Students blog

Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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  • Two male college students standing at the front of a classroom presenting to a group of students seated at desks.

    Post Secondary Investment Prowess

    Ayden Notaro

    With the steadily rising cost of tuition, it is becoming increasingly vital to understand the financial implications of pursuing a degree after high school. From the year 2000 to 2021, the average cost of tuition for four-year schools was driven up by 69% due to a variety of economic factors. But what does this mean for those currently enrolled in, or applying to pursue, a four-year degree? The bottom line is that when it comes to considering going to college, education is an investment and must be tackled as such – especially if you intend on taking out loans.

    Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute financial advice and should not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decisions, you should consult with a qualified financial advisor who can assess your situation.

    The process of funding your college degree will vary drastically depending on your situation. Moving to a university to study will generally be expensive for many; however, scholarships and grants are given based on high school academic performance (GPA, standardized tests), extracurriculars (sports, clubs), and financial need. Beyond these, there are many other ways to support your expenses before relying on debt.

    Applying for a job sounds obvious, but many students shy away from the idea. I have spoken to many college students who are under the impression that working on campus is a threat to their education, consuming time and adding more tension to the already burdensome schedule of a college student. While this may be true in some cases, there are plenty of opportunities out there that offer a flexible work environment while supporting a student in their education.

    “Work Study”, or FWS, is a need-based federal program that aims to support students financially while allowing them to gain valuable work experience. In my experience, I’ve seen work-study students employed in administrative departments, gyms, and other facilities. The program is based on the idea that eligible students are on a full-time schedule which is reflected in the flexibility of scheduling. More information can be found on

    Alternative sources of employment can also include remote work or part-time shifts at surrounding campus businesses. It is possible to find remote work through LinkedIn and other career platforms that can support a flexible work schedule. Personally, working as a Campus Ambassador for Pearson gives me a chance to support my college life while working on campus. To explore opportunities that you may be eligible for, it is worth a visit to your university career center for advice on how to apply and prepare for recruitment. Additionally, businesses on or near your campus may be looking for help. It is worth stopping at local companies you are interested in working for or have prior experience with to see if they are looking for part-time employees. Moreover, if you work a summer job, saving most of your income will benefit you during the year as well.

    Another way to look at covering the cost is if you can’t increase your income, decrease your spending. There are many ways to do this, but I would recommend:

    • Tracking your monthly expenses
    • Prioritizing essentials
    • Limiting dining out, entertainment, and shopping
    • Cooking at home

    These are four habits that have allowed me to fund a significant portion of my college experience myself. However, it is also important to create a healthy balance to make the most out of your college experience. Understand that violating your budget in college occasionally is often negligible and sometimes inevitable – it is the habits that stick. Ultimately, that idea goes for both sides of the coin. As I learned in my finance classes, compounding has drastic effects in the long run. Therefore, making consistently wise financial decisions is a key step in obtaining a college degree.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 


  • An aerial shot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

    Living with Student Debt Pre-Graduation

    Hannah G. Brennan

    Student loan debt has been a newsworthy topic recently. There are definitely pros and cons to borrowing money to pay for college. Here’s my experience with how taking out loans can provide both a path to greater learning as well as greater student debt.

    As part of the first generation in my family to go to college, I knew it would be no easy feat — let alone a small bill. I sometimes think back to who I was when I was choosing a college. I was just an 18-year-old kid eager to get out of Chicago, make new friends, and take the world by storm. I did not know what new roads college would lead me down, but I did know that I wanted a fresh change of scenery. I got just that by taking out loans and heading up to Wisconsin.

    After getting sent home in the middle of my second semester due to the pandemic, I realized my student debt was turning out to be more of a mountain than a hill. I was very fortunate to have received grants and scholarships that put going out-of-state on my radar. But still, the loans I did have were enough to create a panic that was starting to set in. I had trouble sleeping and could think of nothing else for weeks.

    How will I pay all this money back? Will my quality of life be worse than my peers who did not need loans? Did I make the right choices? — These are questions I asked and still ask myself.

    At 19 years old with no clue what I wanted to do to earn money after graduating, I did not know how I would deal with this money mess I had created. Not knowing how I would solve this problem scared me and watching many of my peers not have this same fear frustrated me.

    But over time, I have found that the best way to cope is by changing my perspective. I am learning to look at student debt as much more than a bill on the kitchen table. Instead, it is a representation of my stepping into adulthood and taking control of my education, my career, and my life. Some days the stress still gets me down, but most days I feel as though it is fueling me to succeed even more.

    I do not intend for this piece to serve as any kind of financial advice. I certainly did not make my college choice based on what was most financially sound. However, I did make my college choice based on what I wanted. I chose the option that was right for my future and that felt right becoming my second home.

    I cannot go back in time and undo what I have done, but I like to think that if I did go back, knowing what I know now, I would not have chosen differently. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. If I had not chosen to take out loans and go to the school I did, I would not be the person I am today. And I would not be as responsible or as grateful for every minute of my college experience.

