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Financial Aid Applications Increase for 2011-2012

National Need Mirrored in the Buckeye State

April 26, 2011

Financial Aid Applications Increase for 2011-2012

by Alexis Mattera

If you are attending college, you probably need some form of financial aid to pay for tuition, room and board, books and other living expenses. Next year, it’s likely you’ll need a little bit more.

The Columbus Dispatch recently reported the number of students in the U.S. who have filed forms for federal financial aid for the 2011-2012 academic year has increased by about 1 million from last year. At Ohio State alone, requests are up about 10,600 from two years ago - a 22-percent jump, says financial aid director Diane Stemper. Ohio University’s Sondra Williams reports a similar trend with a 12-percent increase in federal financial aid applications. The reasons for the increased need aren’t surprising. "Many people who used to have the resources to send their children to college have lost their jobs or been downsized," Stemper said, adding lower home and stock values and rising food and gas prices are also culprits.

Though more students are getting the aid they require – OSU has seen an increase in Pell Grant recipients enrolled and OU has more students receiving subsidized loans – the financial relief may be short-lived: Governor John Kasich’s state budget proposal has public universities in Ohio could increasing tuition by up to 3.5 percent. Current undergraduate and graduate students, do you need more financial aid now than you did when you first enrolled? High schoolers and incoming freshman, how do you plan to pay for school?


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Louisiana Board of Regents Cuts 100+ Programs

by Alexis Mattera

With the royal wedding set to happen in less than one day’s time, many people’s minds are filled with thoughts of excess, grandeur and all things sparkly. But instead of waking up at an ungodly hour to toast the new bride and groom with sapphire-hued Kate-tinis, the Louisiana Board of Regents has a rather opposite plan: cut more than 100 academic degree programs statewide.

The Regents labeled the programs averaging fewer than eight bachelor’s degree graduates, five master’s degree graduates or three doctoral graduates in the past three years as low-completers and terminated 109 programs directly, while 189 will be consolidated or shaped into new programs. Southern University, LSU, the University of Louisiana and Southeastern Louisiana University recorded the most degrees lost and no public historically black colleges will offer a bachelor’s degree in a foreign language once the programs are phased out; a small sliver of positive news for students is that eliminated programs will remain in place until currently-enrolled upperclassmen graduate.

Though Karen Denby, Regents associate commissioner for academic affairs, said the colleges will be more efficient with class sizes, faculty loads and graduation rates as a result of the cuts, some administrators – like Mike Gargano, LSU System vice president of student and academic support – are still wary about the motivation behind the changes...and we’d assume students are as well. To our Louisiana readers, does this announcement impact your intended major or career path?


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Darci Miller

by Darci Miller

Hey there! My name’s Darci and I’m one of Scholarships.com’s new virtual interns!

I’m a native New Yorker about to finish my sophomore year at the University of Miami, aka “The U.” Yes, there’s a great party scene, warm weather almost all year round and the beach.

But that’s not why I’m here! Actually, I don’t party much at all, I’m pale, think the hot and humid weather is brutal, and have yet to hit the beach. Crazy, right? I came to UM because it’s a top 50 school (and on its way up in the rankings), has awesome programs in the areas I’m interested in, is located near a great city with lots of opportunities and offered me great financial aid. What can I say? Breaking stereotypes is fun!

I’m double majoring in journalism and sport administration. I’ve always loved to write and the Olympics are my passion (let’s not talk about my chief rooting interest, the Mets), so my majors are a really cool way to combine the two. I write for UM’s newspaper, The Miami Hurricane; I’m currently the assistant sports editor but will be leaving the sports desk next semester to be the opinion section editor. I also work at the campus’s wellness center and volunteer for the athletic department from time to time.

In my spare time – wait, spare time? What’s that? I’ve never heard of that concept before! Well, if this “spare time” you speak of actually existed, I’d spend it listening to Bon Jovi, watching "Castle," reading Harry Potter, baking and drawing.

I’m really excited to share my knowledge and experiences with the readers of Scholarships.com. Not only will it be a great learning experience for me, I hope I can be informative/helpful/entertaining/all of the above to other people.

I think this’ll be a fun ride! Join me, won’t you?


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Anna Meskishvili

by Anna Meskishvili

I received my online acceptance to Boston University on March 28, 2008. I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, what I was wearing. BU has always been my number one choice and I could never imagine myself anywhere else. Unfortunately, upon receiving my initial deferral to my Early Decision application earlier that year, I began to reevaluate what I wanted from college. I knew I wanted a city, I wanted this city to be fairly far from home (but not “plane-ride” far) and I knew I wanted four seasons. BU fit all those criteria perfectly, and finally, months after my deferral, BU loved me back.

