Five Tips for Finding College Scholarships

It can be really scary thinking about how you’re going to pay for college. The overall price may seem intimidating, but keep in mind that nobody pays that sticker price. Scholarships can substantially lower the price families pay for a college education. PUC offers many scholarships that can help, but the reality is we can’t always offer as much financial aid as some students might need. Don’t worry, though! It’s estimated that there are 1.5 million scholarships in the United States alone, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to start your scholarship search.

1. Think Locally

Take a look around your community for scholarship opportunities – you might be surprised at what you find in your area. Your local Rotary Club and Kiwanis International Club may offer college scholarships, as could your chamber of commerce. Other businesses and community groups could provide college scholarships as well. Your high school guidance counselor may also have ideas of where you can look nearby for scholarships. One big advantage of applying for local scholarships is that there’s far less competition for them than there are for state or national scholarships – you have a greater chance at receiving them! Remember to check with your church too.

2. Get Online

I talk with a lot of students who worry they won’t receive any scholarships since they don’t have a 4.0 GPA, but keep in mind scholarships aren’t just for students with a great GPA. There are non-academic scholarships available based on your major field of interest, hobbies, and more. There are many places you can look online for college scholarships, but I recommend starting with these two sites:

  • Fastweb: Fastweb is considered to be the premiere scholarship website with over 1 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.
  • SchoolSoup: Another great resource, SchoolSoup can match you to scholarships you may be eligible for. The site has over 250,000 scholarships.

Also take a look at our extensive list of outside scholarships available on our Admissions website.

3. Write One Good Essay

Obviously, you’re going to need to write more than just one essay when applying for scholarships, but you will likely be able to use certain parts of an essay more than once. Have the basics – your career goals, personal statement, and academic career thus far – perfected, as you will likely use that information repeatedly. These essays could determine whether or not you’re awarded a great deal of money, so it’s worth spending time on them to make  sure you present yourself well.

4. Put the Time In

The internet can be both a blessing and a curse. There’s a wealth of information available right at your fingertips, but there’s also countless distractions that can quickly take you down the rabbit hole. Before you know it, you’ve spent two hours taking BuzzFeed quizzes and not doing what you intended to do. Treat applying for college scholarships as though it was your job – try spending an hour each day or at least several hours a week searching and applying for scholarships. That time could be the difference in receiving thousands of dollars in scholarships.

When I first began working for Enrollment, our Student Finance office told us the story of a student whose entire first year of college was paid with scholarships. She dedicated herself to applying for 1,000 scholarships, which is just amazing. That may be an unrealistic goal for many of you, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and set your sights high.

5. Don’t Get Scammed

Unfortunately, there are people out there that try to take advantage of students looking for ways to afford college. Always be careful about the information you give out, and there’s no reason you should ever pay for access to a database of scholarships or to apply for a scholarship. Only apply for scholarships from organizations and websites you trust, and a good rule to follow is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you believe you’ve been a victim of scholarship fraud, immediately contact the California Attorney General’s office at 800.952.5225.

At PUC, we have five Financial Counselors ready to help if you have questions about scholarships or finances. Call 800.865.7080 option 1 or email studentfinance@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor today.

We’re Here to Help!

There are several invaluable academic resources at your disposal when you’re a PUC student and if you’re struggling with something, it’s important to remember you aren’t alone. There are people in place who are available to answer your questions or provide you with additional information — you just need to ask for help.

Professor Levi Gore instructs students in class.

Professor Levi Gore instructs students in class.

Your Professors
One of the advantages of attending a smaller college like PUC is forming real relationships with your professors. With a student-teacher ratio of 13:1, that means your teacher will actually know your name and who you are.

Most professors give out their email address and their home number at the start of each quarter and can help you outside of class with any questions you have about assignments. Professors also have regular office hours (at least 10 hours per week!) where they’re available for students to stop by and talk with as well.

Your Advisor
You will be assigned an advisor in the area you’re studying. For example, if you’re planning to study Business, your advisor will be a professor in the Business Department (helpful, right?). Your advisor knows the ins and outs of their department’s programs and will be a valuable source for any questions you have about what classes you should take, what major you should consider for your career path, and more. Every quarter your advisor will need to approve your schedule, which is a great safety net for making sure you stay on track to complete your degree!

TLC

Jennifer Wareham Best at the TLC helps a student.

The Teaching and Learning Center
The Teaching and Learning Center offers free group tutoring for more than 25 different courses. If you’re struggling with a class but don’t see a tutoring option available, talk with the TLC and they can set you up with a small group or an individual tutor.

If you’re nervous or embarrassed at the thought of seeking out a tutor, don’t be! As an English and History major, one of my most difficult classes was Intro to Statistics (math and I don’t get along), but I was too proud to admit I needed help for several weeks. When I eventually went to a tutoring session at the TLC I was surprised to find many of the top students in the class there, as well. Their great grades were a product of seeking help when they needed it!

