Things to do on Holiday Break

December 21st, 2007 by Lori Oswald

We here at Key Magazine will be heading out shortly for our holiday break, so we want to wish everyone Happy Holidays! There probably won’t be many updates on here till early next year, but check back then, because we have some cool things coming to the site next year.

In the meantime, check out our list of things to do while on your holiday break. This isn’t your standard holiday to-do list of shopping, eating, and sleeping. Try something different for a change…

  1. Start your own blog. There are lots of free blog services out there, like WordPress and Blogger.
  2. Check out and impress your friends and family with your newfound knowledge.
  3. Get a really difficult puzzle. Example – black and white photo mosaic. Check out the wide variety of puzzles here.
  4. Go through your stuff and find things to sell on ebay. Decrease clutter and make money!
  5. Give something back – contact your local soup kitchen or shelter and donate food or help serve food. Spread some holiday love to the less fortunate.

Or, if none of that interests you and you just want to kill time, grab a “National Geographic” and draw underwear on the natives. But please, find your own copy. The school library might not appreciate your “art” as much as you do.

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How to have a stress-free winter break

December 15th, 2007 by admin

When you’re a college student, winter break can be almost a month long. Returning home for such a long stretch of time can be an adjustment for the entire family. Parents may want their kids back for a traditional family Christmas, while you are anxious to catch up with high school friends and explore their independence.

But your holidays really can be happy. Here are some tips on how to keep winter break as stress-free as possible:

  • Loosely pre-plan your break so that your family and friends have the right expectations about who you want to see and what you want to do over the holidays. Ask your family ahead of time what their expectations are for you.
  • Understand that your parents expect to spend time with you over the holidays. Don’t disregard your family just because you haven’t had a curfew for the past 3 months.
  • Be honest with your parents if your grades from the past semester aren’t as good as they should be. Get their help and support early, before things get too bad.
  • Ditto if you’re blowing through your budget and have opened 2 credit cards just to stay afloat.
  • Discuss what the house rules have been in the past and how they could be changed now that you’ve been dictating your own schedule (curfew-free) for a semester. Your parents should give you a little slack, but don’t forget that you are back under their roof.
  • If you have a younger sibling who has gotten used to getting his way since you’ve been gone, set guidelines for things that may need to be shared: vehicle, big-screen TV, chores, etc.
  • As appealing as it might sound, don’t have your mom do all your laundry, make your bed and bring you ice cream while you’re playing video games. Assert your new independence.
  • If you will not be able to return home because you don’t have a good relationship with your family, are too far away, or have experienced a recent tragedy, don’t give up on the holidays. Find a friend to stay with or start your own holiday traditions.
  • Save some time to relax, rejuvenate and reflect on the past year. After all, it isn’t called “break” for nothing.
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Freshman Zombies from University X

November 30th, 2007 by Key Magazine

Going off to college was an intimidating experience. For the first time, I was living away from home. I was in a dorm suite with seven guys I didn’t know. My best friend pledged at one of the fraternities, so we didn’t see much of each other during that first week. It could have been one of the worst experiences of my life.

I arrived on campus my freshman year and settled in to my dorm less than a week before the start of classes. Those days were torture. Surrounded by people I didn’t know, in a strange environment, I wanted nothing more than to go home. Then something strange happened. Just when I felt nothing could go right, some of the older guys in the dorm started throwing a Frisbee.

Soon, most of the guys and girls in the dorm gathered outside for the impromptu game. We talked. We learned about one another. Before long, someone suggested we all go to the movies. Minutes later, 17 of us were piling into cars to drive across town to the movie theatre.

Along the way, I discovered that two of the guys in the car shared my interest in comic books. They even offered to take me along to their favorite comic shop every week. I began to feel less alone. I started to feel like one of the gang.

We saw the latest horror flick. Everyone loved it. Afterward, we drove downtown to an old restaurant and overran an entire section. Our tables were crowded together, everyone talking and laughing. We ate chili nachos and swapped stories. By the end of the night, we were no longer a bunch of strangers prone to awkward silences. We were a crowd. We were “those guys.” We were now friends.

