How to have a Student Budget-Friendly, but Still Rad, Spring Break

465103840There are few college students out there that don’t know the struggle of pinching pennies while still trying to have an active social life. With spring break approaching, striking that balance feels almost impossible, especially when all your friends seem to be talking about their upcoming extravagant getaways. If you still want to ring in the spring season and enjoy your extended break but don’t have the cash to go all out, we’ve got some ideas for making it work.

Stay Close and Travel by Bus
For most trips, the plane ticket is the most expensive part. Traveling to Cabo around spring break? Yeah, you and everybody else – and that demand is only going to drive costs way up. Try going somewhere closer by and taking the bus instead. Bus tickets cost only a couple of bucks and can take you pretty much wherever you want to go (within reason).

Crash with Friends
If you’ve been wanting to visit that one friend from high school who moved to Boston or have a cousin in New Orleans, see if they’ll put you up for a week. That way, you have lodging for the cost of taking them out to dinner or buying them a nice gift. Don’t have friends to visit? Get adventurous, try Couch Surfing. Bonus: you can have your host show you inexpensive things to do in the area.

Monitor your Meals
One of the best parts of travelling is the food, and of course, you want to have some nice meals. Try cutting it down to one per day or less. Restaurant portions are usually huge, so you can save some of your leftovers for a late night snack. Throughout the day, you can snack on granola bars or fruit – even stock up on some muffins from the hotel’s continental breakfast, if you’ve got access to that. Get creative and save your pennies for the meals that are worth it.

Go Camping
The obvious destination for spring break is the beach, but staying on a resort is extremely pricy. See if a group of your buds would be interested in camping near a river or lake – you can get the same outdoors experience without singing your life away to Sandals. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of beach towns that allow you to put up your tents and have fires right on the sand. It’s the best of both worlds.

Watch the Bar Tabs
Planning on going out every night of your vaca? That’s fine – but bar drinks are extremely pricey. Go in with your friends on some drinks to keep where you’re staying and have a few at home before going anywhere. You’ll save yourself tons of money over the course of your trip.

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35 Graphs That Will Change the Way You Look at Higher Education

1. Share of College Enrollees by Race/Ethnicity

1 - Share of College Enrollees by Race Ethnicity

Source: Imgur

 

2. Average IQ of Students by Gender Ratio

2 - Average IQ of Students by Gender Ratio

Source: Randal Olson

 

3. Percentage of Bachelor’s Degrees Conferred to Women, By Major

3 - Percentage of Bachelor's Degrees Conferred to Women, By Major

Source: Randal Olson

 

4. Where Are the Most International Students in the U.S.?

4 - Where Are the Most International Students

Source: Imgur

 

5. How Educated Are Today’s 27 Year Olds?

5 - How Educated Are Todays 27 Year Olds

Source: The Atlantic

 

6. Who Finishes College?

6 - Who Finishes College

Source: Washington Post

 

7. SAT vs. Graduation Rate – Public Vs. Private

7 - SATvsGraduation

Source: /r/DataIsBeautiful

 

8. Where Kids Go to College: State Area Proportional to Number of Students Attending College

8 - Where Kids Go to College

Source: Nefarious Plots

 

9. Average SAT Scores by Family Income

9 - Average SAT Scores by Family Income

Source: Imgur

 

10. College Textbook Prices vs. Consumer Prices

10 - College Textbook Prices vs. Consumer Prices

Source: Imgur

 

11. Median Earnings by Age and Education Level

11 - Median Earnings by Age and Education Level

Source: Imgur

 

12. Impossible To Work Your Way through College

12 - Impossible To Work Your Way through College

Source: Randal Olson

 

13. State Cut Higher Education Funding

13 - State Cut Higher Education Funding

Source: Imgur

 

14. State Funding Per Student

14 - State Funding Per Student

Source: Randal Olson

 

15. US Spending on Imprisoning Students vs. Educating People

15 - cost per inmate copy

Source: Mic

 

16. 20-year ROI from Going to College, by State

16 - 20-year ROI from Going to College, by State

Source: Imgur

 