The Career and Counseling Center
Some of you may not know what you want to study yet, and our Career and Counseling Center can help you figure out the path you should be on. They have a career counselor who can give you a career test and one-on-one help with career counseling. If already you have an idea of what career you want but aren’t sure how to get there, they can help you with your resume, cover letter, and even conduct some mock job interviews with you.

Get to Know PUC’s Career & Counseling Center

By Laura Gore Laura-Gore
Career Counselor
Career & Counseling Center

College can be a lot of fun but is also a time of big decisions. It is a time of exploration and discovery, trying to find who you are and where you’re supposed to fit in in a lot of ways, especially socially and professionally. I see this a lot as PUC’s Career Counselor. I struggled in college with knowing what to major in and where I wanted to go with my life, but I eventually found a great fit as a social work major and now as a career counselor. That didn’t mean I had all the answers (still don’t, in case you were wondering). It also doesn’t mean I have all the answers for you. It does mean I’ve been there, and I’ve worked with a lot of students trying to figure things out over the last few years. PUC has a lot to offer as you are exploring your options and getting ready to launch as a professional. Here are a few of the things we do to help you along the way:

  • One-on-one help for career counseling, employment/internship preparation (i.e. we work on resumes and cover letters together), mock interviews, career testing, grad school personal statements, job or internship search strategies and more
  • Monthly resume clinics
  • Regular workshops on resume writing, interviewing, and job searching
  • An online job and internship board with local and national opportunities
  • On-campus recruiter visits and interviews
  • Events like the Grad School Fair and Career Day

The Grad School Fair is coming up quickly, on October 15 this year, and is open to all students. We have a wide range of schools and programs represented and it’s a great chance to see what some options after PUC might be, everything from Physical Therapy to International Relations to Anthropology.

Career Day is a special 30-some-year-old tradition at PUC where we bring professionals (usually 50-60) from all different fields to the dining commons to chat with you about what they do and how they got there—and what advice they have for you. Many of them are PUC alumni, so you can learn firsthand where your major can take you. Some are even recruiting for internships or jobs, so you never know what a connection made here can do for you.

Instead of having an Internship & Job Fair as we have had in the past, we are planning a more individualized approach with the departments and students’ interests, which is one advantage of attending a small school. We’ve already got a few recruiters planning visits this fall for interviews for internships for spring and summer, and our Business and Communication departments even have internship coordinators dedicated to helping their majors. As a PUC student you’ll have resources and I think you’ll find PUC a great place to get you ready for what’s next.

The key thing is for you to not be afraid—get out there and try things, get experience (notice the theme of a lot of recent blog posts: internships, volunteer, serve, get involved…), and take advantage of the opportunities and resources we have waiting for you here at PUC.

Check out these resources:

P.S. The Career & Counseling Center is also where you can access free, confidential counseling on a variety of issues. See our website for more information.

My Favorite Places: The Authoritative Edition

By now you’ve heard Dana and Brennan give you their top five(ish) places to spend time around here. And they’re both wonderful people, but I know you’ve been craving another perspective: My perspective. So without further ado, here are my five favorite places around PUC.

1. Napa Riverfront

I’m a free spirit. I like to have options when it comes to my spare time. So when I heard about a place where I could find authentic gelato, mouthwatering tri tip, stage plays in the park, and an opera house within walking distance of each other, I was sold. Even if you’re broke, Napa’s Riverfront is a beautiful place to walk around, whether you’re down by the river or on the lawns by the courthouse. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mood for grub, culture, or a simple afternoon at the park; the riverfront is the place to be. Feed the geese at your own peril.

2. San Francisco

Mels

I may have been born in Los Angeles, and Southern California will always be the best.  But I have to admit that San Francisco is a great place to visit. (Please don’t tell my family.) If you’re a diehard chocolate fan, Ghirardelli Square deserves a pilgrimage. From there, you can walk down to Pier 39 to get food, play some arcade games, and see a bunch of harbor seals tanning on the docks. If I’m itching for a day at the museum, the Exploratorium and the Academy of the Sciences are a blast. And there’s always the Warfield Theater if you’re in the mood to catch a show. In short, San Francisco has something for everyone, and it’s right in our backyard. Catch the BART train into Union Station if you don’t want to hassle with traffic or parking.

