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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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LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

August 9, 2012

LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

by Radha Jhatakia

From Twitter and Tumblr to Facebook and Google+, there are a variety of social media sites that one can use these days. Although these websites serve different purposes, there is one that everyone should have: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social media site specifically created for professional networking. You create a profile, upload a picture and enter some information about yourself and then you can search for others who work in your desired field. You can also be searched for based on any number of criteria and the connections you make here could lead to recruitment and employment opportunities. If you think you can use LinkedIn the same way you use other sites, however, you’ve got another thing coming. Here are a few tips for LinkedIn success.

Since you are essentially selling yourself to potential employers on LinkedIn, put the very best version of yourself out there. Start with a decent and professional picture – you don’t have to be in a suit or tie but no snapshots of you at a party or dressed provocatively should EVER be used. Also, be mindful of how you describe yourself: For example, in the hobbies and interest section, don’t list “partying” – try “socializing” or “networking” instead. LinkedIn is very different from Facebook and to be taken seriously, you must promote yourself as such. Keep in mind that if you are questioning whether or not to include something on your profile, it probably doesn’t belong there!

You can also upload a resume to LinkedIn so make sure it’s top-notch and that the information in your resume matches your profile information. (No embellishing!) Another benefit of LinkedIn is that you can upload recommendation letters from your professors or employers to give those viewing your profile a bit more insight into who you are and what you’re capable of; you can ask your LinkedIn contacts to recommend you as well...just be ready to return the favor when asked. Professionals are increasingly putting their LinkedIn URLs on their business cards; it’s certainly a creative way to get exposure – is YOUR LinkedIn page worthy of such publicity?

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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See the World in the Summertime!

Exploring the Many Benefits of Summer Abroad Programs

August 10, 2012

See the World in the Summertime!

by Kara Coleman

Many universities across the country offer study abroad programs for students who wish to spend a semester in another country. Every student that I know of who has ever participated in one of these programs hails it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience...but what if you can’t afford to spend an entire semester overseas or you don’t want to interfere with your planned graduation date or schoolwork? Consider seeing the world on shorter-term trips during the summer! You’ll still get the experience of traveling and seeing what life is like in other countries without taking a lot of time off from work or school.

This past May, my university sent 10 students from its honors program to China for two weeks. Though they did do a few touristy things, they spent most of their time learning at Taizhou University. Because the Chinese academic year is different than ours in the U.S., the Chinese students were still in classes and the American students were able to jump in and study alongside them after their final exams had been completed at home. The best part? The trip was completely paid for by JSU!

You can also use the summer months to explore the world on a trip not associated with your college. Last month, I spent a week in Honduras on a mission trip, where I volunteered in a shelter for homeless children. I was able to experience firsthand what life is like in a third-world country and have plenty to tell my friends about when school starts back up later this month.

So where will you be at this time next year? Studying kung fu in a Chinese university? Playing soccer with kids in Central America? Or maybe something completely different? A whole world of opportunities awaits you – literally!

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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Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

One Million and Counting Sign Up for Free Virtual Courses

August 13, 2012

Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

by Alexis Mattera

Since its launch earlier this year, Coursera has attracted its fair share of attention in the higher ed sector: Not only has the company formed partnerships with high-profile schools such as Stanford, Michigan, Princeton and UPenn, roughly one million students in 196 countries have registered for the startup’s free online courses.

Though the numbers reported by Coursera (and also its competitor Udacity, which has more than 739,000 registered users in 203 countries) are impressive, they don’t represent the amount of learning actually taking place. Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng explained in an email interview that the number of active students is significantly lower because many registrations are for courses that have not yet begun and many sign up but don’t end up following through with the coursework. So are students interested in free online classes? Yes, but time will tell whether or not the registered students actually stick with the program.

Have you considered enrolling in the online classes offered by Coursera, Udacity and others or do you prefer the traditional classroom experience?


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Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

Why Taking a Technology Time-Out Isn’t the Worst Idea

August 14, 2012

Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

by Jessica Seals

How many of you have ever sent a six-page text message when it would have been easier (and less time consuming) to just call the person or speak to them face-to-face? I’ll admit I have...and I’ll also own up to the fact that I’ve sent a text to someone who was in the same building that I was in. Guilty as charged, thanks to technology!

One might say that rapid advances in technology are bringing us closer because it allows us to communicate with people all over the world at any time. Of course, this argument does prove to be true because technology has permitted us to share memorable information with loved ones and friends that we had lost touch with; however, having the power to get in touch with people at any time right at our fingertips can cause more harm than good if you become too obsessed with technology.

