Not for everyone, but might be the best for you.

Written by buzz. Posted in Collage

By: Stacy Liberatore

Not only did you cross the stage to receive your diploma but, you crossed over the threshold of a milestone in your life. Now it is time to make one of the biggest decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Which college are you going to attend?

You have looked at 50 different colleges, done the orientations, but none of them seem to fit you in the right way. Well fear not, community college may just be the way to go.

4 out of 10 high school graduates start their college education at a community college. Community colleges were developed for two major purposes: To serve as a bridge from high school to college by providing courses for transfer students toward a Bachelor degree. The second is to prepare students for the job market, by offering entry-level career training.

If you are paying for college all by yourself, community college seems the best route to take. You can live home, while saving on living expenses. And let’s face it mom’s home cooked meals beats the cafeteria food any day.

Maybe your grades weren’t that great in high school, almost half of us are guilty of that. And all the college letters you received back are nothing but rejection letters. But, when one door closes another one opens. The wonderful thing about community colleges is, they accept everyone! It’s getting that second chance that everyone deserves.

With the economy at an all time low most students have to work at least part-time, if not full-time to get by in today’s world. Juggling a full schedule of classes and a full week of work can be exhausting, but community colleges provide flexible times for classes that seem to fit everyone’s schedule. Since the schools are smaller in attendance compared to a 4 year college/university, the class sizes are smaller. Allowing students to have a better relationship with their professors and seek out the help they may need to obtain a passing grade in the class.

The college you choose can either make you or break you. It is like buying a car, you never jump right into one and drive it off the lot; you sit in the driver seat and imagine yourself cruising down the highway. You have to find the one that fits you. And community colleges seem to fit everyone from every different life with every different plan.

Alcohol – The Forbidden Fruit

Written by buzz. Posted in Collage

Written by: Michael Arnold

College and drinking. The words have almost become synonymous. We’ve all seen National Lampoons, Animal House. But in American colleges this sort of exaggerated lifestyle has become pervasive.

Animal House

National Lampoon's Animal House

How often are college kids drinking, and what are the real effects? Has the use of alcohol transformed from a casual party starter to an unhealthy way of life? In fact, it has.

Studies have shown that 31% of American college students currently meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. The consistent use of alcohol sustained for four years can easily become habitual and lead to alcoholism after college and throughout life.

The serious danger of alcohol abuse doesn’t only apply to the long-term. A 2009 study reported that 97,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-induced sexual assault or rape. A startlingly large figure that will only increase as college communities continue to embrace excessive alcohol consumption as a premier social hobby.

Despite schools’ exhaustive efforts, each new class of college freshmen extols binge drinking as the god of socializing. It is a reality that will never go away unless if one thing is changed – the drinking age. Although an irony, a lower drinking age will actually change the image of alcohol for many youths.

American universities are the only institutions that deal with the trouble of excessive on-campus drinking, because they exist in a country in which the legal drinking age is 21.

European universities don’t experience these problems because the culture forces youths to mature at a younger age. With a barely enforced legal drinking age of 18, France’s adolescents generally have their first experiences with alcohol well before the average American. By the extension of this fact, when they are of university age French youths tend to have already learned how to drink and how to behave with alcohol.

At the Cité Internationale Université de Paris, a large public college on the outskirts of Paris, binge drinking is virtually a non-issue. In fact, students are even permitted to drink publicly on-campus. This notion would be far-fetched to an average American student.

That’s because alcohol has become the forbidden fruit at American colleges. Binge drinking and excessive partying is not only fun because it alters one’s senses, but also because it is taking a risk and doing what’s against the rules. The result: churning out year after year of Americans damaged mentally and physically by years of excessive drinking.

If lawmaker’s would realize that a 21 drinking is not going to change college atmosphere’s, but actually continue to downgrade them, then perhaps there would be a noticeable change in the college party culture.

