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Face It: In-Person Communication is Important

by Casandra Pagn

So many of us (myself included) feel safe behind the veil of technology. Whether it's a Facebook profile, ultra-organized email or Twitter, let’s face it: It’s much easier to be the person you want to be when you carefully craft it out and spell check it twice. You can appear any way you want to...as long as you don’t have to think on the spot. I'm not trying to say that having a solid grasp on social media isn't beneficial (it certainly is!) but even in a technology-driven world, face-to-face conversational skills are still important.

The majority of interviews – especially selective or final ones – are still conducted in person. For a successful in-person interview, communicating well with a prospective employer while still showing some of your personality is critical. That's the benefit of face-to-face communication: You can show that you are unique, relatable and ready to be hired all through the way you talk. It’s important to convey confidence in your abilities at an interview and much of that confidence can be exuded through clear, thoughtful speech. Even phone interviews require these skills, as employers won't be as responsive to someone who has a robotic voice or is reading from a script.

Strong conversational skills are key in networking, too. Your ability to schmooze with someone in your field of interest may be the way to meet someone else who can put in a good word for you for a job or recommend another contact who can help. When it comes to getting a job, any connections could lead to potential employment.

Don't think you're a skilled conversationalist? Don't worry...just put your down your BlackBerry and talk! Practice makes perfect so instead of texting today, try making a phone call. I know it sounds crazy, but a confident, articulate voice might help land you a job down the road.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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Cars on Campus: Are They Necessary?

by Katie Askew

Public transportation: Some fear it, some embrace it. Ten months ago, I was the former but I’m now proud to say I am the latter.

Cars are the main mode of transport where I’m from in South Dakota – even 14-year-olds can have their licenses here! – but moving to the “big city” to attend the University of Minnesota meant giving up my car. I left it dead and dust-covered for nine months and, in a way, also left a piece of me back home. I was petrified at the thought of climbing onto a...a...public bus. Yuck, but I had no other option if I wanted to go to Target or to downtown Minneapolis for concerts and clubs. I even rode the light rail during a shopping spree with friends at the Mall of America (it goes right to the basement of the mall!).

I will never regret learning the bus and light rail routes of Minneapolis because it saves me tons of time, money and public transportation really wasn’t as creepy or dirty as I thought it was going to be. As time passed, the more thankful I became for not having to pay expensive parking fees, car insurance and all the parking tickets I surely would have received. I won’t even mention the loads of money I saved on gas...$4 a gallon, anyone?

The University of Minnesota has extremely discounted bus and light rail passes for students. Your school probably does, too, but if you REALLY can’t bring yourself to take public transportation and are contemplating bringing your car to campus, consider bicycles, rollerblades, longboards and good old-fashioned walking – all of which are cheaper for you and better for the environment. Things may be different if you attend college in a more rural setting but going to a metropolitan school without a car is possible!

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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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Shari Williams

by Shari Williams

Hi everyone! Just a few days ago, I landed back in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland after a long, adventurous school year in Los Angeles. I was at California State University, Northridge as a participant in the National Student Exchange program and now that the program is over, I will be returning to my school, Towson University.

Originally, I didn't want to go to Towson. My choice school was Temple University but after acceptance, I was discouraged to go because of the costly out-of-state expenses. Thankfully, I came across the National Student Exchange program, which gave me the chance to venture out-of-state for a year while still paying in-state tuition.

Choosing my major was a challenge for me because I never wanted to be placed in one box or one category. Choosing only one field to pursue was extremely hard for me. I also had to take into consideration my future finances versus my passion. My freshman year, I was a combined major in speech pathology and deaf studies but after that year, I realized that my heart was in broadcast journalism. Venturing to California sealed the deal and I am now double majoring in broadcast journalism and deaf studies with a minor in entertainment, media and film. Why? Because communicating with people is what I love to do, whether it is through speech, writing or body movement.

Now that it is summer break, I can finally relax! I look forward to hanging with friends, looking for new artists to add to my iTunes, tweeting, randomly dancing (much like the girl in the Sun Drop commercial) and, of course, writing. As a Scholarships.com virtual intern, I plan to share the “secrets” of college life that I truly wish someone would have shared with me during my years of college.


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Where to Buy and Sell Textbooks

by Kara Coleman

It’s important to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your money as far as it will go when putting yourself through college and one way to do this is by exploring your options for buying and selling textbooks.

Your campus bookstore is the most obvious option but it's also the most expensive. One good thing about campus bookstores is that some will allow books and other school-related items like notebooks and calculators to be covered by grants and scholarships. Some bookstores sell both new and used textbooks and allow students to sell their books back to the store for cash at the end of each semester...but you only get back a fraction of the amount you actually paid.

