By Justin Munio
As most parents and students are aware, if you need money to go to college then you deal with the financial aid department. These are the people that are in charge of awarding grants, scholarships, student loans, and work-study packages. Figuring out how the college determines who gets money and who doesn’t can often times seem tricky, so let’s try to look at this process in as simple a format as possible.
Now, the concept is that financial aid goes to those families who need it the most. To determine this, colleges use two factors:
Cost of Attendance (COA) and Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Then, the financial aid department uses a simple formula: COA – EFC = NEED.
How to Calculate the Cost of Attendance
Your COA is pretty straightforward. It is the cost of tuition, room & board, books, fees, transportation, and an allowance for miscellaneous fees. The COA at a college can change every year, so financial aid is recalculated every year. Remember to include all of the items I just mentioned in your budget, since that is exactly what the college is doing when figuring out your financial aid. If you forget to factor in the cost of textbooks, you may not have enough money when you head off to college in the fall.
How to Calculate Your Estimated Family Contribution
Your EFC is a bit more complicated because the college is trying to determine how much money they think your family can afford to spend on college. Unfortunately, your EFC is never going to be as low as you would prefer (unless of course it’s $0), but it is important to know what factors impact your EFC. There are many different things that go into the calculation of your EFC, but four of the biggest influences are Parent Income, Parent Assets, Student Income, and Student Assets.
Other factors that can influence your EFC include the number of family members in your household, the number of students in college at the same time, the ages of each family member, and even what state you live in. If this seems complicated, plenty of other families are thinking the same thing. Much like how a CPA can help you with your taxes, a good college advisor should be able to help you understand your EFC.
Determining Your Financial Need
The last step in the process is to determine your NEED. This is how much financial aid you may be eligible for. Let’s say for example that your college has a COA of $50,000 and your EFC is $20,000. This means your NEED is $30,000 ($50K-$20K=$30K). Now, does this mean that you’re going to get a $30,000 scholarship? Not usually. Most colleges will award you some combination of grants/scholarships (free money) and work-study/student loans (self help). Keep in mind that money you receive based on this formula is called “Need-Based Aid”. Scholarships that you get for having a really high GPA or good SAT scores are called “Merit-Based” and are awarded based on separate criteria. Even if your EFC is higher than a college’s COA, you could still receive “Merit-Based” aid (so study hard!)
Next time we’ll talk about your EFC in more detail and explore the fact that there are 2 possible EFC formulas a college could use, each with a different set of questions.
By Megan Kenslea
It’s Cyber Monday today, which means that most likely your inbox has been inundated with emails about online deals galore. Here at StudentAdvisor, we love a good discount as much as the next person. Whether you’re splurging on something you normally wouldn’t buy, or just stocking up on basics, Cyber Monday is the best time of year to get great deals online.
We couldn't be happier to see that some of our favorite items from our Ultimate Dorm Living Guide are on sale this week. Here are some of the top items on the StudentAdvisor lust list. Merry Shopping!
DormCo College Plush Comforter
Normally $59.62, this comforter is on sale today for just $37.13.
One of the most comfortable blankets we have ever seen, this is sure to be a hit for anyone on your holiday shopping list, and will keep you warm and cozy through long winter nights.
For a limited time only, the BlackBerry Playbook – one of the coolest, most portable tablets around – is available starting at just $199. Small enough to work as a camera, but large enough to surf the web without squinting to read everything, this tablet is the perfect fit for any college student on the go.
Dyson Table Fan
We know what you’re thinking – a fan? But this is no ordinary fan. Powerful and sleek, this bladeless fan is the absolute crème de la crème of table fans. At $299.99, it is the ultimate dorm luxury item, but shoppers can save $100 today on the Dyson website. This item is sure to wow even the person who has everything. Need convincing? Check out this StudentAdvisor video for a demonstration.
Juice Pack Air
Oh. My. Goodness. A device that extends the battery life of your iPhone? Sign us up! The Juice Pack Air is far and away the most desired item in our office. Regularly $79.95, the Cyber Monday sale price is just $55.95, so snatch it up while you have the chance.
Absolutely the most comfortable futon, ever. Our testers loved this mini-futon, which is perfect as a seat during the daytime, or a place for friends to crash at night. Normally $189.99, today, shoppers can save $45.
To celebrate Black Friday the StudentAdvisor team put together a few videos of the best gifts for college students on your guest list. These gifts were tested by a group of college students from around the country. So on Black Friday check out any of these gifts for college students that are sure to make them happy and the envy of all in the dorm.
Gifts to keep your college student cool
StudentAdvisor scoured the earth looking for the best in dorm room accessories to keep you cool during the school year. To see our top dorm pics check out our digital magazine "Ultimate Dorm Living Guide"
Battle of the George Foreman Grills
Battle of the George Foreman Grills. StudentAdvisor.com picks the two best George Foreman Grills for your favorite college student. More in the "Ultimate Dorm Living Guide"
Best Gifts to keep your College Student Wrinkle Free
This save or splurge segment gives you 3 options to get the wrinkles out. For the whole gift guide check out StudentAdvisor.com's Ultimate Dorm Living Guide
Gifts for keeping your dorm room clean
Regardless if you vacuum your room once a day or once a semester StudentAdvisor.com selects the best vacuum for your college student.
By Megan Kenslea
Did you know you could win a $50 Amazon or iTunes gift card just for reviewing your college? Review your college on StudentAdvisor by December 31st, 2011 for your chance to win! StudentAdvisor will be awarding two $50 gift cards every week until the end of the year - so tell your friends and share the love!
If you're a regular on StudentAdvisor, or even if you just happened upon us, there's a good chance you are a college student, have been a college student, or plan to be a college student. StudentAdvisor is a pretty handy site - after all, with college reviews from schools across the country, visitors can get honest opinions about student life, academics, and sports from the comfort of their own home.
