If you're on the fence about choosing a college to attend, there is a secret ingredient to making your decision that you use every day and may be overlooking. Dean Tsouvalas, Editor-in-Chief of StudentAdvisor, recently appeared on the NECN Morning Show to discuss how social media can help you decide on a college:
How can students use social media to their advantage when deciding on a college?
Almost all colleges across the country are using some form of social media. It's one of the best options that students can use when researching schools and making a final decision on the best fit for them.
What are some examples of how students can use social media in their college search?
You can monitor what schools are tweeting or chatting about; is it about crime or is it about a really great addition to the campus library? We've seen schools like Williams College set up designated Twitter chats their admitted students. But you don't just stop at browsing through the official school accounts. You can find a person who attends the school who is using social media and communicate with them about your last minute questions and concerns.
You can search Twitter or Tumblr to see what current students are talking about on campus. We've seen tons of high school students reach out to college students at the schools they're considering to ask them questions. More often than not they're willing to help!
For those who have already decided on a college, how can they use social media for that scary next step?
Colleges are doing a lot to help incoming students make connections on social media before they even get to campus. One of the biggest concerns among incoming freshman is who their roommate(s) will be. Social media offers a unique advantage to chat with your roommate online prior to starting school. At Saint Mary's College, one of the Top 100 Social Media Colleges, students used the entering class Facebook page to find potential roomies.
Talking about student loans is never a fun, but that isn't going to stop Jimmy Fallon from trying. Yesterday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jimmy Fallon and President Obama turned down the lights and crooned a plea to congress to lower student loan interest rates. The result? Some insightful points made over smooth beats provided by The Roots. Do you think they got the point across? Watch the video below and post what you think about this bizarre duet in the comments!
By Sam Coren
Thought you were comfortable adjusting privacy settings on your Facebook profile after the last round of changes? Get ready: privacy settings are about to change yet again for the social networking juggernaut. While some users have had Facebook's new Timeline-style profile through the developer application, it has finally started to roll out officially to all users this week.
But there's more to this slick new photo-centric Facebook profile than meets the eye. WCBV Boston's Newscenter spoke with StudentAdvisor's Dean Tsouvalas and Ashley Jones in addition to Emerson College student Anum Hussain about Facebook Timeline's privacy issues:
What you should do once you get Facebook Timline:
When your profile transitions to Timline you have 7 days to delete posts and pictures before they get published to your new profile.
- Go through post by post starting with the year you joined Facebook and click the pencil next to each post to adjust the settings.
- Use the "View as" feature (accesible via the on the bottom right of your cover photo) to preview what certain friends are able to see.
- Log out of Facebook to see what's viewable on your public profile to a user who isn't signed in.
- Be mindful of the privacy settings on each new post you publish - if you posted a public update the next time you go to post something, it may still be stuck on the "Public" setting.
By Dean Tsouvalas
Now that applications are in, it's time for college-bound students to start applying for financial aid to help fund their education. Yesterday I sat down with Gene Lavanchy of Boston's Fox 25 Morning News Show to discuss ways students and parents can land the best possible financial aid package. While the process of applying for aid may seem as easy as just filling out the FAFSA there's actually a lot more to it! So what can you do to ensure you're setting yourself up to receive the most aid?
Learn more about the 7 ways to get the best financial aid package for college:
1. Fill out the FAFSA! It all starts with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
One study showed that 53% of eligible families did not bother applying for aid through the FAFSA leaving millions on the table. Colleges use the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for government funded financial aid such as grants and federal student loans. Schools will also determine if you qualify for need-based scholarships based on your FAFSA score. You can do it all online at FAFSA.gov. DO NOT pass on filling out the financial aid paperwork if you think you won’t qualify
2. Proof read your FAFSA (at least 3 times) to avoid these common mistakes:
- Listing incorrect Social Security Number or Driver’s license
- Leaving blank fields – enter a ‘0′ or ‘not applicable’ instead of leaving a blank. Too many blanks may cause miscalculations and an application rejection.
- Using commas or decimal points in numeric fields – always round to the nearest dollar.
- Listing marital status incorrectly – only write yes if you are currently married. They want to know what your marital status is on the day you sign the FAFSA, or Renewal FAFSA.
