Ask The Experts

Loan Lawsuit  November 21

Lawsuit

Can college sue you for defaulting on your student loan?

There will be quite a few who have already graduated, but are thinking the same thing.

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Library Lethargy  November 21

Library

With everything on the internet, do college students still use the library?

A big part of your studies will involve research; both online resources and a library should be used. Traditional libraries have certainly changed a lot since the internet took over the world, but they still play a vital role in the world of academia. Colleges are starting to revamp their libraries to change the way we gather information.

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Studying for a Test  November 20

Drug Test

I have a job interview. Can they make me take a drug test?

Employers are asking a lot more from candidates than in previous years, partly because more graduates are vying for the same positions. Part of this selection process could enable some kind of screening, and a drug test may be included in that.

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Gender Bender  November 20

Male Nurse

Is becoming a nurse a good career choice for a man?

The demand for nursing is increasing, so your question is a timely one, as more men are entering the field. In fact, there has never been a better time to get into nursing with extremely low unemployment levels and a burgeoning healthcare industry.  Working as a registered nurse is a very rewarding career path, so read on to find out why.

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Thinking on Your Feet  November 14

Learn

I've been hearing a lot about microlearning, what is the difference between this and regular training?

Touted as the fastest-growing, modern learning platform for professionals, microlearning is changing the way we study and absorb information. Research suggests that the average employee can only allocate as little as one percent of their working week to personal development.

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Fraternity Row  November 14

I've read some stories about accidents at frat houses. Who takes responsibility in these cases?

Even if your brotherhood has a good disciplinary record and a solid set of conduct guidelines, accidents will still happen. A simple slip on a wet floor or full-blown fist fight are likely to occur in a house that is full of unsupervised teenagers.

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Media Mistake  November 14

Computer

Should I consider another major than computer science for a job online? Some of the top entrepreneurs graduated in other fields.

Working for a high-paying internet company in a relaxed environment among friends is the end game for many graduates today. Who wouldn’t want a job like this? The issue lies in the skill set for this type of work; it is not as clear cut as other industries such as engineering or accounting.

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Language Barrier  November 7

Second Language

Most developed countries speak English. Do I really need to study a foreign language?

Languages are like assets or investments; it is important to know which one to choose. While most of the developed world uses English as the primary language for business, it is always useful to have a second language.

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Taking Credit   November 7

Credit Card

I’ve asked my parents for a credit card at college. Can you explain why it is a good idea?

There are two ways you can get hold of a credit card.  First, you can get a card in your parents’ names and they bear responsibility for the bill.  Second, you can have one in your name. There is a big difference between these two options, and your parents may be reluctant for your own protection.

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Casinos, Cannabis, and Careers  October 30

Cannabis

I’m graduating this year, and I have a job offer--that’s the good news. The thing is, though, that the job offer came from my cousin, who is kind of the black sheep of the family. He’s working the legal marijuana industry out in Oregon, and he says I can come work for him right away. If I’m not into that, he says, he has a ton of connections in the casino business.

Well, my family is very conservative, so you can imagine the reaction my dad had when I told him my career choices were down to casinos or cannabis at the moment. He thinks both are dead-end careers, though my cousin seems to be doing well. I’m not sure what I should do here. Any advice?

While your father is free to feel however he likes about both the gambling and marijuana industries, you’ll have a hard time finding experts to back up his claims that careers in these industries are “dead ends.”

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Party Prestige  October 30

Celebration Club

I’m part of the leadership of an on-campus club that, once a year, throws a big party. I’m a little concerned, though, because these parties don’t tend to be the classiest affairs. While I don’t have a problem with what club members do on their own time, I’m a little worried about breaking rules and throwing a rager (some people in the club are underage). I’m hoping to plan something else earlier in the day instead--something a little more likely to impress and a little less likely to get me expelled. The graduating seniors like to do a toast at each year’s party, so I was trying to figure out a way to run a bar that cards people, or something. Any tips on running a classy party?

