By Nancy R. Ziering, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
There are some ins and outs to financial aid that you should keep in mind in order to make the process easier.
1. Federal financial aid should always be your first choice. Use every dime of it that you can before you start taking out loans. Federal financial aid is awarded on a needs basis and its first come, first served. In the case of financial aid, the early bird gets cash! Nearly half of the students who would be eligible for Federal financial aid never even apply for it because they assume they won’t get it. That just means more money for you. Federal financial aid comes in the form of grants, loans and the Federal work-study program. You’ll have to speak with your financial aid advisor to determine what types of Federal aid is available at your particular school, because for example not all schools participate in the work-study program.
2. State financial aid is also available. Financial aid from your state will depend upon you Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but the deadlines are usually earlier than the Federal deadline at the end of June. Again, you’re financial aid advisor will be able to tell you what is available to you from your specific state.
3. Student loans are always a last resort and should be used carefully. There are loans available from the Federal government and there are also loans available from private lending institutions. The Federal government caps the interest that can be charged on their student loans, but private institutions are able to charge higher rates. Be sure you know exactly what you are getting before you sign any paperwork.
4. It’s important to keep in mind that not all colleges are the same when it comes to financial aid. You can easily find their financial aid information on their websites. The college will always award the best financial aid package to the best students and even a few points on the SAT or a GPA that’s a 3.75 instead of a 4.0 can be the difference between having your entire year paid for and struggling to make up the difference that your financial aid doesn’t cover.
Did your financial aid experience go smoothly? Comment & share below!
Nancy R. Ziering is from College and Retirement Solutions, LLC. www.college-retirement.com
Choosing the right college is an exciting decision for students and their families. Sometimes, parents pass on their love of their alma mater to their children.
While you are free to make your own decision on where you want to go to college, we wanted to share the 25 most desirable colleges according to Newsweek Education:
1. Harvard University
2. Yale University
3. Stanford University
4. Princeton University
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Read the full list of the 25 most desirable colleges.
What is the #1 college you are dying to go to? Comment & share below!
School has been back in session for several weeks now. For high school seniors, this year is will be exciting, hectic, and full of memories. By this time, high school seniors should be narrowing down what they will be doing next year and where they want to go to college.
Here is StudentAdvisor’s Fall Checklist for High School Seniors – print it off, hang it on your fridge, and reference it to keep you focused and on track!
- Continue to take a full load of college-prep courses.
- Make sure that you have the courses necessary to graduate in the spring.
- Continue to participate in your extracurricular and volunteer activities - and have fun with them!
- If you are a male student, you must register for selective service on your eighteenth birthday to be eligible for federal and state financial aid.
- Make a calendar showing all of your application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.
- Ask colleges about scholarships for which you may qualify.
- Give your college recommendation forms to the teachers that you have chosen, along with self-addressed, stamped envelopes so your teachers can send them directly to the colleges.
- Give your school report forms to your high school’s guidance office at least 2 weeks before they are due. Fill in the top with your name and contact information, and verify with your guidance counselor the schools to which transcripts, test scores, and letters are to be sent.
- Register and take the ACT Assessment, SAT I, or SAT II Subject tests, as necessary.
- Make sure to request that your test scores are sent to the colleges of your choice.
- If you have the time, visit colleges while classes are in session.
- Remember that if you want to apply for a ROTC scholarship, applications are due December 1!
- Make photocopies of all of the applications that you send out to keep track of everything that you have submitted.
For more college checklists, read our Parents' Survival Guide.
Parents/Students - have advice to share about senior year of high school? Comment & share below!
For nontraditional students, students aged 22 or older who are returning to school after a hiatus, returning to school can be a nerve-wracking and intimidating time.
Here are some tips on how to be a successful adult learner:
1. GOALS. Having a clear objective will help you focus on your studies. Write your goals and tasks on a dry-erase board and post it somewhere you can see them daily. Break your goals out into long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals so that they are easier to tackle.
2. APPLY FOR AID. Fill out the FAFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form as soon as possible. There is no age limit for need-based federal financial aid programs such as Pell Grants and low-cost student loans, so whenever you decide to continue your education, you may qualify for financial aid!
3. HAVE A COMPUTER. Whether you’re earning an online degree or attending classes at a local community college, make sure you own a computer or laptop (or have access to one). You will need to research things on the Internet, take tests, watch presentations, participate in class forums, blog, type up assignments, or read class material online. Here are some things to remember:
- Make sure your computer is compatible which whatever technology, software, and plug-ins the school or degree program uses.
