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college tips

Student Life

Selecting Your Perfect College Major

April 8, 2021

Being a student can often feel like a whirlwind. Between taking a full load of courses and working in order to pay for the massive tuition fees, you also need to develop an overarching plan for your educational experience. Selecting a major, for example, can be one of the biggest challenges facing you. In order to make a decision that feels right for you, take a moment to review these points and learn more about narrowing down your choices. 

Think About Your Passions

Perhaps the easiest way to start is by thinking over what you are passionate about. What motivates you? More importantly, what are you curious about? When you start to scratch at the intellectual itch that comes from college campuses, you’ll start to uncover a wealth of information that inspires you in ways you never imagined. While you might not find your major right away, you will begin to take classes centering on topics that capture your interests. Over time, this will start to lead you toward a sensible major.

Look at the Staff

Another way that people tend to find their majors is by looking at the staff. Poking around in the directory of your college will start to show you the names of notable individuals in various departments. For example, students in science programs at UC Berkeley may find it helpful to know that a reputable expert like John Arnold teaches in the College of Chemistry. Give yourself time to root around in your directory and read various papers published by staff at your college to start finding people who inspire you.

Work With a Mentor

There are all kinds of useful services available to students at colleges and universities. For example, academic counseling services are usually provided to students as a way of offering needed guidance. When you’re not sure what classes to take or if you are in the right major for your interests, you can turn to these professionals to give you a push. In some cases, you may need to meet with several different counselors to find a good fit. Just as with any professional relationship, being able to communicate with each other helps you get the most from the connection.

Ponder Career Choices

Another way you can narrow down your selection and find a major is by thinking ahead at possible career options you will have. While people might advise you against a particular field because it doesn’t offer too many job opportunities, you can always find work if you know where to look. Sometimes, this means working in your field in a different capacity than you had initially envisioned. Look at where graduates in various programs wind up working and this might help you see which industry is the best fit for your goals.

Picking a college major can often feel like a huge decision. While it is true that you want to put thought behind your choice, you should not let it weigh you down for too long. You can always change your major if you find the path you have selected is not playing out as you had hoped. 

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.

Adulting Career Student Life

3 Ways to Balance Work and Study

April 6, 2021

You’ve probably always had a certain subject that fascinated you. In your free time, you may find yourself reading about new innovations and insights in the field. You constantly have ideas on the topic that start with, “It would be so cool if they…” 

Sound familiar?

The only downside is that your field of interest has zero to do with your current job. 

It may be a great time to take the leap, study your chosen subject, and get a degree or certification that would allow you to channel that passion into a career that inspires you every day.

Studying and working simultaneously can be a daunting endeavor. But it can be done! Some sacrifices and strict budgeting will be required, but only for a finite period of time. 

Here are three tips for how to make the most of your schedule when balancing work and study:

Maximize your available “ear time.”

There are more times during the day than you realize when your hands may be busy doing something, but your ears are available to study. This is why it’s a great idea to get assigned reading in an audio version if available. 

Record all of your lectures and corresponding notes that you take yourself. You can even create “audio flashcards.” Record a question or definition and leave a few beats of silence for you to drill your responses as you listen.These recordings can be used when you’re driving, working out, cleaning, cooking, getting ready, waiting in line, etc. 

Also, be sure to take advantage of the time immediately before bed. Our brains retain information that we consume right before bed the most clearly into the next day. Wake up and refresh the information as you get ready, and you will have successfully “locked it in.” 

Another great idea is to use repetition immediately after hearing a lecture. Take several minutes to go over the notes you just took and “teach” them to yourself out loud as if you were the professor. This will solidify connections between ideas and make them far easier to remember in the long run. 

All of this will help the information you’re learning to become information that you know. Which means you won’t have to desperately cram before a test. Instead, you’ll be refreshing thought connections that have already been solidified with personalized associations.

Break apart your workload into bite-sized pieces.

A great method for managing your study load is to chop up your reading and studying into smaller goals for each study session available over a given period of time.