First of all, congratulations on your sound decision to not flout your university’s rules and (more importantly) the law on underage drinking. Your idea to have an afternoon party seems like a good one that keeps your club’s tradition alive while letting your collegiate career do the same.

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Ready for Rehab  October 30

Binge Drinking

I grew up in a pretty small town in Florida and shared just about every moment there with my best friend. We were inseparable, right up to the moment when he headed to school in-state and I headed far away. But we’d still get together whenever we were both back in town, like during school breaks.

But, lately, I’ve noticed that my friend has changed a lot since our high school days. At his school, binge drinking is the norm, and now that habit is a big part of his life. When we hang out, he drinks by himself (I won’t drink with him) and gets drunker and drunker as the night wears on. I’m worried that he has a serious problem, but he says he only drinks in the evenings and mostly on the weekend, so it’s okay. What can I tell him to help him see the problems his drinking will cause in his life?

Your friend’s drinking certainly does sound serious--even if it also sounds tragically common.

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Forklift Fugitive  October 23

Construction Site

When I’m back in my hometown during the summers, I work for the father of one of my friends. I work in a warehouse of his, doing all the things you’d expect: loading trucks, unloading trucks, tracking inventory, and driving a forklift.

It’s that last part that has me a bit concerned. Last time I was home working at the warehouse, another employee joked that he was surprised that a college kid had a forklift license. Well, this college kid doesn’t! Has it been illegal for me to operate a forklift this whole time? What should I do? I don’t want to get my friend’s dad in trouble.

First, the bad news: it is indeed illegal for you to drive a forklift without a special license.

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Soggy Software  October 23

 Wet Laptop

Back home at my parent’s house, we had a major plumbing problem. Our basement flooded, which would have been bad enough on its own, but was made worse (for me, at least) by the fact that the basement was where I had been keeping all of my computer equipment! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no computer engineer--just a guy who used computers a lot as a kid. I have a ton of old stuff on those computers, from favorite games to old digital photos, but I don’t know the first thing about getting it all back. For now, I’ve told my parents not to throw anything out. Beyond that, though, I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do. Help!

You've certainly learned a costly lesson about computer storage. While we hate to rub it in, it should be pointed out for all of our readers that computers and computer equipment are best stored in a dry place with moderate temperatures.

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Amateur Aunt  October 23

Aunt

My older sister is having a baby, and I'm so happy for her--and so scared for myself. It feels like only yesterday that my sister and I were playing in the woods and making cupcakes together (we burnt them--sorry, Mom). Now she seems entirely grown-up, and I feel like I’m faking it. I’m still in college, and I don’t know a thing about baby showers or how to treat a pregnant lady! I want to be there for my sister in any way I can, though, so I thought I’d ask the experts: what can I do to make my sister’s life easier while she’s pregnant? What should I expect while she’s expecting? And how the heck do baby showers work, anyway?!

Congratulations to your sister on becoming a mother--and to you on becoming an aunt! This is certainly an exciting time in your family, and while it may seem like a frightening one, too, it doesn't have to be. The good news is that the answers to your questions are very simple.

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Investigative Illness  October 16

Alcoholism

I’m thinking about joining a Fraternity this semester. I have several people in my family who are alcoholics, and I’ve heard that a family history of alcoholism can put a person at a greater risk of becoming an alcoholic him or herself. I don’t currently have a problem, but I’m worried about the possibilities as I have heard alcoholism described as both a mental illness and a physical disease. Which is it?

It is true that alcoholism is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) and is considered to be a mental illness.

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Fantasy Format  October 16

Fantasy Football

After spending the weekend with some of my Fraternity Brothers, I realized just how much of an influence Fantasy Sports have on the real games themselves. Without having a Fantasy Football team to tend to, there’s no way I would watch half the games I did this past weekend but I feel like I still don’t know enough. How can I learn more about Fantasy Sports?

