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Top Five Things Colleges Look at in Undergraduate Applicants

College applications determine which school you'll attend for the next four years. Make sure that you're focusing on the most important parts. Photo courtesy of Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.Even though most of our readers are probably in college already, here's an article for those who haven't quite gotten there yet. USAToday College published a list of the top five items that colleges look at when examining a student's college application. Though the list isn't anything unexpected, it's a good thing to think about as you're applying to colleges.

  1. Grades - More important than SAT scores apparently, having good grades is the best way to get you noticed by colleges. If you're only an average student right now and you're looking at some higher caliber schools, you need to start pulling those grades up now. Even just one semester can improve your GPA and chances to get into the school of your choice.
  2. SAT Scores - I seriously dislike that the SAT counts so much in college applications since some students (such as myself) simply don't test well on standardized tests. But SAT scores are ranked as the second most important item that colleges look at. If you test well, you're good to go. If you're like me and only test average at best, you're going to want to really bolster your application with good grades.
  3. Personal Statement - This is when being a good writer comes in handy. Make every word you say matter. Put your personality in it. Get straight to the point. It's your first chance to really make a personable impression on the admissions office, so make sure you come off strong and memorable.
  4. Extracirricular Activities - The thing to note about this is that being involved does not mean that you're involved with every organization that your school offers. It is much better to be truly invested in two or three activities or organizations than to spread yourself too thin. Being invested in an organization means that you will have time to dedicate to move up the ranking. In other words, instead of just being a member in 10 organizations, you can be the president of one organization, secretary of another, and board member of another.
  5. Teacher Recommendations - Teachers are the people who know you best academically. They know exactly what you are capable of. Be judicious in who you choose to ask for your recommendations. You want to paint a picture of yourself that gets your best sides. Choose teachers to whom you have provided your best work.

What do you think of this list? Let us know in the comments!

[via USAToday College]


Friday Fun: Put Cheap Vodka to Good Use

Looks like she brought us a bottle of anti-dandruff rinse! Photo by Betsssssy and licensed under CC BY 2.0You probably have a $15 plastic bottle of vodka hiding in your dorm room sock drawer. Since that stuff tastes like gasoline, why not put it to greater use?

Instructables has a great tutorial with 15 less-than-obvious ways to use that vodka. For example, if you wear glasses, vodka and water in a spray bottle makes for a great lens cleaning solution. The same combination would also make for a great glass cleaner to clean up your bathroom mirror and windows without shelling out for Windex. You can even use the mix to clean up any sticky gunk left by spilled drinks. 

This is all great, but vodka is good for more than just household cleaning. If your shoes or clothes are a little rank, a spritz of vodka between wears acts as a great deodorizer. You can even take a bottle of vodka into the shower for a great anti-dandruff rinse.

Yes, the uses for cheap vodka seem nearly limitless, but if you're intent on drinking it, Instructables also shows you how to filter it with a standard Brita pitcher, or infuse it with the fruity flavors of your choice.

Make sure you head over to Instructables to see the whole list, because if vodka is going to be part of your weekend, you should know the awesome power that exists in that plastic bottle. 


Watch, Read, Make: LOLing at SEO with Wine!

Watch, Read, Make is our weekly summary of cool things for your weekend.

Watch: David Mitchell, for those who are not familiar with him, is a British comedian who has made a career out of being stodgy. So, his defense of the use of "lol" is fun to watch. He draws the line at emoticons--he is "unfine" with them because they encourage ambiguous writing. Though this is the most appropriate-for-HackCollege episode of the Soapbox that he has up on YouTube, he has many others covering a wide variety of topics. He's also on Peep Show, a sitcom that makes me more physically uncomfortable with awkwardness than does the entirety of The Office. (Also, here he is discussing cheese.)

Read: SEO for Non-Dicks combines my favorite parts of internet writing--a snappy title and good advice! None of the advice is incredibly novel, but it's good to check if you're doing everything you can to attract viewers without being just awful with self-promotion. (If these techniques fail, though, feel free to write about Lady Gaga's Gay Marriage Love-child with Justin Bieber, or whatever.)