Students, alumni, and even faculty members can write a review - so what are you waiting for? Click here to start your college review!
In the meantime, here's how I would spend the prizes (if I were eligible to win that is):
- Two seasons of Arrested Development
- The 38 most purchased songs on iTunes
- Twilight Saga: The Complete Collection (the iBooks)
...and on Amazon:
If you won a $50 to Amazon or iTunes, what would you get?
Photo: Phil Roeder
By Danielle Sandahl
“Entrepreneurs are not normal. Normal follows, entrepreneurs lead.”
As a Babson student, I’ve constantly been told that an entrepreneur is not just someone who starts a business, but rather that entrepreneurship is a way of thinking. While this definition is a great motivator for students, those who are brave enough to take the leap of faith and start a business are doing much more than just thinking. The action-oriented risk takers are taking ownership of their future and creating a job for themselves. In a questionable job market, this can be hugely valuable.
Want to start your own business in college? Take advantage of your college's startup incubators!
If you’re at the point where you have a business idea and would like some help in getting it started, some colleges offer an incubator or venture program. At Babson College, the Venture Accelerator Program works with a student through the exploration, pursuit and launch steps to starting a business. They offer semi-private workspace (at no charge) and a wealth of resources to assist the students in their success.
The Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. has a similar program through their E. J. Ourso College of Business. The LBTC Student Incubator gives students meeting space, facilities, furniture and mentors to help grow their business into a viable career option upon graduation.
While not all colleges have an incubator or hatchery program, many do have a ton of great resources available. Harvard University recently launched its’ “i-Lab” in Allston, Mass. The i-Lab, more formally known as the Harvard Innovation Lab, allows students from all areas of the University to come together to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. During the i-Lab’s launch in mid-November, they had a “Startup Weekend Scramble” that brought together 125 students from more than eight of Harvard’s schools and several other Boston area colleges including MIT and Emerson College.
So if you’re interested in truly blazing your own trail, look into what these and other schools can offer you to help you grow your business idea. You never know, you just end up being the next Mark Zuckerberg (unless you actually want to finish your degree).
Does your college have programs to help out students who want to start their own businesses? Feel free to share in the comments!
Photo: Henrik Moltke
By Megan Kenslea
My freshman year of college I couldn't wait to go home for Thanksgiving. I had kept in touch with most of my friends with constant video chats, Facebook messages, but I hadn't seen most of them since August. I had big vacation plans - dinner dates with my best friends, a party for Friday, and some quality one-on-one time with my family. It was going to be the best vacation ever.
Boy, was I off the mark!
I ended up getting in a huge fight with my core group of friends from high school Friday night, and was too busy fielding angry phone calls and voicemails for the rest of my break to have much fun.
So how do you prevent yourself from falling victim to the unexpected, inevitiable drama Thanksgiving break brings upon college students every year? Try some of these handy survival tips on for size:
1. Expect your friends to be different.
No one comes back from college exactly as they were in high school. Some people change drastically (we all know that shy girl/guy from high school who became a huge player once they got to college), while the change in others is more subtle. Don't assume that your friends and your friendships to be the same, but do try to figure out a way you can be a part of each others new lives.
2. Negotiate new house rules with your parents.
Another huge change? Your relationship with your parents. After a semester at school, you're used to newfound freedom - from late nights to messy rooms, with no parents to worry about, most freshmen settle into new patterns and habits. But your parents might not be too pleased with your dirty dishes piling up or your late nights out. Before your break starts, set some ground rules. Coordinate your schedules so you can make time for both friends and family.
3. Make time for your siblings.
While you're busy worrying about spending time with your friends and making sure your parents don't hate you by the end of break, you might forget about your siblings. Don't. Your relationships will have changed with them - if they're older, they might look forward to sharing college stories with you, and if they're younger, they may need someone to gripe with about how strict mom and dad have gotten since you left. Each Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my siblings and I pick up subs from our favorite sandwich shop in town and spend the afternoon catching up.
4. Don't expect to get work done.
The last thing you'll want to do when you're home will be finishing your world history reading or studying for your Microeconomics final. If you have a long flight, train, or bus ride, you'll have time to get some light reading done, or maybe a problem set or two. But once you're home, you'll be so busy with family, friends, and food that the likelihood you'll get work done is very slim. Your professors may still assign a lot of work, so if you absolutely have to camp out at the town library, bring your friends and make it a group activity.
5. Take advantage of being at home.
College is great, don't get me wrong, but there are so many great things about being at home. I can do laundry without worrying about people taking my clothes out of the dryer and dumping them on the floor, and sometimes when I "forget" to fold my clothes, my mom will even do it for me. Thanksgiving also means lots of leftovers to bring back to school - can you say pumpkin pie for breakfast?
Photos: mookiy William Brawley
By Megan Kenslea
Twenty students have the chance to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program this year. Established to honor "the legacy and character of our nation's 40th President," college-bound students with strong leadership may be eligible to win. The scholarship is renewable, and students may receive up to $40,000 over four years.
Who is Eligible?
GE-Reagan Foundation Scholars must meet the following criteria:
Demonstrate exemplary leadership, drive, integrity, and citizenship at school, at home, at the workplace, and within the community;
Be nominated by an eligible community leader, such as a high school principal, elected official or executive director of a nonprofit organization;
Be recommended by an authority figure, such as a student activity advisor, community service coordinator, coach, employer, teacher, counselor or religious leader;
Demonstrate strong academic performance (3.0 or greater GPA or equivalent);
Demonstrate financial need;
Be a citizen of the United States of America;
Graduate from high school in Winter 2011 or Spring 2012; and
Use scholarship funds for student tuition, room, and board while pursuing a bachelor’s degree at an accredited U.S. college or university in Fall 2012.
