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How Freshmen Can Start College on the Right Foot

Moving away from home and starting college is a major milestone in a young adult’s life. With the right preparation, the transition can be a successful one, and build a foundation for their four years on campus. Colleges recognize that freshmen, and new incoming students, need some assistance at the start of the semester. Following these tips can help you start the year, and your college career, off right!

1. Attend orientation
2. Ask questions
3. Be a part of campus life
4. Be open to new ideas
5. Don’t choose a major right away

2009 Best Colleges Published by U.S. News and World Report

For the first time in more than a decade, Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. holds the number one spot in the U.S. News and World Report 2009 issue of Best Colleges. harvard shieldIt’s a prestigious position that’s annually held by Princeton, now sitting at number two, followed by Yale. Harvard has caught much attention in recent months, as its now being driven by a new female president, Drew Gilpin Faust, and made an unprecedented Ivy League move to open financial aid packages to students whose families earn less than $180,000 per year. The $35 billion endowment at Harvard helped it gain its first place position as well.

How does that factor in to the scores? U.S. News and World Report is 25% reputation, per a survey sent to college officials, and 75% quantitative data. The criterion includes financial aid resources, graduation/retention rates, financial resources, new student acceptance rates and alumni giving; recently they started looking at the ratio of lower income students enrolled at the school.

The rest of the Top 25 List

Tied for 4th- MIT, Stanford
6. University of Pennsylvania
7. California Institute of Technology
8. Columbia
9. Duke
10. University of Chicago
11. Dartmouth
Tied for 12. Northwestern University and Washington University
14. Cornell
15. John Hopkins University
16. Brown University
17. Rice University
Tied for 18. Emory University, University of Notre Dame, Vanderbilt
21. University of California at Berkeley
22. Carnegie Mellon University
Tied for 23. Georgetown and University of Virginia
25. UCLA

Best Liberal Arts Colleges
1. Amherst College
2. Williams College
3. Swarthmore College
4. Wellesley College
5. Middlebury College

Best Undergrad Business Programs
1. University of Pennsylvania
2. MIT
3. University of California at Berkeley
3. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
5. NYU
(University of Texas- Austin tied for 6)

Best Undergrad Engineering Programs
1. MIT
2. Stanford University
2. University of California at Berkeley
4. California Institute of Technology
4. Georgia Institute of Technology
4. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

Best Historically Black Colleges
1. Spellman College
2. Howard University
3. Morehouse College
4. Hampton University
5. Fisk University

US News and World ReportThe U.S. News and World Report 2009 Best Colleges list also includes several sub-lists, with topics such as:
– Most Students in a Fraternity (#1 Clearwater Christian College)
– Most Students Who Study Abroad (#1 Lee University)
– Highest Acceptance Rate (#1 Bellevue University)
– Lowest Acceptance Rate (#1 Curtis Institute of Music)
– Highest Graduation Rate (#1 St. Francis Medical Center College of Nursing)
– Most Students Living on Campus (#1 Salem International University)

The list is very informative as it breaks out additional information regarding enrollment and tuition for each college or university. Further information is available for purchase from U.S. News for about $15.

College Blow Off Courses are a Myth (Mostly)

Ah, the college blow off course.  It’s the class that students register for because it’s easy.  Usually students register for a so-called blow off course because they have a difficult semester ahead, and they want to make sure there’s one easy course they can “blow off” while concentrating on the courses that are going to be making them miserable.

To some degree, this is a very smart strategy. If you have a lot of difficult classes, you absolutely should register for something that’s going to be less difficult.

blow off classUnfortunately, by choosing a class exclusively because you think it’s going to be a blow off class, you may be asking for trouble.  For one thing, few college classes are easy enough that you can truly blow them off and get a decent grade.  Yes, there are some– but trust me, this is unusual!