- Make sure you back up all your work in case your computer crashes, on a USB flash drive for example.
- Get the phone number of your school's computer (or IT) support center.
4. STUDY SKILLS. Prepare yourself to do lots of reading, writing, and note-taking. Practice the best techniques for staying focused, remembering what you read, and prioritizing assignments - and you'll increase your learning efficiency! If you do not understand something, ask your professor for help, or another student in the class for clarification.
If you are an adult learner, share some study tips and advice for being a successful student!
By Antonette Poli, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Internships are a vital part of a student’s educational experience. Internships help students get a glimpse into the field they are interested in pursuing after graduation. What a great way to see what people’s day to day responsibilities are really like, and what is going on in the specific industry – before they graduate! Students will also start to build a network of business professionals who they can reference in the future for advice or possible career inquires.
Employers recognize internships as real world experience, which is beneficial for students to have on their resume. It also shows that the student went further than the required college classes, and got some additional hands-on experience – regardless if they were paid for the internship or not.
Here are 5 Tips for Students Looking for Internships:
1. NETWORKING. Attend career fairs, alumni events, and other networking activits on campus to meet people in your desired field. When you are ready to start searching for a relevant internship (or job) you will have a list pf people and companies to reference.
2. RESUME. Create a strong resume to make yourself stand out. Focus on your accomplishments and highlight your key strengths.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA. Create a LinkedIn page and post that you are looking for an internship in “X” industry. You are also able to search for internships by companies and industries on LinkedIn – so use this as a search tool! Post your internship search on Facebook, Twitter, and relevant blogs as well. As a precaution always – make sure anything (photos, wall posts, comments, videos, information) that is on your social media accounts in appropriate for the workplace.
4. BE PROACTIVE. Don’t just apply to an internship posting and then wait for a response. Be aggressive and follow-up with a call or email after a few days. Post your resume on available job boards. Reach out to other professionals in your field who you may know personally, or who you may find on LinkedIn, etc.
5. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Research companies you are interested in, and then reach out to the HR dept to ask if they have an internship program. If they don’t – ask to be their internship. Remember there’s no harm in asking.
What was the best internship you've had? Comment & share any internship stories or tips below!
For more internship search advice, check out StudentAdvisor's Guide to Internships.
Antonette Poli is the Talent Resource Manager at Grey Healthcare Group, a Global Healthcare Communications Firm.
By Roger Thompson, Chief Research Officer for AVG Technologies, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
As students start their new school year at college, parents will advise their children to stay safe, travel in groups, and lock their doors; however, few will emphasize the safe use of cell phones and computers, which are this generation's portal to the world.
Since the explosion of social networking, today's teens are entering adulthood with identities stolen, reputations damaged, and debt before leaving college and entering the workforce.
Use these 8 Ways to Protect Yourself Online while at college:
1. CELL PHONE NUMBER. Understand that your cell phone number is a gateway for scam artists. When someone asks for your cell phone number and then requests you confirm by text message, you are very likely committing something that has an extended financial obligation. If you attempt to download something, and need to accept the link via a text message, make sure there are no hidden charges. If you give out your cell phone number online, be vigilant and watch your bill for any "surprise" charges!
2. IDENTITY THEFT. Students need to be on their guard about their identities. Identity theft is a growing threat and cyber criminals are coming up with increasingly sophisticated techniques to steal personal data. Be watchful of your personal information - student ID, numbers, addresses, social security numbers, etc. Teens are the target age group for identify theft due to the fact that they are not paying attention.
3. GOOGLE YOURSELF. Have you Googled yourself lately? You only have one reputation, so if it's poorly defined on the Internet, it will be hard to retract. Make sure things you are posting online (on Facebook, Twitter, etc) are appropriate to be seen by your school or future employers.
4. BEWARE OF SPEAR FISHING. Be aware of criminals who get enough information about a friend, and then pose as them online asking for money or personal information. Make sure your friends protect their identities online as well.
Read the full article on ways to protect yourself online in StudentAdvisor's Dorm Essentials Guide.
What do you do to make sure your information is safe online? Comment & share below!
Roger Thompson is the Chief Research Officer for AVG, the maker of the world's most popular free anti-virus software.
Want to know what the University of Florida is really like? Fellow students and alumni have spoken!
Read our featured University of Florida review- which recieved five stars!
You'll find out what students at the University of Florida do on Saturday nights, what students wish they had known before attending, and even the bad things about this university.
Read more of the University of Florida Review.
Do you have something to say about your school? Write a review of your college and be entered to win up to $500!
