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Being accountable (literally) for educating yourself about personal finance

The Aspiring Adult

Late last year, there was a post published in the Huffington Post’s Money Blog. The post—written by Ben Mulling, the chief financial officer at TENTE Casters, Inc.— details the Four Steps to Educating Students about Personal Finance.

Mulling’s main message of the post is that college students must take personal accountability for educating themselves about finances. He believes that this lack of personal finance education is what leads students to make so many financial mistakes early on in their lives. Mulling cites that only 22 percent of students understand how income taxes work, and only 31 percent understand how credit card interest works.

Mulling’s message of the post resonated more so with me now than ever. Less than three months from now, some of my very close friends will walk away with bachelors degrees. They’ll also walk away with a substantial amount of student loans to…

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Taking Notes? Ha.

Write Then & There

Sitting in Finance class. What is a desolate college student to do? Notes have been taken, seat buddies have been conversed with, and the professor is telling a story about the Dow Jones.

INSPIRATION! Or rather, a wonderful idea stolen from my friend, Ella. It consists of a little man walking among the blue notebook lines, when he realizes that life is more than just the two lines that he is strolling between. He then decides to step down and explore the line below:

photo 2

He becomes bored with the line below fairly quickly, and decides to move on to lower pastures, but loses his balance:

photo 1

Skipping forward in Little Guy’s life, he has somehow acquired a miniature dog and is taking it for a walk. Then, without warning, they come upon a cat, and…well…

photo 4

And of course

photo 3

I hope the rest of his day was less stressful!


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International Day
FEBRUARY 20TH, 2013 5:00AM – 7:00PM EST

Are you intrigued by the idea of attending a U.S. university? Join us today for International Students Day, a free online event dedicated to helping you decide if studying in the U.S. is right for you.Image

Login anytime from 5:00AM to 7:00PM on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 to:

  • Live chat with hundreds of U.S. universities, including University of Florida, University of Chicago, and NYU.
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“The Schuler Scholar Program”

About The Schuler Scholar Program

Launched in 2001 by Jack Schuler and daughter, Tanya Schuler Sharman, the Schuler Scholar Program (SSP) was originally conceived as a vehicle for the Schuler Family Foundation to provide college scholarship assistance to bright, motivated high school students in order for them to matriculate to selective, private colleges and universities. Students at partner high schools in the Chicagoland area would be chosen in the spring of their freshman year to receive mentoring and college counseling while in high school and a scholarship award for college.Colgate2012_380px

Waukegan High School was selected as a partner in 2002. In an effort to jump start the program, in addition to selecting a group of freshman scholars, two college scholarships were awarded to graduating seniors. Shortly thereafter the program evolved to include providing high school academic support and enrichment programs designed to prepare the scholars for the rigors of a selective college. In 2006, SSP partnered with Round Lake High School and in 2008 the first class of Schuler Scholars was selected at Warren Township High School. In 2009, scholars from Highland Park High School joined the program and in 2010 the partnership expanded to Maine East High School. In 2011 the SSP renewed its partnership with St. Martin de Porres High School.

In 2009, in an effort to expand its impact on the young people served, the SSP modified its scholar selection strategy and began accepting applications from students in the spring of their 8th grade year in school. In the new model, the selected scholars receive an additional year of programming while in high school.

With a growing number of Schuler Scholars on selective college campuses across the country, it became clear that scholar support was also needed during the college years. Today, a Schuler Outreach Coordinator serves as a liaison between the college scholars, Alumni and staff and provides guidance to the scholars as they navigate life in a place far from home.


The Schuler Scholar Program (SSP) prepares under-resourced, high potential students to succeed at the most competitive private colleges and universities.  Schuler Scholars are typically first-generation college-bound, come from under-resourced families or communities and will need financial assistance in order to attend college. Many Scholars are from a population that is under represented on college campuses.

We believe that if high achieving but potentially vulnerable students have access to academic and enrichment programs while in high school, are well-informed of college options, receive support from family, friends, teachers and mentors, are motivated, and secure financial assistance, they will be successful in obtaining a college degree.