When I walk around my college campus, it’s rare for me to encounter a person who is not either talking on their phone, texting, listening to music on an iPod or surfing the Internet on their laptop or tablet. I can remember several days where I walked right past a friend without speaking because technology distracted us and instead of meeting back up later, we had a long conversation via text message. I have heard people say they would rather text someone than have a phone conversation or visit someone’s home – the situation has even gotten so bad that I’ve seen people go ballistic when something prohibits them from getting on the Internet or texting their friends!

Although new technology does allow us to keep in touch, it does have several downfalls. When you post something on the Internet or send a text message, you are jeopardizing your privacy and inviting friends, family and even strangers into your life. Some people post all of their activities online, which allows anyone to invade their privacy. Also, the era of the post office is fading away due to the fact that we can now send and receive emails whenever we need to. My recommendation? As a precaution, I think we should all take regular breaks from technology and spend time doing other activities that do not involve computers or phones before we end up completely withdrawn from one another.

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. Jessica will be back at Memphis this fall to begin working toward her master’s degree in political science; she ultimately hopes to attend law school.


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Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

by Alexis Mattera

An Olympic gold medal is the ultimate goal for many athletes but when you’ve managed to achieve this feat before even turning 18, what do you set as your next accomplishment? There are usually two options – attend college and perfect your craft or go pro and rack up endorsement deals – but figuring out the "right" choice is becoming more difficult for many up-and-coming student-athletes.

A perfect example is Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom who scored five medals at the London Olympics. She has made it clear that she wants to swim in college but if she does so, she will not be able to take advantage of the potentially millions of dollars in endorsements her Olympic success has afforded her. (The NCAA strictly prohibits athletes from accepting sponsorship and advertising money if they want to maintain their eligibility, though many athletes have petitioned this rule).

A recent article in The Atlantic details that going pro makes more sense for athletes in certain sports – for example, since the level of competition in collegiate gymnastics is lower, gold medalist Gabby Douglas didn’t hesitate to give up her amateur status...and sign a deal with Kellogg’s – but for Franklin, attending college would give her not only a chance to improve upon her already impressive swimming skills but earn a degree and have somewhat of a normal life after her time in the Olympic spotlight. Her choice? She hasn't announced it yet but it's her decision to make. "If Missy Franklin wants to go to school, bravo for her, and nobody who doesn't live inside her heart and mind should criticize it," said sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has worked with athletes ranging from Olympians Brian Boitano and Kerri Strug to pros Troy Aikman and Steve Young.

What path do you think Franklin will follow? If you shared her situation, what would your choice be and why?


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How to Make the Most of Your Last Year in College

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s already mid-August and I know for many of us, it feels like summer break just started yesterday. For the students entering their last year in college, however, this was the last true summer off they’ll have – if this sounds like you, how are you going to make the most of your final undergraduate year? What will you do differently? Here are my suggestions:

  • Live it up. I kept wondering why people would say enjoy your college years because all I could imagine was midterms, finals and 20-page research papers but after entering the full-time working world through my internship this summer, I can say I’m definitely going to be making the most of my last year (semester, rather, as I graduate in December) in college! I propose that we all “carpe diem” to the fullest.
  • Keep in touch. Being able to see friends and familiar faces every day is something that’s often taken for granted by college students. When you graduate and everyone’s schedules become more hectic, it’s difficult to catch up. Yes, right now many of us are on budgets but at least we have the time to do things that are fun. Whether it’s a campus event or just hanging out in your dorm with your roommates, cherish these times and foster your connections now before it’s too late.
  • Step out of your comfort zone. If you’ve never done something before and want to try it out, now is the time! If there’s a class you’ve always wanted to take, sign up for it. If there’s an event or club that you haven’t explored, get involved! Do everything that you couldn’t do before so that when you graduate, you'll do so with no regrets.

Take the extra time to appreciate your surrounding and that college atmosphere because once you’re done with college, you will only have the memories – do everything in your power to ensure they’re the best ones!

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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How to Maximize Your Experience When You Have Minimal Time

by Darci Miller

It’s that time again, folks: Summer is ending and we’re all lugging all our stuff back to our dorm rooms for another year of school. After reuniting with your friends, everyone asks how your summer was and how that internship went. Wait...what internship? While others swap stories about impossible assignments, "constructive criticism" and weird bosses, you sit there awkwardly and silently swear to yourself that you’re going to put your nose to the grindstone this semester. No opportunity will be passed up and your resume will look absolutely glorious.

