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Scholarship Tips: Go to your desired school fully funded

Izunna Okpala

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New college students want to know how to get scholarships to pay for tuition. The good news is there are thousands of fantastic scholarships out there and you just need to apply.

Here are a few simple tips to help you find scholarships which can reduce the cost of college.

1. Start early.

There’s no need to wait until application slots opens. Start researching your options early. Getting a head start gives you more time to investigate which scholarships value your time and energy. Once you know the best options, there is plenty of room for you to complete the applications that other students might have skipped. Some scholarships in high school are available for freshmen and sophomores, so knock those applications out of the way as soon as possible! 

Tip: Many scholarships have limited appropriations. That means the sooner you submit, the more likely you will be recompensed before the budget runs out. Moving on with a move is even more of a explanation. Learn more on How You Can Apply for Stipends (Year Round).

2. Use a scholarship matching tool.

The days of paper requests are gone. Now you can quickly search  thousands of available scholarships online through huge databases. You can find those through filters and keywords that suit your skills, perspectives, history or special interests. Focus on the scholarships you’re a good match for and rule out the ones where you don’t meet all the requirements. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the options. Just take your time narrowing down the scholarships that make sense.

Here’s a list of sites you can use for your search:

3. Be focused.

Be specific with your goal. One of the most assured way of securing a scholarship especially for Graduate students is getting a supervisor. You have to make sure that your research goal is clear and specific. Also, this your research goal must be in tandem with that of your potential supervisor. Not having a research objective is a red flag. Anyone reviewing your application in 10 seconds can be able to decode whether you’re a focused individual by checking your research goals and that of the supervisor.

4. Lean on your advisor.

A great sounding board for finding the right scholarships is your high school counselor or college adviser. Although you might not be applying in their office, they will help you decide which scholarships to apply for are best. Sometimes, advisors take the time to review your submissions and help you develop your essays and requests. You can also learn a lot by checking out past scholarship winners and how they approached their submission.

Ask your guidance counselor which scholarships are the most popular and which are more tailored to your background. You can also work together to find specific scholarships from the schools you want to apply to. Talking with an expert will help you focus your search so that it serves your needs more efficiently.

5. Tap into your network.

Spread the word to your employer, coaches, friends, and members of your community that you’re looking for scholarships. Ask your parents to check with their friends and HR departments at work about scholarships for family members.

There are usually a lot of locally offered scholarships which are not particularly well advertised. These can often be found in the local paper or in the library through your high school counselor. Check with local foundations, community organizations, and local businesses directly to see if they also offer any scholarships.

6. Polish your online presence.

When applying for scholarships (or jobs or colleges), you might be Googled by the person reviewing your application. Make sure that they get the right sort of performance. Many students tend to privatize their social media, but you should know that colleges also have ways of seeing what you share. Refreshing your LinkedIn profile, social media pages and personal website is a smart idea.

If you don’t have a personal website or portfolio, now is the time to make one. Sites like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly offer free, easy-to-use website builders. It’s never too early to invest in a domain name and website you control. Getting your name out there and highlighting your strengths and interests is a great way to make yourself known and available.

7. Look beyond your grades.

You don’t need a 4.0 GPA to apply for the scholarships. In fact, some scholarships do not even take into consideration the grades. Aside from your GPA, it ‘s important to find a way to make your apps stand out from the crowd. Once you begin filling out the paperwork, consider what makes you exceptionally eligible and worthy of the scholarship.

What special talents or skills do you offer? Perhaps you can demonstrate your perseverance in the face of adversity as a first-generation student. Maybe your leadership skills on the basketball court are what make you unique. Find an area where you excel or that means a lot to you and focus on that. Your passion will shine through when it comes time to describe your extracurricular activities in your scholarship applications.

8. Collect letters of recommendation.

Applications for a scholarship and college usually require a few letters of recommendation from teachers and community leaders who know you best. They can include your boss, teachers, coaches, high school counselors, or other adults who may bear witness to your talents , abilities, and motivation.

