The procrastination cure? Just do it.

April 23rd, 2014 by

iStock_000009278549MediumInevitably, you will face a school project that gives you fits. You have no ideas; you have bunch of other easier work that you can do instead; you don’t fully understand the assignment; you hate the course or the instructor; etc., etc., etc. Anything else seems like a better activity than finishing up this essay/research paper/project. We all have been in this situation and it is the worst. Here’s the extremely obvious, yet incredibly brilliant secret to overcoming it: just sit down and finish the thing.

First, find a location where you are most productive. I usually go to the library with my laptop because it is quiet, I have to manually connect to the WiFi (so internet access is less convenient) and there are no roommates around to distract me.

Second, just write (or whatever it is that you have to do). Don’t worry if it’s sloppy, imperfect or incapable of earning you an A. Even if you think that it makes no sense, just keep going. Here’s the thing, even if the first draft/try is terrible, at least you have something done and something to work with. After all, on the day before a deadline, what sounds better to you? Editing a draft or writing the entire thing from scratch in panic-mode? In my experience, handing in a paper that has been looked at a couple of times usually gets a better grade and a lower stress level than one that has been written and sent with no additional work in between.

If that process is too weird for you (or you just can’t work that way), try this plan on for size. Find everything you want to put in the paper. To keep using the literary essay scenario, type out all the quotes from primary and secondary sources that are useful to your topic. Then order them in the following fashion:

Main Idea #1
• Outside support and direct literary quotes
• How the two connect
• What you think this means

Main Idea #2
• Outside support and direct literary quotes
• How the two connect
• What you think this means

…and so on.

This is a fairly easy way to keep all your information in one place and is a way to generate an automatic outline. If you let that outline rest for a day or so, and you like what you wrote, fill in the gaps, write an intro and conclusion and revise the thing later. This method is productive and actually makes the assignment feel much smaller and easier to manage.

So, the next time you find yourself checking your empty inbox for the tenth time (my personal mode of procrastination), tell yourself this: JUST SIT DOWN AND DO IT!

Rachel-blog-2104Written by Rachel Montpelier. Rachel is a senior at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. and is the editorial assistant at NextStepU.

> Looking for more advice on navigating your senior year? Register at and customize your path to success.


Tuesday Tour Day — Touro College (NY SCAS)

April 22nd, 2014 by

touro profile 2013Today we are touring Touro College located in New York, N.Y.!

Touro College’s New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NY SCAS) is a career-oriented college with convenient locations throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Offerings of day, evening and weekend classes make NY SCAS practical and accessible.

NY SCAS offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in many of today’s most demanded fields: business management and administration, psychology, computer science, human services, desktop and Web publishing and much more. Transfer credits are accepted from many other academic institutions.

Fifteen libraries, located at various campuses throughout the city, are available for use by NY SCAS students. The online virtual library makes numerous texts, journals, articles and other relevant materials accessible from anywhere. Onsite computer labs, Learning Resource and Testing Centers, summer classes, an ESL program, Freshman Centers and a mentoring program all attest to the NY SCAS prioritization of student success.

As you can see, NY SCAS is truly a student-centered college. It provides rigorous challenges for the academically gifted, relevant assistance to those who require it and a caring, nurturing environment in which scholastic and professional goals can be pursued and realized. Generally, students are admitted to first pursue the associate degree and then progress to baccalaureate programs. Students who excel academically, international students and transfer students are all encouraged to apply.

> For more information about NY SCAS click here!


What your summer job says about you

April 21st, 2014 by

iStock_000013378918Usually when you think of your summer job, you think that it’s just something to get you through the season, not something that will influence your long-term education or career goals. However, projected data from Snagajob suggests that this summer will see a wage increase (an average of $10.39/hour) and about two million additional people in the work force.  This means you have a little bit more leeway when it comes to applying for and accepting a summer job. In fact, it might even be an important part of a future resumé.

Here are some popular summer jobs and how they might signify what you should consider for your upcoming college major:

• Lifeguard
You enjoy the outdoors and swimming and are good in (rare) high-stress situations. You also are quite skilled at cleaning locker rooms.