As a freshman, I came to BU as “Undecided.” I knew what my strong suits were (writing and speaking) but I didn’t know how and where to use them. I dabbled in English, business and journalism but finally found myself at a combination of all three: public relations. BU’s PR program is much like going to Disney World each day; the professors are astonishingly cool and cartoon-esque and the assignments are fun and frightening...like a roller coaster. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my sorority sisters of Kappa Delta, walking through the majestic and historic Boston neighborhoods, running along the Charles River and trying new restaurants in Brookline.

I knew Scholarships.com’s virtual intern position was perfect for me because I believe that college is the best and most important time in your life. As an only child and a daughter of a beautiful, intelligent woman who did not attend college in America, I did not have much guidance before or at the beginning of my college career. There is a lot I wish someone told me...and I would love to be that “college whisperer” for you!


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Kayla Herrera

by Kayla Herrera

My name is Kayla Herrera and I am a third-year English major at Michigan Technological University. I grew up in Houghton, Michigan (where Michigan Tech is located) and my parents attended Michigan Tech as non-traditional students. When I moved away, it made quite an impact on me and I decided to attend school in the place I loved so much. There is something charming about the area and students I knew who transferred missed it as well.

I chose English as my major because it was the closest I could get to a journalism or writing major, which is why I chose to minor in journalism. Being an English major here is challenging because the school is mostly tech-based and the English classes aren't always what they should be. But outside of the classroom, I have become involved in numerous activities that have propelled my learning in writing and journalism.

I am an avid video gamer. It started when I was young, watching my father play his PlayStation and Sega Genesis games, and before long I picked up a controller for myself. It's one of my other passions and I have combined it with writing and found it to be absolutely satisfying. I am a bit of a nerd in the video game aspect but also in the English aspect. And I am proud of it.

I have always been told to write what I know and right now, all I know is college so seeing the advertisement for the virtual intern for Scholarships.com caught my eye. I was an opinion writer for the campus newspaper so I wrote on campus issues all the time. I saw it as another golden opportunity, a life lesson, or maybe an opening door to a whole other lifestyle. One can never know where an opportunity can really take them until they try!


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Mariah Proctor

by Mariah Proctor

In my senior year of high school with the decision of where to go to university pressing, I informed my musical theatre teacher that I had been accepted to Brigham Young University. He smirked at me and said “I hope you’re not going there just for religion.” My religious affiliation is certainly not the only reason that I choose BYU, but the element of the experience – being in an environment with people that share your values and standards – cannot be ignored.

Jibing with your university’s culture and atmosphere are underestimated parts of the choose-the-location-for-the-next-chapter-of-your-life process and though moving to Provo, Utah from Washington, D.C. came with no shortage of culture shock, I think I’ve found a place for myself here.

That place includes a study of theatre and German, both of which make me laugh every time I tell someone about them because neither will provide me with any guarantees after college. But life has no guarantees so why not embrace passion over practicality? The business of creation (and I believe that’s what theatre is) puts you constantly in a position of vulnerability, but the emotional growth and most of all the empathy you develop is unparalleled by any other area of study.

The high school me would laugh (or cry) if she knew that I was pursuing a degree in German. I hated my high school German classes, but I love that studying a new language helps you to appreciate and understand your own language better and see that there is more than one lens through which to perceive the world. I’m headed to Vienna this summer for my third study abroad and my first chance to put my language to practice.

I have expensive taste in experience and Scholarships.com has helped me to take my education around the world. Come with me!


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The Many Meanings of Graduation

by Darci Miller

Graduation.

Depending on where in your academic career you are, the word has varying connotations. To high schoolers, graduation is IT. The ultimate goal. The sum total of four awkward, drama-filled years. The day that begins a new, much more fun and independent chapter in your life.

In college, graduation is a much more complex idea. You might be excited to get out there and start your new job and your new life in a new city or state. On the other hand, what if there’s no job? What if the thought of leaving your beloved alma mater is akin to the thought of a root canal?

After high school, you may be parting ways with your closest friends, but you have the safety net of knowing that almost everyone comes home for the holidays. After college, this isn’t the case. If you attend school in Chicago and have a friend that’s from Texas that’s graduating and going to grad school in Seattle, will you ever see him again? Will he be back to visit?

Of course, this could be me being a little selfish and a lot sad that I’ll be losing so many friends and coworkers to the real world next year. But nonetheless, from graduates and non-graduates alike, the impending ceremony is receiving mixed reactions. Honestly though, I think this is part of the beauty of college. For the first time, you get to choose where you live, learn and make friends. Being sad to leave is a weird sort of pat on the back – “Good job! You made some awesome decisions!”

To all soon-to-be graduates, congratulations! Future college freshmen, you’ve got some great stuff headed your way, so get excited! Future college graduates, I wish you true sadness upon leaving college (hey, I said it was weird!) and all the success in the world in your future endeavors.

