Archive for the ‘College Resources’ Category

College Guide to Building and Protecting Credit

Monday, March 10th, 2014

With so many things to consider as you make the transition from high school to college, your credit score hardly seems like your most important concern.  The fact is, many college students first come to terms with their own credit status as they look for ways to cover tuition and other expenses associated with post-secondary education. And many are disappointed with what they find in their credit reports.

Young adults are at a disadvantage in the lending industry; primarily because most have not established themselves with long histories of borrowing money and successfully repaying it.  Despite limited exposure, there are ways to move your credit standing in a positive direction – before, during and after college.  The keys to increasing credit worthiness are understanding how financial interactions work and making sure your borrowing relationships always have positive outcomes.

What Matters?

Building a good credit rating doesn’t happen overnight, which is precisely why young people are not in the best position for proving their creditworthiness.  Your credit health is based on a series of evaluations conducted by three primary credit reporting agencies.  By looking at your borrowing and repayment history, credit agencies assign a number to your performance.  The scale tops-out at 850, with scores above 700 representing what would generally be considered “good credit”.

To arrive at the figure, credit evaluation organizations look at the types of borrowing in your past.  The highest scores are assigned to borrowers with long track records of repayment success.  The function of your credit score is to provide assurances to lenders that you are able and willing to pay borrowed money back.  Banks and other lenders want to limit their own risk levels, so they use credit reports to determine whether or not you are a safe prospect.  And it isn’t only the number of credit accounts you’ve successfully managed, but also the types.

Types of Credit

There are essentially two types of credit that show-up on credit histories, influencing how credit scores are assigned.  Revolving credit, on one hand, applies to credit relationships like the ones extended by MasterCard and Visa.  Under the terms of revolving contracts, consumers make purchases and payments on a “revolving” basis, usually tied to calendar months.  Purchases made during this month will typically bill during the following month, influencing the account balance and minimum payment requirements.  Covering the entire cost of a purchase wipes the slate clean, without interest charges being added.  When balances are carried over, however, the issuing creditor adds a few percentage points of interest to the card balance, which borrowers pay above and beyond the cost of items purchased.

Managing revolving credit accounts is a great credit-building opportunity for young people.  Even if you only have one major credit card; making on-time payments and successfully managing revolving balances shows creditors you are responsible enough to meet your financial obligations.

The other class of lending that credit agencies evaluate is called installment credit.  Unlike revolving terms, installment credit involves a single one-time loan, which is set-up for repayment over a designated period of time.  Home mortgages, for example, extend for decades of repayment, requiring borrowers to pay the same amount each month, until the loan balance and interest are fully accounted for.  Because they show long-term credit relationships, installment loans provide important references for creditors, who assign higher credit scores to individuals with proven installment loan repayment successes in their credit histories.

Automobile loans are excellent examples of installment loans undertaken by young people.  While you may not take out a mortgage during college, a successful history paying back your installment car loan is an important credit-building opportunity.  Missing even one payment can have a negative impact on your credit score, so repaying on-time should never be taken lightly.

In addition to credit cards and car loans, utility and phone contracts also furnish ways for college students to build and protect their credit standing.  Staying current on required payments adds fortification to your positive repayment history, furnishing more examples for credit agencies to look at.

Even student loans are part of your credit history, so staying on pace with repayment is another way to shine among creditors.  Never let a student loan default – it has negative impacts on your credit rating.  Instead, use deferments or grace periods to offset payments until you are financial able to cover your commitments.  Working with lenders before you run into problems is a much better strategy than picking up the pieces following student loan default.

While college students don’t always have the lengthy, diverse credit history shared by seasoned borrowers; there are still ways to move credit ratings forward.  Above all else, take care to manage your accounts properly; repaying loans on schedule and keep revolving accounts current.

This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes about free background check for Backgroundchecks.org. She welcomes your comments at her email id: GrayRebecca14@gmail.com.