How to Apply
Applications will be accepted from now until Feb. 17, 2012 and should be submitted online.
By Ross A. Kennedy
In college, the Thanksgiving holiday means stressful exams, eating too much, and hearing your Aunt Jean (after imbibing a bit too much) tell your new girlfriend how chubby you were as a baby. But your greatest risk over the break isn’t choking on a turkey bone, or the verbal floggings you’ll receive when your parents hear you’ve failed physics 101, it’s the drive home.
In 1996, I was a distracted driver who ended up putting my brother into a 10-day coma and forever changing the lives of a half dozen family members and passersby. Now, nearly 17 years later, I realize the simple changes that could have given us all a new and better path forward.
According to the National Safety Council, car crashes are the leading cause of fatalities and long-term injury to young drivers aged 17 to 24. There were more than 19,000 fatal crashes by young adults in the last four years in the U.S. More staggering is the fact that young drivers are 2.5 times more likely to injure or kill their passenger(s) than virtually any other demographic. But why is this group more prone to collision?
Primary Causes of Accidents by Young Drivers
Although you’d be right to assume that texting while driving is the leading cause of accidents among college students, you might be surprised to learn that nearly 57 percent of all driving collisions are caused by three basic failures when it comes to defensive driving strategies.
In a 2011 report by the AAA Auto Group, driving while distracted (inattention), driving at speeds in excess of what the conditions allowed for, and failure to comply with basic road rules (such as yielding the right-of-way) caused the majority of teen and young-person accidents — which numbered more than 300,000 in 2010 alone.
How Distracted Are You When Driving?
Most drivers, regardless of age or experience, often have a distorted sense of their abilities behind the wheel. We sadly overestimate our abilities and underestimate road dangers. As Jason Fried points out in his groundbreaking book Rework, “humans are just plain bad at estimating. . .” and driving is no exception. So to give yourself a better sense of your abilities behind the wheel, we invite you to try three basic experiments for yourself.
Experiment One: A driver’s attention to the road can be measured by how often one or (frighteningly enough) both hands leave the steering wheel. From texting to adjusting the radio, the temptation to perform other tasks while driving is powerful. To see how susceptible you are to this behavior, try holding a $1 bill between the palm of your hand and the steering wheel. (Note: I’d say a $10 or a $20, but let’s be honest, you won’t have one of those again until you’re home with the folks during the holidays). If you make it to your destination without dropping the bill, congratulations, you may not be a complete danger to yourself and others. Not entirely anyway.
Experiment Two: Understanding your surroundings is a key function to defensive driving. Your space cushion — the distance between your vehicle and other vehicles in every direction — greatly determines your ability to avoid unforeseen incidents.
In a recent experiment of unsuspecting college students, Defensive Driving Online For Dummies, an online driver safety course provider, marked each student’s rearview mirror with a unique number. After taking a short drive together, the drivers were asked whether they had noticed the digits marked on their mirrors and if so, could they recite them. An astonishing 75 percent of the students were completely unaware that their mirrors had been marked. For more than 8 miles each, those young drivers had failed to use their mirrors even once.
To see how limited your rearview mirror use is, try angling the mirror away from you the next time you finish driving somewhere. If you find yourself well into your next drive before you realize it’s not positioned correctly, you could definitely practice greater mirror use to improve your safe driving habits.
Experiment Three: Texting is a lot like any bad habit, such as smoking. It becomes an auto-response. A reflex of sorts. Given a moment of silence, most Americans reach for a device to help fill in the quiet gaps. Try putting all devices with an on/off switch out of reach from the driver’s seat. Whether it’s a phone, an iPad, or an Easy-Bake Oven, they all offer momentary distractions from the road. If you find yourself aimlessly groping into the backseat to find said devices, do not pass go, do not collect $200 — you have at least one unsafe driving habit, and it’s a doozie.
Strategies for Safe Driving
Okay, sure, reading about defensive driving is about as painful as waiting for Grandma to finish her plate of food so that it’s socially acceptable to go get dessert. (Seriously, how can anyone eat that slowly?) But staying alive is important! So, before you hop behind the wheel in a craze to make it home for your annual debate with your father on how you plan to make a career out of a Liberal Arts degree, consider these defensive driving strategies.
Relearn the Rules
Most new drivers forget the basic rules of the road before the laminate on their license hardens. Defensive driving online courses offer a self-paced way for you to renew your understanding of the road. Is taking defensive driving fun? No. But they can, and do, make a difference.
Prepare the Driver’s Side
A common trait among the planet’s most successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and leaders is preparedness. The same is true for great drivers. By clearing the driver’s side of all the usual distractions and setting up your mirrors, music, and seat ahead of time, you can avoid making costly mistakes while the vehicle is moving.
Drive in the Right Conditions
Night glare, ice, and unfamiliar streets account for a considerable chunk of driver-related errors on the road. While older drivers frequently find themselves saying, “I’d rather not drive at night,” many younger drivers are less averse to the dark. By simply thinking of the commute conditions ahead of time, drivers are better able to set a plan that keeps them safe.
Photos: dnigh mrJasonWeaver
By Stephanie Miceli
On Monday, November 14, StudentAdvisor Editor-in-Chief Dean Tsouvalas joined Kim Carrigan of Fox25 Morning News to speak about reducing college costs. Now that application deadlines are approaching, the next step is figuring out how to finance your education. Here are some highlights from the show:
1. Take the PSAT your Junior year of high school.
Take the PSAT your junior year of high school to try to qualify for The National Merit Scholarship Program. The awards can be applied to any college or university to meet educational expenses. Check the criteria for merit scholarships at each school your child is interested in, and get them on the path to eligibility as early as possible.
