Stick to Your Plan..

From an International Student's Perspective

College life can be so overwhelming. Having a strategy in place as you begin your journey will help you ease the strain. Below, I will provide some tips on how you can successfully map out your college experience.

1. Master your Finances
It is critical throughout your entire college experience to ensure you have all your educational needs taken care of. However, it is important to try and avoid spending on “wants or luxuries” while in college (e.g., taking on a high car loan, or running your credit card to pay for pizza, groceries etc.). The college experience is a long journey, which may have many unseen obstacles. You may even choose to further your studies by attending graduate school, so trying to maintain your finances early on is incredibly important for you to be able to manage student debt.

2.Early Registration & keeping a stick note course-map

It is important throughout your college experience to understand how every class fits together toward your degree. You can easily build a self-made integrated map of your entire program and class guide to see which classes you need to take in advance. Early registration also helps you cut down on stress levels, if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so, by getting your classes lined up. If you can’t register early, still have your registration lined up and ready. Academic advisors will have more time to help and guide you if you are already prepared.

3.Aim for a high GPA in your early classes as they are easier

When college starts, in general the easiest courses are lined up first (with exception of the notorious “weed-out” classes). Make the most of this time to ground a solid GPA standing. Later on, the classes become more challenging and will require more effort. A healthy GPA as you progress will be important in helping you attract scholarships that can cushion your college bills.

4.Free Tutor Services: Use them!!

Not all college classes will be easy A’s. A quality college education is designed to give you a well-rounded idea of most disciplines. The most important thing to know about college is that no one is out to make you fail; looking for free tutors who can help you understand difficult concepts you encounter in your classes can be beneficial towards your success. This is a complimentary service offered in most universities—especially in those difficult science and math classes—but is rarely used by students.FB SU Logo


College Advising Tips

From an International Student's Perspective

Upon college admission, it is important to understand every college in the United States has academic support structures to help you realize and achieve your dreams. The best part, of course, being that all this is free of charge. Academic advising is an important part of the learning process. It would be a waste to complete your college education without asking for advice on the hard academic decisions you need to make—decisions that will impact your professional career.

Below are the three Rs you need to keep in mind to make the most of your advising and college experience:

  1. Responsibility – Talk to your Advisor

You need to take full ownership of your life. No one will chase you down and make you visit an advisor; rather, it is your duty to seek advice on hard academic decisions. Schedule regular visits to see academic staff who can help you make good decisions in college. But before you march into an advisors office, always be prepared: compile a list of questions beforehand so you know exactly what to ask, and know the different areas of expertise of your various faculty and staff so you can decide whom to talk to and receive advice from the best resource possible. Follow up your session with the advisor by letting them know what you have done since your meeting; this is very important in helping build strong relationships with your advisors and not becoming just another face in the sea of students.

2. Relationships-Ask Questions

College is a good place to meet people from all over the world. As a result, college advisors have networks in all of these places with people in all sorts of business areas. Foster open communication with your advisors so that they can connect you with professionals in your area of interest. Academic advising is communication: it never goes one way and it’s in your best interests to always build long-lasting connections.

3. Resources-Find out all you need to know

Each and every college has various support structures—such as academic advisors—who are there to help you learn policies, procedures, and requirements. All this information is normally given to you on the first day of school. While this information is very essential, it can be overwhelming to comprehend when received all at once. Take advantage of the resources available to you. Make efficient and effective use of academic tools at your disposal; after all, you pay for it!

Visiting advisors can put you on the right path to success. Once they help you figure out where the journey will take you, you can map it out. The road to a destination always has more than one possible route. Planning the journey before you begin can help you avoid unexpected roadblocks on your trip to graduation.

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3 Ways to finance your College Tuition

From an International Student's Perspective

The biggest challenge after we select our major is which college to pick and, of course, how we are going to afford to attend. From an international students’ perspective, this may mean the end of the road as many local scholarships may not apply to them.

Our attention is drawn to the average cost of attendance, which normally is a lot higher than one may expect and results in prospective students being frustrated before they even apply. It is important to figure out as early as possible how to best position yourself to cover your financial needs.

First and foremost, as per our last topic “Major or College,” we emphasized the need to apply to as many colleges as possible. It’s a great idea to divide your college selections into 3 or more groups. For example, where you know you qualify (GPA and Cost of Tuition), where you hope to be admitted, and finally where you wish you can be admitted. This gives you more options and increases the likelihood of receiving a big financial-aid package.  Don’t forget to look at how much a college receives in endowments, rather than just the average cost of attendance. This figure is a good indicator of how much a college has in its coffers to award in scholarships.

