tuition

The Good & The Bad in Grad [An Infographic]

Are you approaching graduation and thinking about going to grad school? Or maybe you’ve been out of school for several years and are contemplating a return, but you’re wondering if it’s worth it. This is a question that many soon-to-be, as well as current, college graduates are faced with on a daily basis. When taking into consideration the present state of the job market, more and more students are turning to higher education as a means of differentiating themselves and taking their careers to the next level. The decision to pursue grad school has also become a way of “buying” more time and avoiding the harsh realities of our slowly recovering economy.

Grad school, U.S. News & World Report

Click the image above to view the full infographic.

However, making the decision to go to graduate school is not as simple as one would hope. Students are forced to look into the inevitable financial burdens and intense time commitments associated with graduate level programs. Throughout this process students scour the web for trustworthy information on various programs and career paths to consider. One of the most credible sources they rely on is the U.S. News & World Report.

Each year they release a guidebook to the Best Grad Schools in the nation, but for the first time ever eCampus.com has decided to put a new spin on these rankings by creating an innovative visual in the form of an infographic. Using their findings on the top five professional fields (Business, Health & Medicine, Law, Engineering and Education), we’ve managed to take a large amount of useful information and condense it into a unique, easy to digest graphic. Our goal here, as with all of our infographics,  is to bring you a large amount of practical information in the fastest and easiest way possible.

This infographic provides some of the hard-to-swallow facts about graduate school, and whether or not the time and money spent obtaining that advanced degree will really yield the results many students are hopeful for. With “The Good and Bad in Grad” exposed, eCampus.com hopes this fun and helpful visual guides prospective grad students to make the right decision for their future. What are your thoughts? Is Grad school something you’ve been considering?

To access the full infographic, please click the image.

An Argument Against Gen-Eds

Recently in an English class, we were assigned to write an argument. I chose to argue General Education requirements. Because I have a lot of passion for this topic, and because I want a lot of you to read what I have to say, I chose to share some of my basic thoughts in this week’s blog. General Education requirements in college not only take up 2 years of your time in school, they also use up a lot of your money. College is an exciting time in most students’ lives. The strenuous schedule of required gen-ed courses can add unnecessary stress to this exciting time.  For the amount of money students pay, they should be able to choose what courses they take, what are universities doing with all of this money?  I will be focusing on a few main points including: The extra cost Gen-Eds create for students, why Gen-Eds aren’t necessary for students who have already decided a major, and the time wasted spending four years in college due to Gen-Ed courses. Allow me to begin with the extra cost Gen-Eds present for students wallets.

Just imagine if two years of school could be subtracted from your bills, we’d be saving so much money in the long run. To me, there is no sense in paying for two years of classes that have absolutely nothing to do with your major. I am currently enrolled in a theatre class and a music class. My major is broadcast journalism. Taking a theatre class when I have no interest in acting doesn’t make since to me, but it fulfills one of my gen-ed requirements. Although I have learned all about acting in this class, I will likely never pursue this field, or need any of this information. I’d rather enroll in broadcasting or journalism courses because they will actually aid me in my future career.

This brings me to my next point; Gen-Eds are unnecessary for students who have chosen a major. Many people argue that Gen-Eds create more well-rounded students. I argue that the fundamental stages in a person’s life are for becoming “well rounded”, college is for getting a degree and going to work. The overall goal of college is to gain a successful career. If a journalism major wanted to spend thousands of dollars taking art and music classes, they would have chosen to be an art or music major. Isn’t it better to be an expert on one skill than to be mediocre in many?   Focusing solely on one’s major as opposed to being distracted by gen-ed courses might help students to enter the workforce more prepared for their jobs.

Many people also believe that taking Gen-Ed courses is smart because students change their majors so often. My justification is that it wouldn’t matter if a student changed their major if they were only going to school for two years because they’d be so young, they’d technically have 2 years to spare. Because a bachelor’s degree would only require two years of school, most students could graduate by the time they were twenty years old. If a twenty year old were to change their major, they could attend two more years of school in their new major and still graduate at twenty-two. The point of a two-year bachelor degree program would be to give students who are sure on their major a head start on their chosen career.

My final reason for why Gen-Eds shouldn’t be required is that they are a waste of time. As I mentioned before, why spend four years in college when your actual major only takes two? If student could finish school in two years, (obviously this excludes doctors, lawyers, etc.) they could get two years of work under their belt.  That’s two years of making money instead of spending thousands on school. In another circumstance, if a student wanted to take a couple years after high school to work and save for college they would be able to without much set back.

I can see that Gen-Eds could be useful to students who don’t already know their major. Gen-Eds are a great source for students to explore different fields of study and to find out what interests them. Gen-Eds can also benefit students in their major later on by creating a foundation that’s easier to build on. While Gen-Eds do have their benefits, I find that the consequences of money and time outweigh those benefits. High school was a great foundation for college; I now want to move past high school and focus on my career. My hope is that enough of you will agree with me and that our numbers could make a difference. I’m assuming that all of you believe in and value higher education. I’m assuming that you all wish that you could save thousands of dollars and still achieve your bachelor’s degree. If my assumptions are correct, we need to stand together and make a change.

