When, Where and How to Find a College Job


If you plan to earn money by working in college, you’ll need to understand the first steps to finding a job. Here are the basics.

When to Look for a College Job

Now. If you plan or need to start working right away, start looking now. Use the tips below to start your search before you leave home or as soon as you’re moved in.

If you’re counting on work-study earnings as part of your financial aid, be aware that those jobs sometimes fill quickly, so the sooner you start, the better. See other work-study tips.

Or later. Some students prefer to wait until they have at least a few weeks of managing a new class schedule, a different type of homework load and the college environment before adding a job to the mix. In that case, you should start looking for suitable work a month or more before you hope to start.


Where to Look for a College Job

Today’s college students have multiple choices for the job search. As you search, remember that if you can tie your part-time job to your major or intended career, you’ll also be gaining experience future employers may value.

College career center. Most campuses offer job postings through their career services area. Often, these are also listed online so you can begin looking before classes start.

Departmental offices. If you’re interested in helping professors with administrative duties, tutoring other students, leading campus tours or becoming a resident assistant, you may approach specific offices directly.

Community and campus openings. Many college towns face an increased population of students, faculty, parents and sports fans during the academic year, and employers hire accordingly. Consider restaurants, sports facilities, retail outlets, gyms and even specialty openings like auto repair or photographer’s assistant if you’re qualified. You may also find that your skills as a babysitter or lawn worker in high demand from faculty and other residents.

Online searches. Find on- and off-campus jobs by searching for openings listed on the web.


How to Land a College Job

After looking at your options and considering how they mesh with your particular skills and goals, take steps to improve your chances of getting a job.

Apply early and often. You’re likely not the only student looking at a particular job. Get your application in early, and apply for a number of different positions. If you have specific parameters, like you must work on campus, you may need to increase the number of jobs you apply for to improve your chances.

Reach out to an individual. Personal referrals often help if you know someone who already works for the employer you would like to work for. Even if you don’t have a contact, researching and reaching out to a hiring manager can give you a leg up.

Be professional. Include a cover letter, a professional resume and references with your application if the position warrants it. (Your campus career center is a good resource for developing these items and determining their need.) Provide accurate contact information and be ready to respond to a phone call, text or email. If you meet with the employer, send a thank-you.

Prepare for interviews. You may need to schedule an interview around classes and other commitments. Make sure you put your best foot forward by preparing well.

Follow up. Don’t assume a lack of timely response is a “no.” Before you leave an interview, ask for a timeline and be prepared to call or email your interviewer for an update after that date. If an interview isn’t required, it still doesn’t hurt to call about progress on hiring for the position a few days after the application period closes.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Back to School


Graduating from college in May of 2006 was a bitter sweet day in my life. No more finals. No more moving in and moving out of college dorms. No more loading everything into my car and driving hours just to unload it later that day. College is awesome and stressful all at the same time.

Whether you are going to college for the first time or heading back to college for the fourth time it’s always good to have a plan for when you get there. Most students have a plan to get to college, unload, and find where their classes are. And maybe, more importantly, find the closest dining hall. But sadly, few college students have a financial plan for when they get to college. Consider these four topics when heading back to college:

1. Track your spending

It is easy to spend more than you make when you’re away from home. Remember when you spend more than you make you are borrowing someone else’s money to satisfy your needs and wants. 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and this is not fun. Stick to a budget! My wife and I use www.mint.com. It’s free, fast, and has a pretty easy to use app.

2. Keep your personal info safe

So often it easier to leave your room unlocked when running from class, to lunch, and to intramural soccer. Identity theft is a big deal. It can take up to 7 years and 700 hours to repair your identity. Keep your personal info safe and your financial future secure.

3. Find ways to save money

A great way to save money is by spending less. Look into a more realistic meal plan. Borrow books for your classes and don’t pay full price for anything. Many times just asking for a discount will get you one. Look for reward programs at the places you shop often. Lastly, actually save! Start by putting 5% into a savings account and you will thank yourself when you graduate and need a reserve to begin life.

4. Be smart about what you borrow

Many college students get in trouble borrowing too much for school. A good rule of thumb is to not borrow more than you will make the first year in your career of choice. For example, if you plan to teach science and anticipate making $40,000 per year, do not borrow more than $40,000 total for college. Work part-time and as much as you can during the summer and you will thank yourself later. Student debt is crippling college graduates from pursuing their dreams and it’s because of student loan repayment ignorance. Plan for your payments and you will be ready and equipped. Check out Return on College Investment and see what your starting salary will look like.