2. Use the Rule of Thirds.
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is thinking they have to save for an entire college education. It’s a good idea to pay for it in thirds: one-third from your savings , one-third through student loans, and the remaining third from scholarships. Research various college scholarship opportunities that are awarded to students with particular talents, interests and familial or physical characteristics - from music to public speaking, vegetarians to organ donors, thousands of scholarships are available for even the most unusual of applicants.
Also, get familiar with the types of loans, particularly federally subsidized versus federally unsubsidized. The government pays the interest on federally subsidized loans while you’re in school, so your loan doesn’t grow. These are typically granted to students with demonstrated financial need. Federally unsubsidized loans, which aren’t need-based, charge interest from the time the money is granted until the time it is paid off. These loans also give you the flexibility to not have to pay them back if you’re unemployed.
3. Consider additional opportunities to get earn college credits.
If academically possible – and emotionally feasible – speak with your student about taking the maximum number of credits allowed each semester, or AP/IB classes if they are still in high school. By doing this, your child could conceivably graduate a semester or even a year early. This eliminates educational expenses, including tuition, housing – even laundry. Your child may even consider taking summer courses. Though this won’t save you much up front on the cost of the education, it saves a lot on the opportunity cost of not working, and under a year-round calendar, motivated students may complete their bachelor's degrees in three years.
4. Perhaps a community college for the first year or two is the best choice.
Talk to your child about attending a community college for one or two years and then transferring to a four-year school. Tuition costs are substantially lower at community colleges and could be a great way to complete core classes. In considering this strategy, make sure that the credits are fully transferable to the next college and that there is sufficient course schedule availability to meet your requirements. Otherwise, you may wind up having to retake classes after transferring or taking longer than two years to complete your degree.
5. If your child is an upperclassman, explore off-campus housing options.
Many schools allow students to move off-campus after a certain amount of semesters. Rental options are sometimes cheaper than room and board costs, particularly when a few students can live together to split costs. Be sure to consider rent, utility, and transportation costs, and living expenses like Internet, cable, and furniture.
6. Explore buying or renting used books online.
Shopping for textbooks online can help you save over 40 percent off your college bookstore’s rates. Shop online and offline to find the best deal. With websites such as Amazon and bigwords.com – among others – offering significant discounts, you can easily save hundreds of dollars each semester.
7. Don’t miss the FAFSA Deadline!
The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, gives you an estimate of how much federal assistance you qualify for, and how much state government and school-specific funding you could use as well. Check your state’s deadline, and file your FAFSA as soon after January 1st as possible. Be aware of application mistakes such as spelling errors, entering inaccurate financial information, leaving fields blank, and forgetting to sign and date the application.
8. You can negotiate with the financial aid office.
Yes, this is possible, particularly if your financial situation has changed or the financial aid you were granted isn’t sufficient. If you have recently been laid off or have suddenly come into expensive medical bills, that could help your case. Be polite and calm, explain your situation clearly, and prove your case is worthy of reconsideration by bringing as much documentation as possible.
By Wendy David-Gaines
Colleges determine which financial aid applications they require to calculate financial aid awards. There are billions of dollars in financial aid available for college from federal and state governments, college institutional funds, and outside scholarships. Awards are based on applications and colleges determine which forms they require.
Each college has its own set of requirements so be sure to check with the financial aid offices of the schools you're applying to in order to keep track of what applications you need. But don't forget about applying for additional financial aid from your state government or outside scholarships!
Here are 10 financial aid applications you may have to complete:
1. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) - a federal financial aid application form required by all colleges for federal financial aid including grants, loans, and work/study. In addition, some colleges use the FAFSA to award money from its own endowment funds and others require additional forms.
2. State Visit your state's department of education site for information on state-sponsored financial aid programs for state residents.
3. Institutional - contact colleges on your list for additional institutional forms that the school may require before awarding money from its own endowment funds for financial aid.
4. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® is an additional form required by a few hundred colleges before they award money from their own endowment funds. Check with the colleges you're applying to before filling one out to see if it's necessary.
5. CSS Business/Farm Supplement may need to be completed for the CSS Profile if your family owns a business or farm.
6. CSS NonCustodial Profile is an additional form for the CSS Profile that divorced/separated families may need to complete.
7. Outside Scholarships sponsored by businesses, employers, individuals, high schools, fraternal organizations and other private groups have their own application forms to determine award winners.
8. College Scholarships from a schools’ special endowment funds may be awarded in addition to financial aid programs. Some colleges use their admission application for their scholarship programs and others require additional forms.
9. Verification Worksheet is to be completed if a student’s FAFSA was selected for review by the college.
10. Appeal forms - After you get your financial award letter from the school you may realize that the award package falls short of your financial need. Some colleges will have financial aid appeal forms for students seeking a reconsideration of their financial aid awards.
Wendy David-Gaines, author of Parents of College Students Survival Stories, is known as POCSmom. She writes and lectures about the college process from forming a college list to attending college graduation. Wendy is also a College Insights expert on College Expert Panel. For more about POCSmom Wendy go towww.pocsmom.com for links to her blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.
By Sam Coren
You've heard the stereotypes. The bad college advice about avoiding Liberal Arts schools because their graduates are destined to sling coffee or wait tables for a living and regret their college choice. But guess what? A new national study is about to blow all those lame myths about life after college for Liberal Arts grads right out of the water.
The Value and Impact of the College Experience: A Comparative Alumni Study for the Annapolis Group conducted by the independent educational consultancy firm Hardwick Day surveyed 2,700 students from liberal arts colleges, private universities, and state flagship universities. Initial surveys were conducted in 2002 and the group was surveyed again in 2011 for comparative analysis.