The Mannerly Student: “College Classroom Etiquette Tips for 2012”


By: Diane Gottsman

1. Don’t assume your laptop is a welcome guest – While many universities encourage you to bring your laptop to class, it’s not a universal theme with all schools. Professors are often concerned with the use of laptops in class because odds are students are actually on Facebook when they say they are taking notes. Imagine that! Your professor should specify on the first day, if not, ask.

2. Turn it off – Disruptions such as a cell phone going off, head down and texting, or one ear bud in your ear while listening to your favorite tunes is not a welcome addition to class. Your undivided attention is most respectful and responsible.

3. Monday morning blues – Repeatedly missing your Monday morning class with multiple excuses for your absence will soon fall on deaf ears when you are captured on FB living large on Sunday evening or eating breakfast at your favorite restaurant at the same time you are supposed to be in class.

4. Your prof’s name is not Jim until he says so – Until you are asked by your professor to call him or her by their first name, err on the side of caution and address them with their proper honorific, Dr., Ms. or Professor. While college campuses are often more casual than high schools, it is up to each instructor to guide you as to what they prefer to be called.

5. Dress appropriately – PJ’s and house slippers are not for the classroom. Even if you can get away with it, think of the image you are projecting when a professor is determining how dedicated you are to the subject. If you are on the fence between pass/fail, you have a better shot at pass if you are not sitting in class in your underwear.

6. No such thing as “fashionably late” – If class starts at 10:00 am, be in your seat by 10:00 am…not 10:05 or 10:15. Again, the impression you make is paramount to your future success. Your professor can be a mentor, a job reference or your worst nightmare when it comes to securing a job, an internship, a scholarship or a vote of confidence to another teacher or future employer.

7. Snack with discretion – While you may be running from one class to another and your stomach is growling to the tune of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, pick food items that don’t have an overpowering smell or make a nasty mess. A tuna salad or Frito pie are not on the top 10 list for obvious reasons. There should be no smell, sound or onion bits left behind when you leave class.

8. Choose your seat wisely – A corporate tip that applies to university students, select a seat within the first three rows of the classroom. You will definitely be noticed if you are sitting in the last row, last seat with one foot out the door. The message it sends is that you are not interested and not involved. While you don’t have to sit in the front row, the second or third row is still a good showing of being in the game.

9. No bells or whistles – If you have an alarm on your watch, turn it off. It’s annoying to hear a beep every half hour to remind your professor that you are a clock watcher. Checking your watch every 15 minutes to see how long you have left sends the message that you are anxious to get out of class because you have something better to do.

 10. Avoid monopolizing your professor’s time– If you would like to have a lengthy conversation with your professor or need clarification on a certain topic, make an appointment to meet after class. Don’t linger after with a list of questions that you could have easily asked in class and everyone could have benefited from.

11. No video or recording unless approved in advance – Nothing should be taped unless you receive prior permission from your professor. And certainly, don’t put anything on social media that has not been previously approved by your professor or the department head. When in doubt, ask.

12. Treat your T.A. with courtesy – Though your class’ teaching assistant may be your age, offer the same respect you would the professor. They are there to help you with the assignments, not hand out the answers—bribing them with Twinkies generally will not work.

“From a Professor’s Perspective: Advice for College Students”


Huffington Post Blog Entries By: Katherine Sharp Landdeck, Ph.D. Katherine is an Associate Professor of History, Texas Woman’s University. She is associated with the Op-Ed Project.

As university and college classrooms across the nation once again open their doors to their new freshmen classes, expectations are great. Nationwide the cost of college tuition has risen 8 percent since last year alone. The average student loan debt for all ages is just over $24,000.

Pressure is on the students to do well and to get done in four, or even ridiculously three, years in order to keep their debt down and get onto the job market and pay back those loans.

Universities too are under pressure for students to finish their education quickly with funding in states like Texas, Virginia, Colorado and Illinois being linked to graduation rates. With all of this external pressure the students themselves can be lost in the rush. As a history professor I want my students to graduate in a timely manner and with as little debt as possible. But I also want them to learn, have new experiences, and do well. College is somewhat about the potential job at the end, but it is also about learning new things that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Over the years I have watched my students as they navigate the college experience for themselves and I try to offer them encouragement and guidance down their chosen path. This is their chance to improve their own futures and those of their family. So here is my advice for today’s students. Following these basic suggestions will help you get better grades, have more opportunities, get your degree more quickly, and get the most out of your college years.


