Archive for August, 2008

How to Find College Scholarships You Could Actually Win

So, you want to win a scholarship, huh? But maybe you think you can’t win because you don’t have a 4.0, you don’t have enough community service hours, or your essay-writing skills are less than stellar.

Lucky for you, you don’t need any of those things to potentially win a scholarship-you just need to be able to find scholarships that fit you. Even luckier-I work for Deborah Fox, author of the Pay for College Blog, and that means I get to share some of her tips with you!

Location, Location… Local Location

Deborah says that it is much, much easier to potentially win a local scholarship than a national one. The reason why is simple-local competitions have a way smaller applicant pool than national ones, and that means you have less competition.

What to Look For: Ask around at your high school counseling office or college financial aid office (or check their websites), as well as the local library, for local, regional, or state scholarships. Also, run a Google or Yahoo! search for your city/county/region/state + the word “scholarship.” You should also find out which scholarships are offered ONLY to your college.

Know Thyself… and Thy Hobbies & etc.

Another idea Deborah offered for finding scholarships with smaller applicant pools is to focus on talents, hobbies, abilities, and associations you have that are more unique than the typical “volunteering and strong SAT scores.” (She has a great article about quirky scholarships on her blog.)

What to Look For: A lot of scholarships are NOT based on grades or test scores, so don’t box yourself in! Try searching out scholarships awarded for:

  • Your ethnicity, religion, or heritage
  • Your talents (music, chess, art, sports, etc.)
  • Your hobbies (surfing, knitting, mountain biking, baking, etc.)
  • Your or your family’s medical history (history of hemophilia, cancer, etc.)
  • Your or your family’s clubs or other associations (employers, on-campus or off-campus clubs/activities like Boy Scouts or 4H, a credit union your parents bank at, etc.)
  • Any other thing you feel is unique about you or your family!

Plan Ahead

Deborah’s final tip for today is to plan ahead-even way ahead.

During your scholarship search you’ll probably come across some scholarships that would be perfect for you if you were just one year further in school, or even some that you could be eligible for for several years. Keep a list of all of these so you can reapply to scholarships you’re still eligible for next year, and remember those that you will be eligible for in a while.

What to Look For: Scholarships that will apply to you when you hit certain markers (age, level in school, etc.) or those that will apply to you for multiple years. Remember to reapply to any scholarships you can if you don’t win them the first time around-or if they allow even winners to compete!

Thanks again to Deborah of the Pay for College Blog for all her help (you might want to send your parents over there for pointers on how to pay for college)!

photo: Traveller by asifthebes

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1 comment August 28th, 2008

Relationships: From High School to College

A lot of you have requested more social life/relationship posts, so here is the first of many to come…

The leap from high school to college is a big one. It’s your first time on your own, really making decisions for yourself, and that means you’re going to change a lot-and so is everyone else.

Relationships change between the end of high school and college graduation-but not all of them are bad.  While it can be unsettling to see cracks form in what once was a rock-solid friendship, you are just as likely to find that you and your friends change for the better.


Some high school sweethearts do stay together through college, but they are the exception rather than the rule.  It takes a lot of work to make the transition from high school relationship to a real adult relationship-especially if it’s a long-distance thing-and it also takes a lot of maturity (which not everyone has at the beginning of college).

The majority of high-school-to-college relationships come to an end before graduation, whether because of freedom issues, changing values, loss of interest, or pure geographical distance.  That doesn’t mean you have to give up on high school romance altogether, just be aware that change is the central point of the college experience.

Best Friend

More than likely, your best friend will stick around.  It’s probably safer if you don’t room together-girls especially seem to have a hard time transitioning from friends to roommates-so keep your friendship strong by living apart.  Even if you go to separate schools, your best friend will, most likely, keep that title.

That said, you are both stepping into a huge new world of people, and broadening your friend circle can cause jealousy.  It’s not bad to have new friends, or if your best friend grows attached to his/her roommate, just remember not to drop your friend just because you’re meeting new people.

High School Friends

If you have a close knit group of friends, chances are you’ll stay in touch.  My high school friends started a group blog so we could all keep up with each other as we went off to different schools.  Now, five years later, we mostly keep up via group emails, and often get together for dinner when a few of us are visiting parents.

Everyone Else from High School

Your acquaintances, one-class friends, and yes, even the people you didn’t like will probably fade out of your life now.  Sure, you can keep tabs on each other via Facebook or MySpace, but you probably won’t talk or email much, and you’re unlikely to get together-or really even run into each other-on visits home.

