5 Research-Backed Actions that Will Increase Your Chances of Success in College Reply

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, fewer than 40 percent of new college students graduate within four years and barely 60 percent graduate within six years.

People fail to graduate for so many reasons, but achieving success in college isn’t as complicated as most people think. The following five actions are proven by research to increase your chances of success in college:

  1. Join a Study Group

Fans of the Game of Thrones TV series are familiar with the saying, “the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.” This couldn’t be truer when in college, especially when it comes to studying!

One of the most important things you can do to help your chances of success in college is to join a study group. Research shows that being part of a well-organized study group can increase a college student’s chances of success; a particular study of 110 students documented an average increase of 5.5 points in the final exams of students who were in a study group compared to those who weren’t.

  1. Don’t Joke With Your Daily Sleep Requirement

Many college students believe that the key to success is to burn the midnight oil, but research disagrees.

Scientists have found that lack of sleep impairs attention and working memory, and that it can also affect attention and decision-making. Furthermore, researchers have found that sleeping right after you study is the best way to make sure you recall what you study.

Proper sleeping habits won’t only help you overcome college stress, it will also make recall — and as a result increase your chances of success in tests and exams — extremely easy.

  1. Be Active Involved in Your College Education

In a study of 25,000 college students, researchers found that students who spend 40 hours or more weekly on academic work are three times more likely to have As compared to students who spend 20 hours or less weekly on academic work. Researchers agree that active involvement is the most important factor that determines success in college.

While this sounds like bad news for part-time students, all hope is not lost. Effective time management can help you get a lot more out of your time; it also helps if you wake up earlier and work on college activities first thing in the morning. Researchers have found that the most early hours of the day are the most productive for most people.

  1. Develop Your Writing Skills

One of the most important skills you can develop to help you succeed in college is your writing skill. Not only will this make it much easier for you to write required essays, but it will also make your other assignments easier.

Research has linked writing and journaling with an improvement in communication skills (even verbal skills!). Researchers have also found that trying to explain a concept — either by writing or verbally — reveals our understanding of the concept, helping us discover and work on knowledge gaps.

You can develop your writing skills in numerous ways: take a formal writing training, use online resources to learn how to write, set up a blog, and make it a daily practice to write.

  1. Effectively Utilize College Resources

Very few students utilize college resources, but research has found that college resources impact student success to a great extent. A particular review of over 2,500 studies concluded that, “The impact of college is not simply the result of what a college does for or to a student. Rather, the impact is a result of the extent to which an individual student exploits the people, programs, facilities, opportunities, and experiences that the college makes available.”

Utilizing college resources was found to be especially effective if done in the first year of college. Make effective use of library resources, academic support services and experiential learning resources to increase your chances of success in college.


John Stevens is an entrepreneur and founder of HostingFacts.com, an online portal that reviews web hosts. He is a regular contributor to Standford’s blog, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com and other major publications. Follow him on Twitter @hostingfactsj


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.

How Many Times Should You Take The GRE And When Should You Start? Reply

how-many-times-should-youThese days, many students are realizing that submitting GRE scores is a part of the graduate school application process. With this reality in mind, you may be wondering when you should start preparing for the GRE and how many times you should take it. Review the short outline below to obtain answers to these questions and more:

It’s Never Too Soon To Start

If you’re wondering when you should begin preparing for the GRE, know that it’s never too soon to start. Familiarizing yourself with the format and content of the exam can alleviate test anxiety and empower you to attain a higher score. As such, it’s a good idea to get started immediately. Luckily, there are a wide range of learning resources at your disposal. For example, companies like ETS, Barron, Peterson’s and Kaplan provide a wide range of test prep material you can use to study for the Verbal, Math, and Written components of the exam.

Taking online courses in the fields of English, Math, and Writing is another technique you can implement to prepare for the exam. If you’ve already obtained your bachelor’s in English, you may want to consider completing an online masters computer science program. This can make you a more competitive candidate for a grad school program while also sharpening your reasoning skills.

How Many Times Should You Take The GRE?

