My Time in a U.S. College: Things my Parents Would Not Want to Hear

marijuana

Doc Seidman says….

…Should parents be worried about their son or daughter’s behavior in college? Guest blogger Natasha Kurt may have some answers.

College in the United States was a great time. Coming from another country, I was surprised at how different the experience was for me. I made many new friends, both from America and other countries. I learned new things and enjoyed most of my classes. I also got to see places in the U.S. I never thought I would see as a child. Most of all, I enjoyed the parties at college. College in the U.S. was like a big party. I had a lot of fun.

I did not know what to expect when I arrived in the United States for college. I tried to prepare myself but it was not what I expected. Now that I have graduated and have my diploma from a good American college, I can share some of my fun experiences.

  • Drinking alcohol: The drinking age in the United States is 21 but you would never know it. Alcohol was everywhere. American beer was the most popular—and not very strong—but other alcohol such as vodka, rum and tequila were popular too.
  • Smoking marijuana: Marijuana laws are crazy in the United States. It is illegal on the national level (laws made for the country in Washington, D.C.) but legal in some states. I went to college in a state where it is not legal. It didn’t matter. Marijuana was popular. Smoking it out of a pipe or bong was common but many people still smoke it as a cigarette. It was always found at parties or even sitting in an apartment with friends. Someone always seemed have a marijuana cigarette.
  • Watching pornography: Thanks to the Internet, and free campus wi-fi, another popular activity. Americans do not have censorship.
  • Procrastination: Like many of my friends, I often waited until the last minute to complete an assignment. I could have done a much better job if I had started earlier, but it all worked out for me.
  • Skipping class: Not going to (skipping or cutting) class is also popular on the American campus. I don’t know why because college costs a lot of money. I would say that more American students missed or “cut” class than us international students. Many Americans did not seem to take college very seriously. It was strange to see that as my family had to spend a lot of money for me to be there.
  • Drinking Caffeine: This is also popular. Coffee is a popular drink (we had three Starbucks on our campus and they were all very busy). Americans also drink many sugary drinks with a lot caffeine such as Pepsi, something called Mountain Dew, and Red Bull. Coming from another country I was not used to drinking so many of these beverages. They keep you awake though.
  • Sex: After four years of watching everybody, I would say about half of the students were having sex regularly. I would also say that more than half of the students bragged about having sex regularly. Friends would “hook up” with other friends and just have sex. Many had multiple partners. Coming from a country with different values about sex, I found this very different. It seems like most of the sex was not part of a long-term relationship. It was just sex for the sake of having sex.

I am not sure if my parents would have sent me to college in the United States if they had known what college there was like. I had a lot of fun though and I would do it again! If you have the money, you should go. It is a good time.

Natasha is a contributor to www.internationalcollegestudent.com and will be writing for the upcoming site sexandcollege.com.

10 Dorm Must-Haves for Under $30

dorm room

Doc Seidman Says…..

….anyone you know getting ready for college? Read this helpful post from my colleague Rachel DeHaven on how to save money on important dormitory supplies.

Excitement and stress are kicking in for both you and your child while dorm shopping!  After living in dorm rooms for many years, I have compiled the top ten must-haves of dorm life.   The essentials go without saying (sheets, pillows, etc.).   This post contains all the things you may not have considered when writing up your shopping checklist.  Bonus: did I mention everything on this list is under $30?! Keep your student happy and your wallet happier.

1.    Bed Risers.

These bad boys are a must get. However, you should only buy if you have seen the dorm room first or know for a fact they are not included. Some dorms will actually lift your bed on request, make sure you know if that is an option before you buy. Lifting your bed will leave so much room for storage such as clothes, books, and luggage.  These risers are almost seven inches and will be perfect to squeeze the essentials under and keep everything organized.

2.    String Lights.

Dorms generally have poor or harsh lighting in their rooms.  String lights are great for nighttime when students are trying to wind down or even for a hip look when friends are over.  Especially great to hang over the bed for some lighting when their roommate is trying to sleep.

