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#### Why Volunteering in College Matters

Today, volunteering in college is definitely important. Do you actually know what does being a volunteer mean? Volunteering means deciding to:

• Focus on your overall development
• Become Respectful
• Become Humanitarian
• Be Comprehensive
• Be open to the dialogue
• Deal with daily demands

In short, you need to be committed not only to the project, which you will form part of, but committed to yourself and to society. This is simply fabulous. Without a doubt,
volunteering means a lot more … because the personal benefits of this work are directly obtained, they should and must be experienced during college!

Many reasons

Truth is, there are dozens of reasons to be part of a volunteering program: it is all about wanting to help meet new realities, overcome challenges, build new social relations and contribute to the common good, among others. We cannot really ignore the reality around us. People who are socially excluded, people begging for money at traffic lights, sick individuals, abandoned children, homeless people, and the list goes on. Students can work on it; these people need your solidarity. Colleges usually propose you to look beyond your surroundings and encourage you to be aware. You can decide to help today. You simply need to have some extra time and if anything, you need to master your skills.

Certifications

Furthermore, attendance certificates can be awarded stating a training seminar plus a special mention, when helping disabled people.

Volunteering is essential to foster several skills that will later contribute to the integral development of students. A specific student status reflects that universities should
encourage the possibility of the volunteering programs in cooperation with special projects and social participation, which implies the proper recognition of this training in these fields. Moreover, the things you learn by volunteering are not really learned in college.

Self-realization

Social activities along with community volunteering programs in hospitals, schools, shelters, and nursing homes, pretty much any activity with which you can identify, will bring you several benefits like help you discover some special skills that you did not know. It is all about combining your classes with special tasks. You need to become a real professional; it is all about experiencing the real world.

According to many experts, those students who spend a few hours of their beloved free time volunteering, end up obtaining many positive experiences, such as:

• Watching some people in need satisfied.
• Feeling like new when being generous, experiencing satisfaction that their work gives them.
• Learning and developing new skills and relaxing in the company of different people.

Being generous

While it is shown that helping others is not only a magnificent action and fully recognized by others, it can help us feel totally good about ourselves. You get what you give so it is important to flow and to give as much as possible. Being a good student is more than just getting good grades for writing essays and research papers; remember that what you do in the process will reflect the future outcome.

Details

You can take a look at volunteering programs as an important detail. Keep in mind that details are always a key point!
Author bio: Jeffrey is a freelance writer with a passion for education and technology. He is currently a contributor to the www.solidessay.com, a college paper writing service, which helps students become better writers.

#### Three Things to Remember When Choosing Your Class Schedule

There is more to school than which Greek organization to pledge, who should be your roommate, and which RHL dorm bedding to buy. Class scheduling will determine your schedule for the next four months. It’s important that you choose one you can not only live with but thrive under. Here are some factors to remember when you’re looking over that course catalog.

One of the biggest mistakes students make when setting up a class schedule is ignoring their body clocks. Some people pop up at 5am like clockwork while others don’t get moving until after noon each day. It’s all about making sure you’re in class during the times that your brain is most likely to be firing on all cylinders. Obviously, you won’t always be able to choose classes that happen in your preferred time slots, but if you’re a night owl, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re dragging yourself to 8am classes with only a couple of hours of sleep.

Take a look at your schedule on days you don’t have to be awake at a certain time. What time do you get up naturally? If you were planning an activity with friends, would you be happiest if it was an early morning activity or something later in the day? When you have a paper due, do you write best during the day or the evening. Use this information to determine your best working time and then choose classes that happen during that time.

What Else Is On Your Plate

College life isn’t just about classes, though. You have extracurricular activities that are important to build experience and contacts. You may have an internship that is necessary for degree. Some college students need to work at the same time they are earning their degree. Older students may also have a family to support and spend time with. Make sure that the classes you choose fit in with the rest of your schedule.

