Ultimate Guide to College Grants and Scholarships for Minorities

January 14th, 2014

Scholarships and grants are a valuable tool for students who need funds to pay for college. These programs typically have criteria that consider your background and interests. One major category of gift awards is minority scholarships and grants. Minorities are groups that have historically faced societal disadvantages or challenges due to factors including: ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. Students whose backgrounds qualify them for these awards can access financial assistance that they don’t need to pay back. Like all scholarships, minority scholarships will usually have additional merit or need based criteria for selection. Minority scholarships are offered by colleges, private organizations and companies, and government agencies.

Hispanic and Latino

There are a large number of college scholarships available for Hispanic students. Many of these awards are aimed at helping provide equal opportunities for higher education as research has shown that financial barriers are the primary reason many Hispanic and Latino students don’t pursue post-secondary education. Scholarships aimed at Hispanic and Latino students typically have additional criteria including academic merit , civic activism and volunteerism , or demonstrating financial need. Some scholarships are only open to immigrant families while others are open to all students of Hispanic and Latino descent. While many programs require that students have U.S. citizenship, there are even scholarships for students regardless of documentation status .

African American

African American students can access a wide range of scholarships aimed at increasing diversity and helping African American students break down barriers in underrepresented fields. Some scholarships for African American students celebrate general academic achievement while others fund further education in STEM fields or other fields where African American students are underrepresented. Many of these programs are run by non-profit organizations committed to African American community development and advocacy. Groups like the UNCF and NAACP have a long history of helping African American students find funding to pursue higher education. There are many other private scholarships and university-funded scholarships available at both the local and national level, so be sure search databases and contact prospective colleges to learn more.

Native American

In addition to private and institutional scholarships, Native American students pursuing post-secondary education will have access to a large range of federal and local government scholarship funds available specifically for Native American students. Students will qualify for scholarships based on their course of study, tribal affiliation , community activism, and more. Native American Tribal Colleges and Universities also offer scholarships for students who choose to attend tribal schools. Native American students should carefully research not only Native American scholarships , but also general minority scholarships for specific fields of study or general academic achievement.

Women

Women are considered a minority group in that there is a gender gap in many fields of work and study. While some scholarships generally serve the advancement of women in higher education, most scholarships for women are geared toward creating advancement opportunities within STEM areas and other professional fields where women are under-represented. Scholarships for women are typically funded through private organizations or universities. Some women’s scholarships are specifically for minority women as these programs recognize the unique educational barriers faced by minority women. There are also scholarships targeting women who many not have had equal educational opportunities in the past, and are pursuing their college education later in life .

Persons with Disabilities

In addition to general minority scholarships, students with disabilities will also qualify for scholarships specifically for disabled students . There are scholarships for students with learning disabilities as well as physical and developmental disabilities. Some scholarships will also apply to students with disabled parents. State and federal government agencies can provide additional information on funding resources and general college assistance. Keep in mind that many schools also offer scholarships and grants for students with disabilities that can help them meet the cost of additional needs such as assistive equipment or aides, so be sure to contact your prospective schools for additional information.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)

Many schools and private organizations also recognize the challenges faced by students in the LBGT community. These scholarships serve both LBGT students and children of LGBT parents. Groups like PFLAG offer scholarships to LBGT students and LBGT community allies. These scholarships typically require a demonstration of commitment to service in the LBGT community. Other private foundations offer scholarships aimed at helping promising LBGT students with need-based assistance. Some programs help fill the gaps left by financial aid packages and parental contributions, while others offer merit-based awards. Many LBGT scholarships are offered at a local or regional level by private groups, so carefully research local opportunities. College and university LBGT resource centers can provide you with additional information on general and university-specific LBGT scholarship opportunities.

Carefully assess your background before dismissing the possibility of qualifying for minority scholarships. It can be helpful to discuss possibilities with your parents and college counselor. While some minority groups have well-known scholarship award programs, others may require additional research and outreach. Whether you’re a member of a highly visible minority group or have faced specific and unique challenges, you may qualify for a number of scholarships and grants targeted at underserved or underrepresented communities. There are even scholarships that are open to minority students from any underrepresented group. These scholarships are typically for specific courses of study or based on academic merit . Every scholarship counts so don’t be afraid to ask questions about qualifying for minority scholarships and grants.