By Beth Fredericks, M.Ed., Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Researching and choosing a college is an important descision that requires a lot of time and energy for your child and your family. Make sure to encourage your child to start looking into colleges when they first start high school - and not to wait until their senior year. While they do not need to make a final descision, it is a good idea to start familiarizing them with the college planning process so they know how it works.
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO:
- Get to know the school’s guidance counselor. They will be a vital part of your child's college search process, so it's beneficial to develop a good relationship from the start
- Explore different interests and options for college and careers
- Enroll in the appropriate college-prep and tech-prep courses
- Take a foreign language. It today's evolving world it is helpful to know more than one language to communicate with peers and other business professionals
- Stay focused on getting good grades
- Take advantage of career-day or career fair opportunities
- Get involved in extracurricular activities, clubs, or sports
- Continue or begin a savings plan for college
- Visit friends and relatives that are away at different colleges to get a sense of what it is really like
- Check out different summer enrichment programs
- Visit StudentAdvisor.com and try our college matchmaker feature
Comment & share your family's college planning strategies below!
Read more college planning strategies for your child.
Beth Fredericks holds a BA in Education and an M.Ed in Early Childhood Development, and is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, and Tufts University. She is a parenting educator, community builder, and advocate for children and families.
Distance learning is available online for anyone that can access a computer: busy moms, adult learners looking to continue their education, or working professionals who want to advance their careers.
Distance Learning Has Something For Everyone
KEEP YOUR JOB. If you are working but want to earn a degree to advance your career, distance learning is a perfect solution. You are able to complete your degree online after work, or whenever you have time.
NO MORE COMMUTE
. Working on your degree at home and online will help keep you out of traffic jams and the mundane commute each day. You will also save on gas and car maintenance by not traveling to and from school.
ADVANCE YOUR CAREER. If you are unhappy with your current job, consider an online degree program to learn more or different skills sets. You can gradually learn a new career online, while still keeping your old job – and your income for the time being!
Distance Learning Strengths: Flexibility and Freedom
As online education grows, it is evolving to meet the needs of a wide range of students. Distance online learning programs are particularly helpful for those who don't have the time or transportation to attend a traditional campus class, who require an easily re-arrangeable study schedule, or who learn best when working at their own pace. Distance learning is also rapidly becoming a great way to save money on tuition, complete a degree, take a training course, or accumulate professional certifications.
Benefits of Distance Learning Online
- Classes are usually offered throughout the year
- Study when you want, and where you want. All you need is a laptop!
- Study and learn at your own pace
- No commute to and from school
- Strengthen research, technical, and written communication skills through using the Internet and resolving technical glitches
- Develop project and time management skills
- Save on tuition and childcare costs
Have you taken classes online? Comment & share your experience below!
Interested in distance learning? Read more about accredited Criminal Justice Degrees or Health Care Degrees!
By David Kimmelman, Career Expert from GetTheJob.com, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Looking for jobs is a stressul process - don't get discouraged! All college students and graduates should check out my 5 Job Hunting Tips which were featured on NECN’s Business evening show.
Job Hunting Tips all college graduates should know:
- Resume objectives are passe
- Brand yourself carefully
What are some tips you use to search for jobs? Comment & share below!
Read the full article and more job hunting tips at blog.GetTheJob.com.
Moving into a freshmen dorm is an exciting time for students. This is the place where you will make friends, share stories, and stay up all night studying, among other memorable experiences. However, if you don’t get along with your college roommate – how will you deal?
Here are 6 Things to Consider When Dealing with College Roommate Problems:
1. FORCED FRIENDS? Just because you are living with someone doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends forever. Ideally, it would be great if you and your roommate get along perfectly, enjoy each other’s company, have all the same interests, and are instantly attached at the hip. But let’s face it – that’s not the case for many people. Accept the fact that you both have just met and there may be an awkward transition period as you start living together and sharing the same space. Respect each other’s things and privacy, like you would with any other family member or friend. Realize that you can like each other, but do not have to be best friends. In time, your friendship may even grow naturally.
2. HOW DO THEY FEEL? If you are miserable with your roommate situation, chances are that your roommate may feel the same way. In a respectable manner, try and ask your roommate how they like the living situation and if there is any issues they would like to discuss. Try and feel them out to see if they feel the same as you before you declare that you want to switch rooms.
3. WHAT IS REALLY BOTHERING YOU? What is frustrating you the most about the roommate situation? Do they use your things without asking? Are they rude and disrespectful when you are trying to sleep or study? Do they always have a herd of people over late at night? Are they disgusting to live with? Determine what issues you will not and cannot live with – and if it something that your roommate is not willing to compromise about, then maybe it is best if you go your separate ways.