-Speedy G.

I’m reading Microsoft Office 2010

Ways to Help Pay for Your Semester Abroad

Your departure is approaching. It’s almost time to set off for your semester in a foreign country. The excitement is brewing, but there’s something nagging at you. Studying abroad is expensive! Besides tuition and room and board, there will be plenty of other expenses as you go around your new home for the semester. But don’t worry, you have options to help you pay your way through a foreign country without bankrupting you and your family.

While preparing for your semester, you should start off looking at financial aid options your school has to offer. The majority of colleges have special scholarships for students with certain majors or studying in particular countries. There’s also the basic financial aid scholarships based on merit and need, so poking around your college’s website is a must. If you’re going through a different study abroad  program not offered by your school, look around their website and call someone in charge. Asking the program managers is always the best place to start.

If none of the school’s scholarships are right for you or you don’t get enough aid from the school, there are other places you can look for help. A good way to help raise money for your extended trip is to do some fundraising. It may sound odd to do without a specific cause or charity other than yourself, but people strongly believe in getting a good education. Reach out to organizations you’re affiliated with, relatives who would be willing to help, and even your community. It might not be Race for the Cure, but you’d be surprised at how many people are able to pitch in. Keep in mind, this option is probably best for the outgoing, persuasive types—the situation will only be awkward if you feel incredibly uncomfortable in the first place and can’t present your case.

While you’re abroad, you can opt for a work-study option. Though this isn’t for everyone, there are lots of opportunities to secure an internship or work-study while you’re out of the nest. Check with your school for any opportunities with their university center abroad, if they have one. You can also work with the abroad center to look for opportunities with your major. Keep in mind if the place you’re going speaks a different language, having this type of opportunity will generally require your knowledge of the language; you might not need to be fluent, but you should be conversational at the least! Also, visas are generally needed as well to work overseas, so talk to your program and who you’re interested in working for to find out the specifics.

Taking out a loan is another option you can explore to help pay for your semester abroad. Again, your first step should be to talk to your school or people who have studied abroad before. They will be more than willing to help you prepare and they’ll surely have plenty of recommendations for you. There are lots of different organizations to go to when planning out your loan, like Sallie Mae, Study Abroad Loans and International Student Loans Center. With so many possibilities, it’s important for you to really talk with your parents and figure out what one works best for you and your financial needs. There’s a lot of information out there, so just take a deep breath and get ready to do some digging. It may be frustrating and overwhelming at first, but the pay off (literally) will be worth it.

Basically, the best way to find out ways to help pay for your study abroad experience and make the most of it is to just do your research and start as early as possible. Spend time working with the program managers at your school, and if you’re not going through your school, work with the program you are going with. Talk to friends or family members who have studied abroad before to get tips and tricks of the trade. Research loans and financial aid options your family thinks is best for you. Most importantly, never be afraid to ask for help!

Be safe, be smart and have fun!

-ToonyToon

I’m reading Goode’s World Atlas

Creative College Scholarships For Just About Anyone

There are many benefits of applying for scholarships and financial aid for school. First, and probably most important is the fact that college is expensive. Costs are on the rise and it is becoming more and more difficult to be able to finance schooling on your own. Scholarships can be a great way to shed some of the fee burden off of your higher education tab.

While I was researching this topic, I came across a few scholarships that I wish I had seen back in my final high school days. Looking back on it, with a little “googling” I could have potentially saved hundreds, even thousands, of dollars with creative scholarships.

Just a few years ago, scholarships were awarded primarily for academics, test scores and athletic ability. However, times have changed. You can now save the big bucks based on more than just your GPA and transcript—you are now encouraged to showcase your activities, hobbies and personality. There are scholarships out there just waiting to be awarded to those looking outside the beaten path! If something makes you unique, or you have a longtime hobby that is a little out of the ordinary, try searching for scholarships based around it. You will be surprised with what might pop up!

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few examples to kick that hamster wheel into gear.

There are scholarships awarded to students who have a bit of a “green thumb”. By paying close attention to the growing gains of going “Green”, students have the potential to win scholarships based on their initiative to get students involved. DoSomething.org will enter students into a drawing for a $500 scholarship just for referring their friends to their service programs and starting a club at their school. If you have the passion to give back to your community and it’s already apparent in your extracurricular activities—this scholarship could be perfect for you!

Now being a short girl, this next one wouldn’t quite apply to me, but it’s still fascinating and worth looking into! The Tall Clubs International Student Scholarship is awarded to students who are gifted in the height department. Students can win up to $1000 in scholarship money just for being “heads above the rest”!  For the ladies who are over 5”10, and the gentlemen who surpass 6”2, this one could be calling your name!

Avid fashion lovers and prom dress shoppers unite! This next scholarship stopped me dead in my tracks. In high school, prom was the event of the season. It didn’t matter who you were or what group you fit into—everyone went to prom. I spent weeks looking for the “perfect dress”. Ironically enough, I now look back at it and cringe. How in the world did I pick that?! I should have had fun and gotten creative. Maybe if I had seen this scholarship I would have! The Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest awards over $5000 each to a couple who makes amazing Duck Tape prom outfits!

