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Jamie Ballard

Don't miss the deadline for these August scholarships

As the beginning of a new school year draws nearer, you might be turning your mind to tuition bills, financial aid, student loans, getting a job, and other financial concerns. Many students disregard scholarships because they figure they aren’t likely to win, but this notion is often false. Here are five scholarships with August deadlines that you won’t want to miss. 

Wholesale Halloween Costumes Scholarship – $500

Eligibility: must be enrolled at a two-year or four-year college, be a U.S. citizen or hold a student visa.

Application: Tweet a short story that is exactly 100 characters long. Include the hashtag #ScholarshipWHC in your tweet. Include the link to the scholarship page bit.ly/1aI7L6q in your tweet.

Deadline: August 13.

Germ Warrior Scholarship – $1000

Eligibility: open to high school seniors or enrolled college students (undergrad and graduate)

Application: 500 word essay. Includes applicant’s name, address, phone number and the college, university or institute of attendance in August 15th, 2014.
What are your health goals? In the next 10 years, how do you think your lifestyle will change, and what do you plan to do in order to stay healthy? What changes do you plan on doing in the near future to better your life?

Deadline: August 15.

Atlanta Dental Spa Scholarship – $1,000

Eligibility: open to high school juniors and seniors, and students enrolled in any post-secondary institution

Application: Answer these three questions in a 250 to 1,000 word essay: 
What is the most difficult challenge you’ve faced in your life? What did you do to overcome it?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
How will this scholarship contribute to your academic, professional, or personal goals?

Deadline: August 18th

Clubs of America Scholarship Award – $1500

Eligibility: open to students enrolled in any accredited U.S. college or university, must have GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Application: Write an essay of no fewer than 800 words about their career aspirations and how their current course load will help them achieve success in their careers. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Deadline: August 31.

Lexington Law Scholarship – $5,000

Eligibility: open to students enrolled in any accredited U.S. college or university, must have GPA of 2.5 or higher. 

Application: Write an essay of no fewer than 800 words about what a credit score means to them, how it impacts their financial future, and how they plan to obtain and retain a great credit score during their college years. Competitive candidates will describe and demonstrate knowledge of credit scores, connect the importance of college years to a credit score, and discuss why improving the candidate’s credit score can improve his or her future. YouTube submissions are strongly encouraged, although not required.  Video should be no longer than 4 minutes. 

Deadline: August 31.

These are just a few of the scholarships available out there! Check with your university’s financial aid and scholarship office for other scholarships you may be eligible for, based on your major, GPA, class rank, and more. Additionally, you should always keep an eye out for local scholarships, either in your college area or in your hometown. Local scholarships typically receive fewer applicants, so your odds of winning can increase dramatically. (Example: at my high school, a few years before I graduated, a local organization planned to give out 3 separate $1,000 scholarships. Only one girl applied – they just gave her all $3,000!)

Applying for scholarships may seem time consuming and tedious, but it can be well worth it. An 800 word essay might take you three hours to write, edit, and polish up. If your essay wins a $5,000 scholarship, you’ve just made $1,666.66 per hour worked, or $6.25 per word, depending on how you look at it. So why are you waiting? Apply for these scholarships before time runs out!

Four Simple DIY Car Repairs to Save Money

I spent one long year at college in San Diego without a car, relying solely on public transit to get to work, go out with friends, and basically do anything off-campus. But a trip that takes 15 minutes driving can sometimes take more than an hour using the San Diego public transit system. Eventually, I realized that with the life I was trying to build, a car would be necessary. Thankfully, one was available and I was able to (with my parents’ help) buy it.

The 1996 Chrysler Sebring convertible and I got along splendidly. We took the freeways of San Diego by storm. Until one fatal day, when Simone let me down. She broke down on the side of the freeway.

Luckily, my boyfriend and his dad (who originally owned the car before I bought it) were able to fix  the problem fairly easily and get my car running. And thank goodness they knew what they were doing, because I would have shelled out hundreds of dollars to a mechanic for the same service.

At some point, I lamented my hopelessness with doing car repairs myself. My boyfriend’s father said, “Can you open a beer?” “Yes,” I replied. “Can you open a bottle of wine?” “Sure…” “Then you can work on a car.”

