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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

June 6, 2011

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

by Darci Miller

After spring semester ended, I was lucky enough to take part in a birthright trip to Israel. For 10 days, I traveled around the country with 40 other kids from the University of Miami’s Hillel. I had always heard that this trip was life changing but before I went, I was a total skeptic. Having lived through it, though, it definitely was a truly amazing experience.

As a part of the trip, our group was joined by eight Israeli soldiers currently serving in the army. Israelis are drafted into the army as soon as they finish high school, so these soldiers were all more or less our age. My time spent with these soldiers was the single most powerful experience of my life.

I spent a lot of time on the bus with a girl named Tal. As we talked, I quickly discovered that we have a lot in common – we are both 20, soft spoken, want to travel the world someday, and love “Friends” and “That ‘70s Show” – but just because she was born in Israel, she’s in the army while I attend college. I saw myself in Tal. If I had been born in Israel, I would be her.

There was also Yogev, who’s in the parachute division and dreams of being a chef and opening his own restaurant. And Dafna, shorter than my 5’2” self, the sweetest person ever, and an officer in the army. And Sachlav, lithe and blonde, whose job it is to train soldiers for combat. I thought we’d have nothing to talk about but in interacting with these soldiers, I learned that we truly are all the same. We may come from different worlds but at the core, we’re no different.

I think this is a valuable lesson to take into college. Just because someone seems different doesn’t mean they are. We all have things in common; the trick is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and find them.

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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Students Use of Slang in the Classrooms Becoming the Norm

June 13, 2011

Students Use of Slang in the Classrooms Becoming the Norm

by Suada Kolovic

Text messaging, Twitter and Facebook have revolutionized the way we communicate with one another on a daily basis. From slang terms to text-speak, the casualness has become somewhat routine but what happens when students blur those barriers of online communication and slang shortcuts creep into the classroom? High school teachers are dealing with a lot more IDKs, IMOs and IDCs on assignments nationwide.

Terry Wood, a foreign language teacher at St. Mary's Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Md., has seen a "dramatic decline" in the writing abilities of her students. "They do not capitalize words or use punctuation anymore," Wood, a teacher with 10 years of in-class experience, says. "Even in e-mails to teachers or [on] writing assignments, any word longer than one syllable is now abbreviated to one."

While some advocates have argued that the use of slang is simply an evolution of language, Chad Dion Lassiter, professor of race relations at the University of Pennsylvania disagrees: He considers it "a dumbing down of culture." "We're looking at some of these writing skills and what I'm noticing is [that] there is miscommunication due to the fact that their communication is so limited," he says. "The problem is the adults. We have to train adults to work with young people and hold them accountable."

What do you think? Does slang belong on assignments? If not, how should teachers combat this growing trend of text lingo in the classroom?

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To Stay Informed on Campus, Develop a Nose for News

June 13, 2011

To Stay Informed on Campus, Develop a Nose for News

by Jacquelene Bennett

One of the most striking differences between high school and college is how everyone pays attention to the news. Most students are up to date with their current events and world happenings and they love to talk about it in and out of class. So how can you become news savvy?

Whether they are reading online newspapers, blog or user-generated content on social media sites, college students get their news primarily through the Internet. I first learned about Bin Laden's death through Facebook after someone had posted it as their status and I know people who get Twitter updates from online publications sent directly to their phones so they can stay on top of major news events.

Another way to gather news is by watching television. CNN or MSNBC is always on in the cafeteria or coffeehouse area at my school. My friends and I tune in to those channels but we prefer to watch “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.” These shows keep you informed without beating you over the head with hours of unimportant opinions and reports and they make you laugh in the process.

Of course, there is always the traditional method of gathering news: newspapers and other print media. When I’m on campus, I never have to look very far to find copies of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal or a number of local publications. Not only are these print publications widely available to students every day but they are also free. Thanks, U of R!

So for all you incoming college freshmen, I would recommend you brushing up on your current events and for all you fellow college goers, how do you stay informed?