3. Albion Retreat and Learning Center

Albion

PUC owns a marine research facility up near the Mendocino coast, with cabins lined up along the river. Students are welcome to reserve cabins or camping spots for a weekend. “But Jordan,” you say, “I have virtually no knowledge of tide pools or marine ecosystems. What will I do at a research field station?” Fear not! The Albion Retreat and Learning Center is open to all, even if you can’t tell a turtle from a tortoise. You can take a kayak up the river and see all kinds of wildlife along the way. Downtown Mendocino is a short drive up the road, with dozens of old shops to duck into. The bookstore and the toy shop are mandatory stops for me whenever I’m in town. Or you can just pick a spot on the beach and enjoy the rugged beauty of the Northern California coast. Albion is a bit of a commute at about two and a half hours away from campus, but even the drive is spectacular, since it takes you through the Redwoods and along the cliffs by the sea. If you can spare a weekend, I highly recommend a trip up to our little field station.

4. Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen

I was skeptical when I visited this newer restaurant on Main Street St. Helena, mostly because I fear the unknown and am uncomfortable with change. I’d always thought the Himalayas were a place where people went to get frostbite and have a hard time breathing, not a destination for fine dining but my cultural ignorance was crushed by a stack of buttered naan. I may not be able to pronounce all the dishes I like, but I have yet to be disappointed. It’s an authentic Himalayan experience without the expensive air fare and risk of death from exposure.

5. Cameo Cinema

The Cameo Cinema is tucked between the storefronts of Main Street, Saint Helena. It’s easy to miss in passing but I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve spent the afternoon at this 140-seat movie theater. They play all the hits, and they also show a lot of cool movies you might not see at the franchised theaters. There was one week during my senior year when we saw The Avengers, and then followed it up with an award-winning independent film the next day. After all the years I’ve been up here, the Cameo is still my go-to place to catch a movie.

There’s more stuff do around here than you could ever hope to accomplish in four years, but these are the five places I keep coming back to above all the others. I’m sure you’ll develop your own list of favorite places after visiting PUC and the beautiful Napa Valley.

Six Tips for Visiting Colleges

College Days

Visiting students pose with Pioneer Pete, our mascot.

Whether it’s your senior year and you’re in the final decision making process or you’re a sophomore just beginning the college search, one of the most exciting parts of choosing a college is getting to visit different campuses to see which one is the right fit for you. During your college search you’ll likely visit a number of campuses, so before you do, here are a few campus visit tips to make sure you make the most out of your time on a college campus!

1. Register Ahead
If you’re visiting a college during one of their scheduled events (like our College Days), make sure you’ve registered to have your space reserved and confirm your travel plans. If you’re coming for an individual visit with your family or a few friends, always make arrangements with the school’s visit coordinator to have the best experience possible. Our visit coordinator can be reached at visit@puc.edu or at 707.965.6336.

2. Come with Questions and Write Down the Answers
There are many questions you assuredly have about college life. Make sure you don’t waste time by asking questions you can easily find the answer to on your own. Come prepared with a few questions you can only have answered there, such as what campus social life is like or how to get involved in student ministries. It’s a good idea to bring a notebook to write down the answers to your questions, that way you can look back at the answers you received when visiting each school!

3. Talk with a Financial Counselor
These days, the number one factor in choosing a college for a lot of people is finances. Figuring out how you’re going to pay for college is very important and can be an extensive process involving exciting things like W-2s and tax transcripts. When scheduling your visit to a school, always ask about meeting with a financial counselor who can give you advice on how you can make college possible. Visitors to our campus can always set up an appointment with one of our five financial counselors.

4. Talk to Faculty and Students
While you’re on campus, you want to take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn as much as you can. Make sure you set up an appointment with a professor in the department of your academic interest. You should also try to go out of your way to speak to professors and students you happen to encounter during your visit. It can be very beneficial to get perspectives about a school from many different people, and to get this information firsthand.

5. Eat in the Cafeteria
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to eat? If you think a school’s cafeteria isn’t an important factor in your college decision, you’re mistaken! If possible, plan to have a meal there when visiting. This is also an excellent time to meet some current students!

6. Explore Nearby Areas
While you’re on campus, take some time to explore as much of it as you can – walk around and look at everything it has to offer you. You should also try to visit different areas nearby. Stop in some local shops and check out the restaurants. This is the area you’ll call home for nine months out of every year for the next four years, so getting acquainted with the local life is a definite must!

As I write this post, I have my planner open with a giant checklist of things to complete before our first College Days event, which is coming up very soon! These events are offered four times a year and give high school students a chance to spend some quality time on our campus. Students will sit in on real classes, visit with professors and current students, and experience a little piece of college life. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, go to http://www.puc.edu/visit to learn more and you can also register if you want to attend. Our College Days events are offered on the following dates:

October 19-20, 2014
November 2-3, 2014
February 12-15, 2015
April 9-12, 2015

You can also learn more about scheduling an individual visit to our campus using the above link.

If you can’t visit, don’t worry! It’s nearly impossible to physically visit every school you’re interested in and we won’t take it personally if you can’t make it out to our campus (well… we might). Although there is nothing better than firsthand experiences, you can learn a lot about campus life, academics, and much more on our Admissions website, including a virtual tour offering with many photos of our beautiful campus.