We had so much fun, we forgot that we were supposed to be missing our homes and families. The disaster that could have been my first college experience had been averted.

The following year, I felt that it was my responsibility to make sure that the freshmen students in our dorm had a similar experience. We included everyone, billing the event as the Second Annual Kuehne Hall Horror Movie Kick-Off Party. A group even larger than the previous year made the journey to the movies and the after-party at the restaurant.

It didn’t take a university-sponsored event or the work of the Student Life office to make a bunch of freshmen feel at home. All it took was a few upperclassmen who remembered what it was like to be the new kid on campus.

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Go! Fight! Win!

November 26th, 2007 by Lori Oswald

It was a crazy weekend here in Kansas City, with Mizzou and KU football teams facing off on the gridiron at Arrowhead Stadium. Both football teams had a surprisingly amazing season, and Saturday night’s game would more than likely determine the newest #1 ranked college football team in the BCS. And it did – after maintaining the lead through the entire game, the Missouri Tigers came out on top.

These two teams’ long-standing border war brought out an abundance of spirit in the Kansas City area. Alumni and current students alike flocked to the sports bars and even came out to tailgate at the game, despite not having tickets. I was actually present at the tailgaiting festivities while working on a fundraiser for a local charity, so I got to witness a lot of the “spirit” firsthand. Most of it was all in good fun, but there were the occasional razzings between KU and MU tailgaters that pushed the envelope. Luckily there was lots of security present to keep things under control.

Seeing everyone come out to support their alma maters in this huge, nationally televised sporting event, made me realize something that I missed out on in my college experience. I went to a large university, comparable in ungraduate enrollment to MU, however our athletics programs were not much of a draw for school spirit. Besides women’s basketball, we rarely had a noteworthy team in any of the major spectator sports. I think I may have attended only one football game, and that was freshman year homecoming. Going to any games was never a major function on our campus.

I watched everyone proudly sporting their team colors on their clothing, noted the various anti-Jayhawk or anti-Tiger paraphernalia dragging behind their vehicles, and listened unfamiliarly to their fight songs (I don’t even know if I would recognize my alma mater’s fight song!). I reminisced on my university experience, and while I had a great time, got a great education, and made some life-long friends, I feel like I missed out on something. But it was something I didn’t even take into consideration when choosing a school.

I guess the lesson here is to think of all the things you want out of a college education, not just the degree or the location. Think about the memories you will make during your extracurricular activities. And think beyond your undergraduate years on campus. Do you hope to be a proud alumnus supporting your school for years to come? Or are you content to get in and get out? While college can certainly be done over again (they will be glad to take your money a second time around), wouldn’t it be better to get your ideal experience the first time around?

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Are you interested in becoming a guidance counselor?

November 26th, 2007 by Key Magazine

Guidance counselors are invaluable assets to school districts, operating at the elementary, middle and high school levels. A school guidance counselor usually has a Master’s degree, and most states require counselors to be licensed.

Guidance counselors have to balance multiple roles when relating to students. They are a primary advocate for students, in both the students personal and academic lives.

Preparing students for the future:

It’s important for counselors to be able to make regular assessments of each student’s academic progress, so that they can be familiar with individual needs and goals. Advising a student on which classes to take and how to prepare for their academic and career futures is a cornerstone of a guidance counselor’s function. Giving out assessment tests, consulting with students regarding career goals and reminding them about scholarship and application deadlines are all regular duties for high school guidance counselors in particular.

Helping students with the present:

One of the hardest and most rewarding aspects of being a guidance counselor is helping students today. Whether it’s giving them the confidence they need to sign up for a particular class, or helping them through a troubled period in their lives, guidance counselors are important. Children coping with family issues, such as divorce, or social issues, such as peer pressure or bullying, often turn to their guidance counselor for advice. Even more importantly, a guidance counselor should be attuned enough to their students that they notice shifts in behavior or attitude even before the student brings it up!

But for somebody who is interested in helping others, who can really listen and wants to help guide children and young adults – for that person, a career as a guidance counselor can be a wonderful and rewarding occupation.

