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College to Offer Course Credit to Gap Year Takers

by Alexis Mattera

Though taking a gap year has yet to win mass societal approval, it is getting a pretty big endorsement from one NYC school: Admitted students who opt to take time off between high school and college will now earn a full year of academic credit.

Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts and Global Citizen Year have partnered to offer incoming students who have been admitted to both programs the opportunity to earn 30 college credits as they support development projects in other countries. Participating students will spend their seven-month "bridge year" living with local families and bettering their host communities by teaching English and working as peer mentors; instead of being one year behind students who started traditional classes the previous fall, they’ll enter Lang as full-fledged sophomores. "There are a lot of worthy learning experiences in life but we don’t give academic credit for them," said Stephanie Browner, the Lang dean overseeing participating students. "I think this is the right way to launch yourself into college."

Lang is the first school to join forces with Global Citizen Year but founder Abby Falik is eagerly anticipating the impact her program will have on college campuses across the country. Would you take advantage of this opportunity at your school? Why or why not?


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Your College Application Guide

by Radha Jhatakia

For seniors in high school, it’s about that time to dive into your college applications. The process is rather involved and has the potential to become very stressful but here’s how you can go about it while retaining your sanity.

First, you likely already have a list of colleges you are considering but start narrowing down your top contenders. Look at the majors they offer and see if they have the programs you’re interested in. Check the cost – financial aid may play a key role in what college you attend – and also see if they have activities that interest you (a sport you want to play, a specific student organization, a Greek system, an honors program, etc.). What’s the on-campus housing situation and could you see yourself living in the dorms? Consider these questions and more when deciding whether or not to apply to a college.

Second, check all the application deadlines. Remember, besides the actual application, you must submit test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters and personal statements and you need adequate time to procure all of these items. Also, review the fees associated with each application; some schools let you apply for free or a discounted rate online but you should also consider requesting application fee waivers if money is tight.

Third, the personal statement is the biggest part of the college application because it represents your personality. You may have a high GPA, AP classes and extracurricular activities but so do many other students – what will set you apart from the rest of the application pool is how you present yourself in the personal statement. Have a teacher or parent review your personal statement and edit it for you before submitting it to your college of choice.

Fourth – and although this is fourth on this list, you still want to get it done early – request recommendation letters. Ask teachers you’ve worked with and trust well in advance if they can write on your behalf. Have two or three for each college that requires one. Along with your personal information/resume/school involvement list, give the teacher an envelope that is stamped and addressed to the college(s) to which you’re applying so they can submit their letters directly.

Last but not least, take all your tests on time. If you haven’t taken the ACT, SAT or SAT II tests, register for the next available date; check which tests your colleges require and sign up for those ASAP!

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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The Common App Announces Big Changes

by Alexis Mattera

Show of hands, people: Who has ever applied to college or is considering applying to college by using the Common Application? As the list of schools accepting this document grows (there are currently 488 members), so will the number of college hopefuls opting to use it. It’s incredibly convenient for students looking to apply to multiple schools but future applicants should know that big changes are afoot for the next admissions cycle.

According to representatives from the Common Application, changes – which will take effect on August 1, 2013 – include web-only submission and the removal of the popular "topic of your choice" essay option. Rules regarding the essays will also become more rigid: Students will be required to write at least 250 words but those who exceed the 500-word maximum will face an error message. Lastly, the ability to upload resumes will be eliminated unless specifically requested by a particular college.

What do you think of the Common App’s new approach? Will you welcome the changes or will they deter you from using this application method altogether?


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Free Speech + Free Money for College = Scholarship of the Week!

by Alexis Mattera

Do you think free speech is important at our nation’s colleges and universities? Are censorship of student speech and higher education incompatible? If you answered yes to both questions and are a high school junior or senior, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a scholarship opportunity for you in its annual Freedom in Academia Essay Contest!

FIRE's mission is to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty and sanctity of conscience – the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. At FIRE's core is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them. If you share these beliefs, fire up your keyboard and enter now: Students must submit an essay between 800 and 1,000 words on this year’s topic (provided on FIRE’s website) to be eligible to receive one of nine awards: $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, $1,000 for three runners-up or $500 for four randomly-selected participants.

FIRE is accepting essay contest entries through November 25th. If you are interested in learning more about this or other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Building Friendships Based on Honesty

by Samual Favela

Coming from two different campuses, I've encountered students who are reserved for the whole term and at the end, they finally open up and have amazing personalities. (Hey, where were you when I needed to pick someone for a group project?!) Yes, I know it may be hard for some people to open up because their insecurities may get the best of them but when you let go of that fear of being judged and not being accepted, you'll realize that is what is holding you back from having an amazing college experience! Trust me, I used to be the most awkward person and it wasn't until I started being honest with myself and everyone around me that I realized the personality I gave out was exactly what I was going to get back.

See, some college students assume that just because they don't click well with one person that they won't click well with all people. Reality check: It is impossible for everyone to be your friend – it would be so draining to be friends with everyone! Just be honest. Say what music you like (or don’t like), say what shows you're into, say what your hobbies are...just don't lie so someone will like you. It's better to feel comfortable talking about one of the "weird" things you like than pretend you enjoy something that annoys you or you just don't agree with.

But don't get it twisted: When I say be honest and say what you feel, I'm not saying to be a complete punk. Just because people aren't your friends does not mean you can completely disregard them as human beings!

Samuel “Samwell” Favela is a journalism major at Long Beach City College. He’s interested in all things media – he enjoys blogging, Instagramming and hosting his own campus radio show – and is always excited to meet new people. Samwell’s educational journey has already taken him from Pomona to Long Beach and shows no sign of slowing down...which is exactly the way he likes it!