17. 1500 Colleges Plotted by 30-Year ROI and Total Cost

17 - 1500 Colleges Plotted by 30-Year ROI and Total Cost

Source: Radio Open Source

 

18. ROI on College Compared to Alternative Investments

18 - ROI on College Compared to Alternative Investments

Source: Brookings.edu

 

19. Where Does Your College Tuition Go?

19 - where does your college tuition go

Source: Radio Open Source

 

20. Cost of Attending College

20 - Cost of Attending College

Source: Dadaviz

 

21. Who Is Receiving Financial Aid?

21 - Who is receiving financial aid 121 - Who is receiving financial aid 2

Source: Chegg

 

22. US Student Loan Debt Outstanding

22 - US Student Loan Debt Outstanding

Source: Dadaviz

 

23. College Degrees Award Per Capita

23 - College Degrees Award Per Capita

Source: Randal Olson

 

24. How Education Level Has Affected Annual Salary in Different Generations

24 - How Education Level Has Affected Salary

Source: Pew Social Trends

 

25. Annual Wage by Education

25 - Annual Wage by Education

Source: Fortune

 

26. Income Bracket Compositions by Education Attainment

26 - Income Bracket Compositions by Education Attainment

Source: Imgur

 

27. Taste In Music by SAT Score

27 - Taste In Music by SAT Score

Source: Labnol

 

28. How Professors Use Their Time

28 - How Professors Use Their Time

Source: Imgur

 

29. Where Apple, Google, and Facebook Get Their Recruits

29 - Where Apple, Google, and Facebook Get Their Recruits

Source: Imgur

 

30. Average Length of Dissertations by Major

30 - Average Length of Dissertations by Major

Source: Imgur

 

31. 4 Decades of College Degrees, In 1 Graph

31 - 4 Decades of College Degrees, In 1 Graph

Source: NPR

 

32. Most and Least Lucrative College Majors

32 - Most and Least Lucrative College Majors

Source: NPR

 

33. Annual Earnings by Undergraduate Major

33 - Annual Earnings by Undergraduate Major

Source: Dadaviz

 

34. What Happens When You Graduate and Get a Real Job

34 - What Happens When You Graduate and Get a Real Job

Source: Imgur

 

35. US Colleges Who Students have the Toughest Time Paying Back Loans

35 - Toughest Time Paying Back Loans 135 - Toughest Time Paying Back Loans 235 - Toughest Time Paying Back Loans 3

Source: Imgur

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Sleep Deprivation is a Major Issue for College Student, Says Study

533994665According to the 2013 National College Health Assessment, students named sleep (or lack thereof) as one of the top three factors that play into their academic performance. Whether there isn’t enough time in the day for them to complete their assignments or they’re struggling to balance work and play, students find their eyelids getting heavy while listening to a lecture or reviewing course materials. The result is a lack of focus, the inability to pay attention, a plunge in their motivation, and generally not performing at their maximum potential.

If you’re a college student plagued with drowsiness at inconvenient times, what can you do to combat it? It’s important to first determine the cause, then come to a solution from there.

Problem: Inability to Fall Asleep
There are many reasons you might be tossing and turning at night, and one of the main things for college students is distractions. It’s important to sleep in a dark, quiet room, which may mean coming to an agreement with your roommate. More commonly, though, the culprits are your electronics. Studies have shown time and time again that cell phones, tablets, and laptops are too over-stimulating as bedtime approaches and that we should avoid them an hour or more before hitting the pillow – for all you know, this could solve your sleep problems once and for all.

Another reason college students miss out on precious z’s is because of an inconsistent sleep schedule. You can’t sleep in until noon or later on Sunday and expect to be tired enough to snooze at 11pm that night. You won’t be tired enough, you’ll toss and turn until the early hours, then you’ll be a zombie in your 8am lecture. Try to maintain some semblance of a structured sleep schedule – even if you’re out late Saturday night, try to wake up within a few hours of the time you would get up on the weekdays.

