Job Hunting After Graduation

By: Sharna Johnson

Training – “Check!”

Parachute – “Check!”

Possibility you’ll freeze up, the parachute won’t open and the ground will rush up to meet you, or worse yet, you will get stuck in a tree, lost and suspended helplessly forever – “…gulp…check…”

Celebratory as it may be to move past your formal education, achieving a college degree is not really the end, it’s the beginning and the challenges of stepping into the next phase of life can feel a little like jumping out of an airplane.

You probably didn’t realize it then, but that first shopping trip for fat crayons started something – countless hours of homework, years spent sitting on hard chairs listening to teachers, book reports, projects and more tests and exams than you can count – all leading up to one thing.

Getting a job.

But finding a job after graduation doesn’t have to be terrifying and is far more likely to be successful if you approach it with the right mindset.

Job candidates that follow a few simple steps can dramatically increase their chances for success, according to Dr. Kerry Parker, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for Clovis Municipal Schools.

A school district that employs more than 1,000 professional educators and support staff, Parker said the hiring process begins as she and her staff sort through dozens of faceless, electronic applications.

Ultimately, the job candidates selected for interviews and inevitably those offered positions will be the ones that stood out – in positive ways – to prospective employers.

Having seen what works and what doesn’t, Parker offered some tips for college graduates-turned-job seekers as they begin the hunt for their first job after school:



“If you’re just getting started and waiting until your bachelor’s degree is over, in some fields you’re behind,” Parker said.

The term “networking” can seem complicated, but it really is quite simple, Parker explained. While you’re still in school it’s a good time to start getting to know people in your field and make yourself known to them. That familiarity will go a long way when the job hunt begins.

Take internship, part-time, temporary or substitute positions with organizations in your field, especially those you think you might want to work for after graduation.

If those opportunities aren’t available, become a volunteer. Even volunteering for civic organizations can forge connections in your community that will help later. The value of being there when opportunities arise or just having people recognize your name among other applicants cannot be underestimated.

“Connections and those people relationships matter,” Parker said, explaining she often sees people who have worked as substitute teachers rise to the top of applicant pools because their work traits are known. “If you have a substitute (you’ve worked with before) and then there’s some other applicant you don’t even know, who are you going to go with?” she said.

Online networking is another valuable tool that shouldn’t be underestimated, Parker said.

Job recruiters routinely search networks such as Linkedin for candidates, and job offers can result.

To make online networking work for them, candidates should familiarize themselves with the keywords that appear frequently in job descriptions in their field and make sure those are included in online profiles and resumes.

It’s become increasingly more common, she said, for job seekers to be “discovered” by prospective employers because their online profiles catch the attention of recruiters, who conduct exhaustive searches of those systems.


The Resume

Anyone looking for a job should know quite well the importance of a good resume and has likely agonized and toiled over creating the perfect summary of their life’s efforts.

While that’s a good start, however, it’s not quite enough, because one resume does not fit all.

Job hunters should be prepared to tweak and rewrite the resume for each position they apply for.

“If you know you’re targeting a specific job then whatever they put in the job description, those things need to be embedded in your resume – tailor your resume for the job,” Parker said.

Key words cannot be stressed enough and applicants need to be sure they’ve read the job description carefully and included elements of its specific language in their resume.

In doing so, however, candidates need to make sure they are being accurate and honest about their skills and abilities and that they actually know the meanings of the terms they are using, Parker said.

“Don’t lie. People do that and you get caught in the lie and that’s not good,” she said.

If specific key terms don’t match you exactly, research the terms and try to find things within your own experience and training that do align with their characteristics.

Then, “use a different word choice to align with that job description,” Parker said, but no matter what, “make sure your skills and abilities align with the job description.”

Above all else, have a professional, well-formatted and well-articulated resume – that means no typos, no grammatical errors, standard, easy-to read fonts and formatting.

The bottom line from the employer perspective, Parker pointed out, is that with the vast information available on the internet, from tips to free resume templates, there is absolutely no excuse for a subpar or unprofessional resume.

And be brief and concise.

Employers are busy and have a lot to read, so get to the point.

“I read bullets better than paragraphs,” Parker said.


The Application

You’ve spent days on your resume, had friends and professors proof-read for you, now it’s perfect and you’re ready to turn it in – but wait, you have to fill out a generic online application?

