First Year at University? 3 Things You Should Know Reply

You’ve picked your roommate and you know what dorm you’re staying in. You’ve even done the campus tour and mapped out the closest dining hall. You think you’re ready, but the real work is just beginning. Your first year of college can definitely be a huge life change, but it is a great life change. It definitely takes a lot of preparation though. It will definitely be unlike anything you have ever experienced. Here’s what you should know to thrive during your first year at college.

  1. Map it Out

In any college setting, it’s common for professors to assign a research paper to be turned in towards the end of the semester. Papers like this can take a lot of research and a lot of time. That’s why you are going to want to make sure to get started on it as soon as you can. By doing that you can avoid a lot of heartache and stress further on down the road. Sadly, chances are the paper will be mentioned once on the first day of class and then will hardly be mentioned again. That is until the day it’s due. Without proper organization and a plan to meet all of the deadlines you will face, you may find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Get a planner, use sticky notes or write it on the front of your notebook. Do whatever works best for you to stay organized and ensure you get all those papers with longer deadlines completed on time.

  1. Find Your Study Spot

By this stage in your scholastic career, you should be well acquainted with the most effective study strategies for your learning style. Now it’s time to take what you know about your learning techniques and apply that in a whole new environment. Scope out all the best study spots on campus. Find the space that will benefit you and then create a study schedule. Make consistent study dates with yourself and keep them. Resist the temptation to ditch the books in favor of pizza and dedicate yourself to your study spot. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. Become An Expert

Counselors are there to help and guide, but they also have a lot of students and expect you to take charge of your education. Understanding the requirements and deadlines for your program can keep you on the right track and make sure you are prepared for graduation. These requirements are also imperative if you want to pursue a graduate degree. Some programs like the criminal justice master’s program actually place their requirements directly on their webpage making it easy to track your progress and make sure you have what you need to gain acceptance into the next phase of your education.

College is a wonderful experience, full of excitement and challenges. These tips will help you embrace all that college is and allow you to conquer your first year. As you keep yourself organized and disciplined you’ll find handling your schedule more bearable. While most of the weight of your success rests on your shoulders, never be afraid to ask for help from teachers, counselors, and upper classmen.


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her family. Kara recommends looking into diplomacy programs for more information on degrees that can help save the world.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Choosing the Right Degree: When it Matters and When it Doesn’t Reply

Confusion , Direction , ArrowPicking the right degree in college can be a difficult decision. After you graduate, you will want to be happy with your decision and be able to get a job in a career field that you enjoy. However, you don’t necessarily have to make the decision right away. Most colleges will want you to declare your major by the end of your second year, so you’ve got some time to explore your options.

Take an aptitude test.

Every college will have an advisor’s office, and I would be surprised to hear if everyone didn’t offer some kind of aptitude test to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take multiple aptitude tests at your school as well as online to narrow down your choices.

These tests are great for figuring out what careers are right for you right now, but also keep in mind that college is a place to learn and improve all of your skills. So even if the aptitude test doesn’t coincide with what you actually want to do, they are still helpful in giving you suggestions and ideas for determining your future.

Don’t worry about it right away.

Being undecided or undeclared for the first couple of years in college is OK. Not everyone should or does know what they want to do their first years in school. The majority of your first two years in college will be spent on general requirements and prerequisites for your upper division classes anyway. While you want to take the right prerequisites, plan on taking classes that help you explore opportunities and will also steer you in the right direction.

Research career paths.

Career paths are just that: a path towards a career. These paths aren’t exact and you will be able to take multiple roads to get you where you want to be. The majority of students will end up changing their major throughout their first couple of years, and quite a lot of graduates will end up working in jobs that aren’t directly related to their major.

When you are researching career paths, keep this in mind. In other words, research online and talk with people who work in that field and see what they majored in and how they got to be where they are. For entrepreneurs especially, the path to their success will come from a plethora of different backgrounds. LinkedIn is a great place to start – look at professional’s profiles and see where their academic and work experience has taken them.

Talk with your mentors, parents, and teachers.

Your family, mentors, teachers, and school counselors will know a lot about you and have a lot of knowledge about the world. Reaching out to these folk will help give you ideas about what degree is the best for you. Ask them about their past experiences and tell them to be honest about their advice. You’ll learn more than you think when you listen to their nuggets of truth.

Considering graduate school or an advanced degree?

The one time when you will want to have a definite idea of what you want to major in is if you plan on going into a specified career. For example, if you want to go to medical school you will have to major in a small number of specific degrees to have the knowledge and prerequisites to pass the MCATs and get into a medical school.

There are certain advanced degrees that don’t absolutely require a degree in the same field to get into, though. An MBA for example will typically take any bachelor degree graduate as long as they pass the required entrance exams and show an aptitude to succeed in their program through the admissions essay and qualified experience.

