By Sam Coren
Think you have a head for finance? Put your knowledge to the test and earn scholarship money for college! The Charles Schwab Foundation is teaming up with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Education to launch the 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge. Win up to $1,000 in scholarship money for scoring in the top-10 percent of a a 40-question voluntary online test that measures the financial savvy of high-school-age students across the U.S.
The test-taking window for the Challenge, which was created and is administered by the , begins March 7 and continues through April 8. Teachers can sign up their students at the Department of the Treasury’s website: www.challenge.treas.gov. Students enrolled in any subject from any U.S. high school, home school or after-school program can participate.
Charles Schwab Foundation will award scholarships of $1,000 each to 20 students selected by lottery from among the top 10 percent highest-scoring students nationally. In addition, five $1,000 scholarships will go to students who score in the top 10 percent among all participating students who attend low-income public schools. The 25 schools or organizations that provided the winning students with their financial education will additionally receive a $1,000 grant each from Charles Schwab Foundation in recognition of the important role educators play in advancing financial literacy. Winners will be announced in the late spring.
Educators can download the Dept. of the Treasury’s Educator Toolkit, and teachers and parents are also encouraged to visit schwabmoneywise.com for details about the scholarship awards and additional tips, tools and resources for teaching the ABCs of personal finance.
“The Challenge gives us an opportunity to raise awareness of financial education as the underpinning of lifelong financial health and well-being,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation and member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. “It’s a privilege for us to be able to reward not just the students who excel on the Challenge, but also the schools that do an exceptional job in preparing them for it."
By Sam Coren
As social media becomes more prevalent in almost every aspect of our lives it's changing the way college admissions offices view applicants. A Harvard admissions interviewer confessed she will occasionally run a quick Google search on applicants to see what's publicly available, such as Facebook photos and Twitter updates. Sometimes less the than flattering items that show up in search engine results can influence an admissions officer's opinion. Other admissions offices have a stricter policies that involve explicitly telling employees to not search the online profiles of applicants. But as the saying goes - you're better safe than sorry.
CBS MoneyWatch recently ran a feature called "Using Social Media to Get Into College". In this article our Editor, Dean Tsouvlas, recommended going through your Facebook privacy settings to keep prying eyes away from silly photos and inside jokes. However, even Facebook powerusers struggle to figure out how to tweak the privacy settings just right. That's why we wanted to make it clear with these 5 easy steps:
Step #1: Click on the Account Tab
Step #2: Click on the Account Settings Link
Step #3: Click on the Customize Settings Link
Step #4: For each category, control what friends see.
Note the additional customize area in the pulldown.
Step #5: This extra customize area allows you to block by individual employer, college, company, etc.
Tip: Adjusting the “Photos and Video I’m tagged In” setting is one of the most important to moderate.
Have more helpful hints on cleaning up your online presence for college admissions? Share your tips in the comments.
By Alicia Magda
So you’ve watched Animal House and Sorority Row, and well, Greek life seems like it’d be heavy on the fraternizing side and light on studying, right? The media seems to only perpetuate Greek life myths, and sure, it may make for a great movie or TV show plot line, but who wants to join a fraternity where the guys leave the house dirty and messy, and the girls form gossipy cliques?
Real Greek life is dramatically different from the media stereotypes. It’s important to distinguish fact from fiction. Sure, there’s always going to be some Greeks who like to party or think hazing is “okay”, but this is a very small piece of the Greek life pie.
We’re here to shed some light on what really goes on behind those chapter house doors:
Myth #1: All Good Looks and Preppy Dress
Watch a fraternity or sorority movie, and in most cases, the girls will look like real-life Barbie dolls and the guys will look like chiseled Greek gods. Now welcome to the real world. Fraternity brothers and sorority sisters emphasize diversity – both in race and personality. Have a quirky, eclectic side? You can still join a fraternity or sorority and feel connected to your brothers or sisters. Take a look at the fraternities and sororities on your campus, rather than what movies and TV shows depict, and you’ll see that all types of college students join Greek organizations – from indie-rock guys living in their Chucks to reading-addicted, pixie-haired coffee shop girls.
Myth #2: You Gotta Fight…For Your Right To…Study?!