The survey was commissioned by The Annapolis Group, a non-profit alliance of 130 residential liberal arts colleges, to assess how liberal arts graduates perceive the quality and effectiveness of their education in comparison to others. “On virtually all measures known to contribute to positive outcomes, graduates of liberal arts colleges rate their experience more highly than do graduates of private or public universities,” said James H. Day, director of the study at Hardwick Day.
Here are some of the study's key findings:
- 76% of liberal arts college graduates rated their college experience highly for preparing them for their first job, compared to 66% who attended public flagship universities.
- 89% of liberal arts college graduates reported finding a mentor while in college, compared to 66% for public flagship universities;
- 60% of liberal arts college graduates said they felt “better prepared” for life after college than students who attended other colleges, compared to 34% who attended public flagship universities.
- Liberal arts college graduates are more likely to graduate in 4 years or fewer, giving them a head start on their careers.
The survey also found that Liberal Arts college grads were more likely than private and public university grads to experience the following during their college careers:
- Felt challenged by professors academically
- Participated in faculty-directed research or independent study
- Engaged in conversations with professors outside of class
- Participated in service-learning or community service
- Been involved in an extracurricular activity.
By Stephanie Miceli
I’ve heard the term “senioritis,” but I’m still not quite sure what it means. Senior year of high school is synonymous with “taking it easy,” ditching class for the beach, and organized pranks, for many. My senior year of high school didn’t consist of any of the aforementioned, because I decided to take six Advanced Placement classes that year-a steep increase compared with one as a sophomore and three as a junior.
Most of the small to medium-sized colleges I was applying to required a score of ‘4’ or ‘5’ on Advanced Placement exams in order to receive credits and waive course equivalents. I was pleased to receive a ‘4’ and higher on every exam I’ve taken, but believe me, I put in my work!
After deciding to attend Emerson College, and receiving a course selection guide in the mail the summer before my freshman year, I knew I’d be able to skip over most of the general classes and delve right into my major classes. What I didn’t know was that technically, I wouldn’t be entering as a freshman. One month into school, I met with my academic advisor, who told me that I came in with 28 credits. Sophomores have 32 credits, so I learned that by my second semester, I would have a total of 44 credits (28 from AP classes, 16 from my first semester classes).
Besides leaving for winter break a freshman, and returning a “sophomore,” this also meant my surplus of credits would enable me to graduate early. I decided this would be a good option for me, as I’ve been eager to enter the workforce for as long as I can remember.
However, it’s not for everyone. If you’re in a situation similar to mine, here are a few factors to consider if you're thinking about graduating from college in under 4 years:
This is pretty obvious, but by graduating early, you’ll be saving yourself or your parents a substantial amount of money, depending on tuition costs at your school (no pressure or anything!). Also, if you’re on a scholarship, make sure you know how many semesters or credits it applies. If you’re about to reach the credit limit, you might not have another choice.
If you plan on double majoring or picking up multiple minors, early graduation may no longer be possible.
No study abroad program is created equal. Some offer the same courses as the college or university’s domestic campus, while others, such as Emerson’s Netherlands program, only offer general education courses. This sometimes means students are behind in their major coursework when they return. On the flipside, if you’ve always wanted to study abroad, committing to early graduation may unfortunately prevent you from doing so. However, your college may have summer programs abroad, which could be a good compromise.
Organization is a must in order to graduate early. Check-ins with your faculty advisor more frequently to make sure you’re staying on track, and be prepared for important deadlines- like submitting your application to graduate! Also, since you’ll be applying for jobs and other post-grad programs a year earlier than expected, you’ll need to plan accordingly. However, this is something you should play up in your job interviews, because it shows effective time management!
I’ll admit, I’ve put more focus on cramming four years’ worth of experiences into my three years than actually enjoying my time in college. And because the majority of my friends are my age (juniors), I haven’t really gotten to know many seniors up until this point. With that said, I’m not sure if I’d be comfortable going to all those senior year social events.
Photos: B Rosen
By Megan Kenslea
Technology has transformed parts of the college application process, and for first-time applicants and their parents, the digital transformation has been daunting. Applying to college today is much different than it was ten years ago - social media, internet, and other digital resources have transformed parts of the process. Earlier this week, StudentAdvisor.com Editor-in-Chief Dean Tsouvalas spoke about navigating college admissions in the digital age on the College Prep Express radio program Prep Talk.
Students & Parents Do Their Research Differently
Tsouvalas said that while parents still rely on traditional admissions materials, students prefer instant access to information on the internet. “Guidance counselors are saying that parents still like their party favors, they still like their pamphlets,” Tsouvalas said. “But students saw the word ‘download’ and they hesitated to click on the actual link.” StudentAdvisor’s College Match Tool is a great way for students to find their best fit colleges without getting up from their desks at home, he said.
Digital technology and the internet can help students supplement their applications as well, Tsouvalas said. “Social media is a great way to show off your unique skills,” Tsouvalas said. “You can create a digital profile to help you stand out from somebody else.”
Listen to Prep Talk's Applying to College in the Digital Age Podcast
To hear more, check out the entire podcast, available for free download on iTunes.
By Sam Coren
Last night crisis spread throughout the Penn State University community over the firing of long-time Football Head Coach Joe Paterno and the swift resignation of University President Graham Spanier. The scandal surrounding the child molestation charges of former Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky blew up after it was revealed in a Grand Jury report that many of the incidents occurred on University property were not properly investigated. The lack of initial investigation by the University and law enforcement boiled down to a lack of responsiveness by Penn State administration after graduate assitant Mike McQueary came to Paterno to report catching Sandusky in one of the alleged acts. The University is now under investigation by the US Department of Education over the mishandling of the incident.
