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Fiske Guide to Colleges 2016 - Review

Posted on May 29, 2016 with No comments
The "Fiske Guide to Colleges" Is a good place to start when embarking on your journey in finding a good college. Fiske books have a long tradition of putting out comprehensive guides for helping up and coming college students and their parents select and prepare for college. With over 2,000 colleges to pick from in the U.S. ti's hard to sort through them all. Fiske has solved this problem and narrowed the search down to the 320 most important colleges in the nation.

This comprehensive 848 page book describes 320 colleges in detail with 1,000 to 2,500 word detailed descriptions of each school. You will find an interesting in length discussion of the college campus and list of all the courses and degrees the college specializes in. Background information about acceptance rates, enrollment, and retention rates. A rating system for academics, social scene and quality of life is given.

I like the "Fiske Guide to Colleges". Each college has a well written easy to read listing with much detail included like SAT score data, religious affiliations, sports, and college specializations. It's organized and clear layout lends itself to scanning quickly or more purposeful reading.

Organization of information is one of Fiske's strong points. The 320 colleges are listed by state and country, price range, and private-public.

Each college has a complete essay that includes descriptions of academics, campus setting, student body, financial aid, housing, food, social life, and extracurricular activities.

There also is a listing where Fiske organizes each college by its strength in Architecture, business, art, journalism, engineering, dance, television, drama etc.

You'll find both the good and bad about a school. The result is not just a fact filled dry book but through the text you will get the feel of the college your reading about. Picking a college isn't just about the numbers, it is also about the human touch. Fiske specializes in describing the personality of a college.

With so many colleges Fiske takes a lot of criticism for not including more colleges in this book. You will find the shortcoming of just finding a lot of East and West coast colleges with many Midwest colleges missing.

The "Fiske Guide to Colleges" is not as comprehensive as some other college guides in the number of colleges it covers, but it does cover many things other books don't. Is the Fiske book worth the money? It is if you need a book that gets down into the details and important things any college student needs to know about perspective colleges.

Here are some reviews from Amazon.



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529 Day 2016 - Are You Investing for Your Child's College Education

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Today is 529 College Savings Day (similarly called 529 Day) it's designed to raise awareness about the advantages of saving for college and the various advantages of 529 programs. Whether you're saving for your exclusive schooling or the schooling of a loved one, 529 plans can assist you and make your dreams a certainty.

Currently offered by all FIFTY states, 529 plans get their title from Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which established federal tax advantages for qualified college savings plans. These programs help you plan and save for qualified higher education costs at eligible universities. There are 2 basic 529 plan choices -- pre-paid tuition plans and a 529 Savings Plan, which enable households to prepay for college tuition, necessary costs, and savings programs. The tax benefits of 529 plans are similar to those for 401K retirement savings, however upon withdrawal, earnings are tax free when employed for qualified college costs. Furthermore, some states, offer income tax benefits for those who contribute to that state's 529 program.

The person who opens the 529 account, not the real beneficiary, maintains full control of their 529 money. Funds in 529 accounts may be rolled over to another state's plan-- and can be taken out at any time for any purpose. Withdrawals not designated for qualified college costs carry a 10% federal penalty on earnings unless the student receives a complete scholarship, ends up being disabled, or dies. Unlike other college savings programs, 529 plans do not have earnings restrictions. The maximum savings amount is substantial-- in Virginia, for instance, presently as much as $350,000 can be invested for each individual.
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How to Create a Study Environment in College that Fosters Productivity

Posted on May 26, 2016 with No comments
You shouldn’t feel bad if you cannot get focused in your dormitory or at home. The truth is, it takes a lot of adjustments to turn a room into a highly efficient studying environment. Since this space is playing a great part in the learning process and information retention, it’s high time you take things into your own hands and create an optimal knowledge-acquiring nook.

Beloved music


Many of us listen to some music as we tend to our study notes. Now, does this really help or hinder our learning process? The answer may differ with different people, and I remember I just had to listen to the music when I did my vocabulary drilling to eliminate the surrounding distractions.



Interestingly, the scientists have discovered that keeping our headphones on during the studying process lowers the retention rates. However, the gentle low volume background music is a welcomed study aid.

Dealing with background sounds


I was a true textbook example of a student who gets distracted by pretty much everything, and I actually had to stop mid this sentence to watch an educational cartoon version of Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda (true story!). Students like me are struggling to stay concentrated with an abundance of indoor and outdoor sounds of varied intensity disrupting the silence.


To improve your studying fort, go by Socrates’s words and get to know thyself. Do you need the light background buzz or total silence to thrive? Test out both library and some coffee shop to figure what is your ideal setting. Additionally, consider installing a dependable noise reduction feature in your home.

Illumination


As I’m writing this, I’m pretending the overhead incandescent bulbs (booo!) are not blinding me at all. Thankfully, it’s only temporary, since these conditions can cause serious eye strain and could lead to dry eyes syndrome. During study sessions, it’s downright impossible to soldier on in the overly bright or dimmed ambiance, and it may cause a series of side-effects, from headaches to eye damage.

