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Taking Your Own Senior Portraits

January 30, 2012

Taking Your Own Senior Portraits

by Jacquelene Bennett

Whether you are a college or high school senior, you are undoubtedly starting to prepare for graduation and all the pomp and circumstance it entails. One of the many elements to graduation is senior portraits. While these pictures can be elegant and traditional, they can also be boring and unmemorable...or unflattering and downright horrible if they’re not done well.

Unfortunately, my roommate had the latter experience with her senior portraits. Her photos with the university-sanctioned photographer featured poor lighting, unnatural and uncomfortable looking poses and overall bad image quality. Did she want these images in the yearbook? Of course not, so we’re exploring an alternative course of action: taking our own senior portraits.

My roommate, some friends and I are going to take our digital cameras and go around campus taking pictures of ourselves. We plan on taking pictures on the school quad, in the library and at the admin building, among many other places. While these photos may not be traditional, taking our own pictures allows us to get creative and capture fun memories and places that influenced our time at college.

Wouldn’t YOU want your senior portraits to be taken in a place on campus that holds meaning for you, rather than in front of an ugly backdrop in a room that you’ve never been to before? Taking your own senior portraits allows you to do just that. Plus, it’s a great way to have fun and spend time with friends – something you may not get to do much of as graduation draws closer!

Jacquelene Bennett is a 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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Dealing with Loss in College

January 31, 2012

Dealing with Loss in College

by Radha Jhatakia

I recently lost someone close to me and cannot describe how I felt. The worst part was that it was unexpected and I was nowhere near home. When we are in school, we miss out on things that happen at home and sometimes losing someone is one of these unpleasant things. Often, we cannot go home or it is too late by the time that we get there but for this, all I can say is that it may be better that you have been left with the beautiful memories that you have.

Some things mean more to others than we can comprehend. People, pets and places can all be something that a person values. Losing a family member, friend, pet or home is never easy but remember that you need to go through the natural grieving process or you will never be able to move on. Remember your someone, all the good they’ve done and all the moments you’ve spent together and celebrate their life and the positive way they made you feel. And don’t feel guilty for random moments of happiness: They’re completely natural and the person you lost would not want you to live in sadness.

Loss is one of the most unpleasant things in life and when you experience it, it will be with you forever. Remember that you can rely on friends and family for comfort – they’re grieving, too – and seek professional help if you need it. Know that it is okay to feel the way you do; let it make you a stronger person.

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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Do Students Care About College Rankings?

February 6, 2012

Do Students Care About College Rankings?

by Alexis Mattera

In the wake of the recent scandal at Claremont McKenna College, one has to wonder if college rankings are all they’re cracked up to be. Colleges seem to think so – some administrators are willing to fudge standardized testing data in order to move up even one slot and bonuses have been offered to the presidents of schools that increase their positions – but what about the students? Do they care about the number associated with their school of choice? Meh.

The trend, discussed in a new Associated Press article, is that students typically use the rankings as a source of data and pay little attention to a school's number. The latest version of the national survey of college freshmen conducted annually by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute revealed that rankings in national magazines were number 11 on the list of factors affecting college choices behind factors such as cost, size and location; the number one factor, however, was academic reputation, which is a bit confusing as reputation is taken into consideration when determining rankings. "As someone who is asked every year to comment on the rankings, it seems to me that who cares most is the media," John Pryor, who directs the UCLA survey, wrote in a blog post last year. "Second would be college presidents and development officers. Way down the list seem to be those who are actually trying to decide where to go to college."

Are college rankings a bigger deal to students or colleges? Did you or do you plan to use college rankings in making your college choices or do you think other factors are more important to consider?

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Staying Safe at Your Second Home

February 1, 2012

Staying Safe at Your Second Home

by Angela Andaloro

Since daylight savings time ends just over a month into fall semester and begins just before spring semester ends, we spend the majority of our time on campus in the darker part of the year. That lack of daylight may seem like a drag for many reasons, including your safety. Danger CAN strike at any time, though, so it’s always important to stay alert. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep you safe on campus.

Keep your friends on the up and up. We make bonds and tend to stick with our friends as much as possible so it’s rare to see anyone roaming a college campus solo. If you do get separated, make sure to let someone (a roommate, friend or even your parents) know where you’ll be, who you’ll be with and when you’ll be home.

Be careful with your keys. It might seem like a given but it’s important to keep an eye on your keys. They’re easy to lose and easy to duplicate so keep yours as close by as possible. If you do lose them, be sure to alert maintenance or campus security, as you may need a lock change.

