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preparing for college

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.

Other Transition

Do Standardized Tests Measure Educational Quality?

May 28, 2020

Standardized tests play a key role in today’s education system. They can take the form of aptitude tests that measure scholastic readiness or achievement tests that measure subject-specific knowledge. But how well do standardized tests measure educational quality?

Arguments in Favor of Standardized Tests

There are various arguments in favor of standardized tests. Here are the main reasons why they are good for measuring educational quality.

Standardized Tests Enable Consistent Assessment

Every teacher grades pupils differently. When college admissions committees only see overall grade point averages, nuances between teachers with higher and lower expectations are lost. So, standardized testing can act as a balancing force. Standardized tests can provide colleges with objective data with which they can compare prospective candidates.

Standardized Tests Prepare Students for College

If students attend high schools that do not offer advanced placement courses or a large number of extracurricular activities, standardized testing can enable students to set themselves apart from their high schools. Tests like the ACT and SAT give students the chance to show they are smart and motivated, so they will not be judged on their high schools when applying for college. And passing some specific standardized tests is required to gain entry to some degree programs. For instance, passing the Law School Admission Test is vital for prospective law school students. As for LSAT dates and deadlines, the test is held four times a year, in February, June, September or October, and December, and the registration deadline is about one month before the test date.

If students are enrolled in highly competitive high schools, standardized testing can also be beneficial. That is because it enables students to show they are intelligent and qualified, even if being in a class of many high-achieving students prevents them from being top of their classes.

Arguments Against Standardized Tests

Opponents of standardized tests typically say the test promotes a teaching-to-the-exam study method, meaning students only learn-and-repeat what is required by the curriculum. The opponents say that undermines students’ abilities to innovate and critically think. They, therefore, believe that standardized tests are not the best way of measuring student performance.

Teaching to the Test

Standardized testing means the main focus is on obtaining high grades. That means teachers feel compelled to teach students solely so that they can pass the tests. And in some schools, teachers spend less time teaching the arts and social sciences because they feel it is more important to prepare students for standardized tests in areas like math and English. That can lead to a less-rounded education for students.

Multiple Choice Tests

Standardized tests consist of multiple-choice questions or open-ended questions, and some feature both. Opponents of standardized tests that only use the multiple-choice format say the tests are too simplistic and do not reflect accurate student intelligence. On the other hand, tests that feature open-ended questions enable students to show their knowledge and apply critical thinking, often through extended responses.

Final Thoughts

Standardized tests are good because they are quantifiable and enable comparisons. But, as noted above, there is a negative side to standardized testing. There are other measures that can show how well schools and students are performing, such as graduation rates, enrollments in advanced placements and other college prep courses, and college remediation rates for recent high school graduates.

So, do standardized tests measure educational quality? Yes, they do. However, if they are used as the sole source of measuring educational quality, they are not wholly reliable. Standardized tests should be just one of many measures that are used to evaluate students’ abilities and their readiness for college or a career.

Other Transition

Helpful Advice When Applying to College

April 29, 2020

The college application process is an exciting time. This is an opportunity for high school students to figure out where they are going to go next. There are a number of hurdles that high school students must cross and one of them is the college application process. There are a few tips that students need to keep in mind as they are applying to college.

Know the Deadlines

This is at the very top of the list when thinking about 10 Tips When Applying to College. It is critical for everyone to remember that college is competitive and schools receive thousands of applications from qualified applicants every year. They are not going to bend the rules just because one person missed the deadline. Make sure to know the deadlines and get all of the materials in on time. Furthermore, when a student misses a deadline, this shows a lack of maturity, preparedness, and time management skills. Know the deadlines and get everything in on time.

Read the Instructions Carefully

Not every college application is going to be the same. There are going to be some differences from school to school. Particularly when it comes to essay prompts, it is important for students to read the instructions carefully. If students submit an essay that doesn’t address the prompt at the top of the page, this is not going to look good for the school. Therefore, every student must read the instructions along with each individual application. While this might sound like a lot of work, it is important to put the best foot forward.