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Top 10 Least Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students

June 14, 2011

Top 10 Least Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students

by Suada Kolovic

It seems like students are willing to do just about anything to save on tuition, from saying “I do” to asking for handouts to applying early and often for college scholarships. But what if you’re not willing to take the plunge, have a sense of humility and scholarships just aren’t covering the astronomical costs tied to college tuition? Then attending a public school might be your best bet and to slash the bill even further, selecting an in-state public school is the way to go!

According to a survey conducted by U.S. News, the average tuition and fees for in-state residents among the 452 public colleges that reported data was $7,042 for the 2010-11 school year. Check out the 10 least expensive public schools for in-state students, accounting for tuition and required fees (but not room and board, books, transportation or other miscellaneous college costs) below.

  1. New Mexico Highlands University
  2. Macon State College
  3. Fayetteville State University
  4. California State University—Northridge
  5. Elizabeth City State University
  6. University of Wyoming
  7. University of North Carolina—Pembroke
  8. North Carolina A&T State University
  9. Eastern New Mexico University
  10. Fort Hays State University
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Keep Your Wallet Happy Without Sacrificing Style, Technology or Fun

June 15, 2011

Keep Your Wallet Happy Without Sacrificing Style, Technology or Fun

by Jessica Seals

The pressure of always wearing the trendiest clothes, owning the newest cell phone and having an active social life can leave a deep hole in any college student's wallet. However, there are ways to avoid throwing money away every week.

Don’t spend $200 on jeans. Most cities have stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls that sell designer clothes for less. So many students put themselves in debt only to say they are wearing True Religion jeans but you can get more for your money while looking just as good, if not better!

Don’t buy electronics as soon as they are released. Although you may be dying to have the latest smartphone, waiting a few months will guarantee you a lower price. Also, there are cheaper smartphones that work just as well as an iPhone; check with your wireless provider to see if you’re eligible for a free or discounted upgrade as well.

Don’t make a habit out of eating at restaurants all of the time. Bills from Olive Garden and Red Lobster can add up quickly so many students become best friends with fast food dollar menus or decide to only dine out at nicer places on special occasions like birthdays. If you have a meal plan, figure out what dining halls serve the best food and if your dorm has a kitchen, it can be cheaper (and healthier!) to make your own meals. It can be fun cooking with friends and trying each other's recipes, too!

College tuition and fees are enough to put a student in debt. By cutting down on expenses for your social life, you'll still have a great college experience but without a great deal of financial stress.

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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Helpful Tips on Maximizing Merit Aid

June 16, 2011

Helpful Tips on Maximizing Merit Aid

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely a stressful part of the process. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid – aid based on a student’s attributes (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) – is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! Who would have thunk it?! So, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

  • Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed. College aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off, as well as make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
  • Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
  • Apply to schools that offer generous need-based aid. In the 2009-10 academic year, Louisiana College reported that 88 percent of students were receiving non-need based financial aid. Do the schools you’re considering boast the same kind of aid?
  • Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
  • Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have negotiating leverage when it comes to your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact that institution! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school for less money!
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Sick at School? Feel Better...Fast!

June 16, 2011

Sick at School? Feel Better...Fast!

by Katie Askew

Being sick at a school that’s hours from home and – let’s be honest – your mom is hard to deal with. Don’t think you’re immune, either: It’s much easier to catch illnesses when you’re living in a 12’x12’ space with another person. On top of that, missing just one college class could be the equivalent of missing an entire week of high school! If you do happen to fall ill, there are ways get better without calling home.

Before moving to campus, make sure you have proof of health insurance (a copy of your insurance card is fine but the real thing is even better). At a new clinic, they will ask you for this so they can treat you and no proof of insurance means no care. Make sure your health insurance covers the clinics and doctors in your new area (some plans don’t) and know your personal medical history and allergies because Mom won’t be in the doctor’s office with you to help.

Next, learn about the health benefits your college has for you. Most universities have free student clinics right on campus with qualified doctors and nurses to remedy you but their limited weekday hours and usually no weekend hours mean you have to work your class and extracurricular schedule around them. In case of emergencies or weekend sickness, know where the nearest hospital, clinic or acute care center is.

