Studying abroad offers an unparalleled opportunity to broaden your horizons. If you want to refine your foreign language skills, there’s no better way than immersing yourself in it. Between 2010 and 2015, the demand for bilingual workers in the U.S. more than doubled. Improve employability while nibbling pastries in Paris or gliding on a gondola in Venice? Yes, please! Find out how to squeeze the absolute best from your study abroad program so you can enjoy all the perks this experience has to offer.

Keep a Budget

Participation in a study abroad program can come with a hefty price tag. In addition to your tuition and administrative fees, you may also have expenses associated with textbooks, school supplies, and other materials. It’s important that you take your regular living expenses into account as well. Make sure you understand what’s included as far as meals, laundry facilities, and accommodations.

Once the basics are taken care of, you’ll want to have some extra funds on hand to truly enjoy the culture and country. This could include money for transportation, dining out, attractions, and souvenirs. Plan carefully so your budget will last for the duration of your stay.

Befriend the Locals

It’s easy to fall into step with the other American students studying abroad with you, but you should make an effort to expand your social circle. You’re missing out on an incredible opportunity if you don’t make some local connections during your stay. If you’re living with a host family, they might be able to introduce you to students in your age range. Your study abroad program may offer some opportunities to make new friends through excursions and other activities. You may have to step outside your comfort zone, but it’s well worth the effort.

Enjoy the Cultural Flavor

When you’re participating in a study abroad program, the goal is to experience the country like a local, not a tourist. Don’t restrict yourself to well-known highlights and Americanized restaurants. Veer away from the familiar, and find out what residents like to do in their free time. Ask your host family about little-known adventures in the area. Seek out the small, family-owned restaurants and attractions that tourists rarely find. There you’ll experience the true flavor of the country.

Take Side Trips

In many destinations, you have the unique opportunity to visit multiple countries with only a few hours of travel time. You can travel Europe easily by bus, train, or car. Budget airlines are an option as well if you’re covering longer distances. Compare the price of a plane ticket between London and Paris to the expense of traveling all the way from the U.S. to France, and you’ll see why this is such an opportune time to maximize your travels. Plan exciting excursions on the weekends, or extend your trip a few weeks beyond the conclusion of your study program.

Studying abroad is a valuable experience that belongs on every college student’s bucket list. With proper planning, you can make the most of your journey and enjoy memories that will last a lifetime.

In 2017, the National Center for Education Statistics reported 78 percent of students studying in the 2015–2016 academic year required financial aid, more than in any other year since the turn of the century. With more students needing financial help than ever before, it pays to seek out scholarships. Scholarships are better than student loans, as you never need to repay them. Make sure you stop by the following websites on your scholarship search.

Fastweb

Fastweb claims it’s the leading online resource for finding scholarships. CampusBooks’ Founder Alex Neal recommends it, so you shouldn’t miss stopping by. It lists more than 1.5 million scholarships, with a total value of around $3.4 billion, which you can filter according to your strengths, skills, and interests. Fastweb membership is totally free. Apart from the scholarship search, membership also entitles you to special student deals and discounts.

CollegeBoard

CollegeBoard is best known as a college-planning website, but it’s useful even before you ever start thinking about majors and extracurricular activities. The site has a comprehensive scholarship search of more than 2,200 programs, worth nearly $6 billion, based on its Annual Survey of Financial Aid programs. Complete your CollegeBoard profile in full, as the information it contains will help you find the most appropriate scholarship matches.

ScholarshipOwl

ScholarshipOwl is ideal for prospective college students short on time. Rather than having to apply for scholarships individually, ScholarshipOwl streamlines the process, instantly putting your name forward for hundreds of relevant scholarships on your behalf. You can also browse the site and find new scholarships to complete using the details in your online profile. ScholarshipOwl also has its own scholarship, the You Deserve It scholarship, awarded at random to an eligible member each month.