Since you’re asking for a significant favor, it’s best to provide as much relevant information as possible to the letter-writer. You might even want to provide a Word template for them to use as they write your recommendation. Here are some other things you can provide:

  • Overview of the scholarship (if it’s for a specific application)
  • Your key strengths as related to the requirements AND your relationship to the reviewer. (Example: If you’re applying for a leadership scholarship, you might ask your Honor Society advisor to address your successful reelection as president.)
  • A copy of your resume
  • Any other plans for the future, like which colleges you’re applying to and what major you will pursue

After you collect your letters of recommendation, make sure you thank your reviewers for taking the time to help you.

9. Apply to Big and Small Schools/Scholarships.

There is no such thing like a big or small school/scholarship. Earning enough scholarship money to pay for college will likely come from many different sources. You’ll need to apply to lots of scholarships to cover all your bases. Don’t overlook those with smaller awards. Winning $1,000 here and there will add up quickly. Plus, the more you apply to, the better your odds of winning.

Make applying to scholarships your new habit. Set a goal to apply to one or two each month, starting sophomore year so you’re ahead of the curve. There are scholarships available for high school students, undergrads, and graduate students, and some scholarships allow you to enter multiple times. For example, you can enter to win our College Ave $1,000 scholarship sweepstakes once a month. To have a good shot at the numbers game of applying to scholarships, make sure you keep your numbers up!

10. Write a great essay.

Many students shy away from scholarships that require essays, but a well-written essay can be your ticket to standing out from the crowd. If you don’t have great writing skills, consider working with your advisor or attending a writing workshop to help you develop a memorable essay, which is also great practice for college applications.

Tip: You may be able to reuse portions of your essay for more than one scholarship application. Just be careful to follow the scholarship rules, including essay word count. The most important thing to remember is to answer the question that’s being asked. Don’t reuse another essay because it’s well written. Make sure you understand the prompt and can show your comprehension and writing skills simultaneously.

11. Practice your interview skills.

Some scholarships require an in-person interview. Being a good interviewee takes time, so practice answering questions about your background, interests, achievements, and aspirations. Remember that the more comfortable you are chatting with the interviewer and answering questions, the better the interview will go. Don’t be nervous; your interviewer wants to get a real feel for who you are and what makes you a good fit. Now’s your chance to show them.

To earn scholarships, you need to give yourself enough time to research your options, complete thoughtful applications, and lean on people at school and in your community for support. With just a little bit of work, you’ll save thousands of dollars on your education and start college on the right foot.

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Google

How to enable and use AI-powered Smart Reply and Smart Compose tools from Gmail

Izunna Okpala

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Google has been adding a lot of performance and machine learning capabilities to its email service, leading up to Gmail ‘s 15th birthday last year. (It may have also sought to compensate for the loss of its Inbox email feature, but this is an case for another day.) Additions included a way for Gmail to write subject lines for you and schedule an email to be sent later.

Navigating some of Gmail ‘s functionality can be a little frustrating. In this tutorial we will concentrate on Gmail ‘s Smart Reply and Smart Compose auto-completion tools, which are designed to save time.

Allowing a machine help you write emails and subject lines may make you feel a little weird, but if you’re willing to at least try it out for yourself, here are the ways to automate your Gmail responses.

Enabling Smart Reply and Smart Compose

To allow Gmail to generate responses and email text, you first have to opt in from your Settings menu. If you are a regular Gmail user (instead of G Suite enterprise edition), here’s what to do:

On desktop

  • Click on the gear icon on the upper right side and find the Settings page.
  • Scroll down to the separate Smart Reply and Smart Compose options and choose “On” for either or both to enable the automated suggestions.
  • You can also choose to allow Gmail’s machine learning to personalize the suggestions based on the way you write your emails by choosing “Smart Compose personalization.” For example, if you greet your colleagues with “Hi, team” versus “Hello, everyone,” it will automatically drop in whatever you use most often.
You can let the AI engine personalize your Smart Compose suggestions.
You can let the AI engine personalize your Smart Compose suggestions.

