Posts Tagged ‘College Life’

How Swayed Should You Be By Amenities at a Given College or University?

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Many factors go into selecting a college or university, and the process can be very confusing as a result.  It is no wonder that many students are left wanting to know how to survive college.  Most savvy students invest a good amount of time into researching important topics such as financial aid for college tuition and private loans for college, but there are, of course, other factors to consider.  You need to keep in mind that like no other time before colleges and universities are businesses, and that is exactly how many institutions see themselves.  They want your money and they want as many people as possible to be dying to go to their respective institutions.  Your job is to decide what is important to you.

The purpose of attending a college or university is to receive a great education that will teach you more than a skill. but will also teach you how to think in a critical and logical fashion.  That should be the number one goal of any educational institution.  However, increasingly many universities and colleges are becoming obsessed with what “perks” they can offer to entice a student to sign up and attend their university.

What you should be looking for out of a university or college isn’t who has the best waterslide or rock climbing wall, but who has the best reputation, who puts the most focus on education and who has the best job support and other services for its students.  Other considerations such as a “world class gym” or other such amenities should not be high on your list.  If they are, you might be attending college for the wrong reasons.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t be concerned about what a given university or college offers you in other regards.  The quality of your life while attending a university or college is, of course, important.  The purpose of this article is to simply highlight the fact that you shouldn’t be swayed by amenities that you don’t need or would not use.  Further, every dollar that is spent on amenities could have potentially been applied toward providing better education for students and programs for assisting graduates.  You and your parents should take these factors into consideration and you will likely make a better choice in the end.

When you are visiting different colleges if all the tour guides want to talk about is amenities, you should strongly consider other colleges or universities.  A college or university should be obsessed with proving to you that they will provide you with a great education and future opportunities, not non-stop, fun, fun, fun!  If all you hear is how much fun a university is to attend, that is a big red flag.

What Should You Be Looking for in a Part-Time College Job?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

A great part-time job can be a must for many college students.  If you are trying to or will try to pay for college yourself, then you are familiar with private loans for college and have likely researched how to find college scholarships.  Scholarships and grants are fantastic, as you clearly don’t have to worry about repaying the money!  Yet, scholarships and grants don’t materialize for everyone, and that means that you may need to supplement your income while in college if at all possible.  This all begs the question, “What should you be looking for when it comes to finding a college job?”

Factor One – A Job That Isn’t Too Physically Demanding Could Be a Problem

Situations often dictate that you have to grab whatever job you can.  But if possible you should try to avoid jobs that are very physically demanding.  Sometimes this is true even if a job pays relatively well, and here is why.  If a job is so demanding that you are left too exhausted to study, then your goals of graduating from college will become far more difficult.  Sure you may be able to squeeze all of your studying in on the weekends, but this just isn’t realistic for most people.

It is also worth noting that some jobs may not seem as though they would be highly demanding; however, once you begin you discover you are left exhausted.  College students who find themselves in this situation would be well advised to look for another job if at all possible.

Factor Two – A Resume Booster Would Be Very Nice

Throughout your college career, you should be looking for ways to boost your resume and effectively set your resume apart from the competition.  When it comes to finding a part-time job, keep your eye out for one that you feel will work well with your career path and your chosen major.  The connection might not be immediately obvious and it may only occur to you after you’ve given it some thought, but just remember finding a way to boost your resume now could make landing that first “real job” after college a good deal easier.

Factor Three – Use Your Social Connections and See Results

There is nothing wrong with asking around and seeing if any of your friends or family has a lead on a college job that would fit your criteria.  You may be pleasantly surprised if you ask around.  There may be some exciting options for you!

In the end, the last thing you want is for a part-time college job to be some taxing and so demanding that your grades are impacted.  Sometimes the best job decision you can make is to pass on a job.  Make sure that the college job you select is in line with your goal of graduating, and you are unlikely to regret your decision, now or in the future!

The Top 3 Ways to Find More Time to Study

Monday, March 26th, 2012

You might feel as though you just can’t find the time that you need to study, and you might be right!  Of courser, you may have optimized your time to the fullest, but if this is the case then you are certainly in the minority.  Most students could find more time to study if they modified their schedule.  If you are in high school and are trying to find more time to prep for the SAT or get your grades up going into college, then realize that it is vital that you look for ways to boost your study time.  In this article, we will look at some of the ways that you can eliminate distractions and squeeze in more study time.