Since your fellow students are in the same boat you’re in, ask around for a specific book that you need. One guy sold his $200 Spanish book to me for $100 and a girl I know let me have her $70 math book for $30. It’s also a good idea to swap books with friends if they are taking a class that you took last semester and vice versa. That way, everyone saves money.

The Internet is your friend so check around online to see what sites have the best prices on what you need. I have friends who routinely order their textbooks from Amazon.com, Half.com and Betterworld.com. (These are great places to sell your used textbooks as well.)

If you don’t want to buy, consider renting your textbooks for a semester from Chegg.com. I did this last year and I think it’s a great idea. At the end of the semester, Chegg emailed return address labels to me and there was no charge to ship my books back to them.

Kara Coleman lives in Gadsden, Alabama, where she attends Gadsden State Community College. She received the school’s Outstanding English Student Award two years in a row and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to transfer to Jacksonville State University in August 2011 to study communications with concentration in print journalism. Kara’s writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children’s book author through Big Dif Books. In her spare time, Kara enjoys reading, painting, participating in community theater and pretty much any other form of art.


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Meet Scholarships.com Virtual Interns: Cameron Pybus

by Cameron Pybus

My name is Cameron Pybus and I’m privileged to be one of Scholarship.com’s newest virtual interns. I’ve just finished my junior year at Texas A&M and have also just returned from my study abroad semester in Italy. I am majoring in environmental design or architecture and plan to attend graduate school in the fall of 2012.

Architecture and Texas A&M go hand in hand for me because they are both goals I have imagined achieving for some time now. My two sisters and I value our dad’s artistic traits that he passed down to us; this is a big reason why I pursued architecture, as creativity has fueled much of my life. Through high school, I enjoyed various art studios and competitions that really opened my eyes to creative thinking. Being able to harness this creativity and design environments that invoke different visual responses is thrilling and I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to apply this creativity. Texas A&M has been a tradition in my family and I’m proud to attend the same school that my great-grandfather, grandfathers and parents all did. Being a part of this legacy made A&M so much more special to me and an easy choice when selecting what school to attend.

I’m excited to be a virtual intern for Scholarships.com. I was also attracted to this internship because it’s a great way for future and current college students to gain different perspectives. Each virtual intern has a unique story and experience, allowing each reader to see these different possibilities in a college or university setting is important. It’s a unique opportunity to express things I’ve learned through my college years and hopefully you can find some of them useful. College is what you make it - learn from others and keep an open mind!


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The Dos and Don’ts of Summer School

by Brittni Fitzgerald

Spring semester is finally over...feels good, right? But before you start making those summer plans, consider whether or not summer school will be part of them. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you make your decision.

Do go to summer school if you’re a transfer student. It’s likely all of your classes did not transfer over from your old school to your new one. If you take summer classes, you can catch up on credits that didn’t transfer.

Do go to summer school if you dropped or performed poorly in a class. W/F, W/P and classes that earned a C or lower hurt your GPA. This criterion can make or break a student so to help your GPA, take a summer class to make up for a less-than-stellar grade.

Don’t go to summer school if you have an internship or job for the summer. This will probably be your first time interning or working for this particular company and you want to make a good impression. Some students can balance both but teachers cram a lot of work into those six weeks. Focus on either work or class to prevent failing at one or both.

Don’t go to summer school if you have little aid or growing debt. If you took classes in fall and spring semesters, you may have used up your financial aid award for the year. If so, you will have to pay for summer classes out of your own pocket. Definitely take the class if you can afford it but if you can’t, don’t add to your debt.

Hopefully these tips will guide you in the right direction this summer and you can make the right decision for a successful summer!

Though she moved from Fremont, Calif., to Chicago at the age of five, Brittni Fitzgerald will always remember the sun and fun of California life. She is the youngest of six children and is currently attending Chicago State University. There, Brittni is an accounting major and an active member of the Student Government Association but also a published poet (in 8th grade, her work was published with the Illinois’s 2004 “Celebrate! Young Poets Speak Out”). Brittni enjoys running, swimming, dancing, singing and shopping. Her motto is “Live Life Loud.”


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The Cure for Homesickness

by Radha Jhatakia

Regardless of whether you enjoyed living at home or how excited you are to move out, you will be homesick in some capacity your first time living away at school. I had never been more excited in my life than when I was going to finally be able to leave home – I had strict parents and although I was very independent, I did not have the freedom I wanted – but once I did and found myself going back to a room that wasn’t really mine in a place I didn’t really know, it was difficult. Sure I received the freedom I wanted but also the consequences that came with it. Basically, I was alone and missed home.

