Trending Tuesday — New School Year

September 16th, 2014 by

We know back to school advice, prep, storage and organization have been all over your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest feeds for the past month. Some of the advice you scoffed at, I’m sure, but maybe there were one or two ideas you genuinely felt were worth the time to share, retweet or pin.

We found this little gem worthy of a share. Take a peek at some back to school resolutions you may or may not be in need of this fall.


Source: Pinterest

> For more info on getting yourself organized and prepared for a stellar school year, check out



Major Monday — Marine biology

September 15th, 2014 by

oceanAre you fascinated by ocean life? Marine biology majors study how life thrives in the oceans. You’ll examine different species such as marine mammals, fish, and plants. You’ll also look at different aspects of ocean habitats and ecological environments, such as the chemical makeup of water and the ocean’s geology. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the water, and perhaps even spend a semester at sea!

According to the College Board, this major is typically offered at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Classes within the marine biology major are science-centric, with chemistry, physics, and biology at its core. You’ll study a variety of subjects with a focus on their relevance to ocean life, such as botany, mammals, microbiology, and policy. Other classes will pertain to an in-depth study of oceanic species, including ichthyology (the study of fish) and phycology (the study of algae). In addition, marine biology majors are often required to do hands-on fieldwork to see marine life in its natural environment. For this reason, you may need to get your scuba certification or learn underwater photography.

What to know before you apply
As mentioned above, fieldwork can often be a valuable supplement to the marine biology major. Consider what kind of access you will have to the ocean when looking at schools. You’ll also want to get curious about which areas of marine biology are particularly interesting to you. Choose a school or program that emphasizes your areas of interest. This will ensure that you have access to the kinds of labs and independent research resources to explore your preferred focus.

Colleges offering related fields of study
Texas A&M University – Galveston: Galveston, TX

After graduating from the marine biology major, you’ll be continuing your studies in a way that’s relevant to real-life situations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, marine biologists earned a median pay of $62,610 per year in 2013.


5 Ways to Personalize Your Dorm Room

September 11th, 2014 by

dormroomYou’re all moved in, classes have begun, and you’re starting to settle into a routine. With all that uncertainty out of the way, you now have time to really personalize your living space! Decorating my dorm room was one of my favorite parts of college living. Here are some fun ways to spruce up even the smallest space—like the open double I lived in.

Get a whiteboard or chalkboard for your door. It’s a stereotypical college standby at this point, but it’s still fun! I loved getting messages from my friends on my door when I was in school. Even though it might seem cheesy and overdone, it’s still a must. You’ll enjoy it—I promise. Put a twist on the tradition by buying a funky-shaped whiteboard or getting a wide array of colored markers.

Hang lots and lots of photos. This doesn’t have to mean buying expensive frames and putting holes in the walls. A friend of mine stuck a long, colored thread on her wall with two thumbtacks and hung pictures on it using clothespins. Another friend hung ribbons on the wall with thumbtacks and glued photo prints to the ribbons. No matter how you choose to do it, seeing pictures of your family and friends from home will always make you smile.

Use the internet to find posters that are meaningful. Lots of schools have poster sales, but don’t just hang posters for the sake of hiding bare walls. Use the internet to find or create posters that are meaningful to you. Is there a quote that you love, or a movie that’s made a difference in your life? Having these things surround you in your living space will ultimately make you feel better than bunch of generic posters ever could.

Show some school spirit. One thing that got me really excited for dorm living was buying a bunch of stuff with my school colors and mascot on it. Most college bookstores have pretty much anything and everything you could ever dream of in the school’s colors, and the internet can help you find even more. If you had a great high school experience, don’t be shy about displaying memorabilia from your favorite high school teams or experiences! These personal touches will make you feel more at home than generic decorations.

Browse Pinterest to find styles you like. I so wish Pinterest had existed when I was in college. I’ve used Pinterest to find some amazing space-savers and decorating ideas for my apartment—do the same for your dorm room! Everyone’s style is different, and the large Pinterest community offers a huge variety of creative ideas for personalizing your space.

How have you given your dorm room a personal touch? Let us know about your creative touches in the comments!


Tuesday Tour Day — Texas A&M Galveston

September 9th, 2014 by

TAMUG-profile-1Today we are focusing on Texas A&M University at Galveston, the ocean campus of Texas A&M University at College Station. Students with a passion for studying in an ocean environment come from all corners of the world to study at Texas A&M Galveston’s campus located on Galveston Bay, giving its students direct access to the ocean. Texas A&M Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of six academies in the U.S. that prepares its students to be licensed as Third Mates or Third Assistant Engineers while simultaneously earning a bachelor’s degree. The academy also commissions to those who want to serve as officers in the United States Merchant Marine, Navy, and Coast Guard.