5 Things Every College Freshman Should Know

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Leaving high school and starting your next chapter in life is exciting! College is a chance for you to grow up, get away and start your own life. But before you get too carried away, make sure you take a few things with you when you get there:

1. Go to class: Hitting snooze through your 8am will get you nowhere in class. Doesn’t matter how tired you are, get to class. Lots of professors take attendance and will deduct from your grade if you are a no show. Going to class will help you come test and final time. Just go!

2. Get to know your professor: For each class you take, get to know your professor. After the first day of class, take the time to introduce yourself to your professor. Building a relationship with them can help you toward the end of the course. Professors that know their students will be more likely to help with any problems or test questions.

3. Get involved: Colleges have all sorts of clubs, groups, activities and associations for students join. Not sure what to join? Consider joining a club that fits your major of choice, for example if you are studying Public Relations there are groups like PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and etc.  You can find clubs and groups for just about anything you are interested in. Getting involved on campus will help you meet new people and expand your horizons.

4. Don’t get a credit card: Credit card companies entice college freshman because they are easy targets. Without your parents there to watch your spending, credit card companies woo you with awesome gimmicks like ‘spend now, pay later’. Before you look at getting a credit card, speak to your parents about it first so they can go over the fine print that the credit card company isn’t telling you. You don’t want to get yourself in a large debt hole you can’t get out of.

5. Get active: The Freshman 15 is real and not a myth that your health teachers tell you about. Your first year of college you can expect to gain more weight than you want too. With unlimited food sources and lack of home cooked meals it’s easy to pack on the pounds. To avoid gaining the dreaded ’15’, join a sports league, use the student recreation center and try to make your meals at home and skip the late night drive thru.

Make friends, be safe, have fun, study and enjoy it! College is a wonderful and educational time of your life; just make sure you are prepared your first year. And don’t forget to write home to Mom and Dad. Or at least shoot them a text every now and then.

Author Bio:

Kate Croston is a freelance writer, holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing home internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to:  katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.

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Can’t Afford to Make a Campus Visit? 4 Ways you Can get the Inside Scoop for Free

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

When a high school senior is debating which college is the best for him or her, it’s highly important that he or she physically goes to visit his or her college-of-choice before making any commitments. After all, students need to feel comfortable knowing that the school is a “right fit” for them and that the establishment will actually be able to help them accomplish all their goals, including career and social. But visiting several different colleges can get expensive, especially after considering traveling costs, hotel accommodations and food. If your family can’t afford to travel to several different campuses right now, there are still a few (free) ways you can get a feel for what a school is like without ever having to step foot on campus. To learn how, continue reading below.

Take Virtual Tours

There are some college websites that actually offer interested students “virtual tours” of their facilities, including the campus and residence halls. You may not be able to see it in the flesh, but some of these tours are so well-executed and use such good photos that you feel as though you’re really there. You may also try doing a Google search and seeing if there are any videos about your school created by other students that may be able to give you a better inside look into campus-life.

Read Campus Newspaper Online

Another easy way to get a “feel” for what life on a certain campus will be like is to read the school’s student newspapers. Most colleges offer their student papers online for free. You may need to do a simple Google search first to discover the name of the publication however. What reading the student newspaper does is give you some insight to what’s going on campus and the city as a whole. Thus you can get a better idea of what the crime rate is like as well as what kind of events are thrown at your school. You can also get a better idea of what your peers will be like and learn a few of their accomplishments.

Call Alumni Centers

If you want to get a first –hand, unrehearsed account of what life is like at your college but don’t have any friends who have attended the school, then your next best bet is to call the school’s alumni center. Someone should be able to put you in contact with a former college student who will be able to answer all of your questions about the school so that you can make a more formal decision if whether that particular school sounds like someplace you’d like to be for the next four years.

Scour Open Courseware

Last but not least, you want to see if your school-of-choice offers open courseware. Open courseware is free online classes that are opened for the public. While you won’t need to take these courses, sometimes it can be beneficial to take a peek to see what’s to come. Or in other words, you can see what might be expected of you and get a better idea if the academic department is up to par with your standards. On that note, you’ll also want to do some research on your potential department’s faculty team—are there any notable professors who have done groundbreaking research? Are there any notable graduates from the department that went on to accomplish great feats? All of this should be considered before committing to a school.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes for online universities blog.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: katherynrivas87@gmail.com.

