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Proofing College Applications: More Than Just Spell Check

October 19, 2010

Proofing College Applications: More Than Just Spell Check

by Alexis Mattera

After hours at the computer, you add the last punctuation to your admissions essay with great flourish. You scan the document for any red or green squiggles and, noting nary a mark, you hit the send button. But before you can pump your fists in victory, you notice something out of the corner of your eye. Is it? It CAN’T be. But it is: You wrote that being “excepted” to Ivy U. has been a lifelong dream of yours. Well, that dream just became a nightmare.

The NYT’s The Choice blog has been running an excellent series of posts this month as the college application process kicks into high gear. One of the most valuable pieces thus far is today’s about proofreading. The author, Dave Marcus, spoke to members from a variety of admissions staffs and they all have seen their fair share of application snafus. The main culprit? Students’ dependence on technology. Here are some of the most memorable misses:

  • An applicant to Oberlin College wrote about her admiration for Julie Taymor, an Oberlin graduate who created the “The Lion King” on Broadway. The essay was passionate…but also inaccurate: The writer kept referring to “The Loin King.”
  • An admissions officer came across an essay that said, “It’s my dream to go to Boston University.” That’s fantastic…except the essay was being reviewed at Cornell.
  • An applicant to Molloy College wrote "Steve" in the field asking her expected graduation date. Um, what? The applicant later explained she was in a relationship with a man named Steve and hoped he’d be her date at graduation.

The moral of the story? Technology is helpful, but not magical. Instead of immediately taking Word’s suggestions, print copies of your application and essay and review the hard copies with a real or metaphorical red pen in hand; giving it to a friend or parent to review is beneficial, too, as a fresh set of eyes can catch something you as the writer missed. A few typos won’t necessarily kill your chances of acceptance but its inn sane to think you’re spell check is all ways write.

Yep, I’ll be here all week.

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Grace Period for Student Loans Coming to an End

Simple Tips to Managing Your Loans

November 11, 2010

Grace Period for Student Loans Coming to an End

by Suada Kolovic

With the typical six-month grace period on student loans right around the corner, recent college graduates across the country will start making monthly payments whether they’re ready to or not . If you’re one of those students, or just starting your college career, here are a few suggestions from the Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit independent research and policy organization, on how to manage your loans.

  • Know where you stand.

    A great way to get the exact amount you owe is to visit your lender – in some cases, lenders – or you can find details of your student loans, including balances, by visiting the National Student Loan Data System, the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for student aid. If you have non-federal loans, there is a possibility they won’t be listed so contact your institution for that information.
  • When’s the first payment?

    The grace period for student loans is the time after graduation before having to make your first payment. But the length of grace periods can vary; for Federal Stafford loans it’s six months, nine months for Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Plus Loans depend of when they were issued. To find out the grace period attached to private loans contact your lender.
  • Keep in touch with your lender.

    It’s important to remember to keep your contact information updated with your lender. Whether you’re moving or changing your phone number, an updated contact sheet could save you from unnecessary fees.
  • Consider what repayment option works best for you.

    One option is the Income-Based Repayment Program (IBR), which is not available on private loans, that sets a reasonable monthly payment based on a borrower’s income and family size. Under IBR, after 25 years of qualifying payments, your remaining debt, including interest, will be forgiven.
  • Prepare for life and the unexpected.

    Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. If you can’t make payments due to unemployment, health issues or other unexpected financial challenges, you have options for managing your federal student loans. There are options to temporarily postpone your payments, such as deferments and forbearance. Contact your lender for more information and the interest attached to those options.
  • Never ignore your financial responsibilities.

    Ignoring your student loans – or any loan for that matter – can result in serious consequences that can last a lifetime. When you default, your total loan balance becomes due, your credit score is ruined and the total amount you owe increases dramatically. If you default on a federal loan, the government can garnish your wages and seize your tax refunds.
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Sorority Members Targeted on Facebook

December 6, 2010

Sorority Members Targeted on Facebook

by Suada Kolovic

Following Facebook’s launch of their new profile page, sorority members from Florida State University, Auburn University, the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University have all confirmed reports of harassment by cyberstalkers posing as potential Facebook friends. According to Florida State assistant police chief, Major Jim Russell, the sorority members on his campus received a friend request from an individual claiming to be affiliated with a particular sorority. Once accepted, the new “friend” requested video interviews with the sorority members asking questions pertaining to the members’ interests – ranging from members seeking initiation to active members looking for leadership roles; however, in an effort to conceal their identity, the friend would claim their camera was broken and insisted on conducting a one-way video chat.

That’s when the Facebook conversation escalated into harassment, Mr. Russell said, with Florida State students reporting that in some instances, the “friend” asked them to reveal undergarments or undress entirely. One student, who tried to cease contact with the friend, was told that there were girls outside her door who could “handle her” if she refused to comply with orders.