Proofread All Submissions

Students have plenty of time to complete their college applications. Therefore, there is plenty of time to proofread. Spelling and grammar mistakes on college applications exude a sense of carelessness. This does not reflect well on the applicant. It is helpful to get another set of eyes on every essay. Sometimes, it is hard for students to pick up mistakes in their own work. Having someone else read it is a good idea. This way, all spelling and grammar mistakes are caught before they reach the desk of the committee.

Think About Recommendations Carefully

One of the most important parts of every college application is the letters of recommendation section. This is an opportunity for the committee to get to know each applicant on a personal level. Think about who is going to present the applicant in the best light possible. Try to get letters of recommendation from different areas including academics, athletics, and other extracurriculars. Each letter should show a different side of the student. Not much is going to come from three letters that all say the same thing about the student. Try to create a well-rounded picture with the letters of recommendation.

Tips for Applying to College

These are a handful of the most important tips that everyone needs to remember during the college application process. Keeping these tips in mind will set up every student to be successful in 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.

Other Transition

The Top College Towns of 2020

April 22, 2020

Choosing a college is no small feat. There are a ton of factors that come into play, from academic programs to athletics. One factor that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked is location. The town or city a school is located in can play a big part in both your college experience not to mention your life and work after graduation.

When making our choices, we considered several factors, including student life and culture, available recreational activities, nearby attractions, and availability of high-speed internet and other college necessities. Here are our picks:

1. Gainesville, FL

Gainesville houses the University of Florida, known for its research programs, athletics, and parties. Gainesville was, at one time, one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, thanks in part to its excellent climate, beautiful landscape, and large number of entertainment options. 

When it comes to living in Gainesville, there’s plenty to do, including several state parks and museums to check out, and the Gainesville Raceway is a popular spot. The town also has a growing startup culture, so if building businesses is your thing, you’ll be in good company once you graduate.

2. Berkeley, CA

Located across the Bay from San Francisco, Berkeley has a long reputation as a great place to live. The weather is beautiful, the atmosphere is electric, and creativity and activism are everywhere. The University of California is regularly ranked as one of the best in the country, and the area has a rich history dating back to the late ‘60s and the hippy movement. What more could you want in a college town?

Berkeley also has another major advantage: it’s situated only an hour or so away from Silicon Valley. This makes it an ideal candidate for folks in the tech space, as well as potential founders looking to fund startups.

3. Boulder, CO

Boulder has a reputation as one of the best places to live in the US, with gorgeous surroundings, excellent art and food cultures, and the popular University of Colorado providing a backdrop. Like Berkeley, Boulder has a bit of a hippy past, and between that and the beautiful natural landscape make it an ideal spot for adventurous students and adults alike.

There’s a ton to do in Boulder, especially if you like outdoor activities. The entire area is surrounded by nature preserves, recreational land, and climbable mountains. The city also regularly makes lists of the best places to live in the US, including “Happiest City,” “Brainiest City,” and “Best City to Raise an Outdoor Kid.”

4. Athens, GA

Home of the University of Georgia, Athens rounds out the list of best college towns. Unlike some of the other towns on the list, rent in Athens actually falls below the national average, making it an affordable town both during school and after graduation. Music is a big part of the culture, with several national acts, including R.E.M. and Widespread Panic, coming out of Athens. The University of Georgia is home to the Georgia Bulldogs, and their games are a big part of life in Athens.

One downside to living in Athens is that you may have a harder time finding reliably fast internet here, especially if you’re living in the more outlying areas. If that’s the case for you, there are rural internet options available that might help.

These four college towns have something for almost everyone, whether you’re a football fan itching to get on down to Georgia or a budding software engineer looking to make it big in Silicon Valley. Just don’t forget to squeeze in some studying and secure your college renters insurance upon move in!