The news about the ending of Paterno's storied coaching career was not taken lightly. After learning that Paterno was released of his head coaching duties at a media conference, many students at Penn State's Main Campus flooded the streets of State College, Pennsylvania to voice their disgust over the Board of Trustees' decision to single out Paterno. While the rioters who turned to vandalism and throwing rocks at reporters only represented a small portion of PSU's University Park 44,000+ student body, their actions were captured and discussed by the Penn State community on social media.
To fully understand what was going on at Penn State last night you couldn't rely solely on traditional media outlets, especially after their news vans were overturned by angry college students. Penn State's Student Newspaper, The Daily Collegian, took to Twitter to report to the whole world what was really going on at State College and did an impressive job with their live coverage. As one of StudentAdvisor's Top 100 Social Media Colleges and the university that just happens to have one of the largest living alumni communities, Penn Staters and those outraged by the story quickly propelled #PSUCharges, Joe Pa, and Board of Trustees to national trending status on Twitter.
Below are some of the top tweets from last night's events:
Veteran Philadelphia ABC 6 News Anchor Jim Gardner tweets from inside the Board of Trustees media conference with the breaking news:
Onward State, a news source representing State College, PA and the Penn State community reported it was a tough blow for students in the student union who just learned the news:
The Daily Collegian notifies that students are getting ready to overtake the streets in support of Joe Paterno:
Senior Chemical Engineering major Christopher Shlemon cautions the rioters:
Senior PSU biology student Ryan Moraski weighs in:
Robin Smail, a staff member at PSU's Education Technology Services, tweets feelings of heartbreak:
Penn State student Dylan Rappold reminds us not to ignore the more positive actions of the University's students:
Are you a Penn Stater? Review PSU on StudentAdvisor and tell future students what Penn State is really all about.
By Danielle Sandahl
It feels like you’ve barely started first semester when it’s suddenly time to register for the next. To many college students, trying to pick classes can be overwhelming and stressful - especially if you're having a tough time making up your mind with so many options! But registering for classes doesn't have to end in a panic attack.
The following checklist will help you determine which classes are best to take based on your personal interests and dregree requirements:
1. Make a list of all the classes you are interested in, regardless of what is necessary for a major or graduation.
2. Take a look at the graduation requirements for your major (and minor, if you have one).
3. Double check with your academic advisor or class dean to ensure you’re not missing anything in your requirements.
Aside from the official checkpoint on your academic progress, you should talk to your advisor before registration for a few other reasons. Sometimes if your heart is set on a class that has a pre-requisite your advisor maybe able to help you out such as giving you priority registion for the class you need to take or talking to the professor about letting you register anyway.
4. Go back to your list of desired classes and order them by interest.
Place the classes you’re most interested in taking at the top of the list and the ones that look cool but you aren’t dying to take near the bottom.
5. Compare this list to your degree requirements.
If the classes you really want to take match up with what you need to take then you’re in great shape! If not, you may have to sacrifice one or two of those top-of-list classes to make sure you graduate on time.
6. Now that you have a list of cool classes (and know you’re on track to graduate), it’s time to look more closely at how you want your schedule to work out.
You likely have a list of more than the 4-5 classes you intend to take and this step is where you filter out which ones will make the most sense to take for this coming semester.
It’s important to consider your extracurricular activities: will you want to get an internship? Is there a club you’d like to try but just don’t have time for right now? By manipulating your class schedule around these time-restricted activities, you will make sure that you get the most out of your semester and enjoy yourself.
7. Do your homework on professors.
Each professor has their own distinct teaching style, grading methods and personality. Using a website like ratemyprofessors.com can be really beneficial but you can’t trust those ratings because often times people are motivated to write something based on a bad experience they’ve had. Your school may have a system that publishes data collected from end-of-semester surveys and this information is can be very helpful because it is required from every student.
If you’re unsure if this exists, ask upperclassmen or academic services about it. Feel free to ask those upperclassmen about their favorite professors or recommendations as well, they can help you learn about awesome classes you may not have known existed.
NOTE: Often, at smaller colleges you won’t have much choice between professors for a specific class and this may cause you to reconsider taking a class. If this happens, no need to worry. Just go back to your original list and see if any of your other options fill the need, then continue with your new choices.
"Alright, I've got my list of classes and I'm ready to register! Now what?"
At this point you should have narrowed down your list to the classes you will actually register for! Review the registration process a few days before your registration date to ensure you understand it and, if it’s online, that your browser is compatible. Keep your master list of classes you’re interested in for future reference and add to it or change it as you learn more about your school and its offerings.
Don't forget to look into alternative options to earn credits.
If you’re finding it difficult to fulfill requirements or have run out of classes that interest you on your campus there a number of options available to you. Many colleges, especially smaller ones, maintain partnerships with other schools where you can take a class at the other school for no additional tuition cost. If you choose this option, be sure to check how the exam and vacation schedules match up to your school's because they may be different.
You can also elect to take summer classes at your school, online, or at a different college – just check that the credits will transfer before you enroll at a different school! If you have enough credits transferred in, as long as you have finished your requirements, you may be eligible to graduate early.
Photos: uwgb admissions THEMACGIRL* UGA College of Ag
By Megan Kenslea
It's that time of year again, when frenzied students can be found scrambling to turn in college applications across the country. But while most students are worried about crossing their t's and dotting their i's, many forget that, in addition to being stressful, college applications can be costly.
1 in 4 Students Submits 7 or More College Applications
According to a 2010 survey conducted by College Board, 90% of four-year, not-for-profit colleges have an average application fee around $40. A recent NACAC Admissions Trends survey found that 1 in 4 students now submits 7 or more college applications. Those application fees can certainly put a dent in your wallet!
Enter to Win $250 Toward Your College Application Fees
Sound scary? Don't worry - StudentAdvisor and Kaplan Test Prep have got you covered. We've teamed up to give away $250 to help one lucky student pay their application fees this Fall.
Want to win $250 toward your college application fees? Enter now before November 17th!
