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College Students Lead in Internet Use and Tech Gadgets

July 20, 2011

College Students Lead in Internet Use and Tech Gadgets

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to Internet use, college students have high schoolers beat. According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, young adults – particularly undergraduate and graduate students – are more likely to use the Internet and own tech devices than the rest of the general population.

The study compiled data collected from Pew Internet Project surveys throughout 2010 and featured a sample size of nearly 10,000. The study found that nonstudents ages 18 to 24 were more active on social networks than were college students and sent updates more regularly on Facebook and Twitter. Regardless of educational background, however, it’s clear that young adults ages 18 to 24 were more likely to be Internet users, to engage in social media and own web-enabled devices like laptops and smartphones.

Community college students exhibited a slight edge in mobile Internet use, which Aaron W. Smith, a Pew senior research specialist, attributed to a trend among lower socioeconomic groups to use mobile phones as their primary mode of Internet access. Web-enabled mobile phones may also reflect the fact that nearly 100 percent of college students and 92 percent of nonstudents in the 18- to 24-year-old range were Internet users, compared to only 75 percent of adults using the Internet.

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And Forbes’ Top American Schools Are…

August 4, 2011

And Forbes’ Top American Schools Are…

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, do you know where you want to spend the next four years? Sure, it may still be summer and you’re nowhere near crunch time when it comes to making that decision, but go ahead and get a head start and check out some of the top schools in the country, according to Forbes Magazine.

Every year Forbes puts together a list of the best undergraduate institutions in the country, focusing on areas that matter most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, graduation rates and low levels of debt. Here’s the numerical breakdown: Post-Graduate Success (30%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; Student Satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates; Debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; and Four Year Graduation Rate (17.5%) and Competitive Awards (7.5%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes and the Fulbright. Here are the top 10:

  1. Williams College
  2. Princeton University
  3. United States Military Academy
  4. Amherst College
  5. Stanford University
  6. Harvard University
  7. Haverford College
  8. University of Chicago
  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  10. United States Air Force Academy

For the second year in a row, Williams College has been named as the best undergraduate institution in America. And with total annual costs adding up to nearly $55,000, it’s certainly not cheap but the 2,000 undergraduates here have among the highest four-year graduation rates in the country, win loads of prestigious national awards like Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, and are often rewarded with high-paying careers. Does this information have you rethinking where you’ll apply?

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Not-Your-Average Application Essay Prompts

August 5, 2011

Not-Your-Average Application Essay Prompts

by Lisa Lowdermilk

So, you have your heart set on one college and you're about to write your application essay. The prompt is “If you could balance on a tightrope, over what landscape would you walk?” Wait...what? Believe it or not, this really is a prompt from the University of Chicago, an institution famous for strange essay prompts designed to make the process of applying to college less painful.

Of course, strange questions like UChicago's may have the opposite effect – a more stressful application process – on some people. C’mon, how many of us have really given thought to what landscape we'd like to walk over when balancing on a tightrope? I know I haven't and I doubt anyone who’s afraid of heights has ever or will ever consider the answer, either, but the point of this question is to show just how unique you really are. Colleges receive thousands of applications from hopeful students each year and it stands to reason that reading that many essays on a less interesting topic gets pretty tedious.

That's why questions like UChicago’s are so useful: They force applicants to come up with a unique answer. Are you thinking about majoring in oceanography? If so, you might say that nothing would calm your nerves like walking over the coastline and hearing the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Are you more of a bookworm considering a major in library science? Maybe walking over stacks of books and thinking about how your favorite characters had to face trials even worse than walking a tightrope would help you keep your balance.

Since no two essays on such weird prompts as the one listed above will be the same – and if they are, you’ve got some explaining to do! – you might as well take advantage of your opportunity to shine!

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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University of Dayton to Offer Free Textbooks

August 17, 2011

University of Dayton to Offer Free Textbooks

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in a rut, the unemployment rate declining at a sluggish pace and the cost of a college education rising at an astronomical rate, now is the time to consider your options. Here at Scholarships.com, we can’t stress enough the importance of applying early and often for scholarships and financial aid, but when a college education is still just out of reach, some universities are willing to go the extra mile to help prospective students out. Rising high school seniors, take note: The University of Dayton is offering four years of free textbooks to first-year students who visit the campus and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the university’s March 1 application deadline.

