How to Be a Better Freshman

Freshman year is a big deal. You’re experiencing and encountering so many new things at once, and they all seem like make it or break it situations. However, you can relax knowing that while everything seems like a huge deal, in the long run, most things aren’t. By following some simple tips, you’ll be navigating your first year of college so well; people may think you’re a sophomore!

freshmen

DO create some distance; DON’T be a stranger
For many incoming freshmen, this is the first time they’ve been away from home. No matter the distance, if you’re living on campus instead of at home, it’s going to be an adjustment. Establish some sense of independence while living in the dorms. Instead of calling the parents every time you can’t figure out laundry, roommate problems or homework, try working it out on your own or asking someone on your floor.

Of course, don’t ignore your family completely. Check in periodically and share how you’re doing. Try to visit at least a few times a semester. You’ll be surprised to find how much those conversations and visits mean after being away for a while.

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Looking for a Party? We’ve Got Your Biggest and Tamest Party School Rankings

As students are heading back to campus this fall, at least some of them have only one thing on their minds: Where’s the next party? If they’re headed to UC Santa Barbara, they probably won’t have to look too hard to find it. However, if they attend Liberty University, a party is going to be pretty hard to come by.

college party

Mike Simmons of eCollegeFinder created maps outlining the biggest party schools and the tamest party schools in each state after looking at the party data gathered by College Prowler. Each school was ranked on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the biggest and tamest party scene on the respective scales.

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FAFSA Error Affects Thousands of Students’ Financial Aid

If your financial aid package for the upcoming school year seems off, you may want to have it checked. An error on the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, made some applicants appear far better off financially than they actually are.

financial aid

The error on the online form causes some low-income filers appear to be millionaires, which can have a dramatic impact on what, if any, federal financial aid they can receive.

Jeff Baker, policy liaison at the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid told student-aid administrators at the Chronicle of Higher Education that the error has already impacted thousands of borrowers, and is likely to impact even more.

“It’s a serious problem,” Baker said at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting. “We have to fix it.”

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Hookah’s Healthy Alternative Claims Go Up in Smoke

You may have heard that smoking hookah is better for you than smoking cigarettes. Turns out, it’s all in how you define “better.” A recent study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention indicates that smoking hookah, or water pipes, may be more dangerous than originally thought.

hookah

Hookahs most often consist of a head connected to a water jar with a hose attached and a mouthpiece. Flavored tobacco is placed below burning charcoal in the head, and the resultant vapor is cooled then smoked. In the United States, Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, studies indicate a significant increase in hookah smoking. This increase is especially evident in younger people. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 teens smoke hookah, and as many as 40 percent of U.S. college students report using a water pipe.

This increase is likely due to the popularly held belief that hookah are less harmful than cigarettes. However, the study results show otherwise.

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Your Friends’ Moods Online Can Impact Yours in Reality

By this time, I think we’ve all heard the story of the Facebook experiment that caused some people to see mostly positive posts and others to see mostly negative posts. When it was revealed the study took place without the knowledge of any of Facebook’s users, people were outrage and dismissed the study as unethical.

facebook mobile

While I personally agree that the way information was gathered for the study was pretty sketchy, but it did yield some interesting results. The study showed that the more positive posts you see, the more positive things you’re likely to post yourself. The same went for negative posts.

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 90 percent of people in the 18-29 age bracket use social networking sites. If we take Facebook’s study to be true, that means 90 percent of college-age people’s emotions are somewhat influenced by their virtual social network.

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For-Profit Colleges Under Fire

Earlier this year, President Obama and his administration made waves when they announced new steps to address concerns about student loan debt. They announced new regulations that would require career colleges to do a better job of preparing students for gainful employment. If the schools do not meet the new regulations, they could lose access to federal student aid.

books and money

In a release about the new regulations, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “Higher education should open up doors of opportunity, but students in these low-performing programs often end up worse off than before they enrolled: saddled by debt and with few – if any – options for a career.”

“The proposed regulations address growing concerns about unaffordable levels of loan debt for students enrolled in these programs by targeting the lowest-performing programs, while shining a light on best practices and giving all programs an opportunity to improve.”

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The U.S. Department of Education Should Think Before It Tweets

This week the U.S. Department of Education gave us an excellent example of what NOT to tweet out to the many college students who will be hoping for student aid this school year. It also showed it’s about as good at social media as the average “cool” parent.

bad tweet (600x360)

In what can only be described as an attempt to be hip gone awry, Federal Student Aid, @FAFSA, tweeted to its followers a still from the movie “Bridesmaids” accompanied with the quote, “Help me. I’m poor.” While a funny quote that I’ve often used myself when feeling particularly broke, it’s probably not appropriate when coming from the Education Department. Especially when sent out with the caption, “If this is you, then you better fill out your FAFSA: fafsa.gov.”

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Free Tuition for Starbucks Employees Through New Program

It’s no secret, college is expensive. For many, that expense has simply gotten too high. College tuition has risen 80 percent in the last 10 years alone. This increase means that some people can’t go to college, or complete their degree, no matter how much they desire to. Starbucks has decided to do something about this problem, and announced the Starbucks College Plan earlier this week.

Starting in the fall, Starbucks will help many of their part- and full-time U.S. partners (employees) complete their college degrees. Through a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU), Starbucks will allow its partners to finish their bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement.

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What Are We Going to Do About Student Debt?

If you haven’t heard, President Obama recently signed an executive order that expands eligibility for the Pay As You Earn program. The program was created to cap monthly debt payments of eligible borrowers to no more than their monthly income. If you have outstanding debt after 20 years, or 10 years if you work for a nonprofit or in the public sector, your debt will be forgiven.

student debt

The program is great for those who are up to their ears in student debt, though it’s also a frightening thought that you may still be in that debt 20 years from now.

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55 Universities Under Title IX Investigation

After pressure from lawmakers, sexual assault survivors, and activists, the U.S. Department of Education is investigating 55 colleges and universities under Title IX.

investigation

These colleges and universities are under investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual assault and harassment on campus, which violates Title IX, the gender equity law.

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