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GREady: Get Ready for Graduate School

Do you want to attend graduate school? If the answer is yes, shift the gear in drive. This blog will help you 1) stay informed about graduate programs, 2) decide on graduate schools, 3) apply for graduate schools (including the GRE and personal statements), 4) prepare for interviews, 5) find funding and lots more. Although this site cannot guarantee a masters or doctoral position, it does promise that you will be a very competitive candidate for your desired program!

Friday, June 30, 2006

What You Need To Know About Student Loan Consolidation


The student loan interest rates are expected to sky rocket from 4.75% to 7.25% on July 1, 2006. Consolidating loans before this date could mean thousands of dollars in interests; however, it is important to whether or not to consolidate and if there are any repercussions for doing so. gradPak: Guide To Graduation and Beyond lists the essentials that every recent college graduate should know.

Top 5 Things To Know About Student Loan Consolidation:

1) Make sure that your current student loan interest rates are higher than the consolidation rates. Right know you might be saying, “Duh that is obvious”, but it is worth taking note. Loan consolidation programs are able to provide you with (or should be able to) a lower interest rate by providing you with “borrower benefits.” Borrower benefits are rewards for on-time payments or electric fund transfers that allow you to reduce your interest rate potentially up to 1.25%.

2) Consolidating loans can also mean extending the payment period. This is great for those of us who have problems meeting monthly payments. By extending the payment date, you will not default on your loans and consequently will lower your monthly payments.

3) Consider the long-term costs of consolidation. Like any loan, extending the years of repayment can increase the total amount you must repay. Be sure to factor in the total prior to consolidating. However, if you decide to repay the loan off early, no penalties will be incurred and you can truly benefit from the low interest rate.

4) Check your current payoff status. If you are rounding the final lap in repaying your student loan, you may not want to consolidate your student loans.

5) Ask about the grace-period. When you consolidate your loan, the grace-period changes. You can take advantage of the fixed interest rate; however, you might have to start paying on your student loans immediately.

Other Considerations:

Student loan consolidation will take approximately 30 minutes of your time. There are no fees or credit checks, nor penalties for early repayment of your loans. Shop around for student loan consolidation providers and compare loan benefits (not all providers offer the same benefits of service). Check to see if your alumni association has a preferred provider. The alumni association has essentially done the work for you and found a program with competitive benefits and quality service. gradPak advises that it is best to go with a provider that you trust.

To Read More About Student Loan Consolidation:

“Student Loan Consolidation: an essential step in managing your first debt!” gradPak

Monday, June 26, 2006

Networking 101


The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business is instructing its students in the “Art of Schmoozing.” The networking lectures include cocktail hours, formal dinners, mock receptions and theme parties. The University of Chicago suggests that all business students devote 10 hours per week making contacts and practice interacting in the above social settings. Although networking is an integral part to succeeding in business, I believe that all graduate and professional school students can benefit from schmoozing. Networking is essential if you wish to apply for grant money or climb the social ladder. Carlos Ontenda, a business school student at the University of Chicago, states that networking is an investment in your future career. Here are a few hints to get you started at building your own professional network:


12 Steps to Easy Networking:

1) Before introducing yourself to anyone, make sure that you have a planned 10 second introduction scheme. This is sometimes referred to as the “elevator pitch.”

2) Work on a firm but not bone crunching handshake. Click here to learn how to execute the All American Handshake.

3) Be passionate about your end goals but do not be overly aggressive. Aggressiveness turns people off.

4) If you are in a networking function, do not talk to any one person more than 8 minutes. Remember the key is to make as many connections as you possible can.

5) Have business cards and résumé. When you come across a person you would like to add to your professional network be sure to hand out your business cards (add e-mail address to the back of them) and your résumé. Also, ask that person if he/she has a business card you could have.

6) Donate 1 -2 hours per week networking. Although the University of Chicago advises that students spend 10 hours/week networking, most of us do not have that kind of time to devote to schmoozing. 1-2 hours should be sufficient enough to create or maintain 1-3 connections. Use the time to research people in your academic field or to meet new faculty/staff within your department.

7) Eat early. This way you will have more time to talk and network.

8) Stand near the food to meet people. People tend to accumulate near food so your best chance to network with the most people is to simply stay where the food is.

9) Know who the leaders are. At networking functions, ask at the information desk for a list of the companies and leaders who will be attending. Be sure to meet with all of these people.

10) The key is listening. Listen 80% of the time and talk 20%. This way you will learn more about your future connection.

