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College To-Do List: Find Your Academic Advisor

by Abby Egan

When I started college, I was intimidated by my peers that knew exactly what they wanted to do. I knew what I liked to do but not what I might want to do after college, realistically. So, I entered my freshman year with an undecided major...and an immeasurable pressure to figure out who I was going to be.

I rushed to declare my major as English/creative writing because I love to write. But then I decided I love kids and I’d rather be a teacher so I changed it to education/literature. But then I realized that I hate literature classes, so I went back to English/writing. And then I decided I love philosophy, so I added a philosophy minor. This past semester, I realized I love psychology classes, too, so I’m even thinking of adding a psychology minor now. What I learned along the way was 1. Find what you love, 2. Don’t be afraid when that changes, and 3. Connect with your academic advisor.

An academic advisor – the person who helps you choose your classes and makes sure you’re doing everything you need to graduate – is the most valuable asset you have on campus, as they are available to you for unbiased advice and guidance every step of the way. For me, this person was Mr. Elder. We met during orientation; he was this ancient old man that only spoke when the moment called for his wise input, which was usually dispensed in the form of a long-winded story with a moral ending. He has been my advisor since day one and I can honestly say I would be utterly lost without him.

But just because you’re assigned to one advisor doesn’t mean you can’t seek out another who better suits your needs. Find the best academic advisor you can so they can layout the opportunities available to you. A good academic advisor will lead you to where you want to go but allow you choose the direction in which to travel. They are your connection to the dreams you want to achieve beyond college, even when your dreams change as frequently as mine do.

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.


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The Dos and Don’ts of the College Classroom

by Veronica Gonzalez

It’s very crucial that every college student studies but one thing to study in college is the physicality and the expectations of the college classroom. Every classroom varies so get to know how things are done in each and every one of them.

When walking into a classroom, the first thing that must be done is to observe the set up. Are the chairs/desks lecture style, chevron style, etc.? Also, know where the doors, emergency exits and windows are in case of a fire or other dangerous situations. Observing these things is both helpful and safe.

Next, paying attention in class is extremely important. Try sitting near or in the front row so that you don’t miss anything when note-taking. If the front row is full, however, find a seat near the lectern. If that fails, don’t be afraid to talk to your professor. (Remember: Professors are there to help you learn in any way possible!) Never sit in the back of the classroom because that gives the impression that you think the subject matter of their class is a waste of time.

Besides observation and listening, having the right materials in class is important. Always bring textbooks, pens/pencils, plenty of paper, laptops (or tablets, if applicable) and homework assignments. This lets professors know that you’re willing to participate in class; however, little distractions keep you from learning so avoid texting, social networking or Internet browsing in class, unless your professor gives the okay.

Finally, know your priorities and responsibilities as a student. Your main priority is to learn and interact with the professors and with fellow classmates. Also, study the syllabi so that you’ll know what to expect in the courses.

Knowing the dos and don’ts of the college classroom will help you in more ways than one – you’ll thank yourself later!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.


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Colleges Address Illicit Use of Attention-Deficit Meds

by Carly Gerber

I know a few people (and I'm sure you do, too) who take ADHD medication; however, their names are not the ones on the prescription bottles.

Most people – often college students – who are not prescribed attention-deficit drugs like Adderall or Vyvanse use the pills during times of high stress, like during final exams. Getting a hold of these drugs is so easy that sending one text message to a friend can lead you to the door of a dealer. Usually, the dealers are students who are prescribed ADHD medication and have extra pills to distribute...but not for free. According to a recent New York Times article, a student revealed he is prescribed 60 pills a month from his hometown psychiatrist; he personally uses only 30 or 40 and sells the extra pills to students who want the added push to help them focus.

Universities around the country have become aware of attention-deficit medication abuse and are creating rules to eliminate the misuse. The biggest problem is for university officials to find a system that works. For example, California State University in Fresno requires students to go through two months of testing and paperwork, then sign a formal contract which requires them to submit to random drug testing, to see a mental health professional every month and to not distribute the pills. Other universities, like the University of Vermont, want nothing to do with evaluating and prescribing students ADHD medication and would rather have students go to outside health professionals to get prescriptions, as the school doesn’t want to be liable if students get sick or die from using ADHD medication.

I believe there’s another problem here. Students shouldn’t feel stressed to the point of committing a federal offense by taking unprescribed attention-deficit medication. What do you think about students abusing ADHD medication and how can we eliminate this issue?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Staying Grounded Amidst Campus Chaos

by Chelsea Slaughter

Campus life can get hectic, especially if it is your first time experiencing it. With new opportunities, new people, new rules and new atmosphere all coming together for one big whirlpool of “NEW,” it’s easy to lose your head and lose focus of the true reason you decided to attend college...and that is higher education!