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Juniors, Here Is A List of What To Expect When You Are Expecting to Go To College

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Most college admission officers will tell you, from the spring semester of a student’s junior year through the fall semester of that student’s senior year, they should be heading full tilt towards college.  What does that mean?  It means this is the time for students to get serious about the college selection process.  Here is a timeline, to help you know what to expect when you are expecting to go to college.

February:

If possible, start visiting colleges.  In order to do that, you need to speak with your guidance counselor or college adviser and craft an initial list of schools.  Possibly take the ACT for the first time, if you haven’t yet.  Register for the March SAT.  Prepare for both tests.

March:

Most high schools begin their course selection for senior year.  Remember to take a challenging curriculum.  Register for the April ACT.  Continue studying for both tests.  College Visits!  If you want to play sports in college, start contacting coaches.

April:

Register for the May SAT or SAT II’s.  You will need to take the SAT II Subject Tests if you are applying to some colleges.  If you are taking an AP test that correlates with an SAT II test, then I recommend you take the SAT II in May, as the May test date is right in the middle of AP Exams, and all the content will be fresh in your head.  If you have registered for it, take the ACT test.  Continue your college visits and start to narrow down your list of schools.

May:

Take the SAT or SAT II’s, if you have registered for the test.  Register for the June SAT or SAT II, or ACT.  Study for the tests!  Get your results back from the April ACT or the May SAT.  Decide if you need to take the test again, and what you need to study.  Start studying for your final exams.  Junior year is the last full year of classes that the colleges will see.  Your grades are always the primary factor in the decision whether to admit you to college or deny you.  Start planning what you are going to do over the summer.  If you think might want to have one of your current teachers write you a letter of recommendation, ask now, so he or she can write the letter over the Summer.

June:

Take your high school exams, if you haven’t yet.  Take the SAT or SAT II, or the ACT.  Most colleges are out of session now, so visits might not be as effective as when classes are in session.  But, it is better to visit in the Summer than to never visit at all.  Review your test results and plan which tests you need to retake in the Fall and how you are going to prepare.  Contact college coaches again to let them know which camps, tournaments, etcetera you will be attending over the Summer.

July:

Have a little fun!  OK, now back to work.  Review your of schools and start narrowing it down to the final schools to which you are going to apply.  Start writing your personal statement or college essay.  Work a summer job, go to a summer program, or perform some community service.  Make certain to stay active.

August:

The Common Application becomes available.  Start an account online, and start filling out your application.  Work on your college essay!  The best writing takes abundant rewriting, so be sure to give yourself enough time to write a good essay.  Get a list together of all school requirements for the schools to which you are applying (how many teacher recommendations, extra essays, interviews, et cetera).  Touch base with any teachers you have asked to write a letter of recommendation for you.  You can now provide them with the Common Application’s Teacher Evaluation form.  Visit colleges.  Interview for college.  Decide if and where you will apply Early Decision and or Early Action.  Study for standardized tests.  Register for September ACT.

September:

Keep up your grades.  Put finishing touches on applications.  Continue college interviews.  Request teacher recommendations.  Finalize your college list.  Review the list to make sure you have at least one admission “safe” school and one financial “safe” school.  If you do not have a financial “safety”, use CollegeTreasure.com to find one.  Take ACT again if necessary. Register for October SAT, if necessary.  Study for standardized tests.

October:

Take SAT and ACT if necessary.  Request transcripts from your guidance office.  Finalize and submit applications for your Early Action and Early Decision schools.  Continue visits and interviews.  Send thank you notes to anyone you had interviewed with previously.  Make certain you have requested your letters of recommendation.  Send thank you letters to teachers who have written you recommendations.  Check on financial aid deadlines to the schools to which you are applying.  Register for November SAT, if necessary.

