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Want More Financial Aid Info? Help is On the Way!

Ten Schools Commit to More Financial Aid Disclosure

June 6, 2012

Want More Financial Aid Info? Help is On the Way!

by Alexis Mattera

With student loan debt now totaling more than $1 trillion, current and would-be college students need access to financial aid information more than ever before. The good news is that universities across the country are doing their best to make the facts as clear and available as possible in the near future.

Ten schools – Arizona State, Miami Dade College, North Carolina A&T State University, Syracuse, UNC Chapel Hill, Vassar and the state university systems in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas – have committed to providing key funding information to all incoming students as part of their financial aid packages starting in the 2013-14 school year. The details will include the cost of one year of college, financial aid options such as grants and scholarships, estimated monthly payments after graduation on federal student loans and comparative data about graduation and loan repayment rates. According to the White House, this disclosure will play a vital role in making college more affordable for all students: "Too often, students and families face confusion when comparing financial aid packages, some of which do not clearly differentiate loans from grants, nor distinguish private vs. federal loans, making it difficult to compare aid offers side-by-side. Clarity and accessibility of information is necessary so that students and families can make informed decisions about where to attend college, so they can choose a school that is best suited to their financial and educational goals."

What do you think of this plan? Do you think it will help students better understand financial aid or is the effort too little and too late?

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UConn Announces Faculty Hiring Spree, Goals for the Future

June 7, 2012

UConn Announces Faculty Hiring Spree, Goals for the Future

by Alexis Mattera

While many colleges and universities – specifically public ones – are cutting back on faculty, the University of Connecticut is putting its shears in storage: President Susan Herbst has announced plans to add 275 new faculty members to the university’s flagship campus in Storrs over the next four years.

According to Gwendolyn Bradley, senior program officer for the American Association of University Professors, UConn’s hiring strategy runs counter to the approach many schools are taking, as they are still reeling from the recession and looking to limit costs wherever possible but to Herbst, expanding the faculty is vital to the university’s future success. "The goal is to improve the quality of education by reducing class sizes and enabling professors to spend more time with our students. We also want to increase the number of courses offered so that our students never have to wait to take a course. We want our students graduating on time," she said. Research is also important to UConn but the focus will be on hiring faculty who both teach and conduct research, depending on the field of study.

The hiring of 65 faculty members – with particular emphasis in the fields of genomics, education, health insurance and finance – will begin this fall, followed by another 90 by the fall of 2013; as a result, the student-to-faculty ratio is expected to decline from the current 18-to-1 to 15-to-1 in four years. You can read the rest of the details here – thoughts from any current or future Huskies?

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Student Suicide Facts and Prevention

June 7, 2012

by Lisa Lowdermilk

It was with great sadness that I read about the suicide of Wendy Chang, a college student at Harvard University...even more so when I learned that four other Boston students have already committed suicide this year.

Even though I never met any of the students personally, I feel that every suicide is a tragedy, especially when I think about how this topic, as well as depression, are still viewed as taboo . While I can understand why some people prefer to avoid talking about death, depression and suicide, I also think that we need to realize that we don't understand what a depressed person is going through unless we do talk about such issues. People contemplating suicide will almost always reach out to someone first and it is our duty to help them.

So if another student comes to you expressing a desire to commit suicide, don't immediately judge him or her. Chances are, he or she is well aware of the stigmatism attached to suicide and is reluctant to admit being suicidal in the first place. Instead, listen, thank the individual for being courageous enough to confide in you and help him or her find help for people contemplating suicide. Virtually every college has resources specifically designed to help students cope with the many stressors of college and life in general. And should you or someone you know confide in the individuals in charge of these services, you can do so knowing that they will keep your circumstances private.

My condolences go out to Wendy's family, as well as to all the families who have ever lost a relative to suicide. Their loved ones will not be forgotten.