Surely it’s just a formality that you can speed through, after all, they will see everything they need to know about you on your perfect resume, right?


To candidates, online applications may seem like a waste of time or irrelevant, but if not given the proper time and attention, guess what, no one will ever see that stellar resume.

Of all the mistakes job seekers make, one of the most common and detrimental is not taking the standard application seriously.

Parker said she has seen applications filled out the same way people text message, from partial words to acronyms and emoticon symbols – and yet, she said, the applicant wants an employer to believe they completed college and can conduct themselves professionally.

Short-cutting the application and failing to use proper capitalization, spelling and punctuation will get you, and your attached resume, ignored.

“If I start reading your application and it’s sketchy, I’m not going to open your attachments,” Parker said.

“Applications matter, whether they’re electronic or hard copy – I make a lot of judgements about people’s ability to complete an application accurately,” Parker said. “If you can’t complete an application correctly then I eliminate you from being interviewed.”

Another mistake job seekers often make is in not taking advantage of every opportunity the online application gives them.

Some applications allow for additional comments from applicants.

This, Parker said, is just one more area where you can enrich yourself and stand out. Use comment areas to explain more about your professional background or showcase things you couldn’t go into detail about in your resume.

“It’s a good opportunity to give the high points and hopefully that’s just another opportunity to sell yourself,” Parker said.

This is important, because remember, at this point, the person reviewing your application hasn’t looked at your attachments yet, and you want to make sure they do.

And finally, attach a cover letter, resume, transcripts… submit as much supporting material as the application will allow, because if you make it through the application screening process, the attachments and their quality, will see you through the next cut and hopefully secure you an interview.


Follow Through

A lot of work went into the resume and application, but clicking submit, believe it or not, was not the end.

Still faced with the challenge of standing out from other job seekers, after completing the application process, candidates need to follow through and make themselves known.

Parker said it’s not only appropriate, it’s advisable to follow up, make sure your application has been received, check to see if there is anything else you can submit and ask about the hiring timeline.

If an application or job description lists the name or contact information for the supervisor or hiring manager, consider it an invitation.

“There’s a reason why the person is (listed) there,” Parker said.

Employers that list contact information are open to, and in fact welcome communication from applicants, with a couple of caveats.

If you plan to contact a prospective employer, “have some legitimate questions and have a reason to do that,” Parker said.

“I’ll answer calls, I’ll answers emails,” she explained, but the nature of the contact factors into the impression an applicant makes and employers know a fishing expedition when they see it.

If an applicant makes contact but doesn’t have anything substantial to discuss or suggests scheduling an ambiguous meeting to just to talk – they aren’t likely to be received very well.

Asking legitimate questions about the position or hiring process is acceptable, however, and can help a candidate stand out among others, she said.

Another way to follow through goes back to the concept of networking – talk to people who work for the organization where you applied, discuss the position and pick their brains – because being known will help you stand out.


When it all comes down to it, despite new technologies, getting a job hasn’t changed that much over the years and the traditional rules are still as important as ever – making good impression, networking, impeccable applications, accurate and concise resumes and professional presentation are the keys to getting that job – and beginning the life you’ve worked so hard for.


Graduation- Facing the Unknown

By: Rae Arnett

With graduation rapidly approaching, my family has been full of advice on what my next steps need to be.

My oldest brother believes you should find a job, make it your career, and stay with it.

My mother is an adamant believer in being in a place you want to be. Don’t like New Mexico? Then move to another state you like better. Maybe you would just rather be in a different town? Look for jobs there!

But my father has the best advice.

“Your 20’s are for looking. Your 30’s are for building,” said my father, Mark Arnett, “Don’t get too caught up in where you think you need to be, you’ll get there all the same”.

I like his advice the best. Maybe because at nearly 25 years old I still have not found that career that makes my heart sing, and that is not from a lack of trying.

Campaigning, insurance, human resources, journalism, and advertising are just a few of the careers I have “dipped my toes” into. Yet none of them have sent me over the moon.

“Your 20s really are the time to explore… before you get married and before you have kids, you don’t have a lot of financial responsibilities,” said Jean Chatzky, financial editor of NBC’s “Today” show, in 2014.

I have been exploring, as we all should be. There are not going to be an abundance of times in your life when you will have less responsibility than you do right now.