Before you take a look at the course schedule, look at your life schedule. Does your job require you to stay late on Wednesdays? Are you living off campus and your commute is a long one? How often do you think you’ll be volunteering at the homeless shelter? Do you take a dance class on Thursdays at 7? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down which days are best for you and how many credit hours you have time to take. That’s not to say you can’t make some changes in your life schedule. But you need to know what you currently have available.

Up until this point, we’ve talked about how you should choose classes based on what your preferences. But you must also remember that sometimes you have to bend to your class requirements. Eventually you want to earn a degree, so you must always have an eye toward the credit requirements for that goal.

Read up on the overall requirements for the degree you’re interested in. If you’re still undecided, that’s okay. Look at a few different degrees you’re considering. Take note of the credit you’d have to complete. There will always be some basic classes that every degree requires and you can get those out of the way right away. But the further you go along, you more careful you’ll have to be about taking certain classes for your degree. Your school may offer less flexibility in terms of scheduling the higher up you go. That means you may have to overlook your own preferences and extracurricular activities to take those classes but in the end it’s worth it.

As a recent Master’s Degree graduate, I’d like to share some tips for students headed off to graduate school or even just considering it.

1. Be prepared to not have a free moment. Working and going to graduate school part-time evenings and weekends is nothing like your undergraduate experience. You have to really want this and be truly dedicated. It’s incredibly hard to manage your work life, school work, and personal life. Know what you’re getting yourself into and make sure that this is 100% what you want to do.

2.  Join professional associations and organizations within your field (student rates are much cheaper!). They will provide you with great resources and professional development opportunities to get involved. In addition, go to professional conferences in your field to learn more and more importantly to network. You WILL graduate before you know it and you need to be active in your field and show your colleagues how good you are at what you do.

3.  Make friends in your program – these are your future colleagues and professionals in the field.  Once you’re employed after you graduate, it’s also great to have someone to bounce ideas off of other than a supervisor or boss – get their contact information and stay connected after graduation.  Also, depending on your field of study, some programs are more project based with more group work than others.  It can be difficult to engage in group work now that you’re probably not living on campus or connected with many other students.

4.  Be involved in class and develop positive relationships with your professors.  Your professors, much like your classmates, are your future colleagues and you’ll probably be asking them for letters of reference upon graduation.  They may also have an in somewhere once you’re looking for jobs.

5.  Complete an internship.  Many Master’s level programs require it.  If they don’t, make sure you are either working in your field already or have some kind of internship experience, whether it’s paid or unpaid (paid is preferred but be prepared for something unpaid, as most are).  You’ll need to get your foot in the door somewhere and have some kind of experience on your resume.

6.  Make sure that this is what you truly want to do.  This is a huge commitment, so make sure you at least work in the field first and understand what being a professional in this specific industry means.  Don’t invest all the time, money, and energy into something unless you really know this is for you.

7.  Choose a college for the quality of the program, not for brand name.  You are most likely paying for this college experience on your own with no help from your parents.  Now is not the time to acquire tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  Even better, try to find a job in your field of study where your employer has tuition reimbursement options available and will help you pay for your schooling.

8.  Understand that it may take more than 1-2 years to complete your program. Some programs will advertise that they are 1 or 2 year programs, but be careful. They are probably assuming you will go full-time (including summers) and are not including any kind of internship or practicum requirements in that time frame. For example, I was told my program was a 2 year program and it ended up taking me 4 years to complete it. If you are working full-time and only taking classes part-time in the evenings and weekends, it will take you longer than someone who can take 3-4 classes at a time because they are only working part-time or are unemployed.

Ultimately, graduate school is a huge investment of time, money, and energy.  Be well informed and do your research!  Please share any additional tips you have!

About Smart Track™ Toolkit: The toolkit is a web based service that assists families with everything from admissions and test prep, to student athletics and financial aid. Our intuitive software and on-demand workshops are key components to making sure students find their top choice colleges, and families can afford to send them there.

About the author: Laura Guarino is the Student Services Coordinator with the College Resource Center, LLC. Laura has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from Boston College and a Master’s degree and license in School Guidance Counseling.  She also holds a certificate in College Admissions Counseling.  Laura is at the forefront of the college admissions process for the families of The Smart Track™ Toolkit.

