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How To Find The Best College For You

April 4, 2019

Picking the right college for you is quite a task. There are so many to choose from! Plus, with the birth of digital experiences, vlogs, and just plain slick marketing materials, it can be a challenge to determine what matters when making such a big decision. It’s important throughout the college search process to remember the main goal which is getting an education. It can be easy to become distracted by the brand new apartments on campus and the conveniences that the college offers. Yes, it’s important to be comfortable while attending school, but it’s not worth losing out on education. How do you find the right college for you? Here are some things that you should take into consideration. Not every aspect will matter to you, but it’s nice to think about big-picture options.

 

Major Malfunctions

The major that you’re interested in studying and how the college meets the major’s needs could be a huge deciding factor. For example, does the college have a good reputation, appropriate resources, and a notable department? Really take into consideration what the school’s reputation for the program.  Is your major available and are there classes that will challenge and engage you? Is the reputation of the college’s program going to further your career upon graduating?

 

Most people know their preferred major or industry before starting, but it’s common for college students to change majors. Does the school have a few appealing options for you? Get in touch with an advisor or the head of the department of your choice and see how you can find out more. You are attending college to further your education and get a career, so if that program isn’t available that could be deal-breaker.

 

Location, Location, Location

Have you always wanted to live on the east coast, dreaming of the mountains, or would you prefer to stay closer to home? Being close by to your family and paying lower in-state tuition could be great options for you. A school in the city could be a better option since you’ll have the ability to take in everything that urban life has to offer. From expansive green grounds to bustling urban towers, there are so many different types of locations you could pick. Don’t rule anything out too soon. You might be surprised how friendly a university in the city can be, or how lively you’ll find a more rural campus.

 

 

When selecting a school it’s important that you consider the distance from your home. Many people often times will want to be available to go home on some weekends or for big events. What the cost is to go home? Can you take public transportation, can you have a car on campus your first year, can a friend or parent pick you up, if needed? A primary consideration for location is the cost. In-state-schools provide a much lower cost to attend than an out-of-state school. If you know you’ll need to borrow student loans for college it may be best to stay with an in-state-school. Paying to attend an out-of-state school will mean more money you’ll have to borrow and eventually pay back. Your decision on school location should be influenced by your comfortability level with being away from home and the cost associated with the location.

 

Tally Total Cost

Cost is a huge factor in selecting a college.  Fees aren’t only limited to tuition but can be dependent on the school. One school may have lower tuition, but fees like room and board, off-campus housing, meal plans, or transportation. We touched on this previously but, if you opt for a school that’s farther from home, how much will you spend coming home to visit? If you really want to go far away from home you may need to factor in the cost of airfare to visit home. Plus, look into fees like a parking permit and departmental fees. It’s worth doing a little math to see what the total cost is before you get your heart set on one or another.

 

Finding Financial Aid

If you can qualify for financial aid and are being provided with financial aid from a college that should heavily impact your decision. Can you get more aid at one school vs. another? Are there more scholarship options available through one college over another? Does staying in-state offer enough benefits that you don’t want to leave? There’s nothing wrong with picking a school because it will offer you the most aid. Aid is especially important if you are borrowing money to attend college. Even if the school doesn’t check all of your other boxes for wants, the cost savings could help make it a front-runner. Make sure you check into scholarships and applications for aid before you make your decision.

 

What You Need to Know About Scholarships for College

 

Culture Shock

Schools usually have a discernible culture that students or faculty can feel and describe. For instance, a school with a robust exchange student program might be more inclusive and have a culture that appreciates diverse perspectives. Another school might be steeped in tradition and fit better for someone with traditional values. Schools with bigger arts programs or specialties in STEM could have a culture all their own. You really can’t get a good depiction of the culture from marketing materials. Understanding a school’s culture is the kind of thing you can ask while visiting or inquire about online in places like forums or Reddit.

 

Sweet Student Life

You will be spending a lot of time on campus. Even if you are non-traditional or live off campus. You should take advantage of entertainment, attending special activities, and participating in one or more organizations. Maybe you want a certain Greek life experience—check into it! Ask around and see what the reputation of campus life is like. Look at upcoming events and see what types of organizations you can join. It can be difficult the first year to make friends and get connected into a social group. Well-supported campus life can make this big task a breeze and set you up for some awesome lifelong friendships and memorable experiences.

 

All About Amenities

Relatively little things can make a big difference—especially if you’re between a few schools or have close contenders. Think about recreation and facilities on campus, what their sports, athletics programs or teams are like. Does the school have a special connection to a family member or your culture? Small things like cafes that better serve your dietary needs or campus dining options that stand above the rest can weigh into your decision. Your decision should not be based solely on these relatively small things, but if you’re on the fence of two universities it could be what gives you the push needed.

