Student Finance

Your Guide to U.S. College Scholarships

Image courtesy of rik-shaw (look for the light) via Flickr (CC2.0)

 

The United States is a popular place to study. And it’s no surprise that that popularity makes it expensive. Universities and colleges in the U.S. will ask you to prove you have enough funds before they will accept you.

Many international students will think that it’s too much for them to afford. But there are ways to get there that won’t break the bank.

Top of that list are scholarships.

Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. The money and eligibility will be different for each one, so don’t expect they’ll all fit you and your needs.

They are competitive too, so it’s worth applying to all the ones you can to increase your chances.

 

Your College

In 2012-2013 more than $8.8 billion in financial support was given to international students studying in the U.S.

Most of this aid comes directly from the colleges and universities.

Once you know which college you want to go to (and have been accepted at), first look for scholarships that institution offers international students. They may have some that apply to particular countries, or fields of study – so enquire with them before you go looking elsewhere. The admissions teams will be able to point you to any scholarships they might have.

 

Your Home Country

The U.S. may offer scholarships to students from your own country (or region).  Or your country might run aid programs itself. For example, the East-West Center Scholarships and Fellowships are aimed at international students from the Asia-Pacific region studying in the U.S. Contact your own government’s education body to find out what’s on offer.

 

U.S. Government-funded programmes

Open to international students in all fields (excluding medicine), the Fulbright Foreign Student Program is the most well-known of government-funded scholarships for international students. It offers scholarships for graduate students to study in the US for one year or more.

Find and contact your nearest U.S. Embassy to find out what’s else you could be eligible for.

Lastly, the Institute of International Education publishes an annual guide called Funding For United States Study. It lists over 800 grants and awards that are offered to international students coming to the U.S.

 

Good luck!

Starting University? Your Guide to Support and Well-being

Image courtesy of GotCredit via Flickr (CC 2.0)

 

University is a one of the best times in your life. But sometimes it can prove difficult and students need support for those problems that arise. Here we give you a quick guide on what support is available that will help you manage what life throws at you.

 

Stress and Mental Health

Living away from your family (often for the first time) can be hard for many people at first. You’re in new social situations and dealing with all the stresses that studying can bring. That is normal.

Luckily, the stigma of talking about these difficulties is rapidly falling away, so whether it’s your doctor, student support groups or national mental health bodies, the options are there for students to seek help when they need it.

Look for your Student Services centre, university website or speak to a student representative to find out more.

 

Social life and Activities

Life away from the classroom can provide much needed distraction from study stresses and a chance to left off steam. Universities have a wide range of societies and sports clubs to cater to your interests and connect you with people who share them. These are a great way to make friends and find your feet in a new environment – so get involved.

 

Staying Safe

The vast majority of people go through their student years without any trouble, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of the law (especially if you’re studying abroad) and take precautions. For example, insurance for your belongings will save you lots of heartache if they are lost or stolen. And knowing that some countries driving on the left hand side of the road (including the UK) is a must!

 

Managing Finances

As well as being the first time away from home, many students will be managing their finances for the first time at university. Money in your pocket can be liberating, but it can also contribute to stress if you’re not careful.

So, as well as trying to keep on top of your budget students should be aware that they can get help and advice from Student Services and other university services. Don’t worry, they’ve heard it all before!

 

 

Summer Travelling on a Student Budget

Image courtesy of Jack Snell via Flickr (CC 2.0)

 

The Long Hot Summer

The one sure thing about university is that you get holidays – lots of them! And summer is the biggest and the best time to set off on some adventures. But they can burn a hole in your pocket too, so here are some tips to keep you on the road…

 

Make the most of them – plan your trip

Planning your budget for your holiday is of course the most important way to keep costs down. Contingency money and travel insurance(!) are also must-haves. You never know when you’re going to need it and you’ll be glad that you have it when you do. If you travel a lot, think about getting annual cover, as the costs tend to be less.

