What Podcasts Can Help You Learn About a College April 17th, 2014
College Podcasts

What Podcasts Can Help You Learn About Colleges

You’ve visited college websites, their Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. Maybe you’ve even visited a campus. Podcasts, such as the ones on iTunes U, are another tool you can use to get a feel for a college and decide whether a school is right for you.

There are over 700 colleges worldwide with podcasts on iTunes U, so chances are you’ll find videos and audio recordings from the colleges you’re considering. The topics covered in colleges’ podcasts on iTunes U vary by school, but typically include videos and audio recordings on admissions, campus life, campus history, special lectures and even university courses.

What information is available in podcasts

We took a look at several colleges’ iTunes U offerings, and here’s a sampling of the kinds of information you can find in college podcasts:

Liberty University: Check out The Career Cast collection for this university, which features short clips about getting jobs and internships, interviewing for jobs, attending career fairs, setting salary expectations and more. Plus, see podcasts of courses on topics from entrepreneurship or health communication to nursing or portfolio development.

Iowa State University: This university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provides the bulk of the podcasts here. Courses cover topics such as agronomy, nutrition, biorenewable systems and computer science. The university’s library also shares special historical collections via podcasts, too.

Rutgers University: Collections on this iTunes U channel include courses, seminars and more. Most courses and seminars are on health care professions and majors, plus there are some podcasts for medical school admissions and financial aid.

University of South Carolina: Check this university’s collections for podcasts that include tips for college students, tutorials for library research and videos on campus life.

University of South Florida: Many of this university’s podcasts focus on literature and sustainability.

To view the podcasts, visit iTunes U in the iTunes store on your computer, smartphone or tablet.

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The Latest College Admissions Information for High School Juniors April 15th, 2014
My College Guide

My College Guide 2014 Junior Edition

Have you seen the latest edition of My College Guide? Our 2014 Junior Edition is now available online. This edition provides the latest information on college admissions, choosing a major, trends on college campuses, tips for getting financial aid and scholarships and more.

Check out the topics covered in the latest My College Guide.

College Admissions and Campus Visits

Choosing a Major

College Life

Paying for College

See all the articles from the My College Guide 2014 Junior Edition. If you’re a high school sophomore, check out our My College Guide 2014 Sophomore Edition.

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7 Ways to Find Local College Scholarships April 10th, 2014
Money for College

Finding Local College Scholarships

College scholarships are everywhere. You just need to know how to find them. In fact, there may be several scholarships available in your local community. To find these local scholarships to help you pay for college you may need to do a little research. In addition to using a scholarship search site such as Scholarships.com to find scholarships in your state, check out these seven sources to find local scholarships:

1. Your high school guidance office or school district foundation. This may sound obvious, but stop by your high school guidance office regularly to find out about new scholarships that may be available. Some school districts also may have their own foundation that makes scholarships available to students, so check with the foundation as well. If you’re lucky, your school may even post opportunities on its website.

2. Community foundations. In many cities, philanthropists may join forces to form foundations that provide funds for various causes in their local community, including education. To find a community foundation near you, use a search engine like Google and search for your state, region and/or city name plus the words community foundation. For example, a search for Sacramento community foundation turned up information on scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 per year offered by the Sacramento (CA) Region Community Foundation.

3. Local businesses. There’s an abundance of scholarships out there from businesses, from your local cable company or credit union to large corporations with facilities in your town. Make a list of the businesses your parents (or you) use, frequently visit or are members of (such as a bank, credit union, cable company, phone company, your doctor’s or dentist’s office, student club, etc.) and start by asking those organizations if they offer scholarships. Check with your parents’ employers, too.

Next, Google your city or state name, a type of business (such as credit union) and the word scholarships. For scholarships related to your intended college major, add the major name to the search. For example, a search for Texas credit union scholarships found information on East Texas Professional Credit Union’s $2,000 and $1,000 scholarships for graduating high school seniors.

Similarly, a search for San Diego health care scholarships found the Health Care Communicators of San Diego County $2,000 scholarship program for students entering the health care field.