The Beastie Boys ode to partying is so welcome when you’ve studied hard all semester and need a little release, but partying all semester is going to quickly and swiftly get you kicked out of college. Greeks deal with a “party 24/7” stereotype, where textbooks hardly leave their shelves and studying is left on the backburner. If this was the case in real Greek life, few Greek organizations would be as successful and yield as many positive leaders and professionals as they do! Just like any of-age college student, Greeks like to have fun, but Greek organizations also have minimum GPA requirements in place to ensure their members work their hardest to achieve academic success. They also participate in regular community service and campus events to ensure they foster well-rounded members. There’s no fighting for your right to study in modern-day Greek organizations!
Myth #3: In order to be a brother or sister, I’m just going to have to endure hazing.
You might be surprised to learn that hazing bans exist in nearly every state, and if you’re in one of the few states where hazing isn’t banned, you still have rights and can object to it and report it to both campus authorities and the police. Greek organizations take anti-hazing policies very seriously and are committed to staying in line with these policies. We still unfortunately hear hazing stories in the Greek community, but they are far and few between, yet these terrible incidents cast a bad light over the entire community. Don’t let the bad choices of a few outweigh your choice to pledge a Greek organization!
The real story behind Greek life is dramatically different than the portrait the media draws. Fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are contributing members of campus, and after graduation, are poised to become leaders in their professional lives. We encourage you to get to know the Greek organizations on your campus to combat common Greek life myths! StudentAdvisor thanks Alicia Magda from the GreekForMe.com team for helping to seperate Greek life myths from real fraternity and sorority life. GreekForMe.com is made up of Greeks who love and support the benefits of Greek life with personalized Greek apparel.
By Sam Coren
Do you get butterflies in your stomach just thinking about filling in little bubbles on standardized tests? One of the best ways to prep for your college entrance exams is to take a practice test. Sure, workbooks and flashcards are a decent way to get yourself familiar with the material, but they're no match for taking an actual exam under real testing conditions.
Haven't had a chance to take one yet? Well, have no fear - March marks national free practice test month. The Princeton Review is currently accepting registrations for free full-length practice tests of the SAT, PSAT, and ACT. This is a great opportunity for you to try out college entrance exams in real test-taking environment before you do the real deal.
Trying to figure out the pros and cons of doing the SAT vs ACT? Generally almost all US colleges will accept either so it's a good idea to try them both and see which you perform better on. For those of you who have a knack for science the ACT is typically the better choice since the SAT only tests on Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Writing.
Have any tips for taking the SAT or ACT? Share them with our readers in the comments.
By Dean Tsouvalas
On February 21st, StudentAdvisor's Editor-in-Chief, Dean Tsouvalas, was a guest on Fox 25 Boston's Morning News program and discussed social media in the college admissions process. Not sure how social media influences your college acceptance? Have no fear, Dean's got you covered with some great tips on how to make your college application process more social:
If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated in the world, ahead of the United States. So with the ever-growing popularity of Facebook, it seems like every college/university, college admissions counselor, college applicant – and their mom–has a Facebook page. A Kaplan survey of admissions counselors from some of the top colleges and universities found that 80 percent visited potential students’ online profiles during their recruiting process.
In our experience talking to hundreds of college admissions counselors, we know they are actively trying to engage prospective students online. And in at least one case an admissions counselor told us they rejected a potential student based on their social networking profile.
What should students and parents be aware of? How can these platforms be used to make your application stand out? I spoke to students, parents and college admissions counselors to find out.
1. Get it on….line.
Follow your prospective school’s Twitter feeds, “like” their Facebook fan page, and subscribe to any other social media channels can give you incredibly insightful information. Through social media you can find out what issues matter (sports scores, campus beautification – even cafeteria menus) and incorporate that knowledge into your essays and interviews to show that you’ve done your research and know exactly why the school is right for you.
2. Video made the college star.
Make a video on why you want to go to the school, a highlight reel of yourself engaged in your extra-curricular, get additional recommendations on camera – post it on YouTube, and tag the school, then include a link to the video in your application. Now you can stand out from the plethora of students applying. Tufts leveraged social media when they invited students to submit an optional one-minute YouTube video along with their application.
