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College

Balancing Work and Studying at University

Balancing Work and Studying at University

The following is a submission for StudySoup, on how students can work and be successful in their studies during college.

Having a part time job during college can be a great way to create some balance in one’s life. Working can help a student by not focusing on the stressors that come with higher education. Having friends outside the college bubble gives an outlet for sharing and interacting with people in the community. Getting some spending money might help you pay for those road trips and weekday food specials that you would otherwise pass up or have to ring home to ask for money. Employers for that new career will appreciate that you are taking initiative to start in the world of work and you can still be successful as a student.

While work has its benefits, it can also create a distraction for the real reason you are in school in the first place; which is to graduate. I was guilty of this myself during my undergrad years. I was working at a YMCA life-guarding and teaching swim lessons, and would work early in the mornings, then hustle over to class in a wet bathing suit. It was not a good look, and my buttoned-up suit and tie professor at the time let me know it. If you are doing anything from work study to internships, make sure you try to set a schedule around your classes; not the other way around. Keep your priorities in order. If you have long term projects due, try to arrange your work schedule in such a way that you have some free time to put the work together without cramming it in the night before. For those that are doing work in the service industry and might be up late, don’t schedule those 8:00 or 9:00am classes next semester if you can help it. You already know that you won’t be at your best to make those classes. Maybe StudySoup can find you the notes, but if they count attendance your grade is going to suffer.

Working can be a great supplement to learning at college and should not be feared or avoided. Make the job schedule work for you, and you can feel comfortable earning and learning.

Dr. Ethan Gregory

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist and I’m Sorry, You are Not a Disney Princess and You Matter Most! Season One

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The Grad is Always Greener on the Other Side

The Grad is Always Greener on the Other Side

The following is a write up for a careers website related to recent graduates finding jobs and decreasing ones envy when others get jobs before oneself. 

Keeping up with the Jones’s and the concept of the grass being greener are embedded in our human DNA from way back in our caveman days. Competing for resources and securing the survival of our offspring had us looking at what others have and trying to decide if it was worth taking for ourselves. When our peers and friends achieve a status that we have yet to obtain, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage (even if it is in a completely different field) in our own minds.

The first step in coming to terms with the success of others is to recognize how the world does not revolve around us. Having some kind words for our friends and classmates that found their first or next job keeps us in a positive mindset, and can reframe our competitiveness into motivation for finding our own.

If your peer happens to be in the same job field as yourself, they may be able to put in a good word for you with the HR at their new company. Often it is who you know that gets you in the door, use your relationship for good and not evil.

Expand your networking outside of your close peer groups if you cannot deal with the short-term success of the people around you. No one likes a hater and passive aggression or pessimistic people are never fun to be around. When we are most envious or jealous, we should be listening instead of talking. Ask to take a look at their resumes and see how they presented themselves. Maybe you can take some pointers or steal some formatting if you think they put theirs together well. If you see that your marketing is actually better than theirs, you can feel good that you have something going for you that they did not.

Persistence in your own search will eventually carry you through the envy and find you employed alongside your mates. Keeping an optimistic mindset in each interview and communication with potential employers will be paramount. Celebrate the success of those around you as signs that your turn is coming soon.

Dr. Ethan Gregory

doctorg@drethangregory.com

www.drethangregory.com

@drethangregory

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist and I’m Sorry, You are Not a Disney Princess

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Mental Health And Wellness at University

Mental Health And Wellness at University

The most important thing to realize for anxious parents sending their children off to colleges is that every college and university will offer some level of wellness and mental health services. Schools that offer graduate programs in social work, marriage and family therapy, and psychology will usually have some students working under supervision while gaining experience as counselors.

Schools will have licensed psychologists and social workers to help with one to one therapy, couples therapy and counseling related to physical health and wellness. This is important for most schools, but it may not be well advertised. Students practicing independence for the first time will encounter many opportunities to practice coping skills, and the university is there to offer support if the student seeks it out. The treatment can be free or low cost to help the students that cannot afford private counselors in the community.

If an incoming freshman already has medication and a diagnosis, it would be wise for the family or the student to check out the services available for them. If a student has an issue they should be aware of where to go on campus. Clinics have small pharmacies and can fill prescriptions if a student does not come with a large amount of medication.