3. TALK TO THEM. At some time, you will reach your breaking point. You will determine that you don’t want to live with your roommate anymore, and you will need to address the issue. Find a time when both of you will be alert, sober, and not preoccupied with other things. Plan a time and place in advance, so that both of you can collect your thoughts and have a mature conversation without flipping out on one another. Remember that not everyone is meant to live with each other. Just because you want to move out does not make you a bad person – it just means that you and your roommate don’t mesh well together in a living situation.
4. TALK TO YOUR RA. After chatting with your roommate, you will both need to escalate the issue and talk to your RA (Resident Advisor). They are trained to advise residents with roommate problems, so they will help you both find new housing.
5. STAY FRIENDLY. Since you are planning on attending your college for four years, chances are you will run into your (ex) roommate often. To make the best of things, try to remain friendly with one another and not burn any bridges. In most cases, roommates didn’t do anything wrong – students just realized living with someone else was a better “fit”. While you don’t have to be friends with your estranged roommate, it may be better for everyone if you both are nice to each other.
Have a college roommate story to share? Comment below!
Read more ways to survive your freshmen year or outfit your dorm room!
Today we announced the start of an ongoing contest where any college student, alumni, parent of a college student, faculty member, or employer who works with college students can write a college review and be entered to win up to $500 monthly!
- Each month, one winner will be chosen at random to receive a $250 gift card.
- We (the StudentAdvisor.com judges) will also award an additional winner with a $250 gift card for the “Best in Class” review from all entries submitted that month.
"Best in Class" isn't necessarily defined. It can mean funny, insightful, surprising, detailed, unique, etc. Put a little personality into your review and you just might win!
How to enter:
To write a review, give a “star rating” (on a scale of 1-5 stars) for colleges based on Academics, Campus Facilities, Sports, Student Life, Surrounding Area and “Worth the Money”. The review also asks for your thoughts on the best things about the school, the worst things about the school, professors, classes, financial aid and more.
You can earn additional entries to the drawing by:
- Reviewing multiple schools
- Completing the entire review form
- Sharing your review on Facebook
The fine print:
- Each school review submitted will qualify as one contest entry.
- Individuals that complete the full review and post their reviews on Facebook will receive additional entries.
- Read on for the official contest rules.
The winner of each month’s drawing will be notified via email on or before the 10th
of the following month.
So what are you waiting for? Enter today!
Recently, StudentAdvisor.com's CEO Brian Eberman was featured in a RadicalParenting.com article about ways families can reduce the costs of college.
Here are 9 ways to reduce college costs:
1. 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.
2. If academically possible – and emotionally feasible – speak with your student about taking the maximum number of credits allowed each semester. By doing this, your child could conceivably reduce the time it takes to graduate. By graduating in three years instead of four, you eliminate an entire year’s worth of educational expenses, including tuition, housing – even laundry. To take this idea further, your child may consider going to school year-round. Some schools now offer such a schedule. 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.
Read the rest of the article and find out more ways to reduce college costs.
What are some ways your family tries to reduce college costs? Comment & share below!
By Scott C. Silverman, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
You’ve made it! You’re in college. You’re just beginning the best adventure of your life, where amazing opportunities await you around every corner.
If your college experience turns out to be anything like mine, and I hope it does, then you are about to make some of the best friends you’ll keep for the rest of your life, and have awesome, unique and interesting adventures that you’ll tell to friends and family for years and years to come.
Here are 5 Ways to survive your freshman year of college and make the most of your experience:
1. JOIN a student organization or two right away and become actively involved in them. You may even want a leadership role in one of those organizations (or another one) one day. Your social network can expand in person...and then you can Facebook each other.
2. ATTEND campus events whenever you can. Once you find out about events, put them into your calendar...ask your RAs, classmates and friends what events they’re going to, and tell them about events you plan to attend. Go with friends to ensure that you go and of course you will make new friends there.
3. EVENTS. There are many different types of events: sporting, concerts, comedy shows, movie nights, battle of the bands, festivals, etc. You may even find a crafts fair the week before Mother’s Day if you’re lucky and forgot to go shopping.
4. GET TO KNOW faculty and Teaching Assistants. Go to office hours...often times the professor or TA will only have two students visit during office hours all semester. If you go and ask for help, you’re more likely to get it, and you can develop a lasting mentorship that will lead to letters of recommendation, job opportunities, or participation in cool research.