If you use G Suite, you may notice that the option to toggle on Smart Compose is not available. Your G Suite admin must enable this for the organization, so contact the person in charge if you’d like to test this out at work.

On the Android or iOS app

  • Tap the hamburger icon on the upper-left side to open the side drawer. Scroll down to Settings.
  • Select the Gmail account you want to address
  • Tap the checkbox on Smart Reply and / or Smart Compose to toggle the mode on

Once the settings are turned on, your Gmail is set up to suggest replies and help auto-finish sentences based on your writing style.

What it looks like

Basically, you just start typing, and Gmail will begin suggesting words that might fit the sentence you’re writing.

Be aware that it won’t always come on for every email you write. Because Gmail needs context, you’ll likely find Smart Compose chiming in when you’re responding to an email or if you’re starting emails with some generic statements like “Nice to meet you” or “Hope you’re well.” If Gmail has a suggestion, an opaque set of text will appear next to what you’re typing.

On the desktop version of Gmail, you can press Tab to accept the suggestion. On the mobile app, if a suggested word or phrase appears, swipe right to add it to the email.

Smart Compose can also automatically fill in the Subject field.
Smart Compose can also automatically fill in the Subject field.

Smart Compose can also suggest email subjects. Leave the subject line blank, and start writing your email. Once you go back to fill out the subject line, Gmail will offer a suggestion that you can accept by pressing Tab on the desktop app or swipe right on mobile.

Smart Reply for canned responses

Smart Reply works a little faster than Smart Compose. Instead of suggesting words or short phrases for you, Gmail will offer three responses that might suit the email you’ve received. For example, if you’ve gotten an email reminding you of an appointment, Smart Reply may suggest responses like “Confirmed,” “Thanks,” or “I can’t make it.”

If you are in an email conversation with several people, be aware that responding with a Smart Reply will CC everyone on that email. You’ll have to manually remove the people you don’t want in that response, so it’s best to only choose Smart Reply for emails you mean to send to everyone in the thread.

Should you actually use it?

Choosing to let a machine write your emails may feel impersonal, but it’s not designed to write the whole email for you. Smart Compose and Smart Reply work best when you use them to add filler sentences or quickly respond to yes or no emails. Plus, Gmail has gotten a lot better at suggesting responses that will make sense 90 percent of the time. (In my experience, the responses tend to veer toward affirmative answers, so they may not work best if you’re less prone to agreeing to everything.)

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Facebook empowers 7,000 women with digital competencies in SSA

Izunna Okpala

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Facebook app

In 2019, Facebook trained more than 7,000 women-owned businesses in digital skills across sub-Saharan Africa.

Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director, Facebook Africa, said Facebook is committed to investing in its youth, entrepreneurs, creative industries, tech ecosystems and many other communities.

“I am excited about the future of Facebook and our family of apps here in Africa, as well as the potential of this young, mobile and dynamic continent. I also look forward to creating partnerships in 2020 and beyond.”

The tech company has hit its 45th developer group, now in 17 African countries with circles representing over 70,000 participants.

When celebrating the region’s key achievements, Facebook said some of its investments have translated into significant support aimed at increasing the developers, entrepreneurs, creatives, and other communities ecosystems. In a document called’ 2019 Year in Review,’ Facebook revealed its approach towards making the world a global village and celebrated 79 meetings with community leaders with over 2,650 people in attendance.

To combat fake news in Nigeria, Facebook in collaboration with MainOne launched Dubawa as a participant in its Third-Party Fact-Checking program. In Edo and Ogun States, this was to build and operate more than 750 km of terrestrial fiber network for metro fibre connectivity.

“Facebook hosted the first-ever iD8 Nairobi Conference with over 400 African developers and startups in attendance, expanded Third-Party Fact-Checking across 10 African countries, announced the creation of the world’s most detailed population density maps of Africa, created by Facebook AI researchers to help humanitarian aid and relief agencies; and much more,” the statement added.