Okay, the actions might be that simple, I thought. But the knowledge is more important, and I don’t have that.

I was wrong. There are so many resources to help you figure out your car. While there are some issues that only a trained mechanic with specialized tools can fix, there are many repairs that you can DIY for a small fraction of the cost. You’ll need some basic tools, like a screwdriver set, an adjustable wrench, and pliers. If you’re lucky, someone might have the tools you need and be willing to let you borrow them when needed.

Don’t pay loads of money for these simple repairs. Educate yourself on simple car repairs, and save hundreds of dollars.

Replace your battery. First, test if your battery is dead for good, or if it just needs a jump start. Many auto places will loan you a multimeter to check this. If it turns out your battery needs to be replaced, you should first take the old one out. Take it to the shop where you’re buying a new battery, and they’ll dispose of the old one for you. Using your manual and/or the handy dandy internet, you should be able to find a step-by-step guide to replacing the battery in your car. Unless your battery is in a weird spot, this should only take about 10 minutes.

Change the oil. Oil changes are a quick and easy repair that also only take 10 to 20 minutes. It’s important, though, to make sure that there’s a place to dispose of your old oil. You’ll have to drain the oil, replace the filter, and add new oil. Once again, you should be able to find a guide tailored to your car online.

Replace the brake pads. If your brakes squeal whenever you apply them, you might need to replace the pads. But if you hear a different noise, like a grinding sound, it could be the rotor – at which point you might need to take it to a mechanic. If the problem is the pads, you can save about $250 by replacing them yourself.

Check and replace the belts. The belts were actually the problem in my car. I didn’t even know what a belt did until it broke. A cracked or worn belt needs to be replaced as soon as you notice it. If it breaks while you’re driving, you too might end up on the side of the freeway as the sun sets. The problem, however could also be a loose belt, in which case you simply tighten it.

I cannot emphasize this enough – Google is your best friend. Literally, type in the year, make and model, followed by the how-to you’re looking for. “1996 Chrysler Sebring brake pad replacement.” Boom. 4 videos and 5 step-by-step how-to guides.

With these tips, you can save hundreds of dollars on your car replacements, and use that money for important things like tuition…or concert tickets, it’s up to you.

4 Ways to Help Your Community During Back-to-School Season

I know, I know, you don’t even want to be thinking about going back to school yet. Most of you have at least a month before classes resume, but now is the time to start thinking about getting yourself ready and organized, so that you’re prepared when the dreaded day comes.

One way to get yourself organized is cleaning out your closet. A new school year means new clothing for many of us, but not everyone has the spare cash to buy new clothes, shoes and accessories. And you may need more room in your closet anyway – why not kill two birds with one stone? Donate your clothes to a local shelter or thrift store. Many women’s shelters have an in-house donation center where the women staying there can get new outfits for themselves and their children. If your city doesn’t have something like this, consider donating to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army, or see if there are any clothing drives happening in your area. It’s an easy way to stay organized while helping those in need. 

Another way to get a head start on the school year is getting supplies now, before the stores are flooded with students and prices start to jump. While you’re shopping for your own supplies, pick up some supplies for kids in need. Many families can’t necessarily afford a spread of brand-new school supplies, especially if they’re buying for multiple children. Besides, don’t you remember being a kid, and that awesome smell of freshly-sharpened pencils and a new box of Crayolas? Give that gift to someone else in your community. School supply drives are pretty common this time of year, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a recipient for your spare supplies. Target is partnering with the Kids in Need Foundation to donate supplies to disadvantaged children nationwide. Sleep Train also holds an annual school supply drive for foster children. Additionally,you can always drop the supplies off at a nearby elementary school – they’ll certainly be put to use.

Once the school year begins, you’ll quickly become busy with classes, homework, sports, and more. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have good intentions when it comes to community service, but amidst the hubbub of a new year, you might find yourself too busy or distracted to commit to a cause. Start researching and signing up for volunteer opportunities now, while you have the time. Find a cause you’re genuinely interested in and begin volunteering. VolunteerMatch is a great way to find service opportunities in your area that meet your interests. Once you’ve found it, make sure to stay active and involved with your cause. You might worry that you’ll be stressed and overworked, but studies show that volunteering your time makes you feel more efficient, which actually makes you feel as if you have more time! Not to mention, volunteering can increase self-confidence, combat depression, and make you feel more physically healthy.