Second, based on your financial background, there are different ways colleges can handle your financial needs. Colleges have different sets of scholarships such as need based scholarships, merit based scholarships, and first-come-first-served based scholarships. Students need to be proactive by consulting with a college’s financial aid department to see if they qualify for these options.  Need based scholarships are available for students who: (a) show they have achieved success despite hardship or (b) an unusual challenge and (c) may have not had the opportunity for enriching educational or personal circumstances or (d) the socio-economic climate of their community. International students are not exempt from also filing for a need-based out of campus work petition to the federal government. Part-time employment can help ease the financial burden of college costs such as books, room and board, cellphone bills, etc.

Merit based scholarships exist for those students who show exceptional academic talent; these are highly competitive and thus require you to have an excellent record of good grades. Some universities may also offer first-come-first-served scholarships; a lot of ground work and research has to be done to realize all of the opportunities open to you at college.

Finally, as an international student, it is important to ask for a guidance counselor who is able to assess your financial needs and advise accordingly. College resources such as guidance counselors are available in colleges to offer more detailed information on how you can lessen your financial burdens and complete your study at the college of your choice.FB SU Logo

College Major or Major on Colleges

From an International Student's Perspective

Choosing a major or college can be a daunting process, one that has no clear-cut answers. However, it is imperative to always consider the basis of our previous article “Things we should know before studying Abroad” as a guide to this article: ask for direction and know your choices. In essence, explore.

I personally pondered deeply “where would I go to college?” and “what would I do in college?” It ate me up inside, I spent hours upon hours on the net searching for ideas, and I threw my applications out there without knowing exactly what I wanted to study or where to study it. My mind was clouded by other people’s perception of how a top-class private college can turn a “normal folk” into a millionaire (see Marissa Meyer, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.). I started to research the topic more and more: what is more important? The college or the major? I kept asking myself whether an employer would look more at the college I attended or the major I selected (thus, my skillsets) when I graduate. Ultimately I decided, and firmly believe, that the major you select should determine the college you attend and not the other way around.

So many people will advise you to follow your heart’s passion, and I really second that; your passion is important to consider when deciding what major to pursue and, ultimately, what college to attend. However, there is more to passion than just chasing a dream. It should ultimately help you sustain your life and that of your family in the long run. It should amount to something more than just a feeling: perhaps a tangible skill that can be used to gain employment or put you in a position to employ others.

Four years in college is a very high opportunity cost in terms of both time and money. Should you not enjoy the major you selected, or, worse off, if you survive college and realize you have no interest in the job it prepared you for, it becomes a life sentence! But it’s important to remember that this is your decision to make; take ownership!

While this shouldn’t entirely influence your decision, a little thought about the job market forecast sometimes helps determine your major of interest.  Consider the past and current job market trends in the selected field: are they growing or shrinking? Either way, one has to understand that the job market is highly volatile. What used to be the best job 10 years ago may not even be important today.

In conclusion, I have come to the understanding that while having a prestigious college on your resume can be really enticing, a more rewarding experience is finishing college knowing full well that you are confident, passionate, and excited about your major and future prospects. Focusing on the college major should come first.  Then you can focus on which college to attend and the financials of the college experience. So what comes first to you? College, or major?   FB SU Logo

5 Things You Should Know Before Studying Abroad

From an International Student's Perspective

The transition to college can be daunting, especially when that college is in a different country; as prepared as I thought I was, here are five things hindsight has told me I wish I knew:

  1. Ask for direction 

The college journey is filled with so many experiences; but remember, all that happens under the sun is not new. Have the courage to step out and connect with advisors to inquire about your future, consult your grades and opportunities, and even discuss the major you are considering. Asking professionals around the industry can help you discover ways to uniquely adapt your plan for the future.

2.Know your Choices

Before you start college, have options. Don’t just jump on the first acceptance letter you receive. It is crucial to follow your plan of study and know what you or your financier can afford. As a college student, there are many institutions that will offer you credit facilities. The high cost of college may make you justify using credit services as a means to an end. It’s important to understand the implications of using these services; what does it really mean?

3.Go for the scholarships / Get a college Job!

Good grades do pay off. Having good grades in college is a rewarding experience; with the right grades, you position yourself for various opportunities that can significantly reduce your tuition fees. A college job can surely bring those pizza slices to your table. Get busy and get experience! Landing a job can boost your resume and impress recruiters.

4.Get yourself connected / Join the network craze!

College diversity is the perfect platform to meet new people from all over the world. It is amazing how many students have a great deal in common, but are not within each other’s immediate social circles. New networks through college friendships lay the foundation for innovative ideas, creative inventions, and lifelong partnerships.

5.Invest in Professors    

It is important to establish a relationship with your professors; try and not be just another student face to them. Professors have the ability to help you develop and enhance your skills. Learn how to take constructive criticism from them before receiving it in the corporate world. College professors have been in the industry. Learning from their experiences in a classroom environment is like looking into the window of your business world; soak up their advice.

No matter how prepared you are, you will still be surprised when you start your journey. Sometimes you have to learn by living, but hopefully my five gave you some insight. Why not share some of yours?FB SU Logo