60 Colleges and Universities on Instagram April 23rd, 2015
gardner_webb_instagram

Gardner-Webb University on Instagram

Want to get a glimpse of what college life is really like? Checking a college or university’s social media platforms is a great way to see what students are doing around campus. Instagram, in particular, lets you view snapshots of student life at college. Check out these Instragram feeds from 60 colleges and universities around the United States.

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4 Most Common College Application Essay Mistakes April 16th, 2015
college essay

Common College Application Essay Mistakes

Do college admissions committees really read the application essays you write? Of course, they do. We’ve interviewed admissions officials from four colleges and universities, and they’ve provided us with a list of the common mistakes they see in college application essays. Use their insight to avoid making these mistakes on your own essay.

Mistake #1: Mentioning a different university’s name. Yep, you read that right. Students who try to reuse essays for multiple schools are most likely to fall into this trap, and it’s a turn off for admissions officials. “While we understand students will apply to multiple colleges and universities, it is always discouraging to see a student mention another university’s name in their essay,” says Hannah Bingham, first-year admissions coordinator at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Mistake #2: Not proofreading. Mistakes (like the one in #1) can be easily avoided by proofreading your essay. “It’s always important to have someone proofread your essay. Whether it’s a parent, teacher, counselor or friend, a fresh set of eyes can give you a fresh perspective and catch any grammatical errors you may not have seen before,” Bingham says.

Mistake #3: Writing too broadly. Read the essay questions or prompts carefully and make sure your answers reflect what was actually asked in the question. Also, make sure your answer is specific and not generic. “Generally speaking, students write an essay that is too broad in scope and not specific enough to the institution,” says Christopher Gage, dean of admission at Hanover College (IN).

Mistake #4: Not focusing on you. “The most common mistake in college essays is that students don’t include enough personal information about the student … because they don’t think it is ‘important’ enough to share,” says Cyndi Sweet, director of admissions at Maryville College (TN). Be sure to include how the activities you’re involved in, awards you’ve won or specific interests or passions you have make you a good fit to attend the college.

Sarah Neal, senior assistant director of admission at Agnes Scott College (GA), agrees that students need to make sure to bring the essay back around to why the subject matter of the essay is important to the student. “Whether the essay prompt asks the student to describe a favorite work of literature, an important moment in their lives, a place where they feel content or anything else, all essay prompts are designed to get the students thinking about something that is important to them,” as well as why it’s important to them.

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What To Do If You Get That Dreaded Rejection Letter April 14th, 2015
Rejection Letter

How to Deal With a College Rejection Letter

It’s bound to happen at least once, especially if you’re applying to six to 10 colleges: a rejection. But getting a rejection letter, even from your top choice school, doesn’t have to be the end of the world. So if you do get that dreaded rejection letter, don’t let it get the best of you. Instead, try this:

Scream, cry and then regroup. Getting a rejection letter could make you a bit emotional, and that’s okay. Let it out, and then regroup. After all, it’s their loss. And it’s not personal, as the HerCampus.com blog says, “Colleges are trying to create a class made up of students with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, career and athletic interests and geographic locations.” Because of that, a rejection may have nothing to do with your abilities, and everything to do with the college and its goals.

And remember you’re not alone: even people who have gone on to be highly successful—like broadcast journalists Tom Brokaw and Meredith Vieira, co-founder of Sun Microsystems Scott McNealy, Nobel Prize in medicine winner Harold Varmus—were rejected from their top-choice colleges.

Take a closer look at your “back up” choices. College isn’t all about where you go, but what you make of the experience. Use the rejection letter as a jumping off point to explore other colleges you’re considering more in depth.

Take a campus visit to those schools, if you haven’t already. Contact the admissions office to show your interest and ask questions about academic programs and financial aid. Check out the school’s social media pages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to get a better feel for what the school is really like.

Talk to your guidance counselor. If you’re unsure what to do next after receiving a rejection letter, or if you have questions about what other colleges you should consider or apply to, schedule an appointment to meet with your high school guidance counselor. He or she can help you sort through your college options and figure out your next steps.

Study hard. As always, continue studying hard in school and keep pushing yourself to excel all the way through the end of your senior year. This will help you look good to other schools that are still considering your application. Plus, since many merit scholarships at private colleges are awarded based on your GPA, keeping that GPA up could help you win more scholarship money once you are accepted to a college.

