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New G.I. Bill 2008 is Good News for U.S. Vets

On July 31, 2008, President Bush signed the updated GI Bill — known as the GI Bill 2008 — into law.  This is great news for vets who want to get a college education!gi bill

And even more good news, folks–your new college backpacks will weigh less!

The original GI Bill was passed in 1944, and provided funding for college or vocational education (and other kinds of financial assistance) to the many soldiers who were returning from World War II.  By giving vets a leg up financially, this helped spark the strong economy the U.S. enjoyed after World War II — while at the same time rewarding the young men and women who made the sacrifice of fighting for our country.

Unfortunately, the GI Bill hasn’t kept up with the price of an education.  Until recently, the $40,000 received by vets over a four year period paid for only an average of 60 percent of the cost of a state school education.

The new GI Bill offers the following benefits:

  1. Pays for the full price of tuition at the beginning of the year, with a maximum tuition benefit set at the cost of the most expensive public school in the country
  2. $1000 provided annually for books and supplies
  3. Monthly living expenses paid (the amount of which is based on a formula that varies by the ZIP code of the school and the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing)
  4. Funding provided to reservists based on months of service; at 36 months of service, reservists get full benefits
  5. Vets get up to 15 years to use these benefits

I can’t think of a more patriotic way to honor the people who served our country — especially considering the sacrifices we’ve asked of our military over the last seven years.  Hooray!

Effective Way to Narrow Down College Choices

As the deadline creeps closer for our college folders to be turned in, I realize just how ahead of many of my classmates I am. When I started my whole college search process, it was an absolute mess. I felt overwhelmed because of just how many schools I had to choose from and all the different factors that could play into my choice.

I myself have decided to apply to 10 colleges. I have read in multiple sources that 8 is a good number of colleges to plan on applying to, while anymore than 10 is a little much. How many colleges a students decides on applying to depends heavily on just how much time the student has to devote to applying to each school. And if you realize you don’t have time to apply to a lot of schools then don’t apply to a large amount of schools. All of my colleges are small liberal arts schools, and while most are in the Midwest, I have a few that are located along the east coast. Looking back though, I have realized that keeping myself organized really helped me narrow my list down.

best collegesOne of the biggest helps was This website, after creating a free online account with them, allows you to search through profiles of colleges online and allows you to build a list of schools that you could see yourself applying to. After making such a list with them, their site then will allow you to compare schools and look at different numbers and facts about each school, which really helped to see most of the numbers I wanted to see. When it came to student opinions on the school though, I relied on my book “The Best 366 Colleges” by Princeton Review. This book not only lets you see the numbers like the websites, but it also gives you insight into the student life, campus activities, and application due dates. The book even gives student quotes and explanations, which is nice getting a student produced response rather than the college feeding you a bunch of information that’s been sugar coated to make the college look even better.

So when you begin your college search, I would suggest going online and snooping around there. Also, I would advise you to either buy a copy of the Princeton Review’s “The Best 366 Colleges” or a book that is similar so that you not only get a view point on the college from the college, but also the view point of a student that attends the school.

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! Click on to access more information about bankruptcy laws.

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?


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