myUsearch blog

Honest college information — choose, apply, get into and pay for college.

Avoiding College Application Pitfalls

October 17, 2008 By: David Petersam Category: Admissions insider, Get into College

If you’re a high school senior, no doubt you’re hip-deep in the college admissions process. This crucial time of decision-making is just the beginning of your journey. The admissions process consists of many things: completing the activity sheet, surviving the interview, gathering the teacher recommendations, and writing the essay. It’s a lot to do. And inevitably, along the line somewhere, many unsuspecting college hopefuls make a fatal mistake that keeps them from the college of their dreams. These common mistakes are made by thousands of eager applicants every year.

Photo courtesy of Marcio Eugenio

three women, courtesy of Marcio Eugenio

So how can you avoid them? Simple. Know what they are. Let me share a few common pitfalls I’ve seen in my years as an admissions consultant.

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Blog Action Day: Break the Poverty Barrier With a College Degree

October 15, 2008 By: Elizabeth Kraus Category: Aid for College

So today is Blog Action Day. Thousands of bloggers have agreed to blog for a cause: Eradicating Poverty. Today myUsearch will join the fight by encouraging one of the most effective ways for individuals to break the poverty barrier: A COLLEGE EDUCATION. College graduates overwhelmingly earn more than those without a degree, but unfortunately the barriers to actually getting a degree and securing a job can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you overcome the obstacles to completing your college degree and starting your career:

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SAT vs. ACT: Which test should you take?

October 13, 2008 By: Jillianne Hamilton Category: Get into College

For high school students all across the States, studying for and taking the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and/or ACT (American College Test) has been a dreaded past time. However, students who perform poorly on the SAT tend to do better on the ACT because of the different skill set used.

So, what are the main differences between these college entrance exams?


Photo by cheese roc.

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Eight Things I Wish I’d Learned in High School

October 10, 2008 By: Laura Kruse Category: College Tips

Now that I’m in college, it’s easy to look back and wish I’d learned a few more things in high school. Between studying for midterms and meeting new people each day, I realize I’m playing catch up. There are some basic skills and habits I could’ve learned in high school that would’ve made my transition to college a little easier. It’s never too early to study the tricks of the college student trade.

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SAT or No SAT? ACT or no ACT? These are the Questions

October 08, 2008 By: Brady Norvall Category: Admissions insider, Application tips, Get into College

This is a very controversial topic. Even within my own mind, I have a conflict on this subject. On the one hand, it is so obvious that there is very little determining value on the scores one receives on his/her SAT or ACT. On the other hand, there must be some objective factor weighted in the admission process and it seems that the standardized tests are that element. So, as much as I would love to see all colleges and universities abolish the tests in their admission decisions, I am here, as one highly opinionated, education-focused person, saying that these tests - contrary to what this New York Times article says - will, in some form, live on in infamy.


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My First Week at a College Away From Home

October 06, 2008 By: Pauline Diaz Category: Campus Life

One of my biggest fears about freshman year was coping with moving so far from Denver. But once I’d decided on Seattle University, I decided I’d just have to take this as an opportunity to grow. I knew it’d be different, but there were a few changes that hit me harder than I was anticipating:


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Things I Forgot to Ask When Choosing a College

October 03, 2008 By: Kate Scozzaro Category: Choosing a College

When I was a senior in high school, the aspects I looked for in a college are very different from what they would be today. The top priorities of my “dream school” were: large campus, away from home with a good social scene. My parents dragged me on endless tours of colleges along the east coast. While my questions consisted of “Is the football team any good?” my parents, obviously the more practical ones, asked about tuition fees and parking policies. As a freshman, sophomore, and now junior… I realized I left a few important questions out.


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4 Dirty Little Scholarship Secrets

October 01, 2008 By: Elizabeth Kraus Category: Aid for College, Best College Tips

Today, we have a guest blogger, Linda P. Taylor, author of “Insider Secrets to Scoring Scholarships”. The following is a short excerpt from her book:

Good news, there is nearly $1.6 BILLION in scholarships available each year. So finding the $5,000 to $50,000 per year you need for college should be easy if you just knew the “secret” of where to look, right? Sorry, no. Bad news is, there are 4 “dirty little secrets” that no one shares about scholarships. If you don’t know how these will 4 secrets will impact your cost of college, you may be wasting your time looking for scholarships. Once you know the truth, you will focus your efforts where you have the chance for REAL success.

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College Sustainability Report Card Released

September 29, 2008 By: Jillianne Hamilton Category: Choosing a College recently released a report card, giving a grade to all major colleges and universities in North America. The grades are based on how sustainable the campus is. Not one school received an A or A+. Fifteen out of 300 schools received a grade of A-.

“Columbia University” by Sylvain Leprovost.

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College Entrance Tests; A Topic of Controversy

September 26, 2008 By: Dan Rosenfield Category: Admissions insider, Get into College

Although developed earlier, the first significant use of the SAT began in the 1930’s.  By the middle 1940’s, Educational Testing Service began in Princeton, New Jersey, and the college entrance testing industry, comprised primarily of the SAT and ACT organizations, now influences the admissions decisions of the vast majority of students applying to four-year colleges.

