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Admissions Decisions: What to Do While You Wait to Hear

by Katie Askew

By now, most of the priority deadlines for college applications have passed. You have filled out your last application, written your final essay and everything is under review...so what’s left for you to do?

During the period between submitting your application and getting an admissions decision, there is a lot you can do besides just sitting around waiting. Although patience is a virtue, why don’t you take a look at what I did and see if you can keep busy!

Visit or revisit. If you haven’t already visited your choice colleges, now is the time. Take a tour, meet with an admissions counselor and talk to students you see about campus life. If you have already visited, go again because the second visit is almost always more informative than the first: Now that you have seen a few different types of schools, you can go back to your top choices and get more pertinent information because you’ll know exactly what types of questions to ask.

Volunteer. If you are deferred or waitlisted to your top college (knock on wood!), volunteer hours are great additions to your application and make you a more promising candidate. It shows that you are really doing everything you can to be a well-rounded student. If you were accepted to your top college, those volunteer hours didn’t go to waste – it’s humbling to give your time and maybe volunteering at the local hospital has given you a potential new career path as a doctor or nurse!

Job shadow. Shadowing someone working a job you’re interested in is a great way to acquire lots of information directly from those in the industry. After the job shadow, maybe you’ll realize becoming an orthopedic surgeon isn’t right for someone as squeamish as you are or maybe you’ll realize how much you love healing others. You won’t know until you job shadow!

Sure, the couch is comfortable but get up and get out – there is a lot more you can do to prepare for those admissions decision letters!

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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Is It Too Early to Make Spring Break Plans?

by Jessica Seals

Although the spring semester is just barely here, it’s never too soon to start thinking about what you want to do during spring break. Just the thought of spending an entire week at a sunny beach with your friends is enough to make anyone start planning but the reality is that many of us might not be able to afford to squeeze some fun in the sun into our busy schedules. For those of us who will remain at home or school, there are several options to make spring break just as fulfilling as it will be for those students hitting the beaches.

Get some rest. It might sound boring but once the semester begins, you will find yourself wishing that you had time to catch up on your sleep. Doing so during spring break allows you to recharge your body so that you can make it through the rest of the semester.

Work ahead. By now, we all know how most professors like to set deadlines for big projects and papers for the end of the semester. Doing schoolwork over spring break may not necessarily be fun but you can save yourself a great deal of stress by working ahead. When the end-of-semester chaos hits in the form of finals and papers, you will be more relaxed knowing that you are ahead of the game.

Participate in an alternative spring break. Many schools offer alternative spring breaks to students so that they can spend the week volunteering for a good cause. Not only do you give back to a community in need but future employers will be impressed to see that you spent your spring break helping others. Even if your school does not have this option, you can still go out and volunteer on your own.

It’s never too early to start planning for spring break. If you plan wisely, you may have the chance to get some rest, work ahead on your homework, catch up with friends and volunteer at the same time while still managing to go back to school energized and ready to conquer the rest of the semester.

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was 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. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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Take Advantage of Tutoring

February 29, 2012

Take Advantage of Tutoring

by Jessica Seals

Most college campuses offer tutoring centers where students can have classmates help them with any academic issues. Unfortunately, some students are either too embarrassed or proud to utilize these study services but they should know there are other students out there (like me!) who are willing to assist them outside a formal tutoring environment.

I found private tutoring to be a wise choice for several reasons. If you tutor classmates for free, you may be able to document these instances as community service, which employers and admissions committees for graduate and professional schools love to see. If you charge a fee for your services, however, it also allows you to make some extra money on the side while reviewing material you need for your own classes. Tutoring also allows you to make connections across campus by meeting new people who could eventually become good friends with; you may also encounter someone who might return the favor by tutoring you if you ever need help in their area of expertise. You are not limited to tutoring your fellow college students, either: You can also sign up to tutor at a local high school, middle school or elementary school – a move that allows you to make connections in the community and help you when you look for employment in the future.

Tutoring is a win-win situation and I would encourage all college students to try it if you have the chance – you never know where it could lead!

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was 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. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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The Perks of Volunteerism

March 26, 2012

The Perks of Volunteerism

by Liz Coffin-Karlin

I think about volunteering the same way most of us think about fruits and vegetables – important to your health, good for your future and, every once in a while, the last thing you want added to your day. No one talks about it but I've seen it as both a volunteer supervisor and as a volunteer myself. However great the cause, however much you care, some days you just want to stay in bed. After all, they're not paying you so what does it matter if you miss a day or two?

What professional volunteer coordinators know is that volunteering isn't just good for showing the world you're a good person who cares about others: Choosing to volunteer builds skills you might otherwise not have the opportunity to develop, making you immensely more attractive to future employers and colleges. If you volunteer with young students at a religious school or daycare, for example, you will be better at working with young students than someone with no experience but that commitment also adds to your organizational ability, proves to potential employers that you are responsible and able to do self-directed work and shows your commitment to causes outside your normal purview.