Make: Credit for this goes to my lady-bro and fellow writer Laura. If you're living in a dorm or apartment or are simply to lazy to carve a pumpkin, this is the craft for you! Take an empty wine bottle and turn it into a jack-o-lantern. You should have all the supplies that you need except for, perhaps, the spray paint. Charm your hall mates and horrify your RA for under five dollars!


How to Start and Maintain Healthy Living Habits

These snacks are undoubtedly yummy, but probably not very good for you. Photo courtesy of Old Shoe Woman. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.College is a great time to start up good healthy habits for your body. It's a time when you're defining what's important to you, and amongst the hustle and bustle of classes, extracirrucular activities, and your social life, sometimes it can really be hard to commit to a healthy lifestyle. However, with a few easy to follow tips from Daphne Oz, author of the bestseller The Dorm Room Diet, you can start living healthier and also maintain these habits throughout your college career.

The main problem that college students seem to have when it comes to exercising and keeping their body active is finding time to do so. Sometimes it is simply a matter of finding an hour or two to carve out of your day to dedicate to going to the gym. It doesn't come easy for extraordinarily busy students, and it usually requires a sacrifice of some sorts, whether it's getting up early or cutting back on your social life.

If you absolutely can't find time to work your body, Oz says that, "The most important thing to remember is that exercise does not need to take place in a gym. Even if it’s just a ten-minute break while you’re studying to run stairs, or going to a bathroom on a different floor, or walking your errands, getting more activity in your day will keep your metabolism running high."

Another problem that college kids seem to have a problem with is snacking. Freshman year, I snacked a lot. It was just relaxing to come back to my room, watching some TV, and eat my favorite snack (Goldfish are so yummy). However, snacking during the day is usually unnecessary and not healthy. If you can, try to resist. It makes a real difference in the way that your body feels. If you can't fight the urge to snack, Oz suggests that you take out all of the unhealthy snacks and replace them with things like hard fruits like apples and pears, cirtus fruits which give you an immune boost, soychips which will satisfy your salty-crunchy craving, and even small amounts of chocolate chips to give you a chocolate fix if you so desire.

If you find that you're snacking too much with your friends while watching TV or just chilling in someone's room, try just grabbing a bowl and put some of the snack in there. That way you're still eating with your friends but you're also controlling your snacking portion which is much better than eating straight out of the bag. When you eat out of the bag, it's harder to realize how much you're actually eating.

For more healthy living tips from Daphne Oz, read the full article here.

Are these realistic tips for you? How do you stay healthy in college? Let us know in the comments!

[via USAToday College]


TweetMemeFace+: Three Ways to Stay Current on Campus News

The other tip here would be "don't go to a school with a person name." Makes your results confusing.

If you're trying to use social media to keep track of what's going on on campus but beyond your immediate circle of friends, it can be difficult to know where to begin. On stranger-friendly social media (Twitter and Google +, as opposed to Facebook), it's difficult to actually find fellow students or campus organizations that you aren't already familiar with.

But, if you can manage it, social media gives you a much easier way to find out about what's happening than your other option--long email newsletters from various campus groups. However, it can be done! Here are three simple ways to find out what's going on around you.

Find out who your university follows: If you're looking for official club accounts or prominent alumni, look at who your official university Twitter account is following. Those people are more likely to be affiliated with the university in some capacity (unlike the account's followers, who may just be spambots or unaffiliated), and if you're looking for news from more specific parts of your university, like on-campus committees, this is where you'll find those accounts.

Search for mentions of your university: This is a good way to keep track of what people are doing right now near your school. For example, a cursory search for Emory on Twitter returned a bunch of tweets about the two big things on campus tonight: free cupcakes near the dining hall, and a social media forum hosted by CNN. On a Friday or Saturday night, this search will likely turn up news of an interesting party or concert that you would otherwise not know about. If you're stuck in a rut, use this method to find new things happening within the next day or two.