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Finding A Financial Safety School

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I have always felt that the most important school is your safety school. In my mind a safety school isn’t just a school where you know that you will be accepted, since there are over 2,400 colleges in the US everyone will get in to at least one, but it is a school where you know you will be accepted and you will be happy if you have to go there. However, with the current state of the economy, it isn’t enough just to get accepted to a college, you have to be able to pay for it as well. That is where the financial safety comes in. For many students, that has become a state college in their home state or a community college in their home state. Yet, there are still many more options. Many states participate in regional states programs, where you can get reduced tuition at a state school in another state, if the major isn’t offered in your home state. Here is a link to a previous article we had written about regional states programs.

In addition, you can use CollegeTreasure.com to help you locate private colleges where you are eligible for merit scholarships that might bring the actual cost of the college below your home state school. We have added features to allow you to search by four of the five factors that we think are critical in making a good college match (the fifth is quality of life, and you need to determine that on your own by visiting and other resources). Here are the other four:

· Academic Profile:  Can I get in to the school? How competitive is the admissions process? In our advanced search, you can sort by the level of competition of admission. You can choose more than one category, or all of them if you would like.

· Academic Program: Does the school have the major I want? Remember, most students end up changing their major, so does the school have enough majors that I am interested in? Again, you can sort by area of study in our advanced search.

· Size: If I don’t need to go to class, will I still go? Do I want to be more than a number? Do I need more opportunities in case I change my mind? Do I need more individual attention? How do I learn best?

· Geography: Where in the country do I want to study? Do I want to be in a city, suburb, or rural area?

The final sort you can run is to choose to only see schools where you are eligible for money, or all schools that meet your academic criteria. The best way to find your financial safety is to show the schools where you are eligible for money. In minutes you can easily locate your financial safeties. We do charge a $24 fee for a one-year premium membership, however, we give you a free one-day trial so that you can see the value before you decide to pay. We also have a number of other resources that we will highlight in future blog posts.

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Avoiding the Summer Daze: Rising Seniors Use Your Summer Wisely

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Now that the school year is wrapping up (or has already been wrapped up), it is easy to just kick back, relax, and allow half the summer to go by without doing anything to get your self ready for college.  The fall of senior year can be a very stressful time, so I recommend you use the summer to get a jump on your college applications.  Here is a list of things that you need to get done this summer.

  • Finalize Your College List
    —Narrow list down to 8 to 10 schools
    —Revisit your original criteria, has anything changed?
    —Check application requirements at your list of schools
    —Have you met testing requirements?
    —Do you have teachers lined up for letters of recommendation?
    —When are the deadlines?
  • Visit Colleges Again
    —This will help you narrow down the list and come up with your own ranking of the schools
    —Demonstrated interest is becoming more important in the admission process. This is one of the best ways to show interest.
    —If possible, interview when on campus.
  • Prepare for Fall Standardized Tests
    Take practice SAT or ACT tests
    Review performance results from your spring tests, and study up on areas where you are weak
    Consider tutoring, a course, or a book to help you improve
  • Start Your Applications!
    —The Common Application accounts open on August 1, but you can print a draft and get started earlier
    —Write a resume
    —Start your essay!
    —The Common Application has reinstated the 500 word limit on the long essay.
    Work on the Common Application short answer
    Make certain you know your school’s policy regarding transcript requests
  • Develop a List of Financial Aid Deadlines
    —When are the filing deadlines?
    —What forms are required?
    —Do you have a financial safety school?

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Making Money While You’re In College

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Many college students do not realize how many marketable skills they have right at the beginning of their college education. There are quite a few job opportunities available both in the summer and throughout the school year; being proactive about them will only increase your job-finding chances once you have a degree in your hand.

Work Study

This is probably the surest way to find a job while you’re at college. Most colleges reserve plenty of work study positions for students, so you’re bound to find something if you ask around diligently and sooner rather than later.

Of course, it helps finding a work study position for a department, professor, or studio that aligns with your interests, so it’s a good idea to look into work study positions as soon as you know what university you’re attending.