Problem: Not Enough Hours in the Day
We get it – you need to write that 10-page paper, but you also want to go to the football game. You try to do both, and you end up pulling an all-nighter. Writing yourself a schedule isn’t the most “fun” college student activity, but it’s definitely necessary at times. If you know you’ve got an event you’re going to want to attend, pencil in blocks of a few hours here and there to work on the things you need to do. Ultimately, scheduling and prioritizing (which means, yes, you might have to pass up a social event here and there) are imperative to getting enough sleep.

Problem: Waking Up Tired
Maybe you are getting enough sleep, technically, but you’re still tired when you get up and can’t seem to shake the feeling. There are a few things you can try in this case. One idea is to get an app like Sleep Cycle, which uses your movements and the time you fall asleep to wake you up at the best point in your sleep cycle during whichever time frame you tell it to. It could be that you’re waking up from a very deep sleep, which could result in you feeling like you’re not well-rested. You could also get a device with sleep tracking, such as a Fitbit, which will tell you which nights your sleep is restful and which nights it isn’t. You could figure out the factors affecting your sleep from there. If neither of these help, it may be time to see a doctor, as stress, depression, and other issues could be causing tiredness.

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Remember What you Read! Tips for Textbook Comprehension

464934037College professors, in many cases, are a lot less willing to hold your hand through course materials than high school teachers are. A lot of students think it couldn’t possibly be that hard to read 50 pages of a textbook and call it a night – but if you’re not really absorbing that material, you’re walking down a dangerous path.

Don’t end up unprepared when exam day rolls around. Make sure you’re not just reading, but you’re also understanding, with these tips.

Give Yourself Time to Read…and Budget it Properly
Reading a textbook is not like reading a novel. You don’t flip from page to page, losing track of time. It’s a lot more time-consuming and requires a lot more close attention. To make sure you’ve got enough time in your study sesh, try budgeting out five minutes per page (so, yes, almost an hour for just ten pages). Then, break it down into sections of ten pages so you don’t burn yourself out.

Start by Skimming
You should go into your reading session with a lay of the land. To get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into, focus on just the chapter’s intro or, if it doesn’t have one, the section headings. Having an idea of what you’ll be learning in this chunk of reading will help you be much more prepared.

Read and Reread
In this part of your study, you should begin reading the first paragraph all the way through. Do this without taking notes or making highlights – simply read and absorb as much as you can. This will help you get an idea of what information is actually important and what isn’t. Sometimes, when you try to highlight as you go, you end up highlighting everything, creating more work for yourself. At the end of the paragraph, highlight the most important sentence (or sentences).

Once you’ve done this for the entirety of your 10 page chunk, go back and review the highlighted sections. Do any necessary re-reading to make sure that you fully understand each highlighted sentence.

Quiz Yourself
In the margins of your text or on a piece of notebook, write questions about the highlighted information. Write one question per paragraph, at least. Then, go back and try to answer those questions. Continue this until you can answer all of the questions without re-visiting the text.

Summarize and Review
Once you feel like you have a section completed, summarize it to yourself. This is a good time to think of any questions you’d like to ask in class – discussing the material is the best way to cement the knowledge in your mind.

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What to Bring for a Long Library Study Sesh

What to Bring for a Long Library Study SeshWe’ve all been there: it’s the day before the exam and you’re feeling overwhelmingly unprepared. The usual prescription: a long, long study session in the library (or quiet area of choice). The last thing you need is to be distracted because you’re stranded without something you wish you brought. So, while you’ve probably got a checklist of study material necessities – like textbooks and notebooks – here are a few other things you might want to toss in your bag.

Energy Boosts
There’s nothing worse than getting sleepy in the middle of reviewing a lesson, so it’s important to plan ahead. Munching on something packed with protein and carbs can wake you up a bit, so consider bringing some crackers with peanut butter or some homemade granola. If you’d like to go the caffeine route, cans of energy drinks or bottles of prepared iced coffee drinks might be just what you need!

…for your Electronics, Too
Don’t forget the chargers for your phone, laptop, tablet, or whatever else you bring. Your session won’t be very effective without them.