Fantasy sports are massively popular. In the United States alone, 59.3 million people play some type of fantasy sports game. As your older relative’s confusion suggests, fantasy sports have not been with us for that long.

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Environmental Effort  October 16

Watching the news recently, I have become distraught over the state of our planet. How can I make my home more environmentally friendly?

Environment

It's an unfortunate fact that the actions of our species have a destructive effect on the world around us. Like other species, our species creates homes, eats plants and other animals, and reproduces. But our success and our advances in technology have made our impact on the natural world large enough to affect the entire planet.

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Robocar  October 2

Driverless Car

Am I the only one worried about driverless cars?

Laws and regulations are usually slow to follow revolutionary technology. Questions about safety and liability have already arisen following the first fatality caused by a driverless car last year. Should the car manufacturers be held accountable, or the software developers?

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Assistant Adversity  October 2

Student Worker

I'm a grad student working on a computer project for a professor.  I got wrist strain from typing so much. Who pays for this?

With the cost of tuition rising, students have greater debt than ever before. Working at college can supplement your income, however there can be legal implications if you are injured or get ill.

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Me and My Baby  September 25

 Child Care

Are there assistance programs that can help me pay for campus childcare?

The burden of student debt is multiplied when you are taking care of a child. Fortunately, the number of campuses with child care facilities are increasing. Unfortunately, you have to compete and pay to enroll in them, along with the 26% of college students in the U.S. who have children.

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Mate Match  September 25

Roomies

We are getting an off-campus house with a bunch of students. How can I rely on everyone to pay rent?

Your college housing can impact well-being and ultimately your academic performance. The people in your apartment add to this experience or make it a daily nightmare.

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Debt Debate  September 25

College Debt

I hate to admit I'm graduating with both student loan and credit card debt. How can I manage these debts?

Graduating college students are all asking this question. Your credit and financial independence hang in the balance when you graduate with both credit card and student loan debt.

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Switching It Up

Student Loan

I understand there are different loan servicers for your student debt. Can I change?

All college students seek the lowest loan interest rate possible, but this may not happen with their current student loan servicer. It's been documented that some have been given incomplete or incorrect information from their servicer.

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Job Jitters

 First Job

Speaking to recent graduates, they all have advice about life after college. What are the major issues facing students in their first job?

You probably asked the same question about the shift from high school to college. Graduating from college and entering your first job is both exciting and stressful. Gone are your concerns over term papers and finals; now worries about corporate politics and proving yourself are major issues.

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Shop Around

Online Shopping

I shop online several times each week. Why do I wind up spending more money online than I planned?

Two thirds of Millennials prefer digital shopping over physical stores, which is no surprise since they grew up with the Internet. Many actually shop online while inside a physical store. Cost and convenience are the obvious reasons consumers shifted from retail stores to online shopping.

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Home Work

 Work From Home

My new job offers the option of working from home or office. Which should I choose?

This is a very timely question given the exponential growth of telecommuting. As technology has evolved, some people rarely go into the main office anymore. While it may seem like a no-brainer to choose working from home, there are some drawbacks to consider.

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Foreign Force Majeure

 Health Care

Our campus hosts students from around the world. It seems unfair that they don't receive the same healthcare and other services. What happens if they have a problem?

With over one million foreign students studying in the U.S., the true forum for this question should be the federal government.

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Roll of the Dice

Poker

Several of my friends play poker online. I know they’ve all lost money. Is this legal?

I bet this question is of interest to lots of college students, with over 20% reported visiting online gambling sites monthly. With the proliferation of online gambling in the U.S., the incidence among college students participating in the activity is steadily rising.

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Living Large

Off Campus Housing

I'll be living off campus in college. Someone suggested buying an off-campus house and subletting the extra rooms. Should I persuade my parents to buy or rent?

With this question, you should be studying finance in college. To determine whether it pays to buy or rent, you would have to be psychic regarding the trend in housing prices around your college.  However, every homeowner understands the purchase involves more than a numerical calculation.