4. Local chapters of national organizations. National professional associations and nonprofit organizations often offer scholarships, but so do many of their local chapters. Visit the national organization’s website to find local chapters in your area, and then check the local chapter’s website for information (or call or email the chapter for more information).

You also could Google your state or city name, with the words association scholarships. For example, a search for Wisconsin dietetics association scholarships found a list of several scholarships from the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A search for Colorado engineering association scholarships found a list of scholarships from the Society of Women Engineers’ Rocky Mountain Section.

5. State and local governments. Your city or state government may allocate funds for certain scholarships. These programs may be run by a state or local Department of Education. Google your state or city name along with the words scholarship programs to find opportunities.

For example, a search for Florida scholarship programs located a website for Florida Student Scholarship and Grant Programs. Even if you don’t find a government scholarship program, you might find information on other scholarships available to residents of your state.

6. Websites for colleges in your state. Many colleges post scholarship information on their websites. Even if you aren’t planning to go to a particular college, that college’s website may still help you find external scholarships (i.e. scholarships not offered by the college, but by other organizations). For example, Texas A&M University’s scholarship Web page lists external scholarships for local, regional and national scholarships.

7. Local newspapers. Look for scholarship announcements in your local newspaper and on its website. Newspapers, particularly in smaller cities and towns, often post these announcements or include articles on new recipients of local scholarships.

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Celebrate Spring: 8 Spring College Festivals Across the Country April 3rd, 2014
College Festival

A parade at Iowa State University's spring festival, VEISHEA

It’s finally spring! With college spring semesters coming to a close, many colleges around the country are hosting spring festivals. Students often are involved in planning the festivals—which range from music festivals to garden festivals.

Here’s a look at eight spring college festivals and celebrations:

Cornell University (NY) Slope Day: A century-long tradition at Cornell, Slope Day is a year-end celebration for students. Over the years it’s had everything from variety shows to circuses to a mock bullfight. This year’s Slope Day on May 3 will include tons of food and live entertainment (including performances from 5 & A Dime, Hoodie Allen and Kendrick Lamar).

Cuyamaca College (CA) Spring Garden Festival: 2014 is the 21st anniversary of this festival, which offers demonstrations on community farming topics, a plant sale from the college’s nursery, a farmer’s market and a fashion show. The festival is May 3.

Iowa State University’s VEISHEA: This annual spring festival in April lasts an entire week, with special student intramural competitions, volunteer events, a parade (complete with floats and balloons), a comedy competition, a campus cookout, a midnight pancake feed, exhibits on campus to showcase student work and university departments, live concerts and more. Miniature cherry pies are a must-eat treat at the celebration—last year, hospitality management students made and sold more than 14,800 miniature cherry pies to students, alumni and other campus visitors.

Manhattan College (NY) Springfest: Enjoy a barbecue on the Quad, play on inflatables or see a live concert. Past performers at this annual spring festival include Pitbull, Jay Sean and Gym Class Heroes. Manhattan College also has a spring fling—a chartered dinner dance cruise around New York City—held on the last day of classes.

University of Colorado Denver Spring Fling: This event each April showcases student clubs and offices, as well as local businesses. There’s live music and food trucks, plus games and other activities.

University of Minnesota Spring Jam: This three-day music festival is organized by a student committee. See live performances, a battle of the bands and other special events. This year’s Spring Jam is April 24-26.

University of Pennsylvania Spring Fling: Touted as one of the biggest college festivals on the East Coast, Spring Fling in April has been a Penn tradition for more than 35 years. Enjoy concerts, food vendors, inflatables, games and more.

Yale College Spring Fling: This annual spring concert at Yale University (CT) draws over 4,000 students, faculty and staff. Past performers have included Macklemore, Third Eye Blind and Ludacris.

Image credit: Bob Elbert/Iowa State University

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College Major of the Month: Accounting April 1st, 2014
Bookkeeping

College Major of the Month: Accounting

The April 15 deadline for Americans to file their taxes is just around the corner, so this month My College Guide has selected accounting as our College Major of the Month.

What is accounting? Accounting is a college major that prepares you to prepare and analyze financial records, ensure taxes are paid properly, and assess financial operations to ensure organizations are run efficiently.