Career Other

3 Tips to Help New Students Decide Their Major

March 16, 2020

You’ve just arrived at college. Between the endless activities, free time and paths to choose for yourself, you are immediately bombarded with a plethora of choices to make. How do your study habits change? How do you make sure you get along with your roommate? How will you make friends? However, the most important one is a choice that centers on your education: your major. There can be a ton of pressure when choosing a major from friends and family, not to mention your own dreams of what field you’d like to work in after graduation. Here are three tips for helping new students decide their major. 

Consider Your Skills

When choosing a major, it’s easy to default right away to what you think will end up making you the most money. Everyone has occasional dreams of financial grandeur, and tying that into your decision of what to major in seems like a reasonable choice. However, make sure that when picking your major, you consider where your main skills and interests are. If you don’t have the passion for accounting but are a magnificent writer, think about how perfecting your writing to an elite level via an English major could pay off for you in the long run, versus merely being an average accountant. Sometimes, the “smart” choice in choosing a major isn’t necessarily the one that traditionally would earn you the most money. It’s the one where you can excel and perform at a high level. 

Think About After Graduation

When choosing a major, you’ll obviously want to keep what exactly it is that you want to do after graduation in the front of your mind. If you want to go right into the business world, a major that gives you a solid business background would be preferred. If you’re thinking about taking a gap year and then going to graduate school, a major that you think would help you perform well in your post-secondary education would be a smart move. While you certainly don’t have to be sure of what you want to do after graduation, you can think about a general field you wouldn’t mind having a job in and see if your education can inspire greater interest in the topic. 

Don’t Rush It

When you arrive at school, it may seem like you have to decide on a major as quickly as possible so you can start classes and tell friends and family about the direction you have. But don’t make the mistake of declaring a major just for the sake of declaring a major. Take your time to work through the different possibilities of what you could specialize in your head before making the decision. The last thing you want is to regret rushing to declare a major in a year when you’re in the thick of classes and it’s too late to switch. Think through what you really want out of your college experience, and then use that to guide your choice.

Choosing a college major is a high-pressure situation. However, if you consider what your skills are, think about what you want to do after graduation and don’t rush into making the choice, you can be sure that you’re making a choice that you can be confident in. Once you pick your major, you’ll be free to dive into your studies and enjoy all that the college experience has to offer.

Other Transition

What You Need to Know About Applying for College

February 28, 2020

After 12 years of general education, the time has come to join the big leagues. No matter what degree you’re aiming for, going to college can be exciting and frightening at the same. It all starts with you trying to find a reputable college.

If this is your first time applying to college, you might be feeling a little nervous and confused. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Your college experience should always be an exciting experience.

Here’s what you need to know about applying for college.

Research Early On

You don’t have to wait until you graduate high school to look for a college. In fact, it’s recommended that you search during your time in high school. You should spend a majority of your junior year in high school looking for colleges.

Your senior year should primarily focus on learning the admission process. The admission process can vary, so it’s important to research each college and its requirements. This is where college admissions counseling comes in. They’ll help you set up everything and guide you through the process.

Determine Whether You Should Take the SAT or ACT

Once you’ve figured out what college you want to attend, the next thing you need to consider is what test to take. You can either take the SAT or the ACT. Both of these tests are used as an entryway into most colleges and go over the same subjects. The only real difference is how they’re scored. SATs are scored using a scale between 600 to 2400 while the ACTs measure scores by using 1 to 36.

In general, it doesn’t really matter which test is taken as most colleges take both of them. It’s just that some students do better with the SATs than the ACTs and vice versa. It is possible to take both of them. In fact, taking both of these tests can increase the likelihood of you getting accepted.

Be Ready to Face Rejection

If you get rejected by your college, don’t get discouraged. You can always apply again. But don’t sit around waiting for one college to accept you. Just because one college gave you a rejection doesn’t mean all of them will.

