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Resources, help, and insight for your college experience

College Students and Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, and Compulsive Eating Disorder

Our society continues to prize thinness even as Americans become heavier than ever before. Almost everyone worries about their weight occasionally. People with eating disorders take these concerns to extremes and develop abnormal eating habits that can threaten their well-being and even their lives.

Adolescents and young women account for 90 percent of eating disorder cases. Eating disorders can also affect men. Eating disorders are often practiced in private. Sometimes family and friends never suspect a thing. An awareness of their abnormal behavior cause many people with eating disorders to withdraw from social contact, hide their behaviors, and deny that their eating has become problematic. Making an accurate diagnosis requires the involvement of a mental health expert or physician.

There are psychological factors that can predispose people to eating disorders. Dysfunctional families or relationships, personality traits, low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and…

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Alcohol Use and Abuse in College

Environmental and peer influences combine to create a culture of drinking on most college campuses. This culture promotes college drinking as a rite of passage.

Many college freshmen arrive on campus with the perception that drinking lots of alcohol is part of the college experience. Their perceptions are somewhat correct – the drinking lifestyle is a well-advertised and relatively cheap form of entertainment on college campuses. When underage students were surveyed, 87% reported that it was “easy” or “very easy” to obtain alcohol.

Some students will choose to drink in moderation and in a responsible manner, while some will choose to abstain from alcohol use. Some tips for responsible drinking include:

  • Drink slowly—sip and savor the taste of your drink rather than guzzle or gulp
  • Eat while you drink. Foods high in protein slow down the absorption of alcohol
  • Keep track of how much you are drinking and know what your limit is
  • Make drinking a secondary activ…

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Homesickness: Adjusting to College Life

Homesickness is a normal reaction to leaving home and those you love. You may feel sad, lonely, anxious, alienated, confused, and helpless. It doesn’t mean you are weak, only that you have experienced love and security in your life. There is no magic cure for homesickness, but there are effective ways to deal with your feelings and become connected to your new environment.

  • Acknowledge that the feeling you are feeling may be related to being homesick. Understand that homesickness is usually a temporary feeling.
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling – your roommate, your RA, a counselor, or a friend from home. Getting your feelings off your chest can give you a new perspective and a sense of relief.
  • Call home and e-mail more often than normal for awhile. Let your family know that you miss them.
  • Don’t bury your feelings. Don’t drink more, party more, or make other bad decisions just to make the feelings go away. It’s only a temporary fix that creates …

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College Students and Depression: It's More Common Than You Think

Depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders are increasingly common mental health issues on college campuses. Nearly half of all college students report feeling so depressed that they had trouble functioning with 15 percent meeting the criteria for clinical depression. If left untreated, depression can lead to suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students. It is imperative for college students to seek help with mental health issues.

The National Mental Health Association quotes a study that says 30% of college freshmen report feeling overwhelmed a great deal of the time. College students are vulnerable to mental illnesses ranging from depression to anxiety disorders. The ages of 18-25 are the prime age for serious mental health conditions to emerge.

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, irritable, and empty moods
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Trouble sleeping or sle…

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How to be a Good Roommate

Whether you live on-campus or off-campus, chances are you have one or more roommates. Sharing a place means you’ll be around other people and save some money on housing. These advantages don’t mean a roommates won’t be frustrating at times. Things like schedules, noise levels, habits, moodiness, and bills can all cause problems for roommates. Being open-minded and respectful will make life much easier on both of you.

Here are some tips for living with a roommate:

  • Establish Rules

Talk about each person’s preferences right away. Are they an early riser? Do you like to listen to loud music? Knowing things like this can help you to establish rules. Make sure the rules are clear. Some issues you may want to address are overnight guests, schedules, habits, borrowing, etc.

  • Compromise

Compromising is very important whenever people are living together. You are attempting to blend two lifestyles that are very similar or very different. Compromising doesn’t mean one…

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New-student Orientation: Getting to Know Your School

Starting college can cause much anxiety. You are surrounded by the unknown. Student orientation programs are designed to provide answers to the many questions you have. Before classes start, students are given information about college life – from academics to social activities. This is referred to as orientation. You should receive information about your school’s orientation after you have committed to attending.

Orientation varies from school to school. Orientations can vary in length from a one day program to a week-long event. Some colleges require orientation classes (for credit) that last an entire semester. Some orientations are free, while others may charge an orientation fee. Some colleges make orientation mandatory, while others make it a voluntary activity. Check with your particular college for specifics on your orientation program.