Major to consider: Physical therapy. This is a major where you work using your own strength and body and teaches you how to help a person in pain. And, in college, you will be required to clean the clinics during your first year of grad school. The lifeguarding experience will come in handy.

• Camp counselor
You are patient, can manage your anger, have multiple talents and are good with children.

Major to consider: Education. Dealing with homesick children through the wonders of camping and lanyard-making will prepare you for dealing with hyper children through the wonders of reading, writing and recess.

• Sales clerk
You deal with a lot of opinionated customers who require your assistance and expect a listening ear whenever they have a complaint to voice.

Major to consider: Communication & Rhetoric. Knowing how to listen to customers and assisting them in the help they actually need is essential to human communication. After your freshman year, you will have the skills to persuade the customers to buy even more and bug you even less.

• Administrative assistant
Organization, efficiency and time management are embedded in your DNA. The office could not function without you.

Major to consider: History. Sifting through research, analyzing it and synthesizing it within your own arguments will seem like a piece of cake. Your organization skills will ensure that you keep all primary and secondary sources in perfect, chronological order.

• Fast food worker
The customer is always right, even if sometimes their requests can seem excessive.

Major to consider: Psychology and/or sociology. Interacting with every kind of person during the week will give you a curiosity about the way humans think and relate to one another. Social sciences in college can give you some answers. And you will already know how to work with clients since they cannot be any more intimidating than the restaurant-goers.

> For more majors and career info, visit


Scholarship Saturday — Fallen Patriots

April 19th, 2014 by

scholarship saturday

NextStepU is happy to help guide you toward scholarships and opportunities to earn money for college. We know that this scholarship won’t be for everyone, but there is a need to find all of the children of fallen patriots. In the last 25 years, 15,000 children have lost a parent to combat. Only 2,800 of those children have enrolled to receive this benefit for college.

If you know a child (or the parent of a child) who has lost their mother or father while they were in service, please forward them this information to make sure they are accounted for and enrolled. No child should miss an opportunity like this because they weren’t aware of the organization.

Scholarship:  Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Amount: They have raised more than $6 million, and have granted more than $6.7 million in scholarships to 406 children. Even more inspiring, they have at least 2,000 more children already in the pipeline for secondary education assistance.

Details: Enrolling with Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is the first step to receiving financial support to get a college education. Click here to enroll.

For more information and to apply: Visit the Children of Fallen Patriots website.

> Looking for a scholarship that fits you? Take a look at NextStepU’s database of more than 3 million scholarships after you register at



Freebie Friday — U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges 2014″

April 17th, 2014 by


You may have read our book review last Saturday about the Best Colleges 2014 publication from U.S. News & World Report. If you missed that article, CLICK HERE to go back and read our thoughts on why we feel this is important reading as you schedule your college visits and college application decisions.

Are you wondering what might be INSIDE this book? You can view a list of contents HERE, and you can also try to win your own copy of “Best College 2014″ by filling in the Rafflecopter app below. One lucky winner will receive his or her own copy!

As a friend of NextStepU, you also have access to a discount code for the book, should you decide to purchase it. Use code SCHOOL25 to receive 25% off your purchase!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary. Enter the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2014 Giveaway before 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 4/24/14. (1) winner will be chosen shortly afterward and announced before 5/2/14. The winner must respond to the email he or she receives in order to claim his or her prize. Any prize winner not responding by 6/2/14 will forfeit his/her prize. Entries will only be accepted through the Rafflecopter application and before the deadline date.


How to handle getting sick in college

April 17th, 2014 by

she suffers a coldAs much as we try to avoid it, getting sick in college is inevitable. While it’s understandable to be nervous after hearing about scary illnesses like mono, meningococcal or gross fungi from communal showers, I am here to tell you that you are in more danger of getting colds or the flu while at school than contracting any of those more serious illnesses. While being sick is never fun, getting a cold is far less scary than other stuff they talk about on the news. In any case, you still need to know what to do if you are too sick to go to class or work for more than a day or two.

Here are some options if you are sick during your semester and cannot go home to your regular doctor:

Health services
Your campus will have a center with nurses and, sometimes, doctors. This is where you can go for medical advice or prescriptions in non-emergency cases. Depending on where you go to college, you can use insurance for this type of service.

