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college bound

Transition

Undecided on a College Major? How to Not Waste Your Money

March 12, 2021

So you’re almost ready for college – right? Are you still trying to decide on a major? If you don’t know what to major in yet, how can you be certain the money you invest in your education is well spent?

Find Yourself With a Gap Year

A gap year is a semester or a year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and before starting college or a career. This idea is growing in popularity as more students take this intentional time to learn independent living skills, develop their interests, or experience a new culture.

Why take a gap year? Instead of spending time and money in college while you’re still undecided, you can find out what you’re good at and what work you’d like to pursue while spending a whole lot less (or even earning money.) Gap year students gain skills and experiences that look good on a college application and can help them get more out of their education.

Be OK With Not Knowing What Comes Next

College is a big investment that should not be decided impulsively. The belief that you need to have this all figured out by the time you leave high school can be a source of great stress, which can lead to poorly thought out decisions.

It’s not necessary to know your major when you enter college. However, it isn’t wise to pay expensive tuition or to acquire debt for a path you don’t feel certain about. If you want to explore a particular area of study while you decide on a major, there are lower-cost options such as auditing classes online for free, or taking prerequisite courses in your field at a community college or a state college where tuition is generally lower.

Consider Your Options

While considering a college major, take a realistic look at the time and money you can expect to spend in college before graduating and starting a career. What level of degree will you need to get the type of job you desire? Will you need to complete internships, a residency, or board exams? Is it expected, if not required, for you to get your masters degree? How much can you anticipate being paid, at entry level? These are important considerations that can help you develop a solid plan to avoid leaving college with unpayable debt.

When you understand the investment you will need to pursue your chosen path, you are better positioned to find support, such as scholarships and grants. If you do choose to take on a college loan, you will do so with a realistic plan for how and when you will pay it back.

Be Aware of Your Priorities

Not everyone leaving high school has a clear vision for where they will be in five years. Are you more interested in meeting people and exploring life as a young adult than you are in your studies? If you’re honest about that, you can avoid spending all your money on one priority and all your time on another.

Finally, be aware that your priorities may change by the time you leave college. If you imagine a home, a family, travel, or hobbies in your future, consider how these priorities may affect your financial and career choices. Above all, college is an investment in who you are and who you’d like to become. Invest wisely, and enjoy this time.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Student Life

The Best Options After Your High School Graduation

February 26, 2021

If you are graduating high school, you might feel as though you are finally an adult, and you can take charge of your life and make the best choices for what you want to do. But perhaps you feel uncertain about what you can do after high school, or what the best path is to take. Take a look at some of these common choices young people make when they are at a crossroads in life, and see which one feels right for you and your goals.

Working To Save Up

If you don’t know what you want to pursue in college or you have other goals you are trying to meet, it’s not uncommon to choose to work full-time rather than go to school. Maybe you want to save for school so you aren’t paying out of pocket with a bunch of loans, or maybe you are trying to get an apartment, a car, or something else that would enable you to live easily as a young adult on your own. Some individuals try out different career paths during this time while others volunteer or earn certifications that can help them work in an industry they are interested in. Whatever the case may be, working to save money is a common choice during this time of transition.

Traveling To See The World

Traveling to see the world can have so many different meanings, depending on what your goals are. Maybe you’d like to visit the country your family originally came from, or perhaps you simply want to venture out and see more of the United States. If you’ve been asking yourself the question “why take a gap year?” there’s no better reason than to travel and see more of the world around you before deciding to take root somewhere.

Trying Out Community College

Going to community college is an option if you want to get started taking general college courses but still aren’t sure what you’d like to do in the long-term. This allows you to focus on core subjects that you would be familiar with from high school, while everything is still fresh in your head. Then, depending on what you’d like to focus on, you can narrow down your studies later on. You can choose to earn an associate degree or simply focus on subjects you know will transfer over no matter where you want to attend.

While graduating high school can be an exciting time, there are different paths you can take if you’re not sure what is best for you. Working to save up money is common among many young adults, while some opt to travel and see the world. This could be within your own country or far away depending on finances and a desire to travel. Finally, going to community college can be a useful way of earning credits and taking necessary classes while you decide on what you would like to major in eventually. Just remember, there is no right or wrong path, just what is best for you.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Student Life

Essential Items to Take to College

February 22, 2021

Heading off to college is an exciting time. There are plenty of articles and advice columns listing everything you need to transition successfully. Most students, though, end up with too much stuff. It may be fun to decorate your dorm in September, but you’ll be wishing you had spent your money on different things when you’re trying to pack it all up in May.