3.    Coffee Maker.

For those caffeine addicts this is a must have!  Skip the long morning coffee lines and make it in the dorm.  Also great for those long nights of studying.  Lifehack: use the coffee maker for hot water to make oatmeal or even ramen.  Check the university’s policy on appliances in dorm rooms first before you buy.

4.    Reusable water bottle.

Terrific for your student to bring to classes and have in their dorm room.  Also great for the environment by cutting down plastic bottle use.  My personal recommendation goes to the Hydro Flask.  The water stays cold for 24 hours and will even keep ice overnight.  Coffee and tea lovers can keep their beverages hot for over 6 hours in one of these bottles.  They lean toward the pricier side of things, but come with a lifetime warranty!

5.    Sleep Mask.

Perfect for your student when they need a little extra shut eye.  Will keep out light if their roommate is up late studying or fantastic for naps in between classes!  Perfect for the weekends when your student will most likely be sleeping long after the sun comes up.

6.    Command hooks.

Another way to utilize all the space of the room and free up room in the closet.  Command hooks are an easy way to hang coats, purses, or even backpacks. It will keep clutter off the floor and free up space that would normally be occupied.  These have a sticker back so it will not damage the wall.  Most dorms request no holes in the wall so this is an easy way around that.  A pack of five should keep anyone happy for the next year.

7.    Bedside pocket.

These are especially useful for those rooms that do not have nightstands or if your student is in bunkbeds.  It gives room to hold a phone (aka alarm clock) so they will never be late for class!  Plus, plenty of room for remotes, chargers, and even books to ensure they do not get lost in a potential disarray of the room.

8.    Bath robe.

When sharing showers your student will need coverage to get them to and from the stalls.  They are also exceptional for lounging in during nighttime dorm study sessions.  A long and soft robe will help keep them warm during the winter months.  This robe is extremely fluffy and comes in pink, blue, or grey.

9.    Slides.

Another shared bathroom must have, specifically if your student is in a communal shower situation (freshmen most likely are).  These types of showers are home to all sorts of nasty critters and many people get athletes foot because of it.  Avoid dealing with itchy feet and get your student some shower shoes.  These comfy shoes are sleek, stylish, and most importantly slip resistant!  There would be nothing more embarrassing than wearing the wrong shower shoes and having a rather unfortunate fall.

10.  Shower caddy.

The last third and final bathroom related shopping expense.  With communal showers there is nowhere to leave your belongings.  Your student will need an easy and convenient way to travel from their dorm room to the shower hall in style.  This shower caddy will most certainly hold shampoo, conditioner, and (hopefully) soap. Plastic or mesh caddies will dry easily and not get moldy or smelly.

Rachel is the editor of the #BacktomyBachelors blog for AffordableCollegePrep.com

Cheap Colleges: A Guide for International Students

College 3

Doc Seidman Says….

….In the United States, no two colleges are the same. The amount you will pay (tuition) will vary from college to college. If you are trying to study in the United States on a limited budget, the college you choose to attend will be your most important decision. You would want to go to a college with a good reputation yet not have to spend too much money.

The reputation of the college is very important in the United States. The school you graduate from will go on your resume and be part of your permanent record. As you may know, there are “elite” or top colleges in the U.S. (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, for example) but not everyone can get into them or afford to go. They can also be very expensive. You would then want to find a good college that good reputation in the area you want to study.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, these are the least expensive U.S. colleges:

 

NAME OF COLLEGE STATE TUITION AND FEES (in US $)
Brigham Young University Utah $5,460
Arkansas Baptist College Arkansas $8,760
Tougaloo College Mississippi $10,600
Jarvis Christian College Texas $11,720
Blue Mountain College Mississippi $11,760
Alice Lloyd College Kentucky $12,050
William Carey University Mississippi $12,300
Park University Missouri $12,470
Amridge University Alabama $12,630
Bethune-Cookman University Florida $14,410

 

The most expensive colleges are:

NAME OF COLLEGE STATE TUITION AND FEES (in US $)
Columbia University New York $57,208
Vassar College New York $55,210
Harvey Mudd College California $54,886
University of Chicago Illinois $54,825
Trinity College Connecticut $54,770
Franklin and Marshall College Pennsylvania $54,380
Tufts University Massachusetts $54,318
Amherst College Massachusetts $54,310
University of Southern California California $54,259
Sarah Lawrence College New York $54,010

