Make the Most of Summer College Visits

For students entering their senior year of high school or current college students considering a transfer, there’s no better way to determine whether a college or university is the right fit than a college visit. Summer is a great time to make those journeys, when campuses are less chaotic and the demands of the school year are on hold.

Take an Official Tour

Most schools offer scheduled tours to prospective students, and this is typically a great starting point to begin getting a feel for an unfamiliar campus. Tours are often in groups, but may be private depending on the school and your timing. A tour is an efficient way to gather a lot of general information and gain access to buildings such as dorms and classrooms that you might not be able to reach on your own.

Satisfy Your Curiosity

Scheduled tours are designed to answer the needs of the general student population, but they don’t necessarily give all the information you need for your chosen field of study or any special considerations or interests. Make plans to meet with an academic advisor in your chosen field, schedule time with a student life representative or simply grab a campus map and seek out the areas that most interest you.

Explore the City

While academics are the obvious heart of a college tour, not every waking moment will be spent on campus. It’s a good idea to get a feel for the community you could soon be calling home. Check out the attractions, sample the local culinary scene and figure out whether the lifestyle that city can offer fits with your vision for your college experience.

If you’re considering several campuses, a centrally-located hotel like The Study at University City in Philadelphia could be a great temporary home basis while you explore. It’s located at the crossroads of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, and it’s in close proximity to Temple University, St Joseph’s University and La Salle University. The hotel’s College Package Tour includes a dedicated travel agent, or there are other special packages to make the most of your stay in Philly. Learn more at thestudyatuniversitycity.com/packages.

Take Time to Talk

Although the student population is lighter in the summer months, you’re still likely to find plenty of students milling around, especially in common areas like the student union. Strike up a conversation. Ask what they wished they had known before coming to school and any other questions you might have.

Make Your Interest Official

Unless there’s something that absolutely convinces you it’s not the right school for you, you should always wrap up a college visit with a stop at the admissions office to get your application underway. You can narrow your final selection later, but an early and enthusiastic application is a good way to up your odds for acceptance.

Remember that while getting accepted is an essential step toward the college experience you desire, first you get to decide which schools make the cut in your book. Make your college visits count so you can choose confidently. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Study Hotels

Paving the Way to College: 4 Things Parents Need to Know

Senior year: It’s a time to finish college applications, solidify friendships and look forward to the freedom and the responsibility that come once that final bell rings. A lot of feelings surface during that final year, especially for parents. While your son or daughter might be overjoyed to finally fly the coop and live independently, you’ll probably be dealing with your own mix of emotions, and you’ll want to be sure they’re ready to begin college in the fall.

For families with a child headed to college, senior year is best thought of as a transition year. Plan ahead to make sure your family stays on track.

To help you and your child with a successful transition, here’s the essential list of landmarks on the road that will take your child from a senior in high school to a freshman in college.

1. Apply yourself in the fall

The journey to college begins early, and by the fall of senior year in high school, your child should be in full transition mode. They should be finishing campus visits and finalizing the list of colleges where they want to apply. Make sure they’ve spoken with admission counselors, thoroughly researched schools they’re interested in and have everything they need to complete their college applications.

Keep tabs on important deadlines and stay organized to avoid missing any critical due dates. For example, will they want to apply early decision or early action? If so, make sure you have weighed how this could impact your financial plan for college.

2. Focus on financial aid from the start

For many parents, one of the biggest anxieties around college is the cost. Don’t forget that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on Oct. 1, and some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure you submit the form as soon as it’s available.

Because everyone has different needs, figuring out how to finance your child’s education requires some research.

At College Ave Student Loans, you can find private loan options for parents and students. Even if you’re not ready to take a loan out yet, parents and students can try out the fast and easy pre-qualification tools to find out if their credit pre-qualifies for a loan, and what interest rates they could expect, all without impacting their credit scores. Calculators are also available to help you explore your options and see how you can customize the loan payments to fit your budget.

3. Spring time is decision time

Early in the spring, your child will start to receive their first acceptance letters. Once they’ve heard from all of the schools where they applied, they’ll have a big decision to make.

They need to do more than just decide which school to attend; they’ll also need to send in a deposit, complete their housing form and accept financial aid packages.