Officials at Auburn University, the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University did not release details regarding the nature of the harassment on Facebook. However, all four institutions have informed members of their campuses about the incidents and officials at three of the universities have confirmed ongoing investigations. Mr. Russell suggested that all students adjust their privacy settings and deny friend requests from individuals they don’t know. He also warned that any information released on the Internet can stay there forever. “Students now have to understand that the Internet cloaks the bad guys and that basic prevention concepts are key into preventing future incidents,” he said.

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Top Dos and Don’ts to Avoid the Winter Blues

January 17, 2011

Top Dos and Don’ts to Avoid the Winter Blues

by Suada Kolovic

With winter in full swing, it seems like the “winter blues” are upon us. Shorter days and colder nights culminate into millions of Americans suffering from mild depression, lack of motivation and low energy during this cold season which ironically is known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. But you’re in luck: Here are the top dos and don’ts to keep those blues at bay.

  • Do Exercise: Exercise is a great stress reliever and a great way to keep your spirits up. And during those cold winter nights, releasing those “feel good” endorphins is an ideal way to increase your energy throughout the day.
  • Don’t Oversleep: We’re all tempted to sleep in during the winter months for obvious reasons: there’s no sunlight when you wake up in the morning. But it’s essential to fight that urge to hit the snooze button for a 12-hour sleep session because you’re really doing more harm than good. Try to stay active and keep a schedule to avoid oversleeping.
  • Do Enjoy the Season: Sure, talking long walks in your neighborhood may not be an option in freezing temperatures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the season in other ways. Try something new like skiing and snowboarding or keep things simple and go sledding and ice-skating – after all, these options are only around for a limited time, so take advantage.
  • Don’t Keep your Room Dark: There’s a direct link to the “winter blues” and the lack of sunlight during the winter season and sulking in a dark environment will only exacerbate symptoms.

For even more tips, click here. And don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing to combat the winter blues.

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How to Save When Buying Textbooks

January 19, 2011

How to Save When Buying Textbooks

by Suada Kolovic

The start of every new semester calls for a new set of textbooks – very expensive textbooks. Students can’t really think about the cost of college today without factoring in the skyrocketing cost of textbooks. With the individual book prices well over $100 in many cases, textbook costs can easily add up and, depending on your major, you could easily be spending $500 or more on textbooks a semester. For years students have improvised on ways to dodge buying a new copy and it’s important to know that there are options available, so here are some tips put together by the Huffington Post that can save students some cash.

  • Buy Used: Definitely not a new concept, but still a great way to save almost half the cost of a textbook. Most college bookstores have used options on campus but quantities are limited. Other reliable resources that sell used textbooks are Amazon, half.com and abebooks.com.
  • Book Renting: This option is becoming increasingly popular. It allows students to rent a gently-used textbook for a semester for about half the price of a new edition. But if your campus bookstore doesn't rent books, check out chegg.com, bookrenter.com or collegebookrenter.com.
  • Try the Library: Believe it or not there are FREE options out there, like campus and local libraries. And if you’re one of the lucky ones to actually find a copy of what you’re looking for, check it out fast before one of your classmates beats you to the punch.
  • Buy Older Editions: In some cases, professors will permit students to buy a previous edition of a book that is just as good as the more expensive current edition. Therefore, it’s a great idea to ask your professor what their policy is before purchasing your textbooks.
  • Get International Editions: According to the New York Times, international editions of your textbooks are often identical to U.S. editions and cost 50 to 70 percent less than their American counterparts.
  • Go Digital: It seems like the end of traditional textbooks are near and increasingly more students have the option to purchase e-books directly from book publishers from sites like cousesmart.com and cafescribe.com.
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Want to Know the Likelihood a College Will Accept You? There’s an App for That!

February 9, 2011

Want to Know the Likelihood a College Will Accept You? There’s an App for That!

by Suada Kolovic

There’s an app for just about everything these days, so it’s about time that there’s one that will help students determine how likely they are to be admitted at their school of choice. The Facebook application, AdmissionSplash, asks students to submit a personal profile including quantitative and qualitative characteristics, such as test scores, grades and extra-curricular activities, which colleges consider when making admissions decisions. Then the program enters that information into a complex algorithm to predict the student’s chance of getting into any of the 1,500 colleges currently included.

According to tests conducted at UCLA and NYU, AdmissionSplash founders looked at three sets of students – 88 and 73 from UCLA and 75 from NYU – and found that the app was able to accurately predict admissions decisions for 85, 91 and 97 percent from each group, respectively. AdmissionSplash co-founder Allen Gannett views the application as a more-personalized college guide book, calling it “a really good tool for narrowing down your choices,” but is quick to point out that students should not rely on it as a sole indicator. Gannet believes the app will help students navigate through the stressful application process and hopes to develop a program that will predict admission chances for law, medical, business and grad school applicants.

High school seniors, are you downloading this app to help you with your application process? Let us know what you think.