The Ugly Hangover of College Student Loans

Written by buzz. Posted in Collage

Unemployment for college graduates is one-third that of high school graduates

More than 3 million college students will bask in the pride and relief of earning their diplomas this year. However, once the newly minted graduates peel off their caps and gowns and bid goodbye to the last of the party stragglers, the real life hangover begins in earnest.  Part of this hangover is the current shaky job market, although the good news is that unemployment for young people with college degrees is one-third that of those with only a high school diploma. The real crux of the morning-after affliction is the heavy burden of repaying student loans. And what a burden it is. Student loans are one of the most toxic debts, and they require extreme consumer caution and responsibility.

In the midst of all the youthful hubbub of starting school and looking no further ahead than the upcoming weekend on the town (or the vague notion of graduation down the road), many young people don’t consider the implications — or the fine print — of taking out student loans. Unlike other types of debt, student loans are particularly hard to wriggle out of. Homeowners who can’t make their payments can foreclose; credit card debts can be relieved in bankruptcy. But scrapping a student loan is next to impossible, especially when a collection agency becomes involved.

As tuition rises, many people borrow heavily to pay their bills and the interest piles up fast. Short-term relief may come in the form of deferments (postponing repayment due to going back to school, unemployment, or working in certain fields), but the interest will still accrue. Applying for forbearance (negotiating reduced or suspended payments due to financial hardship) is another short-term relief option, but again the interest accrues and the monkey’s choke hold on the backs of borrowers continues to tighten.

Horror stories abound, including the family practitioner highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article whose original $250,000 student loan has ballooned to $555,000. Loan deferrals, relentlessly compounding interest rates, and a single $53,870 fee when her loan was turned over to a collection agency now keep her awake at night. Her damaged credit has prevented her from buying a home or a new car, and she foresees paying on this loan for the rest of her life. In another frightening case, a laid-off factory worker faces $120 garnishments of her $300 unemployment check to pay the student loan she took out for her also-unemployed son.

Student loans are one of the most toxic debts

If you are in trouble:

  • Contact your lender to negotiate manageable monthly payments.
  • Consider a rehabilitation agreement, which could help your credit report.
  • Apply for income-based repayment, which caps the amount of your income you pay toward student loans.

To avoid trouble:

  • Minimize the amount you need to borrow. It’s not “free” money.
  • Read the fine print. Then read it again.
  • Don’t hide. Notify your student loan servicers every time you change your home address, telephone number, or e-mail address.
  • When you possibly can, pay more than the minimum on your student loans every month, as there is no penalty for early payment on either federal or private loans through Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student loan lender. This will also pay down your loan faster.
  • Know what you owe so you have a clear view of your existing debt.

No hair-of-the dog remedy will ease the effects of this kind of hangover, but channeling the results of that hard-earned education into smart financial management will ultimately clear the way for a brighter future and disengage that nasty monkey from your back.

College Dining Halls Evolve to Serve Healthy Minds and Bodies

Written by buzz. Posted in Collage

They’re not your parents’ college cafeterias anymore, limited to globs of ambiguous meat and a smorgasbord of starch. Today’s dining halls have evolved to meet the demands of a more sophisticated student population who expect healthier and fresher options, including entrees for vegans, gluten-free alternatives, and organic selections. Ethnic cuisines, access to local farmers’ markets, and free WiFi have transformed the old-school dorm cafeteria into a convenient and functional international food court with a focus on more nutritious fare.

That is not to say that the “freshman 15” isn’t a factor anymore. College dining halls still routinely offer tempting fattening foods such as burritos, fries, and ice cream, and not all students make disciplined choices living away from home for the first time. But at least the opportunity for better judgment exists.

College students enjoy healthier dining hall choices

Dormitories themselves have taken the tact of providing kitchens for students who prefer to prepare their own foods. Mini-refrigerators, microwaves, and George Foreman Grills are as vital as laptops in college dorm rooms. A great accompaniment to these appliances is “The Healthy College Cookbook” first published ten years ago by Williams College students and recently updated to accommodate vegan and other nutritious dishes.

Sharp minds demand nourishing fuel. It’s not about filling up on Top Ramen anymore.

College dining hall students enjoy healthier food choices

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