According to the American Institute of CPAs, “Employers are looking for individuals who have the ability to analyze and evaluate complex business problems and the interpersonal skills and maturity to make decisions in a client- and customer-service environment.”

An accountant may prepare tax returns, create budgets, or find ways for organizations to reduce costs or increase profits. A degree in accounting could lead to a career as:

  • a public accountant (helping corporations and individuals with taxes, auditing and consulting)
  • a cost or management accountant (preparing and analyzing financial records for internal use at organizations)
  • an internal auditor (checking for mismanagement of an organization’s funds to eliminate waste or fraud)

What education and licenses are required for accountants? Some colleges offer bachelor’s degree programs only, while others may offer a five-year professional accounting program that leads to a master’s degree in accounting.

Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree, and some require accountants to pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. In order to become a CPA, students need to have 150 semester hours of education. This means students will need to take additional college credit beyond a bachelor’s degree. Some employers require accounting professionals to have a master’s degree, but a master’s degree is not required to become a CPA.

Learn more about becoming a CPA.

How much money do accounting professionals make? The average starting salary for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting is $53,500 per year, according to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers Salary Survey.

How should I prepare in high school to major in accounting? Accounting is a great career field for students who are detail-oriented and have an interest in math. Take as many math classes as you can in high school, plus take business law or accounting courses, if your high school offers them.

Start learning how to use computer programs used in the accounting field, like Microsoft Excel. Additionally, consider joining a local chapter of a student group such as DECA, Future Business Leaders of America or Business Professionals of America.

What scholarships are available to accounting majors? Several national organizations offer scholarships for students pursing an accounting degree. For example, the American Institute of CPAs and AccountTemps offers a $2,500 scholarship and the National Society of Accountants offers multiple scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000.

Also check for college scholarships with local chapters of national accounting organizations, major accounting firms (such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers) and businesses in your community.

Get more advice and information on choosing a major.

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College Scholarships Ending in April 2014 March 27th, 2014
Scholarship Money

Apply for College Scholarships

Looking for money to help pay for college? We’ve rounded up a list of eight college scholarships with deadlines in April 2014. Scholarship award amounts range from $1,000 to $5,000, and some are even open to high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors, in addition to high school seniors. We’ve even listed a couple for current college undergraduates, too.

Scholarships due in April 2014:

AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students: Current college undergrad students majoring in accounting can apply for this scholarship, which covers up to $5,000 per academic year. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, demonstration of leadership and volunteerism, and commitment to becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Deadline: April 1

National Costumers Association Scholarship: High school seniors (age 17+) or college freshmen pursuing a program or career in costuming or theater can apply for this scholarship. Award amounts vary. Deadline: April 1

American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Program: High school seniors can read an essay about automatic fire sprinklers, then take a 10-question quiz to earn more chances to enter in a drawing for this scholarship. Ten students will win $2,000 scholarships, and five students will win $1,000 scholarships. Deadline: April 2

Oz Moving & Storage Scholarship: High school seniors and college students can participate in this $1,000 scholarship essay contest. You can choose one of two moving-related essay topics to write about. Deadline: April 4

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. First place receives $1,500. Deadline: April 15

John Kitt Memorial Scholarship: Do you like candy and want to make it? The American Association of Candy Technologists offers a $5,000 scholarship for college sophomores, juniors or seniors with a demonstrated interest in confectionery technology. The scholarship is for students majoring in food science, chemical science, biological science or a related college major. Deadline: April 18

All About Education Scholarship: This $3,000 scholarship is open to any student age 13 or older. Simply write a 250-word essay about how a $3,000 scholarship for education will make a difference in your life. Deadline: April 30

DirectTV Top Technology Scholarship: Earn $2,500 for college with this scholarship. High school seniors can apply by writing a 500-word blog about your favorite technology and how it’s important in your life. Deadline: April 30

Of course, these aren’t the only scholarships with deadlines in April. Learn more about how to find college scholarships.

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3 Factors That Matter Most in College Admissions March 20th, 2014
College Admission Factors

Most Important College Admission Factors

What are the most important factors in college admissions? According to a recently released 2013 State of College Admissions report from National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the top three college admission factors are: grades in college prep courses, strength of high school curriculum and college entrance test scores.

