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Duncan to College Applicants: "Shop Around"

Ed Sec Says Comparing More Schools Will Lead to More Informed College Choices

July 3, 2012

Duncan to College Applicants: "Shop Around"

by Alexis Mattera

In the epic battle between quality versus quantity, it's the former that usually prevails but Arne Duncan has a slightly different proposal for soon-to-be college students: increase the quantity of schools you consider in order to find the best quality fit.

Though the annual Higher Education Research Institute survey reported that students are already employing that approach (just 12 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen applied to only one college in 2011), Education Secretary Duncan believes that too many students are making their college choices based on distance from home rather than price, majors and other factors vital to college completion and future success. He feels that if students apply to more schools and compare financial aid packages, they'll find the school and program that's right for them. But not everyone is buying into his "shop around" proposal. Lloyd Thacker, director of the admissions reform group Education Conservancy, said, "The problem with the admissions process is it's become too much like a transaction or consumer process, and less like an investment in education ... I'm not saying what he's doing is necessarily wrong but you need to be very thoughtful that good intentions are tied to sound research.”

Check out the full Inside Higher Ed article here and let us know what you think. Are you ready to go shopping with Duncan or will you be taking a different approach when applying to college?


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Determine Your Dream Job in Three Steps

by Alexis Mattera

Whether your career aspirations include a large salary, a flexible schedule or an ethical employer, it’s up to you to turn those dreams into realities. Sure, high marks in your major classes, several internships and glowing recommendations from members of your field are excellent additions to your portfolio but that’s not all you can do to secure the job you desire most. Here are a few suggestions from U.S. News & World Report:

What are some other paths job seekers should take to find their ideal careers?


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Unique Liberal Arts Colleges

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Liberal arts students have a reputation for being a bit quirky and colleges catering specifically to these majors are no exception. Carleton College, Naropa University, Grinnell College and Deep Springs College are four such institutions renowned for their unique extracurricular activities, majors and more.

Besides being ranked the sixth-best liberal arts college by U.S. News and World Report, Carleton College is also famous for its unique extracurricular activities. For instance, students have organized multiple scavenger hunts for the bust of German playwright Friedrich Schiller since 1957 and the college is also famous for its Assassins Guild, whose members try to “kill” each other with Nerf guns, “poisonous” Tabasco sauce and “explosive” alarm clocks.

Naropa University is a private liberal arts college in Colorado which integrates meditation into the curriculum and offers a unique blend of Eastern and Western educational practices. Majors include Peace Studies, Contemplative Psychology and Traditional Eastern Arts...interesting, right?

Grinnell College is another private institution known for its independent majors. After their first year, students can tailor their majors to suit their preferences instead of following a rigid degree path. Also of note are the school's post-graduation "Grinnell Corps" programs, which allow students to help others in places ranging from Namibia to China. In addition, Grinnell has the highest per capita Peace Corp volunteer rate of any college, despite only having 1,500 students.

Deep Springs College is an exclusively male liberal arts college famous for its method of selecting 26 students and giving them all full scholarships. The professors knit, stargaze and have ping pong tournaments with their students and they also live within walking distance of the students’ dorms on a cattle ranch/alfalfa farm.

If you decide to attend one of these colleges, it’s safe to say you’ll be in for a college experience unlike any other!

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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Life After Study Abroad

Lessen Reverse Culture Shock with These Easy Tips

July 5, 2012

Life After Study Abroad

by Darci Miller

When preparing for your semester abroad, you’re bombarded with advice – bring this amount of clothes, make sure to see these cities, make sure to experience the culture of your new country, etc. – but what about when you go home? I spent five months living in London and becoming pseudo-British. What was I left with when I returned to the U.S.? A strong affinity for tea, thousands of pictures and no idea how to deal.

Reverse culture shock was almost as scary as culture shock itself. I went from the Tube to the subway, chips to French fries, looking left when crossing the road to looking right, a flat to a house and (most jarringly) life in a big city to life in a suburb. I can no longer see Olympic Stadium from my bedroom window and my friends are scattered across continents. Life in America seemed incredibly unappealing.

What really helped me has been keeping some of the habits I picked up in London the same. A group of friends and I still send Facebook messages instead of texting, I still drink tea every night before I go to bed, and I still keep my Oyster card in my wallet. Blogging about everything while the feelings and memories were still fresh was very cathartic and a quick glance at photos never goes amiss. These things remind me that, while I’m not physically there anymore, studying abroad HAS changed me: I’ll never be the same as I was before I went...and that’s okay.