It’s so common for students to take a class that they mistakenly think is a blow off class, only to find that the class is way more work than they thought.  I learned this the hard way with a “math for non-majors” type of class I took sophomore year because I thought it would be easy.  It wasn’t, and I was lucky to get a C.

One common mistake students make when looking for a so-called blow off class is choosing a lower level class in a field that sounds like a blow off topic. “Intro to Poetry!” you might say. “How hard can that be?  That must be the perfect blow off class.”  Well, when you walk in the door and read the syllabus, and discover how many poems you have to read and write per week, you might change your mind.

Here’s a better strategy: if you have a tough schedule, concentrate on finding a class in an area you’re pretty good at.  If poetry is not your thing, then Intro to Poetry will not make your schedule any easier.  But if you like poetry and aced your high school English classes, the class might be a good break from your tough schedule–not because you plan to blow it off, but because you have the innate ability to do well without an excessive amount of work.  And another good strategy when you’re looking for an elective that’s not terribly difficult: ask around!  Your fellow students will tell you which profs and classes sound easy, but actually are not.

Of course, there really are some classes out there that are blow off classes.  If you really need a break, take a few of these–but only if you’re sure they’re really blow off classes.  And don’t take too many.  After all, you’re paying too much money for your education to just blow it off.

College Student Personal Finance 101

The current economic conditions in the U.S. are leaving many families strapped financially. With college students rushing out the door, they might not fully understand how these times are affecting your family. Students not knowing the financial difficulties they could face later in life by taking out thousands of dollars in student loans are digging themselves into a hole. As of September 2018, student loan debt is over 1.5 trillion dollars and rising. The federal government needs to figure out a solution….quick!

Financial expert Dave Ramsey encourages families to talk openly about their finances. Students should not have false expectations. It will help them to learn to manage money responsibly if you start them early.

His recommendations include:

– Don’t get them student credit cards until they are responsible enough to pay them

– Parents should check-in with students often and ask about their money status

– Parents should work with students to design a budget

– Students can get a job to help pay their bills, meals and entertainment

– Be prepared with emergency cash

Keeping yourself in financial check is important. Take a look at your finances each and every month to see where you stand and how you can improve.

You Need More Than a Watch to Manage Your Schedule

Juggling many different activities has become an art for me. Being involved with scouts and my youth group, playing sports, and managing to stay caught up in school is something that at times can become very difficult for me to manage. After many years of ‘practice’ though, I have finally been able to manage my time with little problems. Although learning time management can be an extremely difficult task in itself.

In middle school, I never found myself coming home worrying about finishing homework before going out Wrist Watchand doing something else that night. I never had homework in middle school because all my classes were easy. Once I was in high school though, things changed drastically. I had to worry about homework before I could do anything else, or else I wouldn’t be going to bed at a decent time. Some nights, especially during softball season, I would be up extremely late and be exhausted the next day, which would start a chain reaction, repeating that same cycle night after night for too long. Eventually I realized my time management skills weren’t up to par and that was something I needed to fix before my grades started slipping or my performance in sports started slipping.

After working hard at it for many weeks, eventually I got a routine under my belt that allowed time to just relax, then do homework along with any other activities I may have on any given night. Each year I have applied the same routine and although it takes a while to get back into the swing of things after a summer, I will slowly work my way back into this routine this year and its even more important for me this year considering how much I have to do with college applications and IB requirements!

This blog is meant to tell you that if you plan on being as activity involved as I am, then you need to be able to manage your time! Time management is key, especially for someone who is as busy as I am throughout the school year. With time management, everything will not seem as overbearing to you and you will be able to juggle things in a much better fashion than without time management. If you are someone who needs to write things out, make yourself a schedule! With time frames to do certain activities or if you are like me, just start doing a routine and eventually everything will settle into place, making things much easier on yourself. Time management is a great thing to have, especially for high school and college!