For example, you’ve been given a 50-page reading assignment due in five days. First, determine the available time you have outside of work and family obligations. If you have four hours over the course of five days, you can estimate your target per-hour page rate. For that particular week, it is 12 and a half pages an hour. And, depending on how long your time blocks are, you will divide your page goal accordingly. So if you have 15 minutes while you’re waiting for something to cook, try to read about three pages.

Breaking up your reading and studying into smaller, more manageable chunks will help you avoid the stress of trying to find huge blocks of time to complete larger assignments. And preplanning the proportions helps alleviate the constant, “I have so much to do!” feeling. You can relax a little, knowing that as long as you successfully accomplish each predetermined portion in the schedule you created with your free time, you will reach your target goal for the overall assignment. 

Take advantage of vacation days.

This tip is likely not a crowd favorite. When taking on the added workload of balancing a job and study, sacrifice will be needed on some level. The things you should not sacrifice entirely are as follows: sleep, exercise, meals, hygiene, your job, and at least some quality time with family and friends. 

But the things that you will need to be willing to sacrifice are watching TV, viewing social media, partying, and sadly, vacations. You will still be utilizing your vacation days but as brief rest days and pre-test or presentation prep days. 

When you get your syllabus, mark out when events like this are happening and put in your request to use a vacation day for the day before well in advance. This will allow you a dedicated chuck of time to refresh everything you’ve learned and finalize any preparations you may need.

A major benefit to this: it will decrease your anxiety leading into a test or presentation day. Increased anxiety will only undermine your performance, so take that vacation day to prep and gather focus.

Throughout your time as a working student, have your “why” handy. Write a mission statement for yourself beforehand and read it whenever you feel a bit like tearing your hair out. Writing down your “why” will also help you understand where this motivation to study and shift gears is emanating. If at first, your “why” is only “to make more money,” you may want to do more research into careers that can make you more money but also genuinely interest you. 

When you read your “why,” you want it to touch something deeply motivating and energizing within you. Once you have that, it can act as a pair of jumper cables when you feel depleted and fuel you as you master the balance between work and study.

BIO: Kristie Santana is a life coach based in New York City. She is the founder of the National Coach Academy and co-founder of Life Coach Path. Her mission is to help prepare aspiring coaches for a thriving career doing the work they love.

Other

The Most Influential Professors in Recent History

March 8, 2021

Professors influence the world around them in several different ways. They instruct and guide students through classroom lectures and career advice. They also advance general knowledge of how the world, the universe, and human societies work through their research. Often, they influence others in both ways at the same time, although either research or instruction typically occupies a majority of a professor’s time. Professors of the past have been responsible for breakthroughs that irrevocably changed the way that people live, and today’s professors are constantly seeking new innovations and discoveries. The following are important professors in all different fields who deserve respect and appreciation for their important work and the benefits it offers.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie helped set the stage for future scientific professors, such as Berkeley chemistry professor John Arnold. While many professors today specialize in only one field, Marie Curie studied both chemistry and physics. Through her research on radioactivity, she discovered two elements, radium and polonium.

Despite operating in what was considered at the time to be a man’s field, she broke new ground as the first woman awarded a Nobel Prize. She is still the only woman to receive two Nobel Prizes and the first person of any gender so honored. Not only did she help advance scientific understanding but she also helped promote equal opportunities for women through her work. However, her accomplishments came at a price, and she died in 1934 of a sickness believed to be related to radiation exposure.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is considered the founder of modern linguistics, which is the study of language development and acquisition. Today, he is better known to many for his political activities, but he revolutionized linguistics with an influential theory that the human brain is hard-wired from birth to learn to speak and write. According to the theory, the brains of young children are more receptive to language acquisition, and as they get older, this receptiveness goes away and learning language becomes more difficult.

Barack Obama

Many people may not be aware that Barack Obama was a college professor prior to his landmark presidency. Obama attended Harvard Law School where he broke barriers as the president of the Harvard Law Review. Following graduation, he went on to teach at the University of Chicago Law School where he taught constitutional law.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking was a theoretical physicist who overcame a nearly lifelong struggle with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease, to become a renowned professor of mathematics. He was also respected in popular culture, in part because of an appearance on the science fiction series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” On a tour of the set, Hawking looked at the warp core, which gives the fictitious Starship Enterprise the power of faster-than-light travel, and remarked that he was working on making it a reality.