The good news is that there’s a cure for homesickness...multiple ones, actually! Start by making your environment comfortable by improving your surroundings. Buy or make decorations like picture frames, posters or sports memorabilia and the concrete walls of your dormitory will be much more welcoming. Next, find all the good hangout spots and the best places to eat for when you miss home-cooked food. The best way to do this is by talking with other students and consulting sites like Yelp to find places with good reviews and prices that fit within your budget.

Continue fighting off homesickness by keeping in touch with family and friends. Do this by emailing loved ones regularly and downloading Skype to video chat and call (for free!). Lastly, every school has something to offer its students but it’s impossible to find out what that is if you never leave your dorm room! Make friends, go to campus events, join clubs or teams based on your interests or rush a fraternity or sorority. Chances are, the people who said their years in college were the best in their lives were probably homesick at one point but they recovered...and you can too!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s 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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Orientation: The Survival Guide

by Anna Meskishvili

For the short time you’ll be at orientation, you’ll come away with one million impressions. Here are some things I wish I knew before my orientation:

  • Don’t over pack. Most orientations are only a few days so there is no need to bring anything more than a backpack with shorts and a few t-shirts. You’ll probably be snagging some school attire, too, so save room!
  • Don’t expect to meet your best friend, roommate or significant other. You’ll likely only meet 10 percent of your class during orientation, which is only 25 percent of your school’s population. I met some awesome people during my BU orientation – I still meet up with a few for lunch! Try to make the most of everyone you meet...and don’t leave orientation engaged.
  • Come with questions. Most schools do their freshman class registration during orientation so have a rough idea about which gen eds and electives you would be interested in. For example, if a science is required, you can either take a challenging biology course or a fun, easy geology course for non-majors. (We call it “Rocks for Jocks.”)
  • Sleep when you can. I don’t remember one minute of my orientation weekend where I was not scheduled to be somewhere but do yourself the favor and sleep when you can. Although it’s fun to stay up all night gossiping, keep in mind you have four more years of this! Orientation is exhausting, overwhelming and awesome...make sure you have enough energy to take it all in, unlike my friend who stayed up all night and ended up missing registration and ID pictures.

All schools take great pride in their orientation programs so be ready to be entertained. As long as you take it all in stride, make the best of it and come prepared, you’ll leave orientation counting down the minutes until move-in day!

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Chris Poshek

by Scholarships.com Staff

Hello everyone! I am really excited to be a virtual intern at Scholarships.com and look forward to writing for you and, in turn, hearing from all of you in the next few months. Here’s my story:

I began my college career at Alexandria Technical College and received my associate degree in applied science degree in computer voice networking. Unfortunately, I was laid off twice in the last three years in that field so I returned to school at Bemidji State University and am currently working toward a degree in early childhood education. Deciding on my major was easy: I have epilepsy and so does my daughter and in addition to working and attending college, I’ve been able to work with several non-profit foundations on some very rewarding projects. When I am not taking classes, I’m an outdoorsy person who loves to fish and hunt. I also am an avid sports fan, especially when it comes to my Minnesota teams. I also enjoy reading, listening to music, dancing and spending time with my family.

So, what will I write about on this blog? Well, the future of education seems to be taking learning online. I have some very useful experience in that area and this kind of education is far different than taking classes in a classroom. As a virtual intern for Scholarships.com, I look forward to helping college students seek out everything they need to make their time in school and their lives after college successful. Can’t wait to get started!


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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

by Darci Miller

After spring semester ended, I was lucky enough to take part in a birthright trip to Israel. For 10 days, I traveled around the country with 40 other kids from the University of Miami’s Hillel. I had always heard that this trip was life changing but before I went, I was a total skeptic. Having lived through it, though, it definitely was a truly amazing experience.

As a part of the trip, our group was joined by eight Israeli soldiers currently serving in the army. Israelis are drafted into the army as soon as they finish high school, so these soldiers were all more or less our age. My time spent with these soldiers was the single most powerful experience of my life.

I spent a lot of time on the bus with a girl named Tal. As we talked, I quickly discovered that we have a lot in common – we are both 20, soft spoken, want to travel the world someday, and love “Friends” and “That ‘70s Show” – but just because she was born in Israel, she’s in the army while I attend college. I saw myself in Tal. If I had been born in Israel, I would be her.

There was also Yogev, who’s in the parachute division and dreams of being a chef and opening his own restaurant. And Dafna, shorter than my 5’2” self, the sweetest person ever, and an officer in the army. And Sachlav, lithe and blonde, whose job it is to train soldiers for combat. I thought we’d have nothing to talk about but in interacting with these soldiers, I learned that we truly are all the same. We may come from different worlds but at the core, we’re no different.

I think this is a valuable lesson to take into college. Just because someone seems different doesn’t mean they are. We all have things in common; the trick is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and find them.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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