At the same time, jumping back into home life is very important. Don’t give yourself time to be too sad: find a job, restart a hobby, reconnect with old friends. Is there something you’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t gotten around to it? Now’s the perfect time! Getting excited about things you’re doing at home make the sting of no longer being abroad much more tolerable.

If you were happy at home once, you can be again – you just have to figure out how to make it happen for the new, world-traveling you. But you do have to look the country-appropriate way when crossing the road. There’s really no getting around that one!

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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Taming Noisy Summer Neighbors

by Kayla Herrera

If you’re a college student, the following scenario is bound to present itself: You have to work or have a test early in the morning but your neighbors have decided to party until 3 or 4 a.m. You’re not a party pooper (you just don’t want to be a zombie the next day!) so you should know there is absolutely nothing wrong with standing up for yourself – and your health – to better perform at work or summer academics.

Don’t jump out of bed and bang on your neighbor’s door at the first sound of noise. Wait and see if the activity continues either the next night or next week. If it does, say something to your neighbor to let them know you’re below/above/next door to them. They might not realize how loud they are and how thin the walls are.

If the party noise continues for multiple nights, try to gauge why before confronting your neighbors. If they’re clearly intoxicated, just tell them to keep it down because you’re trying to sleep. (It’s no use having a serious conversation with anyone in their condition; sometimes, they realize it’s late anyway and just needed a reminder.) If you happen to talk to someone sober, explain to them that the noise has gone on for a few nights now and it is interfering with your work or school schedule. Suggest a compromise like quieting down after midnight.

If your neighbors ignore you and you still can’t sleep, bang on the ceiling, floor or wall with a broomstick or threaten to call the cops. I’ve done this twice and both times, my neighbors have quieted down...fast. Unless the party is WAY out of control, someone sounds hurt or something illegal is going on, don’t actually get the police involved – saying you will gets the message across that you’re serious about taking action. Sometimes drastic measures have to be taken but they’re effective: I haven’t had problems since and neither will you.

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.


Comments

Taming Noisy Summer Neighbors

by Kayla Herrera

If you’re a college student, the following scenario is bound to present itself: You have to work or have a test early in the morning but your neighbors have decided to party until 3 or 4 a.m. You’re not a party pooper (you just don’t want to be a zombie the next day!) so you should know there is absolutely nothing wrong with standing up for yourself – and your health – to better perform at work or summer academics.

Don’t jump out of bed and bang on your neighbor’s door at the first sound of noise. Wait and see if the activity continues either the next night or next week. If it does, say something to your neighbor to let them know you’re below/above/next door to them. They might not realize how loud they are and how thin the walls are.

If the party noise continues for multiple nights, try to gauge why before confronting your neighbors. If they’re clearly intoxicated, just tell them to keep it down because you’re trying to sleep. (It’s no use having a serious conversation with anyone in their condition; sometimes, they realize it’s late anyway and just needed a reminder.) If you happen to talk to someone sober, explain to them that the noise has gone on for a few nights now and it is interfering with your work or school schedule. Suggest a compromise like quieting down after midnight.

If your neighbors ignore you and you still can’t sleep, bang on the ceiling, floor or wall with a broomstick or threaten to call the cops. I’ve done this twice and both times, my neighbors have quieted down...fast. Unless the party is WAY out of control, someone sounds hurt or something illegal is going on, don’t actually get the police involved – saying you will gets the message across that you’re serious about taking action. Sometimes drastic measures have to be taken but they’re effective: I haven’t had problems since and neither will you.

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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Have Some Fun This Summer...for Free!

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s finally summertime and most college students are taking a break from school with the exception of those of you who are taking summer courses. But even with work and school, all college students can find some time to enjoy the summer! Fun activities can often cost money but there are plenty of enjoyable things you can do over the summer that a student-friendly budget can accommodate.

For those of you who enjoy outdoor activities, there are plenty of options available. You can plan picnics in a park close to you or have barbecues in someone’s backyard – you can have everyone pitch in a certain amount for food and supplies or turn it into a potluck where every guest brings one prepared dish. Hiking and camping are also excellent (and generally free) activities; recreational parks have hiking trails and campgrounds open for all to use so take advantage of them this summer.

If the outdoorsy scene isn’t your preference but the beach is, there are plenty more activities you can do there. Swimming, surfing and paddleboarding are all options but remember to be safe in the water! If the water isn’t your forte, you can always play beach volleyball, have a bonfire with some s’mores or soak up the sun and tan.

Prefer to stay indoors over the summer? There are plenty of arts and crafts projects you can do around the house such as making decorative items. You can also take the time to catch up on things you couldn't do during the academic year, like take a class at the YMCA, go to the gym, read some books, catch up on movies and TV shows, and spend time with family and friends.