Maybe you are worried about those student loan payments rapidly approaching. Maybe you have a car payment or even something as small as a cell phone bill. I’m not saying you do not have responsibilities today, but that cell phone bill will later be accompanied by health care, mortgage, or children.

So apply for that dream job. Take the chances you have always wanted to. Pick a hobby you have always wanted to try (life without homework creates a lot more free time!). Do what YOU want to do!

It’s time to spread your wings and find out who and what you have always wanted to be; what you are meant to be.

So here’s to Eastern New Mexico University; thank you to all the professors for the knowledge you diligently imparted upon us, for pushing us outside our comfort zones, and for helping us grow.

Here’s to all the friends we made along the way who made the college experience even better.

And here’s to all of the graduates; May you find your passion and pursue it endlessly.

In the wise words of Oprah Winfrey:

“Sometimes you find out what you are supposed to be doing by doing the things you are not supposed to do”.


Learning ASL

By: Samantha Smith

This semester I chose to sign up for a sign language course to cover one of my general education requirements. As I study for my last written exam in the course, I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and write an article about it.

There are several different ways to learn sign language including online courses, YouTube channels, college classes and learning from a deaf person. One of the first things you should consider when deciding to learn sign language is which sign language you would like to learn. Click HERE for a list of a few of the different sign languages but know that American Sign Language (ASL) is what is used in the United States. You’ll also notice that in different areas of the USA, ASL signs will vary, just as accents do for those of us who speak.

Quick lesson: Hand shape, hand orientation, location and movement are the main four components of sign language according to signcanyou.com. These components are often referred to as the “Parameters of Sign.”

In my opinion, the school system should put more of an effort into teaching the general public about sign language and the deaf culture. Apparently the government of Manitoba agrees with me: “If students develop the skills to analyze, understand, and relate to any culture with which they may come into contact, they will be prepared for encounters with new cultural practices (pg 4, Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes).” In my first day of sign language class, I was given a test to fill out about deaf culture and I was very uniformed to put it lightly. If more schools would make it mandatory to learn at least the basics of ASL and deaf culture, it would be beneficial in the long run.

I realize that not everyone has the time or money to take a college ASL course, so I have taken the time to find two other options for those who many be interested. If you’re interested in learning ASL from home, you can sign up for an online course that can be found by clicking this link. Another option if you only want some basic knowledge in the area is to watch “100 Basic Signs,” on YouTube (click here). Because there’s not near enough time in the day (or space in this blog) click HERE if you’re interested in learning more about ASL deaf culture.


Who Needs Public Education Anyways?

By: Rae Arnett

What does less funding for the public universities in New Mexico mean? Budget cuts and higher tuition costs are two things that immediately come to mind. But no matter what the actual cost might be, it will be you, the students, paying for it.

In a standoff with the New Mexico Legislature earlier this month, Governor Susana Martinez vetoed all of the funding for higher education. This standoff started over proposed raised taxes in the state budget. I do not want to pay more taxes, but we currently live in a state that is in a budgetary crisis and additional taxes are necessary.

My question –  why veto and put public universities at risk? It’s one question I cannot answer for certain, but I believe it is a political power play. Martinez knows that taking a harsh stand will have a greater probability of bring the state legislature to the table, on her terms.

In order to get the budget approved, and funding back for the public universities, there will have to be a special session called. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the special session will cost approximately $50,000 per day, which is not exactly desirable considering the current financial predicament our state is in.

Public education in New Mexico is generally ranked near the bottom of the annual Quality Education Reports, and this year was no different. New Mexico tied for 49th with Mississippi and Nevada came in at 50th. This does not bode well for public education in New Mexico, which has also been under the knife of budget cuts.

I do not know about you, but I want to be proud of education in New Mexico, which means we need to start appropriately funding our schools. All of them. Education starts early in our lives, and we continue through school for a significant amount of time. I have been “in school” for nearly 19 years, but I also know that I have been extremely fortunate in every step of my education.

When I look to the future and think about where I would want to build a career, life, and family; I think about education standards, cost of living, job security and safety. Needless to say, New Mexico ranks on my list for its proximity to my family but not for much else.

To further complicate matters, there is also a current job freeze on most state jobs, according to the Albuquerque Journal. But why does that matter? As graduation approaches, there is a significant appeal to state jobs as well as federal jobs.

