Push yourself

October 2nd, 2014 by

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Source: Pinterest

Everyone has that one thing that they need to push themselves for. Maybe it is just the push to apply for a college. To write the essay. Or maybe to start searching for scholarships. Maybe you need a push just to convince yourself that college can happen for you.

Whatever you need it for, give yourself an extra pat on the back and tell yourself you are worth the extra effort.

We believe in you!



Scholarships — Survivors Scholarship

October 1st, 2014 by


NextStepU is happy to help guide you toward scholarships and opportunities to earn money for college. Here is a new scholarship we found for you!

Scholarship: Survivors Scholarship from Chalik & Chalik Law Firm.

Description: A new college scholarship for those who have survived a serious medical diagnosis and are moving forward in their lives. Open to anyone attending college or law school in the U.S. after spring 2015.

Amount: $1,000

Requirements: Submit a short personal essay about how their cancer or significant medical issue influenced their choice to pursue a higher education and this application. Academic requirements are set at a current GPA of 3.0 or above. Students entering college for the first time will have to document acceptance at an accredited institution, and all applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents. The award will be paid directly to the college in the student’s name to help with tuition or materials costs. Full requirements can be found here.

Deadline: The deadline for submission is 1/12/2015 and the winning applicant will be notified by 2/1/2015.

Full rules and regulations can be found on the Chalik & Chalik Law Firm website.

Best of luck to those who apply!

> Want to continue your search? Take a look at NextStepU’s database of more than 2 million scholarships after you register at






Tuesday Tour Day – SUNY Fredonia

September 30th, 2014 by

main image 2013SUNY Fredonia offers you the academic contests of a liberal arts college while committing to help you develop your character as you prepare to settle into post graduate life and search for your career path. In doing this, Fredonia also offers affordable tuition and housing in a small, intimate setting of 5,300 students.

Fredonia resides near Lake Erie in western New York and is about an hour drive to the thriving city of Buffalo, N.Y. The campus is constantly filled with events from the fine arts and performing arts departments. Cultural, social, academic and athletic clubs are the driving force behind many campus activities and proceedings.

You can really find it all at Fredonia as the university offers traditions in the arts, sciences, business, education, humanities, undergraduate research, interdisciplinary studies and athletics. The campus environment is creative and vibrant with a diverse population of students and faculty. Over 100 academic programs are offered and taught by faculty from all around the world. These programs are divided into Fredonia’s School of Music, College of Education and School of Business.

Fredonia’s athletic complex features an ice rink, two gyms, a four-lane indoor track and a new natatorium. Outside, students will find a cutting-edge soccer and lacrosse stadium.

The university features rich, traditional architecture and state-of-the-art facilities where students can choose from 14 different residence halls. University Commons is the newest residence hall complete with a dining hall, bookstore, and a Starbucks café.

Admission to Fredonia is competitive and the university encourages applications from students who have taken a strong college-preparatory program in high school, graduated in the top half of their high school class, and who have earned an average better than 80%. Approximately 80% of admitted undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

> Check out SUNY Fredonia’s profile at



Major Monday — Merchandising & Design

September 29th, 2014 by

iStock_000014382161MediumAre you the fashionista of your friend group? Do you have an eye for design and creativity? Merchandising & Design combines two specialized majors and creates a balanced dual major program.

The core curriculum offered consists of 14 courses totally 42 semester credit hours and the core fields of study include merchandising, design and general studies. A minimum of six elective courses totaling 18 semester credit hours are also required, which allows students to develop specialized skills in either fashion design, interior design, merchandise management or visual communication.

After earning the Associate of Arts degree, a student can complete the Bachelor of Arts degree in an additional four consecutive trimesters of study. Each trimester is 15 weeks of instruction in length and is equivalent to a traditional semester. Full-time students can graduate 16 months after entering the Bachelor of Arts degree program.

What to know before you apply
Wade College offers shorter completion times where students can attend full time and complete either their Associate or Bachelor Degree in as little as 16 or 32 months. They also offer an all-inclusive tuition rate where students receive an iPad mini, e-books, books and art supplies. This way, all costs are up front and no hidden fees surprise you. Wade is located in the Dallas Design District where students will find multiple opportunities for networking, interning, and future career exploration.