In addition, peer mentoring or tutoring (paid or unpaid) adds to your employability. First, it shows that you are good at working with other people – a requirement for many jobs – and second, many employment opportunities (from consulting to banking to physical therapy) require that employees can clearly and concisely explain their point of view to others. Teaching someone how to do a math problem may be as applicable to your career in management consulting as any classes you took in college: It's a transferable skill that you will use again and again.

Finally, if you are interested in working in the industry that you're volunteering in, there's a good chance that you'll be considered an internal candidate for any job opportunities that come up. That usually means that your application will be read before outside candidates (even if they have more direct experience) and often increases your chances of getting an interview. Besides, if you've done good work, you've effectively gained an extra (positive) reference so think about your time volunteering as an extended job interview.

On that note, go forth and volunteer! As a former volunteer supervisor, I know we welcome the help but you're probably getting as much from it as we are.

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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Keeping Up with Interests and Studies Over the Summer

by Mike Sheffey

The summer is a crazy time. For most, it means one thing – work – but it doesn’t have to: Aside from internships and summer classes, there are many ways to keep up with the things you are interested in over the summer.

  • Studies: You know you have those leftover flash cards or notes from your classes and some of you might even keep textbooks. USE THEM. I know a big issue with summer time is motivation but get motivated! Allocate an hour a day to review things from the previous semester – it will help you when you get back, I promise! For example, I know that Spanish (one of my majors) is something that needs to be practiced (and practiced and practiced). If you don’t keep up with it, you lose it and your future classes will only be more difficult. So find those books, notes, etc. and review; it never hurts and could help you ease back into the groove of classes when the new academic year begins.
  • Interests: This is a bit hazier of a topic. Because interests have such a vast range, there are thousands of ways to stay involved. Volunteer during the school year? Try help with a summer school. Work with music and the arts? Get more involved by interning, working or volunteering your time or just exploring art-related things in your area. But the list of benefits goes on: Keeping up with your interests helps you stay motivated in and out of the classroom, helps improve your focus and keeps you grounded in the free time-filled summer.

The point to take from all of this? Don’t waste your summer. There is always something you can be doing to better your resume, your passion, your focus, your knowledge or your wallet. Don’t let opportunities slip away and don’t let summer pass you by – it’s short enough as it is!

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Getting to Know Pencils of Promise’s Rachele Aidala (Part 1)

PoP’s Community Engagement Coordinator Talks Plans and Pop Stars with Scholarships.com

September 18, 2012

Getting to Know Pencils of Promise’s Rachele Aidala (Part 1)

by Suada Kolovic

Scholarships.com readers, you saw it featured as one of our Scholarships of the Week but are you familiar with the grassroots movement Pencils of Promise (PoP)? If not, you’re in luck! We recently had the opportunity to interview PoP’s community engagement coordinator Rachele Aidala and asked her everything from how the organization was started and projections for the next year to how one of the world’s biggest pop stars – the Biebs – got involved. Check out what she had to say below:

  • Let’s start with introductions: What is Pencils of Promise and what is your role within the organization? Pencils of Promise (PoP) believes every child should have access to quality education. We create schools, programs, and global communities around the common goal of education for all. Since 2008, PoP has built 67 schools in Southeast Asia and Latin America. We’ve educated over 4,500 children and positively impacted 65,000 lives. PoP founder Adam Braun was moved to create the organization after his experience traveling around the world. He encountered a young boy in India and asked him what he wanted most in the world. The child answered “a pencil.” It was then that the dream to build a school was born. Here we are, nearly four years later, on track to build 100 schools by the end of the 2012. Sixty-one million children around the world don’t have access to primary school education, so we have a lot of work ahead of us. I’m the Community Engagement Coordinator, which means I get to work with all of our incredible supporters. You wouldn’t believe the power of our students across the country. They’re in their schools and on their campuses rallying their peers around education for all. They run clubs, host awareness events, and fundraise to build PoP schools. It’s a huge privilege to work with such passionate dedicated supporters.
  • How pivotal was social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in the growth of PoP? As an organization that works for and with youth around the world, we know the importance of communicating on their platforms, on their terms. For most youth and Generation X professionals, that form of communication is social media, be it Facebook, Twitter or blogging. We are best able to engage with the PoP community over social media, which greatly contributes to our growth as an organization.
  • What earned PoP the largest social media following of any nonprofit in the last four years? When you’re a lean non-profit that’s also a scrappy startup, you don’t have a big advertising budget. For PoP that meant focusing our time and energy on digital. With an online community of more than 300,000 members, it’s now paying off. Some people are obsessed with photos of kittens, I’m obsessed with photos of PoP kids in schools around the world. Social media allows us to connect our supporters with those students. The excitement of sharing photos of a newly-inaugurated school never gets old.
  • PoP’s built 67 schools to date – what are the projections for the next 12 months? Over the next 12 months, PoP is looking to expand its programming and geography. We’re working to expand our reach to new countries and expand our programming to incorporate teacher training and student scholarships abroad. An immediate goal of ours is to break ground on our 100th school in 2012. With 67 completed schools and nine ongoing builds, that will be a challenge, but at PoP we’re all about overcoming the impossible.