Our state has essentially defunded public education, higher education, and created less job opportunities for the state. In a state where retention of college graduates is already an issue, it seems it would be wise not to dramatically raise tuition and to offer incentives, like job opportunities, for those recent graduates to stay.

Our state is in trouble. Our university is in trouble. And we are in trouble.

Call and let Susana Martinez know that you want public universities and public schools funded. The higher we build up our youth with education, the better off our entire state will be.

Susana Martinez’s office can be reached at 505-476-2200. Call her office and let her know what you think. She might be in her “lame duck” years as our Governor, but she still works for us; her constituents.


A hole, a small town, and the US government

By: Rae Arnett

My hometown of Nara Visa has been in the news lately, which is an odd occurrence all on its own. There are no gas stations, grocery stores, or police stations. The population of the town isn’t much, if I had to wager, I would bet there are more abandoned buildings in Nara Visa than occupied ones. So what has caused such a stir in this sleepy community?

A proposed test bore site done by the company Enercon is what has everyone interested in my little town. The site would be testing the viability of the land to store nuclear waste, and while there is nothing in the works to make the site an operational nuclear waste storage facility, at the moment, it’s not a risk some in the area are willing to take. 

My own father, Mark Arnett, raised his concerns and they were not about little ol Nara Visa, but rather about the Ogallala Aquifer. 

“I can’t imagine drilling through the Ogallala to make a hole to put nuclear waste in, it’s just asking for trouble,” said Arnett.

I agree, and not just because he is my dad. The Ogallala is an essential piece to surviving in Eastern New Mexico, West Texas, and six other states. Remember all those seemingly silly reminders to water on certain days, or the pipeline from Ute Lake to Curry and Roosevelt Counties? Those reminders and that pipeline are being built because water is such a precious resource in our area. For the people with the “mind your own business” attitude, I can think of a few people who would say to manage your own water better.

The thought of potentially contaminating that water is enough to make me run for the hills, so imagine how the locals who still live in Nara Visa feel. Are you starting to understand why you should be attentive, if not concerned, about the situation?

It’s hard to trust something new, even if it comes with the promise of revitalization and more jobs in the area. If anything, those big promises would make people more gun-shy. Why would you want to bring jobs and revitalization to a town that does not even have a gas station any longer? I am not disparaging Nara Visa; I love it, even if my cell phone does not work there. But, I also have a realistic outlook for the area. It’s an area for ranchers, not for the hustle and bustle. It’s a town you drive through, only those that are already intimate with its charms stop to look.

It was brought to my attention that some people thought these locals were overreacting. Maybe they were. But they are reacting for everyone who uses the Ogallala Aquifer, so I think we can cut them a break.

And for those that support the borehole, that is okay too. Revitalizing the community and the promise of more jobs is not something to dismiss in a hurry. It’s good to have the discussion, the debate, and to find a way through the new territory together. 

“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest,” said William Penn.

A concept we should all keep in mind. Let’s debate to find the solution, not to disparage one another. Let’s debate to decide if this is right for the Nara Visa area, Eastern New Mexico, and the Ogallala Aquifer.


“So do you ride bulls?” Struggles of a Rodeo Athlete

By: Samantha Smith

People always ask me, “What it’s like to college rodeo? How do you prepare? Does the school supply your horses or do you have your own? Is rodeo expensive?”

Truth is, though it is the most decorated sports team at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), not many people even know we have a rodeo team. Because of this, I’ve taken it upon myself to help educate those who honestly have no idea (shoutout to the kid that didn’t believe I was a cowgirl because I, “didn’t look the part,” since I didn’t wear boots and spurs to class).

Because I’m feeling rather adventurous, we are going to play a little bit of true or false today! Common cowgirl/boy stereotypes debunked.

1. “All rodeo people listen to country music”

False. Despite popular belief, not all cowgirls and cowboys listen to country music 24/7. In fact, I’m not sure when the last time was that I hopped in someone’s pickup to go to a rodeo and they had a country radio station playing. If I had to take a guess, the most common music played heading from one rodeo to the next amongst my group of friends would have to be pop, followed by hip-hop/R&B. While trying to find some research on this topic, I came across a blog by Rodeo Paige posted on Kimes Ranch’s website. Click on this link to read her opinion on this topic. Personally, I have a large variety of XM radio channels I listen to, ranging from 80’s on 8 to “The Heat.”

