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Posted April 23, 2016 by

Financial aid secrets for college students

Financial aid web browser sign concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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With graduation season looming, high school seniors throughout the country are receiving their college acceptance letters and celebrating their impending sense of freedom. At the same time, parents are studying financial aid options and scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pay for the upcoming four (or more) years.

As the costs of attending college rise, it’s important to consider scholarships, grants, and student loans to assist with the hefty fees. There are also some innovative tricks that can help reduce this cost. Here are some insights gleaned from real university financial aid employees, parents, and former college students all high school seniors and their families should know.

Use your FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important financial aid document college students shouldn’t skip. Even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for any money, it’s important to fill this form out annually. This is how the federal government and schools determine what type of aid to give students. There are many subtle things that can impact the grants offered, many of which are unknown to the average person, and may change the amount a family qualifies for.

Attend class

Many universities have strict attendance and truancy policies to prevent abuse of the grants offered. If a student withdraws from a class due to non-attendance in the first few classes or consistent unexplained absences, their course load may drop below the mandatory credits needed to qualify for certain grants. If you have a scholarship or grant already, make sure you know the terms and what’s expected from your end.

Become a Resident Advisor (RA)

Aside from tuition, room and board are the most expensive costs incurred during college. With the average college student paying $8,535 a year just for a place to stay, it makes sense to try to skimp on this fee. Students who work as a Resident Advisor often wind up with free or significantly reduced room and board in exchange for their services, making this one of the most lucrative student jobs available.

Learn to cook

While Top Ramen may be students best friend those first few months, anything prepared at home is bound to be more affordable than college meal plans and eating out at restaurants. Even if a student’s cooking skills need some brushing up, this is one of the easiest ways to save money. Don’t be afraid of the kitchen.

Find freebies

So much of an average college student’s budget is spent on personal expenses, which often includes entertainment. Seek free options available through the university instead. Campuses are loaded with free amenities, from swimming pools and libraries to dorm dinners, guest lecture speakers, and student clubs.

Join a credit union

Since credit unions are run as cooperatives, they can afford giving customers extra perks that wind up saving them a lot of money. They typically feature lower credit card interest rates, higher interest rates paid out on savings accounts, and reduced-fee ATMs and online banking services.

While the term “starving student” has origins in truth, it doesn’t need to be a reality for all. Instead, research financial aid opportunities and spend wisely to save money and stick to a good budget throughout your academic career.

If you’re interested in more information on financial aid, please visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information on first time budgeting, see what a Bountiful Utah Credit Union might recommend. Brooke is available via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Posted February 13, 2016 by

Balancing academics and work as a college student

Photo of Anthony Taylor

Anthony Taylor, guest writer

Students go off to college, but it’s not the rosy life they see in the movies. There are bills to pay, tuition to afford, books to buy, and honestly, balancing finances at a young age is hard. Studying in college and concentrating on getting good grades is tough enough without throwing in a job into the mix. But the money has to flow in to either support the family or to support getting an education. Whatever the reason, here are a few tips to help college students juggle their working and studying lives.

1. Find a job with flexible hours: Let’s face it; students are in college now. There will be coursework and assignments with tight deadlines, and studying should always be a priority. An education will serve as the building blocks for the future so students shouldn’t push it in the backburner. They should find jobs where they can easily accommodate their studies, too, so neither one suffers. These jobs could be within the college campus, as those kinds of jobs understand the balance between work and study, and they can help college students manage their homework.

2. Manage time wisely: With so much on the line, it is wise to have a good time management schedule. College students should know where they spend their time. Many successful people plan nearly each moment of their day to get the most out of their 24 hours. Many times we end up wasting time and not realizing it when we could be putting it to good use. Use lunch breaks to catch up on math homework, or grab a few hours of work during a long lunch break in college. Those few hours can add up during the week. Students need to keep checking in to see if they’re on track per their schedules to know they’re not overcommitting themselves or falling short of their goals. If students know they function better in the mornings, they should get evening jobs so they can do coursework or assignments when they’re fresh and vice versa.

3. Have family support: This goes without saying; without a support system, college students will find it very hard to adjust both lives alone. Students should inform their managers at work, friends, or family to support them in this decision, and help them both personally and professionally. This kind of support will help students infinitely when they feel the pressure is too much, or they need help with managing homework.

4. Know what they want: College students should choose jobs wisely if they can. Students should think about how what they do now could benefit them in the future. Remember, everything can be added to their portfolios. If working in a store, think of inventory – managing time and stock. All of this could and should be interpreted as work experience, and this could boost entry into the working world by gaining experience, references, professional growth, and of course, the money.

5. Be creative in getting homework done: By having a job, college students are effectively cutting down on their study hours. Students must be smart about juggling their time, and try listening to lectures while working. They should also keep their managers in the loop so they get that support system. This way, students can learn, revise, and perhaps even do homework during work hours, which don’t require much brain activity like sorting mail, etc.

6. Take a mental break: It is important to have some time out from studies. Always having studies/ homework on the mind will stress students out, especially if they know they can’t do it during work hours. Allow a study free zone while at work. Know there is nothing students can do about it, so they should give themselves permission to relax. Many times we block ourselves, and take on more stress over things we cannot control. Those moments students are not thinking about studies could benefit them in the long run. This way, they can approach their assignments with a fresh mind.