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#### The Benefits of Going to School Close to Home

I’ll admit it: when I was a senior in high school I wasn’t ready to go to college. I was happy in high school, I had some really great friends and I was content in my comfort zone. But decision time rolled around faster than I was expecting and when the time came to decide I picked a campus only about 20 minutes from my house.

Despite my closeness to home, I did manage to take a step out of my comfort zone; I decided to live on campus. People have asked me before why I spend the money to live on campus when I could live at home. The answer is simple: I needed to learn to manage life on my own. I needed to get out of my house, I needed to stop having to depend on my parents and I needed to experience everything that college had to offer. I still don’t regret that decision for a second.

Now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve accepted the fact that change is actually a good (if still scary) thing. There are times where I wish I had gone farther away, even out of state just to experience that different environment while I still had the opportunity. But there are still a lot of advantages to staying close to home. When I got the flu my freshman year, it was only a miserable 20-minute car ride away from my own bed and mom’s soup. When I forget something at home (which is often), my parents don’t have to spend 15 bucks sending it back to me. And I can only imagine how much money I’ve saved in gas or in airfare over the past three years.

When it comes for you to decide where you want to go to college, consider not just how you feel now, but think about how you’re going to feel four years down the road. Are you going to be homesick? Are you going to want a big adventure? Don’t put off your college planning just because you don’t want to think about it.

It is, after all, the greatest time of your life.

Laura Sestito is a senior at Nazareth College of Rochester and is a writer and designer at NextStepU Magazine.

#### Common College Admissions Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Applying to college can be a complicated process. But, the reality is, if you take your time and do things right you can get through it. Applications should not be completed overnight and the entire college search and application process should begin well before the fall of your senior year. The keys are planning and organization.

Even if you’re careful though, there are many different mistakes you might make that could ruin your chances of being admitted into your top choice college. We’ve come across a lot working with our students. Here are a few common application and admissions mistakes that we hope you won’t succumb to…

Missing Deadlines:  Whatever you do, do not miss an application deadline. Colleges are not flexible with this. Most applications will become available in August before senior year. If you can, make sure to have everything submitted to your colleges at least two weeks prior to the deadline. This will ensure that the college receives everything in time. Missing deadlines shows that you are irresponsible, not an attractive quality for a prospective freshman student.

One admissions rep at a recent event shared the story about how a student had been admitted to their college and he had posted on his Facebook about how he had gotten in and about all the drugs and alcohol he would engage in over the next four years.  Someone at the school saw it and notified admissions.  They rescinded his application.  Colleges are trying to create safe and supportive residential communities, so anything that would be concerning to the community well-being is a huge issue.

In the end, you should be comfortable letting anyone (your mom, your grandmother, an admissions officer, potential employer) see your page. You don’t want the reason you were denied (or application rescinded) to your number one school to be because of a status you posted or a picture you were tagged in.

Not Applying to Reach or Safety Schools:  Don’t limit yourself unnecessarily by only applying to schools where you are on target with their requirements. Apply to a variety of schools. This means safety schools, target schools, and reach schools. Safety schools are colleges where you have a very good chance of getting in because your academic profile is clearly stronger than most of the applicant pool.  Safety schools make for a good “Plan B” and are likely to award Merit-Based Aid since you will be a sought after applicant. You also shouldn’t limit yourself by not applying to reach schools. Reach schools are schools where your academic record and profile may be weaker than what the college is typically looking for. But, there’s not always a guarantee you won’t get in. Some schools look at special qualities and certain characteristics when admitting students (like a legacy student).  Or, if you are a highly recruited athlete, a first class Cello player, and it just so happens the college needs to fill the spot of lead Cellist, they could come to you. You just never know. Even if your GPA and test scores aren’t as high as they need to be, a spectacular and moving essay could blow the admissions officer away. Astound an admissions officer during an interview, too, and those test scores being low might not matter anymore. Keep your options open.