3. Blog your way in.
A blog is a fantastic platform for displaying writing skills and a knowledge of your declared/target major. Your blog can showcase photos of your volunteerism, your creative side via art or music projects, that time you made it into the local paper for saving a cat in a tree/catching the winning touchdown/winning a pie eating contest. Your blog can show your dynamic personality in ways that a word-count-restricted essay and GPA cannot, and can give you a leg up on other students. Of course, don’t forget to give links to your blog on your application, inviting the admissions officers to view it, and comment.
4. Privacy, please!
It’s been said before, but can’t be said enough – if you put it online, anyone can find it. No one’s saying you can’t have fun on social networks – but when you do, make sure that it is all private! Here’s how to do it on a few of the major sites:
- On Facebook, visit “Privacy Settings” by clicking on “Account” and set privacy settings at the highest level you’re comfortable with.
- On Twitter, visit the “Edit my Profile” page (on the “Profile page” tab), then scroll to the bottom and make sure that “Protect my Tweets” is selected. You’ll have to manually approve anyone that wants to view your Tweets.
- On YouTube, make any videos that you wouldn’t want everyone to see “Private” when you upload them.
The point is it is okay to be online doing your thing on social networks, just be smart and savvy about it, and use your skills to your advantage. Seize the opportunity to sell yourself and your assets to the schools you want to go to, and make yourself shine, online.
by Lisa Ruffino from CourseAdvisor
Con Artists Fraudulently Offer "Free" Education Grants
Well, here's one old profession that always thrives during hard times: con artists promising access to free money, including government education grants and scholarships, just when you need it most.
In the 21st century, con artists have a vast new audience to exploit; via the Internet, they can reach millions of people. You may want to go back to school—and that's a good idea when you lose your job and want to start over—but don't let Internet scammers fool you into giving them your credit card number for education grant and scholarship information you can get for free on a number of legitimate federal government sites.
This is nothing more than an education grant scam, and there are dozens of them. They offer you a "grant kit" for only $1.99, then immediately sign you up for their grant-writing "help center," charging your credit card anywhere from $25 to $100 a month - forever. Very often, by the time you realize what's going on, it's too late to back out.
"Don't Fall for Their Education Grant Scam; We're the Real Thing!"
Many of these websites actually warn you in great detail of such education grant scams, only to assure you that they are genuine and to suggest that you buy their education grant information instead. Slick.
On March 3, 2009, both the Federal Trade Commission and the national Better Business Bureau published press releases warning consumers about the education grant scams. In the days following, some of the education grant scam sites were removed from the Web. But they'll be back, with a different website and a new pitch, but the same old scam: "Give us your credit card, give us your bank account, and we'll show you the way to free money." Don't be fooled! If it sounds too good to be true - you're right.
Here is the Federal Trade Commission warning:
FTC Warns Consumers About Economic Stimulus Scams
The FTC is warning consumers that they could get stung by an economic stimulus scam. The scams come in different forms.
Right now, on the Web and in e-mail, scammers are telling consumers they can help them qualify for a payment from President Obama's economic stimulus package. All they have to do is provide a little information or a small payment.
E-mail messages may ask for bank account information so that the operators can deposit consumers' share of the stimulus directly into their bank account. Instead, the scammers drain consumers' accounts of money and disappear. Or bogus e-mail may appear to be from government agencies and ask for information to "verify" that you qualify for a payment. The scammers use that information to commit identity theft. Some e-mail scams don't ask for information, but provide links to find out how to qualify for funds. By clicking on the links, consumers have downloaded malicious software or spyware that can be used to make them a victim of identity theft.
"Web sites may advertise that they can help you get money from the stimulus fund. Many use deceptive names or images of President Obama and Vice President Biden to suggest they are legitimate. They're not," says Eileen Harrington, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Don't fall for it. If you do, you'll get scammed."
Some sites suggest that for a small sum of money - as little as $1.99 in some cases - consumers can get a list of economic stimulus grants they can apply for. But two things can happen: the number of the credit card the consumer uses to pay the fee can fall into the hands of scam artists, or the $1.99 can be the down payment on a "negative option" agreement that may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars if the consumer does not cancel.