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Good Night, Nurse

 Nurse

My friends and I are planning to be nurses. I read it's one of the most popular career choices. Does it have a secure job future?

You're all graduating together, but the real question is whether you all find employment as nurses. A career in nursing has historically been a promising choice, with good salaries and job security.

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Rate of Return

Community College

Money is a factor in my brother considering a two-year community college. What is the value of a two-year degree?

Over one third of all high schoolers furthering their education choose a community college, so your brother’s decision is echoed in millions of homes.

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Master Mercenary

Masters Degree

I can barely afford the cost of college. Is a master’s degree worth the investment?

Over 500K students are awarded a master’s degree yearly. Perhaps each one is asking the same question: with college costs mounting, is the extra time and money for a master’s degree worth it?

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Call Security

 Cyber Security

Internet crime and security seem to be getting worse. What are big companies doing to stop it?

Almost every time you get online, you're a witness to online threats from hackers and scammers, and new countermeasures employed by software developers. Even after billions of dollars have been invested in cybersecurity, organizations still are challenged to halt online threats.

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The Goodbye Girl

I'm leaving for my first year of college and my mom is already suffering from separation anxiety. What can I do to ease her stress? 

Your question is frequently asked, as parents and students often struggle to overcome "empty nest syndrome" when their children head off for their first year. With 2.2M traditional first-time freshmen starting college each year, parental anxiety is an ongoing concern.

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Foreign Model

Foreign Students

I spent a semester abroad. I'm sure it's much easier for international students to adjust to America. What do they think of studying here?

You ask about international travelers in America with the benefit of having lived abroad. This country has greater wealth, more support systems, more civil rights, a better educational system, etc. Foreign students must have an easy time over here. Here's what they think.

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E-Book Worm

E Book

Which is better, using a printed text book or digital e-book?

This is a question every college student wonders heading off to school. E-books are inexpensive and convenient on your laptop. Text can be quickly searched and there are plenty of apps for note taking and sharing. But do students actually prefer them over traditional printed versions?

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Antisocial Media

Twitter tiles

When I went to school, we didn't have social media. Now that my daughter is in college, I'm wondering if students were better off before social media.

This is a question asked by many parents of college students. Before there were laptops, WiFi and Facebook, there were pens and spiral notebooks. Social media facilitates idea sharing, discussion and an instantaneous connection to others. But like any communications device, young people use it to create their own unique world.

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All Hands on Deck

Ideas

In the Fall, I'll be in a campus-community partnership to help homeless students. While this is a required course, are these valuable for the community?

Your question about taking part in a campus-community initiative is one that many students are asking, as more and more universities are engaging in these types of programs. The community benefits from these collaborations on several levels.

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Ms. Manners

netiquette

Instead of social media with friends, I'm now pursuing business contacts. The netiquette is clearly different. How can I make the best impression on professional people?

Asking this question shows you're already aware of the new expectations for behavior in the workplace. That is first rule of netiquette, being aware of the person on the other end of the computer.

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Mortgage Mania

Home Ownership

I don’t think I'm planning too far ahead. After college, is it possible to get a mortgage even with student debt?

I assume you are going to college to be able to afford a home later, so now is a good time to ask this question. You're in debt and you want to know how to get deeper, much deeper, into debt. The federal government is right there to help you with its new mortgage programs.

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Dream Car

Dream Car

I want to take my car to college. I think it may be a distraction from studying. Should I bring my car to campus?

Your question has probably been asked by all students at one time or another. One of the best moments for teenagers is getting their license, buying their first car, and enjoying the independence that it offers. Naturally, you're going to want to take it to college, but there are a number of things to consider.

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Campus Conflict

University

I'm having a problem with one of my professors. I don’t agree with any of his comments on my reports and he's not interested in my ideas. I am stuck, what can I do?

Your question about student-teacher conflict resonates with all 20M U.S. college students, who empathize with you. We want to help you get along with your professor, but we appreciate your question is deeper and more complex.