11) Write a letter to your new connections. Mention what you discussed with that person to jog his/her memory of who you are.

12) Maintain the connection. Send letters, birthday cards, holiday cards, call them…do whatever you need to do to keep your professional network happy and stable.

To Learn More About Networking, Click On the Following Sites:

"The Art of Schmooze"

Answers to GRE Questions of the Week (06/17/06-06/23/06)

Verbal:

The correct answer is (C). A wag is defined as a humorous person; a wit; a jocker. Answer (D) is another word for wag, while answers (A), (B), and (E) are not related.

Math:

The correct answer is (B).

$5.00 * 21 = $105.00

4 open CDs were returned--$3.00

$105.00-$12.00 = $93.00

Thursday, June 22, 2006

10 Money Shocks for College Graduates


Pat Curry from Bankrate.com advises all recent college graduates to be cognizant of the top 10 money shocks. Despite what most college students believe, Curry states that “College is not the real world [but]…the final playpen.” The 10 money shocks facing graduates largely concern bills, insurance, credit and believe it or not retirement. Hidden costs that may impact your future are:

1) Gross v. Net Income. Curry writes that most college graduates plan on spending their gross income and neglect to pay attention to their net income. Paychecks are less than what college graduates expect due to deductions for benefits, payroll taxes and income taxes. Curry advises the recent college graduates need to live off of their net income and not their gross salary. To check your net income, go to PaycheckCity.com to use its net pay calculator.

2) Bills. College graduates living in the dormitories until now usually do not have to pay for their own autoinsurance, internet access, cable bill, groceries, utility bills, cable bill and car maintenance. Curry writes that college grads need to keep rent and furnishing in mind also. In order to pay off the above bills, college grads might want to consider taking public transportation instead of buying that hot new car. Curry suggests that graduates, who move to larger cities, contact the alumni chapter to ask them about the typical cost of living.

3) The First Tax Return. Before taking all of your tax information to H&R block, be sure to think about possible tax deductions i.e. business travel and business car use.
4) Car Insurance. This is a biggie. The insurance cost increases in bigger cities. Also, budget in gap insurance if necessary.

5) Health Insurance. College graduates are usually not covered under their parents’ health insurance after the age of 23. Be sure to ask future employers if health insurance is offered and when. Students in graduate school can be offered up to 90% coverage under the university’s health insurance.

6) Other Insurance Needs. Factor in renter’s insurance which will cover personal belongings and liability. Disability insurance should also be considered. Disability insurance is more affordable at young ages.

7) Bad Credit Decisions Made in College. Credit scores follow you for seven years. College graduates typically have $3, 262 in credit card debt and loans between $20,000-31,700.

8) Credit Isn’t Free. Remember the convenience of credit cards come with a price—interest rates and harsh late fees.

9) Student Loans Don’t Go Away. 6 months after graduation you are expected to start paying on all those student loans. Bankruptcy is not an option as student loans are not forgiven.

10) Saving For Retirement. Starting with your first paycheck or stipend (graduate school), you need to put some money aside for a nest egg. Long-term money growth is the key so the earlier the better. Think about placing your money in a savings account, 401K plan, or mutual funds.

To read more about Pat Curry’s article, click on “Top 10 Shocks for College Grads.”

Monday, June 19, 2006

How to Build Your Credit History


gradPak states that a poor credit score can affect your ability to rent an apartment, buy a house, or buy a car. The ability to pay for an apartment or house is a huge consideration when attending graduate school. Your current credit score will follow you for seven years so it is important not to make any drastic mistakes. To view what potential creditors will see, request your credit reports. You can obtain a free credit report every 12 months from the three nationwide consumer-reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Click here to request a copy of your credit score. If you are denied credit by a creditor, that creditor has an obligation to inform you why you are not issued credit. Use this as an opportunity to understand what your problem areas are and how to address them. If you are finding difficulties in applying for credit, here are a few tips:

1) Open a bank account. Although it is not officially credit, it shows a history of money management.

2) Sign up for a credit card at a retailer. Retailers are typically less restrictive with who is approved for credit.

3) Get a cell phone. This will also show a history of payment and future creditors will more likely view as someone who would repay loans.

4) Pay student loans. This might be the only credit history you have so far so it is extremely important to show responsibility with payments.

Tips for Establishing Good Credit:

1) Make Your Payments Consistently and Make Them on Time. This is the most important factor in establishing good credit. Credit reports list any late payments, bankruptcy, or collection activity. If you are unable to make payments, call you creditors and see what can be worked out.