Stay confident. You’ve worked really hard to get where you are today, and a college you apply to will surely take notice of your great talents, academic abilities and more. Be patient and wait for acceptance letters to roll in.

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New 2015 Junior Edition Now Available April 9th, 2015
Junior Edition

My College Guide 2015 Junior Edition

Have you seen the latest edition of My College Guide? Our 2015 Junior Edition is now available online. This edition provides the latest information on college admissions, visiting college campuses, applying for financial aid and scholarships, writing college application essays and preparing for college life.

College Admissions

Financial Aid, College Scholarships, and Other Money Issues

College Life

Download a copy of the full My College Guide 2015 Junior Edition from the MyCollegeGuide.org homepage.

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College Major of the Month: Teacher Education April 2nd, 2015
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College Major of the Month: Teacher Education

Do you know what your teachers do? In this month’s featured College Major of the Month, we’ll take a look at majoring in teacher education and discover what a teacher’s job really involves.

A teacher’s job isn’t just time spent in the classroom lecturing or giving exams. Teachers spend time outside of the classroom planning lessons to teach (including the hands-on activities you do in class), answering student and parent questions, attending faculty and training meetings, grading assignments and exams and more.

What jobs exist for teacher education majors? As you know, teachers are employed in public school districts and at private schools worldwide, and they can teach students from kindergarten to 12th grade. Opportunities for teachers are expected to grow throughout the next decade or so, especially as many current teachers approach retirement age. Special education, math and science teachers are in particular high demand.

How much do teachers make? Salaries for teachers depend largely on amount of experience and level of education, as well as what state you live in. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, K-12 teachers make a median annual salary between $53,400 and $55,050. An April 2014 Salary Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers said that new education graduates made an average starting salary of about $40,836.

What are the education requirements for teachers? Requirements for teacher education programs vary by state. Typically, a student will major in education and select a specific age group to concentrate on (such as K-6, K-8 or high school), depending on how state licensure requirements are arranged. In addition to majoring in education, students seeking to teach at the high school level often may be required to double major in a specific area (such as English, Chemistry or Biology) or take additional credits hours in their academic specialty.

While many people think teachers get the summers off, it’s important to know that in order to maintain a teaching license, teachers are generally required to take continuing education courses each year. In some cases, those courses could lead to a master’s degree.

How can I prepare in high school to major in teacher education? Talk to your favorite teachers, and ask them what the job is like. In addition, volunteer at camps or organizations where you can help younger children.

What scholarships are available for teacher education majors? There are many college scholarships and other types of financial aid to help teacher education majors pay for college. For example, there’s a federal TEACH Grant program that provides up to $4,000 per year to a student who is specializing in a high-need field or plans to (after graduation) teach at a school or agency that serves low-income populations.

The website Teach.org has a list of several scholarships available to students studying teacher education, and CollegeScholarships.org also has a list of national and local scholarships for education students. Be sure to check with local and state teaching organizations, school districts and other educational organizations to find additional scholarships.

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College Scholarships Ending in April March 31st, 2015
Scholarship Money

Apply for College Scholarships

April isn’t just the month your parents have to submit their tax returns (which will come in handy when you file the FAFSA). It’s also a month full of college scholarship opportunities. This month’s featured scholarship opportunities give out prizes ranging from about $500 to $10,000. And, not of the scholarships are need-based; some are based on merit (aka your achievements) only.

Check out these seven scholarships:

American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship: High school seniors can apply for this scholarship by reading an essay on automatic fire sprinklers and taking an online multiple-choice test. Ten winners will win $2,000 each. This scholarship is not based on financial need. Deadline: April 1

Old School Impact Scholarship: DoSomething.org is offering a scholarship for students who use their skills to improve the lives of older adults. Top prize is $10,000. Deadline: April 1

College JumpStart Scholarship:  This merit-based scholarship is open to 10th through 12th graders and college students who want to pursue education to better their lives, family or community. Financial need is not considered for this scholarship. First place receives $1,000. Deadline: April 15

Post Office Locator Scholarship: To apply for this scholarship, high school seniors and college students at accredited institutions need to write a 500- to 1,000-word essay “about the most interesting item you have ever received in the mail.” The scholarship winner will receive $500. Deadline: April 15

