Posts Tagged ‘college’

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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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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Evaluating a Financial Aid Award

Monday, April 12th, 2010

You should consider academic, social, and financial factors (probably in that order) when deciding whether to apply to a school. However, as acceptance letters begin to arrive in March, financial aid will become one of the major considerations you utilize in making final college plans. That is why it’s important to know some basics about financial aid awards. Though two schools
may require equal family contributions, one may have inflated its aid package with unsubsidized student loans and work study programs. Knowing the precise
makeup of your financial aid options will allow you to choose a better college and avoid hassle after school has begun.
You likely submitted some financial information to each school shortly after applying; thus, they all have a rough idea of what your family can afford.
Because the schools that accept you won’t make unreasonable financial demands (they want you to enroll) and obviously don’t want to throw money away by
helping the financially capable, all of your financial aid awards will probably demand similar family contributions. These awards can differ greatly, though, in their ratios of gift aid to self-help aid.
Any sort of “free” financial aid, primarily grants and scholarships, constitutes gift aid. Grants are often tax exempt and have few requirements. Scholarships
have more requirements and may be taxable; however, the amount of the tax is usually negligible and most students can easily meet the requirements (for
example, enrollment in four classes and a GPA better than 2.0). Self-help, on the other hand, is barely financial aid at all. It is more like an institution-endorsed payment plan that helps you find a work-study program or
appropriate student loans. You will be required to pay back self help aid through work or loan payments.
You should also consider a school’s cost of attendance (COA) when evaluating financial aid offers ($15,000 goes a lot further toward a COA of $17,000 than $16,000 does toward a COA of $30,000). The estimated cost of attendance takes into account tuition, room and board, and some estimate of other living expenses. Subtract the amount of gift aid a school offers from its estimated
COA and look primarily at this figure when considering a school’s financial aid package. It represents the amount of money that you and your family will actually have to pay the institution.
Picking a school can be as difficult as applying. However, with the above information, you can easily discern the real amount of financial aid schools
are offering. This adds clarity to the process and helps you pick the best college.

Additional Resources:
IRS Guidelines: Taxable Income for Students

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