There’s nothing wrong with that!  You can always keep in touch with the people you want to stay friends with, but if you lose contact with someone, you can always catch up on Facebook or at your 10 year reunion!

photo: happy friends 2 by lusi

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1 comment August 26th, 2008

25 Things You Need to Know About Living in the Dorms

Sometimes moving out means learning things “the hard way.” In other words, it means making a lot of dumb mistakes before you figure out the best way to do stuff.  So, benefit from my mistakes here and take advantage of these 25 tips about living in the dorms (and feel free to share your own if you have any!).

Also, this Friday is the one-year anniversary of Surviving College Life-woo hoo!!! Thanks for sticking with me for a year!

My roommate situation varied throughout college, but there are a few things that applied to every situation:

1. Set up ground rules ASAP-preferably before you move in! This will save you from a lot of awkward situations later.
2. Don’t live with your close friends from high school unless your lifestyles and personalities are SUPER compatible.  Living together puts a whole new strain on your relationship, and it has ruined more than a few pairs of best friends.
3. Keep the lines of communication open.  Yes, confrontation is awkward, but dreading every day with your roommate is worse.  If something is bothering you, talk about it.
4. If you’re sick, it’s probably bugging/freaking out your roommate (especially if you are coughing until all hours of the night).  Try to be considerate of this. And know what to do if your roommate gets sick.
5. Make sure you know each other’s feelings about having overnight guests, and respect them!
6. Discuss what you do & don’t want to share. Some people are totally fine with sharing everything from clothes to food to their laptop, others don’t even want you to step into their side of the room.
7. Wear headphones.

Relationships & Friendships (in the Dorms)
Dorms are close quarters, which means that everybody is involved in everyone else’s business:

8. Dating someone on your floor is risky.  Everybody on your floor will be involved whether you like it or not, and if you break up, you will still find yourselves face to face pretty often.
9. Excessive PDA is not cool.  Also, making out is still considered “public” (and therefore not cool) if you & your significant other are “alone” in your room with your roommate still there.  Trust me, your roommate doesn’t appreciate it.
10. Don’t date your Resident Advisor.  It’s probably against the rules (so it could get him or her fired) and if it ends badly… See #8.
11. If you are mad at/break up with your significant other, don’t write about it on your blog, as an away/status message, on Facebook or MySpace, or anywhere public. Things can get ugly fast, so if you MUST vent, do it in a private email to someone who won’t pass it around. (Same rule applies with your roommate).
12. Don’t judge people before you get to know them.  I thought one girl on my floor was super rude, but (Oops!) it turned out she was just shy-she ended up being one of my best friends.

My first quarter at UCSD, my roomie and I had a pint of Ben & Jerry’s each, every night, which leads me to remind you that…

13. Ice cream doesn’t count as a meal.  Yes, it’s fun to eat whatever you want for a change, but after a while you may find out the true meaning of the term “Freshman 15.”
14. Balance is the key to staying healthy at school-what you eat makes a big difference in how strong your immune system is. Remember to get all the food groups!
15. When you get sick of cafeteria food, you can actually cook some pretty good stuff in the dorms.  Check out THIS POST for links to great recipe sites with all kinds of things you can make without a real kitchen. (Or check out my fast, cheap, & easy breakfast recipes and snack ideas)
16. Free food abounds in the dorms and on campus.  Learn how to find it here.

Parents & Siblings
This applies to living anywhere away from home:

17. Whether or not they let on, your family probably misses you-especially your siblings.  It’s hard to be left behind, especially if they’re the last one at home.  Try to keep that in mind and make a point of talking to the sibs when you call home, chatting online with them, or shooting off an email now and then.
18. If your parents are calling too much-or not enough-it’s okay to talk to them about it.  Just be sure to be kind, and try to find a compromise. (i.e. If phone calls are too overbearing for you, suggest IM or email.)


19. Something about the college lifestyle-whether it’s the shared network, or the constant file swapping-seems to mean its super easy to get a virus.  Invest in an anti-virus software (you can usually order one from with a big rebate-you could end up paying $10 or even nothing after rebate).
20. Don’t leave your laptop laying around in common areas.  They’re valuable and easy to steal-don’t lose yours. It seems like common sense, but so many people just leave them while they go off for lunch or head out for the night!

In my dorm building, there were 70 kids to every 2 washers and dryers-and not all of them knew how to do laundry right.  Here’s what I learned:

21. Don’t leave your detergent or fabric softener in the laundry room-other people will use it, and they won’t ask first.
22. Get back to your machine on time!  Some people will throw your clean clothes on the floor so they can get to the washer or dryer. Other people will steal your clothes. Weird.
23. If you’re afraid you aren’t going to get back in time, leave a post-it with your room # or ph # on the machine. Most people will come over or call to and ask you to move your stuff before they take over.
24. If you have coin laundry, always, always keep quarters on hand.  Actually, you can make friends by changing people’s money-quarters are a valuable commodity!
25. Do small to medium loads.  Large loads don’t get as clean and also won’t dry all the way (which leaves you with the option of wet clothes, or feeding more cash into the dryer).