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A Student’s Guide to Finding the Best College Scholarships

October 29th, 2013

Raising money for college can seem daunting with tuition, textbook fees, and living expenses to consider. Receiving scholarships and grants can make a big difference toward defraying the high cost of college. College financial aid packages typically don’t cover all costs and often include student loans. Applying for scholarships and grants takes time and patience, but has significant long-term benefits. These awards will help you pay for college without the financial burden created by student loans because unlike student loans, scholarships and grants don’t require repayment. Any funds you receive from these programs are considered gift aid. There are a wide range of scholarships and grants, including need-based awards, merit-based awards, and more. Here are a few simple ways to optimize your scholarship and grant search as you prepare for college:

Start Your Search Early

Starting your scholarship search as early as possible is a key factor in securing awards. There are thousands of scholarships and grants available to help students pay for college, but it’s up to you to find them. It is unlikely that a single grant or scholarship will fund all of your college expenses, but smaller awards can add up so it’s important to apply for as many awards as possible. Not only does researching awards take time, each scholarship has its own application requirements and deadline. Applications may require essays, financial documents, or letters of recommendation. In order to ensure that you have enough time to complete your application by the deadline, start your search early. Putting off your search may result in missing out on awards for your first year.

Ask Your College Counselor

Talking to your school’s college counselor should be your first step in the scholarship search. They can help you asses your situation to determine what types of awards you should target. While most scholarships are merit-based, grants tend to be need-based. Scholarships will typically be awarded by schools or private organizations and have achievement criteria like stellar grades, proven athletic abilities, or other specific skills. They also may require you maintain a certain college GPA or course load. Grants, however, are usually determined by your family’s financial circumstances. Your eligibility will depend on details unique to you and your college plans. You may qualify for grants and scholarships depending on your state of residence, school of choice, or even college major and career plans. Your college counselor can help you evaluate your background for factors that will qualify you for certain merit or need-based scholarships. You may be eligible for scholarships based on criteria including: hobbies, volunteerism, organization membership, disabilities, ethnicity, and parents’ employer or military service. Your college counselor will be familiar with national and local scholarship programs, and can direct you toward legitimate resources to research additional programs. Once you have a game plan, your college counselor can also help you set a reasonable timeline for completing your FAFSA, writing personal statements, and requesting letters of recommendation or materials required by many scholarship applications.

Search Online for Grants from State and Federal Agencies

In addition to private scholarships and grants, state and federal government agencies also offer college grants. Some government grants are automatically determined by your completed FAFSA results. For example, the Federal government offers Pell Grants to all undergraduate students from qualifying low-income families. This is the largest need-based grant resource available. The Federal government also offers a few specialized grants to students who meet very specific eligibility criteria. The FAFSA is used to determined eligibility for these grants as well. State governments also offer grants, but the amount and qualifying criteria vary by state. Many states offer grants to students who attend in-state colleges and meet certain financial need or merit-based criteria.

Research local businesses, organizations, and religious groups

Don’t forget to consider local resources when searching for outside scholarships. Many local businesses, civic groups, social organizations, and religious groups offer college scholarships. While these scholarships usually aren’t listed in scholarship search guides, they are an invaluable resource for students. Unlike national or even state scholarships, there is much less competition for local awards and you may have an existing affiliation or connection to the awarding community group. Your college counselor or guidance counselor may have some information on established local scholarships. The public library is another excellent resource for researching local scholarships. They may have a local scholarship resource guide, or even simply directories of local businesses and groups you can contact. Don’t be afraid to ask around as you never know which of you or your family’s community ties may lead to a scholarship.