By: TS Institute

This is Contributed Content. Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, or other information contained in Contributed Content are solely those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect the opinion of Iowa Student Loan and/or this blog. See the “About” page for additional important information about Contributed Content.

Checklist for Parents of High Schoolers (Infographic)

As the number of high school years wane for your student, preparation for the next step should be picking up. Use these checklists to help your child plan for college.


Download this infographic as a PDF.

Sophomore Year of High School

  • Start visiting colleges. Even if your student isn’t sure of major or career goal, visits to a variety of campuses will help him or her focus on the type and size of college, surrounding community and distance from home that is most desirable.

    Incorporate campus visits with other trips to see campuses further from home. Mix a few formal visit days with more informal walks through other campuses.
  • Explore college costs. Understand the net price, as opposed to sticker price, of different colleges. Use online net price calculators for an estimate of what your family may be expected to contribute, as well as financial and merit aid options for your student.

    Search for the college name and “net price calculator” in your internet browser.
  • Prepare for standardized tests. Both the ACT and SAT offer free practice tests online, and more robust preparation is available on those sites and from other test prep providers for a fee. Both tests have changed recently, so get a feel for your student’s weaknesses and strong areas.

    High school sophomores may take the PSAT10 to get a baseline score for the PSAT given to juniors. Use the results to prepare for the PSAT. Each state’s highest scorers on the PSAT qualify for significant merit scholarships from some colleges.
  • Explore career options. Most students are familiar with a limited range of career options and it may be hard for them to choose something they want to do for a daily job. Tools like our ROCI Reality Check and the Bureau of Labor Standards Occupational Outlook Handbook can help students get an idea of options and salaries.

    Help your child understand how salary is connected to the cost to earn a degree: Students should plan to take on no more college debt than they can expect to earn their first year after college.
  • Encourage reading and awareness of world events. These activities broaden perspective and can ignite a passion in your student. Search online for a list of recommended books to read before college and make thoughtful discussion of global, national and local occurrences a regular topic.

    News podcasts are often appealing to high school students and you can listen together during daily commutes.
  • Help your child be involved. Extracurriculars, from school clubs and honorary societies to youth groups and part-time jobs, play an integral role in preparing your child for college and beyond. Many colleges also consider involvement and leadership during the application process.

    Rather than being involved marginally in a lot of activities, encourage your child to become more deeply involved in a limited number of the activities he or she likes most.
  • Plan high school coursework. Help your student work with school counselors to ensure high school graduation, and college admission, requirements will be met within the next two years. Consider whether your student is taking the most academically rigorous classes he or she can manage well.

    Many high schools offer opportunities for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or dual enrollment classes that may allow your student to earn college credit during high school.

Junior Year of High School

  • Understand the financial aid process. Although you and your student won’t complete the Free Application for Financial Aid until the fall before college, it’s wise to understand how grants, scholarships, work-study and loans work together to cover college costs.Tip: Help your student understand what your family may contribute to college costs and how that impacts the schools your student considers.
  • Take standardized tests. Put last year’s prep to good use by scheduling ACT or SAT exams on dates that fit well into the family schedule. This way, your student will be able to fit in preparation around classes, extracurriculars and needed sleep. Plan for your student to take either the ACT or SAT more than once as many colleges “superscore,” or accept the best subscores from multiple sittings.Tip: Some students perform better on the ACT, while others score higher on the SAT. Colleges accept either test, so use scores from practice tests and first sittings to help your student decide whether to take only one or both tests.
  • Get serious about the college search. School websites can provide valuable information about cost, the student body and academics. College fairs allow families to learn about many schools in a single day. More targeted visits are also in order during the winter and spring of junior year. Many college applications open by late summer or early fall of senior year, so help your child narrow the list of potential applications.Tip: Some families get more out of scheduled visit days that cater to juniors; others prefer individual visits designed around their student’s needs. Try a couple of each type early on to help focus later visits to the most desirable colleges.
  • Explore scholarship opportunities. Help your student search for and learn about scholarship opportunities from the schools he or she is interested in, community organizations and online scholarship searches. Knowing the requirements will help your student prepare to be in the running.Tip: Many colleges apply merit aid, or scholarships awarded based on academic merit, to reduce awarded financial aid, allowing your student to take out fewer loans.
  • Encourage writing. Essays, personal statements and short-answer responses are integral to the college application process. Help your student prepare by exploring the standards of good writing and talking about his or her accomplishments, goals and thoughts.Tip: A composition, language or English teacher may be willing to work with your student to perfect writing.
  • Compile a resume. Help your student think about activities, awards, accomplishments, academics, work and community efforts from the beginning of high school. Sometimes called a brag sheet, this document will become a resource for college and scholarship applications, as well as those your student asks to write letters of recommendation.Tip: Show your student how professionals use action words, short phrases and descriptions of results to create their resumes. These strategies will help your student prepare to fill in limited-character online college application forms.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Parents’ Guide to College Prep


Knowing your student is prepared can help ease your anxiety as they make the move away. Use these tips to help ensure they’re ready for daily life on their own.