Colleges offering related fields of study
This particular program is unique to Wade College in Dallas, Texas.

Depending on location and some other factors, designers and merchandisers can make anywhere from $53,200 to $62,820 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Help us send someone to college!

September 25th, 2014 by

NextStepU-indiegogo-iPadNextStepU is on a mission to give students participating in local community-based organizations access to a program that will prepare them to make educated decisions regarding a college or career choice after high school.

Through our College Planning for Community Based Organizations Campaign, we hope to fund seminars all over the country. We’ve seen success locally, but we can’t keep this to just Rochester, NY any longer — we need your help!

Through this program, we will give teens in community-based organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club, assessment, education and evaluation as they are making important decisions for their futures. They can go to college. They can have a career they are proud of.

It all starts with someone giving them the opportunity.

NextStepU has that opportunity to give. Help us share this program in all 50 states by donating to our Indiegogo campaign. Please also share it with your friends and family socially. We need all of the help we can get!

Much thanks to those of you who will contribute. We are thrilled to be able to scale this project beyond our backyard.



Staying safe on campus

September 24th, 2014 by

iStock_000013095630MediumBinge watching episodes of Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds and The X Files have made me a somewhat paranoid, yet highly alert college student. In all likelihood, most campuses are very safe environments. However, you can never be too cautious. To up your safety game, check out these tips.

1. Program the following numbers into your phone right now: local taxi services, bus station information numbers, campus shuttles, campus security, campus escort, and finally ICE. ICE is an acronym that stands for in case of emergency. This is the first place a rescue service will try to call in case of emergency. If you live off campus you may want to look into services like Smart 911. Smart 911 is a free service that allows you to keep your medical records and security information in a secure place online that emergency responders can access if you call 911. You can upload pictures of yourself, your roommates, and even pets. You can also add any medications you are taking or health concerns that you might have.

2. Use technology and download safety apps like:
BSafe. This app focuses on turning your phone into a GPS-based panic button. Using the app, you can program your phone to automatically notify your family, 911, or your friends of your exact location with the push of a button. It can also be setup to “fake call you” to let others think that you have someone on the line who would be aware of your situation. BSafe offers a free basic version of their service or you can pay $20 a year for premium service.

Watch Over Me. This allows you to create your own safety rule tied to a specific amount of time. For example, you might set it before you walk home alone from class at night to call your emergency contact if you don’t check-in within 15 minutes.

OnWatch. Like the other apps, OnWatch allows you to preset emergency contacts for a one button dial. You can connect it to your local 911, campus security, or even a safe list of friends.

3. Keep an eye out in residence halls and in academic buildings late at night. Most buildings are secure through use of your personal key or an electronic swipe. Be wary of holding the door for strangers and watch for people who aren’t familiar to you lingering near buildings and trying to find a way in. If someone needs to get into the building and they are a student or staff member, they should have their own means. Do not put it on yourself if you are unsure.

4. Lock your door. Thefts and suspicious behavior can be avoided through doing this, even if you’re only gone for a short amount of time. Going to the bathroom? Lock your door. Going to your neighbor’s room? Lock your door. The #1 way a burglar is going to get into your space is by walking through an unlocked door after they piggy back into a building. The people breaking into on-campus homes are not obvious criminals. The people that are breaking into dorms are RAs, football players, basketball players, cross country team members, and other well-known campus members. Keep your guard up and be safe.

5. Travel in groups, don’t walk alone at night and always note where you are if you are venturing off of campus. Trouble is less likely to happen to those sticking in group settings and you always have someone else to rely on for help in case of an emergency. Look out for your friends and they will in turn look out for you and don’t forget to utilize your campus resources when you feel it’s necessary, it’s what they’re there for.

Ali-2014-blogAli Sewalt is the marketing 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.


Tuesday Tour Day — Barry University

September 23rd, 2014 by

barry-profileToday we’re looking at Barry University, located in Miami Florida. The campus is made up of 122 acres that resides just minutes from the beach and downtown Miami. Barry is for students who are looking for a close-knit environment where professors know their names and also know their individual goals and try and help you succeed. The university offers over 75 majors and specializations.