Niche

Niche is a simple-to-use website listing thousands of educational scholarships. Anyone visiting the website can browse these listings, which are searchable by categories such as states, majors, and minorities. However, you’ll get the most from the site when you become a member. Sign up for free and complete your profile to browse a filtered selection of scholarships you’re eligible for.

Scholarships.com

Established in 1998, Scholarships.com has positioned itself as one of the longest-running online scholarship searches on the net. Just like Niche, any members of the public can search, but it works best for members. Sign up for your free membership, complete your profile in full, and you can filter out the scholarships that aren’t relevant and focus on the ones that are.

Like CollegeBoard, Scholarships.com will serve you long after you’ve applied for aid. Its name is a little misleading, as it hosts a wealth of academic information, including advice about preparing for college, settling into campus life, and studying. Its nifty College Matchmaker feature is especially useful for students undecided about their school preferences.

Remember to read the eligibility criteria and application guidelines carefully; then submit your scholarship applications well before the due date. Then cross your fingers and wait. With a little luck on your side, you can receive the scholarships you need to ease the financial pressure of your college education.

LinkedIn is potentially your greatest marketing tool for finding internships and employment opportunities. However, fail to update your LinkedIn page and it’s little more than a digital resume. As a college student or a recent graduate, you might feel you’ve got little worth posting on LinkedIn. However, with some creativity, you can keep your LinkedIn page regularly updated and feeling fresh.



Change Your Profile Picture

LinkedIn pages with profile pictures get 14 times more views than pages without pics. However, a LinkedIn page with your last high school yearbook photo is never going to project the workforce-ready image you’re trying to present. Experts recommend updating your LinkedIn profile pic every year to help your page feel fresh and current. Forget about those frat party pictures, though. A simple headshot in front of a plain background presents a much more professional image.

Keep Your Information Up to Date

An old photo isn’t the only thing that can make your LinkedIn profile seem dated. Jessica Slaughter, a software engineer from Texas, recommends reviewing your LinkedIn profile page at least once a month and more often during recruiting season. Add any new classes and remove any you’ve dropped, note projects you’ve completed and any new ones you’ve started, and make any adjustments to your grade point average. Some simple tweaks will make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects your current situation.

Share Your Work

You’ve worked hard as a college student. LinkedIn gives you a platform for promoting that hard work. The site makes it easy to upload or link to your assignments, design projects, video presentations, articles written for your college newspaper, and other relevant work. Sharing your work doesn’t just keep your LinkedIn profile feeling fresh. It’ll also add visual interest and sell your skills to any browsing employers.

Write Blog Posts

While popular social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter focus on micro-blogging, LinkedIn gives you a greater platform for self-expression. Writing regular blog posts is a great way to keep your LinkedIn page fresh and to demonstrate how you tick. You could write blog posts about interesting lectures, concepts you’ve learned, or perspectives on current events in your industry. LinkedIn will share your posts with your network, but they could have an even wider reach. Remember to proofread them carefully to ensure they appear as professional as you want to be.

Seek Out Recommendations

Just as you consider customer reviews when buying new products, recruiters pay attention to LinkedIn recommendations, according to Omar Garriott, Salesforce’s director of product marketing and strategy. Getting recommendations on your LinkedIn page is a fantastic way to freshen it and to make you look more desirable to potential employers.

Contact your college professors, mentors, internship supervisors, or anyone else you’ve worked closely with and ask them to write a recommendation on your LinkedIn page. Offer to repay the favor and everybody wins.
Don’t let your lack of professional experience hold you back. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly and it can be a powerful tool in your search for internships, employment, and beyond.

Whether you’re about to graduate college or you recently accepted your diploma, this is a very exciting time for you. This is a time to celebrate a great accomplishment and be proud of how far you’ve come, but it’s also a time of big decisions and changes. Here are four financial tips every recent college graduate should keep in mind as they begin the post-grad life.