More than 2,200 students are enrolled at Texas A&M Galveston. Those students are served by 150 faculty members and lecturers, allowing for more face-to-face and after class time with instructors. The school features a fleet of floating classrooms, giving students the ability to conduct research in the nearby inlets and bays. Its training ship, the General Rudder, takes cadets on summer cruises to ports around the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and Caribbean Sea.

Outside the classroom, students at Texas A&M Galveston can participate in leadership training, clubs, intramurals, traditions, student government, the student newspaper, drama club, and more than 60 diverse student organizations. Students at the Galveston campus are Texas A&M Aggies, so their teams are all the NCAA Division 1 teams at Texas A&M College Station. Being Aggies by the sea, on-site sports at Galveston are often centered around the ocean. Club sports at Galveston include fishing, scuba diving, swimming, volleyball, soccer, rowing, and sailing, as well as a slew of intramural sports.

Tuition at Texas A&M Galveston is charged at a set rate for four years for undergraduate students. This predictability helps students and their families plan their finances. Galveston also offers many financial aid options, including grants, scholarships, loans, and student employment opportunities. Many of the school’s graduates receive job offers or graduate school acceptances before graduation. This aid in financial stability combined with Galveston’s hands-on, personalized program experience makes it a great choice for students looking to immerse themselves in ocean studies.


———> Find out more about Texas A&M — Galveston at!


Major Monday — Salaries

September 8th, 2014 by

last businesswoman in waiting listYou think you know what you want to major in. And you may have heard that the job you’ll get with that degree is going to make you great money. But, do you really know what today’s salaries are for those careers you are considering?

Before you fill out your college applications and declare your major, check out these 2014 average salaries for some of the more popular majors.

2014 Average Salary: $57,229

2014 Average Salary: $48,253

Computer Science
2014 Average Salary: $62,103

2014 Average Salary: $40,267

2014 Average Salary: $62,891

Humanities & Social Sciences
2014 Average Salary: $38,049

Math & Sciences
2014 Average Salary: $44,299

Now that you have a little more info, answer this question: Is the cost of the college you are considering in-line with the salary you are expected to make? In other words, will you be able to pay off your student loan debt with the income you’ll make from your career?

About Salary Survey: Salary Survey reports starting salaries for new college graduates in more than 90 disciplines at the bachelor’s-degree level. Data contained in the report are reported by employers, represent accepted starting salaries (not salary offers), and are produced through a compilation of data derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and a master set of data developed by Job Search Intelligence. Data for the September 2014 Salary Survey report were retrieved in July 2014. 

> Research more career and major options on



Quiz: Should you apply to be an RA?

September 4th, 2014 by

Becoming a Resident Assistant (RA) is a coveted campus job filled with equal parts responsibility and perks. RA’s possess a lot of power and must be very responsible and fair in carrying out their job duties. They handle fun activities like planning floor programs and designing their bulletin boards, but also have to deal with conflict and stress that impact their residents. It is their job to make residents feel at home yet maintain authority.

Wondering if it’s a job for you? Click here to take the quiz to see where you stand and whether or not you should apply to be an RA!


College confession: I’m a senior who is still not sure about my post-grad life

September 3rd, 2014 by

Hello everyone and happy back to school season!

My name is Alison and I’m excited to be back as the editorial intern at NextStepU. I’m here to offer insight on the whole college experience and impart some advice and wisdom to all you readers (I guess I have that ability now as a senior right?). I am currently attending Nazareth College of Rochester in the always-lovely Upstate New York where it’s finally starting to feel like summer. (Though a little too little too late.)

I’ve changed my mind a lot when it comes to careers and majors. I’ve gone from education to history to English Literature to Political Science and now Communications. I’m really happy with my Communications major because it’s so diverse and you can pick your focus and it applies to a ton of job prospects. It also left me with more post-grad options to choose from which is both a curse and a blessing. I’ve tried out concentrations in journalism, graphic design, dabbled in a bit of web design (truth: html totally scares me), and now I’m trying out marketing.

However, even as a senior, I’m still not quite sure what I want to do with my life. On my first day of classes this year, I settled into my first 8 a.m. class since freshman year and watched a bunch of bright-eyed freshman and sophomores raise their hands and declare what they wanted to be and why they chose that major.