2) Keep Your Debt Low. Credit scoring models look at your ration of debt to income. gradPak suggests using the 20% rule- pay outstanding debts and avoid getting into total debt that exceeds 20% of your annual income.

3) Establish History. Creditors look for patterns; therefore, you need a lengthy payment history. Short credit history can be offset if you make timely payments and paying more than your monthly minimum. Most importantly, do not continually switch credit card companies.

4) Stick to a Few Accounts. Look at having only 2-3 credit cards, more than this might have a negative impact.

To learn more about establishing a credit history and applying for credit, view the gradPak money section.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Quote of the Week (06/18/06-06/24/06)



"Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration."
---Evan Esar

Saturday, June 17, 2006

GRE Questions of the Week (06/17/06-06/23/06)

Verbal:

Choose the word most opposite to the prompt.

WAG:

A) Far
B) Teacher
C) Dullard
D) Prankster
E) Dog

Math:

Sam owns a music store and primarily sells CDs. CDs cost $5.00. Sam sold 21 CDs and had 4 open CDs returned. Sam gives $3.00 back to the customer for open CDs. How much money did Sam make?

A) $105.00
B) $93.00
C) $85.00
D) $72.00
E) $69.85

Friday, June 16, 2006

Student Loan Consolidation

On May 30, 2006 the federal government announced a student loan interest rate increase of 7.25% effective July 1, 2006. Prior to the July 1st deadline student loan interest was at 4.75%. Current college students and recent college graduates now have less than 15 days to lock in the current 4.75% rate. Nelnet and various universities have teamed up and are offering students to consolidate their loans. If students choose to consolidate their loans, they can literally save thousands of dollars. For example, a $20,000 loan that is locked in at 4.75% interest will save a student $10,301 that would cost them under the July 1st interest rate. Nelnet Loan Advisors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will help to consolidate all student loans. Simply call 1-877-303-7442 or visit their site at www.alumniconsolidation.nelnet.net.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The State of Education in the Union


In an article by Kris Kendall of MSN, “The Most (and Least) Educated States”, America’s states, including the District of Colombia, are ranked based on the percent of individuals having higher education degrees. Kendall remarks that this is an extremely powerful tool because postsecondary degrees equate to higher earning potential. The top spot goes to Washington D.C., which is not a great surprise considering the amount of lawyers, politicians, teachers, and doctors it has. Washington D.C. aside, the other states that rank in the top are:

1) Massachusetts – 35.8%* with $53, 610**
2) Colorado - 34.7% with $50, 538
3) Connecticut- 34.6% with $56, 803



* percent are those who have a 4yr degree or higher
** average yearly income



States that ranked in the bottom half are:


1) Oklahoma – 21.9% with $35,129
2) Tennessee – 21.5% with $38,247
3) Louisiana- 21.3% with 34,141





The big message from Kendall’s article is that earning a higher degree increases your opportunities for greater financial success.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

College Success with Upward Bound


The U.S. Department of Education’s Trio Program funds both the Upward Bound (UB) and Upward Bound Math/Science (UBMS) Programs, which help high school students prepare for life in a collegial setting. UB and UBMS are six week programs that run approximately from June 11 to July 21 in which students take college classes, conduct field research, live in the residence halls, and listen to various guest speakers on career topics. Typical college classes that UB and UBMS students enroll in are ornithology, college algebra, Spanish, literature and composition. Upon completion of the program, students with grades C or better receive high school credit for participation and those in their senior year receive college credit that will transfer. High school students that are eligible to participate in UB and UBMS must come from a low-income and first-generation for postsecondary education background. To learn more about the Upward Bound programs, please visit the U.S. Department of Education UB and UBMS.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Art of Answering Interview Questions


Kate Lorenz of CareerBuilder.com states that the majority of failed interviews are due to nervousness. Since most interviews follow the same format, Lorenz believes that nervousness can be attributed to lack of preparation. Here are some tips for your next interview:

1) Prepare for your interview. Practice at least three hours for each interview.


2) Know the common interview questions and draft responses to them. For commonly asked questions click “Interview Questions.” Practice speaking your responses out load.


3) Read up on the company or graduate school with which you will be interviewing with. Create questions of your own. For possible questions click Questions to Ask” and “Questions to Ask Graduate Students.”


4) Have good directions to the interview site.

To read more tips on acing your interview, go to "How to Answer These Tricky Interview Questions."