Sure, it may be a little heartbreaking to know that after all of the hard work you’ve done, all you received was a rejection letter. However, even the best of the best get rejections too. They could have the perfect grades and credentials, but the college rejected them anyway.

Applying to college is an exciting process, but it can also be very difficult. So, it’s important that you start off on the right foot. These tips aim to help you achieve just that.

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.

Career Other

Higher Ed Podcasts

January 17, 2020

There is so much to be aware of and prepare for your higher education in today’s society. From applying to scholarships to making sure you have coverage for your laptop and textbooks, it’s good to keep it all organized. We’ve curated a list of podcasts to help guide you through your higher education journey. Whether you are an incoming freshman or looking into master programs these provide some great tips for higher education!

The College Info Geek Podcast: Study Tips & Advice for Students: For College Students

Learn how to be a more effective student, even while you’re doing your laundry. The College Info Geek Podcast features in-depth, actionable advice for boosting your productivity, earning better grades, paying off your student loans, and more.

Getting In: For Incoming College Students

For millions of American teenagers and their parents, adolescence is increasingly defined by one all-consuming goal: Getting into the right college.

“Getting In” is a real-time podcast following a diverse group of New York-area high school seniors through the exhilarating and harrowing process of applying to college. The series is hosted by Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult.”

Admissions Straight Talk: For Grad School Admissions

Admissions Straight Talk is a weekly discussion of what’s new, thought-provoking, and useful in the world of graduate admissions. Linda Abraham, leading admissions consultant and author, covers the application process for MBA, law school, medical school, and other graduate programs.

Higher Ed Live: Higher Education in General

Higher Ed Live offers viewers direct access to the best and brightest minds in education and allows viewers to share knowledge and participate in discussions around the most important issues in the industry. Higher Ed Live provides live, weekly content about admissions, advancement, marketing, student affairs, and communications to higher education professionals. Episodes feature knowledgeable hosts conducting exclusive interviews with professionals from institutions; journalists; consultants; and other leaders.

Higher ed: Higher Education in General

In their lively and entertaining weekly discussion of issues related to higher education, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore the topics of higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. Ed and Jennifer practice what they preach, too, by introducing math puzzlers and brain teasers to keep listeners on their toes.

The Academic Minute: Higher Education Worldwide News

The Academic Minute is a two-and-a-half-minute daily module that features researchers from colleges and universities around the world, keeping listeners abreast of what’s new and exciting in the academy.  A different professor is featured each day and you’ll enjoy updates on groundbreaking research and how it helps us better understand the world around us.

The higher ed world can be a little intimidating, but it’s just as exciting! With these podcasts, you can get ready for that next stage in your life or further your knowledge as a higher ed professional.

Other Transition

Finding the Best School For You

August 15, 2019

For many high school seniors, the transition period between high school and college can be just as stressful as it can be exciting. One of the major stress factors during this period is deciding what college students are going to attend. Many factors go into this decision.

The Basics

There are some general things to look at when choosing a school; price, location, school size, grade/test score requirements, available programs, and student living conditions are just a few of the main aspects that future college students are looking at. A great way to narrow down the search is by figuring out three things that you want in a college. From those three categories, you should be able to gather a list of 5-10 schools that interest you. 

Go On a Tour

The next step is to make your best effort to visit all of the schools you are focusing on. The visit is one of the most important steps of picking a school because it gives you the option to try the school on for size. Just like a pair of shoes, you will not know if it’s a comfortable fit until you check it out in real life. When visiting the school try to schedule a guided tour. It’s the best way to get the most out of your visit. Tour guides are normally students who know their way around and can highlight some important areas of the campus. This also gives you the ability to ask questions. Asking questions helps ensure you know as much about the school as you possibly can.

Take Notes

After each visit, be sure to make notes of the highlights. Having a physical list in front of you can help with the decision process; you are able to see the pros, the cons, and the things you might need to know more about before making the big choice.