First and foremost, go to class. It may seem obvious, but attending class really does matter. It is easily the simplest thing you can do to succeed in college. Years after I’ve taught a student, I can run into them on campus and tell them where they used to sit in my class. Your professors may not always remember your name, but they know that you are there, and they care. And professors pay attention to that attendance when it comes to grade-time, particularly if you are a borderline grade. If you don’t go to class, you aren’t just missing content; professors often give tips for studying, helpful hints for exams, sometimes even bonus points that you will miss if you are not there. Besides the obvious fact that you are paying to be in the class and learn what the professor has to teach, these little extras can add up to a great advantage over time.

Don’t sit in the back of the classroom, especially if you end up in one of those dreaded 200-plus person lecture courses. It is simply too easy to check-out or not attend. Sit in the second or third row (often the first row is just too close) and you will be able to hear and see the professor and she or he will be able to see you. It will put additional pressure on you to pay attention, even if it is not your favorite subject. At the very least, you will not miss anything and will be better prepared for exams.

To enhance your chances of graduating in four years take the core curriculum, that is the basic science, math, history, and so on, first. As you take these courses you will have the chance to explore different fields and meet professors from all parts of campus. Perhaps you will find a new passion or a major you hadn’t considered beforehand. And if you end up having to transfer to another university for some reason (or from a community college to a four-year) the courses are most likely to transfer, which means no lost time or money, if they are the basics.

Sticking with one or two majors while in school helps you graduate sooner. That said, don’t complete a major you’ve realized you hate. Life is short. Don’t be a nursing major if you hate blood and love political science. Prepare yourself to find a job in the field you are passionate about; not the field some survey says will have jobs. Most people work 40 hours per week. Extrapolate that over your lifetime. Do you really want to do something you hate just because it was the major someone else thought you should do?

Follow directions. It sounds obvious, but you would be amazed how frequently the simplest directions are ignored to the detriment of a student’s grade. Faculty often spend hours toiling over detailed assignments in an attempt to guide students to do the work as they want it. Then, frustrated by those directions not being followed, they take points off of the offending student’s grade. Your professor wrote the directions for a reason and likely spent significant time thinking about them. So read them and follow them. Your grades will thank you.


Be curious. Participate in something, anything, even if you are a commuter. College is partly about earning good grades, but it’s also about opportunities you won’t have after your four years are up. Consider taking classes where travel is involved, or completing internships. Go to events and talks. Listen, participate and learn. This is the one time in life where your primary job is to acquire knowledge. You have an incredible resource in your professors and others on campus — people who have devoted their entire lives to their specialty — so tap that well of information.

Speak to the professor. Every professor should have office hours when they are available to students. Go introduce yourself. Keep it brief and to the point, and avoid sucking-up, but let the professor know who you are and that you are interested in the class. If they know who you are and that you are interested in the subject, they might think of you when special opportunities arise. You never know.


Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, whether it is an assignment, a concept, or even a word, raise your hand and ask. You are there to learn. You are not supposed to know everything when you arrive. Truly. That said, you must do your part. Come to class prepared.

Do the assigned readings before you arrive in class. Do the homework you’ve been given beforehand as well. It might answer your questions before you begin or it might confuse things, but at least when you ask your question you can say “I read about that in our chapter and now you are talking about it but I’m afraid I still don’t get it. What about X?” The professor will know you are trying and be more willing to spend extra time with the question. And if you have done the reading, come to class, and still don’t get it, chances are your classmates will be relieved you have asked the question they had as well.

Remember that grades do matter. There’s an old joke: “What do you call the medical school graduate with the lowest grades in his or her class? Doctor.” While funny, it suggests that doing the minimum to graduate stills lets you walk away with the same piece of paper as the students who worked their hearts out for the A. This, obviously, is true. But while you don’t have to kill yourself for straight A’s, good grades do matter. Those special opportunities that periodically open up — having lunch with an important guest speaker, a last-minute scholarship, a job-opening — are going to the students professors think of first and those are students they know and who take class seriously. Good grades suggest someone who is not only smart, but is reliable and can be counted upon to represent their university well. And while on your post graduation resume you will only put your degree and not your GPA, you can put that you were magna cum laude and name the honors societies to which you belonged to let a potential employer know you are smart and dependable. It might make a difference.


