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Study: Pell Grant Restrictions Affect Enrollment at Community Colleges in the South

by Scholarships.com Staff

Community colleges across the country have seen a steep decline in enrollments this year for a few reasons. A recovering economy steering students toward jobs and budget cuts that have led to fee increases have played key roles but changes to federal Pell grant eligibility are most notable. According to a new study, community colleges in the Deep South have been hit hardest by the changes that took effect last year.

The study, by Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama director Stephen Katsinas, argues that community college enrollments in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi are highly sensitive to changes in the federal grant program. Enrollment in 47 of the 62 two-year colleges across the three states declined this past fall and more than 5,000 students lost Pell grants – a change that the report's authors say can be directly attributed to the changes in eligibility. Students are now limited to just six years of Pell grants, fewer students automatically qualify for the maximum grant because of a lower income cap for receiving an “automatic zero” expected family contribution and students without a high school diploma or GED are no longer eligible.

While many states have started to see their economies improve, that’s not the case for the three states included in the study. In fact, not only have their economies not recovered but state-supported student aid programs are much smaller, so colleges have fewer resources for low-income students who no longer qualify for Pell grants. Both Pell grants and community colleges are "vital to enhancing college degree completion in the Deep South, for it is the community colleges where economically disadvantaged students begin higher education," the study noted. The enrollment numbers were based on surveys of community college officials. All of the two-year colleges in the three-state region responded. However, the national enrollment data for 2012 hasn't been compiled yet, said David Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.


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Spring Break Planning Tips & Advisement

by Chelsea Slaughter

We’re midway through February, which means it’s the perfect time to get your spring break plans in order! How will you spend your time off? Here are a few suggestions:

If you plan to travel, check out sites like StudentCity.com for information on Panama City, South Padre Island and other popular destinations. Take time to research different cities and their respective attractions but keep in mind that the sooner you finalize your plans, the cheaper your trip will be. You should also decide who you travel with (a responsible group of friends you can trust is key) and how you will get around (if you are not driving to your destination, realize you’ll have to walk, cab or take public transit once you’re there).

A vacation is not the only way to spend your spring break, as many universities have alternate spring programs that include volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations. If your school does not offer a program like this, check out UnitedWay.org to find an alternate spring break trip that suits you. You’ll be able to experience a new place while volunteering and helping the community: This year, they have one in Newark, NJ to help families rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.

Another idea could be a short-term internship. I spent my first spring break job shadowing a digital marketer in the entertainment industry and it was a great way to build my resume and get hands-on experience for a future career. Work hard and you could score an internship or job for the summer!

Spring break can be whatever you want it to be but the key element is planning. Don’t wait until the last moment; if you have nothing planned yet, then it’s time to get started!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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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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Make a Video. Win a Scholarship. Save a life.

Project Yellow Light/Hunter Garner Scholarship Deadline is April 1st

February 18, 2013

Make a Video. Win a Scholarship. Save a life.

by Suada Kolovic

Project Yellow Light is a scholarship competition designed to bring about change. As an applicant, you have one clear mission: encourage other teens to develop and embrace safe driving habits. Specifically - don't text and drive. The first-place winner will receive a scholarship in the amount of $2,000. The second-place winner will receive $500 and the third-place winner will receive $200. In addition to a scholarship, the winning video will be turned into an Ad Council PSA and will be distributed nationally to 1,600 TV stations.

People wait their entire lives to impact positive change on the world. Through this project, we are offering you that opportunity now. You can play a key role in spreading this important message because you can speak to your peers in a way that adults cannot. The more lives you can impact, the more lives you can save. We want to see your personal expression come through in your video. You can video yourself, a group of people, make a cartoon, do a music video - just keep it to a minute or less and make sure it's in good taste.

If you are interested in learning more about this or other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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How to Switch Your Major

February 19, 2013

How to Switch Your Major

by Carly Gerber

Choosing a major is quite possibly one of the hardest decisions to make in college. We all have our different stories of how we chose our major – many of my friends chose their major because it was the easiest college to get into at the university while others selected their major because their parents thought the field would yield the most opportunities after college – but what happens when you want to switch majors?

I’ve switched majors three times so I know the situation can be stressful. If you’re no longer enjoying your original major, the idea of attending another class in that field may feel like it’s going to send you over the edge but keep calm. First things first: What’s your new dream major? Only you know what interests you so don’t let others influence your decision. Once you’ve answered this question, do all the research you can to learn how to get into the program. Some universities make you apply to each college while others let you freely move from college to college. Each university is different so be sure to meet with an adviser if you have any questions.