Barry University offers a special Honor’s program that allows students to go beyond that of a typical course schedule and explore classes that cover various cultures and philosophy. Miami is home to over 700 multinational corporations where Barry’s honors students can intern and create prospective networking and career opportunities.

With the addition of just one extra academic year, students can earn their master’s degree. Barry offers seamless five-year bachelors to master’s degree programs in fields such as education, sports management, and social work. And with Barry’s focus on service learning, you make the world a better place. The university’s Center for Community Service Initiatives fosters partnerships with local organizations so some of your classes integrate your coursework with community needs.

The university offers over 60 different student organizations that reside in a thriving, busy city where you will take part in leadership opportunities and making new friends and life long connections. In addition to this, the campus resources provides students with the opportunity to utilize Career Services, advance their studies in the exceptional library and finally, the university also has multimedia classrooms and labs dedicated to specific majors such as biology, chemistry, exercise science, and graphic design.

The university offers a scholarship program and participates in a full array of federal and state financial aid programs. Barry University endeavors to provide the resources you need to reduce your costs. Nearly 90% of undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance. Barry University was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2012 and 2013 after students, faculty, and staff logged more than 25,000 service hours.

Applications are accepted on a year-round basis, prospective students should check out myBarry online to check out the admissions process.

> To find out more about Barry University visit their profile at


Major Monday — Graphic Design

September 22nd, 2014 by

office workerAre you artistic and tech savvy? Do you find yourself captivated by certain advertising campaigns, posters, websites, magazines or music promotion ads? Do you often have your own ideas for advertisements and campaigns? These are the kinds of questions you should consider if you’re thinking about graphic design for your college major. Graphic design majors learn the various forms of design and computer skills necessary to create the look for books, magazines, CD jackets, websites and much more. Prospective majors should prepare themselves for entering student competitions, completing internships, compiling a portfolio and showing their work in exhibits and galleries. Students will also work in small groups for critiques and work long hours in the studio. Being creative, able to collaborate, organized and having computer knowledge are all important skills for potential majors.

This degree is typically offered in the form of a bachelor’s degree. The College Board lists helpful high school courses such as AP Art History, website design, computer/graphic arts, AP Studio Art, drafting and photography for potential students. Once students begin their college courses they will take classes related to graphic design studio, history of graphic design, graphic design techniques, Photoshop for designers, production design and typography.

What to know before you apply
Students should be aware that during the completion of their coursework they will be striving to show improved work and showcase this work in student shows, through internships and finally in their senior portfolio. Working with programs like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator are huge component of the major. Students will need to show skill in both an artistic setting and a technologically advanced setting. Once in the interning or career field, graphic design majors will need to remember that although work depends on artistic talent, the client comes first in this field even if it means not going with an idea you think is best.

Colleges offering related fields of study
Miami International University of Art & Design: Miami, Florida.

The Art Institute of Atlanta: Atlanta, Georgia.

Daemen College: Amherst NY.

Quinnipiac University: Hamden, Connecticut.

Graphic designers typically work for advertising agencies, publishing companies, magazines or papers and can also work freelance and find their own work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers earned a median pay of $44,150 per year in 2012.


Are you in the right mindset?

September 18th, 2014 by

studyingGetting ready for the SAT isn’t necessarily about knowing the difference between the meaning of indignant and indigent, or the formulas at the beginning of the SAT Math section. It’s about getting in the zone so you can focus for four plus hours, making sure not to fall for the numerous traps you’ll see test day.

But how do you get in the mindset?

Well, one obvious answer is doing SAT practice problems. But in answering a bunch of questions you can often hit a wall. Or just get bored. Staying in the zone combines a few other strategies.

1. Confidence
Self-doubt is a no-no, unless you can turn it into something positive (I don’t know any of these vocab words…I’m going to learn them). On the day of the test, though, you won’t be able to suddenly inhale Webster’s Dictionary. So give yourself the benefit of the doubt and trust, at a general level, that you will do well. That doesn’t mean getting cocky at the question level. Know that the questions are subtle and the answer choices even more so. But know also, that with focus, you can do as well as you are capable of.