How to be a College Fair Pro

Fall is here, and that means it’s travel season for our office! Over the next few months, we’ll be visiting just about every state in the country for college fairs and meeting many students and their families – and hopefully you! Be sure to follow PUC’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for reminders about when we’ll be attending a college fair in your area.

In the meantime, here are five tips to help you make the most out of the next college fair you attend.

1. Do Your Research
You should have a list of colleges attending the fair beforehand, and spend time looking at the websites for the schools you’re interested in. You don’t want to waste time by asking school reps basic questions a simple Google search can answer. Come up with questions you can ask each school that can help you discern whether it might be a good fit for you. Ask about things like social events, ministry opportunities, and residence life to get an idea of what it’s like to be a student there.

2. Plan Ahead
Filling out inquiry card after inquiry card takes up valuable time you could be spending talking with representatives. One smart thing I’ve seen students do is make labels listing their contact information and use the sticker on inquiry cards at each booth. If you try this, include your name, address, preferred phone number, email, high school, graduation year, and what major(s) you’re considering. This is also much easier for admissions offices to process instead of trying to decipher your handwriting, which can quickly get messy if you’re in hurry, and you want to be sure you actually receive the information you’re requesting!

3. Make a Good Impression
I’m not saying you need to show up wearing a three-piece suit, but think about the image you’re putting out there when you attend a college fair. Even though this is a casual setting, you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen! Put a little effort into your appearance and make sure you leave a good impression.

4. Snag Business Cards
If you’re like me, hours later you will think of questions you should have asked but didn’t, which can be infuriating! Even if you plan ahead and have a list of questions, you may think of follow up ones about what you discussed with a rep, so make sure you take business cards from reps for schools you’re interested in to contact them later if you need to.

5. Keep Your Options Open
After you’ve visited all the schools on your list, consider stopping by some of the other booths – you might discover a school that interests you that you haven’t heard about. You probably won’t be able to thoroughly look at each school at the fair, but try to stop by at least a few booths for schools you hadn’t previously considered. You never know what you might find!

More Social Media Talk

By Laura Gore Laura-Gore
Career Counselor
Career & Counseling Center

To follow up on last month’s Let’s Talk Social Media blog post, I wanted to add a little more perspective on the big picture. As the career counselor, social media and communication is something I get to talk about to classes and students fairly often, and I get that some of you may be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before. What’s the big deal anyway?” And I agree. It may not seem fair that you have to be careful about what you put on your personal page for friends or even like all this is an invasion of privacy.

In my job, I get contacted by companies who want to post a job or visit campus to recruit PUC students. If I’ve never heard of this company before, sometimes even while on the phone with them, what do you think is the first thing I do? I Google them, of course. Most of the time everything looks good and I’m happy to post the position or set up a visit, but there have been a few times where things weren’t matching up and it seemed a little shady. In that case, I’m not going to promote them or give them access to our students. Not a perfect example, but you get the idea.

This spring I talked to a business owner hoping to hire some college students. He asked me to share with students that the first thing he does when he gets a resume is Google the person. Often their Facebook profile will pop up and even if everything is set to private, that profile picture comes up. He shared about seeing people in their profile picture doing drugs and alcohol, or profiles full of inappropriate language, or negativity about their bosses, schools, etc., usually not set to private at all. Again, that may not seem fair but it’s freely out there for anyone to see, so of course an employer is going to see it too if they look.

Some things may even seem really innocuous to us, but may not be to an employer. Even if you weren’t doing anything negative at all, are you tagged in a picture or post that may seem like it? Do you have tons of personal information out there about you? What if you’re going into social work or education or medicine? Do you want all your clients and students to know your birthday, that you had a date last weekend, and all about your family and vacation? I don’t. I also don’t want something like my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to affect my future, or give information I don’t mean to share to strangers. Information about you online follows you forever and there are no guarantees about privacy. Just look at the news to see examples of this. We all have our professional lives and our personal lives, but they can often overlap in ways that really matter to our future and possibilities.

So what can you do about this?

  • Google yourself. No joke, if someone else is going to, you should know too. Do it. Who knows, maybe a famous (or infamous) person has the same name.
  • Set up a LinkedIn account or another professional networking site where those results will come up for employers to see and reinforce the amazing professional you are working to be.
  • Check out these two sites to take control and don’t forget to set everything to private. Consider how you want to be perceived and make sure that that is the online presence you put out there.
    • http://simplewa.sh/about – This site goes through your Facebook and Twitter content and brings up anything (including likes and comments) that could possibly be considered problematic so you can delete it or set it to private.
    • http://brandyourself.com/ – This site is about moving the good stuff up on search results and minimizing the not-so-good.