In addition, in collaboration with satellite hubs across Nigeria, Facebook initiated an eight-week incubation program at NG Hub, focusing on mentoring and practical training for prospective entrepreneurs. The position of Safer Internet Day 2019, which has partnered with over 20 African Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) across 16 countries, should not be forgotten.

“We unveiled our first pop-up in Africa with ‘it’s Your Facebook: Lagos’, a creative space for visitors to explore our products and attend various training. We announced the creation of the world’s most detailed population density maps of Africa, created by Facebook AI researchers to help humanitarian aid and relief agencies. In the same year, we celebrated one year of NG Hub and our digital skills training in Nigeria – with over 526 events held, 11,490 attendees, and partner events with Co-creation Hub, US Consulate, SheLeadsAfrica, Paystack, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Women in Tech Africa.”

In the University tour aimed at boosting recruiting across the country, South Africa was not left behind and collaborated with the Dream Factory Foundation and the Youth Fellow Nadine Maselle Facebook Community Leadership Program to open a computer lab at Salt River High School in Cape Town. Facebook opened in collaboration with Samasource its Content Review Center in Nairobi and employed up to 100 local language content reviewers.

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How To's

13 Major Misconceptions about Content Marketing

Izunna Okpala

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Content Marketing Home

There are many misconceptions about content marketing. This article takes you on how to avoid the pitfalls.

1. ITS EASY

This the number one misconception, but the earlier you know the truth the better for you. Know the task ahead and sharpen your war tools and plan to win.

Note a person without a plan has planned to fail from the onset.

2. “Content Marketing is a new Concept”

There is this great infographic by Content Marketing Institute on the history of Content Marketing. It gives some great examples of Content Marketing long before someone even thought of internet: Have you heard of the Michelin Guides developed in 1900 by Michelin?

Selling of Content Marketing as a new concept is truly dangerous, as it can prevent you from learning from past examples. Having a history allows you to do better in the future and hopefully build on past success.

3. Content Marketing is Digital

As stated before content marketing has a long history. Business people have been marketing with content for centuries without feeling the need to come up with a term for it. Content Marketing strategies that have been used long before the web was in existence include:

  • conferences
  • lectures, seminars, workshops
  • articles in industry magazines/papers
  • industry report
  • customer news papers
  • Special magazines, guides and publications for clients

Content Marketing is the art of producing and promoting useful and/or relevant content. There are many forms of content that businesses use to reach and communicate with current and future customers. Limiting your content strategy to digital and online marketing is limiting your action radius – and just because online marketing gives you new ways of reaching your audience does not mean you should ignore the traditional ways. In most cases the ideal strategy integrates both.

4. “Creating Content is Content Marketing”

You are producing content, so you think you are a content marketer?

Let me disappoint you: most likely you are wrong. There is much more to content marketing than producing content. A true content marketing strategy has to include concepts for content distribution, communication and interaction with the audience. You have to have a clear idea about which goals and which target group you want to reach.

Depending on your strategy, you need an editorial calendar and might need to include your company’s departments in your strategy for producing and distributing content.

5. “Content curation makes you an expert”

There is a lot of talk about content curation and sharing other peoples’ great content.

This can definitely help you in your content distribution especially if you yourself do not have an endless reservoir of own outstanding content. Yet, it is not enough to share other peoples’ content to make you a thought leader and stand out as an expert in your field.

If you always know where to find great content it makes you an excellent researcher and shows that you know the great content marketers in your field. But: In the end your own views, ideas and concepts are part of your personality and expertise and one of the most important assets of your content marketing.

True Content Marketing includes your own, hopefully outstanding, content. If you are solely sharing other peoples’ content you are at risk of only becoming a multiplier for other peoples’ content strategy.

6. “Every content is good content”

Being active online and in social media, sometimes you get the impression that there is a competition going on who creates the most content instead of going for the best content. The truth is: you can gain more with one outstanding piece of content in the right outlets or channels and it will give you much more attention, feedback and branding effect than hundreds of cheap pieces of content no one really needs or wants to see.

The risk of creating too much (and possibly irrelevant or even bad) content is: it can easily backfire and mark you as a spammer.

