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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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Slurp Up This Scholarship of the Week!

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Deadline is October 31st

October 3, 2011

Slurp Up This Scholarship of the Week!

by Alexis Mattera

An icy glass of Coca-Cola is a pretty tasty treat but for high school seniors, money for college is an even more refreshing reward. Enter the perfect combination of the two: the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Four Year Award for Seniors.

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 scholarships ($2,500 per year for four years). The scholarships must be used at an accredited U.S. college or university.

In order to be eligible for a Coca-Cola scholarship, a student must be:

  • a CURRENT high school or home-school senior anticipating graduation from a school or program in the United States during the academic year in which application is made
  • a U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, U.S. Permanent Resident, Temporary Resident (legalization program), Refugee, Asylee, Cuban-Haitian Entrant or Humanitarian Parolee
  • planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution
  • carrying a minimum 3.0 GPA at the end of your junior year of high school

The deadline to apply is October 31st but we always recommend applying as early as possible. For more information about this award, conduct a free scholarship search today. Best of luck!

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Boo! Short & Tweet is Back for October!

Your Scariest College-Related Experience Could Earn You $1,000 or a Kindle

October 5, 2011

Boo! Short & Tweet is Back for October!

by Alexis Mattera

Applying to and attending college can be the best time of your life but it can also be the scariest! Did your guidance counselor forget to include your transcript in your application packet? Were you matched with a freshman roommate who had an aversion to soap? We want to know: Tell us your scariest college-related experience in 140 characters for a chance to win $1,000 or a Kindle for college through our latest Short & Tweet Twitter Scholarship!

Don’t be scared – entering is easy! Simply log on to Twitter (or create an account if you don’t already have one), follow us and mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in your tweet detailing your scariest college-related experience. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to apply:

Step 1: Follow @Scholarshipscom on Twitter.

Step 2: Mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in a tweet answering the question “What is your scariest college-related moment?” Once you do this, you are entered to win a $1,000 scholarship or one of two Kindles.

Step 3: You may enter as many times as you want but please limit your tweets to five per day. Each tweet will be a stand-alone entry and tweets that are submitted by non-followers, exceed 140 characters, do not include @Scholarshipscom or are submitted after the October 31st deadline will not be considered. From there, the Scholarships.com Team will determine which comments are most deserving of the awards.

  • Starts: October 5th
  • Ends: October 31st
  • Number Available: 3
  • Amount: $1,000 for one first-place winner; one Kindle each for second- and third-place winners

This scholarship competition is offered by Scholarships.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter.

For official rules, please click here.

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Early Decision vs. Early Action - Which is Right for You?

October 6, 2011

Early Decision vs. Early Action - Which is Right for You?

by Alexis Mattera

So you’ve wanted to attend University X for as long as you can remember. You made sure your academic and extracurricular accomplishments exceeded its admissions criteria, took multiple campus tours and even made its .edu your homepage but the time has finally come to submit your application packet. Doing so early seems like a no-brainer...but is it really?

Applying to college ahead of traditional deadlines has become quite popular in recent years; with that increased interest, however, comes some confusion. Should you apply early decision or early action? Can you apply early to multiple schools? Can you apply early to one college and regular decision to another? Here’s some much-needed clarification from Examiner.com.

Early Decision: Generally, ED programs are binding and require applicants to relinquish all rights to consider offers from other colleges. If you are surer than sure of your college choice and would go to this school beyond a shadow of a doubt if you were accepted, this is a great route to take. If you’re concerned you will not get in, you should consider another application method that allows you more options.

Early Action: EA, on the other hand, is non-binding in that it allows applicants to choose from other colleges they’ve been admitted to instead of being locked into one. While most early action programs say it’s ok to apply early action and regular decision to other institutions, some can be restrictive (check out Yale’s policy compared to Harvard’s) so be sure to check the requirements before sending in your materials.

College students, did you apply early? If so, what did you think of the process? High school seniors, do you plan to apply early – either ED or EA – and did these explanations help you?

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Students Searching for Scholarships Find Fees Instead

October 10, 2011

Students Searching for Scholarships Find Fees Instead

by Suada Kolovic

The cost of a higher education continues to skyrocket and many students have turned to scholarship search websites to secure funding to bridge the financial gap. Most would assume that using a reputable website would protect them from non-reputable scholarships but that’s not always the case: Students in Florida were upset recently after learning that the United Youth Fitness Scholarship – an award listed on Fastweb, the Sun Sentinel’s Teen Link page and Georgetown University’s financial aid page – charged students a fee to have their essay’s published on the scholarship’s website.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Full Sail University student Emilio Zedan was one of many students that applied for the $1,500 scholarship. Soon after he submitted his application, he received an email saying that although he didn’t win, he did receive an honorable mention and could have his essay posted on the scholarship's website for a $12.95 fee. But why? In email to the Orlando Sentinel, Quinn Cory – the site’s registrant and operator of several other for-profit scholarship sites – explained that the essay publication fees helped pay for the costs of the scholarship and to run the program, adding that his scholarships were 100-percent legal and within all of the bounds of law. (For more on the story, click here.)

Here at Scholarships.com, we understand that scholarship fees are, unfortunately, extremely common. That’s why we only list scholarships after they have been carefully reviewed and verified by our staff so that students will only see legitimate scholarships from organizations that don’t charge fees. By employing this rigorous approval process, we’ve been able to remain one of the most widely-used and trusted free college scholarship search and financial aid resources on the Internet and help students like you earn 100-percent free money for college.

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