When health services is closed, there is usually a hotline that you can call for information about where you can go for help and can even talk to a medical professional. Again, this is for non-emergency cases but I would not use the hotline unless I was seriously worried about my illness. However, don’t confuse hotlines with Googling. Never research your potential illness online — you’ll likely just make yourself more nervous than you need to be!

Urgent Care
These places are a cross between doctors’ offices and hospitals. In a clinic setting, Urgent Care provides prescriptions and treatments when you cannot wait for a regular doctor’s visit. These are for cases that health services cannot help you with. Usually, these places take insurance.

Emergency Room
Obviously, these are for emergency cases only. If no other treatment is working or you are suddenly sick on a weekend or in the middle of the night, call 911 or have a friend drive you to the hospital.

Campus safety
This option is only for physical injuries and other debilitating factors. You would not call them if you have the flu. Instead, call campus safety if you have fallen and badly hurt your leg or have experienced something similar. In most cases, a security officer will come for you and find a way to get you to the hospital.

Do all of the do’s and don’ts listed above make you nervous? Are you afraid you still won’t know what to do if you get sick while away at college? Consider a program like CampusMD. This service is membership based and connects you directly to a doctor every day of the year, 24 hours a day. As you register at to set up your free account to receive your customized path to success, click on the button for CampusMD to receive a membership discount and access to your own mobile doctor every day that you are away at school.

Just one more way NextStepU is looking out for your overall college experience!



Rachel-blog-2104Written by Rachel Montpelier. Rachel is a senior at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. and is the editorial assistant at NextStepU.

> Looking for more advice on navigating your senior year? Register at and customize your path to success.


Super Teens Finalists — Spring

April 16th, 2014 by

Listed below are the last five finalists in our 2014 Super Teens contest. These five teens join the other finalists that were already announced on the Super Teens page. You will be able to vote for your favorite Super Teen beginning on May 1st. One teen with the most votes will win the $1,000 scholarship for college expenses.

Congratulations to our finalists!

cody-mCody May
“My classes and projects in Future Farmers of America (FFA) are my passion. I raise and show beef cows.” He remembers what it was like trying to find a place in the FFA. “I am most proud of mentoring a fellow rookie cattle showman this past year,” he remembers. “I took all of my experience and taught her everything I knew.” She ended up finishing just after Cody in the competitions.

This love of working with animals will not stop after graduation. Cody plans on attending Texas A&M University to study Wildlife Biology. He can continue to do what he loves and most likely will find a way to be a mentor to even more people. When he was asked to advise other high school students, Cody said they had three options in life: “They can give up, give in or give it all they got.”

sydney-mSydney Maki
Sydney Maki has already traveled to Africa and plans to return after she finishes her senior year. Of course, what else would you expect from someone who says “No matter how many people come against you, keep pushing.”

She is the founder of Ekitangaala Ministries, an organization that provides education, food and medical services to children orphaned by AIDS. “Having the opportunity to change the lives of children in Africa is the biggest blessing in my life,” Sydney explains.

According to her future career plans, this is a blessing that keeps on giving. Sydney’s favorite subject is biology, which will come in handy when she trains to be a midwife. After graduation, she plans on spending six months in Uganda in order to get to know the children there. When she returns home, she will begin her Midwifery education. “There is a huge lack in qualified midwives and birth attendants in Uganda, resulting in maternal and infant deaths,” she explains. “Being a qualified midwife in Uganda will be a big help.”

connor-bConnor Bell
Connor has used motivation to do his best in high school and to partake in every available opportunity. He has continuously improved his tennis game and has been on the varsity team for three years. In addition, he excels in art classes and designed his own independent study course focusing on watercolor paintings and architectural design. Connor also traveled to Costa Rica after raising money with his classmates. 

He plans on attending Roger Williams University to study architecture. “I want to design houses and commercial buildings,” he describes. “It’s something I feel very passionately about.”  Although he is humble about his achievements, there is no doubt that Connor is an exemplary high school student and will do even better in college.