According to the report, more highly selective colleges tend to emphasize strength of curriculum as a “most important” factor, and private colleges tend to consider a broader range of factors than public universities. That broader range may include factors such as application essay, student interview, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, a student’s portfolio and demonstrated interest.

So, what does this mean for you? It means you need to:

Study hard. Working hard to get good grades should be a top priority for high school students. In addition, if you’re participating in so many extracurricular activities that your grades are starting to suffer from lack of study time, consider narrowing down your list of activities to those that are most important to you, most relevant to your career interests or ones that provide opportunities for you to take on a leadership role.

Select high school courses wisely. As early as your freshman or sophomore years, talk with your high school guidance counselor and teachers to make sure you’re taking the right courses. You need to take a college preparatory curriculum (which means you need to take a certain number of courses in English, science, math, history/social sciences and even foreign languages). Additionally, if certain subject areas come easy to you, try challenging yourself by taking an honors or AP course.

Prepare for the SAT or ACT. Because test scores are such an important factor at most colleges (particularly at large public universities, according to the NACAC report), it’s essential not to overlook the importance of these tests. There are lots of test prep courses, ACT and SAT smartphone and tablet apps and online resources you can use to prepare, so don’t forget to spend time studying for these tests.

Above all, remember that if you try hard and do well in school, you’re likely to get into a college of your choice. In fact, the NACAC report found that four-year colleges and universities accept about two-thirds of all applicants, so the odds of acceptance at most colleges are in your favor!

Image credit: Courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Design updates by Dana McCullough

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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Pre-college Summer Programs for High School Students March 18th, 2014
Summer Program

Explore Pre-college Summer Programs

Looking forward to summer? Summer is not only a time to have fun, but also to help build your admissions resume, particularly by attending a pre-college summer program. Colleges and universities across the country offer programs for high school students interested in learning about academic majors, improving their sports performance or gaining leadership skills.

Deadlines to apply for summer programs vary, but some colleges have deadlines in early spring (and programs fill up fast!), so start looking for programs now and apply early.

To find a program, Google summer program and the name of a college or university near you. If there’s a specific major or program topic you’re interested in, include that in your Google search, such as writing summer program, leadership summer program or basketball summer camp.

Here are a few examples of pre-college summer programs to explore:

Leadership Programs

The Brown Leadership Institute—This two-week summer program at Brown University (RI) helps you understand global challenges, develop leadership skills and create an action plan to help your community at home.

Georgetown Leadership Institute—Learn about decision-making, ethics, leadership techniques, government leadership and more in this eight-day program at Georgetown University. The university’s Washington, D.C. location offers great opportunities for field trips to Capitol Hill offices and museums.

Notre Dame Leadership Seminars—While the deadline for this program at the University of Notre Dame (IN) has already passed this year, consider this program for next year. Each year 100 students are accepted into this program to take discussion-based courses to improve leadership, communication and analytical skills. You even get one college credit upon completion of the program.

College Major-specific Programs

Fashion Boot Camp—Mount Mary University (WI) holds a two-week Fashion Boot Camp for students interested in fashion majors. Get hands-on experience with industry computer software, develop drawing skills and learn how to sew.

The Summer Academy 2014 at St. John’s College—Interested in an English, philosophy or other liberal arts major? Live on campus during this week-long summer program offered at the college’s Annapolis, MD, and Santa Fe, NM campuses. Study various works of literature during the week to grow intellectually. Several fun on-campus events and field trips off campus are included, too.

Flight Camps—If you’re interested in aerospace engineering or becoming a pilot, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (FL) hosts several different residential flight camps that might be a good fit. Beginners can start with the Flight Exploration camp, which introduces you to flying and flight training. Continue with the Aviation Voyage program, which is for students who want to apply lessons from Flight Exploration and continue on to recording flight time.

CU Summer Scholars—This program at Clemson University (SC) is designed for high school students interested in science to take summer classes and live on campus. Choose from courses such as bioengineering, DNA science, molecular biology, physics and astronomy, and vet (aka veterinarian) camp.

