Q: I may have to take out a loan for college but I really don't want to. My parents never had a college fund saved up for me. 😞 do u know of any ways to receive a grant for college?..?
- Anonymous

If you can get grants you might not need the loans. The first thing you need to do is fill out a FAFSA application. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

It’s going to be kind of difficult to fill out, and you will probably need your parents help, but it’s worth it. The FAFSA is the way the government decides if students qualify for federal aid (and how much). If you’re not sure what school you want to go to yet, I think you can have them send the results to a few different schools.

The second thing is that you should consider a going to a community college. I did, and it was the right decision for me. Here’s some info about community colleges:

The biggest pro of community college is the cost. You can finish all of your core and get an associate degree for the fraction of the cost of a university. The average tuition and fees for one year at a community college is about $2,500. At private schools, the average tuition and fees for one year is $30K. For in-state public schools, it’s almost $9K a year, and for out-of-state public schools, it’s $22K a year, according to College Board.

The cost will take some of the pressure off while you experiment with different classes and industries. This will prevent you from sticking with a major you don’t like just because you already paid for the classes or because you can’t afford another semester.

A lot of people think professors aren’t as good at community college, but this Washington Post article discredits that idea. They found some classes are even more challenging because professors are motivated by their students, who often display more drive than those at four-year universities.

Community college also often have smaller student to faculty ratios, which gives you more time with your professor.

Also, here’s a list of super successful people who went to community college: Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood, Walt Disney, Calvin Klein, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, astronauts James McDivitt, Eileen Collins and Fred Haise, and MasterCard founder Melvin Salveson.

Q: I have dreamed of a career in geology/paleontology since I was young, but all of a sudden fears about pay/job availability have come up. Would it be better for me to major in a different science?..?
- Anonymous

You should major in something you like.

A lot of people pick a major based on possible salary and job opportunities. More often than not, that blows up in their faces.

For example, if you’re a very hands-on, artsy, creative person, but you decide to major in something you hate (and are bad at) because it pays well, it just wont work. 

If you can even make it through four years with a major you don’t like, you will still hate it when you get a job. When you have to get up every single day and do something you aren’t interested in or passionate about, the money won’t see worth it.

That being said, most paleontologists actually get their undergraduate degree in geology, and there are tons of jobs available if you study geology that you can use as a fall back in case the paleontology specialization doesn’t pan out.

Q: hi i'm in school and ever since my childhood ive been a very shy kid. ive always wanted to participate in sports during class time but i feel that if i do then my team will lose because i'm really not sporty. Also, tbh i LOVE talking to people,meeting new people and socialising but ive never tried to talk and make new friends because for some reason i feel that no one wants to talk to me- i have soo much inferiority complex.. can you please give me tips as to how to solve these problems? tanks..?
- Anonymous

When you start college most people will be a little awkward and shy just because they will be out of their comfort zone.

The person you want to talk to is probably also nervous and hoping you will like them. There’s a commonality with college freshmen, and it’s that they all want to make friends as quickly as possible.

The fail-safe way to talk to people you don’t know is to ask questions. People love to talk about themselves. Ask them about their major or where they are from. This will prevent you from having to pull a ton of weight in the conversation. There will also be less opportunity for you to say something dumb if they’re doing all the talking. 

Don’t go too crazy with questions though. You might seem like a creeper. 

If the conversation isn’t going well, just say something like, “Well, it was nice to meet you. I will probably see you around campus.” And go talk to some people somewhere else (not where the last person can see you though because that would probably be awkward).

Q: I'm about to be a junior in highschool and I am completely freaked out since I just realized I only have two more years of highschool left and then it's off to college. I don't even know what I want to do yet. I'm also scared that I won't get into the college that I want to get into( which is the college of New Jersey) because I had all college prep classes my freshmen year and my sophmore year I only took three honors classes. And I haven't even taken the SAT'S yet!..?
- Anonymous

You’re going to be ok. You’ve still got time to get your stuff together. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, click here for the College of New Jersey admission requirements. And click here for the College Board info on the school (which is very helpful when applying).

We can just go through some of it together.

On the TCNJ site you will find the requirements. Right after the application fee, you will see that they require you to apply with a major in mind. It’s not the end of the world if you’re not 100% set on a major. Just pick what you think you’re most interested in. They aren’t going to freak out if you change it later. It’s seriously not a big deal (until like the end of sophomore year in college).