From here you should be able to make an educated and confident decision of the school you will be attending. While making this decision can be stressful,  gathering as much information about the schools will make the process go smoother. No matter your preferences, if you put in the due diligence, finding the right school to put you on the path to success is possible.

Other Student Life

Finding Community in College

August 15, 2019

Starting a new school can be frightening, especially if you are moving far away from the friends and family you are so accustomed to seeing. There are many things you can do to feel settled on campus, but one of the most important is finding a community. When you have your own “college family”, the transition to college life is much smoother. Here are five tips that will help you to find community in college:

Attend a Pre-Orientation Program

A great way to go into college with some friends under your belt is attending a pre-orientation program. Many colleges are offering this as an option to incoming freshmen. It is a great way to connect with people who have similar interests as you and are also new to the university. This is also a great way to become acquainted with the university before campus becomes busy. 

Introduce Yourself to People in Your Dorm Hall or Apartment

You never know if your new best friend is living in the dorm right next to you! It can be a great idea to keep your door open when you are in your dorm and go around and say hi to your neighbors. 

Join Clubs!

Clubs are obviously a great way to meet others who have similar interests. There are so many different options for clubs that students can join. There are many clubs that specialize in different interests and cultural backgrounds. You can feel more at home if you can connect with people who come from similar backgrounds.

Volunteer

Another way to make connections is through volunteer work. Volunteering is a great way to get out into your community and meet new people. Many universities provide opportunities to do service on campus and in the surrounding area. 

Make the First Move

When you are starting out in college, it is important to put yourself out there. If you are proactive about meeting new people are fostering friendships, you should have no problem finding your community on campus.

With the new year beginning, be sure to remember these tips from GradGuard and get comfortable with your new home! It truly is the best time of your life so be sure to enjoy it.

Other Student Life

How to Find Your Perfect Study Spot

August 15, 2019

As a college student, it is important to figure out how to effectively study. This is a crucial aspect of finding success in college. There are many options for places to study on and off-campus and it is helpful to figure out what works best for you. Here are some options to consider when looking for your perfect study spot:

The Library

This is a classic option for students who are seeking a quiet place to study. Your school’s library may contain different areas for those who prefer different levels of silence. The library may also have different resources such as tutoring and study rooms available to students. This is a great option for many students but is far from the only place on campus to study.

The Student Union

This is a great option for students who are looking for a more lively place to study. If you prefer more background noise this may be the place for you. If you go to your student union, there will most likely be many tables, chairs, and couches for you to study at. Your student union likely gets very busy, so you may have to figure out the best time for you to go. One downside to this study spot is that it may be distracting if you run into lots of people that you know and are easily caught up in conversation. 

Your Dorm Room

This spot can be a hit or miss depending on your situation. If you have a roommate this may not be the best option. It can also be an issue if you are studying on your bed and not a desk as you may be more prone to falling asleep. If you desire privacy when studying this may be a good choice. This may also be a good option on days when you are feeling sick or don’t have the energy to leave your dorm. 

A Local Coffee Shop

A coffee shop is a great choice for students who have a desire to study somewhere off-campus. Depending on your location, there may be many choices near campus. It can be fun to explore your area and hunt for the best local coffee shops. Many students find it helpful to go off campus to study in order to better concentrate and find motivation.

Outside

When the weather is nice, it could be a great change of pace to study amongst nature. Find some friends and scope out a nice patch of grass on campus or travel to a local park to soak up some sun. Be careful when studying outside because although it may be a good option for some it could be distracting for others. 

Throughout the semester, it could be helpful to try out different locations to figure out what works best for you before finals season begins. There are many options that extend beyond this list that may be available to you depending on your college. Have a fun time testing out different study spots and studying strategies

Check out GradGuard for more information on how to make the most out of your college experience and follow us on social media @gradguard to stay up to date on new information.