Planning can also steer you clear of the dreaded ‘tourist traps’ that will quickly see your bank balance go south! Main tourist spots will attract a hike in prices, so be sure you know as best you can before you go what you should expect to pay for food, hotels etc.

It’s a long summer, so working and saving before going anywhere is always a good option for students. It gives you the time to save your pennies and plan your trip before setting out.

 

Work whilst you’re away

Finding a job whilst you’re travelling can give you a great chance to get to know the people and culture of a place you’re visiting. Best of all, you’ll make friends for life.

It can also give you a base and the money to explore the country from. Your new friends can give you the inside information on the best places to go and how to avoid the tourist traps that will drain your bank account.

Having experience of working in different countries always looks impressive on a CV too.

 

Use your Social Media

As well as the must-have travel guides in book form, there is a lot you can now research online to find the best deals and most exciting places to go. Social media is also a good way to check what’s going on in certain places and potentially find a job for when you arrive. As ever – be cautious on the internet and never give over your details. Only use it for extra research, as things may be very different when you get there!

Once you’re there, social media can help plug you in to what’s going on in town, and find the best places to explore

 

Festivals and Camps

Festivals and camps that only exist in the summer will often be looking for employees, so can be a great way of having a cheap holiday. Camps like Camp America will pay for your room and board, and you’ll have extra money to spend as you see fit.

Again, this type of work will look great on your CV and you’ll have made great friends whilst enjoying yourself – that can’t be bad!

 

Failing all of that, you can start saving now and travel the world next year!

Apps That Make Uni Life Easier (Part 2)

Image courtesy of Ash Kyd via Flickr (CC 2.0)

 

In the previous part, we looked at three applications that can help you find, organise, and store information ‒ Evernote, Google Drive, and Wikipedia. Here are some more.

 

  1. Bookmooch (http://bookmooch.com/)

Bookmooch is an international online community, where you can exchange books you no longer need for ones you would like to own. So, how do you do it? Register for free, give away unwanted books on your virtual shelf to others and earn points, and use those points to get books that are of interest to you.

Although you need to pay for postage when sending out books to others, the free books you get in exchange can save you a great deal of money over time.

 

  1. Delicious (https://del.icio.us/)

Have you ever lost all your bookmarks from your browser due to a virus attack? Well, here’s a simple solution – begin using a social bookmarking website such as Delicious. Apart from making bookmarking easy by allowing users to categorise links, it also lets the user access saved bookmarks from any device with an internet connection.

 

A word of caution – bookmarks on Delicious are generally visible to all users, so you don’t want to be saving pages you don’t want others to view.

 

  1. Viber (https://www.viber.com/en/)

As a foreign student, it’s quite natural to pine for friends and family once you’ve spent a few months away from home. Making international phone calls isn’t always an option, as they can cost a fortune. So, downloading Viber would be a cheaper option. In addition to making calls, you can also send text or picture messages, and all of this is absolutely free.

But what if the person you would like to talk to isn’t on Viber? Easy! Use Viber-out, a service that offers calls to any mobile or landline number at low rates.

 

So, if you are finding campus life stressful, maybe download a few applications that can help you cope.

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

 

give away
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to give someone something you no longer need
Example : When Roger retired, he gave away all his tennis racquets to kids in the neighbourhood.

 

postage
Form : noun
Meaning : money paid to send letters / parcels through the post
Example : Does the price of the DVDs on your website include postage?

 

bookmark
Form : noun
Meaning : an electronic way of marking an internet page so that you can find it again quickly
Example : Our web address has changed, so please update you bookmark.

 

pine for (someone)
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to miss someone very much
Example : She still pines for her ex-boyfriend.

 

fortune
Form : noun
Meaning : a large amount of money
Example : She spends a small fortune on perfumes every month.

 

cope
Form : verb
Meaning : to manage something well
Example : Timothy finds it difficult to cope with extreme heat.

 

 

The View From Campus: How You Can Finance U.S. Studies

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

This month’s article features Aimee Thostenson, Director of International Student Recruitment, at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Ms. Thostenson explains one of the most critical elements to successfully studying in the United States: funding your years of education.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words? Large, research, public, comprehensive, urban

 

For what is your institution best known overseas? High-quality and top-ranked academic programs, great metropolitan location, affordable tuition and many opportunities for students to get involved outside the classroom

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your college/How international is your institution?

  • Top 5 countries represented in programs at all levels: China, Republic of Korea, India, Malaysia & Vietnam
  • 13% of all students are international, 9% at the undergraduate and 23% at the graduate level. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities enrolls students from 130 countries

 

How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?

Students can submit IELTS results as part of their application for admission.  At the undergraduate level, our minimum for admission consideration is 6.5 overall with a 6.5 section score in writing.  Graduate programs require 6.5 overall with 6.5 section scores for both writing and reading.

 

What are the best sources of funding for international students coming to the U.S.? 

  • Some universities will offer merit-based scholarships, which means that they award the scholarships based primarily on a student’s academic record or grades.
  • Universities may also offer need-based awards, based on the student’s family financial situation. Make sure to check with each university on how this works.
  • Sometimes, universities may offer special scholarships because of a personal attribute or talent, like a scholarship specifically for students who play a particular instrument or intend to go into a particular program/major.
  • Sports or athletic scholarships are also an option, but they are often extremely competitive
  • Graduate students, in addition to merit and need-based scholarships, may be eligible for assistantships (teaching or research under the direction of a faculty member).
  • Usually, assistantships mean that the full or partial cost of tuition is waived and the assistant may receive other benefits like a salary and health insurance.
  • One additional benefit of F-1 immigration status is that international students are allowed to do off-campus internships, paid or unpaid, during their academic program (called Curricular Practical Training) provided the internship is directly related to the student’s academic program.
  • International students may be eligible for educational loans if they have a US citizen or permanent resident cosign the loan for them.
  • Some international students may be eligible for third party funding, for example, from a future employer or sponsoring agency.  This would be up to the student to investigate on his or her own.  A good resource for this kind of funding is the EducationUSA network.

 

For graduate degree seeking students, what is the best advice for finding institutional aid?

Graduate students should be in contact with the academic department directly about funding opportunities.  Graduate admission officers also can assist prospective students to find the right person.

Postgraduate Studies: How to Invest in Your Future

Image courtesy of Colin Howley (CC 2.0 Flickr)

For many, the idea of committing to further education and postgraduate study can seem like a daunting prospect. But the benefits to your career far outweigh the time taken to do them. Here are some things to consider when deciding if postgraduate study is right for you.

 

Money, money, money

Although postgraduate study can be expensive there are lots of funding schemes available and some courses are offered part-time, so you can keep working as you do them.

It’s true that career earnings for those with postgraduate qualifications is on average higher, but you won’t necessarily start off in a job on a higher salary, so it’s worth remembering that further studies are about investing in yourself for the long-term, not immediate financial gains.

 

Career goals

Postgraduate studies can help you change career as well as develop in your already chosen field. Many traditional careers expect you to have a postgraduate qualification as standard, so make sure you know what your studies can lead to in the world of work and how things might change. The nature of work is always changing, and so are the types of skills employers are looking for. Try to anticipate what the skills are you‘ll need to thrive in your career 20 years from now.

 

Networking  

Making contacts is a great way to kick-start your career and a lot of them can be found through postgraduate studies. Your professors will always have a great number of contacts that you should make the most of. You don’t have to devote all your time to it, but it’s a necessary evil – putting yourself out there can help you land that first contract.

How to Get a Part-time Job as an International Student (Part 2)

choices

Image courtesy of Caleb Roenigk/Flickr

 

In the previous part, we spoke of four key skills (communication, customer service, time management, and numeracy) that could increase your chances of finding a part-time job in an English-speaking country.

 

Here are four more such skills that make you productive at work:

 

  1. Cultural awareness

In today’s business environment, it is common for an individual to work alongside people from different cultures. And where there are differences, people need to adapt. After all, a person’s culture influences their communication style and behaviour, so not being culturally sensitive can lead to problems. What is considered appropriate in one culture – for instance, regular eye contact during a conversation – may be thought of as rude in another.