 

Now that you have a low and high dollar amount for the cost of college in the United States, you can better understand how much money you will need. If your college choice or choices is/are not on the list, you can see whether the tuition they charge is on the lower or higher side. As many international students know, they will not have the same benefits that an American student will have. This includes:

  • Student Loans- money the U.S. government lends students at a reduced interest rate
  • Grants- money the government provides students to attend school. Grant money is a gift and not a loan. It does not need to be paid back. Grant money is often need based.
  • Scholarships- money for college provided to students by companies or organizations. Students must apply to receive scholarship money. It, too, does not need to be paid back. Most, but not all scholarships are merit based.

Keep in mind that there are many costs in going to college. The amounts given here are for tuition and various application fees. They do not include other important costs such as: rent, food, book, transportation, and spending money. You would want to make sure you factor in these amounts before you decided to study in the United States.

As you probably know, as an international student, you are not able to work in the United States, unless it is for employment designated by the school. That means you will most likely not be able find a job to help you pay for things. Plan accordingly. Finding a lower cost college in a lower cost part of the country can certainly help.

Finally, remember, as part of your F1 Visa interview, you will need to show that you have the financial ability to go to college in the United States. Going to a lower cost school can certainly help, however, it may not be the answer.

Cheap Places: A Guide for International Students

States

Doc Seidman Says…

….Going to college In the United States can be very expensive. 

College tuition is expensive for those coming to study and live from another country. The costs of attending the school (tuition) and the related living expenses can be very high.  Some people are lucky, they may have the money to go to college wherever they please.  For most people, however, going to an American college will cost all the money they have saved. They need to save money any way possible while still getting a good, American college education.

There are many ways to spend less money. One way is to attend college in a region of the country where it does not cost a lot of money to live, eat, and play. Where you go to school in the United States is an important consideration for those who do not have the money to go wherever they choose. In this case, it might be best to first identify part of the country that would be affordable and then look for college in that area. This can save international students a lot of money.

U.S. states that cost the most money to live. (CNBC)

For those that don’t have a lot of money, these may be states to avoid:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

The cheapest, or least expensive states to live (USA Today)

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee

Every state is different

Laws can be different in every state. This is why it will cost more money to live in some places and not others. This includes the cost of real estate (homes/apartments), food, gasoline, and other living supplies. Taxes also vary from state to state. Some states have high taxes and some states have few or no taxes. You might want to live in an exciting city such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Boston, but they can be expensive places to live and study.

A city can be expensive

Some states may not be on the expensive list, however, a city in that state might be. For example, the state of Florida is not one of the most expensive states to live in, however, the city of Miami, is one of the most expensive cities to live in. If you find a school in a big city, check to make sure you can afford to live there.

What you can do?

Make a list of the colleges in the less expensive states that might interest you. Visit the college website. Look to see if they have the subject you want to study. Write down their tuition. Understand that some schools might have more than one price. These schools are subsidized (helped) with taxes paid by residents and will cost less money for someone who lives in the state to go to school there. As an international student, you will not have that benefit and in most cases, will have to pay the more expensive, out of state tuition. Some schools may help you with a grant or scholarship, but that does not always happen.

Study the population

Another good idea is to study the demographics (population) of the college. For example, if you are coming from India, you may feel comfortable knowing your school has other students from India. In the United States, some parts of the country are friendlier to international populations than others, so it is important to see that your college has students from your country.

Finally, the F1 Visa

Understanding the city or region and the related costs population of the local college is a good start. Additionally, all international students need to have an F1 Visa which allows them to study in the U.S.. One of the requirements to obtain the Visa is showing that students have the money and resources to study in the United States.  Living in an inexpensive area may not be the answer, but it can be helpful.

Congratulations Graduate!