    I don’t want financial worries of the future tainting my experiences in the present. When I start to feel the pressure like I did freshman year, I take a deep breath and look at pictures from all my happy memories at school these last few years. I could not imagine them being taken anywhere else, and that keeps me grateful and reminds me that everything is going to work out.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • Blog author Bethany Robinson stands holding a large scholarship check from the Rice Scholarship Foundation. Standing behind her are three members of the Rice family.

    How to Discover Worthwhile Private Scholarships

    Bethany Robinson

    The expenses of a college education place a heavy burden on families each year. This situation can be particularly difficult for those from middle-class families who do not qualify for Federal Student Aid. As someone whose family income is too high to benefit from income-based student aid and whose parents are not able to financially assist, I am required to cover the entirety of my college education. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I have found private scholarships to be a great source of college funding. Here are a few tips I have found useful in discovering worthwhile private scholarships.

    Getting Started

    For many, the search for private scholarships begins during their senior year of high school. The first step in discovering available scholarships is to search your local newspaper and create a list of community clubs and organizations. A few examples may include the American Legion, Kiwanis Club, and community councils. Now with your list, pull out a device, and enter “[Name of Organization] Scholarships” into the search bar. It is best to complete these searches during December and January as many deadlines take place in March and April. Collecting the application information and deadlines early provides you with enough time to analyze and answer the scholarship essay questions.

    Using Available Resources

    Universities generally provide an abundant quantity of scholarship opportunities for their students. My university has an Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to assist students in discovering scholarships. I recommend searching to see if your university has a similar office that can provide you with a list of private donor scholarships. Scholarship offices receive donations from companies, foundations, and organizations and then create scholarships with the donor’s preferred applicant qualifications. It is important to keep in mind that many scholarships specified for students with certain majors or activities will, on occasion, be awarded to applicants with partial or similar eligibilities. You would be surprised how many private scholarships go unawarded because of a lack of applicants.

    Typically, large colleges and departments will provide exclusive scholarships for their students. I originally discovered the existence of such scholarships through a flyer on a bulletin board in my university’s science department building. I advise glancing over such boards to discover information about scholarships as well as additional programs available to students on campus. Participation in clubs, research, and volunteer work will improve your scholarship applications.

    Start Applying!

    Now that you know where to look for private scholarships, start applying now! Remember to take the proper measures in checking you have answered all the necessary questions and completed the entire application before submitting. I wish you the best on your future scholarship applications!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 


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    The truth about federal student loans

    Vivianna Loza

    Everyone always says that the last option you should take when paying for school is getting a loan. Of course, this discourse is only strengthened by the horror stories of people paying their loans off for years due to interest, and of families having to pay off their loved one’s debt after they die. However, while it is something to consider seriously – as it is a long-term legal commitment – taking on a student loan doesn’t have to be scary. Educating yourself on the differences, expectations, and protections for different types of loans will help you make smart decisions.

    Private Loans vs. Federal Loans

    Before you get a student loan, it’s important to learn the difference between federal and private loans. A federal loan is a loan offered by the government while a private loan is offered by private organizations – usually banks, credit unions, and state organizations. Federal loans offer benefits such as multiple types of repayment plans and fixed interest rates for undergraduate students and graduate students. Private loans do not always offer fixed interest and are often more expensive.

    Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized

    I was terrified when I realized that I was going to have to get a loan to pay to attend graduate school. I was lucky enough to have a full scholarship for my undergraduate degree and received enough grants to cover my other expenses. So, when I received an offer for an unsubsidized federal student loan through my school, I was apprehensive but happy. Then I started doing research.

    I was shocked to find out that only undergraduate students are offered subsidized federal loans, loans that don’t accrue interest while the student is in school. With an unsubsidized federal loan, the interest accrues even while students are in school. But I discovered that the interest rate for this loan was low and that I could pay off that monthly interest while enrolled. That way it does not get added to the original amount loaned out.

    Understand All Options and Expectations

    Before accepting your first federal student loan, everyone must complete entrance loan counseling to help you understand exactly what the loan entails, the type of payment plans offered, and much more. It was relief to learn that I would get loan counseling.  This really set my mind at ease and made me feel secure when accepting the loan.

    Everyone’s experience when contemplating getting a loan is different. Some people are lucky enough to have sufficient resources to afford school without a loan, while for others it is their only option. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it is a tool to help you on your journey. Do your research beforehand and remember to always consider a federal loan before a private loan. You can learn more from the Federal Student Aid website.


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    Advice for new students or transfer students

    Alex Mendoza

    Starting a new semester at a new school can be overwhelming for both incoming freshmen and transfer students. New systems and new academic expectations can be tricky to navigate. Click the link below to watch my vlog with great advice to help you get off to a great start of the semester!