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Federal Work Study 101 (Video)

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Save on College Cost – Become a Resident Adviser (RA)

Do you like people? Do you stay up all hours of the night? Is there a little part of you that likes to be in a position of control? Do you want a job on Campus? Do you communicate well?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, being a Resident Adviser may be just the ticket for you to help cover some of your college expenses.

The Role of a Resident Adviser

RAs have different responsibilities at different college campuses but the common expectation of someone fulfilling this role is that they serve as a role model for fellow students living in their residential communities. Yes, RAs are the enforcers of all the rules put into place by Residential Life, but more importantly, they serve as a resource for their peers and help new students acclimate to campus in a healthy fostering way.

The following represents a brief description of what one college expects of their RAs:

RAs are expected to initiate contact with students on the floor within the first two weeks of classes to begin building rapport. Names of residents should be known by the end of the second week. As the year continues, try to make it a point to see each student at least three times a week so as to learn and know more about them than their names. While contact time with residents may vary by section or floor, this is to be a guideline for use in establishing and gaining knowledge of residents, and to begin the development of community. RAs are expected to promote community within their sections by establishing guidelines, limits, and expectations for cooperative living among residents.

Depending upon which college you attend, the job duties may be different but the description above gives you an idea of what may be expected of you if you decide to become an RA.

The Benefits of Being a Resident Adviser

Colleges and Universities understand the importance of RAs on their campus, so they are usually very quick to treat them fairly when it comes to compensation and benefits.

The following highlights some of the more common benefits associated with being an RA:

  • Free Room – That’s right! Just about every RA program in the nation provides a free room for their Resident Advisers. My experience is that the RA rooms tend to be the larger ones and they also get to have a room all to themselves (which is an amazing luxury all to itself in residence halls!).
  • Monthly Wage – Since an RA’s schedule can vary and is depicted by unscheduled events, it is hard to put an hourly rate on their pay. So, most colleges will just give them a monthly stipend to help supplement the free room benefit.
  • Bookstore Vouchers – Everybody likes free books! It is not uncommon for some colleges to provide a free bookstore voucher to RAs since this is a non-taxable way they can show appreciation.
  • Priority Registration – RAs have successfully lobbied  for this benefit on a number of campuses. Basically, since they are dedicating all their non-academic time to their position, they get benefit of having first pick of their favorite courses.
  • Free Meal Plans – I don’t see this as often but some schools will provide this incentive for returning upper-class RAs. This benefit usually helps to offset the fact that they will be spending another year in the residence halls even though they qualify to move off campus.

The Downside of Being a Resident Adviser

I wish I could say that being a Resident Adviser is the easiest job on campus and that you will never be confronted with “issues”.  The truth of the matter is that RA positions definitely come with their fair share of challenges and I personally think they could be one of the toughest work study jobs on campus.

The following are examples of why some people just don’t like being an RA:

  • No Time For Yourself – If you are in your room or wandering around your floor, you are approachable as an RA since technically you are always “on duty”.
  • Late Hour Commotion – Not so surprising, most events that require an RA to get involved usually happen in the middle of the night.
  • Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Unfortunately, living in close quarters with a group of diverse people can sometimes bring out the worst of the worst when it comes to how students treat each other. Depending on the floor you are assigned to, solving roommate issues may become a full time job.
  • Who is Your Sounding Board? – Students always turns to the RA for a compassionate ear but who is the RA’s sounding board? If you become an RA make sure you quickly identify someone that you can bounce “issues” off of, whether it be a fellow RA, someone from Residential Life, or good old mom and dad.
  • Rules Are For Everyone – You have to enforce the rules for everyone… including your friends. There is no way around it. That is just how it has to be if you are going to survive as an effective RA.

In Summary

RAs are the champions on campuses across the nation. They are the unsung heroes that sometimes get overlooked or under appreciated. However, if you are looking for a great way to reduce the amount of money you have to spend on your college education and you want to have an awesome resume builder experience, you should definitely consider becoming an RA. It may make you tough as nails but that may benefit you in your future career more than you know! 😉

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How To Land The Perfect Federal Work Study Job

Last academic year (2009-2010) the Department of Education funded federal work study jobs to the tune of $1,174,492,000 (yes, that is over a billion dollars). This coming academic year (2010-2011), DOE is funding work study with $974,492,000. I know these numbers are quite large but the important thing that you need to take a look at is the reduction from one year to the next. This coming academic year you can see that $200 million dollars have been removed from the federal work study program. This reduction is most likely a result of the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) dollars that are no longer available.