Next is the transcript. The fact that you’ve taken some honors classes is good. These are the top 5 things they look at: 1) Class Rank 2) Extracurricular Activities 3) Rigor of secondary school record 4) Standardized Test Scores and 5) Volunteer Work. Number 3 is referring to honors classes. If you think you can take a couple more honors classes junior year without bringing your GPA down too much, it might be worth it.

The next thing they want are your test scores. To prepare for the SAT/ACT you should do all the test prep and practice tests they have on the SAT and ACT websites. You should take both tests and if you can take them a couple of times, that’s really the best way to ensure a high score. (They take your highest score from each section no matter when you did it. So if you do really well on the math section the first time but then bomb it the second time, they will still take your first score.)

Recommendations are easy. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask your teachers though. That’s like the only thing that could mess that up.

It’s a liberal arts school, so there’s a little more emphasis on volunteer work and extracurricular activities than most state schools. If you haven’t participated in extracurriculars, you should consider it, but it’s easier to jump into volunteer work junior year than an extracurricular.

Q: Can you suggest a good major to take for pre-med track students who want an appropriate fallback career, in case of them not getting into med school, that also adequately prepares them to take the MCAT? Nothing engineering because I don't necessarily excel at math although I'm not bad at it...?
- Anonymous

Your undergrad doesn’t matter that much if you’re going to medical school. Check out these stats:

The Association of American Medical Colleges has data to suggest that your major simply does not matter when it comes to getting accepted to medical school. According to their data, only 51 percent of students who enrolled in medical school in 2012 majored in biological sciences. That means the remaining medical school matriculants majored in humanities, math or statistics, physical sciences, social sciences or specialized health sciences.

When they broke down the MCAT and GPAs of these matriculants by major, all the categories have essentially the same GPA, science GPA and MCAT score.

(If you want to read the rest of this article, click here.

So what does that mean? It means you should do something you’re interested in and passionate about. 

Q: How should I be more open? I've always been a shy person, and I don't want to be shy for the rest of my years in college as I had done in high school and earlier...?
- Anonymous

The more outgoing you are, the easier it will get. A lot of it is practice and repetition, force yourself to interact with people and have conversations and eventually it will come naturally for you.

Here’s our standard advice for being more outgoing in college:

One of the easiest ways to make friends is in class. Just introduce yourself to the people sitting around you. (Don’t force it though.) Ask a question like, “Do you know if this is a hard professor?” or something even simpler like “What’s your major?” People like love to talk about themselves.

If a friendship doesn’t naturally form after that, you can try inviting them to something. If you don’t want it to seem like some kind of weird date thing, you can wait until the first test say something like, “Hey, I’m going to study in the library Thursday at 7 if you want to study together.” Most people like to study in groups.

If that’s not working for you, join a club on campus. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Just pick something you are at least somewhat interested in and go to their meetings. You will already share a common interest with those people so it will be easier to start a conversation. 

Most schools have a giant list of all the clubs on campus on their website. They will also usually have info about when/where they meet or at least a way to find that out.

Q: Hey so i'm from Egypt and i was wondering how to get a scholarship in other country and what should i do and i'm not a senior yet -will be in 2 years- but i just want to know what to do now. Thanks so much :)..?

I’m assuming you want to apply for scholarships in another country because you want to go to school there? It’s difficult to give advice not knowing what country you want to study in, but here’s our advice for finding and applying for scholarships in the United States:

At the school you want to attend: 
Most universities have a ton of random scholarships funded by the university itself or donations made my alumni or community members. Unfortunately, a lot of schools don’t do a very good job telling students about those scholarships.

You should send a quick email to an academic counselor at the school you plan to go to. You can speed up the process by telling them a little info about yourself like your GPA, your class (freshman, sophomore, etc.), and your major (or what you intend to major in).

There are thousands of national scholarships running basically all the time.

General Tips: Once you have applied for a few scholarships it will get easier. You will be able to apply for them like a machine.

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Every essay you submit doesn’t have to be completely different.
  • Apply for every possible scholarship.
  • Watch out for scams. (You should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. You should never release private bank or social security info.)

Q: Hello! I'm a French high school student. Well it's actually my last year of high school and I have some questions. I want to study medicine, I'm really interested in this and helping people. This is like a goal of mine to achieve and I'm pretty determined. But I really want to study in English too and I was thinking about going to Scotland maybe. Do you think it's a good idea to study in English even though I'm French or will it be too hard to start ? Thank you for your help !..?
- Anonymous

It’s going to be hard, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. A bilingual doctor is very valuable.

The easiest thing to do will probably be to look up foreign exchange programs. That way you have someone who has experience dealing with EU-wide diploma recognition and the needs of a foreign student.