Colleges know the stress that higher learning can have on students, and most will offer many free activities to enjoy throughout the week. Most all campuses have wellness and fitness centers with classes for working out or learning about healthy living. These services are also free for students. Dorm residents have organized activities to bring students out of their rooms to interact. Student advisers are available to help students that are feeling academic stress, and can make referrals to other services on campus.

Mental wellness usually involves moderation of entertainment and academics. When one or the other gets out of balance, life might seem more difficult in a campus environment. As parents, we should be checking in with our students but not crowding them. This is their time to experience parenting at a distance and to spread their wings. One thing parents can do to prepare their children is to have them practice the life skills like laundry and budgeting before they leave for school. Cooking and organization should be strange concepts to freshman.

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Dr. Ethan Gregory

Written for LitteMissMomma

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist and I’m Sorry, You are Not a Disney Princess

What are the Financial Pitfalls for College Students?

What are the Financial Pitfalls for College Students?

As a counselor for high school students and their families, I am often warning about the hazards for not providing some financial sense to students before they leave for university. Sending a child on their own with little experience managing their own budget is setting them up for failure. An 18-year-old is not expected to have the same priorities as an adult with a full time job and bills to pay, but every student must deal with appropriate choice making and the consequences that come from mismanaging their money.

I imagine that the largest risk for college students is the access to consumer credit. Having a credit card is a safety blanket for some parents as their child goes away, but that is more like a gateway drug for poor management in the future. Credit card companies rely on students spending more than they can pay back, and many college students are happy to oblige. Students should try to use cash only if possible, or only use their debit card.

Student loans cover the cost of tuition and fees, and there is often some leftover amount that goes to the student account. That money can be sent directly to the loan company, but instead the student can misspend it.

Students are buying poor food choices, alcohol, vacations, games, accessories for the dorm or apartment, and clothes. College offers much more freedom during the day than a high school schedule. When we get bored, we think of ways to entertain ourselves. If we have money, sometimes that will be spent without thinking long-term. 

Students can eliminate unnecessary spending by not accepting any more funds for their classes then they need. They can put any potential extra money in a savings account at a bank that has withdrawal restrictions. Students can try to cook more as a group in the dorm kitchens and in their apartments to avoid higher costs of eating out alone or at restaurants.

Students can earn money in a variety of ways. They can work on campus or off campus. Weekends and afternoons are often potential free time for students. There are also options for volunteering during those times. Community centers are places that hire younger people; mall stores in college towns are often flexible with work shifts. During summer, people can stay in town to work, or return home and save money for the next semester.

University students can set up their own investment accounts and IRA’s, but they might not come to that decision on their own. Even having some savings for when they graduate and are in that in-between moment before they find a job can be something a student should think about before its too late. Students should be aware of what a mutual fund is, the concepts around debt repayment and the concept of interest rates.

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist and I’m Sorry, You are Not a Disney Princess

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Read my excerpt at Siena admissions

Read my excerpt at Siena admissions

Today I was featured on the Siena blog discussing what 11th grade high school students should do to be prepared for applications.

"Take some leadership in the clubs and teams you're interested in. Involvement in activities is important, but showing true passion for something and taking responsibility shows a school your ability to take initiative and a belief in your own ability to work with others." - Ethan Gregory, Ed.D., international admissions counselor and advice columnist.

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist

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Interview with GoodCall

Interview with GoodCall

Last week I had a phone interview with a writer at Goodcall.com, a scholarship and university guidance website regarding discounted/Free tuition universities and colleges.

Good Call: What do you call yourself?

Dr. G: Well right now I'm a trainer of college counselors. Although I'm a guidance counselor along with the other jobs I've done before. My current job is working in China in one of the provinces training Chinese counselors to do university counseling, high school counseling and that type of work.

GoodCall: Wow.

Dr. G: Yeah it's a fun job.

GoodCall: Okay. How much experience do you have counseling that kind of thing?

Dr. G: I've been in international college counseling since 2008.

GoodCall: What is your doctorate in?

Dr. G: It's an educational doctorate in counseling psychology. My dissertation was not related to university counseling but comparing Japan and America, mate selection techniques, how we chose our partners and so on. With the counseling psychology doctorate, training counselors is one of the roles most people go into, if not university teaching or counseling supervision.

