March 29, 2009

How to Avoid Making a Bad Impression When Applying for a Job

I am a contributing writer for and have found useful information that relates to college. This author was kind enough to share his articles to my blog site. His name is Neil O'Donnell, a career and an academic advisor for students and alumni at a liberal arts college. Additionally, he is an author of fantasy-genre manuscripts. Here's what he wrote:

After examining hundreds of applications, I have encountered countless resumes and cover letters that destroyed any chance of an applicant getting an interview. What are the things that will negatively impact your chances of getting an interview? The list presented here details major missteps applicants have made in my experience.

Step 1:
To Whom It May Concern. This phrase should be avoided at all costs. Admittedly, there are some instances where you will not have a choice. In most cases, however, a contact person will be listed in the job ad. If no contact person is listed, call and ask the company if there is a specific person you can address your cover letter to. It’s worth the time to do this.

Step 2:
Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss. A mistake here could land your resume in the shredder. Frankly, it annoys me when I receive a cover letter where “Ms.” precedes my name. My first name, in no derivative, is feminine. Consequently, when I encounter such a gaffe, I discard the application and move on to the next. If the name of the contact person makes it difficult to discern the individual’s sex, simply write “Dear Director Smith” or “Dear John Smith.”

Step 3:
Proofread. One or two typos is one thing. More than two typos, and your application is one step closer to the shredder. Have a friend read over your resume or cover letter for grammatical and spelling errors.

Step 4:
No Crazy Fonts or Paper. I don’t have the best eyesight in the world. Consequently, any resume printed with hard to read fonts or on overly-bright paper will hurt my eyes. So what? Such resumes won’t be thoroughly read, limiting the effectiveness of the application and the applicant’s chances of getting an interview. Use white or ivory colored paper with Times Roman 12-point font, and, please, no glitter.

Step 5:
Submit On time. Sending in a resume late makes for a bad impression. If you learn of the opening AFTER the deadline to submit has passed, contact the company and ask if resumes will still be accepted. Such a move will put your application in a better light.

Step 6:
Don’t Continually Ask About When Decisions Will Be Made. Constantly checking on the status of your application will annoy the company/hiring manager. It’s one thing to call and inquire as to whether your resume was received. Calling each day to check to see if a decision was made is just a bad move.

March 28, 2009

How to Find a Career Path and Gain Useful Experience as an Undergraduate

I am a contributing writer to and have found useful information that relates to college. This author was kind enough to share his articles to my blog site. His name is Neil O'Donnell, a career and an academic advisor for students and alumni at a liberal arts college. Additionally, he is an author of fantasy-genre manuscripts. Here's what he wrote:

We've all faced the dilemma that "you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience." For undergraduate students (and to some extent grad students), this is a particularly disturbing reality, which causes more anxiety than it ought to.

How do you overcome this trap? Ultimately, it comes down to a student spending her or his college years wisely. For my advisees, I recommend the following series of steps, which provides a better chance of competing for jobs immediately upon graduation. How do I know these steps work? These are the steps I took, which allowed me to successfully compete with other applicants who had experience and advanced degrees while I only recently graduated with my bachelor's.

Step 1 - Freshmen Year:
• Take “Strong Interest Inventory” or other career assessments in your college’s Career Center – discuss results with a Career Center Counselor (feedback from career center staff provides valuable direction)
• Speak with campus professors related to majors you’re interested in pursuing as potential careers. Make sure to ask them about specific career options within the major and courses you should consider taking (and why?)
• Ask professors what entry-level (summer) jobs would provide valuable experience. Ask what volunteer experiences would also be helpful (both for gaining knowledge and experience).
• Start working on a resume with Career Center staff.

Step 2 - Sophomore Year:
• Continue working with professors for course advisement. Focus on classes that relate to your long term interests.
• Discuss internship possibilities with your professors (what are good options for those pursuing careers in your selected major). Also discuss whether graduate school is a necessity.
• Continue adjusting/updating your resume with counselors in the Career Center.

Step 3 - Junior Year:
• Start looking at graduate schools; ask your department advisor for direction in selecting graduate programs that best suit your long term interests/career goals
• Complete an internship or seek job experience as directly related to your career path as possible.
• Continue adjusting/updating your resume with counselors.

Step 4 - Senior Year:
• Apply to graduate schools. Apply to at least three to four choices.
• If internship experience changes your thoughts about career options, try to find another experience related to the new direction.
• Build list of 3 to 5 references for use in applying to graduate school and/or jobs. Ask each reference to supply you with a reference letter, and submit those letters to your college career center to be placed on file for future use.

March 25, 2009

How to Win Money Playing Craps

This post has nothing to do with free money for college. I just wanted to share my knowledge in the game of craps. It's a leisurely hobby of mine when I visit Nevada.

This crap strategy is for avid crap players only. If you are familiar with the game of craps and pay off odds, this strategy is for you. It doesn't matter if your bankroll is $1,000 or $200. You can win more money playing the hardways because it only cost $1.00 each. These steps are long and very detailed. You may want to take notes before trying out this strategy at the crap tables: hardways working.

March 20, 2009

Tips for Finding the Right Scholarships - Find Money for College

When searching for scholarships on the internet, refine your searches to find the right scholarship. You can save time by using these keywords instead of scholarship or scholarships alone:

  • endowment

  • fellowship

  • foundation

  • fund

  • trust

    • Just add the name of the college or major of interest in front of these words. For example:

      Cal State University San Bernardino endowments
      Cal State University Los Angeles fellowships
      Cal State University San Bernardino foundation
      Cal State University San Bernardino scholarships


      nursing scholarships, fund, foundation, trust

      criminal justice scholarships, fund, foundation, trust

      single mothers scholarships, fund, foundation, trust

      minority scholarships, fund, foundation, trust

      When adding the keywords to your college, major or type; use plural as well as singular words, such as foundation vs. foundations, trust vs. trusts, etc. These are magic words that only the search engines will find in detail. Using both singular and plural keywords will help cut down your search time.