Judith Butler

Butler teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley but has been influential in a wide range of fields beyond literary theory. Her work has been applied to queer activism, ethics, and political philosophy, to name a few.

Albert Einstein

Einstein is not only one of the most influential professors of all time but also one of the most iconic, instantly recognizable even to people who have only the barest understanding of his theories. Einstein was something of a Renaissance man who explored different philosophies and had a deep love for music. Raised in the Jewish faith, Einstein emigrated to the United States in 1933 to flee Nazi persecution. He was a complicated individual who described himself as a pacifist, yet also lent his considerable talents to the Manhattan Project, the purpose of which was the development of nuclear weapons, out of concern that the Nazis might develop it first. His involvement in nuclear weapons development would be a source of inner conflict for him for the rest of his life.

Of course, there have been many influential professors going back through history, such as Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo. Even Socrates could be considered a professor, though the term wasn’t in use during his time. Professors of the past and present continue to inspire the thinkers of the future.

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

6 Tips for Success in College

January 28, 2021

Your college years will be characterized by immense growth and a newfound sense of personal responsibility. Many students are surprised to discover that getting good grades in college involves a lot more than studying hard.

A successful college student establishes good habits that spell success later on. Make the most of your experience through these tips.

Personal Health

In order to keep up with the demands of college life, your body and mind need to function optimally. Maintaining a clear, sharp mind is impossible when you’re drained or undernourished. Staying healthy can be difficult when you’re in charge of making your own meals and getting to bed on time, especially on top of everything else on your list.

Outsource some of your personal health tasks by adopting sure-to-work nutritional habits. Look to diets that emphasize plant foods. Many diets, like the one designed by former cardiac surgeon Dr. Gundry, reduce inflammation and optimize physical performance so you can work and study harder.

Time Management

Through your college experience, you’ll get your first taste of personal freedom. That freedom, however, comes with a cost. From class schedules and work hours to managing your social calendar, keeping up with everything you have to do can be challenging when you’re the one in charge of setting your own schedule.

Proper time management will permit you to get it all done with minimal stress. A balanced schedule that prioritizes both studying and relaxing will keep your school performance up. Make a list of the most important tasks, along with their due dates, and arrange each responsibility in order of importance.

Goal-Setting

You’re in college in the first place because your larger goals and determination guided you there. You have an idea of what you want out of life and are taking the first steps to make it happen. Now that you’re there, it’s time to return back to some of those guiding principles and decide where they’ll take you next.

Take time to identify what your objectives are and determine what steps you need to take to get there. Think bigger than just good grades. You may want to get volunteer experience, make a lot of friends, build connections or overcome fears. Whatever the goal, break it down into both large and small steps to make it a reality.

Teamwork

Success in college is found not only by studying hard on your own, but learning to work as a team with your peers, too. College assignments often require group work, both inside and outside the classroom. After class hours, the need for cooperation continues as you learn to find a routine in your dorm with roommates.

It’s important to adopt a mindset that stresses strength in numbers. Study groups are a great way to collaborate with your classmates to ensure academic success. By learning how to better work with others, you will be more fully prepared for the demands placed on your and your future coworkers in the workplace.

Money Management

From student loans to grocery budgets, college is simply expensive. To make matters more challenging, the temptation to splurge on weekends out with friends or expensive meals is nearly always there. Prioritize setting a budget and always use student loan funds wisely.

You don’t have to pinch pennies or decline every social invitation. Carve space in your weekly budget for a few indulgences. Just becoming aware of your financial system can relieve a great deal of stress and set up clear parameters for your bank account.

Confidence

No matter what the college experience throws your way, you’ll surely find a way to make it all work. Your hard work and dedication got you this far. The very same diligence will stand by you when the going gets tough.

Millions of college students make it out alive, and you’re no different. You deserve to be there. Believe in yourself that you can not only survive your college experience, but you can thrive all along the way.