Financial Planning for Recent College Grads

In “A Survival Guide for College Grads”, M.P. Dunleavey stresses the point that all college grads need a plan for financial security. Dunleavey states that on average, a recent college grad has student loans amounting to $20,000, which means monthly payments of $200. In addition to this, college graduates have credit card debt of roughly $3,000 due to living expenses and books. In order to start making payments while avoiding destitution, Dunleavey suggests that all students need to find a job and fast. Another option is going to graduate school or professional school, which will extend the payment date on loans at least until graduation.

Collegegrad.com advises students to form a strict budget plan needed to obtain a job.

1) Cell phone plan so that potential employers can reach you easily

a. Graduate Buddy’s suggestion: Get a prepaid cell phone so that you are not forced into a year long contract that might have hidden costs (minute overages, roaming charges, disconnection fee, etc.) Prepaid cell phones are just as reliable as cell phone contracts.

2) $200 for interview suit

a. Graduate Buddy’s suggestion: $200 for a suit that you only wear for interviews and to your sister’s wedding seems a little exorbitant. Instead shop at Target, Fashion Bug, or eBay and look like you are wearing a $200 suit instead of forking out the big bucks.

3) $10 for a professional pen so that you look like a serious job seeker

a. Graduate Buddy’s suggestion: Again spending huge amounts of money that you do not have, is not necessary. Buy a professional looking pen on clearance at Target for $3-$6.

In addition to the above Dunleavey states that college grads should keep in mind other expenses like rent, security, deposit, utilities, and invisibles. Dunleavey writes invisibles are all those hidden costs that you never had to worry over before. Invisible costs are items like food, kitchen tools, and other household planning expenditures. All rooms in your apartment have hidden costs:
1) Living room
2) Bedroom
3) Bathroom
4) Kitchen
5) Dining room
(Graduate Buddy thinks you can wait on purchasing furniture and other accessories for this room as it is not essential at the start)
6) Miscellaneous (cleaning supplies, iron, iron board, pet supplies)

Dunleavey lists a couple of ways you can check off the above rooms:

1) Price everything you need before going to the store. This way you will not spend over your budget.

2) Peruse the dormitories. College students will leave furniture and other goods in the hallway for the garbage. Instead think of the leftover rule and use them for your own place. Can we say environmental friendly?

3) Go to the dollar stores.

4) Graduate Buddy’s suggestion: Check out second-hand stores such as Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army.

To read M.P. Dunleavey’s article go to “A Survival Guide for College Grads.”

Monday, June 12, 2006

America's Best and Worst Paying Jobs

Forbes.com and MSN have teamed up to learn about the top best and worst paying jobs in America. Not surprisingly, the best paying jobs are those that involve higher education such as graduate school, law school, business school, dental school and medical school, which just goes to show you that an early investment in your education truly pays off in the end. To view the best and worst paying jobs in America, scroll down or visit MSN and Forbes.


America’s Top 25 Best Paying Jobs

1. Surgeons (treating diseases, injuries, and deformities) - $181, 850
2. Anesthesiologists - $174, 610
3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists - $174,490
4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons - $169,600
5. Internists, General - $ 156,790
6. Prosthodontists - $ 156,710
7. Orthodontists- $ 153,240
8. Psychiatrists - $151,380
9. Chief Executives - $140,880
10. Pediatricians, General- $140,000
11. Family and General Practitioners - $137,980
12. Physicians & Surgeons outside specialty fields - $137,100
13. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers - $134,090
14. Dentists, General - $132,660
15. Podiatrists - $111,130
16. Lawyers - $110,590
17. Engineering Managers - $104,210
18. Air Traffic Controllers - $100,430
19. Computer and Information Systems Managers - $100,110
20. Marketing Managers - $100,020
21. Natural Science Managers - $97,560
22. Sales Managers - $96,950
23. Astronomers - $96,780
24. Optometrists - $96,290
25. Law Teachers, Postsecondary - $95,570

America’s Top 10 Worst Paying Jobs

1. Cooks, Fast Food - $15,230
2. Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food - $15,430
3. Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers - $15,560
4. Dishwashers - $15,670
5. Waiters and Waitresses - $15,980
6. Shampooers - $16,020
7. Gaming Dealers- $16,210
8. Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession and Coffee Shop - $16,290
9. Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop - $16,310
10. Amusement and Recreation Attendants - $16,730

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Top GRE Psychology Study Aid Books