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Adult Apprentice

Older Student

There are many older students, (over 21) on campus. Are they in the same degree program as we are?

On campuses around the country, students like you are beginning to make the same observation. The typical college student is no longer at a 4-year institution, enrolling at 18. Changes in the economy are the real driver for this migration back to the classroom.

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Career Comeuppance

Warehouse

The Internet has made entire industries disappear, while creating new ones. How do I make a career choice that is not likely to disappear?

Your question is a relatively new one, because graduates from past decades did not imagine their jobs, or even their skills and training, when become obsolete in the new digital economy.

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Mentor Methodology

Mentoring

I'm at a crossroads in my studies, deciding about a research project. Can a mentor help me work this out?

The first cavemen had to be mentored to make fire. So, your question has been relevant throughout mankind’s history. No need to narrow your search to solve one research problem.

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Loan Leeway

Money

I'll graduate with loan debt that will take a long time to repay. Is it true that some companies pay off your student loans?

With around 70% of students graduating with tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt, your question has everyone’s attention. Yes, it is true that some companies have been contributing to the repayment of employee’s student debt.

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College Connections

Job Hunting

I will be job hunting next semester. When should I start contacting companies that do not send recruiters here?

Your insight into the job market should be shared with all our readers. The question should encompass your entire job search. You should be trying to network with all potential employers now.

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Sophomore Servitude

Part Time Job

I'm not a full-time student so have time to look for a part-time job. What are the best, flexible jobs for students?

The majority of students need to work to supplement their living expenses at college, so your question is relevant for almost everyone. With tuition fees and the cost-of-living rising, a part-time job has become an essential part of college life.

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Privacy Pretense

Stethoscope

I was a walk-in patient at the student health clinic. My reason for writing is I don't want anyone to know why I was there. Can my parents read my medical file?

Laws regarding data privacy can be a minefield, so this question raises concerns about confidentiality with medical records, especially those held by school health services. Different laws govern specific types of health service providers so privacy rights will vary, along with many loopholes within the rules. We'll try to unravel the mess and check on your level of confidentiality.

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Dorm Room Delight

 Brazos House Dorm

Four years in the same campus dorm looks bleak. Are there ways to improve my room without spending a fortune?

Your question is relevant for all students, especially if they'll be living in a dorm for the whole four years. Tuition and living expenses at college are going up every year. It encroaches on the budget for other things, like your home and entertainment. Since you're busy studying, we have researched ideas for you on how to creatively and economically spruce up your place.

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To Plumb or Not to Plumb

 College Tuition

My brother is a successful plumber. He told me to come work with him. By the time I pay off my student loans, I would have been better off becoming a plumber. Is he right?

With the skyrocketing cost of tuition, many students are asking the same question.

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Lend a Hand

College Stress

College is much more stressful than high school. There are my goals, my parents’ expectations, exams and tuition. I read some colleges really help students cope with stress. What do they offer?

When I read your letter, I noticed you did not mention your year in college. This question could be asked by a freshman up to senior. You may learn to accept or manage the stress level, but it will not diminish. It peaks at graduation, when you have to start job hunting and plan to pay off your student loans.

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Blindsided

Blind Access

Since my friend at college has some night blindness, I particularly wanted to know about the rules on accessibility. Is there a law covering computers?

We appreciate a question that is for someone other than yourself. While your laptop is easy for you to use, a visually impaired or blind person will need another keyboard that can easily be purchased. However, who is responsible for assuring websites are compliant with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act)?

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Get on Board

Student

I want to return to college after being injured at work. If you cannot answer, then please direct me to the information. Can I go to classes and still receive social security disability?

We absolutely want to help with your question. We hope this information guides you, along with others who have family or friends on disability.

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I Accuse

Accuse

I've been to many rowdy campus parties. In the news, there are many horroric tales of sexual assault allegations, some proven false. What happens if you're accused of sexual assault on campus?