Keep an open mind.

More than anything keep an open mind as you never know what kinds of opportunities will present themselves and what you might be interested in. Take classes that help you both explore your interests and things you don’t know are your interests yet. Never been in a school play but always wanted to? Take an acting class as one of your liberal arts requirements and see what you think. College isn’t only about preparing for a career, it’s also about experiencing things you never have before.

Juniors: Make a List of Potential Colleges Reply

Making a list of collegesAs a high school junior, the task of picking a college can be daunting. There are so many colleges out there. So much to consider. There are a variety of different guidebooks and websites designed to help you search for a college that is right for you. Sometimes, the sheer amount of information on colleges makes things more confusing. You won’t really know for sure if a college is right for you until you visit it, but you certainly can’t visit every single college you find interesting. So how do you decide?

The best way to start is to make a list of colleges that you could see yourself attending.  In preparation for making this list, it’s important to really consider what qualities you are looking for in a college. It is much easier to evaluate a school, once you have done some thinking about what you want in a college. Make a list of the things you need and want from your prospective school.

Qualifications

Some qualifications are obvious and fairly objective. If you know what you want your major to be, or at least have an idea of where your main interests lie, then you’ll want to make sure that the school you are looking at offers degree programs that fit your goals. Location can be a factor.  Do you want to go to school close to home, or are you looking to move away? Cost is always a factor, though one that is difficult to measure.  Certainly you don’t want to add a school to your list if the cost to attend will exceed your budget.  Still, many schools that may have a tuition expense that is out of your range also have grants and scholarships that can help you offset those costs. A school’s athletic program might be an important decision factor for athletes who plan on continuing their sport at the college level.

Other qualifications are more subjective. What is the best college environment for you? Would you rather be in a big university or a smaller college? In a big city or a smaller one? College is not just about classes and grades and diplomas.  It’s also an experience.  Think about the things that are important to you as a person. What are your hobbies?  What kind of weather do you prefer? What clubs do you think you’d like to join?  What is the overall environment like?  These questions are much harder to answer without visiting the college – and if you are making fairly long list, you probably cannot visit them all! Sometimes visiting the school’s website, talking to someone who attends or did attend the college, or to the admissions personnel might help with some of these more subjective questions.

Share Your List of Schools

Once you have more clearly defined what types of colleges you’d like to attend, then it is much easier to research and add good candidates to your list of colleges.  Throughout this process it is a good idea to talk with your parents, other family members and your high school counselor to get feedback.  Those around you, who know you well, can be great resources because they can provide insight and ideas that may not have occurred to you. Once you have a list, they can also help you narrow it down to a handful of colleges that you can visit.

Time to Get Moving on Early Decision Reply

DecisionIf you are a high school junior or senior that is planning on applying for early decision, then you are a student who knows exactly what your first school choice is. It also means that you have to be on top of all of the various deadlines you will need to meet in order to successfully apply for early decision. You can only submit an early decision application to one school. This is because your application is binding. By applying, you are committing to attending this college if you are admitted. You may perhaps have some other schools that you are applying for, but these schools are really second choices. You know for certain where you want to go to college and why. You’ve done your research. Here are some items to consider about early decision:

SAT and ACT: Something for juniors to consider:

  • If you are considering completing and early decision application for a school, then you will want to make certain that you have completed your SAT or ACT test by October of your junior year. This ensures that your test results will be available when you are sending in your college application. If you take the test any later, there is a high probability that your test scores will not be ready and you will not be able to complete your early decision application.
  • It may be a good idea to take the test even sooner than October however, so that you can retake the test if you are not satisfied with the results.

What seniors should be doing now.

  • Obtain information from your prospective college about the early decision process, and obtain an application. While you are preparing to start your new school year, it is important to remember how fast the time goes, and how busy you often get as you acclimate to another year. By starting your application now, you can be proactive and make certain that you obtain everything you need to complete your application.
  • You’ll need letters of recommendation to submit along with your application. If you did not start obtaining these in your junior year, you need to start asking for these. Letters of recommendation can come from teachers, counselors, community leaders who know you, or other references.
  • Get working on scholarship and grant applications. One of the more complicated aspects of early decision is that you will be making a decision on your college before you really know how much financial aid you will receive. Applying to more grants and scholarships now may help insulate you from the unknown.
  • Know your deadlines. Many early decision application deadlines are in November. Some are as early as October. Make sure you are persistent in getting any information you need to complete your application by the deadline.
  • Complete your financial aid applications. If a school offers scholarships directly, make sure you apply for them as you are applying for early decision and that you know the deadlines for financial aid applications, which may be different. Complete the FAFSA in January.