What to do? Assess the lighting circumstances of your study spot. Get rid of the glare and shadows. Lastly, opt for fluorescent fixtures and quality task lighting.

You’re hot and you’re cold


My fingers don’t seem to get any blood supply as they’re cold all year round in remotely cold conditions. This means that chilly rooms are out of question if I hate to write or type. Fellow individuals may experience this during their learning process, and the cold feel may shift their attention. It works in the opposite side of the spectrum, with hot and humid areas.

The solution: adjust the thermostat at an acceptable level. Otherwise, equip yourself with extra clothes or refreshing beverages.

Clock obsessed


I present to you one of my self-sabotaging habits: checking the time. This has decidedly brought me more harm than good. It works to speed some people up, or get them thinking how new episode of Game of Thrones airs in 4h and they simply have to see what happens to the Mother of Dragons plotline.


How to use the time-keeper to you advantage? Set out a schedule, but don’t get too comfortable and challenge yourself occasionally.


Roommates and other people


I can’t even read a book for longer than 2 min when there’s someone in the room. Ugh! Adapting to other people’s rhythm can be a trouble and a nuisance as well. Sometimes even the littlest discordant sounds and interruptions can drive you crazy. It’s best to get some privacy and let your family or roommates know you need plenty of silent treatment. Employ some noise-cancelling headphones, find a quiet spot and devote your attention to books.

Feng Shui


This is a legitimate method that provides you with a healthy and productive studying environment.

  • Get enough sunlight with a desk moved near the window, as sunlight improves our mood
  • Remove the clutter and clean up (swap the restricted feel and lost notes for an unburdened and relaxed state of mind).

I have dug up some productivity hacks from my studying routine many students will undoubtedly recognise as their own. Master the environment optimisation prior to actual learning to achieve the best results.

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How to Make Your Dorm Room Feel Like Home

Posted on May 21, 2016 with No comments
Living in a college dorm is an inevitable option for many people. Some say that the dorm feels like home; others disagree and think of redecorating it.

If you are among those who believe that there is no place like home, you will definitely invest some time and money into your college dorm in order to make it more comfortable and create a better atmosphere. To do that, you are going to make certain changes. Here are a few ways you can make your dorm feel like home.

Turn the lights ON


Most of the dorms have a very, very poor lighting. They are equipped with overhead fluorescent lights which tend to be no good for studying, working on projects or anything important. Your job is to upgrade it and have minimum three light sources at all time. 


Since this is the only time in your life where utilities are paid for, make the most out of it: I’m talking about light ropes, floor lamps, desk lamps and pendant lamps. Be creative and create lighting everywhere you can and try not to burn your room while doing so.

Do not be a hoarder


Leaving home is usually tough and it brings many sacrifices along the way. When moving out for the first time, people tend to bring tons of things with them, and most of those things they do not actually need. The goal is to ask yourself what you can live without. 

Hoarding stuff will do you no good; in fact, you will just create even smaller space to live in when you bring all those things into your college dorm. You will have to leave some of those things behind and live without them, or downsize your entire inventory.


Improve your work area


Since you are already paying enough money for the college and dorm, you might as well create a surrounding in which you are feeling comfortable. 

Nothing matters if you cannot make things done. Start with your bed: if you get enough sleep and are sleeping comfortably, the rest of the day will be much easier to handle. If your bed is not comfy enough, make sure to buy a new mattress and create perfect sleeping conditions. 

After that, work on redesigning your work area. Create enough free space for you to move while working on a project and put on the desk only the things you will be using. If the desk is too small, consider getting a bigger one, if there is enough room for you to fit it in.

Add a carpet or rug


This one is more important than it actually looks. Instead of buying that cheap $20 rug during holiday specials, consider saving up some money and buying one that you actually like. We are talking about soft Persian carpet, fluffy wool-made rug or even comfy flatweave runner rug


Each of these is unique and special, and will definitely make your room feel like home. The only thing you will have to do to keep it clean is to vacuum it every once in a while and perhaps wash it once in 2-3 months. Other than that, you are completely fine.

Decorate the walls


Most college dorm rooms come painted in white. Some of them you are allowed to repaint while others you are not. If repainting does not work for you, consider putting framed pictures of your family and friends on your side of the room (in case of having a roommate). 

If you are lacking pictures, download them from Facebook or twitter and put them together into a large frame. There will be times when nostalgia kicks in, which is why it is helpful to have these at your side.

Turning your college dorm into a comfortable place to live in will affect your studies and your life as a student in a positive way. All that it takes is a bit of creativity and a small investment. Just remember that you are investing in yourself and your future, which starts today.


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The Highest Paying College Majors in Engineering

Posted on May 19, 2016 with 1 comment

What you chose for you college major makes a big impact on the amount of money you make in your life. These are the findings of the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey. 