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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Five In-Demand Careers for College Grads

March 18, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish professionally after graduation? While there isn't one direct route that translates into success, the recent “Hot Careers for College Grads and Returning Students 2013” report by UC San Diego Extension revealed a list of in-demand careers based on job growth, salary and work environment:

  • Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software: According to the report, the integration of technology into our daily lives “has created an ongoing critical shortage of qualified software developers to design, develop, test, document and maintain the complex programs that run on these hardware platforms.”
  • Market Research Analyst: Market research analyst jobs have exploded in every sector of the economy. This has created a high demand for those who can access, analyze and extract meaningful, actionable and tactical implications from a sea of data.
  • Accountant and Auditor: Accountants and auditors earned their spot on the hot careers list because of the sheer demand for accounting jobs. In 2010, more than 1 million people were employed as accountants and auditors and that number is expected to grow at a healthy rate of 16 percent by 2020.
  • Elementary School Teacher: Elementary school teachers outnumber any other single occupation nationally and a teaching career tends to offer a form of stability that is relatively rare in other fields of pursuit.
  • Computer Systems Analyst: From growth to salary, computer systems analysts scored strongly in every category of hot careers evaluation. This career is projected to grow in demand by 22 percent by 2020 and with a mean annual salary of $83,800, it is one of the most lucrative jobs on the list.

Did a career you’re considering make the list? If not, would you considering switching majors based on the likelihood of gaining employment after graduation? Let us know in the comments section.

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Have Smartphone, Will Graduate

Start-Up Employs App, Texts to Help Students Complete College

June 18, 2012

Have Smartphone, Will Graduate

by Alexis Mattera

Many students find it easier to remain committed to something when working closely with someone else. Does the same hold true when that something is college completion? Jill Frankfort thinks so.

Frankfort is the co-founder of Persistence Plus, a new service that draws on behavioral research to deliver personalized messages to students through a mobile phone app or text messages. The company has been in existence for just about one year and has secured agreements with a small number of institutions to test the technology. Thus far, they’ve found students have been engaging with the app and text offerings – “Reminders don’t actually change behavior that much but when you can help someone actually plan out their time and create a mental map of when they’re going to do a behavior, they’re more likely to do it,” explained Frankfort – as well as strategies aimed to guide and inspire students as they encounter the challenges of college life.

Do you think a program like Persistence Plus would help you finish college or would it take more than an app and some text messages to keep you on track toward graduation?

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Senioritis-Stricken Students Could Lose College Admission

June 19, 2012

Senioritis-Stricken Students Could Lose College Admission

by Alexis Mattera

There are many reasons why a college will rescind a student’s admission but the number one is by far senioritis. If you think you can abandon your work ethic during your final semester of high school, you’re very wrong...and you may have to reconsider your college plans as a result.

Approximately 100 students who have been admitted to Texas Christian University but failed to keep their grades at the level that helped them gain acceptance will soon receive what’s informally called the “fear of God” letter from the Fort Worth-based school. The letter – which asks floundering students to submit a written statement detailing their less-than-stellar senior year academic performances – is meant as a wake-up call, said TCU dean of admission Raymond Brown. “You need to be aware that people are watching and that this is important. We care because your study skills are going to be atrophying,” he explained. Otterbein University has a similar approach: “We do not automatically rescind the admission decision because of a poor senior year,” said VP for enrollment management Jefferson R. Blackburn-Smith, “but we do want the student to know that we are concerned and will be watching their performance.”

What do you think of the stance taken by TCU, Otterbein and other schools regarding their admissions policies?

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R.I.P., Application Essay?

Counselors Weigh Usefulness, Debate Future

June 21, 2012

R.I.P., Application Essay?

by Alexis Mattera

Ah, the college application essay: where a student can give admissions officers insight into the person they really are (in about 500 words) that the standard transcript can’t provide. While some schools rely heavily on the document in their admissions processes, others don’t require it at all – a discrepancy that has experts debating its future.

Admissions officers and college counselors discussed application essays and personal statements at length yesterday at the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions and according to an article in The Chronicle, counselors are citing essays as burdens on overworked admissions staffs as often as they are questioning their authenticity. Gone (or disappearing) are the days where a great essay can help a borderline student gain admission to their dream schools: Top institutions like Brown are giving them less weight than it has in past admissions cycles – “A spectacular essay can raise more questions than it answers,” said dean of admission Jim Miller – and some schools are requiring applicants to submit copies of graded written work to use as a barometer. What do the students think? Sure, crafting compelling prose comes as naturally to some college applicants as breathing or blinking but Martin Bonilla, director of college counseling at the College Preparatory School in Oakland, Calif., has found that the essays cause his students more stress than any other part of the application.