GoodCall: So your degree is in counseling psychology. For goodcall.com, I saw a brief list of free tuition colleges on Fox News and then I saw this study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and they are saying that tuition discounts are reaching an all time high. So I wanted to get the perspective of people who are familiar with this issue. Obviously free tuition is great, but what are the caveats around that? It seems to me that the tuition discount is only for the freshman year and then it goes back up. So what would you say to students who are considering both of these options?

Dr. G: In general the schools that have been offering free tuition or very reduced tuition usually do it with the caveat that there is going to be some kind of pay back service to the school or in the philanthropy that's done. So maybe a list of Christian universities have a service component to come in for free or very reduced tuition, although the tuition part is severely reduced or free, you're usually giving back in a way that the campus itself is saving money on labor. For instance, at Deep Springs College in rural California there is a ranch and there are only 25 to 30 kids, all men. They are all working on the ranch and they are doing all the house chores and doing all the janitorial work and that's an extreme example. Others are using them for janitorial work up to service learning or working over the summer committing to working 80 hours a week and you that at US News and World Report, a deeper list of schools that are offering discounted or free tuition.

Although that part is free you still have to pay for your room and board or other academic and administrative fees. That has been established and going on for many years at those specific universities. Then there's what's coming up more often in the news how the president has the policy to make community colleges specifically free, or at least two years of college. So the attention is being put on to community colleges in America. The way that that works to my understanding is that you'll be able to go to your first two years of college and hopefully get an associate’s degree and the government within that state will support the learning. Or through federal aid you'll be granted money so that you won’t have to pay back for those first two years with the intent that you'll hopefully go on to a bachelors degree at a four year college or if your two year college is also a four year college you can have that taken care of.

That runs into issues or could run into issues depending on where you're living if you're a high school senior and you're looking to where you might apply. If your state is not doing so well financially, there is a very good chance they are going to have a have a hard time sustaining two years of not paying for your college if you go to a community college and your family can’t help put either, because of the way the budget situation is now. Some states are very close to being bankrupt or barely breaking even year by year and the way that college admissions in general has being going they are trying to admit more and more freshmen at every school. Most schools are having larger freshmen classes because they need more payers to come to their school even if they are offering a certain amount of financial aid to those that need it.

GoodCall: Right, so in other words it's subject to the whims of the state budget possibly.

Dr. G: Potentially yes. Unless the federal government is going to somehow kick in the difference for each of the states or do an ear mark policy that will give you this much money if you're going to support these schools as long as we know that this money is going to go to the first two years of community colleges.

GoodCall: Okay. So it's like seniors listening to the government shut down and possibly endangering their social security payments and that sort of thing.

Dr. G: Yeah, that's one way to look at it, if the federal government needs to shut down for a bit what happens to those federal funds? If it happens in December what happens to that money that's supposed to start for the next semester of community college in January?

GoodCall: That's the uncertainties of government budgeting and that's a good point. What about the tuition discounts, is it worth it? I mean it looks like you get your freshman year discounted but then you go back up to the prevailing rate for the 3 other years, what about that?

Dr. G: Well, depending on if we're talking about a family that could afford 4 years of university at about $25,000 to $35,000 a year in state or if it's a private college or out of states somewhere where the tuition is going to be between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. They are deciding, maybe we could pay this but rather not pay that much money if we can get some type of aid even for just one year and we're going to look at those schools that are offering those programs. Those families that are looking at the universities with the potential to pay but are hoping to not have to are usually the same families that are concerned about ranking and what their degrees will be worth after university time is over. That's going to be hopefully in four years or less or maybe five or six years as the trend is going nowadays. 

Families are thinking about a one year tuition discount which on the surface is a brand new car or potential down payment on a house, but you're looking at a an expensive school, that's a lot of money to be saved if you're also looking at schools on the list that you've seen that typically offer discounts. Those aren't necessary the same schools that people are putting as their dream school they wanted to attend or they're not as well known. Some of the ones that are offering a year discount or free tuition often have strange policies about local admissions only or denominational learning. So for families that are looking at a specific discount, those tend to be the families that aren't also looking at the schools where money is a necessity. If you are a family that has an economic need, then that need is more important than potentially paying out of pocket with student loans and having to pay those back afterwards. If that's not a possibility then any discount is a great discount in any school that's offering free tuition and quality education in the majors that students want to go into. That should probably be looked at.