By Purvi S. Mody
We are officially in the midst of the college admissions season! Millions of students across the world have been and will be submitting applications. And while technology is making submitting easier, there is still room for human error.
Below are the 6 worst college application mistakes that you want to avoid before you actually hit SEND!
1. Misspelling your own name.
Make sure that your name is spelled correctly on all your applications and official documents Simple typos and misspellings – Daneil versus Daniel, Cathy versus Kathy, or Smith versus Smiht – can cause colleges to think that two different people exist. Problems can also arise when you alternate between your full name and nickname. As a result, they will have a harder time completing your files. Incomplete files don’t get read. So triple check even the basic information – name, address, social security number and birth date. In the same vein, make sure that your email address is correct and while we are at it – appropriate.
2. Ignoring application deadlines.
There is absolutely no reason for a student to say that he does not know when an application is due. These deadlines are plastered across the Admissions Office websites. If you miss a deadline, forget about that school. In fact some applications will close down and it will be impossible to submit. It is not urban legend that websites slow down and servers crash. This happens every year with multiple colleges. Submit early to avoid the stress of seeing your application timeout each time you try to submit.
Storms can and have knocked down Internet and power lines for days at a time. While many schools on the East Coast extended their early application deadlines because of storms, don’t expect that this will always happen. And if you live in an area unaffected by these extreme weather conditions – do NOT take advantage of the extended deadlines. Also remember that deadlines for scholarship, interviews, and special programs might be earlier than the general admissions due dates.
3. Not previewing your application before submission.
Many applications will allow you to type as much as you want into different fields – especially essay boxes. However, you should do a PDF view to make sure that your complete answer shows up. If you don’t see it there, the admissions officer will also not see it. Also keep essay lengths to the guidelines specified by individual colleges. If you are unsure, contact the admissions office. Common Application caused a stir this year when they listed that the personal statement should be 250-500 words. Many colleges, however, are okay with essays that are one page.
4. Copy and paste disasters.
You may have written several essays about why you want to attend a particular school or study a particular major. And some of those essays may be similar. But do not accidentally tell Santa Clara University that you are really excited by the opportunities available at Boston University. Or tell Cornell about the amazing programs at Carnegie Mellon.
Admissions officers understand that you are applying to more than their college. They, however, don’t need to know the details and that another school is your number one choice. This is a mistake that is made repeatedly and one that annoys admissions officers the most. If you don’t take the ten minutes to check your application, you are sending the signal that you don’t care about the school to which you are applying.
5. Not submitting all parts of the application.
If you are applying through the Universal College Application or Common Application and do not submit the supplement, your application is incomplete. And if you miss the deadline, you may never have the chance to send it in. And don’t forget to send official test scores, transcripts from all schools you have attended, and recommendation letters as required by individual schools.
6. Sending in additional materials.
I know it is tempting to send in copies of the certificates you have received since elementary school or the 20-page research paper you wrote in your history class, but refrain unless a school specifically will accept it. This also refers to letters of recommendation. I know you might have ten people that can write you great letters, but colleges simply do not want to read letters that all say the same thing. Follow the guidelines on how many letters you can send.
The most important rule is to follow directions. Not doing so sends the wrong message to the admissions office. And since your application is the first formal interaction you will most likely have with any school, it's better to start things off on the right foot.
Purvi S. Mody is co-owner of Insight Education, an educational consulting firm that helps students throughout the country and internationally to achieve their educational goals. Get in touch with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @InsightEduc.
By Sam Coren
Every week StudentAdvisor compiles the top stories in college news. Here are some of the biggest stories that made
the headlines this week:
October Snowstorm Extends Early Application Deadlines for Some Colleges
The Halloweekend snowstorm that slammed the Northeast last weekend had a few more side effects than downed power lines and basement flooding. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), "Due to the winter storm that has affected the northeastern United States, several institutions have extended their Early Decision deadlines to accommodate families without electricity or access to the Internet." To view all the extended early application deadlines visit NACAC's listings.
"Freshman 15" Weight Gain is a Myth, New Study Finds
A recent study on college weight-gain conducted by researchers at University of Michigan-Dearborn and Ohio State University revealed that there's little truth to the fabled "Freshman 15." The study, which tracked 7,000 people nationwide since 1997, found that college students are only gaining about a 1/2 pound more than similar people who did not go to school. But what about drinking? The study questioned whether or not heavy drinking was a factor for significant weight-gain for college students and found that heavy drinkers only gained less than a pound more than students who didn't drink.
RIT Becomes First College Campus Featured on Google Street View
Google Maps' popular Street View feature has its eyes set on a new type of "digital walking tour": the campus visit. This week Rochester Instititue of Technology's campus became the first to be featured on Google Map's Street View. Back in 2009, Google announced that it would begin capturing street view images of places only accessible via foot with its new Google Trike image capture vehicle. Previously street view was limited to taking images of places only accessible via public roadways in the Google Car. In Fall of 2010 RIT won the honor of being the first campus on Street View after competing with other colleges including Arizona State, Michigan State, Princeton and Stanford.
Missouri S&T Using FarmVille in Engineering Class
Despite the fact that Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo. has no agricultural majors, the popular Facebook farm simulation game FarmVille has found its way into the classroom. Students who take Engineering Management 382, Introduction to Operations Research, spend one week of the semester-long course playing the game. "The unique attributes of this game make it ideal for presenting the students with a problem that evolves, aims to define the student's decision-making rationale and allows the student to address conflicting and competing objectives in an environment of continuous change," said Dr. Ivan G. Guardiola, the professor who instructs the course.
Have a college news story that you think should be featured on This Week in College News? Send stories to content[at]studentadvisor.com.
