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Money is waiting for you. Do you want it?

Yes, the cost of college is on the rise. It has been for a while and it will probably continue in the same direction.

You can avoid student debt by applying for and earning the scholarships you need.

Please keep your options open as you make your college decision.

Yes, it’s true. Out-of-state colleges are usually at least twice as much as in-state colleges. But, if you feel and know for sure that the out-of-state college is best for you, then chase the opportunity with everything you have.

Most students limit their options and choose an in-state college over an out-of-state because it’s cheaper. If money is your only obstacle, then eliminate the obstacle by earning outside scholarships.

What are outside scholarships?

Most families are familiar with the stories of individuals who earn full-ride academic or athletic scholarships. But, how about those who don’t and still graduate debt-free?Those students usually earn tens of thousands of dollars in outside scholarships.

Outside scholarships can come from local businesses, national fast food chains, and more. An outside scholarship is a check that is used to cover the cost of your education at any institution. It is not written to one school, therefore, it gives you the flexibility to use the money at whichever institution you choose.

Begin your search for outside scholarships with the Youth Financial Literacy Foundation Scholarship. I won this scholarship in 2015 and a 3-day all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas, Nevada to receive the award.

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube for more scholarship success information. Visit our products page for additional resources to begin your scholarship journey.

I suggest purchasing your $5 copy of Choose the Right College: 9 Steps to Identify Your College if you are in the college selection process.

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The Personal Statement

This post was originally written by Dr. Paul Heilker. All thoughts and ideas expressed below the byline are his thoughts.

By Dr. Paul Heilker

Your personal statement is an articulation of 1) who you are, 2) what your compelling interest is (your exigence), and 3) why other people should care about #1 and #2. It is a critical professional text to develop effectively. You will use some version of it every time you apply for a graduate program, scholarship, internship, or fellowship, every time you apply for a job, a promotion, or a raise, every time you propose a project, every time you apply for funding, every time you speak in public on an important issue, every time you publish your research.

Think about it this way: at a certain point in any search process, all viable candidates are going to have very similar qualifications. They will all have strong credentials: good grades, good letters of recommendation, notable work experiences and internships, etc. What decision makers are looking for is something less tangible, something we tend to call “fit”: how well will this person fit in our organization, our effort, our program? And the only way they can know this is through some version of your personal statement.

Research in professional communications suggests that you will have about 90 seconds to secure the interest and goodwill of the decision maker in any meeting. Consider the “elevator pitch,” a common scenario in professional communications: you find yourself on an elevator with the CEO of a company you dream of working for, and you have 90 seconds to ride the elevator to the lobby to convince him or her to be interested in you and your idea. Or take the first question in almost any interview: “Tell us a little about yourself.” If you don’t have a flexible, well rehearsed version of your personal statement in your toolbox, ready to go, you can never take advantage of these strategic moments (kairos).

And yet somehow we teachers never show you how to compose in this critically important genre. There are several reasons for this, I think. First is that we erroneously think that the easiest thing to write about is yourself. After all, what subject do you know better than yourself? But the truth is that one of the hardest things to do is write about yourself in a way that anyone else will care about (and still not be a braggart or a blowhard). After all, seriously, why should *I* care about *you*? A second reason professors, especially, may be reluctant to help you with this is that as soon as you know how to do this, how to articulate who you are, what your exigence is, and why anyone else should care, you become competition for us: competition for fellowships, jobs, promotions, raises, funding, space on a conference program or in a journal, etc. It is to our advantage to keep you mystified about all this, all the way through your PhDs, should you care to go on that long.

So let us rectify this unfortunate state of affairs. I invite you to write a personal statement of approximately 1250 words (the standard size of these statements for graduate program and fellowship applications). While these statements can take any number of forms, I would like you to use the following general outline, which elucidates a focused narrative arc of your life, because I have seen this format work quite effectively over the years:

A) Begin with a brief intellectual biography. Explain how you got to where you are now as a thinker, or scholar, or activist, or professional in your field of study. Who or what influenced your path to this point? How, exactly, did this person or persons, did this event or these events, change you, influence you, move you in your particular direction? This is the beginning part of your narrative arc.