Don’t travel alone in the dark. Most nights, you’ll head out with your friends and head home with them as well. If you do part ways, take advantage of your campus security escort service. It’s better to get home via campus security than to walk alone and put yourself at risk.

Whether or not we’d like to admit it, our schools are like second homes to us and with the amount of time we spend there, it’s important that we feel comfortable and safe. You want to have the best college experience possible, right? Good – just take a few minutes to put your safety first!

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.

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Oops! Dozens of Vassar College Applicants Given Fake Acceptance Letters

February 1, 2012

Oops! Dozens of Vassar College Applicants Given Fake Acceptance Letters

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top schools in the country is unquestionably unnerving but after months of stress, sleepiness nights and stomach pains, it all seems worth it when you read those magical words, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted.” Most would celebrate such an occasion with screams of triumph, followed by an immediate Facebook update or witty tweet sharing their enthusiasm...until that same school you were sure you’d call your alma mater informs you that there’s been a terrible mistake and that you have, in fact, been rejected. Is this a nightmare? Nope – it was an unfortunate reality for dozens of Vassar applicants.

Roughly two hours after 76 Vassar College early admission applicants learned they had been accepted to the prestigious liberal arts school, they received emails stating that they were actually rejected. The school president, Catharine Hill, said in a statement, "We understand how very upsetting this is for those students who viewed the inaccurate decisions that we posted online, and we are very sorry to have added to the overall stress of the college admissions process for these students and their families." The school says that though it will refund application fees and is reaching out to each individual family impacted by the error, the admissions decisions are final. Ouch.

Do you think Vassar should grant admission to those affected by the technological gaffe or would it be unfair to the rest of the student population? Let us know what you think.

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New Media is the New Way

February 2, 2012

New Media is the New Way

by Kayla Herrera

Here at Michigan Tech, new media has taken over. With our annual Winter Carnival just around the corner, the festival's queen candidates are taking a different approach to campaigning: Though most still create posters, all queen candidates have Facebook groups created in their interest where their fellow classmates can join.

How has social media affected college students? It has become ingrained in our current lives and our futures. Facebook especially has taken my school by storm – one of the girls in my classes told everyone she has one class that is taught entirely on Facebook and those enrolled communicate via the site’s messenger feature. It’s incredible to think that in our age of technology, we do not even have to leave our beds in order to attend college – the possibilities for future developments in this technology are unbelievable!

Social media isn’t just for students anymore, either. Professors have also become more comfortable adding students as friends on Facebook and there seems to be a closer unity through utilizing Facebook as a means of communication. Even after classes have ended, professors and students can continue to interact, leaving the door open for future recommendations and references. Most companies have Twitter or Facebook accounts, too, and you will have to know how to not only work them but be able to analyze the data they produce to have an edge over other applicants. (I opened a Twitter account just because most job descriptions I read required knowledge of Facebook and Twitter.)

Even more popular social media will emerge in the future, furthering the technological shift. Twenty years from now, no one will forget the Facebook Era but what social media trends and platforms do you think are on the horizon?

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.

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Majoring in an "Endangered" Field? You Still Have Options!

February 3, 2012

Majoring in an "Endangered" Field? You Still Have Options!

by Lisa Lowdermilk

We've all read those articles that tell you what NOT to major in but what do you do if you're already majoring in one of the fields mentioned? Do you continue along the path you’ve chosen or start working toward a new goal that will cost more time and money to complete?

This is the dilemma facing architecture majors and the New York Times recently posted an article discussing how architecture majors are facing the highest unemployment rate in the nation (13.9%). Unsurprisingly, the housing market collapse has a lot to do with this and until our economy starts improving, the housing market (and the unemployment rate for those commissioned to design those houses) will likely stay where it's at.

But before all you architecture majors despair, remember that we will always need buildings. There may not be as great of a demand as there used to be but there are still plenty of job opportunities available, especially if you're willing to work in another country. From China to London and plenty of countries in between, there are lots of great options for up-and-coming architects abroad. China alone has dozens of positions available and some of them don't even require you to know Mandarin. Of course, if you've always wanted to learn Mandarin (or any other foreign language for that matter), what better way to do so than to live and work abroad? Of course, living abroad isn't for everyone and there are still employment options in the U.S. And the median salary for an architect is $55,248, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Whether you're an architecture major or a student trying to find a summer job, securing employment can be a daunting task. But as clichéd as it sounds, you will eventually find something if you keep looking. You may need to relocate in order to find what you're looking for but your hard work toward that college degree will pay off in the end.

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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All Students CAN Have Access to Success!