Before you decide how many times you should take the GRE, consider the following facts:

  • You can take the computer-based test once every 21 days.
  • You may take the GRE up to five times within one year.
  • If you cancel your GRE scores, the test that you took still counts towards the five annual test dates.

There are several reasons why an individual might want to take the GRE again or several times. Generally, the reason pertains to the score. In some cases, an individual might not have had sufficient time to prepare for the exam. When this happens, a substandard score may be the unwanted outcome. If you know that the score you’ve obtained is below the average score that individuals admitted into the learning institution attained, it’s definitely a good idea to retake the exam.

Keep in mind that you can take the GRE as many times as you want and submit your highest scores to the college in question. However, if you’re taking the test over and over to try to attain a perfect score, keep in mind that the GRE is not the only component of your application process. You’ll also want to concentrate on other critical elements like your letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, writing sample, etc.

If you’re serious about acing the GRE so that you can get into your dream school, now is the time to start studying. Review the information and instructions found in this quick reference guide to get on the path to an excellent score today!


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.


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.

Living in your first apartment: Life off campus versus life on campus Reply

Late Night StudyYou’re all settled into your first apartment. The mattress topper miraculously fit through the door, all your clothes made it into a new closet and you’re plastering your walls with photos of friends and mementos of campus events from last year. After all the hours you’ve spent moving into your first off campus location, your stomach grumbles and you think, “Oh, time to go to the dining ha—oh, right.”

What changed?

In short, off-campus life carries with it a set of responsibilities that may have been irrelevant to think about when you lived on campus. Universities typically support students housed on campus in every possible way by supplying them with essentials, mainly so that students only need to worry about their studies. The moment you switch to an off-campus apartment situation, you’re more independent from your university and a few aspects of life become a bit more prominent.

  1. Having to care about bus times

Back when you were an on-campus student, you may have had the luxury of being oblivious in terms of when city buses come up to your campus bus stops. Since all the city buses ultimately lead downtown in most college towns, you may have just hopped on whatever bus number showed up outside your residence hall. Now that you’re an off-campus student, you have to care about bus numbers and bus arrival times.

Most students don’t have their own cars, or if they do, their university might not have the most parking spaces in the world. Maybe those several hundred-dollar parking permits aren’t looking so good to your wallet. If you do rely on buses to navigate through town, living off campus will mean you have to plot out the best routes to use to get from your place to class in time.

  1. Grocery shopping and cooking for yourself

Most universities still allow off-campus students to purchase a 5-day or 7-day meal plan, but you’ll find it much less convenient to use any on-campus dining halls anyway if you live in an off-campus apartment. This means you’ll have to budget your money and time so that you’ll have plenty of good food each day, and you may start packing a lunch and some snacks to take up to campus each day.

If you’re not ready to cook for yourself completely just yet, you might consider inquiring with campus dining services about a modified meal plan that gives you a set number of meals per term. If, however, off-campus living signifies a need to provide all of your own food, make a plan for when you’ll hit the grocery store each week and how you’ll transport groceries home.

  1. Making more intentional efforts to stay updated on campus activities

If you’re a very involved student on campus who works many jobs and is in many organizations, you may realize from moving off campus that it’s now a lot harder to make weekend meetings or evening study sessions at the library when you no longer live within five minutes walking distance of all campus facilities. This may mean factoring more travel time into your schedule to arrive at your commitments on time.

Additionally, living off campus may make it harder for you to access community events and functions on campus. The reality is proximity to every event is a luxury on-campus students have, but off-campus students can still attend campus functions as long as they remember to stay updated on what’s going on.

Off-campus students may not see all the flyers at campus bus stops for the ‘90s dance party happening in the main lawn, or they might not hear about the annual activism conference happening next Saturday. This means off-campus students should follow social media pages run by their university and check campus event calendars regularly to avoid missing anything exciting. Sometimes off-campus students might coordinate carpools or offer rides to other off-campus students to make commuting easier.