"Consumers who may already have fallen for these scams should carefully check their credit card bills for unauthorized charges and report the scam to the FTC," Harrington said.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
For most colleges and universities in the US, being able to brag about the doubling of admissions applications from year to year seems like a good thing. After all, to high school students and their parents who are out there trying to compare colleges it can make one school look more desirable over another knowing such statistics. However, for one small Philadelphia-area liberal arts college, they rejoiced when their admissions pool took a significant hit.
Strange as it may seem, Ursinus College didn't panic after hearing their applicants for this fall's freshman class dropped by almost a third from last year. In fact, the Vice President of Enrollment, Richard DiFeliciantonio, welcomed this change with open arms. You might be scratching your head thinking why any admissions office would be happy about such a thing. Wouldn't that mean prospective college students were losing interest in the school?
According to DiFeliciantonio, "People count anything that moves as an application. Everyone is going up 10 percent every year for 20 years. It’s absurd. […] At some point the credibility of those numbers is questionable.” The fact of the matter is that for a small school like Ursinus, playing the numbers game often works to their disadvantage. After hiring a direct marketing firm to boost their admissions applications they found that their yield, the number of accepted students who actually enroll, fell dramatically from 30% in 2005 to 13.5% in 2010.
Ultimately Ursinus decided to end their relationship with last spring the marketing firm that asked them to remove essay questions and waiving the application fee for prospective students. Lowering the bar to enter the admissions process created an influx of applicants that didn't necessarily care about attending the school and were just trying to cast a wide net for college acceptances. The proof? Almost 87% of the students that were offered admission didn't enroll.
At a small liberal arts school where the freshman class size is just under 550, the focus should be on quality, not quantity. Ursinus recognized this and brought back the essay requirement. They even added a mandatory submission of a graded term paper to their application process.
So what does this mean for high school students and their parents researching schools? It means you shouldn't be swayed by the applicant numbers. Just because one school may seem like a popular choice, or have a very easy application process, doesn't mean it's the best fit for you.
For many homeschool students, the process of preparing for college applications can be a bit daunting. That's why the StudentAdvisor team invited Nancy Griesemer to share her insights on how homeschool students and their parents can navigate the increasingly complicated waters of college admissions.
Nancy is an independent educational consultant practicing in northern Virginia and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard with college counseling certification from UCLA. She also regularly comments on the practices, oddities, and quirks of the admissions process in a column she writes for the Examiner.com and on the College Explorations Blog.
Read Nancy's advice for college-bound homeschool students below:
The Home School Legal Defense Association
(HSLDA) recently came out with tips for homeschool parents and students
that should help enormously with the college admissions process.
While the HSLDA reports that colleges and universities are increasingly more open to homeschoolers, problems occasionally occur when admissions officers are either unfamiliar with homeschooling and related legal requirements or are fearful of losing eligibility for federal support if students with “unaccredited” diplomas are awarded financial aid.
The following is a summary of HSLDA’s recommendations
for how to avoid challenges and communicate with college admissions staff:
- Collect proof of compliance with state law.
- Have available a copy of your “notice of intent” (if your state requires one) demonstrating filing requirements were met (Maryland, Virginia, and DC all require some official notification/verification of intent).
- Make sure your transcript is professional as well as informative (it can be helpful to have transcripts notarized).
- Put together a portfolio of your best work from high school and make it available to admissions counselors.
HSLDA suggests that some colleges mistakenly believe federal regulations require college applicants to have an “accredited” high school diploma or GED in order to qualify for financial aid. The US Department of Education
, however, allows homeschool grads to self-certify
completion of their secondary education in a homeschool setting and no “proof” of accreditation needs to be submitted for students to receive federal aid.
“We work with homeschoolers every year. Each one is different and has different application materials with regard to transcripts,” said Jean Swartz, Shenandoah University’s
director of undergraduate admission. “We have a webpage of information
for them with our application process.”George Mason University
also offers advice
for homeschool students on its website and emphasizes that such students "will be viewed no differently than those who apply from traditional high schools." And the College of William & Mary
advises that although there are no special requirements
for homeschool students, applicants must complete the Common Application's Home School Supplement
and should consider taking SAT subject tests to prove proficiency in certain academic subject areas.
Kelly Gosnell, Vice President at Trinity Washington University
, advises that college admissions offices like to see “a full reading list—everything you have read from 9th grade up through 12th,” including pleasure and text reading as well as related writing samples. Along the same lines, homeschoolers should be able to “exhibit full math and science progression through documented projects with samples.” She also suggests, “Keep a condensed activities resume showing extra-curricular (social, academic, and athletic) and community service activities through the years.”