Plan for medical emergencies.
You are not automatically granted access to your student’s health information or permitted to make medical decisions if he or she is 18 or older and becomes incapacitated, even if you carry the insurance and pay the bills. You may want to have your student properly complete, sign and have notarized official power of attorney and medical information release forms that you can carry on your phone or otherwise easily access in case of emergency.

In addition, your student should understand when an illness or injury requires self-treatment, a visit to the health center or a specialist, or a trip to the emergency room.

Prepare for other medical events.
Check with your student’s college to see if you’re being charged for health insurance and if you can waive it if your plan already covers your child.

You may find your student needs vaccinations or boosters, as well as a regular physical, dental cleaning or vision check before college. Encourage your student to schedule appointments, complete the appropriate paperwork and fill or refill a prescription for these visits so it’s not all new when he or she is far from home. In addition, provide your child with copies of the pertinent medical, prescription, vision and dental insurance cards.

With your student, put together a basic medical kit for the dorm room with pain reliever, bandages and other health items you normally keep at home.


Set up a financial system.
If you will be helping your student financially, ensure you can easily transfer money to him or her, perhaps through a student checking account that also carries your name. Check for financial institutions that have a branch or no-fee ATMs on or near campus.

Adding your student to a credit card account also makes financial transactions simpler. Because a college student’s card could be easily lost or stolen, you may want to set up a new card or account number to avoid problems with your own purchases.

Attend an orientation.
Besides actually signing up for an orientation date, your student may need to take online placement tests and training or safety courses before attending. In addition, if he or she will be signing up for classes at orientation, suggest that your student look through the course catalog for entry-level required classes and come up with a preferred and alternate schedule. If your student didn’t attend a summer orientation, look for opportunities with the start of classes.

Plan the big move.
Decide if it makes sense to purchase items now or wait until you get on campus, depending on planned transportation and availability. Some department store chains allow you to select items at one location or online and pick up at a location close to campus. In general, understand that dorm rooms are small, students will probably only need half or less of their original packing list and they can usually pick up or order items they forgot later.

Make needed reservations.
If you plan to move-in day or parents weekend with your student, check hotel and transportation availability early. Especially in smaller college communities, nearby rooms and rental vehicles may be booked quickly. If your student will fly home and back to school during high-traffic times like Thanksgiving or Christmas, you may also want to book those flights early.

Get the car college-ready.
If your student will be taking a car to campus, help him or her set up any appointments for needed maintenance or repairs over the summer. Discuss an appropriate schedule and possible locations for service they may need close to campus. You might consider a AAA membership with towing services if the student will be driving far, and you may also need to let your car insurance provider know. Finally make sure your student knows what to do in case of a car accident, such as whom to call and what to say to another party.

If your student won’t be taking a car to campus but normally drives under your car insurance policy, contact your provider about possible savings and reduced coverage.

Take care of any additional paperwork.
If your student may need an updated passport or their Social Security card or birth certificate, help him or her locate those and discuss how important it is to keep these documents safe. If your child relies on his or her cell phone contact list for phone numbers for you and other important contacts, suggest a printed or electronic list in case the phone is broken, lost or stolen.

If your student will have valuables on campus, consider dorm insurance or check your homeowner’s policy for coverage.

By: Iowa Student Loan

To-Do: College Prep

As you quickly approach your freshman year at college, take some time to be ready for your new independence.


Take Care of Business

  1. If you haven’t already, log in to your school’s website to view your financial aid package, residence and dining contracts, and class schedule. Check for emails periodically.
  2. If you didn’t do one this summer, sign up for and attend a freshman orientation.
  3. Make sure you understand your financial aid package and take any action necessary. If you don’t need all the loans offered to you, decline the extra. Remember, you’ll have to pay back anything you borrow, plus interest, so don’t take any loans you can get by without.
  4. If you have scholarships, check the procedures for receiving the money, as well as any requirements, such as a minimum GPA, for renewal.
  5. Get any vaccines you need, and ensure you have a copy of your health insurance card.
  6. Memorize your Social Security and student numbers.
  7. Determine how to get a parking pass, a student ID, and athletic or event tickets.
  8. If you’re planning to work part-time, check out the job opportunities on and off campus.
  9. Make a budget for the year, taking into account anticipated expenses, financial aid and any earnings.
  10. If you’re going to need more money, research private student loans and apply for the minimal loan amount you’ll need.