Sound Distraction
When the guy next to you in the library starts snoring or a nearby study group starts talking over one another, you need to drown out the sound. Come equipped with some good headphones and your playlist of choice, whether it’s a string of nature sound videos on YouTube or some classical music.

Your Favorite Sweater
When your place of study gets a bit chilly, it can be hard to focus. Plus, it’s best to be comfortable if you’re hunkering down for multiple hours. Bring your favorite sweater or sweatshirt for when the going gets tough and you want to cozy up.

Hydration
If the heat is blaring and you’re sipping on caffeine, you can get dehydrated very quickly. The dry mouth, itchy skin, and fatigue aren’t ideal, so it’s important to keep plenty of water nearby to combat that. To combat the dry, indoor air, bring some lip balm and hand lotion as well.

A Game Plan
Even if you don’t use a planner throughout the year, they can be really useful for organizing your plan for attacking the materials you need to remember. In your planner or any old notebook, make a checklist of what you want and need to cover, what pages of the textbook they’re on, et cetera. This will help you to stay on track and remained focus, making your study session more effective.

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Change for College Students: Will Freshman Learn for Free?

20120501141221-1_0For parents, the best time to visit a restaurant is during the hours that kids eat for free. Now, prospective college freshmen might get “free” benefits of their own: a free year of online schooling.

In President Obama’s most recent State of the Union Address, he mentioned his $60 billion plan to offer community college courses free of charge. In turn, a philanthropist from New York, Steven Klinsky, was inspired to make a donation of one million dollars that can kickstart Obama’s plan by funding online venture edX, an online course offering overseen by MIT and Harvard.

edX would prepare high school graduates for College Board examinations in various disciplines, and any student who passed enough AP courses or College-Level Examination Program tests would allow them to start college as, essentially, sophomores. This would cut the cost of education down by 25%.

According to Klinsky, too many students are deterred from earning their college degrees by cost alone. “No one should be shut out of education after high school because of tuition cost or lack of access,” he says. His program – which would be the equivalent of a year’s worth of online college courses for free – would be universally available and not cost-prohibitive, which will reward dedicated students. It’s the same mindset that the POTUS has with his plan for free community college – reward and motivate responsible, hard-working students.

Though both endeavors are controversial, they have also awakened a desire for a college system that welcomes students, rather than driving them away with a price tag. After all, there are already plenty of places students can take college courses for free or nearly free, which are known as massive open online courses (MOOCs), but those credits are hardly transferrable – something students have been hoping would change for the past few years.  edX and Coursera, two businesses behind the free online course movement, are also looking into ways to certify MOOCs and allow students to receive credit for completing them.

“Central to the edX mission is the idea that education should be a basic human right, and we are pleased to work with Modern States as they seek to fulfill their vision of accessible education for every student around the world,” says the chief executive of edX, Anant Agarwal.

Klinsky, the philanthropist moving the free education movement forward, says he’s not interested in making money – he’s just looking to expand the realm of free, accredited education.

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What to do Before Applying to Online Schools

179123366Applying to online schools isn’t that different from the traditional college application process. That being said, there’s still a long list of things to consider, many of which probably haven’t crossed your mind yet. Before you take the plunge – and pay the numerous application fees – here’s a few things to add to your checklist.

Set Clear Goals
You don’t necessarily have to know what you want to be “when you grow up” yet, but you should have some direction. When you don’t attend a brick-and-mortar college, you miss out on a lot of the somewhat off-topic, in-class discussions professors tend to have about career paths in different fields. Setting goals that help you work toward a career will help you stay on track.

Do Your Research
Unfortunately, there are way more online colleges out there that haven’t gotten accredited than there are brick-and-mortar schools. A lot of employers want to see that you’ve earned a degree from an accredited school, so it’s important to research every college you apply to. Furthermore, do some research about the online college experience at different schools and see how past students have rated them.

