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The Best Educational Apps

September 6, 2011

The Best Educational Apps

by Lisa Lowdermilk

We've all seen the iPhone commercials and heard the now-common phrase “There's an app for that.” It’s true, though: There's even an application to help you study — dozens in fact! Here are a few that can make your life as a student easier:

Grades 2. If you're like me, you spend a fair amount of time wondering what you need to score on an upcoming test in order to maintain your A. This app lets you do just that. It even lets you determine your new GPA will be based on what grades you expect to earn in your current classes.

Dictionary.com Flashcards. This app is great for English and science classes where you have to learn a wide variety of complicated terms. It even has multiple choice quizzes where you have to pick the right definition from a list of options. Plus, it's great having a dictionary in your pocket for whenever you need to look up words instead of lugging one around on top of all your other school books.

Star and Planet Finder. Astronomy buffs will love this one because it makes finding stars, planets, constellations and satellites a snap. Equipped with compass and GPS, this app lets you know whether or not you can see Orion from your current location – perfect for astronomy classes which ask you to chart the position of the constellations.

While not every college student can afford an iPhone or similar app-friendly device, all these educational apps make it a very tempting purchase indeed. And let's face it: You can't really put a price on something that makes a less-than-favorite activity less painful.

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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Bradley Adds Interactive App to Customize Campus Tour Experience

by Alexis Mattera

It can be difficult for prospective college students and their parents to visit the campuses they’re interested in when classes are in session so instead, tours are often scheduled on weekends or between semesters. Though this may be more convenient, it’s harder for the tour takers to get a true feel for the school they may one day call their alma mater...unless their tour is taking place at Bradley University.

Though colleges have long employed virtual tours, Bradley could be the first to provide a complementary iPad application during in-person campus tours. Jim Ferolo, an associate professor and chair of Bradley’s interactive media department who helped come up with the idea, said the app is meant to give students a fuller sense of what campus life is like if they visit during off-peak hours. In addition to supplementary videos, the app suggests particular spots on campus to see depending on the data (intended majors, extracurricular interests, etc.) users input at the beginning of the tour, all of which are routed to the tour guides’ iPads to best customize each tour. Ferolo said the app is not meant to replace the traditional campus tours at Bradley but his department will track how prospective students use the application so it can be improved – possibly with on-the-fly likes and ratings – down the line.

Sounds pretty cool to us but what do you think? Would you be interested in using an app like Bradley's on a campus tour or would you rather get a feel for a school sans technology?


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If Schools Text It, Students Will Come

by Alexis Mattera

You hear the familiar alert from within your pocket and reach for your cell phone. Is the text message you just received from your best friend, parent or...intended college?

For the past two years, St. Mary’s University found the students who signed up to receive text message alerts and individual replies from the Texas school were more likely to apply and attend than students who opted out. According to the initiative’s creator, Mongoose Research, 1,923 students signed up out of the 40,000 who showed interest in the university and 30.8 percent of those who did ended up applying, compared with 10.9 percent of all prospective students. Though many of the students who elected to accept the texts were already interested in St. Mary’s and excellent fits for the institution, Mongoose’s president David Marshall said one of the main reasons for the program’s success is that students don’t feel bothered or harassed.

Texting prospective students isn’t an admissions staple just yet but it’s poised to be in the near future: Jim Miller, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said, “What I’m hearing from the younger folks is that email is so yesterday and texting is where it’s at.” Would you opt to receive texts from the colleges you’re interested in or prefer they contact you via email, Facebook or snail mail?


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How to Make It as a Humanities Major at a Tech School

by Kayla Herrera

Sometimes the location of a college or university can draw you in more than the school itself. This can be said for someone who wants to attend college in a big city or someone who wants more of a college town setting. Me? I wanted to go home again. I went to a technological school in the place where I once moved away from. Even though my major of choice was not technical in nature, I told myself I could make it work.

At my school, the humanities department is not taken care of very well. The curriculum seldom expands and many professors are not quite sure what they are doing. There is a career fair every semester but companies mainly come for engineers, leaving us humanities majors left out and forced to try harder to find jobs and make connections without the school’s assistance.

How did I do it? I focused on extracurricular activities. I searched for internships and small writing jobs on my own or through professors at my school. That is how I scored my first internship and first freelance writing job – just by asking around and putting myself out there. Also, get involved in a club or organization that relates to your career interests. If one is not available, create one; chances are, there are other students who share your goals.