Once you graduate from college, you won’t have three months of vacation (unless you become a teacher) – right now, summer is yours so take advantage of it!

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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Colleges to Extinguish Smoking on Campus

by Kara Coleman

As many as one-half of America’s college campuses are preparing to become smoke-free. Though some schools currently ban indoor smoking or smoking within a certain number of feet from a dorm or academic building, new regulations would discourage students from lighting up even in open air on campus.

As would be expected, students are divided on the issue. Some feel that since college students are adults and smoking tobacco is legal, schools are overreaching their boundaries. Smoking is a stress reliever to many students, is less addictive than chewing tobacco and less dangerous than smoking spice or illegal drugs. Advocates of the no-smoking-on-campus rule cite secondhand smoke exposure as a big reason to bring about this change; they also say it is the responsibility of colleges and universities to encourage healthy habits.

As a non-smoker myself, I am very much in favor of not allowing students to light up on campus. I am not bothered so much by secondhand smoke at the university I attend now as I was at my community college, however: All the buildings were so close together on that campus that there really weren’t very many places to go outside and not inhale smoke. Some people (students AND faculty) would even light up as they walked down the sidewalk, leaving a trail of cigarette smoke wherever they went.

Some campuses are set to become smoke-free as soon as this fall, while other schools don’t plan to enact the rule until the 2013-2014 academic year. Is your school thinking about becoming smoke-free? If so, how do you feel about it? Do you think not permitting students to light up on campus will discourage them from doing it elsewhere...or are schools just blowing smoke?

This past summer, 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 also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.


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Movies and Books All Students Should Experience

by Radha Jhatakia

Movies and books are constantly being produced and written but there are certain ones that everyone (especially college students) should see or read during their lifetime. What are they? Here are a few suggestions.

Although there are certain awful books that we have to read for school (and trust me, I’ve read my fair share), some are truly worth it because they make you think outside the box and stretch your imagination. A few recommendations of books to read are "The Catcher in the Rye," "To Kill a Mockingbird," the "Harry Potter" series and "The Taming of the Shrew." "The Catcher in the Rye" is an excellent tale about a boy facing the perils of growing up; this book and the "Harry Potter" series go to show that everyone faces tragedies as some point in their life but you must be strong and overcome them – "Harry Potter" especially is a great way for people to learn life lessons but also receive comfort in the fantasy world the books contain.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is a contemporary classic about life before the civil rights movement. It is the story of a young girl who learns about right and wrong from her lawyer father who goes against the grain at the time by defending someone of color. Reading Shakespeare may seem like a drag, but once you get past the Elizabethan English, his works are enjoyable and humorous: If you like the movie “10 Things I Hate About You,” you’re already somewhat of a Shakespeare fan, as it’s based on his play, "The Taming of the Shrew."

As for movies, I’d recommend “A Time to Kill,” “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Sound of Music.” These movies represent discrimination, family values and the yearning to do what’s right. These films are based on books but I think both versions are excellent – if you have the time, I suggest experiencing both versions and comparing them!

So take a chance on a movie or book you normally wouldn’t opt for – you just might be surprised!

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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Adios, First-Day Jitters - Start Preparing for School NOW!

by Kayla Herrera

Back-to-school season is in the air and whether you’re a transfer student or incoming freshman looking forward to entering a new environment, you don’t want to be without these must-have items for the school year:

  • Planner: I know smartphones have fancy scheduling apps but nothing can compare to writing your to-dos into a paper planner. I actually got reprimanded once for pulling my phone out to schedule a speech as we signed up for it so stay out of trouble by going with the old-fashioned method.
  • Ballpoint pens: Pens are crisp, bold and perfect for taking smudge-free notes. Pick up an economy-sized pack for backup and sharing with classmates or roommates – someone will ALWAYS need one.
  • Mechanical pencils: These are great (and necessary) for Scantron exams and math problems. Bonus? No sharpener needed!
  • Folders: I have found that folders help me keep everything in order by class. Color-coding them will help further organize your college life.
  • Pictures from home: Looking at the faces of those you love will help you get through those lonely off-days.
  • A journal: The best therapy is sometimes writing and when no one is available for you to talk to, a journal can be a great sounding board.
  • Music: Whatever genre that appeases your soul, music has the power to change lives, fix what’s broken and turn any bad day into a slightly better one. I never would have survived my freshman year without music from my iPod or at a campus concert.

All of these items got me through my first year of college...and I didn’t know about the folders until second semester! I hope they will aid you in the best way possible as you tackle your first year at a new school.

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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