Our reflexive response is you should be expelled and go to jail. But you asked about being accused, not convicted. An allegation alone is enough to put the administration, students and parents in a tailspin.

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College Culpability

Law

I am writing for myself and my daughter. I need to talk to her about responsibility. What are the legal issues with children at college?

I'm still waiting for this talk from my parents. They just hoped for the best. Whether a conscious decision or not, parents are legal partners with their children. When there's a problem, mom and dad pay for it.

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Charity Drive

 Volunteer

I was a volunteer at home and now college, mostly with remedial reading. How can I get other students involved?

I want to acknowledge your effort, helping local kids learn to read. You also appreciate that one of the roles of a volunteer is encouraging others to join. Community activism has slowly dwindled to one of its lowest points in decades.

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Family Fortune

 Family Business

My father owns a small, successful business. He wants me to join him after college. Is going to work for daddy a good idea?

This question would not be asked in most homes around the world. A son would follow after his father on the farm or shop, with no other choice. Of course, as a college grad you have many possible career paths.

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The Rat Race

 Job

We all have to make a living after graduation. I want to do something interesting. Is that a tradeoff I have to make?

This question has been asked by every generation going out into the world. Your frame of reference is heavily influenced by your parents’ jobs and income. Do jobs we consider mundane pay more than ones we consider interesting? Drop off the extremes of dog catcher and doctor, and the rest of us are likely to fall somewhere in the middle. Most of the questions we field have direct answers, but this one is more about feelings and emotions. The answer depends on your age and where you are in your career and family life cycle. If you were to save this column and read it every 10 years, your response would undoubtedly change and adapt to your current situation.

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Condo Calamity

Apartments

My friends and I want off-campus housing for this year. Please tell us how to avoid problems with housing and each other.

Every student is confronted by this question. It's timely to address it now, before you return to college. Students and nervous parents are partners in this choice.

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Modem Matriculation

Online Study

I already paid for college this year. Now, I'm hearing more about online study. Should I complete my degree with an online college?

This question should be asked by all students. The choice impacts the entire college experience and outcome. Spending four years and tens-of-thousands of dollars for college is a huge financial decision. This affects your life and probably your parents as well. How do approach this decision?

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Manufactured Mistake

Diploma

I am studying very hard in college. Some in my family think it is a waste of time. Why do they think I am not learning anything?

Your question reflects a difference in life experience, not just viewpoints. Studying at college doesn't always give you skills to enter the workplace, which your family have already earned. This is what concerns your relatives: you may end up with a major, but not be job ready.

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Laptop Larceny

Cyber Security

I'm savvy about online security, but I almost fell for a new scam. What are the latest online threats I need to know?

Your question concerns every online user. We wanted to answer you, even though others have written about this. The problem is always changing, since scamsters are constantly trying to infiltrate your computer with new threats. Here are the most current scams you may face.

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Debt Dodgeball

 Student Loan Forgiveness

I will be graduating with a lot of student debt. Dare I ask if I can shed my student loans by declaring bankruptcy?

Your question resonates with all students, so we want to tell you what the law allows.

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Catch Me If You Can

I am on social media all day. Should I worry my posts may be seen by a potential employer?

 Social Media

Students often wonder if a foolish, offensive or accidental post on social media could be considered for a job interview or future promotion. The short answer is yes, it can.

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Campus ATM

Money

My parents paid for school, but there is little left over for me. Without letting my grades slip, what are some options to earn extra money?

This is a plea from all students, more than a simple question. Many students work part-time, while attending classes, to help pay for school.

Campus ATM

Bashful, Grumpy and Sleepy

Tired Student

I slept much better at home, before coming to college. Please help me, so I am not so grumpy in the morning.

Your question reminds all of us about dorm life. However, there are some real health and well-being issues, that should not be ignored. While no college student will admit missing their parents, there are other reasons causing poor sleep. This is a problem found in all college dorms.

Bashful, Grumpy, and Sleepy

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