Look for your fake university account: Chances are high that if your university can be made fun of, someone is doing it over at @FakeYourSchool. Sometimes this will be a bust--the account will have died, or it will be angry rather than funny--but if the person managing your school's fake account is doing it well, their tweets will give you a look at what issues are bugging students on campus and aren't able to be addressed in the school paper. It's like an on-campus version of The Onion.

None of these methods can substitute for actual human interaction, but if you're looking to stay abreast of what's happening on your campus without slogging through email after email, social media can be a lifesaver.


Cure Stomach Aches with Natural Remedies

Presumably kitties get tummy aches too. Photo courtesy of Tiniest Tiger's . Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Every once in awhile, whether it's due to stress or just something you ate last night, your stomach is going to give your problems. Having a stomach ache can distract you from just about everything you need to do, and can leave you wanting to do nothing except lie on your couch and stare at the wall. However, there are some really great, natural cures available to you if you don't have stomach ache medicine close by.

  • Ginger or Ginger Ale - I get seasick very easily, and so on a boat ride this summer, I spent the majority of the ride back sipping on some ginger ale. Ginger has anti-inflamatory properties and helps aid in digestion. Fresh ginger or even ginger pills are best, but ginger ale is pretty tasty as well.
  • Peppermint - You can put a few mint leaves and a cup of warm water to make some tea. If you don't care for tea (like me), you can just chew the mint leaves as well.
  • Warm Lemon Water - Lemons are usually easier to get your hands on than fresh ginger or mint leaves, and work well to settle your stomach too.
  • Heating Pad - Heat is apparently one of the best ways to soothe away stomach pains, so if warm liquid isn't helping you, try placing a heating pad on your stomach. If you don't have one, Shep wrote a wonderful article about how to make one yourself.

For more natural stomach cures, check out Wise Bread's full article here.

Have you ever used these stomach cures? How do you settle your stomach when it's hurting you? Let us know in the comments!

[via Wise Bread]


Install and Update All Your Windows and Linux Apps with Ninite

Start it up and Ninite automatically installs/updates all your selected apps.Ninite is a great website I discovered via Lifehacker that allows you to create and download a customized one-step application installer. Windows users can check out Ninite here, while Linux users should go here. The list of applications available is very extensive and covers a broad range of categories from browsers to IM clients to media players. More importantly, all this software is free and fantastic! Using Ninite couldn’t be any easier – just click the boxes to choose which applications you want in your installer, click “Get Installer” at the bottom of the page, and run the executable (which is very lightweight and only about 200 KB). That’s it! Ninite handles all the rest, downloading all the necessary files and installing them automatically.

I especially appreciate this feature because it lets me focus on other work while Ninite confirms all the annoying dialog boxes you would normally have to approve manually. On top of this automatic installation, Ninite also makes sure not to install toolbars or adware and automatically downloads the appropriate 32 or 64-bit version of the app for your PC. I’ve found Ninite to be invaluable for fresh system installs, not to mention its great updating feature. Just run Ninite again to experience the same seamless updates for all your Ninite apps! The bottom line is that it’s free, incredibly useful, and easy to use. Even if you already have all your favorite apps installed, use Ninite to upgrade them in one fell swoop!

Do you use any other one-click installers? Why do you like them better then Ninite? Let us know in the comments!


Studying Abroad: Your Options

Another perk of studying abroad? The sightseeing! Photo courtesy of ChrisYunker. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Thinking of taking some classes abroad?  Studying abroad is a rich and rewarding experience for many college students. I know many people who say that their time abroad was the most valuable (and fun!) part of their college experience. Studying abroad is a great resume booster, a way to advance your academic and career goals, and an opportunity to learn to be truly independent, among other things. Should you choose to pursue global study, there are several avenues open to you. When deciding on the perfect study abroad program, you will have to consider many factors including academic requirements, language differences, and cost. If you think studying abroad is something you might be interested in, read on to find out what type of study abroad program is right for you!


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