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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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Allison Rowe

by Allison Rowe

As a rising senior at Washington State University, I have a lot on my plate – balancing two majors, maintaining honor roll grades and working to realize some serious career aspirations – but I wasn’t always this way. If I can ever convince you of one thing, it is the infinitely transformative power of the college experience.

Lazy. Pessimistic. Socially awkward. These words describe my high school self. Not only did I take the second chance granted to everyone at my WSU freshman orientation, but also realized everyone is free to reinvent themselves as many times as they wish during these four years, so long as they are brave enough to embrace opportunity when it arises.

If you aren’t in a club and don’t have a job, if you haven’t applied for scholarships or attended your professors’ office hours, if you skip class and don’t give back to your community, if you haven’t made a new friend all semester, listen up: You are missing crucial opportunities and wasting money! Though hipsters would like to convince you otherwise, participation in college IS cool and its payouts are unlimited. You can boost your resume, pay off debt and eat free food with friends all at once by taking full advantage of services and activities your fees pay for. This is especially true now with widespread tuition increases (WSU’s has jumped more than 30 percent since I enrolled) and using your time in college efficiently should become a top priority.

Now I do not mean to suggest you must do all those things simultaneously, but the general consensus among seniors is that a busier life is a happier life! During my time as a Scholarship.com virtual intern, I hope to help you all get involved early and build a strong, diverse skill sets to maximize the true potential of your college experiences.


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What’s So Special About Specialized Majors?

Narrowing Your Focus is Both Risky and Rewarding

May 11, 2011

What’s So Special About Specialized Majors?

by Alexis Mattera

Starting college with a specific idea what you want to do with your life can make choosing a major, selecting classes and finding internships much easier than the decisions facing your undecided roommate. But is that specificity better? The answer is yes...and no. Well, actually, it’s a maybe.

With the increasing demand for expertise in narrow fields, some schools are putting programs in place to produce candidates perfectly suited for these niche jobs. SUNY at Albany, for example, has opened a College of Nanoscale Science to meet what The National Science Foundation estimates will be about 2 million workers with nanotechnology-centric backgrounds needed by 2014. The results so far are promising – even first-year students have already been offered summer internships with companies like Intel and IBM – but is this kind of specialization always wise?

To an extent, but career counselors, hiring consultants and academic officials think it’s more important for students to diversify their undergraduate years. Industry-specific skill sets may get a graduate into their chosen field faster but may severely limit career flexibility down the line. You may think you know your ideal career path but wait until you’ve taken a wide enough variety of classes to be sure...especially when employers report they value soft skills like effective communication, critical thinking and problem solving over precise training.

What do you think? Should you specialize right away or sample what your school has to offer before making a potentially life-changing decision?


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The Dos and Don’ts of Living at Home for the Summer

by Allison Rowe

After the hassles of finals, packing up and scrubbing down my apartment, one short stretch of my five and a half hour drive from the east side of Washington to the west makes it all worthwhile. I love pulling off the freeway onto the familiar roads of my hometown and examining which buildings have morphed from restaurants into hair salons and wine bars or back again to restaurants since my last visit. It can be difficult to accept that life back home always goes on without me, but I know one group of people that will always be excited to see me: my family.

Regardless of your family’s dynamic, after several months with limited contact, they will undeniably be glad to see your face. As you notice new wallpaper in the hallway or your increasingly hefty family pooch, your parents may also begin to identify the ways you’ve changed since your last visit home. As I adjust from the independence of college to the restrictions of life under my parents’ roof, however, I often find myself falling back into high school patterns – taking them for granted and setting my expectations of them too high. The best way to manage parental relations is to treat them less like public services or obstacles to your fun and more like a pair of real, adult human beings.

Avoid creating a routine of asking your parents for things. If you need money, food or your oil changed, try to establish those needs early so it does not become a recurring conflict. Be clear in what you are willing to exchange for your parents’ support, whether it’s household chores or just spending more time with them. Also, be sure to set aside time for hanging out with Mom and Dad away from the house. Suggest going to dinner or a movie...and maybe even pay sometimes. Trust them enough to disclose a few imperfect details of your college life. Show them that the new you is even better than the old you, and that you’re still interested in being part of their family.

Allison Rowe is a senior at Washington State University majoring in English and psychology. For the last two years, she has worked for her student newspaper, achieved the status of President’s honor roll every semester and academically excelled to acquire a handful of scholarships and writing awards. She dreams of moving to New York after her May 2012 graduation to dive head first into the publishing industry. In her free time, Allison enjoys cooking, game nights and psychologically thrilling movies. As a Scholarship.com virtual intern, Allison hopes to assist students in maximizing the gains of the college experience.


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