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July 13, 2013 / NextStepU

The NextStepU blog has moved!

The NextStepU blog has moved to a new URL. We loved this space and it served us well — but we’ve made a better home on a new page. Please visit us at:

If you had put us in a blog reader feed such as Bloglovin or Feedly, make sure to update the URL so you will continue to receive new content. If you had an email subscription, this will be the last email you get unless you subscribe in the sidebar on the new site.


Thank you in advance for following us to the new blog!

> Look for the winners announcement for the Summer Giveaways on the new site early next week. If you were a winner we’ll need to hear from you to get your shipping address — you won’t want to miss that if you were one of the many lucky winners!

July 11, 2013 / NextStepU

Summertime Bucket List — Part 3


You did it! You made it through four years of high school and are well on your way to the new, exciting experience of college. Here is the final installment of what everyone should do the summer before college begins. 

11. Make a tentative schedule
Take the time to figure out which courses you’re signed up for and make a schedule. Fill in the time slots you’ll be in class and the time you think you’ll need for studying and homework. If you will be on a sports team, make sure to include daily practices and estimate how much time will be spent at meets or games.

12. Get your finances in order
College is a time when you will have to create your own budget and will have to depend on yourself for providing food and other necessities. So, it is important that you know how much money you have and how much you can afford to spend.

13. Review your Facebook friends
It’s harsh, but it has to be done. The summer before college is a time to prepare yourself for new experiences and can also be a time to let go and move on from bad past experiences. If there are people on your newsfeed who annoy you or people you do not want to be friends with in the post-high school world, do yourself a favor and delete them. Or, if you are a softie at heart, at least take them off of your newsfeed.

14. Marathon a favorite show
This summer is about preparing for college, but is also about relaxing and enjoying a couple months off. For many people relaxing can consist of watching a whole season of their favorite show over the course of a few days. It’s a fun reward for getting through your finals and, if you want, can be a way to hang out with some friends during the summer.

15. Clean out your room and car
Take this opportunity to get rid of old clothes, old notebooks and any other useless stuff. If you have a car, take a day to wash it, vacuum it, wash its windows and clear out the storage compartments. Getting organized will make packing easier and will ensure that you won’t have extra stuff to do when you are home on breaks. Besides, you will feel a sense of accomplishment after the mega-cleaning and will have bragging rights.

16. Learn to cook…something
Depending on where you go to college, the dining hall food can be, well, interesting. So, it is a good idea to know how to feed yourself at least once or twice a week. My advice to you is to learn to cook a favorite meal or two in case you need to depend on yourself to eat.

17. Play your favorite sport
This is a fun way to pass the time and to exercise, and it is also a way to relieve some stress while doing something you enjoy. It’s normal to be stressed out at the prospect of starting over at college (or anywhere), so take the time to clear your mind and have some fun.

18. Go shopping for new clothes/pick up new school supplies
A new school year means new clothes and new school stuff. Who doesn’t love fresh notebooks, unwrinkled and unblemished with notes or doodles? College is often a time to start over and reinvent yourself, so this summer you can prepare by shopping for something for the new you.

19. Get in touch with your future roommate
Once your school sends the name and phone number of your roommate, take some time to contact him or her. It will allow you to introduce yourself without your family hovering around and can help ease your worries before move-in day. It gives you the opportunity to know what to expect in advance. For example, does the roommate have a similar schedule as you? Most importantly, who will bring the fridge or the television? You’ll be glad you spoke before move-in day.

20. Eat ice cream!
It is summer, after all! So go partake in one of the best summer activities, ever. I can’t think of a better way to end this list than to advise everyone to stock up on your favorite flavor for the summer. It gives you the chance to enjoy something yummy. And, if nothing else, the food will release some endorphins and will put you in a fantastic mood. So, before you leave and go to college, please enjoy some peanut butter fudge for me!

Those of us here at NextStepU hope your enjoyed today’s Summertime Bucket List series! Can you think of any other must-do activities for the summer? We’ll be sharing them on Twitter and Facebook, so leave a few in the comments section and we’ll share your ideas. Include your Twitter handle if you’d like a link back to you.

For more articles, tips and tricks on what to do to get ready for college, head on over to

July 11, 2013 / NextStepU

Summertime Bucket List — Part 2


Congratulations, graduate! You made it through high school, so take some time this summer to enjoy yourself and prepare for the college experience. Here is the next installment of things that every graduate should do the summer before entering college.