Some colleges are establishing online communities for students to familiarize themselves with each other before orientation. Adm…

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Residence Hall Move-In: Avoiding the Chaos

“Overwhelming” is a word often used by students and parents when describing move-in day at college residence halls. Imagine hundreds (maybe even thousands) of students and their families, all trying to move in at once. It sounds chaotic, but most colleges provide a very efficient system for move-in day. Expect traffic. Lots of traffic. Expect to wait in line. A lot. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • You will not be the only one moving in

You will be one of hundreds of new students moving in at the same time. Try to get there as early as possible. The later it gets, the more scarce parking will get and the longer the lines will be. Patience will serve you well during move-in. At most colleges, there will be a move-in crew available to help with directions and to answer your questions. Follow the rules provided by the move-in crew – it would be rough to find out your car has been towed because you parked in a restricted zone. Keep your sense of humor – this is temporary.…

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What to Bring to College

Countless freshmen arrive at their dorm lugging huge boxes and suitcases only to discover that they brought too much or forgot something. Your dorm room will probably be the smallest place you ever live. Add in a roommate and you are even more space-challenged.

The clothes you bring depend a lot on where your college is located. Find out the average climate for every season and bring what you need. Think about the activities you like to participate in and plan accordingly. If you make regular trips home, you can bring your clothing to campus as needed. Remember, your storage space in the dorms is at a minimum. This may limit what you bring.

  • Bring comfortable, casual clothes and shoes you can go to class in.
  • Bring a few dressy outfits and shoes for more formal occasions.
  • Bring a professional-looking outfit and shoes for interviews and professional situations.
  • If you plan on taking advantage of campus recreation, bring work-out clothes, shoes, and maybe a b…

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College Survival Tips

Going to college can be stressful. You’re leaving behind everything you know – your school, friends, family, and home, and going someplace new where you will be expected to make new friends and set your own priorities. You will be making many big changes in a brief period of time.

Knowing what to expect can be extremely helpful. Generally, you should know the following:

  • The Work Is Harder

College courses are at a higher level than high-school classes. The material may be presented at a faster pace. Professors often assign more reading and writing than you are probably used to. Give yourself a chance to adjust gradually to the increased academic demands. Opt for a course load that includes some challenging classes and others that will be less intense. If you find yourself falling behind, contact your college’s academic assistance center for help.

  • You Are Responsible for Your Schedule

You are responsible for managing your time. If you cut class and don’t do you…

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Avoiding College Scholarship Scams: What You Should Know

Every year, thousands of students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. The victims of these scams lose more than $100 million annually. Scam operations often imitate legitimate government agencies, grant-giving foundations, education lenders and scholarship matching services. They often use official-sounding names containing words like “Federal,” "National, or " “Foundation.”

Fraudulent scholarships can take many forms. In general, be wary of scholarships with an application fee, scholarship matching services who guarantee success, advance-fee loan scams and sales pitches disguised as financial aid “seminars”.

If you receive an offer that uses one of these tactics, be suspicious.

  • Scholarships that Never Materialize. This scam requires you to send money up front. You receive little or nothing in exchange. Victims usually write off the expense, thinking that they didn’t win the scholarship.
  • Scholarships for Profit. This scam looks just like a real schola…

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What You Should Know About Student Loans

When your savings, grants, and scholarships don’t cover the cost of attending college, student loans can make up the difference. There are a couple of different kinds of loans: federal loans, private loans, and consolidation loans.

Federal student loans are the largest source of educational loans. You can get these loans through private financial institutions. There are three types of federal student loans:

  • Stafford Loans are fixed-rate, low interest loans available to undergraduate students attending accredited schools at least half time.
  • Perkins Loans are a low interest loan for undergraduate and graduate students with “exceptional” financial need.
  • Parent PLUS Loans are a low interest student loan for parents of undergraduate, dependent students.

The terms of student loans available under federal programs are very attractive when compared to most borrowing options—lower interest rates, postponement of payments, longer repayment terms, and less stringent…

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Financial Aid 101: How to Pay for your Education

I’ve got good news and bead news. The bad news is that college costs are rising – about 6% in the last year alone. The good news is that there is more than $134 billion available in financial aid each year.

Most colleges are probably more affordable than you think. About 65% of students attend 4-year schools with annual tuition and fees below $9,000. The average cost to attend a private 4-year college is $22,000 per year, while the average cost to attend a public 4-year college is $5,800 per year. If you choose to attend a public 2-year college, your average yearly cost goes down to $2,300. If you attend as an out-of-state or out-of-district student, expect to pay even more.

About 62% of all full-time college students receive financial aid. The average aid in grants and tax benefits for students attending a 2-year public college is $2,200, a 4-year public college is $3,100, and a 4-year private college is about $9,000.

Most families pay for college through a combin…

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Assistance for the Disabled Student: Getting the Help You Need

A student with a disability needs to be well informed of their rights and responsibilities. Schools also have responsibilities when it comes to the education of disabled students.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II) prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Almost all postsecondary schools are subject to one or both of these laws.

