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Six is the Magic Number

Report Reveals Half of First-Time Students Finish School in Six Years

December 2, 2010

Six is the Magic Number

by Alexis Mattera

Theoretically, earning an undergraduate degree takes four years. But when you factor in internships, work and extraneous circumstances, getting a diploma or certification seldom happens within that timeframe. How long does it take? The U.S. Department of Education says six years…for just half of first-time students.

The DoE’s new report, "Persistence and Attainment of 2003-04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After 6 Years," states that of students who entered higher education in 2003-4, about half had earned degrees or certificates by June 2009 – the breakdown is 9 percent certificates, 9 percent associate degrees and 31 percent bachelor's degrees – 15 percent were still enrolled and 36 percent had left higher education. The report further dissects trends among students who began their post-secondary education at public two-year schools and four-year colleges (both state and private) as well as whether these students stayed with their initial institution or transferred to and graduated from another school.

I was able to graduate from the same university I enrolled in as a freshman in four years but I had to sacrifice several things – studying abroad, working more, accepting additional internships – in order to do so. Graduates, does the report sound at all like your college experience? Current students, are you on track to finish school when you thought you would when you started? High school students, what are your plans for the next four (or more) years?


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Win $10K in This Scholarship of the Week!

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Deadline Jan. 9th

December 6, 2010

Win $10K in This Scholarship of the Week!

by Suada Kolovic

The annual John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest invites high school students from across the nation to write an original essay about an elected official who has demonstrated political courage. The contest is a companion program of the Profile in Courage Award, named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight senators, the obstacles they faced, and the special valor they demonstrated despite the risks.

Winning essayists will receive awards totaling up to $13,500. The first-place winner will be invited to accept the award at the Profile in Courage Award Ceremony hosted each May by Caroline Kennedy at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Mind the Gap

Should You Take a Year Off?

December 30, 2010

Mind the Gap

by Alexis Mattera

The road to college – once thought to be straight and narrow – is detouring into uncharted territory. It was once expected for all high school seniors to matriculate to an institute of higher education the semester after they graduate but today, many students (and their parents) are considering the notion of taking a year off from formal schooling first.

But what do students do during this time, often called a gap year? Not catching up on “Extreme Couponing” or trying out online dating: Students use this time to volunteer abroad or build their resumes and schools are adopting formal programs allowing incoming freshmen to defer admission for a year to do so. According to the Wall Street Journal, "gap fairs" are becoming just as common as campus job expos. The results? Mixed. While most students end their gap years better prepared to attend college, some get so waylaid that they abandon a collegiate education all together.

It may sound tempting to take a year off to explore the unknown but there are a few confounding variables. First, the price tag is far from alluring – unless you feel $35,000 is a reasonable figure. (The upside is that costs can be defrayed by stipends, grants, research fellowships and scholarships or the agreement to work in a very remote area.) Next, the hazy direction of your future. I won't deny that your late teens and early 20s are the best times to gain life experience but if said experience is going to leave you in debt or questioning once-important educational goals, is taking the time off worth it?


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Courageous Persuaders Video Scholarship Competition

Deadline Approaching for the Scholarship of the Week

January 3, 2011

Courageous Persuaders Video Scholarship Competition

by Suada Kolovic

Are you an aspiring director or an up-and-coming YouTube star? Perhaps you’re just fascinated by movies and the process of making them. If you’ve got some spare time and access to recording equipment, then this week’s Scholarship of the Week may be right for you. Courageous Persuaders invites high school students to create a television commercial about the dangers of alcohol use. Students compete for scholarship money and trophies. The grand prize-winning commercial actually airs on TV as a public service announcement.

High school students attending a United States High School can participate; emphasis is placed on concept and the message, not on production values. For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Top Majors for College Class of 2011 Announced

by Suada Kolovic

Unfortunately, only two winners walked away with the $355 Mega Millions jackpot and if you weren’t one of them, instant fame and fortune may not be in the cards for you, but a lucrative career that is in high demand could be four short years away. 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 62 percent of the organizations participating in NACE’s Job Outlook 2011 survey said they plan to hire accounting graduates, followed by finance (57 percent) and electrical engineering (53.5 percent). Here are the top six degrees according to NACE’s findings:

  1. Accounting
  2. Finance
  3. Electrical Engineering
  4. Mechanical Engineering
  5. Computer Science
  6. Business Administration/Management

Each year, through the Job Outlook survey, NACE surveys its employer members about their hiring plans in order to project the job market for new college graduates. Do you agree with this list? Let us know what you think.


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Scholarship of the Week: STOP Hunger Scholarships

by Suada Kolovic

The Sodexo Foundation seeks applicants for the STOP Hunger Scholarships to recognize students in the fight against hunger in America. More than 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger and Sodexo, Inc. is committed to working toward a hunger-free nation. The STOP Hunger Scholarships recognize and reward students who have made a significant impact in the fight against hunger and its root causes in the United States.

Each national STOP Hunger Scholarship recipient receives a $5,000 scholarship and a matching $5,000 donation to their affiliated hunger relief organization. Added consideration is given to those students working to combat childhood hunger.

