Q: I'm feeling really depressed. My parents and older sister want me to pick a career in the science or math field so that I always have job security but I hate science and especially math and I want to be a writer. What should I do?..?
- Anonymous

You need to pick a major based on what you’re interested in, not your parents or your sister. Here are a couple of blogs you should check out:

Those blogs don’t have all the answers, and neither do I. You’re the only person who really knows what you should major in and what’s right for you.

You should at least experiment with some writing courses whether it’s creative writing, technical writing, journalism, public relations, marketing, or whatever. 

There are tons of options. You should try a few and see what feels right.

Also, you should read (and you should have your mom read) this article from Inside Higher Ed: Liberal Arts Grads Win Long-Term

Q: Do you know some Fresh Open Office tricks?..?

That’s kind of vague, so I’m going to give you a variety of things:

1. If you’re not using shortcuts, you really should. It might not seem like it saves time, but trust me, it can save a ton of time over your collegiate career, especially if you can make a habit of always hitting CTRL+S. Here’s a link to open office shortcuts.

2. Open Office has most of the same features as other paid versions of the same software, but they might not be in the same place. If you can’t find something in Open Office, just search for the feature location online. Check out this blog: OppenOffice: 7 Things you didn’t know you could do

3. If you’re having problems with your professor or friend being able to open your document, just save it as a PDF instead. You won’t have to deal with any version or compatibility issues as a PDF.

4. Here are a couple of tricks for when professors assign papers with minimum lengths, (because I think minimum length assignments are stupid and devalue conciseness and basic educational values):

  • Follow your professors rules for margins and font size, but make your periods (no more than) 1 font size bigger than the rest of your text. They won’t be able to tell, but the spacing will make your paper longer.
  • Instead of using the standard double space, you can play around with the spacing options (formatting/paragraph) to add slightly more space than the standard double space between each line.
  • If you have your name and date on the top of every page, always put an extra line between that info and the actual text of your paper.
  • Don’t go overboard with these tips, or your professor will notice.

Q: Currently a freshman Bio major on the pre-med tract at my school. I feel that if something were to stop me from going to medical school whether it be grades (doubt it) or some event, I would be stuck with a Bio degree that I don't want (although I like sciences, excluding Chem, I don't want any jobs a Bio degree would get me). What's a similar science major that would provide a sufficient backup career (were I not able to go to med school) while still adequately preparing me for the new MCAT?..?
- Anonymous

This is a super awesome article that perfectly answers your question: Choose the Right Undergraduate Major for Medical School

AND, here are PS MCAT scores by major from the American Institute of Physics (It’s a little outdated: 2010). Biology is actually pretty low on the list.

Also, here are some interesting stats showing med school acceptance rates by GPA and MCAT scores by 2013.

Don’t worry about the MCAT when you pick your major. You should major in something that interests you.

Q: How do I study for math test?..?
- Anonymous

I’m terrible at math, but I found the best thing for me was repetition. If I didn’t understand something, I did problems from the book (or examples from class) until I stopped getting them wrong.

You should go to class and take good notes, because it will be so much easier to study later if your notes are clear and organized.

When you actually take the test, you should go through and answer all the easy questions first. Then go back to the difficult ones.

If it’s memorization, like formulas, and you’re a visual learner, write the formula out multiple times and highlight the elements of the formula in different colors. if you’re an auditory learner, put the formula to a song/beat you like.

If that’s not enough for you, just about every campus has free tutors in their student services/learning center. They are usually upperclassmen who have already taken the class. They can help you understand the material.

Q: Can I get a few pointers for a beginning college student as myself? I'm only taking 11 units total but I'm new and stuff and I'm scared of failing...?
- Anonymous

Everything is going to be ok.

College really isn’t that different than high school. You will probably have to study a little more and your professors may not baby their students like in high school, but you will adjust pretty quickly.

Here are a few blogs we wrote with freshmen in mind. I think they will help:

Q: money saving tips?..?
- Anonymous

We’ve got a few posts specifically about money. Here’s my favorite:

5 Easy (and realistic) ways to save money in college

Here are a couple more really good posts:

Q: So I'm kind of freaking out. I am a freshman in college and I've been thinking about my major a lot. I am interested in, essentially, everything. But I've always wanted to go into dermatology. But I am prone to changing my mind. However, I've always enjoyed science and wanted to major in bio or chem. the issue is, I'm currently unable to enroll in a science class and I didn't take a science class my senior year so I'm unsure if I'm truly competent for it. I'm just going through identity crisis...?
- Anonymous

You’re going to be ok. Everyone feels that way at first.