- Listing parent marital status incorrectly – the custodial parent’s marital status is required; if they’ve remarried, you’ll need the stepparent’s information too.
- Leaving the question about drug-related offenses blank – if you’re unsure about something, find out before you submit your FAFSA instead of leaving it blank. A conviction doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from getting aid.
- Forgetting to list the college – obtain the Federal School Code for the college, you plan on attending and list it – along with any other schools to which you’ve applied.
- Forgetting to sign and date – if you’re filling out the paper FAFSA be sure to sign it. If you’re filing electronically, be sure to obtain your PIN from www.pin.ed.gov. Your PIN is your electronic signature and will always be assigned to you only.
3. Make sure your parent has as little cash in checking, savings and other cash-equivalents as possible on the day you file your FAFSA.
The final set of questions on your FAFSA will ask about the money you have on hand. Make sure that you and your student have as little money in checking, savings and other cash-equivalents the day you file the paperwork. It also helps to pay off as many bills as possible before filing the paperwork.
4. Your student should always file a tax return, even if he or she is not making any money.
A tax return that says $0 can actually work in his or her favor, as it demonstrates a need.
5. Understand that grades have little to do with financial aid awards.
Many parents assume their child must have good grades to qualify for grants and scholarships. This is inaccurate. Most colleges award a majority of their grants based on financial need, not merit. Merit scholarships comprise less than 2% of the total “pot.” Although it’s fun to talk about merit scholarships, the big money - more than 98% - is in the need-based financial aid system.
6. Don’t wait on your acceptance letters before applying for aid!
Financial Aid is on a first come, first serve basis. You don’t need to be accepted to a college before you can submit your FAFSA – you only need to list which schools you have applied to. Typically, for first year students, colleges mail their financial aid reward statuses to students a few months after the application deadline to accepted students.
7. Be sure to compare financial aid packages from different schools closely.
Do not be afraid to read between the lines on financial aid reward letters. It’s not uncommon for “expensive” private colleges to offer better financial aid packages than state schools. Examine the gap (if there is one) between the financial aid package and the cost of attendance for each school to see how well the package meets your need. Break down how much money is coming from grants, federal loans, scholarships, and work-study. Grants and scholarships don’t have to be paid back. Work-study money must be earned through part time employment during the school year and students must pay taxes on it. Loans need to be paid back and different families can take on different amounts of debt. Remember – federal loans are less expensive and have more benefits than private loans.
You must fill out a FAFSA every year you are in school, but if you apply online, you can re-use your FAFSA-on-the-Web PIN each year you apply for federal financial aid.
Make sure you fill in every year for every child you have in college starting in January of their SENIOR year in high school to ensure you have a chance at receiving the most aid.
By Sam Coren
So you've unpacked your parents' minivan and claimed the upper bunk, but something seems a bit "off" about this new dorm room now that you've just moved into. You and your roommates are struggling to figure out how you can make four cinderblock walls feel more cozy and less like a jail cell. Luckily for you, StudentAdvisor Editor-in-Chief Dean Tsouvalas knows a thing or to about sprucing up a dorm room after organizing this year's Ultimate Dorm Living Guide.
This morning, Dean was invited by the hosts of NECN's The Morning Show to give the rundown dorm room ideas that can ease the transition from home to residence hall. Better yet? Dean's got dorm shopping suggestions for students on any budget. He won't just give you the scoop on the coolest new gadgets, but also some serious money-saving dorm must-haves that won't destroy your wallet.
Find out when to splurge or save on your dorm room shopping list and check out the video below:
By Sam Coren
Those Jersey Shore guys might be onto something with getting into the whole GTL routine. One of the toughest parts of acclimating to college dorm life is mustering up the will power to find those precious quarters for wash. Gone are the days of your mom making sure you had enough clean socks and underwear to get you through the week. Some students are bold enough to bring home their dirty clothes on breaks in hopes of a free load of wash or two. Others will keep going until every last piece of clothing fails the smell test. A few are lucky enough to go to schools that offer a laundry service.
So out of simple curiousity, the StudentAdvisor team went on location to learn how often the typical college student does their laundry. Watch the video below to find out!