Meet with a Counselor
Most online schools do offer meetings with academic counselors – whether online or via the web – so you can figure out things like credit transfers. Having detailed discussions with counselors from schools you’re serious about can make all the difference. It’s also important to meet with financial aid advisors and discuss your payment options.

Figure out your Work/School Balance
Many students apply to online colleges without really understanding the amount of discipline it takes. Not having a set schedule means that you can do your work whenever you want – and it’s easy to lose motivation. Set up a few hypothetical schedules for when you’ll accomplish your schoolwork and when you’ll complete your other responsibilities just to make sure that your courseload is going to be viable.

Figure Out Where You’ll Work
The more difficult your classes get, the more you’ll find it’s difficult to work at home if your family or roommates are being distracting. A lot of students also think they don’t need a desk – they plan on just working in their beds, on the couch, or at the kitchen table. More often than not, this doesn’t work out. Designate a quiet area that you can retreat to when you need to write a paper or cram for a test. This will help you get into the working mindset, and also provide a go-to when there are too many distracting things going on at home.

If you get all of these things in order, you’ll be ready to commit to attending school online. In terms of actually applying and accepting an offer, going to an online school is similar to any other school.

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Online Degree Spotlight: Graphic Design

Online Graphic Design DegreeOne question plagues almost every prospective student of the arts: is getting a degree in [insert art of choice here] worth it? Because it’s possible to gain employment as a graphic designer without a degree, those who want to go in the field are constantly conflicted.

While, yes, there are plenty of self-taught graphic designers out there who have spent their days poring over YouTube tutorials and hovering over knowledgeable friends’ shoulders as they work. But, there are a lot of reasons to take the plunge and get your degree, even if it’s not technically necessary.

Clear-Cut Benefits of a Graphic Design Degree
One of the biggest benefits of getting a degree, as opposed to being self-taught, is the fact that you’ll maximize your career opportunities. In a recent study by BurningGlass.com that surveyed more than 15,000 employers of graphic designers showed that 82% of companies preferred to hire candidates who had at least a bachelor’s degree. This means that degree holders were qualified for 9 times as many jobs than those without a degree.

In the same vein, degree holders have the potential to earn more money. The aforementioned study found that graphic designers who had bachelor’s degrees made about $10,000 more per year than those who didn’t.

Furthermore, there are a lot of aspects of becoming a graphic designer that can’t easily be self-taught. When you attend school, you get to have professionals in the industry critique your portfolio and help you improve it. This hands-on instruction is invaluable when it comes to searching for a job.

If time is a concern – as it is for many people – there are plenty of highly-rated online graphic design degree programs. This means you can continue earning cash at your current job while you go to school, or better yet, get your foot in the door at a company that might promote you once you have your degree.

Employment Statistics and Information on Graphic Designers
Because our world is going technological, graphic designers are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of graphic designers is supposed to increase by 13 percent by 20200. As far as creative careers go, it’s fairly rewarding: the median salary is currently at about $44,830 annually, with the upper limit around $79,260.

Some of the current most popular industries for graphic designers to work in are specialized design services, advertising/public relations, newspapers and other publications, and printing.

Other Skills
To succeed in the field of graphic design, it’s important to also understand website design and other interactive media. This is another huge reason that getting a degree is a smart move: it bundles all these skills to be taught in a concise package, and in an order that makes sense.

The Bottom Line
As with any creative career, graphic design is a competitive field. A degree isn’t necessary to succeed, but it will definitely equip you with the skills, networking, and resources you need to better your employment options.

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North Dakota College Pushes for Free Online Textbooks

free online textbooksAll prospective college students have been spooked by horror stories about the rising costs of textbooks – legends about that one student who spent over a thousand dollars on books in a single semester, and only got five cents back when he went to resell them.

Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but the sentiment still stands: book costs are one of the biggest financial deterrents to college students, and they’re only getting more expensive.