A successful university experience looks different for everyone. Armed with these tips, and with the right mindset, success in college will never be out of reach — whatever that means to 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

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.

Transition

Transitioning From High School Life to College Life – What You Need to Know

January 13, 2021

As a high school student, thinking about heading into your first year of college can be both exciting and scary all at once. You’re used to living at home with your family. You’ve probably had most things taken care of for you, and you’ve lived a certain way with specific household rules your entire life.

College changes all of that in an instant.

When you transition from a high school senior to a college freshman, you go from being a “kid” to an adult. More responsibilities rest in your lap than ever before, from doing your own laundry to taking care of your own finances. Though dorm life may not be a completely accurate representation of what it’s like to own your own home or apartment, it gives teenagers a taste of what the real world is really like.

It’s your first step into adulthood, and it’s okay to be nervous. But, the transition doesn’t have to scare you. By preparing ahead of time for college and knowing what to expect, you will have an easier time “leaving the nest” at home and moving forward into the next chapter of your life. Let’s look at some lessons that can help you along the way.

Managing Your Finances

One of the biggest hurdles college students have to face is managing their money. And in many cases, they’re having to do this for the first time. While some students continue to get money from their parents, about 75% of students have jobs while they’re in school, and the average yearly income for a college student is about $13,000. Finding a successful balance between work and attending classes isn’t always easy, especially as a freshman.

If you need to get a job while you’re in school, make sure you:

  • Set your priorities
  • Have goals in mind
  • Handle your free time safely and wisely
  • Don’t let yourself burn out

Talk to your professors about your job, even if it’s only part-time. You don’t want to end up missing a class for work, especially if your teachers don’t know that you’re employed. Most professors are willing to be a bit flexible and understanding if you’re upfront with them about your job and why you need to work. If you end up with too many unexcused absences and they don’t know why, it could reflect poorly on your grade, or you may not even pass the class.

Even if you do find work while you’re at school, it’s important to maintain a budget. You can do this ahead of time, before you find a job, to determine how much you will need to earn to pay for things like food, or even rent if you’re living in an apartment. The cost of living is different depending on which part of the country you’re in, and so is the minimum wage. Be sure to do your research on the state where you’re attending college as you build your budget to determine your monthly financial needs.

Staying Connected

One of the best things you can do to make your high school to college transition easier is to stay connected with the people you’re closest to. Now, more than ever, it’s important to feel a connection with loved ones. You might be attending a school that is doing distance learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For a new college student, that can increase feelings of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

Thankfully, technology makes it easier than ever to remain in contact with the people you care about. Work out a schedule that fits your needs when it comes to talking to the people that are important in your life. That might include a weekly Zoom call with your friends from home, or calling your parents each night.

If you’re traveling abroad for a semester, make sure you have the right phone plan set up before you go, and instant messaging apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger so you can stay in touch with friends and family back home. Staying connected with the people you’re used to can help you to not feel so alone in a new place, especially during these times of uncertainty.

With that said, it’s also important not to depend on those people to manage your stress or keep you happy. If you spend all of your time connecting with people back home, you could be missing out on new friendships that could last a lifetime. So, while you might spend your first few weeks of school staying in touch with friends and family, eventually you should work to strike a healthy balance between communicating with those at home and spending time with new friends and roommates.

Making the Transition Easier

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You don’t need to. About 20 million families send their kids off to college every year, and everyone has to work through that initial transition period. While it can be a nerve-wracking time, it’s also the first step on your journey to the next chapter of your life.

While it’s important to be organized and fully-prepared, there are other things you can do to make the transition from high school to college easier on yourself, including:

  • Having realistic expectations about the college experience
  • Taking care of yourself by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep
  • Managing your stress levels
  • Finding groups/clubs you’re interested in
  • Being assertive when necessary
  • Learning to problem-solve

One of the biggest roadblocks many new college students face is procrastination. When everything is new and exciting, things like homework and studying can quickly be put on the back burner. Unfortunately, that kind of attitude will eventually lead to excess stress. Make sure your dorm space is set up for productivity by eliminating distractions, having good lighting, and keeping it neat and organized.