B) At this point in your life, explain as best you can where you think you would ultimately like to end up, what you would ultimately like to be doing in your vocation or avocation. In the best of all possible worlds, what is the dream job you would like to have? What is the good that you would like to do in the world? What is your personally compelling interest? What is the thing that you seem to be put on the planet to do? By the time we are done with this statement, the connections between A and B should be obvious, natural, “but of course .” This is the concluding part of your narrative arc.

C) Explain how the opportunity you are applying for (this particular graduate program or job or scholarship or funding opportunity or . . . ) will help move you from A to B, from where you are to where you want to end up. Please note that you will each choose something real here, some actual assistantship or internship or summer job or other opportunity you will actually go for at some point in the near future. By the time we are done with this section, you will have articulated how this real world opportunity at hand is precisely what you need to move from where you are to the where you want to end up, how it will enable you to do the work you want to do in the world, why you are such a good fit for this organization or program, why they should care about you (and care about you more than they care about others). An effective job on C shows what’s in it for *them*, what *they* can expect to get out of the deal.

As I have done in the past, I would be happy to review your drafts and give you suggestions about how you might improve your statements. You can contact me at pheilker@vt.edu.

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10 Tips to Boost your GPA

A great GPA score usually signals the difference between meeting requirements for prestigious programs and scholarships – or not. It also decides the honors you get on graduation day, which g…

Source: 10 Tips to Boost your GPA

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#ApplyForScholarships

Retweet this if you are going to take action!

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Balance is important.

Like this tweet if you know how important it is to enjoy time away from your regular routine.

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Chegg can save you hundreds on textbooks! #SmartCollegeStudent

Visit Chegg to get your textbooks for the semester plus free items (they come in every box)!

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What does mental growth feel like?

Failure. Success. Late nights. Early mornings. Stress. Frustration. Joy. The list goes on and on. 

Mental strength will take you farther than physical strength. We all reach the pinnacle of our physical strength. For some, it’s during the earlier years of life. Others may experience their physical strength during the later years of their life, but mental strength can last a lifetime.

I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, “Knowledge is power.” It truly is!

Knowledge has helped some of the best athletes increase their million dollar income after retirement because they know how to apply the knowledge to build their brand.

You can build your wealth of knowledge while in school with simple techniques:

  • Tip #1: Read at least 30 minutes every day. This can include personal development books and how-to guides. You are the best investment you’ll ever make.
  • Tip #2: Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you or have different strengths. You can learn from anyone.
  • Tip #3: Expand your vocabulary. It will tremendously improve your writing.

Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for academic tips and inspirational messages. As always, submit a Free Initial Consultation Form today to learn how to earn thousands of dollars in scholarships!

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ATTENTION: NEW FAFSA DEADLINES

Greetings intelligent students and “financially fit” people!

Did you know the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has changed permanently? The new deadlines begin with the 2017-18 FAFSA.

The application opens October 1, 2016 with a priority deadline of January 15, 2017.

Click this link for more information.


Like our Facebook page for regular updates! If you’re interested earning scholarships, submit a Free Initial Consultation Form today!

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From Solitude to Joyful Chaos

Are you ready for your dorm experience? This week’s blog will help those of you who are concerned with transitioning from living as a single-child to sharing your space. Trust me, it’s not that bad.

Silence was normal for me. I grew up as an only child in a 3-bedroom home with older parents. This helped me discover my ability to entertain myself with my thoughts, dreams, and imagination. My older sister was in college and enjoying other opportunities as I grew from a baby to a toddler. But, I always wondered what life would be like with a younger sibling. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever have one, but my freshman year of college turned out to be an opportunity of a lifetime.

As my senior year of high school ended, I anxiously submitted a housing application for on-campus living at Virginia Tech. While answering a questionnaire that would match me with a roommate for the next nine months, I noticed an area that didn’t excite me: bathroom sharing. I developed a plan instantaneously — share a bathroom with the smallest amount of people possible. This limited my options to a suite-style residence hall, but nothing was guaranteed. In a luxurious but hard to secure suite, six people share a living room and a semi-private bathroom.

After waiting for what felt like a year, but was really three and a half months, I clicked the link that displayed the contact information for my roommate. The information contained her name, permanent residence, and cell phone number. Without any hesitation, I sent her a text and received a response immediately. Within the next five minutes, we’d added each other on Facebook and Instagram and could summarize each other’s life for the last five years. Technology definitely answers the unknowns that can grant peace of mind, at times.