You’ve still got plenty of time to decide because you’re going to be in a lot of core classes freshman and sophomore year.

Just take a deep breath, take your required courses, and sign up for a science class as soon as you can. Once you can take a science class, experiment with areas you’re interested in. You will figure it out. I promise!

Q: This might be a bit of a dumb question, but would it be considered rude/taboo for a non-religious person to go to a religion specific college? It's nearing time for me to start applying for colleges and a few of the colleges I've been really interested in are hardcore Catholic, while I on the other hand, am far from being Catholic...?
- Anonymous

I know several people (religious and non-religious) who went to “religious” schools, and they all had different experiences. It depends on your personality and the personality of the school.

You should try to do a little research to see how heavily and openly they practice religion at the university. Some religious schools (especially if they are hardcore about it) require you attend services. That might be awkward for you as a non-religious person. But others may not require anything religious of their students.

Also, keep in mind that you might have a hard time getting into a very religious school if you’re not religious. They sometimes require a recommendation from a leader in your church. 

Q: My parents don't support me going away for college, but I really want to go to the university of Southern California but I live in New York, how do I tell them I'm leaving without hurting their feelings?..?
- Anonymous

That sort of depends on how much your parents are supporting you financially. If they are paying your bills and tuition, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to “tell them” anything.

If you start demanding, they will stop listening.

You should respectfully explain your reasoning. Stay calm and just be a grown up about it. Show them that you can afford it, and you are responsible enough to take care of yourself.

  1. Get a part-time job.
  2. Make a budget to show them you can handle money. Here’s a list of the best budgeting apps for 2014. 
  3. Keep your grades up.
  4. Clean up after yourself. Do all your own laundry and dishes.
  5. Tell them about the school you’re interested in. (You should obviously make sure you meet all the admissions requirements of the school. You don’t want all this work to be in vain.)
  6. Ask them to visit the school with you. (Make an appointment with an academic adviser while you’re there so they can convince your parents as well.)
  7. Compile a thoughtful list of pros and cons of going to that school, and show them.
  8. Explain to them why this is the best option for you and how it will better your life.

Show them that you’ve put a lot of thought and planning into it, and this isn’t just a whim. They will be hard pressed to say no.

Q: Is it hard to transfer to a 4 year college from a community college and could you get a full scholarship or any scholarship for the remaining 2 years ?..?
- Anonymous

It’s not that difficult, but it sort of depends on the two schools.

I attended a community college first, and they have a system (like many community colleges) called “Core Complete,” which means if you take all the core the community college requires, you will be considered core complete at any public college you transfer to in the state.

Even with that, I still had a couple of electives that didn’t transfer. It’s not the end of the world though.

You should talk to an academic adviser at the school you plan to transfer to. They should be able to help you pick appropriate classes at the community college.

You can definitely get scholarships as a transfer student. The academic adviser should also be able to tell you about university specific scholarships you can apply for.

Q: Hey. I was wondering, when do scholarships have to be spent? If I, as a high school junior, win a $1,000 scholarship now, do I have to spend it all my first year of college, can I use it at any time during the 4 years, or will the award specify?..?
- Anonymous

Most don’t specify.

It depends on how much your tuition is.

Usually what happens with scholarships (and financial aid in general) is the college compiles all the loans, scholarships and grants you were awarded for the year. They take out however much your tuition and fees are (again for the year). After that, they give you whatever is leftover in a check or on a debit card depending on the university.

You can spend it (or save it) as you see fit.

Just as an example: If you got a scholarship for $1000 and your tuition for the year was $1000, they would use all of it to cover the tuition.

But lets say it’s some fantasy land where your tuition is only $500. They would take $500 for your tuition for the year, and then give you the other $500. If you need that $500 to pay for tuition the next year (because you aren’t getting another scholarship or whatever) it’s your responsibility to save it.

Q: Umm... Hello there, I've gotten a scholarship to study for a psychology degree which is pretty cool since I don't have to worry much about money, but Psych was never my first choice. You see, I've always wanted to study International Communications or Mass Comm, not to say I don't like Psych, I'm quite interested in it but it's just... not my No.1 you know? I know I sound a bit ungrateful, but I'd really like to see other's opinion about this. Thanks :)..?

Picking a major is tough. Almost everyone I know changed majors at least once.

Here are a couple of blogs you should check out:

Short answer: You shouldn’t stick with a major you don’t like because of money.

You should take a communications class and see how you feel. If you think you like communication better than psychology when the class is over, you should probably switch. Talk to your academic adviser about how to deal with the financial aid.