Men and women who graduate with degrees in studies like petroleum engineering and pharmaceutical sciences earn $3.4 million more during their lifetimes than those who get degrees in low-paying fields like early adolescence education, art and social work.

Investigators took 4 years worth of information, from 2009-2013, assembled by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, and analyzed life time median wages of college-educated employees in between the ages of 25 and 59. They additionally examined earnings of high school grads throughout that time frame. The findings may not be surprising but they are striking.


1. Petroleum Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $136,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

2. Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $136,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

3. Metallurgical Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $98,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

4. Mining and Mineral Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $97,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

5. Chemical Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $96,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

6. Electrical Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $93,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

7. Aerospace Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $90,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey


8. Mechanical Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $87,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

9. Computer Engineering

Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $87,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

10. Geological and Geophysical Engineering


Median annual wage (ages 25-59): $87,000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey



But college majors do not seal your destiny. Proof: the top 25% of liberal arts and liberal arts majors make greater than all-time low 25% of engineering majors. According to one of the center's findings, while education is one of the lowest-paying majors, the leading 25% of education majors make $59,000 or more annually. At the same time, the bottom 25% of those who major in engineering, which is constantly the top-earning field, make $59,000 or less.






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Should You Gamble on a Prepaid College Tuition Plan?

Posted on May 8, 2016 with No comments
Several states offer ways to pay at present for college credits later. But there can be huge drawbacks.

Pay for tomorrow's tuition at today's prices? That seems like a good deal-- and it may be, however only under certain circumstances.

Here's what you need to understand about prepaid 529 programs.

How Do They Work?


In about a dozen states you can basically purchase academic credits today, at existing prices or with an added premium, for future use at in-state institutions. There's even one program, at privatecollege529.com, that lets you prepay for about 300 nonpublic schools.

The Rules: 


You usually can invest only in your own state, states Joe Hurley, Writer at Savingforcollege.com, which has a list of plans' with all the financial details. And while there are bailout alternatives if your kid wishes to study elsewhere, you may get back just your own investment plus inflation.

Who Can Benefit?


Parents who are fairly certain that their kids will wind up at State U ought to do great. Florida and Maryland residents likewise get generous cashouts if your kid heads somewhere else, letting you walk away with about what you would have put in on in-state tuition.

When Should I Pass It Up?


For most out-of-staters, naturally, pre-paid plans are a nonstarter. And if you believe your child is going to be aiming for Yale rather than the local public university, avoid. A traditional 529 is a safer investment bet.
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Student Housing Property: A Sound Investment

Posted on May 5, 2016 with No comments
Since the number of university students in the whole world has considerably increased in the last few decades, there are new opportunities for investors in different areas concerning students and their needs. The liveliest market at the moment is definitely the student housing market. Due to that fact that campuses and dorms cannot accommodate all the students, there is a growing demand for affordable private rental properties. Here is where investors and students should be looking for sound investment opportunities.

Fund stakeholder


By becoming a student housing fund stakeholder, you do not have to invest any large sums of money while having a chance to earn some. Also, here you share the profits and responsibility with other people. That way your money is not directly exposed to market issues, but all the stakeholders make their decision together.


Although the return on this investment is not as high as it would be if you were the only investor, here you can scale your investment in accordance with your financial situation and predictions, which is a perfect option for a student. You might be able to buy a property in the housing unit your fund has financed, but you could also decide to keep making money from the profits the fund makes.

Mortgage availability


Banks are not too open-minded when it comes to students and mortgages. If you have not finished your studies yet, banks do not have any sort of guarantee that you will pay back your mortgage. However, there are still some options for students who want to get their own property during studies. What students need to do is to contact the lenders and banks that give a chance to young students to get a home of their own.

Although this sounds like an SF-scenario, the growing number of students makes financial institutions change their policies, too. Of course, students will need to make a deposit payment or find a guarantor with a property that will serve as a proof that you will be paying your mortgage installments regularly. You can read more about those new conditions on the student housing market in this piece.

Buying considerations


Let's say that you have been granted a mortgage or you have saved enough assets to buy your own place. The sole act of buying a property has to be thought through well ahead, in order to avoid any tricks and frauds. Firstly, you should choose the location that will not waste your time. This also means that you should analyze the future potential of the location and the property itself, claim asset advisory specialists.

Secondly, the type of the property also plays an important role. Buying a flat means fewer demands in the future when it comes to maintenance. However, if you have cash, it would be wise to consider buying a house. That way you can rent a part of the place and make some profits along the way. 


Finally, if you are buying a property of your own, you should bear in mind that you might need to sell it if you have to move when you find a job. This is why students should never buy properties in less attractive areas, only because they can get a few more square feet in such parts, but go for more attractive parts where the price of the property will rise.

Buying a home is never an easy option. Even families with children are often uncertain whether or not they will be able to make the ends meet if they decide to buy a property, let alone students. On the other hand, it is always cleverer to invest money in a real estate than to waste it. If you are investing your money in a well-maintained place in a prosperous neighborhood, you will not regret it and it might even bring some profit in the future.


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