7. “Producing SEO Content is Content Marketing”

Google is a friend of good content and Google is a powerful tool to give your content the attention it deserves – so far so true. But producing content for search engine optimization is not content marketing and optimizing your content for search engines (i.e. keywords etc.) does not necessarily give you success in content marketing. Focusing on SEO content strategies leaves out all the other great possibilities content marketing might hold for you.

Content in content marketing is created for an audience. This audience wants a well composed, informative and entertaining piece of content. Keyword staffing and optimization can kill the user experience and you are lost – Google might still bring people to your content, but you will not successfully market with this content.

It works better the other way round: producing quality content that your audience likes and recommends produces backlinks and social signals that improves your search positions in return. Google loves quality content.

8. “Content (Marketing) is for Google”

Content Marketing is for a target audience. Google might help you reach this audience, but you are still creating content for an audience and not for Google.

If you are creating content for Google, you are doing SEO, SEO is not content marketing (see above). Content in content marketing is created for people: your target audience. It is meaningful, interesting, informative and entertaining – it is created to speak to your audience and not Google.

Besides, you could base a complete content marketing strategy on content, that would never go online.

9. “Content Marketing is not for Google”

If done right content in content marketing will speak to Google. If your content attracts an audience, they will backlink to it. They will share on social platforms. They will recommend your content and rate it well. Being able to place content on high quality outlets gives you the opportunity to produce high quality backlinks to your site.

Search engines try to record all of this – because they love quality.

The one thing Google is trying to accomplish with all the recent updates is to bring users useful content they are searching for. Even if your content creation is focused on bringing good content to your audience without any thoughts about keywords, Google will eventually appreciate your efforts and help you get your content to your audience.

So, even while content marketing is not SEO and should not focus on satisfying Google, your SEO can profit from your content marketing efforts – or even more you should make sure that your content marketing and SEO go hand in hand.

10. “Everything in your editorial calendar is content”

We once had a heated discussion in the office about what can be regarded as content and what isn’t content. The line between content and no content especially in social media is blurred, but I will try to give you some hints:

  • If you tweet links and pictures, the links and pictures are content while the tweets are not.
  • If you tweet a statement, your tweet might be considered content, depending on the statement and the audience.
  • If you are running a site for jokes and you tweet jokes, your tweets are definitely content.

The same applies for Facebook.

A Lady-picture might give you many likes on Facebook, but only in rare exceptional cases I consider it content.

11. “Your industry is too boring (or traditional) for content marketing”

Let’s just quote Lisa Barone of Overit here. She made a statement about this point in an interview with exploreB2B:

“Complaining your industry isn’t glamorous tells me two things about you:

  1. you don’t fully understand your customers need/pain points/ wants and
  2. you are boring.

The opportunity to create high-quality content is there, regardless of what industry you serve…. Just because your topic is toilets (or insurance, or telecom, or stained-glass windows), doesn’t mean your topic has to be 100-percent toilet focused.

Find those interesting periphery topics, or the topics your customers are passionate about, and create content around them.”

12. “Content Marketing is the right strategy for every situation/Business”

Content Marketing is a hype and sometimes I get the feeling it is the new holy grail of Marketing which everyone has to do.

As with any business strategy you need to assess if it is really the right concept for you and your situation. In the end you might come to the conclusion that content marketing is not the best, most efficient and most effective strategy for you and you should rather be doing something else.

That being said: We believe that most businesses can profit from a well designed and constantly refined content strategy – but in business you should always ask the necessary questions before running blindly into a new strategy.

13. “Content Marketing is a campaign”

This complete article was inspired by Joe Pulizzi, who in his recent article on Content Marketing Institute said: “Content marketing is not a campaign — it’s an approach, a philosophy, and a business strategy.

This sentence says it all. You can have a video, a famous article or eBook – that does not make you a content marketer and it does certainly not make your company successful in content marketing.

Content Marketing is much more than the content, it is the strategic and well tuned combination of producing, publishing, sharing content, communicating and interacting around content and being part of discussions with a goal in mind.

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