“Life isn’t just about success,” he claims. “It’s about having fun and being yourself as well.”

nityaNitya Rayapati
Nitya Rayapati, a high school junior from Texas, mentors freshman students and she is the Co-Committee Chair of the Drugs, Alcohol, Safety and Health Student Council. “I have helped raise awareness about these issues,” she explains of her position as co-chair, “[I attack] the problem not just in my own life, but on a school-wide scale.”

Rayapati finds joy in her science courses, namely biology. Her passion for science has encouraged her to get involved in creating her own experiments, including engineering a novel passive solar tracker that she developed with a friend. This device intends to improve methods of harnessing energy from the sun and it earned her and her friend 1st place at their regional science fair.

Rayapati intends to major in biology or biomedical engineering and eventually hopes to become a physician or to work in a lab. No matter what she pursues though, Rayapati always keeps this advice in mind: “Do not let disappointment define you. Let the way you react to setback, with determination and strength, compose your character instead.”

vivian-yVivian Yu
“Everything has two sides. With fear comes joy; with every doubt comes certainty.” This is the mantra that Vivian Yu, a junior at Longmeadow High School in Longmeadow, Mass., lives by. After being diagnosed with scoliosis and terrified at the thought of surgery, Yu decided to turn her fear into something positive. “I saw kids my age who had so much more to worry about than I did,” she recalls, “I realized then that Shriners [Hospital] had given me…a purpose, a dream. I wanted to help Shriners [and] those kids.”

It was then that Yu developed her passion for science — and for giving back to others. She plans on going to college for biomedical engineering and, one day, to develop new prostheses that are better functioning for future patients. As a member of her local Vex Robotics team, she is well on her way to achieving that goal. “The best part of being in robotics is simply seeing what I have created,” Yu explains, “If today I can change a pile of metal parts to a machine…who knows what I will be able to build in the future?”

> Read the full bios from these five finalists and more at


Tuesday Tour Day — Wade College

April 15th, 2014 by

Wade College-Fashion SketchingToday we are looking at Wade College, located in Dallas, Texas!

Wade College is a specialized college that offers dual major Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees in merchandising and design. General education in fine art, humanities, social science, behavioral science, mathematics, and other subjects helps students prepare for careers in the visual fields while also helping them to broaden their perspectives. Complemented by the design and merchandising programs at the college, courses in general studies help students develop the analytical, written, mathematical, communication, business, and presentation skills necessary to bridge their specialized fields of study with the demands of the larger world of business and industry.

Wade offers specialized study in graphic design, fashion design, interior design, and merchandise marketing at the associate-degree level. Fashion design, interior design, merchandise management, and visual communication are all available at the baccalaureate-degree level. Both programs help students develop the professional skills required to advance in their career field.  The curriculum promotes a well-rounded perspective of the world and the particular demands of merchandising and design professions. The school even employs professors who have educational and professional experience in their respective fields.

A Wade College education maintains a creative and supportive environment, with intimate class sizes in every concentration. Students have the opportunity to work with hands-on projects, which are later utilized in their portfolios. They also are provided with iPad Minis, e-books and art supplies, with the prices automatically included in the students’ tuition. In fact, Wade is dedicated to providing a quality education in the cheapest and most efficient way possible. Full time students often finish their associate’s degrees in 16 months and bachelor’s degrees are attainable in as little as 32 months.

Being the only merchandising/design school in the Dallas Design District, Wade provides many opportunities for students to build their resumes with volunteering, internships, or part-time and full-time work in the industry. There are guest speakers, field trips related to the industry, and multiple clubs and organizations including the Merchandising and Design Student Association, ASID Student Chapter, Phi Theta Kappa, and Mu Kappa Tau. And there are multiple experiences to be had off-campus, as well, since the college is located in Dallas Market Center, the world’s largest wholesale market with over 50 markets each year.

> For more information about Wade College click here!


Major Monday — Design and Visual Communications

April 14th, 2014 by

Technology in the handsAre you interested in multiple types of design? Do you think of yourself as an artist of many mediums? Are you able to understand theory and apply it directly to your work? If so, consider design and visual communications when you are deciding on a college major. Design and visual communications majors study a large cross section of applied arts disciplines.