These are just a few of the hundreds and hundreds of scholarships opportunities that exist in the depths of cyber space! Spend time searching for scholarships whether you’re in high school or already in college—there are scholarships made for anyone and everyone, you just have to find them! From surveys, to sprinkler safety, to vegetarian awareness, there are countless numbers of untapped scholarship resources just waiting to be uncovered! Scholarships help you save money during school and make it more affordable in the long run!

-Ring Queen

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

We have all been there, flipping through a friend’s Facebook pictures that were freshly uploaded from some glamorous city.  It isn’t just a few pictures of them on the beach in Cancun while you’re stuck in the snow over winter break, but this time around you have to deal with a whole semester of statuses and picture uploads of a friend studying abroad.  Ever think that person could be you?

There are a million and one reasons a person should pack up all of their things into two 50 pound bags and fly half way around the world.  Studying abroad is more than just exploiting a difference in alcohol legality and taking easier classes (although those reasons could be factored in…).  Studying abroad is so much more than you have heard from movies, television, even your friends.

Gain independence
Remember the day you packed all your stuff and moved to college?  Remember how that freedom felt?  Remember the first time you really felt on your own?  Imagine this scenario but taken to the next level.

New culture
A person experiences a new culture when studying abroad.  Let’s face it: college is the best time in your life, but it can put you into a four-year routine.  Studying abroad can help you relive that excitement of your freshman year of college.  It also breaks up those four years, giving you more motivation and something to look forward to at that halfway point.

Language
Everyone knows that those who speak more than one language have a better chance of getting hired in any field.  Going to a place whose first language is not English can do wonders for any resume.  Also, you would be surprised how quickly one can pick up a language when forced to use it everyday.  Believe me, it is easier than it seems.  If weary of the language barrier, a person always has Ireland, England, and Australia as options, plus you might end up coming back with one of those nice accents.

Complete relevant coursework towards your degree
One of the rumors about studying abroad is that you will fall behind and end up being a Super Senior.  This is untrue in the majority of cases.  To avoid this, studying abroad earlier on in your collegiate career will give you the most options of classes that will transfer.  In my case, I will be graduating early, partly because of my study abroad experiences.

Intern or volunteer with local organization
Every major is a competitive field in this economy.  Having international experience at any formal organization will give you that edge you need over the hundreds of thousands of people who want to be the same thing you do.   Having an international professional network can only help in our age of globalization.

Global understanding
Unfortunately, not many of us watch the news or stay updated on current events.  Through a study abroad experience, a person may not only end up interested in world news, more often than not, but they also will gain a global perspective.  This ties into gaining intercultural communication skills, which again is needed from here on out.

Problem-solving skills
In any form of travel, problems arise.  No studying abroad trip will go 100% smoothly.  This is actually a good thing because you will learn about yourself and how to deal with stressful situations and also improve those problem-solving skills.

Learning about yourself
Just as going to college gives you a “clean slate” and many people take the opportunity to “turn over a new leaf,” studying abroad is a personal growth journey.  As corny as that sounds, you truly do learn about yourself through a study abroad trip.  It is a maturing and life changing experience.

Top reasons not to go?

  1. Cost: Believe it or not, but depending on where you go, you could actually save money by studying abroad.  If traveling to most of Western Europe, this may not be the case.  Also, the plane ticket to Australia alone is pretty steep.  However, Ireland, anywhere in South America, or even different parts of the US and Canada are available and tend to be cheaper than a semester at your home school.  If looking to stay within the US, check out if your school participates in the National Student Exchange.  A semester in Hawaii or Alaska could be just the change you are looking for, and cost nothing more than a semester at your home school aside from the airfare!
  2. State of the world/Safety: As there are, and will forever be, places in the world that one should not go, many developed cities are no less safe than the developed cities we have in America.  Your study abroad advisor will be able to help you choose a location that fits your needs and wants and that is also safe.  Checking it out yourself does not hurt either.  Registering yourself into Travel.Safe.Gov and keeping updated on current world news could help achieve this.
  3. Boyfriend/Girlfriend: You may regret not studying abroad in college because of that relationship that ended up not going anywhere.  If in a true love, long-term relationship, talk to your partner about it.  Just remember, your passport will never break up with you.  It may get old, but then you can just get a new one pretty easily.
  4. Scared of being alone: You may be away from your friends and family, but you will only gain a new friend and a new support system.  Plus with Facetime, iChat, Skype, Oovoo, you can still stay in touch more than just snail mail (which was how the early travelers did it).  You can also come back home with new friendships with Americans who were also studying abroad.
  5. You just watched the movie Taken: This is a movie could be retitled to How Not to Conduct Oneself Abroad.  Sharing a cab, which tells a stranger where you live, then saying that you and your friend are home alone?  Not the best idea.  A person only is exposed to the catastrophes that happen abroad.  No one hears about the hundreds of thousands of students who study abroad each year from the United States.

Life, and college, is all about the decisions one makes.  Studying abroad could be one of those life-changing opportunities that can be beautifully exploited or regretfully glossed over.  You decide.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

-TravelBug

I’m reading Organic Chemistry