6. Read for fun
It doesn’t have to be Anna Karenina. You can take some time this summer to do what you probably won’t have time for during the school year: reading solely for pleasure. Summer is a great time to lose yourself in a good story. To this day, I still enjoy reading all seven Harry Potter books during the summer. It’s the only time when I can read them all for as long as I want, without the creeping feeling of procrastination. You will do plenty of reading in college, but it won’t be as fun as the books you choose to read for yourself. So pick your favorite spot (mine is on the beach) and enjoy a good read this summer.

7. Plan/shop for your dorm room
One of the best parts of preparing for college is figuring out how to decorate your dorm room. It is a chance for you to create your own space from scratch and it is also an opportunity for you to be creative. So this summer, pick up some posters and a new comforter. Maybe even a comfortable chair. You can make the room whatever you want it to be.

8. Enjoy sleeping in
Trust me, you will never appreciate sleep as much as when you are in college. Even for those of you with classes that don’t start until noon, you will still be tired and will be wishing for more hours to sleep. So why not get started now? Take this summer to get some extra Z’s. Consider it a practice run before your first winter break.

9. Have a grad party
This seems like a pretty obvious suggestion, but I still consider it a top priority for anyone fresh out of high school. A grad party is a great way to say goodbye to your friends and family before you head off to college. You get presents, good food and will be the center of attention. What’s not to like? Take this opportunity to gather all of your loved ones around you as a final celebration of your high school experience and as a rite of passage. After all, you have done a lot of hard work to be at this point. You deserve some recognition. And some cake.

10. Walk your dog — or pet your cat. Or feed your goldfish.
The point is to spend some quality time with your beloved pet before you move out. Believe me, you are gonna miss that lovable creature when you are in the dorms. There is just something comforting about being around animals. That’s why my school brings in puppies around finals time: it de-stresses the students and gives them a chance to be around beings that love unconditionally. While you probably give your pets plenty of attention as it is, make sure to set aside some extra time for them before you go to school. They will appreciate it, and so will you.

— By Rachel Montpelier

You’re halfway through our list. Stop back later this afternoon for the third and final portion of the bucket list for your best summer ever!

July 11, 2013 / NextStepU

Summertime Bucket List — Part 1


It’s finally over; all the tests, late nights doing homework and studying have all led to this: your high school graduation. It’s definitely a time to celebrate and as you begin your summer break between high school and college, we want to encourage you to partake in some things that are both fun and meaningful. This year is the start of something really significant for you so make the most it!

1. Bask in the glory of your graduation
I don’t know if you’ve realized this yet or not but YOU DID IT! I know the summer after my senior year I found myself thinking, how all of a sudden am I just done with school after being here for the past 12 years of my life? It might take a while for you to realize it but you’ve made it to graduation and you should take the time to be proud of yourself for accomplishing that. Perhaps a celebratory cupcake is in order.

2. Go somewhere you never have before
No matter how long you’ve spent in the town you’re living in now, there’s always something you haven’t experienced yet. Think about a place you’ve always heard about but never got the chance to see. Now is your time to experience it!

3. Annoy the heck out of your friends
I don’t necessarily mean annoy as in pick on their last nerve until they hate you (although if you can do it for a laugh, go for it). What I mean is, spend as much time as possible with your friends right now. You have almost no responsibilities; all your work from high school is turned in and you don’t have any assignments for college yet. With all that free time (which, trust me, you probably won’t ever see again – spoiler!) use it to goof off with the friends you’ve gotten closest to in high school. There’s no telling were you’ll go in the future, but you have right now so live in the moment.

4. Start a journal
It doesn’t have to be sentimental like “the day my life changed forever” or poetic like “as the clouds softly roll by I remember the days of my youth.” No. Keep it genuine as to how you’re feeling and what you’ve done. It’s really fun to go back and read the thoughts that you had back then. It’s even more fun to laugh at yourself for some of those ridiculous thoughts you used to have.

5. Take a vacation…with your parents
I know what you’re thinking, the last thing you want to be doing right now is spending time with your parents. You’re free! You’re an adult! You’re independent! All very true things, however you have to realize that while this time is something new and exciting for you, it’s new for your parents too. And sometimes, in parent-world, when it comes to their baby, new is not always a good thing. So, take some time during the summer to bond with the parental units, either for a big trek across the country or for a weekend in a nearby city. Either way, it’s something both you and they will appreciate.