2. Stress-levels
Don’t stress. Seriously. When your body releases cortisol and you’re in flight or fight mode, it’s tough to concentrate on SAT stuff. You’ll make errors you wouldn’t otherwise, overlooking key words that will help you solve a question. If you feel the knot in your stomach or sense your brow furrowing (or whatever it is your body does to let you know that it’s going into stress mode), take a few deep breaths. This SAT lifehacks infographic breaks down exactly how you’ll want to breathe.

3. But don’t get too Zen
Studies have shown that being totally stressed out or totally mellow will negatively affect your performace. Optimal functioning happens when you take that little bit of nervous energy (oh my, it’s SAT test time!) and channel it purposefully. When you feel yourself getting too stressed, breathe and think confident thoughts (I got this!). But if you feel yourself getting too mellow—like when your mind wanders during a reading passage—put yourself into gear (“I’m going to destroy this passage!).

4. You are what you eat
Believe it or not, what you eat the very day of the test can have a major effect on your score (the SAT lifehacks infographic also colorfully—and mean that both literally and figuratively—breaks it down). Abstaining from binge eating the night before the test is also a good idea, because if you want to be in the best mindset test day, you’ll want to be well rested.

Much of your performance test day is about being in the right mindset. Don’t leave your mental state to chance, since there are many things you can do to make sure you are on top of your game come Saturday at 9 a.m.

magooshsat-imageThis post was written by Chris Lele, resident SAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in SAT Prep.  For more SAT resources, check out Magoosh SAT vocabulary flashcards and the Magoosh SAT Blog!


Social media hacks to brighten up your back to school blues

September 17th, 2014 by

iStock_000018516372SmallThese social media gems are a great way to archive your memories, write down your thoughts, track pictures and videos, save new ideas, relax and keep in touch with friends and family. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a time and a place for your social media use.  While they bring a lot of usefulness they can also create slightly problematic issues with being distracted and procrastinating. The new school year is the perfect time to factor your various forms of social media into your upcoming schedule. Get ready to buckle down and work hard but don’t forget to use these to take breaks and make memories!

Back in my day (high school graduating class of 2011 – what a throwback), Facebook was the best place to create a large event and invite people from your friend list because duh, everyone had a Facebook. Younger sources tell me this is mostly still the case so here’s some tips on how to make it work for you. The event creating option is perfect for school clubs in both high schools and colleges and allows you to create open or closed events, post meeting times, create polls, draw up an RSVP list and much more. Outside of the school setting, it’s still great for social events.

It’s also a great way to post and archive your photos, tag your friends, and keep the memories. When you part ways for summers or for college, it’s a great way to keep in touch and keep track of each other’s lives. Facebook has mobile apps available on many tablets and mobile devices as well as an app specifically for chat so you can talk on the go. It now offers video chat and instant image sharing which is perfect for those moments of homesickness.

While Facebook is great for long periods of catching up and posts containing live updates of your life, nothing beats Twitter’s quick updates in 140 characters or less. There are thousands of humorous viral accounts that you can retweet and share with your friends to quickly let them know you’re thinking about them.

Ah, Pinterest where I sit down and lose hours at a time. The possibilities with this app and website are endless. I use it for meal planning, budgeting, decorating, shopping and just general fun. You can cater it to any needs you might have as many use it for fitness, sharing blogs exchanging ideas.

Tumblr is my virtual happy place. When it’s freezing outside and I’m snowed in my Rochester snow globe I like to search for an endless scroll of tropical beach locations and pretend I’m there. Similarly, when it’s still somehow 90 degrees in September in Upstate N.Y., I find pictures of snow and fireplaces and try not to dwell on the fact that I’m having a heat stroke. Tumblr has endless possibilities, find blogs of your favorite shows, music, movies – basically any interest and enjoy the wave of calm you get talking a short break from studying.

I’m partial to the Mayfair and Rise filters, depending on my mood. This app is truly my favorite. You can follow friends, family, celebrities, inspirational accounts and pretty much anything else your heart desires. Bad day? I bet you can’t look at the Dogs of Instagram page and not smile. Instagram is a great way to timeline your memories.

Ali-2014-blogAli Sewalt is the marketing 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.