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Have Some Fun This Summer...for Free!

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s finally summertime and most college students are taking a break from school with the exception of those of you who are taking summer courses. But even with work and school, all college students can find some time to enjoy the summer! Fun activities can often cost money but there are plenty of enjoyable things you can do over the summer that a student-friendly budget can accommodate.

For those of you who enjoy outdoor activities, there are plenty of options available. You can plan picnics in a park close to you or have barbecues in someone’s backyard – you can have everyone pitch in a certain amount for food and supplies or turn it into a potluck where every guest brings one prepared dish. Hiking and camping are also excellent (and generally free) activities; recreational parks have hiking trails and campgrounds open for all to use so take advantage of them this summer.

If the outdoorsy scene isn’t your preference but the beach is, there are plenty more activities you can do there. Swimming, surfing and paddleboarding are all options but remember to be safe in the water! If the water isn’t your forte, you can always play beach volleyball, have a bonfire with some s’mores or soak up the sun and tan.

Prefer to stay indoors over the summer? There are plenty of arts and crafts projects you can do around the house such as making decorative items. You can also take the time to catch up on things you couldn't do during the academic year, like take a class at the YMCA, go to the gym, read some books, catch up on movies and TV shows, and spend time with family and friends.

Once you graduate from college, you won’t have three months of vacation (unless you become a teacher) – right now, summer is yours so take advantage of it!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who 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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Colleges to Extinguish Smoking on Campus

by Kara Coleman

As many as one-half of America’s college campuses are preparing to become smoke-free. Though some schools currently ban indoor smoking or smoking within a certain number of feet from a dorm or academic building, new regulations would discourage students from lighting up even in open air on campus.

As would be expected, students are divided on the issue. Some feel that since college students are adults and smoking tobacco is legal, schools are overreaching their boundaries. Smoking is a stress reliever to many students, is less addictive than chewing tobacco and less dangerous than smoking spice or illegal drugs. Advocates of the no-smoking-on-campus rule cite secondhand smoke exposure as a big reason to bring about this change; they also say it is the responsibility of colleges and universities to encourage healthy habits.

As a non-smoker myself, I am very much in favor of not allowing students to light up on campus. I am not bothered so much by secondhand smoke at the university I attend now as I was at my community college, however: All the buildings were so close together on that campus that there really weren’t very many places to go outside and not inhale smoke. Some people (students AND faculty) would even light up as they walked down the sidewalk, leaving a trail of cigarette smoke wherever they went.

Some campuses are set to become smoke-free as soon as this fall, while other schools don’t plan to enact the rule until the 2013-2014 academic year. Is your school thinking about becoming smoke-free? If so, how do you feel about it? Do you think not permitting students to light up on campus will discourage them from doing it elsewhere...or are schools just blowing smoke?

This past summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and she is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University. Kara's writing has also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.


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Movies and Books All Students Should Experience

by Radha Jhatakia

Movies and books are constantly being produced and written but there are certain ones that everyone (especially college students) should see or read during their lifetime. What are they? Here are a few suggestions.

Although there are certain awful books that we have to read for school (and trust me, I’ve read my fair share), some are truly worth it because they make you think outside the box and stretch your imagination. A few recommendations of books to read are "The Catcher in the Rye," "To Kill a Mockingbird," the "Harry Potter" series and "The Taming of the Shrew." "The Catcher in the Rye" is an excellent tale about a boy facing the perils of growing up; this book and the "Harry Potter" series go to show that everyone faces tragedies as some point in their life but you must be strong and overcome them – "Harry Potter" especially is a great way for people to learn life lessons but also receive comfort in the fantasy world the books contain.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is a contemporary classic about life before the civil rights movement. It is the story of a young girl who learns about right and wrong from her lawyer father who goes against the grain at the time by defending someone of color. Reading Shakespeare may seem like a drag, but once you get past the Elizabethan English, his works are enjoyable and humorous: If you like the movie “10 Things I Hate About You,” you’re already somewhat of a Shakespeare fan, as it’s based on his play, "The Taming of the Shrew."

As for movies, I’d recommend “A Time to Kill,” “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Sound of Music.” These movies represent discrimination, family values and the yearning to do what’s right. These films are based on books but I think both versions are excellent – if you have the time, I suggest experiencing both versions and comparing them!