—By Laura Sestito

We are just getting started! We’ll be back in a few hours with the new set of tips for what to do this summer. Even if you aren’t about to go away to college in the fall, there might still be some great ideas on how to spend your time.

July 10, 2013 / NextStepU

The truth about common college myths

Rachel-graphicFor those of you who are preparing for this new phase in your life, I’m sure you have heard plenty of stories about college and all that it entails. Many of these accounts may have scared you or have made you dread move-in day. However, a lot of what people have told you are flat-out lies, or are simply not the case for all colleges. Here are a few of the most common college myths and the truth about them:

College is a constant party. Not true. At least, not true for most colleges. Yes, you have more freedom and independence in college. But if you are smart (and you probably are), you’ll use that newfound liberty and make the most of your education and your tuition money. Most people I know in college spend their time doing homework and are usually in their rooms, if not asleep, by 12 a.m. on weeknights. Weekends might be another story, but I assure you that college is not a license to do only fun things one hundred percent of the time.

You never need to use paper if you have a laptop. Tell that to anyone whose laptop has broken down in the middle of a semester, like me. (That’s a horror story for another blog post). You need a laptop, but college is still a place where students need notebooks and textbooks. The desks in college classrooms usually consist of a piece of wood connected to a chair with a hinge. They are annoying and are too small to comfortably hold a laptop. And what if your computer freezes or bugs you about backing up your system in the middle of class? By the time you get it back to normal, your professor could have told you five things that will be on the next test. Notebooks work better for lectures, even with modern technology.

No one cares about freshmen. My high school math teacher told me that my senior year. You might have heard that freshmen are lowest on the totem pole and that professors, administrators and upperclassmen completely ignore the new students. That’s just not the case. Orientation is designed specifically for the transition from high school to college. Professors often make a point of offering one-on-one time for those who are struggling in class. And most upperclassmen (whether they are in your class or in a club/team with you) are welcoming and willing to help you if they can. The first few weeks of college are overwhelming for any freshman, but please don’t think that you will constantly be ignored. You won’t be.

All-nighters are the norm and coffee is a mandatory. Okay, this might be true for some people, but it is not true for everyone. Yes, if you like to work at night or are a master procrastinator, you will probably need coffee and all-nighters. However, if you are organized and are skilled at time-management, you will not need either. I have completed three years of college and have never needed to pull an all-nighter to finish a paper or to study for a test. And I have never had a cup of coffee. This might not be typical, but you won’t automatically become a caffeine addict or a night-owl in college if you know how to create a schedule.

Professors don’t care if you come to class or not. That might be true if your average class size is 300. If not, then your professors will most likely keep attendance if attendance is part of your participation grade. Playing hooky once in a while is not a big deal, but for the most part you definitely should be showing up to class. Constant absence will keep you from learning, will negatively affect your grade and will keep you from getting to know your professor. Sometimes you can create useful relationships, network and prove you are responsible just by attending class. You can definitely miss class if you are sick, but don’t think for a second that your professors won’t notice.

Rachel Montpelier is the summer editorial intern at NextStepU and attends Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. She can be reached at

July 9, 2013 / NextStepU

Tuesday Tour Day — Boston Architectural College

pro-bac-12-13Today, we are taking a look at Boston Architectural College, in Boston, Mass.

The Boston Architectural College (BAC) is the largest independent, accredited college of spatial design in New England. Located in the heart of Boston’s historic Back Bay neighborhood, the BAC offers programs in Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Sustainable Design, Historic Preservation, Architectural Technology and Design Computing. The BAC’s unique, practice based model of learning allows students the opportunity to acquire significant professional experience while pursuing their degree, and BAC graduates are regularly cited as being the most prepared for the challenges of today’s increasingly globalized design profession.

A shared foundation year gives students broad exposure to all of the major design disciplines prior to concentrating on their specific area of interest. The comprehensive integration of professional practice into academics gives students a significant head start on their careers, and results in students already being experienced designers with substantial professional portfolios at graduation. On average, 80% of BAC students are employed in design on the day they graduate.

The BAC’s urban campus is ideally located to take advantage of all of the opportunities offered by the city of Boston. Nearby are many museums and cultural attractions, several other colleges, Fenway Park, and many of the city’s best shops and restaurants. In addition, many of Boston’s largest and most prominent firms are located within easy walking distance or a short subway ride. The city itself becomes integral to the BAC student’s study of design.