Do you believe the essay component of the college application is on its way out or here to stay?

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Ten Schools Banned from NCAA Basketball Tournament

June 27, 2012

Ten Schools Banned from NCAA Basketball Tournament

by Kara Coleman

Recently, 10 schools were banned from participating in the 2012-2013 NCAA men’s basketball tournament for failure to meet academic standards: Arkansas - Pine Bluff, Cal State - Bakersfield, California - Riverside, Connecticut, Jacksonville State, Mississippi Valley State, UNC Wilmington, Texas A & M - Corpus Christi, Toledo and Towson.

The NCAA rates teams according to their Academic Progress Rate, in which a team is viewed as a whole and its performance in the classroom is evaluated. If a team’s APR score falls to 925 or below and at least one player fails his classes and drops out of school, that school can lose scholarships. If the APR sinks down to 900, the penalties grow steeper and they increase each year that the team falls below par. Being declared ineligible for NCAA postseason play is a result of scoring 900 or below for three years. If the APR remains low for a fourth year, the entire athletic department is penalized. The school loses its Division 1 status and is reduced to “restricted membership status” in the NCAA.

Is this fair or too extreme? I’m not saying this just because my school – Jacksonville State – is on the naughty list, but I’m not sure that I completely agree with the NCAA’s punishment. If a student-athlete fails to perform academically, he should lose his scholarship, be suspended from the team, etc. But the players who make good grades, the coaches, and the fans should not be punished for the underperformance of the few. College students are adults – it’s up to each individual to study and work hard.

But what do YOU think? Is the NCAA spot-on with its academic standards and penalties, or does something need to change?

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 been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books; she is also the editor-in-chief of JSU's student newspaper, The Chanticleer.

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Necessary Documentation for Employment

July 2, 2012

Necessary Documentation for Employment

by Radha Jhatakia

As we get older, one of the necessities of life is to always have legal identification with us – a piece of paper or plastic card that confirms who we are. A most basic form that many of us have is a driver’s license but if you want to work or intern, you’ll have to provide specific identification depending on where you’ll be employed.

When applying for a job or internship, you’ll need legal documentation to prove citizenship status within the U.S. and/or eligibility to work in the U.S. The most common forms of identification that you are allowed to use are a birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, state identification card, social security card, school ID and military ID, though there are others. Unless the document you have has both your picture and social security information, which proves citizenship such as a passport, you will need two documents. (One of these documents must have your full name, state of residence, picture, and/or SSN if the other document provides the rest.) This is the bare minimum for jobs and internships in the United States.

If you are looking to work abroad or even study abroad, you will need some additional documents. Students wishing to study abroad will need a visa but the type of visa depends on the length of the time you will be traveling and the country you are going go. The most common type of visa for students is the F-1, which allows the students a small period of time after their education period is over to stay in the country. If one wishes to work abroad, a different type of visa is required; however, it also depends on if it's a U.S. company with a location in another country or if it is a foreign company. Most likely, you will need an international work visa...but don’t wait until the last minute to procure what you need: There is a process that should be started a minimum of six to eight months prior to traveling in order to have the documents on time.

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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Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

German University Sues Student for Graduating Too Fast

July 10, 2012

Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

by Suada Kolovic

For most students, graduating college in just four years is the ideal and not the norm. So when a student comes along and graduates with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only three semesters, one would assume a parade of some sort would be in order. The Essen, Germany-based School of Economics and Management went a different route: they sued the student who accomplished this feat.

Earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree should take a typical student about 11 semesters and 60 exams to complete, yet Marcel Pohl did it in just 20 months. How’d he do it? With the help of two friends, Pohl divvied up lectures and swapped notes. Did we mention that in that time, he also completed an apprenticeship in a bank? Well, he managed to fit that in, too! Now, the school is crying foul and claiming “income loss” and suing for $3,772 – a fraction of the tuition and fees Pohl would have paid had he completed the degrees in the customary amount of time. "When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true," Pohl recently told the German tabloid, Bild. "Performance is supposed to be worth something."

With a college education as expensive as it is, can you ever really graduate too early? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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