 

It’s important to understand how you’ll be financing college before you start looking at the school. If you plan on financing college by taking out student loans, they can impact your future. Once you understand your finances, you’ll be able to prioritize what is most important to you and start there. Remember too that schools usually have lots of opportunities for you to visit and learn more. There are entire departments of people whose job it is to acquaint you with the campus and community. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Go in person and get a feel for the school if you can. Don’t forget to connect with potential faculty for your preferred major. You’ll probably learn a lot about what life would be like as a student, which will help make your decision much easier.

 

Happy school hunting!

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2019-07-11
Top 10 SAT Resource Publications for Students

Preparing to head off to college in the next year or two? If so, are you stressing out about the SAT? Colleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships. The SAT has three parts: reading, writing, and math. Studying for the SAT can help familiarize you with what the test looks like, develop relevant strategies and skills, and prepare you to achieve a high score. Here’s a list of self-guided prep books that can help you prepare for the SATs.
  1. The Official SAT Study Guide - The College Board. Pages: 1,145; Price: $19.01-$19.36The Official SAT Study Guide is a publication of The College Board, the organization that creates and administers the SAT. It includes eight practice tests that are similar to the exam. Each of these tests is available as a free, downloadable PDF on The College Board’s website. In addition to the tests, the book has an additional 250 pages of instruction, guidance, and test information. This volume should form the basis of your self-guided SAT studying program.
  2. SAT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective SAT Strategies Ever Published - Mike Barrett and Patrick Barrett. Pages: 575; Price: $24.50-$28.49SAT Prep Black Book deserves a place on your bookshelf right next to The Official SAT Study Guide. The book is authored by an SAT tutor who has guided many students in preparation for the test. Readers will learn how to use the ins and outs of the SAT to their advantage. It includes a walkthrough of more than 600 official SAT questions. The publication is written in a conversational style and is full of understandable advice for doing well on the SAT.
  3. The Complete Guide to SAT Reading - Erica Meltzer. Pages: 349; Price: $29.19-$33.20The Complete Guide to SAT Reading is a comprehensive review of the reading skills required to achieve high scores on the reading section of the SAT. The author is an experienced SAT tutor who provides breakdowns of SAT Reading types of questions. She gives in-depth explanations and numerous examples of how to effectively work through every kind of problem. This book offers helpful guidance for your SAT prep, no matter your level of reading skills.
  4. SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach - Erica Meltzer and Larry Krieger. Pages: 133; Price: $17.99-$18.95SAT Vocabulary covers critical vocabulary for the reading, writing and language, and essay sections of the SAT. Rather than just providing long lists of words and their meanings to memorize, the book teaches you to understand the various contexts in which vocabulary is tested. You can then test yourself by applying what you have learned with practice exercises.
  5. The College Panda's SAT Essay: The Battle-tested Guide for the New 2016 Essay - Nielson Phu. Pages: 64; Price: $18.99-$21.52Nielson Phu is a teacher who achieved a perfect SAT score when he took the new SAT in 2016. A copy of his high-scoring essay is included in The College Panda's SAT Essay. And, amazingly, Phu states that he's not a naturally gifted writer. In this book, you’ll find Phu’s tips, strategies, and resources to enable you to score well on the SAT essay, even if you don't think you’re a “good” writer. This short book is worth reading cover-to-cover.
  6. The College Panda's SAT Writing: Advanced Guide and Workbook for the New SAT - Nielson Phu. Pages: 270; Price: $10.29-$28.49Nielson Phu loves to write books to help students achieve a perfect SAT score. Don't be intimidated, though - The College Panda's SAT Writing provides comprehensive coverage of what you need to know to do well in the SAT writing and language section. It gives clear explanations of every grammar rule tested on the SAT, from the most basic to the most obscure. It also includes hundreds of examples, drills, and practice questions. To make the study of grammar less boring, Phu has even added in some fun illustrations.
  7. The College Panda's SAT Math: Advanced Guide and Workbook for the New SAT - Nielson Phu. Pages: 254; Price: $22-$28.49The College Panda's SAT Math is a comprehensive guide to the SAT Math section. This publication is aimed at the student reaching for a perfect score, and, in pursuit of this goal, it leaves no stone unturned. The book has clear explanations of the math concepts tested on the SAT, ranging from the simplest to the most complex. It also provides hundreds of examples, over 500 practice questions, and lists of the most common mistakes students make. Even if you don’t think you can achieve that perfect score, this book is an excellent way to brush up on your math skills.
  8. Bring Home the Score: A Private Tutor's Guide to Scoring in the Highest Echelons of the SAT, ACT, SHSAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, NCLEX, MCAT, or Any Other Standardized Test - Walter Tinsley. Pages: 86; Price: $9.96-$9.97Don't be put off by the lengthy subtitle of Bring Home the Score even if you have to look up what “echelon” means. This volume is jam-packed with tips, tricks, and strategies to land you among the top scorers on any standardized test - including the SAT. You will learn mental strategies to improve your motivation and avoid burnout from an overly aggressive study regimen. Bring Home the Score can help you create a schedule that’s intense but manageable.
  9. Solve. Create: The Insider's Guide to the ACT and SAT - Scott Moser. Pages: 523; Price: $19.68-$29.95People don’t usually think that standardized tests and creativity go together. The author of this book, a private test prep tutor, bases his strategy of success in the SAT on individualization and process rather than focusing on rote memorization. Reason. Solve. Create. aims to help the reader become a better thinker. For example, the same reasoning skills that are used in writing a poem can also be applied to solving a math problem or correcting a mistake in grammar. Information pertaining only to the SAT is clearly marked.
  10. The Perfect Score Project: One Mother's Journey to Uncover the Secrets of the SAT - Debbie Stier. Pages: 288; Price: $6.45-$16.45The Perfect Score Project is not a traditional SAT prep book but provides an interesting and insightful read for both students and parents. Debbie Stier, a single mother and an author, wanted to help her son prepare for the SAT. To this end, she took the test seven times in one year. She also studied every way possible to prep for the test. The result is a book with tried-and-tested answers to every SAT question a student might be asking themselves: When do I begin? Do I really need test prep with a big name? Do I need a tutor, a class, or can I self-study? What's the one thing I need to know? Stier's son did well on the SAT, and so can you.
 