2. “The school provides horses for each rodeo team member” 

False again. Of all the questions I receive about college rodeo, I think this one may be the most common. To put it quite simply, no, the school does not buy us horses, nor does the school pay to feed the horses we have. Rodeo is by no means a cheap sport to get involved with. Plus, rodeo athletes have to not only take care of themselves, but also their four-legged members as well. This takes not only time, but money too which can often mean we are relying on a paycheck at the rodeo to pay for expenses the next week. Most of us rodeo team members rode the same horses we ride now in high school, and coaches often will recruit people based on the horses they ride, or what we like to refer to as “horsepower.”

3. “Rodeo kids always wear their belt buckles and cowboy boots to class” 

False. This one can get a little bit tricky depending on who you talk to. Yes, there are some rodeo kids who constantly wear their boots, spurs, buckles, hats, starched jeans and shirts. But there are also plenty of us who do not. Because the statement uses the word “always,” this one will be marked down as a misconception with the others for now. At ENMU, there are actually a lot of kids who fall under this stereotype without even being rodeo competitors, it’s just the norm around here to look “punchy” I guess. Personally, and I think every girl on the rodeo team will agree with this as well as several of the boys, I never wear my “rodeo attire” to class. There are a couple of boys on the team however that do wear all of the above to class AND haul their horse trailers into town to make sure everyone knows they’re cowboys (I’m talking about you Dustyn and Bryce). Moral of the story, just because I don’t spur my chair down for 90 points in class doesn’t mean I’m not a competitor in the rodeo arena.

4. “Rodeo kids are all AG Business majors” 

False again! I think I’m starting to sense a trend here, no? Just like any other sports team, not all of our members are earning the same degree. Another fun fact, rodeo is unique because it doesn’t require us athletes to practice as a team. Each individual competes on their own, with the exception of team roping, and at the end of the weekend individual points are totaled, resulting in the team points. Because we don’t have to practice together, we also have several students who are all online with their studies. Tawny Barry is one of our best women’s team competitors and studies business online, meaning she can live wherever she pleases but still compete for and earn a degree from ENMU. Many rodeo kids do decide to study agriculture because it allows them to learn more about what we already do, however many of us choose degrees in other areas.

5. “Cowgirls/boys aren’t real athletes” OR “Rodeo isn’t a sport”

False, false, false. One of my biggest pet peeves has always been the downplay of rodeo as a sport. Just like many other athletes at this school, we put in our time and work hard to succeed in the rodeo arena. When other sports try to knock us down, it is disheartening and simply put, rude. According to all three definitions of a sport given by topendsports.com, rodeo does fall under that category. As for those who think we aren’t athletes, try flanking a calf and tying him down. You can do that? Great, now jump on someone’s barrel racing horse and see if you can make it around all three barrels in record time. Think you can do that too? Time to hit the rough stock end of the arena and jump on a bull because surely that doesn’t require any athleticism at all. If this mini rant wasn’t enough for you, leave a comment and we can come back to this another day.

6. “College rodeo is the experience of a lifetime that you’ll never forget” 

True! I always like to leave things on a good note and this seemed to be the only way I was going to get some sleep after #5 *insert eye roll here. On a more serious note, college rodeo has been one of the best things I have ever experienced. Coming all the way from Canada to New Mexico to rodeo for a university definitely wasn’t a small decision to make, but I wouldn’t go back and change it for the world. I have made great friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life, and the experience here has actually made me look into getting dual-citizenship and moving down here permanently after school. While trying to find a link of interest for this sub-heading I came across a NY Times article about college rodeo that warmed my heart. Click the hyperlink above and see if it has the same feeling for you!


Anonymous Sources vs President in Tweet

By: Rae Arnett

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” stated Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Currie in 1798; a concept that holds true to this day.

The constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

The first amendment, as stated above, guarantees, among other freedoms, the freedom of the press. This allows the press to serve as the fourth estate, as a watchdog of all those in power, and a servant to the public instead of the government.

But why is this concept so important?

As Jefferson wrote, the freedom cannot be stifled without being lost. How many times have you found out something positive, or negative, about your community from the press? How often have you learned about this nation we call home? 