According to the College Board, design and visual communications programs are usually taught at the bachelor’s degree level. If you are serious about this field of study, take classes like AP Art History, computer/graphic arts and business in high school. In college, you can expect to register for courses like illustration, typography, web design and art history.

What to know before you apply
When you are narrowing down your top choice colleges, you must find out whether a portfolio is required for admission. If it is, you should start gathering projects and pieces as soon as you can. Also, research the specific type of education the school offers. Is it balanced, with equal attention given to every area of design? Or are you supposed to choose a concentration? Depending on your preferences and skills, this could make or break a program. Finally, make sure to visit the school’s campus. You will be spending a huge percentage of your time in the lab, so it is a good idea to find out if it is well-equipped and comfortable.

Colleges offering related fields of study
• Genessee Community College: Batavia, N.Y.
• Morrisville State College: Morrisville, N.Y.
• University of Melbourne: Parkville, Victoria, Australia
• Wade College: Dallas, Texas

A degree in design and visual communications will prepare you for positions in areas including art direction, animation and web design. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, art directors earned an average income of $95,500/year in 2011, while animators earned $68,060/year. Web designers earned a median salary of $55,000/year in 2012.

For more information about careers, visit!


Taking the initiative

April 12th, 2014 by

A book review of “U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2014”

Best Colleges 2014 1P plain coverYou have no doubt heard about “U.S. News & World Report” and its guide to the nation’s best colleges. You probably associate it with numbers, lists and rankings. But it actually provides much more information than how your first choice college stacks up in relation to every other university in the country. The guide educates you about how taking the initiative during the college search will benefit you for a long time after the applications are sent. Here are some takeaways that every high school student should remember during the search:

Start early, think deeply
When I started researching colleges in the eighth grade, my teachers and peers thought I was weird. However, I would probably fit in just fine at this point in time. U.S. News’ Brian Kelly notes that “the stakes of the college hunt keep getting higher,” and he is absolutely right. Costs are rising, financial aid is covering less and jobs are still difficult to find. So you need to start thinking about what you want from your college experience as soon as possible. Maybe even before you decide to attend college. Examine your passions, find out what you are good at and explore different colleges through tours or through brochures. Picture what you want from life after earning your undergraduate degree. Kelly claims that there is no “best” college; “The point is to find the one that matches your ambition and abilities.”

Public or private? Big or small? Liberal arts or technical?
Determining the right college for you means more than just considering its featured programs or overall cost. You need to decide which environment is best for you. Are you leaning towards a private school or a state university? Do you work better with more individual time with a professor or within larger classes? Are you interested in taking courses in many different subjects, or do you want to begin your major your first day? “The first step in narrowing your choices should be a long good look in the mirror,” the guidebook advises. “What characteristics must a school have to make you happy?”

Focus on the whole package
When searching for the best college for you, avoid having tunnel vision. Thinking about only the cost, the education, the reputation or the environment will give fewer options and could give you a false sense of what the school is really like. Rebecca Ridings, an alum of John Brown University, was initially “struck by the beauty of the campus’s blooming dogwoods and its peacefulness.” But she found that it was the best choice for her because of its educational methods, its campus and its extracurriculars. “JBU’s small class sizes and professors that care only made me feel more at home,” she remembers. “The school may be small, but it has excellent resources.”

Similarly, Jasmine Ellis first heard about Spelman College when she was 10. Her interest was piqued because of the school’s dedication to attracting women of color from all over the world. While that is very impressive, it is not the only factor Jasmine considered before applying. “Spelman provides a strong liberal arts education, a supportive faculty and ample opportunities to develop leadership skills,” she explains. “I will leave college with the skills and connections that…will enable me to change the world.”

Now that you are better equipped to make your decision, consider getting a copy of “U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2014” and begin your research. Other great resources in the book include: How online learning might affect you, how eight high school seniors made it in, hot new majors, and a what to-do list.

As a friend of NextStepU, you have access to a discount code for the book. Use code SCHOOL25 to receive 25% off your purchase!


Written by Rachel Montpelier. Rachel is a senior at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. and is the editorial assistant at NextStepU.