Using The Wrong College Name in the Application Essay: This one kills me.  If you write an essay for a specific college (usually in the Supplemental Application where you are allowed to name a college by its name) and decide to copy and paste the essay to use for another college (which you shouldn’t in the first place), remember to change the college name!  Unfortunately, many students will just copy and paste the essay and use it for another college and forget to change the name… so the essay with the line, “I can’t wait to join the rest of the freshman class at UMass Amherst in the fall” goes to UNH.  Admissions officers hate this.  It shows that you aren’t truly interested or invested in the college, not enough to write a separate essay for that college and not enough to proof read your application or re-read your essay before submitting.

Admissions applications aren’t always easy, but it doesn’t mean that they have to be difficult. The more you know about the process and the more research you do, the better off you’ll be. Using tools like our Admissions Assistance component or our Student Positioning component can make the process a breeze and really help to eliminate unnecessary stress. Take our advice here and you’ll be well on your way to admission at your top choice college. Until next time, best of success!

About Smart Track™ Toolkit: The toolkit is a web based service that assists families with everything from admissions and test prep, to student athletics and financial aid. Our intuitive software and on-demand workshops are key components to making sure students find their top choice colleges, and families can afford to send them there.

About the author: Laura Guarino is the Student Services Coordinator with the College Resource Center, LLC. Laura has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from Boston College and a Master’s degree and license in School Guidance Counseling.  She also holds a certificate in College Admissions Counseling.  Laura is at the forefront of the college admissions process for the families of The Smart Track™ Toolkit.

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#### Problems of a College Student: What You Can Expect to Deal with in Higher Ed.

After being in college for a couple of years, it’s easy to forget about some of the problems I used to have back in high school. For example, trying to figure out how to finish all 10 pages of reading I had to do for my AP American History class or whether I was going to bag it or buy for lunch the next day. Worst, though was the waiting around for my college acceptance letters as a senior.

A lot of you might be in the same boat right about now. The good news is: those problems are eventually going to all go away.

To be replaced with entirely new ones! (Hooray).

Though, be warned, I tend to be that person who over-exaggerates my problems. When it’s too hot I’m dying of heat. When I’ve stayed up too late studying for a test I’m dying of exhaustion. When I’m waiting for Campus Safety to come open my door for the third time because I locked myself out again, I see my life passing before my eyes. (I think you get the gist now).

The fact is college is going to present a whole new set of “problems” that everyone has to learn how to deal with.

For example, here’s a list of my most significant:

1. Making time for reading assignments. You don’t get 10 pages a night – you get three chapters. Long, long chapters. And you have to be prepared to discuss them at length. No ability to slack off here!

2. Caffeine addiction. Long nights + early mornings + warm classes and a professor with a soothing voice = drinking coffee 24/7. Now might be a good time to invest in that coffee maker you’ve had your eye on.

3. Night class getting in the way of television schedule. I’ve missed Glee for the past two months. So my priorities are a little skewed but still. After a long day working, the last thing most students want to do is go to another class. So choose your schedule wisely.

And the list goes on. But, hey everybody has got their own kind of problems, so why would college be any different? Just be smart when you come across an issue of your own and figure out how to deal with it to the best of your ability. Which, of course, you are totally capable of doing!

Laura Sestito is a senior at Nazareth College of Rochester and is a writer and designer at NextStepU Magazine.

#### Planning Ahead Can Save Thousands On College Expenses (Part II)

Author’s note: Are you the parent of a student either currently enrolled in college – or who is planning on attending a post-secondary school next fall? You don’t have to be told that college is expensive and planning is time consuming.  This two-part series, designed for parents and employee assistance (and other) professionals who are assisting them in this often-difficult process, can really help!

In part I of this two-part series, I outlined some of the issues that are just the “tip” of the college planning iceberg influencing whether today’s “modern” family will be able to actually afford a 4-year college.  In this post, I will go over more key points.