If your field is the minority at your school, you’ve got to stick your neck out there and really make yourself known. Classes at my school are limited so I rely on outside experience to round me out. You cannot be shy: Send your resume around even if positions haven’t been advertised and contact potential employers to introduce yourself. Putting forth that extra effort will only get you that much more ahead outside the classroom.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. 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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Get LinkedIn...To Your Future!

September 29, 2011

Get LinkedIn...To Your Future!

by Angela Andaloro

As college students, our minds are constantly on the future. While none of us know what it holds, we know that hard work and determination can get us closer to our goals and we get to showcase some of that hard work on our résumés. The idea of putting together a résumé can be intimidating, especially when we’re constantly hearing how important it is to have a well put together one. In this day and age of technology, however, this task can be far less formidable thanks to resources like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social network dedicating to connection professionals and building your professional identity online. On LinkedIn, you can upload your résumé if you already have one, or begin building one by filling in your profile. You make connections with those you’ve worked with, classmates, professors, individuals sharing your major or professional interests and more in efforts to build your contacts. Those you’ve already worked with and have gotten to know you are your first tool: They can give you recommendations which describe and critique the work you’ve done - recommendations which will come in handy when you start looking for a job or internship. The larger your network is, the better, as more opportunities will present themselves.

So how do you find an internship or a job on LinkedIn? The Jobs tab on your LinkedIn homepage is the first step. This isn’t your only resource, though: Start joining groups and following companies within the field you’re interested in. The more ways you connect, the more information you’ll get and the more visible you will be to potential employers.

With more and more employers bringing the hiring processes online, you can’t afford to miss out. Joining LinkedIn is just another step you can take toward the career of your dreams!

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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The Kindle Fire: Will It Have a Place in College?

by Alexis Mattera

Since its debut in 2007, the Amazon Kindle has changed the way people buy and enjoy books. Amazon’s wealth of e-book offerings and new rental program have proved to be valuable weapons for college students in the war against rising textbook costs but will Amazon’s newest addition to the Kindle family – the Kindle Fire – find its own place in higher education?

The 7-inch Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet was revealed last week and though it won’t begin shipping to customers until mid-November, the buzz surrounding it is already significant. With a $199 price tag, could the Kindle Fire be a cost-effective alternative to the collegiate bank account-busting iPad? Maybe, but will it truly gain a toehold in college classrooms? Robert Talbert isn’t so sure it will. In his recent article for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Talbert states the device is great for electronic textbooks and fun applications but little else for college students. “Could you write a research paper on it? Or a LA TE X document? Or a computer program? How about creating and then giving a slideshow presentation? Or running a computer algebra system to do your math homework? Or shooting a video? When it comes to consuming things, the Fire seems like a great device. For creating things? Not so much. And college work is about creating things, not consuming them,” he says.

What do you think of the Kindle Fire? Would you buy one for college or would you rather wait for a tablet with more useful college features AND a lower cost?


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Boo! Short & Tweet is Back for October!

Your Scariest College-Related Experience Could Earn You $1,000 or a Kindle

October 5, 2011

Boo! Short & Tweet is Back for October!

by Alexis Mattera

Applying to and attending college can be the best time of your life but it can also be the scariest! Did your guidance counselor forget to include your transcript in your application packet? Were you matched with a freshman roommate who had an aversion to soap? We want to know: Tell us your scariest college-related experience in 140 characters for a chance to win $1,000 or a Kindle for college through our latest Short & Tweet Twitter Scholarship!

Don’t be scared – entering is easy! Simply log on to Twitter (or create an account if you don’t already have one), follow us and mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in your tweet detailing your scariest college-related experience. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to apply:

Step 1: Follow @Scholarshipscom on Twitter.

Step 2: Mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in a tweet answering the question “What is your scariest college-related moment?” Once you do this, you are entered to win a $1,000 scholarship or one of two Kindles.

Step 3: You may enter as many times as you want but please limit your tweets to five per day. Each tweet will be a stand-alone entry and tweets that are submitted by non-followers, exceed 140 characters, do not include @Scholarshipscom or are submitted after the October 31st deadline will not be considered. From there, the Scholarships.com Team will determine which comments are most deserving of the awards.