Here are a few resources to help you learn more about effectively finding scholarships and grants for college:

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The High School Drop-Out Epidemic vs Benefits of College Education

March 24th, 2013

Skipping School. Dropping out of high school can make it harder to find a job, to achieve your dreams or to just get by. Currently, one student out of four is dropping out before they graduate from college. In the United States, this adds up to more than a million students each year. The effects will follow these students throughout their lives. The unemployment rate is usually higher for high school dropouts than it is for people who have graduated from high school or college. High school dropouts will face challenges when it comes to providing the basic necessities for their families. It is important to take steps to reduce the drop out rate throughout the United States.

According to high school drop out statistics, people who drop out of high school can expect to earn only about $20,000 a year, which is $10,000 less than high school graduates. One of the most upsetting high school drop out facts is that the high school dropouts have a 63% higher chance of ending up in jail. Another one of the effects of dropping out of high school is that the poverty rate is twice as high as compared to college graduates. Often high school dropouts have a harder time finding jobs with good benefits such as medical insurance or retirement plans.

There are many benefits of college education. It opens more job opportunities in a wide variety of fields. The earnings for college graduates average out to be $36,000 more per year. That amount can add up significantly over the years. In addition to the increased earnings for college graduates, people who graduate from college are less likely to need government assistance. Another one of the benefits of college education is that it can stop the poverty cycle. If you graduate from college, you children are more likely to attend college. It is one of the best ways to fight the dropout cycle. The pay increase for each degree you achieve, and you can increase your earning power by continuing on after receiving your bachelor’s degree. The benefits of a college education in finding a job and increasing your salary should make attending college a priority.

With the discouraging high school drop out statistics, it is important that the country works together to fight the epidemic. There are schools called dropout factories where the graduation rate is lower than sixty percent. Special programs can be implemented in these schools with mentors and solutions to help the students at these schools find a stable environment that will allow them to continue to attend school and move on to college. The high school drop out facts can be very discouraging, but helping even one person break the cycle can help his entire family move onto better things. The effects of dropping out of high school will last for the rest of his life, and finding ways to help the students to graduate can make a big difference.

Each person can make a difference in the drop out rate, whether or not you are in the field of education. One way is to volunteer as a mentor for high school students in your community. People can support the high school students they come in contact with through work or extended family and encourage them to stay in school. The high school drop out epidemic can be fixed, but it will take more than just looking at the system. Often many problems lead up to a student’s choice to drop out. While improving the education system can help, people will need to look at solutions that can provide stability to each student that is at risk of dropping out of school.

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The Verdict on Saving for Law School

March 15th, 2013

Gavel. While law school certainly is regarded as a prestigious preparation for an impressive career, it comes with a hefty price tag attached. To put it in perspective, the average cost of attending law school can be between $45,000 to approximately $60,000 per year, or even more for the top colleges. Most law programs usually last for three years. Apart from the core tuition expenses, potential applicants also need to consider the costs of books and educational materials, transportation, meals, and housing. Consider it from another angle. Assuming that a law student graduates and immediately gets a full time job, if they put their entire salary towards paying school debts, it would take three to four years. When applying to law school, it is crucial to consider all the aspects and first decide whether law school really is for you. Those who are indeed committed to entering the law profession can finance their education in several different ways, including scholarships and other types of financial aid.

After accepting an offer from a law school, it is helpful first to meet with a counselor at their financial aid department. These counselors will discuss all the possible types of financial aid in further detail and help students to find the best options for their economic situation. The best way to finance a law education is to try to do it while incurring the least amount of debt as possible. Debt comes with interest, which essentially increases the education costs. The first resource for financial aid is to look within the institution itself. Law schools typically offer a host of scholarships and grants for students who meet certain criteria. This can include high grades, volunteer participation, race or ethnicity, financial status, and more. Research these in detail and apply for all that you might be eligible for. Another source of financial aid is local or even national companies and organizations. For example, check for grants offered by law associations, cultural groups, or organizations related to law education for young people. Students should also discuss their financing options with their parents. Some companies offer scholarships and other types of education financial aid for their employees’ children. If this is available, it can help the student to offset a portion of their tuition fees. Some parents may also choose to help their children by paying a portion of the school fees. Many students also opt to take financial aid from the government in the form of a loan. However, keep in mind that this results in a high level of interest, which only adds to the already high level of debt.