Eating Healthy in the College Cafeteria

We’ve all heard of the Freshman 15, but being able to outsmart the empty calories lurking on college campuses can mean a healthy freshman year. The college cafeteria is one place that can make or break healthy habits. Be sure to watch portion sizes, try to limit number of trips in the all-you-can settings and eat a variety of colorful, nutritious foods.

This Health and Wellness coordinator shares tips on navigating the cafeteria so that you can avoid campus weight gain.

You can also check out The Dorm Room Diet, by Dr. Oz’s daughter Daphne Oz. She shares her experience as a freshman and how she managed to eat healthy, even when all odds pointed against.

Number of U.S. College Financial Aid Applications Rises 17 Percent

According to a recent U.S. News and World Reports article, more students than ever are applying for financial aid–by a long shot.  This year, the number of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms filed in the United States jumped a whopping 17 percent!  There were 1.3 million more applications than last year–in a year where college enrollment is only expected to grow by about 300,000 students.  That means there’s somewhere around 1 million new applications for financial aid this year that aren’t the result of growing enrollment numbers.fafsa

So why is this happening?  A big part of this, of course, is the state of the economy.  The price of tuition is rising quicker than people’s incomes.  This means that students who might not have qualified for financial aid before now qualify. Additional students also have been qualifying for financial aid because of declining home prices, which affect how much money students are eligible to receive. And of course, as unemployment rises, so does the number of people who can no longer afford college on their own.

There’s some good news, though.  The rise in financial aid applications isn’t just indicative of a poor economy; it also indicates that more people are going to the trouble of filling out the intimidating FAFSA form–especially now that’s it can be filed out online. The word is getting out to students and parents that you need to fill out a FAFSA, even if you don’t think you’re eligible.

College Presidents Encourage Lower Drinking Age

A group of 100 college presidents have joined forces to encourage the government to change the legal U.S. drinking age from 21 to 18. With the overwhelming number of teens and underage college students dieing and being injured by underage drinking, they say it will help take some of the thrill out of it.

They argue that men and women are allowed to join the military and die fighting for our country at age 18, but are not legally allowed to drink. The college presidents group also cites the younger drinking age in other countries, where drunk driving incidents are also fewer.

There will no doubt be forceful arguments on both sides of this debate. What are your thoughts? Should the drinking age be lowered, or kept the same, and why?

East High School says Welcome Back!

August 14th finally rolled around and I couldn’t have been more excited! It was the first day of school and what made it even more exciting was the fact it was the first day of my SENIOR year! I got to school early to meet up with my friends and I don’t think we could have been more excited! We walked around saying to each other “09?…09!” Nerdy I know, but we were just so excited to finally be starting our senior year at East High.

The first day jitters I had experienced the previous years seemed to just disappear. As I walked into the school and around the rest of the day I held myself high because I knew that I was now at the top of the totem pole! My friends and I were untouchable, or so it seemed. It is finally our turn to rule the school and we can hardly wait to see what the school year has to offer us!

Although being a senior is amazing, it is also very humbling in a sense. The under classmen are expected to respect you, but at the same time, I feel that the same under classmen deserve respect from me in return. Sure, occasionally scaring one may be slightly entertaining, but remembered how I felt being a freshman or even a sophomore, I felt more sympathetic towards the younger students and tried not to come off as too cocky or scary, because I want to be like a lot of the seniors I knew the past years. The seniors I knew were far from scary and treated us under classmen as one of them. That is how I want to present myself to the other students; I want them to view me as approachable.

So as I walked through the halls of East High the very first day of my senior year not only did I feel like I was on top of the world, I also wanted the younger students to see me and look up to me rather than view me as someone scary just because they are a senior. Let’s hope the rest of my school year goes just as smooth as my first day back!

McCain and Obama Speak on College Financial Aid Issues

Want to hear what the two major party political candidates have to say about student loans, Pell Grants, and other issues related to financial aid?

Here’s John McCain, losing the art history student vote.

And here’s Barack Obama.

So what do you think?


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