      For additional scholarship information go to "How to Win More Scholarships."

      March 19, 2009

      Graduate from College Earlier

      Most students take more than five years, and sometimes even longer, to earn their bachelor's degrees at public colleges and universities. Students who take AP (Advance Placement) courses and exams are much more likely to graduate in four years. A 2008 study by the College Board, found that AP students graduated in four years than those who did not take AP. For example, graduation rates for AP English Literature students were 62% higher than graduation rates for those who took other English courses in high school. AP students have the flexibility to double their major or study abroad without putting at risk graduation in four years. Talk to your high school guidance counselor to schedule AP courses.

      Reference: The College Board; Linda Hargove, Donn Godin, and Barbara Dodd, "College Outcomes Comparisons by AP and Non-AP high school experiences."

      March 17, 2009

      Parent's Who Don't Qualify for Grants

      The average college graduate leaves school with over $19,000 in student loan debt. Finding a scholarship helps reduce or even eliminate the amount you will need to take out in loans. But, what happens when you only get a handful of scholarships, if any?

      According to the College Board 2008 report, students who took AP (Advance Placement) courses in high school accumulated a year's worth of credits. Also, graduated from an undergraduate program a full year early, and saved $30,000 in college tuition. Students who take longer to graduate from a public college or university typically pay between $8,000 and $19,000 for each additional year. The typical college cost per year for a four-year public college is $7,662 for in-state students, and $18,529 for out-of-state students.

      Talk to your high school counselor for more information regarding AP courses or go to

      March 8, 2009

      What If I Don't Qualify for Free Money?

      Did you or your parent's file your FAFSA application? What were your results? The results would be on your SAR (Student Aid Report) that you received in the mail or by email. The SAR would indicate your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). The EFC determines whether you or your dependent qualified for any free money, such as Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), State Grants, and local or community grants.

      If your EFC was over 1000, you probably did not get enough grants (if any) to cover your tuition costs. what to do? If your parent's or grandparent's credit did not qualify for an education loan, you or your dependent will most likely get stuck with the student loan debt, right? You don't need to sweat it -- you have the option to apply for scholarships. Yes, it's a lot of work, but taking the extra step to get free money is worth the effort.

      Did you know you can apply for scholarships while in college, and even if you're halfway through your last year? Also, there are scholarships to help you pay off your school debts. And, it's not too early to start searching for scholarships while you're in high school. It may be evident that most scholarships are catered for the top academic achievers or for the most neediest (poor) students. But, did you know that there are many scholarships available for everyone? Seriously, there are some ridiculous scholarships out there, such as the Duck Tape Prom Dress Award for students who attend their prom wearing just duct tape. Sounds silly, but it pays $3,000 to the winning recipient.

      The number one killer of scholarship applications is missing the deadline. The second reason would be incorrect information; such as misspelling of names and words, missing information, such as leaving required boxes blank on the application form, or failing to include required documentation. The third reason is not following directions on the essay requirements. If the essay requirement specifies 500 words, then write it for that amount, no more or less.

      The best method to avoid missing deadlines, use Microsoft Outlook on your computer or use the Google calendar to remind you of deadlines of each scholarship. The best chances to winning a scholarship is to be organized and apply for one scholarship each day. When you reach 100 scholarships take a break, and then start over again. Winning scholarships is a numbers game. The more you apply, the more chances you can win. Let's say you find 100 opportunities; and 10 of them you qualify for and apply to. Your chances of winning one of these is much greater than just applying for a handful at a time. Keep in mind...for every one scholarship you are awarded, you have to apply for 10 scholarships:

      100 scholarships = 10 scholarships you qualify for = 1 scholarship award winning

      Small is the new big. If you are awarded 10 scholarships for $1,000 or one scholarship for $10,000, the net effect is the same -- this means you don't pay $10,000 out of pocket or in loans. For each scholarship you are eligible for is worth applying, because a small group of scholarships will add up to one big amount.

      The most important fact about smaller scholarships ,($500-$1,000) tend to have fewer competitors than larger ones. Most people search for the big awards and neglect the smaller ones. Your chances of winning the smaller scholarships are greater, because most people apply for the bigger ones. For example, if only two people applied for the small scholarship, that would give you a 50% chance of winning. That's a bet you should seriously take.

      Reference: Scholarship Search Secrets, A publication of the Student Loan Network, Christoher S. Penn ,

      If you haven't already -- check out the following scholarship websites:

      March 7, 2009

      How to Get Free Money for College - Part 2

      If you did not apply for the FASFA application yet, it's not too late. If you live in California, you missed out on Cal Grant. Cal Grant applications are due March 2 of each year. When it comes to free money, Cal Grant can pay you up to $18,000. With the economy in California looking quite gloomy, who knows if Cal Grant will be around in the next two years.

      This is why it is imperative to apply for as many scholarships as possible right now. You don't need a high GPA or be in the low income range to apply for scholarships. One requirement, be "pro-active!" Who says getting free money was easy? The more you plead and beg, the more chances you have in winning that one scholarship. Once you get that one, keep going. Apply, apply, apply and never give up! Being in the financial aid industry myself, I have seen some students go to college for absolutely free. If you're writing is not that great, have someone else proofread and edit your essays. The key is your story, life experience, and goals. Your essays must be real and touch the hearts of those reading it. Some scholarships don't require essays, choose the one you think that suits you.

      Here are two scholarship sites that do not require essays, merit or low income: