College Success

7 ways an on-campus career center can help you

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Many campuses have a career center or job placement center. These offices run job boards, on-campus employment, internship programs, job fairs and professional readiness training. Their job is not only to help you gain experience and be successful while you’re in college, but also to help you succeed after you graduate.

Here are a few ways they can help you:

  1. Find a part-time job. Career centers run job boards specifically for students seeking on-campus jobs, but they also allow businesses and organizations in the community to post open positions.
  2. Find an internship. Employers frequently use on-campus career centers to fill their internship positions.
  3. Get help selecting a major/career. Career centers are staffed with academic advisers who can help you identify areas of study and jobs that interest you. Some career centers even offer for-credit courses dedicated to career and major exploration.
  4. Attend a job fair. Check with your career center to find out what job fairs and networking events they offer. Job fairs are a great opportunity to meet potential employers.
  5. Mock interviews. Practice makes perfect when it comes to interviewing for internships and full-time jobs. Careers centers have experts who will help you improve your interview skills.
  6. Resume/cover letter help. Are you wondering why you’re not getting results with your application materials? Have a pro look them over and make improvements from there.
  7. Find a full-time job after you graduate. Many employers work directly with universities to fill open positions and recruit new talent. Career centers can also reach out to organizations on your behalf to inquire about job placement.

15 must-have items for your dorm

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We’re not talking about weight. This “Freshman 15” list contains 15 must-have items if you plan to live on campus.

  1. Fan. Not all dorm rooms are air-conditioned. Even if yours comes with an AC unit, you and your roommate might not agree on the temperature, and the AC might not work fast enough on hot days or after trips to the gym.
  2. Robe and flip-flops. You might not use a robe at home, but unless you are an exhibitionist, it will come in handy when dashing from your room to a shared bathroom to take a shower. Flip-flops are a must if you don’t want to walk barefoot down the hall or stand in a shower that has been used by the masses.
  3. Power strips and adapters. There are never enough outlets for all your necessities (laptop, phone, tablet). Adapters will come in handy if your room doesn’t have three-pronged outlets.
  4. Shower caddy. If you have to share a bathroom, a shower caddy helps you haul your shampoo, conditioner, soap, shaving supplies and toothbrush back and forth.
  5. Umbrella. You will need one unless you want to drip-dry while sitting in class.
  6. Snow boots. Frostbite is not fun. Snow boots are not optional in Iowa.
  7. Tool kit. It’s extremely useful when putting together boxed furniture or fixing minor problems in your room.
  8. Dry erase board. Hang one on your door for your roommates and hall mates to leave messages when you are out.
  9. Water bottle and travel mug. Face it now: College students are broke. You can save money and the environment by carrying your own water or making your own coffee.
  10. Lamp. You’ll appreciate the extra light during late night cram sessions or when a crowded room forces you to get ready at your desk.
  11. Door stop. Prop your door open when moving, for ventilation or to get to know other students in the hall. Who is brave enough to knock on a closed door just to say “Hello”?
  12. Sewing kit. Your parents aren’t going to be there to sew a button on your shirt.
  13. First aid kit and health insurance card. Headaches and college students go together like macaroni and cheese. Keep aspirin and other pain relievers on hand, along with bandages and disinfectant. If you need a doctor, you’ll also need your health insurance card.
  14. Drying rack. Dormitory dryers aren’t always reliable, or available.
  15. Fabric freshener. Tiny room, mounds of dirty clothes, bed sheets that haven’t been washed in a while—yes, this is necessary.

Finding the right college for you

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No single college is right for everyone. To make your decision, consider “college fit”: how well a school meets your academic, financial and social needs. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Academic needs:

  • GPA and test scores required
  • Programs and majors offered

Financial needs:

  • Cost and debt
  • Graduation rates
  • Job placement rates
  • Graduates’ average salaries

Social needs:

  • Size and location
  • Diversity
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • Housing options

Research schools and rank them by college fit. Once you narrow down your list, you can approach college applications with a clear focus. Find more information here.

Six campus resources you should explore

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Everyone handles the transition from high school to college differently. But whether you’re a first-generation student or a legacy, traveling to another state or living at home, remember that you’re surrounded by people who want to help you succeed. Explore these resources on campus and ask for help when you need it:

  • Health center: Scope this out (location, hours, fees) before you need it. You don’t want to stress over these details while you’re feeling crummy.
  • Library: Digitized collections with search engines are far more reliable than Google. Plus, librarians are trained to help you track down the information you need.
  • Tutoring or writing center: Student employees are trained to assist their peers. These centers might offer one-on-one or group assistance.
  • Fitness center: Your campus activity fee might already cover your membership, so work up a sweat.
  • Counseling center: Student life—and life in general—can be stressful. You don’t have to muddle through alone.
  • Job placement center: This is a great place to start your career search later or to look now for part-time jobs or occasional weekend work.

Tips for transfer students

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Sometimes your first college choice isn’t the right fit, or you might start your education at a two-year college with intentions to continue at a four-year school. For a smooth transfer, start planning as soon as possible.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep your grades up. Continue to go to class and turn in assignments. The college where you transfer will want your most recent transcripts and might have a grade requirement.
  • Select a new college. Determine what factors contributed to your decision to leave your current college, and take them into consideration when selecting a new college.
  • Go on a campus visit. Your experiences on your current college campus might help you identify the benefits you want and need from a new college experience.
  • Talk to advisors. Work with advisors at both your old and new campuses. Ask if your classes will transfer. To make certain, you can request that your prospective college review your transcripts before you apply. Also check into the student service organizations and activities on your new campus.
  • Apply for admission. Check the admission requirements at the college where you intend to transfer. If you want to transfer course credits, you’ll need to submit your most recent transcript. Ask your admissions officer about placement exams, registering for classes and signing up for orientation.
  • Secure your housing. If you plan to live on campus or in an apartment, you’ll need to get the process rolling as soon as possible so you have a place to live when classes begin.
  • Apply for financial aid. You cannot simply transfer current financial aid to your new college. You’ll need to add your new college to your FAFSA to receive a new financial aid package. You also should notify your current financial aid office of your plans to transfer. Some types of financial aid cannot be awarded by the new college until the old college cancels your aid. Contact current scholarship donors to see if scholarships can be transferred. If you plan to borrow, you might need to complete new loan applications.

6 things you can gain from your summer job

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Some lucky high schoolers land jobs in fields they are interested in, but many students work a summer job for the sole purpose of earning extra cash. Whether you’re scooping ice cream, babysitting or lifeguarding, you can gain plenty of valuable skills and experiences from your job.

  1. Communication skills. Sure, you did group projects in school, but you were probably partnered with people your own age. A summer job is a great opportunity to work with people who are different from you. It’s important to get along with people of different backgrounds, ages, neighborhoods, etc. to be successful in college.
  2. New friends. Along with learning to be productive with different types of people, summer jobs are a great way to become friends with people from different grades, schools and ages. Maybe you’ll meet someone who will help you out in school or in your career down the road.
  3. College job. Landing your first job in college will be a whole lot easier if you already have work experience and a resume. Employers want to hire someone who is responsible, can manage their time and can work with different types of people. You’ll easily stand out from other applicants who don’t have work experience.
  4. Letters of recommendation. Most scholarship applications and many college applications require letters of recommendation. Holding down a job shows maturity and work ethic, two qualities that colleges value. Who better to write you a letter than someone who was able to count on you to get a job done?
  5. Learning the value of money. It’s hard to understand the value of a dollar if you haven’t earned it. Put a percentage of your paycheck into savings for college or other pursuits. It’s never too early.
  6. Time management. Research shows that busy students are better students. A job during the summer (and during the school year) and/or extracurricular activities boost grades and reduce procrastination.

How to make a great impression at your internship

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You aced the interview and landed an awesome internship. But now what? Get the most out of your experience by doing these 12 things.

  1. Arrive early and prepared. Do some homework before your first day. You shouldn’t rely on your boss to explain every single aspect of the organization.
  2. Get to know your boss and their work style. Do they want to be continuously updated throughout the day, or are they hands-off? Is it OK to talk about non-work things with them, or are they strictly professional?
  3. Accomplish what the internship description said. You, of course, need to complete everything the employer wants from you but make sure you are getting everything you need, too. What’s the point of completing the internship if you don’t learn anything or gain marketable skills? Make sure your internship coordinator is keeping their end of the bargain.
  4. Make sure expectations are clear. You and your boss should be on the same page from the very beginning regarding your hours, pay and goals.
  5. Go above and beyond. Ask for more work when you’re done with the assigned tasks. Be proactive and challenge yourself.
  6. Get to know the other staff. Internships are an awesome way to make connections. Learn everyone’s names, be nice and become a part of the team. Make yourself memorable, and make sure they’ll miss you when you leave. You might even leave with a mentor.
  7. Anticipate needs. Treat your internship like a real job. Do you know that August is a busy month for your boss? Try to figure out what will be needed from you and get a head-start. You’ll save stress and impress your boss.
  8. Dress for success. Sweatpants might be OK for class, but they are not acceptable for your internship. You will never regret dressing professionally. The best-dressed interns make the best impressions.
  9. Practice time management. Internships look great on resumes because they show employers that you’re able to juggle academics, extracurriculars and maybe even another job. Stay organized and figure out a system to manage your time effectively.
  10. Track your accomplishments. Collect specific facts and figures about your internship and/or your performance to use on your resume. Example: “I interviewed 30+ subjects for a study on the socioeconomic effects of smoking.”
  11. Ask for feedback. Ask on a regular basis, not just at the end of the internship. It shows initiative and can help you make any needed adjustments or improvements to leave on good terms.
  12. Show your gratitude. Let your boss and coworkers know that you appreciate the opportunity every day. Say “please” and “thank you.” Once the internship is over, be sure to send thank you notes.