Mortorboard

Doc Seidman Says……

…….For college seniors, the month of May is something many have been waiting for.  The cold, blustery months of winter turn into the refreshing warmth of spring (except here in Florida), and college students throughout the country prepare to graduate. Graduation, or commencement, as it is called in academia, is an extraordinarily joyful time for students. And why not? They just spent the last four or so years sitting through tedious lectures, pretending to laugh at the professor’s boring jokes, and doing arduous class assignments. The thrill of walking across the commencement stage and throwing a mortarboard into the air in celebration is almost second to none. As a faculty member sitting in the audience, or as an administrator sitting on the stage, I, too was joyful and proud.

Some students learn the hard way that walking across the stage and celebrating with friends and family does not necessarily mean they have graduated. It simply means they have participated in the ceremony. The diploma comes sometime later, after the college has done its due diligence to make sure the graduation requirements have been fulfilled. It’s quite possible that there are students dressed in cap and gown, joyfully celebrating with their friends, who have yet to pass Statistics, or French, or Organic Chemistry, or Food Safety and Sanitation, or any other degree requirement. Don’t get too excited. It’s back to the classroom for you.

But for most everyone else, however, it is indeed a terrific accomplishment and a joyful time. It is something that will be with you forever and nobody can take away.

Unfortunately, many folks who start college don’t finish. In fact, recent statistics have shown that only 55% of four-year college students complete their degree within six years. At least 40% never graduate at all. If you are a student classified as a demographic minority, the chances of completing your college degree are even lower. Only thirty eight percent of African American students (46% of women and 35% of men) will complete their degree. Hispanic students do a bit better with a 46% completion rate. As a comparison, 62% of white students complete their degrees in six-years while Asian students perform the best with a 63% completion rate.

Are you the first in your family to go to college? Congratulations! But sadly, around half of you won’t finish. Do you come from a lower income family? Although government resources help, not having all the money you need is a significant hindrance as only 43% of you will graduate. Were you raised in a foster family? Your completion rate trails the entire field at only 14%.

There are many reasons for this. Money is perhaps the biggest one. Many underfunded students soon learn that they don’t have the resources to complete a four-year degree without an unwanted overwhelming debt burden. Many students get full and part time jobs while in college, but having multiple part-time jobs, or even just one full-time job, can be detrimental. The workplace culture soon supersedes the academic culture and next thing you know, classes are skipped, assignments are missed, and academic woes just pile on.

Since we are discussing money, not surprisingly, students attending private colleges have a better completion rate than their public-school counterparts (66% to 59%). Private schools, with a higher tuition and reduced class size, tend to be more nurturing. The professor may reach out to the students who seem to be fading away. Support services are more attentive too. The lines should be shorter to talk to whichever student support specialist is needed. It may not seem like much, but it helps.

The “For Profit” schools probably do more harm than good. For those of you, or someone you know, who is enticed by one of these heavily advertised universities, note that if you enroll, less than one in four of you will actually complete. They can also be expensive. Most “For Profits” make it easy to enroll and even easier borrow money. Whether or not you complete your degree, if you borrow money to  go there, or any other college, you need to pay it back. And if you fail to graduate and have a lot of debt….ouch! Not good.

Sorry to ruin the upcoming graduation party, but college can certainly be a case of “let the buyer beware.”  Whereas we would all like to think that attending college is certainly different than buying a used car, in many ways it is not. The buyer’s euphoria to find a good deal on a car might mask the deficiencies the used vehicle may have. It car might start out smoothly, but it is highly possible that as the years go on the flaws show themselves. And if you don’t thoroughly “check under the hood” before you buy it, the problems might arise more quickly.

Future college students and their families really need to “check under the hood” of the colleges they are considering attending. Check the graduation and retention rates. Investigate the advising systems in place. Kick the tires too while you are at it. Visit the campus. Talk to administrators and faculty. Make sure your future student will be well positioned to succeed and graduate. And perhaps most important, take a realistic view of the amount of debt that will be incurred. The truth may hurt, but a smart decision beforehand should help to prevent the pain of debt without graduation.

To the 50% or so that our truly graduating, all the best. Congratulations on your accomplishment. It’s a good one. Hopefully, the college taught you how to make smart decisions. Something that will serve you well in the years to come.

 

 

Are You Ready for Some Football? Your College Is.

football-quarterback

Doc Seidman Says….

