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How Does Financial Aid Work for International Students in the US
As an international student, I’m all too familiar with the never-ending scavenger hunt for financial aid. Let’s face it, international students don’t have as many options when it comes to university financing as in-state students do. This isn’t time to give up just yet though; sure, we can’t fill a FAFSA form, but there are a lot of other outlets we can explore that might help us plump up our budget after all.

The first street to explore would be international organizations that exist solely for the purpose of sponsoring defenseless international students like us. Because these grants are extremely competitive (they’re open to everyone), it’s vital that you apply with time to spare and put extra effort when it comes to impressing. Also, many times these institutions will need you to be in your native country when applying in case an interview has to be scheduled, so, like I mentioned before, make sure you don’t apply in a rush. Some of these incredibly remarkable and helpful conglomerates are The United Nations and the Fulbright Commission.

If that doesn’t work out, or it does, but you’re in need of more aid, the second option to check out would be to be funded by your native country. Many countries offer certain scholarship programs for young citizens of theirs that wish to pursue a higher education in a country like, say, the United States. If you’re one of those lucky citizens, this would be a great opportunity to finance your studies; keep in mind however that sometimes there’s a compromise to be made (maybe they’ll ask you to come back to your home country after your studies) so make sure you read all the fine print.

Yet another pathway that could be thoroughly explored is finding scholarships within your future university. Although many colleges fail to offer financial aid for international students (why won’t they let us fill a FAFSA?!), many also attempt to balance the unfairness out by offering a bunch of diverse scholarship and grant opportunities for the same people. By simply scrolling through the school’s scholarship page and spotting a few that you could be eligible for, you could save thousands of dollars. Most of the universities that do this are private however, because most public colleges have very limited financial aid budgets.

Worst comes to worst, international students can also apply for a bank loan in order to complete their studies. The one requirement that must be fulfilled in order to do so is to have a permanent resident or citizen of the United States co-sign and vouch for them, which for some is unfulfillable. However, if the requirement is met, you can virtually borrow as much money as you need in order to complete the degree.

Well, there you have it, we might not have a myriad of options, but we still have quite a few. Add on a steady part-time job, and you’re set to finish four years of studies!

Photo Credit: Geralt

Leo Tolstoy writing in his study.
Study Guide For The Novel The Death Of Ivan Ilyich By Leo Tolstoy
There are a few really good reasons why students, both official and private, still seek out study guides for the novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Above all else, it’s because this story could be applied to the whole of modernity. A well to do middle-aged high court judge with big plans, looking to impress others with his status, then begins to realize he has fallen victim to an untimely and drawn out death.

When looking online for study guides for the novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich, it’s important to get a thorough version. Many out there today simply do not bother with explaining the insight and morals of the story. Instead, they stick with the cold hard facts.

Here are the three main parts that one should find is a solid version of the study guide.

Part One

The story begins with some of Ivan’s colleagues in a secluded room talking about the certain legalities of current important cases. One of them learns of Ivan’s death, shares the news, and then the reader watches how most men deal with death. They’re glad he is the one who is dead, and they’re living and working. Then, like sharks and vultures, everyone tries to use an important man’s death to better their own situation in life.

Part Two

This part of the study guide for the novel basically goes over Ivan’s life leading up to his death. In nearly all ways he is an ordinary man with an average human life. He makes his way up the ranks of the social ladder through intense struggle, marries, and has children.

Part Three

This section of the book deals with what seems to be the most trying time of Ivan’s life, enduring the stresses of marriage and professional life. Leo Tolstoy makes it clear how easily we let our lives disguise the pursuing figure of death. Ivan becomes greedy, jealous, and a strict disciplinarian. Eventually, while doing some interior decorating, Ivan falls and somehow comes down with a fatal condition.

It is then that the story begins to unfold and reveal what its point really is. The reader gets to see life through the prism of death. At the doorstep of oblivion, all of the superficialities and artificial aspects of human social life come to the surface. Any study guide for The Death of Ivan Ilyich worth its salt should make it perfectly clear that this work was written after Leo Tolstoy heavily converted to Christianity.

The author in a very effective manner makes it obvious what a good life should be, and how important it is to experience the good and real things in life while there is still time. Furthermore, Tolstoy brings to light his distaste for complicated men of state, as well as the upper middle class and their ultimately unimportant financial schemes.

Any study guide for The Death of Ivan Ilyich should set in stone that Leo Tolstoy believed in the poor and simple people. He believed that those who keep their lives simplified, away from all of the hustle and bustle of fleeting human life, are closer to God.

Photo Credit: Tschäff

Girl with piano tutor
Tutor Blog Advice
STAY CALM EVERYONE STAY CALM rest assured you have come to the right place. I’ve run a semi-successful (*cough cough* this is my modesty showing) humorous, social justice blog for three years (sorry, I'm not giving out the name for it here!). So now this blog-famous-extraordinaire is coming to you from inside her cubicle, and I have all the qualifications to tell you how you can have a successful tutoring blog.