Working while going to school is an option that is viable but should be considered carefully. Law school usually involves an average of thirteen hours of classes each week. Factor in time for studying, research, and working on assignments, and it adds up to approximately 50 to 60 hours each week that are dedicated to education. Those who can still find some time to work can do so if it does not affect their grades negatively. Typical student jobs involve bartending, restaurant work, lifeguarding, and babysitting. Try to find other jobs based on campus so that it is easier to go to work after classes. This might include working at the gym or library or becoming a teaching assistant. An alternative is to work full time during the summer months, so that the school year can be dedicated to only study. If none of these options are appealing, a work-study program might fit the bill. In this scenario, students spend part of the academic year in classes, and the rest working in a career-related position at a company. They are paid and may also receive school credit for the work that they do, since it is akin to on-the-job learning.

Although law students often struggle under the strain of the education costs, the burden can be less with enough advance planning and saving. Students who are committed to working in a law career will find that the extra time and effort certainly do pay off in the long run. Make sure to thoroughly research all of the available options before deciding on a financial aid plan.

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The Ultimate Guide to Internships

March 12th, 2013

Student Intern. For many people, an internship is their first experience in a real job related to their studies or future careers. Even so, it is vital to make a good impression on the interviewer and the company in order to land the job. To do this the applicant has to be well prepared and know how to present themselves well at the interview. Even afterwards, following up correctly can help to tip the scales in their favor.

Before preparing for an internship or the interview, it is necessary to find some to apply to. The most reliable method is to check for internship opportunities advertised through university or college career departments. Companies also often post listings on job websites, their own sites, or even on their social media accounts. In some cases potential applicants create their own customized internship by presenting a proposal to the company. Internships can essentially be broken down into two main categories: paid and unpaid. Unfortunately many companies view internships as free labor and attempt to pass off mundane grunt work to their interns. Keep in mind that the point of an internship is to gain valuable work experience, industry knowledge, and make contacts. Reputable companies often do make it a point to pay their interns fairly, even if the wage is lower than that of regular employees. When looking at unpaid internships, try to find some that offer fair compensation in other ways. For example, gaining university credit in exchange for degree-related work experience is an acceptable compromise.

For most applicants, the first step of contact with an interviewer is through a resume and cover letter. Since these documents act as a written introduction, it is important to ensure that they are well crafted and polished. There are plenty of online tutorials, resources and guides on how to write a creative, impactful cover letter and resume. Pay attention to the requirements specified by the job poster. They may also ask for a reference letter, work portfolio, or other items to give a better-rounded picture of yourself. When a company calls back requesting an interview, there is a good deal of preparation to do in advance. For starters, do some research on the company including their mission, recent developments and products or services. Learn as much as possible about the position itself and what types of tasks are involved. It is fairly easy to research people online too, so find out some information about the interviewer. If they have published articles or press releases, or been interviewed, it is easy to learn a bit about their opinions and concerns about the industry. The day before the interview, print out extra copies of the resume, reference letters, and portfolio.

Interview clothes should be business formal. Make sure that they fit well and are ironed. A general rule of dressing for an interview is to dress the way the company’s employees would appear for an important client meeting. This includes minimal accessories and proper grooming. Since some interviews may occur over the phone or by video conference, find a quiet place without any interruptions or distractions. It helps to run through a list of common interview questions in advance to mentally prepare answers. During the interview, take a second or two to consider each question and answer in a confident, straightforward manner. When in doubt, ask for clarification. At the end of the interview, it is acceptable to inquire about the next steps. Don’t forget to take a business card from the interview for follow-up purposes. Within a week after the interview it is polite to send a follow-up email note to the interviewer. In this brief message, the applicant should thank them for their time, and briefly reiterate their enthusiasm for working with the company.