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Scholarship of the Week: Holocaust Remembrance Project

March 7, 2011

Scholarship of the Week: Holocaust Remembrance Project

by Suada Kolovic

The Holocaust Remembrance Project is a national essay contest for high school students that is designed to encourage and promote the study of the Holocaust. Participation in this project encourages students to think responsibly, be aware of world conditions that undermine human dignity, and make decisions that promote the respect and value inherent in every person.

High school students across the United States are invited to incorporate the project into their study of the Holocaust and to use it as a means to personally react to the messages of the Holocaust. Scholarships and other prizes are awarded to students in first, second and third place categories.

First place winners participate in an all-expense-paid trip to South Florida to visit various Holocaust memorials and museums, and spend time with Holocaust surviviors and scholars of the Holocaust and human rights. In addition, scholarships of up to $5,000 will be awarded to the first-place winners. For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Student Resigns CU Diversity Post Over Blog Entries

March 21, 2011

Student Resigns CU Diversity Post Over Blog Entries

by Suada Kolovic

For some, blogging provides an outlet for writers to share their personal insights of the world around them; for others, it’s a platform for venting their frustrations about the opposite sex…under the safety of a pseudonym, of course. For Matthew Cucchiaro, the University of Colorado Student Government diversity director, it was the latter.

The Daily Camera reports Cucchiaro originally posted the content in question under a pseudonym in 2009 and although he says the blog entitled, “Today’s Stupid Human Beings: Women,” was “clearly satirical,” he resigned from his position on March 4. His blogs came to light courtesy of an anonymous source who sent copies to the dean of students and CU Student Government’s vice president of external affairs, Allison Foley, said although Cucchiaro didn’t break any rules, he agreed to resign.

A week after resigning, Cucchiaro has since reposted the blog on women including one that said “women are not as smart as men” to stupidhumanbeings.com. Do you think it’s fair that Cucchiaro was penalized for writing something years ago? Did his reaction – reposting the blog – justify the school’s actions? This story is anything but uncommon lately what with the UCLA girl and the controversy surrounding the USC frat still trending weeks later. The moral of the story: think before you post.

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What to Consider When Selecting a Roommate

May 16, 2011

What to Consider When Selecting a Roommate

by Anna Meskishvili

Personally, I think that choosing a roommate is one of the most challenging things about college. They are the ultimate lottery. But in order to pick the right roommate for you, you must first properly understand yourself.

I’m sure you have all completed (or will soon complete) some variation of the “roommate survey,” which might reveal to you a prototype of the perfect roommate but here’s a reality check: Roommates are not perfect. In order to be the best roommate you can be, evaluate yourself. Speaking from experience, I thought I wanted to be best friends with my roommate, wanted my room to be the social hot spot of the floor and didn’t care about order or rules. Turns out, when you’re busy as a bee like me and are exhausted when you come home, the last thing you want to see is a dog pile of frat boys on your bed trying to see how many grapes they can shove in their mouths. Don’t get me wrong, I work hard and play hard but I always idealized my room as a place I could go to do neither those two things.

The bottom line about choosing roommates, make sure you both are on the same page and don’t just assume you are – talk about it. This is someone you will be living four feet away from for a year and avoidance is not an option. Top issues to cover are:

  • What time do you usually go to bed? Do you need the TV on to fall asleep?
  • Do you plan on studying or partying in the room?
  • If I vacuum the room on Mondays, can you do it on Fridays?
  • Are you going to have a lot of overnight guests? Let’s make a code.
  • Do you expect me to be in the room all the time?

And before you ask your prospective roommate any of these questions, ask them to yourself. Good luck, roomie!

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.

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Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

May 19, 2011

Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a recent college graduate, chances are you’ll have to start paying off your student loans sooner than you think. And even with the economy in a slump, don’t expect a free pass on not paying your loans. Are you starting to panic? Well, don’t! There’s a ton of advice out there to help students stay on track and courtesy of the U.S. News and World Report, here are seven tips for repaying your student loans.

  • Repay you student loans automatically. Make things easier on yourself by setting up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. This reduces the chance of late or missing payments.
  • Aim for 10 years. The traditional repayment period for student loans is 10 years and ideally you'll be able to pay off all your debt within that time period. If you end up struggling with your monthly payments, however, you could stretch out your loans to 20 or even 30 years. Your monthly payments will become more manageable but you will end up paying a lot more in interest.
  • Stay organized. Having multiple student loans can be a challenge to keep track of but with the government's National Student Loan Data System, you’ll be able to track all your federal student loans in one place.
  • Pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first. A high interest rate costs you every month and compounds that amount you owe every month you aren’t paying off the entire balance.
  • Consider IBR. The IBR is a federal Income-Based Repayment program that allows a borrower to repay his or her federal loans based on what is affordable and not what is owed.
  • Keep abreast of student loan developments. Staying informed is just as important as making your payments. Familiarize yourself with websites that are devoted to college debt issues like Project on Student Debt and the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project.
  • Contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. Sometimes your relationship with a lender can go belly-up. If you end up in a dispute, the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman may be able to help resolve the issue.
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