STEP #1:
Make a blog through a professional site.
Do NOT for all that is good in the tutoring age, use Tumblr as your platform. Wordpress or Blogspot are good to use because they give you free reign over content without unnecessary clutter on your home screen. Tumblr is for the recreational blog, not professional. Make sure you pick an appropriate format as well that isn’t too generic or too ostentatious. This means no black and white (unless you are trying to teach black and white photography), nothing you can describe as kawaii aka no pink stars or hearts or animated panda stickers (unless you’re trying to teach Japanese marketing), and avoid Comic Sans MS because that font is God awful.

STEP #2:
Determine a target market and format accordingly.
After having created a blog on one of these nifty sites, you need to determine what services you are actually trying to sell. Some tutoring subjects have a more determinable target audience than others. What you are trying to tutor should determine how your blog looks and pander to what your audience would find most aesthetically appealing. Here is also where you should ask for second opinions and critical feedback; see if what you’ve done makes your friends and family want to click around the site and whether it makes you look qualified in what you are trying to teach.

STEP #3:
Establish credibility for yourself.
Put content on the site that shows potential customers and/or students that you are qualified to teach. Photos of you teaching other students (with permission), writing content about past experience or success stories or awards, or even teaser videos that show how you teach, are all good ideas. If you can get anyone to write a testimonial, it would also be a good idea to post those. As a few design tips, Keep your site as vertical as possible, people are more likely to read long columns than rows, that’s why newspapers write articles in columns instead of chunky-extremely-horizontal-paragraphs, if it looks shorter people will read it; quality photographs are always a good idea if you can find them. In general, people do NOT like to spend a lot of time determining opinions, so photos and other quick things their eyes can flick across are always good ideas.

STEP #4:
Advertise like there’s no tomorrow.
There are plenty of websites that allow you to post your information for free to attract new customers. Make sure the sites you advertise with are honest and safe to maintain a good reputation. is good site to offer your tutoring services to people in your area and also look for customers or potential tutors for yourself. Make sure that when you have matched with a student that you meet them in a public place with people around for safety reasons.

Running a successful blog in itself can be a struggle, running a tutoring blog with a lot of traffic can be even more challenging. Don’t give up, tutoring can be a very rewarding experience that lasts longer than the lessons themselves.

Photo Credit: WoodleyWonderWorks

Classroom with empty desks
Standardized Testing: Are There Benefits?
(Can preparation for the ACT & SAT help students in college?)

While the majority of standardized testing structures today feature inherent problems, the utilization of their practice oriented design can benefit students preparing for college-level work.

Standardized testing has many endemic structural flaws that make it problematic when gauging the potential proficiency of college-level students. Sometimes they fail to account for the individual backgrounds of test takers while striving to be universally qualifying. Inevitably, by their very nature, they exclude the multitude of unique intelligences that fall outside the realm of standardized testing’s grasp (e.g. astuteness, creativity, drive, etc.).

But despite their numerous flaws, college qualifying exams can also provide students with the opportunity to showcase skills in academically centered areas that most colleges value and require. The ACT tests students in the broad core subjects of academia like English, Mathematics, Reading, Science Reasoning, and Writing. The new SAT updated in 2016 tests students in similar areas such as Reading, Math, and Writing. These areas, while limiting, can showcase the skills of students who demonstrate inclination for the aforementioned subjects.

The most definite demonstration of the flawed exam structure of standardized testing’s accuracy lies in the frequent examples of students who excel in criteria subjects without prior practice. These students showcase the inherent bias in standardized testing’s proposed equality of examination. Beyond the test-takers who possess advantageous subject expertise, the construction of exam questions can also effect test-takers of different races and even genders. Setting aside these glaring errors in the fabric of standardized tests, let’s focus on the exclusive benefits to be obtained in the preparation and actual process of standardized exams.

The Practice

As the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. Preparing for standardized exams for most students requires a lot of mental exercise and determinacy. These skills and the practices that enforce them provide students in the long run with the mental consistency needed to succeed in college and life in general. The Cornell College of higher learning suggests that students study on average 4-6 hours every day. And that’s only in the afternoon and evenings! They recommend 6-8 hours every day for the slow reader, so almost double the amount suggested for regular readers. This can amount to upwards of 28 hours per week (this is including weekends), and up to 56 hours for the slowest readers. Take into account again that these time estimates are suggestions for the “average student”, leaving those with higher involvement in extra-curriculars responsible for the accomplishment of the same amount of coursework in a smaller degree of time, meaning the majority of students are woefully unprepared for the practice and studying demands of college-level work.