Food

Even if you’re on a meal plan, it’s best to bring food with you to college. There are various reasons why. The first is that you are bound to miss open hours of the cafeteria at some point because you took a nap, stayed out too late or were studying too hard to take a break. Most cafeterias keep shorter hours on the weekend. If you haven’t settled into a friend group yet and don’t have a car, you may find yourself at loose ends on a Sunday night. Sure, you can walk a few blocks to a fast-food restaurant, but what if it’s raining? It’s just smart to have some ramen, peanut butter crackers or Power Life to add to a smoothie. There will be times you will get hungry when everything is closed, so be prepared.

First Aid Kit

Speaking of being prepared, be sure to bring a first aid kit with you when you go to college. Your mom won’t be around to bring you ibuprofen and water when you have a headache. Nor will she be there to put her hand on your forehead to check your temperature. You will have to do these things yourself. If you think there is a possibility that you might overindulge one weekend, keep antacid handy. A box of bandages is a great purchase too because you will probably be doing more walking than you have ever done in your life.

Water

Disposable plastic water bottles are frowned upon on college campuses. Water stations to fill up your own reusable water bottles are the norm. Plus, you’ll save money in the long run. Water bottles are also easy to lose, so bring a couple just in case you set yours down somewhere and forget it. Staying hydrated is extremely important. Keep a couple chilled in your dorm fridge so you always have a cold one handy.

Laptop

If you made it through high school on a shared family computer, now is the time to purchase a really nice laptop with your college graduation money. Many universities offer deals to college students if you buy the computer through them. Figure out a way to get the most powerful computer you can afford. You will be expected to complete almost all work electronically, and you will need a computer that doesn’t crash.

Backpack

Besides your computer, your backpack will get the most use while you’re in college. Choose a sturdy one with extra padding. Attach a luggage tag to the outside and the inside. Backpacks are THE fashion accessory for college students, but they are also a necessity.

Instead of focusing all your attention on color coordinating your throw pillows and hanging beading around your bed, skip the extra decoration in favor of spending money on what you’ll really need. Hang a single flag over your bed for a simple decoration and put your money towards more important purchases.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Student Life Transition

Here’s How to Pick a College During Coronavirus

February 10, 2021

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed the lives of everyone, but what about the students who are supposed to start their college journey? Because of the shift to online learning, the meaning of the college experience has changed for a lot of people.

When it comes to picking out a college, the decision can be overwhelming. During these uncertain times, second thoughts about your future might make you question this decision. Nearly every high school student looks forward to the full college experience, but due to the pandemic, the future is unknown.

To deal with such a nerve-wracking task, it’s important to narrow down your choices. There are several things you can keep in mind to make this decision easier for you and help you see what college you want to go to during coronavirus.

Here are some of them:

Plan Out Your Entire College Admission Process

There’s nothing more crucial than creating a whole plan for your entire college process. You can collect all the required materials in hardcopy or soft copy. The process can be very tiring, but if you’re following all the necessary steps, you’ll be fine.

  • Do thorough research about the colleges in your mind and find out what majors and courses they are offering.
  • Get in touch with any current students or alumni to get any insight about the academic offerings.
  • Figure out any goals you have and try to find a path that resonates with your intentions.
  • Make a pro and cons list about the colleges.

Consider All Your Options

The future might seem grim at the moment because of the global pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean you should settle for just any college. You still have a lot of options, so keep all of them in mind. You might think there’s no hope because the times are uncertain, but with online learning, you have more options than you think.

If you’ve recently graduated from high school, you might be considering taking a gap year and delaying starting college in person or altogether. The pandemic turned all our lives around, so it’s okay to take time to make a decision.

Look for Variety

Almost every student has a college of their dreams, but it’s healthy to seek out variety and consider multiple options. The pandemic might be the best time to adapt to openness, as we can never be sure about anything.

You might decide to attend online classes through a local community college or four-year university knowing that when the virus dies down, you can transfer to another school.

Don’t just think about the academic departments; go online and check out campus life, social activities, food, and so much more. Make sure you know what kind of routine you want because you’re going to be spending a lot of time at college.

See How They Handled Covid-19

This might be a huge deciding factor in this entire process, so keep in mind how the college has dealt with the pandemic.

Most colleges have shifted to online learning, but some of them are letting students come back to campus with half the strength, so is the campus safe for you? What are the instructions regarding the virus in the dorm rooms and the classrooms? Will your degree require more in-person classes?

Get a peek inside your future if you choose a particular college and get the answers to all your concerns.