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Scholarship Secrets

November 20th, 2007 by admin

I remember the spring semester of my senior year of high school. The scholarship awards banquets never seemed to end. I also remember my friend Andy saying to me after the last banquet, “Geez. They should have just called these all ‘The Cara Awards.’”

Yes, it’s true I was a good student, but that’s not what got my name called so many times. It was my determination.

I spent a lot of hours after school meeting with my counselor to find all of the scholarship opportunities offered by local businesses. I spent many hours in the evenings applying for these local opportunities. I fit it in between studying and filling out college applications. And not many other kids did. That made my competition a lot smaller, which in turn made my combined rewards a lot larger.

I didn’t win every local scholarship I applied for … but I did get about 80-90% of them. And all that extra work cut my potential college loans by half (if not more than half). My time invested into the local scholarship market was well worth it.

See, most high schoolers aim for the stars when it comes to scholarships. (Which isn’t an entirely bad thing.) You want the biggest scholarship out there, and so you pour all of your time and energy into applying for those.

Yes – it’s a great investment of your time. If you get the scholarship. But you know what? Investing time into small scholarships is well worth it, too! Even if they only sustain for 1 or 2 years, all of those added up can take a large chunk out of what you require for loans and make college much less expensive in the long run.

I actually ended up getting a pretty good academic scholarship to my first-choice school. But it was the smaller, local scholarships that made the biggest difference. By the time I was 5 years out of school, I already had my college loans paid off.

So, as you start applying for scholarship opportunities, leave no stone unturned. College is a huge and expensive investment. Every little bit of money you can get will help.

Learn more about scholarship opportunities.

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Teens Turn to Counselors for College Advice

November 20th, 2007 by Key Magazine

High school students are looking for more assistance with college planning. According to a recent survey by Grand Canyon University, many students now rely less on parents and teachers. They are turning to guidance counselors for help with one of the biggest decisions of their lives.

The GCU study, conducted via forums and electronic surveys of area public high school guidance counselors, showed some surprising results. A record number of students are seeking help to decide what to do after high school.

While colleges and universities are investing heavily to recruit students, the demands on high school students are escalating as well. Students are pressured to decide on an area of study before even entering college. A majority of counselors said that less than half of their students had decided on a major or direction of study for college.

Couple that pressure with the stress to select a college or university. As a result, students are increasingly seeking out guidance counselors to help with the critical decision-making process. Students are coming to counselors for assistance with college applications, financial aid and scholarship information.

Many of the counselors also reported that they need better training to assist students with the application process.

Among the guidance counselors surveyed by Grand Canyon University, most responded that students had also sought assistance for something other than college planning. The most frequent reasons students asked for help were:

  • Grief and bereavement – 76% of counselors
  • Suicide issues – 68% of counselors
  • Drug and alcohol issues – 65% of counselors

When I Grow Up

November 15th, 2007 by Lori Oswald

It’s funny how your perspective changes throughout the stages of your life.

The other day my coworkers and I were chatting about our jobs and how we ended up here. Most of us are not in the profession that we would have predicted for ourselves. I was one of the few who actually got my Bachelor of Science in Business, which made sense here at an Advertising Agency. I then remembered something from my childhood that I shared with them. I found it quite humorous, and ironic at the same time.

In third through fifth grade, I attended a very small country school. In fact, it was so small, that all the grade levels studied together in the same room under one teacher. Seems unheard of these days…Anyhow – every Christmas we put on a program for our parents, and one year, we got to write it ourselves. We decided to make the theme around an elementary school reunion, where we would all come back together after twenty years.

We each got to design our “roles” around ourselves and what profession we dreamt of being. One of the kids became a farmer because that is what his father did and he assumed he would take over the farm. Another girl became a rock star. And I am almost embarrassed to say that I was a “beach concessionaire.” Seriously, my dream was to live in a tropical place, selling refreshments and souvenirs from a stand on the beach. The costume consisted of a swimsuit with tank-top, shorts, and flip-flops.