Early decision works well for students who are certain they know their top choice of college. In some cases, applying early may increase your chances for getting into a school. It also saves you stress because you won’t have to wait as long to receive your decision. Still, early decision is not for everyone, be certain to talk with your parents, school counsellors and college admissions people prior to committing to early decision.

The Art of Narrowing Your List of Colleges Reply

Narrowing your college list.

Deciding on a college.

As a high school junior just starting a new school year, it is easy to see your college career as something still far on the horizon. Certainly you are preparing (or have already taken) your SAT or ACT test. You’ve likely begun thinking about what schools you would be interested in attending, and maybe you’ve even visited one or two. Still, the actual idea of graduating high school and starting college can seem far off. It’s really not as far away

as it seems, and your junior year is a great time to do some fine-tuning of your list of colleges. Fine-tuning now can save you stress and frustration later.

If you’ve been doing your research, you may have quite a list. It’s not uncommon for a student to have a list of 10 or more desirable colleges. Now it’s time to narrow that list to something a little more manageable before beginning the application process. Applying to too many schools can be stressful and make a tough decision even tougher. Here are a few things to consider while narrowing your list.

Location

Some students want to stay close to home. Some want to go to specific areas of the country. For some, location isn’t as big of a deal. If location is important to you it’s time to think this through and possibly get rid of colleges that are not in a location you are interested in living.

Specific Degree Programs and Features

Obviously, if you’ve placed a school on your “potential school list,” you’ve chosen a school that offers the degree you want. Now it’s time to research further. Does the school have a good reputation for your specific degree? You may also want to consider special ancillary features each college offers. If you are interested in studying abroad, specific work-study programs or ROTC, you’ll want to narrow your list to colleges that fulfil those needs.

Cost

Let’s face it, one of the major considerations when choosing a college is the tuition and other costs. Determining the net cost of a year of college at a particular institution can be tricky. It’s not just a matter of looking at the tuition cost. On the surface, one school may be more expensive than another, but that school may also offer more grants and scholarships. Depending on your situation, it is conceivable that a more expensive private college could actually be cheaper than a public college with a lower tuition because of a more comprehensive financial aid program.

Composite image of student holding laptopLong Shots vs Sure Things

Depending on your goals, you may wish to apply to some schools that are more difficult to get into. Remember, even if you have great grades, you are not guaranteed admission into a school like Harvard or Yale. If schools like these are on your list, then it’s a good idea to also have some second choices on your short list that meet your goals, but tend to be easier to get into.

Every student is different, so likely there are other considerations to be made when reducing your prospective college list. Take some time now to think it through and narrow your list. This way you can focus your time and effort on applying only to those schools you most want to attend.

It’s March – Which College Should You Apply To and When? 1

So you’ve gathered a list of prospective colleges and you are ready to apply. But with applications fees stacking up creating a financial burden, which ones are the right ones to apply to?

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Girl pushing university button on search toolbar of virtual screen.

By now you should have a good list of 5 to 10 or more colleges that you are considering attending once you graduate high school. These colleges should include colleges that are a long shot, some conservative selections, as well as safety nets like local universities and community colleges. The reality is, everyone wants to go to the best college, but a lot have to go to a more conservative option due to a number of reasons, including the cost of attendance, how far the college is from family, and what the college has to offer.

Whatever the case, March of your junior year in high school is a good time to start narrowing down your list of schools. But, how do you know which school is the right school for you?

There are many factors that come into play when choosing which school you want to attend, and ultimately the decision is up to you. However, there are a few things you should keep in consideration no matter what your particular situation is, for example, the cost of attendance, what majors the school has to offer, and the geographic location of the school in terms of where you want to live and how close you want to be from home. Other things to consider are extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, and special programs, housing options, and last but not least, the facilities on campus, like science labs, theaters, and gyms.

Each of these things should be carefully considered when deciding where to apply to. You don’t want to end up paying for application fees to places you don’t plan to go to anyway. Some of the can be upwards of over $100 to submit your application.

Get the best information on how to choose the right college for you with Peterson’s.

11 Reasons Why Going to an In-State College is Better Reply

application4Deciding whether or not you want to go to college in-state or out-of-state can be a tough decision. Affordability, acceptance, independence, and where your friends go can all factor into your decision. While going to college out-of-state has perks if your budget allows, going in-state can save you a lot of money and headache, especially in the first couple years of school. Consider these tops reasons why you should go to school in your home state.

  1. Consider your budget

In-state tuition is significantly cheaper than out-of-state tuition. In some cases, schools charge more than twice as much if you are coming from a different state. Reducing the amount of student loans you have to take out in order to graduate should be on the top of your list when considering which college you want to go to.