All of these books can be purchased online, and the prices are for new and used books as advertised at the time (June 1, 2019) of this writing. The number of pages is approximate and is based on the table of contents for each book.

What You Need to Know About College Scholarships     NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the web sites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-07-03
Measuring the Costs of Employee Turnover

Best-selling business management author Jim Collins was asked during a 2001 interview if he had identified a good business response to the economic slowdown that had gripped the nation. His widely quoted answer is as relevant today as it was at the time:   “If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people."   Nearly 20 years later and in a highly improved economic climate, Collins’ words still encapsulate the biggest challenge facing HR departments of corporate giants and small start-ups alike: finding and retaining quality team members. In an era of competitive recruitment and job-hopping staff, your company risks losing monetary and human capital each time a valued employee chooses to leave. Employee turnover impacts your bottom line and your company's culture. To set wise employee retention policies, you first need to assess the costs of staff turnover accurately and measure the full impact of employee loss.  

Direct Costs of Replacing Employees

A talented employee exiting your company costs you money. Estimates of how much employee turnover costs can vary by industry and employee salary. A study by Employee Benefit News estimates the direct cost to hire and train a replacement employee equal or exceed 33% of a worker’s annual salary ($15,000 for a worker earning a median salary of $45,000). Cost estimates are based on calculatable expenses like these:
  • HR exit interview & paperwork
  • Benefit payouts owed to the employee
  • Job advertising, new candidate screening & interviewing
  • Employee onboarding costs
  • On-the-job training & supervision
You can track the expenses of your company’s employee turnover using this online calculator, or create a spreadsheet to determine how actual costs add up to affect your bottom line.  

Full Impact of Employee Loss

Josh Bersin, a human resource researcher, writing for LinkedIn, refers to employees as a business’s “appreciating assets.” Good employees grow in value as they learn systems, understand products and integrate into their teams. When one of these valuable employees leaves, the business loses more than just the cost of hiring and training a replacement. Bersin cites these additional factors contributing to the total cost of losing a productive employee:
  • Lost investment: A company typically spends 10 to 20% of an employee’s salary for training over two to three years.
  • Lost productivity: A new employee takes one to two years to reach the level of an exiting employee. Supervision by other team members also distracts those supervisors from their work—and lowers the team’s collective productivity.
  • Lost engagement: Other team members take note of employee turnover, ask “why?” and may disengage.
  • Less responsive, less effective customer service: New employees are less adept at solving customer problems satisfactorily.
  According to Bersin, studies show the total cost of an employee’s loss may range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5 to 2 times that employee’s annual salary.  