According to Dayton officials, the free textbook program is an incentive for families to attend campus visits in a tight economy and as a way to urge families to complete the federal aid form, which is an essential piece of the financial aid puzzle. "Many families don't fill out the form because they believe they don't qualify or think it takes too much time. They miss out on opportunities to get affordable financing or grant funding," said Kathy McEuen Harmon, assistant vice president and dean of admission and financial aid.

Students who fulfill the university’s requirements will receive up to $500 per semester to purchase textbooks at the campus bookstore – funds good toward new, used or rental books. According Harmon, an estimated 75 percent of the first-year class is projected to take advantage of the offer, representing a $1.5 million annual commitment by the University. "We want them to fully understand the rewards of a University of Dayton education and know that those rewards are not out of their reach," Harmon said. "This is a very tangible way to demonstrate our commitment, one they can see immediately."

What do you think of the University of Dayton’s efforts? Are free textbooks enough to get you to commit to an institution? Should others follow suit? Let us know what you think.

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There’s No Such Thing as a Dumb Question on a Campus Tour

August 17, 2011

There’s No Such Thing as a Dumb Question on a Campus Tour

by Katie Askew

Visiting a college campus for the first time can be overwhelming so it’s important to do a little research both before and during your visit.

Most colleges will show you a residence hall during your visit but before you get to campus, check out their housing site online. Take a look at the different options you have for housing (dorms, apartments, etc.) so you have a little background on the types of amenities offered. Also, don’t be fooled by the residence hall you are shown on your tour because it may be the best of the best...and potentially unreachable for you. Ask your tour guide what this hall is like in comparison to others and if it’s only available to certain students (freshmen, upperclassmen, graduate students, athletes, etc.).

With that in mind, ask your tour guide any questions you have about the school you may call your alma mater one day! It makes the visit more personal and relaxes the tour guide (trust me, we’re more nervous than we look!). The guides have lived in the residence halls, they have taken classes and they obviously know what campus life is like. Ask them what they do on the weekends and what their schedules are like during the semester. Getting an idea of what real campus life is like first-hand from a student can help you decide if this is the school for you.

My work behind the scenes in UM's Office of Admissions has shown me all the wrong things I did while touring college campuses as a high school senior but what I regret most is not asking questions. I don’t know if I was too shy or if I thought I was too cool but either way, I was silent during my visits. In hindsight, I realize that I could have learned so much more if I just opened my mouth! Learn from my mistakes and make the most out of your campus visits.

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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Recent Grads Say High School Wasn’t Challenging Enough

August 31, 2011

Recent Grads Say High School Wasn’t Challenging Enough

by Suada Kolovic

What high school student doesn’t love the idea of selecting a course based on the common knowledge the teacher is totally laidback and you’re guaranteed an easy A without much effort? We’ve all been there before and with all the classes high school students are required to take, many attempt to pack their electives with cushy classes before the reality of challenging college courses set in. But at what cost? According to a survey of 2010 high school graduates released by the College Board, 90 percent said their high school diplomas were not enough to compete in today’s society.

Almost half of the 1,507 students surveyed said they wish they took different classes in high school, specifically more challenging science, math and writing courses. As for the students who decided to take Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses – 39 percent of those surveyed – agreed that the extra difficulty was worth it. In hindsight, the majority of students agreed that high school graduation requirements should be made tougher, and nearly 70 percent said that graduating high school was “easy” or “very easy.” Some students even went on to say that high school didn’t adequately prepare them for college, 54 percent of graduates said that their freshman year college courses were more difficult than expected, and a quarter needed to take remedial classes during their freshman year.

Those of you still in high school, does the study’s findings encourage you to take more difficult classes while in high school? What changes should high schools make in order to better prepare students for college? Do you think it’s a high school’s responsibility to encourage students to take AP or IB courses?

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If Schools Text It, Students Will Come

September 22, 2011

If Schools Text It, Students Will Come

by Alexis Mattera

You hear the familiar alert from within your pocket and reach for your cell phone. Is the text message you just received from your best friend, parent or...intended college?