Most EFC calculators pivot off a handful of data points- our calculator actually pivots off close to 20 significant data points that provide a more accurate picture of what your expected family contribution (EFC) might be. By knowing this number ahead of time, you can create a more efficient plan for how best to pay for college. While EFC is mostly “income”-driven in nature, our work with families has uncovered additional “peripheral” areas, like assets, that can influence what a family’s “true” EFC looks like. Did you know that assets held in a student’s name can often be assessed as high as 26% in some formulas?

This is because assets that are held in a student’s name typically do not have an asset protection allowance. There is over $150 billion in financial aid available each year if you know how to get it and with the competition for admissions becoming increasingly competitive, students need to know how best to present themselves to their targeted colleges. If you are like many of the thousands of families who feel they are not receiving the kind of attention from their high schools that is needed during the college application process, take a peek at some of the various web-based tools that we have launched to help simplify this process. Be sure to monitor deadlines (both admissions and financial aid) for each college you are applying to. Believe it or not schools often have different deadlines for their admissions applications versus their financial aid applications. For students applying to state schools, did you know that different states have different deadlines for families to submit their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms? States like Kentucky, Tennessee and Vermont award aid on a first come, first-served basis so its critical to have your forms submitted in January (as a general rule of thumb) before most of the available aid disappears by late spring. If you are a parent of a senior in high school or you have kids who are currently in college and are applying for financial aid, you can get a head start by using our College Funding tool to actually submit all of your financial aid forms on time (including the FAFSA & CSS Profile forms) and be entitled to a professional review with one of our experienced college funding advisors. Remember to feel free to contact me with any questions you might have: jay.robie@smarttracktoolkit.com or 800 863-9440 ext. 277. Good luck! About Smart Track™ Toolkit: The toolkit is a web based service that assists families with everything from admissions and test prep, to student athletics and financial aid. Our intuitive software and on-demand workshops are key components to making sure students find their top choice colleges, and families can afford to send them there. About the author: Jay Robie is the VP of Business Development in the Corporate and Education channels with the College Resource Center, LLC. Jay has previous work experience as an Admissions Counselor at St. Lawrence University and Boston College as well as the Director of the Corporate Internship Program at Notre Dame High School. Jay also has consulted for Road to College as an Admissions Planner. #### The Art of Living With Others The most challenging thing for me to accept when going to college was the idea that I had to share a room with someone else. How am I supposed to sleep in the same room as this strange person who may or may not be a psycho killer and is sleeping in a bed three feet away from me? Perhaps I built up the situation too much in my head. My freshman roommate ended up not, in fact, being a psycho killer at all. Even though I was seriously worried about having to live with other people, living on campus actually ended being one of the best decisions I have ever made. I highly recommend the experience, but with a few tips to make your living situation most enjoyable: 1. Get to know your roommate(s). Yes, you are both feeling really awkward and no, it won’t go away if you avoid eye contact and/or speaking to each other. College is an opportunity for a whole lot of new experiences so take a chance and start the conversation already. You might just find that you have more in common than you think. 2. Keep your side of the room clean. I’m telling you from experience, it’s no fun having to kick and slice your way to your bed because your roommate’s clothes pile has started to resemble a mountain. Be courteous of your new roomie and do your laundry, please! Plus, your mom will be so proud when she comes to visit you. 3. Talk about your schedules. Make sure you know when each person is comfortable with when you turn out the light or when you need to get your homework done. That way, each of you will know in advance when it’s OK to sing out loud to the new episode of “Glee” and when you’ve got to turn everything off and get work done. 4. Finally, pick your battles. Whenever more than one person has to share a living space there are going to be conflicts. Some things are worth bringing up, like if something your roommate does conflicts with your values or negatively impacts you in any way. However, even if it may go against your nature to have everything your way, if it’s not hurting you there are some issues that you just have to let go. So readers, get excited to live on campus! You won’t get an experience like this again. Laura Sestito is a senior at Nazareth College of Rochester and is a writer and designer at NextStepU Magazine. Visit her at NextStepU.com or on social media at Facebook.com/NextStepU or Twitter.com/NextStepU #### Planning Ahead Can Save Thousands On College Expenses (Part I) 38 minutes. The average length of time a high school guidance counselor is able to spend with a student discussing college-specific items. 476:1 The national average ratio of high school students to guidance counselors.$1 trillion in student debt that has eclipsed credit card debt for the 1st time in history.. College costs that rise 6-8% on average per year. A larger and more competitive applicant pool.  These issues and averages are just the “tip” of the college planning iceberg influencing whether today’s “modern” family will be able to actually afford a 4-year college.