Last but not least, keep your eyes open for school-related volunteer opportunities near you. Many elementary, middle and high schools have back-to-school fairs where they may need volunteers to help with check-ins, directions and more. At your college, there will likely be opportunities to help with back-to-school guidance. You can tutor new students, guide tours around campus, or help people with scheduling (some of these may be paid positions – check with your college). If nothing else, you’re bound to see a confused freshmen consulting a campus map at some point. Go ask him or her if they want help finding their building. This happened to me several times as a freshman, and I was always grateful when someone helped me out.

We aren’t back in school yet, but the day is coming. Set yourself up for success academically, emotionally and physically by giving back to your community now. You’ll coast into the new year on a high note, and feel great about making a difference.

Parody film "They Came Together" hits the mark

You’ve seen it a hundred times before: a suave Manhattan man meets a quirky Brooklyn gal, and they immediately hate one another! And then they find out they have some common interest which naturally causes them to fall deeply in love and eventually get married on a city rooftop.

If you’re as tired as I am of the trope, go find “They Came Together,” a witty parody starring Amy Pohler as Molly, the clumsy, quirky, unlucky-in-love woman, and Paul Rudd as Joel, the charismatic careerist. She owns a quaint little candy shop, and he works for a big corporate candy company. He has a hot but mean girlfriend, and she has a best friend whose only purpose is to cheerlead for her and be relentlessly selfless.

The couple is relaying their love story to their friends over dinner, and as the film goes on, the other couple regrets ever asking about the love story between Paul, Molly, and “the third character in our love story: New York.” Their companions, played by Ellie Kemper and Bill Hader, try unsuccessfully to leave – several times.

As the story goes, the couple falls in love when they realize they both like…fiction books! From there, one thing leads to another until eventually they’re in a Nora Ephron-esque montage as they frolic through New York, giggling and kissing.

About two-thirds of the way through, they get into a fight over Joel’s ex-girlfriend and break up. They go their separate ways until Molly’s wedding day, where right before she’s about to marry her new husband – well, I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.

The smart, funny movie pokes fun at these cliches in a way that’s affectionate, not caustic. As it’s said, you have to have some appreciation for the thing you’re parodying. Combine the quality writing with an all-star cast – Cobie Smulders, Ed Helms, and Max Greenfield all give good performances, as well as the actors named above – and you’ve got a movie well worth your time.

Strangely, the movie doesn’t seem to be getting much press, possibly because it’s in limited theatres. It’s currently streaming on Google Plus and Amazon for $6.99.

The benefits of community college

Why it might be a better option

The average college graduate leaves their institution with about $33,000 in student loan debt, often after spending more than four years getting their degree. But hey, at least they powered through, unlike many of their classmates who dropped out at some point during their college career. Sure, they’re deeply in debt, with a degree they chose because they couldn’t switch majors a fifth time, graduating into a job market that is shaky at best, but it was still the best option, right?


Time and time again, people overlook the less expensive, equally valid alternative to the typical four-year degree: the community college.

There are numerous benefits to starting your higher education at a community college (or a junior college). First and foremost, CC’s are far,far less expensive. A class that costs you $300 per unit at a state school, for example, might only cost $56 per unit at a CC. Not to mention, textbooks are cheaper and living at home (as most CC students do) saves money.

Another significant benefit is the flexibility community colleges allow students who may not know what degree they want to pursue. A junior/community college allows students to take a variety of courses without settling on a distinct line of study just yet. For students who are still figuring out what to do career-wise, the option to try different things out can be very helpful. Many four-years require you to pick a major upon enrollment.

“But my best friend’s older brother went to a community college, and he’s been there for six years now, and still hasn’t transferred! I don’t want to get stuck,” you’re saying. With all due respect to your friend’s brother, you get out of a CC what you put into it. If you stay focused, keep in contact with your advisors, and keep your goals at the forefront of your mind, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem transferring into a four-year of your choice.