 

  1. Working under pressure

Work and pressure go hand in hand; clearly, the way you handle pressure may decide just how well you perform a particular role. Do you, for example, panic if a long queue builds up in front of you? Or do you just remain calm, smile at customers, and continue working? The ability to perform effectively under pressure is priceless in certain jobs, especially customer-facing roles.

 

  1. IT skills

Given that most workplaces are computerised these days, the ability to use IT systems a prerequisite for most jobs, full- or part-time. If you are good at using computer software and internet-based tools, make sure it features prominently on your CV.

 

  1. Commercial awareness

This means an interest in the wider environment (customers, competitors, suppliers, etc.) in which a company operates. If you have commercial awareness, then you are in a way exhibiting your knowledge of a particular industry and the issues it’s facing.

 

Remember, companies nowadays weigh up applicants by looking for examples of these skills, so the more skills you have, the better your chances are of getting hired!

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

alongside
Form : preposition
Meaning : together with someone, in the same place
Example : During the war, some brave women fought alongside soldiers.

 

adapt
Form : verb
Meaning : to change your behaviour so that it suits a new situation or environment
Example : People sometimes have to adapt a lot after marriage.

 

hand in hand
Form : phrase
Meaning : if two things go hand in hand, they are closely connected
Example : Alcoholism and poor health go hand in hand.

 

panic
Form : verb
Meaning : to be unable to think clearly because you are frightened
Example : Molly panicked when she saw smoke coming out of the washing machine.

 

prerequisite
Form : noun
Meaning : something that must happen or exist before something else
Example : Practice is a prerequisite to successful learning of any language.

 

 

 

 

weight someone up
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to form an opinion of someone, especially by watching or speaking to them
Example : The security guard weighed me up as I walked into the lobby.

 

How to Get a Part-time Job as an International Student (Part 1)

stand-out-from-the-crowd

Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo (Flickr)

 

If you are an international student who has just arrived in the host country, one of the first things you may do is look for a part-time job. But has it ever occurred to you that you could be one among thousands who apply for part-time vacancies?

 

The UK, for instance, welcomed well over four hundred thousand new students in 2014-15. So, how do you stand out in a crowd? One way is to make sure you have enough employability skills – abilities that make a person productive at work.

 

Here are some that employers look for:

 

  1. Communication skills

The ability to express ideas and views clearly is extremely important, especially in customer-facing jobs. If someone doesn’t have sufficient language skills, they may sound impolite or unfriendly to a customer. Of course, no business would want to hire such an individual.

 

  1. Customer service

Many part-time jobs require you to interact directly with customers. This usually involves answering questions, getting them to buy something, dealing with complaints, etc. Only individuals with good communication and problem solving skills may be able to offer great customer service, and those are the kinds of people that companies want to recruit.

 

  1. Time management

This skill is all about developing methods to manage your time well at work, balancing various demands of the job. Most people who have it prioritise their work – they focus on urgent tasks first before moving on to other less important work.

 

  1. Numeracy

Whether you work in a shop, restaurant, or pub, it is essential to be good with numbers. Staff in such businesses use numeracy skills in a number of ways, right from giving customers the correct change to checking stock.

 

Remember, just adding these skills to your résumé alone won’t help; if required, you’ll have to prove that you actually possess them.

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

host country
Form : noun
Meaning : a country where foreign students go to study
Example : The UK attracts more international students each year than any other host country.

 

occur to (someone)
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to come into the mind
Example : When they spoke of pizzas, it occurred to her that she hadn’t eaten all day.

 

stand out
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to be noticed easily
Example : Melvin is so tall that he stands out in a crowd.

 

customer-facing
Form : adjective
Meaning : dealing directly with customers
Example : If customer-facing staff are friendly, people usually have a great shopping experience.

 

 

numeracy
Form : noun
Meaning : the ability to do basic mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, etc.
Example : Numeracy is one of the most important skills that children learn at school.