These laws mean that your school is required to provide appropriate academic accommodations as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability. If your school provides housing to non-disabled students, it must provide comparable, convenient, and accessible housing to students with disabilities at the same cost. You also cannot be denied admission to a school simply because you have a disability.

Disclosure of a disability is entirely voluntary. However, if you require an academic accommodation or want to ensur…

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Parental Involvement: How Much is Too Much?

A recent survey found that 95% of students indicated that their parents were either “very involved” or “involved” in their college plans. Students reported very little unwanted or intrusive behavior on the part of their parent’s. This is great news, but unfortunately, there exists something known as the “helicopter parent”. The helicopter parent is named for their incessant hovering. They are over-involved in their children’s lives – including the college application process. The admissions process can bring out the worst in some parents.

Colleges report an increase in parental involvement regarding the college admissions process. While this can be a very positive thing, in many cases their actions are getting out of hand. Colleges have reported such actions as: parent’s completing applications and essays for students, parents attempting to attend college interviews, parents choosing colleges and majors for their kids, parents faxing daily updates to the college, and paren…

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Ace the SAT - How to Improve your SAT Scores

The SAT is designed to provide college admission officers with two things: a predictor of first-year academic achievement and a yardstick to compare students from a wide range of educational backgrounds. You are being measured on the knowledge, understanding, and skills you have acquired throughout your education. This knowledge is cumulative and not something you can cram for. Learning how to take a test can increase your test score. Below are a few pointers that may help you raise your SAT scores:

  • PACE YOURSELF Don’t spend too much time on one question. Each question is worth the same number of points. If a question is confusing or too time-consuming, you may want to move on to the next question. Go back and try to answer the more difficult questions if you have time. There are no extra points for finishing quickly – Accuracy is much more important than speed.
  • READ EACH QUESTION CAREFULLY Make sure you fully understand what each question asks before answering. …

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Ace the ACT - How to Improve your ACT Scores

The ACT test measures the knowledge, understanding, and skills you have acquired throughout your education. This knowledge is accumulative and not something you can cram for. There are simple things you can do to improve your score. When taking the test, you should do the following:

  • PACE YOURSELF Nearly everyone will be able to finish the test questions in the time allotted. The test proctor will announce when you have 5 minutes left on each test.
  • READ THE DIRECTIONS FOR EACH TEST CAREFULLY The English, reading, and science tests ask for the “best” answer. Read and consider all of the possible answers, then choose the answer that best answers the question. The math test asks for the “correct” answer. You may want to work out the problem given, determine your answer, and look for it among the choices given. Revise the problem if your answer doesn’t math any of the options.
  • READ EACH QUESTION CAREFULLY Make sure you fully understand what each question asks befo…

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Should you take the SAT or the ACT ?

Nearly all colleges require that you take the SAT or ACT to gain admission. Your scores on these exams are part of what determines if a college accepts you. Which test do you choose? It’s important to know that neither test is superior to the other. Your decision of which one to take may be determined by the admission criteria for the school of your choice. If the school has no preference, you can decide which test to take.

Both the SAT and ACT offer practice exams. You may want to take each practice exam to help you determine which test to ultimately take. Below are some facts about the tests to help you make your decision:

The structure of the SAT and ACT tests are similar, but there are a few differences.

The SAT consists of 3 separate tests – math, reading, and writing. There are 140 total questions on the test.

  • The math assessment test consists of a combination of multiple choice and “grid-in” questions. Covered are various math principles – numbers and oper…

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Writing your College Admission Essay

Writing your college application essay is an opportunity for you to stand out above other applicants. When grades, exam scores, and extracurricular are similar, the college essay may be the only opportunity for you to show your unique qualities to the admissions board. This is a chance to show you can think and are able to write clearly about those thoughts.

Writing your essay is similar to writing for your classes. Follow the same steps – prewriting activities, writing a draft, and editing your final essay. Prewriting activities are ones that will help you to collect information and organize ideas for your essay. They include the following:

  • Brainstorming – Make a list of your strengths and the things that are outstanding about you. Focus on your strengths, not your activities. If you played sports, focus on your commitment to the endeavor, not the sport. If you are having difficulty identifying your strengths, ask your family, friends, and teachers for their input.

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The College Fair - What's it all about?

Choosing a college requires a great deal of information. Visiting each campus you are interested in can be quite expensive. College fairs will allow you to obtain a lot of information without incurring the costs of visiting schools. At these fairs you will find rows of tables or booths staffed by college representatives, all available to answer your questions. You will also be able to pick up literature and applications from the participating schools.