….On November 23, 1984, with his Boston College team losing to The University of Miami 45-41, and 28 seconds left in the game, B.C. quarterback Doug Flutie threw a desperation, “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone. Wide receiver Gerard Phelan caught the pass, untouched, for a game winning touchdown.

More than a victory on the football field, it was a win for the Admissions Office at Boston College. It is speculated that this improbable pass and catch caused applications to increase at Boston College by 16% in 1984 and another 12% in 1985. Whether or not this was completely due the football game has been debated over the years but there is no doubt that this so-called “Flutie Effect” led to an increase in the awareness of the college as well as a boost to student morale.

Can a football game really do this? Can a successful play on the field impact the admissions processes that take place off the field? More interesting to ponder, can it make a school better?

Yes, yes, and yes.  The national exposure of a good sports team has been shown to significantly increase the amount of future applications. This brings with it an increase of “good” applications from potentially good students. More applications mean the school’s acceptance rate will go down, which is a metric most schools like. For example, if during a typical year a college receives 10,000 applications and accepts 2,500 students, it will have a 25% acceptance rate. After a year of winning football, the school now gets 15,000 applications yet still only accepts 2,500 new students. This acceptance rate is now a significantly lower 16.7%, demonstrating on paper at least, the school is more selective.

Increased selectivity in the student body will have other desirable effects. If selectivity means accepting students who are more prepared for the college experience, it should positively impact both retention and completion rates. These, too, are good things.  It can also bring about more advanced classes and programs directed by more renowned faculty. The college wins again.

The glory doesn’t end with football either. A successful basketball program, even for a year or two, can fill up the school’s coffers. Gonzaga, Butler, Appalachian State, and Florida Gulf Coast University all seemed to benefit from the unexpected success of their sports teams. The so called “Flutie Effect” crossed over to college basketball, giving the students, faculty and staff something to cheer for, and the schools, some much cherished national exposure.

College football is also big business. Sponsorships, television money, ticket sales, and the like can bring in some major bucks. In 2015, it was reported that over $9 billion was generated amongst the 231 Division I NCAA schools. That’s much more money than programs in Chemistry, Literature, Engineering, and Hospitality brought in…. combined!

Is there a downside? Can a college football program do more harm than good? Possibly. For starters, it is important to keep in mind that having and maintaining a football team is expensive. If a college does not have an “elite” football program, its median loss due to football is around $3 million a year. With only around half of all Division I programs showing profitability, that’s a lot of colleges losing money on the football field.

Furthermore, it’s easy to be critical about the commitment to academics big-time football players, or other athletes, may have. There have been many allegations about players not going to classes and having work done by other students. Student football players are often enrolled in easy programs, taking easy courses with “understanding” professors. These types of incidents can harm the credibility of the school often causing outrage by the non-supporters of big time football.

Whereas there is obviously reason for concern, these incidents can occur with any student, not just those playing a big-time sport. Cheating students come in all types and are not just limited to those who can run a 40-yard dash in six seconds or less.

As an old-fashioned academic purist back in the day, I questioned the wisdom of a big-time football program. To me, it seemed to de-emphasize academics while emphasizing athletics. Wasn’t college all about academics? What value would a football team bring?

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Win or lose, a sports program has much to offer. Almost overlooked in the hoopla is the fact that involved students tend to be the happiest amongst the college population. It doesn’t matter whether it’s involvement the Chess Club, the Knitting Club, the Marching Band or the football team, those students who are engaged in some type of out- of-the-class activity are amongst the happiest. Additionally, win or lose, participation in a team sport is good thing. Aside from skills in leadership, followership, and teamwork, it looks great on a resume too. Many hiring companies will often carefully consider the student athlete resume and move their resume to the front of the pile. Playing a sport in college is also great on an interview, and of course, many will say it makes you a better person overall.

So, to big time football program skeptics out there; get over it. College and football seem to go together like…. college and football. Colleges love their football team, win or lose. A strong college football program can not only bring in more applicants, it serves as a great Saturday afternoon diversion. Students can take a break from their weekday routines, let their hair down, and have some fun, so to speak. They will even sit outside in the cold, rain, wind or snow, and cheer their team on. Colleges almost always seem to showcase their team and stadium on a college tour, and many schools even allow students to attend games for little or no charge.