The same way students are taking AP classes or if they are in an international Baccalaureate program or if they are taking international A levels. Those are also discounts on tuition if they go to a school that gives them credit at the level that they scored at. If you have an AP test and you get three where I went, Florida State University they offer at the level of three out of five on a AP test. You get semesters off that English or that history or that biology so you can come in with your credits ahead of time. That's essentially tuition discount, and that's how any family whether they need tuition discounts or not should be looking at where they choose their university. What is that university is going to be giving me to help me graduate as a student earlier or to pursue more experiences while I'm there? And by getting those credits that's a way that the school can advertise to the student that it's worthwhile to come there because you can do more with your money and not just with a tuition discount.

GoodCall: Okay like credits for AP scores of three or higher, that kind of thing.

Dr. G: Exactly if we're talking about sophomores in high school and I had a chance to speak to the parents, I would highly recommend them taking any possible advanced courses within the students' potential to actually do well on these courses. If the AP’s were available any college would prefer to have the college level course instead of the high school standard level course. But if the family is concerned about financial need coming up in the next few years as their students move through high school or even from junior year to senior year and there are some opportunities to take those AP tests that would be a way for them to find that discount. You're going to pay a hundred or so dollars for the test in senior year for each of those tests instead of paying three or five thousand dollars for each course at the college level.

GoodCall: That seems to be a good trade off.

Dr. G: That would be a great trade off and a lot of families they may just think we're going to have the AP courses and we're going to apply to say a school like Harvard or just a really rigorous school that is really difficult to get in, those schools will give you credit but they don't give the credit of giving you a tuition discount because they expect all of their students to be doing the AP classes at a five level. You won’t be able to go there if you don't take those AP’s. If you went to those well regarded state schools you have the opportunity to go to with your APs or other advanced type courses you're taking. You're going to get a year off in tuition anyway because they are welcoming those students because they know you have the quality of education and you'll be able to perform and not drop out. Now universities are looking for students that are going to remain at school for the four years or more while they are looking at their high school senior transcripts.

GoodCall: Okay, so when you talk to kids or training your counselors earlier in your career about college funding, I guess the free tuition/tuition discounts have come up. So you say to them it’s worth investigating. You mentioned US News and World Report are there other places that student can go to investigate other tuition discounts or free tuition and what that involves?

Dr. G: I would actually recommend a student not go to US News & World Report because their whole business model is based on the rankings. As an international counselor and just a college counselor in general I would really dissuade a family from using rankings from their number one priority of why they should go to a university or not. But that doesn't mean you can go read an article, it depends on what else you're going to see while you're there. You can go to 2plus2.org a great site for community colleges.GoodCall: I got the gist; don't use the rankings as the reason to choose a school and the sites 2plus2.org and another one...

Dr. G: Yeah 2plus2.org, unigo, that's a site that is so full of college information there is no doubt that there are places to find discounted tuition schools and information about them. If you haven't checked out Ivory Tower the CNN documentary it was really informative about how colleges have to compete and where their money goes, it might help you in your article writing.

GoodCall: That's great I'll see if I can get it on Netflix

Dr. G: I don't think it’s on Netflix yet but maybe you can find a free copy somewhere.

GoodCall: It's okay, I really appreciate your thoughts. To me, this looks like it's a good deal for some students like the free tuition but you have to be looking at the specialized field and will it suit your career goals and education goals too.

Dr. G: Exactly, if you need the money then you need to spend the time looking at schools that might offer it to you or at least allow you to come without spending your own. I'll give you another link real quick, it is a policy site, its called freecollegenow.org. They are listing press about the different schools that are offering these things, how to find schools, what type of scholarships exist, loan reform, etc. Check out that site as well, it seems to be pretty informative.

GoodCall; Alright this has been great I really appreciate your comments and I will be wrapping some of them into the article when I get it finished.

Dr. G: Great! Thank you for choosing me.

GoodCall: Thank you.

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist

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