1. Choose Your First Job Carefully

After graduation, one of the top things on your mind is likely to be your job. At this point, you may already have a great job lined up or you may be searching. Either way, make sure you’re being smart with your choice. The best jobs aren’t always the ones with the highest salaries. Make sure you choose a job that is on the right path to your long-term goals. You’ll also want to research the company carefully and make sure their ideals line up with yours. Job satisfaction isn’t just in the paycheck.

2. Live Frugally Until You Get Settled

Start a budgeting habit if you don’t already have one. It can be easy to get used to the somewhat cushy lifestyle of walking to class every day, living in a cheap dorm or college apartment, and benefiting from a meal plan. Once you’ve graduated, you’ll likely need a new place to live, a budget for food, and maybe a car.

Don’t buy a brand new car or lease an apartment that maxes out your budget. Look for a used car in good shape and an apartment that will meet your needs without stretching you too thin. Once you’ve settled into your career path, you’ll have a much better idea of what you can afford. Then you can look into that shiny new car.

3. Make Your Loan Payments on Time

Most college graduates are starting out their careers with student loan debt. This is a necessary evil for many, but it doesn’t have to hurt your credit. If you choose your loans wisely and keep up with your payments, you can actually build up an impressive credit score over time. Many loan types can be consolidated and payment plans can be changed after graduation. If you’re struggling to keep up with payments, look into your refinancing and payment options.

4. Keep Your Credit Under Control

Even if you manage your student loan payments well, you can still hurt your credit score in other ways. Maintaining a good credit score is one of the biggest favors you can do yourself in the long run. When you’re ready to buy a house or need financing for any major purchases, your credit score will greatly affect your options.

Opening a good line of credit and keeping up with paying your statement balance each month will do wonders for your score. However, not all credit cards are created equal. Store cards tend to have the highest interest rates and the smallest benefits. Try not to open a credit card for every store you shop at, but maintain a good general credit card that gives you valuable perks like cash back and travel miles.

Congratulations on your accomplishment and good luck starting your career! Don’t let this lifestyle change throw you off track financially — be prepared and you’ll welcome success.

If you’re like most graduates, your cap and gown came with a ton of gift money from family and friends. Is all that cash burning a hole in your wallet? Before you dump your new nest egg on the latest smartphone, think about your future. If your new degree didn’t come with financial planning classes, you can still start your economic future off right. Use that money wisely with these four smart tips.

Start an Emergency Fund

Students who get a nice chunk of change after graduation can put that cash to good use. Financial experts, including Dave Ramsey, suggest starting out your first phase of adulthood with an emergency fund.

Deposit your graduation money into a savings account. Your life is about to change, and unexpected bills happen to everyone. Having a cushion in the bank is a smart strategy. Be prepared with at least $1,000. Then work to stash away up to three months’ worth of expenses.

Tackle Those Student Loans

Paying off Sallie Mae should be a top priority once you have your diploma in hand. You don’t want that debt hanging around for the rest of your life. For graduates of Wisconsin universities, for example, the average bachelor’s degree takes 19.7 years to pay off. By then, you may have kids of your own heading off to college.

If you have a job lined up, don’t wait for your grace period — typically about six months — before you start paying on your loan. Any lump sum payments you make right away will reduce the interest you’ll have to pay later.

Plan for Your Retirement

You’re never too young to start banking on your future. Retirement probably feels far away, but the magic of compound interest makes saving now one of the best ways to use your graduation money.

If your new degree comes with a job and a 401(k), start putting money in it. You can also open a Roth IRA and use that graduation dough as your first deposit. Use this handy calculator to find out how much you can earn in interest payments. You can turn $500 a year into $132,560 for retirement by setting yourself up in your 20s.

Invest

Take control of your money and all your tomorrows by investing. It might sound a bit scary — like something your parents and their friends talk about — but you too can take advantage of those returns. Use your graduation money and jump right in. Start with a mutual fund and a broker. A professional investor will help you spread your wealth over different stocks. This strategy will increase your chances of making more money.