Strategies to Slow Employee Turnover Rates

An effective exit interview helps you and your HR team pinpoint the drivers of your company’s employee turnover. You may find that hiring practices need to be refined or employee engagement should be enhanced. Changes to the break room space, such as fresh fruit or games, will allow your employees to relax and come back to work with fresh eyes and a better attitude. This will keep up the workplace morale, shaping your company culture to include perks appealing to younger workers and will lead to increased job satisfaction. Today’s employees are career-oriented and highly motivated. Keep them on your team with other opportunities such as:  
  • Pathway for advancement within the company
  • Professional development & advanced education
  • Flex-time & work-from-anywhere options
  • Management support & recognition
  • Lifestyle rewards or amenities like catering & concierge services
  • Culture of shared values & volunteerism
 

Add Student Loan Benefits Through ELFI

Student loan repayment tops the financial-worries checklist of many recent graduates. Older team members question their ability to pay for educating their children. New, highly desirable HR benefits like student loan contributions and financial literacy education are emerging from these employee concerns—and ELFI for Business is leading the way for employers to incorporate them into hiring packages. You can connect with ELFI directly from your HR portal and access multiple ways to contribute to employees’ student loan debt. We offer new-hire onboarding booklets, educational newsletters and onsite consultations filled with information for you and your employees. Reach out to us at 1.844.601.ELFI to add cutting-edge benefits to your HR employee package!  

Learn More About ELFI for Business

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the web sites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-06-17
Why Do Employees Leave?

Today’s tight labor market and frequent employee turnover are challenging U.S. employers to view company cultures with a critical eye. A report by the Work Institute found that some 42 million (one in four) employees would leave their jobs in 2018. What is the cost of replacing so many experienced people in an organization? According to the report, last year’s “employee churn” costs hovered at $600 billion—a figure that could increase to $680 billion by 2020. Of further concern to companies is the growing realization that young team members are most inclined to move on after a relatively short period of employment. In a recent survey, 59% of respondents felt they should begin looking for a new position after only one to two years on a job. Older employees continuing to work past retirement age or re-entering the workforce are adding stability to many companies, but the turnover trend has serious implications for the long haul. Why are employees leaving and what can employers do to stem the tide? Data gathered by HR organizations and research firms reveal some interesting trends about motivating and retaining current and future employees.  

Top 4 Reasons Employees Leave a Company

The current employee shortage has upended traditional hiring models. Companies are racing to reshape their corporate cultures and embrace the values of a more limited workforce. Although improved pay and benefits packages continue to be important, these four workplace problems are the leading reasons why employees pick up—and move on.  
  • Not enough work-life balance. Team members value their time and don’t want employers to waste it. Their enthusiasm and performance will wane if they are weighed down with busy work and meaningless meetings. Younger employees appreciate flexible schedules, the ability to work from home, and a workload that is challenging without spilling over into personal time.
  • Poor management. Supervisors who are unable to engage their employees or unwilling to help them grow by providing positive feedback are commonly cited as reasons to leave. Today’s professionals respond to personal interaction and appreciate public shout-outs and ancillary rewards like gift cards, tickets, and free meal vouchers.
  • Lack of recognition & career advancement. Employees who excel like to be recognized for their extra effort. They also need to see a clear pathway for furthering their careers. Today’s staff members expect companies to help them grow professionally while providing access to career development and mentorship programs.
  • No company engagement. When a company does not have (or cannot properly communicate) its goals and values, employees lack a shared sense of purpose. Businesses fostering a sense of community are better able to inspire, engage, and retain employees.
 

Create a Satisfying Workplace to Keep Valuable Team Members

In many ways, today’s workforce is looking for the same type of job satisfaction as high performers of past generations. Respect, appreciation for a job well-done, opportunities for advancement, challenging work, and monetary rewards still lead to employee satisfaction and engagement. According to Gallup research, 34% of employees are engaged at work, but 53% are not engaged and likely to leave a job for another offer. To involve these employees and access their potential, employers are putting greater emphasis on corporate culture assets like these:  
  • Relevant workplaces with a clear mission & shared values
  • New-hires who contribute to the corporate community
  • Greater creative freedom & autonomy for staff when possible
  • Updated technology to support performance
  • Employee input as valuable business partners
 

Learn More About The Act Regarding Student Loans and Employers

 

Student Loan Benefits Appeal to Workers of All Ages

Many young employees begin their careers with a heavy burden of student loan debt. They worry about the monthly toll payments will take on their starting salary. Will they have enough money to travel, buy a home, or start a family? Worries about student debt repayment are not limited to the youngest workers. Some data suggest that these concerns cut across age groups and include professionals over age 55. Older workers may have taken on student loan debt to fund advanced degrees or send a child to college. Widespread student loan debt suggests that companies offering repayment contributions and other related benefits have a distinct advantage in attracting and engaging their workforce.    

Improve Retention With Cutting Edge HR Benefits From ELFI

As an ELFI business partner, you can add value to your benefits package with monthly contributions to student loan debt. You’ll also plug into resources like newsletters, webinars and onsite consultations. Connect with ELFI from your HR portal and discover how significant student loan benefits are to your team members—and how cost-effective they are for your company.  

Tops Ways to Engage Millennials at Work

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the web sites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.