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Shh...Harvard’s Elite Are Sleeping

This Ivy League School Considers Adding a Nap Room for Students

February 26, 2013

Shh...Harvard’s Elite Are Sleeping

by Suada Kolovic

We’ve all been there: Going about our day as if we don’t have a care in the world when it dawns on us that (go figure) that term paper on the pros and cons of procrastination in the creative process is due tomorrow. Panicked, we consider emailing our professor an excuse about a death in the family but given we killed off Nana (who’s actually alive and well back home) last semester during finals week, we decide it’s best to pull an all-nighter. The next day, we’re irritable, unmotivated and just plain sluggish and while the simple solution is to overcome procrastination and not leave an assignment until the last minute, a Harvard student has suggested a different approach: a nap room on campus.

The Harvard administration is considering creating a designated nap room after sophomore Yugi Hou started an online petition. “Most students operate daily on a sleep deficit, to the detriment of their health and productivity,” said Hou. “For those getting insufficient sleep at night, naps can provide alertness and help students take a break from their hectic schedules.” Hou started the online petition through the Harvard Undergraduate Council’s “We the Crimson” initiative, which is meant to foster direct dialogue between students and school administrators. Each month, the three petitions with the most votes are sent to the Dean of Harvard College for review. Harvard administrators have yet to make a decision on the initiative but Hou has said that until a siesta center is set up on campus, she plans on creating a “nap map” to help plot the best spots for students to nod off on campus.

If you’re a fan of napping between classes, do you think it’s your university’s responsibility to provide nap rooms for students? Let us know what you think in the comments section.


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Realizing the Truth About a College Education

by Carly Gerber

During my time at college, I found myself unhappy and unfulfilled. I despised my major and I wasn’t a fan of my campus. This being my second college, I figured it must be that college itself wasn’t for me, so I decided to drop out. I took a few months to experiment with careers that didn’t require college degrees but my choice to leave school kept haunting me.

In the midst of my time away from higher education, I came across a Chicago Tribune article which detailed common misconceptions students have about college....and I realized right away that I was one of those students! Here are just a few points the Trib covered:

  • There’s a misconception that a college degree doesn’t hold any value; like any investment, however, a college degree pays off over time. A college graduate’s earnings rise faster and peak later than the earnings of someone with a high school diploma alone. A college degree is not a guarantee of success but grads do have better odds of finding, keeping and excelling at their jobs long term.
  • Another misconception is that it doesn’t matter where you attend college...yet it’s the most important decision regarding your college career! Getting in is half the battle – the other half is deciding where to attend because that could determine if you stay there and get your degree. In real estate, they say the three most important things to consider when buying a house are location, location, location. The same goes for choosing a college: If you hate the location, it’s likely you won’t enjoy your college experience.

After realizing the true importance of a college education, I knew what I had to do. Recognizing that it was the location of my school and the major I had chosen that were bothering me, I spent my time off figuring out a major I want to immerse myself in and finding a university in a location I can’t wait to live. I’ll be returning to school in the fall!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Choosing the Right Classes in High School

by Katlyn Clark

I recently wrote about the right way to register for college classes but for those of you still in high school, let’s talk about your course selection strategy. The classes you take in high school play a big role in the college admissions process so here are some tips to help you choose the right ones.

  • Consult your counselor. When deciding what classes to take, get your counselor’s opinion. I talked to mine and she helped me pick the right ones to achieve my goals.
  • Consider what your college choices require. Certain colleges may require that you take specific classes in order to be considered for admission. (For example, I had a friend who had to take physics to go to a certain college.) It may sound crazy but it’s good to determine what colleges want early on so you aren’t scrambling at the end.
  • Challenge yourself with honors and AP classes. I suggest looking into what subjects you are good in and registering for related honors or AP courses. I did not take honors classes until my junior year and I wish I had taken them all my four years in high school – in fact, some of my favorite classes were the honors classes! In honors or AP classes, students care about doing their work and teachers think highly of them. Colleges will, too!
  • Find your calling early. Students can discover what they like and what they want to pursue in college while still in high school. I took two marketing classes, did awesome in those courses and am now minoring in marketing at Campbell.
  • Avoid easy As. Just because you receive all As doesn’t mean you are guaranteed admission to the institution of your choice: Colleges review your grades AND the strength of your curriculum when they review your application.

High school students, be smart when registering for classes – your choices here could determine your college fate!

Katlyn Clark is a freshman at Campbell University majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing. She hopes to become a broadcast journalist for entertainment or write for a magazine such as People or Seventeen. In her spare time, Katlyn loves to hang out with friends and family and watch sports; she is a Christian who is so thankful for God’s many blessings in her life. Katlyn is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and loves Tim Tebow, Pinterest, the WWE and cats.


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Rapper Juicy J Awards Student $50,000 College Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

While it may come to no surprise that Michele Obama is urging young students to pursue a higher education, she’s not the only one who understands its value. Take for instance Rapper Juicy J: He recently awarded a young woman a $50,000 “twerking” scholarship! Did we mention that her winning entry involved no twerking at all?

Last August, the Oscar-winning rapper launched the Juicy J Scholarship Foundation and tweeted that he would award the scholarship “to the best chick that can twerk.” He later admitted that entrants were not required to do the popular dance move and that he would give the funds to the college-bound recipient who needed it most. And that individual was Zaire Holmes, a 19-year-old student at the State College of Florida. Holmes, a full-time mother and student, said in her video submission that her aspirations of becoming a doctor would require 11 years of schooling and that financial aid alone would not cover her expenses. Touched by her story, Juicy J announced her as the winner and said, “You remind me of myself. When I was 19, I was like really, really working hard.” After her big win, the South Florida native shared her hopes of transferring from the State College of Florida to either the University of Florida or the University of South Florida to study medicine. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the rapper’s take on giving back to the community? Let us know in the comments section.


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