Once an applicant is offered a job, it is still important to keep on making a good impression. Dress neatly and always be punctual. On slow days, ask the manager whether you might take on additional tasks. This helps to show that the intern is a conscientious hard worker. Once the internship is complete, always ask for a reference letter from the manager or boss. Get contact details of key people and stay in touch with them every once in a while. When completed successfully, an internship can be an excellent stepping stone to a full-time career.

The resources below elaborate further on the various points of internships and the application process.

  • Interview Follow-Ups – Learn how to write a succinct but well-crafted follow-up note.
  • Finding an Internship – Job seekers can find internships through listings as well as by networking.
  • Create Your Internship (PDF) – With some extra research and effort, people can create their own internships and pitch it to companies.
  • Internship Interviews – Review a list of questions that interviewers often ask potential interns.
  • Preparing for the Interview – Find out how to prepare for the interview, make a good impression, and follow up successfully.
  • Applying for an Internship – Browse resources on how to write resumes, cover letters, and other forms of business correspondence.
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What to Wear on College Interviews

March 5th, 2013

College Student. Preparing to get into college is one of the most exciting, yet stressful times in your educational life. But getting into the school of your dreams can sometimes be more impactful than actually attending class and passing that big exam. When you’re ready for the all-important college entrance interview there are a few important things to keep in mind. Of course you want to be prepared and having an idea of what to expect on the big day is part of the planning. Look for commonly asked questions in college interviews and then see if a friend or family member would be willing to do a few practice runs with you. Along with the advance planning includes making sure you’ve dressed appropriately for the interview, so that you leave a lasting impression that will help the interviewer remember your poise and professionalism. Making sure you look great will help you to feel more confident and will make a big impression on the college interviewer. Remember that most people always hang onto their first impression of you, so you’ll want to ensure that it is one they’ll recall in a positive way when it comes time to make acceptance decisions.

Dress to Impress

Your college interview should be very similar to that of a job interview in terms of dress. Wearing ironed slacks or dress pants is a good choice for young men. Be sure your shirt is tucked in, you wear a belt, and a tie is definitely a must. Make sure your colors are coordinated and you look polished and clean. A suit jacket is another great decision, even if it is hot outside. Or, you can opt for an entire suit that goes together as one outfit. For young women, a dress or skirt of appropriate length is a nice choice, but dress pants can also be a good option if they are tailored and look professional. Wear a color-coordinated blouse to go with the skirt or pants so that you look put together. It is definitely recommended that you wear pantyhose with any dresses or skirts and appropriate dress shoes. Adding a blazer is a great way to show you’re serious about the interview. You want to look professional and want to get that acceptance letter in the mail! Be sure to be positive throughout the interview. Sell yourself to the person you’re talking to and highlight your various achievements, goals, and express to them why you want to attend their school.

What Not to Wear

Of course, there are several “don’ts” when it comes to what to wear for the college interview. Blue jeans are definitely off the table. They present a more sloppy look and most interviewers will probably think you are not serious about the interview process. Shirts should stay tucked in; no one likes a sloppy, untucked shirt, especially under these circumstances. Tennis shoes are also out. You should wear nice, clean, and polished dress shoes. For women, heels are acceptable, but they should not be too high and should be modest. A great option would be flats, and you’ll stay more comfortable as well while walking across campus. Low cut shirts or dresses are not recommended and neither is too much makeup. Tank tops and spaghetti straps are also not a good idea. Remember, this is a very serious interview, not a night out with friends, so keep it simple! Make sure your hair is tidy and of course, that your teeth are brushed as well. T-shirts are another no-no when it comes to the college interview. Once you’re in, you will be able to wear whatever you please in class, unless there is a dress code.

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How to Ace that College Interview

January 18th, 2013

General Interview Tips

Getting into a good college often requires more than just good SAT scores and a high school degree. In fact, many universities across the United States ask applicants to submit more than just an application. Some require an entrance essay as well as an actual face-to-face interview. Just like a job interview, college interviews can be stressful, but there are some ways you can improve your chances of doing well and getting accepted. By understanding what to expect during the interview as well as how to prepare in advance, you’ll ace that interview without any problems and expect that acceptance letter to come in the mail! Admissions Office.