Much of this information has been penned already by many other authors, so I do not want to rehash something that has already been “beaten” senseless into the American public but rather highlight a few pointers that might help folks to mitigate some of their anxieties and fears. Our firm, the College Resource Center, has worked with thousands of families over the years on creating viable plans for how best to pay for college without going broke and while each family’s situation is different, there is a common link amongst them- they are all very concerned with how best to approach what can be an overwhelming process.

Have a plan. If you don’t, your plan will arrive in the mail when you receive your 1st tuition bill.  Determine what your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) will be. This is one of THE most important figures to know and basically lets a college know how much per year you can afford to pay to have your son or daughter attend that fine institution.

To get started, you can use our EFC calculator at Free Trial to register for a free trial and learn not only what your personal EFC is, but how much it potentially could be lowered by. (Your free trial will also give you access to an eCalendar to help you keep track of important dates and deadlines in the college admissions process)

Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have: jay.robie@smarttracktoolkit.com or 800 863-9440 ext. 277. Good luck!

About Smart Track™ Toolkit: The toolkit is a web based service that assists families with everything from admissions and test prep, to student athletics and financial aid.  Our intuitive software and on-demand workshops are key components to making sure students find their top choice colleges, and families can afford to send them there.

About the author: Jay Robie is the VP of Business Development in the Corporate and Education channels with the College Resource Center, LLC.  Jay has previous work experience as an Admissions Counselor at St. Lawrence University and Boston College as well as the Director of the Corporate Internship Program at Notre Dame High School.  Jay also has consulted for Road to College as an Admissions Planner.

#### A College Student Nearing the End of the Year

On the first day of freshman orientation, the dean of our college warned us that, “If you think high school went fast, just wait and see how fast your college years go by.”

Well at least that’s what my mom told me he said. By that point I had pretty much zoned out and was thinking about how much stuff I had to unpack and what kind of small talk I could start with my roommate. What did it matter to me all this sentimental talk about time going to fast and enjoying it while I can and blah, blah, blah. I was only a freshman – there was still so much time left!

And yet, here I am, nearing the end of my senior year and I can’t help but think oh crap, they’re right. And with that revelation, the underlying fear that I, in fact, will have to become a grown up.

I have plenty of reason to be frightened of this idea. One, because I don’t know how to behave in public without firmly reminding myself to put on my “you’re among people you don’t know don’t act weird filter” on. Two, because I am very bad at “getting to know you” chit chat with people I don’t know and the string of words that often come out of my mouth are that of a rambling lunatic (you may get that impression from this blog post as well).

And finally, because being a kid is just so much fun.

But alas, the real world is upon me and despite my fears, I’m actually pretty excited. I tend to fear and avoid change like the plague, but when I think back all of the good things that ever happened to me was because of a change that happened in my life. It’s less the actual changing events and more the idea that you don’t know what’s going to come next that makes the thought of moving on so frightening.

So all of you graduating seniors who are embarking on your last year of high school or college, I offer you this advice because you’re reading this anyway and you might as well get something out of it: don’t be afraid of change (or becoming a grown-up!)

Yeah, it’s scary to think about what might come next but when you look back, you’ll wonder how you had ever been afraid in the first place.

Laura Sestito is a senior at Nazareth College of Rochester and is a writer and designer at NextStepU Magazine.

Visit her at NextStepU.com or on social media at Facebook.com/NextStepU or Twitter.com/NextStepU