Sports Unlimited Scholarship: Student-athletes who are high school seniors or current college freshmen or sophomores can apply for this $1,000 scholarship. An essay describing a time you’ve had to overcome adversity to succeed in a sport is required. Deadline: April 20

NinjaEssays Writing Contest: Choose from one of 10 essay topics and write an 800- to 1,000-word essay to enter. Top prize is $500, second place gets $300 and third place gets $150. Deadline: April 27

All About Education Scholarship: Write a brief (250 words or less) essay on how a $3,000 scholarship for education would make a difference in your life. Any student age 13 or older can apply. Deadline: April 30

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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Best College Admissions Videos on YouTube March 26th, 2015

Best College Admissions Videos on YouTube

Tired of seeing the same-old brochures, emails, videos, postcards and other marketing materials from colleges? Well, there are some universities out there who think outside the box and generate creative, and eye-catching, materials to attract your attention.

Here are a few of the most interesting and creative recruitment and admissions videos we’ve seen from colleges and universities on YouTube.

American International College (MA): Who’s Gonna Push You?

This college’s mascot gives students the “push” they need to succeed (and apply) to the college.

American International College

Cleveland Institute of Art (OH): Brokaw: C.I.A. Admissions Video

Although this video is a little slow-paced (and even though it was posted way back in 2007), it’s still relevant. The video uses illustrations and art to show you what the school is all about and what you might experience as a student.

Cleveland Institute of Art

Georgia Tech: Fight Admission-Induced Stress with Georgia Tech’s Accurate Admissions Resource Guide

This video claims “young people across America are battling a silent, but very real threat: Admission Induced Stress.” It directs you to visit the university’s online guide about the admissions process.

Georgia Tech

University of Rochester (NY): Remember oUR Name

This isn’t your typical admissions office video: it’s a music video featuring students sharing information about the college with a “hip-hop twist.”

University of Rochester

Wartburg College (IA): Call Me

Remember Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song from a couple years ago, “Call Me, Maybe”? The Wartburg Admissions Office staff and students lip-sync to the song and show you a bit of campus in this video.

Wartburg College

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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7 Ways to Save Money for College as a High School Sophomore March 19th, 2015
Saving Money for College

Saving Money for College

It’s never too to early to start saving money for college. The average annual tuition, fees, room and board rates at four-year colleges and universities across the United States totals from about $19,000 to more than $42,000, according to the CollegeBoard.org. Your sophomore year (or anytime really!) is a great time to start saving cash for college.

Here are seven ways you can get started saving money for college.

Apply for scholarships. You don’t have to be a high school junior or senior to start looking for college scholarships. Some scholarships are available to students at any high school grade level, so start looking for scholarships now!

Enter contests. Various organizations host essay, art, video and other contests for high school students, even as early as your sophomore or freshman year of high school. Search online for contests that fit your interests, and then participate! See our article on 10 Essay Contests for High School Sophomores and Juniors to get started.

Put money in the bank. If you don’t already have a savings account at a bank, open up one. As you earn money, deposit it at the bank. You’ll accrue a little bit of interest (free money!) each month, depending on your bank and the type of account you open. If you already have a bit of cash saved up, consider putting it in a CD—an account where you agree to leave the money in it for a specified period of time in exchange for a higher interest rate.

Get a part-time job. Whether it’s a summer job, or a job you keep throughout the school year, getting work experience will help you earn cash and get a work experience to put on your resume. If your schedule with extracurriculars is just too busy, look for other ways you can earn money. For example, perhaps you could mow your neighbors lawn in the summer for a few bucks, or in the winter you could shovel your neighbor’s snow.

Sell your stuff. This goes for only things you don’t need. For example, if you have an old model iPhone you no longer use, send it in to Gazelle or other similar sites that give people cash in exchange for old cell phones.

Also, if you have something you no longer want (such as a childhood toy or book), look on Amazon.com or eBay.com to see if you can get any money for it. If others are selling similar items for a decent price, try putting your items on there. (Note: You’ll need your parents to help you sell your items online or exchange your cell phone for cash, since many services require you to be at least 18 years old to sell items or be members.)

You could go low-tech with your sale, too, and organize a garage sale.

Use the library. Thinking about renting a movie from Redbox? Want to buy a new book you heard about? If so, don’t forget to check your library first. You can rent DVDs from most public libraries, and the new book you want to read might be available through the library, too—all for free.