  • Starts: October 5th
  • Ends: October 31st
  • Number Available: 3
  • Amount: $1,000 for one first-place winner; one Kindle each for second- and third-place winners

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

For official rules, please click here.


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R.I.P (Almost) Laptops

October 5, 2011

R.I.P (Almost) Laptops

by Jessica Seals

Once upon a time, college students spent hours in the library researching information for their papers before sitting down to handwrite (or manually type out) their findings. Fast forward to the ‘90s, when computers appeared in classrooms everywhere and the Internet gained popularity as a research tool. Students have since opted for laptops to take with them to class and to study but although new models with better features are introduced each year, tablets may soon take laptops’ places on campus.

While doing group work in class recently, I noticed I was the only person in my group using a laptop while the other members were comparing the features of their tablets. After that day, I started paying more attention to the technologies people were using and I became aware of the fact that more and more college students are choosing tablets over laptops – or at least to supplement them.

Although many of the tablets currently on the market are expensive, people – even college students on limited budgets – are buying them. HP TouchPads, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, Motorola Xooms, the brand new Kindle Fire and, of course, iPads, are flying off of shelves and into the hands of college students. Why? They are smaller and weigh less than traditional laptops, can serve as eReaders for digital textbooks and are far more discreet when being transported in a backpack (or on your person).

Like all technology, the price of these tablets will go down with time once more tablets are competing in the market but do you think they will eventually replace laptops completely?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is 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. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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The Death of the Library As We Know It

by Jessica Seals

Years ago, most college students did not have personal computers and they had to go to the library if they wanted to access information in an old periodical or journal. That’s not the case today: The majority of students own computers that allow them to write papers, put presentations together and do research on the Internet. All of this can be done in the comfort of one’s own dorm room, apartment or home, making the library a less utilized resource on campuses.

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to the library every month so that I could check out new books to read. Now that I am in college, I am ashamed to say that when I enter my school’s library, I am sometimes unaware of where I need to go. I am in my senior year and I have only visited the library a handful of times; however, I have encountered students who have been here longer than I have but have never been to the library or can count on one hand the number of times they have been there. I’ve had several professors encourage us to do our research in the library but most of us still prefer to research periodicals and journals in the databases that have been set up when and where it is convenient for us.

Whenever I do go to the library, I notice just how much the availability of personal computers has changed the usage of the facility. Very few students are in the library and I rarely see many looking through hard copies of books or periodicals. Most of the students in the library are using the computers to type papers that are due that day or using the computers because they do not have one or do not have Internet access at home. The library does have areas where people can form study groups and meet but this does not entice more people to stop in – after all, dorms have common areas that serve the same purpose.

With the declining popularity of libraries, I have to wonder how many of them we will start to see close their doors because people are not visiting them like they used to. Do you think this is a possibility as well or will libraries withstand the test of time...and technology?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is 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. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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How Social Media Savvy is Your School?

by Angela Andaloro

As 21st century college students, we understand the importance of social media. How else can we get up-to-the-minute updates on what’s going on in our friends’ and family’s lives? Social media has gone far beyond individuals, however, and these days, there’s a Facebook page for almost everything. Colleges are getting in on the action, too, because they’ve realized the importance of connecting with their students through social media. Here are three schools that are doing particularly awesome jobs.

Notre Dame: Earlier this year, USA Today praised Notre Dame for its belief that social media is “important to professional development.” With the emergence of social networks such as LinkedIn and the use of social media in hiring processes, they’re definitely on to something! Some highlights of their social media use include separate Twitter accounts for the school’s many sports teams, more than 32,000 fans on Facebook and a great alumni network through both.

Boston College: The #1 college in social media according to Klout, Boston College has 35,000+ fans on Facebook. BC employs social media to announce events, timely reminders, information on important alumni and more. Twitter is its real strength, though, with more than 15,000 followers and separate accounts for pretty much everything you can think of! An impressive fact: BC’s average tweet has a reach of 6,000 people (40% of their followers) at any given time!

University of Texas: The University of Texas is definitely a leader in higher education social media. The school has an extensive network of blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts for its various their colleges and schools, administrative offices, libraries and museums. A directory of all these accounts can be found on the school website, making it extremely easy for students to interact with exactly whom they wish.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s necessary for colleges and universities everywhere to embrace what their audiences loves and learn to connect through these avenues. How do you think your school stacks up in terms of social media? Get in the spirit - leave comments and discuss!

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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