  1. Reduced access to all of your friends at once

The beauty of living on campus lies in the access you have to all your friends living in the same building or even on the same floor as you. You never run out of people to visit when you live on campus because most students in your grade level are housed together, creating a close-knit feeling of support and community.

The switch to off-campus living means you’ll have to explicitly plan when to hang out with certain friends, because chances are some of your friends have also moved off campus. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because living off campus often grants you more space to spend time with others, but you’ll find you have to put more of an effort into setting up hangout dates with people who used to be your next-door neighbors on campus.

While it does carry with it its own challenges, off-campus living can provide students with a healthy amount of independence they might not have had when living in the on-campus residence halls.


By Julia Dunn, Uloop News. Visit uloop.com for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, tutors near campus, jobs for college students, and more.


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.

Take the PSAT in your Freshman or Sophomore Year Reply

Pretty student doing homework

The Preliminary SAT, or PSAT is a test that most take in their junior year. It is however available to take as a freshman or sophomore if you wish to take it and it can be taken multiple times. If you are like most students, the prospect of taking yet another standardized test not appealing. There are already many tests to take, especially in your junior and senior year. This one, though, might be worth your time. Here are two compelling reasons to take the PSAT at least once in your first two years of high school.

The National Merit Scholarship Program

When you take your PSAT as a junior, you are also taking the qualifying test for the opportunity to win a National Merit Scholarship award. This award can be substantial and some colleges have set aside additional scholarship money for the winners of the scholarship if you attend their institution. Only those with the highest scores on the PSAT are eligible to win the scholarship, so you can imagine that there is some considerable competition. That being said, many students who take the test see it only as preparation for the SAT. Those who take the time to prepare for the PSAT will have an advantage and will be more likely to get a high score.

One of the best ways to prepare is to actually take the test. If you take the test as a freshman or sophomore, then you’ll know your score and you’ll know what parts of the test that you should work to improve. Plus, when you take the test that counts toward the scholarship you’ll be experienced at taking it.

Preparing to take the SAT

The SAT test can be one of the most stressful aspects of your senior year, which is already a very stressful and busy time. Your SAT score is used, among other things, to determine whether or not you will be admitted into a college. A great SAT score expands your choice of prospective schools, and a poor score can limit that choice.

Anything you can do to prepare for the SAT test will do two things: It will reduce your stress level when it comes time to take the test, and it will give you a better chance of doing really well on the test. Luckily, the SAT is very similar to the PSAT. If you take the PSAT as a freshman or sophomore, then you’ll know what you need to work on to do better. When you take your PSAT as a junior, you’ll have already practiced the test once or twice and you can use your scores on the PSAT to really focus your SAT Prep. There are many ways to prepare for the SAT, but all of them work better if you know what you need to focus on.

Taking the PSAT early gives you the opportunity to reduce your stress level later on and could end up giving you some scholarship money as well. Why wouldn’t you do some of your study and preparation in your first two years of high school if it could make things easier in your last two years of high school and help you get the best scores possible?

Read more about the PSAT on www.petersons.com.

Your Social Profile and Your Career Reply

Kiev, Ukraine - January 11, 2016: Background of famous social media icons such as: Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Linkedin, Tumblr, Myspace and others, printed on paper.

Repeat after me:

All of social media matters. Facebook. Flickr. Instagram. Pinterest. Medium. Linkedin. Snap Chat. Twitter. Vimeo. YouTube. These sites and others are important in a job search. Without the boring, parental or punitive tone, let’s quickly explore why. Over the last few years social media has become more of a factor in candidates being excluded from consideration.

And even if ones’ profile is password protected, I’ve seen that go south rather quickly. Having supported some of the best brands on the planet, it is not foreign to request login credentials. Worst, there are websites that archive social media traffic and portray your digital contributions and pictures oftentimes unknowingly.  I know that cruel internet.

All things considered, this is a critical time for you. You, your parents and other family members have invested resources and time in this educational journey. All of such so that you might secure a fantastic new role with a promising organization. The last thing you’d want is to be denied consideration based on your social media footprint. Let’s rethink your next post.