Take a Look around the Campus

If you’ve formulated an entire college plan and have landed on a few options, it’s important to go and take a look for yourself. Your campus is going to be your home for the next four years, so it will be helpful to see where you are going to be living.

Even if they have resorted to online learning, driving to the campus will make you realize how living there might feel. A college is a turning point for most people, so moving to an unknown environment can feel strange.

If virus restrictions allow you to visit the campus, check it out so you can feel comfortable and be prepared. Before making any decision, it’s important to see if your campus will have everything you want.

Research Your Top Choices

So, you have finally landed on a few choices, and now you’re getting closer to your decision. But before settling on a final choice, make sure to do background research about your top colleges. No amount of research can be enough!

If you have a major in your mind, then find out the post-grad and job prospects of your respective field. Do the courses and degree requirements look interesting to you? Does the college have good professors you can count on? Find out everything you can.

Takeaways

Settling on a choice about the college you’re going to be attending can be difficult when you’re surrounded by vulnerable and uncertain times. But, with a lot of exploring and research, you can come down to a few choices that help you achieve the dream you want. You can learn a lot about every university and how they handle a crisis. Therefore, these tips might help you settle down for a college and make a decision considering all your interests.

BIO: Nouman Ali provides ghostwriting and copywriting services. His educational background in the technical field and business studies helps him in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. He occasionally writes articles for Apcelero.

Student Life

Planning to Study a Tech Subject in College? Here’s How to Prepare

January 26, 2021

Technology is an exciting field in which to specialize as there are so many strands, with links to IT, engineering, automation and robotics. With its ever-growing reach, employment is readily available in its related industries, and the expert nature of many roles can mean significant compensation.

If you’re thinking of studying a technology-related subject further in higher education, there are a few things you can do to make sure you have the best experience possible.

Start Researching Courses

If you know the type of job you’d like to take in after leaving education, it’s a great idea to start looking up top college or university courses that focus on that particular discipline. Examine how each course works and think about whether it suits your ambitions. If you find an option you particularly like, take note of its entry requirements so you know what to aim for. Different courses focus on different specialisms, disciplines and processes. It’s important that your chosen option gets the balance of theoretical and practical study right.

Get the Grades You Need

Generally, tech-related courses ask for good grades in mathematics, science and IT – and solid skills in practical subjects such as woodwork, metalwork or design and technology will help you to stand out. To make you look great to a university or college, and to improve your chances of employment further down the line, you could also look at extracurricular courses. Many organizations now offer beginner and intermediate coding classes as well as other tech and IT guidance.

Think About Funding

How are you going to pay for your studies? It’s a good idea to start saving as soon as possible to make sure your tuition is covered. To make up the difference, you can take out a student loan from a private lender. You can gain approval without the need for a cosigner, making it easy to secure funds when it’s needed and you simply start to repay it after graduation when the time is right. There are also plenty of federal loan options as well. Many students opt for filling out a FAFSA in order to see any sort of financial assistance they might qualify for, some of which might be fully forgiven based on your particular situation. Lastly, there are many different scholarships available. A quick Google search will show various scholarship sites like FastWeb, FinAid, and The College Board, just to name a few. You should apply to as many as humanly possible, the worst they can say is ‘no’. Don’t forget to protect your investment with tuition insurance.

Start Studying Now

If you have the time, why not start reading more advanced material on your chosen area of tech right now? Developing a good level of knowledge at an early stage will help you to focus your efforts and gain a real level of expertise throughout your courses. Look up the names of the lecturers or teachers on your preferred course and find out about the papers and books they have written. Reading these will help you to get an idea of the specific subject areas you’ll be studying – and may inspire you to explore further into certain fields.

Think about subscribing to magazines or online communities and keep an eye out for new publications, television programs and lecture series about any and all technological fields – even if it isn’t completely relevant to your own chosen area of study. By staying curious in this way, you’ll find fascinating information and resources everywhere. It’s important to keep this habit up throughout your studies and career. It’s the key to becoming an expert.

Student Life

Thriving With a Disability in College

January 18, 2021

The National Center for Education Statistics reports approximately 11% of college undergraduates have a disability. Federal statistics show less than half of these students graduate from two-year courses within eight years, and only one-third of disabled students complete four-year courses. There are various reasons for this educational gap, including the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which ensure disabled students are accommodated as required, only apply to colleges receiving federal aid. This, coupled with having to suddenly adapt to independent life without your usual support basis, can add challenges to the college experience.

If you’re about to embark on your first year of study, here’s how you can ensure you have an optimal learning experience.