Image credit: Courtesy of Sira Anamwong/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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Big Changes Coming to the SAT and PSAT March 13th, 2014
SAT exam

Changes to SAT

The College Board announced last week that it plans to redesign the SAT. According to the press release, the changes will make the test “more focused and useful, more clear and open than ever before.” One of the goals of the redesign is to make the test and test preparation resources more widely accessible to all students, including low- and middle-income students.

The first redesigned SAT will be given in spring 2016, so if you’re currently a high school sophomore, you’ll be the first class of students to take the redesigned test. The PSAT also will change, and the new PSAT exam will launch in October 2015.

Here’s a quick summary of the changes you can expect to the SAT:

1. Free test preparation. To make the exam and college more accessible to all students, the College Board is partnering with Khan Academy to create free test preparation materials for all students. The materials are anticipated to be available in spring 2015.

2. New scoring scale and process. A top SAT score will return to being 1600 (the essay section will be scored separately). In addition, only right answers will be scored. Points will no longer be deducted for wrong answers.

3. Focus on three sections. The redesigned exam will have three sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math, and the essay.

4. New math focus. According to the press release, “the math section will draw from fewer topics that evidence shows most contribute to student readiness for college and career training.” The exam will focus on three key math areas: problem solving and data analysis, algebra and advanced math.

5. More relevant vocabulary words. Gone are the days of obscure SAT words no one uses in real life. The redesigned SAT will focus on words students will use consistently in college and beyond.

6. Passages drawn from history. Passages used on the test will now be drawn from historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers.

7. Time changes. The new exam will take approximately three hours, with an additional 50 minutes for the essay. In addition, the test may be administered in print or by computer, depending on the test-taking site.

Learn more about these changes to the SAT at deliveringopportunity.org or by watching the video announcement about the changes.

Remember: If you’re graduating high school in 2014 or 2015, these changes won’t affect your SAT experience. See the current SAT website for details on the exam you’ll take.

Image credit: 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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7 Things You Can Do During Spring Break to Impress College Admission Officers March 6th, 2014
Spring Break Success

Ways to Prepare for College During Spring Break

For some students, spring break means fun (or wild) times in tropical locations like Florida or Cancun. But spring break can involve more than just fun in the sun. Consider doing one (or several) of these things that will impress college admission officers or help you earn money to pay for college.

1. Visit college campuses. Taking a road trip to visit several college campuses could be fun and it helps you demonstrate your interest in colleges you’re considering. Contact the college ahead of time to schedule a campus tour. (If possible, try to avoid going during the college’s spring break so you can get a feel for campus while students are there.)

2. Volunteer. Have you been meaning to volunteer at your local food pantry or senior center, but just haven’t found the time between studying, extracurricular activities and socializing? Look for opportunities to volunteer and boost your college admissions resume. Some schools or churches may even offer week-long mission trips or alternative spring breaks that you could participate in—so you get to travel and make a difference.

3. Prep for the ACT or SAT. Many high school students take the ACT or SAT during the spring of their junior year. Use your spring break to take an ACT or SAT prep course, study the test prep book your mom bought you or do practice test questions from the exam’s website. And don’t forget to register to take your college entrance exam!

4. Work ahead. It’s always a bummer when teachers give homework to complete during spring break, but make sure you do your homework. It’ll help you keep your grades up. If you have a big project due soon, you could even work ahead to help ease the stress later on once classes and extracurriculars are back in session.

5. Do a job shadow. A job shadow is a great way to find out more about careers and college majors you’re interested in. Find a professional (perhaps a family friend, an acquaintance of your teacher, etc.) who will let you shadow him or her at work during the day. It may help you determine if the major you’re considering is right for you.

6. Apply for scholarships. Spring break is a great time to look for college scholarships and write scholarship essays. Even if you’re a freshman or sophomore, you can start looking for scholarship essay or video contests to participate in.

7. Work, work, work. If you have a part-time job, tell your boss you’ll have more hours free to work during spring break. He or she may be able to give you extra hours, so you can earn more cash to help you pay for college. If you don’t have a part-time job, ask your parents, neighbors or other adults you know if they have any jobs they’ll pay you to do—perhaps mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, babysitting or helping with spring gardening.

Image credit: Courtesy of Digital Art/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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