So take a chance on a movie or book you normally wouldn’t opt for – you just might be surprised!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who 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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Adios, First-Day Jitters - Start Preparing for School NOW!

by Kayla Herrera

Back-to-school season is in the air and whether you’re a transfer student or incoming freshman looking forward to entering a new environment, you don’t want to be without these must-have items for the school year:

  • Planner: I know smartphones have fancy scheduling apps but nothing can compare to writing your to-dos into a paper planner. I actually got reprimanded once for pulling my phone out to schedule a speech as we signed up for it so stay out of trouble by going with the old-fashioned method.
  • Ballpoint pens: Pens are crisp, bold and perfect for taking smudge-free notes. Pick up an economy-sized pack for backup and sharing with classmates or roommates – someone will ALWAYS need one.
  • Mechanical pencils: These are great (and necessary) for Scantron exams and math problems. Bonus? No sharpener needed!
  • Folders: I have found that folders help me keep everything in order by class. Color-coding them will help further organize your college life.
  • Pictures from home: Looking at the faces of those you love will help you get through those lonely off-days.
  • A journal: The best therapy is sometimes writing and when no one is available for you to talk to, a journal can be a great sounding board.
  • Music: Whatever genre that appeases your soul, music has the power to change lives, fix what’s broken and turn any bad day into a slightly better one. I never would have survived my freshman year without music from my iPod or at a campus concert.

All of these items got me through my first year of college...and I didn’t know about the folders until second semester! I hope they will aid you in the best way possible as you tackle your first year at a new school.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done and that is what she is here to do.


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Is Not Struggling a Struggle?

by Kara Coleman

Recently, 22-year-old Taylor Cotter published an article on The Huffington Post about her success since she graduated from college in May. The odd thing about Cotter’s piece is that she doesn’t take the angle of a success story in a struggling economy – she feels that she should be struggling more!

Cotter talks about how many of her friends are working part-time jobs, living at home with their parents and/or having diets consisting mostly of Ramen; she feels that she is missing out on the post-college twentysomething life by having a ‘real job’ and a 401(k). Some readers – including myself – are appalled by Cotter’s tone. It seems to me that it would be the dream of every college student to find a full-time job directly after graduation but Cotter almost seems remorseful that she made herself marketable to companies who would hire her.

I have been living at home with my parents and working part-time jobs ranging from lifeguarding to tutoring to retail over the past few years to supplement educational costs. Now that I am preparing to move into an apartment with my friends next month, I know full well that I’ll be eating my fair share of peanut butter sandwiches and cereal; while I’m excited to begin this next phase of my life, I’m more so look forward to the day when I have a full-time job – the same situation Cotter is essentially complaining about.

Isn’t that what college is for? Teaching us how to go from being dependent children to self-supporting adults? Or I could be wrong: Maybe it’s a time to either live with your parents or eat Ramen noodles. What do YOU think?

Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and she is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University. Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books; she is also the editor-in-chief of JSU's student newspaper, The Chanticleer.


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Taking Advantage of New Opportunities After a Semester Abroad

by Darci Miller

So you’re back from your semester abroad and you’re pumped to jump right back into your American life. Of course, you’d rather be gallivanting across Europe like you’ve been doing for the past few months but thinking about returning to your old activities makes you inexplicably happy...until you find that school is as different a place as you are a person.

Unfortunately, time didn’t stop and wait for you to return stateside. Your five months away changed you as much as it changed the place you’re returning to. Suddenly, your previous leadership positions are no longer available and you’re facing a bit of a crisis.

First of all, don’t panic! If you’re worried about what this gap in your resume will look like to an employer, don’t. The fact that you studied abroad has the potential to look just as valuable as any job experience. If marketed correctly, it can display your growth as a person, exposure to new cultures and whatever new skills you may have picked up.

While falling right back into your old routine might’ve been nice, life is always changing and this situation is no different. Now’s the time to reprioritize...and take advantage! I myself lost my editorial position on the school newspaper – kind of unfortunate, yes, but this gives me the chance to go back to being a writer and take on more responsibilities elsewhere. New internships, anyone?

This is, I think, the key: Don’t look at it as a loss but rather as the universe giving you a reminder that a trip abroad isn’t the only way to explore new things. It’s okay to miss your old job just like it’s okay to miss your old haunts and routines from your semester abroad. But if you look at this as an opportunity, it could bring tons of good things your way.

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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Dealing with Negative Feedback

by Radha Jhatakia

We all love to hear good things about ourselves, no matter how humble we are. However, when things take a turn – and they often do – how do we handle it? Even if this (often true) feedback is for our benefit, it is usually not welcome so here are some suggestions on how to handle negative feedback.

More often than not, the person tasked with giving the negative feedback – often euphemistically called “constructive criticism” – will feel some level of discomfort but you should remember that what they are saying is for your benefit. Allow them to say what they need to without interruption so that you show respect and remember that your body language can also represent your emotions: Even if you are upset, keep your composure by sitting or standing straight up, refraining from clenching your fists and teeth, and employing your best poker face. Pay attention, nod at main points and take everything to heart; if you don’t, you will come off as imprudent and these actions could make for a very different kind of feedback next time around.

When your review is complete, thank the person for giving you the feedback because they took time out of their day to do something that will ultimately benefit you and they cared enough to be honest about it. Ask them questions about how you can improve and what actions you need to take to make the work or internship situation better for all involved. More than likely, your employer will be thrilled that you want to improve and will be impressed with your level of maturity.