February 6, 2012

All Students CAN Have Access to Success!

by Katie Askew

If you’re the type of student that struggled through your more difficult high school classes, doesn’t have an outstanding GPA or ACT score and are worried you won’t get admitted to a normal four-year college program, fear no more! Many schools around the country are implementing programs for students who may be below the normal admission averages or require extra help in the first few years of college.

The University of Minnesota’s program is called Access to Success (ATS) and is specifically within the College of Liberal Arts, one of seven freshman-admitting colleges at the U. ATS is a student community that bases selection from your admission application but the community includes high school students who appear as if they will succeed in the college atmosphere and just weren’t fully prepared through high school. The benefits of the program include a small learning community with special classes, tutoring support and student-to-student mentoring all while experiencing everything a college student can experience.

All students in the ATS community are assigned an ATS academic adviser who helps them explore majors and opportunities, a career counselor who helps them research and find careers that interest them and a peer mentor who helps them adjust to college life. In addition, ATS participants will have a major or college adviser who helps them declare their majors and plan their courses. The staff in the program wants its mentees to succeed and will do everything in their power to make that happen.

College really can be a good fit for everyone with programs like ATS in place. If you’re interested, check out your top school’s website or ask your admissions counselor for more information. Even if you’re not eligible for an ATS-style program, tutoring and study tips never hurt. Every school has tutoring sessions or mentoring programs available to students – all you have to do is find them!

Katie Askew is a sophomore 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, teaching and performing 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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Bilingual Benefits at Home and Abroad

February 7, 2012

Bilingual Benefits at Home and Abroad

by Liz Coffin-Karlin

I live in Buenos Aires full time, I was a Spanish major in college and I’m about as obsessive about Latin pop music as any actual Latina I know so naturally, people laugh when I tell them I almost didn’t take AP Spanish my senior year of high school. Once upon a time, I thought foreign language classes were good for silly skits and fluffing up your college resume but looking back, I can honestly say that even if I had no idea at the time, my high school Spanish classes were probably the most important classes I took in those four years.

Most colleges require language classes to graduate and have varying levels of language requirements for different study abroad programs. The thing about really trying to learn that tricky foreign language is that it lets you become part of whatever culture you’re visiting, whether you flew to another continent or just visited a part of your own college city that you’d never been. Instead of being just a tourist, you can become an observer – an anthropologist of that new and exciting land – but if you don’t know the language (or your basic cultural history), that task becomes impossible and you’re just a tourist with a resident visa. Think about practicing your French in a New York Haitian neighborhood, your Cantonese in San Francisco Chinatown or your Arabic in Dearborn, Michigan. You don’t have to fly a thousand miles away to get out of your comfort zone or expand your horizons.

Now I’m not advocating walking into Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and expecting your six words of Spanish to make you a whole bunch of new friends. Just like when you’re a visitor in someone’s home, be polite and know that your presence can easily become a burden rather than a novelty. If you work at understanding the people around you, finding out about their lives and listening to their opinions and goals, your limited language skills might rapidly expand.

Liz Coffin-Karlin grew up in Sarasota, Florida where the sun is always shining and it’s unbearably hot outside. She went to college at Northwestern University and after studying Spanish and history, she decided to study abroad in Buenos Aires. In college, she worked on the student newspaper (The Daily Northwestern), met people from all over the world at the Global Engagement Summit and, by her senior year, earned the title of 120-hour dancer at NU’s annual Dance Marathon. She currently works in Buenos Aires on freedom of speech issues but is thinking about returning to the U.S. for a job in urban education.

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Passport to Practicality

Smith Workshops Move Beyond the Books, Into Real Life

February 7, 2012

Passport to Practicality

by Alexis Mattera

Adjusting to life in college can take some time but once you’ve mastered the campus layout, course catalog and dining options, will you be ready for the world beyond those hallowed halls? Many students are not but the skills taught in a pair of programs at Smith College could change that.

The women’s college in Northampton, Mass., launched two programs – “Passport to Life at Smith” and “Passport to Life After Smith” – to address what students need to succeed on and off campus and since their debut in 2010, hundreds of students at various stages in their college careers have signed up. From being more assertive in class and emailing professors appropriately to acing job interviews and changing tires (and looking cool in the process), the courses offer tips every student would find helpful, not just Smith’s female student population. “These are skills that any college student would benefit from,” said Jessica Bacal, director of Smith’s Center for Work and Life and the creator of the workshop series. “Just cause you’re a guy it doesn’t mean you’re going to go into a meeting and feel really comfortable giving your opinion even though it’s different from someone else’s opinion.”

If there are any Smithies in the audience, we’d love to hear your firsthand experiences with these programs. To everyone else, what do you think of colleges teaching courses that go beyond traditional classroom offerings? Would you take one or do you feel real-life experience is preparation enough?

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