First Impressions Count

There are several things you can do to make sure you’re better prepared for the big day. First, think about what you plan to wear to the interview well in advance. Dress professionally, and make sure you dress appropriately. Don’t forget to groom your hair and brush your teeth so you’ll look clean and polished for the big day.

Show Enthusiasm

On the day of the interview, there are several things to keep in mind. When speaking, make sure that you are polite, articulate, and that you make eye contact. Try not to overuse words such as ‘like’ or other slang words, but instead try to speak as eloquently as possible. Be yourself, be honest, and of course, don’t forget to smile! Show the interviewer just how excited you are to become a part of the student body there. Your enthusiasm will definitely come through in the way you look, your body language, and of course your answers.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself as well! Ask the interviewer about campus life, what other students think of the programs you plan to participate in, and why they think the school is so excellent as well. Highlight your achievements, and tell them what you’ve done throughout your high school years including your grades and your favorite classes.

Common Questions

Here are a few examples of questions you might expect during the interview process:

Practice Makes Perfect

Preparation for your interview is definitely the key to being successful in your college endeavors. With a bit of practice in advance, you should be fine on the day of your admissions interview. Remember that your goal is to leave a positive, lasting impression on the person your interview with. Being yourself is definitely the best way to achieve this, but be sure you do so with tact and sincerity. Have a friend or family member use a few practice questions on you, so that you can better prepare to give a good answer. Have them critique your answers and your delivery, and then write down some things you can do to improve. After your interview, it’s always a good idea to send the college admissions officer a nice, personalized and handwritten thank you note. This will help to ensure that impression you gave lasts and that you appreciate them considering you being a part of their college.

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Scholarships for Hispanic Students

January 15th, 2013

Introduction Hispanic Student.

There are many scholarships available for students of an Hispanic background. Whether you are male or female or whatever your family background is, you qualify for many scholarships if you are Hispanic. There are prizes of all sizes out there, although many Hispanic scholarships are among the largest in the country.

What kind of scholarships go to Hispanic students? There are several different kinds, just as there are many kinds of scholarships in general. You will probably not be able to fund your entire education using only Hispanic scholarships, but you should be aware of the types and the process involved in applying for them. Each scholarship you apply to is a great opportunity to help fund your education and many are renewable for several years!

Most Hispanic scholarships are merit-based and competitive. This means that you must have either a history of academic success or a slate of off-campus accomplishments to qualify. However, other scholarships come in the form of essay contests. For these contests, you generally do not need any other qualification aside from plans to attend college and evidence of your Hispanic background. Subjects for the required essays generally revolve around your future plans, making the world a better place, or explaining what your heritage means to you. Naturally, you should try to cultivate a deep understanding of your roots to better communicate your ideas.

Finding Scholarships for Hispanic Students

There are thousands of different avenues for seeking out scholarships for Hispanic students. Many of these scholarships will easily be found within your own community. If you are in an area with a flourishing Hispanic population, reach out to local community groups that cater to the needs of Hispanic individuals. They may have scholarship funds or grants that you can qualify for, but it is not a guarantee that these scholarships are widely publicized. You may have to send letters, make phone calls, or visit organizations in person to find out about opportunities.

Scholarships are also available directly from universities. These scholarships frequently come in the form of a departmental scholarship sponsored by the faculty and students who study topics in Hispanic history or culture. If the university is well known for having many Hispanic alumni, then one of them may have made a donation that established a fund for Hispanic students. In either case, you will probably only qualify for these scholarships if you are planning to attend that specific institution, and sometimes it is expected that you will major in particular subjects.

Even if you do not live in a region with a large Hispanic population, there are also national organizations that you can apply to. These organizations are dedicated to fostering and recognizing the unique contributions that Hispanics have to offer; like the arts, sciences, and humanities. Scholarships provided by national organizations have a tendency to be much larger than those offered by local foundations. On the other hand, national organizations also attract more applicants than local ones, so you may need to put forth more time and effort into a successful application. This may also entail furnishing proof of your Hispanic heritage.