Interestingly, there has always been skepticism about the value of standardized testing in the college admissions process.  In fact, the Princeton psyschologist who developed the first SAT was not entirely sold on its use and this week a report was released that asked colleges to seriously consider eliminating them. However, these tests aren’t going away anytime soon. Millions of students take them annually, and they are used not only for college admission, but for course placement, scholarship eligibility, and honors college eligibility. So what should you do about them?

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Is the Ivy League for Me?

September 24, 2008 By: David Petersam Category: Choosing a College

Eight U.S. universities comprise the ‘Ivy League‘ – Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. Although the term ‘Ivy League’ actually refers to an athletic division, all of the Ivy League schools rank near the top of the U.S. News and World Report college rankings and rank within the top one percent of the world’s academic institutions in terms of financial endowment. The Ivy League comprises some of the most established, prestigious, selective and well-financed universities in the world. But is the Ivy League for you?

Photo courtesy of Chaval Brasil

Harvard Square, courtesy of Chaval Brasil

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Translating the Language of Financial Aid

September 22, 2008 By: Kate Scozzaro Category: Aid for College

FAFSA, EFC, COA… What do these letters mean?! If you’re looking into financial aid to help lessen the burden of college tuition, you may find yourself swimming in a sea of meaningless jargon and fine print.  It can be tricky knowing where to start when you want to apply for financial aid. The many “do’s” and “don’ts” can be intimidating as well as frustrating. These tips should help you navigate the process. Read the rest of this entry →

Is the Ivy League All It’s Meant to Be?

September 19, 2008 By: Laura Kruse Category: Campus Life, Choosing a College, College Tips

People don’t just go to Ivy League schools for the architecture. After spending about two weeks at Yale, I am beginning to realize why I’m here: infinite opportunity. I had my share of anxiety this summer, wondering if I would fit in at Yale, wondering if Yale would be all they say it is. Is the Ivy League all I’d expected? The truth is: it is and it isn’t.


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15 Lessons From My 1st Week of College

September 17, 2008 By: Jillianne Hamilton Category: Campus Life

As I write this, my first real day of classes is about nine hours away. Already, it seems like I’ve been in college for at least a month- not just a week. In that week, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. No matter how many “Ways To Get Ready For College” articles I have read, there were just some things I wasn’t prepared for.

Photo by Jillianne Hamilton.

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To Pick or Not to Pick Your College Roommate

September 15, 2008 By: Kate Scozzaro Category: Campus Life, Housing

You and your best friend just got accepted to the same college. You’re so excited because it’s the dream school you’ve been waiting for and then, your best friend asks you the obvious question, “Want to be roommates?” Choosing whether to pick or not to pick your college roommate is difficult because there’s pros and cons to both choices. Do you take the safe route and pick the person who you’ve known all through high school but jeopardize your chances at gaining the true “roommate experience”? Or do you risk it all and end up with the smelly kid that blasts music in your room until 3 a.m.?


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Best College Blogs to Subscribe to

September 12, 2008 By: Elizabeth Kraus Category: Best College Tips

Although I think the myUsearch blog is the best blog in the world (duh), I read several other blogs on a regular basis and many of them are quite good. I’ve decided to put together a list of my favorite blogs that I thought you might enjoy as well. Note: I’ve read through so many blogs, it’s possible I’ve forgotten to mention some of the best. If any of your favorite blogs aren’t mentioned, please leave a comment. 

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Can You Trust College Rankings?

September 10, 2008 By: Pauline Diaz Category: Choosing a College

Last month, US News and World Report and the Princeton Review both unveiled their annual college rankings. The frenzy around these two lists, that students and their parents treat like the Bible, raises an important question: What do these rankings mean, and what role should they play in your college search?

photo by &y

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How to be Green on a Student Budget

September 08, 2008 By: Trish Smith Category: Campus Life

Kermit the Frog had it right when he said “It’s not easy being green.” And it’s not just because he’s a frog. Today the green movement is taking over the world, and even though many people would like to go completely organic or build a sustainable home, their budget might not let them.

This is especially true for college students, who struggle every semester to get by on their student budget. A near-empty wallet makes it much easier to choose between ninety-nine cent ramen noodles or $2.99 organic pasta.

But there are some cheap, affordable ways that students can go green and still maintain their finances. Here are a few that are either completely free or very cheap to do:


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Do Employers Value Online Degrees?

September 05, 2008 By: Elizabeth Kraus Category: Choosing a College, Distance Online Learning

According to a recent study, 3.5 million students took at least one online course during the fall of 2006 and the rate of online enrollments is growing nearly eight times as fast as the overall higher education population. With all of these students and schools jumping on the online degree bandwagon, I can’t help but ask: Do employers really value online degrees?


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A Canadian’s View of the US Drinking Age

September 03, 2008 By: Jillianne Hamilton Category: Campus Life, Top Stories

I learned something new today: in Ancient Greece, they used the amethyst stone to ward off drunkenness. It’s also the name of a new movement to change the legal drinking age from 21 to 18 in the United States.

Photo by rick.

It’s been a past-time for some teenagers to make the trip across the border into Canada (my home land, for the record) to buy beer, where the legal drinking age is 19. I had my first taste of alcohol before I was legal age, maybe 17 or 18- and, by “normal” standards, I was a late bloomer. The Amethyst Initiative is a movement to change the legal drinking age in the US from 21 to 18. From a Canadian’s perspective, this is probably not the best idea. Let me explain why.

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