#1-Toss the Smartphone

Studies have shown that smartphones are insanely addictive. For all practical purposes, the smartphone is a portable computer with a built-in screen that allows you to connect easily to the web.  It is a perfect tool for time wasting.  No doubt your phone is tremendously useful and we would all be somewhat lost without them.  But when it comes to boosting your grades and boosting your SAT score, you likely need to put the smartphone away.  Don’t set it to vibrate either!  Turn it off and forget about it when you’re in your designated study time.

#2-Designated Study Time

We just mentioned designated study time.  You need a special time just for studying if you are going to accomplish your academic goals.  If you know that you will be studying at a given time every day and stick to this schedule without wavering, you will see results.  No matter how much your friends try and tempt you, it is critical that you stick to your guns!

#3-The Distraction Sweep

What is the Distraction Sweep?  Take a look at your life and your surroundings (including your home and your own room) and look for things that could be distracting you.  This is a situation where you need to be honest with yourself!  Only you really know all the different factors that serve to distract you.  Let’s face it, your parents really only know a fraction of the different distractions you have in your life, so that means it is up to you to eliminate as many distractions as you can!

You might be thinking that all of these suggestions require too much discipline.  College will require a whole lot of discipline, so why not start now?  If you want that great SAT score, for example, then you will need to sacrifice in order to achieve it.  If you put in the time and focus when you are studying instead of being distracted, you will see your grades go up and also your SAT practice scores.  You just need to hang in there long enough to experience that first wave of success, and after that it will get easier!

What the Experts Have to Tell You About Selecting a College

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Selecting the perfect college can be complicated.  The sooner you begin researching and thinking about you college decision, the better off you will likely be.  You may have read books on everything from financial aid for college tuition and private loans for college to test prep tutoring and college dorm life, but at the top of your college reading materials should be the guides that give you a better idea about what college is right for you.  Remember, however, that your time is limited, and that means finding the best books are key.  Let’s take a look at couple of available options and see how they stack up!

Students’ Guide to College: The Definitive Guide to America’s Top 100 Schools Written by the Real Experts, the Students Who Attended Them by Jordan Goldman and Colleen Buyers

Isn’t a book like this one outdated almost as soon as it is published?  Secondly, it is also important to note that these rankings are very arbitrary and a bit more ridiculous than it might seem at first glance.  After all, who are the people that really make the decision as to what are the “top schools” or the “top” anything.  You can see the problem.

Another issue with Students’ Guide to College: The Definitive Guide to America’s Top 100 Schools Written by the Real Experts, the Students Who Attended Them is that it by its very nature, it ignores career paths.  A given school may not be ranked in the top 100 per se, but it may have a great department that is ranked near the top and is respected in its field.  This does matter, especially if you are a student or the parent of a student that isn’t likely to get into a top school.  Or perhaps you just can’t afford to pay the ridiculous prices that many top schools are now requesting.

It would be easy to dismiss this book outright, but that would be a mistake.  Despite its flaws, it does have something to offer prospective college students.  There are lots of college guides on the market, and while this doesn’t go straight to the top of the list it is, nonetheless, a worthy entry, especially for those who dream of attending a top-ranked school.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Survival by Laurie Rozakis

Try and ignore the fact that a “complete idiot” should probably not bother with college and just go along with the Complete Idiot’s Guide on this one.  This isn’t a bad book; however, it lacks the punch and weight of many other college guidebooks.  The competition in this area is just too intense for this book to come out on top.  When contrasted against its competitors, it seems pretty average and perfunctory at best.  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Survival by Laurie Rozakis does cover some territory that other books might ignore, but it’s just not enough.  Further, many readers will likely feel as though the book is just a bit to fluffy to be highly effective.

Ultimately, there are many “guidebooks” on this topic, and one has to be careful as to how much weight to put into any of them.  The real point of this article isn’t that one guidebook is better than another, but that you shouldn’t treat any of these kind of books as a de facto bible designed to tell you which college or university that you should select.

Finding the right college or university for you is based on a variety of factors and you as a person.  In the end, you might have to use guidebooks like the two we examined here just to cover the basics, as your personal situation will obviously be more complex than what can be put in a guidebook.  Remembering this factor will increase the chances of getting into a college or university where you will be happy and this will, in turn, increase your chances of success.

How to Prepare for Your First College Football Game

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Going to a college football game is just one of the many experiences associated with going to college. If your only football experience is the typical high school football match-ups, you should realize that the college football experience isn’t exactly the same. Sure, the basic concept of supporting your home team doesn’t change, but there is more to a college football game than cheering after every touchdown, pass or interception. Bring your enthusiasm and college team gear and get ready for a day of fun and team spirit.