Other Campus Jobs

Many universities offer many different positions in addition to work study. The only difference is that these positions aren’t federally funded and are usually paid through the school. Some universities group these jobs in lists with work study positions while others keep them separate, so keep that in mind when looking for work at colleges.

Marketing Your Skills Outside College

It is a less common occurrence for students to look for work outside of their university, but it’s definitely something students should strive for. Employers will look at experience outside of the university through a slightly different light because it’s considered more “real-world” experience and it took initiative and ingenuity to look outside the university walls for work.

Electronic Repair

There are lots of different options here depending on what your skills and focus are. For tech savvy students studying computer science or engineering, finding a job at a computer repair center for a major electronic retailer like Best Buy can be a great way to find great pay and get some valuable tech experience.

Tutoring

Many college students can find jobs tutoring for public high schools or for standardized college admissions exams like SAT. These jobs usually offer lucrative pay and also great experience, especially for those establishing a career in education.

Blogging

This is becoming a more and more viable option to get some extra income while at school. Many of your classes will give you lots of different ideas for blogs, so you should never be starved for content (although you may find yourself mentally fatigued between schoolwork and blogging). Keep in mind that this wouldn’t be a mindless job and doesn’t guarantee decent (or even any) pay, but even keeping a blog that doesn’t gain revenue from advertising is still a great way to create an online presence for yourself that will impress future employers.

General Advice

As a general rule of thumb, try to find jobs that will help support your interests in one way or another. As an art student, you may not be able to immediately find a job at a gallery, but you could find a job at an art supply store. This would help keep you networked with other artists and most likely give you discounts to the art supplies you need for class.

Internships

Unfortunately, a large portion of internships for college students are unpaid. But even if internships are unpaid, they are still a great way to ensure a job after college. And some internships are only unpaid for the first few months or year. Once you have more experience interning for a company, you are more likely to receive opportunities that offer decent pay.

By-line:

This guest contribution was submitted by Pamelia Brown, who specializes in writing about associates degree. Questions and comments can be sent to: pamelia.brown@gmail.com.

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Juniors, Don’t Wait Till Senior Year for the College Onslaught

Monday, February 14th, 2011

It is hard to believe, but we are already in the middle of February.  Most college admission officers will tell juniors that from now on they should be completely focused on college.  But, what does that mean?  First, you need to prepare for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, and SAT II if required by target colleges).  Ideally you would have all standardized tests completed by the end of junior year, so you can devote the summer to drafting your essays and completing applications. 

Second, continue to compile a transcript with rigorous courses and participate in meaningful activities.  The most important piece of the college admission puzzle is your transcript.  So, keep getting good grades and make sure to choose your classes wisely for next year.  Colleges do not want to see you taking it easy in your senior year.  In fact, a recent study corroborated what guidance counselors have been telling students for years: taking harder classes improves your chances of getting in more than improving your grades or your SAT/ACT scores. 

Third, visit target colleges to create “demonstrated interest” and learn about schools.  This is invaluable.  You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, so you shouldn’t attend a college without thoroughly evaluating it.  In additon to visiting the campus to show demonstrated interest, you can also find local college fairs that the colleges youa re interested in will be attending.  The NACAC college fairs are great, as you get a large number of colleges in one place, and typically they are attended by members of the college’s admission staff and not just local alumni recruiters.

Finally, as we near the end of the year start to approach teachers who know you best to request letters of recommendation. If they seem excited, get contact information so you can send the recommendation forms when they become available in July.

Buckle up, you are in for a wild ride.  But, if you take the time to plan carefully, you will have a number of great options and it will all be worth it in the end.