While these time frames seem appropriate for full-time college students, representing the same time frames required at part-time and full-time jobs, the reality of student study time is much less. A study of college life has shown that, on average, college student study 10-13 hours every week. This amount of study time averages out to less than 2 hours every day; less than half the minimal amount of studying suggested by Cornell College. For the prospective students of higher learning institutions and younger students wishing to attend, the reality of student studying represented in colleges nationwide is unfortunately miniscule in the amount demanded at higher learning institutions. So the argument could be made that practicing the memorization work required to ace standardized exams helps prepare students for the hard work of studying and memorization needed to succeed at the colleges of their choice.

The disparate realities of college-student-study-time and the recommended time should prove a harsh fact for prospective students. Standardized testing recommends numerous amounts of practice in preparation for the exams. The SAT Bluebook is the most prominent example of an exam service attempting to provide students with equal opportunity. As shown in the most recent examples of the book, nearly half of the book is dominated by practice exams, 10 in total. Test prep companies like Barron’s and The Princeton Review also feature numerous practice exams in their SAT/ACT prep books. The practice work ethic standardized tests fosters can not only contribute to the growth of student’s attention and studying focus, it can also help facilitate the development of critical academic skills.

The Skills

As discussed before, the subjects tested on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT provide students with background knowledge an unfair advantage over other students of comparable competence.

The academic skill sets fostered by standardized test preparation enhances students' abilities to succeed in college. These skills include but are not limited to the ability to make split-second decisions and carry out work in high intensity situations where time constraints limit the range of indecision and contemplation allowed during examinations (ie: prioritization).

Among the top skills recommended for college students, time management and problem-solving are most commonly seen as essential to success in a university. Standardized testing supports time management skills by forcing students to adhere to a strict examination time slot that facilitates the development of pacing skills, vital when taking similar timed tests in college. The skills associated with problem-solving (e.g. close-reading, critical thinking, reasoning, etc.) are pivotal to success in standardized testing and colleges. The SAT in particular stresses the reasoning aspect of the exam that tests students’ understanding of a problem’s intricacies and nuances.

While standardized testing showcases a small facet of a student’s abilities, they can also provide students who adequately prepare for them the skills and habits that colleges require. In the judgement of standardized testing’s relevance in college admissions today, it’s vital to consider the pros and cons of the practice. This means considering the portion of the student body that benefits from the practice’s endorsement of college-relevant skills, and addressing the practice’s unequal standards at the same time.

The ultimate consideration shows that for students who believe that tests like the SAT and ACT don’t accurately represent their abilities as prospective college students, there are plenty of institutions beginning to make the submission of standardized testing scores optional. And for those who believe the tests allow them to develop skills relevant to their potential efficiency in college, preparation for standardized testing still remains a prevalent requisite for colleges across the U.S. and internationally. More and more, it is becoming relevant for this reality to allow students to choose and decide for themselves whether standardized testing is right for them.

Photo Credit: Pete

College student at career fair
Foreign Students in US: Resume Tips
Learn English! Become a citizen! Go to school! Make new friends! Get a job! The amount of paperwork and demands launched at an international student from school and other institutions while adapting to culture shock can make the mind feel like a whirlwind– shifting and spinning at high speeds while the rest of the world seems to be on sturdy foundation. Rest assured- there is a solid leverage to help you gain a foothold in your field of study.

After being yanked in various directions– sign this ↓ , read that ↖ , fill this out ↔ – there is one more piece of paper that requires the utmost attention. A résumé, just a word at first, a funny looking word at that, fancy for: (1) a short document describing your education, work history, etc., that you give an employer when you are applying for a job, (2) a list of achievements, (3) a short description of things that have happened – kindly defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary online.

A résumé is recommended and required by most employers in the US. For a multi-faceted, culturally enriched international student who is filled to the brim with life experiences, what is appropriate to include in a résumé?

Well let’s back up. A résumé is a neatly compiled timeline of work, school, and volunteer experiences and achievements with a focus on relevant skills for the job you're applying for, not just a “short description of things that have happened.” A lot has happened, and not everything is going to be relevant for the job you want. The following steps will help to navigate through the storm and confusion of conducting a résumé:

  1. Clearly define the type of job you want to obtain and research the kind of skills employers are looking for in their potential candidates. There are keywords located in job descriptions that convey the skills that are required.
  2. Granted that you have some experience for the job you chose, incorporate those valuable keywords into your résumé. (It is crucial that you tell the truth about what skills you have, an employer WILL be able to sniff out BS)
  3. The area in which the most experience was earned goes toward the top. (Education, Jobs, Accomplishments, etc.)
  4. Underneath each area or section, list the jobs or organizations you participated in (in order of job relevance but also chronologically) and describe the duties/skills gained from each. This doesn’t have to be all-inclusive of “things that have happened,” only the ones that speak to your target job.

It is important to remember that creating a résumé is an on-going process, needing modification for each new job application and new experiences gained. The steps given in this article only begin to show what is needed in a résumé. For more steps, visit International Student.

Photo Credit: COD Newsroom

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