You do have to pay a fee to a broker, but it’s worth it to have the expert advice. You worked hard in school, and the big bucks you make investing are your reward. Make them work hard for you now.

After the commencement ceremony is over and the whole family has given out hugs, it’s time to face the tough choices. Be smart about your money, and you’ll build yourself a comfortable future.

The fall and spring semesters are packed with classes, leaving summer as the ultimate season for rest and relaxation. Given the many reasons for taking a much-needed break, why even consider taking a summer class? Enrolling in one or two summer classes is more beneficial than you may think.

1. Get Ahead on Your Academic Plan

Summer classes can help you get general education courses out of the way so you can complete your degree on schedule — or even earlier. Since general ed courses are usually prerequisites for classes related to your major, finishing them early frees you up to focus on your major. You might even have time to take extra electives.

2. Make Time for More Difficult Classes

You already know how hard it is to carve out enough study time for a single class when you’re taking a full course load. Instead of overwhelming yourself, save those difficult classes for summer. For instance, if you’re an English major who has difficulty with math, wait until summer term to devote all your time and energy to that dreaded calculus class. Summers allow you to tackle your most difficult subjects without distraction

3. Save Money

It’s no secret that delaying your graduation results in more student debt. The best way to keep your student loans to a minimum is to graduate on time or even early. Enrolling in summer classes accelerates your graduation plans and keeps overall costs down.

4. Keep Your Brain Sharp

It’s easy to get out of the habit of studying and writing research papers when you take a couple of months off. If you’re the type of student who works best with a steady routine, taking summer classes can help you maintain your stamina and keep your brain sharp. Summer classes are also ideal for subjects requiring multiple courses.

For example, meeting your foreign language requirement is easier if you can take Spanish 101 and Spanish 102 in subsequent terms. If classes are full during the fall and spring semesters, taking the summer off could mean losing everything you learned in the first course.
Enrolling in summer classes keeps your brain sharp in other ways, as well. You’ll maintain good study habits from one academic year to the next without feeling like you’re starting over every fall.

5. Enjoy Online Options

More colleges and universities have started offering online classes to help students meet their general education requirements. Summers give you the perfect opportunity to enroll in an online course while working a seasonal job to save money for tuition and personal expenses. Even if you want to spend time at home with your family over the summer, online classes allow you to enjoy some downtime without experiencing a break in reaching your education goals. You can even go on vacation while still getting another required course out of the way.

With so many reasons to take a summer class, why not give it a chance? Summer terms allow you to finish your education requirements early, take smaller course loads throughout the academic year, and better balance your job and personal life.

Want to give your grades a boost? Join a study group. When you work with some of your classmates, you’ll get more out of your courses and help each other improve your academic performance. Learn about the benefits of study groups and get tips for getting the most out of the experience.

Make Your Notes More Thorough

Even if you’re diligent about going to class, it can be a challenge to jot down all the notes you need for upcoming assignments or tests. Your study group can share notes to ensure that no one misses any important details shared by your professor.

In addition, the members of the group can cover for each other if you have to miss a class for any reason. For example, your group could provide you with notes if you can’t make it to class when you’re sick. If someone has to skip class due to a family emergency, you can share your notes so they don’t have to stress about what they missed.

Cover More Material

Studying for an exam is much easier when you tackle it as a group. You can discuss class material and quiz each other as the exam date approaches. For bigger tests like midterms, you might even assign each group member a topic to research and study. Then, you’ll take turns teaching the other members of the group in preparation for the exam. You’ll only have to study a limited portion of the class material, but thanks to the help of your group, you’ll cover all the necessary topics that will be on the test.

Share Your Skills

Each member of your group may have a unique skill set that they bring to the group. Maybe one of you is great at putting together study guides. Another member makes excellent flashcards, while someone else is able to explain complex topics in a way you can all understand. It’s helpful to have a member who’s great at setting up group meeting times, handling library study room reservations, and reminding everyone when and where to show up. What skills can you bring to a study group?