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What to do when you get deferred from your Early Action/Early Decision application

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Nichols College in Dudley Massachusetts.  Click the image for your chance to win a $1,000 Spotlight Scholarship to Nichols!Is it a disappointment?  Of course it is, but it is not a time for despair.  It is a time for action.  It is time to regroup and continue to put your best foot forward.  You’ve done your research, and made your Early Action/Early Decision commitment to your college, but unfortunately they have not reciprocated.  The first course of action is to continue your demonstrated interest that you’ve established over the past several months.  Write a letter to the college expressing your continued interest.  This letter is also an opportunity to update them as to any new developments since you submitted your application.  Have you won any awards?  Are you involved in any new activities?  Inform and update the admissions commitment of your new activities or interests since you submitted your application.   An example of an introduction to such letter is as follows: "While I am disappointed that I wasn't accepted at this time, I am excited that I still have an opportunity to be a part of the class of 2015 at First Choice University.  You are my first choice for college, and remain so...” Don’t hesitate to call the admissions office and ask them if there is anything additional you can do to enhance your application.  Perhaps, they may suggest retaking the SAT.   If you haven't had an alumni or an on campus interview, ask if it is possible for you to schedule one.  Consider asking if they would accept an additional letter of recommendation or an additional writing sample. Understand that every situation is unique, and doing all of these things might not make a difference, so make sure that you have a solid back up plan in place.

 

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Tips for Winning Local Scholarships

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Applying for scholarships can be intimidating, and time consuming. However, if you do a little research at the

Nichols College in Dudley Massachusetts.  Click the image for your chance to win a $1,000 Spotlight Scholarship to Nichols!

Nichols College in Dudley Massachusetts. Click the image for your chance to win a $1,000 Spotlight Scholarship to Nichols!

beginning of the process, it can be very financially rewarding as well. In writing and speaking, it is always important to know your audience. That same goes when applying for scholarships. If you take the time to know who will be reading your application ahead of time, you can tailor your application to the reader.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. You always have your best chance at winning local scholarships. The money being given away has been raised by fellow members of your community and they want to see it go to deserving students from their home town. Since these are very geographically targeted, there are often less applicants for the scholarships and that means less competition. I am the chair of my local Rotary club’s scholarship committee, and I have also helped review applications for my local Chamber of Commerce, and now I am going to share some tips with you on how to tailor your application to the mission of the organization.

  1. If possible, determine the criteria being used to evaluate the scholarship applications. Not all organizations offer complete transparency, but most will give you the general means of evaluating the application. Typically they will look at academics, service, need, and an essay.
  2. Look at the organizations website and see if they have a mission statement. Determine how they raise the money they are giving away and also seek out the other types of charitable works they do throughout the year. Service organizations like to give money to students who are very involved in community service. A kind of pay it forward mentality. If you are involved with any service work that is similar to work that the organization is doing, mention it. That will help you to create a connection with the reader.
  3. Read the application carefully. If they ask for three copies of your application, make certain to submit 3 copies of your application. In my Rotary Club, we also evaluate students by how they follow directions. Finally, if there is an essay question that is specific to that scholarship, don’t try to make another essay fit. Write an essay that answers that specific question. Most importantly, make sure to meet the deadline, and if a transcript is required from your high school, make sure you give them enough time to get the transcript for you.
Students enjoying the beautiful campus of Mitchell College. Click for your chance to win a $1,000 scholarship to Mitchell!

Students enjoying the beautiful campus of Mitchell College. Click for your chance to win a $1,000 scholarship to Mitchell!

It is important to remember that most of the people who are reading these applications are volunteers, and they work hard all year to raise the money that they are giving away. Show appreciation in your application without becoming too obsequious (good SAT word. It means excessive fawning. It has a similar meaning to a sycophant, or kissing up). Finally, take the time in the end to proofread your application before sending it and make sending the write essay to the write organization. Attention to detail is very important. Follow these tips and you will increase your chances of winning some local scholarships.

James Maroney, the author of this article, is the founder of First Choice College Placement LLC, AdmissionHook.com, and CollegeTreasure.com.  He is also a contributor to Igrad.com.  He has toured over 100 different college campuses across the country and worked with students from all over the world to help them make their college dream a reality.  He is a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association, NACAC, the Education Industry Association, and the chair of the Devon Rotary Scholarship Committee.  You can contact him at james@collegetreasure.com.

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