For everyday pains, headaches and small scrapes, have a first aid kit in your dorm room. Fill it with the necessities like Band-Aids, Neosporin and Tylenol so you’re not knocking on doors in the middle of the night looking for medicine.

The best way to not get sick, though? Prevention! Wash your hands, get enough sleep, don’t share drinks and eat more than just cake and soda in the dining hall. Stay healthy, my friends!

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.

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Later Classes for Students Mean Sleep More, Booze and Lower Grades

June 17, 2011

Later Classes for Students Mean Sleep More, Booze and Lower Grades

by Suada Kolovic

Ah college, a sacred time in your adult life when waking up at noon is considered the norm, Ramen noodles as a diet staple are typical and your classes don’t start until 2 p.m. (Trust me, it’s the good life.) Unfortunately, night owls, there’s a downside: According to a recent study, college students whose classes start later in the day sleep more but they also consume more alcohol and have lower grade point averages.

The study, led by two psychologists at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, N.Y., surveyed 253 students about their sleep, class schedules, substance use and mood, among other things. It found that night owls were likely to get more sleep than early birds but were also more likely to binge drink and their grades were moderately lower. They found that students who had later classes tended to stay up later, were not as well rested and had more daytime sleepiness. “Later class start times seemed to change the choices students make: They sleep longer, and they drink more," said Pamela Thacher, co-lead author on the study which was presented at SLEEP 2011, the Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Minneapolis.

Do you agree with the study’s findings? Are you more likely to stay up late if you don’t have to wake up for an early class and does being up late translate into making poor decisions?

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Quirky Course Offerings

June 17, 2011

Quirky Course Offerings

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Have you ever been sitting through a lecture and been on the verge of falling asleep? Do you find yourself wishing your classes were more interesting? If your answer is yes to either of these questions, grab your course catalog and discover your school’s quirky class offerings.

The Science of Harry Potter” is an honors course offered by Frostburg State University in Maryland. As the name suggests, it involves analyzing topics from J.K. Rowling's best-selling novels from a scientific perspective. For instance, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans help students understand how our taste buds function and flying broomsticks are viewed through the lens of anti-gravity research.

The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie” is offered at Occidental College in California. Its main topic of study is the concept of race and how Barbie has inadvertently encouraged societal racism; it also offers surprisingly deep insights on gender roles, capitalism and more.

Some people are skeptical about the usefulness of these classes, with the more extreme critics denouncing them as a waste of money. While they are unorthodox, keep in mind these classes still require a significant amount of work. Students taking “The Science of Harry Potter,” for example, must take daily quizzes, complete scientific projects and read textbooks. Speaking of books, “The Science of Harry Potter” only requires two textbooks but the reading list for “The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie” is surprisingly extensive and includes works by social class analysts Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin.

So, if you're tired of more traditional course offerings like physics or sociology, consider finding out if your college offers any unique classes like the ones mentioned above. Just don't expect to do less homework!

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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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Abby Egan

July 1, 2013

Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Abby Egan

by Abby Egan

Hi all! My name is Abby and I’ll be a junior this fall at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). Nice to meet you!

I chose MCLA mainly because it was as far away from the city as possible: I’m from Quincy, MA, right outside Boston, so I’m well acquainted with the city lifestyle but when choosing a college, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone. I major in English Communications with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy but when I’m not busy with schoolwork, I love to read, drink tea and walk around town with my camera. Most of the time, however, I run a very busy lifestyle including working three jobs, participating in two volunteer groups and testing out more clubs than I could possibly count.

I applied to be a virtual intern with Scholarships.com this summer because I saw this as my chance to use my own experiences to help incoming college students get a taste of what college is really all about. When it comes down to it, I’m just a regular girl finding her footing in the college atmosphere...just like you. Hopefully I’ll be able to shine some light on what it’s like to live away from home and start the next chapter of your life but the best advice I can give you would be 1. sleep is the most important thing in the world, and 2. your college experience will be what you make of it. Looking forward to sharing more with you soon!

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