A crucial step in this process is comparing award letters from the colleges where your child has been accepted. In reading these letters, pay close attention to how schools list the total costs. For instance, some schools will subtract the awarded loan amount from the total cost of attendance, while others will not. This could make the net cost of some schools appear less than others when in reality they are not, so take your time reading the documents.

4. Tie up everything in the summer

Before they head to campus, you and your children should create a budget to keep tabs on college bills. This will help you to stay on track financially and set the right expectations about how they need to manage their money.

You can help your soon-to-be freshman by working with them to outline a monthly budget that will take into account expected and unexpected expenses. Take a look at their financial aid packages and any income they might be earning and block out the monthly mandatory expenses. Then decide how much money they can spend on things like entertainment.

If you find that scholarships, grants and federal aid don’t cover everything, private loans could be one solution for some college-bound students.

For parents and students, senior year is an exciting period. Knowing what steps to take and staying ahead of financial matters with useful tools like the ones at College Ave Student Loans can help make the transition easier for everyone. (BPT)

Higher Education, Higher Expense: Budgeting Tips for College Students and Their Parents

High school graduation should be a time of celebration. But for a lot of families, it can also be a source of stress. College is a big step into the future for any student – and it comes with a hefty price tag.

According to a 2015 survey, the top-ranking financial worry for parents with children under the age of 18 was paying for college. The study found that budgeting for higher education costs was the chief concern for 73 percent of applicable parents. The same study found that financial concerns around budgeting for college were even prevalent in higher-income households. Sixty-one percent of homes earning $100,000 or more a year expressed concern.

When you look at the costs of tuition today, it’s easy to see the cause for concern. So what can you and your family do to make college more affordable for everyone? Start by following these tips.

Seek out grants

To help ease the burden of college expenses, it’s a good idea to apply for as many grants as possible. Grants come from multiple sources including the government, organizations and even some private companies or estates.

A grant is basically funds awarded by one entity for a specific purpose. College grants are one of the most common and there are several online resources you can use to search for grants. Start with grants.gov and expand your search from there. You never know what you will find.

Keep a close eye on your budget

The 70-20-10 rule makes for a helpful guideline when saving for college. Under this rule, 70 percent of your money is allocated for living expenses — such as the mortgage, food, clothing and gas — 20 percent goes into savings and 10 percent is allotted for debt. Set up your own model and set aside a set percentage of your savings to be allotted for college (say 5 to 10 percent) and try to hold true to these numbers as much as possible to support your total savings and budgeting goals. Vanderbilt’s 2017 Home Loan Guide includes an excellent article on budgeting, along with an interactive budgeting sheet to help calculate your expenses.

“Budgeting is a roadmap to financial success built around your personal income and expenses,” said Eric Hamilton, President of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. “Whether you’re saving for your first home or a college education, the importance of building and following a budget plan cannot be understated.”

College tuition is one of the largest expenses most people will incur in their lifetime – until they purchase their first home. So for parents who are helping with their child’s college expenses, shouldering both can be difficult to manage. If you find yourself in a difficult situation concerning your mortgage payments, be sure to contact your mortgage loan provider to see what programs they may be able to offer to help keep payments on track. But the best defense is a good offense. Planning ahead and putting aside funds for college tuition will help reduce or eliminate any impact paying tuition may have on your financial stability.

Work together

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an entire family to send them to college, so work together as you save for this goal. Educate your student on how to save, both for college and in life. If they already have a part-time job, set tangible goals for their savings — as you have done for yourself. For example, estimate the cost of books for the first year and work with your student to set a monthly savings goal that will help them achieve that number.

This will relieve some of your financial burden and ensure your student has a vested stake in their entire college experience.

Start saving today

There’s no time like the present to start building a college savings fund. With careful planning and a little teamwork, you all can emerge on graduation day with degree in hand without a mountain of debt.

College Board® is the registered trademark of the College Entrance Examination Board Nonprofit Membership Association, which is not affiliated with and does not endorse Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. (BPT)  - Sponsored ad content by Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc.

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Setting Up for School Success

It’s that time of year again when college students everywhere begin to shift gears from summer fun to study mode. Every school year is an opportunity to start fresh, make new friends and, most importantly, learn in and outside the classroom.

Pop icon and entrepreneur MC Hammer gave the commencement speech at his son’s high school graduation, offering tips for the class of 2016 as they embark on their next phase –college. Hammer shares his three foundations for college and beyond:

Space: Whether in a dorm room or an apartment, don’t let small, shared quarters cramp your style. Create an inspirational yet efficient space ideal for studying and relaxing.