As I sat off to the side of the room trying to wake up and feel like an actual person, I suddenly started to feel extremely anxious because these students — all of whom were a good 3-4 years younger than me — had a better idea of what they wanted to be when they grew up than I. But then I remembered that every time I declared a new major, I was captivated by the same feelings of assurance that these students had. These students would probably change their mind as I did (many times) and come to find new interests through self-discovery like I did. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I could still change my mind as most do now in their careers. In fact, even though I’ll graduate in May, I can still try out internships and explore more interests before committing to more school or a career path.

Based on my experience, I want to leave you with a few tidbits of advice: try new things, join a club you wouldn’t normally gravitate to, strike up conversations with people about their choices and how it influenced their decisions, take a class outside of your comfort zone, and don’t commit to anything you’re not totally sure about. Additionally, consume school services while you have them. Alumni departments can pair you up with former students and you can grab a cup of coffee and discuss your options and learn from them. Colleges and universities typically have career service departments where you can get resume advice and do mock interviews and receive valuable tips to help get you started. College flies by, so enjoy it and utilize every second you get!

internAli Sewalt is the editorial intern for NextStepU and is a senior at Nazareth College. You can reach her with questions and for advice at

> Looking for more advice? Register at and customize your path to success.


Trendy Tuesday — LeighDeux

September 2nd, 2014 by


Back to school is a great excuse for brightening up your life. Even if you aren’t moving into a dorm, your bedroom might need some sprucing up. Your wardrobe might be one of those iffy areas right now, too. Use this time to grab something new for your mind, body or room. Do we really need a better excuse than it’s fall?

For today’s trends, we are encouraging you to get those must-have items you’ll need for the change in the weather. A navy cardigan will go with every pair of jeans and the bursts of yellow accessories will keep you looking bright in the increasingly dreary weather. Get a new toy, too. How about the Fujifilm Instax Camera? You’ll be able to capture the moments of the season in style.

For your new dorm or this last year in your bedroom at home, you’ll need something fresh. How about these pillows from LeighDeux? Available in prints or solids and with or without tassels, there are so many colors and choices to meet your decor needs.

To celebrate today’s Trendy Tuesday and start to the fall season, LeighDeux is giving away the three pillows you see above (Vanessa Berries Throw Pillow, Aqua Bolster Pillow and Charlotte Throw Pillow). One lucky winner will get all three pillows for a mini bedroom makeover.

To enter to win the giveaway from LeighDeux, fill out the Rafflecopter app below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary. Enter the LeighDeux Giveaway before 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 9/8/14. One winner will be chosen shortly afterward and announced before 9/15/14. 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 10/15/14 will forfeit his/her prize. Entries will only be accepted through the Rafflecopter application and before the deadline date.



The happiest freshmen

August 28th, 2014 by

iStock_000011502005SmallIndependent college rankings and review website College Choice published a ranking of the 50 U.S. colleges and universities with the happiest first-year students.  Based primarily on the percentage of freshmen who return for their sophomore year, here are your top three rated universities:

1. Yale University
2. University of Chicago
3. Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California

“Students who complete their first year and return for their second at the same institution are much more likely to eventually finish their degree than those who transfer or dropout,” said College Choice Associate Editor Katie Brownell Amondson. “The schools on this list all do an exceptional job ensuring first freshmen students feel happy and supported enough to return for their sophomore year,” she said.

The ranking considered all regionally accredited colleges and universities recognized by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Retention rates were drawn from the most recent data available from the NCES IPEDS database and Schools sharing the same retention rate were ranked based on their overall graduation rates. 

> The full ranking can be viewed at



SAT Math Formula eBook

August 27th, 2014 by

magooshSAT mathWhat’s worse than the worst thing ever? For some, it’s SAT math. And I can see why: you’re cooped up in a room for hours, sitting until your muscles start to cramp, forcing your brain to recall that one formula your 8th grade geometry teacher told you would save your live one day.

If you’re one of the many who get the heebie-jeebies whenever the topic of SAT math pops up, we’ve got a life-saving tip for you: the SAT tests the exact same math concepts on every single exam! That means if you take time out to diligently study the right math concepts ahead of time, you’ll be ready to ace the SAT math section anytime, any day.

That’s where our friends at Magoosh SAT come in. They’ve put together a new eBook, complete with all the math formulas, study strategies, time-saving tips, and practice problems you’ll need for the SAT. It’s free and interactive to use, and it’ll give you the resources you need to dominate SAT math and do it fast. So check out the SAT math formula eBook and give your brain a break from straining for 8th grade math formulas!

 > Download the free SAT Math Formula eBook here!