Make Your Next Four Years in College a Success

First-year college students are beginning to settle in. We wish you the best of luck on your college career. But, we also want you to be a wise scholar! Today, a college degree is not all that is needed for a successful future. You next four years in college should be a time of study and learning, but you should consider more.

Here is some advice for college students to use their time as best they can:
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For Parents and Students: Before Applying to College

Applying to college might seem like setting off on a big adventure, BUT applying to college takes a lot of work and thought. Often stress, indecision, and financial strains can cause rifts, even hurt feelings.

To avoid these typical problems parents and students experience the year or two before actually going off to college here are some helpful tips for negotiating and getting on the same page.
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Student Loans and the Recent College Grad

It’s six months after college graduation and what arrives? Yes, your Student loan statement. Most student loans have a six-month grace period before repayment must begin. Some even have a nine-month grace period. But, the inevitable always happens and your student loans come due. If you’re in shock, you are not alone. About 70% of college students (2015) graduate with student loan debt. So here are some steps to take to get settled as comfortably as possible into your repayment schedule.
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Scheduling College Classes

It’s almost the end of one college semester, but what about your next semester? Making a mistake scheduling your college classes can cost you money. If you don’t have all the classes you need, you might not graduate on time, meaning more tuition, more room, and more board.

Think about these things to schedule your classes well.
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Does It Have to be College?

We’re all about college here at, but we also know college is not for everybody, especially right after high school.

Instead of going to college, it might be better to find out about yourself and your interests. But how?

Here are some thoughts for you to explore:
Volunteer – Maybe you HAD to volunteer in high school and it was not all that rewarding. But, that was forced volunteering. What if you offered to help a group or organization that you have an interest in? You will be working with people and learning how to be collegial with person with shared interests. You may also gain a better understanding of problems facing people like poverty and inadequate education. You will be leaning about the community you work in and how to be part of a community.
Travel – Traveling can get you out of your rut. You will be able to see new perspectives, learn tolerance, and problem solve (missed flights, language barriers, etc.) You will be independent which will help you mature and find out what your own strengths and weaknesses are.
Start a business – It might be a card making idea, an idea for dog walking, a tech business like website design. You can listen to your creative side. You can also learn very practical skills like handling money. You will learn what it is to work for yourself and to work hard, and you will understand what it is to be committed to an idea.
Do an internship – Yes, this is possible, even without a degree. You could job shadow, find a mentor, make a connection. You can find out what it is like actually working in the kind of job you choose, and you will be able to network with people in the job force.
Self-educate – Reading is a great activity, whether it’s online or from books and journals. You are able, through committed reading, to study deep, concentrate on your own interests, and hone the skills in your area of interest. You never know where reading might take you. You might just learn about other things that offer you new opportunities.
• If none of the above seems to click with you, then just take time – You can work, live in a small apartment or share a place with friends, and take a community college course or a course online. This will give you time to make a good choice, to find out what interests you, and to see what college life might be like for you.

Isn’t not going to college a risk? Yes, it is. Everyone else is following the main road blindly. Why not go along? But, think of how taking a year or two might help you be even a better college student or usher you into a more authentic future. You will not be accumulating debt, you will be learning day-to-day skills, getting real life experiences, and, most importantly, learning about yourself and gaining self-confidence to make the right decisions about your life, just a bit later.

A Smart Approach to the College Essay

Essays! Essays! Essays! If you are applying to selective colleges, you know there is more than the one personal essay. There may also be the activities essay, the “why this college” essay, individual college prompts, and perhaps even the optional supplemental essay.

How can you get it all done? Here are some approaches.
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The Real Cost of College

Tuition, Room and Board, and your Financial Aid Package…’re trying to figure out how much money you and your parents will need for college. WAIT! It could be a lot more than these basic figures, as high as they are. It could be as much as $10,000 to $20,000 more over four years!

So, what are you missing? Some of the extras are in the fine print on the college website. Be sure to check that out.
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Trump’s Election and its Effects on Going to College

Every election has an impact on college students and their parents. What can be expected from a Trump presidency?

Short Term Effects
Until Trump takes office in January, 2017, the only effect from his election will be on college savings.
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What Should You Borrow for a College Education?

Not that much! Why? Isn’t it worth it? It may be worth it on the one hand, but it may also cause you too much debt to bear.

Ann Carrns of The New York Times writes that seven in ten college graduates have student loan debt. And, now student debt averages $30,000.

About one fifth of that debt consists of money owed to private lenders and/or state programs. And, some of those loans were taken out before federal loan caps were met.

So, how do you budget for a college education without too much student debt? Here are some practical suggestions.
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Simple Tips for a Better College Application Essay

The college essay seems to stop a lot of college applicants in their tracks. Why? Because no one knows quite how to write it and what the college want.

Here are some simple ways to think about the college application essay that might help you get it done.
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Here’s some Helpful Advice If You’ve Had a Bad Semester at College

Having a bad semester? Are you wondering if college is right for you or if you’ve chosen the wrong major?

Our first piece of advice is DO NOT PANIC! One bad semester does not mean a whole four years of a bad college experience. Rather, it’s a learning experience. You can go on to do better, and dealing with not-so-great grades will prove your resilience to future employers.

The first step in rebuilding your grades is to analyze what went wrong:
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