Feel free to share your own experiences, tips & opinions. And once more, thanks for sticking around for a year!

photo: crowded houses by ijsendoorn

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Add comment August 22nd, 2008

What to Pack in Your “First Night in the Dorms” Bag

Few things compare with the travesty caused by a combination of garlic pizza, a lost toothbrush, and your first all-campus dance. That’s why it can be very helpful to pack a bag-o-necessities just for that first night in the dorms-that night when everything is still in boxes.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy (a backpack should do just fine) but you’ll be glad you have shampoo and toothpaste when that cute guy or girl you met in the elevator shows up on your floor.

Here are my suggestions for your First Night in the Dorms bag:

  • Wallet, some cash & ID
  • Change of clothes
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Cell phone & charger
  • Toilet paper (just in case!)
  • Soap, shampoo, and deodorant (travel size ones are great)
  • Towel & washcloth
  • Medications/vitamins
  • Something to read (magazine, book)
  • iPod (if you’re a music addict)
  • Pen & paper
  • First aid kit
  • Snacks
  • Key ring to corral all your new keys (dorm, mailbox, etc.)
  • Laptop & charger (thanks, Christina, for adding this to the list!)

Other things to have handy:

  • Pillow
  • Sheets
  • Blanket
  • Sweatshirt

Anything else you wouldn’t want to be without on the first night?

photo: Ready to go by emsago

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4 comments August 14th, 2008

Your Ultimate College How-To Guide Link Roundup

Getting ready for the back-to-school days? Here’s a list of links to help you weather the basic issues of college. Feel free to contribute via comments so I can add to the list (I’ll credit you with the find!).

How to Budget

How to Stay Healthy

How to Do Laundry

How to Study

How to Get Started With Cooking

How to Look Good

photo: Boiling Water by alfredo-9

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6 comments August 13th, 2008

What to Expect Your First Week of College

For a most students, the first week of college is a big fat tangle of emotions. You’re excited to be out on your own, nervous about what’s coming, maybe even a little homesick. Want to know what it’s going to be like? I’ve got you covered.

Move-in Day

You (and probably your parents) will spend a good portion of the day unloading your stuff, meeting your roommate, and running errands to hunt down the super important things you somehow forgot to pack. You might check out the campus a little, maybe eat lunch or dinner with your parents, and then, suddenly, it will be time for them to go.

The first night in your room with a new roommate might be a little awkward, but that’s just because you don’t know each other yet. Try to get things unpacked a little-at least find your toothbrush and your pillow-and if you’re feeling homesick, put up some pictures from home, too.

“Welcome Week”

Whether or not your school calls it “Welcome Week,” the first week at most colleges is usually geared toward getting freshmen settled in and acquainted with each other and the campus. That means there are lots of activities planned-UCSD had over 100 activities planned for our first week, from a huge all-school rally to dances, beach trips, and bonfires-so go to them!

Everyone’s a little nervous the first week, so it is the BEST time to make friends! You don’t have to go to every activity, but if something sounds interesting, check it out, and don’t be afraid to say hi.

First Day of Class

College classes are different than high school classes-sometimes very different. Rather than passing out worksheets the first day, college professors are more apt to give you a scary-looking syllabus, start lecture, or to say things like, “The person to the right of you and to the left of you will drop this class.” (By the way, that’s not true, even for the hardest classes-most of the class tends to stick around.)

Don’t be intimidated! Once you’ve been to a few classes, you’ll start to recognize faces and get used to the professor’s lecture style. It’s a change, but it’s not as bad as it seems!

One tip: Walk around campus the day before classes start and find out where your classrooms are-it will save you from walking in late in the middle of your first class. Also, be sure you ask someone if you’re in the right class when you walk in the first day. Everybody else feels disoriented, too, so it’s not a big deal. (I still asked even during my senior year—good thing too, because once I ended up in an engineering class when I should have been in a poetry class!).

Everything Else

Last fall I wrote a whole month’s worth of posts about the basics of your first few days of college. Check out these entries for more info on whatever it is that’s worrying you, or feel free to email me with questions.

Be sure to check out the archives for more, or subscribe if you want to keep up on the latest info!

photo: Tongji by sinoreport

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10 comments August 8th, 2008

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