Smiling college students holding hands at graduation courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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7. Stay focused on the end goal: The end goal should be graduating. Many times, once students start working, they find it hard to stay focused on education. It becomes easy to forget about studies and think about short term benefits, such as getting paid. This spending power lets many people forget about graduating. College students must find ways to motivate themselves. Keep pictures of graduates at their ceremonies or photos of people who managed to reach the pinnacle of their careers to have an aim and a goal to reach.

8. Research on future courses: Students should find courses relevant to them and their future interests. Don’t choose a random course because friends are taking it, or because somebody else has a strong opinion about it. Students need to discover what they are passionate about and what they see themselves doing in the future. Doing some research on courses will help them achieve their future goals.

9. Be smart financially: Money can flow through college students’ fingers like water if they’re not careful. Keep track on spending and where the money has to be allocated. If there are bills to pay, keep that money aside, or pay off debts before doing anything else. This helps students become more financially independent. This not involves their weekly paycheck, but also their tuition. Most colleges have hefty fees so be sure to enroll in a program where there are future benefits. Don’t get a job and go into debt due to careless spending, as this will cause a downward spiral.

10. Be passionate: Happiness can only come from within. College students should be passionate about the courses they will be taking; passion will get them through tough times. If students truly do something they love, they will excel in it. Be happy at the workplace. Find a job that is mentally stimulating or has a good work team. This makes a huge difference in students’ mental health and happiness, and when they’re young and balancing their work and study lives, this is very important.

The balance for managing studies and work can be a fine line, and one that should be carefully monitored so college students don’t end up suffering by their decision to work. This has become a recent trend, as many young students have bills to pay, and this enables them to gain work experience while also getting homework help and inspiration from their coworkers or family.

Need more tips for college students, check out College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Anthony Taylor is a writer, student and editor on student’s writing website. He loves reading, writing motivational stories and spending the time with his family. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+ for more interesting stories.

Posted August 06, 2015 by

How a Medical Scribe Position Prepares You for Medical School

empty notebook with a pen on the table

Empty notebook with a pen on the table. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The decision to apply to medical school is not easy. Before students can even apply, they must complete rigorous coursework, volunteer or work in a clinical setting, score well on the MCAT exam, and more.

Then comes the more important part: actually getting accepted to medical school. Standing out among thousands of other applicants can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are opportunities for students interested in medical school or other healthcare careers that can enhance their resume or graduate school application. (more…)

Posted June 12, 2015 by

What Online Education Means in Today’s World

In the past, the only way to pursue higher education was by physically attending the classroom setting.  However, in the world we live in today, that is not the case.  Online education has afforded anyone and everyone the opportunity to pursue a college degree in their own time and their own space.  With people living very busy lives with work and family, online education offers a chance to have work/life balance.  So, what do the numbers say about online education, and how it can benefit you personally?  Find out in the following infographic. (more…)

Posted April 03, 2015 by

5 Ways to Ease the Transition from Community College to University

Illustration depicting a roadsign with a future concept. White background.

Illustration depicting a roadsign with a future concept. White background. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

In recent years, students and parents have increasingly found the lower tuition costs associated with community colleges to be a big draw. For many families, the cost of a four-year university simply isn’t feasible and many students are not willing or able to borrow the student loans needed to cover the costs. With that being said, eventually students do have to make the transition from community college to a university, should they decide to continue pursuing a bachelor’s degree. (more…)

Posted March 27, 2015 by

The Ultimate Guide to Paying for College Tuition

Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

Let’s be honest, college is expensive. Loans and scholarships enable more people to attend college than ever before, but the current economic climate is still an obstacle when it comes to covering the cost of college. With the U. S. economy in a state of recovery, credit is tightening and tuition costs are rising – leaving students to wonder how they can pay for college without going broke. (more…)

Posted March 23, 2015 by

Six Of The Quickest Ways To Move Into A Leadership Position With Your Career

Successful woman leading a business group and looking happy

Successful woman leading a business group and looking happy. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chances are when you begin a new job, you aren’t aspiring to stay in that same position forever. Indeed, you’re probably hoping that throughout your time with the company, you’ll gradually move up throughout the ranks. To help you make the process a bit more expedient, here are the six quickest ways to move into a leadership position in your career. (more…)

Posted January 14, 2015 by

New Year’s Resolutions for a Happier Career

Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey, Managing Editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge

The ball has dropped, the champagne dried up, and it’s time to follow through with the New Year’s resolution you made to your blurry reflection in the bathroom mirror.

If you’re like many people, that resolution has to do with moving forward in post-graduate education. However, you may be conflicted about just how (or even why) to do this. Graduate school is a tempting option when you feel in a rut career-wise, but splash some water on your face and consider: What are your reasons for looking at further academics? Is it in an attempt to prolong the golden years of your college life? And if you are already working on a track that you enjoy, will this mean putting your career on hold? Is it worth it? (more…)

Posted October 06, 2014 by

Is an MBA Necessary to Startup Your Tech Business?

If you have thought about running your own tech business without pursuing your MBA, it may not be out of the question.  There are some people you have probably heard of who’ve accomplished this task.  On the other hand, the more knowledge you get before attempting to start a company can only better prepare you.  Either way, here is an infographic to help you learn more about having your own startup. (more…)

Posted September 29, 2014 by

Need a Vocation? Information If You’re Considering Vocational School

If you are a high school or college student looking for an opportunity to learn a new skill that can lead to a career, then going to vocational school may be a good option for you.  The following infographic takes a look at the past and present of vocational education, the benefits it has to offer, and more. (more…)