The most important way to stay grounded is keeping the right company. Friends have way more influence on us than we care to admit. Keeping a circle who can give you a good balance work and fun is key. It is also important to BE a good friend. Sometimes we care more for the well-being of others than our own. Learn to take your own advice!

Setting goals and/or a daily/weekly/monthly schedule will also make life easier. When things get crazy, it is always nice to have something to refer back to. Goal setting can help you determine when you have time to have fun and when it’s time to get down to business.

Make sure to balance your extracurriculars as well. Don’t JUST join all social or all academic clubs and don’t JUST play sports – try a nice medley of everything! This way, you will always have a group to depend on when one aspect of your life is lacking.

College is all about new lessons and experiences but also about getting an education. Don’t let all the “NEW” overwhelm you. Be spontaneous, try new things and have fun...but be SMART! Stay grounded and remember the lessons you learned growing up. (Your gut feeling will never let you down!) Keep your future first at all times and you’ll navigate the “NEW” like a pro!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Choose Your Student Organizations Wisely!

by Melissa Garrett

School clubs and organizations can be one of the best ways to meet people who share your interests. When you first begin college, the large amount of choices available can be both exciting and overwhelming: It may be tempting to join every group (believe me, I know) but it is best to commit to just one or two that you really enjoy.

When I first started at Chatham, the Student Activities Fair was the best thing ever to me. There was the Creative Writing Club, All Faith Gathering, newspaper and countless other organizations with booths set up and ready to give us information. Everything sounded so interesting that I attended initial meetings for nearly half of the organizations; not only did this prove to be very overwhelming but also I ended up realizing that there were only a few groups that actually lined up well with my genuine interests.

Once I had narrowed down what I would be most interested in, I started to only attend meetings for the Gay-Straight Alliance and Chatham’s All Faith Gathering. I went on to become the president of the GSA, which just goes to show that putting a lot of effort into a club you really love can be very beneficial to both yourself as well the club’s future! Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to lend a helping hand to an organization every once and a while – and by all means attend campus events if they sound like a fun way to support your fellow students! – but you shouldn’t overextend yourself.

Although a ton of student organizations can be exciting and the people may be friendly, it’s always a good idea to choose wisely and stay actively involved in the ones that most interest you. Remember, you are at school first and foremost to take classes, so don’t get so caught up in extracurricular activities that you run out of time to study.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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Your College Dorm: Keeping It a Pleasant (and Clean!) Place

by Melissa Garrett

When many students begin college, they will be living away from home for the first time. If you are one of these students, it’s likely you have a lot of thoughts about living in a college residence hall. You’re probably wondering what your roommate will be like, how you will decorate your room and how you will adjust to a new environment but there is an area of residence hall living that is often overlooked: sharing kitchens, bathrooms and other common areas.

During my freshman year of college, I lived in Chatham’s Woodland Hall. Though it was a great place to live for the most part – all residents friendly and it is the only residence hall on campus with an elevator – there were some not-so-great qualities as well...the worst being the kitchen. Despite the number of posters that resident assistants hung up asking people to “Please stop dumping food in the sink” and “Please clean up after yourself”, no one seemed to listen. (I’m not even going into detail on the condition of the bathrooms.)

It might be easy to say that cleaning up after students is the job of university staff but they can’t possibly handle everything, especially when people are being careless and lazy. College students are young adults and learning responsibility is very important. This sort of problem in cleanliness really isn’t that difficult to fix and all it takes is a little pitching in from all of the residents. If you pick up after yourself and do your part to make sure things stay clean, chances are that others will follow.

Is there a problem with cleanliness at your school? If so, be sure to report it to your resident assistants so that they can hold a hall meeting. Also, be sure to take charge yourself by expressing your feelings about the place that you live. Tell your friends politely to be sure to clean up after themselves when they are done using a shared space. We are all neighbors in the residence halls and a clean environment is definitely much more pleasant to study in.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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Staying Stylish on a College Budget: It's Not Hard!

by Melissa Garrett

Whether you dread clothes shopping or can’t wait to go back to school in style, there’s no denying that new clothes can put a serious dent in your budget. Although college students can spend small fortunes on their new fall wardrobes, they definitely don’t have to: Clothing happens to be one of the easiest categories to cut back your spending if you know where to go.

While some people may turn up their noses at the thought of shopping at Goodwill or other second-hand stores, they can actually be great places to find brand names at very low prices. Just recently, I bought some clothes that included a Lip Service dress and tops from Express and Loft among other popular stores...and I walked out of the store having paid less than $20 for all of my new clothes, some of which didn’t even appear to have ever been worn. I am very picky about what I wear (I usually prefer black) and even I manage to find several items each time I visit a second-hand shop.