So before you turn over your time and college fund to an institution that may or may not best serve your needs, take a look at the community colleges in your area.

Don’t forget these dorm essentials!

Beyond the basics

As incoming freshman are beginning to pack up their belongings (or if you’re like me, thinking about maybe packing up your belongings…next week), it’s suddenly dawning you that you aren’t exactly sure what you’ll need. Of course, you know the basics – bedding, storage, shower stuff – but there are many other things you might be forgetting. Here are the top items you won’t want to forget.

1) Vacuum, broom and dustpan
When your dorm room is your bedroom, kitchen, and living room, things are apt to get rather messy from time to time. You’ll spill things, drop things, track in dirt, and generally make a mess. Staying organized with drawers and storage boxes isn’t always enough, you’ll have to clean the floor too.

This is first on my list because of personal experience. I recently moved out of the dorms, and after all the furniture was moved, the amount of crumbs, dirt and dust on the floor was appalling, even to a slob like me. If I had taken $10 to buy a broom and dustpan, and 10 minutes a week, my room would have been much better. Don’t make my mistake. Clean your floors.

2) Air freshener
Much like the above items, air freshener is one of those things you’ll need to keep your room pleasant. Take two people’s dirty laundry and microwaved food smells, combined with whatever other smells might be floating around the floor, and your room could smell a bit…funky. Get an air freshener you like, but be sure to use it sparsely. (You don’t want your room to smell gross, but you also don’t want anyone choking on the air in your over-scented room)

3) An first aid kit
You don’t think about needing a band-aid until it’s 2 in the morning and your new heels have rubbed your feet so raw that you can barely have a blanket covering them. You don’t think about needing aspirin until your head is pounding so badly you can’t see straight. You don’t think about needing burn cream until you burn your wrist making cookies in the dorm kitchen. Need I go on? Buy a first aid kit.

4) Surge protector
Between your phone, laptop, hair straightener, game console, television, and whatever else needs to be plugged in, you won’t always have enough outlets. Get a surge protector (but be sure to turn it off when you’re not in the room – there’s my eco plug for the day!)

5) Portable speakers
There will be times when you and all your friends are getting ready to head out, and your laptop speakers just won’t cut it. Or maybe your friend hosting a party broke his speakers (happens more often than you think). Sometimes, you just wanna jam out to your own music for a bit. Whatever the case, portable speakers are a good item to have.

6) A Keurig coffeemaker
Depending on your dorm rules, you may not *technically* be allowed to have one of these, but in my experience, it’s usually not a problem. Keep it under your bed or out of sight when you aren’t using it, if you’re concerned about an RA checking your room.

Obviously, this is a must-have if you’re a coffee drinker. But even if you’re not, you can use it to brew tea, make ramen, make instant oatmeal, and more.

Other items:
Wall hooks for towels and decorations
Bed tray/lap desk for laptop, writing, eating in bed, etc.
Party supplies to decorate your friends’ rooms for birthdays
Small whiteboard and dry-erase markers
Paper towels and baby wipes
A small area rug

Bonus: Things you don’t actually need from the “Dorm Essentials” section of Target
A “organizing tray”
Ironing board
A filtered water pitcher – buy bottled water in bulk, or a reusable water bottle
A wastebasket – most dorms provide one

What did you find were the most useful items in your dorm? Things you wish you had brought with you for your first year?

Boho is Back

How 70’s style is making a comeback

Fashion, much like history, is cyclical. Trends come and go, but wait a few years and they manifest themselves once again in a slightly different form. Such is the case with the recent influx of bohemian-inspired styles offered at places like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21. Welcome (back) to the early 1970’s.

I went to the mall the other day (Incidentally, a sentence I probably won’t be able to say in 15 years). Suddenly, I couldn’t turn around without bumping into a paisley-patterned jumpsuit or crocheted maxidress. Southwestern-inspired prints, fringed ponchos, and breezy kimonos were everywhere. Even the girls I saw browsing the racks looked like they could have sprung from the 70s – fresh faced, natural looking beauties a la Peggy Lipton.

