iStudent Corner: 5 College Survival Tips from Gulnar: Part 2

…continued from last week’s post.


Balancing payments for college and for living is probably the most challenging aspect for me as an international student, yet with a little bit of perseverance anything can be achieved.

GET A JOB! However, we cannot work on off-campus jobs by law!  But according to regulations your college can indeed hire you as student aid. It’s a great way to make some income to support your budget. Also, working at college will help you to get used to the college environment very quickly and you will learn a lot just by working on campus. I started my student aid work right after one month of studies at SUNY Ulster. All you have to do is make sure that you apply for on-campus student jobs as soon as you arrive at your campus. Another helpful thing is that I can work in several offices as student aid, which helped me acquire a great variety of skills. I just have to make sure that I do not exceed the 20 hour limit per week!  I have to mention that I never get bored, and I get to know many faculties and staff on campus. In my Art Gallery job I even got to meet famous contemporary American artists! It’s so cool!

ENROLL TO A PAYMENT PLAN! Most colleges offer payment plans. You sign in online by paying an initial tiny non-refundable enrollment fee. Trust me it’s worth to set a payment plan.  Then you will get your entire tuition fee divided into several monthly fees and that makes tremendously easy to pay for a college! So make sure to ask your admissions counselor about the payment plan!

CALLS! International calls cost a lot! Be smart and use Skype or Viber! Those are the best and a free way to communicate with your family and friends across the globe! Once you and your family have registered, you only need an Internet connection, which is accessible practically everywhere! Enjoy hours of free talking 😀  Well, I hope phone companies won’t hate me, but you guys are so expensive, and this way we can actually save a bit for our other needs! For instance, my art supplies cost so much, so I would rather save on phone calls than on some other essentials.


If you decided that you want to study in the United States of America then keep reading this hint.  In a nutshell, there are two kinds of colleges that offer 4 year degrees aka Bachelors’, and 2 year colleges that offer Associates’.  What is the difference? Yea, those obvious 2 years!

To sum it up, two-year college degrees in the United States are called Associate in Arts (AA) or Associate in Science (AS). They give you an opportunity to complete the first two years of college (freshman and sophomore) with a degree to get a job. The credits you earn are usually transferable to other colleges, unless it says opposite. So if you are willing to have a Bachelor’s Degree in the area you have studied in the two-year college, those credits will work towards the degree of your four-year college. This means you will be studying junior and senior years at the four-year college. Many friends of mine are doing this, because foundation years are similar in every college. So why pay more if you can pay less and get the same knowledge?! It’s usually a pragmatic approach and saves you some money, but the Bachelor’s degree will be from your dream four-year college, which is all what matters in the end! For instance, I have done the same (by sheer luck!);  I am aspiring to complete my BFA, thus I will try to transfer to a four-year college when time comes.. My dream is MFA, which is another exciting perspective in academics! Can’t wait! 😀

GOOD LUCK!  If you have made it this far in reading my post then Thank You! 😀 I hope my tips will help you in your study abroad adventures! Stay positive and believe in yourself, because you can! 😀  All in all, curiosity, less shyness, strong work ethics, and desire to learn will get you anywhere you want! Keep in mind there will be sleepless nights to get your assignments done, sometimes extracurricular activities will require more time and effort, but it’s all worth the results! I really like this quote and I think it sums up the concept of work and luck being related:  “I’ve always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got.” ~ Alan Bond

 Oh I forgot to mention this: remember you’re always being watched! Yup, that’s so true, I am not a paranoid.  Also,  sooner or later  the college community will notice who you are, how eager and motivated you are, how hard you work, and that might bring you precious moments that you will remember forever. At least that’s what happened to me! Also, somebody from faculty or staff will sooner or later notice who you are, how eager and motivated you are, how hard you work, and that will bring you precious moments that you will remember forever. Talking from my experience, I did not know that after being a president of Visual Arts Club I would end up receiving the President’s Award for Student Leadership. I was involved in that club because I wanted to be, I could inspire my fellow classmates to join the club and be involved as well; I am spending my time doing something that matters to me and I do it from my heart, so should you! It’s a wonderful feeling to inspire and be inspired! I am not bragging, but you should know how far this can go. Let me tell you, I even got recognition on a New York State level for being a good student! 😀 Yay!  That one was from the State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. So keep in mind, you can be the next student! I am sure whichever state or college you choose to study, there will be people who will help you get where you are aiming. Just believe in the kindness of strangers, be motivated and eager to learn! That’s all it took for me to turn my adventure into the story that I can share with the rest of the world! (Some will read it and some won’t, but it does not matter, I have done my part :D!)

I would like to thank all those people starting with my American host family, my mentor (advisor and instructor), and my friends all over the campus and outside of the campus – for their sincerity, unconditional love and support! I am grateful and indeed feel very special for having you all in my life! I mean it! <3  Finally, thank you PeerTransfer for this opportunity!  If you are interested in reading more about my adventure, sign up to my blogs from the links below and get regular updates.

Thank you,
Gulnar Babayeva
Fine Arts & Graphic Design
SUNY Ulster
[email protected]

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