 

Student Life in London Made Affordable (Part 2)

stix

In the first part, we looked at ways to spend less while travelling or shopping for food in London. Read on for some further money-saving tips.

 

  1. Take full advantage of your student status

Being an international student in the United Kingdom can be expensive, but it has its own privileges too. Discounts and great deals are to be had just about everywhere. Restaurants, museums, art galleries, cinemas, retailers, banks often have something exclusively for students. So, take advantage of your student status by flashing your identity card as frequently as possible.

 

You may also want to join student discount schemes or clubs such as ISIC or NUS. An ISIC cardholder, for example, could get benefits in over 125,000 locations worldwide currently. Although there’s usually a fee to join these schemes, it’s worth spending the money because you’ll be entitled to innumerable discounts while your card remains active. Of course, how much you save would depend on how frequently you choose to take advantage of the offers you receive.

 

  1. Use the internet to help you spot discounts and offers

London undoubtedly provides an uninterrupted choice of free events and discounts all year round  but how do you get to hear about them before it’s too late? After all, if you can’t be in the right place at the right time, none of those benefits can be enjoyed.

The internet can be a great help in this regard: there are several websites that tell you where to find the best student discounts in the UK. A couple of popular ones are StudentBeans and UniDays, both of which are also available as mobile phone applications. Most university students download these apps on their phone so that they don’t miss out on great deals, even on the essentials like laptops.

 

So if you follow these useful tips, enjoying student life in London shouldn’t cost you a fortune!

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

privilege
Form : noun
Meaning : a special benefit that a group of people has
Example : If you become a full member of this club, you can enjoy many privileges.

 

exclusively
Form : adverb
Meaning : for only one particular person or group
Example : This café is exclusively for staff; visitors have to go out of the building to get food.

 

flash
Form : verb
Meaning : to show something, such as an ID card, to someone very quickly
Example : The police officer flashed his ID card at the security as he entered the private building.

 

take advantage of (something)
Form : phrase
Meaning : to make full use of something
Example : Josie’s kids took advantage of her absence to play in the rain.

 

 

in the right place at the right time
Form : phrase
Meaning : be in the best position to make full use of an opportunity
Example : Miguel isn’t very skilled, but he got the job because he was in the right place at the right time.

 

miss out on (something)
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to fail to benefit from an opportunity 
Example : It’s sad that you won’t be attending the party – you’ll miss out on all the fun.

 

fortune
Form : noun
Meaning : a large sum of money
Example : Siobhan’s new motorbike cost a small fortune.

 

Back to School: 5 Tips to Kick-Start Your University Life

girl-tattoo

Before you start university, especially if you’re in a foreign country, things can be quite daunting.

Here are five ways to make sure you start off on the right foot…

 

  1. Get organised

This is an obvious one, but it can be easy to overlook. From making sure you know when and where your lectures are, to what time the library is open, it is rule number one to be organised. Student life is so much easier when you have it together.

 

2. Read ahead

Falling behind on the required reading for your studies is a no-no. You won’t be able to engage in the topics properly, and your grades will suffer as a result. The great thing about reading ahead is that you can have longer to think. Mastering complex problems or concepts early on can give you time to be creative and come up with something original!

 

3. Get to know your classmates

Of course, you should get to know as many people as possible during your time at university! If English is not your first language, then this can especially beneficial to you and how valuable your time there will be. Classmates can also be good allies when it comes to exam time as you can help each other in study groups or simply discussing the course itself.

 

4. Budget

Running out of money can throw everything else off-track. The added stress of worrying about bills or where your lunch is coming from will affect your health and your work. Budgeting everything from your travels costs and books, to that occasional(!) night out will make sure you’re happier and can concentrate on what you’re there for – learning!

 

5. Get everything you can from your University

Beyond the classroom there are a host of other societies, clubs, events and academic support that universities offer to students, that can give a challenge or take some of the stress off. Take these opportunities – they’re there for you! And try your hand at something new, you could discover you have a hidden talent or passion…

 

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