How to Qualify for a Competitive Scholarship for Hispanic Students

Although some scholarships will only require you to submit information about your skills, interests, and academic performance, most are more competitive. You should be prepared to answer a variety of personal questions that pertain to your fitness to receive a scholarly grant. Most of these scholarships require a “personal statement” that describes you, your aspirations, and what you plan to do in the future. You should practice writing similar statements at different lengths, because while a few scholarships might allow you to go to 1,000 words, many will demand a succinct statement of 500, 300, or even as little as 100 words. This allows the decision-makers behind the scholarship to accept and sort more applications.

Many organizations are interested in a personal “hook” or story that demonstrates your motivation for going to college. Think about your special skills, your relationship with your community, what kind of adversity or challenges you have overcome, and what you see yourself doing when you have reached your goal of a complete and debt-free college education. An interesting or inspiring story with some unusual element can be very compelling.

Want to learn more about scholarships for Hispanic students? Visit the links below.

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Effective Ways to Help Students Pay for College

January 10th, 2013

Let’s Begin College Savings.

Paying for college can seem like a daunting task. However, whether your family is affluent, middle class, or has limited means, there are many appropriate avenues for you to contribute to your own college finances. The more effort you put forth into finding your own college financial strategy, the easier it will be for you to minimize debts going into your post-graduation life. This will help you achieve your desired career trajectory more quickly and give you the chance to develop the lifestyle you would prefer to enjoy. Difficult as the task may seem, don’t give up! This article will provide you with many leads to help you pay for school. The objective here is for you to achieve your academic goals without having to go broke in the process!

Save Money

The first step toward any major purchase is to save money, and this is equally true when you are working toward preparing for college. The more hours of work you bank in your high school years, the more money you will be able to devote toward your college expenses. This not only gives you the opportunity to pay down tuition and textbook costs, but can also help you with luxuries such as an off-campus apartment, if you find that such an arrangement meets your needs. The jobs you will qualify for at this stage are anything but glamorous, but the cumulative effect will not only help your financial outlook, it will also prepare you for the hard work of college. You might consider getting a savings account or another interest-bearing bank account to help you. Confer with your local bank or an expert to find out what options are the most monetarily beneficial.

Federal Financial Aid

The federal government provides a variety of financial aid options. Most of these options are need-based, meaning that the level of aid you qualify for is based on your or your parents’ finances. Even if you do not feel that you will use federal financial aid, it is still a very good idea to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online. This application is typically due in April of every year, so it is important to get your taxes done in a timely manner if you are working. If you intend to continue receiving federal financial aid throughout your college years, you will be expected to fill out your FAFSA application and update it once each year. Remember, the more economical the school you choose, the less aid you will require in a given year.

Competitive Scholarships

Competitive scholarships are available that pertain to many different interests and skills. A large number of scholarships provide the opportunity to qualify for a cash prize in exchange for a good essay. These scholarships will give you the time to practice the writing skills that you will need to excel in college. Many of them are highly competitive, offering only a single cash prize among a pool of thousands of applicants. This means it will be necessary to scout out different scholarships and apply to several in order to have a higher chance of receiving a prize worth a few hundred or even thousand dollars. There are scholarships of this kind available for high school students and college students at every level.

Community Resources

There are even scholarship possibilities available in one’s local community. Some of these may be competitive essay scholarships, while others might be merit-based. “Merit-based” scholarships are awarded based on your current level of academic performance. Because fewer applicants have the opportunity to qualify for such scholarships, they can be a good fit for academically talented young people. To find local scholarships, check with organizations such as the nearest American Legion or Rotary Club. You can also check with local and national businesses that have locations in your area. Many major corporations operate charitable foundations that provide scholarship assistance on a competitive basis. If you plan to work while in college, your employer may offer you some type of tuition assistance. Inquire with your Human Resources department if you believe this to be the case.