Get Motivated

Study groups can be an excellent solution for procrastination. If you have a hard time motivating yourself to study, joining a group can help to boost your academic performance. You’ll have a specific time and place to meet, which makes you much less likely to slack off. This structured setting is also helpful for students who find it difficult to focus on studying when they’re on their own. When you’re in a small group, you’ll be engaged throughout the meeting rather than becoming easily distracted by other things.

Studying doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In fact, study groups can be immensely helpful for many students. If you join a study group for a particular class and find that it boosts your grade, you may want to consider starting your own group or joining existing ones for other classes in your schedule. You may even improve your study skills by learning from other members of your group.

Whether you’re just starting to apply to college or you’ve got a few years under your belt, you’ll want to make sure that you thoroughly understand your student loans. Many young students don’t put much thought into their loans until after they graduate, and the terms of their repayment surprise them. Here are four important things to know about your student loans.

Understand the Rates and Terms and Type of Loan

There are many different types of loans, so make sure you understand exactly what kind you’re agreeing to when you sign. Before choosing a loan, be sure to read all of the fine print, or you could find yourself with some very unpleasant surprises down the road.

Federal loans come with fixed interest rates. Private loans determine interest rates based on credit and income and some are fixed and others are variable, meaning the rate can change. Terms vary depending on the loan type, as well. Some loans allow for slower repayment or refinancing, while others don’t.

Federal loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized. The government pays interest on subsidized loans while the student is still in school, but students are fully responsible for all interest accrued on unsubsidized loans. First, you’ll need to start with a FAFSA application to see what you qualify for. Once you’ve figured out what financial aid you can get from the government or your school, you’ll likely need to look into a private loan to make up the difference.

Repayment Options

Be sure to know what your repayment options are for all of your student loans. Some loans offer income-based repayment plans. You can also defer your loans for a period of time if you’re having trouble making payments. Keep in mind that the longer you take to pay off your loans, the more interest you’ll pay.

Certain loans offer an auto-debit option. This is a great idea if you can afford your monthly payments because it’ll make sure you aren’t late or forget to pay. You might even get an interest-rate reduction for choosing this option.

Relief Options

Federal loans and private loans both offer loan relief options. You’ll need to contact the specific provider to find out what your options are. Some banks will modify your loan or lower your interest rate if you’re struggling to keep up with payments. You might even be able to get your repayment put on hold for some time until you’re back on your feet. Certain career choices offer federal loan relief, so be aware of these options, as well. However, it’s very important that you are aware that unlike other types of debt, you cannot get rid of your student loan debt through bankruptcy court so this debt will be with you for life or until you pay it off.

Avoid Debt-Relief Scams

Be careful not to fall for a student loan debt relief scam. Debt repayment should be handled between you and your lender directly. Basically, if a loan relief company offers you help with repayment but asks for a fee upfront, run away. You’ll likely begin fielding spam phone calls from these fake companies the moment you graduate, so be aware.

Don’t get caught off guard. Student loans are not free money, and you will need to pay them back. Get a handle on your loans and all of the various options available to you before you start paying them back. You’ll save yourself stress and money in the long run.

If you’re trying to land an internship this year, you’ve already heard the standard advice: Use your network, research the company, dress appropriately for the interview, and so on. But what else can you do to stand out from the competition? Your best bet is to use a few old tricks along with some new ones that previous generations didn’t have. Keep these three tips in mind while you search for your dream internship.

Think Outside Your Major

You should definitely apply for the positions that best suit your long-term goals, and that might mean staying within your major. However, it’s important to consider internships outside your major. Part of the college experience is discovering who you are. Is there an opportunity that appeals to you but doesn’t quite fit your area of study? Apply for it anyway. Many of your skills are transferable, and you’ll enjoy your internship more if you’re genuinely interested in the company.