So what does all this mean to you? Well, I am glad you asked. If you are a student that is hoping to work on your campus next year through the federal work study program, you had probably better get a jump start on securing a job. Chances are, the $200 million dollar reduction in federal funding for this program is going to equate to less jobs being available on your campus. So, time is certainly of the essence when trying to find a job and anything you can do to better position yourself as a candidate is going to benefit you in the long-run. Whether you want to be the one to check id’s on the way into the fitness center or get the resume builder position in the Bursar’s office, the following tips should hopefully help you get that dream campus job.

Tips to Landing the Perfect Job On Campus

  • Start Applying As Soon As Possible: Most colleges have some sort of job listing available on their website. In addition, many even have a virtual application process that allows you to select your top three jobs and send an application to each one of them electronically and efficiently. As soon as you have selected your college and know that you want to work there, you will want to start looking through the job listings right away and routinely.
  • Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up: Work study jobs are just like any other job in the real world. If you want to get the job, you need to keep your name at the forefront of the person responsible for doing the hiring. Email them, call them, become their facebook friend (well ..maybe not that but you get the gist).
  • Look For The Jobs That Are Not There: In the past few years it seems like most work study jobs get filled by word of mouth and an official job opening is never posted. Take advantage of this by calling or stopping by various departments and offices to see if they plan on hiring anyone. If you get any good leads refer to the follow-up mantra above.
  • Play The Part: What I mean here is that even though you are a college student you don’t always want to look the part.  When you are looking to score a great work study job, try and keep the flip flops, ragged jeans, and chewed up baseball caps to a minimum. After you secure the job you can bring back the normal college attire assuming it conforms to the employer’s dress code.
  • Complete Paperwork in a Timely Manner: In order to qualify for federal work study you first have to complete your FAFSA so that the financial aid office can include it in your financial aid award. Also, double check with the student employment office to see if it is ok if you pre-complete any tax paperwork (W4’s) and or campus documentation required for employment. If you have all this done, it will save a lot of time for the office that hires you and it will show that you are a go-getter with initiative.
  • Draft Up a Resume: It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy at this point. It just needs to reflect any relevant job experience you may have had leading up to college. If you are visiting different offices on campus, you can always leave them with a copy of your resume and your current contact information in case a job opening becomes available. As you continue your college career, you can build upon this resume so that you can have a jump start when you begin the job search again in 4 years.

Working on campus during your college years is a fundamental “rite of passage” that everyone should get the opportunity to experience. Work study jobs help to prepare you for life after college, serve as great resume builders, and help you make connections with people that will provide solid references for you for many years to come.  I hope the information provided above helps you get a leg up in landing that perfect college job and gaining all that it has to offer.. and help you make a couple bucks along the way as well. 😉

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New Way To Pay For College – Selling Archived Letters

WesleyLetterA bright young student entrepreneur was satisfying his work study hours by working part-time at Drew University in the archives. During the course of about five months William John Scott stole letters from the university archives and pilfered them on the internet for thousands of dollars (which was well below their actual worth).

Most of the letters were historical documents that were written by John and Charles Wesley in the 1700’s. The Wesley brothers are best known as being the “fathers of Methodism” and leading a small reform group that eventually grew to become the second largest Protestant denomination in America.  Drew University housed 23 of these Wesley documents and the student had managed to steal 21 of them.

It was not until an antique dealer from England purchased ten of these documents and questioned the manner in which they were shipped to him (FedEx envelope with no sense of preservation for the letters) that the University was tipped off about the possible theft. The dealer, knowing that these letters had to be part of the Drew collection, contacted the University right away and they quickly confirmed ownership.

William John Scott is now being arraigned in court for theft and faces up to ten years in jail, if he is convicted.

Ok.. just to be clear.. I don’t recommend that anyone steal anything from their university and sell it on eBay just to cover your tuition expenses. As you can see from young Mr. Scott’s experience, the outcome can never be good. What you should take away from this article is that your college or university probably has a library archives and you should take an authorized tour to witness some cool pieces of history. Now… if you have old comic books, baseball cards, or other childhood collectibles that are gathering up dust in your parent’s basement, I would recommend listing those on Craigslist or eBay to help offset some of your educational expenses.

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