Think about the news coverage of riots, of protests, of celebrations; how did that information impact your life? I would argue that while news is not always sunshine and light, it does make the public better informed about their surroundings and their fellow Americans.

Our President in Tweet has been complaining about and condemning the leaks from within the government. Although, according to him, the leaks these stories create are “fake news”, which begs the question, why worry about leaks that have no actual sensitive information.

Call me crazy, but I would not be ranting on Twitter about the law being broken by these leakers, or be asking staffers to turn over their cell phones for examination, if there was not some truth to these accusations and articles.

He has condemned the use of unnamed sources in news articles and broadcasts. Yet, those sources speak on the condition of anonymity to protect themselves.

When I think of anonymous sources in the media, I think of Deep Throat. The scandal that surrounded President Richard Nixon and ultimately helped lead to his resignation was unearthed, in part, because of the bravery of FBI Associate Director Mark Felt who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

Last week, President Trump’s White House, excluded members of the media from a press gaggle. It was not explicitly stated that the exclusion was a punishment for less than desirous coverage from those outlets; however, Trump has stated that the media is the “enemy of the American people”. 

Undermining the “fake news”, as they cover his newly minted presidency and the scandals that seem to plague him, is a good strategy for Trump to use to cover his own ass but will be disastrous for democracy if we allow it to continue.

In the words of Trump’s own Press Secretary Sean Spicer,

“I think we have a respect for the press when it comes to the government that that is something that you can’t ban an entity from… I think that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.”




Financial Aid Awareness Month Highlights – What Students Don’t Know

By: Sharna Johnson

Perhaps it’s denial, misinformation or a lack of information altogether, but nearly half of college students are under the impression their student loans will be forgiven.

February was Financial Aid Awareness Month, and it appears that awareness is desperately needed if a recent study is any indication.

Created by congress in 2010, the campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about federal financial aid options and particularly the ways federal financial aid can reduce the amount of student loans necessary to obtain a college education.

Recent data from a study conducted by LendEdu, however, shows that students may be operating under false ideas when it comes to how they will repay their loans, and in fact think they won’t have to pay them back at all.

LendEdu, a private company which acts as a marketplace for student lending options and refinance, in keeping with the theme of Financial Aid Awareness Month, asked 500 college students a series of questions to gauge their knowledge and understanding of financial aid and student loans. The survey results were released February 15.

When asked, “Do you believe that you will be helped by federal student loan forgiveness programs after graduation?” a startling 49.8 percent replied “yes”.

False belief loan forgiveness will help with loan repayment is one of the most concerning aspects of the results, a LendEdu study analysis stated, because students may be over-borrowing based on hope their loans will be forgiven in the future when the reality is that only a small percentage of college graduates qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

In general terms, in a student loan forgiveness program (they exist on the state and federal levels) a graduate’s debt is reduced in exchange for long-term employment in the public sector or in a low-income or high-need area.

Often these programs are also tied to specific professions such as healthcare, education, legal or STEM fields.

Not only does a student have to get hired for a position that qualifies for forgiveness programs, they also must meet other requirements, and fulfil a set employment period – ranging from a couple years to a decade on the job, often during which time regular loan payments must still be made by the borrower – to receive debt forgiveness.

LendEdu pointed out that a further 64 percent believe it is possible to refinance student loan debt with the federal government, however this is incorrect because there is no such animal.

Since federal refinancing programs don’t exist, college students, again, have false expectations of how they will repay their debts in the future.

Apparently, ignorance about loan forgiveness and refinancing aren’t the only problems when it comes to how much students don’t know about funding their college education.

Seven years after its inception, Financial Aid Awareness Month clearly still has a long way to go to reach its goal if some of the other study results are any indication:

  • 16 percent believe you need to pay money to file a FAFSA
  • 10 percent have never heard of FAFSA
  • 78 percent did not know what FAFSA stands for
  • 84 percent did not know when the 2017-2018 FAFSA deadline is
  • 80 percent could not identify the 2016-2017 maximum Pell Grant award amount
  • 80 percent could not identify current federal student loan interest rates
  • 79 percent did not know the current repayment term is 10 years
  • 74 percent did not know the current borrowing limits for federal student loans

“There is no doubt that getting a degree is helpful and may reap huge benefits. However, it concerns us here at LendEDU that students do not understand how they are funding their education,” LendEdu stated in conjunction with the release of the study.