For the past two years, St. Mary’s University found the students who signed up to receive text message alerts and individual replies from the Texas school were more likely to apply and attend than students who opted out. According to the initiative’s creator, Mongoose Research, 1,923 students signed up out of the 40,000 who showed interest in the university and 30.8 percent of those who did ended up applying, compared with 10.9 percent of all prospective students. Though many of the students who elected to accept the texts were already interested in St. Mary’s and excellent fits for the institution, Mongoose’s president David Marshall said one of the main reasons for the program’s success is that students don’t feel bothered or harassed.

Texting prospective students isn’t an admissions staple just yet but it’s poised to be in the near future: Jim Miller, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said, “What I’m hearing from the younger folks is that email is so yesterday and texting is where it’s at.” Would you opt to receive texts from the colleges you’re interested in or prefer they contact you via email, Facebook or snail mail?

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Application Essays Take Center Stage at Middlebury

September 20, 2011

Application Essays Take Center Stage at Middlebury

by Alexis Mattera

It’s that time of year again so we have to ask: College students, do you remember what your application essay was about? For a document that takes hours – and, likely, gallons of blood, sweat and tears – to create, very few students give it a second thought after sending their application packets to their colleges of choice. This isn’t the case if that college is Middlebury, however, where students revisit those essays not long after they arrive on campus...and in front of an audience, reports The Choice.

Created in the early ‘90s by residential dean and Middlebury alumn Matt Longman, “Voices of the Class” is a program featuring upperclassmen acting out freshmen admissions essays during new student orientation. Typically 10 to 20 essays are incorporated into the performance, as well as short student-life vignettes written and directed by upperclassmen. Given the subject matter – which Longman said ranges from “how to do your laundry to how to be on guard from date rape” – authors remain anonymous and students can opt out of having their essays performed. The live-action essays have become so popular that Middlebury has started soliciting responses to additional prompts, such as “Tell us something about yourself that people would never guess just by looking at you.”

Would you participate in this kind of program if it were offered at your college? To the past and present Middlebury students in the audience, did “Voices of the Class” feature your application essay?

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Changes Coming for the Common App

September 23, 2011

Changes Coming for the Common App

by Alexis Mattera

Change can be a good thing (hybrid vehicles versus gas guzzlers) or a bad thing (most Facebook tweaks in recent memory) but it sounds like what’s up the Common Application’s sleeve is decidedly the former for all involved.

The Common Application served 575,000 unique applicants during the past admissions cycle and processed 2.4 million applications and these numbers – substantially higher than the previous admissions cycle with 18-percent and 24-percent upticks, respectively – have prompted the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit to upgrade its existing offerings to better serve users. There will be a new interface with “cool” and “intuitive” portals for students, admissions officers and counselors, a more “scalable” system and an increase in staffers from eight to approximately 50. This growth is necessary given usage projections: Executive director Rob Killion anticipates that 750,000 students will use the Common Application to file about three million applications during the current admissions cycle. “All indications are that this rapid growth ... is not only continuing, but accelerating,” he said. The changes should be implemented by August of 2013.

College students, did you use the Common App? What did you think of the system at the time? High schoolers, do the impending changes make you more or less likely to take advantage of the Common App when you apply to college?

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Emory University Student Allegedly Took SAT For High Schoolers

September 28, 2011

Emory University Student Allegedly Took SAT For High Schoolers

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to taking the SATs, most students are prepared for the parental pressure, competitive stress and the likelihood of cold sweats that go along with taking an exam so integral with the college admissions process. And if you’re planning on attending an institution of higher education, the SATs and other standardized tests are impossible to avoid…well, almost impossible: Six students tried to pay their way out of taking the exam and allegedly hired a recent high school graduate to assume their identities and deliver high test scores. Needless to say, they were all caught and must now face the consequences.

According to reports, an Emory University student was charged Tuesday with standing in to take the SAT for students at Long Island’s Great Neck North High School. The bogus test-taker, Sam Eshaghoff, is a 19-year-old Great Neck North alumnus who was arrested and charged with first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree falsifying business records and second-degree criminal impersonation. He faces four years in prison. The six students who allegedly hired Eshagoff face misdemeanor charges and a year in jail. Because they were underage when the phony testing took place, prosecutors declined to identify them.

"These are serious allegations," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. "There's no level playing field when students are paying someone they know will get them a premier score when other kids are doing it the fair way and the honest way." Do you think these students, who because of Eshaghoff received SAT scores between 2140-2220, should be kicked out of their institutions? Should they be forced to take retake the SATs?

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