All Things Considered

Financing your education can be a challenge, but you should never give up on your academic dreams because they seem difficult to reach. By taking concrete steps to achieve your goals, you will be more likely to find a combination of approaches that will help you pay for the college or university you wish to attend. The diligence, perseverance, critical thinking and hard work that you invest in this effort will serve you well when it comes time to reach your potential in your college classes. Financing your education, like graduating from college, is a marathon rather than a sprint. Set realistic goals, but aspire to do everything you can to pay for college without going into debt. The hard work you do now will be worth it in the future, and you are sure to benefit from it for years to come, no matter where your college adventure takes you.

Would you like to find out more about financial assistance programs? Click any of the links below.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid: This online application is required in order to qualify for most forms of federal financial aid. It gathers information on your financial background and your college plans, and should be updated by April each year.
  • Federal Student Aid Publications and Materials: This site serves as a central clearinghouse for federal government publications pertaining to financial aid. You can find information on a wide variety of federal programs by using this site.
  • The Fulbright Scholarship Program: Named after United States Senator J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright Scholarship Program is operated by the U.S. Department of State and is active in more than 155 countries. It offers approximately 8,000 grants per year.
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How to Form a Successful Study Group in College

January 8th, 2013

Study Group. Going to college and getting good grades is a challenge. The level of education you are receiving is much more advanced, more intensive, and more difficult than in high school. Often, professors give students assignments or papers due that can require a larger amount of studying. It can be hard to find the time to study, let alone do so effectively. A study group is an excellent way for students to come together and help brainstorm and learn as a group, which can increase classroom retention and productivity. In addition, study groups can help students form strong bonds and friendships.

Getting Started

If you are interested in starting your own study group, there are several important things to know before you do so. Ask fellow students if there is a group already formed, and if not, ask them if they’d be interested in starting one up. Remember, whether you have three people or twelve, any group is a study group, so don’t be discouraged if not all members of the class agree to participate. Once you have a few people who’d like to form the group, you will need to come up with a set day of the week and time to meet. You can meet once per week, several times per week, or on the weekends, depending on the agreed upon schedule. Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to attend every meeting, and that each person’s schedule will be different.

Staying Focused to Maximize Productivity

During the study group, it is important that everyone stay focused. The group is meant to be a time of learning where you can all share notes, ideas, and what you’ve learned, as well as help others who may be having a difficult time with certain aspects of the class. Ordering pizza or Chinese is fine, and it’s important to get to know one another, but during the study group period everyone should be on the same page and serious about the discussion. After study group, if you all want to get together and spend some time as friends separately, that’s fine, but all participants should be serious when it’s time to buckle down.

Shortcuts & Dealing With Deadlines

If you find that you’re having a hard time getting a group together, talk to your professor and ask if he or she would like to propose a group for everyone to be a part of. Often, teachers can have more influence on college students than their peers. See if they will help you ask the class about doing this, and you can even make some kind of flyer or handout if you choose to do so. During group, there are some tools you can use to help everyone learn more. Practice exam questions, flash cards, and just good old fashioned questions and answers with everyone in the group is an excellent way to become more effective. If there is a big paper due, have everyone bring their copies in before you turn them in and edit them. Each member of the group can exchange papers with another, and then critiques as well as praise can be doled out. This can go a long way towards getting a great grade on your paper.

Sorting Out Disagreements

If there happen to be any disagreements within your group, remember that you’re all working towards a common goal: passing the class and doing well. Be sure to discuss any concerns or problems openly with one another. You will be surprised at the bond you will all develop with one another over time. If a member of the group is having difficulties understanding certain things, work together as a team to try and help them out. Your contributions to each other are crucial when it comes to learning and understanding the contents of the class you’re taking. Week by week, you will notice improvements in your abilities, your knowledge, and the new things you learn. By the end of the course, you should all feel proud of your achievements as well as confident that you will get a passing grade. In addition, you will notice better note taking and listening skills as well as improvements on your writing abilities. Study groups can help you to become not only a better student, but a better person all around.

More Helpful Resources

For more information on college study groups and how you can create one, please refer to the following websites:

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