Are you ready for some football? You had better be. Turns out that most colleges and their students certainly are.

So, You Want to Teach College?

Image result for college teacher clipart

Doc Seidman Says:

…Back in the day when I was an undergraduate student, I looked at my professors for the most part as bloviating egocentric mouthpieces. Although that was a harsh opinion, I also speculated that they had good lives. They would spend a few hours a week teaching, a few hours in their offices, make a monthly appearance or two in a committee, but spend many hours traveling the world consulting on whatever their specialty was. Who wouldn’t want that life?

I wasn’t aspiring to be a part of the college teaching profession in those days, but the thought of it was tucked away in the back corners of my brain. Instead, I choose to begin my career in Hospitality and Food Service.

Twenty years later, with cuts and permanent scars over my arms and hands, chronically aching feet, and more gray hair than brown hair, I started to think about a career change. The college teaching gig slowly moved from the back of my mind to the front. I recalled the thoughts I had about my old college professors and began seriously thinking about pursing this new line of work. The one big problem, however, was, how does one even begin? How do you take a career that was predominantly spent in the rough and tumble world of quick service management and parlay it into a more glamorous professorship? Was that even possible? Moreover, I had zero teaching experience. I had never taught a class in my life.

Back then, the Internet was just taking shape and there was no Google or Amazon that would guide me. I had to go by my own intuition. I knew the first step would be a master’s degree of some kind, so I enrolled at a local private university and began pursuing my master’s degree. I did so for the experience of going back to school and learning new things as much as for a possible pathway into college teaching. It was clearly the right thing to do as my observant dean saw some teaching potential in me and mentored me along. Yada, yada, yada, several years and two degrees later I found myself amongst the college teaching fraternity. Now, I too became that bloviating, egocentric mouthpiece with global consulting opportunities at my fingertips.

You would have to ask my students as to whether or not I was a bloviating egocentric (I’d like to think not), but I did enjoy a rewarding career in academia. I did get to see a good part of the world as the business of academia took me to Australia, South Africa, Thailand and Singapore. My experience was just about everything I thought it would be back in my undergraduate daydreaming days. Whereas I truly enjoyed my food service career, it was no comparison to my twenty plus years in academia.

So, you want to teach college too? Are you wondering not just if you can do it, but how you can achieve it?

For nine plus years in my college tenure, I served as an academic chairman. As head of the college I hired many teachers. They came in all levels of age, experience and ability. Some were older. Many were younger. Some had previous teaching experience and others did not. Some turned out to be excellent teachers while others, not so much. As a teacher myself, I was willing to train newbies. I enjoyed teaching teachers and didn’t mind giving someone their first job in the college classroom.

It can be easier than you think to get a job, at least part time, teaching college students. All too often a chair scrambles at the last minute to find someone…..anyone…. to teach a class. If he or she stumbles across your resume at the right time, you may get the call, whether you have previously taught a class or not.

Being a successful teacher on the other hand, is not as easy. As all college professors have learned, being effective in the job is more than just committee work, office hours, international travel, and lectures.  It involves carefully prepared lesson plans that utilize a variety of teaching techniques.  It also requires a commitment to accurate record keeping and other administrative responsibilities. Advising students of varying backgrounds and intellect, is also a must. There’s much more to the job than meets the eye.

During my tenure as chairman, I kept a journal. I took notes of my experiences and waited for the day when I could share them in a way that would be helpful to others. I look at all the aspiring college professors to be out there and want to help. So, you want to teach college? I wrote and published a step by step guide for how to do so.

My book, So, You Want to Teach College? Is available on Amazon. I didn’t write it to get rich. I wrote it to help others, just like I am writing this now. There may be one person out there reading this who aspires at some point to be a college teacher but doesn’t quite know how to go about it. I hear you. I was there. I went through it and I want to help.

So, you want to teach college? From building an effective resume, to how and when to apply, to how to get your class set up for success, let me show you how. Whether or not you bloviate is up to you.