What an innocent mind I had back then to think one could make a decent living selling dacquiris and t-shirts on a beach. I doubt my parents would’ve been too pleased to put me through four years of college to end up doing that! But when I think about it seriously now, I see something much more profound in the “naive” thinking of my fourth-grade self. My dream was not about making six figures, climbing a corporate ladder, or living up to anyone else’s standards. It was about being happy.

While my current profession is about a thousand miles from being a beach concessionaire (literally and figuratively), one thing has held true – I am happy at my job! After changing my major three times in college, I finally found a degree program that I saw potential with. My business degree allowed me to learn about many different aspects of business, which opened up a wealth of career opportunities. In the end, I’ve been able to obtain a fabulous job at a great company where I look forward to going to work every day. It may not be a tropical beach, but I’m happy, which is the most important thing! I will just have to get my beach fix on vacation!

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Transferring colleges isn’t that scary

November 13th, 2007 by Key Magazine

One of the big freshman fears going into college is, “What if it turns out to be the ‘wrong’ school for me?” After all the hassle of researching colleges, getting letters of recommendation, applying, weighing out the pros and cons, deciding on one, packing up more crap than you’ll ever need in your life, but somehow figuring you’ll need it and actually fitting it into a dorm room the size of a laundry hamper; the prospect of transferring colleges seems unbearable.

But it’s not unbearable; I went to 3 different schools for 3 totally different reasons, and I’d argue that each step along the way was a necessary one. There wasn’t anything wrong with the schools, but there was something wrong with how I viewed myself. It was incomplete, and each institution brought me closer to figuring out what I wanted and who I wanted to be.

Sure, the school transfer process can be frustrating, but it shouldn’t be paralyzing to the point that one is too afraid to exit their current situation. My biggest hump to get over was not the thought of starting from scratch, but the idea that I had “wasted” time and money. I suggest that students not view their time at other schools as a waste (If all you’ve done is party and establish a 0.5 GPA then, yeah, maybe). In hindsight, it’s easy to say that if I had to do it all over again I’d forgo the schools I attended before the last, but no, I wouldn’t have; that’s precisely why I took the path I did.

For some students, they’ll feel right at home from the get go, while others struggle. If you’re not happy, where you are transferring is not going to be your cure-all, but it might help. You can’t control everything in your college experience. The best you can do is to be wise about your money, talents, desires, and where they best fit together. After that you just have to go and live it.

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The Hidden Costs of a College Education

November 8th, 2007 by Key Magazine

You’ve applied and been accepted to college. You’ve even received a great package of materials that includes all the financial information you need – tuition, room and board and student fees. But no matter how clear the numbers seem to be in black and white, it’s important to budget for some of the hidden costs of a college education!

Many room and board plans contain a set number of meals per week. But it’s important to pay attention to the fine print! Many cafeterias have reduced hours on the weekend – causing you to have to supplement your meals even when you’re not going out for the evening. And don’t forget to budget in money for snacks and quick meals when even the short trip to the cafeteria sounds like an eternity.

Other hidden costs include books and resource materials. Most colleges or universities give an estimate of how much it costs for a semester’s worth of books – don’t depend on that to be the amount you owe! Try to get the reading lists as early as possible and check online for bargains and secondhand books – because it’s not uncommon for the campus bookstore to sell out early, leaving you having to pay full price. And many school libraries charge by the page if you need copies made – even if you can’t check the book out of the library! And if you’re doing a slick presentation for a business class and having it bound at the local copy shop, you could be spending more than you might think.

It’s the little things that get you! Find out about the small costs at your college campus. How much will you be spending for laundry? Is there metered parking? Will you be grabbing a cup of coffee or a soda on the way to class? These small expenses can add up faster than you might think!

Finally, don’t forget to budget in travel costs! Whether you’re going to school an hour away by car or half a day by plane, chances are that you’re going to want to visit home – and between airfare and gas prices, you could be paying a pretty penny. Make sure you know ahead of time how often you’ll be visiting your family – every weekend, every month or once a semester. Of course, you might be able to factor in reduced laundry cost when you do!

Going away to college is a fantastic experience – and one that’s a lot less stressful if you over-budget for all the possible expenses. So as you’re packing for your first days at school, make sure to pack a little extra cash. But try to leave those credit cards at home!

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