In a handout prepared for homeschool students, Catholic University
(CUA) recommends that transcripts, whether created at home or through a homeschooling organization, must list all courses of study with explanatory descriptions and assessment of academic performance. Catholic also requires at least one recommendation letter from someone other than the homeschooler’s parent—a coach or pastor might be a good option.
While welcoming applications from homeschooled students, CUA reviews each application on a case-by-case basis and all homeschool applicants are given the same consideration for scholarship and financial aid as traditional students.
“The homeschooled students who apply to CUA are almost always well prepared for college level work,” said Christine Mica, Dean of Admission.
The challenge is being aware of all requirements and compiling the necessary information to make a persuasive case for admission.
For more information on homeschooling rights and responsibilities as they relate to college admissions, visit the HSLDA website
Spring semester is here, the time when college freshman and sophomores begin to choose their majors. A hard decision for most, as many students fear that it might set a career path they have to follow for the rest of their lives.
While the major you choose IS important – especially if you’re going to be a doctor or lawyer – it doesn’t mean that if you “choose wrong” you’ll be making a “mistake” that you’ll regret later on.
So – how to choose? Brian Eberman, CEO of StudentAdvisor.com, shares his tips for selecting the right major for you today, and for your future:
A degree is a foundation for a flexible future. The average American now changes their job 7 times over the course of their career, so you should be prepared to discover more about yourself post-graduation. Until then you're going to need to pick a course of study in order to graduate.
Here are a few things to consider before you declare your college major:
"To thine own self be true."
What are you good at? What do you love doing? Instead of choosing a major because “there have been 7 generations of X profession in my family” or “my mom has always dreamed of having a child who is an artist/chemist/dentist”, now is the time for you to decide what makes YOU happy.
Consider your strengths and what you both like and can excel at doing. Are you analytical, creative, detail oriented, driven, outgoing or thoughtful? Think it through and if you aren’t sure find some experiences that will help you figure out the kinds of activities that are right for you.
Work a variety of internships.
Internships are the new entry-level job. They're rare opportunities to "test drive" a potential career. Through an internship you can often discover the path to the perfect major. Don’t wait until Junior year to experience an internship – make use of those school breaks and summers. Consider working with graduate students and faculty in a field that interests you. You can learn a lot about a profession from this kind of work, and some schools even have paid undergraduate research positions.
If you decide that you want to be a pro football player/Broadway star/CEO (ahem), spend some time studying the career paths of others that have achieved success in those areas. Not everyone can “make it big”, and you may be surprised to learn how much work is actually involved. Decide now if you can put in that much time and effort.
Follow your beliefs.
If there is a cause you are passionate about – the environment, battling childhood obesity or animal welfare – it can open a door to a lifelong passion. Every cause has hundreds of positions that need to make it tick – from bookkeeping and research to marketing and political advocacy, there are many ways that you can get involved for a lifetime.
Keep your options open.
For those that still aren’t sure – and you are not alone – consider a major that leaves many doors open. Research bachelor's degrees in less specialized topics (such as business or communications) introduce a huge array of career paths. Don’t stress and take your time to understand what interests you.
A common misconception is that you're stuck for four years wherever you mail off your college acceptance letter. Well, like most things in life, it just takes a bit of hard work and motivation to change. There are a whole slew of reasons why college students choose to transfer out of their original school. Financial issues, homesickness, academic trouble, personal drama, unfulfilled expectations, wanting a second chance to get into their top choice… you name it.
For me, I just wasn't all too thrilled with the college where I spent my Freshman year. It was a small state school in the middle of Pennsylvania Amish country where everyone went home on the weekends. I made up my mind quickly that I had to do everything in my power to get out of there as soon as I could so I wouldn't die of boredom or get run over by a horse and buggy.
I applied as a transfer student to Northeastern University in Boston where I studied Music and ultimately graduated. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, but getting out of Amish country wasn't exactly a cakewalk.