Tailgating

The biggest difference between a high school football game and a college football game is the pre-game activities in the parking lot. Most high schools do not have organized tailgating activities. On the other hand, most college games unofficially start hours before kickoff with well-organized parking lot activities.

The most cherished of these activities is the vast amounts of food being prepared as the players go over the playbook one last time. The exact type of food varies by college and region of the country, but generally you will find burgers, hot dogs, chicken, wings, corn on the cob and a variety of local favorites among the culinary delights ready for consumption.

Some colleges have a long history of tailgating parties starting early game day morning and continuing right through the actual game. Tailgating at a college game always draws a crowd. Some of these crowds range in the thousands, especially on game day. At Penn State, the population of the State College, Pennsylvania more than doubles on most game days just from the sheer volume of fans.

Traditions

The biggest tradition for most college games is wearing team colors. This may have been a part of high school games, but if you go to a college game it is almost a requirement to wear some form of the team colors. Another common college football tradition involves the mascot. This is usually not just somebody in a mascot costume. Sometimes it is an actual animal.

Sometimes, traditions involve the cheerleaders saying a certain cheer or even the band performing in a certain way. When Ohio State’s marching band takes the field to spell out “Ohio,” in cursive no less, it is considered an honor to be the dot on the “I” after the word is spelled out. Before each Colorado University home game, it is a tradition for select students to run Ralphie the buffalo (some guy in a buffalo costume) around the field.

At Clemson University in South Carolina, students rub Howard’s Rock, named for a former coach, for good luck before the start of each home game. The bigger the school, the more elaborate the traditions tend to be, from the marching in formation before the Army-Navy game to the elite Irish color guard in authentic Scottish kilts before Notre Dame’s games.

Cheering

Instead of cheering for individual players, the focus among the crowd at a college game is the team as a whole. The one exception to this rule is the quarterback. Just like in high school, the QB gets plenty of love from the home team fans. However, the general atmosphere is more team-centered than high school games. Most fans at a high school game tend to be family members of the team players.

At a college game, the mix of the crowd is different. The crowd is mostly made up of students, with faculty and alumni members sprinkled here and there throughout the masses. Some schools have specific cheering traditions, with others just doing some variation of the wave. You will likely see a team mascot encouraging the crowd for the duration of the game.

Be prepared to leave the game with a sore throat from the struggle to be heard among a crowd of thousands. In high school, game day is a regular weekly gathering of the faithful. In college, it is an event.

Author Bio:
Nancy Zimmer writes for TicketLiquidator.com, a website dedicated to helping event-goers find the best college football games.

Saving Money on Your College Books and Supplies

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

You’ve probably spent a good deal of time worrying about everything from how to survive college to how to find a college roommate.  It is easy to lose sight of money related issues.  No one has to tell you that college is expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to make college a little less painful on the pocketbook.  This topic is more important than many people might believe.  Every cent you spend at college really adds up.  Let’s face it; the price of college textbooks alone can be nothing less than extremely comical!

In this article, we will look at some of the ways you can keep your college book fees as low as possible.  It should be stated that no matter how hard you try, there will be times that you will have no choice but to give in and buy your textbooks from your college bookstore.  However, most of the time, you will be able to find an alternative path and save money in the process!

Consider downloading your books from an online digital bookstore.  There are many companies that specialize in selling not just books online, but also online textbooks.  Often you can save a great deal of money in this fashion.  Additionally, e-readers have become increasingly inexpensive and lightweight, and that means you might not even have to use your laptop.  Many people find that e-readers can also be a little easier on the eyes as well.

Used bookstores are your friend!  Go off campus and look online for used books, as paying full price your textbooks increasingly makes less and less sense.  Sure someone has to pay full price, but that doesn’t mean it has to be you (or at least not all the time).

Of course, finding your books either online or at a used book store will take a little planning, and that means not waiting until the last second.  While you might have to put in more effort by working to find your textbooks in this fashion, the upside is that you can not only save hundreds of dollars, but literally thousands over the course of a four-year degree!

Other supplies can be found cheaper online and in other stores too.  Simple, but very necessary supplies such as pens, markers, notebooks and a range of specialty supplies are marked up in a dramatic fashion in the college bookstores.  Again, these small saving steps can really add up.

You likely spent a good deal of your time researching financial aid and grants, private loans for college and even college saving programs.  But that doesn’t mean that the “financial side” of college is over and done with in the least.  You owe it to yourself to reduce your amount of student debt if possible.  Remember that there are people only slightly older than you are now suffering tremendously with student loan burdens that they can’t repay.  Many of these students were very bright and even received what was deemed the “right” degree at the time.  Stay sharp and think through all of your college related decisions, financial and otherwise.