While shopping at thrift stores is fantastic, you must buy with skepticism as you would at any store. Don’t load up your shopping cart just because the items are cheap – prices add up and if you are careless, you may end up spending as much money as you would have at a department store! Remember that items have been owned before so check garments for any defects before purchasing. Also, don’t forget that a pair of fabric scissors can work wonders: Don’t be afraid to get a cheap, plain top and alter it yourself to make it an original.

All of this saved money can really benefit college students throughout the school year. More money in the bank means bigger budgets for textbooks, school supplies and fun...and who DOESN’T need a nice day out with friends after a hard week of studying? The better you learn to balance your budget, the more often you will be able to feel guilt-free treating yourself to a study-free weekend.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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How Housing Placement Can Affect Study Habits

by Chelsea Slaughter

Choosing where you want to live for a full year can be a big decision! Whether you realize it or not, where you live can really impact you and how you study – so much so that it can make or break your academic success. Here are ways to amplify your opportunity with the best housing options during your first year at school:

  • Know the Purpose of the Building You Choose: Many dorm buildings have different purposes or themes. On my campus, there are dorms where the majority of sorority girls live, dorms where most of the band lives and dorms where most athletes live. As I freshman, I chose a “Cocky Experience” dorm, which was just a dorm aimed at introducing freshmen into the college experience. We had study sessions and group meetings every month and my dorm upheld “quiet hours” more than the sorority dorm that my friend resided in. It was also within walking distance of the library so as you can imagine, it was way easier for me to get my studying done than it was for my friend to do the same.
  • Stray Away from Off-Campus Options: Your first year of college is all about learning the ways of your new school and yourself. When living off campus, you are pretty much disconnected from the school both academically and socially. When my sister stayed at an off-campus apartment, she was always disturbed by the amount of noise from outside forces. Off-campus options have less rules and more tolerance for disturbance; you are also no longer close to a peaceful area like the library or academic center.

You want everything in your favor during your first year so make sure to choose the best option for YOU. Your housing choice will have an impact and it’s up to you whether it will be for better or worse.

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Taking Summer Courses at a School Other Than the One You Attend

by Mike Sheffey

I took AP Statistics in high school and I attend Wofford College full-time during the traditional school year. This summer, however, I’ve been taking statistics at UNCG...so what gives? Well, Wofford would only accept AP scores of 4 or higher and I received a 3 and after my late declaration of comp-sci as a major, I figured out that I actually need it. So off to summer school I went – at a university I wasn’t familiar with and with professors I didn’t know and students who were strangers, no less – but I’m actually thrilled that I had the opportunity to study at another institution, albeit only for a summer course.

UNCG was beautiful and way different than Wofford. And the class was organized, taught and tested on completely differently. The textbook was all online – something I’d never experienced at my main college – but I loved it: All of the resources, tables and info were in one place and there was great statistical software built right in! But having it all online meant that the class was entirely learn-for-yourself, at your own pace, in your own time (which I had NONE of). It was different but I appreciated the class and continuing my coursework over the summer actually kept me grounded and on top of things I was involved with. Even a) planning a two-day music festival with friends b) working a full-time management position at my pool and c) applying for another internship (stay tuned for another post) didn’t keep me from passing!

It was rough with the mix of everything else I was involved with but my experience in the class itself was pretty positive. So if you’re considering taking classes at another institution during the summer or over break, remember that it won't be bad...it will just be different. It will cause you to form better and varying study habits that will most likely help you in the future and having that structured schedule in the summer will actually help in everything else you’re involved with as well. Embrace the opportunity!

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Mary Steffenhagen

by Mary Steffenhagen

Hey there, Scholarships.com readers! I’m Mary, a junior English major/business minor student at Concordia University of Wisconsin.

I’ll admit, I didn’t give my college search as much time or thought as I should have. I chose to attend Concordia for two main reasons: I was offered a substantial academic scholarship (and rather a lot of financial aid) and was able to take a free trip to London, Normandy and Paris through the honors program during my freshman year. However, my time at Concordia has been well spent as I have been able to take a number of fascinating classes with some exceptional professors, make a few lifelong friends, travel and even get some decent sleep.

I love having a busy schedule so this year I plan to intern in Milwaukee and hopefully (fingers crossed!) head to New York City in the winter. I've indulged myself a little with my English major – reading and being impacted by what I read has always been one of the best parts of my life – and I am looking forward to a career that not only allows but requires me to do just that.

The opportunity to be a virtual intern with Scholarships.com is one I couldn’t pass up: Not only is this the sort of writing experience necessary for my resume, but it’s a bit out of my comfort zone. I hope to challenge myself to be a resource to you readers and help bring some insight into the ordeals of life as a college student.

I’ll sign off with the most important thing college has helped me realize (so far): Challenge yourself and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish. Thanks for reading!


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