Stay tuned for the second part of our interview (oh, and those Bieber details) with Rachele tomorrow!


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High School Seniors – This Scholarship of the Week is for You

Deadline for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Four-Year Award for Seniors is Approaching

September 24, 2012

High School Seniors – This Scholarship of the Week is for You

by Alexis Mattera

Are you a high school senior who is committed to giving back in unselfish ways, embodies service over self and is already making a difference in society? If so, add this Scholarship of the Week from Coca-Cola to your application list.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to 250 high school seniors each year. Fifty of these are four-year, $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year for four years), while 200 are designated as four-year, $10,000 awards ($2,500 per year for four years). The scholarships must be used at an accredited U.S. college or university and the deadline for this year’s contest is October 31st.

Winners are selected based on a balanced consideration of leadership, character, achievement and commitment both inside and outside of the classroom. Coca-Cola Scholars are characterized by their ability, perseverance, determination and motivation to serve and succeed in all endeavors; they are a diverse group of individuals representing every ethnic group and all 50 states. To find out if you qualify, visit the official scholarship website here or find the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Four-Year Award for Seniors in your Scholarships.com scholarship matches. Don’t have a Scholarships.com account? Create one and conduct a free scholarship search today!


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SOTW: Best Buy Scholarship Program

by Scholarships.com Staff

The Best Buy Scholarship Program provides students who demonstrate an excellence in academic achievement, volunteer efforts and/or work experience an opportunity to receive a $1,000 scholarship to use towards their college education. Scholarships are available to current high school students in grades 9-12 who plan to enroll in a full-time undergraduate course of study at an accredited two or four-year college or university or vocational-technical school in the United States.

Up to 1,100 students will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. If you're a 9-12 grade student who plans to attend post-secondary education, have solid grades and are involved in community service or work experience, you'll want to check out this opportunity! For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Interested in Volunteering This Summer? Here’s How!

by Carly Gerber

Summer break is a time when college students intern, work and enjoy the warm weather. This summer, however, try building your resume with volunteer work! Many employers want applicants who have volunteer experience. Volunteering shows selflessness and dedication – two characteristics most employers look for in potential employees.

One organization is called The Hands On Network. This organization will match you with volunteer opportunities based on the location you want to volunteer in and the type of experience you want. Another option is Volunteer Match, a site that finds an array of volunteer work in your area and that complement your major or interests. Lastly, there’s Idealist, which asks you for information such as the type of volunteer work, time commitment, the duration you want to volunteer and your location to find volunteer opportunities.

There are many more sites, services and organizations (including Scholarships.com) that can link you with volunteer opportunities so starting your search is easy! Volunteering can be a small commitment with an immense effect on the ones you’re helping. Plus, a prospective employer will be delighted to see an applicant who dedicates their time to helping others in need.

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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Taking a Gap Year May Enhance Your College Experience

by Carly Gerber

So you’re a high school senior who has worked hard to maintain the impressive grades and variety of extracurriculars that earned you multiple college offers. But before you purchase those extra-long twin sheets and start choosing fall classes, consider how a gap year could positively impact your future.

According to the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, more than 50 percent of students in Norway, Denmark and Turkey take a gap year (also known as a bridge year) before college. In the U.S., however, the practice is far from the norm. A USA Today article recently explored some misconceptions about gap years – it’s believed that taking a year off is only for affluent students and students fear that they will be at a disadvantage because they will be a year behind their age group – but in reality, students who take a year off from formal education before entering college find “a focused sense of purpose, independence, self-confidence, grit and resilience,” says Abby Falik, who founded Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit that supports gap year choices. And to further debunk the myths listed above, Global Citizen Year even provides financial aid to students who would not be able to afford a gap year otherwise.

Looking back, I believe completing a gap year would have helped me a lot. I enjoyed my time at my first university but I wasn’t striving for a specific future. I felt lost and unsure if I was going down the right path...even after switching my major three times and transferring to a new university. Following three high-anxiety years, I took a six-month sabbatical from college – time that allowed me to explore and reflect on my goals. I am happy I made the decision to take a break from college because I was able to determine who I want to be and how I want to get there. I only wish I had done so sooner!

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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