1. Kaplan GRE Psychology, Second Edition (Kaplan Gre Psychology) (Paperback) by Kaplan



2. Cracking the GRE Psychology Test, 7th Edition
(Graduate Test Prep) (Paperback) by
Princeton Review

3. GRE Psychology w/ CD-ROM (REA) - The Best Test Prep for the GRE (Test Preps) by R. Kellogg, R. Pisacreta, and The Staff of REA (Paperback - Nov 30, 1999)
4. ETS GRE Psychology.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

GRE Psychology Test: Free Online Practice Tests


Official ETS Psychology Test

Kaplan Sample Questions

Free Study Manuel

Monday, June 05, 2006

GRE Psychology Test:

According to PSI CHI, The National Honor Society in Psychology, about half of doctoral-level psychology programs and a third of master's-level programs require applicants to submit scores from the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) Psychology Test. Unlike the GRE that all students take, the subject base psychology GRE is on paper rather than computer. The GRE Psychology Test contains 205 multiple choice questions (5 choices per question) and lasts approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes. Subject tests, including the GRE Psychology Test, usually are taken at a university or other specified testing site on three possible dates. Testing dates are listed on the ETS website. In order to register for the GRE Psychology Test, you must print out a form from the ETS website and send it to its main office. The test fee is $130.00.

The scored earned on the GRE Psychology Test is based off of the number of questions you answer correctly minus one-forth of the questions you answer incorrectly. Questions that are left unanswered are not counted towards your final score. By correctly applying the Process of Elimination (P.O.E.) it is possible to gain points rather than lose points in your total.

ETS has a six member committee composed of six psychology faculty members from various U.S. colleges and universities. Each member writes 15 questions for the test and will meet with other group members to discuss what questions should be included on the psychology test.


The GRE Psychology test is broken down into the following sections:

- 40% material dealing with cognition, sensation and perception, learning, and biological psychology
- 43% dealing with social psychology, personality, development, and abnormal behavior
- 17% dealing with research methods, history of psychology, and applied psychology

In reality, the test consists of three of the aforementioned sections that are integrated in all parts of the test.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Graduate School Application Cover Letters:


Paper applications and supporting material sent via the post to graduate schools require cover letters. Cover letters should be approximately 1-2 paragraphs and contain:

1) What is enclosed in the envelope and why. Do not make the reader guess why you are sending the following materials. State what program you are applying for and for what year/semester.

2) Tell specifically how you heard about their program. Write if their website impressed you, if it was a family member, friend, advisor, faculty, recruiter or mentor. It is appropriate to mention the name of that person in the cover letter, especially if it is a recruiter or someone who works in that program.

3) Convince them to really take a look at your application. Make sure the cover letter is well written and targeted for that program. The department website is a great way to incorporate the main points and goals of that program,

4) Take the opportunity to really show them your attitude. Success in the application process is 80 % attitude. The cover letter should state how excited you are about the prospect of becoming a student in the graduate program.

5) Provide or refer to any information that you would like to highlight about your application or anything you feel you were not able to mention in your application. Work and on-hand experience are great points to focus on.

6) Indicate what you will do to follow up. The best way to write this is to say “I look forward to your decision."

Click on the following sites for cover letter examples:

Overview of Cover Letters and Examples

Graduate School Cover Letter Example

Monster.com Cover Letter Help

About.com Cover Letter Explaination and Examples

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Stress Release With Spin Spa ™

The Graduate School application and interview processes are often stressful so much so that tension builds up in every part of your body. Stress causes at least some of us to be nervous and that is the worst thing to be feeling when taking the GREs or going on an interview. This is just one of the many reasons why the creators of Spin Spa produced an at home spa experience that gives you all the features of an all star salon spa without the wallet busting prices.



The Spin Spa system is a motorized handle with two speeds (high and low) that connects with rotating spa heads. The five heads included in the system are:



- MicroDerm Head that helps slough off dead skin cells and gives skin a smooth appearance
- Mesh Sponge that lathers up liquid soap for gentle exfoliation
- Cleaning Head
- Message Head for tired muscles
- Pumice Head smooths away calluses and rough skin

Spin Spa handle also allows for the easy washing of hard to reach places such as the back and lower legs.


Spin Spa , a $60.00 system, can be purchased for $ 19.99 with s+h on the phone by dialing the following number: 1-800-955-4994 or online for $14.99 with s+h. All orders come with a free silk spa robe.

Replacement heads that include all five Spin Spa heads can be purchased through HSN for $11.00 with s+h.

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