So before you fire off that resume or pop up for the next scheduled interview, let’s assume everything can and/or will be seen by the person you are scheduled to meet. As a Recruiter, I put each candidate through a quick social media forensic exercise. Here’s what we look for:

Linkedin

  • Photo should be clean, professional, visible – captured via camera if possible
  • Profile should be complete, include details, and paint a picture of who you are
  • Contact information of some sort should be visible – a social media handle or other

Instagram

  • Post pictures that are not offensive or frowned upon by the employer
  • Be conscious of who you follow and or whose pictures you “like” in the process
  • Algorithms are always tweaked too the advantage of the host – not you – be mindful

Twitter

  • Measure your emotion in those 140 characters – don’t always hit send (immediately)
  • Use tools to distribute thoughtful updates and filter questionable content
  • Respect that social recruiting (follows, hashtags, likes, etc) are methods of finding you

Soundcloud

  • Record a crisp introduction to be shared via email/social media with employers
  • Briefly cover defining characteristics, an impact example(s) and contact information
  • Separate yourself from the average job seeker that sits at a keyboard and hits enter

I’m not suggesting you can’t have fun, or post incredible pictures from an office party, or holiday weekend. In fact, I encourage that. I’m asking that you reconsider if the post or tweet will have any potential impact on your mission. I’m suggesting to you that as a recruiter, I’m able to uncover more about you with your email address than you might know.

I’m saying think twice – tweet that. Truth is, a part of your brand will be created through your decision to say no. Progress require a critical injection of confidence and an elevated level of awareness beyond these artificial boundaries of acceptance established by others. Try this slogan: I’m comfortable is the old 20!


About Torin Ellis:

Human Capital Strategist // Interview Architect // Diversity Maverick // Engaging and high spirited. Creative, high voltage, ready to pursue results. Author of Rip The Resume available on petersons.com and where books are sold.


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.

Your “After College” Survival Guide: How to Survive as a Fresh College Graduate Reply

Saving for educationBeth Bowman graduated college bubbling with excitement. She had accrued over $25,000 in student debts, but it didn’t matter because she felt she was pursuing a degree that will help her land her dream job of being a cultural consultant for a non-governmental organization. Now out of college, she was excited about her prospects.

However, Bowman soon realized the hard way that we don’t live in a perfect world. After sending about 500 job applications — to which she got no response — she now manages at a job as a policy administration specialist, a job that does not require a college degree.

Bowman’s story isn’t an isolated example.

Statistics from Pew Research Center show that it is becoming increasingly harder for college graduates to find good jobs: a whopping 44 percent of college graduates work at jobs that don’t require a college degree, and 20 percent of college graduates work in low-wage jobs that pay below $25,000. That obviously doesn’t justify today’s average student debt of $37,172.

Here are some survival tips to help you cope as a fresh college graduate:

  1. Make Preparations before Graduating College: Considering the difficulties in getting quality jobs faced by college graduates today, it is best to start making preparations before graduating college. Research shows that employers still value job experience — and having experience as a paid intern makes things even better.

The good news is that you don’t have to be out of college to get relevant job experience. You can still intern while in college; look for relevant organizations that have internship organizations for you while you’re still in college, and slowly build up your work experience. By the time you graduate, you don’t have to be disadvantaged due to lack of work experience.

  1. Get Creative About Job Applications: As a fresh graduate, don’t assume that you can get hired by applying to advertised jobs. Some sources show that up to 80 percent of jobs are unadvertised.

Instead:

  • Regularly reach out to family and friends to inquire about unadvertised job openings they know of.
  • Avoid having your life story on your cover letter. Research shows that recruiters spend less than 10 seconds going through it. Keep your cover letter short and simple.
  • Don’t ignore the internet in your job search. Apparently, 80 percent of recruiters have hired people through LinkedIn. Create and polish your LinkedIn profile.
  • Don’t just wait while you try to get hired. Take advantage of technology to accelerate your prospect of getting hired: you can start a blog or create a simple website. Case studies abound of people who got hired through their blog/website, and many said employers were wowed more by their blogs than by their degree.
  1. Pursue Side Jobs and Alternate Career Options: Many college graduates wait for years, sending hundreds of job applications, without getting their dream job and spending all that time doing nothing. This eventually leads to depression.