Become Self-Sufficient

  1. Learn how to do laundry.
  2. If you’ll have a car on campus, understand basic maintenance and determine when and where to get that done. Also, make sure you have a copy of your registration and auto insurance card.
  3. Know how to fill prescriptions and schedule appointments.
  4. Practice shopping for groceries and necessities on a budget.
  5. Look for a calendar system—whether paper or electronic—that will work for you.
  6. Learn about the resources available on campus—academic, medical, fitness, safety and IT—and know how to access them.

Practice Your Social Skills

  1. Contact your roommate. Find out personal preferences, as well as who will bring what for the room.
  2. Start becoming comfortable talking to strangers of all ages. You will need to have face-to-face conversations with professors and advisers, as well as your peers.
  3. Discover what you can about the campus and the community before you go, and take any chances to learn your way around.
  4. Check out welcome week activities. Choose at least a few that pique your interest.

Get What You Need

  1. Check the orientation materials or school website for a list of recommended items and supplies, as well as those that are not needed on your campus.
  2. Practice your budgeting and planning skills by determining where to get the lowest prices on what you need and whether to bring items with you or buy them later.

By: Iowa Student Loan

5 Ways to Start Senior Year Right

Summer’s ending and school is rolling back around! For those who graduated in June, that means starting up college. But for another group of students, it means that their high school senior year and all its thrills, hurdles and achievements is just beginning.

Start-Senior-Year-RightSenior year brings with it a lot of exciting moments, but it also brings a lot of stress and decision-making as well. Here are some tips for going back to school to help get you through your final year of high school.

1. Get planning and meet deadlines.

The idea of going back to school can seem easier if you ease your way into it, taking it slow. There’s so much going on between catching up with friends, getting back into activities and figuring out your last round of classes. It can seem that the last thing you want to do is start a heavy to-do list for college.

BUT — the earlier you get planning and organized, the easier the process is going to be. Do you want to avoid major headaches and stress-out moments over the next few months? Then get a planner and start writing out a schedule for your final campus visits, your college application deadlines, housing and financial aid deadlines, and final SAT or ACT test dates, and get an outline going on your plan for scholarships.

Trust us. Making a deadline might be stressful now, but when you meet that deadline, the relief and feeling of success that rolls off will make it all worth it.

2. Don’t neglect your actual schoolwork.

We just listed A LOT of new to-dos for your senior year. With all the new stuff to focus on while getting ready for life after high school, it’s really tempting to put off a paper here and a project there.

Don’t do it!

Your schoolwork is extremely important. You don’t want to let your grades slip your final year. Colleges look at your work all the way through your last day of senior year, and those grades can really impact the opportunities that are open to you next year.

This brings us back to tip 1 — planning. The more you plan ahead, the more you will be able to schedule things out and fit everything you need to get done into your schedule.

3. Ask for help.

This year may get overwhelming at times. Don’t feel like you have to brave it all alone; ask for help. It’s a good idea to talk out your ideas for the future with the adults in your life. Talk with your parents, your grandparents, close friends, teachers or your school counselor. They will all be able to give you good advice and help you through stressful moments.

4. Think about ALL your options.

You have so many options open to you right now; don’t close any doors. Use this year to explore new things and try to discover what really piques your interests and gets you excited. Take a self-assessment test and see how the results line up your interests with potential college majors and careers. Make sure those line up with the colleges you are considering.

5. Don’t forget to have fun.

Senior year isn’t just about planning for life after senior year is over. It’s also about enjoying your final year of high school with your friends. Take the time to be a teenager. Hang out with friends, go to the school dance, attend homecoming and try something new. If you’ve always done athletics, try out for the play. Get involved in the community with a new volunteer opportunity. This is your last year of high school; make some memories and have a good time.

By: Iowa College Access Network

This is Contributed Content. Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, or other information contained in Contributed Content are solely those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect the opinion of Iowa Student Loan and/or this blog. See the “About” page for additional important information about Contributed Content.

5 Tips for Choosing a College Major


It starts as soon as people know you intend to go to college — everyone wants to know what your major is or what you want to do for a career. This can lead to a lot of stress if you just aren’t sure. Try these tips to help figure out your answer.

