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You Majored in…What?

What Your College Degree Really Means to Employers

September 21, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

Two students from two schools majored in the same subject and obtained degrees in the same field. They took equivalent classes, received identical grades, won similar scholarships and are now both being considered for the same job. Who is the better candidate? Put it this way: You don’t want to be the hiring manager.

In fields like nursing and accounting, there are licensure examinations in place to determine which graduates studied smart and have the greatest understanding of the material they have learned in school. The results are cut, dry and conclusive here but for those organizations hiring graduates from fields without these tests, finding the perfect candidate isn’t easy. In his recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Forrest Hinton states that the disparity in grades and academic standards is so significant between institutions, departments and instructors that comparing applicants’ transcripts is often just as useless as offering someone a job because of their connections, alma mater or the hiring manager’s gut instinct. Hinton argues that the only way to mend this ailing hiring system is for academia and industry to work together to conclude which skills and knowledge students need to master most. Just because a candidate went to a less-selective college doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less qualified than a graduate of a more competitive institution and the same goes for students who are first-generation, low-income or minorities. Hinton suggests common and field-based assessments should be implemented to separate the candidates who thrive from the ones who will do just enough but, unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in…yet.

Though assessments across a wider variety of fields may be difficult to implement, I think they would make a huge difference in the quality of candidates employers hire and, in turn, the quality of work they produce. What about you, readers? Should someone get the job based simply on where they graduated from or their fluency in the field they seek to work in? What DOES a degree really mean these days and, more importantly, what SHOULD it mean?

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Save the Perkins!

Proposed Amendment Will Keep This Loan Alive

September 23, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

The Perkins Loan Program has played a vital role in the quest for higher education (mine included) since 1958 but in two years, it could end up just as extinct as dinos and dodos. Can it (and the dreams of countless students) be saved?

The Perkins, or as one supporter affectionately calls it, “the David among the Goliaths of other aid,” is used by 1,800 colleges across the country yet Congress hasn’t provided any new money for the program since 2004. In 2009 alone, colleges awarded 495,000 new Perkins loans at an average of $2,231 per student and its demise would shut out college access to low-income students and eliminate the jobs of campus officials and loan servicers who help distribute the funds. Representative John Spratt clearly understands the importance of the Perkins and is sponsoring an amendment to delay the program’s cancellation – so much so that he held a hearing in Washington yesterday discussing the Perkins’ significance; though it probably won’t pass this year, Spratt is optimistic that with the support of the House Budget Committee and the schools relying on the loans, the amendment has a shot at approval next year.

“By its very nature, the Perkins Loan Program provides schools the flexibility to provide additional aid to needy students. The importance of this flexibility cannot be overstated,” said Sarah Bauder, assistant vice president of enrollment services and student financial aid at the University of Maryland at College Park, in her testimony during the hearing. “Financial aid administrators work where the rubber meets the road and have a unique perspective that allows them to assess students’ and families’ ability to pay for college in ways that aid applications will never be able to assess. When aid administrators see students and families struggling with unique circumstances, they need some flexibility to deliver funds to ensure the success of these students.” One such student, Joseph Hill, also testified. The Georgetown senior stated that though he received $26,000 in scholarships, the Perkins was what made it possible for him to attend the school of his dreams. “Last week, I was talking to my mother, and without hesitation, she said, ‘It still wouldn’t have worked without that Perkins Loan,’ ” Hill revealed.

There’s a lot more to the history of the Perkins and the fight to save it (get the details here) and as a former Perkins recipient, I can’t help but root for this little amendment that could. I'm definitely making a t-shirt.

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On the Prowl for Scholarships

Check Out This Scholarship of the Week from College Prowler

September 27, 2010

On the Prowl for Scholarships

by Alexis Mattera

Finding enough funding for college is hard but that task is made even more difficult when college scholarship committees require applicants to meet countless requirements, fill out stacks of forms and write lengthy essays to even be considered. Well, College Prowler isn’t most scholarship committees and it's doing things a little differently with its $2,000 No Essay Scholarship.

The folks at College Prowler know students are busy and that times are pretty tough for a lot of people right now…but that’s precisely why they’ve created an incredibly easy way to give back to those who need it. All applicants have to do is complete a brief profile, hit submit and voila, they could win $2,000 to put toward tuition, housing, meal plans, books, computers or any education-related expenses. To apply, please visit http://scholarships.com/scc.aspx?pid=703 or complete a scholarship search to find additional opportunities.

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Win a Scholarship Surfing the Web

ScholarshipPoints.com

October 4, 2010

Win a Scholarship Surfing the Web

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a scholarship that doesn’t require an essay? Well, look no further than ScholarshipPoints.com for your chance to win a $1,000 scholarship. ScholarshipPoints is free to join, fun to participate in, and provides you with the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in scholarships every month. Members earn scholarship points for doing what they already do online: shopping, reading blogs, playing games, searching the web, taking surveys, and more! The more you do – the more points you earn – the more chances you have at winning a scholarship. Our members won $75,000 in scholarships in 2009 and we're hoping to give away $100,000 in scholarships in 2010. Join today and you could be our next scholarship winner!

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KFC Offers $20K for Best Tweet

This Scholarship of the Week’s Deadline is Friday!

November 22, 2010

KFC Offers $20K for Best Tweet

by Suada Kolovic

Through November 26, KFC wants high school seniors to put their tweeting skills to good use and apply for the $20,000 Colonel’s Scholars scholarship. KFC is asking college hopefuls to tweet why they exemplify Colonel Sanders’ commitment to education and enriching their communities, and why they are deserving of a college scholarship. The scholarship winner, announced on December 1, will receive up to $5,000 per year for the next four years to pursue a bachelor’s degree at an accredited public university within his or her home state.