Get creative about other ways to earn while looking for your dream job. You can easily find side jobs that will help you sustain yourself while pursuing desirable job opportunities; income from these side jobs reduce pressure on you and help cater to some of your day to day responsibilities.


About John Stevens

John Stevens is an entrepreneur and founder of HostingFacts.com, an online portal that reviews web hosts. He is a regular contributor to Standford’s blog, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com and other major publications. Follow him on Twitter @hostingfactsj.


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.

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.

Peterson’s and HOSA Scholarships Reply

Since 1966, Peterson’s has been a trusted resource for students, parents and educators, and we are so proud to work closely with HOSA, an organization that spans 53 states and two hundred thousand members. Like Peterson’s, HOSA is dedicated to achieving the highest standards of quality healthcare through educational development. Both our organizations believe that our future is in good hands. We both hold to the ideals that a quality education can improve lives. Not only the lives of students but, especially in the case of healthcare, all the lives those students will touch in the course of their future careers. We are honored to be able to partner with HOSA in helping to support HOSA scholarships and participating in HOSA sponsored leadership conferences and expos.

So with that, congratulations to Victor Albornoz for his scholarship! During his membership with HOSA, Victor assisted with community service projects and was a part of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society. Victor’s goal is to become a trauma surgeon, and we wish him the best in this endeavor. Again, congratulations from all of us at Peterson’s.

 

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 New Frontier – Preparing for Your College Experience Reply

Female college student walk on the road to start her journey and gain bright future

Female college student walks on the road

A lot of the big work is finally behind you. You’ve taken your SAT tests. You’ve applied and been approved for college. Countless hours have been spent writing essays and filling out long grant and scholarship applications. In a short time your life will be very different, you will be packing your stuff, moving out of your house and into a dorm at college, where you will spend the next several years of your life. Now reality sets in.

This time can be very exciting, but it can also be a little scary. You will soon be away from your parents, in a strange place with a lot of people you don’t know. Certainly it will be a wonderful time. Most everyone looks fondly back at their college years; the friends they made and all of the fun they had. Yet it is also one of the most stressful times. For most, it’s the first taste of independence, and a huge increase in your personal responsibility. Here are some tips for making this transition easier.

Know what to pack and what not to pack

Every school will provide you with a list of recommended items to bring to the dorm. They will also provide you with restricted items that you should not bring with you. Most of these items are common sense, but these lists can be useful. Keep them with you when you are shopping. These lists are not all-inclusive however. Other items you may consider bringing:

  • A sleep mask and earplugs – your roommate may be on a different schedule than you!
  • An external hard drive – your list will probably include a laptop, but backing up your schoolwork is a good idea.
  • Power strips – it’s always good to have a surge protector to plug your electronics into.
  • A basic tool kit
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Shower shoes

The important thing to remember is that dorms are small. You won’t have much room for stuff, so the more you can limit and still be prepared and comfortable, the better off you will be.

Having a Roommate

Some of you may already know your future roommate but many of you will not. Much of the time, you will have a positive experience with your roommate. This person may well end up being a friend for life. However, you are living with another human being, and will undoubtedly have different preferences habits and personalities. The best way to start your relationship off in a positive way is to set ground rules and expectations with each other. It’s a good time to begin thinking about what is important to you when living with someone and how you plan to balance your school work and social life. When you get to the dorm and meet your roommate, discus those items and come up with a set of “rules for the dorm” that is acceptable for both of you.

Finally, be prepared for the unexpected

Your first few months at college will likely be a bit chaotic while you acclimate to a new schedule, learn your way around, get used to the rigorous academic requirements, and get to know your fellow students. Likely, things will not always go as expected, or as you would like them to. Be prepared to be flexible and patient. Bring some extra spending money to purchase the inevitable few things that you either forgot, or didn’t know you needed.