Recognize that you are not a “customer.” Customers are passive beings who wait in line for their cheeseburger and complain when it has mustard instead of ketchup. As a student you must be active. You are paying for the opportunity to be around others hungry to learn and teachers anxious to share their knowledge and help you learn how to expand your own knowledge. A professor’s job is not to make you happy. A professor’s job is to make you think. And that means you must actively engage in your classes even if they aren’t in your primary area of interest. And you must think. We cannot and will not do it for you.

Don’t sleep in class. We can see you. Enough said.

Finally, enjoy learning. While practical folks will say college is about getting the piece of paper that will get you the job, I hope you will see it as more than that. Fun with friends is important. Find those with similar interests as well as those who are different. Expose yourself to new things. Life is interesting and college is your chance to learn an incredible amount in a short, intense period of time. Enjoy it.

These are just some of the many things that professors wish students knew. They are the common sense that sometimes gets missed but can make all the difference in the world. When you graduate from college you are giving yourself the chance to make a higher wage and more likely to have a job with benefits then if you don’t attend. Your children are more likely to have those opportunities too. And, importantly, you are educating yourself in the base of knowledge that will make you a better citizen of your nation and of the world. Following these guidelines will make you a better student, open up more opportunities, and help you make the most of your years in higher education. Follow them. Share them with your friends. And call your mother. She misses you.

“College Advice: High School Habits To Drop Before College, According To Reddit”


Incoming college freshmen, take note: University life comes with an unwritten rule book. Break any one of these regulations and your lowly freshman status will instantly be revealed. (Quick tip: Don’t wear your school’s lanyard around your neck. Just don’t.)

Luckily for college newbies, Reddit users compiled a handy list last week of high school habits to drop before you set foot on campus. Click through the slideshow on the link below to soak up their wisdom. Before you know it, you’ll be a college pro, too.

Which freshman habits are you guilty of? If you’re already in college, what’s your best piece of advice for incoming freshmen? Tell us in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen! Also refer to the Huffington Post link below to explore more about college advice.

“42 College Tips I Learned Freshman Year”


By: Thomas Frank

Update: If you like this post, you’ll definitely want to check up my huge, in-depth follow-up, 27 College Tips I Learned Sophomore Year.

When I started college, I was just like any other normal student. My only real concerns were my classes and my part-time job; everything else I did was for fun. I learned a lot during my freshman year, though, and as I learned I began to focus on more productive things. Here’s a collection of college tips and bit of info that helped me out a lot.