Do free stuff. When you hang out with your friends, you don’t always have to do something that costs money. Look for free events and activities to do in your community.

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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Overview of 5 Different College Rankings Systems March 17th, 2015
College Rankings

Overview of College Ranking Systems

College rankings abound. These rankings are often subjective, or only look at select data sets, so colleges may have different rankings depending on the service ranking it.

Rankings may help you determine how good of a reputation a college has, but it shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision. You’ll also want to consider the cost, how it matches your interests (like if it has your major!), the location and more.

As you get started putting your college list together, here’s a quick overview of a few different college rankings you may come across.

U.S.News & World Report: These rankings are among the most popular rankings colleges cite in their marketing brochures. The Best Colleges rankings are based on formulas that take into account data on 16 “indicators of academic excellence” such as student retention rates, student selectivity, financial resources and graduation rates. Administrators at universities also fill out surveys to rate peer institutions, and those results are incorporated into the data used to create these rankings.

Washington Monthly: These rankings evaluate colleges “based on their contribution to the public good.” Three broad categories are considered: social mobility, research and service. Social mobility includes data on a college’s net price and number of students receiving Pell grants. Research covers information on how much money the college spends on research and the number of Ph.D. degrees awarded in certain areas, among other data points. Service relates to community service hours students participate in and support services offered to students.

Forbes America’s Top Colleges: Forbes is a business magazine that generates these annual rankings with a focus on the return you’ll get on your investment in that college. The rankings are based on categories such as student satisfaction, graduate success, student debt, graduation rate and academic success.

Princeton Review: The rankings in this annual publication are based on surveys from more than 130,000 students attending those colleges. This publication provides lists in dozens of different categories from Best Campus Food to Happiest Students to Best College Dorms to Most Beautiful Campus. It even has a guide to “green colleges,” that is, colleges that have a strong commitment to sustainability.

AIER College Destinations Index: The American Institute for Economic Research creates these rankings to rate the “college experience,” which takes into account the towns and cities schools are located in. The rankings divide cities by size, and compares data on student life, culture, economic health of the area and economic opportunities in the area.

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Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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Colleges That Offer a Four-Year Graduation Guarantee March 12th, 2015
College Graduation

Graduating College in Four Years

About 59 percent of students in four-year bachelor’s degree programs graduate college in six years. Despite that statistic, it is possible to get a bachelor’s degree in four years today, but it takes good planning, hard work and dedication.

Some colleges even offer special four-year guarantees where if certain conditions are met, and the classes you need to take are not available, the college will cover any additional costs past four years.

The student requirements of the guarantees vary by college, but may require you to stick to one college major, maintain good academic standing, create a plan for courses you’ll take each year and meet regularly with an academic advisor.

Which colleges offer a four-year guarantee? Here’s 29 colleges that offer a four-year guarantee program. (Note: This is subject to change, so check with the college before applying or enrolling.)

  • Bacone College (OK)
  • Baldwin-Wallace College (OH)
  • Bethel College (KS)
  • California State University, San Bernardino
  • California State University – Fullerton
  • Dakota Wesleyan University (SD)
  • DePauw College (IN)
  • Doane College (NE)
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Florida Southern College
  • Fort Lewis College (CO)
  • Green Mountain College (VT)
  • Indiana State University
  • Jacksonville University (FL)
  • Juniata College (PA)
  • Kentucky Wesleyan College
  • Pace University (NY)
  • Portland State University
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • Sierra Nevada College (NV)
  • Unity College (ME)
  • University of Buffalo (NY)
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Maine at Farmington
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of the Pacific (CA)
  • Virginia Wesleyan College (VA)
  • Wisconsin Lutheran College

No matter which college you’re interested in (even if it’s not on this list) be sure to ask an admission counselor if a four-year guarantee is offered for college majors you’re interested in. At many colleges, you need to sign up for the four-year guarantee during your freshman year or even before you start your first college class. So, ask early.

And, if a college doesn’t offer a guarantee, ask them what percentage of students graduate in four years. If it seems like a low number ask them why the number is what it is. Their answer should give you insight to how motivated other students are, the types of resources available to support student academic success, if students get tons of internships which pushes graduation dates back, if classes are difficult to get into and more.

Image credit: Courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores and another edition just for high-achieving juniors! Check out our participating colleges.

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