5. STAFF. Similarly, university staff members are really important to your experience and your success during and after college. There are staff on campus whose job is to help you develop into responsible members of the community in fun and innovative ways...there are leadership programs, diversity workshops, time and money management workshops and almost anything else you could think of, including wellness (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.). These staff members exist to provide you with the skills and resources necessary to help you succeed. Your job is to take advantage of them (and we write pretty good letters of recommendation too!)
What are some tips you have for college freshman? Comment & share below!
Read more about how to survive your freshmen year of college in StudentAdvisor’s Ultimate College Living Guide.
Scott C. Silverman is a graduate from University of California - Riverside and the best-selling author of “How to Survive Your Freshman Year”.
By Beth Fredericks, M.Ed., Special to StudentAdvisor.com
You’ve had other experiences separating from your child — at kindergarten, camp, or sending him off to visit a relative or ex-spouse alone for the first time. But leaving home for college may be one of the most emotional moments for any parent yet — filled with excitement and anticipation, and an acute sense of loss.
Here are some tips that may help you stay connected to your child at college:
1. KISS THEM GOOD-BYE. Most parents describe the days leading up to their child’s departure as intensely emotional. Whether you are tearing up occasionally, planning a final family dinner, or the siblings are arguing over which Wii games stay home or go, you should be careful not to assume that your child or other family members are feeling the same way. Laura Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt, authors of The Launching Years, say, “A useful guideline is to avoid the extremes: during a child’s final days at home parents should, for example, resist possessiveness, refrain from guilt-tripping their child into something they don’t want to do, and avoid generating a drawn-out emotive display. Take a deep breath, hug it out, and let them go.
2. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS. According to a recent survey, college kids today are in contact with home by cell phone or email an average of 10 times a week. Barbara K. Hofer, professor of psychology at Middlebury College and co-author, with Abby Sullivan Moore, of The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up (Free Press, 2010), advises laying the groundwork before your kid leaves for college. She says, “Have a conversation about how often you want to talk, how you want to communicate, and when this is best for both of you.”
3. TIMING. The big question remains — how often do you talk? Every day? Once a week? When the spirit moves you? Experimenting might be the best way to go. Ask your child what might be a good time to check in. More isn’t necessarily better. Professor Hofer found that those kids “who are in the highest frequency of communication and whose parents are continuing to regulate their behavior and academics are the least autonomous and least satisfied with the college experience and their relationship with parents.” College is their venue for entering adulthood, and you cannot, nor should you, micromanage their experience.
4. SELECT THE TECH THAT FITS YOU BEST. Sorting out the best methods of communication with your student can be confusing. You may be used to calling their cell phone and leaving a message or simply texting a short “call me.” Instant messaging is available on Google, Facebook, and AIM; which one does your child use most? Parents of students studying overseas swear by Skype, which allows you to see and hear your child via webcams. There’s no charge and it works anywhere. You need to figure out which option fits your family the best.
5. VISIT. If you are not too far away, a great way to stay in touch is by visiting in person. You will earn lots of brownie points for showing up. If your child is playing sports try to make as many games as you can. If they are performing in concerts or shows, plan to attend.
6. SEND PRESENTS. Just like when you left “secret messages” in her lunch box in elementary school, college students love cards, gifts, and “care packages” from home. You can send home-baked cookies, rolls of quarters, photos of the family pet, or a commercial birthday bash kit. These small efforts will reassure your child that he is still connected to home and to you, and that staying in touch is important.
7. REACH OUT. Try to get to know your child’s new roommates and friends by more than name. If you live close by, invite them to your house for a holiday, especially if they live too far away to travel home. Most of all, listen carefully to your child and acknowledge their new expertise, passion, and know-how. You are not just staying connected to the child you raised, but getting to know the adult they are becoming.
Parents - how do you stay in touch with your child who is away at college? Comment & share below!
Read Student Advisor’s Parents’ Survival Guide for more tips from Beth on how to stay connected to your child in college.
Beth Fredericks holds a BA in Education and an M.Ed in Early Childhood Development, and is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, and Tufts University. She is a parenting educator, community builder, and advocate for children and families.
By Brian Eberman, CEO of StudentAdvisor.com
Parents - before your teen starts researching colleges, make sure you talk with them to determine which school will match their personality, academics, budget, and future. Consider what kind of degree your child will need, if your family can afford the college tuition, and how large the school is for starters.
Read more about the 6 Things to Consider When Evaluating Colleges from ParentingMyTeen.com