Luckily, there have been a number of alternatives popping up that help students save, but even if you rent textbooks or buy them used, the costs still add up. If only there was a way to get them for free…

That’s the train of thought that Michelle Murphy, an assistant professor of biology at Lake Region State College of Devils Lake in North Dakota, had when she wrote her own textbook and allowed her students to download it for free. She tried this out for the first time in 2014 when she was teaching online college courses, and has since been using student feedback to tweak and improve the material. The result: learning materials that meet the specific needs of her course and her students, and a smaller bill for those who want to take her course.

Since then, the movement toward free online learning materials at the college has spread. Tanya Spilovoy, the director of distance education and state authorization for the North Dakota University System, has been pushing for open textbook usage recently. It’s really taken off: recognizing that students spend, on average, $1,100 per year on textbooks, the State Board of Higher Education requested funding for this open educational resource project last year. According to Spilovoy, this is a momentous beginning to the project.

How it Works
The open educational resources network has partnered with the online library of the University of Minnesota to provide access to approved textbooks for free. Professors like Murphy are beginning to author materials specifically designed to meet the library’s guidelines. So many professors at Devils Lake college have caught on that students give “negative feedback when they have to pay for something they could get online for free,” according to Murphy.

State Support
This past October, the higher education board in North Dakota has incorporated open textbooks in its five-year plan. Other colleges, like the Washington state college system, have already done the same.

A $500,000 approved budget request is currently being reviewed by the Legislature, and if it goes through, it’ll be put towards training professors and implementing the plan at colleges statewide. House Bill 2161 is also on the table, which would provide financial incentive for educators to contribute to the free resources.

According to Spilovoy, North Dakota is leading the rest of the nation’s education systems by example, and this would create a long-term positive influence on students.

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The 5 Best Colleges for Ski Bums

Many college students decide where to go to school based on the location and accompanying climate. While lots of students prefer a place where they can do their studying with their toes in the sand, plenty are drawn to the complete opposite: the slopes. For those of you who see some fresh powder and can’t wait to gear up for a skiing or snowboarding trip, these schools might fit the bill of what you’re looking for.  Check out the 5 best colleges for ski bums in the United States!

 

Montana State University

Montana State University
Not many people dream of living in Montana – after all, the entire state of Montana’s population is eight times smaller than the population in NYC alone. Those that do visit this mountainous state, however, know that it’s a dream come true for ski bums. MSU is located in Bozeman, a town that’s known far and wide for its world-class slopes. It’s right in the middle of the Bridger Bowl and the Moonlight Basin, but if you’re adventurous, you could just kite ski across campus.

 

boulder

University of Colorado-Boulder
CU-Boulder is also home to some of our nation’s best slopes such as Eldora Mountain, Vail, and Beaver Creek. That said, this school takes it up a notch with its national championship-winning, incredible ski team, which has produced many professional American skiers. The school provides some of the best equipment available for its athletes to practice with, making it a ski-head’s dream come true.

 

vermont

University of Vermont
There’s just as many ski schools on the East Coast as there are out west, and UV is the perfect example. Students at this school are so enthusiastic about snow sports that those who aren’t might even be a bit out of place. The campus offers snowshoe and ski rentals and is nestled between Killington Mountain Resort, Smuggler’s Notch, and Mad River Glen, which has some notorious off-trail spots to explore. UV’s ski team is extremely competitive as well.

 

rockies

College of the Rockies
The name alone elicits thoughts of snowcapped mountains and sweet, sweet trails, though you wouldn’t expect any less of a school that’s located in British Columbia. It’s a smaller community college but it packs a big punch – students are welcome to major in Adventure Tourism or take classes such as Avalanche Skills Training. Not only are these a great way to make you a better skier, but they’ll help boost your knowledge in the sport and traveling to enjoy it, too.

 

plymouth

Plymouth State University
At PSU, skiing is so well-loved, it warrants its own holiday. That’s right – the administrators grant students a day off to go hit the slopes in the midst of winter, although the school gets enough snow that snow days are fairly regular, anyway. On top of that, free lift tickets are offered to students by different mountains each year, so you’ll get to try out all the hottest trails during your college career. The Tenney, Waterville, Loon, and Ragged Mountains are also within an hours’ drive of this unbeatable ski school.

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