By Sam Coren
In a time when students, parents, and educators are reeling from year-to-year tuition increases, one college has dared to do things a bit differently. Yesterday the University of Charleston in Charleston, W.Va. announced that no undergraduate student would pay more than $19,500 for tuition next year; a 22% reduction off the $25,000 tuition sticker price from 2011-2012. While new freshman and transfer students will be charged the new rate of $19,500, returning undergraduate students will be charged $25,500 with a guarantee of at least $6,000 in university aid.
"Thanks to a decade of success, we are in a strong financial position that enables us to make this bold move to reduce tuition," said University President Edwin Welch. According to Welch, "This change will make a UC education more accessible to more students. We strive to be the best value private institution in the region. We are revising tuition and financial aid to reflect the real cost of a UC education."
But lower tuition is only one way that University of Charleston is reducing the cost of private higher education. According to the university over 25% UC students who come to the school as freshmen and stay through graduation finish their degrees in less than 4 years. An additional 10% move directly into graduate school without receiving an undergraduate degree. This is done through the college's fast-track options for students who enter the university knowing they'd like to pursue a graduate degree. Such options give students the chance to complete their Master's degrees in less time. This allows students to enter the work force sooner which may bring down overall college costs.
Go to University of Charleston? Help future students decide and review your college.
By Stephanie Miceli
With thousands of schools out there, finding the ones worth applying to is no easy task. Don’t know where to start your college search? Let StudentAdvisor be your college matchmaker! If you're just beginning to research colleges don't forget to take advantage of StudentAdvisor’s free College Match Tool. Our college matchmaker will give you a list of colleges that are worth checking out based on your:
Education level: Select whether you or your student is a high school, college, graduate, or continuing education student.
Intended major: Choose from 38 fields, ranging from engineering to visual and media arts. For those who will be enrolling as “undecided,” select “No preference.”
Ideal campus setting: Whether you want to wake up to the sounds of city traffic or crowing roosters, the choice is yours. Selection categories are city, rural, suburban, and town.
Annual tuition and fees budget: Get matched with colleges, universities, and trade schools with annual costs from below $3,000 to upwards of $40,000.
***TIP: Use the side bar items on your results page such as test scores, region, and number of students to narrow down your list. This will help you select colleges which you can compare side-by-side using Student Advisor’s College Compare tool.***
Let’s say you’re a college student-to be, looking to study communications and journalism in an urban setting for under $30,000 a year. After viewing your search results, you can select up to five schools to compare side-by-side. Simply select check the boxes of up to five schools from your results page and click the compare button at the top.
Comparison categories include student population, student-to-faculty ratio, student body make-up, and school location.To delve deeper, you will also have access to a trusted advisor from the college, if available, who will answer your questions about admission to the school, application advice, student life, and choosing a major. College reviews, which will further help guide your decision, are also available for view on most schools.
When you’re done, don’t forget to save your review and even share it with friends. Unsure about your results? Revisit our match tool and your previous search results to compare different colleges. Ready to get started? Be sure to sign up for StudentAdvisor so you'll be able to save your results and track the latest questions, reviews, and discussions on your favorite schools!
By Dean Tsouvalas
Early Decision vs. Early Action: Hey Students, Which College Admission Process Best Suits You?
That is the question being explored by many college-bound students in the fall of their senior year. Last week the nation’s colleges and universities released data that showed a 38% increase in the number of early decision applications they’ve been receiving.
This is a crucial week because today, Tuesday November 1st kicks off the early decision deadlines. Students who have no doubts about the college of their choice are getting a head start and frantically gathering recommendation letters, finishing essays and getting their applications in by the pending fall deadline. The reason they are going through this is that they will know if they’ve been accepted by Holidays – months ahead of their peers.
Early decision is an accelerated acceptance process that begins with a student submitting an application earlier than usual (most often in November or December). Students receive an admission decision from their chosen college in advance of the usual spring notification dates. By December or January they will know if they will be attending their first-choice school.
If you have your heart set on one college –early decision is the way to go.
Q: What’s the difference between early decision and early action?
A: Early Decision: You can only apply to one college Early Decision, and if you get in, you are committing to this one college and required to withdraw all of your other college applications. You are making a binding commitment to go to that school.
Q: Can you get out?
A: The only way to get out of this binding decision is if you applied for financial aid and the aid package the college is offering you is not enough for you to afford going there. So if you have any doubts early decision may not be right for you. You want to go early action.
Q: What about Early Action:
A: You can apply to many colleges early. This decision is not binding and if you get in, you can choose to wait to hear from other colleges before you decide. You can compare financial aid packages and you may just not be ready to commit to one school. Early Action allows student to apply early but doesn’t bind students to the school if they’re offered admission. Instead, students can wait to see where else they’re accepted, compare financial aid offers and make their decision in the spring.
Q: What’s in it for the students?
- Application fees. You can save money if you have your heart set on one school. Saves students the time and expense of submitting multiple applications
- Reduces stress by cutting the time a student spends waiting for a decision
- Gives students more time, once accepted, to look for housing and otherwise prepare for college. It gives this type a student a head start.
- If student is not accepted, having this information gives that student time to reassess options and apply elsewhere
Q: What’s the benefit of the college?
A: For colleges it’s a great way to get a head start on filling up the incoming freshman class with promising applicants. Colleges need to know if they accept you, you are really going to enroll. Very important to them because they are being bombarded with applications and the fewer students have to accept in the Spring the more “selective” they are perceived to be.
Q: Do students who learn early that they've already been accepted have to work hard the rest of the year?
A: You can’t get Senioritis. Hopefully you will have a bit more relaxed senior year but colleges may rescind offers of admissions if their senior-year grades drop. So you need to keep up all the hard work that got you this far and celebrate your success.
For more check out this video from on Early Decision vs. Early Action that we did recently on NECN.