> For more information about BAC, click here!

July 8, 2013 / NextStepU

Major Monday — Architecture

iStock_000016358748MediumDo you want to study a subject that balances science and art? Do you enjoy building models or constructing something of your own design? Do you want to create a building from your own ideas? If you do, then you might want to consider architecture as a possible major in college. Architecture majors use design, history, drafting and planning in order to create a building.

According to the College Board, architecture is offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In order to prepare for the program, it is a good idea to take classes like studio art, drafting/technical drawing and computer/graphic arts in high school. Some typical college classes for architecture majors include architectural design and theory, building methods and materials, site design and construction technology.

What to know before you apply
Before deciding on a particular program, you should know about your prospective professors’ backgrounds. Knowing what types of buildings they have designed will help you decide whether you want to study with them. Also, you should know about the school’s facilities and whether you will have access to the design studio when you need it. Finally, you should be aware of whether the specific program concentrates more on the art side or the engineering side of architecture. You should know from the beginning exactly what you will be learning and whether it correlates with your personal interests.

A degree in architecture can prepare you for many careers, including architects, interior designers and urban and regional planners. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for architects was $79,300 in 2011, while interior designers earned $52,810 per year. Urban and regional planners earned an average yearly salary of $67,350 in 2011.

For more information about choosing a career check out

July 6, 2013 / NextStepU

Scholarship Saturday – Vista Health Solutions


NextStepU is committed to helping you find cash for college. We know how expensive college can be and ever penny helps! Here is another scholarship we found for you to apply to.

Answer this question: “How I will stay in control of my health during my college years”

Your answer could win you a $500 scholarship from Vista Health Solutions. The winner must be a student who will be attending a public or private university in the Fall of 2013. To apply, complete the form online and submit an essay based on the above question.

Include at the top of your essay your name, current school attended, current grade level and GPA. The essay should be about 1,000 to 1,500 words explaining how you will take charge of your health.

All essays must be submitted by August 1, 2013. The winning essay will be selected and announced on the Vista Health Solutions website on August 15th, 2013.

> For more scholarships, check out NextStepU’s Scholarship Search.

July 3, 2013 / NextStepU

25 colleges with the best return on investment

iStock_000011186389MediumChoosing a college to attend can be tricky. You don’t want to overpay for your education, but you need to make sure you are attending a college that has your major, is located in an ideal place for you and is an institution you can afford.

Return on investment refers to whether or not you’ll get back what you put into it. So, for education, that means are you getting an education worth what you’ll pay out in the end. Sometimes a lower-salaried career is not worth a $60,000 a year education at a private college. These are things you need to consider when you choose your college and major.

This past spring, published their list of 25 colleges with the best return on investment. You can read the full article online.

Some of the colleges on the list are: Harvey Mudd College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SUNY Maritime College, Santa Clara University and Dartmouth College.

View the complete list at, and we’d love to hear from you! Do you plan on attending one of the colleges on the list? Leave a comment and let us know.

• Investigate more colleges and request information using the tool.

July 2, 2013 / NextStepU

Tuesday Tour Day — Alfred State College

college-clip-alfredToday, we are touring Alfred State College, located in Alfred, NY.

Alfred State, a college of technology within the State University of New York (SUNY) system, offers outstanding educational opportunities with more than 70 dynamic majors. Students can enroll in one of 20 bachelor degree programs, or they can choose an associate degree program from 52 other options.

Over 70 majors are available in the areas of agriculture, architecture, business, engineering technology, health related, liberal arts and sciences, and applied technology. Our project learning programs, teaching methods, and real-world experiences give students a head start on their careers.  One of the biggest lessons we teach is how to succeed in your profession. In fact, 99% of Alfred graduates find work or continue their studies within six months of graduation.

Our classes stress what employers will expect from you on the job. Our faculty has worked in the real world at what they teach. This isn’t about theory. This is about what has worked and what will work. Our faculty is widely recognized for their creativity and excellence.

Another trait that sets Alfred State apart from other colleges is its strong sense of community. Typically, within a few days of their arrival, Alfred State students feel right at home.

Participating in student clubs and organizations enhances the leadership and teamwork skills students learn in the classroom. It’s also a great way to meet friends and form lasting friendships. Students can choose from more than 90 clubs and organizations. In addition, students can participate in intercollegiate sports or a variety of intramural opportunities.

For more information about Alfred State College, click here!

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