Hippies are the new hipsters. Where young women a year ago were imitating Zooey Deschanel, now they’re inspired by Stevie Nicks.  Where they once donned preppy headbands a la Blair Waldorf, they’ve turned to flower crowns worn across the forehead.

It’s interesting that we’ve allowed the 70’s to make a comeback. For years, we laughed at our parent’s photos, asking them why they willingly wore polyester jumpsuits and bell-bottom jeans. We wondered how anyone got around in those chunky platform shoes with a patchwork skirt to boot. But it seems we’ve taken only some of the era’s fashion, and made it our own. We’ve left the tacky disco outfits in the attic where they belong, but embraced the flowery, romantic outfits.

Perhaps Lauren Martin was right in her assertion that millenials are the new hippies. She talks about how we’re the “new free spirits,” and what better way to express it than through our fashion sense? The bohemian ideals we’ve fallen in love with find themselves in bold and artistic prints, and they announce to the world who we are. They say that we’re lovers, not fighters; they say that we value creative freedom and the right to express ourselves; they say that we’re young and maybe we haven’t figured it all out yet, but we’re trying.

So embrace the embroidered peasant tops and boho dresses. They’re comfortable, breezy, and they make a statement. Leave the structured silhouettes behind, let your hair down (parted in the center, preferably) and embrace a more natural look. Let 2014 be the year of the bohemian.


This piece appeared originally on The Daily Confidential. 

The issues with modern feminism, and how to fix them.

Why it’s not about hating men and burning our bras

I feel awkward calling myself a feminist, though I know I shouldn’t. It’s because I don’t always fit into the popular interpretation of the word as a man-hating, sexually adventurous, perpetually pissed-off woman.

The way my boyfriend (who does believe in gender equality) described it was “Feminism feels like being yelled at for something I didn’t personally do.” And he has a good point. Some people think about feminism in words like “patriarchal society” and “female oppression” and “rape culture.” These things all have validity, but too often they’re used to paint everyone with a broad brush. Are you a cis-gender man with a penis? Then you’re part of the oppressive patriarchal society and it’s your fault women suffer from economic, social, and political discrimination.

Seems wrong, doesn’t it?

Another issue to be found with particular brands of feminism is that sometimes while it claims to be empowering women, it actually allows women to blame society for our issues, thusly playing the victim rather than actually forcing ourselves to make progress. When we complain about the wage gap or rape culture or not being able to have a career and a family, we brush off any personal responsibility. “Society” is not to blame for these flaws. If we’re supposed to be these strong and empowered people, then why aren’t we acting like it?
This isn’t to say we’ve achieved total gender equality – there are still problems that need to be solved. But let’s actually work towards solving them.
Instead of complaining about the wage gap, work so hard that they have no choice but to pay you more. Instead of complaining about how we live in a world that says “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape,” start educating other people. Instead of fretting about your career and family coexisting, realize that millions of women do both without any significant damage to either aspect of their lives.
Instead of acting like a victim, recognize that equal opportunity doesn’t mean equal outcome. Women and men, in nearly all cases, do have the same opportunities. It’s what we make of them that’s differing.

Here’s what I think of feminism: neither men nor women are superior, and we need both genders to be empowered and cooperative. People are people, and while we differ in a lot of ways, everyone is a part of our social fabric. There are men in my life I love, and women in my life I love. So how can I say one of these groups is superior? How can I pit them against one another? And how can women expect respect from men if they don’t respect them as well?
Are there issues with how women are treated? Absolutely. But writing this article, or a ranting tumblr post won’t really change that. What will change that is genuine action, be it by volunteering somewhere, educating people, or by just being so kickass at what you do that it doesn’t matter what’s between your legs.
I want to get married and raise kids someday, and that doesn’t make me a bad feminist. Nor does my desire to have serious relationships, instead of numerous sexual escapades. But likewise, women who choose not to start a family, or who do have multiple partners aren’t bad feminists. Neither of us are holding back the cause.
I’m feminine in the conventional sense. And I’m proud of it. But I respect masculinity as well.

I am a feminist.