all the empathy you develop is unparalleled by any other area of study.

The high school me would laugh (or cry) if she knew that I was pursuing a degree in German. I hated my high school German classes, but I love that studying a new language helps you to appreciate and understand your own language better and see that there is more than one lens through which to perceive the world. I’m headed to Vienna this summer for my third study abroad and my first chance to put my language to practice.

I have expensive taste in experience and Scholarships.com has helped me to take my education around the world. Come with me!


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Illinois State Senate Passes DREAM Act

DREAM Act Passes with Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority

May 5, 2011

Illinois State Senate Passes DREAM Act

by Suada Kolovic

After much heated national debate, the Illinois state Senate passed the DREAM Act, a measure that will give undocumented students who’ve graduated from high school, completed two years of college or military service and have no criminal record a shot at citizenship. The bill passed the Senate by a margin of 45-11, with wide bipartisan support – 11 Republicans supporting the bill alongside 34 Democrats.

It is important to note that the State of Illinois does not have the authority to grant citizenship, but will instead create a “DREAM Fund” – a scholarship account funded entirely by private dollars that will provide scholarships to undocumented students seeking higher education. The fund would also encourage counselors to receive training on educational opportunities for undocumented students, as well as open up college savings programs and prepaid tuition programs to all Illinois residents.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), one of many pro-immigrant groups that descended on Springfield for Wednesday's vote, tweeted "Perfect timing. The state Cinco de Mayo celebration has started in the State Capitol."


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The Many Meanings of Graduation

by Darci Miller

Graduation.

Depending on where in your academic career you are, the word has varying connotations. To high schoolers, graduation is IT. The ultimate goal. The sum total of four awkward, drama-filled years. The day that begins a new, much more fun and independent chapter in your life.

In college, graduation is a much more complex idea. You might be excited to get out there and start your new job and your new life in a new city or state. On the other hand, what if there’s no job? What if the thought of leaving your beloved alma mater is akin to the thought of a root canal?

After high school, you may be parting ways with your closest friends, but you have the safety net of knowing that almost everyone comes home for the holidays. After college, this isn’t the case. If you attend school in Chicago and have a friend that’s from Texas that’s graduating and going to grad school in Seattle, will you ever see him again? Will he be back to visit?

Of course, this could be me being a little selfish and a lot sad that I’ll be losing so many friends and coworkers to the real world next year. But nonetheless, from graduates and non-graduates alike, the impending ceremony is receiving mixed reactions. Honestly though, I think this is part of the beauty of college. For the first time, you get to choose where you live, learn and make friends. Being sad to leave is a weird sort of pat on the back – “Good job! You made some awesome decisions!”

To all soon-to-be graduates, congratulations! Future college freshmen, you’ve got some great stuff headed your way, so get excited! Future college graduates, I wish you true sadness upon leaving college (hey, I said it was weird!) and all the success in the world in your future endeavors.

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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Texas A&M President Too Popular on Facebook

Hits Friend Maximum, Seeks Advice on How to Stay Connected with Students

May 6, 2011

Texas A&M President Too Popular on Facebook

by Suada Kolovic

Having too many friends on Facebook seems like an unlikely problem for the president of a major university to have, but R. Bowen Loftin, the president of Texas A&M, isn’t your average administrator. Mr. Loftin not only has a Facebook account but accepts friend requests from his students. And while you’d assume students would cringe at the thought of friending such an authoritative figure, it’s in fact the exact opposite: He’s so popular that he’s hit Facebook’s max of 5,000 friends.

Diana C. McDonald, the college’s director of social media and marketing programs, says the Mr. Loftin likes the personal interaction of having a Facebook profile rather than say a Facebook fan page. “Our president is definitely not in the ivory tower,” she says. “We definitely don’t want to put him there.”

Mr. Loftin is so distraught that he’s solicited advice on what to do via – what else? – his Facebook wall. He asks his friends, who are mostly students, “I have a lot of friends requests pending, so I am asking for your advice on how best to keep connected to all of you.” And suggestions are pouring in. Some propose Mr. Loftin seek other social networking sites, possibly defriend those who weren’t his real friends or even start a Twitter account. With all the issues students are facing – crippling debt, soaring unemployment rates – is this really an issue a university president should focus on? Would you friend your school’s president?


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Allison Rowe

by Allison Rowe

As a rising senior at Washington State University, I have a lot on my plate – balancing two majors, maintaining honor roll grades and working to realize some serious career aspirations – but I wasn’t always this way. If I can ever convince you of one thing, it is the infinitely transformative power of the college experience.

Lazy. Pessimistic. Socially awkward. These words describe my high school self. Not only did I take the second chance granted to everyone at my WSU freshman orientation, but also realized everyone is free to reinvent themselves as many times as they wish during these four years, so long as they are brave enough to embrace opportunity when it arises.

If you aren’t in a club and don’t have a job, if you haven’t applied for scholarships or attended your professors’ office hours, if you skip class and don’t give back to your community, if you haven’t made a new friend all semester, listen up: You are missing crucial opportunities and wasting money! Though hipsters would like to convince you otherwise, participation in college IS cool and its payouts are unlimited. You can boost your resume, pay off debt and eat free food with friends all at once by taking full advantage of services and activities your fees pay for. This is especially true now with widespread tuition increases (WSU’s has jumped more than 30 percent since I enrolled) and using your time in college efficiently should become a top priority.

Now I do not mean to suggest you must do all those things simultaneously, but the general consensus among seniors is that a busier life is a happier life! During my time as a Scholarship.com virtual intern, I hope to help you all get involved early and build a strong, diverse skill sets to maximize the true potential of your college experiences.


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