After communicating for most of the day and stalking each other’s profiles, we knew what sports we enjoyed the most, each other’s recent accomplishments, backgrounds, intended majors, and passions. I was excited to meet my roommate in the next month and begin this new-found freedom together, but getting to know my suite mates was a different story.

A few days after constantly communicating with my roommate, I received an unexpected email from Katie, one of my suite mates. Katie’s email was saturated with a great introduction, but the best part of it all was her ability to bring a 50” flat screen in August. At that moment, I realized life with these new strangers wouldn’t be so bad after all. Who doesn’t enjoy binge watching Netflix on a brand new 50” flat screen?

Life with Maia, Darya, Katie, Emily, and Olivia turned out to be unexplainably phenomenal! Those five young women will always hold a special place in my heart. We’ve cried on sad occasions together, laughed so hard until we cried, celebrated in each other’s accomplishments, taught each other valuable life lessons, and created bonds that will surpass generations.

In the early months of our freshman year, we were overwhelmed with the transition phase, but we pulled through. There are times when I return to the suite after three back to back 75 minute classes to Maia relaxing on the couch while watching her favorite TV show. Emily was easily found napping or scrolling through her endless timeline. Darya, my roommate, was usually found in a sleep-induced comma or waking up from her routine four-hour nap. Katie was most likely studying like her life depended on it. Olivia often went missing because “studio” required more time and effort than an average person produces. She would leave the suite every morning by 8:00am and return when the day was almost over. Those moments will stick with me forever, but we also have memories that capture the essence of our friendship.

The winters in Virginia Tech can be unbearable at times, if you don’t embrace the fun with friends. One particular winter, everyone in our suite, except Darya, suited up in their snow boots, heavy coats, gloves, and face protectors to sled down one of Virginia Tech’s steepest hills after a two feet snowstorm. We didn’t have a real sled, so we found some extra cardboard and went to work. After dancing in the snow, sledding, and making snow angels, a few fellow Hokies joined in on the fun with a REAL snowboard. Olivia and Emily’s eyes locked onto the experience they were having. Before our sledding adventure was over, the two of them were riding the hill like pros. Later on, we found a storage container top and used it as a sled. That’s Virginia Tech’s motto, “Invent the Future,” at its best.

Everyone in our suite enjoyed food, including some friends and boyfriends that are now family. The 50” TV Katie brought stayed on the Food Network channel. Our favorite show by far was Guy Fieri’s Diner, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We gathered around the TV nightly and talked about food while eating food. Our usual meals were a delicious steak dinner from West End or ramen (a college student’s go-to). Eventually, our shared interest in food led us to our residence hall kitchen.

We baked cakes for birthdays, shared family recipes, and prepared dinner like a real family of six. Our other go-to meal was Walmart’s Lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken, with Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes, and canned green beans. If you ever get sick of the food in the café or live the lifestyle of a broke college kid, gather $20 with some friends and enjoy some fine dining. Trust me, it’s a meal that will eliminate hunger pains and become a tradition.

These are a few of the memories and experiences I have enjoyed and look forward to with my suite mates. Maia, Emily, Darya, Katie, and Olivia are wonderful people with bright futures ahead of them. We all have different interests, passions, and backgrounds. But, shared traits between us all include empathy, love, and the service mentality Virginia Tech thrives on. I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone every day and explore what life has to offer. You will create relationships and memories that will last forever.

Oh yeah, sharing a bathroom with five people wasn’t so bad after all.

Danielle Jeffers


If you enjoyed this blog, share it with others. Return to this site weekly for more tips on how to succeed in life and your scholarship journey.

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How far can scholarships take me?

Scholarships can open a door to financial freedom, provide opportunities to explore life, and change the trajectory of your future.

You’re probably aware of the rising costs of a college education and the consequent average debt of a college graduate, but that doesn’t have to be your story. Loans are an option, but they aren’t the only option.

Imagine working a minimum wage job for a couple of hours and earning $15.00. That’s ok. But imagine devoting a couple of hours to a scholarship and earning $1,000. The latter sounds better, doesn’t it?

Of course it does, especially with a return on investment (ROI) of $1,000. That’s $500 per hour! Guess what…scholarships aren’t taxable. That means you can put all of the money you earn towards your education instead of a portion of it (after you pay Uncle Sam).


Submit the Free Initial Consultation Form if you’re interested in learning more about earning thousands in hours.