Hang on. Between classes, clubs, a job, potential internships and – oh yeah! – a social life and maybe some sleep, you’re left with less than five hours in the day. Oops...but don’t fret: It's possible if you know how to work the system. And, luckily for you, some of us already do.

Internships are a must to add to your resume before you leave college but if you’re attending school/living in a small city with few opportunities, don’t have a car and have to rely on unreliable public transit, etc., this can be a super difficult task. Solution? Go virtual! Virtual (or remote) internships are THE best way to get experience in a time-efficient way. You can work from anywhere there’s a computer with Internet access and you often get to make your own schedule. Take it from someone who’s had four remote positions already – you’re going to want to look into virtual internships as an option.

While internships are great, you’re obviously going to want a job to pad your bank account a bit, right? Nothing fancy is necessary so your first stops should absolutely be on campus. Places like the library, gym and all academic departments all need students to work for them and they’re in walking distance from your dorm and/or classes. Less travel time means more time spent doing something productive, so take advantage. Another HUGE plus? On-campus jobs are often really good about letting you do homework while on shift. Multitasking at its finest and yet another way to free up more of your day!

The key here is to be as efficient as possible with your time. Use it as productively as you can, overlap tasks and travel, and you’re good to go. Now stop procrastinating and get to work!

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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Smile – Scholarships.com's Awkward Back-to-School Photo Contest Has Returned!

by Alexis Mattera

Ah, the first day of school. You meticulously selected your outfit, you styled your hair just right but when you smiled for the camera, all that awesomeness translated into...complete and total awkwardness. It may be tempting to dispose of the evidence but don’t burn those negatives or delete those jpegs just yet: Those images could earn you $1,000 or a Kindle for college through Scholarships.com’s Awkward Back-to-School Photo Contest!

We had such a good time with this contest last year that we decided to continue the fun in 2012. And not only is the Awkward Back-to-School Photo Contest entertaining, it’s easy to enter as well: Simply like Scholarships.com on Facebook and upload your amateur, school-related photo (first day, class, prom, graduation, etc.) to Scholarships.com’s Facebook wall, making sure to tag yourself and Scholarships.com in the image. Following the October 5th deadline, the Scholarships.com Team will post our top finalists and users will have one week to vote for their favorite photo via comments and likes. The person who submits the photo receiving the most votes will win $1,000 and the individuals who submit the second and third highest-scoring images will receive one Kindle each.

Starts: August 27th

Ends: October 5th

Number of Awards: 3

Amount: $1,000 for one first-prize winner; one second- and one third-prize winner will be awarded one Kindle each.

  • Step 1: Like Scholarships.com on Facebook.
  • Step 2: Post your school-related to Scholarships.com’s Facebook wall, making sure to tag yourself and Scholarships.com in the image. These photos must be amateur (i.e., not professionally taken), can be current or from years past and must feature the person submitting the photo.
  • Step 3: The Scholarships.com Team will select the top images submitted and let our fans choose a winner via their comments and likes.
  • Step 4: You may enter as many times as you want but please limit your photos to one per day. Those who do not observe this step or who do not tag themselves and Scholarships.com in their photos will be disqualified. You must also adjust your Facebook privacy preferences to allow Scholarships.com to message you. (This is how we'll notify finalists and winners.)

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

For more information and official rules, please click here.


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How Homeschooling Helped Prepare Me for College

by Kara Coleman

For my final Scholarships.com article, I was supposed to write about things homeschooled students can to do adjust to college whether they are living at home and commuting or moving to campus. As I sat holding my pen and staring at a blank piece of paper, however, all I could think about was how homeschooling actually helped better prepare me for college!

Homeschooling taught me how to study and pursue knowledge for myself. One of the top complaints I heard from my peers when I tutored at community college was that they didn’t really know how to study. I was not fed information via lecture when I was growing up – as a kid, my mom and I spent a lot of time reading and learning together and by the time I was in high school, Mom would give me my assignments and I would research and write about them myself.

This approach to education also helped me to think for myself and form my own opinions. My parents taught me to hold my beliefs and convictions to everything my professors tell me and to not be swayed by popular opinion. This sort of critical thinking led me to pursue and accept leadership positions when I began attending college, including editor-in-chief of my school paper and a member of the SGA Cabinet.

Time management is an important lesson that many students learn for the first time in college but I was able to learn how to juggle studying, extracurricular activities and a part-time job during my senior year of high school. In short, homeschooling more than prepared me for college life. If you were homeschooled and are preparing to attend college for the first time this semester, I think you’ll be surprised by how much you can take what you’ve learned at home and apply it to your college experience. Let me know if I’m right!

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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