Some fairs feature a large variety of colleges, such as the National College Fair. The National College Fairs Program is a division of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). The NCAC sponsors about 35 college fairs around the country every year. Some fairs focus on certain types of colleges or certain types of students. Often times, college fairs are held at area colleges or high schools. Your guidance counselor can advise you of local college fairs. You can check the NACAC

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Choosing a College Major

Choosing a major or course of study is often stressful and confusing. You have many choices available to you and it can be somewhat intimidating to have to decide on just one. Choosing a major is also a very personal decision. Balancing your hopes and aspirations with practical decisions can be tough. Start the process of choosing a major as early as possible – during your junior year of high school, if not before. You can enter college with an undecided major, but choosing your area of study can help you find a school that offers or specializes in that major.

Some things to examine when choosing a major are:

  • What are you interested in? What makes you excited? What types of careers/jobs interest you? There are self-assessments available to help you determine what you are interested in. Ask your guidance counselor or academic advisor for information on these assessments.
  • Examine your abilities. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What skills do you ha…

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Preparing for College: Senior Year

You finally made it! You’re a senior! When it comes to preparing for college, your senior year will be full of decision making and deadlines. The following will help you in your preparation:

  • By now you should have narrowed down your college choices. Request literature, financial aid information, and an application from the schools you have chosen if you haven’t already.
  • Get your applications in order by creating files and a calendar for your target schools. Make a note of application requirements (recommendations, essays, transcripts, etc), deadlines, fees, and financial aid requirements.
  • Schedule college interviews with prospective schools if needed. Visit your chosen schools if you haven’t already.
  • Set up a budget for college application costs –they can add up.
  • Request letters of recommendation from teachers, advisors and employers. Give each person your resume, a stamped and addressed envelope, and any required forms. Make sure to send thank-you notes to tho…

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Preparing for College: Sophomore Year

There are steps you can take during your sophomore year of high school to prepare for college. A lot of the actions you should take this year are similar, if not identical, to the steps you took as a high school freshman. The following will help you further prepare for college:

  • Take a challenging courseload. If you are interested in a science major or a career in science, take numerous courses in those areas. Be aware of pre-requisites for classes you may need to take in order to qualify for classes your junior and senior year.
  • Continue meeting with your school guidance counselor to discuss your college plans. Review your schedule with him or her to confirm you’re enrolled in classes that will help you prepare for college. Colleges prefer four years of English, history, math, science, and a foreign language. Your counselor can help you prepare for college during your entire high school career. Discuss your progress with them –they are a valuable resource.
  • Continue t…

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Preparing for College: Junior Year

The momentum picks up your junior year when it comes to preparing for college. This year will be busy as you start your college search, handle challenging class work, and take important tests. The following will help you in your preparation:

  • Take the most vigorous academic schedule you can handle. It shows college admissions officers that you’re ready for a competitive college environment.
  • Continue meeting with your school guidance counselor to discuss your college plans. They will be a great help in keeping you on schedule.
  • If your school offers a college night or financial aid meeting, attend. Bring your parents so they can have their concerns addressed.
  • Continue to be involved in clubs and extracurricular activities. If you did not take a leadership role as a sophomore, consider doing this your junior year. Leadership skills and experience are great adders to your college application. Colleges pay attention to your life both inside and outside the classroom. Yo…

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Your Options After High School

Almost 3 million young adults will graduate from high school this year. There are many options available to them. The most obvious options are the following:

  • Work
  • Attend a Vocational or Trade Program
  • Earn a 2-year Degree at a Community College
  • Attend a 4-year College or University
  • Enlist in the U.S. Military

Work

While there are some high-paying jobs available with just a high school education, this is not the norm. Most available jobs will be found in the service industry. According to the US Census Bureau, the average annual earnings for a worker with a high school diploma are $30,400 per year. These earnings may be higher or lower depending on your location and personal situation.

Attend a Vocational or Trade Program

The primary goal of vocational education is to prepare one for employment. Vocational education is typically provided by a local community college or an institute of technology. Vocational education is much more diverse now t…

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Preparing for College: Freshman Year

Planning for college is not something you wait to do your senior year. There are steps you can take beginning your freshman year of high school to ensure that you are prepared for college when graduation time rolls around. By following the suggestions below, you can make informed choices and prepare wisely for your future. In preparation for college you should do the following during your freshman year of high school:

  • Meet with your school guidance counselor to discuss your college plans. Review your schedule with him or her to make sure you’re enrolled in the correct classes in order to help you prepare for college. Most colleges prefer four years of English, history, math, science, and a foreign language
  • Join clubs and activities that interest you – get more involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges pay attention to your life both inside and outside the classroom. Your academics come first, but your extracurricular activities reveal a great deal about you. Coll…

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