The Importance of Great Organizing

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

As you look to make the transition from high-school to college, you are probably feeling as though there is a never ending and maybe even growing “checklist” of things you need to worry about or check off your list.  Don’t worry if you feel this way, as it is very normal and quite common.

When it comes to getting into one of your top college picks, you might not think much about your level of organization, but it is actually of paramount importance in the process.  The more organized you are, the greater your chances of getting into one of your top college picks.  The odds are higher for ultimate success in college as well.

If you haven’t been “much for organizing” in the past, now is definitely the time to change that.  Studying for the SAT, meeting deadlines, writing essays, taking practice tests, evaluating your different college options, investigating financial aid for college tuition and direct federal student loans takes a lot of time, and that means a lot of organization is essential.

One of the single largest steps towards great organization is being willing to prioritize what is important and what is not important.  Tackle this step first, and getting organized will become a great deal easier.

Sacrificing things that you enjoy doing in order to do something that you don’t like or find unpleasant is easier said than done.  One trick is to start small with small sacrifices of things that you enjoy.  Instead use that “recovered time” for something that relates to getting into the school of your dreams, or at least one of the schools that you like the idea of attending!

You could tackle this issue on a week by week basis.  Here is an example of how you could structure your college prep organizing.  You don’t have to use this exact model, but instead you can adapt this strategy for whatever works for you!

Week One-Spend more time studying for SAT

Week Two-Research colleges

Week Three-Get College applications

Week Four-Research financial aid related issues

Week Five-Make list of relevant deadlines

Week Six-Think about ways you can become more efficient and effective in how you use your time and make a list!

Each week look for ways that you can set time aside so that you can apply that time towards getting into college.  As a result, you will become far more organized and also far calmer!  Being organized has a benefit that few consider; being organized means less panic and that means better decision-making.

Many students “end up” at universities and colleges that were nowhere near their top picks for no other reason that a failure to get organized in advance.  They had all the tools, the necessary grades, good letters of recommendation and maybe even good SAT scores, but they lacked proper preparation.

Think of getting into college like you would think about starting a business.  You wouldn’t just try to open a business without preparing in some fashion, would you?  You instinctively understand and know that a business, at least one with any chance of success, needs work and planning.  If you invest your time in this fashion, you will be surprised by what you can accomplish.

Should You Stay on Campus or Rent an Apartment?

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

You’ve probably given at least a little time to thinking about how to survive college, and if you haven’t, you should start doing so.  One of the major decisions that you will need to make regarding college is whether or not you will stay in on campus or rent an apartment nearby.  A lot goes into this decision.  In this article, we will look at some of the pros and cons of each path.

Staying on campus means that you get the full college dorm life experience with all of its ups and downs and pros and cons.   There are many good aspects regarding opting for dorm life, as you will be able to meet a lot of new friends, pseudo-friends, future enemies and acquaintances more readily than you would living in an apartment off campus.  No doubt, adjusting to living in a new city or state can be a little bit easier if you are constantly surrounded by people that you might have something in common with, or at least in theory.

Yet, college dorm life can have a lot of downsides.  One major downside is that it can be difficult to focus on your studies.  Now if you are going to college to mostly appease your parents, and have opted for what you feel will be a pretty “easy” major, then college dorm life could very well be the way to go.  This is even truer if you are mostly concerned with having a good time and partying.  However, if you are considering a difficult major or want plenty of time to study, then you will want to reconsider living in a dorm.

Students who want to be able to study in peace may not find that living in a dorm is the best place to do this.  No matter how studious you may, be there is no way to ensure that your dorm mates or floor mates will share your perspective on the value of peace and quite.  The fact that people will surround you who have different majors and different course loads, means that they will have different study habits too.  No matter what your perspective, this is a good point to keep in mind as it could influence your success level in college.

Renting an apartment gives your more control over your environment, and you may also enjoy more creature comforts.  On the downside, you won’t enjoy the instant access to the campus and instant access to classmates.

Opting for an apartment doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your social life.  In fact, depending on your personality, having an apartment of your own may actually help your social life.  After all, college students love trashing other people’s places during parties!

If you do choose an apartment, you may have to find a college roommate and that can be a tricky proposition (but so is potentially getting “stuck” with a dorm roommate that you hate!)  The bottom line is that there are pros and cons to both of these options.  Ultimately, you need to think long and hard about what kind of person you are, how easily you make friends and what you want out of the college experience.