You might need some kind of extra certification to be able to practice in countries other than the country you received your diploma in.

For example, if you get your medical degree in Scotland, but you want to move back to France to live and work, you need to make sure your license and academic qualifications will still be recognized in France.

Foreign exchange programs will also help identify and resolve your needs as a foreign student.

Here’s a little info from someone studying medicine abroad (via The Student Room):

I am currently studying medicine in Romania! I have just completed my first year and in October, I will be starting my second!! The course is taught entirely in English and yes you do have Romanian language classes every week but not much emphasis is placed on learning the language although the faster you learn it, the better for later years! The course structure may be slightly different from UK medical schools but even in the UK, each medical school differs from one another.. The course content is pretty much the same when I compare to my other friends who are in UK medical school. The students originate from all over the world…Greece, Turkey, Sweden, Norway, Israel, England, Germany. The degree is recognized by WHO, GMC… which makes it possible to come back here and continue with our medical careers!

Q: I want to go to college to be a counselor. Would it be hard to land a job in any state with a degree in family or marriage counseling? Because this is what I'm dead set on going to college for...?
- Anonymous

It’s great that you are passionate about counseling! You should try to keep an open mind at first though. Most people I know switched majors at least once while they were in school, including myself. Once you have taken a few major-specific classes you can decide for sure that’s the right place for you. Just in case.

That being said, when you get to college and fall in love with counseling, you will be in a pretty good place.

When you graduate, you’re going to look at private practices, hospitals, mental health and substance abuse centers, and elderly care centers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median salary at $46K in 2012, and the job growth through 2022 is projected at 29%, which is much higher than most other industries.

Q: I'm doing my international diploma in business and come to realize that I lose interest in it. Is there any ways to change my course after I complete the current course? And how can i decide to pick another course?..?
- Anonymous

You can always change your major. It’s just that at a certain point there will be consequences and you have to decide whether or not it’s worth it.

If you’re a junior or senior, changing your major could delay graduation, which in turn will cost more money. But if you aren’t rushing to graduate, and you think switching majors is worth the money, then you should consider it.

HOWEVER, you should really think about it first. Everyone experiences a little boredom in their major from time to time. Make sure you really have lost interest before you switch to something else.

To switch majors, look through what other programs your school offers and see if any of them sound interesting. Make sure you’re picking a major based on your interests (not on possible job opportunities/salary). You don’t want to end up in the same situation.

After you have some ideas, talk to an academic adviser at your school. They will help walk you through the process and make sure you’re on track.

Q: Should I start getting my college textbooks before or after the first day of college?..?
- Anonymous

Most professors these days don’t expect you to have your books on the first day of class, especially if it’s an undergraduate class.

A lot of people specifically wait until after the first day of class because every once in a while, your professor will say you don’t have to buy the book, which is like the best news ever.

I always took the risk. It paid off a few times, but there were also instances where the professor didn’t require the book on the first day, but they did require it the first week. That meant I didn’t have enough time to order it online and would end up having to pay the inflated prices at the campus bookstore.

Q: I really want to become an archaeologist and I already plan to get my doctorate so that I can get a real job. However, it would take 10 years to get my degree and I'm not sure I'm up for that. Also, you cant really do much with an archaeology undergrad so I'm worried about what jobs I can do until i get my degrees. So should I stick with my plan or change careers for something I'm less passionate about but will take less time and has more jobs prospects?..?

Before you switch majors, you should make sure a PhD actually required to get a good job.

Here’s a really thorough article from an anthropology professor at Texas A&M University. He said you can get a good job  in the field with just a Masters (which you can apparently get in just 1-2 years of course work.)

Here’s an interview from an actual archaeologist (via The Art of Manliness).

Here’s what he said about degree plans:

Archaeology is one of those fields where you need a college degree, preferably in Anthropology or a closely related field such as History or Geography. Most have a degree in Anthropology. You can get work in the field with just a Bachelor’s degree, but if you want to lead crews and conduct your own research a Master’s degree is needed. While you’re getting the degree, it’s also almost universally expected that you attend a “Field School,” usually a 4 to 6 week course…

Here’s what he said about jobs:

Most of the jobs for entry level archaeologists, also called “Shovel Bums,” involve working for Cultural Resource Management (CRM) firms on contracted survey projects, working for the company for an hourly wage as long as they have work for you to do, much like working for a building construction crew. … Once you pay your dues as a Shovel Bum, you will hopefully be picked up as a Crew Chief, and start earning a 365 day a year salary with benefits. 

Do a little research and talk to some anthropology/archaeology professors before you make a decision.