So if you've already got it in your head that you need to transfer schools, here's what you can do to prepare yourself for a pain-free transition:
1. Figure out what exactly you want to study before you start filling out transfer applications.
Like many college Freshman I chose not to declare a major when I started my first semester. However when it comes to transferring into another school, not intending to declare a major gives you a huge lack of purpose. Even if you do get accepted into your next school as undeclared you may find yourself having to tack on an extra semester or two to catch up with your degree requirements.
At the time I was trying to decide on what schools to research I was passionate about music and considering a potential career in entertainment law or artist management. Fortunately not too many colleges in the country have Music Business programs and this helped me narrow down options quite easily. After comparing colleges with similar programs and reading college reviews I decided I needed to be at school in a city with a good music culture, which led me to Northeastern and Boston.
2. Build relationships with your current professors.
Even though I didn't have the best overall opinion of my first college, it was nice that the class sizes were small enough for me to really get to know my professors without exerting too much extra effort. When it came time to ask them for recommendations for my transfer application they knew exactly who I was and could easily whip up a glowing letter on my behalf.
If you're transferring out of a big school, you're going to have to put yourself out there a bit more. Be sure to actively participate in class and don't be shy to visit your professors during office hours even if you don't need any extra help. Don't forget to send a thank you note after you receive their recommendation letter either - you never know when you'll cross paths again.
3. Be prepared to fight for transfer credit with examples of previous coursework.
Any college transfer student can't stress how important enough it is to check out the course requirements for the degree program you're transferring into. I had the benefit of taking mostly general education courses that were taught at almost every college and just about all of my credits transferred over to my new school. However, there was a hang up about not accepting my Freshman level writing class. There was no way I was going to waste time and money on repeating the same course over again when I earned an A in it at my old college.
I talked to the admissions office at Northeastern about what I could do and they put me in touch with the head of their English department. They said they would reconsider accepting my course credit for the class if I faxed them a copy of the syllabus and copies of graded writing assignments. It took a bit of paper wrangling but at the end of it all they accepted my credits and I didn't have to retake the course.
Before you apply, do some extra research and compare course descriptions for what classes you're taking. Make sure that there's an equivalent course at the school you're transferring into. And of course, don't forget to hang onto and make copies of all syllabi and graded papers in the event you have to do a little convincing.Have you been through the college transfer process? Share your advice on transferring in the comments.
One look at today’s college campuses and it's clear to see that high-end fashion is no longer exclusive to the catwalks of Milan and Manhattan. Fashion has evolved and the quad is quickly being transformed into the latest version of the runway. Gone are the days of bedheaded college kids showing up for lectures in sweatpants being the norm. From the classroom to their internships - students are now dressing to impress.
You'll find that fashion trends move just as fast as the time you spend at college. So how are you supposed to keep up? In honor of New York's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week kicking off February 10th, the StudentAdvisor team has decided to showcase the best college fashion blogs.
Find out which campus fashionistas made the cut for our Top 5 College Fashion Blogs list below:
College Fashion is the first and only fashion blog written by college students, for college students. Founded by Zephyr Basine from her University of Massachusetts Amherst dorm room in March 2007, College Fashion has grown from her own personal fashion blog into a worldwide student-run online fashion magazine, written by a group of stylish college girls from universities across the US. In four years Zephyr has transformed from campus fashionista to the Anna Wintour of college fashion blogs. From the University of Oklahoma’s Chelsea Cawood, to Ali Straka from the University of Missouri, this ‘online fashion magazine’ features fashion tips for students, the latest fashion trends, beauty tips, online sale updates, ruminations on college life, college fashionista’s’ street style, as well as style advice for 20-somethings.
College Fashionista is a fashion social networking site for those who are passionate about the latest styles and trends on college campuses. The site’s founder, Amy Levin, a graduate from Indiana University, created the blog as a way to showcase the best in University fashion trends. Together, Amy and her Style Gurus provide reader’s with photographs of what their peers are wearing around college campuses and tips on how readers can incorporate these looks into their own college fashion wardrobes. College Fashionista even has an exclusive column series for USA TODAY COLLEGE, which covers the current styles being fashioned at schools from American University, to Yale University, and every college in between.