  1. In-state colleges allow you to be close to home

Even if you choose a college that is a couple of hour drive away from your home town, being close to home has its benefits. During breaks, you can easily drive home to be with your family and friends if you go to an in-state college. On top of that, having your family close will allow you to have a greater sense of support when you need to reach out for help — having a free place to do your laundry is huge perk as well.

  1. In-state colleges are typically academically equivalent

In-state colleges often get a bad reputation, especially when you consider them next to ivy league and division one schools, but don’t think that your state’s college won’t offer the same amount of academic value as the other schools. Depending on where you live, your state college might be one of those high-ranking universities anyway, but even if it isn’t, you will still be able to obtain your degree from an accredited institution and find a job after you graduate.

  1. It is often easier to get accepted into an in-state college

Getting accepted into colleges is often not considered as much as it should be when students first apply. Some colleges can be hard to get into if they are out-of-state, especially if you don’t have very high SAT and ACT scores, perfect GPA, and extracurricular activities that show you will bring value to the school. Typically, however, in-state colleges take into consideration that you are from in-state and can be easier to get accepted.

  1. Consider scholarships and additional financial aid benefits to going in-state

Some states offer additional financial assistance to students who go to school in their home state. These types of state programs can help you keep your student loans to a minimum while still being able to achieve a high level of education. Check with your college’s financial aid office to see what types of extra financial assistance might be available to you.

  1. Community college is a great way to save money while getting your generals out of the way

Another decision high school graduates have to make is whether or not to go to a state college or university, or a community college in your home city. While community colleges don’t offer a complete bachelor’s degree, they do often offer two-year technical degrees, certificates, and can be a great way to get your generals out of the way before you go to a state college where tuition is typically higher.

  1. Where you get your bachelor’s degree doesn’t matter as much as you think

Yes, getting a degree from an ivy league school like Harvard or Yale is better when finding a job or applying for graduate school, but this comes with a huge financial burden. For the majority of people who get their bachelor’s degree, what matters most to employers is that you are hard-working and have academic and professional experience.

  1. Consider where you plan on working

If you are planning on finding a job in your home state, employers will value students who graduate close to where the company is located. Especially for entry-level positions, home-town companies often want graduates who have family close because it is a signal to employers that you don’t plan on leaving.

  1. Save money on travel and living expenses

This isn’t something that most students think about. When you go to school in-state, and especially in the same town where your family is located, you can save a lot of money on the little things, like laundry, food, travel, and rent. Even if you decide that you don’t want to live with your parents, you will find that having them close will help you save money in the long run.

  1. Don’t forget about the unexpected

Unexpected situations pop up where you will need help and having family close will make it that much easier. If your car breaks down, you need help moving, or you just simply forgot to bring bring your homework to class, you will find that having family close will help to reduce the stress of the unexpected situations that come up.  

  1. Independence comes in many forms

Going out-of-state may offer a greater sense of independence, but that independence also comes with higher costs and a greater sense of responsibility. If your school doesn’t have dorms, consider renting an apartment with a couple of your friends that are going to the same in-state school as you. This can help you gain independence and save money doing so.

9 Questions to Ask Yourself About College Campuses Reply

college1If you’re planning on going to a physical college, then you’ve got to spend some time contemplating the college campuses. What do you want from them? How much do you really care about the place where you’re going to be studying?

If you’re not sure whether or not to go to a physical college or to use online college courses, then you’ve still got to ask yourself the same questions. Would you miss having an actual campus to walk around on? Would you rather not have to deal with the complications of a physical campus?

For students just getting started in their thinking about college, here are some key questions you should be asking yourself about college campuses.

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5 Ways To Examine Acceptance Rates Reply

spying glassOne of the pieces of information you’re likely to see called out about each and every college you look at is the college acceptance rate. This is the percentage of students who apply to the college and are actually accepted.

Lots of news reports focus on college admissions rates and what they mean, how they connect to the state of higher education as a whole. But what do they really mean for you, the student hoping to apply to these schools? How should they affect your college search? Here are 5 simple ways to understand and use college acceptance rates to improve your college search.

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3 Tips for Looking Ahead to Post-Graduation Before You’ve Applied Reply

GraduatesThere’s a slew of articles coming out now concerning the class of 2014 graduating from college. The articles talk about the issues they face, important facts of this class, and more. This article, in particular, paints a bleak picture of what faces these students post graduation.

Upon reading that, any number of reactions make sense. “It’s not worth going to college if I’m going to graduate with debt and unable to find a job,” goes one line of thinking. “I need to devote the entirety of my collegiate plans to making sure I’ll be able to get a good job after,” goes another.

So, what should you take away from this article? How should you look ahead to your post-graduation life? And how should it affect your college planning now, especially if you’re a junior in high school just getting started?

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