Applications are available to students from kindergarten through graduate school. For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Top Dos and Don’ts to Avoid the Winter Blues

by Suada Kolovic

With winter in full swing, it seems like the “winter blues” are upon us. Shorter days and colder nights culminate into millions of Americans suffering from mild depression, lack of motivation and low energy during this cold season which ironically is known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. But you’re in luck: Here are the top dos and don’ts to keep those blues at bay.

  • Do Exercise: Exercise is a great stress reliever and a great way to keep your spirits up. And during those cold winter nights, releasing those “feel good” endorphins is an ideal way to increase your energy throughout the day.
  • Don’t Oversleep: We’re all tempted to sleep in during the winter months for obvious reasons: there’s no sunlight when you wake up in the morning. But it’s essential to fight that urge to hit the snooze button for a 12-hour sleep session because you’re really doing more harm than good. Try to stay active and keep a schedule to avoid oversleeping.
  • Do Enjoy the Season: Sure, talking long walks in your neighborhood may not be an option in freezing temperatures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the season in other ways. Try something new like skiing and snowboarding or keep things simple and go sledding and ice-skating – after all, these options are only around for a limited time, so take advantage.
  • Don’t Keep your Room Dark: There’s a direct link to the “winter blues” and the lack of sunlight during the winter season and sulking in a dark environment will only exacerbate symptoms.

For even more tips, click here. And don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing to combat the winter blues.


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Win $10K in This Scholarship of the Week!

National Peace Essay Contest Deadline Feb. 1st

January 17, 2011

Win $10K in This Scholarship of the Week!

by Suada Kolovic

Established in 1987, the National Peace Essay Contest is an annual contest open to high school students that provides the opportunity to do valuable research, writing and thinking on a topic of importance to international peace and conflict resolution. This year’s topic is Governance, Corruption, and Conflict. To participate, students are asked to answer the question: For those who hope to prevent violent conflict, how can their efforts to reduce, if not eliminate, corruption best contribute to building sustainable peace using two cases of countries in transition from war to peace?

State Level Awards are $1,000 college scholarships. National winners are selected from among the 1st place state winners. National winners receive scholarships in the following amounts: first place $10,000; second $5,000; third $2,500. First place state winners are invited to an all expenses-paid awards program in Washington, D.C. in June.

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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How Much Is The Application Fee?!

Top 25 Highest Application Fees

January 21, 2011

by Suada Kolovic

Sure, we’ve discussed the skyrocketing cost of college tuition on a daily basis and considering every other add-on you’ll have to endure when it comes to paying for collegeroom and board, books and supplies – having to pay an outrageous application fee is downright cruel.

According to a U.S. News report, the average application fee to apply to colleges is $38.44 and $46.78 at universities, which is a steal compared to the fees charged by the institutions listed below. Of the 1,474 undergraduate programs that supplied application fee data, only 39 claimed to have no fee. And for those schools that did have fees, many waived them for students with financial need or for those who applied online, U.S. News also reported. Check out the list below and share your thoughts. Let us know if these hefty fees will ultimately decide where you’ll apply.

National University Application Fee
Stanford University $90
Columbia University $80
Boston University $75
Brown University $75
Duke University $75
Drexel University $75
George Mason University $75
Harvard University $75
Massachusetts Institute of Technology $75
University of Delaware $75
University of Pennsylvania $75
Yale University $75
Boston College $70
Carnegie Mellon University $70
Cornell University $70
Dartmouth College $70
Hofstra University $70
Johns Hopkins University $70
Lehigh University $70
North Carolina State University-Raleigh $70
Northeastern University $70
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute $70
Syracuse University $70
Tufts University $70
University of Connecticut $70



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AP Becomes the Norm in College Prep

by Alexis Mattera

This year's Academy Award nominees were announced this morning, representing the crème de la crème of the film industry. There are several parallels to this honor in the world of academia like getting accepted to a top college, making the Dean’s List or earning a prestigious scholarship but one long-held distinction – completing an Advanced Placement course – is becoming anything but elite.

According to an article in the Republican Herald, AP classes have become commonplace for most high school students in college prep programs across the nation. Jennifer Topiel, the College Board’s executive director of communications, revealed that more than 50,000 high school students in Pennsylvania alone were enrolled in at least one AP class last year. The number of Pennsylvania AP students participating in the optional subject tests at the end of the courses, however, have not been quite as high as the trend seen throughout the rest of the country, where there has been about a 50-percent increase in AP test completion in the past five years. The program has become so popular that it’s being revamped for the 2012-2013 school year to "clear students’ minds to focus on bigger concepts and stimulate more analytic thinking."

It may not make sense to do all the homework, study for all the quizzes, earn exemplary marks and not reap the potential reward of college credit the subject tests can provide but some students purposely opt out of the exams, like North Schuylkill Superintendent Andrew Smarkanic’s daughter, Lauren, who took AP Biology in high school. "They don't take the test because they don't want to miss making the connection with professors in their program they may have in that first year or missing some subject matter because each school has its own unique curriculum," Smarkanic said. "You can miss the building blocks in that first year and struggle later in your program."

If you took an Advanced Placement course, would you forego the chance to jumpstart your college career or would you take the test, get the credits and have more room in your freshman year schedule for electives and nontraditional classes?


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