  • Allow your environment to move you. Hammer has always found that the best work comes from a space that inspires you. Transform your dorm space with photos, quotes and posters that spark creativity and spur focus. If your dorm is full of distractions, find quiet and concentration in the library or local coffee shop.
  • Don’t lose your deposit. “Nailing it” is great when acing a test, but not when it comes to hanging things in your dorm room. Put down the hammer and create a space that inspires you by using damage-free Command Brand products – they won’t leave nail holes in your walls when it’s time to move out.

People: College is about creating lifelong friendships and starting a professional network. Surround yourself with good people and value those relationships above all else.

  • Remember and use names. Remembering names can be hard, especially when you are consistently meeting new people – professors, RAs, study groups and friends. Make a conscious decision to associate new people you meet with their names. Try repeating the name in your head or associating the person with a story to help you remember it.
  • Get involved. Join a club, play an intramural sport or volunteer with a local charity. By seeking out activities, you give yourself a chance to learn outside of the classroom while also building your resume.

Passions: Never lose your appetite to know more, learn more or do more.

  • Read. Read everything, including publications that discuss business, politics, education, science, culture – the more you know, the more successful you’ll be. By diversifying your reading materials, you may unearth new passions you never knew existed.
  • Learn that opposites often attract. Some of the most confident and successful people are skilled in a variety of subjects that seemingly don’t match – like music and artificial intelligence. You’ll be surprised by how you can pair your knowledge and interests together to create something unique and marketable.

Get more back to college tips from MC Hammer at Command.com/DoNoHarm.

3 Tips to Land a Job After College

America’s unemployment rate recently hit its lowest level in seven years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, that’s just in time for 2.8 million graduates with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees to enter the workforce.

However, a college degree does not always lead to gainful employment. Millennials make up 40 percent of the unemployed in the United States, according to Anthony Carnavale, a director and research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative students select a college or university with the resources to land them a job. While it is important to consider proximity, cost, accreditation and atmosphere, you also want to keep the end goal in mind – a career.

So what else should you look at when researching a school?

1. Make meaningful industry connections. It’s all about connections in today’s job hunts, and it’s likely the same will be true for the class of 2020 and beyond. In fact, 80 percent of jobs aren’t advertised according to Steven Rothberg, founder of CollegeRecruiter.com.

A search on a university’s LinkedIn page will reveal the cities, companies and industries in which alumni work. Access to a strong alumni network will help prepare students for a career by opening doors to internships and jobs.

A network of trusted and connected professors is equally as important as a network of successful alumni. During the campus visit, students should ask about the faculty’s experience and reputation and make introductions early.

2. Gain real world experience. Today’s employers are on the lookout for students who have found their niche and demonstrated leadership skills in real-world scenarios.

For example, students thinking about a career in engineering should look for schools with programs like EcoCAR 3, a premier collegiate competition grooming the next generation of advanced engineers trained across disciplines — from engineering to marketing. Public relations majors can participate in the Bateman Case Study Competition, where college teams create and implement a full public relations campaign to raise awareness on a selected topic. The National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition offers students interested in information assurance or computer security the opportunity to defend a commercial network against common outside threats.

“More and more we’re seeing today’s top companies request students from our program because they’ve gained the hands-on experience that the classroom doesn’t offer,” says Kristen De La Rosa, EcoCAR 3 program director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. “We give students the opportunity gain access to millions of dollars of cutting-edge technology and top industry experts to solve complex engineering and marketing challenges. For this reason, almost 100 percent of our participants land a job immediately after graduation.”

3. Position yourself close to the action. While a beautiful campus is nice to look at, that alone isn’t enough to justify years of time and money. It helps to be close to an industry hot-spot where internship and volunteer opportunities are plentiful and easy to access.

Studying near industry hubs will help students gain access to mentors, networking events and international conferences, furthering their competitive advantage and adding value to their degree.

Tech-savvy students who dream of launching the next big start-up should position themselves near the action in Silicon Valley, Boston or Austin. For those looking to create the next head-turning design it is best to study fashion and design in New York City or Los Angeles.

Physical proximity to an industry, participation in extracurricular activities and third-party recommendations can help make a student’s dream career a reality. Parents and high schoolers should keep these tips in mind throughout the college application process to make the most of college and hopefully land that first job.