1. Don’t panic.
Many young adults — and a large proportion of older adults — haven’t figured out what they want to do, so you’re not alone.

For many career paths, you can wait a couple of semesters to declare a major without extending your college career (and potential debt). In fact, many colleges advise those who aren’t absolutely sure of their major to spend some time exploring before committing to one.

2. Find out where your interests lie.
Think about what you most like to do. What classes did you excel in? What extracurriculars, activities and events do you keep going back to? Have you ever been so absorbed in something that you didn’t realize how much time had passed?

Questions like this can help you determine how you like to spend time. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, ask your friends and family what they notice about you.

Assessments can also help you determine your interests and potential careers, and the majors tied to them. Your school counselor or academic adviser can help you find assessments, and several are available for free online.

3. Consider all the aspects of a potential career.

Salary can be an important factor when you think about careers and the majors that will allow you to obtain a job in that field. But, you may have other considerations.

Ask yourself whether you want a job that will allow you to help others or improve the world in some way; whether you like high-stress environments that will require you to make quick decisions or meet deadlines; whether you prefer to work alone, in small groups, or with a large variety of people; if working in cubicle or driving around the state is more appealing; and other similar questions.

Also consider the lifestyle you would like to have. Do you want a job that will allow you flexibility to volunteer or spend more time with a family? Do you prefer urban or rural environments? Would you consider a move across the country — or the world?

4. Explore your choices.
Once you have an idea of the types of majors you might like, use a tool like ROCI Reality Check to help you explore the jobs actually achieved by graduates of that major, as well as the job descriptions, projected need for workers in that field and expected salaries.

Think about job-shadowing or finding part-time jobs that are closely related to the type of work you want to do to see if the reality is close to your expectations. Many professionals are happy to talk to interested students about the type of work they do every day.

Some colleges offer exploratory courses or programs to help you take a few classes from several majors and pinpoint where your interests lie. Talk to your academic adviser about these possibilities.

5. Keep an open mind.
You may find that you don’t like certain aspects of the career you always wanted. If that happens, think about related careers that don’t involve the things you’d rather avoid. Take a look at the actual jobs held by graduates of your selected major in the ROCI Tool to get ideas for related careers.

If you do declare a major and then decide it’s not for you, it’s usually not hard to change your major. Depending on when this occurs and how different your new major is from your last one, you may find you need to spend more time in school to complete all the required courses.

Remember that your major can be instrumental in helping you obtain your first job out of college. After that, you may find that skills you picked up in your first position are more useful in landing your second. Also, many people switch careers one or more times before they retire. Your college major does not necessarily dictate all your career choices for the rest of your life.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How and Why to Choose a Minor


Is a college minor (or two or three) right for you? Here are six questions to help you decide.

Will the minor be useful?
You may choose a minor to help you achieve your career goals. In this case, consider the relationship between your major and the minor you’re considering. A minor can help you explore a related field more in depth than you might through general education electives and provide specialization or focus to your major.

Certain minors are also useful regardless of major. Consider how different disciplines can complement your chosen field and give you skills that are adaptable to many different jobs.

If you’re relying on a minor to help you in your career search, however, it should not be too similar or too unrelated to your major. Keep in mind that many employers would prefer to see job experience or research instead.

Will you enjoy the classes?
A minor can be a great opportunity to develop a passion, interest or hobby. If you find yourself choosing electives that are related, consider tying them into a minor. College is also an ideal time to develop skills or interests that will be beneficial later, whether or not they’re related to your major.

Is the timing right?
If you’re too close to graduation before you start a new minor, employers may wonder why you didn’t choose to work in an entry-level position or gain other work experience instead.

On the other hand, if you started with a double major and find your interest or commitment flagging, cutting one of your majors back to a minor can help you refocus on a single major.

When you consider a minor, plan out the required classes in relation to the other classes you need to take and other commitments for the remainder of your college career. Will you be able to get all the classes you need without extending the length—and overall cost—of your education?

Can you handle the additional coursework?
Adding academic commitments can result in a lower GPA for your major, less time for extracurriculars or work, and additional months or years in college. Is the coursework required for your minor manageable within your existing goals?

Are you nearly there already?
Some students find that their choices of elective or required courses checks most of the boxes for a specific minor. You may consider finishing out the minor if it only requires a few more credits.

Is it required by your college?
A few schools require minors or concentrations to achieve a degree. If that’s the case, of course it’s important to fulfill the requirement.

By: Iowa Student Loan