And a scholarship for tweeting is definitely S-O, G double O D good! For more information on this scholarship and others you may be eligible for, conduct a free scholarship search!

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$1,000 for Three Sentences? Scholarship of the Week!

Zinch’s Weekly Three Sentence Essay Due Today

October 18, 2010

$1,000 for Three Sentences? Scholarship of the Week!

by Alexis Mattera

Writing three sentences and banking $1,000 to put toward college may seem like a dream but it is indeed a reality with the Three Sentence Essay from Zinch. Though many essay scholarships have word count requirements in the hundreds or thousands, Zinch caps theirs at 280 characters – the equivalent of two Twitter postings – and requires applicants to respond to a prompt that changes on a weekly basis.

All high school and college students (including international students) are eligible to participate so go ahead and check out the prompt, think about it some and submit a concise yet thoughtful answer worthy of $1,000 by midnight tonight. And remember, Scholarships.com has thousands more scholarships to choose from…all you have to do is fill out a profile and launch a scholarship search today!

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The Deal with Debt

Who Owes What, Where and Why

October 22, 2010

The Deal with Debt

by Alexis Mattera

$24,000. To a recent graduate, that five-figure number could be 1. their starting salary at their first entry-level job or 2. the amount of student loan debt they have accrued while in school.

We’re going to talk about the second choice this morning, as a study by Peterson’s and the Project on Student Debt just revealed it was the average amount owed by graduates of the class of 2009. The study broke down debt levels by state and school (D.C. graduates had the highest while Utah students had the lowest) but did not include debt levels for graduates of for-profit schools because of a lack of data.

Arriving at these tallies didn’t come easy for the Project on Student Debt, which adjusted the averages initially recorded by Peterson’s ($22,500 and 58 percent of students who borrowed) because it felt they were too low when compared to the statistics recorded last year by the National Post Secondary Student Aid Study ($22,750 and 65 percent).

You may be one of the lucky students who scored enough scholarships and grants to have a degree in hand and no debt in sight or you may be flipping couch cushions in search of change to put toward your next payment but what do you think of these findings? A college degree certainly doesn’t come cheap these days!

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Coca-Cola’s $20,000 Scholarship

Deadline Quickly Approaching

October 25, 2010

Coca-Cola’s $20,000 Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

Are you in search of a scholarship with a huge dollar amount? Coca-Cola’s Scholars Scholarship may be just what you’re looking for. It's 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). And with odds like that, it wouldn’t hurt for you to give it your best shot!

In order to be eligible for a Coca-Cola Scholarship, a student must be a current high school or home-school senior planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution and have a minimum 3.00 GPA at the end of your junior year of high school. But you better work fast because high school seniors must apply online through October 31. Good luck!

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Let Your Voice Be Heard with this Scholarship of the Week

Voice of Democracy Deadline is Today!

November 1, 2010

Let Your Voice Be Heard with this Scholarship of the Week

by Alexis Mattera

Every little bit of financial aid helps when figuring out how to pay for college but this next scholarship – our Scholarship of the Week – will be of more than just a little assistance to the winner. How does $30,000 sound?

The VFW’s Voice of Democracy Scholarship Contest is an annual nationwide audio essay competition designed to give all high school students the opportunity to voice their opinion on their responsibility to our country. This year’s topic is "Does My Generation Have a Role in America’s Future?" and students should record their reading of the draft (at least three minutes but no more than five minutes) to a CD. Entrants should then submit their CD, typed essay and an official Voice of Democracy entry form to their local VFW Post today (November 1st). Former first place state Voice of Democracy winners and high school students over the age of 19 are not eligible. US Citizenship is not required, although students must be permanent residents of the U.S.

For more information on this scholarship, please click here or complete a free scholarship search to find additional opportunities.

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How Expensive is "Too Expensive" for a College Education?

Students Willing to Spend More for Academics, Prestige

November 4, 2010

How Expensive is "Too Expensive" for a College Education?

by Alexis Mattera

The true cost of a college education is seldom the number that’s printed in school brochures and on various college comparison lists. When you figure in federal aid, scholarships, grants, room and board, books and supplies, that price fluctuates. One thing remains constant - higher education doesn’t come cheap - but a new poll finds students are willing to stretch their finances for several key factors.

In April, right up until enrollment deadlines, students were still considering “too expensive” schools and were willing to stretch to pay for their education, poll conductors the College Board and the Art & Science Group report. While it would be more financially sound to select the school with the lower tuition and better financial aid package, “too expensive” colleges remained in play if they had strong academics in students’ fields of interest, were places students felt comfortable, had prestigious academic reputations or had excellent records of graduate school acceptance or good job placement after students graduated. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Twenty-six percent of students surveyed said their family would have to stretch a lot, but “I think we’ll make it.”
  • Twenty-two percent chose “I’m not sure how my family will afford to send me to college, but I believe we’ll work something out when the time comes.”
  • Eleven percent said, “I don’t think my family can afford to send me to college, but we are going to try.” Nearly 40 percent of students surveyed did not have a sense of long-term costs, citing “no idea” what their likely monthly payment on student loans would be after graduation.

If you think back to every award show you’ve ever seen, you’ll recall those who do not win always say it is an honor just to be nominated. The same can be said for college admissions: It’s an amazing achievement to be accepted to a prestigious college but is attending worth it if the cost of attendance is going to drive you and your family into debt?

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