Battling Stereotypes

A study by Alison May and colleagues, published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, found that it is generally accepted that “people with disabilities constitute a stigmatized group and that disability stigma has a negative impact on students with disabilities in higher education settings.” There are various categories of stereotypes about people with learning disabilities. These include believing that students have a low level of intelligence. Added to this issue are social challenges, since students with disabilities often have to spend longer on academic tasks, leaving less time for socializing. Students with disabilities can also fear being criticized by teaching staff and peers. 

Choosing The Right College

Selecting a college with a wide array of services can make a big difference when it comes to the quality of one’s learning life. Students with cerebral palsy, for instance, may have complex needs, owing to a possible combination of visual, hearing and speech impediments. When cerebral palsy is first diagnosed in a baby or small child, doctors are often unable to predict the challenges they may face as they grow older. Adults, for instance, can develop walking and other disorders that require them to use a wheelchair. In these cases, ramps, elevators, and other equipment are key for attending class and making your way to different areas of campus. 

Top Colleges For Students With Disabilities To Consider

Just a few colleges with a stellar reputation for accommodating this and other needs of disabled students include Landmark College, The University of Arizona, Beacon College, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Iowa. Some colleges also have prestigious programs for students with disabilities – including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, Berkeley, and Wayne State University. The latter, for instance, is fully wheelchair accessible, and has a program called Handicapper Educational Services – which provides financial aid, personal assistance, and other types of help for students with disabilities.

Applying For Grants And Scholarships

It is important to be an active member of a network centered around your disability so as to be aware of any new grants and scholarships you may be entitled to. The National Federation for the Blind, for instance, sponsors 30 grants and scholarships every year. You can also safeguard your finances by taking out insurance catered to students, including renters and tuition insurance.

While a fraction of undergraduate students have disabilities, an even smaller percentage complete courses necessary for a degree. In order to maximize your chances of thriving in college with a disability, selecting the best college is important. Be sure to look for one that offers educational support as well as other services for students with disabilities.

Student Life

11 Tips to Maximize Your College Experience

December 15, 2020

Headed off to college? That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get the most out of your college experience (and we don’t mean just friends, football games, and all-nighters). The goal is to graduate from college in a way that’s life-changing. Here are eleven tips to get started. 

1. Meaningfully participate in extracurricular activities

The students who get the most of their college experience are the ones who get involved in ways that spark their interest and passion. This doesn’t just mean sports but also includes music, theater, leadership, volunteering, or other activities. If you’re planning on retiring from your primary high school skill, choose a new one before you get to college. 

2. Live on campus 

You have the rest of your life to live off campus. When you live on campus, you put yourself right in the middle of the action and energy of college. Let other people fight over electricity bills and the dishes. 

3. Leave your car at home. 

If you live on campus, it’s easier to leave your car at home. Not only does it save you a few thousand dollars a year on insurance and maintenance, but you also don’t have to worry about finding parking on campus or its corresponding fees, like a parking ticket. 

4. Get a bike

A bike is a great college alternative to a car. You save time and money because you can bike up to your classes, park, and lock. Plus it’s a great way to avoid that Freshman Fifteen! 

5. Take small classes

Do what you can to take small classes. This might mean moving to advanced classes sooner or taking less-popular majors. If you are only an observer in your classes instead of an active participant, you’ll miss out on the full college experience.

6. Learn from the great professors

Find out who the life-changing professors are and take the classes they teach. Look on professor review websites or ask upperclassmen. Taking classes from outstanding professors who are passionate about their subjects can have a huge impact on your life. 

7. Continue to apply for financial aid. 

While most financial aid is given to first-year students, there is typically money withheld for second year and beyond. Once you choose your major, ask professors about potential scholarships, and keep applying for private aid.

8. Try to only work a job during vacation and on weekends. 

If possible, don’t work more than 10-12 hours a week during the semester. Minimize the time spent at a job so you can maximize the time focused on schoolwork and college activities. 

9. Take classes that prepare you for life. 

By taking classes like art history, accounting, and computer coding, you’ll be at home in museums, prepared with the basics to run your own business, and have a foundational understanding of web development. College is the last time you can indulge in extensive education without also juggling a full-time job.

10. Get bilingual by graduation. 

Knowing two (or more languages) makes you more hireable, putting you ahead of the average applicant. Spend a semester and a summer abroad, or even a whole year, to learn a language.

11. Fill out the FAFSA each year. 

Many students will do all they can to qualify for financial aid before they go to college. But many don’t realize their parents need to complete the FAFSA every October. 

College is a great opportunity to learn new things and have life-changing experiences. Make the most of it with these tips! What else have you done to maximize your experience in college?