Stephanie Kaplan, Windsor Hanger, and Annie Wang, the founders of Her Campus, met while undergraduates at Harvard University through running Freeze, the school’s lifestyle and fashion online magazine, where they served as the Editor-in-Chief, Executive Editor, and Creative Director respectively. Since Her Campus’s launch in September 2009, Stephanie, Windsor, and Annie have been named to Inc. magazine's 30 Under 30 Coolest Young Entrepreneurs, Glamour magazine's Women of the Year Awards as 3 of Glamour's "20 Amazing Young Women", and The Boston Globe’s 25 Most Stylish Bostonians. With national content on Style, Health, Love, Life, and Career, supplemented by campus-specific content produced by teams of students at 100+ colleges across the country, Her Campus has quickly become known as "A Collegiette’s Guide to Life”.
Lauren Felix, fashion obsessed college student at Florida State University, started La Petite Fashionista in March 2007, while she was still a senior in high school. Since day one, Lauren’s goal was to create a blog that made fashion accessible to everyone and made trends wearable and easy to understand. On her site, she muses about her inspirations, forecasts future trends, features up and coming labels, and writes about her experiences as a fashion student trying to break into the industry.
In a fusion of east meets west, Little Miss Dress Up is the style diary of two friends living on opposite ends of the world- one half of the Little Misses in Edinburgh and the other half in Manila. The founders and stylish fashion bloggers, Rosanna Aranaz and Hanna Choa Yu, provide readers with shopping finds and fashionable happenings in The Philippines and Scotland that will inspire any college fashionista’s wardrobe.
Stylish in Suburbia is the personal fashion diary of College of William & Mary student Rhiannon Ecsedy. Rhinnon's penchant for unconventional combinations and makes her stand out as a fashion risk taker with a funky flair. A must read blog for those who are bold enough to stand out from the crowd.
Keeping an eye out for an up and comer in the college fashion blog world? Check out Plaid and Cigarettes, written by an NYC area based high school senior named Devon. With whip sharp commentary and an eye for what's hot she's a mini Michael Kors in the making.
Bonnie Barton started Flashes of Style while still a student at University of Arkansas. Even though she graduated in 2010 she continues to keep her blog fresh with top notch suggestions for those looking to dress a bit more "grown up" while still wanting to feel youthful and stylish.
Do you have a "go to" blog for college fashion? Share your favorite in the comments.
Not everyone is ready to dive headfirst into college right after high school. The concept of taking a “gap year” – time off before starting college – is becoming increasingly more popular amongst graduating high school seniors. But how can you make the most of this time? How do you even start planning? To find out we invited Robin Pendoley, Co-Founder & CEO of Thinking Beyond Borders, an educational gap year program, to share his expertise:
With over 100 organizations and consulting firms in the US offering gap year options, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Investing in finding the best fit will ensure your gap year is everything you hope it will be. Exploring gap year options is not always an easy task.
Here are some quick tips to help you find all of the options and begin to narrow them down to the best fit for you:
Where Do I Find Gap Year Options?
Your High School Guidance Counselor – Many guidance counselors encourage students to consider a gap year during the college planning process. Visit your counseling office to ask for brochures and recommendations from the educators you know and trust.
The Internet – Searching for “gap year programs” on Google or another search engine will produce a wide range of results. Here are a few sites that offer a quick overview of the many gap year opportunities:
- USA Gap Year Fairs – Provides brief descriptions of over 40 providers and links to their websites. Additionally, the site lists the dates and locations of 25 gap year fairs around the US. Each fair includes 30 or more providers, allowing you to collect brochures, ask questions about the programs, and compare the options.
- Teen Life – Includes brief descriptions and links to over 40 providers, categorizes them by interest area, and offers links to gap year consultants.
- Enrichment Alley – Includes links to over 50 providers, with some student reviews.
Attend a Gap Year Fair – High schools have begun hosting fairs such as The USA Gap Year Fairs to provide students and families a chance to meet representatives from many of the gap year providers. This is a great way to get a good feel for the culture of each program.
How Do I Choose?
Once you have a sense of the broad array of options available to you, it’s time to narrow the field. Answering the following questions will help you hone in on the best fit for you:
Price Range – EVERYONE can afford a gap year. While some programs cost as much as a year of private college, others will pay you to participate – including education awards to help pay for college. Plan your budget – keeping in mind the college years after your gap year – and then consider the options in your price range. Not all programs are the same, so look carefully at what you get for the dollars and time you commit. Also, some programs offer scholarships, college credit, and access to federal financial aid. If your dream program looks out of your price range, get in touch with the organization to explore options for funding.