Next, start the transfer process. Hopefully you do get into the college of you dreams but if you don’t, I promise the world won’t end! Life’s setbacks can open many new doors but I would highly suggest not continuing to major in something that doesn’t interest you – you’re the one who will have to attend those classes...not your friend, your aunt or your mom. This may also be your time to reconsider college in general...maybe you don’t just want to switch majors but transfer universities entirely!

Finding the right major is about knowing what you will enjoy and knowing what you can use later on. That leaves every major known to mankind as a possibly!

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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Student Sues College After Being Expelled for Facebook Posts

by Suada Kolovic

Obsessively checking wall posts, commenting on old high school prom photos, liking statuses that have no likeable qualities and participating in a poke war (if that’s still a thing) are pretty common among Facebook users. But for those of you who think that Facebook is a free-for-all to express your unfiltered thoughts, you are sadly mistaken: A nursing student from Central Lakes College was expelled over his Facebook posts and now he’s suing.

Thirty-seven-year-old Craig Keefe was one semester away from becoming a registered nurse when officials at the two-year college deemed two of his private Facebook posts “disturbing.” Keefe claims administrators never showed him the offending posts, nor did they explain how he violated school policy. His lawyer, Jordan Kushner of Minneapolis, explains, “He really doesn't know... It's a public institution. You're entitled to due process before any type of significant action is taken against you. You deserve to know what the charges are and the chance to be heard." The suit accuses Central Lakes College of conspiring to violate Keefe’s constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and due process and seeks reinstatement in the program as well as damages. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think it’s fair that Keefe’s private posts were used against him? Should college officials take it upon themselves to supervise a student’s Facebook page? Let us know in the comments section.


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Top 10 Highest Paying Internships

by Suada Kolovic

For a college student, an internship is viewed as a rite of passage, a box that must be checked, a prerequisite for future ambitions. And while obtaining an internship is a success in its own right, finding one where you’ll be compensated in something other than experience and a reference is a challenge…but not necessarily impossible. A new report from Glassdoor lists the highest-rated companies that not only pay their interns but pay them extremely well. Check out the top 10 companies that made the cut below (for the complete list, click here):


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by Suada Kolovic

If you're struggling to come up with ideas for possible majors and post-collegiate careers, looking at majors that are sought after may not be a bad place to start. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), organizations are most interested in hiring new college graduates with bachelor's degrees in the business, engineering and computer science fields. Nearly 70 percent of the organizations participating in NACE's Job Outlook 2014 survey said they plan to hire business majors and 43 percent said they plan to hire more grads during the fall of 2014 than they did just last year. Here are the top six degrees according to NACE’s findings:

Through the Job Outlook survey, NACE surveys its employer members each year about their hiring plans in order to project the job market for new college graduates. What do you think of the majors that made the list? Any surprises?


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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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Student Social Media Etiquette

February 27, 2013

Student Social Media Etiquette

by Chelsea Slaughter

Social media gives us what we feel like is a platform to express our thoughts and feelings on any issue around us. We can connect to people we know (or may not know) globally with ease but we must be cautious about what we say and what we post on these open sites. Your platform for free speech can either help or harm you.

If you check Scholarships.com’s blog regularly, you read a post about a college student who was expelled because of what he posted on Facebook. A lot of students may think “Wow, that’s crazy. That could never happen to me.” But in fact, it can! When posting on your favorite sites, keep these dos and don’ts in mind:

  • DO try and connect to people you may not have a chance to meet sans social media. (i.e., people you look up to, international students, etc.)
  • DON’T post anything you would not want your parents, professors or employers to see. These days, employers and college officials will often use social media as an extension of your resume to give them a better idea of who you are as a person.
  • DO keep a clean, PG profile. Untag yourself in any compromising posts or photos.
  • DON’T assume that since your page is private, it cannot be seen. There are plenty of ways to bypass such “protection” that you may not be aware of.
  • DO separate yourself from situations that could involve drama or negativity.
  • DON’T say anything about someone or something that you would not say in front of them. One of the main causes of lost friendships and peer conflicts is based off of social media.

Your social media accounts are a direct representation of you. Make sure the image presented is one you can be proud to call yours!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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