Remember one thing: Feedback – whether it’s positive or negative – is for your benefit. Feedback helps you correct yourself so that you can improve your career growth and development. No matter how well you can do something, there is no such thing as perfect: Always allow some room for improvement and you’ll go far at any task at hand.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who 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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Will You Be a Perpetual Student?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

When I first started attending college in 2009, there was nothing I wanted more than to graduate...fast. But now that I’m about to receive my B.A. in English Professional Writing in December, the idea of graduating terrifies me. What if I can’t find a job? What if the so-called “real world” isn’t as glorious as I imagined it? And what if I do find a job but I don’t get to use my writing skills?

But even in my darkest moments, I’ve never considered being a perpetual student like Michael Nicholson, a 71-year-old man from Michigan who is working on his 30th college degree – a master’s in criminal justice. While I admire his extreme dedication and patience, I personally don’t want to spend the rest of my life paying for college or facing the dreaded “Sorry, you’re overqualified for this job.”

With that said, I think that if going to school makes Michael happy, then he should continue to do just that. After working numerous menial jobs, going to college probably makes him feel more productive...and there’s no doubt that he’s more broadly educated than most of us will ever be. His degrees range from home economics to psychology, and an astounding 22 of them are master’s degrees! So, while I can understand why some people feel that perpetual students are determined to avoid responsibility, I think that as a retired septuagenarian who has worked his whole life, Michael has more than earned the right to do as he pleases. And having talked with classmates who are even more terrified of graduating than I am, I think that there are more people who would prefer to remain students than face the “real world” than we’d like to admit.

So, what’s the answer? Like everything in life, I think the key is balance. Most of us (due to financial and time constraints) can’t afford to pursue 30 degrees but we can make the most of our time in college by doing internships, maintaining high GPAs and going to graduate school if our dream job requires it. What path will YOU take?

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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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Veronica Gonzalez

by Veronica Gonzalez

My name is Veronica Yvette Gonzalez. I’m 20 years old and I’m entering my third year at the University of the Incarnate Word this fall. At UIW, I major in English. I’m also a committed member and fellow officer of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society at UIW. In ALD, I was vice president from 2012 to 2013; this fall I will be a returning officer but this time as a junior delegate.

The main reason why I chose to attend UIW was because I found it possible to pursue a career in writing there. The English Department offered all kinds of classes and recommendations to help me pursue my dream career. Another reason why I chose UIW was because of its friendliness and hospitality. When I researched the school, it was totally different from other universities: UIW wasn’t going to hook me up with so many classes and tell me “Good luck” – they stepped up and helped me get through the first day of school. They were very helpful and brilliant at answering every question I had.

Majoring in English was an automatic choice: Ever since I was a kid, I read lots of books and I envisioned writing my own books and signing them for my fans. At UIW, I was placed in special classes where the professors were hands-on and gave every student feedback on their essays and stories. Having an advanced start to a writing career in college is heaven! Although I am quite busy with school, I also make time to read, write, draw, paint and brainstorm ideas on what to write about.

When I heard Scholarships.com was calling for virtual interns, I immediately rose to the challenge. As a writer, I know that I shouldn’t be afraid to put my writing to the test. This internship won’t just look good on my resume – it will advance my dream career because I will gain so much experience as a writer!


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Tips for Returning Students

by Kayla Herrera

As a returning college student myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about what tips every one of us should heed as we head into a new academic year. I’ve learned so much as an undergrad and grown in ways I never thought I could, but I’ve also come to realize that I am learning more every day. With that said, here are my thoughts on what returning students need for the upcoming year:

  • A budget plan. You may think you can keep all your spending straight in your head or that budgets are a waste of time (like I did), but I hooked myself on a Microsoft Excel document I found online that adjusts the numbers for me. There are tons of them online – just search “college budget worksheet excel” or something similar on Google.
  • A recreational reading book. I know this may seem silly considering you probably have so much other reading to do for class but while textbooks work your mind in one way, recreational books exercise it in another. Reading recreationally is a good way to get lost in another world for a while. It’s okay to take a break every now and then!
  • Camera. Whether it’s your iPhone, a small digital camera or a beefy Canon SLR, don’t forget to capture these years and the moments that count because you’ll want something to look back on when you’re getting ready to graduate and move on in your life. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have another means of memory.
  • A video game. Video games are scientifically shown to improve the brain’s critical thinking skills and reaction time...and even something as simple as The Sims Social or Farmville on Facebook counts. Pencil in a video game hour every day (or Facebook hour...if you aren’t already on it 24/7) and take the time to enjoy life – sans school work – for a moment.

As you enter this next school year, remember to make every moment count. Work hard and play hard, learn to better control your spending or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Study long nights but reward yourself with time with friends. Balancing your life benefits you in so many ways and will make your year a great (and manageable) one!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done and that is what she is here to do.


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