  1. Always go to class. A lot of bloggers will debate this one, but I think it’s essential. You never know when the professor will drop a crucial test hint, or give out extra credit for attendance.
  2. If you have to choose between a double major and getting involved on campus, get involved. All the knowledge in the world won’t help you if you come out of college with no experience or professional relationships.
  3. ALWAYS back up your files. Dropbox makes this easy as can be.
  4. Make sure your computer is protected against malware. Install Microsoft Security Essentials or Avast Anti-virus, and use a web browser other than Internet Explorer. Installing the Adblock extension doesn’t hurt, either.
  5. Learn to do your taxes and your FAFSA yourself, instead of letting your parents do it. Knowing how to handle these things will prepare you for life after college.
  6. Get a bank account with a bank in town. It can be really inconvenient having to wait for Mom to send cash, and it teaches you to manage your own finances.
  7. Get a credit card, and make all your month’s purchases on it up to 20% of the card’s balance. This will help to start building your credit. If you start spending more, or can’t pay the balance in full for even one month, tear the card up.
  8. Bring enough clothing to school with you that you can go two weeks between washings. This will save you money in the long run.
  9. Never leave your clothes in a washer after the cycle is over. Be there to take them out a minute before the cycle ends. Not doing this is rude, and people WILL pull your clothes out and set them somewhere.
  10. If you have new colored clothes, wash colors separately from whites the first few times you wear them. Otherwise, toss ‘em all in the same load if they’ll fit.
  11. Try not to drink too much caffeine. It’s really not good for you (it caused pretty bad acne for me), and you can get energy by staying well-hydrated, eating healthy foods, and sleeping enough.
  12. If you’re having issues with your roommate, talk about them. Don’t let them build up to the point where you can’t stand each other.
  13. Get a part-time job, preferably doing something that relates to your major. If you can, work in the early morning – you’d just be sleeping otherwise. I’ve found that having a job actually helped with my time management when I first started school.
  14. If you can’t find a part-time job that relates to your major, look for a “warm-body” job – one that allows you to do homework while working. Some examples would be working at the desk of the library or the athletic center.
  15. If your school offers a position that helps with summer orientation for incoming students, apply for it. This kind of job will build your confidence and communication skills like none other.
  16. Get to know your professors. College is just as much about networking as it is about sitting in class. Plus, most of them are bored out of their skulls during office hours.
  17. If you have younger siblings that come to visit, supervise their use of your microwave. Trust me on this one.
  18. Don’t bring a car to campus if you don’t need one. Many schools have great public transit systems, and Facebook can net you rides when you need them.
  19. If you are bringing your car to campus, buy the parking permit that puts your car closer to you, even if it’s a bit more expensive. It’ll save you a lot of time (and whining).
  20. Live in the campus residence halls your first year if you can. Residence halls aremuch, much more social than apartments, and you’ll be involved in a lot more cool things.
  21. Realize that you are an adult now; just because you don’t have to go to work for eight hours a day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like it. Be professional.
  22. When you study, don’t do it in your room. Also, try to use an active study method such as making flashcards or writing your own quizzes. It’s a lot less boring and a lot more effective than just looking over your professor’s slides.
  23. Getting a tutor does not make you look dumb. Not getting one when you need help does.
  24. Flip-flops in the bathroom. No exceptions.
  25. Freezy Pops from Wal-Mart are a great substitute for fattier desserts.
  26. Take smart notes. Use a laptop in content-heavy classes that don’t give you time to write things on paper. If you do use paper, use the Cornell Method. See more note-taking hacks here.
  27. Find out when you can register for classes and do right at that moment. You’ll thank yourself later when your friends are having to do an extra semester because they couldn’t get into a required class.
  28. Try out as many clubs as you can. Feel no obligation to them if you don’t like them. College is about finding out what you love to do.
  29. Don’t put your alarm clock anywhere you can reach it. Make yourself get out of bed to turn it off.
  30. If your roommate isn’t still sleeping, turn on the light immediately after waking up. Light helps you feel more awake and reduces the chances of you going back to bed.
  31. Don’t get drunk, but don’t miss the show when your friends do :)
  32. You need a calendar. Google Calendar is probably the best one there is.
  33. Never underestimate the value of a care package from Mom.
  34. Get out and explore your campus. If you have to ask your friends where the main financial office is, you’ve failed. Same goes for exploring the city your campus is in.
  35. Find out what resources your school offers. Many universities have free tech support centers, health centers, seminars, and more.
  36. Get an internship the summer after your sophomore year. You’ll forge professional connections early on and make it easier to get another internship the next summer. Graduating with two under your belt will give you a real leg up on the competition.
  37. Keep a journal if you can. It’s great to be able to go back and see how you’ve progressed over the years.
  38. Connect with your school’s career center; your career advisor will be an invaluable resource in the years to come.
  39. Create a resume if you don’t already have one, and have it critiqued by someone who knows what they’re doing.
  40. Go to every career fair, even if you’ve already lined up a summer job. You want to build relationships with recruiters, and they’ll remember your face if you show up every time.
  41. Take a speech class, even if you don’t have to. Communication skills are among the more important things recruiters look for in students.
  42. Be confidentget out of your comfort zone, and try new things. College is the greatest opportunity you’ll ever have for personal development.

There you have it – the answers to life, the universe, and everything – or maybe just to making freshman year the best it can be. Leave your own college tips in the comments!

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