The average student graduates with $28,400 in student debt, according to LendEdu.

“Add in the fact that students know very little about how to handle that debt, and that number becomes even more intimidating.”

The current study is not the only time LendEdu has uncovered deficiencies in understanding about financial aid.

In 2016, a study found 85 percent of students rely on their parents for financial aid and loan information, however parents – 47.65 of whom believed their children will be helped by federal student loan forgiveness programs – apparently don’t understand much better than they do. With an endless amount of student loan information available to students and parents, a reasonable excuse for the lack of understanding is hard to come by, and more importantly, won’t matter when the loans come due.

Parents should educate themselves on financial aid and student loans so they can assist their children, however ultimately it is the student who will be responsible for repayment and needs to understand.

One of the most simple and accessible sources of knowledge is already required of students when they draw federal loans for school – mandatory entrance and exit counseling which includes personalized information to help students put their debts in perspective. Additional information designed to help students and parents navigate career choices, college funding and plan for managing loans after school can be found online at: Federal Student Aid

It’s never too early to gain an understanding of future debts, though waiting until the bill comes due is most certainly too late.


Follow Up – Still Learning

By: Samantha Smith


In one of my more recent articles, I talked about what it felt like to learn how to win again. Now, weeks later, I’m still trying to tackle the concept. You don’t realize what you’re missing until it’s gone, or in this case until it comes into your life. When I count my blessings, I count my mare, Deana, twice.

If you didn’t read the post before this, I recently bought a new barrel racing horse and entered my first professional rodeo on her. We made a good run in the first round which qualified us into the progressive round at San Angelo, TX. To follow up with San Angelo, I ran in the progressive round on February 11th. Though my run wasn’t fast enough to win any money or qualify for the final round, it was smooth and consistent and I was extremely pleased. As it turns out, switching horses after running the same one for five years straight isn’t the easiest task to tackle. Every horse is different and because of that, each horse responds to different rider cues.

In attempt to allow myself to adjust and allow Deana to get used to having myself as a rider, I have been entering jackpots whenever I can. When I bought Deana, I tried her in a large covered arena and since then I have only been able to compete on her in indoor arenas. Last weekend I was finally able to enter a jackpot at an outside pen. I was nervous to see how she would work as many horses are different outside compared to inside. Not to my surprise, she was a rock star and got us our first 1D check, meaning we were in the fastest set of entries. Our run had plenty of room to improve and we still were able to make money at a large jackpot which makes me so happy looking towards the future.

This past weekend, we had our first college rodeo together as a team in Odessa, TX. The arena at Odessa is smaller than anything we have competed in thus far, and we had some minor struggles with the small pattern. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture which is exactly what I’m doing as I type this. Though I didn’t end up making the short go, I ended up in the top 20 girls in a very tough group with an average run at best. Looking forward, and as Deana and I get more comfortable with each other, I hope for bigger and better things. I have no doubt that we will come back better, faster and stronger at the next college rodeo, but in the meantime we have some pro rodeos to conquer.

With a couple weeks off between college rodeos, I figured it would be beneficial to enter some more pro rodeos in the meantime. Over spring break, I have entered three professional rodeos in Arizona with one of my teammates. I have high expectations as per usual, but I plan on using these runs as preparation for the next college rodeo in Brownwood, TX.

Today I rode my old horse, Max, at a local jackpot and it did not go nearly as well as I had hoped. Usually I would be mad about this, but instead I realized several things that have changed for the better. My riding has improved, my attitude has changed, and I have realized that sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break from things. Tomorrow my parents will be taking Max to Arizona for my older sister to run for a while. I have finally realized that I can’t fix everything, and that someone else needs to take the reins (literally) for awhile.

I haven’t learnt how to win again yet, but I’m working on it and I won’t stop until I succeed.




Date Ideas for College Students

By: Jena Slater

Have you really wanted to go on a quality date but you cannot afford a five-star restaurant? I have a few date ideas for you. Both date ideas require spending money and time. Sometimes a simple date night is all a girl needs after a long day of classes. I am going to focus on giving insight on how to add your personal touch to date ideas.