It’s also a good idea to look outside your major if you’re not having luck with your search. Going with a company that’s not your first choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You could learn skills you wouldn’t have learned elsewhere, and you might actually like the position. Sometimes the best opportunities are found in unexpected places.

Edit Your Social Media

When you use social media wisely, it can improve your chances of finding an internship or a job. There’s a good chance that recruiters will check your Facebook page and other social media, so make sure your online presence looks professional. Remove any photos or posts with profanity, nudity, alcohol, or drugs.

If you want to connect with companies through LinkedIn, you should keep your account up-to-date — a blank or an incomplete profile is a turnoff. Using a selfie for your profile photo is another no-no. If you don’t have a professional-looking photo of yourself, get help from a friend who’s good with a camera.

Know What You Want

This is an age-old tip that still works. Recruiters don’t want a half-interested student who just wants to fulfill his or her internship requirement. They want someone who cares about the company and the work it does. Apply to companies that genuinely interest you. Tailor each application for each company. A generic cover letter or a resume shows lack of interest and usually ends up in the rejection pile.

Let your passion show. If you have a blog dedicated to the subject — maybe you have a fashion blog, and you’re applying for a PR position at a fashion company — mention it in your application. Talk about your long-term goals during the job interview. Showing that you’re driven can help you stand out above other applicants.

By following these three tips, you’ll improve your chances of scoring your dream internship. Just keep in mind that some internships are highly sought after, and rejection is inevitable. Don’t give up. Contact the organization for feedback to find out what you can do in the future to improve your resume or interview. With perseverance, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Spring break is the perfect time for letting your hair down and leaving the stresses of college life behind you. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. The following tips will help you have fun and stay safe during spring break.


1. Look Out for Your Buddies

Spring break is always more fun with friends. Before you let your hair down, pledge to look out for your buddies.

Always travel in groups of two or more. Arrive together and leave together. While a fling might sound fun, going home with strangers is risky. You don’t need to be joined at the hip, but you should know where your friends are at all times. Pay attention to the hotties they talk to and how much they’re drinking. If you think they’re being unsafe, step in to protect them. You might even take turns avoiding the booze so someone always has a clear head.

2. Practice Situational Awareness

Stay alert and aware of your surroundings and situations. That doesn’t mean you can’t relax and have fun, but you should recognize if anything feels off or amiss. Your gut instinct is a valuable gauge of how safe you really are. Listen to any uneasy feelings and act on them before you get into trouble.

Party in well-lit, busy places rather than darker ones with fewer people. When you’re using cabs and ride-sharing services, use the GPS to make sure your driver takes the route you’d expect. Double-check the license plate and driver photo match up when you’re using ride-sharing providers. This extra vigilance can help you avoid a sticky situation.

3. Watch Your Drinks

Studies suggest more than 2.2 million of the 6.31 million full-time college and university students enrolled in the United States will have their drinks spiked. Drink spiking can affect men too. Simply watching your drinks can dramatically reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Stay alert from the moment your drink is made. Choose sealed cans or bottles at parties rather than drinks from a punch bowl. At bars, get the drink yourself and watch the bartender make it. Keep an eye on your drink until it’s finished. Leaving it to go to the bathroom or even turning your back on it while you chat could give someone the opportunity they need.

4. Keep Valuables Safe

Few things spoil a spring break like losing valuable items. Some simple tricks can keep them safe though. Don’t pack very valuable items like high-end jewelry or bags. They can make you a target for thieves, so why take the risk? Store any essential valuables in your hotel safe before going out. Keep credit cards in an RFID wallet so crims can’t scan them and steal the details. Bra pouches and money belts worn underneath clothes are ideal for storing cash, identification, and hotel keys securely.

Spring break can be dangerous if you don’t exercise caution. That doesn’t mean giving up on fun though. With these tips in mind, you’ll have a blast and stay safe on your spring break.