Two Books With Great Titles About Transitioning From High School to College

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

If you’ve ever been tempted to ask tell someone “Find a college for me, so I don’t have to think about it!” you are not alone.  Millions of high-school student apply to college every year, and the process can be bewildering.  Whether its worrying about finding the best SAT practice test online, how to find scholarships or just how to survive college, transitioning from high-school to college can at times be daunting.  Yet, with a little bit of research, you can take some of the sting out of this process.  Let’s take a look at a couple of books that can help make the process of going from high-school to college a bit easier.

Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College by Andrew Ferguson

Crazy U was a very clever title.  This title immediately makes you think that this book is going to be all about the crazy fun that people have while at college.  Well, that isn’t exactly what this book is all about.  On the contrary, Crazy U is all about a dad working to get his kid into college.  Here is why this is a good book and a worthwhile investment; author Andrew Ferguson does a good job of reminding parents how intense, stressful and, to be blunt, ridiculous the entire transition from high school to college actually is in the modern academic system.  Having a book that takes you by the hand and helps you through this highly irritating and frustrating process is worth the asking price and the time invested in reading it.

Don’t Stalk the Admissions Officer: How to Survive the College Admissions Process Without Losing Your Mind by Risa Lewak

Don’t Stalk the Admissions Officer: How to Survive the College Admissions Process Without Losing Your Mind by Risa Lewak is a good book and it also has a very amusing title.  However, this offering it doesn’t measure up in terms of information or value to Crazy U by Andrew Ferguson.  Both are good books, but Crazy U is better.  Now with that stated, that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t benefit from reading both.

Don’t Stalk the Admissions Officer does a very good job of attempting to dissect the college admissions process.  It should also be stated that this book is more geared towards than Crazy U as well.  Lewak understands the process of getting into college as she was involved in the process “from the other side.”  As a result, she has a wealth of insight and tips in the process.

Overall, there are an abundance of insightful tips and you will definitely feel as though you have a better handle on what to do and expect where applying for college is concerned.  Parents and students looking to understand the process better will like that this book is easy to read, clearly laid out and gives many straightforward answer instead of stating repeatedly, “it depend,” which is so common in books in this genre.

The Practical Benefits of Studying Abroad

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Between financial aid for college tuition and learning how to find scholarships, you might feel as though you have your plate pretty full.  There are definitely many different factors that go into making the switch from high school to college, but it is also a good idea to be looking ahead as well.  One way to look ahead to is think about issues such as studying abroad.  In this article, we will explore why to study abroad and the variety of practical benefits that come with making this decision.

Studying abroad comes with a very wide range of real world, practical benefits.  If people understood the potential values of studying abroad, they wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it.  Of course, there is no doubt studying abroad will not serve you in the end if you just use your time studying in another country as little more than an excuse to party in a different place.  However, if you take studying abroad seriously, you will benefit.

Increasingly in today’s global marketplace employers are looking for well-rounded individuals that understand more than the confines of their local area or insulated small town.  The old ways of doing business are gone, and they are not coming back.  The sooner that you realize this fact the better off your job prospects will be.

Finding ways of distinguishing yourself in a competitive marketplace is often difficult especially in a tough job market.  One of the best ways for young college graduates to distinguish themselves is to have interesting points on their resumes.  Being skilled at video games might cut it when unemployment is at a record low, but in a fierce job market resumes need to be a little meatier.  If you can point to your time studying in a foreign country it can help you stand out from the crowd.

A major benefit to studying abroad is that it gives you options to easily distinguish yourself further.  You can point to the language and cultural skills that you acquired as well as social connections that you developed.  Further, studying abroad gives you an opportunity to volunteer or intern with foreign companies.  This helps show prospective employers that you are ambitious, driven, thinking ahead and can adapt to new situations.  Doesn’t that sound like an employee that you would want to hire?

You may even have the opportunity to perfect your knowledge of a foreign language.  Some study abroad programs offer immersion classes that can assist you to learn a new language much more quickly.  Needless to say, your ability to speak a language fluently can really help you when it comes time to look for a job.

If you can find a way to study abroad during the time you are in college you should consider it.  Just make sure that you think through what you will do with your time once in your new country.  Invest that time wisely.  If you do something like volunteer and/or intern, even if it is only for a couple of hours a week, you may see ample rewards.  Above all, ignore those that seek to tell you that studying abroad isn’t for you.  You should make that determination on your own.