I have customized these date ideas to reflect my personal lifestyle which is simple with a hint of country, to give you a few examples.

When in doubt take your date on a picnic. The nice thing about picnics are they can become as simple or fancy as your heart desires. This can also be a very simple date where you do not have to spend big bucks to impress your date. A few things to thing about when planning for a picnic are: weather, time of day, perfect location, food, and drinks.

Checking the weather in case the location needs to be moved indoors. You may not want to get soaked if it’s raining or get blown away if it is windy. If you two have been dating for a while or get lost in the moment and feel a spark, then a romantic kiss in the rain may not hurt.

Finding and ideal location is equally important. My recommendations are going to a local park or college campus for a picnic. A few other things to think about when choosing your perfect location for your picnic are: green grass, trees, fountains, benches and tables. Any of these features can make for a romantic picnic.

Picnics can be simple as seen in the movies but they can also be modernized too. When I think of a traditional picnic I envision someone bringing a blanket to lay on the ground along with something to eat and drink while we hang out.

They are convenient since they can take place at any time. Early mornings are great if you both like to get up early and watch the sunrise. Late morning through midafternoons are wonderful if you prefer a midday picnic. Evenings are especially nice if you enjoy watching the sunset and looking at the stars. Picnics with food, drinks, and a blanket to sit on while watching the sunset can be the perfect way to end your evening. They are also good dates for girls who prefer the simpler things in life.

Food and drinks are an essential part of a picnic. You can ask what their favorite kind of lunch meat or jelly they prefer and make sandwiches to go along with their favorite soda. You can buy lunchmeat or peanut butter and jelly and make sandwiches yourself. Then, carefully place them in a cooler or backpack paying careful attention to making sure the bread does not get smashed. Also, taking into consideration how long it will be before it is time to eat so you can store them properly. An additional option is going to a local sandwich shop or Subway and ordering your favorite sandwiches. Additionally, you can invite your date to grab sandwiches with you and order them to go.

You can pull this off by telling asking your date to go on a picnic with you. Or you can ask them on a spontaneous date but keep the location a surprise so their anticipation builds up. Finally, you can either began your date immediately with a picnic or you might take a romantic walk to lead into your picnic. Once you have found the perfect spot, start unpacking your blanket and lay it on the ground to give you a place to sit down. Then unpack your food and drinks and enjoy your date.

My second suggestion is a customized movie night which I chose to experiment with. I gave this stay at home date night a modern and romantic twist. My date was having a particularly rough day since nothing was going as he anticipated. Especially when he was trying to glue his car made of construction gingerbread with frosting but it kept falling apart. After getting out of class and checking the date and time he ask me if I would like to have a movie night after he got out of his last class. I agreed.

From previously hanging out some outside of class, I knew what his favorite pizza toppings are. Recently I heard about flameless, battery operated, candles and already wanted to get some for where I live. I decided a movie night with pizza and a few flameless candles would be the perfect date night. I let my date pick the movie since I figured it would help cheer him up. I went to Dollar General and purchased a package of battery operated remote control candles since I felt they would add a relaxing element to this movie night.

I ordered a Domino’s pizza with his and hers toppings. Then, he texted me saying he was about to go and drop off his stuff before heading over. After looking around my residence I found enough batteries for two candles. I texted him to see if he might have any spare batteries. He offered to pick some up on his way over. I set two mason jars out and the pizza showed up.

Next, my date showed up and I ask him if he could take the batteries out of an extra control. He called me and I came to get the batteries and put them in the remaining candles then used the remote and turned all the candles on. I walked over to where he was waiting patiently and flipped off the over powering overhead light.

Finally, we walked into my living room where there was a flameless candle light pizza dinner with mason jars, we drank Dr. Pepper from, while watching the movie he brought. His expression when he saw how I gave a movie night a modern and romantic twist was priceless. Realizing I successfully pulled off the perfect date night and instantly turned his day around made this date night perfect. Seeing his surprised face made it all worth it in the end.

Here is a short tidbit about me for anyone who may not know me:

I was born in Texas and after I was a year old we moved to New Mexico. Then, we moved to another part of New Mexico after several years. I have lived on a ranch for approximately 19-years of my life aside from when I am attending Eastern New Mexico University(ENMU) where I study Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. Many of my dating ideas reflect my country background.