How Long? – Gap years can last from the moment you graduate high school until your first day of college (and for some, the first day of college is in the spring semester). Many students break their time up, spending some time working and committing the rest of their time to travel for a structured program. Providers offer options that last from a few weeks to 8 months. While some students want to have a diverse year with lots of different activities, others choose a longer, more in-depth experience.
International or Domestic? – There are excellent opportunities for new experiences both international and domestic. International opportunities range from traditional university learning in Europe to service programs in rural communities in the “developing” world. Domestically, there are options offering students a chance to live, work, and volunteer in communities in the US that often feel like a foreign country or culture. While international programs tend to be more expensive than domestic ones, that is not always the case.
Group or Individualized? – Gap years can be great opportunities for personal exploration and freedom. While the notion of heading out on your own has romantic appeal, group programs can offer an instant social circle and the support of adult program leaders, all while offering many of the freedoms of an individualized gap year. Think carefully about what each day will be like and what your support system will be if you are away from home.
Service or Learning or Both? – Be clear what you hope to gain from your gap year. If service is what you’re looking for, carefully consider the work offered by programs to be sure it aligns with the contribution you hope to make. If you want to learn about a particular subject or culture, look for programs that will offer chances to really engage that subject in a meaningful way. Some programs create a mix of the two. Pay close attention to the details of the day to day experience of students within the program.
Have you been considering a gap year? Find out if taking a gap year is right for you.
With FAFSA deadlines right around the corner first time applicants and their parents are becomingly increasingly more anxious. Today's post is dedicated to helping you overcomb those fears about applying for student aid. For more information on the FAFSA, step-by-step instructions to filling out the form and other tips please read our Free FAFSA Guide.
For many families with high school seniors, February is dedicated to tackling the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
“A lot of people are afraid of it,” says Betty Williams, director of financial aid at Coker College in Hartsville, SC. “But it’s not hard.”
Here’s how to take the fear out of FAFSA.
First, take careful note of requirements and deadlines. “Know the aid application requirements for each of the schools to which you’re applying,” advises Helen Nunn, director of financial aid at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa.“Some will only require the FAFSA, but may have an early (February 1 or 15) deadline. Others will require the CSS PROFILE or their own institutional aid application. Some will require financial data from the non-custodial parent, in the case of divorce. So you need to know what you’ll have to provide.”
“Schools will publish their deadlines, as will state grant programs,” says Nunn. “Find the earliest deadline imposed by any of your schools and don’t miss it!”
You can lose money by putting off your application, so don’t procrastinate.
“Don't wait until you’ve been admitted to a college,” says Pat Watkins, director of financial aid at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Some applicants are concerned that their admission to a college may be jeopardized if they apply for financial aid. In many instances this is not the case. Admission to the college is made regardless of ability to pay. List all of the colleges you are considering on your FAFSA. Some funds are limited. By waiting, you may miss out on some scholarships.”
Get your paperwork ready, even if you don’t yet have your 2010 tax information.
“You’ll need your social security number, driver’s license, alien registration card (if you are not a U.S. citizen), and financial documents, including tax information, current bank statements, business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, and stock, bond and other investment records,” Mary Ellen Duffy, director of financial aid at Albright College in Reading, Pa. (Help potential students learn about Albright so write a review of Albright College.)
You can estimate your tax information if you don’t yet have it, says Nunn. “You do not need to wait to have a completed 2010 1040/A/EZ to apply. However, you need to give the best estimate you possibly can, as your financial aid will be based on these numbers and be subject to verification later,” she says. “Locate your federal tax forms – student’s and parents’. Put them together with your end-of-year 2010 paystubs. Use the two together to create your estimate.” You can correct and update the information later.
Once you’ve got it filled out, don’t forget to sign.
“The most common FAFSA error is missing signatures,” says Williams. “The form will be rejected and that delays processing.” If you’re completing your FAFSA online, don’t forget to sign it with your PIN or by printing out the pages and mailing them in.
Keep good records during the whole process. “Keep copies of everything you submit and track when you complete each item” recommends Nunn. “Put everything in a file for easy reference and retrieval.”