College can end up being one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. You’ll be able to share stories about your time there for years to come. While the initial transition might be scary, you will learn to ease into it quickly, and make lasting memories along the way.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

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?

Student Life

Testimonial: Tuition Insurance Can Give You a Do Over for College

December 8, 2020

Most colleges and universities don’t provide full refunds for tuition and academic fees. It’s something many students and families don’t find out about until after it’s too late, and their investment in college is lost. That’s how GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance can help in the event of an unexpected medical withdrawal.

Kara first learned about GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance when her son, Andrew, was an incoming freshman at Marist College. She said she wanted to make sure that if anything were to happen that was one of the covered reasons, their big investment in his education wouldn’t be lost. Marist is one of the nearly 400 colleges and universities that rely on GradGuard to protect students from preventable financial losses.

College students and families are smart to have GradGuard

Looking ahead, Kara and Andrew’s decision to purchase tuition insurance was smart. She said her son struggled a little bit the first semester.

“When he went back in the beginning of the spring semester, it became clear that he was not going to be successful, for a variety of mental health issues,” Kara said. “Our first priority was to bring him home, which we did.”

Andrew completed a medical withdraw from school. It was early in the semester, so the family was able to get a partial refund from the school. Then they contacted GradGuard and filed a claim for the balance.

GradGuard provides a refund when schools may not

“The amount that we paid at the beginning of the semester, minus what the school refunded — we got every other cent back from GradGuard,” Kara said. “We were thrilled. That money is for him to pursue his education when he’s ready.”

GradGuard was able to give this family the opportunity for a do over. That’s not something that happens a lot, let alone in college. But when the unexpected happens, GradGuard can help you get back on track. Learn more about how to buy Tuition Insurance for your school using GradGuard’s college search tool.

Questions to ask your college or university:

What will happen to my tuition payment if my college student is forced to withdraw from school due to an illness or even COVID-19?

What is the school’s refund policy?

Do you offer tuition insurance?

Student Life

Paying for College on Your Own? Here’s Some Advice

November 14, 2020

It’s no secret that college can be one of the most costly journeys in life. Considering tuition, fees, books, room and board, traveling back home, and gas for those students who have a car, the amount of money spent on education can add up quickly! Some students have family and others to help with these expenses which can make life as a college student a little easier. But many others are paying their own way through college with little to no assistance.

Here are a few tips for students to consider if they’re paying for college on their own:

Don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA before each semester.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Whether you have help from family or you’re pushing through college on your own, all students should fill out their FAFSA each semester. This federally funded program provides grants and loans for college students. It is always best to research the requirements and criteria before filling out this application because it can be a little hard to understand at some points. Always remember that grants and scholarship money generally do not have to be paid back. Loans must be paid back so it’s important to get as many grants and scholarships as you can!

Get a part or full-time job with a flexible schedule.

While some students work while in school for extra cash, others have to work in order to pay for all of their education expenses. Those students who must work in order to pay for their education should find a job that is willing to work with their school schedule. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Use your best judgement when making the choice to work part-time or full-time. Remember that the most important goal is to graduate and keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy. So if you’re already taking 18 credits this semester, adding on a full-time job would be really difficult.

Make sure the school that you choose is affordable. 

We all have different ideas of what is considered affordable and what isn’t. If you are a college student that is paying for your education out of pocket, be sure that the school you attend is the right choice for your wallet. Students often hear that in order to excel in your career you must attend the best or the most elite college or university. Some of the more highly recognized and notable universities often have higher tuition costs as well as room and board. Don’t fall into peer pressure! Always do your research on the schools that you are interested in and if the cost and atmosphere are right for you, making the right choice will be simple.

If you are a college student paying for college on your own, know that you are not the only one. Remember to always fill out the FAFSA before each semester and get as many grants and scholarships as you can. When looking for a job, whether it’s part or full time, make sure they are willing to accommodate your schedule and keep your physical and mental health a priority as well. Most importantly, find a college that is affordable for you and within your means! College will always be costly, but you don’t have to strain yourself in order to achieve your goals.